Civic Beat: Remembering Harmon Killebrew

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May 23, 2011
By: Nick Halter
Nick Halter

“The Twins will remember Harmon for his many on-field contributions but importantly for the impeccable quality of his character, his great integrity and his compassion for everyone he encountered,” said Twins CEO Jim Pohlad. “The Pohlad family and the Twins organization send our thoughts and prayers to Nita and the rest of the Killebrew family. Harmon will be deeply missed by all.”

 

Park Board settles lawsuit with GLBT Pride

Anti-gay demonstrators will be free to speak at Loring Park during the Twin Cities GLBT Pride Fest, but if they want to hand out literature they’ll have to do it in a Minneapolis Park and Recreation-sponsored booth.

The Park Board and Pride Fest on May 4 settled a lawsuit that spawned from last year’s Pride Fest when organizers tried to get a temporary injunction against an anti-gay protester.

Pride Fest in April asked the Park Board for an exclusive use permit that would have allowed organizers to sanction opposition to GLBT in a “free speech zone.” A Park Board committee denied that request on April 20, saying the government cannot restrict free speech on public property.

The settlement will require the Park Board to buy a booth for protesters to hand out literature.  

“The general public may walk through the park and express themselves orally and display non-oral messages,” according to the settlement.

Twin Cities Pride Executive Director Dot Belstler said both sides had to give in order to settle the lawsuit, but said the compromise allows organizers to focus on planning for the June 25–26 festival.

“Of course we’d prefer (the booth) to not be in Loring Park, but that’s a compromise,” she said. “We will have it clearly marked on our maps so those wishing to avoid that area are able.”

Park Board President John Erwin, who is openly gay, said it’s been a difficult issue to deal with.

“I want to thank Gay Pride — not for suing us — but thank them for working with us to come to a settlement that I think is agreeable to both sides,” Erwin said. “We’ve always valued hosting Twin Cities Pride and are proud that you pick a Minneapolis park in which to do that.

Park Board delays Crown Hydro vote again, but details gain clarity  

Earlier this month, the Park Board delayed a vote on whether to allow Crown Hydro to install hydroelectric turbines above
St. Anthony Falls.

The Park Board voted 6–3 to postpone a decision on a letter of intent that would have set the framework for a contract with Crown Hydro.

At-large Commissioner Annie Young and others said that because they didn’t receive the letter until the afternoon of the May 4 board meeting, they wanted more time to review the document’s details.

New Park Superintendent Jayne Miller drafted the letter of intent after meeting with Crown Hydro.

Provisions of the letter include:

Crown Hydro paying the Park Board $500,000 up front and at least $100,000 a year.

Crown Hydro would have to close off the turbines if the flow over the St. Anthony spillway ever dipped below 2,000 cubic feet per second during “prime viewing periods.”

The facility would have to operate at a not-yet determined noise and vibration level.

Crown Hydro would have to install one or more electric car charging stations above the facility — a request made by the Park Board.

The meeting brought out a couple dozen neighbors of the falls, who wore “Save the Falls” stickers and testified that the benefit of the 3.2-megawatt facility did not outweigh the risk of ruining a cultural landmark in Minneapolis.

Meanwhile, two bills that would force the Park Board to give Crown Hydro authorization for the project are moving through the Minnesota Legislature (H.F. 1440 and S.F. 1191).

A few House and Senate committees have given the bills public hearings and they could go to full vote before the Legislature adjourns on May 23.

Those bills originally had eight DFL sponsors, but six of those legislators have removed their support and about two-dozen Republicans remain as authors.

This issue of The Journal went to press a few hours before the Park Board was scheduled to vote on the proposal on May 18. Go to the thejournalmpls.com for the latest news.

Reach Nick Halter at nhalter@mnpubs.com.