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

Minneapolis police shoot, kill 120-pound dog; owner enraged

Posted by: Matt McKinney Updated: July 22, 2014 - 4:08 PM

The moment Paul Trott let his two dogs out in the backyard he could see a problem. Someone had broken the gate at the rear of the yard, and the dogs made a dash for the opening and into the alley beyond.

As his partner Josh Lyczkowski ran out the door to collect the dogs, they heard someone in the alley shout “No! Don’t! Stop!,” according to Lyczkowski. Then they heard a gunshot.

Their largest dog, Tito, a Cane Corso that weighed about 120 pounds, had been fatally shot in the head. Lyczkowski arrived so soon after the shooting that the police officer who shot the dog still had his gun drawn. Tito, who was nearly two years old, was killed two garages down the alley from Lyczkowski’s property.

Lyczkowski said the tragedy was that Tito was a gentle giant known in the neighborhood for being friendly. “He’s a sweetheart,” said Lyczkowski. “They claimed Tito had lunged at [the officer]; if anything Tito would have been playful.”

The episode played out in a matter of seconds on July 18 in the 3900 block of Aldrich Avenue N. It had the Minneapolis Police Department on the defensive Tuesday as a police spokesman issued a statement calling the shooting “sad and unfortunate.”  

“The decision to shoot, or harm, an animal is not made lightly, but at times must be made immediately. Officers have no way of knowing the history of the animal, or what the animal may do,” the statement read. It’s not uncommon for a police officer to shoot a dog; it’s happened most recently in Minneapolis during raids on suspected drug dealing houses, a place where a dog might be trained to attack police officers. State statute 609.066 authorizes the use of deadly force by a police officer when necessary to protect the officer from great bodily harm or death. In this case, according to a police report filed in the incident, the dogs “ran at the officer and would not stop.”

Soon after the shooting, Lyczkowski and Trott learned that a man suspected of stealing a car had broken their rear gate while fleeing from police officers. The officers were in the neighborhood because they had been searching for him.

Lyczkowski said after the shooting the officers asked him if he wanted to hear an apology from the suspected car thief, who had been captured. Lyczkowski said yes, and the police brought the man to Lyczkowski, who vented his frustrations about his dog’s death. The police blamed the shooting on the car thief and the broken gate, Lyczkowski said, but he was left fuming. “They should be trained not to murder housepets,” he said.

Lyczkowski said his other dog, a Cane Corso named Vita, ran back into the house after Tito was shot. The scene was taped off and Tito’s body was eventually taken away by city animal control officials. 

Photo: Josh Lyczkowski and his dog Tito. Courtesy of Josh Lyczkowski.

Council committee approves new CPED director

Posted by: Maya Rao under Politics and government Updated: July 22, 2014 - 3:26 PM

A key City Council committee today approved Mayor Betsy Hodges’ nomination of Craig Taylor to head Minneapolis’ department of community development and regulatory services.

Taylor has headed the University of Minnesota’s Office for Business and Community Economic Development and Business and Technology Center for the last dozen years, previously serving as a manager of corporate small business development at Xcel Energy. He also directed the city’s Office of  Women and Minority Business Enterprise for four years.

Ten people showed up to testify before the Committee of Community Development and Regulatory Services in favor of Taylor’s appointment, including university colleagues.

Kris Lockhart, who is associate vice president for equity and diversity at the U, described him as a visionary who empowers others and mentors staff.

“He can see the big picture, but he’s also got what it takes to see the details to get to the end result,” she said.

Taylor vowed to examine every business decision, program and partnership by considering Hodges’ three priorities for Minneapolis: making the city run well, helping the city grow, and improving racial equity.

He now awaits a vote by the full City Council.

Council members will also hold a hearing soon on Hodges’ nomination of Spencer Cronk to serve as city coordinator. The mayor will submit the nomination at Wednesday’s meeting of the Executive Committee.

Hodges taps state commish Cronk for coordinator post

Posted by: Eric Roper Updated: July 22, 2014 - 12:08 PM

Mayor Betsy Hodges on Tuesday nominated the state's Department of Administration commissioner Spencer Cronk to be city coordinator, filling a key role that has been empty for several months.

Cronk has led the Department of Administration since Gov. Mark Dayton appointed him in 2011. As coordinator, he will oversee a number of city departments including finance, IT, the convention center, human resources and communications.

The city coordinator post, one of the most important positions at City Hall, has been led by interim coordinator Jay Stroebel for several months after former mayor R.T. Rybak's coordinator, Paul Aasen, left the city.

Cronk, who lives in Minneapolis, must win the approval of the City Council before assuming the role.

“Spencer Cronk is an energetic, collaborative and visionary leader with expertise in running complex organizations in the public and nonprofit sectors,” Hodges said in a statement.

At the state, Cronk's department oversaw the fundamental operations of government -- from maintaining state buildings to managing a massive fleet of public vehicles. Its Information Policy Analysis Division (IPAD) is a key resource for helping journalists, citizens and government agencies determine what government data should be public. The demographer's office, also within the department, helps track long term trends across the state.

“I look forward to working with the Mayor and City Council to ensure the city runs well for everyone in Minneapolis," Cronk said in a statement.

Cronk's appointment continues a trend of top-level officials moving between the city and state government.

Dayton hired Rybak's chief of staff Tina Flint Smith to be his chief of staff, while Aasen came to the city after running the state's Pollution Control Agency. Aasen's predecessor, Steven Bosacker, was Gov. Jesse Ventura's chief of staff.

Prior to his state appointment, Cronk worked as executive director of New York City's Department of Small Business Services. He has also been active in LGBT advocacy.

Touching up Andersen United's image

Posted by: Steve Brandt under Parks and recreation, People and neighborhoods, Urban living Updated: July 21, 2014 - 4:58 PM

MPLS figured anyone out painting her school’s name in Monday’s brutal 91-degree heat deserves a shoutout.

Jena McDermott, an AmeriCorps volunteer at Andersen United Community School in the Phillips community, sent the kids inside due to the heat.  But she remained outside.  “I’m a perfectionist,” she said.

McDermott works with kids in an after-school sports and arts program, who decided to paint the bricks spelling out “Andersen” in rainbow colors.  The bricks previously were all-white.

Woman confronts catcallers with camera, wit

Posted by: Matt McKinney Updated: July 21, 2014 - 6:21 PM

A woman has turned a hidden camera on her Minneapolis street harassers, filming men who make sexually suggestive comments about her appearance as she walks downtown. The clips, published on her website, include the confrontations that ensue when she asks the men to explain themselves. One man’s response: “I’m surprised that you’re offended by it.”

Not only offended, she built the website and has begun passing out cards to wolf-whistling men that bluntly tell them to stop.

“The street harassment my friends and I encounter tends to take the form of brief but frustrating interactions: comments made just as men pass by on the street, over so quickly you rarely have a chance to respond,” writes the woman, Lindsey, on her website. She asked that her last name not be printed. “Just as frustrating as the harassment itself is the feeling of powerlessness that comes with not having had a chance to defend yourself or convey how the harassment affects you.”

Her website includes a copy of each card so that other women can print them out and distribute if needed.

The project appears to have begun just recently, with most of the video clips posted this month.

In another encounter Lindsey caught on camera, a man walks past her and says “bitch.” When she turns to ask him what he’s talking about, he tells her that it’s a compliment. In another clip, she confronts a catcaller who, in his defense of his comments, says that “women are put on this Earth to satisfy a man.”

See more of the video clips here.

UPDATE: Lindsey is the same woman who wrote a Craigslist post last year about a specific street harassment. The Star Tribune wrote this story about it.

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