Category Archives: Superintendent Jon Gurban

WISER HEADS PREVAIL AT PARK BOARD

The following editorial commenting on Wednesday’s Park Board meeting was published in the Star Tribune on November 6, 2009:

WISER HEADS PREVAIL AT PARK BOARD

Vigilance needed to ensure contract extension vote stays tabled.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board stepped up and did the right thing this week by postponing a vote to extend Park Superintendent Jon Gurban’s contract another year. That decision belongs to the newly elected board, which will be seated in January. The issue must stay tabled until then.

Current commissioners will have to keep vigilant over the next two months lest colleagues more sympathetic to Gurban try again to usurp the new board’s authority and push the contract extension through before the end of the year. That may be a challenge. While vote tallies in Park Board races are still being sorted out, it appears that the new board would be far less likely to approve an extension than current commissioners. The superintendent has several ardent and wily supporters on the current board. They’ll be tempted to maneuver this through before January and have plenty of time to try.

The board’s lack of transparency in handling the extension vote underscores concerns about back-room deals over the next two months. Commissioners abruptly pulled the scheduled vote from Wednesday’s meeting agenda, apparently after a flurry of last-minute behind-the-scenes talks. Not one word of explanation was given to the public gathered for the 5 p.m. meeting. After the quick adjournment, Board President Tom Nordyke said little about the matter, other than that commissioners didn’t want a lot of “fireworks” around the issue. A previous Star Tribune editorial was critical of the contract extension.

Nordyke and Commissioner Jon Olson did praiseworthy work in heading off this vote. The board appeared poised to extend the contract; Gurban earns $139,817 annually, plus a $500 monthly car allowance. At a recent meeting, six commissioners, including Olson, indicated their support for doing so. But on Wednesday, according to a story by Star Tribune reporter Steve Brandt, it was Olson who wanted to remove the matter from the board’s agenda, saying the matter should wait until the new board takes office on Jan. 6. More transparent decision-making would inspire confidence that this issue really is shelved until the new year, as it should be.

Gurban deserves prompt action on this issue by the new board. His contract is up at the end of June. If he will not be staying on, courtesy demands letting him know as soon as possible so that he can plan accordingly. Other issues also deserve high-priority placement on the new board’s agenda.

Chief among them is a recommendation made by Nordyke and City Council President Barb Johnson last summer. As the battle escalated over Park Board independence, they, along with City Council members Lisa Goodman and Scott Benson, proposed a commission to “forge solutions that could include streamlining our operations and bringing greater efficiencies to both the Park Board and City enterprises.” This compromise helped convince the Minneapolis Charter Commission to back off from a proposal to fold the Park Board into city operations.

Far too little work has been done to identify these cost savings, and with Nordyke unlikely to return to the board, there’s a real danger that this work will fall further behind. The new board absolutely cannot let this happen. Minneapolis residents face the highest property tax burden among 117 metro-area communities, according to a new Citizens League ranking. The new board can no longer view itself solely as a guardian of the parks; it must also protect taxpayers. Working with the City Council to find efficiencies and cost savings would be a good start.

TO LEARN MORE

Minneapolis City Council President Barb Johnson and Park Board President Tom Nordyke last summer proposed a commission to bring efficiencies to Park Board and City Council enterprises. They outlined their proposal in a letter to the Minneapolis Charter Commission. To read it, go to http://tinyurl.com/yly8786

PARK BOARD SHELVES CONTRACT EXTENSION FOR SUPERINTENDENT UNTIL NEW YEAR

The following article by Steve Brandt appeared in the Star Tribune on November 6, 2009.

PARK BOARD SHELVES CONTRACT EXTENSION FOR SUPERINTENDENT UNTIL NEW YEAR

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board abruptly removed a proposed extension of Superintendent Jon Gurban’s contract from its agenda Wednesday night.

A majority of the board voted two weeks ago to approach Gurban about extending his contract for one year past its scheduled expiration on June 30, 2010.

But Commissioner Jon Olson proposed removing the matter from the board’s agenda Wednesday, saying he thought it should be left to the new board that will take office Jan. 6.

Gurban’s current contract began in mid-2007 and pays him $139,817 annually, plus a $500 monthly car allowance.

MINNEAPOLIS PARK SUPERINTENDENT OFFERED CONTRACT EXTENSION

MINNEAPOLIS PARK SUPERINTENDENT OFFERED CONTRACT EXTENSION

The following article by Steve Brandt appeared in the October 23, 2009, edition of the Star Tribune:

MINNEAPOLIS PARK SUPERINTENDENT OFFERED CONTRACT EXTENSION
A majority of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board agreed Thursday to offer a one-year contract extension to controversial superintendent Jon Gurban, which would keep him on the job through mid-2011.

Gurban’s contract is set to expire June 30. He attended the meeting, but didn’t speak. Board President Tom Nordyke was asked to report back to the board Nov. 4 after discussing the extension with Gurban.

The extension would allow Gurban to remain in his post through the National Recreation and Park Association meeting in Minneapolis a year from now.

Gurban was hired in late 2003 on a 5-4 vote, after he had neither applied nor interviewed for the job. Gurban has been praised for hiring good park system managers, but he has been faulted for not consulting the public about initiatives.

Many park staff members attended the meeting to support Gurban, but members of the advocacy group Park Watch opposed the extension.

Superintendent Review Committee Meeting

Details for
Superintendent Review Committee

Commissioners Tracy Nordstrom and Walt Dziedzic, Co Chairs; Commissioners Bob Fine, Mary Merrill Anderson, and Annie Young.

Date: 9/29/2009
Time: 5:00-6:00 p.m.
Type: Regular
Location: KENWOOD PARK
Address: 2101FRANKLIN AVE.W
Minneapolis
Map and Directions

Schedule
Start times and agendas* are subject to change.

5:00 PM Other Superintendent Review Committee Agenda

Park Board Agenda

SW Journal: Parks Notebook — comprehensive plan, trees, and more

As published July 30, 2007 in the Southwest Journal, written by Mary O’Regan

Park Board Comprehensive Plan unveiled

On July 16, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board released a draft of its 2007–2020 Comprehensive Plan. The 50-page document represents the Board’s vision for the future of the park system.

It’s the result of two years of assessment, research and community outreach, which included asking 172,000 city residents for their input. Survey findings showed that most people were concerned about youth participation, fitness, safety, cleanliness and protecting the natural
environment.

The Comprehensive Plan includes four vision themes, which will guide future development, operations and maintenance of the parks:

• Urban forests, natural areas, and waters that endure and captivate;

• Recreation that inspires personal growth, healthy lifestyles and a sense of community;

• Dynamic parks that shape the city’s character and meet diverse community needs; and

• Safe places to play, celebrate, contemplate and
recreate.

There are multiple goals listed under each theme, with strategies for completion, but the plan doesn’t include specific tactics for any of the board’s 182 properties.

On July 19, the board held an open house at Loring Park, giving residents the chance to review and question the document.

Parks Superintendent Jon Gurban compared the Comprehensive Plan to a kindergartener. “By the time they graduate, we’ll be refreshing that,” he laughed, adding “we’re going to take care of you.”

Some residents who attended the meeting expressed concern about the meaning behind certain phrases in the plan. Arlene Fried, co-founder of Minneapolis Park Watch, a watchdog group, wondered about the board’s pledge to “build amenities in current or projected growth areas.”

“[Amenities] would be a trigger word for me,” she said. “When I see that, I get more nervous.”

Harvey Ettinger, a representative from the East Isles Residents Association, also worried that amenities could translate to large developments. “I hope they will clarify that by the end of the process.”

The plan is in its third phase, which involves gathering comment cards and e-mails from residents. The board will hold a public planning committee meeting on Aug. 15 and approve the final draft in October. The last two stages – prioritization and implementation – will start in 2008.

“The bottom line is where’s the money?” asked Gurban, throwing out his arms. “You’re as good as your resources.”

Park Board reviews superintendent’s workplan

Part of Gurban’s three-year contract renewal includes following a workplan designed by the commissioners. At the July 11 board meeting, the commissioners reviewed a draft of the plan, which consists of ideas submitted by board members and ranked in order of priority.

Adherence to the Park Board mission tops the 12-item list, followed by completing the Comprehensive Plan, which is available for public comment at minneapolisparks.org until Aug. 3.

Among other things, Gurban will be expected to improve communications with the board, develop a sustainability plan and determine how to complete projects, such as the Riverfront parkway, Grand Rounds and the East Phillips Community Center.

Several commissioners worried that the list was too long and needed to be more thought-out.

“I think some of these things are a little unrealistic,” said Commissioner Bob Fine, who represents the Southwest area. “Is this what we want our superintendent really to do?”

Commissioner Carol A. Kummer, who represents the Powderhorn/Lake Nokomis area, wondered whether the workplan would carry over into the next year and how it would be addressed at Gurban’s annual review.

“A workplan is a workplan,” replied Annie Young, a citywide commissioner. “I don’t think ‘workplan’ means you have to complete everything in a year.”

She added that the board should approve that workplan soon, so Gurban can get started.

Commissioner Fine made a motion to open the plan up to the committee as a whole and narrow it down to items that they feel are achievable in one year. The motion failed.

Commissioner Tom Nordyke made a motion to change first words of the title of the list from “Board Priorities” to “Board Direction Toward a 2007–08 Workplan;” combine items eight and nine, which are both about environmental responsibility; and submit the list to the superintendent. Gurban will review the plan, makes changes as he sees fit and give it back to the board for final approval. The motion passed by a vote of 5–3 with 1 member absent.

What’s up with our trees?

The Minneapolis Tree Advisory Commission presented its annual report to the Park Board on July 11. According to the presenter, former Commission Co-chair Peggy Booth, there are almost 1 million trees in Minneapolis, providing $750 million in benefits, such as energy savings and increased property values. The city has room for 16,000 more trees and hopes to grow two trees for every one lost. Sixty percent of Minneapolis’ existing trees need additional maintenance.

Last year, the city lost 3,350 trees to Dutch elm disease. “We are looking at a worse year than 2006,” said Booth. “We can’t afford to lose any more.”

Only 10 percent of the trees in the city are elms, but they’re two to three times bigger than other shade providers, producing greater benefits.

Booth mentioned a letter written to the Star Tribune in which a reader suggested removing tree stumps to decrease Dutch elm disease. This wouldn’t necessarily help, Booth explained, because stumps dry out quickly and don’t become habitats for the beetles and fungus that cause the disease. Stump removal for safety reasons and to make room for new trees, however, is important. The city currently has a backlog of 5,500 stumps waiting to be pulled.

Dutch elm disease isn’t the only threat to Minneapolis’ trees. The commission plans to provide educational information to the public about the emerald ash borer, a beetle that kills ash trees by eating their inner bark. They’ve set up “trap trees” around the city to detect the presence of borers.

Some of the commission’s goals for the coming year include creating a tree inventory, developing new arboreal standards, funding better aerial images and getting in the Park Board’s Comprehensive Plan.

The board recently released a statement urging residents to water their trees, as the Twin Cities has been experiencing a moderate drought since April. The board recommends leaving a garden hose on a tree at a slow rate for two hours, preferably at night. For more information, visit minneapolisparks.org.

Contact Mary O’Regan at moregan@mnpubs.com or 436-5088.

Link to original article on the Southwest Journal website.

Southwest Journal: Parks notebook

From the Southwest Journal Parks Notebook by Mary O’Regan and Dylan Thomas

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Park Board superintendent reelected

On May 16, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board voted to reelect Superintendent Jon Gurban, extending his term another three years. Park Board Commissioner Annie Young, who did not support Gurban’s initial election in 2003, proposed that his new contract include an annual performance review and work plan.

The board compromised and will include her suggestions in the negotiations with Park Board President Jon Olson, but not in Gurban’s contract. Young also asked that the board review his contract before its presentation to the superintendent, but her request was denied.

Gurban’s reelection took place in the wake of a civil liberties controversy. Arlene Fried, co-founder of the citizen group Minneapolis Park Watch, was cut off during the open forum section of the May 2 board meeting. She attempted to recite a list of 10 “poor management practices” under Gurban’s authority, but midway through the fifth item, Olson interrupted and moved on to the next issue without allowing Fried to continue. An attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to the Park Board – on Fried’s behalf – accusing them of violating her First Amendment rights.

During the open session at the May 16 meeting, Fried was allowed to speak, but by then the board had already reelected Gurban.

“Allowing me to speak after you have voted is an insult to me and to freedom of speech,” she told the board. “What you are conveying to your constituents is that what we have to say is not important.”

In this instance, Olson interrupted Fried’s speech multiple times and attempted to end early her allotted three minutes.

Don’t rain on my Parade Stadium

The city of Minneapolis has issued a stop-work order on the reconstruction of Parade Stadium, claiming that a conditional-use permit is needed for the project to continue. The Park and Recreation Board, which is overseeing the plan, insists that it has applied for all of the necessary permits and that the stop-work order was a mistake.

“I think that was a very regrettable piece of action by some uninformed bureaucrats,” said Superintendent Jon Gurban. “We have done much more work elsewhere in this city and never had a conditional-use permit.”

Construction on the stadium is continuing despite the city’s order. The $1.2 million project – which sits just west of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden – includes stadium seating, grandstands, and a $48,000 electronic scoreboard. The Park Board and Public Works are in the process of designing a new road that will stretch from Dunwoody Boulevard to Kenwood Parkway, cutting through the stadium parking lot.

Though the board had received a proposal from the Minnesota Thunder about using the stadium for soccer games, Gurban insists that the site will exist primarily for youth sporting events.

»

Also included in the Parks notebook were reports on the transfomation of Hidden Beach on Cedar Lake, and the buckthorn removal and follow-up work at Brownie Lake. To see these reports and the entire original notebook, visit the Southwest Journal website.

A Heads-Up for the June 6, 2007 Minneapolis park board meeting

There will be a 20 minute Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board study session on the CALHOUN MASTER PLAN UPDATE beginning at 4:00 p.m. in the Minnehaha Room on the second floor of the MPRB Headquarters Building at 2117 W. River Road prior to the regular Board meeting this Wednesday. This meeting is open to the public.

Also on the study session agenda will be the Grand Rounds Missing Link
and Net Debt Bonding from State.

The Superintendent’s Review Committee will meet at 7:15 p.m. for a review of RECOMMENDED TERMS FOR THE SUPERINTENDENT’S NEW CONTRACT. This meeting will be in the Board room and also is open to the public. The regular MPRB meeting will be at 5:00 p.m.

If you have any questions, you can call the Park Board at 230-6400.

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

PARK WATCH POSTSCRIPT

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:

ARLENE FRIED AGAIN ATTEMPTS TO SPEAK DURING OPEN TIME
MINNEAPOLIS PARK AND RECREATION BOARD MEETING
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: Ms. Fried!

PARK COMMISSIONER TOM NORDYKE: Mr. President-

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?

OPEN TIME SPEAKER: Yes.

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 —

PARK BOARD PRESIDENT: Thank you.

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: Again, Ma’am –

OPEN TIME SPEAKER FRIED: — Excuse me —

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

OPEN TIME SPEAKER FRIED: — You know what –

PARK BOARD PRESIDENT OLSON: — when —

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

PARK BOARD PRESIDENT OLSON: Please, tell me.

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:

ARLENE FRIED ATTEMPTS TO SPEAK DURING OPEN TIME
MINNEAPOLIS PARK AND RECREATION 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 ARLENE FRIED: Government.

PARK BOARD PRESIDENT OLSON: I’m sorry?

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

PARK BOARD PRESIDENT OLSON: Okay.

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 —

PARK BOARD PRESIDENT OLSON: Um, Ma’am —

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?

OPEN TIME SPEAKER FRIED: I’m aware of it.

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

OPEN TIME SPEAKER FRIED: Excuse me –

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.

PARK BOARD PRESIDENT OLSON: That’s —

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