Monthly Archives: February 2005

Minneapolis Observer: Council and Park Board Need to Work Together

Much has been made in the past week of the city’s current Dutch elm disease crisis, and for good reason: Nearly 10,000 elms have been lost in the past year, and Park Board officials expect to lose a similar number in 2005. It’s the sort of emergency that will require ample cooperation between the Park Board and the City Council. Unfortunately, there’s little to suggest that such cooperation is going to be forthcoming.

Part of the reason has to do with structure. Park Board commissioners–as well as staff–have a tendency to exploit the Board’s independent status by proposing (and sometimes implementing) initiatives without consulting with council members or their constituents. Recently, we witnessed a classic example of this behavior, when Park Board Superintendent Jon Gurban announced his intention to explore rebuilding Parade Stadium. Seventh Ward Council Member Lisa Goodman, who represents the area, was outraged that she had not been notified of the concept.
This sort of arrogance cropped up again last week, when Park Board president Jon Olson appeared before the council to ask for help in dealing with the Dutch elm crisis.

Because Park Board arborists are scrambling simply to remove the diseased elms before they contaminate other healthy elms, Olson asked that the city’s Public Works staff pitch in to help in various ways and that the city consider creating a place within the city limits where the diseased logs can be processed. This brought an outraged reaction from Council Member Scott Benson (Ward 11), who called it a “bail out” of the Park Board. Benson was especially perturbed by Olson’s earlier remarks criticizing the council’s inability to maintain the police force at acceptable levels of staffing and implying that the Park Board had better managed its budget. “Wouldn’t you find that galling?” Benson asked Park Board Commissioner John Erwin.

Read entire article here: February 7 , 2005: Raves, Rants, and other Considered Opinions

February 2, 2005 Meeting Report

The Regular Meeting began at 4:30 pm and was closed to the public for a discussion of pending worker’s compensation litigation.

The Standards and Conduct committee (Chair Kummer, Commissioners Dziedzic and Fine) started at 5:00.

GM for Admin Don Siggelkow reported that he had been contacted regarding a rule about the Board Secretary reporting on all pending matters before the committees during the first meetings in the months of December and June. He had looked up the rule and also researched if it had been followed by previous secretaries to the board. He found no such reports for the past 20 years and gave the commissioners three options he felt they could choose amongst to handle the situation…
1. Have the Board Secretary prepare a list of items that “might ” come before the board during the upcoming year (would involve prediction and be rather inaccurate)
2. Report on a list of standing issues
3 Compile a report that could be a combination of both

Commissioner Kummer felt that maybe it was an obsolete rule and should changed due to lack of use during the past 20 years
Commissioner Fine asked for the exact language of the rule and Don Siggelkow provided it and added a forth option of dropping the rule.
Some discussion was had over interpretation of what pending matters meant and Commissioner Fine suggested that it appeared to mean items that had not concluded
Commissioner Erwin agreed and said it was a housekeeping issue and would help get closure on issues, especially on items that the public had brought forward and involved referral to staff.
Commissioner Kummer suggested it be rewritten to be more useful
GM Siggelkow suggested January and June would be more appropriate times for reporting and Commissioner Kummer agreed it would conflict less with December budget talks.
More discussion was had about the predicting what might be on future agendas and it was decided that it would create havoc.
Commissioner Fine stated that it was intended for cleaning up old business.
Commissioner Erwin suggested changing pending matters to unfinished business to make it clearer
Commissioner Fine (on the committee) made a motion of same and it passed

The next discussion was on agenda items, and enforcing the policy of items needing to be turned in 1 1/2 weeks before the next meeting for information to go out in commissioners packets and for mailed agendas and website agendas to conform. This would avoid items coming in at the last minute and no time to review background information.
Commissioner Kummer asked if there was an emergency what would happen.
Commissioner Hauser supported the change when it was recommended by Commissioner Mason at the last meeting and mentioned that a vote could be taken to suspend the rules and add something to the agenda in an emergency.
Commissioner Dziedzic made a motion for this and it passed.

OPEN TIME CHANGES
GM Siggelkow recommended that like the agenda items, people signing up for OPEN TIME should do so one week prior to the next meeting or that OPEN TIME should be moved in the agenda to 4:45pm prior to the start of the meeting to facilitate moving the agenda along more smoothly without the break at 6:00 for OPEN TIME. After all OPEN TIME is for the public to communicate with the BOARD not an open mike situation.

Commissioner Erwin mentions that 1 week ahead is probably too long and suggests by Monday of the week of the meeting
Commissioner Kummer agrees and suggests that someone might just sign up every week to be on the safe side
Commissiner Fine moves that the sign up deadline be moved to Monday
Commissioner Hauser also thinks Monday would be good.
Motion Passes

As to moving OPEN TIME to 4:45 Commissioner Kummer thinks it is a bad idea but agrees that some people are abusing the opportunity to be at the microphone and that maybe it should be at the discretion of the President
Commissioner Fine asks if OPEN TIME or anything like it is used by other city boards
GM Siggelkow… NO
Commissioner Fine reiterates that it is suppose to be a time for speaking to the BOARD and is turning into a soap box for televised speeches
Commissioner Erwin suggests changing the format rather than the time
Commissioner Dziedzic refers to it as “Dziedzic Bashing time”
Commissioner Erwin suggests more explicit rules
Commissioner Berry Graves mentions that the 15 minutes the committee is alloted has been over for quite awhile
Commissioner Fine moves that OPEN TIME be moved to 4:45pm so as not to appear on TV.
Motion passes Kummer NO Fine and Dziedzic YES (the item is moved to the FULL BOARD for a vote at the next meeting)

Superintendents Reports
GM Siggelkow asks that the board make a motion to move the Superintendents Report from the 1st meeting of the month to the 2nd as the current Superintendent prefers to do the report in writing and it would work better.
Commissioner Dziedzic makes the motion and it passes.

Standards and Conduct Adjourns at 5:30

Administration and Finance

2 projects on the agenda that have cost over runs and need change order $$$ increases and a low bid acceptance are moved by Commissioner Dziedzic. (all passed after discussion that follows)
Commissioner Berry Graves asks for an explanation of the perpetual project with constant increases (Lake of the Isles Restoration).
Tim (sorry no last name given) explains that because of the segmented stages of the project (voting on phase III) there needs to be adjustments
Commissioner Berry Graves asks for more detail
Tim explains that as the project has progressed more things have come up, including permitting delays at state agencies, timing changes to coincide with other projects (some of the fill used was from the berms a Jordan Park and some from the Guthrie project) and some was due to more clean up and more engineering effort than expected. The overall increase is at 10% which is considered to be reasonable
Commissioner Erwin asks if the Operating and Maintenance budget is being tapped for the extra dollars as it is a state funded project?
Tim says no, there were contingency dollars available

Commissioner Berry Graves then asks about the Mill Ruins Park project.
Rachel (also staff and I didn’t hear the last name, sorry) explained that the construction being undertaken was to have been part of Phase 1 but the money ran out and now it is to be included in Phase 4.

Commissioner Berry Graves says she just wants to make sure the information is available to the public
Commissioner Dziedzic asks why this bid was accepted since it wasn’t the lowest
Rachel explains that is wasn’t a true low bid and explained how there had been changes made from RFP requested items
Commissioner Hauser thanked her for finding this within the minute details of the contract.

Admin and Finance adjourns at 5:42

5:43 Planning Committee

Action Item 4.1 That the Board Approve the Schematic Plans for the Proposed University Rowing Facilities in East River Flats Park.
Head of Planning Judd Reitkerk showed a power point presentation on the history of the park from the MPRB acquiring it in 1883 to the present. the Mississippi Watershed Organization will provide the funding for the road, parking lot and storm water filtration system (for the run off from the road and lot so as not to feed directly into the Mississippi) and the U of M will build the proposed boathouse.

U of M representatives Joel Maturi and Gina Sullivan ( and 20 others in the audience from the rowing coach and team members to Deborah Olson who will be raising the $$ for the building) gave a presentation including drawings and park schematics of the building.

The university had approached the MPRB about building a boathouse at the site in 2001 but plans were never finalized and then there came a moratorium on sports facility building. It has been lifted and thus the presentation.
The park has been designed to give a path from the green spaces in front of Northrup auditorium all the way to the river front.

The university feels it fits into the MPRB mission by working good in the flood plain (how exactly does any building fit in a flood plain????)
Increasing visibility and making the space more open to the public
Providing opportunities for adult and youth programming (public restrooms and public dock not part of boathouse)
Utilizes the river as a focal point for the U of M
and shows a commitment to title IX compliance

The new boathouse would replace the current facilities ( a shed for the men and a tent for the women) and provide a safe environment and secure storage
There are 80 women and 60 men in the U of M crew program

Mr. Maturi and Ms. Sullivan then went on to describe the programming opportunities he U could provide and they were…
Athletic clinics, Swim and rowing classes, overnight rowing camp, youth clinics (over 25 sports represented at the U of M) and youth scholarships to the previously mentioned clinics. They could also promote internships and volunteer opportunities for their students with the MPRB, help the MPRB get access to campus facilities for programs, complimentary tickets to things and autographed sports items. (ALL FOR THE LEASE PRICE OF ????? 0$$$$?????)

They were available to take questions after OPEN TIME

6:06 OPEN TIME
Scott Vreeland came before the MPRB to ask them how he could help them complete the project at Edgewater Park in NE Minneapolis. The funding for most of the park renovation is available from the MWMO (Mississippi Watershed) but they can not fund items like benches, shelters etc… and the project needs an additional $3-400,000 to be completed. Mr. Vreeland would like to see the MPRB finish this project and would be willing to help in anyway he could to facilitate that happening.

Presentation by the MPRB on behalf of the JR NBA and JR WNBA Organization to Jonah Travis. He was nominated and won an award as an ALL REGION PLAYER (1 of 145 in the region of 575 nation wide) Jonah is a 6th grader at Marcy and participates through Van Cleve Rec +. He was presented with a medal and certificate and there was a Photo Op.

6:16 pm….the boathouse con’t

Commissioner Hauser moves 4.1.. a great day for women’s sports
Commissioner Dziedzic envisions a grand future on the riverfront…….mentions a letter from the Prospect Park Neighborhood…..2nds the motion
Commissioner Berry Graves is glad there will be programming for youth but asks about safety are lights, emergency phones, cameras?
lights and a “blue light ” campus phone yes, surveillance cameras not in the plan presently as there would be $$$ concerns over installation and monitoring
Commissioner Berry Graves believes the cost up front would be cheaper than having to add it later after incidents.

Commissioner Erwin states he will need to abstain from voting as an employee of the University. He asked on behalf of Commissioner Young if the problems with the neighborhood had been addressed and if they were considering a green roof or a solar paneled roof?
He himself was heartened to see the U working with the MPRB and was wondering if since they were eliminating green space if they would be contributing some in return and hoped they would work on the river with the MPRB on the ecology of the Gorge.
{no reply}
Commissioner Kummer liked this design over the previously submitted one and hoped they would include as many green features as possible
Commissioner Fine (as a U of M alumni and activist for youth sports) was glad to see this be inviting of people to the riverfront
The committee voted to send it to the full board with Commissioner Erwin abstaining

Other items passed from committee to full board

6:35 Recreation Committee

Judy and Jay Hoeschler from LaCrosse Wi gave a presentation on the ILRA (International Log Rolling Association) and about holding the World Championships at North Regions Mississippi Park (for information read this article.. http://www.rgj.com/news/stories/html/2003/07/09/46525.php)
The ILRA had hoped to secure sponsorship and support to make log rolling part of the Aquatenniel Celebration
They will have their tanks set up right along the river

Commissioner Berry Graves asks if there will be youth clinics
they could have demo stations for people to try but these items would need to be discussed
The plan is to bring the event here and then work with the MPRB to also bring the sport to the parks

Commissioner Berry Graves asks about set up and special equipment
pool, carpet log and tennis shoes are all you need
Commissioner Erwin would like to see the full plan for the event
Commissioner Olson states the rec part would need to be pursued through staff and that for the World Championships they are recruiting sponsors and will raise the $$$
Commissioner Dziedzic is for it if the money is raised
Question is called and passed

Commissioner Berry Graves makes a motion to direct staff to work with the USLRA to form a youth log rolling program.
Commissioner Dziedzic asks how it will be paid for.
Commissioner Erwin says we aren’t approving the program just getting staff recommendations
Commissioner Olson says they will try to get money for the championships and to bring the sport to the parks
Motion passes
Commissioner Berry Graves motions to add both to full board vote today
Passed out of committee to tonight’s full board for vote

Recreation adjourns.

7:05 back to the regular meeting

Superintendent’s report
Jon Gurban reports that the Foundation held elections and the President will be Frank Quillacy, VP Billy Weisman, Treasurer Don Siggelkow and Secretary Trent Tucker

Head of Planning Judd Reitkerk reports that the Above the Falls TEA3 Grant for $4.5 million was resubmitted and is being processed

Consent Business was passed without discussion ($193,000 plus undisclosed workman’s comp settlement dollars)
Consulting project for no more than $57,418 passed for Mill Ruins Tunnel Stabilization
Contract changes discussed in Admin and Finance for $35,000 passed
Log Rolling Competition and Rec Sports “study” passed (wonder how much staff time will be spent on these World Championships and if the sponsors will be reimbursing the MPRB?????)

Petitions and Communications
Commissioner Dziedzic… Karen Clark not happy with delay in getting East Phillips Community Center proposal in time for bonding requests
Commissioner Erwin… Public Works committee is working cooperatively with staff in getting the Dutch Elm diseased trees down and are looking for a local staging area
Commissioner Hauser.. Getting lots of calls from both sides of the DeLaSalle issue
Commissioner Kummer.. Was contacted by the Nokomis East Neighborhood Association about helping to plant trees using NRP $$ and also DeLa Salle calls
Commissioner Berry Graves apologized for missing the commissioner retreat..family emergency, also had many DeLaSalle calls from both sides, McPhail is planning a week at Lake Harriet with Suzuki students from iceland to perform and Don Shelby will be working on the commissioners golf tourney and will help make their fundraising goal HAPPEN
Commissioner Fine brought to the attention of the board a news release on the Bureau of Mines project and feels the MPRB should be involved (the land between Minnehaha Falls and Fort Snelling is to be dealt with in 2005)

Meeting Adjourned at 7:15pm

Collected Works of Park Board Attorney/Lobbyist Brian Rice – Part II

Yesterday I posted Part I of the Collected Works of Brian Rice. This is Part II of the Collected Works of Brian Rice. These are presented partly in response to some popular demand. I got a number of private email messages expressing appreciation for the first in the Brian Rice series. I’d like to encourage Rice to come back to the list. I very much enjoyed reading his posts during the short time he was active on the list.

[List Meister David] Brauer responded within 20 minutes with a post about past sins, which mentioned people getting kicked off the list and coming back. I can’t read minds, but thought he may have been thinking of me – because yes, I was booted from the list because I posted from a CJ gossip column about one of the current candidates for Mayor. I’m joined by a number of other valuable list regulars who have been booted in the past – Jim Graham, Paul Kuettel to name a few.

In the first post, Rice goes after yours truly.

Money quote:

I think Eva’s last shot is typical of the rude, spiteful, cross, surly, ill-mannered and generally unpleasant tone of the e-mails I’ve noticed on this Forum. Par for the course! I know now why as a parent you are advised to keep your children out of chat rooms. I’m sure the vast majority of the members of the Forum are well-read, thoughtful Minneapolitans who take their civic duties seriously. I have appreciated many of the comments both on line and off line from people who were on both sides of this issue and I respect both.

Actually, I’ve always thought the reason to keep kids out of chat rooms is to keep them away from predators. I’ve always thought encouraging kids to participate in online political discussions is a way to get kids more engaged in the civic process while they are young.

Rice vs Young

Brian Rice brice@rmjlaw.net
Tue Aug 27 18:34:00 2002

For anyone who has followed this issue with more than a modicum of intelligence, they would know that the Park Board entered into a purchase agreement with Moore Business Forms. Like all purchase agreements a closing date was set when the purchase agreement was signed. I believe the agreement was entered into in late June and that agreement had a closing date of August 19, 2002. Based on the purchase price, the Park Board went in search of financing. First, the city which demuured. Then, the Board found it could mortgage the property and secured a commitment from Wells/Fargo. Wells/Fargo went to the market and lined up investors. Based and the investment climate, Wells/Fargo committed to a specific time sensitive interest rate knowing the deal had a closing date of August 19,2003. All of these facts were brought forward at the public meetings and in the documents presented at the meetings. To answer Eva’s question more directly, no I did not advise the Board to close the deal to cut off public debate. The board by its actions and agreements it entered into was fully aware when the closing would occur. And the deal took its course.

I think Eva’s last shot is typical of the rude, spiteful, cross, surly, ill-mannered and generally unpleasant tone of the e-mails I’ve noticed on this Forum. Par for the course! I know now why as a parent you are advised to keep your children out of chat rooms. I’m sure the vast majority of the members of the Forum are well-read, thoughtful Minneapolitans who take their civic duties seriously. I have appreciated many of the comments both on line and off line from people who were on both sides of this issue and I respect both. I can see where this Forum can–in theory–be capable of providing better connections and more direct information to expand the effusion of knowledge. However, the issue that engaged me in the debate on this Forum–the Park Board acquistion–has demonstrated the much less noble aspect of this Forum. As evidenced by Eva Young’s freewheeling snideness. Just as I’m sure many participants in this Forum are well meaning and open minded, I’m sure that could be said of all chat rooms. Still, I’ve learned a good lesson: I’ll keep my sons out of chat rooms based on sound advice and I’ll do the same for myself. Mr. List manager please remove my e-mail address from the Forum.

Brian Rice

[This was the email he responded to]

—–Original Message—–
From: mpls-admin@mnforum.org [mailto:mpls-admin@mnforum.org]On Behalf Of
Eva Young
Sent: Tuesday, August 27, 2002 3:46 PM
To: Michael Hohmann; [mpls]
Subject: Re: [Mpls] MPRB closes on new digs

At 03:38 PM 8/27/02 -0500, Michael Hohmann wrote:
>FYI– for those interested in the discussion about the MPRB purchase of a HQ
>building at 2117 W. River Road, the deal was closed yesterday. I guess any
>questions regarding the financing are moot for the time being!

This is so arrogant. I think the Park Board will pay for their arrogance on this one at the polls next time.

I have a question though — Did Brian Rice advise the park board to do this hasty closing to close off further public debate over this?

Defending the Park Boards New Digs….

[Mpls] Bob Fine Editorial – The Park Board’s numbers are fishy

Brian Rice brice@rmjlaw.net

Mon Aug 26 12:09:00 2002

I’ll stand corrected on the assessed value. I wrote that response late at night and that’s why I prefaced my comments with “I beieve”. As most property owners know the assessor valuation may not reflect the market. And as I commented there was another buyer ready to offer more, but on different terms. The Park Board obtained two appraisals. The lowest was for $3.2 million. The aquisition price was slightly less than $3 million. I’ll repeat for hopefully the last time, the financing mechanism used for the purchase can’t be used for operational expenses. The Park Board has a power unique among political subdivisions in the state–the ability to mortgage property.

There are no new dollars in the 2003 budget for the Park Board’s office space–hence the notion that programs will be cut is simply nice sounding rhetoric, but ill-informed rhetoric nonetheless. Rent and parking for the downtown office is $430,000 per year and going up. Prinicipal and interest payments to Wells Fargo on the mortgage at the new building are $256,000 per year. For less money the taxpayers are getting three times the space as renting. The asset is quite real and tangible and easier to liquidate than say city hall. As far as Jordan goes, it will most likely be better served with a new northside service center as will other north and eastside parks.

A private post to Brauer that got posted to the list by Brauer:

> —–Original Message—–
> From: Brian Rice [mailto:brice@rmjlaw.net]
> Sent: Friday, August 16, 2002 7:24 PM
> To: ‘David Brauer’
> Subject: RE: [Mpls] Board of Estimate announces move to Lyndale Farmstead

> I’ve done my 2 for the day. So I’ll write directly to you with some offline comments. It’s laughable that you call this a civil city civic
discussion.

> Look at the apology from the guy who attacked emily and got me going.

I guess on the internet public employees are “characters” and I guess you can set the rules one minute and write pieces like this the next. And then as “list manager” discipline people and accept the limp apologies. For
your information Pat Born the city finance director told the Park Board staff to get ahold of Dick Miller at Wells Fargo to figure out the financing after the City council tabled the matter. Wells Fargo has done several of
these types of acquistions for the city and non-profits. In fact earlier this year the MCDA of the HRA bought a building and property on the northside with none of the discusion the Park Board has had. Where was the Mayor then? Dick advised the Superindent and the staff that he didn’t think the Mayor
would veto the plan. While he may not have any inside information his judgement is usually good. The mayor , ostrow and barb johnson all said it was a good idea originally. In fact Pat Born offered to have the city buy the property and rent soome of it to the Park Board. So what politics do you think are going on? If the mayor thinks we need a long term plan for city offices, well then let him say so. Such a plan will probably take at least three years to develop and knowing the city it won’t include the park board. As far as your insights into the rental market, they are simplistic at best. I can’t believe I wasted the better part of a day on this drivel.

And another:

I don’t find snide attacks on public servants to be funny. One of the members of the Forum pointed out the demeaning response issued to Emily Ero Phillips post. Emily is a decent, compassionate and hardworking public servant. She is not Bill Clinton’s handmaiden.

The Board of Estimate and Taxation has I believe one full time employee and one half time employee. The Park Board has 500 full time employess and at least that many part time and seasonal employees. The Board of Estimate has
no land to manage, no vehicles, no trash to pick up, no collective bargaining agreements and no lawsuits to defend. To analogize the two is sophomoric at best and in the context of the other attacks I saw today on the Park Board on this issue adds absolutely nothing to informing the Forum or furthering the understanding of the issue. Yeah its cute, yeah its flip, yeah its cool, but yeah its shallow, lame and weak at the same time. Especially when the author apparently wants to stir the Forum up against the Park Board.

As to why there hasn’t been more information posted by the “pros” on the issue I can’t answer for the Board.
For myself I was stirred into action after I saw the derogatory piece on Emily. Obviously some members of the Forum have made up their minds and the truth be damned and let’s insult the messengers who try to bring it forward.
Given the responses to my first posting I think for list manager to claim that those comments of a few people represents the “hoi polloi”, in Greek meaning the people or masses, is quite an overstatement. I posted my earlier e-mail personally. I identified myself as the Park Board attorney so readers would know what my background on the issue was. I certainly don’t object to any public input on any matter. And I for one think the Park Board’s decision was very wise and will stand the test of time. I also think the list manager’s view of the comments to date on the subject of being representative of the masses is absurd at best. I respectfully submit that those views been less than well informed. And when others, like myself and Emily, make a good faith effort to inform the list we are meet with scorn and derision by several of the memnbers, what are we to think? Even the list manager’s latest posting takes the approach that every word should be suspect and the masses should rise up. What an approach.

I apologize to the Forum members who have not posted on this issue and who found my comments in anyway demeaning to you. As to those who did post with the exception of Mr. Strand I offer no apology. I thought I was trying to provide some illumination. But I guess some of the list members they would much rather give than receive. And they would much rather view their own thoughts and insights as being those of only the most informed. And the list manager himself seems more than willing to set the thoughtful and respectful tone which I have seen today and on other days this week, like the comments about Steve Brandt. I reiterate, Phyllis and Annie told me this was worthwhile. They didn’t tell me I was Alice about to fall through the looking glass. Now that the rules are perfectly clear it’s time for tea.

Brian Rice

Collected Works of Park Board Attorney/Lobbyist Brian Rice

Originally posted to Minneapolis Issues.

I meant to post this when Rice got officially re-hired by the Park Board – but better late than never.

Most of his posts were rather unprofessional – and surprising for someone posting on behalf of the Park Board. I asked several commissioners – including John Erwin and Jon Olson what they thought of Rice’s postings to the list – and whether Rice was familiar the First Amendment. Neither commissioner defended those postings – and both seemed to think his postings to the list were an embarrassment to the Park Board.

But the Park Board commissioners – both Erwin and Olson – seem to think Brian Rice is the best thing since sliced bread for the Park Board.

I’m also happy that Carol Kummer has joined the list – and it will be interesting to see her debate her opponent, Jason Stone on this list.

Is anyone running against Jon Olson?

Eva Young
Near North

On his entrance into the forum:

Over 200 years ago well before the internet and the Minneapolis Forum, Alexander Pope wrote “A little learning is a dangerous thing”. How profoundly prescience. About two weeks ago I enrolled in the Forum. I’d heard about it from State Representative Phyliis Kahn and
Park Commissioner Annie Young, two committed public servants whose opinions I respect. I thought I would become better informed and find some thoughtful and well reasoning minds. For the most part I have been disappointed.

Members seem to instantly write about things of which they know little, form opinions with very little reflection and occassionally descend into a smug state of snideness as evidenced below.

*****snip*****

I find it less than helpful when satiric pieces such as the one produced by the list manager are published. This is especially so when there is an evident lack of information about the topic. It seems to me this Forum is exactly the type of medium that our current Governor thrives in. From reading some of the recent messages it also seems that this Forum is perhaps a potentially lethal breeding for libelous inaccuracies. Based on the time I’ve spent writing on this issue, I think this may be my first and last contribution to the Forum. Although I’m reminded at this point of another great author’s views on the topic. A century after Pope, Samuel Langhorne Clemens wrote, “A lie can get half way around the world before the truth even gets its shoes on.” Brian F. Rice
Mpls Park Board Attorney

Bashing the List Meister, David Brauer.

Lucky my wife and kids are up at a ymca camp this week. The research I’ve seen shows that the vacancy rates were the highest 10 years ago. Twenty years ago was pre-everything but the IDS. This I think is an example of the
ridiculous exagerations I see all the time in this Forum. Related to the early 1990’s vacany rate was the severe property tax crunch the city faced because of the dramatic over building that occurred in the late 1980’s. I
don’t believe that on a relative basis we have yet approached the problem in the early 1990’s. The comparaion to the early 1980’s by Brauer is simply inappossite.
For anyone to buy the line about stern warnings read the so-called apology. Laughable. (OH, I’m So sorry.) I disagree with Brauer’s response that only one of the posts delved into personalities on this subject. The only one that didn’t was Mr. Strand’s. Every other one attacked Emily, attempted to malign my arguments with the fact I am suposedly in it for the “fees” or they attacked Board members saying the decision should lead to their removal.

To call the comments I saw this week a “civil city civic” discussion is truly the best piece of humor I’ve seen. Now I can laugh at that one. For now it really is time to go and feed the dog. Brian Rice

More Brauer bashing

I think that the list manager should undertake a case study of this issue. I monitored the discussion of this issue and I bit my tongue several times over the last several days. The discussion quickly became critical to the point of several members suggesting that Commissioners be unelected over their votes on this single issue. A park board employee was called a “character” when trying to provide the Forum members information. One Forum member suggested that Com Dziedzic was for the building acquistion so he
wouldn’t have to drive as far to meetings. (This statement is probably false as Dziedzic lives right off 35W and is minutes from downtown and his house is on the extreme eastern border of northeast.) I was accused of being “in
it” only for the legal fees. (By the way I’m not billing anyone for my time; I just got sick of the stream of garbage that popped up on my computer and when Emily’s effort to provide some information meet with the derisive email of Mr. Kuettel I felt enough was enough. Unfortunately for me most of what has come back is in the same tone as the response to Emily. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised.

I’ve monitored other topics although with less interest. While this is a great medium to allow people to communicate and obtain information and insights not readily availible through the press, I’m am truly shocked as to the willingness of some members to ascribe evil motives to people. I’m more bothered by the blatant disregard for people and in some cases the truth. I told a fellow lawyer that I think a found a treasure trove for libel and defamation lawsuits earlier this week. This was after I’d seen some of the assertions put out on this Forum. I know that some member will now accuse me of being a bully and threatening lawsuits, but I’m not. I’m simply saying that our rights to free speech are predicated on it being truthful speech, unless of course we are the press. I’m also bothered by the fact that some mebers of this Forum believe they are entitled to others to take their time to respond to their inquires. Some postings I’ve seen, like Lisa McDoanld’s, have been very thoughtful and whatever her views she should be commended for the time and effort she put forward to offer her thoughts. However, I think that some mebers of this Forum have a sense of entitlement and self-importance that is troubling. While the list I’m sure contains many opinion makers, I’m surprised at the attitudes and opinions expressed; they seem more like the buy and sell decisions of a day trader at the height of the .com frenzy.

If people want information then they should be willing to at least read and try to understand it. If they have questions then ask for more. If they want to express an opinion then do in a manner that tells the other members what the basis of the opinion is. A before people like David Brauer launch into pieces like the Board of Estimate new release they ought to reflect on what effect that is going to have on people like me who thought this was a serious medium.

Park Board Moves to Squelch Public Comment

On Wednesday, February 2nd, the Standards and Conduct Committee of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board voted to move the open time for public comment from 6:00pm to 4:45pm at future meetings pending a full board vote on February 16th.

As Park Board meetings usually start at 5:00pm, the live and recorded cable TV coverage of these meetings is scheduled for 5:00pm to 8:00pm. Moving the open time so that it is “off the air” clearly attempts to diminish the usefulness of public commentary. Further, as most citizens have day jobs, getting to the Park Board at 4:45pm will be a hardship for many, further yet reducing the effectiveness of open time.

Clearly the intent by Commissioners Bob Fine and Walt Dziedzic is to prevent those who disagree with their heavy-handed, self-serving politics from being heard.

Having attended most of the meetings during the past year I feel that every issue brought to the podium has been specific to the MPRB and how they do business. If you feel that this move should be stopped please contact the commissioners at:

Rochelle Berry Graves
Commissioner At Large
Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board
2117 West River Road
Minneapolis, MN 55411-2227
612-230-6443 ext. 7

M. Annie Young
Commissioner At Large
Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board
2117 West River Road
Minneapolis, MN 55411-2227
612-729-3359
anniey@visi.com

John Erwin
Commissioner At Large
Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board
2117 West River Road
Minneapolis, MN 55411-2227
612-230-6443 ext. 8
erwin001@umn.edu

Walt Dziedzic
Commissioner District 1
Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board
2117 West River Road
Minneapolis, MN 55411-2227
612-230-6443 ext. 1
waltdz@hotmail.com

Jon Olson
Commissioner District 2
Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board
2117 West River Road
Minneapolis, MN 55411-2227
612-230-6443 ext. 2

Marie Hauser
Commissioner District 3
Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board
2117 West River Road
Minneapolis, MN 55411-2227
612-230-6443 ext. 3
MarieH@visi.com

Vivian M. Mason
Commissioner District 4
Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board
2117 West River Road
Minneapolis, MN 55411-2227
612-377-5238
vivianmason@earthlink.net

Carol A. Kummer
Commissioner District 5
Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board
2117 West River Road
Minneapolis, MN 55411-2227
612-230-6443 ext. 5
carolkummer@earthlink.net

Bob Fine
Commissioner District 6
Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board
2117 West River Road
Minneapolis, MN 55411-2227
612-230-6443 ext. 6
yorkfines@juno.com

Skyway News: Deed Restriction Complicates DeLaSalle Field Plan

By Scott Russell

Meanwhile, Park Board OKs Nicollet Island Inn sale

A new hurdle has surfaced in DeLaSalle High School’s plans to build a multisport athletic facility on Nicollet Island: part of the site has a deed restriction that requires the land remain a regional park.

DeLaSalle officials have floated a plan to lease Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board land to build the football/soccer/softball field with 600-seat bleachers. DeLaSalle controls 70 percent of the site; it needs the other 30 percent from the Park Board.

DeLaSalle would pay for the improvements and get the home field advantage it has long wanted. In return, the Park Board would get to use the facility during the summer.

However, the Park Board acquired at least part of the proposed site with a $1.1 million grant from the Metropolitan Council, said Arne Stefferud, a Met Council planning analyst. The grant required the Park Board to have a restrictive deed covenant limiting the land to a regional park.

Stefferud said any land deal – even if it were only a small piece of original purchase – needs Met Council review and approval. Further, the Met Council’s regional parks policy says that if land is going to be converted to a nonpark use, it requires an equally valuable exchange of land or facilities, he said.

Barry Lieski, DeLaSalle principal, said the school was unaware of the deed restriction on Park Board land until project opponents raised the issue at a recent public meeting.

Superintendent Jon Gurban said his staff was investigating the deed-related issues.

The project is in its infancy. DeLaSalle officials have had informal talks with Park Board staff about the approval process but have not given the Park Board a formal proposal.

“We don’t have a donor lined up to pay for this,” Lieski said. “We don’t know how much it would cost.”

Still, a key Park Board vote could be on the horizon.

Lieski said DeLaSalle supporters surveyed the Park Board members informally to get their initial reactions. “To a person, they said yes – but we need to know more,” he said.

However, the school doesn’t want to spend a lot of money on architectural drawings and land surveys until it has a more formal indication of support, he said.

School officials plan to bring a resolution to the Park Board to encourage the school to proceed. No date is set to present the resolution, but Lieski said: “The sooner the better.”

Advocates and opponents of the DeLaSalle stadium attended the Park Board’s Jan. 19 meeting and spoke during open time. Each side got a total of nine minutes to speak, but it was enough for deep divisions to emerge.

Island resident Barry Klegg presented a 300-signature petition of people opposing the plan. State Rep. Phyllis Kahn, an island resident, also raised the restrictive covenant issue and questioned using public parkland for private use.

Brother Michael Collins, DeLaSalle president, said the school had always welcomed a neighborly relationship with island residents and had been forthright in explaining the proposal.

He took exception to what he characterized as misrepresentations of the school’s plans as a football field for 20 to 30 boys, when it would also provide soccer and softball fields for both boys and girls.

School officials also objected to resident claims that the facility would have a 400-foot long, 12-foot-high retaining wall, because the school had done no such drawings.

John Derus, a DeLaSalle alumnus and board member took some island residents to task, noting they have their residences on Minneapolis parkland and lease it. “They have a sweet deal,” he said.

Park Board President Jon Olson said he knew of no timeline to make a decision. “[DeLaSalle has] issues to work out with the neighborhood. I think they will do that,” he said.

Abdo in at Inn

In other news, the Park Board approved transferring the Nicollet Island Inn lease to a company headed by Larry Abdo, who said he would both bring back catering and weekday breakfasts and make the Inn one of the top romantic destinations in the country.

Weekday breakfasts could resume as early as March 1, Abdo said after the vote.

Original article at Skyway News