Monthly Archives: September 2010


The following article by Steve Brandt was published in the Star Tribune on September 29, 2010.


Minneapolis park officials announced Tuesday that they’ve bolstered the field of finalists for park superintendent by adding a fourth candidate.

Jayne Miller, who recently quit her post as head of the Detroit area park system after only six months on the job, will join three other finalists announced this month. The Park Board plans to conduct open interviews of them at 5 p.m. Oct. 6 at its offices at 2117 West River Road.

According to press reports, Miller abruptly quit her job this month as director of the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority. It is a five-county regional park system known as Metroparks that has more acreage and a larger budget than Minneapolis parks.

She reportedly resigned shortly after offering to the agency’s board an unpopular reorganization plan that was prompted by expected losses in tax revenue. The board voted to accept her resignation.

Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board President John Erwin said that after speaking with Metroparks board members, he’s comfortable considering her as a finalist, citing her strong background in parks. Miller’s résumé indicates that she has 29 years of park and recreation experience.

Before the Metroparks job, she headed parks, community development and housing for the city of Ann Arbor, Mich.

Also vying for the job are Minnesota House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher; Stanley Motley, park and recreation director for Fulton County, Ga.; and Steve Rymer, director of recreation and community service for Morgan Hill, Calif.

Minneapolis Park Board could eliminate up to 18 positions

The following report was aired on KARE-TV on September 15, 2010:

Minneapolis Park Board could eliminate up to 18 positions

Updated: 9/16/2010 1:53:34 PM

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is rolling out an organizational restructuring plan designed to more effectively support and implement the Board’s strategic goals and the Comprehensive Plan with the diminished resources forecast for 2011.

The restructuring will focus on delivery of services through a return to an organizational structure that has assistant superintendents in particular areas of expertise reporting to the superintendent.

The following appointments have been made: Michael Schmidt, Assistant Superintendent Operations; Don Siggelkow, Assistant Superintendent Development; Karen Robinson, Assistant Superintendent Administration; Corky Wiseman, Assistant Superintendent Recreation.

This restructuring is based on a thorough evaluation of the organization’s structure and its operating and staffing costs. As part of the restructuring, up to 18 positions are subject to being eliminated and many of the positions are management positions. At Wednesday night’s Board meeting, commissioners will consider a severance package and outplacement services for individuals whose positions are being eliminated by the restructuring.

The restructuring is taking effect immediately in order to keep 2010 and 2011 expenditures in line with revenues. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board recognizes that these actions affect people who are colleagues whom the organization cares about.

Layoffs at Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board

The following report was aired on KSTP-TV on September 15, 2010: [with video]

Updated: 09/15/2010 7:26 PM
By: Colleen Mahoney

Layoffs at Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board says up to “18 positions are subject to be eliminated,” as part of a restructuring plan. Most of the jobs are management positions.

The restructuring will take place immediately, the board says, to keep “expenditures in line with revenues.”

A spokesperson for the board says the cuts were announced late last week, but not everyone has been notified. Commissioners were expected to consider a severance package for them Wednesday night.

The board says the restructuring will involve 4 assistant superintendents with certain areas of expertise answering to the superintendent.


The following article by Steve Brandt was published in the September 17, 2010 issue of the Star Tribune:


News that DFL politician Margaret Anderson Kelliher is a finalist for Minneapolis park superintendent aroused reactions Thursday ranging from praise for her leadership and collaboration to cries of cronyism.

“I know from my conversations with Margaret that she’s very interested in our park system and very concerned about it,” said Arlene Fried of the oft-critical Park Watch group. “She has leadership skills. She has negotiating skills. And she certainly knows budgets.”

But park Commissioner Bob Fine has questions. “We frankly have a candidate that isn’t traditional who doesn’t have executive management experience,” he said. He said the application period should be extended through the meeting here of a national park professionals trade group late next month.

Kelliher is the only finalist who isn’t a park professional for a job that was advertised as paying in the “low to mid $100s.” The other finalists are Stanley Motley, head of parks in Fulton County, Ga., and Steve Rymer, park director in Morgan Hill, Calif.

The candidacy of House Speaker Kelliher, who lost her party’s primary for governor last month, aroused praise and consternation. “It’s just very surprising,” said former City Council Member Pat Scott, a longtime political supporter of Kelliher.

The local history of nontraditional hires to head government organizations is mixed. The hiring of a consultant firm represented by Peter Hutchinson to run Minneapolis schools ultimately dissolved after mixed results. The Osseo school board bought out the contract of a former Air Force colonel who served as superintendent less than a year.

The most comparable analogy to the move Kelliher is attempting was the Minneapolis school board’s aborted hiring of former House Speaker David Jennings as superintendent. But Jennings held several executive positions between those jobs, including chief operating officer of city schools. He ultimately chose not to stay after his surprise hiring provoked charges and a lawsuit arguing that he lacked necessary credentials. He went on to head Chaska schools until June.

Bill English, who questioned the hiring of Jennings, called Kelliher “a politician first and foremost, and a reasonably good candidate for governor.” But he added, “We have a history in Minneapolis of taking care of powerful politicians. They land on their feet. They take care of each other.”

Some say an advantage of hiring Kelliher, who helped lead the push for the state Legacy Amendment, is that she’ll bring close ties to state and national funding sources. But if that’s so, English asked, “Why don’t we hire her as a lobbyist?”

Kelliher has said that she’s not giving interviews on her candidacy. Her résumé lists work at the Legislature dating back to her 1991 hiring as a staff assistant. She said that in her four years as speaker, she managed a $29.1 million House operation, including 253 full-time employees and 75 session jobs. The Park Board has a $57.7 million budget this year with 431 full-time and 219 part-time employees.

She also taught briefly at the University of Minnesota and was a community organizer for three years in the Bryn Mawr neighborhood. She has a bachelor’s degree from Gustavus Adolphus College in political science and a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University.

Job specifications

The Park Board said when it publicized the job that it would consider “a non-traditional candidate from a non-park-related organization who has executive management experience with public, private or nonprofit employers.”

“People felt that she met that criteria,” Park Board President John Erwin said. Kelliher evidently applied after a search panel first reviewed résumés in late July. She lost the primary Aug. 10.

Hamline University professor and political analyst David Schultz said her application suggests that her future lies more in city rather than state politics. It could position her to run for mayor. Incumbent R.T. Rybak, whom Kelliher topped for party endorsement, still has his eyes on the governor’s chair if DFLer Mark Dayton doesn’t win.

“She needs a job, and the city of Minneapolis probably makes more sense for her as a place to go for a job,” Schultz said.


The following article by Jake Weyer was published in the September 20, 2010 issue of the Southwest Journal:


The Park Board’s newly appointed Community Advisory Committee for Southwest Light Rail Transit (LRT) will meet for the first time Sept. 23, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Park Board’s administrative offices, 2117 W. River Road.

Park Board commissioners, City Council members, neighborhood associations, Mayor R.T. Rybak and County Commissioner Gail Dorfman appointed the 18-member CAC. The group will consider historical, cultural, visual, social and safety issues associated with the 14-mile Southwest LRT line.

The route will start Downtown, travel along the Kenilworth trail between Cedar Lake and Lake of the Isles, then stretch through St. Louis Park, Hopkins and Minnetonka, ending in Eden Prairie. It will intersect or run adjacent to Bryn Mawr Meadows, Park Siding and parkland around Cedar Lake, Lake of the Isles and Lake Calhoun.

The CAC is expected to meet bi-weekly into December. meetings are open to the public.

Park Board Layoffs Expected & Candidates for Superintendent Announced

The following report by Tom Leyden was aired on KMSP-9 on September 15, 2010:

Park Board Layoffs Expected [with video]

Minneapolis Park Board Layoffs Expected
Many of the layoffs are management positions

Updated: Wednesday, 15 Sep 2010, 10:41 PM CDT
Published : Wednesday, 15 Sep 2010, 4:28 PM CDT

Tom Lyden / FOX 9 News

MINNEAPOLIS – FOX 9 has learned the Minneapolis Park Board is preparing for layoffs in preparation for its 2011 budget cycle.

Up to 18 people are expected to be laid off, mostly management positions. The Minneapolis Park Board is scheduled to vote on a proposed severance agreement with the workers Wednesday night, which would grant the workers six months severance at their current salary, extend their health benefits for six months, and provide job re-training courses. The Park Board is expected to allocate $600,000 for the severance package.

Parks Board spokesperson Dawn Sommers said she did not know if Park Board members would discuss any details about the positions. Sommers said an announcement of the exact number of positions was expected Thursday.

Margaret Anderson-Kelliher is one of three finalists for Park Board Superintendent position.

House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher released a statement Wednesday night.

“As the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board announced earlier today, I am pleased to be among the finalists in the search for a new Superintendent. Our parks system is a national treasure that has always grown to reflect the needs of a changing city. Creating and maintaining unique recreational spaces in one of the Midwest’s premiere parks setting is an exciting opportunity to serve our community. I look forward to the next step in the search process.”

The Superintendent candidate finalists are:

Steve Rymer is the Director of Recreation for the city of Morgan Hill, California. Morgan Hill is a town of 30,000 people located in Morgan Hill is located approximately 12 miles south of San Jose

Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Minneapolis. Speaker of the Minnesota House, a title she has held since 2007. DFL endorsed candidate for Governor, she lost the August 10, gubernatorial primary to former Senator Mark Dayton. She has a BA in history and political science from Gustavus Adolphus College and a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard.

Stanley Motley is the Parks and Recreation Director in Fulton County, Georgia, which includes Atlanta. He most recently joined the department in August 2009, after serving from 1995-2000.

Motley has 30 years of service in park services. It includes leadership roles in Illinois (Oak Brook Park District), Missouri (Jackson County), New York (Westchester County), and Florida (Hillsborough County). In Westchester County, New York he left the job of parks commissioner after less than two years. Mr. Motley has an undergraduate degree in Parks and Recreation Administration and a Masters in Public Administration. He is also a Certified Park and Recreation Professional through the National Parks and Recreation Association.

FOX 9 will update additional information on the candidates as it becomes available. The Minneapolis Park Board hopes to select a new superintendent by the end of October.


The following article by Steve Brandt was published in the September 16, 2010 issue of the Star Tribune:


Minnesota House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, who lost the DFL primary for governor last month and didn’t file for re-election to the Legislature, turned up Wednesday on a short list of finalists for the job of Minneapolis parks superintendent. Also named finalists were Stanley Motley, who directs parks in Fulton County, Ga., and Steve Rymer, who holds a similar position in the city of Morgan Hill, Cal. Kelliher lives in the Bryn Mawr neighborhood of Minneapolis.

The selection of the three finalists means the nine-member Park Board, which has shown some friction over how to hire a new superintendent, can chose from among two park professionals and a well-connected politician.

Some board members feel that the post isn’t drawing the quality field of applicants that a nationally renowned park system should, and they want to further extend taking applications while a national convention of park professionals hits town this fall.

Board President John Erwin disagreed, saying, “We have three people I’m very proud to name.” He said another potential finalist took a job elsewhere, and another was eliminated when an issue arose during background checks.

Anderson Kelliher’s resume lists no experience comparable to running the park system. She released a statement saying that she was pleased to be a finalist.

“Our parks system is a national treasure that has always grown to reflect the needs of a changing city,” she said. “Creating and maintaining unique recreational spaces in one of the Midwest’s premiere parks settings is an exciting opportunity to serve our community.”
The board hopes to interview the finalists during its first meeting in October.

The announcement came even as interim superintendent David Fisher announced a new administrative structure that the new superintendent will inherit. The system of five associate superintendents is one Fisher used when he headed city parks for 18 years.
Taking the top posts will be Corky Wiseman, recreation; Mike Schmidt, operations; Karen Robinson, administration; and Don Siggelkow, development. An associate for planning has yet to be named.

Among those losing their jobs in the reorganization is Richard Mammen, who headed recreation and is a candidate for school board. Mammen said that he had hoped to stay on the job into next year but can return to a consultant organization he helped lead.

Motley has headed Fulton County parks twice, from 1995 to 2000 and again starting last year. His resume includes 30 years in parks and recreation, including leadership roles in Illinois, Missouri, New York and Florida, according to his biography. Rymer heads parks under a seven-member commission in a city of 33,000 people that has experienced rapid growth as a Silicon Valley bedroom suburb.

The Minneapolis post opened when the board voted 6-3 in February not to renew the contract of Jon Gurban.


The following story by Jake Weyer appeared in the September 16, 2010 on-line issue of the Southwest Journal:


After more than a century of letting attrition control employee departures from the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, the organization on Sept. 15 approved severance packages for up to 18 staff members, most of them managers.

The layoffs, the first in Park Board history, are part of a broad restructuring of the organization led by interim superintendent David Fisher. Fisher served as superintendent from 1981-1998 and is filling in until a new superintendent is hired later this fall. His contract is up at the end of October.

Even before he returned in July, Fisher said restructuring the department was a priority. After the Sept. 15 meeting, he said the system’s longtime model of turnover through attrition has kept the organization from evaluating what positions are truly needed and what it could do without. With the budget growing tighter each year, he said the Park Board had to be proactive.

“What we need is boots on the ground,” he said.

The restructuring will take place immediately to keep the board’s budget out of the red through 2011.

Having personally known some of the managers whose positions are slated for elimination, Fisher said the process has been difficult. He said more information on the cut jobs would be forthcoming, after employees were notified.

All of the district manager positions were cut. That includes Lakes District Manager Paul Hokeness, a familiar face in Southwest, and Minnehaha manager Obie Kipper. Richard Mammen, director of community recreation services and a candidate for Minneapolis School Board, also lost his job. Former River District Manager Corky Wiseman was shifted to a new position, assistant superintendent of recreation.

Wiseman was one four existing park employees appointed to five new assistant superintendent positions. Also in those roles are Mike Schmidt, operations; Don Siggelkow, development, and Karen Robinson, administration. Fisher has yet to name the fifth assistant superintendent, who will oversee planning.

Mammen, who started with the Park Board five years ago, said he found out about his layoff a week ago. He’ll continue to do special projects with the board through November. He said he didn’t expect his tenure to end this way, but he wasn’t shocked.

“It wasn’t a surprise at all,” Mammen said. “The reality is we all know the budget is tight and there have to be some changes made in light of the fiscal reality.”

He said he expects Wiseman to carry on the city’s youth and recreation programs without trouble. Next to the parks, Mammen said, the staff are the Park Board’s biggest asset and they’ll work to improve the system regardless of their numbers.

Only one commissioner voted against the staffing changes. At-Large Commissioner Bob Fine said he agreed with the financial need for layoffs, but he was concerned about an interim superintendent making staffing changes that the new superintendent might disagree within a month. Fine also said he thought the existing district management model worked well.

“I just have a problem with what’s been happening with the restructuring that we’re doing right now, especially as it applies to the changing of the districts and the involvement of the board in making the decision,” he said.

Commissioner Liz Wielinski (District 1), said the staffing changes were part of what Fisher was brought on to do.

“We hired a superintendent and we give a superintendent the tools to do what he needs to do to make the system better,” she said. Commissioners thanked affected staff for the work they’ve done and emphasized that the decision to let them go was not taken lightly.

“This 127-year-old organization has never gone through a change like this,” said At-Large Commissioner Annie Young. “We’ve never laid off staff and this has been difficult for all of us, so this is not something we do on a regular basis. We take it very, very seriously.”

Also on Sept. 15, Park Board President John Erwin announced three finalists for the superintendent job, one of them Minnesota House Speaker and former DFL gubernatorial candidate Margaret Anderson Kelliher, who lives in Bryn Mawr.

Kelliher, who lost the primary Aug. 10 to Mark Dayton, could not be immediately reached for comment about her decision to apply for the top parks job, but she said in a prepared statement that she was pleased to be a finalist and looking forw ard to the next steps.

“Creating and maintaining unique recreational spaces in one of the Midwest’s premiere parks settings is an exciting opportunity to serve our community,” the statement said.

Kelliher’s competitors are Steve Rymer, director of recreation and community services in Morgan Hill, Calif. and Stanley Motley, director of parks and recreation in Fulton County, Ga. Erwin said a review committee originally selected five finalists, but one took another job and a second was dismissed after a background check.

The board encouraged non-traditional candidates to apply for the position. Erwin said the interview process is expected to start the first week in October.


The following story by Jake Weyer was published in the September 6, 2010 issue of the Southwest Journal:


The board will decide this month whether to approve local restaurateur Kim Bartmann’s concept, Bread & Pickle

After more than a year of community review and a selection process that narrowed a field of nearly a dozen applicants, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is scheduled to vote this month on a new Lake Harriet concession contract.

Staff recommended local restaurateur Kim Bartmann’s concept, Bread & Pickle, based on the suggestion of a community group that reviewed and interviewed the applicants. That group was made up of former members of a Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) the Park Board assembled last year after public outcry over a proposed concession change that would have required a new building. The CAC examined concession opportunities and drafted recommendations used to review applicants.

“The CAC was really a lengthy, drawn-out, long process,” said Park Board General Manager Don Siggelkow. “But it yielded the information and the understanding that I think brought this conclusion the way it needed to happen.”

Several high-quality applications were reviewed, Siggelkow said, but the decision to recommend Bartmann’s proposal was unanimous. A Park Board committee planned to vote on the contract Sept. 1, after press time for this issue. If approved, the full board would take up the contract Sept. 15.

Bartmann, who runs Bryant Lake Bowl, Barbette and the Red Stag Supperclub, was thrilled about getting the nod.

“We think it will be a challenge, but we think we’re up to it,” she said.

Bread & Pickle would serve a variety of sandwiches, salads, frozen treats and snacks (popcorn and ice cream would stay on the menu) made from locally sourced ingredients, Bartmann said. She also wants to open at 7 a.m. to serve breakfast and coffee.

Some of the items on her sample menu (purposefully oversize to show a range of offerings) include egg sandwiches, a burger made with grass-fed beef, a vegetarian-friendly black-bean burger, a rice and veggie wrap with tofu, a “pasta of the day,” a chocolate covered frozen banana and numerous beverage options such as coffee, tea and lemonade. Beer and wine are not on the menu.

In an effort to be as eco-friendly as possible, Bartmann said she would not offer bottled water. Instead, she plans to sell Minneapolis tap water in reusable stainless steel containers for the same price. She also hopes to provide compost containers for waste and is working with Linden Hills Power and Light to become a part of the neighborhood’s composting program.

Bartmann said she is negotiating the purchase of GiGi’s Cafe at 822 W. 36th Street, which she would use along with Barbette, 1600 W. Lake St., for food preparation. Barbette chef Kevin Kathman would oversee all of the food operations.

Speedy service is crucial at Lake Harriet during the busy summer months and Bartmann plans to offer a call-ahead picnic menu to help keep things moving. She’ll even provide a blanket for all pre-order customers. Catering and mobile vending around the lakes might also be offered.

Operations would be seasonal, but she’s hoping to host some special events that might involve periodic winter appearances.

Her contact would be good for five years, at which time the Park Board would reassess the concession operation. Siggelkow said he was hoping for swift approval and expects Bread & Pickle to be a success.

“I think it offers concert goers and users of Lake Harriet another great opportunity, just like we did with Tin Fish (on Lake Calhoun) and Sea Salt (near Minnehaha Falls) to have an additional amenity to an area that already has all kinds of great things to do,” he said.

Lisa McDonald, an East Harriet resident who served on the CAC and the review committee, said Bartmann’s track record, financial backing, nearby facilities and vision made her standout among several other solid applicants. Well-known local establishments D’Amico and Sons and Sawatdee were among the contenders.

“Kim is very creative and inventive and she’ll keep fine tuning it until she gets it right,” McDonald said. “And she was the only person that was willing to do breakfast at the lake, to really do it thoroughly I mean.”

McDonald was among those concerned that the Park Board wasn’t “casting its net wide enough” in its first search for vendors. She said the CAC had a lot to do with the larger pool of applicants the second time around. Its recommendations for the site also streamlined the selection process, she said.

Among the group’s guidelines were more food options, timely service, use of the existing facility, environmental sustainability, respect for the setting and a business plan that included proof of financial strength.

“I think that really did a tremendous service,” said former CAC president Matt Perry, who was also on the review committee. “The CAC brought visibility to the fact that there was an interest in having a local firm providing expanded food options. It also gave great marketing information to what a potential vendor would be.”

Bartmann said the name of her concept alludes to its sandwich offerings. With the Park Board’s blessing, Bread & Pickle could be open as soon as April.

Park Board September 15, 2010 Meeting


5:00 P.M. REGULAR BOARD MEETING. Committee meetings to follow. The meetings will be held in the boardroom at Park Board headquarters, 2117 West River Road, just north of Broadway Pizza.

5:30 P.M. OPEN TIME. Speakers need to sign up before 3:00 p.m. the day of the meeting.

It’s going to be a long meeting with many significant agenda items.

Some highlights of the meetings that will be voted on :

A $149,725 change order for Wirth Beach Improvements.
The concession agreement with Bread & Pickle at Lake Harriet.
The RFP for boat services on the Mississippi River.
The severance terms related to position eliminations.
Amending the 2010 Capital project list for the enterprise fund.
Design & engineering services for Brownie Lake trails plan.
Design & engineering services for BF Nelson/Boom Island.
The Proposal for an RFQ for the Central Mississippi Riverfront Master Plan Design Competition.

The following is the link to the complete agenda, with staff reports, for the MPRB Board of Commissioners’ meeting of Wednesday, September 15:

MPRB meetings are broadcast live from 5-9 p.m. on the City of Minneapolis Government Meeting Channel 79 on Comcast cable and online at

The regular meetings are rebroadcast on Channel 79 at 1 p.m. Saturdays and 5 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month. Webcasts for the recent two months are posted two to five business days after the meeting and are available for viewing under “Webcast Archives” at

The Park Board’s website is

Arlene Fried, Co-founder of Park Watch