A chat with City Council Member Lisa Goodman

City Council Member Lisa Goodman (7th Ward) recently sat down with Southwest Journal reporter Steve Pease at her office at City Hall to discuss a number of city issues. The following are highlights from the interview.

Click here to see video from this interview

SWJ: What is your stance on the proposed Kenilworth LRT Line?

: Oh, the Kenilworth LRT line. I really think rail is great. And I think that commuter rail is great. But commuter rail that doesn’t benefit Minneapolis residents — not so great. I don’t like the idea of the rail line going down the Kenilworth Corridor, primarily because it’s not gonna benefit the people who live there. … I think rail belongs where people ride it. And people ride it on major commercial corridors. On Nicollet Avenue; on Lyndale Avenue; on Hennepin Avenue. I live on Hennepin, I’d be happy to have rail running in front of my house. Unfortunately, the city has two seats of 11 on the [the Southwest LRT Policy Advisory Committee] making a decision with regard to how this rail line is going to be handled. Both of my colleagues [Ralph Remington, Robert Lilligren] who serve on this think this line is good because they don’t want rail down the streets where their constituents live [note: Both Remington and Lilligren have refrained from comment]. And the Midtown Greenway Coalition is pretty consistently dreamt of a trolley, so they don’t want commuter rail on the Greenway. So it’s turned into an issue where the location where most people would ride it, most people don’t want it.

SWJ: How comfortable are you knowing that thousands of protestors will soon be in the city for the Republican National Convention?

Goodman: Well, many of those protesters will share my views and I’m very comfortable with that. And I think a lot of them are a lot like you and I. They have a message to send and they have a peaceful, meaningful way of doing that through protesting. And I support their right to speak under the First Amendment. I’m hoping that … convincing the immediate neighbors, the business owners and the residents is really important. And harassing them, and blocking entrances to their homes, and making sure they can’t go about with their day-to-day duties, doesn’t promote their message. And so, ultimately, I’m very glad that the Convention is in town. I’m delighted to host the protesters, as well. And I’m hopeful they understand there’s a lot at stake in this election. And that communicating their message in a peaceful and proactive way ins the best way to share their message. Being violent is not the way to share their message.

: What are your budget priorities for 2009-10?

Goodman: Number one budget priority for me is making sure Lake of the Isles Parkway is paved. There’s no more important thing than we can do in government than investing in infrastructure. And I’ve been very active … working with Tom Nordyke, and the Park Board and Park Board staff to repave Lake of the Isles Parkway and most importantly not to do that project over a three-year period but to front the money in 2009. You can get Shaken Baby Syndrome that road is so bad! It’s terrible and it’s embarrassing. Quite frankly, after the multi-million dollar investment the state made in restoring the lake, and thanks to the hard work of Margaret Kelliher and Scott Dibble, the lake is very close to being to its original condition. To have the road look the way it does is a tragedy. … We have abdicated our duty. We need to get the road repaved, it’s my number one priority.

SWJ: What is being done to increase local commerce and attract more businesses

Goodman: So much of what happens Downtown is really reliant on partnerships. Government clearly can’t do everything. We’re not going to subsidize office space. We have to work with our partners … to make sure the very basic issues are met in a proactive way. Downtown needs to be safe; it needs to be clean and Downtown definitely needs to be more green. And through a number of the business initiatives we’re working on, including the business improvement district and the special effort focused on Hennepin Avenue called Hennepin 2010, we can partner with existing property owners and businesses to make sure that it’s clean, green and safe. And then we need to partner with these property owners to make sure small businesses have access to space Downtown. It’s very unfortunate that as Downtown grows and more people work and live Downtown it becomes too expensive for these very cool and unique businesses.

: Is it worth it in the long run, financially, to put a green roof on the Target Center?

: I’m a big proponent of the green roof on the Target Center and I’ll tell you why: The roof needs to be replaced and there’s gonna be a cost to that. That cost is relative high. But the most expensive cost is energy use. It’s very expensive to heat, and very expensive to cool these large arenas. … So in this particular case, a green roof is really a tremendous opportunity for a sponsor to come in and help underwrite the par of the costs of the roof.