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Posts about Politics and government

School board recount complete, no change in ballot

Posted by: Alejandra Matos Updated: August 26, 2014 - 5:15 PM

Ira Jourdain will remain on the November ballot for the citywide school board seat. 

The city recounted 29,000 ballots Tuesday after Doug Mann, who finished fifth in the August primary, asked for the recount because he had 50 votes less than Jourdain.

Jourdain had 49 votes over Mann after the recount, which lasted more than 6 hours. 

There were six candidates in the primary for two at-large school board seats. Only four candidates advanced, including Jourdain, the incumbent Rebecca Gagnon, former city council member Don Samuels and Iris Altamirano.  

School board recount begins

Posted by: Alejandra Matos Updated: August 26, 2014 - 9:28 AM

The recount for the Minneapolis at-large school board will begin today at 10 a.m.

Doug Mann, who finished fifth, asked for the recount because he had 50 votes less than Ira Jourdain, who advanced to the general election.

There were six candidates in the citywide race, only four moved on to the Nov. 4 election where two candidates will take the board seats.

The city will count all 29,129 ballots at the elections warehouse, located at 732A Harding Street NE. The city anticipates the process will take up to eight hours.

City to recount school board ballots

Posted by: Alejandra Matos Updated: August 19, 2014 - 4:31 PM

A recount is in order for the city’s at-large school board seat.

Doug Mann

Doug Mann

Doug Mann, who finished fifth, asked for the recount because he had 50 votes less than Ira Jourdain, who advanced to the general election.

There were six candidates in the citywide race, only four moved on to the Nov. 4 election where two candidates will take the board seats.

Jourdain said Mann reached out to him to talk about the request, and Jourdain encouraged him to explore all his options.

“That’s within his right, and if it turns out he comes out on top, then life goes on,” Jourdain said.

Mann said because the margin was so close, he felt he had to ask for the recount.

“I could end up advancing, rather than Ira,” Mann said.

The city will count all 29,129 ballots on Aug. 26 at the elections warehouse, located at 732A Harding Street NE. The city anticipates the process will take up to eight hours.

In addition to Jourdain, Rebecca Gagnon, Don Samuels and Iris Altamirano are on the November ballot.

Star Tribune file photo.

Minneapolis lags on black history listings

Posted by: Steve Brandt Updated: August 15, 2014 - 1:41 PM

The recent addition of the Arthur and Edith Lee house to the National Register of Historic Places highlights the paucity of black-oriented Minneapolis sites on the prestigious federal list.

St. Paul boasts five of the state's nine national register sites associated with black history.  The Lee home at 4600 Columbus Av. S. represents only the second such black-oriented listing for Minneapolis on the national list. It was the site of mob gatherings of thousands in 1931 when a black family bought the home in an all-white neighborhood.

To be sure, there may be additional sites that have been designated as worthy of historic preservation as important parts of the city's heritage under a local preservation ordinance. But one can use the city's searchable map of such landmarks to scan areas of long significance historically for black residents, such as the South Side area around Hosmer library, or the entire North Side, without finding a single locally designated site with an obvious association with black history or residents. That's aside from the city's lone other national regisrter site associated with black history, the Lena O. Smith home.

But one group has no trouble finding a collection of sites associated with or commemorating black history. That's the Major Taylor Bicycling Club of Minnesota, a group of black cyclists.

The club is sponsoring its annual Dark2Dawn ride on Aug. 23. The all-nght ride begins at 9 p.m. at Martin Luther King Park, 4055 Nicollet Av. S., winds to about a dozen sites in Minneapolis and St. Paul, and ends with a 6 a.m. breakfast. Registration is required for the $25 event that's a fundraiser for the club, named after the legendary black cyclist who competed professionally at the turn of the 19th century, setting world records for speed.

The moderately paced ride of about 50 miles is billed as a tour through African-American historical geography, and will feature speakers at each site.  In Minneapolis, the tour includes the Lee house, the historically black E. 38th Street and 4th Avenue S. business district, the Minnesota African American Museum, Bassett Creek and the Van White Bridge, the J.D. Rivers garden, the Homewood subdivision in the Willard-Hay neighborhood, and Morrill Hall at the University of Minnesota. St. Paul sites include St. Peter Claver and Pilgrim Baptist churches, the Hallie Q. Brown complex with Penumba Theatre, Minnesota History Center, and Union Depot. More information is at: http://tinyurl.com/m9kzhso

Until the Lee house designation, the only national register listing associated with black history in Minneapolis was the home of Lena O. Smith, an early black lawyer, and a longtime leader in the Minneapolis branch of the NAACP. She also representated the Lees in their negotiations with the the white-dominated homeowners association.

One black-oriented business long at the corner of 38th and 4th, the 80-year-old Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, is being considered for local designation.  More may emerge next year. That's when the city's heritage preservation staff hopes to focus more on properties associated with people of color, according to city planner John Smoley.

(Photo above: The Lena O. Smith house at 3905 5th Av. S., was the only Minneapolis site associated with black history on the National Register of Historic Places until July.)


Hodges proposes 2.4% levy hike, more spending on public safety

Posted by: Eric Roper Updated: August 14, 2014 - 2:09 PM

By Eric Roper and Maya Rao

Highlighting investments in public safety and initiatives to reduce racial disparities, Mayor Betsy Hodges offered many specific proposals Thursday for growing city services in her first budget speech.

The mayor proposed raising the amount the city collects in property taxes, the property tax levy, by 2.4 percent. That's the largest increase in several years, on the heels of a boost in state aid after years of cuts.

Hodges said more than half of the levy increase is due to inflation and rises in the cost of current services. The precise impact on homeowners remains to be seen, since the levy is spread out among the city's growing tax base. The mayor claimed more than half of homeowners would see no increase or a decrease in their taxes.

"More than half of the proposed levy increase...maintains the status quo," Hodges said in prepared remarks. "When we voted last fall, however, we didn't vote for just the status quo. We didn't vote for business as usual."

(Explore the 2014 budget using this interactive tool)

Afterward the speech, Council President Barb Johnson said that she wants to look at whether the city really needs to increase the levy 2.4 percent, given the increase in state aid to Minneapolis and increasing revenues from sales taxes and other sources.

“Now we need to do the deep dive,” said Johnson.

Some of the largest investments Hodges proposed target police, fire and emergency response. She also highlighted a $3.5 million contribution to the Nicollet Mall reconstruction and $750,000 to expand the city's modest number of protected bike lanes.

The complete budget, which must be approved by the City Council later this year, has yet to be released.

Regarding public safety, Hodges proposed:

- Adding ten more police officers for an authorized force of 860 sworn officers. The cost of this was not specified, however.

- Committing $1 million to add 20 community service officers to the police department. "Community service officers are our most effective ladder into the Police Department," Hodges said.

- Spending $960,000 for an 18-person police cadet class next year.

- Funding the implementation of a police body camera program with $1.1 million in one-time capital funding and ongoing operating dollars.

- Allocating $800,000 for two fire department recruit classes in 2015. The precise size of these classes was not specified.

- Hiring four more 911 operators for a cost of $346,000 (following controversy in that department).

Council Member Blong Yang, chair of the city's public safety committee, noted the police department was already aiming for a staffing level of 860 officers – they’ve said this would occur by the end of the year. “So it’s not a change,” Yang said. “It’s keeping steady, I think.”

Regarding 911 staffing, Yang said it was a “slight increase, but it’s not a huge increase.”

To reduce the city's racial disparities, a key focus of her administration, Hodges proposed:

- Adding an additional $1 million to the city's affordable housing spending.

- Spending $70,000 on parental support, including "providing culturally specific parent education to increase parenting skills through education, individualized coaching and parent-peer support."

- Adding additional money for elections staff and communications to improve the city's outreach with minority communities.

- Increasing staff in the civil rights department's contract compliance unit and boosting funding for the city's STEP-UP program by $75,000,

- Creating two positions in the city coordinator's office to ensure city services support goals around equity.

Another proposal would fund durable markings at bicycle conflict areas, high-use vehicle lanes and crosswalks. Hodges also suggested adding more money to clear corners and bikeways of snow during the winter.

Hodges' first budget comes during a time of growth for the city. She said the city has already surpassed $1 billion in the value of construction permits, which did not happen until October in 2013.

"Growth in cities is quickly becoming the status quo rather than a new trend," Hodges said. "People across the country continue to move into our urban cores."

Council Member Cam Gordon described the proposed levy increase as modest.

“I think it’s a levy increase that will probably be mostly accommodated by the growth in the tax base, so we’re not going to see … lots of property tax increases that are very dramatic,” Gordon said.

Fire Chief John Fruetel praised the mayor’s addition of resources for fire inspectors.

 “She mentioned a lot of growth going on in the city and I think it’s important to keep ourselves positioned to effectively respond to that growth,” Fruetel said.

Photo: Hodges gives her first State of the City speech earlier this year (David Joles)


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