University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs Commencement Speech

Since you are probably bored of learning about public affairs through those old fashioned things called “books”, I thought we should finish your education by going to a real primary source: “television.” Let’s ask: what is it telling us about the field you have chosen to study:

Well somewhere between “West Wing” and “House of Cards” we decided that public service was neither “public”, nor “service.”

Somehow we are being told that crawling on their bellies behind the walls of City Halls and Capitols lurk

  • psycho-paranoid,
  • self absorbed,
  • double-dealing,
  • payoff-taking,
  • sex-addicted incompetents

who voters keep in power ONLY because of deeply-deceptive—-

—-mildly-illegal campaigns funded by shady special interests who the camera only shoots from the rear.  

And that’s the good guys.

My personal favorite television version of political reality is “Scandal.” The pathetic President, who apparently keeps a king-sized jar of Viagra in the Lincoln Bedroom, careens between placating his manipulative wife, and having sex with his former campaign manager turned political consultant who is having his baby but is terrified of her own father, who killed someone, and, what’s so bad, so did she to get the President elected.

Meanwhile back at her office, her staff of so called- political fixers, is extracting information from people by extracting their teeth—-with a pair of pliers.

Somehow between all this the President manages to, in apparently his spare time, get around to running the country.

And, by the way, again, these are the good guys.

Then when the show ends, on come the commercials: We’re entering election season so you can expect wall to wall reminders that  “Washington is broken”  and you shouldn’t vote for Sleaze Bucket A, B or C.”  Somehow you begin to get the idea that people aren’t holding public service in very high regard these days.

Which poses a very logical question to you, the soon to be graduates of the prestigious Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota:

What were you thinking? Why in the world did you spend all that time and money to get this degree? Who in their right mind would want to go into a world like this? The door’s in back: Get out while you still can!

Well, you are here today because you are making a bet that the cartoon of public sector dysfunction is, in fact, wrong.  You are here today because you believe there still is some way to make people’s lives better by entering public life.

And I’m here to say:”You are right.”

I am also here to tell you we have never needed you more. And any question I had about what this group of graduates has to offer was answered resoundingly by the amazing group of you I had the privilege to teach in my class “Mayor 101.”

I’ll say a word or two about what makes this class of graduates so special, but in the little time I have left, let me take you briefly behind the walls of those City Halls and Capitols.

I can’t guarantee it’s more accurate than the picture you see on those TV shows, because I have no experience writing scripts, but I did play a politician—-in real life—-for about a dozen years. Here’s what public servants really do:

Aug. 1, seven years ago. The 35W Bridge collapses, and almost immediately public servants are risking their lives to dive into the rubble in the water to pull people to shore. The city crews were shocked but they knew exactly what to do because they had trained and trained disaster scenarios.

  • The emergency center was activated,
  • crews moved into recovery positions,
  • a family center was opened to care for the grieving, and
  • within one year a new bridge rose in its place.

Let me take you to another day: Exactly three years ago today.  On what had been a quiet Sunday afternoon, a tornado crashed into north Minneapolis, destroying home after home in the heart of the poorest part of the state.

  • Within minutes public servants left their families and threw themselves into the enormously complex recovery. 
  • Cleanup crews of inspectors, and
  • public works employees, fire and police crews, health department works, and more fanned out across the devastation.
  • With electricity out city workers went door to door to assess the damage,
  • buses scanned the streets to find people to bring to a shelter that had been set up and
  • within a day a center was set up to triage the complex insurance and social service needs.

Let me take you to way too many nights when an act of violence took someone’s life:  At 2, or 3 or 4 am, public servants took the emergency call, and

  • went to the office to begin the investigation or
  • went to the hospital to hold the grieving family.

Let me take you to the average day inside City Hall, when nothing dramatic was happening.

  • Data analysts use GIS maps to build a smarter route to fill potholes faster,
  • Civil Rights workers populate databases so minority contractors could get a piece of the action,
  • mid-level bureaucrats move a box on an org chart and suddenly everyone’s work got just a little easier.  
  • Neighborhood specialists fan out around the city, speaking different languages. They extract information about how to make people’s lives better but, thankfully, they don’t extract anyone’s teeth with pliers.

Well, you may say, that’s just city government.  What about those rotten political campaigns.

I’ve seen a few of those by now.

I’m vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, and I’ve been on the ground floor of a presidential campaign in each of the last four cycles.

My observation is that campaigns are not pretty but near as I can remember I didn’t see anyone murdered like they did in Scandal.  I did, however see:

hundreds of people leave—

 —-safe jobs, loved ones and families to —-

—-work morning to night then go home to sleep on a lumpy air mattress on a stranger’s floor.

Most of the work isn’t exciting,

  • like staring at data on a computer screen for 18 hours a day,
  • the pay sucks and
  • very few people get a job out of it.

The real motive, I’m sorry to disappoint the TV producers, is that people do it because they actually care. 

Now it is in fact true that there are a few people in public life who are sleazy enough to be characters on “House of Cards” or “Scandal.”

I thought this would be an excellent time to name names…..but the Humphrey School gave me a strict time limit so you’ll have to wait until I slip up in my next Mayor 101 class.

But in spite of those few, the vast majority of the people you will meet in public life, and political life, are in it for a reason that doesn’t make good television: they want to make things better.

Those people behind the walls of those capitols and City Halls are also something else:

  • They are getting tired.
  • And they are getting older. 

In fact almost one third of my final Budget Address as Mayor was devoted to the fact that a shockingly large number of city workers will be able to retire in the next few years.

Same with state and federal government. This so-called  “Silver Tsunami” is going to make it very tough to manage public workforce over the next few years but it is absolutely GREAT news for a graduate of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs!

Any doubt I had that you are up to the task was erased by those nights I spent with some of you in Mayor 101. Even on those nights when I was—-

—-tired or distracted or unsure, you came through with

——remarkable observations,

with depth, with realism and irony.

—-with a sense of imagination, possibility and hope.

Teaching you has been one of the great highlights of my professional life.

So do not let anyone tell you that public service is not a noble profession.

In a world that has never been

—-more stratified,

—-our population more diverse, or

—— technology never more isolating,

we have never had more need from those of you who are willing to dedicate yourself to helping us find common purpose.

 

Commencement Speech for University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts

How many of you had a good time last night?

How many of you are planning to have a good time tonight?    That’s just great:

See the family,

kiss your aunts,

kiss someone you always wanted to,

pregame, and post game go with some friends.

Have a great time. A really, really great time.

Because a whole lot of people are telling us that tomorrow is absolutely gonna suck.

And not just tomorrow. In fact, if you listen to the people I’m about to tell you not to listen to, your time here at college is about as good as it’s going to get—— It’s all down hill from here.  

It seems there is a whole industry of people out there doing everything possible to tell you what’s wrong.

They tell you the world is filled with massive conflict. That is true.

They tell you the economy is still not so great. That’s true, too.  

They remind you that the other day a massive chunk of the polar ice cap just collapsed, a shocking sign that climate change is very real.  Sadly, that’s true too.  In fact it’s clear every part of the planet is getting warmer, except the one place where it might actually help, and that’s, of course, Minnesota.

I could go on but you need no help hearing bad news.  It’s everywhere you turn.

Well I not only feel you should have a good time tonight.  Keep going.

Because I am absolutely, 100% certain you will have a better time tomorrow, and the next day and for a whole long time to come.   In fact, I cannot think of a better time to be going out into the world than night now.

 I’m not telling you to ignore the fact that there are some problems out there:

        Open your eyes—-

—- just open them wide enough,

 with a sense of awe—-

—-to recognize you are walking into a world on the brink of reinvention that will create almost unimaginable opportunity.

Almost every possible trend on the horizon points to the fact that in your lifetime you will be part of reimagining –

  • how we work,
  • how we live,
  • how we treat our land and
  • even how we eat.

To understand what an extraordinary time you are entering, step back for a minute with me to the time when I was a kid. Mad Men is great television but, believe me, we didn’t have anywhere nearly the future as you do:

My parents had a corner drug store at 26th St. and 4th Av. in south Minneapolis.   My father, a white pharmacist, could be successful because he got prescriptions from two African American doctors—- Dr. Johnson and Dr. Brown.  Our store wasn’t alone because the area where the freeway used to be was the only part of Minneapolis where black and white folks routinely did business together.

But the drug store was torn down, along with massive swath of south Minneapolis to make way for what is now 35W.  The freeway gave people a way to speed past the heart of the city. The black and white folks who used to live and work together, had a lot less to do with each other.

Corner stores like my parents’ died, replaced with the sameness of big box chains.

Cars, and people, sped out of the city for the sameness of suburban subdivisions. 

As we sprawled out, Minnesota’s remarkable landscape was paved over for yards with uniform lawns where every blade of grass looked the same.

Even the food we ate came more and more from boxes and fast food chains, and it began to taste the same.

We put American culture into a blender and it came out a watery, bland puree.

But something happened

It probably started when the people tending those lawns realized the weeds they kept trying to kill were actually native plants.  They didn’t all look the same, and that was the appeal.

The goal of

  • what we heard,
  • what we saw and
  • what we tasted was no longer to have everything be the same

Music evolved from Top 40 to indie,

The local food movement helped us find our taste buds again, and mercifully the bland beer shoved down our throats by the corporate brewers are getting chased out of town by the hoppy diversity of the local beer scene.

Here in Minneapolis, all that has happened as wave after wave of unprecedented immigration colored and invigorated every part of our community.   

The streets of Minneapolis are now filled with an incredible mix of people from Somalia,Thailand and Tibet,

Liberia, Mexico, Columbia —-all over the world.

The Midtown Global Market, Eat Street, University Ave, Central Ave.  are lined with global food experiences that show how much better we are because we are no longer trying to make everything the same.

 Immigrants and artists and entrepreneurs are

—-repopulating and reimagining block after block of what has become a true urban renaissance.

In the first half of MY life I saw television go from black and white to color.  In the first half of your life you are seeing every part of the culture around us turn from black and white to color.

You are beginning your careers at the time of the great American Reawakening.

And it isn’t just about local beer, and local food, local music and a bunch of ethnic restaurants. 

The economic collapse we are just coming out of was a calamity but Minneapolis-St.Paul has come roaring back—-

—- and is now the metropolitan area with the lowest unemployment in the country. That’s not because we went back to doing business the old way.  It’s reinvention

Companies like Pentair fast becoming one of the world’s leaders in water technology that will build a far better future for people in Africa, and India.

It’s places like the historic Grain Exchange, coming back to life as the Brain Exchange where technology wizards are forming new ideas in

medical devices,

communication and

a whole lot of things that are so exciting I can’t understand them well enough to describe to you.

Not everyone will see the amazing path ahead of you, especially those of us a little older.  Now, when your intellect and curiosity has never been sharper, don’t fill your young brains with our collected cynicism.

Remember the gift of youth is the gift of possibility.

As we get older our eyesight gets worse…but so-does-our-vision.  

As we age something new may seem like something scary.  That’s our problem. Not yours.

If you give your fresh minds the power to believe, you will see opportunities on the horizon no longer visible to the rest of us.

The only people who won’t thrive in this new world are those who see something new, and turn back.  That’s not you.

The University of Minnesota has prepared you for this.  “Driven to Discover” is more than a slogan on the alumni mailings you will get for the rest of your lives.

You had the incredible privilege of going to an incredible school. And always remember this school is in an incredible place. 

Before any of these buildings were here, before Minneapolis was here, this land was exactly where the great American woods ended and the great American prairies began. Native people for centuries, and later explorers, came to this place after walking day after day in near darkness, through dense forests that must have been beautiful but you couldn’t see more than a few feet in front of you. 

Then, just as you came to exactly where we are today, as you heard the roar of St. Anthony Falls, you would look out across the prairies and, for the first time in days, see forever.

This magic place, and this great University, have always been, where vision begins.

See that horizon.  And take us there.

We expect great things.  My best.

 

"The Search for Common Ground"

University of Minnesota College of Design Commencement speech.

There is a small group of people I think about every Monday afternoon when I drive from downtown to the University to teach Mayor 101, (the class I offered through the Humphrey School and College of Design). 

They aren’t members of my family, or friends, or co-workers or students. In fact I never met them. But their faces and stories surge into my brain every time I take that drive—-because my route to the U is over the 35W bridge.

I have never once crossed that bridge without thinking about the day seven years ago when the old bridge collapsed—-  

—-and I never think about that day without thinking about the stories of 13 people who died and the many others whose lives were changed that day.

I came to know their stories so well through the funerals and family gatherings my wife and I went to in those horrible days after the collapse.

  • A mom who called home as she left work so her family could start the dinner she would never eat.
  • The dad, father, and amateur baseball player whose well-worn glove was in the backseat when his car plunged into the water.
  • The proud Greek American woman leaving work to teach folk dance.
  • An immigrant mom and her child.
  • Those kids on the school bus who miraculously survived.
  • The driver of the Tasty Bread Truck, a single man with no children, who the kids said had just waved to them before the collapse. His last act was to swerve his truck to the right.  That helped the kids on the bus from going into the water.

 I cannot,

—-and never want to,

disconnect these names and stories from this place.

I like to think that somehow, somewhere, they have come together,

—-maybe to find ways to bring peace to the people they left behind.

Living through that tragedy has also done something else to me.  It has made me obsess about people in the same place whose lives never intersect.   

Very often—-when I am:

on another freeway,

or standing with strangers in an elevator,

or walking through a crowd in a park or a store—

—-I look around at strangers in the same place.

I imagine their lives, intersecting only by proximity—

sometimes standing shoulder to shoulder but destined to never meet.

Standing on a crowded street corner, I look around:

  • Could those two lonely people on either side of me be a perfect couple.
  • Could the sad look in that woman’s eye be because she just lost a son, and could the bored young man over there be an incredible comfort to her right now?
  • Could that doctor and entrepreneur, unknown to each other today, be the team that finally cures cancer. 

Then the traffic light changes and we walk off, strangers on the same turf—

—-walking off alone.

How did we get to this point where so many of us pass through life with space in common and no common ground?  Is it any wonder

  • are political discourse is so polarized,
  • our races and cultures so segregated,
  • our world so filled with people in conflict because they can’t understand those who are different from them.

This is the world into which you take the gift of an education at the University of Minnesota,  the gift of a school of design where you have been challenged to understand—-

  • the complex collision of object, and place,
  • and their impact on people.

Intentionally or not, those of you graduating today will be walking into a world that needs every bit of what you have just learned. 

Right now.

In a world where

  • incomes have never been more stratified,
  • where communities like ours have never been more diverse,
  • where rigid ideology has never been so isolating,

the design challenge of our time is to find how so many people

—-with so much ground in common

—-can define the new common ground.

Our greatest challenge is to find a way for an increasingly polarized society to find a physical common ground.

  • Where sharing the space means sharing ideas.
  • Where we go from places we pass through—

            —-to ones where we belong.

            —-where we belong together in a way we couldn’t be alone.

  • Where one plus one equals three.

True common ground is rare, but not impossible to find:

I think of the Jemall-el Fann in Marrakesh, which for centuries has been common ground for Berber tribesmen from the Atlas mountains and pilgrims from the Middle East, Asia and Europe.  Even today it is common ground for some of the world’s richest and poorest people, and a whole lot of people in between.   

I think of the blocks of Xian, China where the Silk Road ended.  Like an ocean-front tide-pool filled and refilled with each new wave, these few magical blocks feel

  • not like China,
  • not like any one place along the Silk Road
  • but a mesmerizing combination of all of the traders from all those places who have come there before. 

          Common ground.

In our own city, we can think about a hot day around Lake Calhoun where

  • one group talking about this morning’s yoga class and
  • another talk in an exotic foreign language you don’t recognize 

both feel at home on Thomas Beach.

This would probably be the aspirational part where I talk about spreading out into every part of the globe to create the new common ground.

Well don’t expect THAT from the long time Mayor and lifelong Minnesotan. 

My message is: Take a trip somewhere cool but do your work right here in Minneapolis-St.Paul.  We need you!

The opportunity and the need is just too great.

Like the once-gangly teenager who begins to grow into their adult self—-in other words people like a lot of you—- Minneapolis is just filling out.   

We have built an extraordinary collection of things—-

—-The Guthire, Walker, Central Library, Weisman, scores of new buildings on the University, light rail lines.

Now connect them with places we share—and that bring out something common in each of us.

Reweave our frayed urban fabric and help us take our rightful place as the Great American City of Our Time.

I will be taking on these challenges in my fall class of Mayor 101 and I ask you, too, to throw yourself—-as design professionals and citizens—- full speed into the opportunities to bring us together right here in front of us:

  • How do we reopen Nicollet Ave and bring together the diversity of Eat Street with the vitality of Uptown and Lyn Lake?
  • How do we bridge the divide between the incredible diversity of a Saturday morning at the central farmer’s market, and the surging growth of young professionals the North Loop? 
  • How do we realize the potential of The Yard—-that green space between the new Vikings stadium and downtown—-in a common ground for office workers, Viking’s tailgaters and Somali kids from the West Bank?
  • Can the new light rail line bring together not only Minneapolis and St. Paul, but include the communities of Frogtown into a new world of opportunity.

Can the new Nicollet Mall not only reinvent the great American main street—                      

—-but also be a place where an African American boy from north Minneapolis knows he belongs here every bit as much as the workers in those gleaming office towers.

The opportunities are almost endless, and having had the great privilege to teach many of you, I know you are up to the challenge.

As I finish, look around this room.

You will see

  • some of your closest friends,
  • you will see strangers,
  • you will see people you wanted to know more about and
  • people you never want to see again. 

You can and will go many different ways.

But at this special moment in time—

—-when your skills have never been sharper,

—-your intellect never more curious,

imagine if this group of graduates committed itself to a common purpose—-

—-To a commitment to the greatest contribution a designer can make to a democracy: Common ground.

Imagine a great city where the greatest thing that can be said is the simplest:

We belong. Together.

      

"The Gift of a Trusted Adult"

image

A speech I gave to the Graduate Commencement of the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota.

"The Gift of a Trusted Adult"

One of the great joys I had as Mayor was the privilege of speaking every year to every 9th grade in every Minneapolis school.  

I knew they: spoke 100 languages and came from astonishingly different backgrounds literally spanning the globe.

I knew to some these differences could be their undoing but I knew differently.  I knew that this new group of students from so many backgrounds could be the key to our region’s global competitiveness.  They could give us the language and cultural skills to compete around the globe, and if each of us taught each other, we could soar.

But to get them to be successful, we needed them to dream big, to take charge of their future, to help build the resilience they needed to overcome the challenges in their paths.

 So I developed a practice I did at every single one of those presentations: I asked them to close their eyes and imagine a wind was blowing in one ear and out the other, taking every thought with them. When their minds were totally empty I asked them to imagine themselves doing the one big thing they want to do when they got older.   Not what someone else wanted them to do but, deep in their heart, what was their dream.

     ”See yourself doing that, and you are not only good at it, you are the best there ever was…no one ever did that better…”  

Then, just before I let them open their eyes I asked them to imagine one adult coming into the picture.

     ”Someone you trust. Someone you can lean on. Someone who will help you become that one big thing you want to be.”

That last part may well have been the most important because everything we know about what makes a young person successful tells us how important it is to have a trusted adult in their lives.

Over the years, as I traveled around our city, I heard remarkable stories of adults doing astonishing things in young people’s lives

  • The librarian who befriended a homeless Somali girl, brought her into her home until she graduated and went on to college.                         
  • The football coach hired to turn around a losing program…which he did, in his spare time between turning around one young life after the other. 
  • A young childless couple with the only air conditioning on their block. One hot afternoon they invited neighborhood kids into the cool of their home. Then the next. Then the next. And that small gesture inspired those homeowners to start a foundation for youth that has served hundreds of kids.

Sometimes those acts came in the smallest of ways:

  • The school bus driver who noticed a shy girl always sat alone. So day after day the driver gave her a special warm smile and “hello” as she got on board. Finally one day she got the courage to smile back, and it gave her just enough strength to sit next to a stranger…who went on to become her best friend.

Who was that trusted adult in each of your lives?

For me it was an 8th grade teacher named Steven Kingsbury. I was a horrible student, a behavior problem, who had become used to getting my work back filled with red ink and miserable grades.  

When it came time to pick up my first paper from Mr. Kingsbury’s desk I walked to the front of the room with my usual sense of dread, the paper had a big A on the front. Mr. Kingsbury handed it to me and said, simply: “You have something to say." It was the first time I heard a teacher say that, I remember that moment to this day and if it had not happened, I doubt I would be here today.

 At some point in all of our lives every one of us has a chance to be a trusted adult in a young person’s journey.  But this group graduating here today is special. You aren’t leaving anything to chance. By going to this school you made an intentional choice to be not only a trusted adult with a heart:  You are choosing to be a trusted adult with the very best educational background you can get to make a measurable impact…not just on one life or two but scores of them.

Of graduates of the University, you are the ones

  • Most likely to hold the future of a young person in your hand.  
  • More than the others who graduate you are the most likely to mold a generation.

       Not-a-small-task.

 As you do that, remember a few things:  You may spend your whole day with young people, many days of the year, but your door of opportunity to be that trusted adult may only open for just a split second, only that once, and if you don’t walk through, you may never have a chance to break through again.  

 This means you will not have the luxury of blocking out a 15 min segment of time to schedule when it is convenient to change the entire arch of Jenny or Jamal’s life.   It means that along with all the other work on your plate you have to simply be present. Being aware that at any moment that door of opportunity can open and not seizing it means missing a chance most won’t ever get.

You will also be doing this work with the most diverse generation we have ever raised.  This means you will probably cross more boundaries of language and culture than anyone who has done this work before. You will need to build a bridge for this young person into an unfamiliar world….  ……but do it humbly enough that they can build a bridge for you into their world.  In this remarkable world where none of us will be able to enter a room without seeing someone different than them, we all have a lot to learn from EACH OTHER.

Finally, you will be guiding this next generation into a future that seems to be filled with a whole lot of bad news.

  • The world is at war,
  • climate is melting down,
  • massive education achievement gaps,
  • The Twins can’t put together a winning season.
  • Then there’s this winter.

Who wants to go into a world like that?

But before you fill these younger brains with our collected cynicism, remember the gift of youth is the gift of possibility.

As we get older our eyesight gets worse…but so-does-our-vision.  

Even those of you who consider yourself young will soon see that it gets harder and harder to see that great opportunity on the far horizon.  

As we age something new may seem like something scary.  That’s your problem, not theirs.   If you give these fresh minds the power to believe, they will see opportunities on the horizon no longer visible to the rest of us.

In case you don’t believe that, I want to finish with a variation of that exercise I told you about that I used to do in the schools. Close your eyes. Feel the wind blow through this hall until your brain is free of every thought.  As you sit perfectly still see an image of one trusted adult, somewhere in your life, who helped you stand here on the brink of getting your degree.  Hear what they said to help you believe in yourself, help you clear a hurdle.  Now imagine doing that in one young person’s life…and seeing them in the position you are in today.

Now open your eyes and feel blessed that you don’t have to imagine this happening.  You are choosing a direction in your life that may give you that chance every day.  

There will be days when you are distracted by your busy life.

There will be days when you are tired.

Or hate your boss.  

Or even hate the world.  

That happens to everyone.

But only you lucky few know that even in the worst of times when you are asked over the dinner table: How did your day go?

You can answer:                                                             

I changed a life today.

Again.

That’s the greatest gift you can get.

 And having you do this work is the greatest gift you can give our world.

 Thank you in advance and the very best of luck!

Statement on Washington Football Franchise

It has never been right to disrespect the indigenous people of our country, and it is especially wrong to do it in 2013 with the name of a team that represents our nation’s capital.

I stand with elected officials across the country, including members of the Minneapolis City Council, and many, many others who believe it is long past time to change the name of Washington’s NFL team. It is deeply disappointing that calls for respect have not been heard, and I will join others in looking for ways to bring change, including urging those who agree to boycott merchandise of the Washington Football Franchise.

I have a son who lives in Washington who, thankfully, remains a Viking fan, but if he ever changes allegiance, he should not count on his dad buying him anything that uses their derogatory name and logo. - Mayor R.T. Rybak

Three things to do before you vote Tuesday

This will be an exciting weekend as candidates and their supporters make their final case. This has been one of the most positive and constructive campaigns for Mayor that I can remember, and I hope all candidates can resist going negative now so we can all make a positive, informed decision. 

Three things I request you do before you vote:

1) Rank your vote

Watch this great video that explains Ranked Choice Voting. Yes, we have to fix the fact that it’s too easy to get on the ballot. But don’t blame the length of the ballot on Ranked Choice Voting, which is really quite simple. Just decide who your top three candidates are, in order, and vote for them that way.

2) Follow the money

Read this very important piece in the Star Tribune that reviews who is giving money to the candidates. Getting a contribution from someone does not mean they can “buy you,” but it is important for voters to know who will have influence and who is putting lots of money into this campaign.

3) Read the fine print

Be very skeptical of last-minute attacks in the mail, and look to the bottom of the piece for the disclaimer, meaning who paid for it. If it doesn’t have a candidate’s name on it, ask more questions.

Specifically, be very skeptical about attacks you may see from the Minneapolis firefighters union. Now let me be totally clear: I have a tremendous respect for the professionals in the Fire Department who protect us every day.  They are heroes. However, the union that represents them is known for bombastic attack literature that often comes late in a campaign.  I saw a piece in the 13th Ward that misleadingly attacked me while encouraging a vote for a Council candidate. Bluntly: if it comes in the last week of a campaign, be very skeptical of anything you hear from the fire union and their leader, who is known for being over the top and not always accurate.

Now, independent expenditures are not coordinated with campaigns, so even if someone makes an inaccurate attack, blame the people who sent it, not necessarily the candidate that they’re supporting. But be skeptical.

Now go vote

Let me again say how much I respect the very positive nature of this campaign — it says great things about the candidates and the people of Minneapolis. Now get out there and vote next Tuesday, November 5.

R.T.

I’ve said it before and I’m happy to say it again, Minnesota Nice is about to get Surly. The City of Minneapolis and Surly Brewing have been great partners over the years. We rallied the voices of activists across the state together to pass the bill that allowed this project to move forward, then worked together to transform this formerly blighted site into a destination brewery and the next Minneapolis beer hot spot. Our partnership is a great example of small business and government working together to create good jobs in manufacturing, hospitality and tourism — and, let’s not forget, a really delicious local product. - Mayor R.T. Rybak

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Today we reopened the historic North Branch Library as the EMERGE Career and Technology Center, a technology-driven workforce-development center where young people and folks who’ve had trouble finding work will get training to find not just jobs, but careers. Years ago, this historic building was the place that a lot of children who grew up to be Minneapolis’ leaders got their first exposure to the world. Starting today, EMERGE is making sure that it will do the same once again for the most important generation of children we’ve ever raised. - Mayor R.T. Rybak

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"Minneapolis Mayor Wants Chicago’s Gay Couples To Wed In Gopher State

The mayor of Minneapolis is making no bones about it, he wants same-sex couples to come to Minnesota to spend big bucks on weddings, since they can’t get married yet in Illinois. He visited the CBS 2 Morning News to explain why gay couples should tie the knot in Minneapolis.” - CBS Chicago

Last week, I announced major investments in Minneapolis’ future and a 1% property-tax cut. Want to hear more about what it means for you, your neighborhood and our city? You can watch my budget speech anytime, either on the City’s website or rebroadcast 3 times a week through November on Minneapolis city government TV (Channel 79): Wednesdays at 12:00 noon, Saturdays at 8:00 pm and Sundays at 8:00 pm. Grab a bowl of popcorn…

photo: City Pages