Rybak to nominate Harteau as next police chief

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak announced Monday that he will nominate Assistant police Chief Janeé Harteau as the next Minneapolis Police Chief, starting in 2013.Harteau will be the first woman to lead the Minneapolis Police Department when Rybak formally nominates her in January.Tim Dolan announced last week that he would not seek a third term as chief, a post he’s held since 2006.Since she joining the force in 1987, Harteau has served in various units including the narcotics, organized crime, and license investigation units,She attended St. Mary’s University and where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Police Science and a master’s degree in Public Safety Administration. She also graduated from Northwestern University’s School of Police Staff and Command, and is an instructor at both schools.City Councilman Don Samuels, chair of the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Health Committee, said in a statement that Harteau “represents the best of the Minneapolis Police Department and the City of Minneapolis. She has risen through the ranks…and she demonstrates our city’s commitment to obliterate all glass ceilings for exceptional people of color and women.”Harteau is of French Canadian and Native American background.Rybak said that nominating Harteau was an easy decision.“She is a smart cop, a savvy administrator and a natural leader. She is the logical next chief, and will be an exceptional one,” Rybak said in a statement.The City Council will begin the process of confirming the nomination in January.Harteau said she was humbled by Rybak’s confidence in her.“It is a tremendous opportunity and responsibility to lead such a talented and dedicated group of men and women,” Harteau said. Continue Reading

Minneapolis revises minority workforce goals

Private contractors looking to work on city projects will have to meet higher hiring standards if they want to win a bid.The Minneapolis City Council revised its minority workforce hiring goals March 30, raising its standard that 32 percent of contractors’ employees be minorities — up from 11 percent.The city doesn’t require contractors to meet this goal, but if they aren’t showing progress or aren’t close to it, the city is less likely to pick that contractor. The new goal goes into effect May 1.The goal aims to reduce the disparity between white and minority unemployment numbers, which a recent study from the Economic Policy Institute showed was one of the highest among metropolitan areas in the country.According to the study, the rate of unemployed African-Americans in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area is almost four times that of whites. This is despite the fact that Minneapolis’ unemployment rate was lower than the national average every month in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.John Stiles, communications director for Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, said reducing the minority unemployment rate is a top priority for the city and the mayor.“The city of Minneapolis as an employer can and should do everything that we can to pull our weight in this effort,” said Stiles.“It’s not only a moral imperative, it’s an economic imperative,” he added.Reducing minority unemployment was a top focus in Rybak’s 2012 city budget.Joe Soss, a professor at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs who specializes in poverty and inequality, said the revised goals are a “crucial step” in the city’s effort to reduce minority unemployment, but more assistance is still needed to sufficiently reduce the disparity.“To simply raise the bar on contractors without directly assisting minority workers limits the commitment here,” Soss said. “We also should see some public investing in minority communities to make sure that those workers are trained and available and have the support they need to enter into those jobs and work them successfully,” Soss added.Tim Worke, highway and transportation division manager for Associated General Contractors of Minnesota, said he was frustrated to see the goals revised so high.“We felt like we were making good progress, but you can’t just snap your fingers and expect change,” Worke said.He added that there isn’t a large enough supply of skilled minority workers to meet these goals.“We’d like for our workforce to reflect our diverse community, but you can’t just throw out a number,” Worke said.The goals were revised to reflect recent census data, which showed people of color made up almost 40 percent of Minneapolis’ population.The state has also set goals for minority hiring for contractors looking to work on public projects.For the seven-county metro area, the goal is set at 22 percent of a contractor’s workforce.Louis King, president and CEO of Summit Academy OIC, a North Minneapolis-based center for vocational training and job placement, understands Worke’s concerns but said these goals are necessary to improve economic disparities. “This isn’t altogether altruism or wealth distribution,” King said. “According to the state demographer, we have an aging white population and a growing minority population, so this is just fitting with the demographic trend.” Continue Reading

4th Street apartment plans move forward

An empty plot of land in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood could soon be filled by an apartment building.The Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission discussed plans for a five-story, 57-unit apartment building Tuesday to be constructed on the now-vacant lot at the corner of Fourth Street and Eighth Avenue where the Andrew-Riverside Presbyterian Church used to sit.One of the church’s stone walls collapsed in 2002, forcing the congregation to relocate to the YMCA on University Avenue. The city told the church that it would have to demolish or rebuild it, which would have cost $2 million, said Harry Maghakian, pastor of the church.The building was demolished in 2003.Designed by College Property Management, which owns numerous properties near the University of Minnesota, the proposed plan will lease a corner on the first floor of the building to the church in exchange for rights to the land.The church would only pay for maintenance costs in its corner of the building, and the lease would last 99 years.“It will not be a big fancy church building,” Maghakian said. “It will be enough for the sanctuary and for special services for students.”The original church was built in 1890. The new location will be a significant change from the old gray stone building, but Maghakian said the church is excited to return to the neighborhood.The site at Eighth Avenue and Fourth Street SE was the home of Andrew-Riverside Presbyterian Church until 2002 when a wall collapsed. The building was demolished in 2003.Melissa Bean, executive director of the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association, said the community is happy to see plans moving forward.“It’s better than a vacant lot,” Bean said.The association sent a letter to the heritage commission supporting the proposed plan.The lot is located in the Fifth Street Southeast Historic District, so CPM and the church must meet design guidelines. Continue Reading

Minneapolis city leaders push to double exports in the next five years

It took nearly a decade for the state of Minnesota to double exports.Twin Cities leaders, including the University of Minnesota and the city of Minneapolis, are hoping a partnership with the Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institution will help Twin Cities businesses double exports again — but in half that time.By educating smaller businesses and connecting them with already established exporters, the partnership, known as the Metro Export Initiative, aims to increase Twin Cities area exports from $17.6 billion in 2010 to $35 billion by 2017.“It’s an ambitious goal but we think it’s very achievable,” said Kristin Guild, manager of business development at the city of Minneapolis.Gov. Mark Dayton, local government leaders and representatives from the Brookings Institution presented the plan March 22.The University of Minnesota will also contribute to this effort by helping develop connections within the University to international businesses.While the Twin Cities area is already the 14th-largest exporter in the U.S., thanks to large companies like General Mills, 3M and Cargill, which are already established exporters, many smaller businesses aren’t aware of the international demand for their product or service, according to a recent report from the Brookings Institution.To accomplish its goal, the initiative will focus on outreach to raise businesses’ awareness of international demand and connecting businesses with existing resources at the state and federal level.Several government organizations already offer services to companies that help them identify market demand and to prepare businesses for currency, language and cultural challenges.In addition to increasing the number of exporting companies, officials also hope to increase the number of countries to which companies export.Guild said increased exports mean more diversification, which is good for business.“If you’re just in the U.S. market you’re subject to any of the price fluctuations in the U.S. and to the way the U.S. is responding to recessions,” said Guild.She added that 87 percent of growth is going to occur outside of the U.S. in the next century.Creating a networkOfficials are hoping that trips like the one Mayor R.T. Rybak took to Sweden in April 2011, as well as building on current connections, will help businesses to double exports.“The longer-term, more challenging part of the plan is to develop a network of Twin Cities companies and people that are actively engaged in exporting,” Guild said. “I think it could be a really powerful force if we applied some intentionality and structure around that.”Abby Pinto, managing director of the Center for International Business Education and Research at the Carlson School of Management, said the University of Minnesota will play a key role in developing this network.“I can see [the University] really involved with that. I think a lot of the connections will have the University of Minnesota somewhere in it,” Pinto said.She added that University faculty and students will likely help conduct research and further build the network.Several University students are already interning with the U.S. Commercial Service, a division of the U.S. Commerce Department, to help conduct market research as part of the plan, Pinto said.Lee Munnich, a senior fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, said there are many challenges to the initiative, but the push to double exports will likely lead to several economic benefits.“Increasing the export base is an important strategy for a regional economy,” Munnich said. Continue Reading

University of Minnesota grad workers vote down unionization

Graduate assistants at the University of Minnesota voted against forming a union 1,857 to 1,142, according to results released by the Bureau of Mediation Services Monday.About 68 percent of the 4,400 eligible graduate student workers cast votes during last week’s election. They decided not to form a union with the help of the United Auto Workers.Graduate students have been organizing on campus for the past two years. They collected signatures from more than 30 percent of the student body in order to put the union to a vote.When University of Minnesota graduate student employees tried to form a union in 2004, they partnered with the United Electrical Workers.In that election, 70 percent of eligible graduate student employees voted, with 60 percent voting against a union, according to Patti Dion, director of employee relations and compensation at the University.Check back to mndaily.com for updates. Continue Reading

Senate passes voter ID bill

Minnesota is another step closer to having a photo ID constitutional amendment on the November ballot.The amendment, which will require people to present photo identification to vote, passed 36-30 Friday night after roughly six hours of debate in the Senate. All the “yes” votes came from Republicans. One Republican voted with every Democratic-Farmer-Labor senator in voting “no.”Since the Senate version is slightly different from the House version that passed earlier this week, House and Senate negotiators will have to reconcile minor differences in a conference committee between the two and adopt a final version. The House could also choose to simply accept the different language in the Senate bill.Once it clears that final hurdle, it will be go before voters in November.Gov. Mark Dayton cannot veto a constitutional amendment.The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, said it’s necessary in order to prevent election fraud and to ensure that elections are legitimate.Opponents said that there are few instances of voter fraud in Minnesota and that any photo ID requirement will likely disenfranchise thousands of people.Sen. Patricia Torres Ray, DFL–Minneapolis, said the requirement will essentially end same-day voter registration, which is a popular among Minnesota voters, because the secretary of state “would not be able to verify a person’s identity fast enough to allow people to vote the same day.”“We will have very little choice but to eliminate same-day voter registration as a result of this legislation,” Torres Ray said.DFLers said more than 500,000 Minnesota voters used same-day registration in 2008.Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, who oversees the states elections and opposes the photo ID requirement, has said he has concerns the amendment will kill same-day registration and the possibility for a new system of “provisional voting” will harm the state’s election system.Provisional ballots are votes cast on election day but they’re not counted until voters make a second trip to election officials with a required government-issued ID. Provisional ballots don’t currently exist in Minnesota.DFLers offered numerous amendments to the requirement, but none passed.An amendment from Sen. John Howe, R-Red Wing, that would allow future legislators to use new technology for identification purposes overwhelmingly passed.Before the Senate debate started, roughly 300 people protested the proposed amendment with signs saying, “All our voices count,” taping $1 bills over their mouths to signify their belief that corporate interests were stealing the public’s voice, and singing hymns that echoed throughout the Capitol.Newman said the Legislature will have to take up some of the details of the bill next year.He admitted that “some burden will be placed on our citizens,” but he remained confident that the amendment will improve Minnesota’s election system. “On balance, I believe this amendment is the right thing to do,” he said. Continue Reading