Crime and Safety

A Word to the Voters of 1-7

The First Ward is not all Northeast. I know there are about 16 blocks—and around 165 homesteaders—in Southeast Como who deserve representation, too.

More than any other candidate in the race, and perhaps as much as any candidate in the city, I know how much it stinks to be ignored, forgotten, and dismissed. I want to bring the outside in. And that includes the 7th Precinct of the First Ward.

Political lines have put us together, but we’re from different neighborhoods. We can still work together. Every resident expects certain things from City Hall. Like good streets and enough cops to keep us safe. That’s what I mean by “Basics First!”

We're united not only by Ward boundaries, but also by the 2nd Police Precinct. That’s why the crime-fighting website I run is called “Eastside Defender”. Bad guys don’t follow lines on maps, so we have to look past them, too.

As I understand it, the top concern in Como is about livability. Absentee landlords and disrespectful tenants make it hard to keep faith in city living. Addressing these problems is a central part of my experience and expertise. I've been part of the Northeast Citizen Patrol’s problem property group since it began. We have solved over 30 properties.

KFAI Radio Interview

On October 19th, KFAI radio (90.3 FM) aired a news story on the First Ward Council race. Four of the five competitors were interviewed, and those interviews were edited into individual segments. Here's mine:

Building a Voluntary City

During last week-end’s doorknocking I was asked to say more about what I mean by encouraging volunteer groups that help our city work better.

My biggest and most personal example is the Northeast Citizen Patrol (NECP). We’re extra eyes and ears for the police. When an NECP patrol is on the sidewalk, the bad guys have a hard time doing business. We‘ve proven our effectiveness over five years. The Mayor even proclaimed May 11th, 2009, to be Northeast Citizen Patrol Day.

I understand patroling is not for everyone. Less-formal walking groups and block clubs help our city work better by helping prevent crime. I want to encouage participation in any form that is effective.

The Eastside Food Co-op began a plastics recycling program with support from the City. Now EFC is continuing the program on its own, supporting all of us to leave a smaller footprint on the planet. And that’s just one example from this hive of volunteer energy.

The Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association puts on the spectacular Art-a-Whirl every year. They promote arts and culture in Northeast and the whole city without taxpayer subsidies. Times are tough, and although City Hall can’t afford artful water fountains, our arts community can step forward to help make Northeast more awesome.

Northeaster Candidate Questionnaire

As I was out doorknocking Monday and Tuesday afternoon, I saw the latest Northeaster being delivered. In case your copy didn’t make it all the way to your front steps (or got too wet to read), here are my answers to the Northeaster’s candidate questionnaire:

1) YOUR BACKGROUND: EMPLOYMENT, EDUCATION, COMMUNITY SERVICE, VOLUNTEER JOBS, ETC., AS THESE EXPERIENCES MIGHT RELATE TO YOUR QUALIFICATIONS FOR THIS OFFICE. (100 WORDS OR LESS)

I came up through the NRP system. I was recruited onto my neighborhood Board and served two terms as President. From grassroots outreach to working with City officials on neighborhood projects, I’ve done everything a volunteer can do to address community concerns.

I was the first volunteer for the Northeast Citizen Patrol. I’ve put in thousands of hours across every Northeast neighborhood making a stand against crime. I’ve heard the worries of people our entrenched political system overlooks.

I’ve been a Northeaster for 18 years, after being raised in southwest. I know how the rest of the city sees us.

2) WHY ARE YOU RUNNING, AND WHAT IS YOUR MAIN PRIORITY? (100 WORDS OR LESS)

Taxes keep going up while services are being cut. City Hall puts pet projects ahead of streets, cops and firefighters. I say, “Basics First!”

$10,000 Trade-off

As an example of the trade-offs a Councilmember faces, consider this StarTribune story about the lawsuits between City Hall and old firefighter and police pension funds:

The city alleges that the funds are improperly including some fringe benefits that shouldn't be included in the salary base for calculating pensions. …  In pretrial rulings, [a Judge] found merit in substantial aspects of the city's arguments, and the two sides have engaged in extensive settlement discussions.

If the city wins, the decision could cut the property tax levy for pensions next year by $11 million, according to city finance officials.

The financial drain on the city also is increasing sharply next year, because of investment losses caused by market declines and because of a Legislature-approved change in assumptions about the longevity of retired police officers. Those costs are the biggest reasons that Mayor R.T. Rybak has proposed an 11.3 percent property tax increase for next year.

According to the reporter, the funds have made an offer that would reduce the City’s obligation next year by more than $14 million.

First, it appears the funds are offering more than the City hopes to gain through its suit, $14M vs. $11M. But I expect the devil is in the details. Are the funds offering a one-year adjustment, or are they willing to correct the seemingly inflated basis-of-pay calculations?

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John Schulte for Mark Fox for City Council, Ward 1

I met Mark a little over five years ago when he was serving one of his terms as President of Audubon Neighborhood Association (ANA). It was a time when criminals were running rampant along Central Ave., Lowry Ave., Polk St., and many other parts of NE.

It happened during a block meeting that was organized because a husband and wife got jumped while walking to Walgreens by a gang of criminal girls that had been terrorizing the neighborhood for months.

It was at this meeting that I volunteered to start a walking group that eventually lead into the Northeast Citizen Patrol (NECP). Mark was the very first one that came up to me and said he would walk with me. This took guts because we had a lot of gang, prostitution and drug dealer activity in the area and everyone new some of them were violent. While others were complaining...Mark started doing.

A Candidate for the Rest of Us

Do you think our city government needs to grow up? Are you tired of them spending your money chasing rainbows instead of providing competent core services?

Government’s job is:

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