March 18, 2021
Submitted by Wes Skoglund
Minneapolis is at a crossroad where voters will decide in this fall’s election whether it goes the way of most big cities or returns to being the most livable destination city in America. Voters need to face some discouraging realities happening in our corner of the city.
It’s a sad fact that Twelfth ward felony-level violent crime is up 54%. Felony-level property crime is up 32%.
King-sized apartment buildings with no front lawns and minimal parking are being built on queen-sized and even smaller lots almost to the sidewalks with little consideration of their impact on neighboring properties.
Downtown has changed from a fun place to go to the opposite. Lake Street still lies in ruins. The city council put off a decision on when, where and if our torched police precinct will be re-built.
Police staffing has dropped 25.6% in two short years from 890 officers in 2018 to about 662 today. Our police precinct is has been understandably even more short-staffed due to the re-deployment of cops to to fight gun violence elsewhere, although those numbers change as gun violence sadly increases here.
I’m part of a group of democrats trying to “Save Our City”. It’s made up of long-term civic-minded citizens and former elected officials, including several former council members.
We have come to the conclusion that Minneapolis in general and the 12th ward in particular will continue to suffer if most of the city council, including our member Andrew Johnson, are re-elected.
Most of us, including me, were supportive of Mr. Johnson in his previous election efforts, but not anymore. Our change of heart is based solely on non-visionary policies advocated by him and a majority of his colleagues.
We want to stress it has nothing to do with his character or dedication to the job. CM Johnson is a pleasant and good man who, unfortunately, became part of a group taking Minneapolis in a dangerously wrong direction.
He downplayed the crime surge, which started last summer by labelling it “upticks”, a still term used by many in City Hall. He has publicly advocated the defunding/dismantling of the police department but voted to hire a private armed security firm dedicated to guard his fellow council members.
He supported the city-wide up-zoning of all residential properties making it easier for developers to stuff big buildings into small spaces. He supported spending city dollars on private public relations firms to “reframe the [city council’s] message”.
Former north Minneapolis Council Member and School Board Member Don Samuels said it well when he was interviewed last week in a nation-wide broadcast on “The CBS Morning News” why Minneapolis is in trouble. He said “Some on the city council are not able to manage”.
We think Don minimized the problem by saying “some”.
Just last week for example, a council majority, including Mr. Johnson, voted to put a charter amendment on the ballot, which eliminates minimum police staffing requirements and transfers the chain of command for the MPD from the mayor to themselves.
Our group strongly supports a fully-staffed police department with wide ranging reforms on who’s hired, fired, promoted, retired and what happens in between.
We know our neighborhoods will continue to be victimized if the council gets its way on defunding. Downtown residents, businesses, eateries and arts venues will continue to suffer with a shrunken police force. The same is true for Lake Street.
We think brain-power is not limited to city hall and reasonable residential developments are fine as long as they meet with neighborhood assent.
But constructive changes will not occur if foresighted candidates do not file for office.
We have been approached by good candidates, but are unsure about their commitment to run. The opportunity for others still exists to explore entering race.
If you are a person who can “manage”, has a vision of what Minneapolis could become again and want to be part of what will probably be the most significant reformation of our fair city please contact me.
We would discuss your potential candidacy with no strings attached and we’ll keep the conversation private. Thank you.
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