A Tale of Two Trips, Part II
Steve And Sophie Kelley at Pizza Nea (Part Two)
When I lived in Dallas, I had a friend who had been to Naples to study architecture. He told me that the first time he went to a pizza restaurant in Naples, he was surprised that pizza in Naples is so much different than it is in Texas. He described to me a pizza made with a light sprinkling of cheese, olive oil and a pair of eggs. Instead of placing the pizza in a convection oven, the chef placed it on a hearth to bake. He told me that while he was hesitant to try it, the pie turned out to be delicious. When I saw “Pizza Con Uovo,” on the menu at Pizza Nea, I just had to try it.
When last I wrote about this fine meal with Steve and Sophie Kelley, I left off when the food arrived. In keeping with the Quiche Moraine spirit of using restaurants as the backdrop for good conversation, I would like to share some of what I learned during that meal about Steve and Sophie.
Steve reads science fiction, which I accept as a positive sign that he is truly interested in melding science and culture. I asked about his favorite writers, and the first name that he mentioned is Minneapolis resident Lois McMaster Bujold. Sophie is more interested in mystery novels. She talked about P.D. James and specifically the book The Children of Men. I would classify that as science fiction too, but such boundaries are not fixed.
While we ate, I made the faux pas of asking Steve a question just as he was about to take a bite to eat. When I realized that he was about to answer, I told him it was okay to wait until he had finished chewing and Sophie slyly reminded him to not talk with his mouth full. In the meantime, I talked to Sophie about her own background and history. As I mentioned before, Sophie has a background in banking and finance. She worked her way from bank teller to CEO of local banks and is currently seeking a new opportunity in that field.
I first met Steve and Sophie at their headquarters in the spring of 2006, while we were all getting ready for the caucuses. I had been watching his career and was impressed by the ways that he had used technology to improve public policy (more about that later). We were sitting and talking in a group, and one of the first things that struck me about him was that he wanted to talk to those of us who were volunteering as much as to his hired staff. I found this to be refreshing because in other campaigns, the candidate was “shielded” by his staff from the hoi polloi who were the “boots on the ground.” Steve talked to me, asked about my concerns and won my loyalty.
He didn’t win the nomination in 2006, but he delivered a knockout speech at the convention. I asked him whether he had any regrets over the outcome in that race and in the race for attorney general (which ended up with the party’s endorsement of current Attorney General Lori Swanson). He told me that he has no regrets, because he doesn’t think that way. He learned some lessons on how to approach this race, and we need to watch what he does differently. It is unfortunate that already he has been labeled as a “perennial” candidate after only one concerted effort at the governor’s race. He referred to Blois Olson’s governor’s race handicapping article at MinnPost. In my opinion, with the state DFL convention still more than a year away, it’s far too early to begin ranking the potential candidates.
At this point we should be looking both at what is at stake in 2010, and at what the candidates have done to show they can effectively lead this state out of the doldrums caused by a governor who has made a “No New Taxes” pledge the unmoving focal point of his administration.
Minnesota needs to be able to respond quickly to the emerging needs of our state’s deteriorating infrastructure. Education and science are important tools for knowing how to approach the problems. So, what has Steve Kelley done to demonstrate leadership in using science and technology?
As a legislator and state senator, he recognized early on that emergency services and their support staff need to have the means to communicate across agencies quickly and effectively in order to respond to disasters. Steve told me about the project to secure frequencies for emergency radio channels. New York police and fire department officials had publicly stated that after the attacks on the World Trade Center, rescue efforts were hampered by the lack of cross-departmental radio communications. Changes to this infrastructure were recommended in the 9/11 Commission report. Many states and municipalities today have not improved their first responder communication systems.
It took several years to cut through the red tape, but a local system was firmly in place in time to assist the numerous rescue, fire and police departments in Minneapolis, Hennepin County and the State of Minnesota to coordinate emergency response when the 35W bridge collapsed in 2007.
The other major piece of legislation that Kelley was able to work through and see made into law is the one he is most proud of creating. This is the medical “Adverse Event Reporting System.” Patient protection is enhanced by monitoring these issues, and the legislation has enabled sites such as this one at the Minnesota Department of Health. What Kelley found most notable is that other states and even the federal government are now using Minnesota’s program as a model for developing their own reporting and procedures.
For Minnesota’s future, Kelley has promoted innovative programs to creatively reward and support schools and teachers. He thinks that QComp’s incentive programs measure the wrong types of progress. Both he and Sophie deplore the idea that because of the increased reliance on standardized testing, teachers are finding that they have less room for creative learning that builds on “learning how to learn.”
At this point in the conversation, Sophie looked at her watch. It was getting late and she had to leave for another meeting. So Steve and I chatted a bit more about plans and politics, each of us saying just enough, and not too much, about our own thoughts about the future.
With two trips to Pizza Nea under my belt, I can give the restaurant a “thumbs up.” I’d do the same for Steve and Sophie Kelley, but that would give the appearance of a bias….
Pizza Nea is at 306 E. Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Neapolitan cuisine and a cozy atmosphere.
This entry was posted on Monday, May 4th, 2009 at 6:18 am and is filed under Food, Mike Haubrich, Politics, The Candidates. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.