Central Corridor Related - Twin Cities News
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA. One of the best reporting gigs of the Academy Awards is the backstage Interview Room, where the Oscar winner goes after receiving their award.MORE »
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA. One of the best reporting gigs of the Academy Awards is the backstage Interview Room, where the Oscar winner goes after receiving their award.
Fresh off the stage, the winner is in a grand mood; exhilarated, happy and feeling a rush of emotion.
“And I'm standing here now ... I got a prize for excellence for the work I do in something that's not my job, it's not my hobby and it's not my fad; it's my career. That feels wonderful,” said Matthew McConaughey, Best Actor in a Leading Role winner, to the Interview Room press.
The scene of an Oscar winner gushing about their win makes the Interview Room festive and exciting. Journalists hear how thrilled the winners are and share that joy with a global audience.
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences’ mission is to make the Interview Room just that: an interview room. No photos are allowed and violators are escorted out if the rule is dishonored. This makes the Interview Room more relaxed: no clicking cameras, no rushing the winner for photos (there is a photo room for that), no paparazzi to contend with. The journalists wear tuxedoes and gowns, preserving the formal elegance of the Oscars.
Media reps sign an agreement with the Academy to respect the principle of the room: interviews only. “No photography of any type is permitted in the Interview Room at any time.” Tweets are allowed. Live blog posts and articles transmitted to editors are permitted. But no photos of any sort. Journalists are provided written and verbal reminders (“IMPORTANT: READ ME” “Credentials 411” “This is not a photo room” “You can not go up to the winner in the Interview Room, staff will hand you a microphone for questions”).
The Academy is clear: “The Academy Awards telecast is a private, formal [sic] event.”
(Above) Where is Jared Leto's Oscar statue? Photo: A.M.P.A.S.
Jared Leto, winner of Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, was the first Oscar winner in the Interview Room at the 86th Academy Awards. Facing the room, and Academy moderators, he spontaneously decided to let the members of the press hold his Oscar statue. “Does anybody want to try it out for size? You can. If anybody wants to fondle. Here. Pass it around, but if you have swine flu, please don't touch. I think this is the first, the first person to ever give their Oscar away for an orgy in the press room,” he said. He handed over his Oscar to the front row of journalists.
Leto then went a step further and said: “If you guys want to get a selfie with the Oscar, go for it. Now's your chance.”
The Academy moderator interrupts Leto: “It’s no cameras allowed in this room.”
Leto, annoyed, retorts to the moderator: “Oh, no fun. You guys want to get media, let the media do what they do. Viva la revolution, baby.”
Tweets are allowed in the Interview Room, after all. But photos are not. A selfie is a photo, typically posted on Twitter. And there is the quandary. Twitter yes, selfie no.
An Oscar winner gives permission to the press take a photo with his statuette. The Academy moderator tells the Oscar winner “no photos.” The winner hands his Oscar to reporters, tells the media to “revolt” and take a selfie photo, and then instructs the Academy moderators to let the media “do what they do.”
Clearly, the press was in the middle between Leto’s permission to take a selfie with his Oscar statue and the Academy directive “no photos allowed.” Security personnel checked the cell phones of the media after the telecast ended and watched as media reps deleted Leto’s Oscar statue selfies that he gave permission to take.
(Above) Who owns a selfie? Host Ellen DeGeneres tweets at the 86th Academy Awards. Photo: A.M.P.A.S.
When Oscars host Ellen DeGeneres took a selfie photograph in the event’s audience, and posted it, a debate erupted in the Twitter community: who owns a selfie? The Poynter Institute, a go-to source for journalists, says who owns the right to social media photos isn’t “all that cut and dried.”
Jared Leto was enjoying his win and wanted to share his Oscar with the press, encouraging Twitter selfies. A thrill for the press, but a dilemma for Academy Interview Room moderators and security staff.
“And thanks for getting my Oscar dirty with your fingerprints,” joked Leto as he left the backstage Interview Room.
There may be a new selfie rule at next year's Oscars.
Kerissa Olmsted’s dual B.A. in Spanish and Portuguese, five years of hospitality management experience, and well-rounded extracurricular resume weren’t enough for her to break into the Twin Cities’ booming health-care field. During the summer of 2013, while taking science prerequisites at Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC), she applied to 20 jobs — with zero response. Her dream of a career as a licensed physical therapist was on the ropes.
A chance encounter with Brian Mogren, Director of Healthcare Partnerships for MCTC and Saint Paul College, changed her luck. Mogren runs the Central Corridor College Fellowship (C3 Fellows) program, an 18-month workforce development initiative funded by a $200,000 McKnight Foundation grant. C3 Fellows, in turn, is part of the Central Corridor Anchor Partnership (CCAP), a community development organization.
CCAP has brought together about a dozen of the area’s largest employers in advance of the Green Line’s opening, in order that C3 Fellows might place 200 MCTC and Saint Paul College students in fellowships at major Central Corridor health-care employers, like Regions Hospital and Fairview Medical Center, by the end of this year. According to Mike Christenson, MCTC’s Associate VP of Workforce Development, C3 Fellows is an early component of an ambitious, multi-year plan to encourage the Central Corridor’s biggest employers to hire, train, and promote local workers.OAS_AD("Middle");
“C3 Fellows is an important demonstration program,” says Christenson. By providing the educational and practical resources necessary for the Fellows to establish careers, he says, “we aim to convince talented [local] scientists to anchor their careers along the corridor and tie residents to jobs along the corridor.”
Mogren helped Olmsted spruce up her resume and navigate Fairview Health Services’ application process. It worked. In November, the North Minneapolis native got a part-time job as a rehab specialist at the Fairview facility on University and Vandalia. Her bosses fit her hours around her class schedule — “I was surprised and grateful,” she says—and even encouraged her to incorporate her skills as a yoga instructor into her work. She now leads two weekly yoga classes for patients.
“The Green Line can’t open fast enough,” she says, as she’s tired navigating rush hour between the Central Corridor and her home in North Minneapolis.Massive opportunity for cohesive community
CCAP owes its existence to the largesse of the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative, a broad-based coalition of mostly private foundations, and the efforts of two local development experts: Louis Smith, a Minneapolis attorney whose work with South Minneapolis’s Phillips Partnership helped to spur the resurgence of the Midtown Greenway/Lake Street corridor; and Ellen Watters, a Civic Source principal whose lengthy resume includes stints as President of the Midway Chamber of Commerce and VP of Economic Development for the Saint Paul Chamber of Commerce.
According to Eric Muschler, a McKnight Foundation program officer whose work intersects with CCAP’s, Smith and Watters were tasked with finding three broad areas of common interest: local personnel development, which is Smith’s forte; local procurement, which Watters leads; and placemaking, which Muschler describes as “securing the financial interests of anchor institutions by investing in the surrounding communities.”
Within each area, CCAP set medium-term goals for its members. These include boosting hiring from the 15 Central Corridor ZIP codes by 5 percent, increasing local buying by 5 percent, reaching pre-set workforce diversity benchmarks, and reducing the district’s longstanding racial employment gap.
The goals may not seem ambitious, but CCAP’s domain is massive. According to the Anchor Environmental Scan, a McKnight Foundation analysis co-authored by Burke Murphy and Matt Schmit, the Central Corridor supports 350,000 jobs, and the medical anchors alone — Regions Hospital, Fairview Health Services, United Hospital, and Hennepin County Medical Center — boast a combined payroll of nearly $5 billion.
C3 Fellows work-force development goals fit neatly into the CCAP’s imperative: to leverage the economic power of its biggest institutions — so-called “anchor institutions” — in the service of a more cohesive, prosperous community.Challenges to growth
The biggest challenge to C3 Fellows’ sustainability isn’t labor supply — there are countless aspiring health-care professionals at MCTC and Saint Paul College — but institutional demand. C3 Fellows requires an ample supply of entry-level, semi-skilled healthcare jobs, of which there are currently few. Of the 600 total positions on the Central Corridor, with initial partners at Fairview, Health Partners, HealthEast, Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, and Augustana, only 35 are entry-level.
The shortage, explains Christenson, is structural. Deeply entrenched protocols prevent healthcare institutions from billing for work performed by non-credentialed employees, including the students that C3 Fellows serves. Hospital positions are more credentialed than ever, with fewer entry-level opportunities.
Although 75 percent of MCTC and Saint Paul College students work while taking classes, few gain practical experience in their fields of study. “Health-care students need to be working in hospitals,” says Christenson, “not Holiday stations.”
The area’s students do know their way around the workplace. Kerissa Olmsted is far from the only C3 Fellow with an eye-catching resume.
“The average age of both Saint Paul College and MCTC students is 28 years old,” says Mogren, and “many are working professionals going back to school to gain additional skills or to take their careers to the next level.”
Health care is a great place to start, however, and Mogren and Christenson intend to “make our goal [of 200 fellows],” says Christenson. They’re also planning to expand into other areas, such as manufacturing and technology. Since many modern jobs demand formal certificates and degrees, he adds, there’s enormous potential for programs that “promote both educational and employment opportunities for students who come from communities [that are] traditionally underserved by higher education,” which includes some communities along the Green Line.
Another challenge is negotiating procurement contracts with anchors to create jobs. Watters cites a recent “paradigm shift” in which anchors’ “procurement staff are rewarded for cost-savings and efficiency, while we are asking them to [buy] from smaller vendors with less of a track record,” she says. “Some of those goods and services may actually cost more in the short term.”
Still, several anchors recently inked a joint snow-removal contract with Frogtown-based Prescription Landscape. According to Muschler, the contract cut Fairview’s plowing costs by 38 percent. It may also lead Prescription to hire or subcontract with local drivers and support staff, potentially creating jobs in the neighborhood. To expedite the process, CCAP is providing Prescription with training and hiring assistance.Transit, housing, educational initiatives
According to Watters, CCAP is working closely with Metro Transit and certain anchors to procure discounted bus and rail passes for students and workers from participating institutions—in time for the Green Line’s June 14 opening. Other transit-related initiatives include a long-term effort to improve “last-mile” connections for students and workers who live near, but not on, the Green Line — the revamped express bus service on Snelling Avenue is just one component of this — as well as new or remodeled transit centers at or near anchor institutions.
Meanwhile, CCAP is pairing with the Minnesota Housing Partnership to educate anchor-institution employees about affordable homeownership options along the Green Line. The most visible product of this effort is a comprehensive brochure that highlights specific neighborhoods within the district and offers information about housing loans, assistance, and other resources.
In addition to the C3 Fellows program, CCAP’s personnel development work includes Scrubs Camp, a weeklong summer camp that introduces local high-school students to the healthcare industry. The brainchild of Paul Pribbenow, President of Augsburg College, Scrubs Camp recruits about 100 talented youngsters per season from the West Bank and other Green Line neighborhoods. Saint Paul College also hosts a Scrubs Camp each summer with CCAP support.
CCAP is also forging closer links between the district’s two community colleges and local four-year institutions. MCTC and Augsburg, for instance, attracted 400 applicants for just 100 spots at their brand-new, three-year RN program, and the University of Minnesota now offers a fourth-year master’s option for successful graduates. St. Catherine University is exploring ways to align with MCTC and Saint Paul College as well.Leveraging anchor institutions’ economic power
CCAP’s ultimate aim is to generate a positive feedback loop — to “turn these initiatives into institutional behavior,” as Muschler puts it. The “anchor institution strategy” — leveraging the economic power of large inner-city employers, like hospitals and schools (“Eds and Meds,” as they’re known) — has a long, generally successful history.
Muschler points to Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, where the University of Chicago offers robust incentives to employees who live within a few blocks of campus, and Cleveland’s Health-Tech Corridor, where Cleveland Clinic and Case Western University have poured billions of dollars into transit improvements, workforce development initiatives, and local procurement efforts.
These areas — and other places where the anchor strategy has been successfully implemented, like Detroit’s Midtown corridor and East Baltimore’s “Eds and Meds” cluster — are vibrant and inviting, to be sure. They’re also surrounded, and dwarfed, by far less fortunate neighborhoods that continue to suffer from disinvestment and neglect.
The Central Corridor has struggled with similar issues, but its existing social institutions and economic assets — not to mention Minnesota’s entrenched culture of civic engagement and public-private partnerships — provide CCAP with a firm base on which to build. For job seekers like Kerissa Olmsted, there’s light at the ends, and in the middle, of the Green Line.
This article is reprinted in partnership with The Line, an online chronicle of Twin Cities creativity in entrepreneurship, culture, retail, placemaking, the arts, and other elements of the new creative economy. Brian Martucci is The Line’s innovation and jobs news editor.
House leaders on Friday praised the body’s quick work in passing $500 million in tax relief this week, but cautioned much work remains on major bills as a March 21 committee deadline draws near.MORE »
House leaders on Friday praised the body’s quick work in passing $500 million in tax relief this week, but cautioned much work remains on major bills as a March 21 committee deadline draws near.
Lawmakers said the fast pace set over the first two weeks of the 2014 session would continue next week, with HF1986, a bill to amend the state’s ban on gifts to lawmakers, scheduled for a House floor vote, and committees hearing pieces of Gov. Mark Dayton’s “unsession” proposals to eliminate outdated and antiquated laws.
A bill legalizing medical marijuana is also scheduled to make its next stop next week. After advancing out of the House Health and Human Services Policy Committee following an emotional, hours-long hearing earlier this week, HF1818 is scheduled to be heard in the House Government Operations Committee Tuesday morning.
During a Friday morning news conference, House Speaker Paul Thissen (DFL-Mpls) cast doubt, however, as to whether the legislation can become law in its current form.
Thissen said he wants to get “to a bill that both law enforce and advocates of medical marijuana use can support.” That hasn’t yet happened, he said, and Dayton has made clear his unease with legalization legislation in the absence of support from Minnesota law enforcement.
“Until we get to that point, I don’t see a (medical marijuana) bill passing off the House floor,” Thissen said.
Sponsored by Rep. Carly Melin (DFL-Hibbing), the bill would allow a registered patient or designated caregiver to possess 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana and, under certain conditions, up to six marijuana plants.
Minimum wage stalemate
The future of a hike in the state’s minimum wage still looks unclear, with a conference committee deadlocked on whether to tie a proposed increase to inflation.
Both House and Senate negotiators have said they support the House’s proposed increase to $9.50 per hour by 2016. But, while House conferees have stated their preference to automatically raise the wage in line with inflation in future years, the Senate has not indicated willingness to include such a bump.
Despite that, House Majority Leader Erin Murphy (DFL-St. Paul) said Friday she is “full of optimism” that a deal between House and Senate negotiators can be reached.
“It’s important we give 350,000 Minnesotans a boost in pay,” she said.
Sen. Jeff Hayden (DFL-Mpls) cited the Senate’s movement from the $7.75 minimum wage bill it passed last year to the $9.50 figure proposed in the House as evidence the two sides can reach a deal.
“It’s been a little testy, but I think that’s normal when you sit down and work these things out,” Hayden said.
Movement on tax bill?
“We’ve got a lot more work to do to provide tax relief to Minnesotans,” Woodard told reporters.
That bill is now in the hands of the Senate, whose leadership has indicated they will not rush its passage to meet the governor’s March 14 deadline.
Murphy called it a “focused and clean bill” and said she is hopeful HF1777 reaches the governor by the end of next week.
Senate Minority Leader David Hann (R-Eden Prairie) voiced frustration with the Senate’s approach to the proposed legislation.
“We need to see this tax bill come through the Senate quickly,” he said. “We’re not that interested in taking other things up until that happens.”© 2014 Session Daily
With Republicans offering fewer than a dozen amendments, the House passed a bill 126-2 that would provide relief to state taxpayers and to businesses faced with a new set of sales taxes.MORE »
With Republicans offering fewer than a dozen amendments, the House passed a bill 126-2 that would provide relief to state taxpayers and to businesses faced with a new set of sales taxes.
Flush with a projected state $1.23 billion surplus, HF1777 garnered bipartisan support in the House Taxes Committee and made a quick trip to the floor.
“This is designed to benefit middle class Minnesotans with tax cuts. I want to underline that we are voting quickly. We need to do federal conformity right now because people are doing their taxes right now,” said Rep. Ann Lenczewski (DFL-Bloomington), the bill’s sponsor. In an earlier press briefing, Lenczewski hinted that another tax bill could follow this session dealing with property tax issues.
The $503 million bill now moves to the Senate where Sen. Rod Skoe (DFL-Clearbrook), chair of the Senate Taxes Committee, is its sponsor.
The bill would conform the state’s individual income tax and corporate franchise tax retroactive to tax year 2013. However, one popular item —the increased married standard deduction — would be delayed until tax year 2014.
Rep. Jenifer Loon (R-Eden Prairie) successfully offered an amendment that would make the dependent care credit applicable to this year, rather than next as proposed in the bill.
“With a $1.2 billion surplus and less than half of that devoted to tax relief, this bill doesn’t go far enough,” Loon said.
The credit would be paid by a one month delay in a repeal of a telecommunication sales tax. Since July 1, 2013, a sales tax has been imposed on the telecommunication industry. It is projected to generate approximately $33 million by June 30, 2014. Rather than giving the companies a refund, the money would be used to support the credit and fund grants to provide broadband infrastructure development incentives.
“Let’s delay it for one month and the money that we book from that will pay for the credit. Think with your heart and heads,” Loon said.
After being enacted last session, the business community objected to three new sales taxes that were imposed. The bill proposes to repeal the sales tax on such items as repair and maintenance of equipment, and warehousing and storage service.
Other provisions in the bill include:
- Increased income limits and an unlimited time for the deduction of student loan interest; and
- increased maximum exclusion for employer-provided adoption assistance.
Several deductions are extended through tax year 2013 only. They include:
- a higher education tuition expense deduction;
- itemized deduction for mortgage insurance premiums;
- an option for taxpayers to claim an itemized deduction for sales taxes rather than income taxes paid; and
- authority for people age 70½ or older to transfer up to $100,000 from a traditional IRA or Roth IRA to a qualified charity.
The bill provides a $1.17 million one-time appropriation to the Revenue Department for the cost of implementing the tax code changes.
Watch the full video archive of today's floor session here.
Photo: Rep. Ann Lenczewski responds to questions during March 6 floor debate on her bill, HF1777. (Photo by Paul Battaglia)© 2014 Session Daily
Imagine a young girl standing patiently by as her father works on a car in their garage. She fetches any tool he needs and has memorized each one just to be a better helper. One day, she finally asks if he’ll teach her to work on cars and he says, “You’ll get dirty. Girls don’t work on cars.”MORE »
Imagine a young girl standing patiently by as her father works on a car in their garage. She fetches any tool he needs and has memorized each one just to be a better helper. One day, she finally asks if he’ll teach her to work on cars and he says, “You’ll get dirty. Girls don’t work on cars.”
No doubt exists that sons and daughters are treated differently, but it’s those differences that typically lead girls into lower paying, traditionally female-dominated careers, while their male counterparts are lead into jobs in construction, high-tech, engineering and mechanics.
“Each year I teach young men and women who leave excited about their futures of becoming doctors and engineers,” said Rep. Will Morgan (DFL-Burnsville), who teaches physics and chemistry at Burnsville Senior High School. But, he said, all too often the girls come back to visit on a break from college and it’s a different story.
“These incredibly capable women come back and something has happened,” Morgan said. “They can’t put their finger on it, but their goals have changed and they end up in a more traditional women’s field that will provide less economic security.”
Morgan’s bill, HF2291, and HF2243, sponsored by Rep. Yvonne Selcer (DFL-Minnetonka), were heard Thursday in the House Jobs and Economic Development Finance and Policy Committee. Both bills focus on raising the economic status of women by providing training to women in occupations that are typically dominated by men. Both bills were laid over for possible inclusion in the omnibus jobs bill.
“We have to do better,” said Rep. Tim Mahoney (DFL-St. Paul), chairman of the committee. “We can’t afford to have women stuck in underpaying jobs. $600 a week is not acceptable for women. I would like to focus on getting women into businesses that make a lot more money. This is a great start.”
Barbara Battiste, director of the Office on the Economic Status of Women, said that as of 2010, incorporated women-owned businesses earned 80 cents for every $1 a men’s business did. Those that are not incorporated earned 60 cents for every $1.
The Minnesota industry sectors with the lowest percentage of women owned businesses are:
- Transportation/warehousing – 7.2 percent
- Utilities – 7.1 percent
- Agriculture – 7 percent
- Construction – 6.8 percent
- Management of companies – 4.6 percent
- Mining – 3.2 percent
She added that in 2011-2012 only 3 percent of construction program graduates at the state’s technical colleges were women. Only 6 percent of construction companies are owned by women.
Beth Peterson, manager of adult basic education for the Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency in Eveleth, said much of what she sees is that girls and women are held back from higher-wage jobs because of tradition and lack of awareness. “Women are put in a mindset that it’s not tradition,” she said. “’My dad didn’t take me into the garage to weld,’ so they want to be lawyers because they know the wage associated with it.”
“Sometimes when you try to teach take your daughter out and you’re a not a good teacher, they yell at ya,” Mahoney said.
Rep. Andrea Kieffer (R-Woodbury) disagreed that girls are raised to be a “certain way.”
“We have all kinds of ways to encourage girls,” she said. “We need to be careful not to micromanage how girls are raised, especially when it might be cultural.”
The Senate companion to Morgan’s bill is SF2274, sponsored by Sen. Melisa Franzen (DFL-Edina). Selcer’s companion is SF2158, sponsored by Sen. Vicki Jensen (DFL-Owatonna). Both bills await action by the Senate Jobs, Agriculture and Rural Development Committee.© 2014 Session Daily
A couple summers ago, Apple Valley vegetable grower Gary Pahl had more sweet corn in his fields than grocery stores would buy. But rather than disposing of the excess, he worked with a Twin Cities hunger relief organization to get the food to Minnesotans who struggle to put food on the table. Pahl on Thursday told the House Agriculture Policy Committee that his participation in Second Harvest Heartland’s farm-to-food shelf program has grown so that in 2013 he donated 847,000 pounds of food.MORE »
A couple summers ago, Apple Valley vegetable grower Gary Pahl had more sweet corn in his fields than grocery stores would buy. But rather than disposing of the excess, he worked with a Twin Cities hunger relief organization to get the food to Minnesotans who struggle to put food on the table. Pahl on Thursday told the House Agriculture Policy Committee that his participation in Second Harvest Heartland’s farm-to-food shelf program has grown so that in 2013 he donated 847,000 pounds of food.
“Cub Foods, Target, Wal-Mart — we sell to all of them. Their demand is only so much. … Our employees were so proud that we weren’t going to let this food go to waste and put it into somebody’s hands that needed it,” Pahl said.
Pahl testified in support of HF2538. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Jeanne Poppe (DFL-Austin), the committee chair, would appropriate $1.5 million a year from the General Fund to Second Harvest to compensate farmers for the costs of packaging and transferring their surplus food. The committee approved the bill and referred it to the House Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Finance Committee.
Minnesotans are missing about 100 million meals a year, or 10 meals a month per person, according research conducted by Second Harvest and the University of Minnesota’s Food Industry Center. At the same time, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates Minnesota farmers grow 210 million pounds a year of vegetables and fruits that either aren’t harvested or aren’t sold after they’re harvested.
“We feel that if this food can be moved from the waste stream into the hunger relief industry, that will benefit a lot of our families and seniors and others who are in need,” said Greta Gauthier, Second Harvest’s director of advocacy.
Second Harvest currently has a network of farm operations in 36 counties who provide a bounty ranging from potatoes to watermelons. In the last two years, Second Harvest and other groups have conducted a pilot program that has moved 12 million pounds of fruits and vegetables. The funding in HF2538 would significantly boost the food that’s brought to food shelves.
“We’re pretty confident that for $1.5 million we will be able to move 10 million pounds of food,” Gauthier said.
Lyft dodges city sanctions: After a week, the car service is still offering free rides to avoid Minneapolis regulations
Zac Henderson hitched rides to class, work and parties this week in strangers’ cars, using a ridesharing app that’s new to Minneapolis.MORE »
Zac Henderson hitched rides to class, work and parties this week in strangers’ cars, using a ridesharing app that’s new to Minneapolis.
The family social science sophomore is taking advantage of a two-week promotion that offers free rides in honor of Lyft’s Feb. 27 launch in the city.
“When I don’t have to pay for it, why not?” Henderson said.
While some University of Minnesota students are smitten with the app, Lyft’s arrival in Minneapolis clashed with current city ordinances. Now, safety and regulation concerns are making city leaders and taxi businesses reluctant to let the company in.
Lyft, a citizen chauffeur service that connects drivers and riders through a mobile app, delayed its expansion into Minneapolis for months after city leaders told the company that its drivers would need to purchase taxi licenses.
Cities regulate taxis because riding with a stranger inherently involves risks, said Dave Sutton, a spokesman for the Taxicab, Limousine and Paratransit Association’s “Who’s Driving You?” initiative.
The industry campaign, which launched Feb. 27, seeks to educate the public about the potential risks that come with ridesharing apps — which aren’t subject to the same strict regulations taxis are.
Since Lyft isn’t charging riders during its promotion, it has so far evaded city punishment for not buying licenses. But it’s unclear whether the stalemate will continue once the deal expires.
Minneapolis leaders are in talks with St. Paul and the Metropolitan Airports Commission to draft regional regulations that would legalize Lyft, but a draft of the new rules isn’t expected until June, according to a city statement.
“Customers should have confidence that the service they’re using is meeting safety and other standards,” the city said in the statement.
Lyft will continue conversations with the city in the coming weeks to try and come to an agreement, Lyft spokeswoman Paige Thelen said.
In the meantime, some University students are trying the new service and seem excited about it.
Catching a ride with a Lyft driver is a good way to get off the streets on weekend nights, Henderson said, which could help prevent crime.
Riding with a stranger also isn’t a problem, he said, because Lyft app users have access to each driver’s picture and contact information.
“I don’t really think there’s a lot that could go wrong,” he said.
Rather than paying fares based on a meter, Lyft riders use the mobile app to pay at the end of the ride, Thelen said.
Henderson said he first downloaded the Lyft app when the company was only operating in St. Paul, where it debuted in August. Under St. Paul city ordinance, cars must have meters to be considered taxis, so Lyft sidesteps regulation.
But in Minneapolis, city code and leadership aren’t yet allowing Lyft to operate for pay.
Minneapolis leaders haven’t seen evidence that Lyft drivers have the commercial liability insurance to cover a driver who’s serving a customer for pay, according to a city statement. Part of Minneapolis’ licensing process ensures that taxis have proper insurance, the statement said.
While taxis are regulated fairly strictly throughout the country, Sutton said, ridesharing companies can lack some of taxis’ safeguards, like commercial insurance and background checks conducted by law enforcement.
Some students aren’t so worried.
Graphic design senior Matt McVeigh said he used Lyft for the first time this week, adding that his driver was a friendly Minneapolis woman who wanted to make extra cash.
One of the woman’s family members was worried about her driving people around late at night, McVeigh said.
But McVeigh said his Lyft experience was safe — he and his friend even took a “selfie” with the driver.
“These are people that are kind of like your neighbors,” he said.
Sutton said “Who’s Driving You?” strongly encourages Minneapolis to consider Lyft an unregulated taxi service and enforce its laws accordingly.
But Lyft doesn’t agree with that comparison.
“Lyft is not a taxi. It’s a new and not-accounted-for transportation alternative,” Thelen said. “Lyft does not fit into or violate any existing city law.”
This attitude is common among ridesharing companies, Sutton said, making it challenging to prevent them from operating in cities that might think differently.
“Enforcement is the only thing that works with these companies,” Sutton said.
Henderson said it might take a while for ridesharing companies like Lyft to catch on with students, since they’re new and unique. But he said the service is ideal for students of drinking age who don’t want to take the bus downtown or to the bars.
McVeigh, too, said he was excited the company launched in Minneapolis.
“I think Lyft is a fresh perspective on [ridesharing],” McVeigh said. “I think it’s an awesome solution for students.”© 2014 The Minnesota Daily
Leymah Gbowee, Liberian peace activist and 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner is the keynote speaker this coming Sunday, March 9 at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum’s ‘Global Day’, being held at the University of Minnesota’s Tedd Mann concert Hall at 4:15PM.MORE »
Leymah Gbowee, Liberian peace activist and 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner is the keynote speaker this coming Sunday, March 9 at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum’s ‘Global Day’, being held at the University of Minnesota’s Tedd Mann concert Hall at 4:15PM.
Gbowee was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for her “non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.” Gbowee advanced the peace process and worked to facilitate free elections in 2005 via a women’s peace movement that aided in ending the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003. She is the co-founder of the Women Peace and Security Network Africa (WIPSEN-Africa).
This article is reposted from TCDP media partner Mshale. Check out the links below for other recent Mshale stories:
- Seven Democrats help Republicans sink Debo Adegbile nomination
- Immigration reform advocates urge Obama to stop deportations
This is the 26th annual Nobel peace Prize Forum. It is the Norwegian Nobel Institute’s only such program or academic affiliation outside of Norway and brings Nobel Peace Prize winners, civic leaders, and scholars together with students and other citizens. This year’s forum started March 1 on the campuses of Augsburg College and the University of Minnesota West Bank and consisted of an address by the Dalai Lama.
Leymah Gbowee’s keynote address will close out the 2014 Forum.
Tickets and information are available at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum website.© 2014 Mshale
Balladeer Larry Carpenter and producer Bill Travers make a great team. They came up with Across the Water, a sparkling gem, a few years back. And are back at it with Old Voice (BT Records), bringing in songbird Laura Moe.MORE »
Balladeer Larry Carpenter and producer Bill Travers make a great team. They came up with Across the Water, a sparkling gem, a few years back. And are back at it with Old Voice (BT Records), bringing in songbird Laura Moe.
The Twin Cities scene has seen a lot of impressive rock, funk, hip-hop and even a few decent blues bands keeping Minneapolis and St. Paul nightlife worth braving the cold. Not so much, quiet acoustic acts. Beyond the popular trio of Travers, Moe and Francis Duxbury III a/k/a The Travelin' Moburys, there really ain't a whole lot to speak on around these parts. If there's anybody else in Travers' camp looking to see the light of day, the field's wide open.
March 19th, Wednesday, 6:00 p.m. Larry Carpenter with Laura Moe at Driftwood Char Bar in Minneapolis
Old Voice is apt wording. Along with being the title of one of the cuts, it fits just fine to describe Larry Carpenter. You don't develop his authority, a gently laid back, sweetly wizened tone coming out of the gate. It takes time. Accordingly, Larry Carpenter has been around quite some time — several decades, in fact — and doesn't seem to have wasted one minute over all the years. His sound is a simple one exuding the quality of elemental grace we haven't seen since the likes of Tom Rush, Eric Anderson, Phil Ochs and such surfaced back in the late 60s and early 70s.
For Old Voice with an understated hint of Paul Simon to his vocals, Carpenter comes up with another collection of calming, companionable performances. As with Across the Water, he goes out of his way to find obscure material with which to create laid back magic. In one exception, he executes a winning, reflective rendition of that chestnut by the Eagles, "Peaceful Easy Feeling" in his own signature style.
The personnel for Old Voice consists of Larry Carpenter (guitar-vocals), Laura Moe (vocals), Bill Travers (guitar), with Larry's wife Judy Taylor playing flute and John Wright on guitar and bass guitar. Everyone does a fine job.
"Woodsmoke and Oranges," described in the liner notes as "a...tribute to the rugged wilderness of the Canadian North Shore of Lake Superior," starts the album on a note beautifully indicative of the overall fare. It has Carpenter and Moe blending on airtight harmonies for flowing melodies and perfect playing that put the easy in easy listening. The notes say of Quoddy Point, "Anyone who sees a sunrise from Quoddy Point will be the first in the U.S. to see the light on that particular day." The treatment Carpenter and company give it is enough to make you imagine that view along with the joy of sitting there, sharing with a loved one. Listen for Bill Travers' characteristic picking. He truly is one of the tastiest guitarists you'll here for miles around. He knows when to do a flurry of fills, when to simply put the right notes in the right places and when to do a sweet combination of the two.
Old Voice by Larry Carpenter with Laura Moe is the kind of wonderfully gentle music that simply doesn't come along everyday.© 2014 Dwight Hobbes
Ramiro Sanchez-Maldonado, the youngest of six children, was only four years old and living in Mexico when his mother died. The family moved almost immediately to the Twin Cities, but there were family problems – his father was drinking to excess and his brother started getting into trouble. “My brother was hanging out with the wrong people,” Ramiro said. So in 2002, only two years after moving to Minnesota, Ramiro and his brother were sent to live with his older sister in Arkansas. “My family though we’d have a better life in a small Arkansas town, away from bad things,” he said.MORE »
Ramiro Sanchez-Maldonado, the youngest of six children, was only four years old and living in Mexico when his mother died. The family moved almost immediately to the Twin Cities, but there were family problems – his father was drinking to excess and his brother started getting into trouble. “My brother was hanging out with the wrong people,” Ramiro said. So in 2002, only two years after moving to Minnesota, Ramiro and his brother were sent to live with his older sister in Arkansas. “My family though we’d have a better life in a small Arkansas town, away from bad things,” he said.
While his brother continued to have problems, Sanchez-Maldonado was thriving. He’d become fluent in English, made friends and was doing well at a high achieving school. “But, I liked being in the city. I dreamed of coming back to the Twin Cities and in 2010, I did.”
This is the second of four articles about the winners of the 22nd Annual Beat the Odds Awards, telling the stories of local high school seniors who have overcome great hardship through determination and courage and who are now headed toward college and continued success. Look for the others in the Twin Cities Daily Planet.
Today, he is a senior at Minneapolis’s Roosevelt High School and has done well enough to be chosen for one of four Beat the Odds scholarships. He’s the president of the school’s chapter of the National Honor Society, a co-captain of the varsity soccer team and is a student member of the school’s leadership team. He’s also an active volunteer, helping with charitable fundraisers and organizing the school’s blood drive.
“I’m interested in studying chemical engineering,” he said. “I’ve worked in construction, done roofing and dry wall helping my uncles and cousins. I like that work. It interests me. But I want to have a dream family and if I want a good lifestyle, I have to get a degree. I want a bright future.”
Maldonado said that his sisters have stuck with him through the hard times, keeping him focused on what’s important. “They understood how I was depressed and they motivated me.” His girlfriend Sheyla has stuck with him as well. “I’ve been stressed, but she’s been there with me. She listens to me and helps me out. I’m hoping that she can go to college, too. I’m trying to help get her credits up and to help her succeed.”
He is narrowing down his college choices, focusing for now on the University of Minnesota. His final choice hinges on finances and he’s looking for other scholarship opportunities to help cover expenses and tuition. “In college, I hope to learn how to be a responsible adult. College is about being self-disciplined and I want to learn this to get ready for life,” he said.
(Photo courtesy of Children's Defense Fund)© 2014 Stephanie Fox
“I should never set myself up for small dreams,” says St. Paul high school senior Yee Thao, describing his goal of going to college in the fall. “I have optimism, and I don’t want to live in poverty in the future.”MORE »
“I should never set myself up for small dreams,” says St. Paul high school senior Yee Thao, describing his goal of going to college in the fall. “I have optimism, and I don’t want to live in poverty in the future.”
This is the third of four articles about the winners of the 22nd Annual Beat the Odds Awards, telling the stories of local high school seniors who have overcome great hardship through determination and courage and who are now headed toward college and continued success. Look for the others in the Twin Cities Daily Planet.
Right now, Thao does not have a home, or even a bedroom, to call his own. Instead, he is living with his parents at an older brother’s house, where Thao makes do with a couch for a bed. Still, he is determined to work hard and succeed, saying he doesn’t want to let his family down.
Thao’s hard work is paying off. He won one of four “Beat the Odds” $4,000 scholarships from the Children’s Defense Fund. Winning the scholarship was “humbling,” says Thao, because he knows that there are many others, like himself, who have overcome adversity and are succeeding.
One adversity Thao has dealt with is the profound hearing loss he suffered as a child, because he was born with meningitis. This hearing loss made it difficult for him to learn to speak or pronounce words. As a young child, he started school in the Special Education program, where Thao says he got the kind of help he needed. He was taught sign language, for example, and later received a hearing aid that made it possible for him to learn to speak proficiently and manage his hearing loss.
As a high school student, Thao has found inspiration at Washington Technology Magnet School in St. Paul. Mary Jurney is his science teacher, and through her, Thao says his world has opened up. With Jurney’s guidance, Thao has learned that dedication and devotion, to hard work and a subject area, will lead to something useful. He notes, for example, that Jurney’s great devotion and enthusiasm for biology and teaching has been very inspirational.
Before taking Jurney’s anatomy class, Thao says he didn’t know what it was, and did not understand how complex and broad the field of science is. Now, as he contemplates which University of Minnesota campus he would like to attend, he is strongly considering pursuing a degree in either biology or anatomy.© 2014 Sarah Lahm
Opening night was well attended and for good reason.MORE »
Opening night was well attended and for good reason. La Razón Blindada brought humor to an otherwise glum recollection of two individuals in prison who survive by meeting in the prison courtyard every Sunday and sharing outlandish storytelling.
Performances March 6 and 7 at 8 p.m., Whiting Proscenium Theater at the University of MN
The incarcerated are bound to their chairs and thus the entire performance is told with physical restrictions. However, both actors expounded facial expressions and comical writing.
The play is set in Argentina in the 70s and 80s, and resembles Don Quijote's Man of La Mancha. Passage of time as it stands still, tricks that the mind plays to survive trauma and unlikely heroes are among the themes of the play.
The play is entirely in Spanish with a side monitor translating into English. Nonetheless, the audience understood the nuances by a job well done by Teatro Malayerba. The visiting Ecuadoran theater company is the guest of Teatro Del Pueblo, the University of Minnesota, and St. Benedict/St. John's University. According to Teatro del Pueblo's press release, "Actor/Director/Writer, Arístides Vargas, was born in 1954 in Argentina. He was forced into exile after Argentina's bloody dictatorship in the 70s and 80s. He co-founded Teatro Malayerba 31 years ago in Ecuador with Charro Frances and Susanna Pautasso."La Razón Blindada by Teatro Malayerba
AUSTIN, TEXAS—Being in Austin, Tex. the days leading up to the 2014 South By Southwest (SXSW) Music/Film/Interactive festival (Friday, March 7 –Sunday, March 16) has been an eye-opening experience. The downtown Austin district is overflowing with people putting together stages for outdoor venues, hanging corporate banners flagging inside the Austin Convention Center, and placing parking barriers on nearly every street. Driving or walking down Congress and 6th Street is confusing and exhilarating as you question your own sanity and the insanity of traffic in downtown when you realize you have only driven a block, or you have not moved at all, in 10 minutes. Yes, the hoopla of attending my first SXSW has been enjoyable thus far without even walking into a movie theater, nightclub, or a conference room yet. There are even more unannounced surprise events in the hopper that the general public is not even privy to at the moment. I will be reporting on all the festivities that I can handle.MORE »
AUSTIN, TEXAS—Being in Austin, Tex. the days leading up to the 2014 South By Southwest (SXSW) Music/Film/Interactive festival (Friday, March 7 –Sunday, March 16) has been an eye-opening experience. The downtown Austin district is overflowing with people putting together stages for outdoor venues, hanging corporate banners flagging inside the Austin Convention Center, and placing parking barriers on nearly every street. Driving or walking down Congress and 6th Street is confusing and exhilarating as you question your own sanity and the insanity of traffic in downtown when you realize you have only driven a block, or you have not moved at all, in 10 minutes. Yes, the hoopla of attending my first SXSW has been enjoyable thus far without even walking into a movie theater, nightclub, or a conference room yet. There are even more unannounced surprise events in the hopper that the general public is not even privy to at the moment. I will be reporting on all the festivities that I can handle.
The bread and butter of SXSW is the music—some of the bigger/marquee acts playing this year includes Coldplay, Soundgarden, Willie Nelson and Kendrick Lamar, along with Minnesotan acts like Jeremy Messersmith, Communist Daughter, Haley Bonar, Farewell Milwaukee and another 1,200 other groups over the course of five days, sometimes starting at 4am in grocery store or church parking lots. But there are also comedians recording podcasts or doing stand-up throughout the opening weekend including Seth Myers, Bill Cosby, Sasheer Zamata, and Doug Benson and a behind-the-scenes look with Portlandia creators Fred Armensin and Carrie Brownstein.
There are hundreds of panels including one with Minneapolis entertainment lawyer Dan Satorius from Satorius Law Firm, PC speaking on, "What Filmmakers Can Learn From the Music Industry"; keynote speakers featuring HBO's Girls actress/writer Lena Dunham, film director, Marc Webb (The Amazing Spider-Man) and a trade show with creative from all over the world.
The Interactive program at SXSW, March 7-11, has grown significantly since its inception and has been a major attraction for leading technology advances. It features conversations, panels, book signings and workshops covering everything from video games, global impacts and policy, building start-up businesses, a category entitled Intelligent Future with one panel called "We Can Help Countries Write Better Constitutions."
So again, SXSW has so much to offer in its 10 days, but I am down here to mostly cover the film portion of SXSW, March 7-15. Even if all the programs do overlap one another, the film section is the longest and the most spread out in downtown Austin. While SXSW has been going on for 26 years, the film section started in the mid-1990s and focuses on emerging filmmakers and discovering new talent. (Every film festival could say it is looking to discover emerging talent, but the past few years at SXSW proved it to be true.) One of the best reviewed American independent films of 2013, Destin Daniel Cretton's drama Short Term 12 with John Gallagher Jr. and Independent Spirit Award nominees Brie Larson and Keith Stanfield, premiered at SXSW last year and went on to win the Jury Prize for best Narrative Feature and the Audience award for Best Feature. It found distribution shortly after its world premiere screening.
I image in the 2,215 submissions and the 115 titles that were selected for the 2014 program, there will be more discoveries and emerging talents this year. The titles are broken down into 76 World Premieres, ten North American Premieres and seven U.S. Premieres and among those 68 films are by first time filmmakers. This also now includes a whole new section called "Episodic" which highlights new television programs with previews and screening pilot episodes of Mike Judge's (Office Space, Beavis& Butthead) HBO comedy series Silicon Valley, Showtime's horror series Penny Dreadful featuring Josh Hartlett and Austenite filmmaker Robert Rodriguez turning his cult classic into a TV series From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series. These are all debuting at SXSW before there scheduled opening television dates.
There are plenty of titles at SXSW I am looking forward to seeing and some that I have already seen at Sundance but may see again including, Richard Linklater' Boyhood, the Zellner Brothers' Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter, Adam Wingard's The Guest, Stuart Murdoch's God Help the Girl and Jim Jarmusch's Only Lovers Left Alive.
Of the 115 films selected, one film was based and made in Minnesota, at least to my knowledge at the time of writing this article. Wicker Kittens, the documentary produced by Mike Scholtz (Wild Bill's Run) and directed by Amy C. Elliot, is about the fastest and most competitive jigsaw puzzlers that gather every January during the St. Paul Winter Carnival. It might be one of the more curious titles in the festival.
Here are a few more films I am interested in seeing and reporting on from SXSW:
Veronica Mars: The beloved television series returns in a big way thanks to its inspired Kickstarter campaign last year which raised over five-million dollars. Most of the original cast is back for the world premiere before its limited theatrical release on Friday, March 14.
Thank You A Lot: A narrative feature in competition that has caught my attention. It features a two-bit hustler named Jack and bottom-rung music manager with a questionable reputation. His dwindling social circle is made up of his only remaining clients: a hip-hop artist and an indie rock band. Jack's next best asset is his talented but estranged musician father, James Hand.
The Dog: A documentary feature based on John Wojtowicz, a Brooklyn man who attempted to rob a bank for his lover's sex change operation. The story is the basis for the Academy Award winning film Dog Day Afternoon.
The Winding Stream: A music documentary on two different but classic country and folk music families, the Carters and the Cashes.
A Wolf at the Door: Based on true events, this Brazilian suspense thriller unravels when Sylvia discovers an unknown woman has kidnapped her daughter. At the same time the police discover that Sylvia's husband, Bernardo, is having an affair with Rosa (or "the unknown woman") who may have orchestrated the kidnapping of their six-year-old daughter.©2014 Jim Brunzell III
The corner at 28th Ave. and 38th St. is a popular destination these days. Last fall, Keen Coffee opened on the southwest corner, filling the space vacated by Tillie’s Bean.MORE »
The corner at 28th Ave. and 38th St. is a popular destination these days. Last fall, Keen Coffee opened on the southwest corner, filling the space vacated by Tillie’s Bean. And in late December, A Cupcake Social, a gourmet cupcake boutique, opened across from Northbound Smokehouse and Brewpub.
With its fancy lighting and unique chairs, A Cupcake Social sets the perfect mood for a tea party. Or shower. Or birthday party. Or meeting. Set up a time for diminutive would-be pastry chefs to decorate their own cupcakes and enjoy a cupcake to eat at the party.
One table is perfect for those pint-sized ones in your life. And there’s a play kitchen right next to it to keep the little ones occupied while you enjoy a cup of tea and a decadent cupcake.
With flavors like Red Velvet, Death by Chocolate, Hawaiian Dream, Samoa, Dreamsicle, Oh Joy! and Pistachio Chocolate, you might be standing at the counter awhile. They also offer several gluten-free options. Over 50 flavors rotate weekly. Sweet treats start at $2.79 for a cupcake and $3.49 for a chocolate croissant. They also offer homemade ice cream.
A Cupcake Social stocks teas from TeaSource. Cups are $3.49, or opt for chai at $3.89.
Owners Jess Stone and Suzette Herr have been selling cupcakes from a food truck for the past three years, and will continue to operate the truck during the summer months. Why did they open a brick and mortar location? The number one question they got from customers was “Where is your store?” Realizing there was a demand for their products beyond the food truck, they decided to give their customers what they wanted, when they want it.
The shop offers a series of workshops such as Pintrest crafts, jewelry making, painting and other variety of arts. All classes include supplies (unless otherwise specified), coffee/tea and a gourmet cupcake. No stuffy classrooms, just an intimate, relaxing space to work. Classes are limited to 10 participants.
On Tuesday, April 10 at 7 p.m. place a dip pen to paper and learn to craft your own distinctive lettering style under the guidance of lettering artist Crystal Kluge. This 3-part class will cover the basics to help release your inner calligrapher. It will focus on expressive pointed pen lettering using a variety of inks. Supplies will be provided; however, students are welcome to bring their own pens and inks or paper materials if they wish. To provide ample attention to each student in an intimate studio setting, this class is limited to 10 students. Register on the web site.
Get cupcakes regularly by signing up for the cupcake membership packages.
A Cupcake Social delivers to the Minneapolis and St.Paul areas. The delivery fee is $9.95, and the minimum order for delivery is one dozen cupcakes (of the same flavor).
Address: 3800 28th Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55406
Phone: (651) 243-1114
Hours: Mon-Thurs 8am-6pm, Friday 8am-8pm, Saturday 9am-8pm, Sunday Closed
In the 1890s, German immigrants gathered at Dietsch's Hall in St. Paul's Frogtown neighborhood, and today a Somali immigrant couple wants to make it a gathering place for newer immigrants.MORE »
In the 1890s, German immigrants gathered at Dietsch's Hall in St. Paul's Frogtown neighborhood, and today a Somali immigrant couple wants to make it a gathering place for newer immigrants. Their plans have run into a problem: the City of St. Paul is trying to have the building at 601 N. Western demolished. Now the dispute is in the courts, with both a contest over the demolition order and a new lawsuit by the owners, Alex Jerome and Ameena Samatar, alleging discrimination.
Jerome and Samatar say they have enough money to rehab the building and open a business. City officials say they have not provided proof that they have the funds or business plans or architect's plans and bids.
Jerome said he had experience rehabilitating properties, and he already spent $10,000 for initial repairs soon after his purchase. As for the business plans, he said he could not know fully what type of business there would be before he found a way to repair his property that matched with the City’s standards.
He originally envisioned having a wedding hall on the second floor, and some type of ethnic store at the entrance. “I don’t even know what there would be anymore – the city officer asks if I understand the severity of this situation. It is very disappointing to see how I am treated,” he said.
The Somali couple claims that they were not given enough time to keep up with the City's requests. For example, a major problem pointed by the City Hall officers was the need for rezoning of the parking lot on the property. The rules for the parking lot vary depending on the type of business to be opened, and permission has to be sought from the neighbors.
“I was not informed about the petition rule for the parking zone until later,” Jerome said, adding that it took him months to get the permission, and by that time the demolition order was already given.
The dispute began when the City of St. Paul decided to proceed with the demolition order on December 21, 2012, after four consecutive hearings to review the progress of property rehab plans. One of the meetings was missed by the owners. Jerome later claimed that they never received the letter announcing the meeting time because it was issued to the wrong address.
The couple bought the property for $49,000 from a local bank on July 17, 2012. An Order to Abate Nuisance already was pending prior to their purchase. The first hearing happened the following month on August 14, to confirm whether the owners had plans for and could afford the rehabilitation expenses. Rehab expenses were estimated to exceed $100,000, as opposed to the demolition costs, which would be a minimum of $20,000.
Samatar provided a bank statement confirming the availability of $50,000 in her account, and said that for the rest, she would get additional loans, according to the hearing transcripts of the August 14 meeting. The hearing officer Moermond requested that Samatar get an affidavit to confirm the funds were solely designated for rehabilitation purposes. No affidavit was filed by the November 27, 2012 meeting, so Moermond said she was “reluctant” to rely on these funds, according to the hearing transcripts. [Hearing transcripts are attached below.]
At the November hearing, Jerome said they had sought loan support from the Frogtown Neighborhood Association, as well as other resources, as advised by the city, but no such loans were available.
Caty Royce from the Frogtown Neighborhood Association said she talked to Jerome a couple times, but he presented no business plans to follow up with them. “He never really asked for our help either," said Royce, "but what I know is that the building has a very important cultural history to the community and I would not like to see it lost.”
The red brick two-story building, historically known as Dietsch’s Hall, was built in 1890 by Joseph Steinkamp. For many years, it served as a gathering place for Frogtown's German community, where wedding and anniversary receptions were hosted. After its remodeling in 1970, it served as the Blues Saloon, then as a GLBT bar called Lucy’s, and finally as the Moonlight Magic Bar, which witnessed the gang beating to death of a Hmong man in 2009. With a history of license violations, the St. Paul City Council finally revoked the bar's liquor license on August 3, 2011 leading to the closure of the bar. The property has been vacant since December 14, 2011, joining the list of 160 vacant properties in Frogtown.
The case for the property demolition was brought to the court on January 27, 2014. A ruling is expected within 80 days from the trial date.
Jerome and Samatar also filed a discrimination claim against the City of Saint Paul on November 6, 2013. Their claims included an "offensive" comment made by the legislative hearing officer Marcia Moermond, the City’s Senior Policy Analyst, during the August 14, 2012 meeting, when she said "this is a joke" in response to Samatar's introduction as the property owner from Minneapolis.
Jerome’s attorney Elizabeth Royal said, “my client is a Somali descent woman wearing hijab, the full Islamic dress for women,” and apparently her property ownership is a “joke” to the officer. According to Royal, Ms. Moermond argued that her comment was taken out of the context, yet later did not want the audio records of the meeting to be revealed.
According to a Star Tribune article, "the city says in a court filing that Moermond was referring to the fact that Samatar lived in Minneapolis and made a 'dismissive comment about Minneapolis, which she then said was a joke.'"
The decision for the discrimination case may take up to two years, according to Jerome’s attorney, Elizabeth Royal.
"My clients just want to be given time to prove the City that they have the sufficient funds to fix the building for future commercial use," Royal said.
This is one of a number of articles produced by student interns at the TC Daily Planet.
©2014 Ceren Kaysadi
A “kumbaya” moment during a House committee ended with the approval of a bill intended to expand choice in disability housing.MORE »
A “kumbaya” moment during a House committee ended with the approval of a bill intended to expand choice in disability housing.
“We have a real feeling of kumbaya here in the committee today,” Rep. Paul Anderson (R-Starbuck) said at the end of the hearing.
Under current law, a multi-family building with more than four units can serve individuals with home and community-based waivers in no more than the greater of four or 25 percent of the units. Rep. Raymond Dehn (DFL-Mpls) sponsors HF1992 that would amend the law to allow exceptions and allow multi-family buildings of four or fewer units to serve individuals receiving such waivers in all of the units.
The House Housing Finance and Policy Committee approved the bill Wednesday and moved it to the House Health and Human Services Policy Committee. A companion, SF1692, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Hayden (DFL-Mpls), awaits action by the Senate Health, Human Services and Housing Committee.
The intent of the original law was to prevent the building of “places that might look like residences or regular apartments, but [are] really just institutions in another name,” said Sean Burke from the Disability Law Center at Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid.
Developers interested in a multi-family building that exceeds the 25 percent cap or caters to an individual’s diagnosis can participate in an application process that includes public input into the project. The bill also would provide a way for the revocation of an exemption and would require the Department of Human Services to create a stakeholder group to further develop the exemption process.
A resident of a building that provides 24-hour personal care attendant service shared his reasons for choosing such a residence.
Zachary Johnson said his residence allowed him to earn his college degree from the University of Minnesota and will allow him to obtain his first job. “What this allows me to do is exercise my full potential to get that first job that can lift me out of poverty, which will allow me to go to other options if I choose.”
Johnson’s testimony had an effect on multiple representatives. “I really think you just gave one of the most compelling testimonies I’ve heard since I’ve been here,” said Rep. Jason Metsa (DFL-Virginia).
During her 16 years as a House member, Rep. Mary Liz Holberg (R-Lakeville) has committed herself to data practices. She announced recently that she will not be seeking re-election, so in what could seemingly be one of her last bills as a state representative, she seeks to create a legislative commission that would develop more expertise on data practices within members of the House and Senate.MORE »
During her 16 years as a House member, Rep. Mary Liz Holberg (R-Lakeville) has committed herself to data practices. She announced recently that she will not be seeking re-election, so in what could seemingly be one of her last bills as a state representative, she seeks to create a legislative commission that would develop more expertise on data practices within members of the House and Senate.
“We are behind many states when it comes to data practices,” she said. “Technology is far outpacing our ability to keep up. As soon as you get a policy in place addressing a certain technology, there’s going to be a new one to deal with.”
Over the last couple of sessions, she said it seems that there hasn’t been enough time spent on very complex issues. The only way to have good public policy is to spend the time necessary to learn about the issues and the ramifications.
In evaluating how to create the commission, Holberg looked at two models, one that would contain only legislators; the other being similar to the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR), which consists of the public and legislators. “Maybe, eventually we’ll get to something like that,” she said. “But as a first step, we wanted to do something that was manageable for this session with the sole purpose of developing more experts here in the body.”
On Wednesday, HF2120, sponsored by Holberg, was heard in the House Government Operations Committee. The bill would create the Legislative Commission on Data Practices and Personal Data Privacy to study issues relating to government data practices and would consist of 10 members — five senators and five House members, with no more than three majority members per chamber.
The bill now moves to the House Civil Law Committee.
Committee members said they respected and were grateful for the work Holberg has done in regard to data practices.
“We all respect you and that you have done so much with data privacy issues, but why can’t we deal with this through a subcommittee?” Rep. Joyce Peppin (R-Rogers) asked. She added that she wasn’t fond of growing government and asked why another committee was needed.
“I agree about growing government. I’d generally be right there with you,” Holberg said. “But the issues here are compounding around themselves. This takes much more time and attention than we have in this fast-paced environment.”
Mark Anfinson, representing the Minnesota Newspaper Association, gave his support to the bill.
“Balancing values in privacy is wickedly difficult,” he said. “Information defines us more than the power we have to control it. People can now define you in ways you have no control over.”
The Senate companion, SF2066, sponsored by Sen. D. Scott Dibble (DFL-Mpls), awaits a hearing by the Senate State and Local Government Committee.© 2014 Session Daily
Gov. Mark Dayton on Thursday proposed his supplemental budget of tax and spending changes. The governor’s proposal comes after the Minnesota Management & Budget last Friday released the February economic forecast that projected a $408 million increase in the General Fund surplus. The surplus is now pegged at $1.23 billion for the 2014-2015 budget period that ends June 30, 2015.MORE »
Gov. Mark Dayton on Thursday proposed his supplemental budget of tax and spending changes. The governor’s proposal comes after the Minnesota Management & Budget last Friday released the February economic forecast that projected a $408 million increase in the General Fund surplus. The surplus is now pegged at $1.23 billion for the 2014-2015 budget period that ends June 30, 2015.
Dayton is proposing $616 million in tax relief, which is more than the $503 million tax bill. The governor’s tax proposal includes $301 million in conforming changes to federal tax law. The changes would enhance the working family tax credit and student loan interest deduction. Dayton has signaled to lawmakers that he wants the bill on his desk by March 14 so that taxpayers can take advantage of federal tax conformity provisions that are retroactive to the 2013 tax year.
Dayton also includes $232 million in his tax proposal that would eliminate three business-to-business taxes that were enacted last year and have prompted a backlash from citizens. Two of them, a tax on farm repair services and a tax on telecommunications equipment, have already taken effect. The third, which will tax warehousing and storage services, is scheduled to take effect April 1.
Dayton’s supplemental budget boosts the state’s budget reserve by $455 million. He is also proposing $162 million in spending increases, including $11 million to patch a projected deficit in the Department of Corrections budget.
House Speaker Paul Thissen (DFL-Mpls) released a statement praising Dayton’s proposal to help middle-class Minnesotans.
“Minnesota is headed in the right direction and the way to continue building on our progress is to expand middle class economic opportunity,” Thissen said.“Governor Dayton’s supplemental budget has the right priorities to continue growing our economy from the middle out.”
Rep. Greg Davids (R-Preston), the Republican lead on the House Taxes Committee, said during a Thursday news conference that Dayton is “going in the right direction” with a larger dollar figure than the House.© 2014 Session Daily
City to redefine Mississippi area, 5.5-mile stretch of riverfront will be home to 'a park for all of Minneapolis'
The Mississippi River defines the Twin Cities, winding alongside downtown Minneapolis and cutting through the University of Minnesota campus.MORE »
The Mississippi River defines the Twin Cities, winding alongside downtown Minneapolis and cutting through the University of Minnesota campus.
The Minneapolis Parks Foundation is aiming to redefine the city’s relationship with the riverfront over the next 20 years, starting with building an immersive waterfront park in the heart of the city, about a mile upriver from campus.
The Minneapolis Parks Foundation, in cooperation with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, has commissioned architects to redesign the waterfront area adjacent to the West River Parkway overlooking St. Anthony Falls. A rough draft of the design was presented to community members last month, and the design team is working to build a 3D model to present in April.
This area, called Water Works, is a priority project of RiverFirst, a 20-year vision for the Mississippi riverfront area. The initiative looks to revamp the 5.5-mile waterfront from Interstate 35W to the Plymouth Avenue Bridge with parks and paths to create a greater sense of community. The Water Works plan will come before the park board in August with the hopes of breaking ground in the next year.
“As remarkable as the waterfront is now, it’s a place where you go, park and then leave,” said Kate Orff, design team member and partner at New York City-based SCAPE Landscape Architecture, which did the bulk of the design for the park. “We’re trying to give them more of an enriched experience.”
She said the park would be a way to make the area more of a destination, rather than a stopping point.
MPRB Assistant Superintendent for Planning Bruce Chamberlain said the RiverFirst initiative as a whole would attempt to reconnect the downtown area with the waterfront to increase livability and community within the city.
“The river is the primary focus of reinvestment in Minneapolis, and it’s expected to be for the next couple of decades,” he said.
Executive Director of the Minneapolis Parks Foundation Mary deLaittre said parks are the tools to create healthy, vibrant cities that can compete locally, nationally and internationally.
“The Water Works area specifically is a really vibrant, growing area,” she said. “This park is a wonderful opportunity to improve connections — everything from physical connections to historical connections, as well as connections to the Mississippi River.”
The design team, made up of people from SCAPE, Rogers Partners, James Lima Planning + Development and SRF Consulting Group Inc. made the Mississippi River waterfront the main focus of their concept for the park.
Orff said that because of the unique way that Minneapolis connects with the Mississippi River, there is potential to create an engaging and immersive park experience.
“We are trying to capture what is uniquely Minneapolis,” she said. “We don’t want to make a generic waterfront park but rather build a design that captures the unique ecology, the unmatched historical resources and the way that people are using the river for active recreation and pleasure.”
Orff said SCAPE has significant experience with projects like this, having designed large-scale urban parks in Lexington, Ky., and New York City, focused on redefining the relationship between cities and water.
Community members are excited about the project and have given useful feedback about the design concepts that the design team has taken into account, Orff said. She said that she hopes the park will go beyond simply engaging residents who live near the area.
“It’s a park for all of Minneapolis,” she said.© 2014 The Minnesota Daily
Is Black History Month still relevant? A mix of Black folk from the “young, and young at heart” assembled at Sirius XM’s Washington, D.C. headquarters and discussed this topic early February.MORE »
Is Black History Month still relevant? A mix of Black folk from the “young, and young at heart” assembled at Sirius XM’s Washington, D.C. headquarters and discussed this topic early February.
USA Today columnist Dewayne Wickham, Association for the Study of African American Life Executive Director Sylvia Cyrus and social commentator Jeff Johnson were featured panelists on “Banneker, Barack and Beyond: The Meaning of Black History,” moderated by Sirius XM weekday morning host Joe Madison February 6.
Sirius XM Urban Programming Vice President Dion Summers helped organized the event.
“The question that we put out there — does Black History Month matter anymore — was aimed more at the group we call the ‘millennials’ (ages 18-34),” explained Summers in a phone interview with the MSR. “There always has been a certain understanding of Black History Month. I will be 40 this year, and my generation [knows] Eli Whitney and the cotton gin, and Harriet Tubman and the Emancipation Proclamation — the flash card Black History Month facts.
This article is reposted from TCDP media partner Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. Check out the links below for other recent Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder stories:
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“Now here we are in 2014 with a Black president, and many of the issues that African Americans faced historically… to an extent have changed. The state of race relations to an extent has changed. The amount of open-mindedness among all different nationalities and races has changed to an extent. You got the election and reelection of Barack Obama on one end, and you have the Jordan Davis and Trayvon Martin situations bubbled up and brought back race on the forefront.
Left: Sirius XM Urban Programming Vice President Dion Summers
“Where does Black History Month fit in? What does it mean [today]?” asked Summers. “All we wanted was a discourse on how things are now. The overwhelming consensus from our event was that Black History Month is very much relevant, but the way that it is taught has to evolve and change. The instruction has to be updated. We also talked about creating Black history at the event.
“Now it’s about who’s making history now,” said Summers. “Let’s look to Serena Williams. Let’s look to those politicians and newsmakers that are making a difference, who are putting themselves and their names on the line to improve race relations — who are at the forefront. There is very much a need [to acknowledge] Black history, particularly for young African American men and women to get a sense of foundation… there always is a connection between who we are and where we are.”
When asked who is to blame for this seemingly disinterest in Black history, “I wouldn’t put the burden on the baby boomers,” responded Summers. “[For] the Black baby boomers — it was all about creating stability in the family… I believe the priorities were different then.
“I’m blessed to be where I am and with my career. That’s the foundation that my parents solely laid down. Yeah, they could have done a better job [stressing Black history to him], but you know what — the parents of today could have done a better job. I don’t think we should [lay the] blame solely on our parents’ lap.”
Still Summers is not ready to admit that Black History Month is no longer needed.
He noted, “I think it is incumbent on the current generation to seek this information out, and find out where they came from and not take it for granted that they were born into this colorblind society and this Black president… We live in a time of unprecedented information accessibility. We don’t have blinders on anymore — information is so instant and we all [can] get it. It’s an oatmeal kind of world we live in.”
Summers strongly advised, “We never can forget. We need to preserve the specialness of Black people. We have to be at the forefront of remembering our place and how we built this country, not just physically but also culturally. We established the backbone of pop culture… we have to remember we have a cultural imprint on this country and not take that for granted.
“We have to remember those who laid that foundation for us — we have to cherish and nurture our legends, whether it’s Harriet Tubman or Michael Jackson,” concluded Summers. “Never, ever forget.”
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to challman [at] spokesman-recorder [dot] com (challman @ spokesman-recorder.com)© 2014 Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder