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

Board suspends chief executive of Community Action of Minneapolis

Posted by: Alejandra Matos Updated: October 14, 2014 - 1:20 PM

The board of Community Action of Minneapolis has suspended its longtime chief executive without pay after a state audit found the agency had misspent taxpayer dollars.

The board approved Bill Davis’ suspension Monday. It is in place indefinitely.

“That’s all I can say right now,” said board chair Mike Anderson. “We will have another meeting later on.”

The suspension comes two weeks after the organization was shut down by the state after an audit by the Department of Human Services found leaders of the organization misspent more than $800,000 between 2011 and 2013 in taxpayer money on travel, a celebrity cruise, spa visits and a personal car loan to Davis.

Davis could not be reached for comment.

In an interview last month, Davis defended the financial management of the organization, which gets about half its funding from tax dollars. He said they sent the state more than 100 pages of documents to refute the most damaging findings, but state leaders never included it in the final report. Davis has not provided that document to the Star Tribune after numerous requests.

The board of directors that approved the suspension was only made up of four members. Numerous board members have resigned since the audit was obtained by the Star Tribune, including Sen. Jeff Hayden and U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison. Both served during the time covered in the audit, but had appointed alternates.

Despite denying that he was involved in any misspending, Hayden was hit with an ethics complaint by Senate Republicans who allege that Hayden participated in the misuse of funding.

DATA: Neighborhoods and their fund balances

Posted by: Eric Roper Updated: October 13, 2014 - 1:46 PM

The Star Tribune reported this weekend that a sudden windfall was raising questions about how to spend millions of dollars earmarked for neighborhood purposes.

Our story included a map (above) of how much each organization has received since 2011 and how much of their historical allocation remains "uncontracted."

Some expressed interest in seeing this data in its raw format, which shows the flow of money in more detail.

That breakdown, provided by the city's finance department, is embedded below. Some on the City Council have focused on the "un-contracted" category, which shows unspent funds.

"Uncontracted" does not necessarily mean the money is not tied to a specific future project, the city's neighborhood and community relations director David Rubedor said in a recent e-mail. In some cases those funds may have been set aside for a project that has not yet reached implementation phase.

In the spreadsheet below, "CPP" refers to the Community Participation Program, which replaced the Neighborhood Revitalization Program in 2011.

A city spokesman also provided this explanation of the "balance" category, which includes some funds that are nonetheless under contract:

Most of the fund balances represent funds that are allocated to specific programs through their approved neighborhood action plans, and contracted (but not yet expended). For example, many neighborhood organizations have dollars allocated to housing programs, which are contracted through other agencies. However, the dollars stay at the City until used.

New uses for the city's upper river

Posted by: Steve Brandt under Local business, Parks and recreation, People and neighborhoods, Politics and government Updated: October 13, 2014 - 9:58 AM

The Park Board in August took public comment on its plans for a Marshall St. NE property it bought on the Mississippi riverside, which includes a warehouse.

MPLS couldn't help but wonder if the Park Board was contemplating a new revenue source for its cash-strapped parks when the following summary of a citizen comment appeared in the board's minutes, presumably as a typographical error: 

"Shannon Weed, 60 Logan Parkway, asked how a storage whorehouse in the proposed location would support the above the falls plan."

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