Minneapolis has relaunched its “Results Minneapolis” transparency program, broadening the focus from how well city departments run to how well the city is doing at tackling major issues like economic inequality.
The program, introduced a decade ago to give the public a closer look at the performance of city government, was put on hold in late 2014. The city had previously held weekly public conferences to share data on emergency response times, building permits and a host of other operations. No reports were issued or public results meetings held in 2015, while officials said they were aligning the process with city goals.
City Coordinator Spencer Cronk said department meetings are set to resume in March. They won’t be open to the public, but department reports will be posted publicly online. The city has begun holding the new issue-oriented meetings, including one Wednesday that highlighted wealth and workforce disparities between white people and people of color.
Cronk told the gathering of about 40 city and county officials — including Mayor Betsy Hodges and four council members — that the goal of the new conferences is not to quickly solve complex problems. Instead, he said, sharing data culled from census, state and city reports is an attempt to spark new solutions or find areas where city programs are falling short.
“It’s really asking the question: ‘Are we there yet?’ ” he said.
Reports presented Wednesday indicated that plenty of work remains in Minneapolis. The city’s poverty rate has been on the rise over the last several years, increasing from 20.8 percent in 2005 to 23.2 percent in 2014, even as unemployment rates declined.
Some numbers are even more stark: 69 percent of the families headed by black women and 75 percent of those headed by American Indian women live in poverty.
Participants in the meeting said the city is doing more to understand the factors that can contribute to poverty. For example: Child-care costs can keep women out of the workforce, keep family incomes lower, make it difficult to pay for stable housing and end up making it difficult for children to do well in school.