Ward 11 Neighbors,
I thank you again for your ongoing engagement with me and with the City as we tackle some of the biggest challenges in modern memory. I hope this newsletter is a helpful continuation of this communication. You are always welcome to get in touch with me about issues that matter to you. If you have immediate questions about City services like garbage pick-up, potholes, parking violations, and more, please call 311 or use the online reporting tool for the most efficient service.
As we come up on the one-month anniversary of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis Police, it’s a good time for us to pause and reflect on where we stand in terms of public safety in our community. The violence of the past weekend shows us clearly that we need transformative change to ensure safety for everybody in every part of Minneapolis. Shooting deaths and injuries indicate the need for interventions to prevent gun violence. Police response alone can’t do that – I agree with MPD Chief Medaria Arradondo when he says this is a public health crisis that will require more than policing.
Our existing system is not working for anyone. A large majority of Ward 11 residents contacting me say they want a better public safety system. And even more commonly than that, I’m hearing from neighbors who say they don’t want their tax dollars funding a system that does not work. Together, we need to focus on what will actually keep neighborhoods safe. That is the conversation — based on data, community input, and ongoing analysis — I am committed to having. In fact, that is exactly the work outlined in a resolution that the City Council unanimously passed earlier this month.
Law enforcement requires the community’s trust and partnership, and it’s clear the MPD has lost that trust. While the MPD continues to respond to emergencies as we imagine a better future for public safety in our city, I am committed to doing everything I can to hold officers accountable for meeting the highest standard of public service and respect during this time of transition. I am limited by the City Charter, which grants sole operational oversight of the MPD to the Mayor and not the City Council, but I will not accept mistreatment of community members by officers.
I recognize the many, many neighbors who no longer feel safe calling the police as well as the folks who never felt safe doing so in the first place. I pledge to work in close partnership with our community, my elected colleagues, Chief Arradondo, and anyone else who wishes to contribute to this effort to build a more equitable, trustworthy, and just approach to public safety.
Proposed Charter Amendment
At this Friday’s City Council meeting, several of my colleagues are scheduled to introduce proposed ballot language that would amend the City Charter – which is essentially our constitution – to create a Department of Community Safety. Under their proposal, voters would be able to decide this November whether this is their preferred path forward for Minneapolis. In general, I am supportive of exploring a ballot measure so that voters can directly decide on this issue. But that won’t be the only time folks can offer their input. Before that, the proposed language would need to follow a Charter amendment process that includes a public hearing as well as consideration by the City’s appointed Charter Commission. There is much discussion to come on this important proposal.
Virtual Community Conversation – June 30
I will host another virtual Community Conversation on public safety next Tuesday, June 30 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. In keeping with guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic, this meeting will take place via Skype. All Ward 11 community members are welcome to join online or by phone to hear more about my vision and the work already underway to improve public safety in Minneapolis. In the interest of keeping this conversation as constructive and productive as possible, I will be taking questions via email and answering them on the call. If there are specific questions or public safety topics you would like to discuss, please share them with me via email at email@example.com. You can send them in advance of Wednesday’s event or during it. We’ll get through as many questions as we can during our time together. You will be able to access the meeting through this link or by calling 612-276-6670 and entering the passcode 302717218#.
A significant revenue shortfall due to COVID-19 economic fallout requires the City to pursue an unorthodox midyear budget process to trim costs this year. The City Council on Friday will consider formal administrative approval of a series of cost-containment measures including a hiring freeze and wage freeze, a pause on major planned purchases, and a 15% cut in contractual and professional services. At the same time, many City employees are considering taking voluntary unpaid leave to help stave off permanent layoffs. This slate of cost reductions would get us part of the way there, but we will have difficult decisions to make about further cuts in coming weeks.
Mayor Jacob Frey will brief the City Council on proposed cuts to this year’s budget on July 9 and staff will present their proposed revisions on July 10. Community members will be able to share feedback at a pair of virtual public hearings:
The City Council is scheduled to vote July 24 on the revised 2020 budget. I look forward to hearing from Ward 11 residents during opportunities for public engagement next month. Find more information about the City’s budget here.
Amid COVID-19, economic hardship, and a longstanding housing shortage, there are a number of encampments in Minneapolis – most notably in Powderhorn Park, where Park Board officials agreed to allow folks to stay for the near term.
The City continues to work with multijurisdictional partners, including Hennepin County and the state, to address unsheltered homelessness. The City is currently working with its government and outreach partners to ensure the health of folks living in the Powderhorn Park encampment, including by providing hand-washing stations as well as education on social distancing. I receive regular updates from City staff on their ongoing work. This week, they will convene partners to coordinate provision of health services at Powderhorn Park.
Partners continue to prioritize finding housing for as many folks as possible, as quickly as possible. Earlier in the pandemic, the City worked in coordination with Hennepin County to move high-risk folks from more crowded shelters to hotels. It’s critical we do the most we can with the limited resources we have. Staff are developing short-, medium-, and long-term solutions now, in partnership with various entities and community leaders (including folks who have experienced homelessness). We will not have an adequate solution until everyone in our community has safe, stable, affordable housing.
As we continue to see COVID-19 cases in Minneapolis, it remains important that everyone in Minneapolis abide by our emergency regulation requiring folks to wear cloth masks or face coverings when they are in an indoor place of public accommodation including retail shops and grocery stores. Data show COVID-19 may have a high rate of transmission through respiratory droplets, particularly indoors, and that wearing a mask can reduce the risk of community spread. People who do not show signs of the virus can still spread it to others.
Businesses are not required to provide masks to customers or employees, but employers are required to mandate the use of masks by their staff. To report noncompliance, call 311 or use the online reporting tool.
Finally, folks can help ensure everyone can stay safe by donating homemade masks. All Minneapolis fire stations accept masks every Monday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. for distribution to those most in need, including food shelves, congregate living facilities, small corner stores, and shelters. Please keep six feet between yourself and others when you drop off masks, and note that our fire stations are not equipped to take other donations at this time.
As a reflection of the ongoing crisis posed by COVID-19, Governor Tim Walz extended Minnesota’s peacetime emergency through July 13. This action extends protections for Minnesotans, including a prohibition on evictions and wage garnishment. To be clear, landlords are not allowed to evict tenants unless the tenant seriously endangers the safety of other residents or others on the premises. This means households will be able to remain sheltered in place during this peacetime emergency, a critical safeguard for families that protects our collective health and wellbeing. Tenants are still required to pay rent during the eviction moratorium.
By extending the peacetime emergency, the state continues its capability to procure personal protective equipment (PPE) on an expedited basis and allows for strategic reopening of businesses and other facilities in alignment with guidance from public health experts. Every other state in the country has declared a state of emergency allowing governors and other officials to quickly respond to rapidly evolving threats stemming from COVID-19. Read the executive order extending the peacetime emergency here.
Even though there is a temporary hold on evictions in Minnesota, rent is still due. Hennepin County continues to offer assistance to residents in need that can be used to cover this month’s rent or past-due rent from previous months. To qualify you must:
Priority will be given to households with the lowest incomes and those not eligible for unemployment insurance. Learn more and apply for assistance here. If you do not have internet access or cannot complete the form in English call 612-302-3160.
A new small business relief program signed into law last week is now accepting applications. Small businesses owned and operated by Minnesotans facing financial hardship due to COVID-19 can apply for grants worth $10,000 to support payroll expenses, rent or mortgage payments, utility bills, and other similar expenses. Find more information on the program and apply here. Submit your materials by 5 p.m. on Thursday, July 2 to be considered. A total of $60.3 million is available for grant awards. A randomized, computer-generated lottery will be used to select businesses statewide to receive grants.
Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) recently adjusted its summer schedule for food box pick-up – including opening new sites and closing sites located near others – and continues to offer Minneapolis families a free food box each week for each child age 18 and younger. Boxes include fresh produce and items for seven breakfasts and seven lunches that meet the district’s nutrition guidelines. All children, not just MPS students, are eligible for free boxes. Find more information on the program, including the latest pick-up locations and schedule details, here.
In addition, families with children who received free or reduced-price school meals in the 2019-2020 school year are eligible for a one-time $325 payment to help offset food costs through the Pandemic Emergency Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program. Families who were receiving assistance through the state’s SNAP and/or MFIP programs should have received this payment in late May, but families who were not already receiving SNAP or MFIP benefits as of March 18 must complete this application by next Tuesday, June 30. Children may continue to receive prepacked food boxes from MPS and food from other community locations even if they receive P-EBT benefits.
Starting at 10 p.m. tonight – Tuesday, June 23 – the ramp from 46th Street onto northbound 35W will close through September 2021 to accommodate the 35W reconstruction project. Minneapolis Public Works staff continues to be in frequent contact with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), which is responsible for this project, to ensure everything possible is done to limit disruptions to Minneapolis residents and businesses. The City was able to advocate for much more limited closures than initially planned for the southbound ramp at 46th Street by helping to reconfigure project plans to preserve access. Unfortunately, on the northbound side, similar accommodates are not possible because the northbound ramp will lead directly into construction and there is no room for drivers to safely merge onto the highway. This will be challenging, but overall it’s encouraging that MnDOT crews – with the support of our Public Works staff – have been able to move more quickly through many aspects of this project than initially expected. I am hopeful that they’ll be able to be as efficient as possible with this work too, recognizing the impact to our community.
Any questions or input about the 35W reconstruction project can be directed to MnDOT project staff at firstname.lastname@example.org or 612-284-6125. You can find more information on MnDOT’s project website as well.
Many residents have grown to rely on the Minneapolis Animal Care and Control (MACC)’s annual vaccination clinics. Due to COVID-19, MACC was unable to hold two clinics this spring and has heard from pet owners about difficulties in getting their animals vaccinated at private clinics following closures and lack of appointments. Beginning the week of July 6, MACC will implement a new pilot program to provide clinic services by appointment only at the Minneapolis Animal Shelter (212 17 Ave N).
This service is open to Minneapolis residents only. Folks will need to show or purchase a current pet license. MACC will offer the following services:
Appointments are available Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. In order to maintain the health and safety of our staff and residents by ensuring social distancing, MACC cannot accommodate unscheduled appointments. Residents can sign up for services here or by calling 311. Getting animals vaccinated is an important public health and safety service, and MACC is doing its part to help the community during these difficult times.
The Minnesota Department of Education wants to hear from families about their distance learning experience this spring to help state officials plan for the 2020-21 school year. You can share your input and suggestions through this survey. The Department of Education continues to partner with the Minnesota Department of Health to address the COVID-19 pandemic and determine how to keep students, families, and staff healthy. So far, state agencies have imagined three possible scenarios for school this fall: in-person learning for all students, hybrid learning with strict social distancing and capacity limits, and distance learning only. Learn more about the state’s ongoing work here. State officials expect to announce a decision on how schools can operate in the coming school year by the week of July 27. This is not a City decision. To stay in the loop, you can sign up for email updates related to schools and the state’s COVID-19 response.
The Park Board announced plans to expand lifeguard staffing from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday at the three most-visited beaches in the park system, including Lake Nokomis Main Beach along with Bde Maka Ska Thomas Beach and Wirth Lake Beach. The Park Board plans to hire additional lifeguards to offer daily service by Thursday, July 7 at Lake Nokomis Main Beach and several others. Learn more about these revised safety plans here. All beach visitors are encouraged to social distance and bring a water bottle as well as hand sanitizer.
Earlier, the Park Board had announced beaches would not have lifeguards this summer as part of changes made due to COVID-19. The pandemic impacted the hiring process and training for lifeguards. To address the need for lifeguards while recognizing hiring challenges, the Park Board now plans to hire lifeguards previously employed in our park system who are already certified and provide them in-person training over the coming weeks.
I’m pleased to see such an outpouring of interest in City policymaking processes, and I invite you to stay in the loop about meetings, public hearings, and more. The City’s Legislative Information Management System – or LIMS for short – includes a searchable database and calendar with up-to-date City Council agendas, official actions, and more. It’s also a great resource to find out about upcoming public hearings and public meetings related to the City Council and the City’s many appointed boards and commissions. If you’re interested in City business, I encourage you to keep an eye on LIMS and subscribe to email updates on committees and topics that interest you.
You can tune into City Council meetings (and select others) live via City Council TV, or they are also broadcast on Comcast channels 14 and 799 and CenturyLink channels 8001 or 8501. Access archived broadcast recordings for on-demand replays via the City’s YouTube page
Wash your hands and cover your face!
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Para asistencia 612-673-2700, Yog xav tau kev pab, hu 612-673-2800, Hadii aad Caawimaad u baahantahay 612-673-3500.