Now that Abdi Warsame is sworn in as the first Somali-American seated on the Minneapolis City Council, history has been made.
But that win is being stretched in a way that history doesn't support. You may have read this the claim in a commentary piece on this newspaper's opinion pages that Warsame notched more votes than any Sixth Ward candidate in city history.
Far from it.
Warsame recorded 3,090 first-choice votes on Election Day.
But from Earl Netwal's 3,151 votes in 1973 to the 5,248 that Edgar Buckley polled in 1947, a dozen Sixth Ward winners have topped Warsame's total by a combined 17 times. In fact, in the year that Buckley won, he beat Richard Palmer, who got 3,139 votes. So Palmer topped Warsame's total and still lost.
All this data comes from Tony Hill, the political scientist and student of Mnneapolis politics and governance. "I am always amazed by the things people state without even doing a minimum of checking," Hill said after this reporter asked him for a fact-check.
Hill says the record for a council candidate is 13,571 amassed by J. Russell Sheffield in a 1928 special election, allowing him to succeed his late father in the Eighth Ward. For a general election, the record is 12,725 for W.H. Rendell in 1921 in the same ward. But that was in the days before rigorous reapportionment of wards to reflect population changes. The record for wards with equalized populations came in 1957 when Norman Stewart in the 13th Ward with 11.350.
By the way, both Sheffield and Rendell were implicated in a bribery and extortion scandal that broke at City Hall in 1929. The indictment against Sheffield was later dropped after another council member, the chief witness against him, was critically injured in a car crash; Rendell's two trials ended in hung juries. The prosecutions by County Attorney Floyd B. Olson resulted in two convictions, two guilty pleas and one resignation. The also helped Olson win the governor's chair.
(Photo above: Floyd B. Olson)
You can finally get there from here easily on the Hiawatha LRT Trail following the announcement that a long-closed key segment south of downtown will reopen Thursday at 7 a.m.
The section of trail for bikes and pedestrians between 11th and 15th Avenues S. is reopening after a lengthy closure by the Metro Council for construction of the adjacent extension of the light-rail transit line to St. Paul. The bike path generally parallels the light-rail tracks, and about 1,300 cyclists a day use it in warm weather.
The section of path closed just as the city was completing a $1.3 million extension of the north end of the trail farther into downtown,which mooted the utility of the extension. The extension pushed the north end of the trail from 11th Avenue S. to S. 3rd Street, meaning cyclists no longer were tempted to cut through several bumpy parking lots to access it. The extension connected the trail with on-street lanes on S. 3rd and 4th Streets.
During the construction closure, trail users were routed through a bumpy, narrow, noisy sidewalk route adjoinng the S. 5th Street freeway entrance to downtown.
The city said in a news release that bikers and pedestrians should keep an eye out for light-rail workers using the trail to access work sites and complete remaining tasks. The reopened section of trail includes the junction of the blue (Hiawatha) line and green (Central) sections of track. That means there's a new surface-level track crossing where bikers and other users are required to stop for gate arms, the city said.
(Staff photo bvy Matt McKinney, looking west toward downtown at the point of the former detour.)
The owner of an apartment building on Lake Street sued by the city for pumping groundwater into the Calhoun-Isles lagoon asserts that the city approved its plans.
Lake and Knox LLC said in an answer to the city lawsuit that city reviewed and approved its building plans and specifications, which included included information about two permanent dewatering pumps each rated at 500 gallons per minute.
The city asserts that Lake and Knox obtained temporary permits to pump water for its construction site at 1800 W. Lake St., but that it is now pumping illegally on a permanent basis. The city, later joined by the Park Board, is suing to block the discharge and recover damages.
But lawyers for the apartment owner assert that the city expressly approved a storm drain permit, certificate of occupancy and building permit that involved permanent dewatering of the property.
Lake and Knox said it applied for a permanent Department of Natural Resources water use permit after conferring with the city. It applied in April, 2013, after construction was completed, according to state records, but the city asked the state to hold off on acting on the permit, according to Jack Gleason, a DNR area hydrologist. He said the need for a permanent permit didn't come to light until after the city inquired whether the building had one.
The owner's attorneys also deny the city's claim that a temporary water use permit was limited to lowering the water table at the construction site for excavating a foundation, insisting that the dewatering was to lower the water table in the vicinity of the property. The company also denied the city's assertion that the apartment's connection to the storm sewer system was only for drainage from the property's land and roof.
It admits that the pumping of water into the lagoon may thin the ice, but denied that the pumping impairs the lakes or the city's sewer. It said it has worked "diligently and steadfastly" with the city to address its concerns.
The proposal for what became 56 upscale apartments was controversial in surrounding neighborhoods before it was approved and constructed in 2011. The city and Park Board recently installed for the second straight winter a drainage pipe to carry discharged water from the nearby sewer across the lagoon ice to a point in Lake Calhoun. That was done in part to accommodate skiers participating in this weekend's City of Lake Loppet events on Isles, Calhoun and the lagoon between them. .
(A temporary 12-inch drainage pipe in the background is temporarily carrying the storm sewer discharge from the lagoon to Lake Calhoun to avoid further thinning of the ice in the lagoon)
A second Minneapolis agency has sued the owner of an apartment building at 1800 W. Lake St. for discharging groundwater into the lagoon between Lake of the Isles and Lake Calhoun.
The complaint served last week by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board against Eden Prairie-based Lake and Knox LLC follows a city lawsuit last month over the discharge of groundwater. The Park Board will ask that the two lawsuits be joined, attorney Brian Rice said.
The city and Park Board allege that the apartment owner exceed the limits of a temporary permit it was issued during construction of the 56-unit building to lower the water table to permit construction of a lower-level garage. The Park Board cites its statutory authority over waters adjacent to parks.
The Park Board asked the court to declare the discharge illegal, to enjoin further discharge and to award unspecified damages.
Lake and Knox is not due to file an answer until late this month in Hennepin County District Court to the allegations against it, nor has its attorney responded to Star Tribune inquiries.
The lawsuits allege that the apartment project is pumping an annual 89 million gallons into the lagoon. The Park Board alleges that causes thin ice and open water on the lagoon, creating hazards for skiers and others, mars the scenery, uses storm drain capacity, and impedes the effectiveness and hinders the maintenance of a grit chamber intended to remove sediment and accompanying pollutants.
Hashim Yonis had plenty of friends on his way up, but most were missing in action on Friday when the onetime park and school employee was charged with felony theft by Hennepin County.
Mayor R.T. Rybak, who brought Yonis to a White House session on youth summer jobs and supported his Park Board candidacy? He was unavailable for comment, an aide said.
Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson, who awarded Yonis one of her commemorative coins after the White House visit, then cut him loose as a school employee last Tuesday? The district didn't make her available for comment.
Mohamud Noor, who served as treasurer for the campaign committee for the Yonis park campaign? He said that his position as a school board member who will review the firing of Yonis inihbits his ability to comment. "I'm trying to run away from it," said Noor, who is seeking DFL endorsement for the House seat now held by Phyllis Kahn. "I wish this was untrue."
Friday probably wasn't the most auspicious day then for a laudatory article about Noor penned by Yonis to be posted in the Mogadishu Times. There was no mention that Noor was treasurer for Yonis.
Yonis was charged for allegedly keeping from the Park Board payments he collected for soccer field rentals at Currie Park from an adult soccer team.
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