Mayor 101, again: 5 Great Places

While I’m in no hurry to have Summer end, I am very excited to be teaching again the Fall at the University of Minnesota. Last Winter’s class Mayor 101 will be followed this Fall by “Mayor 101:5 Great Places.” (Sign up at either Arch5750 or PA5290).
The course, taught jointly with the Humphrey School and the College of Design, will look at politics, business and design challenge behind creating five great new places in the state of Minnesota.
Three of the sites we will examine will be in the metro area:
*Downtown East, including the stadium, the Yard and Samatar Crossing
*Opening Lake and Nicollet, and the proposed 29th St. Greenway
*A site to be determined in St. Paul
Two sites will be in Greater Minnesota:
*Rochester’s Destination Medical Center redevelopment.
*Duluth’s plan to redevelop the neighborhoods on the St. Louis River’s path into Lake Superior.
(The class will include optional field trips to Rochester and Duluth.)
Each of these sites is being created now so we hope the papers and materials you create in the class can have an impact on making them even greater places. Hope to see you or someone you know in class this Fall.

Mayor 101, again: Five Great Places

While I’m in no hurry to have Summer end, I am very excited to be teaching again the Fall at the University of Minnesota. Last Winter’s class Mayor 101 will be followed this Fall by “Mayor 101:5 Great Places.” (Sign up at either Arch5750 or PA5290).
The course, taught jointly with the Humphrey School and the College of Design, will look at politics, business and design challenge behind creating five great new places in the state of Minnesota.
Three of the sites we will examine will be in the metro area:
*Downtown East, including the stadium, the Yard and Samatar Crossing
*Opening Lake and Nicollet, and the proposed 29th St. Greenway
*A site to be determined in St. Paul
Two sites will be in Greater Minnesota:
*Rochester’s Destination Medical Center redevelopment.
*Duluth’s plan to redevelop the neighborhoods on the St. Louis River’s path into Lake Superior.
(The class will include optional field trips to Rochester and Duluth.)

Each of these sites is being created now so we hope the papers and materials you create in the class can have an impact on making them even greater places. Hope to see you or someone you know in class this Fall.

I Had More Heart Damage At My Junior Prom

     Two weeks after my heart attack, our family wants to pass along our very deep gratitude for the amazing kindness we have been shown by so many people. “Thank you” isn’t enough but please know how much you lifted us and how much it has meant.  

    We also wanted to make sure people know I came out of this with no no permanent heart damage.  In fact, I had more heart damage at my Junior Prom!  There is some bruising—whose heart isn’t  bruised sometime?—but that will heal completely.  (I should say one permanent damage is in the process someone cut off my favorite SmartWool ski shirt–devastating for a XCountry skiier,–but I got a new one at Midwest Mountaineering).    

 I am in a good physical therapy program at Hennepin Co. Medical Center where they put me on treadmills with a great view of the Downtown East development.  I won’t be skiing the City of Lakes Loppet this year…which just about kills me…but I will be at the  Luminary Loppet.   Expect me to go back to being an exercise maniac soon. 

     I worked a couple half days last week and then three full ones.  Feel great and moving full speed ahead on my work at Generation Next and planning my class “Mayor 101″ at the University of Minnesota, which starts in a week.   

   Pat Reusse cracked me up when he said something like: If R.T. Rybak has a heart attack I may as well put on 40 pounds and drink a jumbo Coke. I’ve heard a lot people saying they didn’t understand how someone who had a really healthy life could have a heart attack.  Well my doctors explained basically that I had a heart attack because of genetics (my Dad had a couple) but I had no damage because of my lifestyle. If I would have been leading a different lifestyle I may not be here.  So I’m keeping up the lifestyle and doing some things (including a couple pills) to address the genetics.    

    Now, in  a bizarre twist, I am feeling better than I have in years.  Makes sense when you think about it because three arteries that were blocked (two of them very blocked) are now cleaned up and my heart is just in much better shape than before.  So I have a lot more energy, which, to those who have told me in the past that I’m too hyper, this can be a very scary thought.   

    So thank you:    

  To my friends Scott Gislason and Ed Ryan, who came by my car at a really important time;  

    To  Minneapolis Fire Fighters and County ambulance drivers who helped me—    

  For me having just enough wind in the ambulance to wheeze out: “Take me to Abbott Northwestern” because they were AMAZING. There are too many people there who helped to name but Abbott is filled with caring and talent, especially my Dr. Yale Wang.    

  To Megan and our kids Charlie and Grace: (Megan and Grace had to see a pretty terrible scene of me in trouble in the ER. Charlie had to hear about it by phone, and read about it on Twitter while flying home alone).  They held me close,  made me laugh enough to jeopardize my stitches and just make my life so wonderful.     (And a very proud dad got to see their mastery at the press conference.)

   And to all of you.   Long time friends and complete strangers showed us true kindness and it carried us through.  People often ask what it would be like to be at your own funeral.  Well, the experience I just had is as close as I want to get it to that but, because of you it was one of the most moving experiences I will ever have. 

Bottom line: You’re stuck with me for a long, long time.  And I could not be more grateful.

Thank you. 

First property-tax cut in 30 years — thanks to tough choices, Governor Dayton and you

It means an enormous amount to me that last night, the City Council unanimously passed my final budget as mayor — one that cuts our property-tax levy for the first time in 30 years.

This is the third budget in a row in which nearly 70 percent of Minneapolis residents will see a decrease, or no increase, in their property taxes. But to actually cut the property-tax levy is an extraordinary moment.

At the same time, I’m just as proud that my final budget makes major investments in Minneapolis’ future: in home-growing a City workforce of tomorrow that looks like Minneapolis; in improving all parts of our infrastructure, including by investing more in the Nicollet–Central modern streetcar line; in greening our city to meet the challenges of climate change; and in the jobs, housing and population that will help Minneapolis and our economy continue to grow.

Getting to this point was extremely hard, and we faced many challenges along the way. And on top of those challenges, there’s always inflation to take into account: even if we hadn’t made one change from the 2013 to the 2014 budget, our costs would have gone up 2.8 percent. But the City Council and I were able to deliver major new investments in our values and our future while cutting property taxes, and there are three main reasons why.

Tough choices

First, we were able to do it because we made a decade of tough choices to restore Minneapolis’ fiscal health:

  • We watched our own spending: in 2014, we will spend 16% less than we did in 2002.
  • We paid down $350 million in debt.
  • Against great odds, we reformed a broken closed-pension system that was draining taxpayers.
  • We restructured City government.
  • We delivered $5 million a year in property-tax relief through the stadium legislation, which for the first time also gave us practical control of sales and hospitality taxes generated in Minneapolis.

Meeting each one of these fiscal challenges involved dogged determination and great political courage, and had we not solved each one of them, our property taxes today would be 35 percent higher than they are. Every City Council member stood with me in solving one or more of these challenges, and I thank them all deeply for their support.

Help from Governor Dayton and the Legislature

Second, we were able to do it because this year, we finally got real help from the State of Minnesota. After a decade when the State routinely balanced its budget on the backs of property taxpayers, this year, Governor Mark Dayton and majorities in the Legislature changed course dramatically, and finally started investing in Minnesota and Minneapolis homeowners. The $12-million increase in Minneapolis’ Local Government Aid that they courageously won for us was a major factor in our ability to cut taxes this year. Every Minneapolis resident and business owes them a debt of gratitude.

You

Third, and most importantly, we were able to do it because for the last 12 years, we’ve had the partnership of people like you: the residents and businesses of Minneapolis. The bottom line is this: for many years when times were tough, we asked you to invest more to keep Minneapolis strong. Now that times are getting better, when Minneapolis is growing and is poised to grow even more, we are asking less.

For all that City and State leaders have done, both in recent years and over the past decade, to restore Minneapolis’ fiscal health, you — the residents and businesses of Minneapolis — are the real heroes of this story.

Thank you

When I became mayor 12 years ago, I never suspected that one of the best parts of the job would be pouring over countless spreadsheets and pulling together complicated, billion-dollar budgets, but in fact, it has been. And knowing that Minneapolis is now healthy and sound is about the best job satisfaction I can imagine.

I thank you for giving me the privilege, and I thank you for your partnership.

Biggest downtown investment in decades up for a vote this week

The biggest investment in office space and green space downtown in decades — and the greatest opportunity in four decades to transform a sea of parking lots in Downtown East — is coming up for a vote this week on the City Council. Below are the key facts about the City of Minneapolis’ participation in Ryan Companies’ proposed Downtown East redevelopment of five blocks between the downtown core and the new stadium. For the City’s help in financing — not subsidizing, but financing —  a small portion of the development, we will see up to 6,000 new jobs downtown, more than $120 million in local property taxes paid over 30 years, and a revitalization of an area that will finally live up to its promise.

The Project

This $400 million development will transform five blocks of Downtown East that are currently dominated by surface parking lots. The project will result in a new two-block public park and a Ryan Companies office development of 1.2 million square feet: the largest office development in Minneapolis in 22 years and the largest single commitment by a corporate owner in Minneapolis history. It also includes residential and retail components.  Wells Fargo will purchase the buildings from Ryan upon completion.

The project is estimated to generate about $1.1 million in annual property taxes to the City in the first year and an estimated $42 million over the first 30 years. In addition, over that period of time, Hennepin County is estimated to net about $50 million in property taxes and the Minneapolis Public Schools about $35 million.

The City’s role 

Under this agreement, the City will finance a two-block public park and a portion of the new Block 1 (McClellan) parking ramp.

The proposal is for the City to finance $18 million for the park, $33 million for the ramp and $4 million for limited site preparation. The bonds that are sold to finance these elements will be repaid by using parking revenue off the newly-constructed Block 1 ramp, and the existing Block 6 (Downtown East) ramp.

The ramp revenue that will be used to make bond payments over 30 years is based on reasonable projections: the projections assume that monthly parking leases at the new ramp would be slightly less than the lease rate today at the nearby Haaf ramp. In addition, because payments coming to the City from Ryan will cover the anticipated debt service in years 1–10, the City has no financial risk in those years.

The package includes money to acquire land for the park, mitigate the property and begin to build the park. Park design and construction will be enhanced with a private donation campaign, which has been started with a $1 million donation from the Minnesota Vikings. Park operations are intended to be covered by the commitment of nonprofit sponsorships within the park.

The City will also receive the proceeds for selling air and liner rights on the new Block 1 ramp.  These potential proceeds, as well as potential increased revenue from parking in the Haaf Ramp, would be extra City revenue above and beyond what’s factored into this package.

Since the project was first announced last summer, the project financing has been affected by an increase in bond interest rates. That gap was closed in the last month by a series of actions, primarily by Ryan Companies agreeing to take on $3.7 million in costs and fees that would have been paid for by the City.

Words escape me

Words escape me when I think about how much Rev. Jim Gertmenian of Plymouth Congregational Church has meant to Minneapolis, and to me personally. They escape me when I know he is fighting a battle with cancer. And they escape me when I remember all he has done for the community, and for so many individuals.

But words don’t escape him, and so many times he has used the power of his sermons and talks to inspire us to be better. So as we send him our prayers, I encourage you to read the words below that he used to comfort members of our city in 2004 in the wake of a series of elections that threatened the rights and lives of the LGBT community. I last thought of this sermon at a far better time: as Jim and I stood on the steps of the City Hall Rotunda on August 1 of this year and conducted together the first legal same-sex marriage in Minnesota, of our friends Margaret Miles and Cathy ten Broeke. And I think of these words how when he needs all of us to create the sanctuary for him that he has created for so many of us.

God bless you, Jim.  We are with you every step of the way.

“In my closing minutes, I want to address a few, more focused words to those in our congregation who are Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or Transgendered and to your family members and friends. A number of you have written or spoken to me in the last few days to say how dismayed you were to see amendments against gay marriage and, in some cases, even gay civil rights, being passed by large margins in eleven states. Some of you spoke of feeling frightened, imagining, as well you might, that a new wave of hatred and fear is about to wash over you. You feel betrayed by a country that promised to value every human being equally … and perhaps even more damaging, you feel betrayed by representatives of a religion that claims love as its foundational value. I understand your fear. Many of us here at Plymouth do. But I want to remind you that this spasm of hatred is the lashing out of a dying dragon. This dragon, homophobia, is angry because it is dying. And it is frightened because it is dying. And in its anger and its fear it may even seem stronger than it really is. But it is dying. What is being born is the love of God which will show forth in a time in which your God-given value will be recognized by all. In the meantime, though, I want you to know this: Whatever happens anywhere else, in this place, and in this family, you need not be afraid. Even if every state in the Union were to pass an amendment, these walls stand to protect you. This is a sanctuary where your lives will be celebrated, and your loves blessed, and your relationships honored. And from this place we will go out and fight together for human rights for all. That is a solemn covenant which we here make with one another. And woe to this church if it should ever break that covenant, for in so doing it will have broken its own heart.”

–Rev. Jim Gertmenian, Plymouth Congregational Church, Minneapolis, from a sermon delivered on November 7, 2004

My next steps

When I was a kid, I had a dream that I would grow up to be Mayor of Minneapolis — but I woke up before I found out what came next. So over this past year, I have spent a lot of time thinking about what to do after I am finished being Mayor on January 2.

I have done a lot of soul-searching.  I knew I wanted to keep working on the challenges facing my hometown and I didn’t want to be spread as thin as I am today. I wanted to focus as much energy as I can on one big issue, and it is clear there is one big challenge that dwarfs all others we face:

The young people of our region do not share the same future.

Our children of color are not learning as fast in our schools. Fewer of them are graduating. Fewer of them are getting to college.

We should be proud that Minneapolis–Saint Paul is at the top of so many lists of successful communities, but we should be ashamed that we also top of list of communities with the largest achievement gaps.

A great region cannot become greater if kids get a different education; if their success can be predicted by their race and where they live.  Improving education for all children is clearly the civil rights issue of our time, and there is almost no region in the country that has to close more of that gap than Minneapolis St. Paul.

We have talked about this issue for a long, long time, but it is clear to me there is a growing consensus that we have to stop admiring this problem and treat it like the crisis that it surely is.

When the 35W bridge collapsed, we didn’t spend years talking about how it fell down, and a couple more thinking about how we would fix it: we raced into the water to save lives and broke down every barrier possible to get it rebuilt as fast as it possibly could.

If we can do this about a piece of infrastructure, then surely we can do that with the future of our next generation.

Today, I am announcing that when I am finished serving as Mayor on January 2, I will become executive director of Generation Next.  Generation Next is a partnership of some of our region’s most significant foundation, business, education and community leaders, and has included Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and me.  It is modeled on successful Strive Initiatives in other cities that have built powerful community partnerships and transformed schools to attack the achievement gap.

I have been at the table with Generation Next over the past two years as we have built a strong coalition and foundation. But we have to do much, much more. Now is the time to move to an even higher level, with an even stronger coalition, with an even greater urgency.

We clearly face a crisis, but it can also be our greatest opportunity.  If we can close the gap in our schools, our increasingly diverse next generation can help our businesses soar in a global economy where the most important skill is to cross cultural barriers.  Kids in our schools do that every single day, and they can teach us how if we can only teach them better.

I have loved being Mayor, but my favorite part of the job has always been the STEP-UP summer-jobs program, the Youth Violence Prevention effort, all my visits to schools and the rest of my work with young people.  I am so happy that I can continue to work for the children of Minneapolis — and now, also the children of Saint Paul.

I have a lot to learn.  I will enter the work humbly.  But I will also enter with urgency, because we don’t have a minute, or a young mind, to waste.

Generation Next will take up the bulk of my time, but I’m also pleased to announce that I will have another project: I will be teaching one class a semester at the University of Minnesota, which will be offered jointly by the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the College of Design.

The first class that I am teaching this spring will be called “Mayor 101,” and it will cover some of the lessons I learned in my 12 years on the job.

Even though I am leaving a job that I have loved for the past 12 years — serving as your mayor — I am lucky that in both my future roles, I will continue to be able to serve the young people and future leaders of the city, region and state that I love.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 32 other followers