Update from the Mayor – November 4, 2005
November 4, 2005
City Adopts Living Wage Ordinance
The City Council this week passed a living wage ordinance that I am proud to support with my signature. Providing living wages is about improving the quality of life for those who build our community. I am proud of the progress that city leaders and staff have made working together with labor unions, faith leaders and other community advocates to expand our current living wage policy with an effective and strong living wage ordinance for the City.
Once again, Minneapolis is a leader, but we should not be a permanent island. I strongly believe that it is time to expand the living wage movement beyond Minneapolis. Hennepin County still doesn’t have a living wage policy nor have they taken action towards a living wage ordinance. St. Paul has explored the issue and I look forward to seeing swift action on living wages across the river in the coming months.
If we can push others to finally follow Minneapolis' lead, our ordinance can become much more effective – and less costly to enforce. I look forward to continuing our work to bring living wage standards to Hennepin County, St. Paul, and beyond.
Sierra Club Recognizes a Greener Minneapolis
This week I proudly joined the Sierra Clubs National Cool Cities Campaign to celebrate Minneapolis' leadership in curbing global warming and providing a more energy-efficient future. As one of the first mayors in the country to sign the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, I am proud of the work we have accomplished in Minneapolis to protect our environment. For example, we have reduced air pollution by converting the riverside coal plant to cleaner natural gas, expanded the use of solar panels, increased the number of alternative-fuel vehicles, improved energy conservation, installed a green roof on the new Central Library, and planted thousands of new trees. For more information on this campaign, visit the Sierra Club website at www.sierraclub.org/globalwarming/coolcities.
New Report Explores Disparities
According to a new report, disparities among race and ethnic groups, among income levels, and between cities and suburbs are accelerating at a time when the Twin Cities’ most-productive workers are thinking about retiring – a situation that could threaten the entire metro area’s economic leadership in the coming years.
A major study, "Mind the Gap: Reducing Disparities to Improve Regional Competitiveness in the Twin Cities," by Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institution was released this week by the Itasca Project, a group of approximately 40 Twin Cities-based CEOs, academic leaders and public officials who focus attention and action on the region’s most pressing competitive threats. As your Mayor, I am proud to be a part of the Itasca Project and was very active in the committee that helped direct this project.
According to Brookings, the Twin Cities is headed towards a workforce shortage as baby boomers – many of whom are college educated – begin to retire. If population projections hold over that period of time, these retirees will be replaced with a more diverse workforce, many of whom will not have the same skill or education levels as their predecessors. This means the next generation of workers will be less prepared for the jobs that Twin Cities employers will require.
The Twin Cities region is blessed with assets that make it an exceptionally strong region, according to the study. It has one of the most highly educated populations in the country, its job and income growth outpaced the nation for the last decade, and its poverty rate is among the nation’s lowest. But the Twin Cities also has the second-largest gap in the nation between poverty in its central cities and poverty in its suburbs.
To help close these disparities gaps, the Itasca Project plans to:
- Distribute the Brookings "Mind the Gap" report broadly via the internet and in hard copy.
- Distribute an employer tool kit with practical actions that businesses of any size can take advantage of to help reduce disparities in their workplace.
- Train a speakers bureau, managed by Greater Twin Cities United Way that will take the disparities conversation to a broader community.
- Institute a regional monitoring system to measure the Twin Cities’ efforts to close these disparities gaps.
Published Nov. 2, 2005