Bloomington has revoked solicitor licenses for a group of vacuum salespeople, following a Star Tribune article that documented pushy door-to-door tactics in other cities across the metro area.
The City Council voted to strike the licenses for employees at Burnsville-based RG Enterprises at its meeting last week.
“Our soliciting season has gotten off to a rough start this year,” said Doug Junker, Bloomington’s license examiner.
Bloomington city staffers had issued the licenses to RG owner Michael Gerber and two other employees in late March. In their applications, they wrote that they had never had licenses revoked, according to city documents.
City officials later learned through the article, published in April, that RG licenses had been revoked in Isanti and North St. Paul. “None of us knew about it,” Junker told the council.
The paper reported that the salesmen’s behavior was rude, annoying and persistent. Between April 9 and 13, Bloomington’s licensing department received two calls, two e-mails and two police reports describing similar behavior.
Junker told the council that since the article was published, solicitors in the city had been less active than usual.
City to unveil K-9 memorial at City Hall
Edina this week will unveil a memorial for the dogs that have served the city’s police department.
City officials commissioned the memorial after Blade, a K-9 with Edina police for seven years, died from cancer in May 2017. Blade assisted on more than 400 calls and helped nab more than 75 suspects, according to police.
The memorial is a bronze sculpture of a life-size German shepherd, like Blade, that was partly designed by Edina resident Michelle Recke. Crews began installing it in November outside police headquarters and City Hall, 4801 W. 50th St.
The memorial will be dedicated at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.
Many local groups helped pay for the sculpture, including the Edina Federated Women’s Club, Edina Community Foundation, the city’s Arts and Culture Commission and the Edina Crime Prevention Fund, which also funds the city’s K-9 unit.
The department currently has two K-9s: Blitz and Gryf.
Displaced tenants request council action
Tenants at Normandale Lake Estates in Bloomington urged the City Council last week to prevent future displacements such as the one they are currently facing.
New owners of the 105-unit apartment complex terminated the leases of some tenants and ordered them to leave by Friday so the building can be renovated.
Some of those who received notices had been displaced from an apartment flip in Richfield.
Tenant Linda Soderstrom told council members that it was “too little, too late” for them to do anything to help.
“Too many ‘Sorries,’ not enough ordinances,” she said.
Jack Cann, an attorney for the Housing Justice Center, echoed Soderstrom. “I would just urge you to ... think extremely seriously about one of many possible ordinances that would’ve helped those residents,” he told the council.
City Manager Jamie Verbrugge said it would be “next to impossible under such dire circumstances” for the tenants to find new housing. A working group in the city has been developing protections for tenants for almost a year.
“We are working with as much haste as possible to bring them back to the council,” Verbrugge said.
Police report examines 2017 traffic stops
Nearly two years after a St. Anthony police officer shot and killed Philando Castile during a traffic stop, a report published by the police department is digging into 2017 traffic stop trends in the area.
The report, released this month, examines the race and gender of stopped drivers, the reason for each traffic stop and whether officers searched the drivers or vehicle.
St. Anthony police, who patrol St. Anthony and Lauderdale, made 2,104 traffic stops last year. Of those, about 29 percent of the stopped drivers were black and 64 percent were white, according to the report. Black drivers were more likely to be issued a citation rather than a warning, with 51 percent of black motorists cited compared to 44 percent of white drivers. The combined demographics of surrounding communities are about 17 percent black and 64 percent white.
Ninety percent of motorists stopped by St. Anthony police in 2017 were from out of town.
The report states that while the data patterns for race are similar to neighboring police agencies, the St. Anthony Police Department was “committed to better understanding the data, along with the factors leading to demographic disparities.” St. Anthony police officials say the data collection represents part of a commitment to transparency.
County foresters choose tree planting sites
Hennepin County officials have announced seven locations to plant trees this spring, as part of the county’s ongoing effort to diversify its tree canopy.
The projects planned for this year include a fruit tree orchard at Rockford High School, Rockford; 100 trees along Rockford Road, Plymouth; installation of 25 trees at the gravel-bed nursery at North High School, Minneapolis; 90 trees along Douglas Drive, Golden Valley; 27 trees in the medians of Normandale Boulevard, Bloomington; a community planting of 150 trees along Excelsior Boulevard, Hopkins; and 19 trees along Shady Oak Road, Hopkins.
The county-funded program, which began in 2015, works with cities, schools and nonprofit organizations to transplant trees from the county’s gravel-bed nursery to a variety of sites.
Last year, more than 150 trees were planted along Minnetonka Boulevard in St. Louis Park. Hennepin County also has started a Tree Steward program with the University of Minnesota to educate residents about tree care, and an emerald ash borer management plan to monitor ash trees along county roads.