The short goodbye: Lane exits council early

Barret Lane, the city's 13th Ward council member, is vacating his seat early. Lane, who sometimes appeared cranky and impatient in the council chambers, did not seek re-election.

Just minutes ago, he offered some brief farewell comments that revealed some rare traits in a politician: a public servant with humility and integrity.

"It's been an interesting and engaging experience," said Lane, who filled the seat left by Steve Minn six years ago, addressing his fellow council members. "We didn't always agree--nobody should always agree on everything. But we always moved forward."

Lane, who is a budget hawk, has been hugely instrumental in navigating the city out of a fiscal crisis the last four years. His financial acumen was such that many council members, city staffers and even the mayor often relied on him to right wrongs in the city's budget.

"Barret Lane had a grasp of matters financial so important to this council," said outgoing Sixth Ward council member Dean Zimmermann, who may be Lane's ideological opposite. "If there was a budget issue, the question I would always ask is 'Is this okay with Barret?' If it was okay with Barret, it was okay with me."

It's generally thought around City Hall that Lane simply wants to make the transition to his successor, Betsy Hodges, as smooth as possible. Coming in a month early can help a new council member get his or her office in order and generally start learning the ropes right away.

The council chambers were full and included Lane's wife, mother, mother-in-law, and two young sons who flanked him on either side. The council unanimously voted to accept Lane's letter of resignation. (Hodges was sworn in immediately afterward; all elected city officials will be sworn in next month.)

"I want to thank the people of the 13th Ward for allowing me this opportunity," Lane concluded sincerely, before turning back to his council members. "Do good work, and take care of my city."

His former colleagues responded in kind by giving Lane a standing ovation.

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