Some Minneapolis City Council members are concerned that a revamp of the city administration’s goals is out of touch with the work the city is already doing — and in some cases, more about sweeping, unattainable goals than measurable progress.
In a committee meeting Wednesday, council members received an update on a proposed list of “community indicators,” which would serve as benchmarks to check how well the city is doing on meeting its goals. The more than two dozen indicators cover a range of topics from transportation (measuring the percentage of residents who live within a half-mile of transit routes and bikeways) to wages (charting the “average monthly earning of employees with stable jobs.”)
Those measures would then be used as a framework for regular reports through the city’s Results Minneapolis program, a transparency initiative that has been on hold while officials retooled it to include the new indicators.
While some council members applauded the proposal, others pushed back.
Council Member Lisa Goodman, who called the measures for progress on affordable housing “grossly inadequate,” said she and others who have made housing a focus were not consulted by the City Coordinator’s Office when it was coming up with the new measures. After other council members asked for more time on the matter so city staff members could consult with council members, Goodman said she feared those meetings wouldn’t results in any changes.
The council member said she’s unhappy that so much of the city’s planning on big-picture issues, including housing, is directed by people in the City Coordinator’s Office who aren’t involved in hands-on work on specific topics.
“I can operate and represent my ward and lead on housing without any of this,” Goodman said of the proposed community indicators, “and I will.”
Council President Barb Johnson said some of the goals seemed reminiscent of other ambitious plans that have not succeeded or that have been lampooned by critics. She said the indicators listed under the city’s goal of “One Minneapolis” — which call for eliminating racial inequities in unemployment, poverty and asthma rates, among other areas — were too broad and seemed to echo the city and county’s plan to end homelessness by 2016.
“It isn’t realistic and it becomes a source of … almost amusement,” she said. “Some of these problems that we’re talking about here are generations long and we are not going to eliminate them, so finding some language that talks about the work that we can do and impact that can make changes I think is better.”
Council members voted Wednesday to table the issue through two council meeting cycles, so the topic won’t show up on an agenda until mid-September.
Officials from the City Coordinator’s Office said they expect to introduce part of the new Results Minneapolis program, which will focus on city goals, this fall.
The return of reporting from specific city departments, which ended abruptly last year, is to start in early 2016.