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April 26, 2004 // UPDATED 1:23 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Scott Russell
Scott Russell

For rent: City Hall catering plan moves forward

Hoping to raise money by renting out Minneapolis City Hall, the Municipal Building Commission selected Eagan-based Lancer Catering to provide catering services for weddings, birthday parties and other special events.

The Commission selected Lancer April 14, contingent on successfully negotiating a detailed contract, said Executive Director Jos/ Cervantes. He expected negotiations to last up to 90 days.

Lancer's client list includes the Science Museum of Minnesota, the Minnesota Zoo, Como Park and Edinburgh USA, a Brooklyn Park golf course, he said.

The Commission plans to rent out the rotunda, the City Council chambers and courtrooms, in part to raise money for building repairs. The Commission's share of Lancer's catering revenue -- an amount to be determined through negotiations -- will go into a Heritage Preservation Fund. Catered events will focus on the Rotunda; the City Council chambers will be off limits for food.

The city and Hennepin County have two members each on the four-member Building Commission. The city and county each control half the building's space.

Mayor R.T. Rybak, a Building Commission member, pushed the catering initiative.

"City Hall's Atrium and the marble-clad vestibule are two of the most beautiful rooms in the city," he said. "I wanted to open them up for more people to enjoy."

Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, another Building Commission member, said he wanted City Hall to become a greater part of residents' "mental landscape" when they think of great buildings and great spaces.

"We have been trying for a number of years to restore City Hall and provide greater access to it. This is part of that effort," he said of the catering contract.

The Commission issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a catering, caf/ and vending machine operator in January. The Minnesota State Services for the Blind will continue to have the vending machine contract, Cervantes said. The Commission will reissue an RFP for the caf/.

A new ground-floor cafeteria will replace Larry's Canteen, which closed its first-floor space as part of building renovations, Cervantes said. The catering and caf/ operations would open in April/May 2005, at the earliest.

Rybak said he suggested finding a separate coffee and sandwich vendor for everyday dining. "This is an opportunity to help grow a new entrepreneur in the city and at the same time create community in City Hall," he said.

Civil Rights Department finalists named

Mayor R.T. Rybak has released the names and r/sum/s of four finalists to lead the city's Civil Rights Department.

They are, in alphabetical order:

  • Harry W. Davis, Jr., planning analyst in Hennepin County's division of Children, Family and Adult Services and former director of contract and major subcontracts for General Dynamics Information Systems, Inc./Ceridian Corp.

  • Jessica Lynn Jackson, an associate with Blackwell Igbanugo, P.A., where she advises public and private sector clients on discrimination and employment issues. She is the former associate to the director of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action at the University of Minnesota.

  • Jayne Baccus Khalifia, managing director of Penumbra Theater Co. and former operations director of the Office of the Secretary of State.

  • W.H. Tyrone Terrill, St. Paul's Human Rights Director and former deputy director of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department from 1980 to 1987.

    The Civil Rights Department enforces the city's civil rights ordinances, and provides civil rights leadership and education. It has a staff of 25 and a budget approaching $2 million. The new director will replace Vanne Owens Hayes. Her contract expired in December, and Rybak did not reappoint her.

    Rybak appointed a 20-member Citizens' Advisory Committee to help establish criteria to choose the finalists and to interview them, similar to the process he used to select a new police chief. The interviews were expected to take place the weekend of April 24-25.

    The City Council will have to approve Rybak's appointment.

    The Citizens' Advisory Committee members and their affiliations are:

    Patricia Crumbly, attorney; Richard Bell, Minneapolis Urban League; Kenneth Brown, Mayor's Advisory Committee on Disabilities; Brett Bruckner, NAACP; Sgt. Michael Davis, Minneapolis Police Department police/community mediation team member; Ann DeGroot, Out Front Minnesota; Saeed Fahia, Confederation of Somali Communities; Justin Huenemann, Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors; Velma Korbel, Minnesota State Department of Human Rights; Judge LaJune Lange, Hennepin County District Court; Craig Lewis, Abundant Life Consulting; Nadifa Osman, Women of Africa Resources and Development Assoc.; Jonathan Palmer, Jordan Neighborhood Association president; Julie Plaut, Jewish Community Action; Charles Rucker, Minneapolis Fire Department; Norah Shapiro, Civil Rights Commission; Ibanga Umanah, University of Minnesota student; Ta Vang, Southeast Asian Business Association; Robert Velez, Hennepin County Child Support Department; and Sgt. Viovani Veliz, Minneapolis Police Department.

    Report potholes via Web site or phone number

    The city of Minneapolis has 1,100 miles of streets, and this time of year, they get pockmarked with jaw-jarring potholes, road cracks and pavement pits.

    Join the pothole police. You can call them in 24 hours a day at 673-5720. You can send in a repair request through the Internet at: The form asks for the pothole location (alleys also qualify); your name and contact information are optional.

    State of City speech is Thursday

    Mayor R.T. Rybak will give his 2004 State of the City address Thursday, April 29, 4 p.m. in the City Hall rotunda, 350 S. 5th St..

    The public is invited. Minneapolis cable channels 14 and 79 and the city Web site,, will carry the speech live.

    "The speech will be about a thriving city with opportunities for all; safe, livable neighborhoods; and good government for a good value," the mayor said.