Violence Prevention, Helping Unsheltered Folks, Lower Speed Limits, and more

Jeremy schroeder

jeremy.schroeder@minneapolismn.gov

(612) 673-2211

Ward 11 Neighbors,

Below you'll find the latest updates on key issues like public safety, COVID-19, 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.


Community Safety & Violence Prevention Charter Change

On June 26, the City Council unanimously initiated a process to allow voters to decide whether to adopt a proposed Charter amendment whether to create a new Department of Community Safety & Violence Prevention. You can find the language for this proposed ballot measure here. The Charter is essentially the City’s constitution, and this change (if approved by a majority of voters) would allow much more flexibility in how we ensure public safety for everyone in our City – though, to be abundantly clear, the Charter amendment would not eliminate law enforcement. Instead, this measure would allow us to incorporate public safety strategies beyond and in addition to traditional policing.

I’d like to clarify what this measure means, given tremendous interest within our community and across the city in the future of public safety. There has been quite a bit of misrepresentation of the City Council’s actions in the news, on social media, and in neighborhood conversations, and I appreciate the chance to share as clearly and directly as I can where I stand.

  • The City Council has not voted to eliminate the Minneapolis Police and our existing public safety system remains in place. We have committed to taking a hard look at our law enforcement system and starting the process of building something to better serve everyone in Minneapolis. The Minneapolis Police Department remains in place. No officers have been cut, though budget shortfalls due to COVID-19 have and will continue to affect all City departments.
  • There will always be someone on the other end of 911. My vision is for a more dynamic 911 response system to provide robust and targeted resources for every situation – in some rare and extreme cases, that will be armed officers. But in other situations, that ought to be professionals with training to respond to mental health crises, addiction issues, and other situations. Minneapolis taxpayers deserve more than a one-size-fits-all approach to meet their needs.
  • I believe there is a role for focused, accountable law enforcement in our city – but the Minneapolis Police Department as it exists today is clearly not meeting that standard. With a budget of $193 million (not counting more than $20 million in payouts related to police misconduct in the past three years alone), it is unacceptable that many are not kept safe under the current system. By comparison, our violence prevention efforts received just $2.73 million in last year’s budget.
  • A holistic public safety approach includes prevention, intervention, and enforcement. It also puts public health at the center. Minneapolis Police Chief Arradondo is among the many who have acknowledged recent violence requires more than the police department – it’s a public health crisis.
  • The proposed Charter amendment would eliminate a requirement that the City have a minimum of more than 800 licensed police officers – a limitation that greatly constrains our ability to fund and implement violence prevention and other public safety solutions.
  • Any public safety solutions considered must be proven effective using data, and vetted through a yearlong community engagement process that the City Council has committed to. The good news is, we are not starting from scratch. Far from it. We must build on nation-leading work done in our Health Department and Office of Violence Prevention. This work dates back to 2006 and forms a solid foundation from which to grow.
  • The proposed Charter amendment calls for shared oversight of the Community Safety & Violence Prevention between the City Council and the Mayor – the same as for the Fire Department and Public Works, among many others. Currently, the Mayor has sole operational oversight of the Minneapolis Police. Mayors have tried for decades to resolve persistent problems in our police department, but clearly this approach has not worked. The Council currently has no ability to control or influence the police department except deciding how much funding it gets once a year.
  • When the City Council has a greater role, the public gets increased transparency and a clearer voice. My constituents have reached out to me for years demanding I make change within the police department. It’s frustrating for them and for me when I can’t impose or enforce anything beyond the police budget. I want to elevate my constituents’ voices. Folks expect the Council to have a say – indeed many already think we already do – and it’s time to make that our reality.
  • The proposed Charter amendment is not a done deal – the City Council’s vision is for the people to decide in November. There is no more democratic process than this, and I hope to see Ward 11 voters get the chance to be heard on public safety at the ballot box.

Per statutory requirements, the proposed language is in the hands of the Charter Commission, a 15-member body appointed by a single Hennepin County judge. The Charter Commission’s role is not to decide whether or not the proposed amendment appears on the ballot, but to provide the City Council its recommendation on the proposed language. You can learn more about the Charter Commission and its process here. I also encourage you to submit your comments to the Commission – you can do so in writing here, and you are invited to testify at a virtual public hearing next Wednesday, July 15 at 5 p.m. You may also submit comments to the City Council and Mayor Frey. Please note that any comments you submit to any public body or official become part of the public record.

Under state law, the Charter Commission has at least 60 days to complete its review and submit its recommendation to the City Council. The statutory deadline for submitting questions on the Nov. 3 general election ballot is Friday, Aug. 21. If approved by voters, the changes would become effective May 1, 2021 – and we’d likely start by incorporating resources we have today with new strategies. All of this is consistent with the City Council’s unanimous commitment to start a yearlong process for community engagement this summer.

It is essential that community input informs the design and functions of this new department. I hope you will continue to share your thoughts with me on what this should look like going forward. Allowing voters to decide on the future of public safety in Minneapolis is a critical step toward building the kind of public safety system that best serves every single person in our city.


Get to Know Our Office of Violence Prevention

Violence prevention improves public safety and equity in our community, and the City is not starting from scratch when we talk about greater investment in this key strategy. The City Council allocated funds to launch an Office of Violence Prevention in 2018, creating a place within the City focused on addressing the root causes of violence, intervening at the first sign of risk, and leading healing in the aftermath of violence. This investment built on violence prevention work underway within our Health Department since 2006. Our work 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

To learn more about the Office of Violence Prevention’s work, tune in to KMOJ 89.9 FM this Wednesday, July 8 from 1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. to hear a discussion with Director Sasha Cotton. I also encourage you to get engage by taking this brief survey to help inform violence prevention priorities for the coming years.

If you’d like to engage more directly, 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 trainings are pay-what-you-can, up to $30, and will be held:


Proposed Revisions to 2020 Budget Presented This Week

This week, the City will continue an unusual midyear budget process to correct course after COVID-19 triggered widespread economic fallout, including a substantial revenue shortfall that affects our City budget. The City Council has already pursued 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. Still, 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 Thursday, July 9 and staff will present their proposed revisions on Friday, July 10. Community members will be able to share feedback at a pair of virtual public hearings:

  • Tuesday, July 14 at 6:05 p.m.
  • Wednesday, July 22 at 10 a.m.

The City Council is scheduled to vote Friday, July 24 on a 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.


Stay Updated on City Business

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, including the Charter Commission and Budget Committee. If you’re interested in tracking 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


City, County Working Together to Help Unsheltered Folks

The City and County continue to work in partnership to care for our neighbors experiencing unsheltered homelessness. Minneapolis has experienced unprecedented growth in homeless encampments during the COVID-19 pandemic, an issue that is top of mind for many in our community. Governor Tim Walz issued an executive order in March that prohibits the disbandment of homeless encampments on public land. On June 17, the Park Board approved a resolution its commitment to provide refuge space to people currently experiencing homelessness.

City and County staff are participating in discussions with staff from the state’s Interagency Council on Homelessness and the Park Board, and engaging with organizing leadership at Powderhorn Park, outreach teams, and folks with lived experience of homelessness to identify plans for responding to the encampment at Powderhorn Park and at other sites throughout Minneapolis. Alongside our outreach partners, the City and County are doing everything we can to support access to safe, dignified housing. We have a clear commitment to find solutions, but this will take time and significant support from all levels of government and the community. We were in a housing crisis long before the pandemic, and long before these encampments formed.

Going forward, some strategies identified include:

  • Increased investment in culturally specific outreach and navigation services to help individuals with housing and shelter placements
  • Invest in expanded outreach and rapid rehousing services in addition to long-term investments in expanding shelter capacity
  • Continued investment in new permanent, accessible housing for those experiencing homelessness
  • Pursuit of new housing opportunities, such as single-room occupancy type housing, that is affordable and accessible to folks experiencing homelessness

Along with Council Member Cam Gordon, I am working on an ordinance that would allow single-room occupancy type housing. I believe this is an important intervention as our housing, economic, and COVID-19 crises worsen. You can learn more about the City’s ongoing role in addressing homelessness and supporting solutions here.


We’re Still in a Pandemic, We Still Need to Cover Our Faces

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, our community continues to see COVID-19 cases – and it continues to be vitally important that we all cover our faces and practice physical distancing when around folks not in our households. 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.

In Minneapolis, an emergency regulation remains in place that requires folks to wear cloth masks or face coverings when they are in an indoor place of public accommodation including retail shops and grocery stores. To report noncompliance, call 311 or use these online reporting tools.

You 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. Fire stations are not able to take other donations at this time.


Apply For Rental Assistance Through Hennepin County

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.


Free “20 is Plenty” Yard Signs Available Now

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Minneapolis and Saint Paul are in the process of implementing new, lower speed limits to support safer streets. Starting this fall, the new speed limit will be 20 mph in both cities unless otherwise posted. Slower speeds on local streets make travel safer for everyone no matter how you get around. Learn more about lower speed limits here. To help get the word out, you can pick up a “20 is Plenty” yard sign from any Minneapolis fire station -- they'll be placed outside for no-contact pickup. Signs and metal stands will be available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., through July 24 or while supplies last. Find your nearest fire station here

As a reminder, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) also has yard signs available for folks in the areas most impacted by 35W reconstruction (between Franklin and Highway 62, and between Lyndale and Chicago). If you’d like one of these signs, which remind drivers to slow down, you can request one here. There is a limited supply of these signs, and if you get one, MnDOT staff will drop it off for you.


Diamond Lake Road Project Postponed to 2021

The City had planned to complete a seal coat project on Diamond Lake Road between 35W and Portland Avenue this summer, but this work has been postponed to next year due to expected detour traffic associated with the state’s closure of the northbound 46th Street ramp onto 35W. The seal coat process improves the quality and extends the lifespan of asphalt pavement surfaces. Public Works staff have spent the past couple of years gathering data, engaging with community members, and developing a design – which includes the addition of a bikeway along Diamond Lake Road that fills in an important gap in our existing bikeway network, as identified in the Minneapolis Bicycle Master Plan. The project’s delay will not change anything about the design or plans already in place, just the timeline. Learn more about plans for this section of Diamond Lake Road here.


Neighborhoods 2020 Comment Period Extended

Given all that our community has experienced in recent months, the Neighborhoods 2020 comment period has been extended to Sept. 30, 2020 to allow folks more time to engage. Neighborhoods 2020 is the process by which we will set equity, funding, and governance guidelines for neighborhood organizations. These guidelines are very consequential for the future of our city. Find more information on Neighborhoods 2020, including draft guidelines, here.

During this extended public comment period, you can share your thoughts by emailing neighborhoods2020@minneapolismn.gov. If you have questions, email Neighborhoods 2020 project lead Steven Gallagher at steven.gallagher@minneapolismn.gov.


Get Your Mail-in Ballot for This Year’s Elections

With health officials advising us all to do what we can to reduce contact with others during this public health crisis, I strongly encourage you to vote early by mail this election year. All Minnesota voters can sign up now to get ballots by mail for the August primary and November general election. Ballots will arrive up to several weeks before each election, along with postage-paid envelopes to return them. Every Minnesota voter is eligible to vote early by mail – you do not need to give a reason.

Apply for your ballot at least 10 days before an election so you have enough time to receive and return it – it’s quick and easy, and it’s a great idea to take care of it now to be on the safe side. Although voting by mail is strongly recommended, voters will still be able to cast their ballots in person at the City’s Early Vote Center or at their polling places on Election Day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is encouraging voting early by mail, and the City’s Elections & Voter Services division supports this recommendation to make sure every voter in Minneapolis can safely cast their ballot this election year. Get more information here.

Election judges needed for in-person voters

Election judges are needed for the Aug. 11 state primary to serve voters in local polling places. Election judges are paid $17.15 per hour for their service, which includes training. Depending upon schedule and preferences, people can choose which elections they work in, and whether they want to be at a polling place close to where they live or anywhere else in Minneapolis. Fluency in a second language – including Spanish, Somali, Hmong, Oromo, Lao, Vietnamese, Russian, and American Sign Language – is a plus but not required. Learn more here or by calling 311.


Need Help with Pets’ Vaccines? The City Can Help

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.


Bossen, Keewaydin, McRae Wading Pools Now Open

The Park Board has opened 20 wading pools across Minneapolis in areas of the city without lakes or other water bodies, including at Bossen Field Park, Keewaydin Park, and McRae Park. The wading pools are open from noon to 6:30 p.m. every day. All wading pool areas have a limited capacity to ensure physical distancing. These capacity numbers vary by location, and Park Board staff will be onsite to help monitor capacity.

Public restrooms will be open during the wading pools’ open hours. Drinking fountains will not be available, so please plan to bring your own water in a non-breakable container. Because of the limited number of children and adults who can be in the wading pool area at one time, visitors should limit their time to two hours to allow others to use the pools.


Wash your hands and cover your face!

For reasonable accommodations or alternative formats please call 311 at 612-673-3000. 

People who are deaf or hard of hearing can use a relay service to call 311 at 612-673-3000. TTY users can call 612-673-2157 or 612-673-2626.

 

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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