* Vice president John Erwin called the Regular meeting of the Park Board to order. The secretary called the roll, and the following commissioners were absent this point: President Jon Olson, Carol Kummer and Rochelle Berry Graves.
Erwin asked for agenda approval.
Commissioners Vivian Mason and Annie Young had additions, discussion of the superintendent search and a charter commission concern, respectively.
Commissioner Walt Dziedzic is confused, and argues that the board does not need a superintendent search report from “Oldandy” [Oldani Group].
Mason moves to approve amended agenda. Young seconds.
Commissioner Marie Hauser makes a substitute motion to move the superintendent search discussion to Unfinished Business [from an earlier point in the meeting] and commissioner Bob Fine seconds. Substitute motion passes with Mason and Young opposed.
* Erwin calls for the Public Hearing for the 2003 and 2004 Tree Assessments. Staff person Richard Tice gives short presentation on the subject. Assessments were for diseased tree removal, there is an administrative charge and 5% interest charged on top of the fee paid to the contractor, the assessment is over 5 years starting in 2005.
No one from the public is present who wishes to speak to this public hearing.
* Erwin recesses the Regular meeting. Commissioners Kummer and Berry Graves are now present.
* Administration & Finance committee chair Marie Hauser calls committee to order. Committee members are Hauser, Berry Graves, Young, Kummer and Dziedic.
Agreements 7.1, 7.2, 7.3 and 7.4 [see agenda documents for details] regarding catering contracts at Columbia Manor, Cowles Conservatory and Columbia Golf Course are moved and seconded.
Dziedzic asks if there are any dates for free for volunteers. Asst. super. Don Siggelkow answers that Park Board has ability to reserve any of these vendor managed facilities anytime they want, but catering is not included.
Dziedzic asks if Park Board employees who formerly worked at the Columbia grill will be let go now that it is contracted out. Siggelkow says yes.
Dziedzic asks his stock question: “Is that a good deal?” Siggelkow says yes, they expect the caterers/vendors to expand the business.
7.1 through 7.4 Pass.
Commissioner Olson arrives.
7.5, to spend another $325,000 from the Self Insurance Fund for increased health care costs is moved by Dziedzic. Passes.
“7.6 That the board approve the superintendent’s recommended 2005 budget.”
Presentation of changes by staff member Eric xxx. The changes to the previously presented proposed budget are:
1. Restore $75,000 in funding for the Kroening Interpretive Center.
2. Restore summer playgrounds ($85,000).
3. Defer decision on youth team fees to Spring, 2005 ($25,000). [This was to be a $500 field use fee to traveling teams, according to previous presentation.]
4. Restore $30,000 for police horse patrol based on donations ($6,000 impact).
** Results in a $191,000 imbalance in the 2005 budget.
To solve that imbalance, the new proposed cuts are:
1. Eliminate the Jump In brochure and add $10,000 to Recreation budgets to publicize programs (net reduction of $40,000).
2. Contractual reductions for public relations, archives, historian and youth sports ($28,000).
3. Aquatics shift to enterprise operations and new efficiencies/fee increases ($28,000).
4. Warming House staffing efficiencies ($25,000) (warming houses would not be staffed during inclement weather).
5. Additional delayed hiring in 2005 ($70,000).
Dziedzic gives one of his trademark grandstand speeches about the people who showed up at the last meeting and the apples and oranges of budget cuts to Summer Playgrounds and the funding for the Taj Mahal HQ building and back when he ran for this office how there were X number of programs and says something about the number of horses used police horse patrol. Not sure what his point was otherwise.
Berry Graves thanks the staff for making the changes and saving some of the programs. She checks to be sure she is clear that youth fees are being held off until later, but that the adult fees will be instantiated in spring 2005. Staff affirms. She asks what will cover the missing Jump In brochure in getting the word out to the public about what programs are available, where, when and how to sign up? Asst. super. Mike Schmidt replies they do not yet have an answer to that question, but that the $10,000 for Recreation to publicize programs will be put to good use, they will come up with the best they can, and he mentions the move to more and more online/web reservations and signups.
Young has concerns about the $18,000 cut to the Coyle Center and the Jump In brochure, especially with respect with connecting with the Latino, Somali, etc. communities. Not everyone has a computer. She agrees with Dziedzic’s remark on the horses; is 18 too many?
Erwin [not on this committee] asks about cost savings from the reorganization. There are now fewer districts, are there likewise fewer district managers? Siggelkow answers they don’t yet if reorg. will save money, but they are holding vacancies open to save money but have promised staff that no one will lose a job due to reorg.
Erwin says he had asked for 5 year numbers in order to compare various facets of the budget, but they were not made available for this meeting. He wants to see if the Operations percentage of the budget is being reduced, among other things. He asks what the cut to Coyle Center will do? Schmidt answers that it should have no impact, as Park Board does not use the center at all [it’s a separate entity].
Mason [not on this committee] says this discussion ought to be at the full board level where all can vote on the budget, instead of in this committee where only 5 can. She says that Richard Tice reported on the $17 million in reserve funds and says the board also needs to discuss the use of those funds. She asks when that discussion will take place.
Siggelkow explains where various fund dollars are used in the proposed budget.
Mason says discussion by full board is still needed and wants to know…
Hauser interrupts her making it impossible to hear what Mason is saying.
Mason continues she “…has a right to ask the question…”
Hauser rudely cuts her off, says she is out of order and calls on Olson [not on this committee].
Olson [not on this committee] praises the staff, and says it is a bad idea to spend one time money on the Jump In brochure and other PR. He says kids take priority over PR.
Someone asks how kids are supposed to get to the programs if their parents don’t know about them.
Hauser calls Rich Tice to explain Reserve Funds. [Without the documents Tice provided to the commissioners, it’s hard to get what he is talking about.]
– Most of the $3.8 million in the Operations and Maintenance[??] fund is from the state for regional park improvements, and most of the rest is from[?] land purchase.
– Enterprise Fund is made up of Special Services, i.e. golf courses and refectories, which are self-supporting, and fee-based programs, also self-supporting.
– Internal Service Fund is for equipment and information technology services (e.g. computers); reserves are dedicated to equipment replacement.
– Tax Operating Fund, $7 million balance at end of 2003, 5% reserve for emergencies.
– Other Items include stump removal reserve, urban forestry reserve (for emergencies) and the proposed Mortgage Payoff on the Taj Mahal HQ building.
Mason asks about the Land Purchase Fund, and the money taken out to buy the Taj Mahal HQ building that was labeled as a “loan” in the 2003 annual report, but is now called a “transfer” (which would not have to be paid back). What is the balance?
Tice says that yes, most of the money in that fund was taken out and spent, but does not know the current balance. He says it is certainly less than $100,000.
Mason says the 2003 report says the balance was $6,000. Tice says if that is what the report says, then he believes the balance is $6,000.
Erwin says that Olson said the question was kids versus brochure, but that he thinks the question is brochure versus mortgage payoff.
Dziedzic is also concerned about parents getting notification of programs (which is contained in the Jump In brochure), but he does not think the single-language (English) brochure was very well used or effective. How is the $10,000 going to be used by Recreation to get the word out? Schmidt answers they don’t know yet, but will make their best efforts.
Dziedzic works up a fine outrage and complains they have lots of money in the bank but are getting paid NO INTEREST on it, because the City keeps the interest! [That would be because while Dziedzic was a City Council Member, he worked with Park Board counsel Brian Rice to set it up that way to the city’s advantage.] He says by paying off the mortgage [on the Taj Mahal] the Park Board is being prudent. That’s what you would do if you were home owner with money in the bank paying you no interest.
Fine says he wants to further that argument and says not only is it a good idea to use that money to pay off the mortgage, but that unlike the home owner, the Park Board does not get a mortgage interest deduction on their taxes! [No joke — but then the Park Board does not even pay income taxes to begin with. Fine is apparently no tax attorney.]
Hauser makes some unimportant and forgettable comments.
7.6 approval of proposed 2005 budget passes in the committee, 4 to 1 with Young opposed.
Committee is Adjourned.
* Regular Meeting is reconvened by Olson.
Olson asks for approval of the minutes of the August 18 meeting.
Mason wants the minutes held until missing comments by commissioners late in the meeting can be added. In particular, she is referring to Walt Dziedzic’s threatening remarks [transcript and transcript and Quicktime video].
Hauser feigns complete ignorance of what Mason is talking about even though she was at the meeting in question and was sitting next to Dziedic when he lashed out.
There is motion and Olson calls the voice vote. He says it carries, but then Young asks for a roll call vote.
Roll call vote to approve the Minutes for August 18 As Is With Missing Comments:
Berry Graves: No
Motion passes 5 to 4, in a classic “Gang of Five” maneuver. [Tony Scallon accuses me of using that phrase, yet as the link to the Issues List archive shows, it was actually Mark Snyder.]
* Reports of Officers
Interim superintendent Jon Gurban says he is available for any questions on his report from earlier in the month when he was not able to be present.
Assistant superintendent Mike Schmidt reports on the youth football program.
Erwin asks about coaching levels? Schmidt answers they were ok, it was a good year.
Dziedzic comments that soccer is more popular than football and continues to grow.
Assistant superintendent Judd Rietkerk says Cirque de Soliel is in town looking for sites and have expressed interest in B. F. Nelson and Parade stadium. He says Park staff has discouraged them due to parking problems at those locations but are working on a 2005 Parade show, and that Park staff wants to get an every other year agreement.
Assistant superintendent Don Siggelkow reports that labor negotiations have started.
* Consent Business
Items 2.1 and 2.2 are moved by Mason, seconded by Fine and Passes.
* Reports of Standing Committees
** Planning Committee
Fine moves item 4.1, seconded by Young, Passes.
Hauser moves 7.1, it is seconded, and Passes.
Kummer comments that the county will hold a community meeting regarding this trail construction.
“7.2 That the board authorize staff to NEGOTIATE a purchase agreement with the Columbia Development LP (formerly Lucky Club LLC) for the former Fuji Ya site.”
Hauser moves 7.2.
Someone seconds 7.2.
Mason amends motion to include wording which dedicates the proceeds of this land sale to the Land Acquisition Fund.
Hauser accepts amendment to her motion.
Erwin seconds amended motion. He supports the project but has a question. He says there are no park amenities for a long stretch of the West River Road in this area. He suggests deducting the value of one unit from the price to hold that unit for MPRB future use as restaurant, rest rooms and/or other amenities.
Young wants to amend Mason’s amendment to dedicate the proceeds to purchasing land on the Mississippi. She has concerns over the Columbia Mill ruins tunnels, is it a liability? She also has concerns about parking, particularly for handicapped, and would like to see a “green” roof on the building, which might actually be a selling point with the neighbors who will look down on the proposed building.
Siggelkow says they would need a motion to not use the tunnels for hydro power.
Dziedzic thanks Mason for getting more money for Northeast and Southeast sides of Minneapolis to buy land along the river. Then he talks about how his wife expects him to work on getting a restaurant in that location. Supports Erwin’s idea.
Hauser asks if the bottom level that the Park Board would lease for parking will have power and water.
Siggelkow says yes, power and water, and plan is to sacrifice a few parking stalls to put restrooms in.
Fine comments on the price of what they are selling the land for ($2.5 million minus $750,000 for parking area gives a real price of $1.75 million), and thinks that Erwin’s idea is interesting and supports Erwin and Dziedzic in pursuing it.
Young has one other green idea — reserving a couple of parking stalls for hybrid-powered cars.
Olson wants a clarification on what the motion actually says at this point. There is some disagreement on just what Erwin has proposed.
Hauser accepts amendment to dedicate money to Land Acquisition Fund with dedication to buying Mississippi River front property.
Olson says that opening a restaurant in Minneapolis “is a nightmare” due to all the red tape. He wants that idea to be a separate motion and will oppose it.
The developer (Jeff Arandell? / Columbia Development) is present and says there are restaurants at the Mill City Museum, which is nearby, and (will be) at the Guthrie, when it is built. He also says that the price of one unit in his development will be $1.5 million plus [which makes it sound like there is no way the Park Board can deduct that price from the sale price of $1.75 million — but the negotiated sale could value it at any agreed upon price, since the developer stands to lose a lot more if he does not get the property at all.]
Erwin says he suggestion is no requirement to reserve a unit, just that doing so be part of the negotiation of the sale.
Dziedzic says he will contact preeminent restaurant consultant Mr. Amarcik [I’m sure I’ve butchered the name completely] to get the real low down on putting a restaurant there.
Developer Arandell says he has already talked to Mr. Amarcik[?} earlier this year and that his recommendation was against it!
Erwin remarks that the Mill City Museum restaurant closes at 5pm, and is only accessible by going inside and up 2 floors, which makes it less usable by river front visitors.
Berry Graves says they should vote on this being a discussion between Siggelkow and the developer.
Asst. super. Siggelkow drops the bomb! He says this approval is the FINAL approval by the board for selling the land to the developer.
Confusion breaks out. Several members of the board remark that the agenda clearly states NEGOTIATE, not FINAL sale.
Mason suggests that a restaurant is not part of the core mission of the Park Board, and is therefore opposed to working on bringing one into this project. She says that when the Guthrie opens, the competition will result in the Mill City Museum Cafe extending its hours.
Hauser supports Mason. She reiterates her point about putting some sort of food amenity in the parking area.
Young says a restaurant is not the best use of the space, and reverses her support. She says the Park Board’s priorities are to take care of the land and to take care of the kids; enough new projects.
Kummer supports Mason and Hauser.
Asst. super. Rietkerk talks about the Master Plan, and the Palisade Mill near the Guthrie being identified as restaurant space. He also says the Post Office site is a better choice for a restaurant.
Erwin asks about the Post Office site and withdraws his motion.
Olson reads motion as it now stands to dedicate the proceeds of the sale of the Fuji Ya site to land acquisition along the Mississippi River.
Young adds an amendment to encourage (not require) the developer to consider a green roof. Amendment accepted by Hauser.
7.2, motion to sell land, etc. PASSES.
* Unfinished Business
Resolutions 8.1, 8.2 and 8.3 for assessments to pay cost of removal of diseased elms are moved by Young and seconded by Fine. All PASS unanimously on a roll call vote.
** Superintendent Search Update presented by HR director Mary Page
Page says the search is on schedule and briefly outlines the remaining steps. She notifies the commissioners that one of the three finalists, Dirk Richwine has withdrawn.
Page says interview with candidate Cristofer Gears will be at 5pm on November 30, and interview with candidate Jon Gurban will be at 6pm on November 30. These interviews are open to the public.
Berry Graves ask when the background check information will be given to the commissioners. The answer is Friday, November 26, the day after Thanksgiving, when the Park Board offices are closed.
Mason says that means they won’t really receive the information until Monday, November 29 and that the board needs time to discuss it. Can the commissioners get this information sent to them at home so that they can get it soon enough? She asks if both candidates will be tested.
Page answers that only Gears needs to be tested because the testing company, DRI, says the test is valid for several years and Gurban took the test last year. Gurban has the choice of taking the test again if he wants. [Gurban took the test home last year when he took it — hardly a controlled environment]
Mason says both candidates should take the test in the same manner and fashion.
Olson says that DRI is the experts on testing, etc. [but the answer they give to validity of past tests all depends on how the question is asked, doesn’t it?]
Berry Graves asks if criminal background check will be NCIC or MnSUS[?] or both? She has professional concerns about the test; in her full time job they would not allow tests to be taken home, but instead require them to be taken in a controlled environment.
Hauser agrees with Mason and Berry Graves, and cites her professional background as well. She says “for the sake of appearances” Gurban’s test should be repeated. Then she says something about data privacy not allowing the commissioners to see the results, and mentions federal law. [It’s the State of Minnesota that has the applicable data privacy law, not the feds. Usually applicants sign a waiver allowing potential employer to see things precluded by law, anyway, just as you do when you visit your doctor because federal law actually does restrict who can see your medical records.]
Page points out that it is a management assessment test, not a psychological exam.
Siggelkow reiterates it is a managerial assessment and he has taken several of them.
Erwin addresses the concerns about these test no longer being on paper anymore but on computers and how can that be done in a controlled environment. He suggests the applicants can take the test in the same room at the Park Board, if need be. He agrees with Hauser that it needs to be consistent between candidates for appearance sake. He asks if they can talk to DRI, the testing group, to arrange it.
Berry Graves asks if Park Board might have a liability issue with using only a management assessment and not a psychological exam.
Page says no law requires it.
Berry Graves wants it on the record that the Park Board has required psychological testing in the past and have used a company called Barnett[?] to do it.
Young suggests that the board does not need to see the hard to get exam results before the November 30 interviews, but just before they actually make their decision. Actual vote on hiring will be done on December 8.
Page says testing takes about 6 hours each.
Young says the length of the testing makes it even more unrealistic to expect this be completed by the holidays. She asks how will the questions and interviews be handled?
Olson says we have discussed the management assessment tests. We will the interview questioning discussion as soon as possible.
Kummer says it is not essential to have testing done by November 30 as they have until December 8 to decide. She also wants to know how they will question the candidates.
Hauser agrees with Young and Kummer.
Olson says the other item on the agenda is a concern brought to him by Young about the charter commission and the work they are doing. Olson creates a committee composed of Young, Fine and Dziedzic to work with counsel Brian Rice in influencing the charter commission.
Young says that she has no exact date as to when this committee will get back to the board with a report due to unknowns at present, but that the committee will take care of what needs to be done post haste.
Olson says there will be a 5 minute recess before the long discussion of the questioning and interviewing of the candidates.
Olson calls the Regular Meeting back to order.
Dziedzic says that Hennepin County commissioner Peter McLaughlin has stated the County will put up $100,000 to go with $250,000 from the State to finish the study on completing the Grand Rounds.
Olson suggests the board meet next Wednesday, before Thanksgiving, to discuss the questions to be asked during the board interviews of the superintendent candidates.
Hauser immediately makes a motion to do just that.
Young, in a very emotional voice, says she is very opposed to the idea, she had planned for a very long time to be out of town that week.
Kummer says she understands Young’s distress, but that they can take Young’s questions [in writing] and treat them gently.
Hauser says she likewise understands Young and asks can’t the discussion be held now?
Olson says that Young has her questions ready tonight, but sorry, it would be unfair to the others who have not yet prepared their questions.
Berry Graves says she will also be gone that day.
Mason says she thought that previous discussion had concluded that the list of questions would be the same as last time, but with the opportunity for each commissioner to choose one new question. [Yes, in fact that is exactly what was brought up by Young and Mason at the November 3 meeting.]
Hauser agrees with Mason and says they can either send their questions to Mary Page or discuss them next week.
Young points out that all of the commissioners had 2 weeks in which to prepare their individual single questions. She is very upset and says that while she had planned to be out of town that she thought this process was important enough that if they wanted to have their meeting next week, to go ahead. But she doesn’t see why board members are not ready tonight…
Olson cuts her off, repeatedly stating that it is not on the agenda [which he determines] and tells Young she is out of order!
Berry Graves asks if there is a background question as to any felony or misdemeanor convictions, as is often the case on standard job applications.
Olson says Mary Page is gone, so too bad she didn’t ask her question earlier.
Hauser moves that they use same list of questions as last time and add one question per commissioner to be sent to Mary Page.
Motion Passes unanimously. There will be NO meeting next week.
* Petitions and Communications
Mason received several letters, including one from CM Dean Zimmerman.
Hauser received a letter about young children playing on clay after a child broke a bone[?] while doing so.
Motion to Adjourn. Passes with Young opposed.
7:15pm – Adjourned