Villains and champions: Your picks for 2007


More civic villains than champions—at least, that’s the verdict of TC Daily Planet readers. Readers weighed in over the last ten days, responding to the Daily Mole article on civic villains, and to our call for nominations for civic champions as well as villains. Even though there seemed to be more enthusiasm for naming villains, this time we focus on the good news first.

Civic Champions

Nina Axelson – “Formerly, Nina served as community organizer for St. Paul’s District 12 Community Council. Several months ago, she began coordinating the Rock-Tenn Community Advisory Panel, a group mandated by recent legislation to study future fuel options for the Rock-Tenn recycling facility in St. Paul. Nina is passionate about public service, community involvement, political empowerment, and environmental stewardship. She is skilled at mediating among competing points of view. She is insistent in ensuring that everyone’s voice is heard. She is tireless in pursuit of the greater good.”

Susan Young – the “trash” lady in Minneapolis – “is honest and tells it like it is. She is there when you ask her a question, she answers her own phone (if she is not out) and returns phone calls. She may be verbose at times because she truly ‘loves’ her job but you at least know what you can do about a problem when she is done.”

Rocco Forte “answers his own phone and stays on top of making sure a task or job is completed. Although I still have a gas station I want gone, his work does not just come about with a snap of one’s finger.”

Robert Cooper and Chuck Lutz – “They know where the dead bodies are, where the ghosts are, and who did what to whom in neighborhoods and projects frontward and backwards. And they both still work hard at being public servants recognizing they are their job is to provide service.”

Cam Gordon – “As far as answering one’s phone, [he] gets a gold star in that department, also.”

Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer – “The best Minnesota candidate for Congress since Paul Wellstone.”

Civic Villains

Finally, the villains. People love to hate Minneapolis City Council member Lisa Goodman, citing her involvement with the proposed burner in South Minneapolis, her stance on housing and homelessness, and a close relationship with downtown business. Governor Tim Pawlenty came in second, garnering criticism for obstruction of the bi-partisan legislative agenda, the 35W bridge collapse, and suspicion that he is only “talking a green line.”

Minneapolis and St. Paul mayors R.T. Rybak and Chris Coleman were also nominated as civic villains. So were Minneapolis Civil Rights Director Michael Jordan, House Speaker Margaret Kelliher, Minneapolis City Council President Barb Johnson, Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek, Minneapolis Park Board President Jon Olson, and former Minneapolis School Board member Audrey Johnson. Non-government nominees included Universal Mortgage company and Michael Krause and Kim Havey of Kandiyohi Development, who are pushing plans for the so-called “eco-burner” in south Minneapolis. The Star Tribune, specifically, and the media in general were also nominated.

Among the issues that meant the most to those nominating villains: the proposed burner in south Minneapolis and the proposed Rock-Tenn burner, homelessness in Minneapolis, racial discrimination, environmental issues in general, the 35W bridge collapse, conflicts of interest and failure to repay government funds, NRP funding.