Vol. 20, #09 – 12/19/13

//Vol. 20, #09 – 12/19/13

Dear Reader, your brethren responded like never before.
Many pointed out their dearest, most favorite store.
So join in this weekend; last-minute won’t defeat us.
And if you’re desperate on Monday try the Electric Fetus.

WINDOWS ON…Shopping Local

From Peggy Lucas:

Let me recommend Regala de Oro, a great fair trade gallery at 28th and Lyndale! They have a wide variety of the work of local artists and are very active with the nonprofit community. Do good and shop local at the same time!

From Ginny Craig:

Local D’Lish at 212 North First Street. Great food gifts!

[Ed. Note: We might add, they offer great cooking classes, too!]

From Dave Albersman:

My first stop for Christmas Shopping is always Ax Man in Minnetonka.

From Ann Bodensteiner:

I have two favorite small shops, run by local independents, really fine shop owners. I’m happy to recommend them to you.

  1. Gather, a small gift shop across from Salut on France Avenue, near the corner of 51st and France. This sweet little place, owned by Mike Hagie, offers an assortment of gifts ranging from fine European imports to fun/funky inexpensive trinkets. Michael lives in the neighborhood and is a good guy—he gives you just the right amount of personal attention. This hidden gem is always a fun stop when you need a gift but have no idea what to buy.
  2. Vinaigrette, on 50th Street and Xerxes Avenue. This locally-owned shop has wonderful vinegars to sample, the owners always have fun recipes to share, and they are dedicated to customer service and promoting the neighborhood. A fine place for holiday shopping, or anytime shopping and cooking inspiration!

From Bill Gabler:

For a great small floral shop, try Martha’s Gardens at 1593 Selby Avenue in St. Paul. It is the winner of many “Best of the Twin Cities” types of awards for flower arrangements for weddings, corporate events, etc., but a trip to the shop is a delight as well for all sorts of knick knacks, chocolates and, of course, flowers. You should be able to find it, as it is basically kitty corner from O’Gara’s Bar and Grill (don’t tell me that you don’t know where that is!). Of course, I am biased here. It is not run by Martha Stewart, but rather by Martha Gabler Lunde, my sister. We refer to her as the unindicted Martha. Thanks for promoting small businesses. I’ll be doing some similar shopping in Grand Marais on [Thanksgiving weekend], where there are really nothing but small businesses.

From normally frugal banker Matt Clark:

My wife and I are raising our two little Golden Gophers in a house in the Highland Park neighborhood in St. Paul. The last few years we have a tradition of returning to the Minneapolis North Loop. We start with a bowl of soup at the Monte Carlo and begin shopping across the street at Martin Patrick 3. They have great clothes for men, interesting books and accessories not to mention lots of high design items for the home. We walk up to North First Street and stop first at Askov Finlayson. This year we bought a unique painted canoe paddle for our home and some cold weather gear for the kids. Kiddy corner from AF is the Foundry, a store which features an amazing array of useful goods for kitchen, service and decorating. Foundry’s founder Anna Hilegass has an interesting network of local craftspeople and artists and a great eye for inexpensive treasures.

Our last stop shopping is the next door down, Arrow. Somehow this little store manages to always have something we want and can afford in terms of practical yet fashion forward women’s and men’s clothing. We bought several animal-themed rings and necklaces from their XXXX collection as gifts. Finally, it’s my job to go back to the Monte, load our purchases into the trunk, and move the car to the 3rd Avenue North extension next to Bachelor Farmer. We love to end the afternoon at the Marvel Bar. Nothing better than to have Moe or John assess the mood and whip up an appropriate cocktail! We always get a toast and another small plate, then it’s back home, well under the .08 allowed in these parts. It is a great afternoon and is becoming a wonderful tradition!

BULLETINS and BYTES…

Normally we would take this opportunity to remind you about Hennepin County’s Holiday Giving Program. This year people have been so generous with gifts and gift cards that the program is doing quite well. If you would like to contribute to their Special Gift Fund that is used for needs clients have throughout the year, you can mail your check made payable to “Special Gift Fund” and mail it to:

Jackie Connolly
Hennepin County Human Services & Public Health
Volunteer & Community Partnership Program
1800 Chicago Ave. S
Minneapolis, MN 55404

Christie Rock Hantge, Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association Coordinator, sent the following: Below you will find a link to the Annual Downtown Minneapolis Perception Survey hosted by the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District (DID). We would appreciate if you would participate in this survey and share it with others. Forwarding this link to your tenants, colleagues, members, employees, students, HR departments, etc. and on posting a link on your social media pages will help the Minneapolis DID collect the much needed feedback from the Downtown Minneapolis community.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/PerceptionSurvey2013

The survey will be available through December 31, and anyone participating in the survey will have the opportunity to enter a drawing for a gift card valued at $20-$50! If you need to cut and paste the link into your Web browser, the survey can also be found on the DID Web site: http://www.minneapolisdid.com.

QUARKS and QUOTES…

From David Feehan, President of Civitas Consultants LLC in Silver Spring, Maryland:

I’m remiss in not applauding the appointment of Steve Cramer to head the Downtown Council. I can’t think of a better choice. My only fear is that replacing him at Project for Pride in Living is going to be a daunting task. As you know, when I was at the International Downtown Association, I pushed and prodded Minneapo- lis to create the Business Improvement District. Sarah Harris finally got that job done, and the downtown is so much better as a result. Now, with Steve’s leadership, downtown can move beyond “clean and safe” and solve some of the tough problems that still need attention.

Dear Reader, last week we succumbed to the wiles of the “Journal” Publisher, Sarah MacKenzie, and offered up our junior editor to “grade” the twelve year tenure of outgoing Minneapolis mayor RT Rybak. A very profes- sionally edited version (boy, we are not used to that!) has appeared in the SW Journal online. We have known RT a long time and have always been fond of him and inspired by all of his energy and some of his ideas. “Junior” has been quick to add that to whom much is given much is expected. We decided to publish here the unplugged version he submitted, not because the Journal short-sheeted it but because it credits some of the Mayor’s partners who deserve acknowledgment for some of the high points as well.

Thank you for the opportunity to reflect on Mayor Rybak’s three terms in office. While I understand that you would like to format the piece around letter grades I am hesitant to do so. History will have the final grading responsibility, as it always does in these matters. An easier analogy for me is percentage rankings like those one finds in baseball. As a mayor, RT will end up in the hall of fame. He leaves office batting over .700 in terms of popular support, the statistic he covets the most. The citizenry wants to feel good about Minneapolis. No mayor, including Humphrey, enjoyed this level of popularity at the end of their term. Mayor Rybak’s Hall of Fame seat is a fait accompli.

The achievement is even more incredible given his percentages in the various statistics that comprise the art of mayor-ing: Civic Accomplishment, City Services and Intergovernmental Relations. Overall RT is a slap hitter, will take a swing at anything that catches fancy. He has governed by sound byte and press conference which often gets him on base (at least .333). The problem is most of his efforts have been left on base. Too often the Mayor has been picked off, distracted by illusions like Washington Boulevard. By any measure his North Minneapolis Initiative deflated when RT’s hot air ran out. It takes a lot more than a cruise on a Nice Ride to address the public safety fears in the core and our neighborhoods, but there is no photo op during the long hours and tough struggles to get our cops properly supported and deployed.

For purpose of illustration here are some clips from RT’s highlight reel in the various categories:

Civic Accomplishment (instilling pride in place):

RT will long be remembered as the “show time Mayor” and this should be his strong category. Clearly he deserves all the credit for “The City of Lakes Loppet,” a spectacular celebration of our city’s natural resources and zest for activity. It is a grand week of fun enjoyed thoroughly by the upwardly-mobile Patagonians he so aims to please. Mission accomplished. The lakes crowd won’t shed any tears that he also presided over the last Holidazzle and that unless there is a miracle the Aquatennial will be sinking like a bad milk carton boat entry before it sees its 75th birthday in 2015. Those pennies were not shiny enough for RT. Maybe it’s just natural progression, Pride, the Basilica Block Party and the various art fairs seem to appeal more to knowledge workers but will never hold the context, the history that underscores community of an Aquatennial. There had to be a way to capture some of the energy of the former events to revitalize the latter.

Career average, .250

City Services:

Candidate Rybak came into office on the promise of throwing open the doors and windows of city hall so that the people could better understand city finances and ultimately shed light on the funny money, like the city’s parking fund. RT wisely kept city CFO, Pat Born, a Sayles Belton appointment, in place and brought Lee Sheehy and Mike Christiansen, both also closely identified with the outgoing mayor, into the fold to lead restructuring of planning and development functions. Rybak ignored many voices—internally and those with experience in the community—and made unpopular choices for Police and Fire Chiefs. It seemed their unique qualification was sharing the same barber/stylist as the mayor, this proved out with short and unsuccessful tenures.

As the years went by the Mayor stuck with his promise for financial reform relying heavily on Born’s leadership and Council allies Barbara Johnson, Paul Ostrow and Betsy Hodges. The efforts included both pension reform and a hiring freeze. During his last term RT boldly took a City budget roadshow into many neighborhood and civic group meetings. He suffered the slings and arrows of those outraged by soaring property taxes and deftly shielded himself by deflecting much responsibility onto the state. In this subcategory of services called financial responsibility RT had managed .900 until the great football stadium caper of 2012.Without major revision of the public’s share of the stadium financing there will be serious shortfalls on the City’s ledger trying to juggle payments for the stadium, Target Center renovation and maintain the existing Convention Center on one small sales tax meant for the convention complex alone. The bulk of city service delivery has muddled with little or no improvement under the Rybak watch. Snow plowing is still an art better delivered in every surrounding community. Minneapolis now has a unique leaf pick up policy based on newsletter dates rather than dates that leaves fall. The ballyhooed streamlining of planning and development has left planning adrift and the development process a new and different sort of byzantine. In the past few years the city has leveraged available federal funds to try and stay ahead of burgeoning demand for bike transit. Unfortunately, rather than lead by adopting standards that would bring certainty into bike travel, most of the city investment has been in paint. Green intersections, white “sharrows”, dotted lines and solid lines crisscrossing the streets and avenues, confuse drivers and are often ignored by the “bike community.” How many scratch their heads with bemusement about the protect lanes on First Avenue? If this is such an advancement why aren’t they implemented across the city and made standard? Slap hitting leadership should at least recognize what works and what doesn’t.

City Services, .310

Intergovernmental Relations:

The role of big city mayor has changed. Resources for municipal services are shrinking. Mayor Rybak has responsibly handled nasty cuts in local government aide, relying largely on property tax increases. Many observers of the legislative process feel Minneapolis took more of a burden than warranted due to the City’s poor image among legislators. This mayor did not create this condition but clearly there has been little improvement. The same is true with the city’s historically rocky relationship with Hennepin County. City officials, after building a spankin’ new main library they could not afford, were thrilled to hand off the entire sinking ship to the county. But for all intents and purposes the “cooperation” ends for Minneapolis when it isn’t a one way street. There is no valid excuse for Minneapolis not folding the 911 system into the County’s. Clearly there was a better way to fund and manage the Metrodome replacement, Target Center Renovation and oversight of Target Field. Combining the county’s ballpark sales tax, and the city’s convention center tax with the obvious efficiencies of one governing body to oversee operations and one vendor to manage them, would have built a much more rational and secure financing platform.

There are other nagging inefficiencies that existed long before Mayor Rybak took office but there has been little to show in terms of improved relations.

Intergovernmental Relations: .100

So given the spotty averages in three important job statistics, why nominate Rybak for the first seat in the Mayor Hall of Fame? The good people of Minneapolis, from all walks of life across every neighborhood, believe in RT. They sense his passion for this city and belief that we are evolving into a sustainable model for urban cores that rival any in the world. They tolerate quality of life issues that see little improvement because citizens have faith that this talented caring guy is making the right changes at the right time. Restoring faith in local government is a grand accomplishment and is what RT will and should be remembered for.

By | 2016-10-21T00:42:41+00:00 December 19th, 2013|Categories: Newsletter|0 Comments

About the Author:

Mark J. Oyaas is a principal in Neerland & Oyaas, Inc., a public affairs consulting company. His work includes advising clients on business opportunities in the public and nonprofit sectors. In addition to coordinating government relations projects, Mr. Oyaas heads up the firm's communications services under the "germ of an idea" banner.

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