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:

Friday, July 22, 2011

Bicycle Master Plan

It's a momentous day for bicycling in Minneapolis: our first-ever comprehensive Bicycle Master Plan passed the Council this morning.  It's a visionary, detailed document that identifies key corridors for the City to upgrade for bikes, lays out aggressive goals and the tasks to carry them out, and much more.

I'd like to add my thanks to those of my colleagues this morning to a few of the people and organizations who made this happen.  One City Public Works staff member did more than anyone else to bring this plan forward: Don Pflaum.  His hard work and perseverance has paid off, and his accomplishment will help us improve cycling in Minneapolis for decades.  The newly reorganized Bicycle Advisory Committee (or BAC) was also instrumental in shaping this plan, making it better right through the Council process.  And the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition provided great external advocacy as the plan came forward.

In passing the plan, the Council also took two additional actions.  We directed staff to work with the BAC on an Implementation Plan document and return to us by November with either consensus or well-understood points of disagreement.  That document includes some detailed and exciting recommendations for policy changes, legislative agenda items, funding strategies and more.  We also finalized some work that was done earlier this week by the Transportation and Public Works committee, by adding four corridors to the bicycle map: Lyndale Ave N, Johnson St NE, 38th St, and Washington Ave S in downtown (the solid lines in the link). 

Here's some background on this action.  Earlier this year, the BAC invited its members to suggest changes to the draft bicycle plan map.  More than 60 comments came in.  After discussion with Public Works staff, the vast majority of requested changes and additions were made.  Only 12 projects requested to be placed on the map were left off due to staff concerns.  The BAC decided that the above 5 corridors deserved more conversation, and came to the Transportation Public Works committee to advocate for their inclusion, staff's concerns notwithstanding.  The committee agreed with the BAC on four of the five, and they've been added to the map.  (With a minor caveat: it's unclear what type of facility Washington Avenue in downtown will be.)

I think this is a wonderful outcome.  The new BAC has been considerably strengthened by its handling of the Bike Plan, getting kudos from many Council Members for its cogent, logical, and compelling arguments for its positions.  For one example, the Transportation Public Works committee's chair, Sandy Colvin Roy, not only thanked and honored the BAC's great work in her remarks on the plan this morning, she gave an eloquent and passionate speech about the benefits of bicycling, which was based in part on facts that her BAC representative Nick Mason (who chairs the BAC) had shared at Tuesday's committee meeting.  The strengthening of the BAC, more than any of the particular corridors that were considered, seems to me to be the real benefit of the way that the plan passed.  I think that this will have a tremendously positive impact on the discussions around the recommendations in the Implementation Plan, and the Council's consideration of them later this year.

Lastly, I'm proud to say that my Policy Aide and year-round biker, Robin Garwood,  has been deeply involved in making all of this happen.  He not only helped drive the reorganization of the BAC last year, but as the Council's representative on the group has helped bring about the positive outcome we're celebrating today.  His involvement and leadership in this over several years has been critical. I'm happy he has been able to dedicate some of his time, knowledge and talents to improving the bicycle environment not just for the Second Ward, but for the whole city.

Household Hazardous Waste Collection Event

Hennepin County has scheduled a short-term event to collect household hazardous waste from July 21-23, 9am to 4pm, at Dunwoody College of Technology,

For more information, including a complete list of acceptable and non-acceptable items and directions to the temporary drop-off site, call Hennepin County Environmental Services at (612) 348-3777 or go to here.

These events highlight the need for year-round availability of household hazardous waste drop-off services.
818 Dunwoody Blvd.

Arrests in Murder of Shea Stremcha

Arrests have been made in the murder of Shea Stremcha.  From the Minneapolis Police Department's communication on this incident:

July 21, 2011 (MINNEAPOLIS) On July 20, Third Precinct officers were dispatched to 2944 45th Avenue South on a shooting. When they arrived they found an adult male inside the residence. The male had an apparent gun shot wound and was pronounced dead at the scene. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office identified the victim as Shea Jeffrey William Stremcha, 25 years of age. The cause of death was a gunshot wound.

Minneapolis Police Department homicide investigators Sergeant John Holthusen and Sergeant Christopher Gaiters were assigned the case and began pursuing leads immediately.

Officers assigned to the Violent Criminal Apprehension Team (VCAT) arrested Robert Shelby (date of birth 2-26-1984) in the 1700 block of 3rd Street Northeast (case number 11-212263). VCAT also arrested Semaj Williams (date of birth 12-6-1989) in the 600 block of West Broadway Avenue. Both parties were booked into the Hennepin County Jail and are being held for Probable Cause Murder.

Homicide investigators will present the case to the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office for consideration of criminal charges. The case control number for the homicide is 11-211549.

Anyone with additional information regarding this case is asked to call the Minneapolis Police Department Homicide Unit at 612-673-2941.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Backyard Composting Workshop

Composting is not just a sustainable way of handling biodegradable waste. It’s also a great way to put nutrients back into the soil of your garden. Learn the basics of composting at an upcoming backyard composting basics workshop on Saturday, July 16, at 1pm at the Midtown Global Market,
920 E Lake St, Minneapolis
.  The cost is $10 for the public and $8 for Do it Green! members.

Farewell to the Cake Eater Bakery

There's disappointing news from the Seward neighborhood today: the Cake Eater bakery is closing. 

Friday, July 01, 2011

State Government Shutdown

The shutdown of state government will have significant impacts on the City of Minneapolis. 

Before the shutdown, Public Works crews had to scramble to finish projects that are funded by the state, or by federal funds that have passed through the state, before the first, to avoid disruptions.  The Council has authorized legal action to require the State of Minnesota to make Local Government Aid (LGA) payments during the shutdown.  The City has taken on some functions normally provided by the state, including electrical inspections.  Some City departments are more impacted than others: for instance, 60% of the Department of Health and Family Support face layoffs in a prolonged shutdown.  The longer the shutdown continues, the greater the possibility for impact on the City of Minneapolis.

However, it's important to note that, if the Republicans in the legislature get their way, the short-term impacts of the government shutdown on Minneapolis will be dwarfed by the long-term impact of the withdrawal of Local Government Aid.