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Is Betsy Hodges One of America’s Worst Mayors?

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Writing in the Observer, Arick Wierson rates the three worst mayors in the U.S. Wierson ranks the mayor of Minneapolis, Betsy Hodges, second-worst. Hodges is in rarefied company: #3 on the list is Rahm Emanuel, and #1 is Bill de Blasio.

Why does Wierson think Hodges is such a terrible mayor?

She has taken a weak stance on crime that appears to be based as much on wishful thinking as it is on strategy and tactics. While violent crime in the city continues to climb, Hodges has actually bragged about making fewer arrests. Her mishandling of the Jamar Clark protests, which led to an 18-day stand-off between police and protestors in North Minneapolis, led the US Department of Justice to conclude that “…the apparent strained relationship between Mayor Hodges and [Police] Chief Harteau, and the mayor’s unfamiliarity with the implications of the terminology she used when in charge, likely contributed to the inconsistent direction given to MPD personnel and the resulting frustration among officers over poor communication and inconsistent, uncoordinated leadership.”

Crime is a serious and growing problem in Minneapolis, as everyone who lives in the city knows. Mayor Hodges is not the only city official who has been reluctant to acknowledge the problem, let alone do much about it.

She has been the point-person on several expensive, never-ending, and unimaginative urban reconstruction projects that have disrupted small businesses and local transportation. Gross mismanagement of public works (a simple downtown pedestrian mall “makeover” under Hodge’s stewardship has taken longer to complete than the new state-of-the-art home of the Minnesota Vikings) has been a hallmark of her mayoralty.

True. But indifference to infrastructure is just one aspect of Minneapolis city government’s indifference–if not outright hostility–to business.

And when a group of Minnesota businessman got the green light for a Major League Soccer expansion team, Hodges wouldn’t even meet with the new owners to discuss a stadium; they went next door to St. Paul where Mayor Chris Coleman welcomed them and their revenue base with open arms.
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Jobs and employment are the lynchpins of any healthy city, and Hodges’ ideas have scared the business community—particularly small business owners.

We hear this from business owners in Minneapolis all the time.

Her proposal to raise property taxes—even though the [City of] Minneapolis sits on hundreds of millions of dollars worth of tax-payer owned vacant lots and condemned buildings—may be good politics for galvanizing her supporters on the far-left, but it has made her the bête noir among the city’s middle class.

Minneapolis’s property taxes are already extraordinarily, almost unbelievably high. The idea of raising them even higher suggests a disconnection from reality.

Is Betsy Hodges one of America’s three worst mayors? I don’t know; the competition is pretty stiff. Minneapolis’s civic leadership as a whole is ridiculously far left. The results are predictable: as Catrin Thorman wrote on this site, left-wing policies have caused the Mini Apple to be a bad apple.

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