BEST GROUND ZERO - 2002
Minneapolis City Hall
For a city with a reputation for clean government and a conflict-averse citizenry, Minneapolis has been the scene of a surprising amount of public chaos in recent years. In 1999 there was the occupation of Minnehaha Park by protesters opposed to the reroute of Highway 55, which led to mass arrests and noisy accusations of police brutality. The following summer brought violent clashes between police and demonstrators on downtown streets during a genetics conference. Though this past year saw no such highly visible disruptions of the civic order, the tumult at Minneapolis City Hall was in many ways more profound. With the sudden exit of Eighth Ward city council member Brian Herron in July (see Best Scandal), many Minneapolitans suddenly began looking askance at their elected leadership. When Election Day rolled around, incumbent Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton and her close ally, council president Jackie Cherryhomes, were out on their collective ear. And although incoming Mayor R.T. Rybak advertised himself as a breath of fresh air, less than three months into his term the first details of a new scandal began to trickle out, involving a local plumbing union and longtime Third Ward council member Joe Biernat, who was recently indicted. What does it all mean? If nothing else, that the boring days at city hall are a thing of the past.