The work of a public servant is never done. Late-night meetings, early-morning phone calls, and plenty of interruptions in between mean you're never truly off the clock.
But three longtime Rochester elected officials will be punching out for the very last time at the end of this month, and they deserve our acknowledgement, thanks and respect.
Randy Staver is best known for his seven years as the city council president, but his civic involvement dates back almost to the time he was a student at Mayo High School, class of '75.
Staver served on enough boards to build a good-sized retirement home: the Minnesota Board on Judicial Standards, Olmsted Planning Advisory Commission, Rochester Downtown Alliance, Charter Commission, Sheriff’s Civil Service Commission, Ethical Practices Board and Rochester Planning and Zoning Commission, among others.
Michael Wojcik and Mark Bilderback were elected together in 2008 to represent Ward 2 and Ward 4, respectively.
Wojcik, with his background as an engineer holding an MBA in finance, took an analytical approach to issues involving land development, transportation and general governance. His personal style may have rubbed some people the wrong way, but there was no mistaking his intent to serve his constituents to the best of his ability.
Bilderback graduated from Mayo High School one year after Staver, and his roots here run similarly deep. He represented neighborhoods with a passion, and his list of community activities rivals Staver's. Ever a sunny presence in the room, ask him how he's doing and the response always is, "Just about perfect."
They, and one-term member Annalissa Johnson (Ward 6), are off to do other things with their lives, after giving so much of their time for the betterment of ours. Thumbs up to all four for serving us faithfully and well.
Slow your roll
One of the final actions of the outgoing council was to compromise on a new, citywide speed limit. City staff initially proposed a 20 mph speed limit for residential streets unless otherwise marked. But the council compromised to set the limit at 25, and gave the city engineer authority to set limits on new or reconstructed streets.
The change comes after the Legislature authorized cities to establish plans for setting their own speed limits, rather than following statewide limits. So, motorists should no longer assume the speed limit on a residential street is the same from Austin to Zumbrota.
But, in the long run, the change should make Rochester's streets safer.
Lap off limits
In a year when annual traditions are disappearing faster than sugar cookies, the banning of visits to Santa Claus seemed like another lump of coal on a growing pile.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines say visits with Santa should be virtual or outdoors with masks and 6 feet of distance between the jolly old elf and the child pleading his or her case to be on the Nice List. But it seems not everyone is following the guidelines to the letter.
On Dec. 10, about 50 youngsters were exposed to the coronavirus following a Christmas parade in Georgia. Four days after the event, both Santa and Mrs. Claus tested positive for the virus. Neither was feeling symptoms before the event. Some said Santa was not always following protocol during his visits with children after the parade. The children are now in quarantine.
Bad Santa. Thumbs down.