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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Candidate Questionnaire: Bob Fine

1. Why are you running to be a Commissioner on the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board?
I decided to file for a city wide seat instead of my safe District seat, where I have lived my entire life and coached more than 1,000 kids over the past 35 years because of the most important issue facing the greatest urban park system in America, its independence! This system has been threatened from both within and without. First are those who are attempting to end the independence of this system. Then there are the forces, not so apparent, that have made it their object to find fault with a Park organization which has done a great job maintaining a system despite the limitations on its resources.

2. How would you describe the “job” of a park commissioner? What are the most important roles and responsibilities?
Our primary responsibility is to establish a vision as well as budget priorities for the system, and to ensure we have the resources to carry it out. My background and experience will be important to help us meet these challenges.

3. Are you running on a “reform” platform, or not? Please explain, be specific.
No. Reform is a term being used by the groups that spend their time unfairly criticizing the system.

4. Do you support or oppose the proposed referendum for Park Board independence? Please explain.
Support 100%! This system is the way it is because of its independence, and to end its financial independence will have a negative effect over the long term.

5. What experience do you have that qualifies you to serve on a board of an organization that has a $60 million budget, 600 full time employees, 1300 part time employees and controls 6400 acres of park land?
I have lived my entire life in Minneapolis, worked in the system while in college and coached over a 1,000 kids over the past 35 years. I have served the community for over three decades, including 12 years on the Board (the first four city-wide), serving as its President, spent 18 years on the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commissioner, the Zoning Board and numerous other Boards and committees. I am a real estate attorney and worked over a decade in business and management.

6. What is your view on how the MPRB should approach public/private partnerships, “enterprise” or income-generating projects?
Income-generating projects are critical to our long-term sustainability. However, the most important thing to keep in mind is our mission, and that is to preserve for our parks and provide recreational opportunities for current and future generations.

7. While employee morale remains high, there has been an acrimonious relationship between some of the members of the board and the staff and even between board members themselves. Why do you think this is, and what if anything would you do to improve these relationships?
This perception dates back to a previous board. One of the former members, part of that acrimonious group, is again seeking election to the Board. I have good relationships with staff and colleagues. This is an effort by the fault groups to falsely portray the system and the Board.

8. There is a general perception that the MPRB has sometimes had strained relationships with other organizations (City, County). What is your perception and how will you approach these relationships?
The only perception of strained relationships is with the City (not the schools), which has officials who have either criticized the Park system or sought to end its independence. Relationships with the other agencies have been good. We have taken some bold initiatives, with the new Comprehensive Plan for the long term vision, new parks and facilities, changes along the upper riverfront, completing the Grand Rounds, and unique public/private partnerships. We need to establish our independence and continue to work with the city on the partnerships with them, as we have with the other government officials, for the good of the city.

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