Loud and proud, I guess: Mayor tells Minneapolis to drop the modesty

Mayor Hodges
Mayor Betsy Hodges gives her first State of the City address Thursday, Apr. 24, 2014 at the American Indian Center in Minneapolis.
Jennifer Simonson/MPR News

Minneapolis has a problem, Mayor Betsy Hodges says: The city and its citizens are too modest.

"We could discover cures for 17 kinds of cancer, and we would say nothing. And if someone else noticed, we would say, 'Yeah, well thanks. Anybody could have done it,'" Hodges said Thursday in her first State of the City speech. "And then we would change the subject to the weather."

While much of the speech touched on the themes at the center of her successful campaign for the job -- growth, equality and competent management, she also encouraged Minneapolis residents to brag about the place they live.

She plans to name the week of July 14, "The Best Week of Bragging about Minneapolis Ever." The theme of immodesty is one she sounded repeatedly on the campaign trail.

Hodges repeated her goal of growing the city's population by more than 100,000 residents, although she didn't specify a timeframe. She reiterated her promise of structurally balanced budgets and effective city services. And she reemphasized the importance of helping the city's disadvantaged minority populations.

One way to aid those communities is to streamline business regulations in the city that are cumbersome and stifle investment, she said.

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"If it's hard for a wizened investor, who's done a score of projects -- if it's hard for that person to navigate our system -- then for a first-time business owner, perhaps with another language as her first language, the barriers might be more than she can afford to break through," Hodges added.

That part of the speech resonated with Farhiya Fareh, who used to work as a health inspector, policing the city's restaurant code.

Minneapolis needs to do a better job of communicating its rules to immigrant business owners, who often are blindsided by them, Fareh said. "They get massive violations and citations and fines and just incredible challenges that become a huge (hurdle) for business successes."

Hodges delivered her speech at the Minneapolis American Indian Center. On Friday, she'll sign a city council resolution changing the name of Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples' Day in Minneapolis, a move she supported last year when she ran for mayor.