Also in this issue:
Share your views on property taxes and the budget
Minneapolis wins top credit rating
City implements internal audit plan
City, School District to share Results coordinator
City helping corner stores offer fresh food
Oslund selected for Peavey Plaza
Mill City Apartments open
Serve on the Bicycle Advisory Commission
Apply for a STEP-UP internship
Many ways to learn about snow emergencies
Also on the web:
Bringing down gun violence
Last July 22, at the height of a rash of gun violence that had left our city reeling, I stood with key partners in law enforcement — the U.S. Attorney, the Hennepin County Attorney, the Police Chief and the local head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms — to announce that we were putting a stop to it.
We identified the source of the problem — a relatively small number of young adults with long criminal histories and easy access to guns and drugs — and pledged to strategically focus our efforts to get them off the street. We also pledged an extraordinary level of cooperation between law enforcement and prosecutors to make sure these criminals received the longest possible prison sentences.
We also pledged to hold ourselves accountable. Earlier this week, we shared our results and the results are encouraging.
In the four months since we started the initiative, the number of violent crimes committed with guns in Minneapolis has dropped 23 percent compared to the four months before it. Moreover, the number of robberies committed with guns — often considered a bellwether crime — has declined 28 percent in the same period. And the number of gun crimes in designated “hot spots” has fallen anywhere from 33 to 54 percent.
Prosecutors who pledged to get the “worst of the worst” off our streets have also had success. The Hennepin County Attorney has charged 50 percent more dangerous-weapon cases than average in the last four months, and has recently won long sentences for some career criminals who have long been involved in gun violence in our community. The U.S. Attorney has indicted eight more violent career criminals, most of whom are facing 15-year minimum sentences.
Three tactics in particular helped get these results: unprecedented collaboration; strategic staffing, including doubling the number of gun-case investigators; and smart policing that allows us to predict where, when and involving whom crimes are likely to occur.
This success in combating gun crime reminds me of the success of our youth-violence prevention initiative. During a spike in violent crime several years ago, data showed that it was being driven by juveniles — and as a result, we began the initiative that has led to double-digit drops in juvenile violence every year since, including 2010. We used the same evidence-based practices to identify the source of this year’s spike in violent crime, and again, we’ve gotten results through strategically focusing our efforts.This is a good start, but recent crimes committed with guns — like the shooting of 12-year-old Guadalupe Hernández or the attack on a mother in Powderhorn Park — have reminded us that we must do more. We cannot tolerate even one gun’s being used to commit a crime in Minneapolis.
Mayor R.T. Rybak
Share your views on property taxes and the City budget
On Monday, December 13, the City Council will vote on the adoption of Mayor Rybak’s 2011 recommended budget, and the Mayor and City leaders want to know what you think. You may express your opinion in person at that meeting to Mayor Rybak and Council Members, which begins at 6:00 pm, or you may submit comment to Mayor Rybak by email at email@example.com or by filling out this form. Several factors have played a major role in increasing in the amount that the City will raise from property taxes next year, including increased obligations to closed pension funds that the City does not manage, cuts to Local Government Aid, and the recertification of Tax Increment Financing Districts. While property taxes are increasing, City government has shrunk. After adjusting for inflation, the Mayor’s recommended budget for 2011 is 7 percent smaller than the City’s budget in 2001, and the City will have 1,000 fewer full-time employees in 2011 than 10 years ago. More information about the 2011 City budget is available here, here, here and here.
Long-term planning leads to top credit ratings for City
Several years of long-term financial planning by City leaders have led to the top three national credit-rating services’ awarding Minneapolis their top triple-A ratings for the second year in a row, despite the financial challenges facing both the public and private sectors in this challenging economy. About ten years ago, the City lost the top national credit rating, which led over the years to higher costs for borrowing money. Starting several years ago, City leaders took major steps to restore that rating: they balanced expected expenses to expected revenue five years in advance; they paid down $139 million in debt; they cut spending and reduced the size of City government; and they streamlined and reformed City services. One of the top ratings agencies, Standard & Poor’s, noted that its AAA rating reflects the Minneapolis’ strong financial management, its history of actively managing long-term expenditure pressures, and its well-managed capital program with moderate debt levels. Continuing the careful, long-term financial practices that have won the City these top ratings that save taxpayers money is a key goal of City leaders.
City adopts internal audit plan
The Minneapolis Audit Committee has approved an internal audit plan for the City of Minneapolis for 2011. Like all large organizations, the City has many functions that carry business and financial risks, and the City’s newly-expanded Department of Internal Audit will help the City better understand and manage those risks through the audit process. The City receives consistently high marks from the State Auditor and national credit-rating services for its financial management. As another tool for maintaining the City's high credit ratings, City leaders created the Department of Internal Audit last year to continually review and improve how the City manages financial and business processes and make it more accountable to taxpayers. The 2011 audits will focus on the accuracy and integrity of financial information, reducing costs, and increasing the efficiency of City services and processes.
City, School District to share Results coordinator
The City of Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Public Schools have approved the hiring of Jay Stroebel as Director of Results Management, a new position that they will share. Over the past five years, Stroebel has led the development of the City government’s results-management system, Results Minneapolis. In his new position, he will work within the schools to develop a similar system to measure performance and increase accountability within the school district. “Results Minneapolis has been nothing short of a revolution in the way City government tracks its work and is accountable to residents,” said Mayor Rybak. “I expect the school district will see the same benefits we have from a well-designed results management system. People in Minneapolis have high expectations of both City government and the school system, and performance measurement is a vital tool to make sure we’re delivering on the things that are most important.”
City helps corner stores offer fresh food, improve health
In November and December, 10 corner stores throughout Minneapolis are participating in a new effort to provide residents with more healthy, fresh foods, as part of a broader City effort to combat obesity and chronic disease. The Healthy Corner Store Program centers on increasing the availability of fresh produce and healthy foods for residents who live in high-poverty pockets of the city. The Minneapolis Department of Health and Family Support, which conducted a study that showed that many low-income Minneapolis neighborhoods are “food deserts” that lack quick access to fresh, healthy food, worked closely with owners and managers of selected stores to identify barriers to stocking and selling fresh produce. Participating stores are redesigning layouts to display fresh produce more prominently and will offer free taste-testing for customers. The Healthy Corner Store Program is part of Homegrown Minneapolis, a citywide initiative to get people eating more healthy, sustainable food, often grown right here in Minneapolis. Read more about the Healthy Corner Store Program and the locations of the 10 stores that are part of this project.
Published Dec. 3, 2010