A former Minneapolis mayoral candidate was the subject of a brief FBI investigation in early 2013 that concluded with no findings of wrongdoing, according to documents presented to the City Council.
The City Council’s budget committee will weigh Wednesday whether to reimburse outgoing Council Member Don Samuels for $9,083 in attorney’s fees relating to the investigation, which had not been previously revealed publicly.
The probe focused on a complaint that Samuels had a conflict of interest in his roles as a city council member and co-founder of the Peace Foundation, a precursor to the Northside Achievement Zone. Samuels’ wife Sondra is the CEO of the Northside Achievement Zone.
Samuels said the FBI interviewed him for several hours during the campaign.
“After an initial inquiry, the Department of Justice concluded that a full investigation was not warranted and the matter was officially closed on January 28, 2013,” said the request for reimbursement, prepared by the city attorney’s office.
Samuels said Tuesday that he does not know who filed the complaint, nor its exact allegations. He believes it was politically motivated, however.
The two-term North Side representative placed third in the mayoral race, which concluded this November.
“I just waited until the campaign was over because I thought that one of the intended purposes might be influencing the mayor’s race,” Samuels said. “And any addressing of it at all, even to say the case was closed and there was no cause, would kind of be a political challenge in a campaign.”
Former U.S. Attorney Tom Heffelfinger represented Samuels in communications with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's office. He said Tuesday that the process lasted less than six weeks and they never learned the exact allegations.
Kyle Loven, a spokesman for the FBI, said department policy prevents him from commenting on the case.
Samuels' successor, Blong Yang, will be sworn in on Jan. 6. Samuels has not decided what he will do next.
Below is a letter concluding the investigation:
A 15-year-old proposal to build a golf-focused athletic facility atop a downtown Minneapolis parking ramp received an initial green light from the City Council Tuesday.
The privately funded plan involves covering two ramps adjacent to Target Center (right) and using the space for athletic facilities, a driving range, a running track and a club house. It is expected to cost upwards of $70 million.
The city's transportation and public works committee on Tuesday approved allowing staff to execute an agreement with Downtown Rooftop Golf, LLC to lease the air space above the ramp.
One of the ramps is owned by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, while another, the Hawthorne Transportation Center, is owned by the city.
El Tinklenberg, a former state transportation commissioner who is a consultant on the project, said the proposal will include indoor putting areas, simulators and conference facilities. A staff report said it would also include a performance area.
Tinklenberg said construction will likely take about 18 months, and if all goes as plan they hope to begin in 2015.
"The proposed location in the airspace above the two ramps will take advantage of the significant amount of space available there and the connections from the ramps to the downtown skyway system, a variety of transportation modes and local facilities (e.g., Target Center, Target Field and Interchange)," staff wrote in their description of the project.
Here is what the site looks like now:
A plan to reconstruct Minnehaha Avenue moved forward at City Hall with some new amenities for bicyclists, though not the protected bike lanes some had requested.
The $14 million plan would improve Minnehaha Avenue from Lake Street to 46th Street South. The changes include a new buffer between bike lanes and traffic, shorter pedestrian crossings and slightly narrower lanes for driving and parking.
Bicycling advocates had hoped for a protected bike lane seperated completely from traffic, known as a cycle track. But Hennepin County, the lead agency on the project, opted against it.
The city's transportation and public works committee signed off on the plan Tuesday morning. The city will pay $4 million for the project, while Hennepin County will kick in $9.8 million.
Council Member Gary Schiff highlighted the new, 1.5-foot buffer between the bike lanes and traffic. The width of the bike lane itself will remain the same.
'It is much better than any of the bike lanes we've seen before in South Minneapolis because of that buffer," Schiff said.
Committee Chair Sandy Colvin Roy said the project illustrating the increasing demands on engineers to build roads that accomodate different modes of transportation.
"We are challenging engineers now to create transportation corridors that are more complicated than, 'How do we move the most cars the fastest,' which was the prevailing goal for many years," Colvin Roy said.
Construction is expected to begin in Spring 2015 and finish in 2016.
An armed man threatened to rob a woman in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood Sunday evening but fled without taking anything when the woman's boyfriend interrupted the crime, according to police. The attempted robbery at 4:43 p.m. near the intersection of 13th Avenue SE and 8th Street SE was the latest in a recent string of brazen crimes, including 28 robberies since Aug. 1, on and around the U's Minneapolis campus.
Despite the serious and unusual nature of some of the crimes near campus this semester, including an armed robbery inside a University classroom building, crime levels around campus are not higher than normal.
U of M police issued a campus-wide crime alert Monday morning. Police records said the following:
The 23-year-old woman said she was scraping ice off of her car's windshield when a man approached, demanded money and displayed a handgun. The woman backed away from the armed man, and her boyfriend stepped out of their residence and onto the sidewalk. The gunman fled north on Eighth Street. Nothing was stolen and no one was hurt. Police searched for the gunman but didn't find him Sunday.
He was described as a black male, aged 25 to 29, with a dark complexion. He stood 6' tall with a medium build. He wore a black hooded sweatshirt with black sweatpants. His sweatshirt hood was up and pulled tight around his face, obscuring everything except his eyes, nose and mouth. The gun was a black revolver with a thin barrel.
Anyone with information or tips should call the Minneapolis Police Tips Line at 612-692-8477 and reference case number MP-13-407893.
A sweeping plan designed to handle booming enrollment in Minneapolis schools over the next five years goes before the school board for a vote Tuesday evening, meaning changes for almost a third of district students.
The plan arrives back at the board with two final changes from the revised version the board got last month:
• A competitive-entry elementary program for advanced students proposed for the Wilder building on Chicago Avenue has been dropped, but an undefined pre-kindergarden to fifth grade program would open there in 2015.
• A middle school in another portion of that building has also been scrapped in favor of expanding Sanford Middle School in 2016. The district previously backed off a shift opposed by some parents of middle-school Spanish immersion students from Anwatin Middle School to Wilder.
The proposal represents the biggest change since the district’s massive restructuring of attendance patterns in 2009, when it was still reacting to declining enrollment.
It’s designed to accommodate the 3,400 students the district projects it will add by 2017, and is aimed at creating some programs to attract students back from charter and other schools. Some of the changes respond to parent feedback in two rounds of community meetings held since the latest proposal was unveiled in September.
Some of those proposed changes include expanding the Spanish immersion program to a third elementary school at Sheridan (2015) and to Roosevelt High School, adding a second magnet at North High School (2015) focused on technical fields, possible later addition of an arts-technical program at Sanford and Roosevelt, and more early childhood programs.
The proposal affects about 10,500 students, although many won’t see much change. Fewer than 500 would shift buildings involuntarily, mainly the move of older special education students in the Transition Plus program to the district-owned former Brown Institute building at Hi-Lake (2015), and the move of a French immersion program to the Cityview building (2015). Some students will follow different paths from elementary through middle and high schools, such as the addition of Roosevelt for Spanish immersion students (2014). Most downtown-area students starting school will be routed to reopened Webster (2015) school and then Northeast Middle and Edison High schools, rather than heading to Southwest High School. Still others will see new or expanded programs in their buildings, such as the proposed fourfold increase in classrooms at Sullivan and Andersen (2014) for students new to the country who don’t speak English. Sanford’s new gym would allow existing gyms to be converted to classrooms.
Overall, the proposal adds 1,400 more seats than the anticipated enrollment, more than half of those in the district’s north and northeast zone. Some parents there has been unhappy about unclear pathways and programs in the proposal. Adding more seats represents an effort to meet the needs of students through a variety of academic approaches, said LeAnn Dow, the district’s project manager.
The proposal handles the biggest enrollment imbalance in the district’s southwest zone by expanding Southwest (450 students) for 2016, sharing of classes at adjacent Ramsey Middle and Washburn High schools (450) starting in 2015, shifting downtown students to northeast (300) and the new Wilder preK-5 school (450). The Wilder program will be defined with parents in the feeder area once that is defined, Dow said.
Major points in the proposal: Expansion of Southwest, Sanford, Seward Montessori (2016); reopening of Franklin Middle (2015), Cityview, Webster and an expanded Cooper school (2017); new early childhood programs at Wilder, Webster, North and Davis Center; eventual addition of arts-technical programs at Sanford and Roosevelt; addition of all-day kindergarten at five southwest schools without it; bus passes for students from outside Minneapolis willing to open enroll in 2014 to high-poverty schools; locating one of Harvest Prep’s sister charter schools at Lincoln building (2014).
The proposal defers to 2017 the idea of a college prep or audition-based arts high school, which some parents felt would weaken existing high school arts programs. A proposal to open a school that would help immigrant students through their college years was also deferred.
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