Monday, July 2, 2018

Saying Farewell to Camp #MnCities

On June 20, hundreds of city officials came to St. Cloud for Camp #MnCities—the League’s 2018 Annual Conference. Over the course of three days, campers discovered ideas during more than 20 educational sessions, created connections with other city officials as well as more than 100 vendors and League staff, and heard from inspiring speakers.

Look back at this year's conference, and share some of your own highlights in the comments below!

Autumn from Sassy Lassy Trivia & Events led the League's intergovernmental relations (IGR) team, plus League board members Mike Mornson and Heidi Omerza, with a fun quiz show exploring the ups and downs from the 2018 legislative session. 

Camp #MnCities kicked off Wednesday evening in the exhibit hall. Campers made s'mores, enjoyed live music around the camp fire, made crafts, and took part in other camp activities as they connected with fellow city officials, vendors, and League staff.

Camp started bright and early Thursday morning with a panel on the urban-rural divide. Moderator Darin Brodon from Tunheim led the discussion with State Demographer Susan Brower, Mayor of Bemidji Rita Albrecht, University of Minnesota Vice President of Matt Kramer, and Research Director with Growth and Justice Kate Searls.

Every year, the League and city officials say good-bye to outgoing board members and welcome new ones during the LMC Luncheon & Annual Meeting. On Thursday, 2017-18 League Board President Jo Emerson congratulates outgoing Past President Rhonda Pownell (top), and new League board president Heidi Omerza addresses city officials for the first time in her presidency (bottom).

Fox 9 Anchor Amy Hockert emceed this year's brand-new awards show and dinner. The evening recognized the winners of the 2018 City of Excellence awards, cities advancing in the GreenStep Cities program as well as the 2018 Sustainability Award, and the 2018 James F. Miller and C.C. Ludwig leadership awards.

Campers took notes during the closing session on Friday morning as keynote speaker Paul Schmitz. Paul engaged the crowd as he explored how communities can grow stronger through meaningful engagement and collaboration.

Already excited for the 2019 Annual Conference? Share your ideas for next year during an annual conference focus group this fall. Contact Laura Harris at by August 1 to take part.

(Photo credit Todd Myra Photography.)

Friday, June 22, 2018

Spotted: Scenes from Day 2 of Camp #MnCities—Thursday, June 21

Day two was jam-packed with more educational sessions, a tour of host city St. Cloud, and an all-new awards show! Enjoy some more highlights from Camp #MnCities...

In addition to engaging sessions, fun activities, and inspiring speakers, campers also collected badges to highlight their conference achievements. (Submitted photo)

On Thursday, GreenStep Cities recognized participants who achieved their sustainability goals and reached new steps in the GreenStep program. (Submitted photo)

Campers also engaged in a discussion on the urban-rural divide. Moderator Darin Brodon from Tunheim led discussion with State Demographer Susan Brower, Mayor of Bemidji Rita Albrecht, University of Minnesota Vice President of Matt Kramer, and Research Director with Growth and Justice Kate Searls. Panelists engaged the crowd by asking attendees how they view the urban-rural divide and whether they think it's an issue. (Photo credits Todd Myra Photography)

During lunch, Mark Stodola, Mayor of Little Rock, Arkansas and President of the National League of Cities, shared his thoughts on the connection between LMC and NLC, the importance of a unified voice, and how important it is for city leaders to band together to represent everyone in the state. (Photo credit Todd Myra Photography)

St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis led a historic riverwalk tour of downtown St. Cloud during Thursday’s short-shot sessions. (Photo credit LMC intern Kayla Collins)

Awards Show Emcee and Fox 9 Anchor Amy Hockert reviewed the evening’s program with LMC Training & Conferences Manager Laura Harris. (Photo credit Todd Myra Photography)

League Board President and Ely Councilmember Heidi Omerza (far left) and LMC Executive Director Dave Unmacht (far right) honored Apple Valley Mayor and C.C. Ludwig Award Winner Mary Hamann-Roland (second from left) and Waconia City Administrator and James F. Miller Leadership Award Winner Susan Arntz (second from right) at the all-new awards celebration.

What have been your highlights from Camp #MnCities? Share in the comments below!

Did you miss the photos from Day One? Check them out here!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Spotted: Scenes from Day 1 of Camp #MnCities—Wednesday, June 20

Day one is in the books, and by all accounts we've got a group of very happy campers in St. Cloud! See how everyone came together on arrival day at Camp #MnCities...

This year's camp theme welcomed attendees right away at registration to set the tone for the conference! (Photo credit LMC staffer Jenna Kramer)

More than 70 city officials came to the conference early for the pre-conference workshop, "Building More Welcoming, Inclusive Communities: City Leadership to Advance Race Equity." During the day-long session, panelists led a discussion on inclusion work in cities of all sizes, how our experiences impact how we view the world, and more. (Photo credit LMC staffer Danielle Cabot)

What do you want to discuss? City officials arrived early to discuss timely topics like affordable housing, city sustainability, and law enforcement responses to mental health crises. First-time attendees also had the chance to attend an orientation created just for them. (Photo credit LMC staffer Danielle Cabot)

St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis welcomed campers to his city at the 2018 Annual Conference. (Photo credit Todd Myra Photography)

The crowd laughed along as the League’s Intergovernmental Relations (IGR) team took the stage with Autumn from Sassy Lassy Trivia & Events for a fun quiz game. IGR members formed two teams—the Jolly Green Giants and the Paul Bunyans—and were joined by LMC Board Members Mike Mornson and Heidi Omerza to test their knowledge on the 2018 legislative session. (Photo credits Todd Myra Photography)

Camp #MnCities was in full effect Wednesday evening in the exhibit hall. More than 300 attendees joined 100+ vendors to discuss city projects, create connections, and have fun! (Photo credit Todd Myra Photography)

Campers got to partake in some good old-fashioned summer activities, like bean bag toss and a crafts table. (Photo credit Todd Myra Photography)

Break time! City officials had the chance to relax around a faux campfire while listening to local musician Michael Shynes, and campers also celebrated Selfie Day early with a surprisingly life-like black bear. (Photo credit Todd Myra Photography)

Are you enjoying Camp #MnCities, too? Share your own highlights in the comments below!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Spotted: Rain or Shine, Camp #MnCities Is On Its Way

Flashlight? Check.
Sunscreen? Check.
Rain gear? Check.

It's all sunshine, s'mores, and good government at Camp #MnCities this week at the River's Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud, even though the annual loading of the Annual Conference truck occurred on Tuesday under some dark and stormy skies.

Grab your packs too and we'll see you there!

Camp announcement: If you or a colleague can't make it for roll call this year, we'll be streaming several events via Facebook Live at Check out the page to be part of the action!

Photo credit goes to camp counselor Jeff Korte

Friday, June 1, 2018

What's in Store for the 2018 LMC Annual Conference

Have you packed your bags yet for Camp #MnCities? In just a couple of weeks, we invite you to escape your usual routine and join city officials from across Minnesota to celebrate cities and capture new ideas! Hope to see you in St. Cloud June 20-22, where we have lots of great things in store…

Last year, Mayor Ardell Brede welcomed Annual Conference attendees
to Rochester, and this year it's Mayor Dave Kleis's turn as we travel to St. Cloud!

Have fun while getting informed! Our intergovernmental relations (IGR) staff is back
to entertain while sharing what happened during the 2018 Legislative Session,
and this year they’ll kick off the conference Wednesday afternoon.
Last year Senior IGR Liaison Laura Ziegler discussed issues with attendees.

Right after the IGR update, we’ll move into the exhibit hall
where Camp #MnCities will be in full effect! There’ll be tasty s’mores,
samples of local St. Cloud beer, and yard games like giant Jenga and bag toss.
Dress casually and mingle with vendors to find out how they can
help Minnesota communities like yours succeed.

Lunch on Thursday will include the LMC Annual Meeting,
where new board members will be announced. Pictured here are
Northfield Mayor Rhonda Pownell (LMC Past President),
White Bear Lake Mayor Jo Emerson (LMC Current President),
and Ely Councilmember Heidi Omerza (LMC First Vice President).

Once again this year, we’ll have a variety of information-packed sessions
in tracks like Governing & Leading, Managing Your City, Civic Engagement & Leadership,
 and Building Inclusive Communities for you to sink your teeth into. On Thursday afternoon,
hear a panel discussion about how to attract the next generation to public service—a
growing challenge for many Minnesota cities! Last year members of a youth group from Northfield
attended the conference to get a taste of careers and issues in city government.

As always, there will be plenty of time to network and visit with both old friends
and new during this year’s conference! Last year conference speaker Gordon Goodwin
(from GARE—Government Alliance on Race Equity) chats with a board member during a break.

Come celebrate cities and local leaders during an all-new awards show on Thursday evening!
Applaud noteworthy projects, leadership, and GreenStep Cities during an entertaining
dinner and program. Pictured here, former Minnetonka Mayor Terry Schneider is awarded
the C.C. Ludwig Award for Elected Officials at at the 2017 Annual Conference.

Wrap up your time at the conference on an inspiring note when
Keynote Speaker Paul Schmitz will talk about how to strengthen communities
through meaningful engagement and collaboration.

We hope you're looking as forward to Camp #MnCities as we aresee you soon!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Spotted: Happy Campers Ready for Camp #MnCities

Pictured L to R: Baudette City Clerk-Treasurer Tina Rennemo, Alexandria Mayor Sara Carlson,
White Bear Lake Mayor Jo Emerson, and Granite Falls Mayor Dave Smiglewski
dream of summer camp after a recent LMC Board Meeting.

Roasting s’mores over a campfire. Paddling away the afternoon on a sun-drenched lake. Stopping by the canteen for snacks. These might be familiar (and hopefully fond!) memories for those of us who went away to summer camp as kids. Too bad there’s no such thing for adults, right? Think again!

The League is bringing back some of that same nostalgia at Camp #MnCities—the 2018 LMC Annual Conference in St. Cloud—this June 20-22. We’ve got a whole variety of activities planned and hope you join us to:

  • Enjoy fun and games at the camp kick-off in the exhibit hall 
  • Meet up with old friends (and new!) during longer networking breaks 
  • Find ideas and tools that will help you navigate challenging issues 
  • Celebrate cities and local leaders at an all-new awards show dinner 

Most of all, we want you to escape your routine and get re-energized for the important work you do in Minnesota cities every day. Learn more and register here—hope to see you next month!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Municipal Clerks Week Is Better Than Shark Week. And Here's 5 Reasons Why ...

This quill is much cooler than a shark fin.
Image courtesy International Institute of Municipal Clerks
Clerks, we love Municipal Clerks Week because it's a great time to sing your praises. We enjoy it so much, we even like it better than Shark Week, that pop culture phenomenon that gets all the "splash." Yeah, that's right. So to back up that bold statement, we've compiled the top five reasons why Municipal Clerks Week is better than Shark Week—you can add your own reasons to the list in the comments!

LMC's top five reasons why Municipal Clerks Week is better than Shark Week:
  1. Clerks are vital to our elections, i.e. democracy. Sharks are definitely not.
  2. Clerks keep our local governments operating on the right side of data practices and open meeting law to ensure legal compliance. Sharks don't seem to care about legal compliance.
  3. Clerks take care of a wide range of business ranging from management of city finances to human resources-related decisions. Sharks mostly swim and eat things, which is cool, but not as cool.
  4. Clerks are patient and knowledgeable when helping the public. Sharks lack the necessary customer service skills.
  5. While you have to wait 70+ more days for Shark Week, Municipal Clerks Week is happening now.
For all these reasons and more, we think that Municipal Clerks Week is better than Shark Week, because city clerks are the backbone of Minnesota's local government community and frankly, we'd be lost without you. So if there's a clerk in your professional city gov life, be sure to show them some appreciation today (and every day!). Sharks, we'll see you in July, but probably won't write a blog post. 
Thank you, clerks, for all that you do!