Ward 11 update from Jeremy Schroeder

Ward 11 Neighbors,

Below you’ll find the latest updates on key issues like COVID-19, public safety, and more. As always, you are always welcome to get in touch with me directly 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 these online reporting tools for the most efficient service.

Apply for Your Mail-In Ballot Today!

Though polling locations will be open for the primary and general elections, COVID-19 is still a serious health threat and I continue to encourage you to vote early by mail to minimize person-to-person contact at polling places. All Minnesota voters can request mail-in ballots without giving a reason for the Aug. 11 primary and the Nov. 3 general election. To make sure you have enough time to receive your ballot and vote, the City’s Elections & Voter Services team recommends applying for your mail-in ballot at least 10 days before Election Day. We are just 14 days away from the primary, so take a few minutes and request your ballot today! So far, more than 2,000 Ward 11 voters have cast primary ballots by mail – let’s see if we can get that number even higher.

Your mail-in ballot comes with a postage-paid envelope to return it plus an I Voted sticker. For the primary, your ballot will count as long as it is postmarked on or before Election Day (Aug. 11) and is received in the mail no later than two days after Election Day (by Aug. 13). Nationally, there are reports of slower-than-usual mail delivery. To be on the safe side, send your ballot in as soon as possible. You can also return your ballot in person to the City’s Early Vote Center (980 E Hennepin Ave) or Hennepin County Government Center (300 S 6th St) by 3 p.m. on Aug. 11.

Get more information on voting by mail here.

City Council Adopts Revised 2020 Budget

On Friday, the City Council completed its revisions to the 2020 budget after the COVID-19 pandemic caused a $156 million revenue shortfall. My colleagues and I made a series of changes to the budget that will help keep the City fiscally sound as we continue to weather the COVID-19 crisis with limited federal assistance. These were tough but necessary choices. I take very seriously my responsibility to spend your tax dollars efficiently and to the benefit of our community. I’m grateful to community members who shared their perspective at multiple public hearings, via email, at my virtual community meetings, and in phone conversations.

The City Council started its COVID-19 budget revisions earlier this year by approving a hiring freeze – which we extended Friday through the end of this year – and wage freeze, as well as a pause on major planned purchases and a 15% reduction in contractual and professional services. In addition, many City employees agreed to take voluntary unpaid leave to help prevent permanent layoffs. Certain City workers will likely be required to take unpaid leave going forward, again to help prevent permanent cuts. These are big changes, but unfortunately only solved part of our even bigger budget problem.

To further close the gap, the Council on Friday finalized additional changes that you can find in full here. This came after Mayor Frey proposed his revisions earlier this month, some of which the City Council also approved. Our budget amendments prioritize funding for programs and initiatives that benefit the community by, for the most part, moving funding from programs and initiatives that can survive with less – many times due to impacts of COVID-19 – or were redundant within the City enterprise. There were a number of these duplicated efforts within the Minneapolis Police Department.

I would like to highlight the budget amendment that I co-authored alongside Council Member Steve Fletcher that eliminates redundancies in our communications processes. The amendment shifts personnel from a separate, independent MPD public information office to the existing City Communications Department. There will still be an employee whose job is providing timely, accurate information on public safety issues. The reality is, we need this change. We saw glaring problems with the status quo most recently when the official news release describing George Floyd’s death did not match what the world saw on video. The Star Tribune called the MPD news release “troubling misinformation.” We’ve caught discrepancies like this before. Rebuilding our public safety communications process is vital to rebuilding community trust in general. As we create this new system, accuracy, transparency, and accessibility are paramount – and my standards for all three will be high. That’s what the public is entitled to.

The City Council also approved an investment of $1.1 million in efforts within our Office of Violence Prevention, including proven models like Cure Violence. There has been some confusion about whether we are supporting armed community patrols, which is not the case.

Our process to build the 2021 budget will begin soon, in mid-August, when Mayor Frey outlines his proposed budget. This will follow our more typical schedule, with City Council approval expected in December. Between now and then, community members will have multiple opportunities to weigh in and my colleagues and I will discuss and debate revisions to the mayor’s proposal. I look forward to sharing information as it becomes available and hearing from Ward 11 community members along the way.

Get to Know Our Office of Violence Prevention

Violence prevention is important because it improves public safety and equity in our community. While we will need focused, accountable law enforcement to respond to crimes after they have occurred, we have a huge opportunity to make Minneapolis a better place to live by investing in strategies to reduce crime upfront rather than focusing on retroactively responding to crimes that have already occurred.

The City Council’s increased investment in violence prevention builds on a successful track record for this type of work in our community. The City’s Office of Violence Prevention was launched officially in 2018 to focus on addressing the root causes of violence, intervening at the first sign of risk, and leading healing in the aftermath of violence to expand on more than a decade of similar work within our Health Department. Our approach in Minneapolis has been a model for other cities across the U.S.

I encourage you to explore the Office of Violence Prevention’s new webpage that features a host of information on violence prevention in Minneapolis. Specifically, you might want to learn more about violence prevention initiatives already underway in our city.

The Office of Violence Prevention approaches its work with the following in mind:

  • Violence is not inevitable; as with other health conditions, we can prevent, treat, and heal from violence
  • Violence is rooted in social, economic, political, and cultural conditions that include but are not limited to racism, classism, inadequate economic opportunities, community disinvestment, poor housing conditions, and harmful norms around gender and masculinity.
  • Violence takes a disproportionate toll on communities of color and specific neighborhoods in Minneapolis, and violence prevention must include work to undo structural racism
  • Everyone has a role to play in creating communities that don’t include violence; it takes all of us to make our communities safe, healthy, hopeful, and thriving

I encourage you to offer your input through this brief survey to help inform City violence prevention priorities for the coming years. In addition, the Office of Violence Prevention is supporting a series of two-hour online trainings to promote racial trauma healing, resilience, and restorative justice for all who live, work, and play in Minneapolis. The trainings are designed to help participants understand various types of trauma and common responses to psychological trauma, the links between unhealed trauma and cycles of harm and violence, practices for increased racial healing and equity, and ways to apply resilience and restorative justice practices. The last of these trainings are pay-what-you-can, up to $30, and will be held Friday, July 31 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. You can register here.

Proposed Charter Changes Still Under Consideration

The Minneapolis Charter Commission continues it work to review and respond to the City Council’s unanimous decision to advance a provision that would allow voters to decide whether to create a new Department of Community Safety & Violence Prevention in our City Charter, which is essentially our constitution. The Commission, an appointed 15-member body, is required by state law to submit its recommendation on a proposed amendment before it can be printed on the ballot and presented to voters. State law sets a deadline of Aug. 21 to include any questions for voters on this November’s ballot.

The proposed amendment submitted by the City Council proposes adding a new Community Safety & Violence Prevention Department with a Division of Law Enforcement Services within the department. Check out my recent newsletter for more details on what the charter amendment would mean for our community. I believe this amendment is necessary to give us the tools we need to make changes that many community members are demanding, to ensure that all Minneapolis residents feel safe in our city. By allowing residents to vote on the amendment this year, policymakers will get the direction we need to move forward. If it passes, we will be able to deepen our engagement with the community build a public safety system that reflects the needs and preferences of neighbors. Without first changing the charter, we would be unable to make the structural improvements many, many Ward 11 residents are calling for. As I’ve said many times before, we will need trained, armed officers to respond to extreme, violent situations. However, it is critical that we right-size this part of our public safety system to meet the need – and to provide more targeted, supportive responses to the situations that don’t require this type of response. These other needs may include taking theft reports and mental health calls, to name just a couple.

The Charter Commission is also considering a proposed amendment from one of its members that would eliminate required staffing levels in the MPD. You can learn more about each proposal and the Charter Commission’s process here.

Ongoing Work to Transform Public Safety

There is a lot of work underway to improve and transform our public safety system to ensure it works for everyone in Minneapolis. It can be difficult to keep up with everything that’s happening, but the City has compiled a number of related resources on one centralized webpage. This resource includes information on the civil rights investigation that the Minnesota Department of Human Rights launched into the MPD, recent City Council actions, and how you can provide input, information, and ideas.

City Looks to Expand Shelter Space

The City Council last week preliminarily approved a package of roughly $8 million in federal COVID-19 response funding to expand shelter space for those experiencing homelessness. This funding would help create a women’s-specific year-round shelter in partnership with Hennepin County and a nonprofit service provider. It would also support a partnership with Catholic Charities to add shelter beds for medically frail people experiencing homelessness, alongside the County and state. The funding would also support a new emergency shelter designed to serve Native American people experiencing homelessness in partnership with the American Indian Community Development Corporation with funding from the City, County, and state. The City Council will consider formal approval of this action at our meeting this Friday.

In addition, the Park Board is now regulating encampments in parks through a new permit process which will allow up to 20 parks to hold temporary encampments with up to 25 tents each. These permits can be issued to a person or organization that agrees to be responsible for day-to-day oversight of an encampment. Within 48 hours of issuing such a permit, the Park Board would provide restrooms or portable toilets, hand-washing stations, and trash/recycling containers. Find more information on park encampments in general and the Park Board’s new permitting process here. Park Board staff will share updates with the Park Board’s elected commissioners on Sept. 15 that detail progress on moving encampment residents into shelter and housing suitable for winter conditions.

We continue to work with Hennepin County to help connect people experiencing homelessness to housing, shelter, and services. Our Health Department coordinates public health services at large encampments and City staff continue to evaluate ways to expand outreach and rapid rehousing services. Find more information on the City’s ongoing efforts here.

Statewide Mask Mandate Takes Effect

The City continues to track COVID-19 cases in Minneapolis based on data gathered by the Minnesota Department of Health.  It is still vitally important that we all cover our faces and practice physical distancing when around folks not in our households. Governor Walz over the weekend imposed a statewide mask mandate for indoor public spaces, mirroring the rule has been in effect in Minneapolis since this spring. 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. To report noncompliance, call 311 or use the online reporting tool.

Help ensure everyone can stay safe by donating homemade masks every Monday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at any Minneapolis fire station. Donated masks are distributed 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. Fire stations are not able to take other donations at this time.

Resources for Families During COVID-19

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:

  • Rent anywhere in Hennepin County.
  • Have had household income below 50% of the area median income (about $46,550 for a three-person household) before COVID-19.
  • Lost income due to COVID-19 that has not been replaced by unemployment insurance or other emergency assistance.
  • Can’t afford housing costs this month.
  • Not currently receive Section 8 or other rental assistance.

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.

Additionally, Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) will continue serving free meals to all children 18 and under through Friday, August 21. Families can pick-up food boxes at 50 schools and parks across Minneapolis, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. To keep families and staff safe, sites offer contact-free pick-up. All youth are invited to participate in this program and do not need to be enrolled in MPS to receive food boxes. Youth, parents, or siblings can pick up one box for each child in their family, per week. Find more information, including pick-up locations and schedules, here.

Public Hearing: Heather’s Seeking Outdoor Seating

Heather’s, the restaurant which earlier this year filled the long-vacant former Mario’s property at 5201 Chicago Ave, is seeking City approval to expand their outdoor seating area. A public hearing is required on this application, which seeks to expand the outdoor portion of the restaurant and allow food and beer and wine to be served in that area. The outdoor area would also be pet friendly. Under the license requested, it would not have live entertainment. Heather’s is open Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Fridays from 7 a.m. to midnight, Saturdays from 9 a.m. to midnight, and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Information is available here.

To offer your input, you can email me at jeremy.schroeder@minneapolismn.gov and/or Licensing Inspector Phil Schliesman at philip.schliesman@minneapolismn.gov. You can also testify at a virtual public hearing on Tuesday, Aug. 4 at 1:30 p.m. Sign up to participate in the public hearing here.

City Seeking Applicants for Workforce Advisory Board

Are you interested in workforce issues? Do you want to help ensure economic inclusion for all Minneapolis residents? Apply by this Friday, July 31 to serve on the Minneapolis Workforce Development Board, one of 16 boards across Minnesota that provides policy and program guidance for state workforce development activities. Members help guide local workforce development in our community, with a focus on creating equitable opportunities and supporting workforce development services like career training and job placement. The board’s work prioritizes high-demand occupations with family-sustaining wages. Learn more and apply here.

Pet Vaccinations Available Through Animal Care & Control

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:

  • Rabies vaccine for $20 (animals with prior proof of current rabies vaccination will be given a three-year rabies vaccine; all others will be provided a one-year vaccine)
  • Da2PP or PRC vaccine for $25
  • Microchip for $35

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.

Have You Taken the Census Yet?

Ward 11 neighborhoods have some of the highest census response rates in Minneapolis but we still have hundreds of households in our community that need to be counted. This is critical to getting the federal resources we need for schools, roads, and other public services. It also ensures our community is fully represented at all levels of government. If you haven’t taken the census yet, visit my2020census.gov and check it off your to-do list. It only takes about 10 minutes to complete the census online, or you can do it by phone. Learn more about why the census is so important here.

Wash your hands and cover your face!

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