Two city leaders saluted in send-off
Alexandria city employees, friends, families and well-wishers gave a festive send-off to City Administrator Jim Taddei and Liquor Store Manager Carol Lanigan last Friday.
City Planner Mike Weber told a story that offered insights into Taddei’s take on city government:
Years ago, Taddei and Mayor Dororthy Kobs were talking to fourth-graders about what makes a community and they drew a picture on the chalkboard, using the kids’ suggestions. Before long, the board was filled with roads, a church, stores, cars, sewer lines and other things.
But then Taddei asked the kids if they knew what was missing. When they were stumped for an answer he filled them in: People.“Jim knew that if you take all this stuff – the roads, the buildings and everything else – and you don’t have people in mind, you don’t have a community,” Weber said.
Mayor Sara Carlson noted that Taddei served under seven different mayors.
“His shoes will be hard to fill,” Carlson said. “Jim Taddei’s name is synonymous with city hall.”
Carlson added that seeing the council chambers filled with so many people for the send-off shows the difference Taddei and Lanigan made in the community.
Assistant City Administrator Marty Schultz, who would later be promoted to Taddei’s spot, said that both Taddei and Lanigan “left the city better than they found it.”
Weber noted that through Lanigan’s management skills, the city was able to transfer between $200,000 and $400,000 in profits into the city’s general fund every year, saving taxpayers millions of dollars.
City Assessor Reed Heidelberger said that Taddei helped make Alexandria a better place to work and a fun place to be. He described him as an intelligent hard worker and an excellent manager who understood the personal side of his employees.
Several others gave brief speeches of support to Taddei and Lanigan, including council member Owen Miller; Ken Tessmer, chair of the planning commission who was involved in first hiring Taddei; former Mayor John Perino, who joked that Taddei had “long, flowing black hair” when he was elected in 2000; former Mayor Paul Nelson, who pointed out Taddei’s grant-writing abilities; former Mayor Dan Ness, who said that Taddei helped him understand city government and was always willing to go the extra mile; and Douglas County Commissioner Dan Olson who thanked Taddei for communicating with the county.
Taddei tried to distance himself from all the praise by telling a story from the 1980s when he was talking with the police chief at the time, George McKay. The chief was giving him a hard time about bicycling on the sidewalks downtown, which was against the law.
Taddei said he joked that maybe the city should put a separate bike path next to the sidewalks on Broadway, which drew a big laugh between the two over how ridiculous that idea would be.
Now, next summer, the Minnesota Department of Transportation is working with the city on a big reconstruction project on Broadway that includes installing a bike path.
“That’s how visionary I am,” said Taddei.