What’s making news in Minneapolis, reported by the Star Tribune’s team of city reporters. Send news tips to baird.helgeson@startribune.com.

Open data policy heads to the Council

Posted by: Eric Roper Updated: July 28, 2014 - 3:58 PM

Reams of public data addressing everything from restaurant inspections to city spending may soon become easier to access under an "open data policy" under consideration at City Hall.

The policy, which will be presented to a committee this Wednesday, would create a new portal where departments can upload raw public data about different metrics they are tracking. To access that information now, inquiring citizens and journalists must formally request it from the city.

Other cities like Chicago and New York have already created similar portals, allowing developers and journalists to illuminate trends and create tools for public use. Chicago's portal contains more than 1,000 datasets, from historical crime data to a map of abandoned vehicles.

If passed, Minneapolis would be the 16th city in the country to have such a policy. "This is really positioning us for being up there in the nation in terms of transparency," said Andrew Johnson, a former systems engineer who has helped lead the open data initiative.

The policy (below) says that the portal must be available within 120 days of enactment, meaning late 2014. What data is uploaded will largely be left to the discretion of departments, however.

Johnson said some departments are more interested than others, particularly Health and Regulatory Services. They control a range of datasets including health code inspections and landlord violations.

"I think that by being champions of it and showing how they can utilize open data to work better and achieve more of their goals, other departments will see the value and follow suit," Johnson said.

Other departments have expressed concerns about committing staff resources, releasing inaccurate data or having data misinterpreted, Johnson said.

The policy says there are many benefits to increasing data transparency: "By making its data available online, the City will enable the public to: (1) assist in identifying efficient solutions for government, (2) promote innovative strategies for social progress, and (3) create economic opportunities."

Starting in 2015, all new contracts must include provisions to ensure data can be published when appropriate. Each department must also assign an open data coordinator to facilitate uploading data and serve on an advisory group.

Photo: A map of abandoned vehicles in Chicago, from the city's data portal.

Open Data Policy Final

Northeast's cycling museum open Sunday

Posted by: Steve Brandt under Local business, Parks and recreation, People and neighborhoods, Public safety, Urban living Updated: July 25, 2014 - 6:16 PM

When Brent Fuqua moved the expanding bike shop he co-owns into a newly refurbished storefront across Central Avenue last summer, he suddenly had thousands of square feet in which to stash the bikes the business had stored in rented garages across northeast Minneapolis.

That new space included a big second floor. Meanwhile a buddy, Juston Anderson, had accumulated somewhere between 40 and 50 vintage bikes in 27 years of collecting.

“I thought people should see these bikes,” Fuqua said.

So during Sunday’s Open Streets event, in which bikers will take over 8-1/2 blocks of Central for six hours, the Cycling Museum of Minnesota will debut in the upstairs of Recovery Bike Shop, 2504 Central Av. NE.

From 19th century boneshakers, including one with a 60-inch drive wheel, to trendy Pusgley fat-tire bikes, cyclists will get a glimpse of cycling history that highlights important advances in biking from technology to alliances with good roads boosters to changing social mores. They’ll see those how changes affected bike safety and speed.

It’s a coming-out party for the museum, which organizers say is only in the formative stages and won’t be open regularly until sometime next year. “It was just a bunch of dudes with bikes,” Fuqua told a sneak

preview Thursday night that was intended to elicit interest and funds from an invitee list that dressed from cutoffs to suits.

The organization’s nine-member board has incorporated and plans to put on educational programs, conduct community rides, host family events, present lectures and show films.

The collection includes beginner bikes for kids, BMX bikes, mass-produced bikes by Sears, hand-made frames by some of the state’s noted builder, bikes on which some of the state’s best-known racers sped, and vintage machines such as a locally made tandem designed for courting couples.

But there are also prosaic bike collectibles, such as the 1950s prototype of a Park Tool Co. bike repair stand.  It features such parts as a concrete-filled World War II shell casing, kitchen table legs and a 1937 Ford truck axle.

Anderson, 42, of Arden Hills, remembers looking at pictures as a kid of the high-wheeled bikes that dominated the 1880s but were typically affordable only to wealthy young men with strong legs. “I remember thinking, ‘I don’t know how you could balance on something like that,’” he said. But earlier this month he completed a century (100-mile) ride on one at a collectors meeting.

The nursing home janitor said he takes a frugal approach to collecting. He said he reminds his wife: “There’s other hobbies I could get into. I could get into hunting or gambling or drinking.”     

(Above: Recovery Bike co-owner with a bike that mimicked automobile streamlining; below: an 1897 courting tandem made by Deere and Webber of Minneapolis.)

Here's more on the upcoming Lee house exhibit

Posted by: Steve Brandt under People and neighborhoods, Public safety, Urban living Updated: July 24, 2014 - 1:32 PM

It you read Thursday's article on the listing of the Arthur and Edith Lee on the National Register of Historic Places, you may have been left wondering about details of the University of Minnesota's upcoming exhibit that commemorates the events that led to the listing.

Here's the information on that exhibit that was supposed to accompany the article but didn't:

What: “A Right to Establish a Home,” an exhibit at the University of Minnesota focused on the 1931 purchase of a home by Arthur and Edith Lee, the resulting backlash, race and housing in Minneapolis, and racism in Minnesota.
When: Aug. 23-Jan. 4; opening reception on Aug. 22, 6-8 p.m.
Where: HGA Gallery, Rapson Hall, 80 Church St. SE., Minneapolis.
Sponsor: Goldstein Museum of Design
More information: http://goldstein.design.umn.edu/exhibitions/upcoming/

(Photo above: Part of the crowd of white homeowners who opposed the move of the Lees, a black couple, to their neighborhood in 1931)

Minnesota to host annual LGBT equality meeting

Posted by: Liz Sawyer Updated: July 23, 2014 - 6:43 PM

Minneapolis will host more than 160 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocates next week for an annual summer meeting, where participants will celebrate the passage of recent same-sex marriage measures and continue discussions about how to push the movement forward.

The three-day gathering, called Summer Meeting 2014, will run from July 29 - Aug. 2. Equality Federation Institute, a partner with state-based LGBT advocacy organizations, sponsors the event which attracts gay rights supporters, national leaders and lobbyists looking to build support for equality.

Officials said Minnesota was chosen to host the meeting because of its “spectacular three years” in advancing rights of gay and transgender people – including defeating a proposed constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage in 2012, legalizing same-sex marriage in 2013, and passing antibullying legislation in 2014.

“We wanted to shine light on the work that’s happening and the work that’s still being done in the state,” said Jace Woodrum, director of communications at the Equality Federation Institute.

Minnesota is one of the first states to hold an equality meeting after legalizing same-sex marriage. The gay rights movement has been defined by the issue of marriage for so long, Woodrum said, that now state leaders are trying to envision what it looks like to advocate for gay and transgender people after marriage is legal.

“It’s a really unique time to be in Minnesota and it’s a perfect place to wrestle with some of those big questions,” Woodrum said.

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