City of Duluth human rights officer to step down

By Phil Jents
Bob Grytdahl, the longest serving human rights officer in the State of Minnesota, is stepping down from his role as the City of Duluth Human Rights Officer.

“It has been my honor to serve in this capacity for over 10 years. I’ve done it wholeheartedly and with deep commitment,” said Grytdahl. “This work has been incredibly rewarding, at times extremely challenging, and I will miss it. At the same time, I feel it’s the right time to step aside and allow new leadership to emerge. Duluth is ready for the next chapter in this regard, and so am I.”

Grytdahl’s last day will be March 12.

Following a 30-year career within the Duluth Police Department, Grytdahl was hired under Mayor Herb Bergson to be the Human Rights Officer for the City of Duluth to further advance the tenants of the Human Rights Ordinance as laid out in City Code.

In addition to staffing the Civilian Review Board, Commission on Disabilities and the Human Rights Commission, Grytdahl has fostered positive working relationships through the community, served as the City’s Equal Opportunity Officer, provided resources to city employees, actively promoted the value of racial equity and worked hard to engage the community across neighborhoods, incomes, race, ethnicity and gender to advance the human rights of people living in Duluth.

“Rest assured, that while I may be stepping down, I’m not stepping out. I remain committed to these values and the tenants of equity, and remain a resource to the community and to whomever follows me in this role,” Grytdahl said. “I have confidence that Mayor Larson and the Duluth City Council will find a strong and capable leader who will grow this work in new ways.”

In response to Grytdahl’s resignation, Duluth Mayor Emily Larson thanked him for his long service.

“Bob’s work, advocacy, leadership and relationship building has been critical to ensuring the voices of all Duluthians are heard,” said Larson. “He leaves a long standing legacy of engagement and while he will certainly be missed, he has laid a strong foundation for this important work to continue.”

Larson campaigned on a message of building on Duluth’s existing momentum and strong foundations while ensuring that all neighborhoods, and all neighbors, benefit.

“As I build a team I’ll be looking to accelerate our efforts to ensure fairness across income, neighborhood and race,” said Larson. “The Human Rights Officer is absolutely critical to this work, and Bob’s decision creates an opportunity for a new person and energy to carry our vision forward. It speaks volumes about Bob as a person of integrity, a real collaborator and a true leader.

“Moving forward, the human rights officer will report directly to the mayor, and their leadership will be embedded cross-departmentally into the broader work of the city organization. We’ll announce the posting for human rights officer on or around March 1. That hiring process will be done in partnership with the City Council and, as specified in City Code, in consultation with representatives of the Human Rights Commission. But for now, we honor and thank Bob and his dedicated service to the residents and City of Duluth.”

Howie: Former councilor says ‘Ness will be remembered as the most outstanding leader Duluth has known in several generations’

Howie (2)

Duluth Mayor Don Ness. Howie /
Duluth Mayor Don Ness. Howie /
Former Duluth City Councilor David Wheeler on Don Ness’ accomplishments in his first seven-plus years as mayor: “Unlike most elected officials Mayor Ness did not play games with the public. He faced long-ignored problems, brought all the players to the table, and solved the major issues. Don’s energy, compassion, vision and ethics have transformed Duluth. He will be remembered as the most outstanding leader Duluth has known in several generations. And on top that Don Ness was been a wonderful husband and parent. All I can say is, ‘Thank you Donny!'”

arrow What’s Herb Bergson up to these days?

“I live in Madison, Howie,” the former Superior and Duluth mayor wrote in a Facebook private message, at my request. “I am engaged to a young lady who is originally from Superior. She used to wait on me when I was a young cop at the King’s Inn in Superior. We met again five years ago on Facebook. She owns a women’s clothing store on State Street here. We get up (to Superior) often to see her father and sister, and my family as well. My son still lives there, as do my mom and aunt. I don’t break up bar fights or create budgets, I sell cocktail dresses and formals. I am very happy.”

Emily Hanson / For The Howie Blog
Emily Hanson / For The Howie Blog
Our 22-year-old daughter, Emily, is studying in Ireland and eMailed a photo she snapped of the historic Eiffel Tower on Monday. She’s in Paris and will visit Rome on Wednesday through Saturday while on spring break. Emily is a talented writer and photographer (Nikon and Nikkor glass, of course!)

arrow Prediction: Top-seeded Hermantown (25-2-1) and No. 2 seed Mahtomedi (24-2-2) will play for the Minnesota Class 1A high school boys hockey championship at noon Saturday at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Unranked Duluth East (14-10-4), a major underdog in Class 2A, will seek to upset third-seeded St. Thomas Academy (24-4) in a Thursday quarterfinal.

arrow Friends & Neighbors: Fred Friedman and Claudie Washington are new board members at Woodland Hills.

Woodland Hills Board officers are Chairperson Phil Strom, Vice Chairperson Ann Glumac and Treasurer Mark Schober. Board directors include Karen Anderson, Xavier Bell, Laura Budd, Dean Casperson, George Goldfarb, Dr. Bill Himango, Sandy Hoff, Peg Johnson, Leanne Joynes, Dave Kohlhaas, Doug Lewis, Gerald Martin, Peter Pichetti, Zach Walters and Natalie Zeleznikar.

Laughlin. St. Scholastica Athletics
Laughlin. St. Scholastica Athletics
arrow Saints Baseball Notebook: Saints junior guard Andrew Laughlin today was named to the All-Upper Midwest Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Second Team. He averaged 13.7 points and 6.7 rebounds per game in conference play. Laughlin was also named to the conference’s All-Defensive Team. St. Scholastica’s Jake Naslund, who averaged 11.7 points per game in the conference, was an honorable mention All-UMAC selection.

arrow Take a Bow: The Duluth Police Department will swear in new officers at a ceremony Thursday at 3 p.m. at the Public Safety Building located at 2030 North Arlington Avenue in Duluth.

arrow On Campus: St. Scholastica will launch men’s and women’s varsity golf programs beginning in the fall of 2015. The Saints will complete in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference, and a national search for a head coach is underway.


You’re Superior: Yellowjackets senior guard Sally Linzmeier has been named a top-10 finalist for the 2015 Jostens Trophy, which is awarded to an outstanding NCAA Division III men’s and women’s basketball player who excels on the court, in the classroom and in the community.

“I’m sure this is the first of several honors to come Sally’s way as the season has come to a close, and I tell you that she deserves every one of them,” Wisconsin-Superior Coach Don Mulhern said in a prepared statement. “She had a tremendous career here at UW-Superior, both on the court and off of it, and to be a finalist for the Jostens Trophy speaks to that. She is a very well-rounded individual and is on the path to do great things after she graduates from here.”

arrow City of Duluth Press Release: The City of Duluth Parks and Recreation division, the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center and AMSOIL Arena are hosting the final in a series of skating parties at the AMSOIL Arena on Sunday, March 8, 2015 from 3-5 PM. The skating event is free to the public though participants should bring their own ice skates. There will be music and fun activities.

Children under the age of 10 must be accompanied by an adult. Helmets are strongly recommended for children under 18. Hockey sticks, pucks, and chairs will not be allowed on the ice.

Note: This blog is updated several times throughout the day, with exclusively hyper-local news nuggets.