Dumb Park News

Here’s a story about an attempt to change the name of the Carl W. Kroening *Interpretive* Center to the Carl W. Kroening *Nature* Center. It’s also a story of Parks Commissioner Meg Forney being one of the weirdest elected officials in Minneapolis.

At a meeting Wednesday evening, Park Board staff said the existing name causes confusion. Nobody knows what an interpretive center is. “Changing it to nature center is a more clear representation of what happens there.”

Commissioner Forney voted no: “The fact that we are suspending the rules… the procedure, excuse me, I find very bothersome.” Adhering to procedure means two public hearings and at least eight months of process.

Commissioner Meyer voted yes, saying “I don’t feel like it’s worth taking up more public time.”

Commissioner Cowgill voted yes. He says changing the word “interpretive” to “nature” is “inconsequential.” And, “I’m just gonna go out on a limb and say we’re not gonna see a lot of push back on this one.”

The resolution fails to get the 6 votes required to suspend the rules. Two votes short. The meeting moves on.

11 minutes later: Commissioner Forney wants to reconsider the resolution she just voted against. She notes that Commissioner Hassan has returned to the room after being absent for the vote on the nature center. Why would Forney make a motion to reconsider a resolution she’s voted against — a resolution that lost by two votes — under the flimsy reasoning that an absent commissioner has returned to the room?

President Bourn reacts to Forney’s request: “The item has been dealt with. The roll has been taken. Commissioner Forney, you were on the prevailing side of that resolution. You may put forward a resolution to reconsider a motion.”

Forney: “Thank you. I would like to put up a motion to reconsider.”

Commissioner Severson reacts with some exasperation: “This is absolutely asinine that we’re going through this right now to try to win political points.” Severson asks commissioners to support changing the name of the “interpretive center” in his North Minneapolis district to “nature center.”

Forney votes against the resolution for a second time, and it fails for a second time, even though she’s the one who made the motion to reconsider.

Why did this dumb thing happen? I think Forney was hoping that Bourn would make himself the deciding vote instead of abstaining, so that she could beat him over the head with the politically potent issue of renaming an “interpretive” center to a “nature” center.