By Pat Doyle
A statement Friday from Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said a Star Tribune story on concerns about the city not scheduling a public hearing on the planned Southwest Corridor light rail contained “a serious misrepresentation.”
Hodges said her spokeswoman Kate Brickman wasn’t speaking on the record when she answered questions about whether street cars could become part of negotiations for Minneapolis consent to the Southwest project.
“Brickman made the point that there were a lot of crazy rumors out there about what’s happening at the mediation table, but that they are just rumors and we shouldn’t respond to them or treat them as valid,” Hodges wrote.
The interview between the Star Tribune and Brickman was on the record. She did not dismiss rumors about street cars. An excerpt of the interview follows:
Star Tribune: “Heard that the mayor is interested in streetcars as part of the deal. Is that right?”
Brickman: "The mayor has always been interested in streetcars, but as part of the deal, not to my knowledge."
Star Tribune: “Is that something you can check on?”
Brickman repeats the original question about whether streetcars might be part of the deal.
Brickman: "We had heard rumors of the Met Council wanting to use streetcars as a bargaining chip. But we just want to find a deal on Southwest LRT."
Star Tribune: “You mean that the Met Council had offered streetcars as a possibility as a bargaining chip?”
Brickman: "No, that they had threatened to pull, to not support it down the road, if we couldn't find an agreement."
Star Tribune: “Who'd you hear those rumors from?”
Brickman: "That's just kind of been part of the ongoing dialogue all along."
Star Tribune: “Right now they don't really have streetcars on the table, do they?”
Brickman: "No, but Mayor Hodges has always talked about streetcars as one of her big initiatives. Something that she's interested in. So it's no secret to anyone that she's a big transit supporter, and she's a big transit supporter as kind of a large package of LRT, streetcars, bus rapid, etc."
In a follow-up e-mail exchange, Brickman later declined to comment on whether Hodges has made streetcars a condition of her support for city consent on Southwest Corridor light rail.