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Before $15 minimum wage decision, activists want Mpls. to drop appeal

Above: Neighborhoods Organizing for Change organizer Rod Adams addresses a crowd outside City Hall.

One day after Minneapolis argued for the Supreme Court to bar a vote on the city's minimum wage, activists swarmed City Hall demanding they drop the effort.

The ruling on from the state's highest court on whether a $15 minimum wage charter amendment can be put on the ballot this November is expected in the coming days -- since Hennepin County must begin preparing and printing absentee ballots.

A push by City Council Member Alondra Cano to drop the appeal on Wednesday failed, however, amid questions over whether it was even legally possible. “I’m really disappointed that our city resources are being used to keep people in poverty," Cano said.

But activists were also looking past the court's decision, outlining next steps if they do not prevail. Acknowledging the decision will be a "coin flip," Neighborhood Organizing for Change Field Organizer Mike Griffin said they would not wait until next year for a citywide minimum wage ordinance -- per a recent City Council staff directive.

"We demand that we will pass 15 Now on the ballot or in this chamber," Griffin told supporters outside City Hall. "And we’re not going to wait until April 2017 to do it. We’re not going to wait until the end of this year to do it. City Hall will do this by November 8th of this year, election day, either on the ballot or you guys [the City Council] will pass it."

Questions loomed during Wednesday's rally about the logistics and feasibility of dropping an appeal following a Minnesota Supreme Court hearing. Cano pushed for a vote on the matter, but failed to win enough support to waive attorney-client privilege and hear advice from city attorney Susan Segal.

Even if the city could legally withdraw its appeal, appelate court rules say the court would have to agree to the dismissal.

Some bristled at Cano's tactics, noting that with more advanced notice the council could have met privately with Segal.

"I would hope in the future, if we’re making important decisions like this, that some of this preparatory work is done," said Council Member Lisa Bender.

Above: Mayoral spokesman David Prestwood fields questions from activists at the office of Mayor Betsy Hodges.

The crowd later moved to the office of Mayor Betsy Hodges, where they were greeted by mayoral spokesman David Prestwood. The mayor was not in, he said.

Activists peppered Prestwood with questions about the mayor's position on the issue, such as whether she would support an ordinance that would apply a $15 minimum wage in the city.

“She hasn’t given me a definitive answer one way or another, but she supports an increase in the minimum wage," Prestwood said.

But Ginger Jentzen, a 15 Now Minnesota activist, said they want a $15 minimum wage enshrined in the charter to protect it from future City Councils who might water it down.

“That’s why we want to put it on the ballot to voters. This is not about discussing a policy proposal,” Jentzen said.

Man charged in bizarre carjacking-for-hire plot in Minneapolis

A 23-year-old man was charged Friday with robbing a north Minneapolis man with his own gun, as the victim and his girlfriend returned home from a trip to the casino, authorities said.

But in a bizarre twist to the case, police say the victim’s girlfriend later admitted to hiring the defendant, Wilfred Kimba, to steal her boyfriend’s car and furnished him with a gun. Kimba was arrested on Thursday and charged with first-degree aggravated robbery. His bail was set at $100,000.

The incident occurred in the early morning hours of July 24.

The girlfriend, whose name wasn’t disclosed in a criminal complaint filed on Friday, told police that she intended to break off her relationship with the victim, but wanted “to leave the relationship with the vehicle,” prosecutors said.

So last month, authorities say, she asked Kimba, an acquaintance of four or five years, to help her steal the vehicle.

While being questioned, the woman said that she stole the black Highpoint handgun from her boyfriend’s safe and gave it to Kimba, instructing him to wait until the couple returned from the casino to carry out the robbery, the complaint stated. She reportedly told him that she would “feign that she too was being robbed,” according to authorities.

But, the alleged plot began to unravel when the victim, after handing Kimba his keys at gunpoint and fleeing the scene, “looked back, and he noticed that his girlfriend was not running with him,” prosecutors said. When he returned home, he saw that his gun wasn’t in the safe, and called police.

Kimba is expected to make his initial appearance in Hennepin District court on Monday afternoon.

The investigation remains ongoing, police said.