After a successful 2020 re-election to the Shoreview City Council (thank you so much Shoreview voters!), it’s on to a new year.
The City Council continues to meet virtually at this time. We look forward to meeting in person again as more are vaccinated and it’s safe to do so. Citizens, as always, are welcome to attend these virtual meetings and participate. One of our city staff watches for any citizen comments throughout every meeting to ensure that all who choose to participate can do so.
In addition to participating on City Council, I continue to represent Shoreview as a member of the Ramsey County League of Local Governments. We hold monthly virtual meetings with speakers or panels for all RCLLG members. Members of this group include all Ramsey County elected officials at the county and city levels, city staff, school boards as well as individual and associate members. RCLLG also has a sub-group that is working on Mental Health needs, utilizing the concerns and efforts of all members. This group is in its early stages of identifying key actions.
As part of my City Council role, I continue to also serve as the Shoreview representative on the Lake Johanna Fire Department Board. This board is also comprised of other member cities (Arden Hills and North Oaks) and members of the Fire Department. We meet to review the Relief Fund and LJFD activities which range from service levels to financial activities. A key part of our regular meetings currently is to review progress toward building a new fire station in Arden Hills which will eventually replace the current station at Victoria and County Road E.
On the City Council side, we continue work on the redevelopment of Deluxe Corporation’s site and ongoing activities around Phase 2 of the Shoreview Commons project. Design plans for the Commons project have been approved and the project will soon be bid. Phase 2 includes a Friendship Garden and creative playground areas. During a visit to the Commons area, this week, I noted people using the walking paths and skateboard park even on a blustery day. Phase 2 improvements will bring even more opportunities for using this expansive outdoor space.
My first experience volunteering on a Shoreview Commission was when I applied for the Economic Development Commission. Economic Development had always been an area of interest for me yet the experience on the Commission gave me back much more than I expected. I felt more engaged with the local government, with my city, met fellow residents and city leaders and learned so much!
There are currently openings on 5 Committee/Commissions. The openings are with the Planning Commission, Economic Development Authority, Bikes and Trailways , Parks and Recreation and Environmental Quality Committees.
Applications are available at www.shoreviewmn.gov website and can be submitted until November 20, 2020.
I stopped by the WinkinRooster.com last week for a take out lunch and asked the owner how his business was doing. He said business has picked up and that they were getting more catering orders which helped the business.
Then I introduced myself as one of his city council members and he shared with me that he’s been visited multiple times by the mayor, two other council members reached out or stopped by lunch, and how much he appreciates the support he receives from the city. That’s good to hear. Shoreview has a talented and committed city staff who proactively works to anticipate business needs, an Economic Development Commission comprised of citizen volunteers and local business owners, and a BRE program (Business Retention and Expansion).
Back to the story: when the pandemic hit, the City of Shoreview provided a small business emergency assistance program which helped the Winkin’ Rooster and nearly 30 other businesses weather the spring lockdown and COVID-19 related business impacts.
It was gratifying to see that this business is recovering. It’s a great place for lunch and breakfast and does catering by the way. The staff is friendly. And the food? It’s great.
When I turned 18, I couldn’t wait to vote. It was a rite of passage toward real adulthood. I was a lover of US History. I read books about the presidents and I read books about those who ran and didn’t win. What I didn’t know when I was able to vote was that it would introduce me to a great life experience.
About a year after I first voted in the early seventies, I received a summons to jury duty in federal court. My neighbor worked at the courthouse and wondered aloud if I was summoned to the “Wounded Knee takeover” trial. The trial was actually named The United States vs. Russell Means and Dennis Banks. Means and Banks were leaders of the AIM (American Indian Movement) organization and they faced 10 federal charges based on the takeover of the town of Wounded Knee. Although the charges were filed in South Dakota, the venue was changed to St. Paul in order for the defendants to receive a fair trial.
I was, in fact, summoned to be a juror for that trial. I was selected to serve on the jury after going through an interview with not only high profile attorneys like William Kunstler and Mark Lane but with the assistance of a panel of psychologists who were the first to use a new methodology for jury selection.
During the jury selection and trial, my 19 year old self experienced:
Having some of my jury selection questions and answers published in the St. Paul paper
Witnessing first hand a high profile trial and renowned and skilled attorneys
Being featured in Newsweek magazine because our jury was selected using psychologists
Learning about the rules of court and the rules of evidence
Received intimidating mail from the John Birch Society and an anonymous person because of an answer I gave while being interviewed during jury selection
Watching a star witness perjure himself
Spending 9 months of my life in federal court
Learning so much about what really happened at Wounded Knee in the early 70’s and learning so much about treaty rights and treaties not honored
Unknowingly selecting a jury foreman who turned out to be highly prejudiced
Experiencing being sequestered which included being allowed to read newspapers and watch TV only under the eyes of federal marshals to avoid seeing any information related to the trial
After one of the jurors fell seriously ill during deliberations, the Government chose not to go on with 11 jurors so a mistrial was declared
At the end of the trial, I was accused of “letting them go” by an angry neighbor because, before the mistrial, we found them not guilty on the first of 10 counts. The other 9 counts were never deliberated because our fellow juror fell ill and the jury alternates had been dismissed before deliberation. The neighbor didn’t care. He was furious with me. He didn’t have the facts but he didn’t care.
When I’ve shared this story, most people react by saying “I’d never want to be on a jury for so long!” And that may be true for most people. But I’d also argue that I learned so many valuable life lessons, experienced the pain of generations of Native Americans whose lives were forever altered because treaties were not honored, saw the legal system in action and learned respect and responsibility for serving as a juror . All because I voted for the first time when I turned 18.
Watch all of the Shoreview City Council candidates participate in a one hour candidate forum. Questions were submitted to the League of Women Voters by residents and candidates were not pre-informed of the questions. My introduction starts at the 2:30 mark but watching the entire forum only takes one hour. Thank you for watching!
Today, after a long time away from it, I went to play at Snail Lake Park with my favorite two year old. It was a beautiful day and it was fun to watch other families and kids enjoying the outdoors and playground. I met a father and son who recently moved back to Shoreview after a 10 year absence . They were happy to be back. My favorite two year old and I also went down to explore the muddy, lower pavilion area and then found a path into what he called “the jungle”. We were watching out for lions during our hike—none could be found.
I go to parks now generally to walk the trails and paths. Today helped me remember how visiting a park with a child invites a real exploration: of new people, of the mud, of the jungle, and of the paths you otherwise might not follow.