Minnesota Cities Magazine
More from May-Jun 2017 issue

Bits & Briefs

Framed picture of Tom GrundhoeferRemembering Tom Grundhoefer
LMC General Counsel

When Tom Grundhoefer passed away suddenly in February at the young age of 60, the League of Minnesota Cities (LMC) family lost not only a dear friend and trusted colleague, but also a genuine leader.

Tom was our “rock” and was the person that many of us went to when we needed problems solved, or simply needed a friendly and sympathetic ear. He and I worked closely together on many issues over the years, mostly related to legal matters or human resources. I must admit that I didn’t always like or agree with his advice at first, but usually followed it after I reflected for a while and came to my senses.

The term “counselor” as applied to attorneys fit Tom perfectly. I could rant and rail at him about how frustrating the law was, especially when I wanted to get something done more expeditiously than it would allow. Tom didn’t take offense, and he always helped me to come up with the best possible solution.

I will miss you, my friend. I hope the afterlife is everything you thought it would be because if it is, you are having a great time right now. Probably golfing and perhaps enjoying a beer. You deserve it.
Laura Kushner, LMC human resources director

Drawing of a housePilot Project Hopes to Fill Vacant Lots in North Minneapolis
“Urban renewal.” That’s what Minneapolis Councilmember Blong Yang calls the recently adopted infill housing policy for the north side of the city. It will offer incentives for building houses on the city’s vacant residential lots, and will help low-income residents purchase their own homes. As of February 2017, North Minneapolis had almost 400 empty residential lots. The program includes incentives of up to $75,000 for developers interested in building in North Minneapolis, and special financing for low-income homebuyers and home builders in that part of the city. “The goal of the project is to have a new home on every vacant lot on the north side,” Yang says. “It gives people hope and faith to see their community coming up.”

Desk with typical work desk items, with an electronic tablet in the middle that says CITY HALL SAFETY: Be Prepared and Proactive
Incidents of city hall workplace violence are usually unpredictable and occur without warning. However, steps can be taken to prevent them. Tracy Stille and Troy Walsh, loss control field consultants with the League of Minnesota Cities, have put together a resource collection on the LMC website that describes how to be proactive and responsive when dealing with violence in the workplace. The collection includes an in-depth violence prevention webinar, as well as links to various federal safety materials. The federal resources stress the importance of having a detailed preparedness plan, and responding to possible threats at an early stage. “It’s about stopping the incident before it happens; recognizing the hazards,” says Walsh. “It’s knowing the potential is there.” Access the violence prevention resources at www.lmc.org/cityhallsafety.

ball of yarnSmall Gifts Go a Long Way in Eden Prairie
Eden Prairie Detective Carter Staaf says he had an “epiphany moment” when he and his department aimed to become more victim-oriented when dealing with human trafficking in their own community. “The stories [of victims] are different, but the scenarios are roughly the same,” Staaf says. “There is no one that shows the victims love in their lives.”

In light of this, Staaf rounded up members of the community who showed their support by knitting scarves, hats, and blankets for human trafficking victims. Staaf tells the victims who receive knitted materials that each stitch represents someone who was thinking about them while they made the gift. “I tell them, ‘They may not know you, but they love and care about you.’” Staaf says his department wants to show that they’re not doing this because they care about statistics; rather, it’s the people in their community that they care about.

“We’re all trying to see what is the best approach here and, obviously, the more caring approach is best,” Staaf says. “We want to get them out of the [trafficking] life for their own safety, security, and mental health.”

Pete TritzLMCIT Administrator Pete Tritz Honored for Excellent Service
Pete Tritz, who has been the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT) administrator for 37 years, was honored recently with the 2017 Award for Excellence in Service by the Association of Governmental Risk Pools (AGRiP). Tritz began as research director at the League of Minnesota Cities in 1974 and later made his way up to supervisor of what is now the League’s Research & Information Service.

In the late 1970s, after local governments expressed a need for more affordable coverage, the League turned to Tritz to come up with a solution. The result was LMCIT, and Tritz has led the organization since its inception in 1980. Over the years, Tritz has developed innovative coverage alternatives for Minnesota cities and has continually extended his hand to help local governments throughout the state.

The AGRiP Board of Directors selected Tritz for the Service award not only for his tenure at and many contributions to LMCIT, but for “Pete’s willingness to share his time, talent, and expertise collaboratively with the pooling community at large.” Learn more at http://bit.ly/2nwC8qQ.

Hand with Alexandria Mayor Honors Resident for Efforts to Stop Domestic Violence
Alexandria Mayor Sara Carlson recently presented the May¬or’s Peace Award to Dennis Thompson for his efforts to stop domestic violence through his work with the United Communities Advocating Non-Violence. The award was presented at the annual Domestic Abuse Awareness Luncheon. Carlson said Thompson is a role model for other men in the community. “Dennis has dedicated his life to helping others, and he continues the efforts to reduce domestic violence in Alexandria and Douglas County,” she said. “Whenever you ask him to do something, he does it, he’s long term, and he does the hard work without expecting any recognition.”

Sign that says Have This on Hand in Case of Emergency
Anyone who has ever had to evacuate their workplace due to an emergency knows how stressful it can be for workers and responders when concrete emergency action plans are not put into place. The League of Minnesota Cities (LMC), in an attempt to strengthen its emergency response plan, has recently purchased multiple 14-by-9-inch water-resistant emergency response bags that will be deployed near exits and given to respond¬ers in the event of an emergency such as a fire, active shooter, or natural disaster.

Inside the bags, employees and responders will find floor maps of the LMC building with safe rooms labeled on each floor, a telephone roster with employees’ names and internal phone numbers, and keys that police will be able to use to get into locked areas of the building. The Federal Emergency Management Agency and Ramsey County Emergency Response Team recommended that workplaces use the bags to aid in keeping things running as smoothly as possible when times of crisis make orderliness and normality seem impossible.

Read the May-June issue of Minnesota Cities magazine

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