Second Ward, Minneapolis

This is the public policy forum of Minneapolis Second Ward (Green) City Council Member Cam Gordon and his staff. We use this space to talk about some of what Cam’s working on, explain his positions, and share a little of what life in City Hall is like. Please feel free to comment on posts, within certain ground rules. See our disclaimer, including ground rules, here:

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Minneapolis Emergency Preparedness Aids Outstate MN

I've received some information about Minneapolis' contribution to the flood relief efforts in outstate Minnesota from our Emergency Preparedness Director Rocco Forte.

On Wednesday, September 22 a widespread heavy rain event overnight caused flooding in the southern third of Minnesota that impacted many counties. In response to the flooding, the State Emergency Operations Center requested assistance from City of Minneapolis Emergency Preparedness and Regulatory Services as part of the initial response and subsequent recovery efforts.

On Friday evening, a member of the City of Minneapolis Emergency Preparedness team was deployed as part of the state-wide Incident Management Team to assist Fairbault with EOC and emergency management support. On Saturday, five City of Minneapolis building inspectors were sent to assist the City of Owatonna and Steele County Building Officials in conducting initial and follow-up inspections to residential, commercial and other structures as water levels continue to recede. On Sunday, City of Minneapolis Emergency Preparedness staff loaded and delivered a trailer filled with metro area supplies stored at our warehouse, including 15,000 masks and 16,000 gloves.

Fall Bike Walk Week

Fall Bike Walk Week
Bike Walk Week is going year-round. This summer’s Bike Walk Week in June was a great success – with more than 7,000 participating. This fall – October 2nd to 10th – these selected events will take place:

Share the Ride Day, featuring Nice Ride, HOURCAR, and Metro Transit rideshare
Bike Walk to School Day in conjunction with Safe Routes to School
Bike-n-Ride for free on Metro Transit
Bike Walk to Worship
Visit for a full list of the week’s activities and to register to participate.

Monday, September 27, 2010

FBI Raids Minneapolis Peace Activists

I stand with the peace and justice activists whose homes were raided last week by the FBI, and who will be required to testify in court about their travels to parts of the world that continue to be wracked by violence and injustice. At least one of the victims of these raids is a Second Ward constituent, and I consider them all important allies in the ongoing struggle for a world in which violence is never seen as a political tool, and in which the rights and dignity of all people are respected.

These raids send an overtly political message likely to discourage people from publicly questioning and criticizing their government, and to deter them from organizing, communicating about and openly opposing policies that they believe are unjust. These kinds of govenment actions that chill the free speech of peace activists and the rights of all of us to freely associate are contradictory to the founding princples of the United States and have the potential to profoundly harm our democracy. The ability of all of us to openly discuss, debate, protest and dissent is essential to our future. As Thomas Jefferson said, "the spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive."

This afternoon, I will attend the protest against the FBI's unwarranted, and likely unjust actions at 4:30pm at the FBI's downtown Minneapolis office, at 111 Washington Avenue South. Please join me.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Homegrown in the News

One of the projects of Homegrown Minneapolis, a series of four home-canning classes in different parts of the city, is being noticed by the local media. Like much of Homegrown's work, this project is a collaboration between our Department of Health and Family Support (using funds from the Statewide Health Improvement Program) and experts on food systems.

These classes are exciting, because they help teach people how to preserve produce from the region - backyards, farmers markets, CSA's, etc - so that they can eat locally even during our long, cold winters. It's good to see this get the buzz it deserves.

Way to Go, Hymies!

Hymie's Vintage Records, which has recently moved to the Second Ward, has been named one of the 25 best record stores in the nation by Rolling Stone magazine. Congratulations, Hymie's!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Parking Near U Stadium

The ordinance I put forward to help businesses with existing parking lots allow visitors to the U stadium park in their lots has passed the Council unanimously.

Here's a little history. Back in 2006, the Council put a Pedestrian Oriented (PO) Overlay District on the University corridor, in advance of the Central Corridor LRT project. The idea is that we want to have more active uses on the street, and fewer auto-oriented uses, when this major transit project comes through.

In 2009, the U stadium opened. Businesses, such as restaurants, that have existing parking lots attempted to rent out spaces in their lots to U stadium visitors. However, because the PO district disallows new auto-oriented uses, they were unable to get commercial parking licenses. They strongly advocated for this to change, and some of their arguments were compelling. For example, they made a good case that, far from helping their businesses, the opening of the stadium had actually harmed them, by convincing regular customers not to come to a congested area on game days.

I worked with staff, the neighborhood and affected businesses to craft a solution that will allow businesses that already have parking lots to open their lots to U stadium visitors for 15 days a year, more than the number of Gopher home games. This action also defends the purpose of the PO overlay, by not allowing commercial parking in any new lots and by limiting the number of days a lot can be used for stadium parking.

I believe that this compromise will help businesses defray some of the increased costs and loss of business resulting from the U stadium, while still promoting pedestrian-oriented uses on University and, most importantly, protecting the Prospect Park area from the blight of acres and acres of parking lots that can be found in areas near other stadiums - such as the Metrodome - that do not have these sorts of protections.

2011 Budget

The Mayor has presented his 2011 budget proposal to the City Council. The proposed budget increases expenses for all City funds to $1.36 billion, an $81 million dollar increase from 2010. The General Fund, which includes funding for the operations of most City departments, increases from $371.6 to $393.6 million. The budget includes an increase of 6.5% to the total property tax levy. This will bring in $17.4 million more to cover City expenses, including a $17.7 million jump in pension obligations. In his budget address, the mayor indicated that without these pension costs he would have proposed to lower property taxes by 0.1%.

There will be $15 million in revenue coming from a recertification of a tax increment district dedicated to neighborhood revitalization purposes and paying off the Target Center debt.

The Mayor's budget calls for over 80 positions to be eliminated. Many of these will likely be accomplished through attrition and not filling current vacant positions, but there will be some layoffs.

One new position, “a high-level coordinator of transit-oriented development to bring together private, public and foundation efforts around economic development on transit lines,” will be added. The position will be paid for in part with foundation money. The budget also increases spending on street and other infrastructure improvements, including a new program aimed at more residential street improvements.

The budget counts on the state following through with its $87.5 million Local Government Aid commitment. The Mayor has unveiled contingency plans that may be needed if the State Government reduces LGA, as has happened in the past two years. Basically, the contingency would reduce the number of streets that we can repair over the next five years from 555 miles or 55% to 181 miles or only 18%.

You can see the Mayor’s proposed budget at The Council will have the opportunity to analyze and amend it before final approval in early December. There will be public comments taken on the levy and budget during the evenings of November 18 and at the formal Public Hearing on the budget on December 13.

I welcome your comments.

Help Get Dropouts Back to School

The Minneapolis Public Schools and the Youth Coordinating Board have joined forces to help address the dropout crisis in Minneapolis. We Want You Back is a grassroots effort to identify, connect with and invite un-enrolled young people to re-enroll. The programs ambitious first year goal is to attract back 200 youth. Saturday, September 11 is our citywide door-knocking event and volunteers are still needed. Visit to learn more, sign up and join me and teams of community and school district volunteers as we fan out across the city to connect young people with resources, support and information. Minneapolis Public Schools staff will re-enroll students on the spot. For more contact Jo Haberman, Youth Coordinating Board, 673-2720 or

Congratulations Elections Department!

The Minneapolis Elections Department has won the prestigious Guardian Award from the National Association of Election Officials, for its work to implement Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) in the municipal election in 2009. This award recognizes work that exemplifies the association’s code of ethics, principles, and standards for the elections profession. In presenting the award, the National Association of Election Officials noted that “the enormity of the task and the level of detail it encompassed were mindboggling as they developed processes and successfully hand-counted an RCV election. This is an example of our profession at its best.” Congratulations to all of our Elections staff, and especially to interim Elections Director Ginny Gelms.