One reporter’s take on the top 10 Minneapolis-focused stories of 2012:
• A new Vikings stadium approved by the Legislature for downtown, using city-derived taxes, capping a come-from-behind challenge to a proposed Blaine site, and City Council concurs on a 7-6 vote. Deal also subsidizes Target Center renovation.
• Mayor R.T. Rybak walks away from what he’s called his dream job, meaning his tenure at City Hall will end after 12 years and setting off a scramble to succeed him.
• A fired employee shoots and fatally wounds six people at Accent Signage Systems in the Bryn Mawr neighborhood, including the company’s founder, then kills himself.
• Redevelopment surges, with plans for several ambitious housing projects downtown along with an upsurge in apartment construction along transit routes.
• Metropolitan Airports Commission blocks a proposed routing change that would have concentrated jet noise over several corridors in Minneapolis (and Edina.)
• Hiawatha power line is ordered buried under E. 28th St., ending fears that it would mar the Midtown Greenway, and the extra cost is spread over all ratepayers, rather than just those in the city.
• Failure of plates anchoring cables for the Martin Olav Sabo bike-ped bridge detours traffic for several days on Hiawatha Avenue and disrupts bike commuting on the greenway for months.
• Enrollment of white students in Minneapolis schools rises for the first time in at least 35 years and the dawn of the desegregation era.
• Nizzel George, age 5, is gunned down in his sleep on a sofa in a North Side home, culminating a series of drive-by shootings.
• Police and fire chiefs both turn over in Minneapolis, with Janeé Harteau succeeding retiring Tim Dolan, and John Fruetel following Alex Jackson, who retires under pressure from the City Council.
Other notable developments:
School Supt. Bernadeia Johnson is named to a new three-year term when her first one expires on June 30, making her the district’s first two-term chief since Carol Johnson.
Police accumulation of license plate data draws numerous data requests, including from a rep man, and prompts the city to ask for a temporary classification of the data as private until the Legislature acts on its status.
Portland and Park avenues are converted to two-lane streets in a development that frustrates drivers but gives bikers extra space.
Haven’t we done this before? Long Election Day lines form at several precincts, with equipment malfunctions ranging from pens to ballots, and the first results aren’t available until hours after everywhere else in the state, and the final results take several days.
No-sort recycling is adopted by the city, with some households getting their bins now and others in the spring. All recyclables go in one bin, a system some suburbs adopted years ago.
Most city high school students switch to Go-To cards on Metro Transit,
Downtown rowdiness and shootings forced a police and licensing crackdown, with two clubs surrendering their liquor licenses.
Peavey Plaza will get a makeover that historic preservationists decry, including a city commission, but the Minnesota Orchestral Association wants it and the City Council falls in line.
The school district gets its first scratch-built headquarters ever, bringing hundreds of workers to W. Broadway Avenue.
Minneapolis City Council nixes a proposed Hennepin County service hub on W. Broadway Avenue after the community objects to it for drawing thousands of poor people.
Walker Community Church goes up in smoke in a fire that is ruled accidental but injures five firefighters, one of them severely.
A proliferation of new taprooms slakes the city’s thirst for microbrews, while Surly explores a southeast Minneapolis site.
Block E gets even lonelier as its movie theater closes down. But that doesn’t stop its political architect, lobbyist and former City Council President Jackie Cherryhomes, from announcing a comeback bid for mayor.
The school board goes unconventional, contracting for a self-governed school and a third charter school in educator Eric Mahmoud’s empire, both on the North Side.
Civilian review of alleged police misconduct is weakened in Minneapolis with the scrapping of the Civilian Review Authority. The review job turned over to a new agency dominated by police.
Some notable departures:
City Coordinator Steven Bosacker leaves the job, where he instituted statistical results measurement, to see the world.
Gregg Stubbs, named to replace Rocco Forte, who resigned before an investigation into his conduct was finished, leaves himself after only nine months on the job.
Tim Dolan, the retiring police chief, will work with the gun control lobby and chair the mayoral campaign committee for Council Member Don Samuels.
Marv Davidoff, activist par excellance
Lauren Maker, political activist
Doug Davis, longtime teacher and union activist
Larry Harris, school lobbyist and civil rights champ
Robert T. Smith, Tribune columnist and city editor
City Clerk Casey Carl apologized to Minneapolis voters for last month’s voting snafus, which he said resulted from an extraordinary turnout with huge numbers of election-day registrants, precinct changes and a range of technology issues ranging from balky pens to misprinted ballots.
Appearing before the City Council on Monday, Carl recommended acquiring new voting machines, changing state law to allow early voting for any reason and voting at centralized kiosks, plus mobilizing more City Hall workers to form a rapid-response team of election judges for Election Day.
His appearance followed an Election Day with a greater than usual number of long lines, confusion over polling places, scanners than counted read ballots, and unusually late reporting of results. Carl said 81 percent of the city’s registered votes cast ballots, the highest proportion number since the voting age was reduced to 18 in 1971. The city also recorded its greatest primary to general election turnout jump in 44 years, with only 11 percent voting in August’s primary.
“An hour wait is too long to vote in my mind, especially in this climate,” Council Member Meg Tuthill admonished
The council, meeting in committee, directed Carl to review all polling places and replace problematic ones, develop multi-year election budgets, and to work with Hennepin County on new voting equipment for the city’s 2013 elections, something that has been under discussion for years.
They teach math in charter schools, but the numbers don't always add up.
A new report by the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools puts charter school enrollment in Minneapolis last school year at 9,339 and in St. Paul at 8,776.
That's quite a difference from numbers reported by the St. Paul-based Center for School Change just last June. That group reported Minneapolis charter enrollment of 11,125, and St. Paul enrollment of 9,014. The center's numbers are based on Minnesota Department of Education numbers and were compiled after consultation with department enrollment specialists. The alliance's numbers are be based on the federal National Center for Education Statistics.
There are many many ways to count charter school numbers. A simple way is to add up the enrollments of charter schools located in a city. But the national report decided to exclude charter students who are enrolled in a virtual, or online, school, according to Joe Nathan, who runs the center, did the state report, and spoke with the national report's authors.
Turns out that exclusion can make a big difference in the numbers. For example, the two entities differ markedly on charter school penetration. The alliance claims a 21 percent Minneapolis market share for charters, compared to district schools, not counting private or parochial enrollment. But the numbers compiled by the local center put the Minneapolis charter market share at 33.2 percent of district enrollment. For St. Paul, the alliance calculates a 19 percent market share, compared to 24.3 percent for the center.
The alliance ranks the Minneapolis market share 24th in the nation, and St. Paul 28th. But they're the lowest among big cities in the Midwest aside from Chicago, despite Minnesota's 20-year history of charter schools.
There's more agreement on statewide numbers, where the two groups are only 14 students apart. The alliance puts enrollment at 39,143..
Minneapolis schools will be spending an extra $15,000 to send property taxpayers a special mailing after missing a Hennepin County deadline for inserting the same information in annual truth-in-taxation statements.
The extra cost comes because of a snafu in which the county addressed a letter to a former school district finance official and it arrived just as the district was moving to a new headquarters. The July 24 letter went to former Chief Financial Officer Peggy Ingison, who left the job almost a year earlier, rather than successor Robert Doty.
The letter advised the district that it needed to notify the county by Sept. 30 of the date, time and place of the state-required annual hearing on its proposed 2013 levy. Scott Loomer, the county's property tax manager, said he contacted the district on Sept. 20 after getting no response.
Loomer said the district didn't contact him until a month later, three weeks after the deadline, about putting in the mailing an insert explaining the property tax proposal to taxpayers. The school board has voted to set a 4 percent ceiling on next year's increase, which is to be adopted in December.
So the district elected to send its own mailing for $25,000, incurring additional printing and mailing charges. Subtracting the roughly $10,000 it would have cost the district to put its insert into the county mailing, the net extra cost of the four-language color mailing is $15,000. That's atop the roughly $22,000 shared cost to the district of printing the basic notice, which is separate from the explanation inserted by the taxing jurisdictions.
Loomer said that the notices are being mailed Tuesday.
A 20-year-old St. Louis Park man was charged today in Hennepin County District Court with one count of making a terroristic threat allegedly for posting a picture of a tattoo that he had done on his left bicep on his Facebook page that depicts a pig wearing a police hat and uniform and the name of the officer on the uniform patch.
The tattoo on Antonio Fransion Jenkins Jr.'s arm depicts a person holding a semi-automatic handgun with the barrel of the gun partially in the mouth of the pig, according to a criminal complaint.
Below the officer’s name is a swear word and the gang member posted a comment on the Facebook page saying “My tattoo is a pig get’n his brains blew out.” The comment cites the badge number and the officer's first inital and last name.
The criminal complaint filed Thursday said that the officer is a Minneapolis police officer and a member of the department’s gang investigation team. He is assigned “in a territory traditionally claimed by the Bloods.” Jenkins is a member of the Bloods street gang, the complaint said.
The complaint also said that the officer “interpreted the posting to be a direct threat against his life.”
Jenkins told police he had the tattoo done on Oct. 30 and that he was angry with the officer for an incident that occurred on Aug. 19, 2011, in St. Louis Park. The details of that incident are not explained in the document. The document notes another incident that occurred on Sept. 30 of this year “where graffiti was located within an apartment commonly used by members of the Bloods street gang." The graffiti uses a swear word preceding the officer’s name.
Jenkins is charged with “terroristic threats (for the benefit of a gang” which carries a penalty of up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
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