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:

Sunday, June 30, 2013

What a Difference a Year Makes

At the Gay Pride celebration today, I was struck by the momentous change we've seen from just one year ago.

A year ago, we were fighting to prevent anti-gay bigotry from being written into our most fundamental document.  A year ago, we were forced to defend a status quo in which marriage was not open to all, but at least it was not constitutionally forbidden to all.  A year ago, we were shouting "no!" to a tide of intolerance, and sometimes felt like we were swimming upstream.

Today, we came together to celebrate, to join with one another in a joyful yes, an affirmation of our community's inclusiveness, an affirmation of our commitments to each other - whether in marriage, or in the kind of civil society that cherishes and respects our differences - and an affirmation of love.

Today, we celebrated not only the defeat of that terrible attempt to write marriage inequality into our constitution, but the knowledge that in a month and a day, Minneapolis City Hall will open at one minute after midnight for Mayor Rybak to perform wedding services for same-sex couples.

Today, we know that when those first same-sex couples are married in Minnesota, they will be extended all the federal rights and responsibilities of marriage, due to the Supreme Court's striking down of the "Defense" of Marriage Act.

It is a beautiful day.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Climate Action Plan

The Climate Action Plan that I wrote about when it passed committee unanimously passed the Council this morning.

It's difficult to overstate the importance of this document.  It lays out specific, targeted, achievable strategies for reducing our city's impact on climate change.  As I have said elsewhere, I think this is the critical challenge of our time, the issue on which future generations will judge us.

I want to publicly thank a few people for the success of this document, starting with Sustainability staff person Brandon Slotterback.  He put in a tremendous amount of time, effort, and skill into this planning process, and it shows.  He was supported by his boss, Gayle Prest, and intern Anders Imboden (who did much of the very impressive graphics work in the plan, among other things).

Sustainability staff worked hard to make this plan possible, but it's important to note that the goals and strategies were not crafted by staff, but by a large and diverse Steering Committee.  In turn, they worked with goals and strategies that were laid out by four working groups: on buildings and energy use, transportation, waste, and environmental justice.  I want to thank all of the members of the steering committee and the work groups for their hundreds of hours of volunteer effort.  They wrote this ambitious plan, and their ideas will define our work on climate change for years to come.

Lastly, I want to note that my office played many roles in the formation of this plan.  Along with the Mayor and Council Member Glidden, I welcomed the participants into this process over a year ago, and helped them celebrate their success this afternoon.  My Aide was a member of the Steering Committee, and participated on all of the work groups.  CM Glidden and I played an active role in expanding the environmental justice aspect of the plan, and shepherding it through the Council's process.

Now we have to make sure we implement the great ideas in this plan.  CM Glidden's staff direction to Sustainability to come back with recommendations for strategies to begin implementing immediately is a great start.  I look forward to putting this fantastic document to work in the months and years ahead.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Centerpoint Energy Gas Main Project

This summer, Centerpoint Energy is replacing a natural gas main in the West Bank and Seward neighborhoods.  They are installing 1.4 miles of new steel pipe under 19th Ave S from the 10th Ave Bridge to I-94, and 20th Ave S down to Franklin.  Work is planned to occur until August.  After construction, streets, sidewalks, boulevards and lawns will be restored to their original condition, typically within five to seven business days after construction is completed.  You can find out more here

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Climate Action Plan

I am very excited about the Climate Action Plan that was reviewed and unanimously supported at the Regulatory Energy and Environment Committee this week. It is set to come to the full Council on Friday June 28 where it may be amended.

The Plan, subtitled “a roadmap to reducing citywide greenhouse gas emissions," offers goals and potential strategies to help achieve a 15 percent reduction in emissions by 2015 and a 30 percent reduction by 2025 from 2006 levels. It contains a wealth of information and specific strategies in three broad areas of 1.buildings and energy, 2. transportation and land use, and 3. waste and recycling. You can read the full plan here.

To get you started here are four categories within which the goals and strategies fall:

Significantly improving the energy efficiency of our commercial, residential and public buildings. Strategies are identified to improve energy efficiency in commercial and residential buildings 20 and 15 percent respectively from a baseline of growth by 2025. City and other public buildings should continue to lead the way by aggressively pursuing cost-effective energy efficiency strategies.

Increasing our use of local, renewable energy. The plan calls for increasing our use of local or directly purchased renewable energy to 10 percent of the total electricity consumed in the city by 2025. The purchase of green power, and new approaches that make renewables more accessible and widespread, like solar gardens, will be pursued. Regulatory changes will be pursued to appropriately value and incentivize renewable energy.

Reduce vehicle miles traveled in Minneapolis while improving accessibility and building walkable, safe, and growing neighborhoods that meet the needs of all residents. Improving access to transit, making walking and biking inviting and safe, and building diverse neighborhoods are priorities. We will identify and promote cleaner fuels for our transportation system.

Reduce our waste stream by reducing waste, encouraging reuse, and increasing recycling of both organic and inorganic material. Improving recycling performance in the city, and expanding composting and the collection of organic material are priorities, with the goal of increasing our recycling rate to 50 percent by 2025. Residents will also have more information about the lifecycle impacts of their purchasing decisions, and we will strive for more efficient processing of our wastewater.

Here are some of the intriguing ideas from the plan:

• Use of property-assessed and on-bill financing to fund energy efficiency and renewable energy retrofits for residential and commercial building (p17)

• Encouraging net zero buildings, (p.22)

• Planning for more walkable “complete neighborhoods,” (p23)

• Constructing 30 miles of on street, protected bike facilities by 2020 (p26)

• Identifying products and packaging that are neither recyclable or compostable (p31)

This plan is a great step in the right direction and I look forward to helping implement many of its ideas and strategies in the years to come.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Death of Terrance Franklin

Minneapolis residents are right to be grieved and outraged about the death of 22 year-old Terrance Franklin, who was fatally shot by Minneapolis Police in a Minneapolis home on May 10. Terrance was one of our own. He grew up in Minneapolis and attended our public schools. My thoughts and prayers go out to the grieving family members and friends and I add my voice to those who are calling for a complete, fair and open investigation into his death.

The investigation is now in the hands of the Hennepin County Attorney’s office and evidence is being gathered to be presented to a grand jury. As the investigation unfolds, it will be essential that the family as well the public have faith and confidence in it. To ensure that, I encourage the County Attorney to use all the resources at his disposal and consider calling on our state and federal partners to make sure that in appearances, as well as in reality, the investigation is impartial, complete and fair. The grand jury must hear all the evidence before determining if charges will be brought. If charges are brought, I expect those charged to be fully prosecuted as part of a fair trial.

I also call for a complete review of the incidents and decisions that led up to this tragedy. We must learn from this so that future tragedies like it can be prevented. Following the county-led investigation, I call for a full City led review of the incident, using outside, independent experts as needed, to determine what the police could have done differently to prevent this death. It would be extremely helpful, for this incident and others like it, if Minneapolis still had a civilian-led process for holding police officers accountable. If policies or best practices were not followed, the public should know this and police discipline and training should follow. If policies were followed, they should be reviewed and improved.

As someone who has been deeply committed to preventing youth violence in Minneapolis, it is especially concerning whenever one of our youth is seriously injured or killed in a violent act. In each case I believe that we should conduct a full review to identify the causes and preventative steps we could have taken. It is especially tragic when a youth is killed by a public employee, and we need to take extraordinary measures to understand how and why this happened and to do everything in our power to prevent it from ever happening again.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

One Read 2014 - "A Choice of Weapons" by Gordon Parks

We had a wonderful presentation on One Minneapolis One Read this morning at the City Council Committee of the Whole meeting. It included a nice promotional video looking back at the first two years. This effort to build community and help us all face tough issues has exceeded my expectations so far and I look forward to an amazing third year reading “A Choice of Weapons” by Gordon Parks. Special kudos goes to 8th Ward Council Member Elizabeth Glidden for her steady strong leadership on this.

Please join me in reading the book and joining the conversation.