Rybak nominates veteran insider to run Public Works

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Seeking to shore up one of the city’s three major departments that have been in turmoil this year, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak Tuesday nominated longtime manager Steve Kotke to run the city’s Public Works Department. Kotke succeeds Klara Fabry, who Rybak declined to re-appoint in January.

Kotke, a 15-year veteran of the department, has been serving as interim director since Fabry’s departure in May. He earlier held the post of director of Internal Services.

In a statement, Rybak called Kotke a “trusted, veteran leader who understands how Minneapolis works and how to make it work better.”

City Council Member Sandra Colvin Roy, who chairs the council’s Transportation and Public Works Committee, heralded the decision, citing the respect Kotke has earned during his career in the department. That respect, she said, “has prepared him to build coalitions and lead us into the future.”

If ratified by the City Council, Kotke would oversee 1,400 employees in the city’s largest department, which is responsible for a variety of basic services, ranging from street maintenance and snow removal, to water treatment and transportation planning.

The nomination still leaves Rybak with uncertain leadership in the city’s police and fire departments. Fire Chief Bonnie Bleskachek is under investigation for discriminating against several members of her force and is currently on a paid leave. Meanwhile, Interim Police Chief Tim Dolan has not yet been formally nominated to succeed former chief William McManus, who took the police chief job in San Antonio last spring.

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