Under high pressure, Minneapolis City Council reverses #Lattelevy vote

Local activists obtained a rare victory Wednesday evening after the Minneapolis City Council voted to reverse their decision to cut $225,000 from a racial equity program and a clean energy initiative — a cut deemed #Lattelevy.But the contentious and oftentimes emotional city council meeting highlighted a fundamental and ongoing fray between city leadership and local activists, both of whom displayed intense frustration throughout the five-hour meeting.On Dec. 10, Minneapolis City Council members voted to restore funding to the One Minneapolis Fund and the Clean Energy Partnership as well as to decrease the proposed property tax levy to 2.1 percent. In turn, they voted to cut $174,000 allocated to two new communication positions for the city.Hundreds of activists, including some of whom coordinated the headline-making I-35W rally that reduced a portion of the Minneapolis interstate to a standstill earlier this month, flooded Wednesday’s meeting to call fault to pending budget cuts targeting the One Minneapolis Fund and the Clean Energy Partnership.The cuts, which were drafted during a December 1, 2014 city council meeting, would have increased the Minneapolis property tax levy to 2.2 percent, slightly less than the 2.4 percent increase proposed by Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges in her 2015 budget.That difference of about $620,000 would have — on average — decreased property taxes by about $2.50 per resident according to activists. That said, property taxes can shift in either direction depending on changes in the value of a property or neighborhood.Activists deemed that $2.50 fiscal gain “latte levy,” or the cost of a single latte, which they say some homeowners could give up in order to keep affordable housing, clean energy and racial equity programs for all. Some activists even brought paper coffee cups as props during their testimony.“There are many ways to balance a budget but saving $2.50 for homeowners in some of the wealthiest areas of the city will be in lieu of developing leadership in your community,” said one of the over 60 community members who testified during Wednesday’s meeting.“This is not a lot of money,” said Zoe Holloman during the public comment portion. Continue Reading

[PHOTOS] #BlackLivesMatter protesters halt 35W traffic: “We’re ready for change”

The largest highway in Minneapolis was brought to a standstill on Dec. 4 after protestors marched down a two-mile stretch of I-35W from Uptown to downtown Minneapolis to rally against several recent, high-profile cases of police brutality and racial inequality in the United States.For more than an hour, northbound I-35W was reduced to foot traffic, with cars backed-up for miles behind the barricade of police cars separating protestors from oncoming traffic.Read more TC Daily Planet coverage of police misconduct issues.Related story: Protesters shut down 35W over Pantaleo non-indictment, not fast foodThursday’s “Black Lives Matter” protest was part of a national movement to denounce police brutality, racial inequality and a lack of accountability, sparked most recently by the decision to withhold charging police officers responsible for the deaths of two unarmed black men in New York and Ferguson, Missouri.Around 200 protesters joined the march from Uptown to Minneapolis City Hall.“People are tired of the opposition, people are tired of police not being held accountable and we’re deciding to take a stand,” said Nekima Levy-Pounds while walking down the onramp near 34th Avenue toward the main stretch of I-35W.“We’re ready for change. It’s time for change now,” the University of St. Thomas Law School professor added.Protest organizer Michael McDowell said the group’s goal for Thursday’s protest was to create change and “not just looking to get a bunch of media.”The protesters’ goals include a structural audit of the Minneapolis Police Department, quarterly progress reports to the community on racial diversity issues and police misconduct in the city, and body cameras on officers. The group presented them to Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges in an open letter published in the Star Tribune in September.Hodges, who spoke at a fast food labor rally on 33rd and Nicollet Avenue earlier that day, did not attend the Black Lives Matter protest stating she was unaware of the second protest until she had already arrived. Continue Reading

Despite financial lull, St. Paul Promise Neighborhood advocates remain hopeful

It’s early Friday morning and students from the Freedom School on Concordia Ave. are greeting each other over the rumbling of a djembe drum. Staff members are playing loud, kid-friendly hip-hop music from gym speakers while little ones are eagerly expending their morning energy with some impromptu dancing, call-and-response and a little bit of reading aloud.

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