Duluth’s new tool to fight homelessness: A bill of rights

Sharla Gardner met a mother who feared she’d lose her children if people learned of her homelessness and a man who was sure he’d lose his job for the same reason. She talked with people who preferred sleeping outside rather than in public shelters. She learned about the scarcity of affordable housing in Duluth.

And then, Duluth City Councilor Gardner said, she heard homeless people say they felt invisible and powerless.

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FREE SPEECH ZONE | Minnesota Legislature Plays Prince John

In the story of Robin Hood, Prince John’s “tax collectors” extract revenue from the poor and provide nothing in return. There is no appeal, no recourse. In Minnesota, the State legislature is playing the same role as Prince John when it extracts taxes from the citizens of Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth and leaves a set of emasculated mayors and city administrators who are limited by law to do no more than to come before the legislature, hat-in-hand, to plead on behalf of their constituents.Free Speech ZoneThe Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. This is an open forum for articles that otherwise might not find a place for publication, including news articles, opinion columns, announcements and even a few press releases. Continue Reading

Indian princess in Duluth?

Early this fall, the Indian Scout and I fell into a conversation about the City of Duluth-owned stained glass window that the Duluth mayor wanted to sell to ease the budget deficit. A Duluth artist created the 115-year-old window called “Minnehaha” that shows an Indian woman.The window and its cash value had been the object of a flurry of newspaper and television stories that described the window Indian as a “princess.” After much hand-wringing, Duluth city officials decided against selling the window. Still, I wanted to see the princess at the center of such contention. Let’s scoot to the big city and find her, I urged the Scout. So off we hastened to the Duluth Depot by way of Skyline Drive that runs parallel to Interstate 35. Continue Reading

Duluth city workers say ‘We want to work!’

City of Duluth workers held a “We want to work” protest Monday, when Mayor Don Ness shut down city services for a day. To address a city budget shortfall, Ness already shut down government on November 10 and will do so again December 26 and 31. “AFSCME members want to work,” the union representing city workers said in announcing Monday’s action. “The city employees who will be forced out of work for four days would prefer to be serving the public. Laid-off park and library workers would like to return to work. Continue Reading

In selling parkland to pay bills, mighty Duluth joins little Lilydale

Recent headlines out of Duluth haven’t been pretty — except when they’ve been over pictures of the Tiffany window that the city may auction off to get out of a $6.5 million budget hole. City officials’ efforts to sell off another public asset — parkland along picturesque Park Point — puts Duluth in the same league as one of the Twin Cities metro area’s tiniest towns: little Lilydale, Minn. That mini-municipality decided last spring to put up for sale a less-than-one-acre park parcel on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River as a way to erase its own $230,000 debt in one fell swoop. In both cases the properties had been donated as dedicated city parkland, but legal oversights left them vulnerable to re-purposing as cash cows. Even amid sizable city layoffs, fire truck decommissionings, and library and school cutbacks, the sale of the parkland and the Tiffany window have attracted attention as marquee public assets, the sale of which would be key money-makers in the effort to balance the city’s budget. Continue Reading