Recently an article appeared in Real Simple (thanks to reader ‘dm’ for the heads up) about four female mayors across the country who, “are making lasting changes in their own communities.” The four mayors covered in the article were from Piedmont, OK (pop. 6,500); Gary, IN (pop. 80,294); Perth Amboy, NJ (pop. 51,000), and last but not least Burnsville, MN (pop. 60,000). These female mayors all come from varying backgrounds and in the articles face challenges which are unique, however, one mayor stands alone as a shining beacon of adamant narcissism, Burnsville’s own Mayor Elizabeth Kautz.
The Mayor of Piedmont, Oklahoma races from the relative safety of a tornado shelter at her home and heads straight for the destruction caused by a tornado as wide as a city block. The Mayor of Gary, Indiana, a Harvard graduate and former not-so-squeaky clean Indiana Attorney General, came back to Gary in an attempt to recover the glory days of the Chicago suburb. The Mayor of Perth Amboy, New Jersey uncovered massive corruption led by the previous mayor who put the town a quarter of a billion dollars in debt. Aside from the questionable ethics of Gary, Indiana’s Harvard graduate and former state Attorney General, the examples and histories provided as to why these three female mayors were worthy of inclusion in the magazine’s pages were clear. However, one of the four mayors stood apart from the others, showing just how insignificant and meaningless her tenure has been: Elizabeth Kautz’s resume includes a desire to clean up graffiti in a shopping center and having to deal with a myriad of challenges along the way including having her house egged and her garden damaged!
But the most important part of what Kautz has done for Burnsville is not cleaning up yolk or replanting azaleas in her trampled garden, it’s rebuilding the downtown which consists of foreclosed buildings, empty apartments and offices, a restaurant built on land basically given away to a restaurant which was supposed to have white tablecloths but doesn’t, a medical arts building which is now a CVS, and the crown jewel…a twenty-plus million dollar performing arts center (emphasis mine):
During her second term, she continued to work toward more redevelopment, including plans for hotels, restaurants, and her ultimate dream: a vibrant downtown area, including a performing arts center and a park.
In 2009, the pair attended the grand opening of Elizabeth’s performing arts center.
We’ve known for years Elizabeth’s performing arts center would be a detriment to the city counter to her claims it would not raise taxes or otherwise negatively impact the city in any way. Unfortunately, as the City of Burnsville found out approximately two weeks ago, that’s simply not the case.
According to Moody’s most recent rating of Burnsville, while the City was assigned an Aaa rating, its outlook is negative due almost entirely to the Burnsville Performing Arts Center:
Significant multi-year decline in valuations
Socioeconomic indices below medians for comparably rated cities
Modest enterprise risk posed by various major and non-major enterprise funds
WHAT COULD CHANGE THE OUTLOOK TO STABLE
Improved and sustained balanced operations in the Performing Arts Fund
So, the two things the Mayor has touted so heavily in her years at the helm as her main contributions to the city: its Aaa bond rating may very well be negatively impacted by the other, Elizabeth’s performing arts center. But for all of this, what it comes down to is that she doesn’t run this town. She is simply one vote on a council of five but her short-term outlook which has driven so many poor decisions in the city are slowly creeping up on her and maybe, just maybe, will Run This Town Into the Ground.
Have you see the entirety of the Real Simple article? If so what did you think? Did you spit egg yolk all over your screen when you read it especially considering the real challenges the other mayors were facing when they took office? Did you love the fact that of the four mayors, only two submitted photos of themselves, one in a pantsuit and Mayor Kautz wearing an evening gown at the BPAC and pretending to be one of the few singers to ever appear on stage there? Are you at all concerned with Moody’s recent negative outlook and their note how the BPAC may drop the city’s bond rating? Whatever you have to say about this one go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.