Thursday, December 27, 2018

Let’s Do This: A New Year's Greeting from LMC Board President Heidi Omerza

 A message from Heidi Omerza, LMC board president and city councilmember from Ely:
2018 was a time of many learning experiences, victories, and goodbyes.

The goodbyes are always most difficult. First, I would like to take a moment to say a heartfelt “thank you” to the many elected officials who are “retiring.” Your contributions not only to your city, but to the collective Minnesota cities community have made ALL of us better. Please do not be a stranger to the LMC. We still need you!

As I look to the year ahead, I challenge each and every one of you: Instead of making the usual list of New Year’s resolutions that includes a variety of healthy lifestyle choices, might I suggest adding an LMC activity. It can be as simple as joining a MemberLink community, attending a function (the Legislative Conference in February, the Annual Conference in June, a fall Regional Meeting) or jumping in with both feet and joining a policy committee.

Your LMC board and staff continue to work and represent all member cities. A quote by Margaret Mead sums it up best, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world! Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

As I look to the year ahead I know that together we will continue to make a difference in our cities, communities, at the state capitol and at the nation’s capitol. As always, your stories make a difference in good policy-making decisions.

Thank you for all of the work you do on behalf of your cities; it is greatly needed and appreciated! As my 14-year-old daughter says, “Let’s do this!!!!” Season’s greetings and happy 2019!

A fun memory from 2018—visiting Washington D.C. for the
National League of Cities' Congressional City Conference. From
left to right: Hopkins City Manager Mike Mornson, Ely Citycouncilmember
Heidi Omerza, and White Bear Lake Mayor Jo Emerson.

Monday, November 19, 2018

The To-Do List of an Election Admin and Three Early Voting Facts

Equipment for elections is tested, organized, packed, and
ready to be delivered to polling locations prior to Election Day.
 A guest blog by Blaine City Clerk Cathy Sorensen

Hi there, my name is Cathy Sorensen, Blaine city clerk. I also serve on the LMC Improving Service Delivery Policy Committee and I’m the chair of the LMC Elections Task Force. After finalizing all the tasks involved in a busy election cycle I wanted to share a little about what is involved in administering an election and some of the behind-the-scenes tasks that most members of the public are not aware of.

From the to-do list of an election administrator:
•    Hire and train great election judges … and tactfully let some go!
•    Secure polling places.
•    Test election equipment for accuracy.
•    End-of-day accepting, sorting and filing of ballots & applications.
•    Opening and preparing absentee ballots for tabulation.
•    Pack election supplies: everything from pollpads, rosters, and ballots to pens and paper clips.
•    Tally write-in votes for school and other special districts that include Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and others that can’t be mentioned here.
•    Work all day Saturday before election day for absentee voting and packing supplies for the polling places! Some jurisdictions are open on additional weekends too.
•    Coordinate public works deliveries and pick up of equipment and materials for the polling locations.
•    Unpack supplies and regroup for the next election.

Three early voting facts
Three facts about early voting that residents (or even city officials!) may not know:
  • Early voting is available 46 DAYS before Election Day.
    • Having lots of extra visitors as early as September creates disruption and staffing challenges at city halls where balloting is conducted.
    • Interest in absentee voting increases each year, which will affect staffing and location needs. For example, more early voters may mean more early voting locations are needed in some communities, while fewer people voting on Election Day means fewer election judges needed in polling places on Election Day. This is the new norm!
  • In Minnesota, it’s all “absentee voting.”
    • Technically Minnesota doesn’t have “early voting,” it’s all “absentee voting”! The law allows people to put their absentee ballots in the tabulator in the seven days leading up to Election Day, but prior to that the ballots are placed in envelopes to be opened during those magic seven days. Voters need to fill out an application to vote absentee because voting rosters are only available on Election Day.
    • During those magic seven days we must still specifically offer voters the option to put their ballot in an envelope or put it in the machine.
    •  Bottom line: this process is very confusing to voters and not the same experience as voting on Election Day.
  • A law passed in 2016 established a presidential nomination primary.
    • With absentee voting beginning in December, this will make for a year-long election cycle. We anticipate having difficulty finding election judges for this primary because many election judges are snowbirds who leave for the winter. 
    • Judges are just one reason why we need to look at better ways to administer the presidential primary.
Public works staff help deliver equipment and materials
to the polls.
Are changes ahead?
Each year, city officials from across the state serve on the LMC Elections Task Force through LMC to recommend improvements to the system. Learn more about the policy development process here.

And last but not least, thank you, colleagues across the state, who help make elections happen!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

How One City Beat the Winter Doldrums

And other stories from the Nov-Dec 2018 Minnesota Cities magazine

Champ, the University of Minnesota-Duluth mascot,
has a blast skating on the 500-meter ice track.
Let’s face it: Winter in Minnesota can be pretty bleak. Well, Duluth leaders decided to do something about that last year, when they enticed more than 1,800 people to come out and play in the middle of February.

The city’s winter festival included a sledding hill, fire spinners, an ice track, fat-tire bike riding along the Lakewalk, live music, and more. And sure enough, people came out of hibernation, despite sub-zero temps. Even Champ, the University of Minnesota–Duluth mascot, loved it! (The proof is in the picture.)

Duluth put this winter wonderland together in only three months. How’d they do that? With a lot of help from their friends, as it turns out. You can read all about it in the Ideas in Action article in the November-December issue of Minnesota Cities magazine—hitting mailboxes this week! (Here’s a secret: It’s available online now at!)

In addition to this winter celebration story, you’ll find a variety of other articles, including:

Affordable housing. Cities all over Minnesota are facing a housing crunch. It’s not a Greater Minnesota issue; it’s not a metro problem. It’s everywhere. Find out how some cities are addressing it in The Ongoing Quest for Affordable Housing.

City finance. Solid finances are the key to your city’s success. So, be sure to read these two articles with tips for keeping the city financially stable: Financial Planning for Elected Officials and Measure Up! Key Metrics to Keep Your City in Good Financial Shape.

Clean water. Maybe it’s not the most exciting topic (or maybe it is for you!), but residents in St. Martin were thrilled when the water coming out of their taps was no longer orange. Read Focus on Small Cities to find out how this city of 344 built the first all-biological water treatment plant in the state.

You can also check out From the Bench for summaries of recent court cases, St. Paul to City Hall for LMC Executive Director David Unmacht’s thoughts on what makes a successful city staff, and Two-Way Street for two cities’ experiences with Regional Safety Groups.

Photo credit goes to Wherehouse Productions

Thursday, November 8, 2018

One Way Minnesota Says 'Thank You' to Veterans

A Veterans Day message from Executive Director Dave Unmacht:
Life is full of firsts, although it is comfortable to suggest that the older one gets, the less of them there are. (And if you are wondering if I have a bucket list of ideals and aspirations in pursuit of dreams not yet fulfilled; the answer is no, at least not yet!)

Well, I had a first this fall when I, along with dozens of mayors and city officials from across the state, attended a National Guard ceremony to honor the Rosemount-based 34th Red Bull Infantry Division troop deployment. Around 650 men and women of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division represent approximately 185 communities from across Minnesota. Each person in the division is leaving their families, jobs, and communities to begin a 10-month deployment in the Middle East with an initial stop in Fort Hood, Texas for training.

Families of the Rosemount-based 34th Red Bull Infantry Division
gather for dinner before a recent deployment.
No doubt it is an anxious time for soldiers and their families. To ease their nerves and to create positive memories, a group of volunteers has made deployments in Minnesota something to remember. The work of around 200 volunteers from an organization called “Serving our Troops” came together to serve a delicious meal to the soldiers and their families in conjunction with the ceremony. I, along with League President Heidi Omerza and 2nd Vice President Brad Wiersum, had the honor to work one of many food lines serving up a classic steak dinner at the event on Sept. 30. Over 5,000 steaks were served.

Even more city officials representing many of the communities these soldiers are leaving behind for their deployment also helped out at the event. To my amazement, volunteers from Serving our Troops and their community partners have served over 95,000 steak dinners since 2004. Isn’t that amazing!
“This is how Minnesota comes together to say ‘Thank You’—dinner with the family for 5,000 people,” noted Serving our Troops spokesperson and co-organizer, Pat Harris. “It was an incredible show of support.” Friends of the League will recognize Pat and his wife Laura, the League’s Event Manager, and who is also very much involved in Serving Our Troops..  
Just a few of the city officials who volunteered for the event.
While we were thanked for participating, the real thanks
goes to the troops we enjoyed serving that evening.
I can attest to the truth of Pat's observation. It was an awesome experience; made even more extraordinary by the humbling thanks and expressions of appreciation the troops and their families offered to us as volunteers.  

I was one of thousands of people attending and even I felt special, though the only service I performed revolved around steak. But the thanks is really yours and mine to the troops and their families for the personal sacrifice each is making for their state and country.
Photo credit goes to LMC Executive Director David Unmacht

Friday, November 2, 2018

Career Fairs and LMC—Sharing Your Great Opportunities in Minnesota Cities

LMC HR staffer Donyelle Mikacevich and guest city official Pam Dmytrenko from Richfield talk to a
visitor at the recent Government and Nonprofit Career Fair at the University of Minnesota's Coffman Union.

The League is adding a new skill to our résumé and setting up shop at a variety of upcoming career fairs to promote city employers, the value of city careers, and the great opportunities that our member cities can offer job seekers.

This work is in response to a call from city leaders to help address the challenge of recruiting for some positions within city operations, as well as your interest in having broader visibility among diverse candidates.

With your feedback we developed a good-
Executive Director Dave Unmacht and HR's Donyelle
Mikacevich test out the booth before the first career fair.
lookin' booth, plus handouts that introduce why city careers are a great way to make a difference in your community, how to use and get started with NeoGov to receive job listings, and what candidates need to know about interviewing to help get their first impression right. Visitors to the booth can check out the jobs site and take the Discover Your City Superpower quiz too, depending on the event.

The goal is to prompt more qualified applicants to consider city job postings from across the state, and to leave a great impression about city careers with everyone else. This effort is consistent with some of our other projects over the past year, including our Discover Your City Superpower booth at the state fair, as well as a series of ads we ran on public transit for the duration of the fair promoting the jobs site.

Photo credit goes to LMC staffers Eric Haugen and Danielle Cabot

Monday, October 29, 2018

Reminder: Submit Comments on LMC 2019 Draft City Policies by Nov. 2

Could the policy development process be a treat? Committee leads Slayton Clerk/Administrator Josh Malchow, Oak Park Heights Mayor Mary McComber, and St. Louis Park Management Assistant Maria Carrillo Perez share a lighthearted moment while answering questions from the LMC Board of Directors at the October board meeting.

What's the most important ingredient in the League's City Policies? It's not magic—it's the input of city officials! Your comments on the draft 2019 City Policies are due by Nov. 2 to make them the best they can be.

The policy committee process includes over a hundred city officials who review existing policies, then refine, discuss, study, and propose new language for how to make them an even better foundation for the League's work in the upcoming legislative session and beyond.

These draft policies are then made available to all city officials for your review and comments. Your comments—each and every one—will be read and discussed at the November board meeting before making the policies final. So step away from the candy bowl (or bring it with you) and make sure that you get familiar with the draft policies before the end of the week!

Photo credit goes to LMC staffer Eric Haugen

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Sustainability Real Talk—GreenStep Cities Workshop & Webinar Dates for 2018-2019

Registration for all GSC workshops is now open!

You want to see what cities are *actually* doing on sustainability topics, learn more about resources to make your life easier, and generally feel less like an island and more like the connected, resiliency rockstar you know you can be. We get it.

The free GreenStep Cities Workshop and Webinar Series is here for you, and the 2018-2019 dates have been announced (see below). Your city does not have to be in the GreenStep Cities program for you to participate.

What you can expect:
  • Relevant topics like road design, using data, partnering with schools, and more.
  • Real talk about sustainability projects straight from the city staffers doing the work.
  • Inspiration and info about resources from other levels of gov, nonprofits, and the private sector you can use.
  • Connections with other city officials in the room ready to share their own experience.
This season the workshops will be held the first Wednesday of each month from 9-11 a.m., with the exception of January (second Wednesday). Attend in person at the League of Minnesota Cities in St. Paul—free parking, transit accessible, snacks, friendly faces—or tune in online from literally anywhere with a connection. May's workshop is on the road in Red Wing!

All the 2018-2019 dates:
Oct. 3—Climate Smart Municipalities: What We’ve Learned from Germany
Nov. 7—EcoDistricts: What City Leaders Learned from the National Conference
Dec. 5—GreenStep Metrics: Work Session on Gathering and Reporting Data
Jan. 9—Green Building Policies: City Case Studies & Policy
Feb. 6—Road Diets: City Case Studies & Policy
March 6—Shared Mobility & Electric Vehicles: What We’ve Learned from Cities
April 3—The Smart City: Energy & Dollars Saved by Smart Data Use
May 1—Deep Energy Efficiency: Red Wing City & School Accomplishments

See what you missed!
Looking for a specific topic? Check out the archived webinar presentations here:
2017-2018 workshops
2016-2017 workshops 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Sep-Oct 2018 Issue of Minnesota Cities Magazine Is Now Online

The latest issue of Minnesota Cities magazine arrived last week, and can be found online at The September-October 2018 issue covers everything from LMC award winners to electronic OSHA reports.

Bonus: Printed copies and the online PDF of the magazine include the 2017-2018 Annual Report insert, which should be renamed to the "Working for Cities is 🔥 Report." (That's a good thing, FD folks, promise.)

Some more highlights:

Our cover story features C.C. Ludwig Award winner Mary Hamann-Roland (Apple Valley mayor) and James F. Miller Leadership Award winner Susan Arntz (Waconia city administrator). You can read about how they stand out from the crowd in League Honors Outstanding City Leaders.

Learn how to keep it simpleeven when you know every nook and cranny of a subjectwith the four communication tips in Crafting a Simple Message—If You Lose Them, You Can’t Persuade Them.

You know that welcoming service animals in public places is an important part of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Now dig deeper into what cities need to know in Meeting ADA Requirements for Service Animals.

More great features and regular departments include what's on the mind of Executive Director Dave Unmacht in St. Paul to City Hall, summaries of recent court cases in From the Bench, and the newest Focus on Small Cities, dedicated this issue to how a city of fewer than 700 residents is embracing sustainability.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Calling All Future Leaders!

How can a mayor make an impact in their city? Maybe by hosting a clean-up or tree-planting event to improve parks and open spaces, giving a speech on the importance of working for a city, or posting signs around the city sharing a message of community pride.

These ideas—and more!—were featured in the winning essays from three elementary school students for the League’s 2017 “Mayor for a Day” essay contest. Students across the state submitted hundreds of creative ideas of things they would do if they had the chance to be mayor.

Now, it’s time to sharpen those pencils and get thinking once again! All fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-graders who live in Minnesota are invited to share their best ideas about how they would improve a city service or program for the 2018 contest.

Three winners will be chosen, each will receive a check for $100, and they'll have their essay published in an issue of Minnesota Cities magazine. All entries must be handwritten and postmarked by Oct. 12, 2018.

Please share this with students, teachers, and parents in your community. We can’t wait to hear this year’s crop of great ideas!

Monday, August 27, 2018

Find GreenStep Cities at the MN State Fair Eco Experience Building

Left to right: Student assistants Divya Ghosh and UJ from the U of M Institute on the Environment; Sen. Dave Senjem, Rochester; Blaine Hill, city manager, Morris; Larry Herke, Office of Enterprise Sustainability, State of Minnesota; Kristin Mroz, local government coordinator, Environmental Quality Board; and Amanda Bednar, environmental coordinator, Elk River, kick off the first day of the fair at the Eco Experience building.
The League booth isn't the only place dedicated to sharing the best that cities have to offer this year at the fair. The GreenStep Cities program and their partners are excited to be hosting “Clean Energy Community” days at the Eco Experience building daily from noon to 6 p.m. In partnership with the Department of Commerce Division of Energy Resources, communities have been invited to host a booth, connect with fair goers, and share their clean energy stories. Why? One of the best ways to engage communities in clean energy actions is for them to learn more about what other communities have done!

What is a Clean Energy Community? A county, city, township, tribal nation, school district, or any place you call home that is dedicated to promoting, supporting, and being active in producing clean energy.

 What you'll find at the exhibit:
•    Displays that describe GreenStep, Clean Energy Community Award, and Climate Smart Communities, including maps, descriptions, and ways to join.
•    Postcards for fairgoers to take home that promote a variety of Clean Energy Community organizations, including GreenStep Cities, Climate Smart Municipalities, and Minnesota Clean Energy Communities.
•    A display featuring the recent Minnesota Clean Energy Community Award recipients.
•    An interactive display, “Actions in Your Community,” that will allow fair attendees to vote on actions their community has already taken and actions they would support.

This year's community host lineup:
•    Aug. 23 – Climate Smart Municipalities (Duluth, Warren, Morris, Elk River, Rochester)
•    Aug. 24 – Maplewood
•    Aug. 25 – Warren
•    Aug. 26 – Climate Smart Municipalities (Duluth, Warren, Morris, Elk River, Rochester)
•    Aug. 27 – Falcon Heights
•    Aug. 28 – Rural Climate Dialogues (Itasca, Winona, and Stevens counties)
•    Aug. 29 – General Overview
•    Aug. 30 – Edina
•    Aug. 31 – General Overview
•    Sept. 1 – Hutchinson
•    Sept. 2 – General Overview
•    Sept. 3 – General Overview

See you at the Great Minnesota Get-Together!

Photo and post by Kristin Mroz

Monday, August 13, 2018

ELGL's City Hall Selfie Day is Aug. 15

Chances are if you're active on social media and in local gov, you've probably come across #CityHallSelfie Day! #CityHallSelfie Day is a chance to celebrate local government service and the important work happening at the local level, and to showcase local government facilities.

This year, #CityHallSelfie Day is set for Wednesday, Aug. 15. Whether you work for a city, county, special district, township, or other form of local government, Aug. 15 is the day to snap a selfie in front of your government building and post it loud and proud on your social media account of choice.

#CityHallSelfie Day is coordinated by ELGL, the Engaging Local Government Leaders Network, a big tent local government professional association that connects, communicates, and educates about local government public service.

It's not a competition per se—everyone wins when we take pride in local government service—but ELGL and Bang the Table will be partnering on an awards program for #CityHallSelfie takers in twenty categories that you can see on the ELGL website. Nominations and voting begin Aug. 17. 

How do I participate?
  •     Stand in front of a government building—e.g. city hall, a public works garage, fire hall, or a picnic shelter.
  •     Snap a picture of yourself or a group.
  •     Share the photo on social media with the hashtag #CityHallSelfie.
  •     Want to compete for prizes and recognition? Check out the list of award categories linked above. 
We think Minnesota cities have what it takes to be well represented this year and have some fun. We'll see your smiling faces on #CityHallSelfie Day!

LMC Board alumna Tina Rennemo from Baudette has pretty
solid selfie skills.

Friday, August 10, 2018

See You There! City Careers at the MN State Fair

 It’s 12 days of putting the “POW!” into people power! 

Grab your capes, because the “Discover Your City Superpower” booth will return to the State Fair this year as a project of the League of Minnesota Cities. This year you'll find us in the Education Building, helping visitors take a touchscreen quiz to discover which city careers need their superpowers.

The state fair booth’s website sidekick,, features interviews with city staffers and elected officials sharing what they really think about what it's like to work in Minnesota cities. Thanks to the city folks who gave us a behind-the-scenes look!

New this year—city careers on a roll
The League is trying something new and running advertisements on local bus routes during the fair, encouraging riders to check out to see all the opportunities for rewarding careers. We’re excited to get the word out to a new audience that may never have considered city employment before!

What’s all this?

Since 2009, the League has had a campaign dedicated to educating the public about city services and where tax dollars go. The campaign is now going through a rebranding process to incorporate promotion of city careers and to reflect the needs of cities today as well as the values of young people—aka future city leaders. Since the Minnesota State Fair is the Great Minnesota Get-Together, it’s a great place to continue spreading the message about the value of cities to Minnesotans while the campaign’s new look is under construction!  You can still find lots of great content about city services as well as city careers at

The Minnesota State Fair runs Aug. 23-Sept. 3. We'll see you in the Education Building!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

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.

This Q&A was originally posted in 2017, and has been updated with new links to the 2018 workshops.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Spotted: Welcome to 2018's Incoming LMC Board Members

No summer doldrums here—the League welcomed fresh energy to the Board of Directors at the July board meeting. We're looking forward to the experience and talent that this class of directors will bring to leading Minnesota cities and the League organization over the next year and beyond!

Please welcome from left to right: Joshua Malchow, administrator-clerk, Slayton; Mary McComber, mayor of Oak Park Heights (Minnesota Association of Small Cities representative); Rita Albrecht, mayor, Bemidji; D. Love, councilmember, Centerville; Amy Brendmoen, councilmember, St. Paul; and Mary Gaasch, mayor of Lauderdale (Metro Cities representative). Don't you love a good group photo?

The new Board members were elected during the membership’s business meeting at the League’s recent Annual Conference, held this year in St. Cloud. You can see the full LMC board lineup here.

Also at the July board meeting, outgoing president Jo Emerson, mayor of White Bear Lake, passed on the gavel to Heidi Omerza, councilmember from Ely. The League gives Jo our heartfelt thanks for her dedication and leadership. You can see a bit about Jo's work representing Minnesota cities and engaging youth in The Next Generation of City Leaders.

Photo credit goes to LMC staffers Danielle Cabot and Jeff Korte

Friday, July 20, 2018

The July-Aug 2018 Issue of Minnesota Cities Magazine Is Now Online

When it's time to cool off from these long summer days and power up with local gov ideas and info, is the place you can check out (and share!) the July-Aug issue of Minnesota Cities magazine.

For this issue’s cover story, see how cities like St. Louis Park, Warren, Edina, Elk River, Pine City, and Red Wing are taking advantage of surging interest in electric cars in Cities Get Charged Up About Electric Vehicles. 

More highlights:

When the city of Shakopee's new inclusive playground was complete, project partners realized they had built a play destination to be proud of as well as a stronger sense of community. Check it out in Ideas in Action: Fun for All! Shakopee Builds Inclusive Playground.

Dave Bartholomay, mayor of Circle Pines and program coordinator with the Office of Collaboration and Dispute Resolution, shares some of the lessons he's learned the hard way on keeping it civil and getting the job done in Interpersonal Communications—A Few Lessons for City Elected Officials.

It's not uncommon for city staff to wear more than one hat, and sometimes several! Review what should be considered in Letter of the Law: Compensating Employees Working More Than One Job.

And as always, check out From the Bench for summaries of recent court cases, St. Paul to City Hall for Executive Director David Unmacht’s five principles for good governance, and Two-Way Street to see how city officials from Jasper and Littlefork approach pet licensing.

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!