Monthly Archives: May 2007

MPRB 5-16-2007 Notes from the Gallery

Regular Meeting

Superintendent Contract … President to offer J. Gurban a 2 1/2 year contract to begin 1/7/2007 to end 6/30/2010. The review committee will draft the contract ( all commissioners welcome to give input) negotiations will be handled by President Olson. Commissioner Vreeland would like a contract that contains good terms for all ( Superintendent and Board) but that the ultimate authority is the board. Commissioner Young still has concerns and would like some sort of work plan, accountability and goals ( ditto Commissioner Nordstrom). Commissioner Nordyke expects that a review system will be put into place after contract is signed that can be used for the future. Commissioner Fine gives a glowing testimonial to Superintendent Gurban. Commissioner Merrill Anderson would like language referring to an annual review and work plan included in the contract and adds that at any time 5 votes can change the status of the Superintendent’s contract. Commissioner Vreeland hopes that when the work plan is developed it will include provisions covering communication, accountability and a good working relationship with ALL the board members not just some. Commissioner Dziedzic would like to see the staff to work towards transparency and hopes they will not err on the side of caution. Commissioner Kummer mentions that in Three Rivers Park District the Superintendent works ” at the will of” the County Commissioners. All vote AYE

Public Hearing on Park Dedication Fee ( link to current draft of ordinance is here Park Board Agenda click under Regular Meeting Agenda this is a 40+ page .pdf file)

Michael Rainville PRO – funding lacking due to TIF, this will help
Dottie Spiedel PRO – much needed idea as more people move into the city
Tim Springer and Teresa Nelson ( Midtown Greenway Coalition) PRO – can fund links and parks along the Greenway
Shawne Fitzgerald CON- Creates property tax increases for neighboring properties and does not address operational costs of maintaining more parkland

Arlene Fried ( see other posts)
Tim Balkman of the Minneapolis Parks Legacy Society
Issues an Invitation to all to attend the Lakewood Cemetery Walking Tours sponsored and led by the Legacy Society on the “Park Makers” of Minneapolis ( 5/28)

Consent Business
Discussion of new roof for Kenwood Rec Center… needed now and others waiting, Commissioner Vreeland would like to know why bids were not taken for white roofing, which lasts 1/3 longer and helps prevent global warming? Discussion went to need for immediate replacement and lack of time to re-let bids. Commissioner Vreeland agreed with Commissioner Young that a sustainability coordinator is a good idea.

Wirth Trail Schematic passes with a caveat added by Commissioner Fine that the staff study the results of the new trail schematic after implementation and report back to the board at a later date.

To convene a CAC ( Citizens Advisory Committee) for the completion of the Grand Rounds Missing Link study is passed ( interested in serving contact your commissioners)

Board Approves an agreement for the YMCA to operate the North Commons Water Park
Commissioner Merrill Anderson is not for this. It appears to her that it looks like the MPRB is bailing out when things get tough in the inner city.
Commissioner Vreeland feels that this is a good mesh of public /private
Float Factor ( free swimming lesson thru the parks) will still take place

Planning Committee– passes item to close East Calhoun Parkway on last Sundays of summer months — details to be ironed out before full board vote

Washburn Fair Oaks Park Master Plan Update ( this park is in front of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts)
Discussion of Superintendent’s Residence ( the Wirth House ) postponed till next meeting

Admin and Finance Committee

Approval of lease agreement between MPRB and the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (MPHA) for space at Luxton Park. The MPHA has been falling behind on their “rent” and Hennepin County is covering the cost thru 2007. The MPRB and MPHA will be working out 2008 and beyond.

Operations and Environment


NEXT MEETING Wednesday June 6th

tentative agenda items include… Wirth House, Calhoun Master Plan Update ( Will there be a sailing village and event venue with shops?)
Grand Rounds Missing Link ( appointments to the CAC- possibly) and Net Debt Bonding from the State ( Met Council Bonding)

Superintendent Jon Gurban Loses His Composure at Lowry Hill Annual Meeting

The following letter was submitted by Joyce Murphy of Lowry Hill who witnessed MPRB Superintendent Jon Gurban yelling at another Lowry Hill resident who was questioning him about the construction at Parade.

To all who represent me on the Minneapolis Park Board:

On Monday evening May 14th I went to the Lowry Hill Homeowners annual meeting at the Walker Art Center. The program for the meeting included reports about the progress that the city and state were making for the citizens of our state and city.

The next to the last speaker was Jon Gurban, superintendent of the Minneapolis Park system. Mr. Gurban spoke about a new, or as he called it a replacement Parade Stadium. He also gave a presentation on the past stadium, the present Stadium space and future plans for this space. His presentation was a computer-generated presentation about this project which he had planned and put together.

As the presentation went on one lady in the audience raised some questions about this project in relation to its impact on the neighborhood near the proposed stadium where she lived. She was told that she could ask questions after the meeting of Mr. Gurban and so the questioning stopped.

After the meeting our vice-president told us that we could question Mr. Gurban in the lobby outside of the auditorium at Walker Art Center. I decided that I would go out and listen to what he had to say and also to ask about the cost and who would pay for a project of this size. When I arrived in the lobby one lady was asking Mr. Gurban when and where there would be a Minneapolis resident’s input, and citizen’s advisory committee on a project of this size, composed of residents of the neighborhood upon whom this project will impact and also residents of the city at large. There were also two other ladies present besides me and the lady asking the questions.

Mr. Gurban stated that this was a project for the whole city and that when the plan was complete there would be a meeting at the end of the planning as the project was ready to go. She said that there should be a meeting before the project was so far along. The lady also said that this project would impact on the nearby neighbors vis a vis traffic, parking, noise, and crowding and this was a concern. Again Mr. Gurban’s answer was that this was something that was being done for the city as a whole. They both made more comments to each other concerning this project. As the conversation went on Mr. Gurban became
more agitated and he began to move up close to the lady, putting his face in into her face and moving into her space in a very threatening and overbearing manner.

He also began raising his voice and shouting at her. I was standing a little behind the lady and observing all of this and it seemed to me that he was being very aggressive and intimidating towards her so much so that I spoke up a said that he “SHOULD STOP TRYING TO INTIMIDATE HER!” (he was speaking so loud that I had to raise my voice too to be heard). He said that he was not intimidating her and that he was leaving. The lady said that she had moved to Minneapolis from out of town and was not intimidated by him.

It was a bad scene and I felt that I had to speak up and stop him because he was behaving so aggressively towards this lady. It was very unpleasant way to end my evening to say the least. His behavior was not becoming of a public servant not to mention the superintendent of the Minneapolis Park system a position of some honor and respect.

After this I forgot my question about cost and went back into the auditorium. This is what I observed and experienced and have written here to the best of my recollection. I think that this needs some kind of a looking into by you, my representatives on the park board at this time.

It was not a good experience at all and made me question what has happened here in Minneapolis that such a person could occupy a position of leadership and be responsible for the stewardship of the parks and yet treat one of the citizens of our city in such a bad manner. I am old enough to remember a time when officials and citizens were treated with respect and officials were honorable people and not bullies and tyrants.

Joyce Murphy
Lowry Hill


It is interesting to note that two nights after this unpleasant incident, Superintendent Jon Gurban was rehired with a three-year contract and an anticipated salary of $140,000 which is greater than that of the Governor.

Some concerned individuals are of the opinion that Superintendent Gurban should have been fired-not rehired-because of his refusal to comply with Park Board Ordinance 99-101 which mandated citizen input with a Citizens Advisory Committee for the $1,808,500 Parade field/stadium project BEFORE CONSTRUCTION; and because of the Park Board’s violation of Minneapolis Zoning Codes by commencing construction at the Parade site without first applying for a Conditional Use Permit; and because of Superintendent Gurban’s promoting the Parade event center project without following the Park Board’s established procedures.

And now, when a citizen questions Superintendent Gurban about complying with Park Board procedures, he shouts her down. Does Superintendent Gurban, who refuses to comply with Park Board procedures and city ordinances, who denies citizen participation and who shouts down citizen’s questions, deserve to be rehired as leader of our parks? Does he deserve to be paid a salary greater than the Governor of Minnesota?

Transcript of May 16 Open Time

Full transcript of the previously posted video clip, titled The Sequel: Minneapolis Park Board President vs. Free Speech, where Arlene Friend again attempts to speak during Open Time at the Park Board meeting — after the ACLU sent a letter to the Park Board’s attorney:

MAY 16, 2007

PARK BOARD PRESIDENT JON OLSON: We’re going to go to Open Time. We have three speakers signed up for open time. Start with Arlene Fried, “Management Practices.” State your name and address for the record. You’ll have three minutes.

OPEN TIME SPEAKER ARLENE FRIED: My name is Arlene Fried [gives address]. My topic is Superintendent Jon Gurban’s three years of leadership. I am deeply disappointed in what has happened here today. I thought you were going to give me the courtesy to speak about my concerns the superintendent’s performance before you voted, not after you voted, on his contract. Allowing me to speak after you have voted is an insult to me and to freedom of speech. What you are conveying to your constituents is that what you have to say is not important. I am disappointed that you are failing to take into account the following reasons for recruiting a new superintendent. Here are the 10 examples I was starting to read last week [sic] when I was terminated. Here are 10 examples of the park board’s poor management practices during the past three years under Superintendent Gurban, and 10 reasons why the park board should have seriously considered recruiting a new superintendent. They are: 1) Failing to acknowledge and analyze unsuccessful entrepreneurial projects which have resulted in costly lawsuits and/or lost taxpayers dollars. 2)Failing to provide quarterly financial statements to the commissioners and the public. 3) Circumventing the Park Board’s legal framework by developing plans for costly projects without board direction or board approval, for example the megamillion dollar Parade Event Center, which Superintendent Gurban is promoting as if it’s a done deal. Money is being raised for that project already. 4) Failing to comply –-

PARK BOARD PRESIDENT JON OLSON: [Utterance over microphone]

OPEN TIME SPEAKER FRIED [she continues but raises her voice]: — with the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act by not honoring all requests for public —



PARK BOARD PRESIDENT OLSON: [unintelligible, possibly: “It’s incorrect”]

PARK COMMISSIONER NORDYKE: It is not incorrect, and let her finish …

PARK BOARD PRESIDENT: Number five is again …

OPEN TIME SPEAKER FRIED: Excuse me. I didn’t think this was a forum for debate. I thought I was just —

PARK BOARD PRESIDENT OLSON: But I don’t want you to make accusations that we have not followed the law. You can make comments, and that’s fine, but if you have unfounded accusations — if you’re going to make an accusation, then bring something with it, that we have broken the law. I want something to –

OPEN TIME SPEAKER: What are you questioning me on now?

PARK BOARD PRESIDENT: The Data Practices Act?


PARK BOARD PRESIDENT: Okay, do you have documentation on that? That we have not complied with the Data Practices Act?

OPEN TIME SPEAKER: I know people are complaining: it’s in the minutes. You go look at your minutes. Liz Wilienski has been asking for information, she’s come and spoken at Open Time, and so has Edna Brazaitis. It’s in the minutes. It’s in the record.

PARK BOARD PRESIDENT: Well, if you make accusations you should bring [unintelligible] —

OPEN TIME SPEAKER FRIED: I am not making accusations —


OPEN TIME SPEAKER FRIED: — I am stating facts. But please let me finish. 6) Awarding of contracts to selected vendors without issuing requests for proposals as required, for example the study for Crown Hydro; 7) Suppressing criticism of Superintendent Gurban and his administration by excluding from the public record letters that are critical – and, I might add, by terminating my speech last week [sic]; 8) Circumventing Park Board laws and procedures by attempting to bypass mandated Citizen Advisory Committees, for example, Parade Stadium project; 9) There’s been some violation of open meeting laws; and 10) Failing to respond to citizen correspondence. I know about that —



PARK BOARD PRESIDENT OLSON: — I don’t believe that we’ve violated the open meeting law.

OPEN TIME SPEAKER FRIED: — You know what –


OPEN TIME SPEAKER FRIED: — I can tell you when you do that. I can tell you.


OPEN TIME SPEAKER FRIED: All right. When you were voting on the study for Crown Hydro, you had the proposal that, for the proj– … You were doing a proposal, and that proposal was not available to the public. That should have been here. Anything you’re discussing, anything discussing … any information in your packets that’s under discussion is supposed to be available to the public. And that’s one example that was not available to the public. And I know one person who went over to Superintendent Gurban to ask for it and he would not give it to her. So I absolutely know that is true. And I’d just like to finish up here. The most important thing that you, our Park Board Commissioners, are elected to do is to provide for your constituents a superintendent whose tenure will clearly reflect the hallmarks of good government: transparency, openness and accountability.

PARK BOARD PRESIDENT OLSON: Yeah. Have a good night. Thank you.

OPEN TIME SPEAKER FRIED: Is my three minutes up?

PARK BOARD PRESIDENT OLSON [with a condescending tone of voice]: Uh, yes.

PARK COMMISSIONER NORDYKE: With all due respect, Mr. President, I don’t believe her three minutes are up, and I do not believe it is your purview to terminate it.

OPEN TIME SPEAKER FRIED: May I continue? [She reads final part of statement quickly.] Currently, the administrative practices of our Park Board do not align with these good government guidelines. It is time that the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board begin a search – should have been time to begin a search for a new superintendent, one who can establish compliance with Park Board ordinances and procedures, adhere to the guidelines of transparency, openness and accountability. Thank you.

Video clip

Transcript of May 2 Open Time

Full transcript of the previously posted video clip, titled Minneapolis Park Board president quashes free speech, where Arlene Friend attempts to speak during Open Time at the Park Board meeting:

MAY 2, 2007

PARK BOARD PRESIDENT JON OLSON: Next speaker would be Arlene on “Superintendent Evaluation Process.” And this is just going to be about the process and not about personnel issues.



OPEN TIME SPEAKER FRIED: It’s about governmental issues which tie in.


OPEN TIME SPEAKER FRIED: My name is Arlene Fried [gives address]. I am here tonight because of my concern for the park system. MPRB Superintendent Jon Gurban’s contract expires at the end of this year. It is expected that at the May 16 Park Board meeting the Park Board is going to rehire Gurban for another three years. I am therefore taking this opportunity to speak up, because there is no public hearing on this particular issue. It’s the only opportunity the public has. The following 10 examples of what I call the park board’s poor management practices during the past three years are 10 reasons why the park board needs to consider recruiting a new superintendent. These examples are: Failing to acknowledge and analyze unsuccessful entrepreneurial projects which have resulted in costly lawsuits and/or lost taxpayers dollars; 2) Failing to provide quarterly financial statements to the commissioners and the public; 3) Circumventing the Park Board’s legal framework by developing plans for costly projects without board direction or approval, for example, the megamillion dollar Parade event center; 4) Failing to comply with the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act by not honoring all requests for public information; 5) Withholding of information from the commissioners and the public, for example —


OPEN TIME SPEAKER FRIED: These are governmental issues. It’s how you —

PARK BOARD PRESIDENT OLSON: — Okay, do you have documentation that we have failed to comply with the open Data Practices Act?


PARK BOARD PRESIDENT OLSON: You know, I — this is not — I’m going to cut you off right there.


PARK BOARD PRESIDENT OLSON: I’m going to cut you off.

OPEN TIME SPEAKER FRIED: Excuse me. You can do that –-

PARK BOARD PRESIDENT OLSON: Thank you very much and you have a good night. Thank you. And we’ll move on to our next speaker –-

OPEN TIME SPEAKER FRIED: Freedom of speech.


OPEN TIME SPEAKER FRIED: You’re denying me freedom of speech.

PARK BOARD PRESIDENT OLSON: I don’t believe so. I’m not going to allow you to get up there and make accusations like that, that we violated the law.

PARK BOARD COMMISSIONER SCOTT VREELAND: I would also note as a point of order that our rules prohibit personnel issues as being a topic for Open Time.

PARK BOARD PRESIDENT OLSON: Yeah. And that’s why I asked if it was about the process. And you’ve decided to go up there and make personal attacks and make accusations. Thank you very much. Our next speaker is Mr. Kramer. Mr. Kramer, you have three minutes. If you could please state your name and address for the record …

Video clip

DeLaSalle Stadium Planning Commission Public Hearing

Minneapolis City Planning Commission Regular Meeting

Monday, June 25, 2007

4:30 p.m. – Room 317, City Hall, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Commissioners: President Motzenbecker, El-Hindi, Huynh, LaShomb, Mains, Nordyke, Norkus-Crampton, Schiff, Tucker and Williams – 10

Committee Clerk: Lisa Baldwin (612) 673-3710

Planning Commission Agendas

Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board Commissisoners Meeting

Commissioners Walt Dziedzic, Bob Fine, Carol Kummer, Mary Merrill Anderson, Tom Nordyke, Tracy Nordstrom, Scott Vreeland, Annie Young and President Jon Olson

Date: 6/6/2007
Time: 5:00-8:00 p.m.
Type: Regular
Location: MPRB Administrative Offices, Board Room Suite 255
Address: 2117 West River Road Minneapolis

Park Board Agenda

Parade Update

On April 26, the City issued a Stop Work Order for the Parade construction, but the Park Board’s unpermitted construction at Parade continues in violation of the Minneapolis Zoning Code. City inspectors are monitoring the situation.

See attached Stop Work Order from the city.