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

Cookie Cart debuts bakery upgrade

Posted by: Erin Golden under Local business, People and neighborhoods Updated: September 18, 2014 - 5:55 PM

Police Chief Janeé Harteau, Council Member Barb Johnson, Hennepin County Commissioner Linda Higgins, Cookie Cart executive director Matt Halley, Cookie Cart employee Keondre Jordan and Mayor Betsy Hodges cut the ribbon at the grand re-opening of the Cookie Cart at 1119 W. Broadway Ave.  

A north Minneapolis bakery that aims to help develop teenagers' business skills unveiled a new, upgraded space Thursday -- and the news that it plans to put more young people to work. 

Cookie Cart, located at 1119 W. Broadway Ave., had been closed for several months as workers installed new equipment, built a cafe seating area and fixed the building's elevator. The business' re-opening was marked with a speech from Mayor Betsty Hodges, an open-house tour of the facility, and free cookies for the local dignitaries and neighbors who packed the bakery's ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Matt Halley, the Cookie Cart's executive director, said the revamped space will allow the organization to employ 200 teenagers. That's up about 50 young employees from last fall. 

"This bakery is really our classroom," he said. "It's where we teach life, leadership and employment skills."

Mayor Betsy Hodges proclaimed Sept. 18 as "Cookie Cart Day" in the city, and encouraged people to order the business' sweet treats to take to their own offices. 

"This is one of the leading social enterprises in the city of Minneapolis," she said. 

Keondre Jordan, a 16-year-old Cookie Cart employee, said he's been working in the bakery for two years. Once he got over the a few hurdles -- scooping out the cookie dough turns out to be tougher than it looks, he said --  the job made him think differently about what he could do after high school.

Before he showed up at the bakery, Keondre didn't think he'd go to college. Now, he's more certain it's something he could do.

"It's not just about selling cookies here," he said.

Man flees attempted murder trial, on loose in Minneapolis

Posted by: Matt McKinney Updated: September 18, 2014 - 6:10 PM

A man convicted of second-degree attempted murder fled the courtroom Thursday afternoon into downtown Minneapolis and hasn't been found.

Michael David Henderson, 25, of Minneapolis, was on trial for charges related to a violent armed robbery at the Bloomington Sam's Club in March, according to court documents.

He's described as being 5'7", 154 pounds, wearing a solid maroon shirt, black pants and black shoes.A mugshot from his arrest after the Sam's Club robbery shows him with longer hair. His listed address is on the 2300 block of Harriet Avenue S.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Jennifer Johnson says as the verdict was being read, Henderson made a run for it. Johnson says Henderson scuffled with some sheriff's deputies before running out of the building. She says one deputy was hurt.

He's considered dangerous, according to an alert issued Thursday evening by the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office. Anyone with information about his whereabouts should call 911 or the Sheriff's Office tips line at 1-888-988-TIPS.

Details of the Sam's Club armed robbery can be found in the court document posted below.

 

Charges against Michael David Henderson by mckinney3365

Park Board seeks help for possible Southwest fight

Posted by: Eric Roper Updated: September 17, 2014 - 8:55 PM

Gearing up for a possible legal fight over Southwest light rail, Minneapolis' Park Board voted Wednesday to seek advice from attorneys with transportation expertise.

The board asked Stinson Leonard Street to research their legal options under a section of the federal Department of Transportation Act that protects parkland. That section, known as "4(f)," requires that transportation projects have minimal impact on parklands unless there are no feasible and prudent alternatives.

Another group of private citizens has already filed a separate lawsuit over the line against the Metropolitan Council and Federal Transit Administration because the line was approved without an updated environmental impact statement -- due out early next year.

The $1.6 billion Southwest line would run from Eden Prairie to downtown Minneapolis, following an existing freight rail corridor through the city's prized Chain of Lakes. The board has previously expressed it's opposition to the shallow tunnel needed to squeeze freight rail, recreational trails and light rail through a pinch point near Cedar Lake (see full explanation below).

"I just don’t believe you can build this thing and it’s not going to impact those lakes," Commissioner Annie Young said through tears on Wednesday. "If nothing else, for seven generations. And the kids. It may seem like nothing now, but 50 years from now it’s going to mean a lot.”

The law firm is expected to update the board on October 1. Several commissioners said retaining their advice amounted to using heavy artillery after being ignored by project planners.

"We’ve really exhausted every polite avenue that we could to try and get across our concerns," said board President Liz Wielinski, saying the project will create the equivalent of "a freeway bridge" above the canal.

“This is like we’re drawing a line in the sand," said Commissioner Meg Forney. "We have gotten the short end of the stick on numerous occasions….So I look at bringing on legal counsel as an investment for more future conversations, as well as this conversation.”

Commissioner Brad Bourn expressed concern about the cost of the contract, $22,000, in relation to the amount of work the firm will do. The Park Board already has an in-house attorney.

But Young said money should not be the primary issue, citing citizens who have written in to offer their help. "They’ll throw us a fundraiser. They’ll do whatever," Young said. "We have a foundation that will help protect us. We have lots of resources outside of this system that will rise up and fight in this struggle.”

Here is the section of the board's August 2013 resolution focusing on the shallow tunnel concerns. While two tunnels were under consideration when the resolution was passed, only one was included in the final plan.

Whereas, The shallow tunnel option would be constructed by open trenching, essentially removing all existing vegetation within the current trail corridor;

Whereas, MPRB, SWLRT project office and City of Minneapolis staff have recently had significant conversations about the shallow tunnel option and specifically about the crossing of the Kenilworth Channel and vegetation removal;

Whereas, The shallow tunnel option would construct a significant amount of infrastructure directly adjacent to and over the Kenilworth Channel including concrete portals, safety fencing or walls and widened bridge decks as necessary to bring the light rail back to grade and over the Channel;

Whereas, After deliberating on the SWLRT options, the MPRB believes the shallow tunnel option as currently proposed will permanently damage the recreational, cultural, and aesthetic experience of MPRB parklands and assets at a particularly fragile and critical location that would be overwhelmed by the proposed co-location of light rail and freight rail infrastructure;

City board clears tax levy hike

Posted by: Erin Golden under Politics and government Updated: September 17, 2014 - 5:05 PM

Mayor Betsy Hodges' proposed 2.4 percent property tax levy increase cleared a first hurdle Wednesday, winning the approval of the city's Board of Estimate and Taxation.

The board, which has members from the City Council, Park and Recreation Board, along with Minneapolis residents, considers changes to the levy before they are forwarded on to the council for approval. Hodges' plan calls for the tax levy to bring in an additional $6.7 million, for a total of $288 million.

Most of that money would be spent on debt payments for a stepped-up street repair program implemented by former Mayor R.T. Rybak. The impact of the levy increase will vary; an analysis presented to the board showed about 57 percent of properties will end up with a smaller tax bill, while 43 percent will pay more.

"More than half of this proposed increase is simply to account for inflation," Hodges said in a statement. "Even with this modest increase, half of Minneapolis' residential properties will see no increase -- or will even see a decrease -- in the City portion of their property taxes."

Minneapolis police settle excessive force suit for $50,000

Posted by: Libor Jany Updated: September 17, 2014 - 2:59 PM

A woman whose lawsuit against Minneapolis police alleged that she was beaten and dragged by police after falling asleep in the lobby of her downtown apartment building, settled the case last month for $50,000, her lawyer said Tuesday.

Attorney Paul Applebaum, who represented Alicia Joneja in the federal lawsuit, said his client was “happy that the cops were held accountable” and that she was ready to put the incident behind her. The city has admitted no guilt in settling the case.

Joneja said in the suit that following a night of drinking with friends she fell asleep in the foyer of her building after she was locked out of her loft. She alleged she was awakened a few hours later by two officers, one of whom kneed her repeatedly in the stomach, grabbed her hair and handcuffed one of her hands.

According to Joneja, the officer, identified in the suit as Heather Sterzinger, dragged her across the floor by her handcuffed hand, injuring her shoulder.

The incident happened in June 2012, according to the suit.

Sterzinger and the other officer, Sundiata Bronson, contended that Joneja became combative after being awakened and threw her shoe at a firefighter who had also responded to the scene, prompting her arrest.

Charges against Joneja were later dropped, Applebaum said.

Police union officials were not immediately available for comment on the settlement.

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