Minneapolis mayor Betsy Hodges was unmoved after being named America's second worst city mayor by a New York news website, brushing it off as a partisan attack.
The New York Observer criticized Hodges for "serious problems of her own making," calling her soft on crime and accusing her of the "gross mismanagement of public works." Hodges' colleagues in the top three are New York mayor Bill de Blasio and Chicago's Rahm Emanuel.
In a response on Thursday, Hodges points out that the Observer is owned by the Kushner family, and was run by Jared Kushner until January – when he took up a position with his father-in-law, President Donald Trump. The Observer endorsed Trump during the primary process last year, but didn't endorse anyone as a candidate. In 2012 it endorsed Republican Mitt Romney, and in 2008, Democrat Barack Obama.
The article was published the day after Hodges gave a special mayoral address called "One Minneapolis in the Time of Trump," in which she said her administration would stand up to any government attacks targeting vulnerable people, people with disabilities, women, or the LGBTQ and immigrant communities.
In her response to the Observer article, Hodges commented:
“Well, I got Trump’s attention. Last night I gave a speech about how we as a city can come together in the face of Trump’s attacks on our communities and our democracy, and his agenda of suppressing free speech and dissent. Twelve hours later, the paper that Jared Kushner’s family owns – that Jared himself ran until 88 days ago – named me one of the worst mayors in the country. Imagine that. When Trump’s cronies are the people attacking you, you know you’ve done something right."
She goes on to describe the article as a "recitation of every right-wing attack on progressive cities across the country," noting she is joining her fellow progressive mayors in defending access to affordable healthcare, protecting the First Amendment and "supporting our vibrant immigrant communities."
The Observer's arguments
So what are the Observer's arguments against Hodges?
It does say the mayor "appears to want to better her city," but mentions the her handling of the Jamar Clark protests as a specific issue. Both Hodges' office and the Minneapolis Police Department were criticized in a recent Department of Justice review, that found ineffective communication hindered the city's response to the 4th Precinct Demonstrations.
Hodges' at-times strained relationship with Minneapolis police chief Janeé Harteau is also cited, which was something mentioned in the DOJ report as well.
The Observer accuses Hodges of being the point-person on several "expensive, never-ending and unimaginative urban reconstruction projects that have disrupted small businesses and local transportation," mentioning the Nicollet Mall revamp.
The Observer says that project "has taken longer to complete" than the Vikings Stadium. This isn't strictly true though – the Vikings Stadium broke ground in December 2013 and opened in August 2016. The Nicollet Mall project started in April 2015 and is slated to be completed in November this year.
But at the same time as criticizing for taking on expensive projects, it somewhat contradictorily criticizes her for snubbing Minnesota United's plans to build a privately-funded soccer stadium, with the MLS club heading to St. Paul instead. The newspaper says the club was "welcomed with open arms by Mayor Chris Coleman."
Hodges will fight for re-election as mayor this year. City council member Jacob Frey, state Rep. Raymond Dehn, civil rights activist and attorney Nekima Levy-Pounds and former Hennepin Theatre Trust President Tom Hoch are among her main opponents.