Kids weigh in on Bethune Park renovation plans

Rust adorns the frames of the rapidly aging playground sets standing in North Minneapolis’s Bethune Park, the once brightly-painted metal jungle gyms and swing sets now faded by decades of steady use. Likewise, the nearby sun-bleached concrete wading pool stands empty for the season.

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North Minneapolis residents fight out-of-state investors, poor maintenance

If you’re a landlord in the city of Minneapolis, you already have the home field advantage when it comes to the rental game. But some North Minneapolis residents say they’re tired of out-of-state landlords playing hardball with their neighborhoods.Last month, more than 130 Minneapolis residents signed a petition demanding a moratorium on rental licenses issued by the city of Minneapolis until all Northside residencies have been inspected and brought up to code.“There is a problem in the city of Minneapolis with proper tracking of the conditions of some of the rental properties,” said north Minneapolis resident Connie Beckers in the petition. “Too many single family homes have been scooped up by investors who rent them out, don’t screen their tenants and don’t keep up with even minimal upkeep at their properties.”Data from the Minneapolis Regulatory Services shows the number of rental licenses distributed to owners with more than 10 rental licenses has risen dramatically in the city over the last decade. According to the data, monopolization of properties by single owners in the Folwell, Jordan and Hawthorne neighborhoods have more than doubled in the last five years.Beckers said that part of the problem is that there’s too much focus on rental properties. An out-of-state investor recently purchased five homes on her block, she said, bringing the number of rental properties on her block to 15, while only nine are retained by homeowners.“Most are single family homes which are often poorly cared for and maintained.” Beckers said. Continue Reading

Daniel Lattier: It’s time to decentralize our schools

When I discuss the problems in Minnesota’s education system with others, I frequently reference one telling statistic more than any other.No, it’s not proficiency scores; and it’s not graduation rates.It’s the fact that, over the past 70 years, the number of school districts in Minnesota has decreased by 96 percent! In 1947, there were 7,607 school districts in Minnesota. Today, there are just 328.This is a Community Voices submission and is moderated but not edited. The opinions expressed by Community Voices contributors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the TC Daily Planet.The 96 percent decrease in Minnesota school districts roughly mirrors the trend toward educational centralization that happened across America over the last century.Presumably, a desire for efficiency drove this dramatic effort to centralize Minnesota’s and America’s education systems. Districts were increasingly consolidated (and they’re still being consolidated today) under the guise that we could better assure the education of our youth.But here’s the thing: centralization is not synonymous with efficiency. Sometimes centralization results in greater efficiency; other times, it acts as an obstacle to efficiency.And today, our increasingly centralized education system is more often than not a beacon of inefficiency. Continue Reading

Lou Bellamy and James T. Alfred hit West Broadway with ‘A Brown Tale’

A Brown Tale, an auto-biographical one-man play by acclaimed actor James T. Alfred, is now playing at the historic Capri Theater on West Broadway in North Minneapolis. The show opened on Saturday, September 6 and will run Thursday-Sunday until September 21.Directed by Lou Bellamy and written and performed by Alfred, A Brown Tale premiered to rave reviews last September at Penumbra Theatre in Saint Paul.Alfred describes A Brown Tale as a comedic coming-of-age narrative of a young African-American male from the south side of Chicago. The tapestry of stories woven together creates the journey through Alfred’s childhood to adult life. This rollicking story explores the impact that community has on an individual’s personal development.Karl Reichert, Artistic Director for the Capri, explains, “This show is the first multi-week theatrical run at the Capri, and we’re thrilled that James T. Alfred has brought A Brown Tale to North Minneapolis and West Broadway. Reichert continued, “We’ve heard nothing but praise for this show during the opening weekend, and its one not to miss. Continue Reading

What’s really happening on West Broadway?

A recent Star Tribune article was quite critical of the lack of progress on West Broadway, and the director of the West Broadway Business Coalition then published a rebuttal detailing the economic development we have seen. I thought the first shot was perhaps a bit too bleak, while the WBC account painted a picture that was overly rosy. The truth, as is often the case, lies somewhere in between. Continue Reading