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RIVER LIFE

Paul Labovitz, River Champion, to move to Indiana Dunes Park

There are obviously a LOT of people who care deeply about the Mississippi River, and in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, Paul Labovitz may be the biggest champion the river has.  Labovitz, superintendent at the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (MISS) since 2007, leaves in mid-May to take a similar position at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.  All of us who work on or with the river will miss him.

Dennis Anderson of the Minneapolis Star Tribune wrote a recent appreciation of Labovitz’ time at the helm of MISS, and, really, it’s a little hard to remember what the park was like before he came.  It was a lot quieter, for sure, both in terms of how meetings were conducted and the visibility that the park had within the Twin Cities region.

One of the many great things about Paul was that you always knew where he stood on an issue.  Coming from a native Philadelphian, or “from out East” as they say around here, that tendency could make some people nervous.  One of the earliest public task force meetings for the process that developed St. Paul’s Great River Passage plan was proceeding in a routine, decorous manner, until Labovitz got the floor.  “What I want to know,” he said, “is what the City of St. Paul intends to do to demonstrate its worthiness of being on one of the world’s greatest rivers.”  Well now!

Another time, Paul and I were part of a much smaller gathering, a meeting of two or three partner organizations, maybe six or eight people in the room.  I had been taking issue with some of Paul’s staff people over the past week or so, which I thought (and still think) is part of my responsibility as a university staff member.  Paul is nothing if not loyal to his team.  There were two people named Pat in this meeting, and when I voiced the question of how we would be able to tell the Pats apart, he looked over at me, “That’s easy.  You’re Bad Pat.”

Bad Pat.  A point of honor.  Thanks, Paul, for that and for the work you have done with us over the years.

 

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One Comment

  1. Paul LabovitzJune 2, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    Change that to not so bad Pat…..
    I’m humbled by this and miss the Mississippi River…

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