Parks update // Bourn fined

Panel fines Bourn for making false claims

A state panel has fined Brad Bourn $1,600 for knowingly and incorrectly declaring support from two Southwest legislators during last fall’s campaign.

Ruling on a complaint filed by Meg Forney, the runner-up for Bourn’s District 6 seat on the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, the judges said Bourn never received written permission from state Sen. Scott Dibble and Rep. Frank Hornstein to list their endorsements. Their names appeared on a flyer sent to about 3,000 Southwest voters a week before the Nov. 3 election.

Because of the legislators’ popularity — both were elected with overwhelming margins — the judges said getting either one’s endorsement could have boosted Bourn’s win. He received 48 percent of first-round votes, compared to Forney’s 36 percent.

According to court documents, Bourn asked for Dibble and Hornstein’s support on a number of occasions, but they each time told him they would not make an endorsement in the Park Board race. A few times, they told him they wanted to help him, but “upon reflection,” Bourn said at a January hearing, he never received their written permission.

The judges ruled Bourn’s testimony wasn’t credible when he said he overlooked the mistake. Whether Bourn would have lost the election without the listing, however, the judges couldn’t decide.

The judges dismissed two additional complaints from Forney. Also dismissed was a complaint Bourn himself brought forward claiming Forney’s website incorrectly listed endorsements from supporters in her 2005 campaign.

In an interview with the Southwest Journal, Bourn said he would not appeal the amount.

“We’re just going to accept it and move forward,” he said.

He called the situation “a miscommunication under some unusual circumstances.”

Forney afterward said she wishes Bourn were more apologetic. The fine is severe, she said, and reflects the seriousness of his actions, which she believes were deliberate.

“It wasn’t a matter of who’s winning or not,” Forney said. “This is just wrong.”

In 2005, Commissioner Carol Kummer was fined $600 for knowingly using the initials “DFL” on campaign material despite never having received the party’s endorsement.

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Illegal stickers leave parks staff befuddled

Paul Hokeness has a funny — well, sort of funny — story to tell. See, he’s been feeling a tad paranoid.

Ever since July, he’s frequently felt the urge to check every light pole at every intersection in Minneapolis. He scans their black bases, their yellow semaphores. Very often, he’ll see another example of the source of his ire: a round blue-and-green sticker touting Minneapolis’ “City of Lakes” moniker.

The stickers seem harmless, Hokeness said, but they’re illegal, just as much an example of vandalism as a graffiti-tagged wall. They’re scattered all over the city — at 50th Street & Penn Avenue, at 50th Street & Xerxes Avenue, at Richfield Road & William Berry Parkway, at 36th Street & East Calhoun Parkway.

What bothers Hokeness is that nobody seems to know who’s been putting them up — plus, there’s this twist: Last fall, a Park Board staff member, Painter Park’s Mitch Waukau, saw a man placing one of the stickers on a light pole near board headquarters. Waukau took down the man’s vehicle information, but when he gave it to police, the license plate number didn’t match the car’s make.

“Someone’s definitely trying to be sneaky,” Waukau said.

For Hokeness, who’s been with the Park Board for decades, it’s been a frustrating experience. He said this is the most widespread, professional-looking act of vandalism he’s experienced in his decades with the Park Board.

“It’s kind of a funny story,” Hokeness said. “But it takes us time and money to remove these stickers. And we just see them more and more.”

People with information are urged to call Park Police at 230-6550 or, because many of the stickers are appearing on non-parks property, Minneapolis 311. Vandalism in progress should be reported to 911.

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Pedestrian bridge repair gets construction company

The Park Board has hired Construction Results Corp. to rehabilitate the popular pedestrian bridge that spans Minnehaha Creek.

Repairs of the Bryant Avenue Bridge, closed in 2008, were fast-tracked last year. However, federal involvement — it’s being funded with stimulus money — added extra time and extra hoops for the Park Board to jump through.

Construction Results will be paid about $400,000. Barring any surprises, the project could be completed this year, parks planner Judd Rietkerk said.

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Linden Hills pool a summer project

The Park Board is hoping to take on repairs of the Linden Hills neighborhood pool this summer, General Manager Mike Schmidt said.

When the wading pool broke down last year, there was some discussion about replacing the decades-old system with a modern splash pad, but because of the economy, repairs are more likely.

Schmidt said he was hoping to have staff check out the pool this month to see how extensive repairs would have to be. If a fix is simple, he said, the pool could be open this summer. Otherwise, it will be down all season.