Neighborhood Notes

Steve Fletcher, 3rd Ward Council Member – July 17

COVID-19 3rd ward

612-673-2203

Steve.Fletcher@MinneapolisMN.gov

Facebook.com/MinneapolisWard3

Twitter.com/MplsWard3

Ward 3 Friends –

I hope this finds you safe and healthy, and finding ways to enjoy your summer in this extremely unusual year. Thanks to everyone who has taken time out to share your thoughts on the mid-year budget changes, the proposed charter amendment, the ongoing public safety conversations, and the ways we are (and sometimes aren’t) protecting each other from infection during the pandemic. There’s lots to report back in, so let’s jump right in.

We’re working this week on passing a revised mid-year budget to reflect the harsh reality of lost revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The approach the Mayor has taken minimizes layoffs and makes heavy use of cash transfers from reserve funds. That approach has the potential to force some tough decisions next year and the year after that, but I think the approach is defensible, because the level of uncertainty seems likely to be highest in year 1 of the pandemic, so bridging that with cash while we figure out what cuts will genuinely be necessary in the 2021 budget seems reasonable. Make no mistake, there will be tough decisions ahead, and the Mayor and Council did work together to reduce the reliance on cash a little prior to his budget address – cooperation I think I can say all involved appreciated.

Yesterday morning, we got an update in Council from the Mayor on the status of MPD. Staffing levels are down due to an elevated rate of attrition, and more officers on leave than usual. So far, the Mayor reports that that coverage has remained consistent, through a combination of overtime, and shifting duties to focus MPD more on core response functions. I know anecdotally I’ve heard of some response times and follow-up that didn’t live up to expectations, so we’ll continue to monitor the quantity/quality of response. A new recruit class graduated to field training yesterday, which will somewhat ease the immediate pressure.

In light of those changes, which are happening out of necessity, and not as a result of funding changes by the city council, our budget conversation seems like it will mainly center around investing in alternative responses through the Office of Violence Prevention, to attempt to mitigate some of the pressure on MPD in the short term, as well as explore long-term alternative solutions. I issued a staff direction to departments to offer ideas about aspects of public safety they could take off of MPD’s plate, and we’ll expect a report back next week with an initial scan of what’s possible. I don’t expect much (it was a very short turnaround for this first report), but I do expect it prompts a thought process that offers ideas for the Mayor’s 2021 budget, or for the Council to consider as amendments later in the year. The priority of everyone at city hall is first and foremost to ensure an effective public safety response.

For my part, I’ve been looking at non-law enforcement areas of MPD that have grown up over time that duplicate the work of other departments, to see if we can integrate those functions better into the city and gain some efficiency and performance improvements. Data, communications, and community outreach are all important functions that are done more reliably in city departments that specialize in those functions. I announced yesterday that I’m contemplating amendments to shift that work out of MPD’s budget to other departments, and I’d welcome feedback on that proposal, or on any aspect of the budget. The next budget committee meeting, which includes public comment, is Wednesday, July 22 at 10 AM. We’ll vote on the final budget on Friday, July 24th.

The Charter Commission had their first public hearing on the proposed charter amendment, and are continuing their work to make a recommendation back to Council, likely in time for us to submit it to the Secretary of State to put it to a vote. If you’re interested in learning more, I co-wrote an article in the Star Tribune about why I think it’s a good idea, and Michael Friedman from the Legal Rights Center wrote an interesting exploration of what a transformed approach to public safety might look like under such an arrangement.

The Minneapolis Park Board voted to change their approach to encampments, limiting the size of encampment they’ll allow. The solution of parks as sanctuary is providing some critical respite for a population experiencing unsheltered homelessness for whom we haven’t yet found better answers, at the same time the large encampments are creating new challenges. There are no good answers except permanent housing, and we are rushing to create and open as many new transitional and supportive housing units as we can as fast as we can. The change in Park Board rules will likely cause some short-term shifts that may create new logistical challenges. Please keep 311 informed and keep in touch with my office as you see shifts in overnight camping that may need outreach or intervention.

In the meantime, the work of the city continues. The Freelance Wage Theft ordinance Council Members Palmisano, Cunningham and I have been working on for some time will finally receive a public hearing on July 23. I also gave notice of introduction on an ordinance related to surveillance and military technology, which is the next step in the data privacy work that began with the data privacy principles we passed earlier this year, and will be based on the ACLU’s model ordinance, which you can read here. Please send feedback and ideas on these ordinances and more at Steve.Fletcher@minneapolismn.gov.


Public Hearing this Tuesday on Proposed Charter Amendment Creating New Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention

The Minneapolis Charter Commission is seeking public comments on a proposed amendment to the City charter related to the future of public safety. People can submit their comments online or provide them directly to members of the commission at a public hearing on Tuesday.

The proposed amendment, submitted by the City Council, proposes removing the Police Department from the charter and adding a new Community Safety & Violence Prevention Department.

The virtual public hearing will take place at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, July 21. Participation instructions will be published on the City’s website. If you’re interested in speaking at either or both of the public hearings, you can pre-register using the online registration form.

Other ways to comment:


Public Hearing this Wednesday on Revised 2020 Budget

The City Council’s Budget Committee will hold a second public hearing this Wednesday, July 22, on proposed revisions to the City’s 2020 budget.

Public Hearing on Amended 2020 Budget

10:00 A.M. this Wednesday, July 22

You can watch the online meetings and participate in the online public hearings.

The City Council is scheduled to vote on Friday, July 24 on the revised 2020 budget.

For more information about the City’s budget, visit minneapolismn.gov/budget.


Public Hearing this Thursday on Freelance Worker Protections Ordinance

I have been working on this ordinance with my colleagues, Council Members Cunningham and Palmisano, to extend some contractual protections to freelancers and other independent contractors.

A public hearing has been scheduled for the ordinance for this coming Thursday, July 23, at 1:30 P.M. in the Policy & Government Oversight Committee.

Please spread the word within your networks to any independent contractors or anyone else who may be interested in submitting public comment.


(Virtual) Coffee With Your Council Member

coffee with your council member logo

My community office hours are now at 5:00 p.m. on Thursdays on Microsoft Teams or by phone. Drop in to ask questions, discuss any issues you see in the community, or just have a chat with your neighbors.

THURSDAY (new regular day), July 23, at 5:00 p.m.

Thursday, July 30, at 5:00 P.M.

Thursday, August 6, at 5:00 P.M.

Click to join in Microsoft Teams  or by phone: 612-276-6670, 933 303 746# 

Anyone can join a Microsoft Teams web meeting. A free software download may be required, depending on how you join the meeting (computer, Android or Apple device).

If you have questions or a topic to discuss, email David.Zaffrann@minneapolismn.gov to RSVP.


Training Opportunities From Minnesota Peacebuilding Leadership Institute

Introduction to Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience for Cultural Competence – 2 hour online training

When terrible things happen, like COVID-19, racism, police brutality, our peace is stolen from us. Most people want to build peace back into their lives and community.

These 2-hour online trainings are partially funded by the City of Minneapolis’ Office of Violence Prevention to promote racial trauma healing, resilience, and restorative justice for all who live, work, and/or play in Minneapolis.

Pay-what-you-can up to $30 — click the date/time link to register:

This 2-hour online training teaches basic concepts, models, and strategies of the 5-day Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience – STAR Training. STAR is a research and practice-supported community education training integrating neuropsychology, trauma healing and resilience, restorative justice, nonviolent conflict transformation, and broadly defined spirituality for increasing cultural competence. All are welcome to join us. Space is limited to 30.

This training is for everyone: laypeople, paraprofessionals, and licensed professionals. This training is not only for “staff.” Training objectives: 1. Learn and reflect on the various types of trauma and common responses to psychological trauma for increased racial healing and equity. 2. Learn and reflect on the links between unhealed trauma and cycles of harm and violence experienced by all people. 3. Learn and reflect on the basic STAR trauma healing and resilience models and associated practices for increased racial healing and equity. 4. Explore ways to apply trauma healing, resilience, and restorative justice practices toward building peace within your sphere of influence.


Help Redesign the System for Reporting Non-Emergency Crimes to the City of Minneapolis

The City of Minneapolis wants to hear from residents who have experienced and reported a non-emergency crime. Such situations include theft, property damage, or parking issues. Who did you talk to? Were your needs met? What was the experience like?

A team of residents and staff are redesigning the way calls are handled by the City. We want to hear your perspectives and uplift your voices to make real change in our communities. The survey is open to all and responses are anonymous.

Click here to start the survey now.

If you have questions, please email the Office of Performance & Innovation at innovate@minneapolismn.gov.


3rd Avenue Bridge Closure Planned for Weekend of July 31

There is a weekend closure of the Third Ave Bridge planned for the weekend of Friday evening July 31st through Monday morning August 3rd. Crews will be working overnight throughout the weekend closure.

For more information about the project, including MnDOT staff contacts, visit http://www.dot.state.mn.us/metro/projects/hwy65andthirdavebridge/



If you need a reasonable accommodation to fully participate or if you need information in an alternative format, please contact 311 (612-673-3000). TTY users call 612-673-2157.

Para asistencia 612-673-2700 · Yog xav tau kev pab, hu 612-673-2800 · Hadii aad Caawimaad u baahantahay 612-673-3500.

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Ward 3 Update from Council Member Steve Fletcher – June 6

Ward 3 Friends –

Many years ago, I worked for a policy think tank called “Minnesota 2020.” I can tell you that when we imagined the future our name represented, we were picturing something very different than what Minnesota 2020 is turning out to be. None of us chose this moment, but the terrible murder of George Floyd by officers wearing our city’s uniform makes it imperative that we rise to this moment, and make it right. The entire world is watching to see what we do next, and calling for justice. Everything I’ve heard from all of you tells me that we will all do our part to answer that call.

In the first few nights after George Floyd’s death, the impact and trauma of his death were compounded by a lot of chaos and confusion. I spent several sleepless nights e-mailing and calling with constituents at all hours who couldn’t get through to 911, on nights when MPD was not operating beyond defending their own precincts, and our residents and businesses were left to fend for themselves. I want to thank everyone who stepped up in large ways and small to look out for your neighbors, to report genuinely scary activity, and to raise your voices to express our community’s grief and anger. Some cherished neighborhood businesses will need a lot of support reopening. There’s work ahead.

I’ve heard from literally thousands of Minneapolis residents (and tens of thousands of people outside Minneapolis, but that’s a different story), and received statements from neighborhood organizations and businesses, suggesting a way forward. The overwhelming sentiment is that policing as we’ve known it is not working, is producing outcomes we cannot morally sustain, and must change.

At the Beltrami Neighborhood Council meeting, after a conversation that echoed the sentiments from constituent calls and conversations I’d been having with everyone I could respond to from my rapidly filling inbox, residents asked me to share my opinions in a more public forum so that the people who weren’t in the meeting would know that I was with them. I committed that I would do that, and went home and wrote a Twitter thread and Facebook post that reflected the sentiment I was hearing from the people contacting me, and that I was feeling. Those of you who follow me on Facebook and Twitter probably saw it. I wasn’t the first in the community or even on the Council to suggest that we should consider disbanding the Police Department, but the post resonated, and prompted a lot of conversation.

Trying to figure out how to reach everybody can be challenging in a pandemic, when we can’t knock on doors or have face to face meetings in the same way, so I rely on online media, this e-mail list, neighborhood zoom meetings, and the press to communicate ideas to everyone around the Ward. Usually, when I say press, I mean the Mill City Times, the Northeaster, or the MN Daily, which all provide great, hyperlocal coverage and help a lot of people connect to our city government. This week, it’s Time Magazine.

With such an overwhelming flurry of activity on so many fronts, I know there are a lot of questions, and a lot of rumors circulating. There are two major things that people need to know right now.

First, everyone should know that structural changes in our public safety organization and infrastructure will take time, and will involve an enormous amount of community input and outreach to achieve. To state it plainly: we are not going to haphazardly cut public safety capacity without a plan for how we’re going to continue to meet our city’s safety needs.  Nobody is proposing that, least of all me. I think the changes our city is considering are significant enough that at least a component of them should be on the ballot for everyone to actually vote on. It’s totally understandable that fear is one of the emotions people are feeling about changes to public safety. We’re going to work through that together, slowly and deliberately, and with a lot of care.

The second thing you need to know is that change is not optional. Today, the State Department of Human Rights brought forward a temporary restraining order that made the first of many, many changes and reforms that they will likely require of us as part of a broader enforcement action to correct a decades-long pattern of civil rights violations. We are collaborating with DHR, and voted to approve a stipulated agreement today, but make no mistake – this is not an optional process. The people of Minneapolis will have more voice and access to the process if the Council initiates action, rather than waiting for the state to do it to us, so that we can do it in open, public processes.

The third thing you need to know, as a Ward 3 resident or business owner, is that your voice matters in this. No compelling vision of public safety works without participation from the public. We’re going to have lots of opportunities to discuss, to share, to talk through our hopes and our fears, to commit ourselves and each other to the work of social justice and true community safety.

One such opportunity is tomorrow at 1:00 PM. It’s short notice, so if you can’t make it, have no fear. There is time, and there will be more. I know some people are feeling some urgency about this, so I wanted to have one this weekend. We’ll announce more soon.

We didn’t pick this moment, but our community can rise to it. Let’s imagine something better than what we’ve had. Let’s imagine something that makes us feel safer than we’ve felt, that we can all collaborate on. Let’s find the courage to support each other and be the city everyone is calling on us to be. Let’s rebuild better than we were before.

Keep in touch. I’m here for your hopes, your ideas, your fears, your critiques – for all of it.

En avant,

Steve


City Council Signs Off on Stipulation for Court Order Outlining Immediate Changes for Minneapolis Police Department, Framework for Long-Term State Investigation

 

On Friday, June 5, the Minneapolis City Council approved the terms of a stipulation for a temporary restraining order outlining immediate changes that must be implemented by the Minneapolis Police Department and a framework for systemic change as part of the long-term investigation underway by Minnesota Department of Human Rights.

The Minnesota Department of Human Rights launched an investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department June 2 after filing a civil rights charge related to the death of George Floyd. The investigation into policies, procedures and practices over the past 10 years will determine if the MPD has engaged in systematic discriminatory practices toward people of color and ensure any such practices are stopped.

The order specifies that MPD and the City must implement the following measures immediately:

  • MPD must ban neck restraints or choke holds for any reason within 10 days of the effective date of this order.
  • Regardless of tenure or rank, any member of the MPD who observes another member of the MPD use any unauthorized use of force, including any choke hold or neck restraint, has an affirmative duty to immediately report the incident while still on scene by phone or radio to their commander or their commander’s superiors.
  • Regardless of tenure or rank, any member of the MPD who observes another member of the MPD use any unauthorized use of force, including any choke hold or neck restraint, must attempt to safely intervene by verbal and physical means, and if they do not do so they are subject to discipline to the same severity as if they themselves engaged in the prohibited use of force.
  • Only the police chief or the chief’s designee at the rank of deputy chief or above may authorize the use of crowd control weapons during protests and demonstrations.
  • The police chief must make timely discipline decisions as outlined in the order.
  • Civilian body warn camera analysts and investigators with the City’s Office of Police Conduct Review  have the authority to proactively audit body worn camera footage and file or amend complaints on behalf of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department.

The order also commits the City to working with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights on several fronts to build toward systemic change within MPD as part of the long-term investigation.

The City will prepare a report listing all of the State of Minnesota laws that impede public transparency of police data and/or prevent the mayor and police chief and/or impede civilian oversight from disciplining and terminating police officers who do not adhere to Minneapolis Police Department policies and standards. The report is due by July 30, 2020.

Minnesotans with information that can further the investigation into the MPD should contact the Department of Human Rights at mn.gov/mdhr or 651-539-1100.


Minneapolis City Council Statement on Department of Human Rights Action

 

“George Floyd should be alive today.

Mr. Floyd’s death is just one instance of unthinkable violence against Black men by law enforcement generally and the Minneapolis Police Department specifically. Our community, especially communities of color, has a deep mistrust of law enforcement given the actions of Minneapolis police officers over decades.

We welcome and fully support the Minnesota Department of Human Rights’ robust investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department. We urge the state to use its full weight to hold the Minneapolis Police Department accountable for any and all abuses of power and harms to our community and stand ready to aid in this process as full partners. The City Council’s oversight of the Minneapolis Police Department has been historically constrained by the City Charter and state law and we welcome new tools to pursue transformational, structural changes to how the City provides for public safety. We look forward to doing this critical work with our partners at the state, continuing to support the leadership of city staff including Civil Rights Director Velma Korbel and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, and ensuring that community voices are fully centered in the process announced today.”

Minneapolis Council Members Kevin Reich, Cameron Gordon, Steve Fletcher, Phillipe Cunningham, Jeremiah Ellison, Lisa Goodman, Andrea Jenkins, Alondra Cano, Lisa Bender, Jeremy Schroeder, Andrew Johnson, Linea Palmisano


Ward 3 Public Safety Town Hall Meeting

 

No compelling vision of public safety works without participation from the public. We’re going to have lots of opportunities to discuss, to share, to talk through our hopes and our fears, to commit ourselves and each other to the work of social justice and true community safety.

Please join me tomorrow for a Public Safety town hall meeting: 

Tomorrow, Saturday, June 6 at 1:00 P.M.

Click to join in Microsoft Teams

Or join by phone at 612-276-6670 and enter the Conference ID: 478 532 185#


(Virtual) Coffee With Your Council Member

coffee with your council member logo

I normally hold regular open community office hours at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesdays, at a rotating neighborhood coffee shop in Ward 3 for constituents to drop by, ask questions, and raise any issues you see in the community.

While we are practicing social distancing, I am holding my community office hours remotely on Microsoft Teams:

Wednesday, June 10, at 5:00 P.M.

Click to join in Microsoft Teams or by phone: 612-276-6670, 933 303 746#

Wednesday, June 17, at 5:00 P.M.

Click to join in Microsoft Teams or by phone: 612-276-6670, 933 303 746#

Wednesday, June 24, at 5:00 P.M.

Click to join in Microsoft Teams or by phone: 612-276-6670, 933 303 746#

Anyone can join a Microsoft Teams web meeting. A free software download may be required, depending on how you join the meeting (computer, Android or Apple device).

If you have questions or a topic to discuss, email Aurin.Chowdhury@minneapolismn.gov to RSVP.


COVID-19 Testing for People Attending Protests, Vigils or Events

 

The Minnesota Department of Health recommends that any Minnesotan who has attended a protest, vigil or community cleanup get tested for COVID-19. COVID-19 can spread easily and quickly in large groups of people who are close together for long periods of time. Even people who do not have symptoms can still spread the virus to others.

If you start to feel sick, get tested right away.

If you do not feel sick, get tested as soon as you can, but no later than five-seven days after the event. If the test is negative and you are worried you might have been exposed, get another test 12-14 days after the event – even if you don’t feel sick.

Get tested

Talk to a doctor or a local clinic, or find testing locations near you.


Community Resources: Food, Clothing, Financial, Medication

 

With the loss of grocery stores and other damage affecting people’s access to food, clothing, financial assistance, groceries, medical care and equipment, and medication, the City is compiling this list of resources to help residents.

Note: Information is changing rapidly. Please confirm the locations are still accepting or handing out donations before heading out.

  • All Minneapolis food shelves Food shelves help ensure all Minneapolis residents have steady access to food. A map to help you find a food shelf and other food resources is available on the City’s website. More resources are listed below the map.
  • Minneapolis Public Schools free meals for kids Daily free food boxes for pickup. Seven breakfasts and seven lunches including fresh produce for anyone 18 and under. All families are welcome. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Friday now until further notice.
  • Free meals for kids app More resources for free meals for anyone under 18.
  • MN Food Helpline Online map of food resources Or call phone hotline at 1-888-711-1151 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday.
  • SNAP-EBT emergency food services expanded eligibility Plus online purchasing and delivery through Amazon and Walmart. Participants with questions can call 651-431-4050 or 800-657-3698 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday starting June 1. People who use SNAP and don’t want to leave their homes to get food can authorize a trusted relative, friend or neighbor to pick up and deliver groceries using their electronic benefits card. They must contact their county or tribal financial worker to make the authorization. Minnesotans can fill out an application for SNAP online at ApplyMN.dhs.mn.gov. For help applying or additional food resources, contact the Food Helpline at 1-888-711-1151 or visit Hunger Solutions.
  • Food and financial assistance The Minnesota Department of Human Services has temporarily made it easier for people to get and use the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which offers monthly food benefits. Information about SNAP and other hunger resources is collected on the department’s new food emergency webpage.
  • If you weren’t receiving SNAP or MFIP but your child had free or reduced lunch, you can apply for P-EBT to help buy food for your family. Apply starting noon June 8.
  • South Minneapolis food distribution efforts (Note: Some may be pop-up efforts not licensed by the City of Minneapolis.)
    • CANDO (Central Neighborhood Development Organization) Accepting drop-offs at 3715 Chicago Ave., 612-824-1333
    • Simpson Food Pantry, 2740 First Ave. S.; 612-874-7741
    • CAPI (Center for Asian and Pacific Islanders) Food Shelf, 612-721-0122
    • Twin Cities Democratic Socialist of America (TCDSA) are hosting food distribution of hot meals and fresh produce for all southside residents. Northern Sun, 2916 E. Lake St.
  • Minneapolis farmers markets
  • Clothing, financial assistance, groceries, medical care and equipment, and medication through Hennepin County Call 612-348-3000 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week.Help is available in multiple languages. Residents in need of assistance are assigned a Human Services Navigator to help connect to available services and resources.
  • Pet food The People & Pets Together pet food shelf is open to residents of Minneapolis who need help feeding and caring for pets. 5:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Saturday. No appointment necessary. 3745 Bloomington Ave. S., 612-722-9998.

Gas Service Assistance From CenterPoint Energy

 

CenterPoint Energy offers payment plans and other assistance for residents and small businesses that may be struggling financially.

Payment plans

Paying your natural gas bills to the extent possible can avoid accumulating large unpaid balances. To arrange a payment plan based on your specific circumstances, call CenterPoint Energy Customer Service at 612-372-4727 or 800-245-2377.

Suspending disconnections and late payment fees

Since March, CenterPoint Energy has suspended natural gas disconnections for nonpayment and has temporarily waived late payment fees and interest on past due balances.

Other assistance

  • CenterPoint Energy has a dedicated webpage with information about various types of federal and county assistance available for customers who need help paying their natural gas bill.
  • The Minnesota Energy Assistance Program (EAP) recently received additional funding that allows even more Minnesota households to get help. To find your local EAP service provider, call 800-657-3710 and follow the prompts to enter your ZIP code, or consult a list of service providers by county or tribe available at this webpage.

Enhanced safety during the pandemic

While working throughout the pandemic, CenterPoint Energy has measures to protect the safety and health of customers, employees and contractors. These measures include: physical distancing, asking permission and reading a safety protocol script before entering a customer’s home or business, using face masks and other personal protective equipment, sanitizing tools, and regularly washing hands with soap or hand sanitizer.


Want to Donate Food?

 

If you’re moved to support your community by donating food, the best way to reach hungry people is through food shelves. And the best way to help food shelves is with monetary donations. The dollars go much further through their own purchases, it prevents food donations from spoiling, and it allows the food shelves to purchase specific items that are needed for the community.

Please note that Minneapolis Public Schools has been overwhelmed by the community’s generosity and is not able to accept food donations or supplies at its food distribution sites or schools at this time.

How to donate food

For information on how to support food shelves and meal sites, please visit the Health Department’s food donations page or view the pdf for specific needs shared by food shelves.


Urgent: Do Not Enter Any Damaged Buildings

Sections of eight parkways or park roads totaling 21 lane miles are closed to motor vehicles and open to pedestrians to allow more space for trail users to follow social distancing practices and limit the spread of COVID-19. Park Board staff estimates this will remain in place until at least the end of June.

Learn more about the parkway availability.

Please do not enter any damaged buildings. This is very dangerous. The City is blocking sidewalks to keep people away from damaged buildings and working with property owners to secure their properties and get emergency demolitions started as fast as possible.