Table for Thirteen

The Mckinsey Report: Curtailing the power of the Minneapolis City Council

Adds Minn: "If you put a development cycle in place, projects get approved on their own merit, because even a strong council member isn't going to be able to bamboozle the rest of the council to get something passed."

Minn believes the development cycle is also needed for the inevitable time in the future when the council's thirst for consensus and reform isn't so acute. "Right now there's a honeymoon, and the council is enraptured with fixing the budget," he says. "But when the chips are down and somebody's project gets approved and somebody's doesn't, that freshman class is going to get petulant."

And that's when the potential for politics at the expense of sound policy comes into play. Even now, admits the Second Ward's Zerby, "there's a tendency that if I am going to back you for projects in your ward, then when I come forward in my ward for something my neighborhood wants, I want your backing. This sort of logrolling isn't healthy, but that's politics."

Erin Eitter Kono

City staffers are still studying the details and potential ramifications of the McKinsey report. (Among the many questions is the issue of whether some of the proposed changes might require the approval of the state legislature or an amendment to the city charter. Additionally, the potential changes in job descriptions and duties suggested by the reorganization will have to be negotiated with more than a dozen different labor unions.) The council has planned to address the McKinsey reforms at a community-development committee meeting on August 26 and a ways-and-means committee meeting two weeks later. Then there would be a final vote by the entire council.

After that, the hard work begins. Realistically, says Deputy Mayor David Fey, "We're looking at getting the policy framework in place by year's end--saying, 'Yes, we are going to move in this direction.' But it is going to take all of next year and a lot of work at the department level to figure out how to migrate the organization from where it is now to where we want it to be."

That said, there's evidence that McKinsey has already made an difference in the way the city operates. The 12th Ward's Scott Benson reports that the one-stop-shop concept is already being used, with positive results, for a Kowalski's grocery store in his district.

And Rybak, ever enthusiastic, says, "The spirit of pulling these groups together is already under way at city hall, and it would be very hard to put that genie back in the bottle. There is, in my mind, an overwhelming consensus that we can't have duplicative services and departments that run counter to each other. In that case, the victory has already been won."

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