Happy 2012 to all! Okay, that's probably enough of that. We no doubt got plenty of those greetings over the last week so the bloom is off that lily - time to roll up our sleeves. I'm not much of a grappler myself, but I do tend to view January as a time to size up that big lug standing across the mat. Where do you start with him? Where to get a purchase so you can get some early points and force him to play catch-up for the rest of the match/year? Where do I concentrate my energy and when can I let my guard down without risking the dreaded flying scissors take-down?

One thing I'm pretty sure of and that is that this is no year to sit back and let the year come to you. Too much at stake for our city, state, country and world. If there was a time we could trust reason and truth to win out, that time is not now. So put on your singlets and let's get ready to rumble.

Our city council members put on their inaugural singlets this morning at the Ordway for their swearing in ceremony. It was a very nice event with short but welcoming speeches from Mayor Coleman and council Pres. Lantry. Our two newest members have strong ties to St. Anthony Park. Amy Brandmoen from Ward 5 has been working in the neighborhood at Children's Home Society for the past few years and Chris Tolbert of Ward 3 is the nephew of Mike Christenson, the soon to be former Mpls PED czar and recently appointed Asst VP of Workforce Development for MCTC (that's gotta be a long business card). Both council newcomers should bring fresh energy at a time when St. Paul needs all it can get to complete light rail and leverage that enormous asset to grow its economy. My one word of advice for the new councilmembers (or any elected official) is to get to know your constituent groups - all of them. Building community is the most important thing we can do right now and that's about pressing the flesh, listening and forming relationships. 

In my humble (okay, not always) opinion, it's time to start doing some serious promoting of the positives light rail will bring to the city while taking meaningful steps to minimize the negatives of construction. Up to this point it seems the city has been in a reactive mode - it needs to go proactive in a BIG way. The lessons learned in Lowertown and the Creative Enterprise Zone/West End should not go unheeded as the circus moves on down the corridor. The mayor and city council need to find the next gear to sell the process, address stakeholder concerns and put a big bow on the whole thing. Best to all our city councilmembers and the mayor, the game is on starting now and there's no time to lose.

It's a little early to report on much in the new year, but following my perspectives on the city, here are the agendas for the the community in the coming year.

D12 - starts the year where it left off in 2011, implementing plans. That means more work on the CEZ (especially parking,) West Midway Zoning and West Quadrant Transportation studies, and the Como 2030 Plan. All will play significant roles in shaping our community for the next few decades and beyond. If you'd like to be a part of those conversations, by all means keep in touch with the D12 website...The Mayor overruled the council by greenlighting the public funding for the Penfield Project. Some councilmembers including Russ Stark had serious concerns about devoting a big chunk of public money to financing the luxury condo project/Lunds grocery and exposing the public to financial risk. It will certainly mean less development money for other areas, but the Mayor looks at it as a "catalytic" necessity to spur development in the downtown along light rail.  

Schools - New District Plan, say no more. The elementary schools will be negotiating their switch to K-5 and Murray will be figuring out the addition of 6th. Como will be prepping for a new demographic of more local students. Sidebar: our Superintendent Silva spent her holiday helping out on education issues in her native Chile, where she was recently named one of that country's top 100 women leaders.

listserv - First notice for the Progressive Dinner appeared this week. Jane Leonard is undertaking the promotion this time around, but past hospitality masters, Fariba Sanikhatam and Karen Kistler will still be involved in some capacity, I'm sure. By all means, sign up, it's always fun and you'll get to meet some very interesting neighbors, guaranteed...light rail construction is basically stopped for the winter in our neighborhood, no excuse for avoiding our retailers and businesses in that area. My reports from the retailers in the north were fairly positive, I know the Colossal Cafe felt very welcomed. Stop in to all our merchants and buy local! 

StAPnotes - Nice photo and article in the Strib today about the St. Anthony Park Area Seniors exercise program...Music in the Park Series has announced its family series, partly funded by the Foundation. Click on this link to find out more. There also might be a few tickets left for this Sunday's concert by the talented piano/cello/clarinet trio of Goldstein/Peled/Fiterstein...JOTP is bringing 365play to its SSA rec center HQ, sounds like an opportunity to wear out your kids in a safe and productive way. Check their website for more info on that and the futsol tourney in February...SSA resident, Joe Spencer, was named the "king of cool" by a couple media outlets for his work as Arts czar for the city. Joe figures that title designation actually ends any "coolness" he may have earned through his role in bringing some very fun restaurants and music events to this side of the river...make sure to recycle your holiday lights at Speedy Market. There's a bin right inside the front door.

That's all for now. Take care of yourself and be a good neighbor. And when the snow comes, shovel it off your sidewalks. Not only is it the law, but it's the only way some of our neighbors can get their essentials.