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

Police seek public's help in search for kidnapper

Posted by: Libor Jany under Public safety Updated: December 9, 2014 - 9:00 PM

Police are asking for the public’s help in identifying a suspected kidnapper over the weekend  who apparently lured a 7-year-old north Minneapolis girl into his car by asking her to help him “find his puppy.”

The young girl was found walking about 2½ blocks from home nearly two hours after her disappearance, apparently after being dropped off by the suspect.

Police described the wanted man, whose blurry image was captured on a neighbor’s surveillance camera and handed out to reporters Tuesday, as white and in his 30s. He was reportedly wearing a dark jacket with a gray or white "horizontal stripe," Minneapolis deputy police Chief Kris Arneson said at an afternoon press conference at police headquarters. A police spokesman previously described the man as having “possibly ruddy or pockmarked, splotchy complexion.”

He was reportedly driving a dark green small or midsize sedan, police said.

Arneson, who was flanked by several homicide detectives, declined to comment on any specifics of the investigation, but said that police were still actively investigating.

The girl had been playing with friends not far from her home, at a park on the 3100 block of James Avenue N., when the man approached them around 3 p.m. Saturday, a police spokesman said.

Police said that the victim recounted being taken to a house with two large dogs, one white and one black.

Proposal would reinvent Hennepin Avenue's crosswalks

Posted by: Eric Roper Updated: December 10, 2014 - 1:32 PM

Above: A hopscotch crosswalk in Baltimore, Md. Flickr image courtesy of user Graham Corell-Allen.

Hennepin Avenue's crosswalks may one day feature an array of colors and patterns under a plan proposed by the Hennepin Theatre Trust.

The non-profit group, which owns the avenue's historic theaters, is partnering with the city to seek $150,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts to construct 38 artist-designed crosswalks from the Mississippi River to the Walker Art Center.

The plan envisions soliciting artists for crosswalk designs, but some of the theoretical options presented to a city committee Tuesday included a rainbow, brick-like and strike-through zebra pattern. Most Minneapolis crosswalks are now simply parallel lines painted with latex paint.

"It's going to pull together the two sides of Hennepin Avenue and also more clearly demarcate where people should be crossing the street," said Hennepin Theatre Trust CEO Tom Hoch.

The trust and the city will apply through the NEA's Our Town program, which provides cities with grants for art-focused projects in public spaces. Hennepin Theatre Trust The city previously won a $200,000 Our Town grant to re-envision Hennepin Avenue as an arts corridor, which has already spawned artist installations in vacant windows and pop-up parks.

The crosswalk proposal, known as "Curb Appeal," would be rolled out along Hennepin Avenue on Sundays in the summer of 2016, if approved.

"Over the course of the summer, people would develop a sense about coming downtown on a Sunday morning to participate on this," Hoch said.

The earliest the award could be granted is July 2015.

Above: A rainbow crosswalk in Vancouver, British Columbia. Flickr image courtesy of user Sherwood411.

Arrest made in fatal stabbing at LRT station

Posted by: Libor Jany under Public safety Updated: December 8, 2014 - 5:49 PM

Police have made an arrest in the stabbing death Saturday afternoon of a man at the Lake Street light rail station.

The victim was found at the base of the north station platform after being stabbed in the neck by another man, who was arrested early Monday morning. The suspect was picked up by officers just after midnight at the People Serving People homeless shelter, at 614 3rd St. South, authorities said.

Prosecutors have until Wednesday to file charges against the man, who is being held without bail. The Star Tribune generally does not name suspects until they have been charged.

Commander Catherine Johnson, head of the Minneapolis police's Violent Crimes Investigation Division, credited the arrest to a "quick response" by MPD and Metro Transit officers. She declined to provide further details about the incident, saying that investigators still need to interview more witnesses. 

A Metro Transit spokesman said the victim, whose identity hasn’t been released, was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center, where he later died.

The stabbing appeared to have stemmed from an argument between the two men, but it was not immediately clear what the argument had been about.

Light-rail service was briefly suspended at the station Saturday as police conducted their investigation.

A little more than a handful of people rallied Monday afternoon outside the station at Hiawatha Avenue and E Lake Street. Pastor Harding Smith of Spiritual Church of God in Robbinsdale said that there needs to be more discussion about how people can resolve their conflicts without resorting to violence.

“This is something that happened that could have easily been dealt with in a different way,” Smith said.

He commended the police for apprehending a suspect and encouraged people to not be afraid to use the light rail station again.

“We are here today to bring back trust at this transit station. There has been a murder here and we don’t people to be fearful,” Smith said.

Staff writer Nicole Norfleet contributed to this report.

Documents detail Community Action of MPLS misspending

Posted by: Alejandra Matos under Public records Updated: December 8, 2014 - 4:03 PM

Board members and the chief executive of Community Action of Minneapolis paid at least $1,200 on spa treatments over three years while attending their annual retreat at Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria. 

New details have emerged about the organization's misspending after the Star Tribune obtained dozens of documents from the Department Of Human Services, which conducted an internal audit of the organization's spending for fiscal years 2012 and 2013. 

Patty Davis, chief executive officer Bill Davis's partner, spent $168 on a 80 minute stone massage and a scalp facial in 2012. Board members Evelyn LaRue and Terri Hayden also received a 50-minute signature massage for $80 dollars each. 

Neither Davis nor the fromer board members could be reached for comment.

The organization also spent over $6,000 on a holiday party in 2011.

A Ramsey County judge recently appointed a receiver over the non-profit's finances to determine how much money it owes the state. Community Action board is virtually non-existent and Davis was suspended indefinitely without pay. 

The documents also reveal the concerns that several DHS employees had with the organization, and one employee asked for a more robust audit.

Minutes of a DHS and Office of Economic Opportunity meeting state that a state employee "emphasized that she wants to maintain a positive working relationship with the grantee, but that they have a history of doing the minimum to remain in compliance with the Department, and they should be aware that they are going to monitored."

Board Allowances Redacted

City launches open data site

Posted by: Erin Golden under Local business, Politics and government, Public records, Public safety Updated: December 8, 2014 - 3:32 PM

The City of Minneapolis' new open data portal made its debut Monday afternoon, providing information on subjects ranging from fires and police incidents to air quality study results.

Most of the data was previously only available to people who submitted formal requests to the city. The city says it is now one of 38 states and 46 cities and counties that make open data portals available to the public.

Other information available includes: 311 incidents, crime statistics, open rental licenses, open liquor licenses, digital inclusion survey results, city boundaries and neighborhood revitalization program budgets.

Data can be downloaded in charts and maps, and will be updated with more current information.

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