Thursday, September 28, 2017

Building Trust, Building Community

Trust is vital to successful human relationships. So what does this have to do with Minnesota cities?

Christy Kallevig, Extension Educator with the Extension Center for Community Vitality, will be one of the presenters at the 2017 Regional Meetings who will facilitate the “Strengthening Trust in Communities” session. She was generous enough to share some thoughts in advance of our meetings:

What makes trust an important topic to focus on?
We all have different reasons as to why this topic is important. I feel that it is important to understand trust because it is a complicated topic that has more layers to it than many realize. The way that we build trust in our interactions with co-workers, neighbors, and citizens helps to shape the community in which we live, work, and play. If we don't work on building trust and caring for it, we stand to lose our partners who we are working with to build community, and our communities lose their vibrancy.

Why should city officials in particular put energy into building trust?
When you build trust at multiple levels in your community, you are building a strong base on which you can grow. When community members feel that there is trust between themselves and their elected and appointed officials, they are more willing to engage in conversations and work towards a common cause. You also create a more positive work culture between elected officials, city staff, and contractors when you pay attention to how trust is built and cared for in your community. All of these factors combine to make your community a more desirable place to be.

How can the presence of trust—or lack of it—manifest itself in a community?
We are never truly able to say that trust does or does not exist in our community. Because trust can look so different to each person and be felt differently by each individual, we must constantly be working on trust. We must be looking at our interactions, how we respond to regrettable incidents, and how we manage conflict. It is only by being mindful about these things that we can work to create trusting communities.

What will people who attend your upcoming training leave knowing how to do?
After our session, people will walk away with a tool that they can use to assess trust in situations, as well as a better understanding of what trust is and how it is built.

Christy and her colleagues will be presenting at each one of our 2017 Regional Meetings (which begin next week already!), and it's sure to be an informative session. We hope to see you there!

Friday, September 22, 2017

The Sep-Oct Issue of Minnesota Cities Magazine Is Now Online

Kick off the fall season with a great read—the Minnesota Cities magazine! The Sep-Oct issue covers stories on local leaders and city projects as well as relevant state and nationwide topics.

Here’s the scoop:

This issue’s cover story features two “city champions,” Minnetonka Mayor Terry Schneider and Spring Lake Park City Administrator and Clerk-Treasurer Daniel Buchholtz. Schneider’s respected character and leadership led him to being named the 2017 C.C. Ludwig Award winner, and Buchholtz’s work restoring trust in his community is just one reason he received this year’s James F. Miller Leadership Award. Slow clap.

Have you ever thought about using a drone to capture images, videos, and information on your community? The cities of Red Wing and Champlin have done it! Both cities took advantage of drones to help craft their plans for upcoming city projects. Find out all the benefits drones have to offer in The Bird’s-Eye Advantage of Using Drones.

A revival of protests around the nation and here in Minnesota has many city officials asking, “How should I handle this?” This issue's Letter of the Law column can help clarify what local leaders need to know about preserving public safety as well as freedom of speech.

Other highlights include LMC Executive Director David Unmacht’s tips for acing interviews, a look at how city officials are advancing racial equity in their communities, and how Hutchinson is addressing a skilled workforce shortage.

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.

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
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.