Citing his sterling resume and his contribution to coordinating the city’s new 311 program, a key City Council committee on Monday enthusiastically endorsed Steven Bosacker to replace John Moir as city coordinator.
Bosacker, former chief of staff to Governor Jesse Ventura and more recently executive director of the University of Minnesota Board of Regents, knows how to work in a “multi-tentacled form of government,” Mayor R.T. Rybak told members of the Ways and Means Committee.
Rybak was followed by Library Director Kit Hadley, another former member of the Ventura administration, who called herself “an unabashed fan” of Bosacker’s, citing his ability to focus on mission and results and create a collegial work environment, and his exceptional organization and communications skills.
Another former Ventura cabinet member, Pam Wheelock said, “You cannot overestimate Steven Bosacker’s role in providing vision and leaders to state departments” during his four years at the Capitol. “He’s a very capable strategic thinker,” she added.
But opponents of the appointment, including activist and longtime Ventura critic Leslie Davis, pointed to controversies in Bosacker’s public and personal lives and questioned the process employed to make the selection.
“I’m strongly opposed to this appointment,” said Davis, who wanted to know how Bosacker had been hired for the 311 project. “His resume came in a month after he got the job.”
Davis also alleged that Bosacker had staged a “cover-up” involving the state ethics officer during the Ventura administration and that he was simply part of the “revolving door with people in politics.”
Duane Reed, president of the Minneapolis branch of the NAACP, also spoke against the appointment, though he pointed out that he “didn’t even know” Bosacker. He argued, though, that the city needed a more “transparent” process for such high-profile appointments.
Community activists Booker Hodges and Al Flowers also spoke against the appointment, raising the issue of Bosacker’s 2000 guilty plea in an indecent conduct charge. Bosacker, who is gay, was cited after a police officer observed him masturbating in the steam room of the Arena Club in Target Center. Bosacker pled guilty to a similar charge in 1984 after being cited in a downtown adult bookstore.
With these violations, Hodges asked the committee, “Would we hire someone to be a police officer in the city of Minneapolis? Would we hire someone to be a firefighter in the city of Minneapolis?”
Flowers alleged that the mayor was overlooking Bosacker’s earlier criminal history because he was white. “Imagine if Mr. Bosacker was a different color. Imagine if he was an African American,” Flowers said. “Would that person get this far if he had criminal complaints against him?”
But committee members were solidly in favor of the nomination. Council Member Gary Schiff called it “a great appointment. . . . I can’t think of anybody better situated to step into the job of city coordinator.”
Council Member Ralph Remington admitted that African Americans are often unfairly shut out of jobs, but argued that, in this instance, the city was making a “fine selection.”
And Council Member Elizabeth Glidden said she would support the appointment, but suggested that the city should review the process for these appointments. “We need to take a better look overall that we are seeking out all applicants for city jobs,” she said.
The committee then voted 5–0 (with Council Member Diane Hofstede abstaining) to approve the nomination.
Later, in an interview, Mayor Rybak said the process by which he selected Bosacker did not have to be reviewed. “It’s pretty simple,” he said. “The mayor brings forward names.”
He had been courting Bosacker to be part of his administration for more than four years, and when he was available, Rybak brought him in on the 311 project. Asked whether he was disappointed with the job John Moir had done as city coordinator over the past four years, Rybak explained that Moir was “ideally situated” to work with a new mayor and new council on financial issues, which occupied the city for most of Rybak’s first term. Today, however, the agenda has expanded, he said. “Steven is ideally situated for this period of time.”
The full City Council is expected to easily confirm Bosacker’s nomination at its meeting this Friday.