Archive | May, 2013

Guest Post: Making Invisible Jobs Visible at the St. Paul Public Works open house

22 May
Editor’s note: When I heard that Saint Paul Public Works was having an opening house, I really wanted to go. Unfortunately, I was still in California at the time. Instead, I convinced my mom, Beth Beaty, to go and report back. She generously agreed to write about it for this blog, giving a nice citizen’s perspective on Public Works as a whole.

Beth Beaty lives, writes, and shovels snow in Saint Paul, MN. She also blogs at

“Really, Saint Paul? Define fun.”

That was my reaction when the City of Saint Paul’s Public Works Department invited me to “come join the fun!” at their open house via my Twitter feed. In fact, that question is exactly what I asked my daughter Veronica and my boyfriend Aaron when I sent them a copy of the tweet with my snarky commentary. Fun for all ages? How absurd. It was bound to be lame, right? Ooo, look at me . . . I’m such a loser I’m going to the Public Works Equipment Repair Garage for a good time.

Doesn't that sign just scream "fun"?

Doesn’t that sign just scream “fun”?

However, Veronica (a former Public Works employee) and Aaron (a current City Administrator) thought it sounded great. Some quirk of the fates gave me two policy geeks to love and cherish. I am not a policy geek. I have resigned myself to spend every major holiday meal for the rest of my life asking “What exactly is it you do again?” The only reason I follow the Saint Paul Public Works department is to get Snow Emergency updates.

(Note to non-Minnesotans: A snow emergency is not when you realize there is not enough snow to make the yard look nice for company, so you call the City to deliver some. A snow emergency is when those of us without off-street parking sit around in our pajamas waiting to find out if we need to pull on boots and coats, don mittens and scarves and make our way through snow up to our knees, shovel out our cars so we can move it to the other side of the street before the plows come through and then go to bed and catch some sleep before we need to wake up and to it again before leaving for work.)

So at their urging, and in the hopes I would learn more about their policy geek world, I set off to the open house. Besides, it was on my way home from work.

What wonders did Public Works unfold? Read on to find out!


Marriage equality in Minnesota

13 May

I’m so excited for my home state today. The Minnesota Senate passed a bill that will legalize same-sex marriage. I wish I could be there to celebrate with my family and friends.

I have to say, it was this picture below that made me the most proud and nostalgic. It isn’t often my neighborhood, tangible symbols of LGBTQ pride and city workers are all in the same photo.

City workers placing rainbow flags along St. Paul's Wabasha bridge

St. Paul dresses in gay pride colors | The Cities | Minnesota Public Radio News.

So thank you, Minnesota, for doing this. And for defeating the amendment back in November, when I was chewing my nails to the quick worrying I should have kept voting in Minnesota. We’re number 12!

For a great piece about how progress like this happens, I recommend the piece Marriage Equality and the Myth of Inevitability at Opine Season.