The queen on the hill
I am writing about the article Ms. Kathryn Kelly wrote for Southside Pride about Minneapolis Park Board Commissioner Steffanie Musich that appeared on the front page of the March 2021 Nokomis edition.
I want to express two concerns I have about the piece:
It was written by a member of the SaveHiawatha18.com organization (Ms. Kelly). I learned this after doing a Google search when it became clear to me that Ms. Kelly had an axe to grind, and I was curious about who she was. Her identity as a member of this group was not disclosed as part of the article and should have been.
This article was a very personal and vicious attack on an elected official of the Park Board (Steffanie Musich). While Ms. Kelly has every right to publicly disagree with decisions made by elected officials, including Steffanie Musich, the tone of her writing struck me as nasty. This is not journalism; it is a targeted smear campaign.
I expect more from Southside Pride than to print such a malicious piece and I do not think it deserves a place on the front page of your paper.
Response from Kathryn Kelly:
To Ms. McGinley,
I might say that I don’t know what to say to your letter, but I do. I have a lot of axes to grind with Commissioner Musich—four years’ worth.
I have seen Musich ignore a woman standing before her crying because her home was being destroyed by water problems caused by Park Board property, namely Solomon Park, and Musich wouldn’t even respond to her, much less help her.
I have seen no concrete plans that are vetted by engineering data to protect my family’s home from Musich’s plan that will, most likely, flood our home.
I have seen Musich ignore the Black community, taking away Hiawatha Golf Course, an important resource they cherish, while talking about how she supports diversity and equity.
I have seen the documentation for this plan continue to denigrate Theodore Wirth with lies about what was happening with this property before he had the Park Board buy it. I grew up across the street from Hiawatha Golf Course, and have since researched this property, probably more than Musich and her staff ever have. I have found them to be very ignorant with respect to this property.
I have seen lie after outright lie being presented by Musich and her Park Board staff about reasons why she needs to destroy this 18-hole golf course.
I have spent hundreds of hours researching the misinformation that Musich and her staff have spewed out so that I could have enough knowledge to vet it, and fight it where necessary. An example was her claim that this project would mitigate phosphorus pollution. I researched pollution mitigation from various sources like the Environmental Protection Agency, and found out that an area performing phosphorus mitigation is called a constructed wetland, and this plan does NOT create a constructed wetland. Therefore, it does NOTHING to mitigate phosphorus. When I wrote an article about it, Assistant Park Board Superintendent Schroeder changed his language at a CAC meeting, saying that they were not doing a constructed wetland; they were doing wetland restoration. So, no phosphorus mitigation.
I have read their lie that it cost $4 million in repair costs and lost revenue to bring back the Hiawatha Golf Course after the 2014 flood. I sat down and did the calculations using their data, and found out that, at most, it may have been about $600,000. And, it should have cost much less because they kept half of the golf course closed a year longer than necessary. We believe that they did this so they could get $1.1 million in FEMA money for repairs. This money was taken from the federal government but never spent to bring the golf course back. So, the Park Board basically requested and took money from the federal government that they didn’t need.
And, the biggest lie of all is that the golf course pumping exceeded their pumping permits. After a group of us researched this, we found out, and the DNR confirmed, that Hiawatha Golf Course has NEVER violated their pumping permits, never ever. Yet, the Park Board staff still includes language in their documents that insinuates this lie.
And, yes, I am a proud member of SaveHiawatha18, a very dedicated group of people, some golfers and some homeowners, around Lake Nokomis and Lake Hiawatha who have been working very hard to make sure THE RIGHT THINGS are being done in the City of Minneapolis. During this process, we have all become more expert than we ever wanted to be about this area of South Minneapolis and the problems that exist which are not being addressed by Park Board and City of Minneapolis officials. And, we found that these problems are certainly not being fixed by Musich’s plan for the Hiawatha Golf Course property.
After four years, and little to no coverage by the Star Tribune and other mainstream media of the other voices on this subject, I am frustrated. Musich is running for re-election, and it is time that people understand what she HAS NOT done as a public servant. After all, my family’s home is at risk of being destroyed, so I take her attitude and lack of public service personally as do other homeowners that are at risk from her plan in the neighborhood. A really terrible part of the plan would start dumping storm sewer water into an open trench right across the street from homes at the corner of 19th Avenue South and East 43rd Street. The EPA specifically states that this should not be done. Again, another example of totally bad public policy coming from Musich.
I am guessing that you have never talked to Musich. I have, and I have talked to other people who have had encounters with her. Musich can be very dismissive to people that disagree with her. She was dismissive to me when I first met with her about the golf course in 2017.
And, you may call it a smear campaign, but it is not a smear campaign when it states the facts of the situation. The tone may be rather severe, but the facts are accurate. People in her neighborhood have spent thousands of dollars fixing infrastructure due to water problems, and they have received no help from her. There is another South Minneapolis neighborhood on Minnehaha Creek by Morgan Avenue that is also suffering from too much water, and the Park Board wants this neighborhood to retain more water. I’ve met and corresponded with people from this neighborhood, and they are also looking for valid solutions to their problems, while I see no viable solutions coming from the Park Board, the City of Minneapolis and the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District.
SaveHiawatha18 was started to try and save the golf course, but our efforts have uncovered MAJOR problems in this area of South Minneapolis that many people don’t even realize exist. And, we have spent countless hours trying to promote the right ideas and solutions to public officials rather than the useless and dangerous plans that Musich is pushing.
If you live in a low-lying area of the Northrop neighborhood, you are affected by her plans, maybe more than you know. If you have any questions for me, I will try to answer them.