Thursday, May 25, 2017

Grundhoefer's Career of Service Honored with Amdahl Award

Tom Grundhoefer was general counsel of LMC
from 1996 to February of 2017.
Who did Minnesota cities turn to when they needed expert advice on legislation and judicial rulings? Tom Grundhoefer. Who approached every situation—no matter how ugly or messy it got—with a calm demeanor, common sense and thoughtfulness? Tom Grundhoefer. Who exemplified what it meant to be a committed public attorney to the highest degree? Tom Grundhoefer.

Because of these accomplishments, Grundhoefer, former general counsel of the League of Minnesota Cities (LMC), has posthumously received the Douglas K. Amdahl Public Attorney Career Achievement Award from the Minnesota State Bar Association-Public Law Section.

The Amdahl Award recognizes public attorneys who go above and beyond the call of duty, and anyone who knew Grundhoefer would attest that he fit this description to a T.

Grundhoefer—affectionately referred to as just “Tom G.” around the League—first was hired as a research assistant for the League in 1980 while he was a student at William Mitchell College of Law. From 1982 to 1986, he worked in private practice before returning to the League as a staff attorney. In 1996, he was promoted to general counsel of LMC and the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust. He was also a leader in the city attorney community and served as counsel to the Minnesota City Attorneys Association and on the board of directors for the International Municipal Lawyers Association.

Grundhoefer’s four decades of public service came to a close after he unexpectedly died in February. But the lasting impression he had on those around him and his legacy of unfaltering service will live on in the public attorney and local government communities.

Grundhoefer’s colleagues included the following in their nomination letter:
“Whoever you were, whoever you represented, or whatever title or position you had or didn’t have, you left Tom’s presence feeling listened to and respected. Feeling ‘served.’” They went on to say, “Tom’s commitment to serve others stands out as a shining example of a public law career well served—a government lawyer to emulate.”

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Why LMC Board Members Decided to Serve MN Cities—And How You Can, Too

Not only do members of the League of Minnesota Cities Board of Directors love their own cities, but they also take pride in lending a hand to all member cities around the state—large, small, north, south, you name it.

Being on the LMC Board gives them an opportunity to give back to the local government community, and you have the chance to help lead Minnesota cities and the League now, too!

LMC board members come from different backgrounds and community sizes, but they all agree on one thing: they value their role on LMC's Board of Directors.

The League is now accepting applications from city officials who also want to lead Minnesota local governments to success by taking on the board's responsibilities to prepare cities and the League for the future.

Applications are due May 26, so check out more information about the selection process, and see what prompted a few of the League’s current board members to bid for a seat on the LMC Board of Directors:
“I wanted to be on the LMC Board because this board should demonstrate the diversity of our great state.  I wanted to voice my opinion representing small-town life in Minnesota.  As someone who grew up in St. Paul and has lived in the south, north, and western part of this state, I believe we are stronger when we encourage all voices to be heard.” – Sue Hilgert, mayor of Olivia, MN


“Way back in the early 1990s, I started my professional career at the League of Minnesota Cities and had the opportunity to get to know the Board of Directors. I watched how they worked with each other, how they interacted with staff, and how they provided leadership in tough situations. I realized that if I ever had the chance to serve and lead as those folks did, I would.” – Tim Busse, councilmember of Bloomington, MN

“I wanted to be on the LMC board for the opportunity to work with and learn from some incredible individuals, to be a part of leading one of the most important organizations in the state, and to learn more about giving cities a voice and ensuring that our voice is heard.” – Tina Rennemo, city clerk-treasurer of Baudette, MN




“I wanted to give back to an organization that has provided so much for me in expanding my career as a city manager. All board members that I have worked with have a strong passion for their individual cities as well as the League of Minnesota Cities, which makes it a high-energy board.” – Mike Mornson, city manager of Hopkins, MN

“I wanted to be on the LMC Board because I have the opportunity to collaborate and exchange ideas with some of the best and brightest in the field. Being part of the League at this level has made me a better leader and manager, and has allowed me to give back to an organization that I hold in high regard.” – Mark Casey, city manager of St. Anthony Village, MN

“We have all likely been in a meeting where someone suggests, 'calling the League.' LMC has earned that reputation for being 'someone to call' by developing relationships and serving as a trusted information resource for its members. I’m hoping to contribute, in part, to the LMC’s continued advocacy of Minnesota cities.” – Brent Mareck, city manager of Carver, MN

The League’s board members know that their own cities benefit when all Minnesota cities—from Baudette to Bloomington—work together to strengthen the entire state and make sure all Minnesota voices are heard. Remember, applications are due May 26, and candidates will be interviewed by a Nominating Committee on June 14 at the Annual Conference in Rochester.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Thank You, City Clerks!

Municipal Clerks Week is coming to a close and League staff want to say THANK YOU to all Minnesota city clerks for the work you do to keep cities operating at their best. Your dedication benefits everyone who lives, works, and plays in Minnesota.

If you're not familiar with the work of city clerks in Minnesota, here are just a few of the duties that clerks may perform in Minnesota cities:

  • Election administration
  • Agenda preparation
  • Meeting minute-taking
  • Records retention 
  • Financial management
  • Ordinance and resolution maintenance
  • Historical records preservation
  • Permit processing
  • Data practices compliance

... And of course, in many Minnesota cities the clerk is the primary administrator!

That kind of to-do list makes being a city clerk both a rewarding career and a big responsibility. So again, we want to say "thank you" for your work, this week and every week of the year. We see the difference you make in your communities every day.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The City Spot Café: State Pre-emption

What you need to know about pre-emption right now, served up by the LMC Research and Information Service team. 

Definition: State law “pre-empts” local decision-making authority either by saying so in the language of the statute, or when the Legislature has “occupied the field” of that subject.

Plain language explanation: In areas of law where local authority has been pre-empted, the local authority cannot enact or enforce ordinances or regulations related to that topic, and the state is calling the shots. Any local laws that are inconsistent with state law in these areas are void.

There are two main methods of pre-emption:

1. A law may state outright that it is pre-empting local decision-making. Example: the Legislature explicitly pre-empts local authority to regulate firearms.

2. The Legislature may also “occupy the field.” Field pre-emption means the Legislature has not stated in law that local authority is pre-empted per se, but a review of the statute shows that state law covers the subject matter in every which-way, the Legislature has clearly indicated that the subject matter is solely a state concern, or the subject matter itself is of such a nature that local regulation would have unreasonably harmful effects.

In the news: State lawmakers around the country and here in Minnesota have announced plans to restrict city authority in a variety of policy areas ranging from employment (like sick time offerings)—to public health and environmental matters like plastic bag bans and even drilling of private wells.

Pros: In some situations, the Legislature pre-empting city authority makes sense. One example is driver and vehicle licensure, where the state occupies the field. From the perspective of a city, having the state take on vehicle registration, licensing of drivers, and other related matters is a good idea. Cities would face huge costs handling that kind of paperwork across jurisdictions, and the state is better equipped to handle those tasks.

Cons: In other areas, pre-emption can tie the hands of cities who want to tailor their ordinances to the needs of their communities and instead, it can result in one-size-fits-all requirements that are imposed from the top-down. Local elected officials live in their communities and have close contact with their constituents, which means certain subjects are best left to local officials. Cities have also been known to come up with some pretty smart ideas. Policy innovation allowed to happen at the local level has resulted in statewide benefit later.

League Position: The League is in favor of ensuring continued local control over issues impacting cities, and all the positives that result from respecting Minnesota’s healthy city-state partnership.

Resource: For further information on the League’s legislative priorities, please see the 2017 City Policies and the League’s local authority advocacy toolkit.  

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.