My thoughts on the Minneapolis Police Department, and lots of other City news

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Steve.Fletcher@MinneapolisMN.gov

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In This Newsletter:


A Note From Steve About the Minneapolis Police Department

This has been a difficult summer for our city when it comes to community trust in the actions of our police department. In early June, news broke about a leaked draft report from our Department of Civil Rights that reportedly outlines several instances where Minneapolis Police officers requested that emergency medical personnel with Hennepin County and North Memorial administer ketamine, a powerful anesthetic. In some cases, the drug caused heart or breathing failure and required those injected to be revived or intubated. Since this story broke, others have come forward with similar stories, and they raise serious questions about the actions of not just Minneapolis Police but also Hennepin County Medical Center.

As I said during a Public Safety Committee meeting where we allowed public comment on this issue, whether we discover that our officers directly ordered or had a legally inappropriate role in administering ketamine, what I can tell you is this feels like a violation of the spirit of our community. We can and we must do better.

One week later, a man named Thurman Blevins was shot and killed by Minneapolis Police. I spent two evenings in a row at the corner of 48th and Camden, listening to and sharing some terrible pain over this shooting. As more information is made public, we will hopefully gain a clearer picture of what happened in the last moments of his life. We can and should discuss policies that might make things better.

One such change that has been proposed by Council Member Cam Gordon would put an amendment of the City Charter on the ballot this November for voters to consider, to shift the Police Department from the unilateral control of the Mayor and give the City Council the same level of governing power over it as we have over any other department.

As I wrote in a Commentary in the Star Tribune, and as I heard from many of you, it’s important that there be a clear chain of command, and that the Mayor maintain executive control of the police force. Having an elected, civilian leader in charge of the police is an important component of our democracy. At the same time, I see some potential benefit to shifting policy-making decisions more to the Council, so that decisions about MPD policy are made in public, where the public and the press can watch and participate in the debate. I voted ‘yes’ to Council Member Gordon’s subject introduction, so that we could continue the conversation and see if we could craft new language that reaffirms the Mayor’s executive role while giving the Council legislative power to impact policy. I appreciate the chance to hear from so many of you on this issue, whether you’re for or against Council Member Gordon’s proposed amendment. I’ll be playing an active role in trying to improve the proposal to a point that I could support it, and continue to be interested in your feedback in the meantime. One thing that is clear: the fear, exhaustion, mistrust, and pain that I’ve heard in our community tell us that something has to change.

We have hard days ahead. There will be mourning. There will be challenging debates. There will be impatience, and frustration, and disappointment, and false starts. I also believe we are working toward a better future where black lives really do matter in our city, and where everyone feels safe. I'm grateful to the community who are showing up to be part of the way forward. I'm with you.

En Avant,

Steve

P.S.- public data from the shooting of Thurman Blevins is available on the City’s webpage for frequently requested police information. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) is performing the investigation of the incident. During the investigation, the BCA’s investigative data is generally confidential or protected nonpublic information. However, any public data originating from the City of Minneapolis will be posted to the webpage as more data is authorized for release. The web address is www.minneapolismn.gov/police/records/frequent. Check back for updates.

 


Data Privacy Ordinance Introduction

At the City Council meeting on June 29, I announced my intent to amend city ordinance related to data privacy. 

The goal of this ordinance will be to establish an enterprise-wide set of guidelines about the collection, storage, and sharing of data about all of our residents. Introduction of the ordinance change was prompted by observations across several departments, including Public Works, Police, Regulatory Services, and Community Planning and Economic Development that, taken together, demonstrate a current lack of clarity and consistency in our city’s approach to data privacy. 

The next step toward developing ordinance language will be to receive two anticipated reports already in progress. The first will be an Information Governance work group report to the Enterprise Committee, expected in September. We expect that report to provide guidance on what kind of data is currently collected and retained, and how much each type of personal data’s storage and retention is regulated by state or other laws. The second will be a report on surveillance technology in use by law enforcement, being undertaken by the Police Conduct Oversight Commission, expected before the end of the year. Informed by these two reports, the ordinance will attempt to establish clear guidelines, as appropriate, in the following areas:

  1. Data Collection. What should the City consider when deciding to collect and retain personally identifiable data about our residents? How does the City balance the right to privacy with the legitimate, practical benefits that often come with data gathering as we rely more heavily on data-driven decision-making? How does the City balance the right to privacy with questions of public safety and crime prevention? Should the City do more to structure data gathering in a way that allows residents to "opt out" or that requires an affirmative "opt in" to have personal data collected in various contexts?
  2. Data Sharing and Use. Once collected, where and for how long is data stored, and who may access it? Do we, for example, allow data collected by one department for one use be accessible to other departments for regulatory or law enforcement purposes? What data do we share across departments, and across jurisdictions (i.e., with the county or with ICE?)
  3. Scope to include third parties. Where the City chooses to engage a third party, private vendor to provide a service, rather than provide it directly, to what extent should the City require its own privacy protections, retention practices, and other data policies be included in contracts for service? How does the City balance the potential conveniences offered by the proliferation of “smart city” devices that gather extensive data on users and sometimes on passive bystanders with the right to privacy?  Would we, for example, enter into contracts with vendors that explicitly plan to gather data on users and sell data about our residents to advertisers?

I invite anyone who is interested in this discussion to contact my office with feedback ahead of the scheduled release of the two reports this fall, to make sure your perspective is represented in the discussion, and the resulting ordinance, which we anticipate moving forward in early 2019.



Grain Belt Redevelopment Proposal Selected for Further Negotiation

Grain Belt redevelopment site

 

Last fall, the Department of Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED) issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the Grain Belt Riverfront Redevelopment Area, which is in between Marshall Ave. NE and the river between 13th & 14th Aves. NE. CPED received three proposals, one later dropped out, and in March I hosted an open house to get more community input and feedback on this project.

City staff evaluated the remaining two proposals in a group that included my staff and a representative from Sheridan Neighborhood Organization, and concluded their work in May.

The proposal by Lander Group, Landon Group, and Newport was selected for further negotiation with that development team, and staff hope to reach an agreed-upon term sheet by the end of the year.

Between now and then, I want to hear your input and feedback about their proposal! The final project design will undoubtedly be different from this, and there are a lot of competing priorities on this site -- affordable housing, working artist space, parking, and more. Please share your thoughts with me here or email me at Steve.Fletcher@minneapolismn.gov.

 


Public Works Installing Pedestrian Crossing Medians on S. 2nd St. at 10th Ave. S.

Pedestrian Crossing on S 2nd St at 10th Ave S


Following a set of community meetings in the Mill District regarding traffic of all modes -- cars, bikes, and pedestrians -- and clear resident feedback on the need for a safer pedestrian crossing of S. 2nd St. at S. 10th Ave., Public Works staff are planning to install a set of crossing medians (depicted above) as soon as this week. These have been installed in other locations around the City, and are intended to improve safety at the crossing for all people, regardless of their mode of travel, by increasing visibility and sight-lines at the intersection, and calming traffic through the area.



Touring Our Water Treatment Facilities

Council Member Steve Fletcher Touring our water treatment facilities with Council Member Jeremy Schroeder

 

Last week, I had the opportunity to tour our City's water treatment facilities in Columbia Heights and in Fridley, where we turn Mississippi River water into some of the best drinking water in the country, and it was a privilege to see such a critical piece of our City infrastructure up close in a way that few ever get to do.

We treat an average of 54 million gallons of water every day for a total of nearly 20 billion gallons over an entire year, and deliver it to over 500,000 residents in Minneapolis and nearby suburbs through a distribution system of nearly 1,000 miles of water pipes.

Careful planning and decision-making by past City leaders have led us to this point that we now have sustainable and resilient drinking water infrastructure for decades to come -- all paid for entirely by water customers. No property tax dollars are spent on any part of our water (or sewer) systems.

Thank you to Public Works Director Robin Hutcheson, Director of Water Treatment and Distribution Glen Gerads, and to all of our Water staff for their daily work to keep the water flowing. You can find out more here at the Water Department's webpage.

 


Vote Early (in Ward 3!) for Our August 14 Primary Election

Vote Early for Our August 14 Primary Election

Early voting has begun for the Aug. 14 primary election, and Minneapolis voters may cast ballots at the Early Vote Center at 217 South Third Street in downtown Minneapolis. Regular hours throughout the absentee voting period are 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. During the final two weeks before each election, these hours will be extended and include weekend times. All early voting hours are posted on the City's Elections website: vote.minneapolismn.gov.

Any voter can vote early; no reason is needed! Early in-person voting is convenient and it especially helps voters who need special accommodations, such as language support, that the extra time, attention and onsite resources of early in-person voting afford more readily than the polls might on the day of the election.

People can also vote early (by absentee ballot) by mail. Please allow enough time to complete the process by mail; it can take longer than seven days. Absentee ballot applications are available at vote.minneapolismn.gov/voters/absentee and may be submitted anytime throughout the year.

The primary election will determine which candidates advance to the general election in November. The 2018 election includes races for governor, U.S. Senate, U.S. House and the Minneapolis School Board, among other offices. Go to vote.minneapolismn.gov for more information or call 311.



Election Judges Needed!

There is a shortage of Election Judges for the August 14 Primary Election! Please consider signing up to help your neighbors vote at one of your neighborhood polling places -- and get paid!

Election Judges earn $15.75/hour or more, and can work a full day (6am-9pm) or one of the half shifts (6am-2pm or 2pm-9pm), with some breaks included.

Serving as an election judge provides an opportunity to learn about the election process and is an important service to our community. Judges who are fluent in a second language are especially needed to provide additional language support in the polling place, including Spanish, Somali, Hmong, Oromo, Lao, Vietnamese, Russian and American Sign Language.

Please apply online as soon as possible so you can get an assignment, and get signed up for one of the 3-hr paid training sessions. You must be an eligible Minnesota voter, but no experience is necessary

Apply at http://vote.minneapolismn.gov/judges/APPLICATION or call 612-673-3870 for more info and assistance in signing up.

Find out more about this opportunity at vote.minneapolismn.gov/judges or call 311.



Low Power Vehicles (aka Scooters) Ordinance

Low Power Vehicles

In response to the rapid growth of shared motorized foot-scooter networks like Bird and Lime, the City Council passed an ordinance amendment July 20 requiring the networks to obtain a license agreement with the City and follow rules for parking in the right of way.

State law already regulates how low-power vehicles such as foot scooters operate in the street. The City’s new regulatory framework is intended to welcome new transportation options such as motorized foot scooters but requires networks to operate in an organized manner consistent with City rules.

Currently, the City has authority to remove scooters found unattended and blocking traffic or public infrastructure, or otherwise compromising public safety. The new ordinance framework will provide more specific guidance to operators and the public about local rules for scooter sharing in the public right of way, including on City sidewalks. We expect to update and improve the ordinance over the winter, once we’ve had a chance to see them in action on our streets. Feel free to share your experiences, good and bad, with this new way of getting around.

 


City Suing Pharmaceutical Companies for Damages Caused by Opioids

The City of Minneapolis has filed a lawsuit against 17 pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors over damages caused by opioids in the community. The harm to the Little Earth of United Tribes is highlighted in the suit, which says the defendants were involved in deceptive marketing, prescribing, distribution and sale of opioids in the city.

The lawsuit comes after a measure that would have created a funding mechanism to combat opioid epidemic was defeated in the Minnesota Legislature. The bipartisan “penny-a-pill” proposal would have placed a one-cent fee on every opioid pill sold in Minnesota. The revenue would have been used to combat the opioid crisis through education, treatment and other mechanisms. The bill failed after intense lobbying by the pharmaceutical industry.

Little Earth, a Native American community and affordable housing complex in south Minneapolis, has been hit hard by the opioid crisis. There’s a reported increase in the drug’s use, and several overdoses and deaths attributed to it. The community has been working with a local treatment center to provide naloxone to residents and also train them to administer the life-saving drug to people who overdose. Little Earth is in need of a treatment center and programs to help residents overcome opioid addiction.

Opioids are a class of drugs sold as prescription pain killers under brand names like OxyContin and Percocet. While available legally by prescription, they are highly addictive. Regular use can lead to dependence and misuse of opioid pain medications. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately two-thirds of more than 63,600 drug overdose deaths in 2016 involved an opioid.



Energy Technical Assistance Program (E-TAP)

Using funding from the utility franchise fee increase, the City has started a pilot program of the City’s Business Technical Assistance Program (B-TAP), called E-TAP, to promote energy cost-saving practices to reduce operational costs in businesses and energy cost-saving resources to low income and racially diverse small businesses.

E-TAP will hire consultants from local non-profit organizations to work with business owners to conduct energy assessments and implement energy cost-saving improvements. At this point, we are seeking proposals (by June 29) from local non-profit organizations to provide direct outreach and energy cost-savings support to small businesses located in Minneapolis. We expect to start providing services to businesses in August 2018. For more details visit http://www.minneapolismn.gov/business/B-TAP  or contact daniel.bonilla@minneapolismn.gov.



Workplace Advisory Committee Report

In June, the City Council received the 2018 progress report of the Workplace Advisory Committee, chaired by Chelsie Glaubitz Gabiou from the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation. The vision of the Workplace Advisory Committee is to create strong communities where both workers and businesses are earning and thriving.

At the meeting, the Advisory committee co-chairs shared a two-year work plan that is being developed to address the serious problem of wage theft in Minneapolis. In April 2015, the City Council resolved to consider policy support for preventing wage theft; approximately $50 billion in wages were lost to employer wage theft in the U.S. in 2016, and low-wage workers commonly lose ~15% of their wages.

 


Office of Immigrant and Refugee Director Hired

Michelle Cecilia Rivero has joined the City as director of the recently created Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs. The attorney brings more than 18 years of immigration law experience to the office, including work in cases ranging from U visa and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) petitions to asylum applications and removal hearings.

Housed within the Department of Neighborhood and Community Relations (NCR), the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs will provide guidance to elected leaders, policymakers and City staff on immigration and refugee issues. It will recommend policies to the City Council that further the mission of the office and provide input and feedback to City departments on program development and access to City resources. The office will work with the City’s Department of Intergovernmental Relations to coordinate and promote the City’s legislative priorities on immigration-related matters.

Along with her immigration law experience, Rivero has received recognitions from the American Immigration Lawyers Association (ALIA) and the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota for her pro bono representation of Central American families at the detention center in Artesia, New Mexico, which the association described as a “deportation mill” where detainees were deprived of phone access and legal representation. She volunteered at the Advocates for Human Rights, representing asylum seekers and mentoring volunteer attorneys. Also, for six years she served as a liaison to the immigration court system, observed the conditions at removal hearings, authored articles defending the rights of immigrants, connected immigration attorneys with congressional representatives and provided pro bono assistance to detainees for the Minnesota Detention Project.

Director Rivero will be my guest at Good Morning Ward 3 on Wednesday, August 15 -- please join us at Kramarczuk's! Details below.



New Mural on Display in City Hall Depicts Experiences of Immigrants and Refugees

Immigrant Experience Mural at City Hall

A new mural depicting the experiences of immigrants and refugees is now on display in City Hall. “El Camino del Corazón,” Spanish for “The Journey of the Heart,” can be seen on the building’s third floor outside the City Council Chamber.

ReCAST Minneapolis (Resilience in Communities After Stress & Trauma) partnered with Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio (CLUES) to create the mural, which depicts the real-life experiences of immigrants and refugees who came to this country.

To get the imagery, GoodSpace Murals hosted seven sessions with 10 community members to get their experiences for incorporation into the artwork. City staff participated in the last four sessions to help paint the mural alongside the community members. This process also made it possible for the City to learn better ways to help immigrant and refugee communities and get a deeper understanding of their experiences.



Expert in Human Trafficking Prevention Starts Work with City

Shunu Shrestha, the City’s senior advisor for human trafficking prevention, has joined the City Coordinator’s Office. She will assist the City of Minneapolis in efforts to prevent labor and sex trafficking and address unmet needs of survivors.

Shrestha comes to the City after working for the Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault where she oversaw the Duluth-based program’s trafficking program and led the city’s Trafficking Task Force. Before coming to the United States in 2003, she did extensive work in her native Nepal promoting human rights and fighting trafficking of women and girls.

The position is funded for two years through the Pathways to Freedom city challenge led by Humanity United and the NoVo Foundation. Pathways to Freedom is the third challenge of Partnership for Freedom, a public-private partnership created by Humanity United and dedicated to spurring innovation in the fight to end human trafficking.

Minneapolis was one of three cities in the country selected to receive funding to develop coordinated, citywide solutions to trafficking. The competition was open to U.S. cities participating in 100 Resilient Cities, a network created by the Rockefeller Foundation to help cities become more resilient to physical, social and economic challenges.

The City of Minneapolis has been a leader in addressing juvenile sex trafficking and recently collaborated with more than 100 community partners to highlight and fight the problem during Super Bowl LII. Shrestha will help the City build on these efforts and develop a plan focused on labor trafficking-related issues, such as wage theft and exploitive employment practices, as well as ensuring all survivors’ needs are met.



Check Out New Designs for All 33 Neighborhood Parks East of the Mississippi River

MPRB Neighborhood Park designs

After nine months of conversations with people who use neighborhood parks in Northeast and Southeast Minneapolis, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) is excited to unveil draft park designs for its 33 neighborhood park properties east of the Mississippi River.

The final park design concepts will be used to build improvements funded by the 20-Year Neighborhood Park Plan, which dedicates $11 million annually over 20 years (2017-2036) to revitalize Minneapolis neighborhood parks.

Two park designs (Concept A and Concept B) were created for each park property in the East of the River Park Master Plan. Find the concepts for your favorite parks using the links below:

A-B Parks: Architect Triangle, Audubon Park, Barton Triangle, Beltrami Park, Bottineau Park

C Parks: Caleb Dorr Circle, Cavell Park, Chergosky Park, Chute Square Park, Columbia Park

D-I Parks: Deming Heights Park, Dickman Park, Elwell Park, Franklin Oval, Hi-View Park, Holmes Park

J-N Parks: Jackson Square Park, Logan Park, Luxton Park, Marcy Park, Monroe Place Triangle, Northeast Athletic Field Park

O-T Parks: Oak Crest Triangle, Orlin Triangle, Sibley Triangle, St. Anthony Park, Tower Hill Park, Towerside Park (New)

U-Z Parks: Van Cleve Park, Waite Park, Washington Triangle, Windom Northeast Park, Xcel Field Park.

Park planners will collect feedback through this online survey through July 29: www.surveymonkey.com/r/eastofriver.



I-35W Construction Closures Between Hwy. 62 & Roseville

I-35W will be closed in both directions between Downtown Minneapolis and Roseville the weekends of July 27-30, Aug. 3-6 and Aug. 10-13. Southbound I-35W is schedule to close Aug 17-20.

The July 27-30 and Aug. 3-6 closures coincide with the I-35W@94 closure. That means I-35W will be closed from Highway 62 (the Crosstown) to I-694.

Please see this webpage for details and updates: http://www.dot.state.mn.us/metro/projects/i35w-mpls-roseville/index.html

 


Parking Ramp Demolition Begins On Site of City’s new Public Service Building

Park ramp being demolished for new Public Service Center

Crews have begun demolition on the parking ramp at 501 Fourth Ave. S. diagonally across from City Hall—the future home of the City’s new Public Service Building.

The new building will allow the City to strategically collocate City employees now working in several different sites downtown and provide better service for residents and businesses.

It will include a customer-centric public service area and is scheduled to open the fall of 2020. The City will also be renovating City Hall over the next five years as some departments move out of City Hall to the new building and other departments move into City Hall from other locations to reduce the City’s overall real estate footprint downtown.

The demolition of the parking ramp will take approximately three months. The skyway connection to the Hennepin County Government Center will be closed until the new building opens.

The City chose the site for the new building because of its proximity to City Hall and major transit lines, including the METRO Blue and Green lines.

MSR Design and Henning Larsen are the design team on the Public Service Building Project and M.A. Mortenson Construction is the construction manager. The building will be designed to achieve the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certification.

For more information about the Public Service Building Project and to sign up for email updates, visit the project website.



UPCOMING EVENTS

Community Meeting on Public Art for Public Service Building on Tuesday, July 31

A community meeting will be held July 31 on public art planned for the City’s new Public Service Building, which will be built near City Hall. The new building will bring together City employees currently working in several different sites downtown and provide better service for residents and businesses. It will include a customer-centric public service area and is scheduled to open the fall of 2020.

Once completed, the City’s new office building will feature prominent public art pieces. Learn more about public art planned for the new building, review feedback from previous public meetings and get a project update.

Tuesday, July 31

5:30 p.m. doors open; 6:00 p.m. meeting starts

Mill City Museum, 704 S. Second St.

Artist Tristan Al-Haddad of Atlanta-based Formations Studio has been selected to work with the design team of MSR Design and Henning Larsen to identify public art opportunities for the building. The City will be issuing multiple calls for artists, in a range of media, for the project.

For more information about the Public Service Building project and to sign up for email updates, visit the project website.



National Night Out is Tuesday, August 7

The 36th Annual Minneapolis National Night Out is Tuesday, August 7, 2018!

National Night Out is an annual nationwide event that encourages residents to get out in the community, hold block parties and get to know our neighbors as a way to encourage crime prevention. Visit this page on the Minneapolis website for more information, including how to register your event and how to close down your street or alley for it.

 


Kitty Hall Returns Wednesday, August 8!

Kitty Hall Returns on August 8th


Kitty Hall returns to Minneapolis City Hall from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 8, which happens to be International Cat Day. This awareness-raising event will feature adorable, adoptable kittens from Minneapolis Animal Care and Control (MACC), as well as adult cats running for the offices of Kitty Council President and Meow-or. 

Come play with adorable kittens, check out the Meow-or and Kitty Council “catidates,” learn about MACC, and adopt! Kitty Hall will take place in the rotunda of City Hall, 350 S. Fifth St.

The public will be able to cast votes for their favorite felines online beginning in late-July, and in-person at the event until noon on Wednesday, Aug. 8. Election winners will be announced 1 p.m. at the event. Get more info and see where last year’s election winners are today at minneapolismn.gov/kittyhall and RSVP on Facebook to get updates as they are announced. Remember to use hashtag #KittyHallMpls when posting about Kitty Hall.



Good Morning Ward 3 at Kramarczuk's

Kramarczuk's


After taking July off, Good Morning Ward 3 will return on Wednesday, August 15! 

Our guest speaker will be Michelle Rivero, the new Director of the City's Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs. She will share an overview of the work of the OIRA and how we can ensure that Minneapolis is a safe and welcoming place for all when federal policies and actions are sowing fear and trauma in immigrant and refugee communities.

Good Morning Ward 3

Wednesday, August 15 from 7:30 - 9:00 a.m.

Kramarczuk's Sausage Company, 215 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55414



Coffee With Your Council Member

Council Member Fletcher will hold regular open community office hours at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesdays at a rotating neighborhood coffee shop in Ward 3 for constituents to drop by, get to know him, ask questions, and raise any issues you see in the community.

All are welcome! RSVP on Facebook or just show up. If you want to discuss a specific issue or project, email laura.dorle@minneapolismn.gov and we'll add you to the agenda.

Keep an eye on our Facebook Page for all the details on future scheduled events, or contact our office at 612-673-2203.

 


Neighborhood Event Calendars

Want to know what's happening around Ward 3? Check out these neighborhood event calendars!

 

If you need a reasonable accommodation to fully participate or if you need information in an alternative format, please contact 311 (612-673-3000). TTY users call 612-673-2157.

Para asistencia 612-673-2700 · Yog xav tau kev pab, hu 612-673-2800 · Hadii aad Caawimaad u baahantahay 612-673-3500

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