Civic beat // City, regulatory director cutting ties after nine months

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August 27, 2012 // UPDATED 5:48 pm - December 27, 2012
By: Nick Halter and Tim Sturrock
Nick Halter and Tim Sturrock

The city of Minneapolis is parting ways with Greg Stubbs less than nine months after it hired him as director of Regulatory Services. 

The City Council voted on Aug. 17 to pay Stubbs a $65,000 severance plus $6,000 in relocation expenses. Only Gary Schiff voted against the severance. The Ward 9 representative was also the only councilmember to vote against Stubbs’s appointment. 

An Aug. 16 memo, signed by Mayor R.T. Rybak’s new chief of staff Jenn O’Rourke, states: “The city desires to sever the employment relationship and allow the employee to resign his position. Mr. Stubbs has agreed to resign his employment and release the City from any and all causes of action and from claims he may have under his employment agreement in exchange for the payment of severance, relocation expenses and 6 months of COBRA payments.”

Stubbs was hired on Nov. 28 to a contract to last until Jan. 2, 2014. 

Before taking the Minneapolis job, Stubbs served as director of growth and resource management for Volusia County, Florida. That county has a population of 495,000 and Stubbs was responsible for a $34-million budget and 180 full-time positions. He managed permitting, licensing, planning and economic development.

An email to Rybak’s office seeking comment was not returned. 

Rybak, in his annual budget address on Aug. 15, announced a restructuring of the city’s Regulatory Services Department that would save the city $300,000. 

Dehn wins primary by thin margin

Raymond Dehn won the DFL primary for House District 59B, which includes downtown and North Minneapolis, by just 19 votes. Dehn collected 876 votes to Cole’s 857 on Aug. 14. Ian L. Alexander also got 627 votes. 

That means Dehn got 37 percent of the vote to Cole’s 36 percent and Alexander’s 27 percent. 

Cole lost by 0.8 percent. If she had lost by less than 0.5 percent, it would have triggered an automatic recount.

As of press time, Cole hadn’t decided if she wanted to spend her own money on a recount.

Dehn is an architect living in the Willard Hay neighborhood. Cole is a planning analyst for Hennepin County and a North High School graduate. 

In the same district’s Republican primary, Gary J. Mazzotta beat Bill McGaughey 98 votes to 79 votes. 

Election Day is Nov. 6. 

Higgins, Yang advance to general election 

In a special primary to fill the Hennepin County Board seat vacated by Mark Stenglein, Linda Higgins and Blong Yang advanced by securing 41 percent and 16 percent of the vote, respectively. 

Hennepin County’s 2nd District includes parts of North and Northeast Minneapolis, as well as St. Anthony, Golden Valley, Crystal, New Hope, Medicine Lake and Plymouth. Stenglein left the post to take over as president and CEO of the Downtown Council. 

Hennepin County Board races are nonpartisan. Higgins, however, served 16 years as a DFL state senator before running for County Board. Yang, a Hmong refugee who lives in the Jordan neighborhood, has received high marks from DFL groups. He was previously an investigator for the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights.

Many see Higgins’ election results as a harbinger for next year’s Minneapolis City Council elections. Higgins, as a state Senator, voted in favor of a public subsidies package for a new Vikings stadium in downtown Minneapolis. The primary results show that Higgins cruised to an easy victory.

Nine people were vying for the two spots in the general election. Failing to make the cut were: Paula Pentel, Tonia Johnson, Rolf Erickson, Kathleen Murdock, Leslie Davis, Steve Dehler and Don Samuels. Samuels, a City Council member, declared months ago he was no longer running.

Pentel was the only other candidate to top 10 percent of the vote, getting 10.2 percent.

Walker Library closes for reconstruction Sept. 22

Sept. 22 will mark the end for the Walker Library’s 31-year-old home as crews demolish the 2880 Hennepin Ave. S. building and begin construction on a new facility in the heart of Uptown. 

The new Walker Library is expected to open on the same site sometime in the first half of 2014. An event to mark the closing of the library will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Sept. 22.

Hennepin County Library Director Lois Thompson will speak and County Commissioner Gail Dorfman will lead a family story time. Architects from Vincent James Associates Architects will present highlights of the project. 

The new library, unlike the existing one, will be built above ground. It will be one-level tall with an underground parking lot for a couple dozen vehicles. While the collection size isn’t going to change, the new library will have about 50-percent more space for programming and will include an outdoor space for reading.