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Minneapolis teachers positioned for 2 percent annual raises

Posted by: Steve Brandt Updated: March 4, 2014 - 7:37 PM

Minneapolis teachers would earn at least 2 percent increases for this year and next under a proposed labor deal that has yet to be acted on by either side.

"It's pretty much what the board was comfortable with," said Rebecca Gagnon, who chairs the school board's finance committee.

Those increases represent salary scale adjustments, before any additional money a teacher would earn from moving up the pay scale for additional experience or education.  The district negotiated cutbacks in the rate at which a teacher gains those increases in the current contract.

That pay raise would be the first general increase in the cost of living granted to teachers in at least four years. However, many teachers saw their pay increase by $3,090 in the last contract in exchange for increasing the length of the school year by four days and the non-teaching part of their school day by 15 minutes.

The size of the salary hike is the only concrete detail to emerge since a tentative agreement was announced Saturday night. The district said Tuesday it doesn't plan to release terms until at least after the board considers the deal in private next Tuesday, and then only if it finds the deal satisfactory. In contrast, the St. Paul district and its teacher union released a summary of highlights three days after reaching a deal. That two-year contract included a general increases of 2.25 percent and 2 percent.

The Minneapolis board doesn't expect to vote on the proposal until sometime in April, after a teacher vote the district said it expects to be held during the first week of April after spring break. That couldn't be confirmed with the teacher federation immediately.

The size of the raises was disclosed, perhaps inadvertently, when a member of a board committee sought assurance that they would fit within next year's proposed $541 million budget.

Minneapolis teachers are paid an average salary of $65,224 this school year, according to data posted by the Minnesota Department of Education. That's third highest in the state, behind St. Paul's $65,840 and $67,848 in the Rosemount district. A district's average is affected not only by its salary scale, but also by the relative level of experience and education of its teaching staff.

The current Minneapolis pay scale starts a teacher with a bachelor degree and no teaching experience at $39,147, and tops out at just under $98,000, a level that few teachers reach.

Minneapolis police adding new online crime-mapping tool

Posted by: Updated: February 6, 2014 - 9:44 AM

By Meghan Holden

Police are adding a new online crime-mapping tool that will update daily and allow residents to see where crime is happening.

The RAIDS Online website allows users to search for different types of crime in specific areas of the city and report anonymous tips.

The tool also includes demographic data, like the median age, household income and population density of an area.

More than two dozen cities and counties in the state already use the tool.

Police will hold a news conference Thursday morning at City Hall to instruct residents how to use the tool. 

It's 2013--how's your water line doing?

Posted by: Steve Brandt Updated: September 6, 2013 - 3:58 PM



If you're the worrying sort, this week's failure of a large water service line in the Old St. Anthony area of the Minneapolis riverfront may have given you fresh cause for worry.

How's a Minneapolis homeowner supposed to know if the water service line that runs from the water main in the street to the water meter in your residence is up to snuff?

There's no sure way of knowing without an expensive excavation.  But there's one way to find out if the property you're in is operating with the originally installed line or was modernized more recently.  That's a call to 612-673-2451, where the city keeps permit records on work done on water service lines.

This homeowner found that his service line was replaced ny a previous owner in 1958 with a three-quarter-inch copper pipe from the house to the shutoff valve on the boulevard.  That means that only the shorter portion running from the shufoff to the main is original piping from around 1908, most likely lead piping, given construction practices at the time.

Why should you care? Any pipe replacement other than a failure of the city-owned main is on the property owner's dime.  The cost typically ranges from $3,000 to $5,000, since the ciuty requires that a plumber replace lead pipes with copper.

On the plus side, failure of your small line isn't likely to spew anywhere near the estimated 90,000-gallon loss recorded in the St. Anthony Main area, where water lines are some of the oldest in the city.

(Photo: Water flooded the Aster Cafe along SE Main St. after a private line from the water main to the building broke.) .     


Chief Harteau on racial incidents: 'This isn't who we are'

Posted by: Matt McKinney Updated: August 5, 2013 - 5:21 PM

Saying that most Minneapolis police officers conduct themselves appropriately when dealing with the public, Chief Janeé Harteau on Monday said she plans to examine the department's training and hiring practices after two incidents in which white officers allegedly used racial slurs and got into fights with black men while off duty.

In both cases, the officers were out late at bars when the fights happened, and in both cases the officers disrespected the local police officers who showed up to investigate. Five officers from the two incidents, one in Green Bay, Wis., and the other in Apple Valley, are under internal affairs review. 

Harteau said she plans to convene her 'Chief's Citizen's Advisory Council' on Wednesday, with invitations to city faith and cultural leaders, as well as the police union, to talk about the issue. Many of the department's rank and file have been upset by the stories, she said. 

"They are tired of the negative actions of a few that overshadow the great work they do every day," said Harteau. "Enough is enough."

Harteau said she wants to create a "culture of accountability" at the police department and that she's requiring all officers to say something if they see another officer acting inappropriately. "If you continue to be silent, you're part of the problem," she said Monday. 




8th Circuit Court of appeals threatens Minneapolis lawyer with sanctions

Posted by: Randy Furst Updated: July 15, 2013 - 11:54 AM

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals took the unusual step on Monday of threatening to impose its own sanctions on a Minneapolis foreclosure attorney for continuing to file appeals, using legal arguments that have been repeatedly rejected by the district court in Minnesota as well as the federal appeals court.

Attorney William B. Butler already faces possible discipline from the federal district court in Minnesota and the Minnesota Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board, both of which are currently conducting investigations of him. Butler's problems were described in the Star Tribune last Thursday.

It is the third time in five days that the appeals panel has upheld the dismissal of a Butler lawsuit. On Thursday and Friday it issued separate opinions, upholding dismissals of his suits by Minnesota District Court judges.

On Monday, a three-judge appeals court panel issued its latest ruling, upholding a decision by U.S. District Judge Patrick Schiltz, who dismissed a case filed by attorney Butler last August. The appeals panel called Butler's continued rehashing of arguments "troubling," citing three similar Minnesota cases in which his arguments were rejected.

"HIs deliberate attemp to ignore these cases suggests that he has the intention of deceiving or misleading the court into ruling in his favor," the panel said in Monday's decision. "At the very least, it suggests he lacks a nonfrivolous basis for appeal. Such conduct may provide a basis for this court to impose its own sanctions in the future."

The appeals court quoted liberally from Schiltz's harsh criticism of Butler for using the "show me the note argument" that the foreclosing entity no longer possesses the original foreclosure borrowing note, making the foreclosure invalid. In his August ruling, Schiltz imposed sanctions totalling $79,766. Butler has said he will not pay the sanctions by local federal judges, insisting his position is correct, the courts are wrong and he will eventually prevail. The sanctions now total $323,307, according to Star Tribune calculations.

In his latest ruling the appeals court quoted Schiltz, describing Butler's strategy:

"Butler takes a group of a dozen or so individuals who are facing foreclosure but otherwise have no connection to one another; he gins up a dozen or so claims against a dozen or so defendants grounded mostly on the show-me-the-note theory; and he fraudulently joins a single nondiverse defendant (typically a law firm that represented one of the lenders in a foreclosure proceedings) in an attempt to block removal to federal court.

"The defendants generally remove the cases to federal court, and Butler then moves to remand. If the judge denies Butler's motion, he might 'remand' the case himself by voluntarily dismissing it and refiling in state court within a day or two, thereby starting the process all over again. To hide his conduct, Butler will reorder the names of the plaintiffs or substitute a new plaintiff for one of the old plaintiffs, so that the refiled case will have a different caption.

"When Butler's claims are finally challenged on the merits, he makes false representations and spins out  contradictory and often absurd arguments in the hope that their sheer weight and number, multiplied by the number of parties and claims, will overwhelm his opponents and the court...." 


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