Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Who Deserves a Round of Applause? Nominate City Leaders for Awards by May 5

2016 award winners: Oak Park Heights Mayor Mary McComber
and Shoreview City Manager Terry Schwerm
Take a moment and think of the person in your life who deserves a round of applause for their work in local government.

Who comes to mind?

Yup, chances are that person you are picturing is pretty great! They may also be a perfect nominee for the League of Minnesota Cities’ C.C. Ludwig Award or the James F. Miller Leadership Award, which are now open for 2017 nominations until May 5. Find details and a nomination form here.

Did you think of an elected official? → C.C. Ludwig Award
Do they present a clear vision? ✔ Do they have a knack for public service? ✔ Have they gone above
and beyond to make contributions to improve municipal government throughout Minnesota? ✔
If the check marks keep coming, now is the time to nominate your elected city official for the C.C. Ludwig Award.

Did you think of an appointed official? → James F. Miller Leadership Award
The LMC panel of judges will also be looking for appointed city officials who have shown outstanding leadership by dedicating themselves to public service in their communities. Pro tip: nominees will really “wow” the judges if they’ve also made a point of benefiting the greater local government community in Minnesota, beyond the boundaries of their own cities.

You may be thinking, “How do I know if they are qualified for these awards?” Every nominee has their own unique history and resume, but it might help to take a look at these stories featuring past winners in Minnesota Cities magazine.
League Celebrates Outstanding City Leaders (2016)
League Recognizes City Leaders (2015)

Who are C.C. Ludwig and James (Jim) F. Miller, anyway?
They are both former League executive directors who are worth reading up on. Check out these archives to see more about the leaders behind the awards that honor our city officials today!
C.C. Ludwig—The Man, The Award, The Legacy
Jim Miller—22 Years of Leading The League


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Great City Work? Check. Next Up? LMC Awards Recognition

Your city isn’t waiting to make your community a better place to live, and you shouldn’t wait to help recognize your city’s success stories!

The League of Minnesota Cities offers multiple awards to showcase your hard work, including the City of Excellence Award and the League of Minnesota Cities/GreenStep Cities Sustainable City Award. These annual awards are now accepting nominations through May 5.

City of Excellence Awards
If your city has improved a city service, solved a classic conundrum, modified a solution to fit your city's needs, saved money while achieving great results, or creatively included stakeholders in a decision-making process, this work could be a good fit for the general entry category in the League’s City of Excellence Award program.

Representatives of 10 cities in southwest Minnesota accept a
joint City of Excellence Award in 2016.
Get your City of Excellence entry form on the League's website, and turn in your entries by May 5 to share your good work.

General entries are accepted in three population categories:

•    4,999 and under
•    5,000 to 19,999
•    20,000 or more

The City of Excellence Award program also offers recognition in a different topical category each year. For this year’s topical award category, “Promoting Civility in the City,” the League wants to know how your city fosters civility in city hall or in the greater community. This could look like a program or project that improves council-staff relations, promotes open and respectful community dialogue, or results in successful community conversations about a controversial issue. 

Want examples of award-winning projects? Check out the 2016 winners, featured in Minnesota Cities magazine:

Hastings’ ‘Riverfront Renaissance’ Brings New Vitality
Oak Park Heights Turns Fly-Ash Pit into Fun Park
Belle Plaine Boosts Safety with ‘Tiger Watch’ Program
Collaborative Effort Brings Fiber-Optic Broadband to Rural Region

Sustainable City Award
The Sustainable City Award is also offered by the League and GreenStep Cities partner organizations. GreenStep Cities can submit work they’ve done to help achieve their sustainability goals.

If your city is making green look good, download a Sustainable City Award application and submit your success stories by May 5.

Want examples of sustainability that wowed? Check out the 2015 and 2016 winners:

St. Anthony Village: Sustainable City Through Collaboration (press release)
Oakdale Saves Money While Working to Save the Planet



Monday, March 27, 2017

Sneak-Peek: 2017 Safety & Loss Control Workshops

Spring has arrived in most parts of Minnesota, and with this season comes our annual Safety & Loss Control Workshops! Industry professionals have polished their presentations and are ready to share tips for handling common safety challenges.

Beginning this week, we’ll be in nine locations across the state sharing the latest in how to manage risk. Each workshop is broken down into tracks according to the position you hold in your city.

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Every morning, we’ll have sessions for the following municipal professionals:

Administrative (there will be an afternoon session as well)
This 3-hour track will include sessions on tech contracts, FLSA (Fair Labor Standard Act) changes, siting requests for large and small cell towers, and codification services available for your city. Want to study up a little in advance? Here’s a memo on Cell Towers, Small Cell Technologies & Distributed Antenna Systems.

Police
This track’s sessions include TED-Talk-inspired presentations on new lineup identification procedures, police injury trends, responses to mental illness calls, accommodations for religion in the workplace, and policing in VUCA (volatile, unpredictable, complex, and ambiguous) environments—as well as how to deal with the mental and emotional concerns of your city’s officers. Curious to learn more about VUCA? Here’s a recent blog post on the topic.

Public Works with Parks & Rec
Sessions over this 3-hour track will cover ergonomic tools for day-to-day work, water and mold clean-up and remediation, and how to prepare proper contracts when working with contractors. Parks & rec professionals are welcome to review this loss control information memo that discusses how to keep facilities, programs, and employees as safe as possible!

Every afternoon, sessions will include information for the following city employees:

Administrative
This track will include sessions on preventing child abuse in youth-serving organizations, protecting your city’s data from hackers, preparing for natural disasters, and understanding insurance needs for special events. In case you missed it, the most recent issue of Minnesota Cities magazine included an in-depth article on child abuse prevention in city programs.

Insurance Agents
For those agents who work with Minnesota cities, this track will have sessions on equipment breakdown coverage, League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT) updates, tips for communicating to members about the insurance trust, and unique claims coverage and liability analysis. Here’s a document outlining the 2016-17 LMCIT coverage changes.

HR & Leadership—NEW!
New this year, supervisory issues like veterans preference in hiring, overcoming unconscious bias, and preventing workplace retaliation will be covered in this track. The latest edition of Minnesota Cities magazine includes a comprehensive article on workplace retaliation, in case you’re looking for a preview of this topic.

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As you can see, we’ve got something for everyone! Hope to see you at one of the workshops this spring.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Swing into the March-April Issue of Minnesota Cities Magazine

Spring is finally upon us along with the March-April issue of Minnesota Cities magazine!

Check out how some fire departments in Minnesota are using the “duty crew” model to meet the demands of modern-day firefighting in this issue’s cover story, Duty Crews: Helping Fire Departments Manage the Modern World.

Other highlights:

Making sure that children participating in city programs feel safe is a top priority for any city official. In Child Abuse Prevention: Keeping Kids Safe in the City, League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust Field Consultant Tracy Stille describes thorough routines to protect kids, as well as your city’s reputation.

When the City of St. Cloud spotted a not-so-appealing brown sediment floating around in the Mississippi River, the city banded together with its community to clean up its drinking water source. See how St. Cloud stepped up to the plate to keep its own drinking water clean and to protect the water of cities downstream in How a City Rallied Together for Clean Water.

You can also find out what LMC Executive Director David Unmacht has to say about the role of citizen volunteers, catch up on Belle Plaine's simple but successful public safety program in Ideas in Action, and get ideas from the cities of Wahkon and Wanamingo in Two-Way Street: How Does Your City Honor Veterans?

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Predictions for the Not-So-Distant Future of Tech and Cities

We sat down earlier this year with LMC’s new chief information officer, Melissa “Mel” Reeder to get her big-picture predictions for the not-so-distant future of tech and cities. We had a few “huh?” moments, but Mel is a pretty down-to-earth talker and was happy to translate her tech-speak into the following visions of what could lie ahead. Prepare to be inspired: 

Prediction 1

Open data: Cities will branch out into the role of providing the public a platform to access and mine public data. By thoughtfully structuring data in a standardized way, cities can make large sets of information usable and relevant to users. This allows users the freedom and flexibility to reference the data for their own creative applications—and could get cities out of the app-making business (doesn’t that sound nice?). In addition, centralized data will allow for more de-siloing of information and activity. When geographic data “borders” disappear, cross-jurisdiction collaboration follows.

Prediction 2
Personalization: Cities will continue providing more personalized services, allowing residents to register or opt-in to receiving tailored information, whether it’s about traffic or the hours of a neighborhood park. More and more, citizens will receive convenient texts or email notices when they need to renew a permit or pay a traffic ticket. Using pictures as well as text, public employees will be able to respond directly to requests, telling citizens when and how they resolved their issues. How’s that for service?

Prediction 3
Predictive analytics (Wait! Wait! Don’t glaze over yet!): By layering different types of seemingly unrelated data to see how different systems may be interacting, cities can address these intersections before they turn into big problems or missed chances. Example: comparing data from apps that crowd-source popular running routes to your city’s plans for where to locate trail amenities or zoning for pedestrian-friendly commercial. These “preemptive interventions” could be in any department or combo of departments’ purviews—infrastructure, public health, public safety, you name it. By better pairing intervention with need, these analytics will create new efficiencies in many city services.

Bonus prediction: Mel is fascinated by “Hyperloop” technology—individual transport capsules capable of traveling up to 800 miles an hour by magnet, which could theoretically allow you to get from the tippy top of the state to the southern border of Minnesota in about 45 minutes. Hey, a CIO can dream.


Monday, March 6, 2017

Advocating for Cities: What’s Been Happening and What You Can Do

We’re already two months into the 2017 Legislative Session! While it's always a busy place, more bill introductions than usual in the House and Senate=even more activity related to the city issues you care about. Below is an update on three issues that the League has been working on.

Small Cell Technology
Small cell technology in public right of way has been a hot topic in the legislature for the League so far. The League is currently opposed to the bill. While discussions are occurring with the proponents of the bill, there are still areas of concern including liability, installation, expenses, and impacts on governance.
Data Practices
Part of a potential omnibus data practices bill, this legislation would reclassify video, audio, and other recordings of government employees, independent contractors, or volunteers from "private" to "public" data. The League opposes this bill. One reason for this opposition is that personnel data that will continue to be considered private on paper would be considered public on video.
Workforce Housing
Cities facing a shortage of housing that would allow employers to expand their businesses should be aware of League-supported proposals to provide tax increment financing (TIF) and tax credits for workforce housing development. Workforce housing has been a priority of the League since 2015.

How can you advocate for these and other issues impacting your city?
Advocating for your city can take many shapes, but being able to tell your city’s story is one of the most effective ways to make sure your voice is heard and to educate others about what's happening in your city. It's also important to continuously build relationships with lawmakers, the media, and the people in your community. You can find resources and information on how to advocate on the League's website.

Join your city colleagues to make an impact at the Capitol!
Whether you’re new to advocating for your city or you’re experienced in getting your story out, join more than 140 of your city colleagues at the Capitol on March 23 for the 2017 Legislative Conference for Cities in St. Paul.

Start the day early with a pre-conference session reviewing the best ways to advocate, then hear from the League’s intergovernmental relations team, members of the media, and state government leaders as you get up to date on the League’s legislative priorities, Minnesota’s political landscape, and more. Plus, you’ll have opportunities to tour the Capitol, meet with your legislators, and connect with your city colleagues.

Online registration is closing soon! Explore the full agenda and more: www.lmc.org/legconf17blog

Do you have stories about advocating for your city? Share them in the comments below!


Friday, February 17, 2017

'I Love My City!' A Second Helping from the LMC Board

In honor of Valentine's Day week, we reached out to the League of Minnesota Cities Board of Directors with a simple question—what do you love about your city? We got back plenty of answers, each one different and a reflection of the city and city official!

See the first scoop of city love here: 'I Love My City!' These LMC Board Members Tell Us Why.

Read on for more highlights from their responses:

"I love Hopkins because of the great downtown we have and the great people that make
up this city. There is a lot of pride." Mike Mornson, city administrator of Hopkins, MN
"We love our quarries, our central Minnesota location, our farmland, and our diverse
population. Pictured above is my favorite 'gem,' Transformer Quarry." Shaunna Johnson,
city administrator of Waite Park, MN.
"Bloomington somehow manages to feel like a small town (residents are involved, informed, and passionate),
a comfortable suburb, and a bustling big city all at once." Tim Busse, city councilmember in Bloomington
"I love St. Anthony Village because we are a small 'village' in the middle of the big city. ... Collaboration is in our DNA, and I know that we are stronger through our many partnerships." Mark Casey, city manager of St. Anthony Village
"I love Carver because it preserves and balances the natural environment, heritage, and growth opportunities in the community. Over half of the city’s land area is conserved within the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, the downtown has nearly one-hundred buildings with late 19th century architecture preserved on the National Register of Historic Places, all while balancing new growth." Brent Mareck, city manager of Carver, MN
"I love my city because it has a ‘can-do’ attitude. We have great people who are not afraid to invest in our
needs and take care of our infrastructure." Dave Smiglewski, mayor of Granite Falls, MN
Photos submitted by LMC board members