Monday, September 18, 2017

A League Intern Rides Along with the West St. Paul PD


In June, Khongpheng Vang joined the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust as an intern through the City of St. Paul’s Right Track Program. Vang is a senior at Johnson High School and takes advanced classes toward college credit in the areas of algebra, history, chemistry, and writing. Recently, he got the opportunity to ride along with the West St. Paul Police Department and writes about it below.

On August 17, I had the opportunity through my internship at the League of Minnesota Cities to visit the West St. Paul Police Department and ride along with Officer Baumeister. I got to experience and understand more of what happens during the daily life of a police officer. I saw many new things like the different rooms that make up a police department—including jail cells and interrogation and evidence rooms. I even experienced what it was like to pull over two vehicles during this ride-along. My time with Officer Baumeister was great and allowed me to explore another possible government career.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Q&A with Mental Health First Aid Instructor Akmed Khalifa

City employees have opportunities to create connections with many members of the community. Through these connections, city employees are in unique positions to provide help when someone is experiencing a mental health crisis. But how can city employees get the tools needed to provide that assistance?

Akmed Khalifa is an instructor for Mental Health First Aid, a program that gives people tools to provide aid during a mental health crisis, and he took some time to talk about the upcoming eight-hour workshops that the League will be hosting around the state.

How does Mental Health First Aid prepare people to provide help in a crisis?
First, the concept of Mental Health First Aid is to provide help to someone developing a mental health problem or experiencing a crisis, so we prepare people to offer first aid in a crisis until appropriate help can be reached. The goal is to give you the skills to recognize warning signs of a mental illnesses crisis and the ability to say “I know what’s happening, I recognize these signs, now I know what to do.” The purpose isn’t to teach people to diagnose mental illnesses, but instead to provide them with a variety of skill and tools, to help someone who may be experiencing a crisis. Not only are you given the tools to connect to appropriate professional help, you’re given tools to offer help and what can be done. There is detailed information on how to de-escalate a crisis, and what words to use in many different situations.

Why do you feel this training is important for city employees?

Mental illness is an everyday situation and affects everyone, which is why this audience is so great. This was made for everyone, not just people who are already first-responders. People in these roles connect with many community members, it’s likely that they’ll connect with someone who can be helped with the skills they’ll get in these workshops.

What sort of need have you seen for this training in Minnesota cities, and what impact have you seen it have as more people are trained?
There is a high demand for the class across the state. Part of what we do is to help people understand that mental illness is much more common than we think and that we all experience anxiety or depression, but there’s a difference between that and having depression. A big part of these workshops is to recognize that difference, and to understand what next steps you can take. You’ll develop active intelligence—you’ll be able to act on the information you get in this eight-hour training, plus you’ll have materials to refer to so you can provide the best help.

What sort of impact have you seen Mental Health First Aid having in the community?

Shortly after my co-teacher started instructing these workshops, one student put this knowledge to use to help someone at her church who was thinking about suicide. She used the words in the manual, understood the needs the person in crisis had, connected the person with appropriate professional support, and that person then got treatment. The great thing about Mental Health First Aid is that you can put it into action to make a difference in the community.

Want to know more about Mental Health First Aid? Visit the League’s website to find out about workshops scheduled this fall.

Akmed Khalifa is a Fairview Health Services, Youth Grief Services Camp coordinator focusing on expanding the program into North Minneapolis. Akmed has spent the past 40 years counseling and mentoring young adults in both community and educational settings. Akmed is an educator and trainer with experience ranging from serving as adjunct faculty at Metro State University to being a certified diversity trainer who has taught City of Minneapolis employees, Bloomington Public Schools staff and others.



Friday, September 8, 2017

Attention Students: Share How You Would Spotlight City Careers by Oct. 13!

Charity, one of the essay contest winners from 2015, stopped
by the Cities Matter booth this year! Charity got her
essay form  in 2015 from the state fair, but you can also
find it online at www.lmc.org/MFAD17.
Students can find reminders of the value of local government careers everywhere—when riding the bus, walking on sidewalks to a friend’s house, checking out books at their local library, or drinking clean water at a park drinking fountain. Without city employees, these everyday activities would not be possible.

For the 2017 Mayor for a Day Essay Contest, the League wants to hear how fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-graders who live in Minnesota answer this question: If you were mayor for a day, what would you do to show people that local governments are good places to work?

Three winners will be awarded $100, and their essays will be published in Minnesota Cities magazine.

To find out more about local government careers and why city employees love what they do, essay writers can visit the careers section of the Cities Matter webpage. There students will find what real people have to say about their jobs working in cities, and can see how visitors to the Minnesota State Fair learned more about which city careers need their “superpowers."

Essay submissions must be sent to the League by Oct. 13, so download an entry form for a child you know today! 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Q&A with Engineering Director Debra Heiser from the City of St. Louis Park on Small Cell Wireless

During the 2017 legislative session, a new law was enacted that allows small cell wireless equipment to be installed on city-owned infrastructure. As deadlines to comply with the new law approach, you might be wondering what exactly does your city need to do to comply.

Debra Heiser, engineering director with the City of St. Louis Park, talked about how her city worked with wireless providers earlier this year (prior to the new law passing in the legislature) to come to an agreement on placing small cells in the city’s densely populated West End area.

St. Louis Park reached an agreement with a wireless provider on small cell antennas in February. What was St. Louis Park’s process for approaching small cell wireless?
We worked out a master license agreement with Verizon to allow co-location on city owned poles. We worked with them for a year on location, aesthetics, and more. Once the license agreement was reached, Verizon handled all the installation and then they worked with their contractor. The city handled the installation just like anything else going in the right of way—we did monitor the installation, to make sure it matched the agreement, but the installation was 100% Verizon.

How were locations to install this technology chosen in St. Louis Park?
We’ve all been to places or events where we have slow data. As people become more dependent on data and their smart phones, and when there are places where a lot of people are potentially on their phones, there’s a lot of demand for data. So as people become use technology more, wireless providers are noticing holes in their coverage in these busy areas. These small cells are repeaters that help fill those holes in coverage, so densely populated areas are the focus for this technology.

How did the installation process work?
The installation is complete and took two weeks. There wasn’t a lot of disruption to the community, except that there was construction on the street while the installation was happening. For the installation, the company wanted to collocate on some banner poles, so they ordered structural poles to accommodate the equipment, ran fiber optics to the poles, and handled restoring the installation area to what it looked like before the work was done.

What do you think other cities should know as they work to comply with the new provisions?
Have a clear process and expectations with the provider. We had a couple hiccups during the process. An example was with power usage. The provider wanted to use the power that was used to light the poles, but photo cells provide the power on the light poles, so they don’t work during the daylight. That was one thing we tried to anticipate and let the provider know that was the case. Make sure you talk about anything that can happen.

Is there any other advice you’d like to pass on to cities working on their own small cell wireless agreements?
Be proactive. Get your ordinance and your set right now. If you have questions, look at what other cities have done.

Want more background information, details on the new law, and examples from a city that’s already started the small cell installation process? Don’t miss a free webinar hosted by the League on Sept. 12. The live webinar will be available to anyone who wants to view it online. Local government officials and those who are employed by a city can also view the webinar live at the League and discuss ideas and concerns with other local government officials after the webinar. If you can't take part in the live viewing, you can watch a recording of the webinar once it's posted online.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Spotted: Discover Your Superpower at the Minnesota State Fair




It's a bird! It's a plane! It's the Minnesota State Fair! 

This year you'll find the Cities Matter campaign in the same familiar booth in the Education Building, but with a whole new look and activity. We're dedicating our 12 days of fair goodness to promoting the value of city careers and encouraging the next generation of future leaders to check out opportunities that cities have to offer.

If you are visiting the fair this year, be sure to try out the new interactive quiz to discover your "superpower," learn more about city careers that can help you make a difference in your community, and of course say hi to League staff and board members working the booth.

The Cities Matter campaign was launched in 2009 by the League of Minnesota Cities to educate the public about cities and the services they provide. You can check out the Cities Matter website to see all-new content that features city staffers and elected officials talking about what it's really like to work in Minnesota cities. These city superheroes are the real deal! 

Together we hope that the website and the booth are a dynamic duo that will bring some pow! into promoting local government careers and the important work that city officials do every day.


Friday, July 21, 2017

Spotted: Welcoming New Board Members and Old Traditions


LMC staff gave a big welcome to new members of the board of directors on July 20, when these fresh faces gathered with the returning board for their first official meeting. And then we made them pose for awkward photos. Thanks, all! You make these obligatory moments look good! Please help us welcome from left to right: Curt Boganey, city manager of Brooklyn Center; Justin Miller, city administrator of Lakeville; Sara Carlson, mayor of Alexandria and CGMC representative; Lynn Kissock, mayor of Maple Lake; and Gary Hansen, city councilmember in Eagan and Metro Cities representative.


Also on the agenda was a presentation near and dear to our hearts. Tradition holds that the outgoing president of the League board presents to the League a piece of framed art representing their city. These mementos are hung throughout the building, reminding us daily of the special places that we serve, and the great people that have gotten us to where we are today. Thanks to outgoing president Rhonda Pownell (right), mayor of Northfield, for this meaningful gift, and thanks to incoming president Jo Emerson (left), mayor of White Bear Lake, for accepting it!

Photo credit goes to League staffers Danielle Cabot and Laura Zenz

Friday, June 16, 2017

Spotted: Around the 2017 LMC Annual Conference—Friday, June 16

Discussing issues important to cities with municipal colleagues, exploring the signs of a vibrant city, and hearing how to manage information made for a full and informative final day of the conference! Check out some highlights below:


Throughout the conference, city officials shared pressing topics that they wanted to discuss with colleagues. Friday morning, they sat down to explore topics including: social media use, small city revitalization, federal advocacy, and workforce housing. (Photo credit LMC staffer Katie Davidson)


How do communicating spending, hot legal topics, supporting new Americans, and employee engagement contribute to vibrant cities? City officials found out during the last round of educational sessions Friday morning. (Photo credit Todd Myra Photography)



Our brains are hungry for information, but with more data coming at us now than ever before, how do we keep from getting overwhelmed? Closing keynote speaker Dr. Amit Sood took us through ways to keep our brains from being overloaded as he explained his Stress Management and Resiliency Training (SMART) program. (Photo credit LMC staffer Jenna Kramer)



Thank you to everyone who helped make the 2017 Annual Conference great. We hope to see you next year in St. Cloud! (Photo credit LMC staffer Jenna Kramer)


What were your highlights from the 2017 Annual Conference in Rochester? Share your stories in the comments below!

Be sure to check out photos and a summary of events from Wednesday and Thursday!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Spotted: Around the 2017 LMC Annual Conference—Thursday, June 15

That’s a wrap on day two of the 2017 Annual Conference! City officials created connections, heard from inspiring speakers, explored the exhibit hall, and more during today’s jam-packed program. Some highlights:


Did you know? 42% of Minnesotans live in GreenStep Cities communities! Will Seuffert of the Environmental Quality Board spoke about environmental opportunities and ways Minnesota can move forward.



Craig Waldron, co-director of the Center for Public Administration and Leadership at Hamline University, gave a preview of his session “Growing Social Capital” during today’s new event “Short Takes on Big Trends and Issues.” During this Ted Talk-like presentation, Craig spoke about the importance of creating connections in our communities and building social capital to create healthy, vibrant cities.




"I applaud you for seizing this opportunity to serve your people.” Clarence Anthony, executive director of the National League of Cities, traveled to Rochester to speak with Minnesota city officials. Clarence talked about the unique role city officials play in leading their community, and how he went from being elected to city council at the age of 24 to advocating for cities at the national level as the executive director of the National League of Cities.



Do you recognize that familiar face? Former Executive Director of the League, Jim Miller (second from L) helped present an award named in his honor, the James F. Miller Leadership Award, to Daniel Buchholtz, city administrator with Spring Lake Park (second from right).



Good luck on your retirement, Pete! League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust Administrator Pete Tritz celebrated his upcoming retirement after 43 years of working at the League—complete with a custom cake based off his mandola.



What happened during the 2017 Legislative Session? The League’s Intergovernmental Relations (IGR) team hosted a happy hour in the exhibit hall where they chatted with city officials about the recent session and fielded questions on topics important to cities.










It’s been a great day in Rochester! City officials from all over the state created connections and explored the signs of a vibrant city during the 2017 Annual Conference.


In case you missed them, check out highlights from Wednesday, June 14 at the conference!

What are your highlights from this year in Rochester? Share them in the comments below!

(Photo credit: Todd Myra Photography)


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Spotted: Around the 2017 LMC Annual Conference—Wednesday, June 14

All signs point to a successful first day at the League of Minnesota Cities Annual Conference! City officials from around the state arrived in Rochester for pre-conference workshops, a tour of development in Rochester, opening keynote speakers from The Second City Works, and more. Some highlights:


Before the Annual Conference kicked off, the 2016-17 LMC Board of Directors met to take care of some League business and pose for a group photo. (Photo credit Todd Myra Photography)




What are key tools city officials can use to communicate with their communities? League communications staffer Danielle Cabot reviewed the pros and cons of different ways to reach out to their constituents with newly elected officials during Wednesday’s advance training pre-conference. (Photo credit LMC staffer Jenna Kramer)




Big Lake City Administrator Clay Wilfahrt fielded questions during the "21st Century Policing Challenges" pre-conference workshop. His advice when working with people who have different methods of approaching a project? “Find points of common ground you can move forward on, because that’s where you build trust.”(Photo credit LMC staffer Jenna Kramer)




Just what does the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust do? Underwriting Manager Liam Biever reviewed the basics of LMCIT with city clerks from around the state during the 2017 Clerks' Orientation Conference, which is happening in conjunction with the Annual Conference this year. (Photo credit LMC staffer Jenna Kramer)



“Yes, and…” Keynote speakers Kelly Leonard and Robyn Scott, from The Second City Works, demonstrated how improvisation skills can improve relationships and create stronger ideas by using simple phrases such as ‘yes, and.’ (Photo credit League staffer Jenna Kramer)




"The more we make someone else look good, the better leaders we are.” City officials joined Kelly Leonard and Robyn Scott to show how listening to our colleagues and working together to build ideas create better leaders. (Photo credit LMC staffer Jenna Kramer)




Celebrating 14 years of being mayor! Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede waited in line for Wednesday’s Rochester’s Honkers game where he was honored for being the city’s 44th mayor. Ardell also threw out the first pitch at the game, and Governor Mark Dayton also named June 14 Ardell Brede Day. (Photo credit LMC staffer Jamie Oxley)


Are you enjoying this year's conference in Rochester? Share your own highlights in the comments below!


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Spotted: Drumroll Please! Annual Conference On Its Way



The prize drum for this year's Annual Conference raffle is safe on the truck! League staff, OK mostly Greg VanWormer and Mike Demorrow from tech services, loaded up all the ingredients for a great 2017 Annual Conference in Rochester. All signs point to this being an informative, innovative, and yes, fun, gathering of local government leaders from across the state. We'll see you in Rochester!

Photo credit goes to League staffer Danielle Cabot

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Spotted: Poolside Fun in Andover


OK, so they’re not really at the pool just for fun—they have a job to do!

But these guys, Erick Sutherland on the left and Steve Landau on the right, have a lot to celebrate. Sutherland is the recreational facilities manager for the city of Andover, and Landau is the director of health living with the YMCA. Together, their organizations are partners in the Andover YMCA Community Center, an attractive recreation destination that residents were clamoring for. You could call the partnership a smashing—nope—a splashing success!

Andover’s combo community center and Y is an example of a “P3,” a public-private partnership. P3s and the role they can play in cities are spotlighted in the May-June issue of Minnesota Cities magazine: The Public-Private Partnership Advantage. Dive in!  

Photo credit goes to Angela Jimenez


Thursday, June 1, 2017

Data is Beautiful! An Annual Conference Session Preview

A tech dispatch from Mel Reeder, chief information officer at the League:

"Data is beautiful," as the saying goes. What does this mean? Government entities have a lot of public data. Until recently, this data just piled up in files, maps, and computer storage systems. But with today’s technology tools, city data can now be mined for all sorts of valuable and beautiful outcomes. The opportunities are endless.

Two points come to mind when I think about beautiful data: is it usable and who should get it?

Of course, it’s usable, right? Not necessarily. It doesn’t help to dump all that data on your city website either in gobbledygook form or worse, a gobbledygook pdf. Data is no good if it cannot be handled, broken down, and put together in different ways by others. Data needs to be indexed and sorted in a way that the public and city staff can interpret and then “mash-up” for their own analysis.

This leads to my second point. Who should have access to this data? Answer: everyone! By posting public data it provides everyone a chance to use it, be creative and even create beautiful data. Yes, beautiful! Online communities are popping up all over the world. These coders and data analysts want to use and display your data in new and exciting ways. By providing the data, you promote creativity. (See some beautiful examples below!)

How does this relate to you? The League of Minnesota Cities Annual Conference is just around the corner, and we have lined up a treat for you. Speakers from the MN Geospatial Information Office and MN Office of Broadband will be presenting Using Data in City Planning & Decision Making. Attend this educational session on Thursday, June 15 from 10:15-11:15 a.m. to get ideas about deploying Border-to-Border broadband in your city, using data from other cities, and most importantly, sharing data with your community so it can be used by others to create a smart and connected city. 

 And the eye-candy examples, as promised:

This beautiful data can be found on www.informationisbeautiful.net here:


This beautiful data can be found on www.census.gov here:


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.

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!