2019 State of the City
Welcome by Bio-Techne Chief Executive Officer Chuck Kummeth
Call to Order and introduction by City Council President Lisa Bender
Thank you, Madame President, for that kind introduction. Your partnership means a great deal to me and to this City. And, thank you all for being here with us today. Thank you to CEO, Chuck Kummeth, and your entire team here at Bio-Techne for hosting us. This business has been a mainstay in Northeast Minneapolis for more than 40 years, growing to house over 750 jobs at this location alone, and hundreds more across the globe. Thank you for your commitment to staying on the cutting-edge, and for supporting hundreds of Minneapolis families.
My partner and wife, Sarah: we’ve now made it a year; thank you. I’m a better mayor and a better person because of you.
Mayor [of the City of Saint Paul] Melvin Carter—as we work toward a more inclusive and border-free Twin Cities, I can’t thank you enough for the “coop-eritition.”
We’re also joined by elected officials from Hennepin County, the State Legislature, and the Minneapolis Park and School Boards. Please stand so we can recognize you as well.
In last year’s State of the City address, I made a promise to you: that we—my Council colleagues and I--would work together to build a solid foundation for a stronger future. A year later, I’m happy to report that we are making good on that promise.
In the defining challenge for our City—affordable housing—we’re making progress. In total, affordable housing funding from the City is three times higher than it has ever been. The Affordable Housing Trust Fund is backing production of new, affordable housing to the tune of double the previous record. Our Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing policies have gone from experiment to permanent.
Take 4d for example. Landlords get a property tax break in exchange for committing to keeping their units affordable. Landlords who were previously unable to maintain lower rents while running their businesses can now do so. It’s good for the renter; it’s good for the landlord; and it’s good for our City. And most importantly? It’s working. Over 750 units with affordable rents have been preserved with a 10-year affordability commitment. Now, 4d is being emulated by neighboring jurisdictions. But 4d isn’t the only new tool for tackling the affordable housing crisis.
Last year we added an important one, one I am most proud of: Stable Homes, Stable Schools. An editorial earlier this year read “City and schools believe stable housing is key to student learning.” My response? You’re damn right we do.
When a student doesn’t have a safe place to rest their head at night, we can’t expect that student to succeed in the classroom. Housing is a right, and our Stable Homes, Stable Schools program codifies that right for many of our most vulnerable learners and families. Council Member Phillipe Cunningham and I have worked closely on the program, and it is now officially up and running, and serving Minneapolis families.
The way we do Tenant Remedy Actions in Minneapolis has also changed, and for the better. Thanks to the leadership of our City Attorney’s Office and Regulatory Services Department, hundreds of families now have the full weight of the City behind them when they go up against unscrupulous landlords. As a result of this work, they’re not being evicted. They’re staying in their homes. Homes that will now be better maintained and will remain affordable. That outcome would not have been possible without the city’s willingness to try something new. Council Member Jeremiah Ellison and Council President Lisa Bender understand the need to protect renters’ rights and authored a bill of rights on this very topic. This policy makes clear the values we have as Minneapolis residents and outlines a theme for policy considerations going forward.
Lakesha, a mother of three in North Minneapolis, was dealing with a series of health and sanitation risks in her apartment. From a mice infestation to lost heating and leaking plumbing, the straits were dire. But last month she reached a settlement with her landlord that included $5,000 in damages in addition to complete repairs, bringing the previously inhabitable conditions up to code. Lakesha’s story came as a result of her work with More Representation Minneapolis, a collaboration among leading Twin Cities law firms built to equip more tenants with legal representation in eviction court. More Representation is propelled by pro bono work. It doesn’t cost the taxpayer a penny.
Through our Minneapolis Homes program, we’re helping bridge the gap in homeownership rates. Last year we completed 74 homes, 57 of which were purchased by a person of color or indigenous person.
These are the four corners of our affordable housing agenda: Producing more affordable housing; preserving naturally-occurring affordable housing; securing tenants’ rights; and promoting homeownership. This work will undoubtedly continue. The milestones we’ve reached in City Hall, our shared commitment to these goals, show clearly that a collaborative approach has indeed animated our collective work over the last 16 months.
Yes, together, we’ve laid a strong foundation. Now is the time to build on it. But doing so will require an honest conversation about our past and where we are today.
And, not all of our State’s or our City’s history has aged well.
Andrew Volstead, a late Minnesota Congressman, spearheaded successful efforts to establish a national prohibition on alcohol. Today we in Minneapolis are leading the fight to end the prohibition on cannabis.
In 1936 St. Paul earned the distinction from Fortune as the best place in America to hire a hitman. And in one short year, Mayor Carter has successfully rid the city of that reputation.
And in 1946 a high-profile journalist, after visiting our city, declared that “Minneapolis is the capitol of anti-Semitism in the United States.”
Today, we continue to grapple with prejudice in many forms.
The past is never far from the present.
But back in the 19th century, there was one thing Minneapolis simply got right. Our official motto—yes, we actually have one—has stood the test of time. En avant, French for “forward,” captures the spirit that will define 2019 in City Hall. Fun fact, it’s also in Council Member Steve Fletcher’s email signature.
There were challenges last year, but together we rose to meet them. There have been opportunities, and together we’ve worked to seize them. “Forward” has meant different things at different times, and the way we understand progress has certainly changed since 1878. That’s a good thing.
For Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton progress meant a revitalized riverfront.
For Mayor RT Rybak, who’s here with us today, progress meant smoothing the transition from school to career and the creation of the Step-Up program.
For Mayor Betsy Hodges progress meant supporting early childhood education.
They were all correct.
In 2019, the only way we move forward as a City is through inclusive policy and inclusive economic growth. Consider our recent successes that have placed Minneapolis in the upper echelon of cities for businesses big and small.
Bio-Techne is a striking example. Over the last five years they’ve added a hundred jobs locally. And they’re growing with a commitment to diversifying their workforce.
Just ask Council Member Kevin Reich about the potential in this neighborhood. Mid-City Industrial is home to the third highest concentration of jobs outside of downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul. Businesses here get the importance of solid infrastructure investment set to the highest universal design. And the city responded with the largest multi-modal upgrade in a generation – demonstrating that safety, livability, and commerce should be a package deal.
Downtown Minneapolis isn’t letting up either. On a surface parking lot that has laid dormant for decades, we’re about to break ground on the old Nicollet Hotel block, ushering in a new generation of commerce.
We’re growing, but our potential will forever be hamstrung if we don’t make economic inclusion a priority. In the last ten years, the number of Women-owned businesses across the country surged by 58 percent. Firms owned by women of color, during that same period of time, grew 163 percent. Businesses owned by Latinas and African American women grew even faster. Despite these growth rates, businesses owned by women of color lag all demographic groups in sales receipts and number of employees.
What does that mean? It means we have talent that is woefully under-utilized. Through our first-ever Strategic and Racial Equity Action Plan, we’ve undergone the process of embedding racial equity and economic inclusion throughout the city. And we’re going beyond just words. We’re using metrics. We’re setting tangible goals to reduce evictions among communities of color, eliminate the disproportionate impact of violence in communities of color, and increase the number of businesses owned by people of color. When you set ambitious goals, you may fall short. But a fear of failure should be our fuel—our fuel to get this right because, let’s face it, the stakes are too high to back down, to shrink away, or to leave these issues for someone else to solve.
Inclusion in Action
And I want to put a finer point on this. Here’s what I mean when I say economic inclusion. Economic inclusion is the implementation of specific solutions that undo the legacy of institutionalized exclusion of black, indigenous, people of color, and immigrants and furthers the economic and social independence of these communities. In principle and in practice, this means that these communities are prioritized as the primary beneficiaries of, and key partners in, our economic decisions.
Done right, the Upper Harbor Terminal can be a local catalyst for inclusive economic growth and a national model for other cities looking to do the same. We have a shared vision for the site and for the community. Last year I told you that the Upper Harbor Terminal redevelopment project was a top priority at the state capitol. That’s still true. After our first phase of extensive public engagement, we’re continuing to work and continuing to bring North Siders together to imagine a new riverfront. We now have a concept plan for the site, and that’s just the beginning of the shared work ahead. Let’s build a more inclusive economy, galvanize the types of investment north Minneapolis has long deserved, and reconnect an entire community with the Mississippi River, a national treasure.
To state the obvious, the seeds of our economic success are not sewn in marquee projects alone. Look no further than our own city streets to test that theory. For the latest in design, check out Mobilize Design and Architecture on West Broadway. Men’s Fashion? Visit Houston White Men’s Room on 44th Avenue North. Want to change your business’s brand? There’s no better way to reimagine your business than while enjoying a paleta from La Michoacana Purepecha on Lake Street. Walk along a block in Cedar-Riverside, buy a Sambusa and catch a play at Mixed Blood Theater.
Despite centuries of economic exclusion, people of color have woven beautifully resilient communities. From artists to inventors, from restaurateurs to manufacturers, our city is teeming with great ideas. These ideas deserve to be brought to life. We, as a City, have the obligation to set the stage and to allow them to lift their eyes to the horizon as opposed to the downward facing gaze of a daily struggle. The sun is not setting in any Minneapolis neighborhood. It’s rising. And through our Cultural Districts initiative, we will do our part. We will target our investments.
Council Member Alondra Cano sees the potential on East Lake Street. She took me on a bicycle tour of local businesses and explained precisely where we can help as a city. I’ve visited Cultural Districts repeatedly, and I repeatedly hear the same thing. They’re not asking for massive subsidy, handouts, or even advice. What they’re asking for are streets primed for entrepreneurial growth, better lighting, clean intersections free of trash and debris, façade assistance and loans for capital investments, safe and improved walkways, and—yes—partnership in every sense of the word to unleash the potential that is bursting at the seams.
One shopkeeper asked me to re-paint the stoplights at the neighboring intersection a nice, bright yellow.
Through our active work group with more than thirty community members – and in partnership with Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins and Council Members Alondra Cano, Jeremiah Ellison, and Abdi Warsame – we will be designating Cultural Districts in the months ahead.
Commercial Property Development Fund
The same history of generational disinvestment from communities of color is also checkered with a legacy of redlining that has stripped wealth from these communities. Many Minneapolis business owners are ready to hit their next growth stage, and we should help ensure they have every opportunity to do so. Time and again, we see businesses hit financial walls on their way to opening – for business owners of color, that wall can be impenetrable.
Often minor capital purchases become a major impediment. A simple mop basin—a legally-required investment for any restaurant—can run an entrepreneur over a thousand dollars. We can help address these gaps through our Commercial Property Development Fund – a new zero-percent interest gap financing mechanism that requires repayment only once the building is sold. We can allow projects to start faster and grow with confidence with this new fund.
From business leaders to nonprofits, from legacy institutions to government partners, we are calling on everyone to do their part to meet high expectations in building a more inclusive economy. We at City Hall should not be exempt from doing our part.
Let’s start with procurement.
We are committed to spending more of our public dollars with minority-owned businesses. Last year, the City spent almost $50 million with diverse suppliers, and we will continue to push ourselves to do even better. Departments have been asked to report on their diverse spend through the City’s performance management program, Results Minneapolis. This year, we’ve taken it even further. We’re reviewing over 7,000 vendor records and incorporating those diverse spend metrics into our budget process. That’s a lot of work. Thank you to our strategic partnerships, budget teams, and everyone making it possible.
We are also expanding ways by which people from any background can benefit from doing business with the City. Last year, we launched a procurement portal that simplifies how businesses can be alerted to bid opportunities, and allows them to easily submit their bids online and track their payment activity.
We have also started using best value procurement as a means to expand the bid criteria to include characteristics such as quality, past performance, and workforce inclusion goals. By doing so, we’re not only looking at price, we’re considering the deeper value add to the city. And the deeper value gained, benefits not just our enterprise, but future generations.
Speaking of future generations, Council Member Andrew Johnson and his wife, Sarah, are expecting their first child in July. His work as the chair of our Intergovernmental Relations committee is helping ensure that our growing city is a connected one. One where workforce and transportation are intrinsically linked… where public safety and economic security are two sides of the same coin … where housing policy and climate policy must be mentioned in the same breath.
Housing and Climate
And today, we are announcing a big step forward in the City’s commitment to curbing climate change. For the last year, our office has been working with the Minneapolis Foundation, McKnight, Askov Finlayson, and our broader philanthropic community to launch a Minneapolis Climate Action and Equity Fund. At no cost to the taxpayer, this new fund will invest with intent, directly into Minneapolis communities, to produce a demonstrable reduction in local greenhouse gas emissions. The funding will be dedicated to projects that are in line with our climate and race equity goals, and we’ll prioritize work in communities that have experienced cross sections of both poverty and pollution. Access to the application process for the first round of funding will be available by the end of this speech. How’s that for efficiency?
Projects will be chosen by a committee including Council Member Cam Gordon, a long-time and successful advocate for climate work. If you’ve got a project, visit www.minneapolisfoundation.org/climate-action and work with our team to help address climate change.
Staff across City Hall, from Sustainability to Public Works, are guided by progressive, sustainable transit goals. Last October, Minneapolis and St. Paul were chosen to be part of the American Cities Climate Challenge. Council Member Jeremy Schroeder was an ally and consistent supporter in making this happen. We’re already putting it to good use, kick-starting new ideas, and doubling down on work already underway.
One example is making it easier and more convenient to use a tried and true favorite: buses. Thanks to the American Cities Climate Challenge support, we’re aiming to pilot three to four additional bus only lanes, so that commuting times are reduced.
But commutes don’t end at the bus stop. In fact, it’s often the first and last mile to or from that is the most difficult. To tackle that first and last mile, we’re supporting Pilot Mobility Hubs, which build a diversity of transportation options right where you need them most. The President and his cabinet have made it clear that climate change—if they’ll even admit it exists—is not their priority. At the local level, we don’t have the luxury of ignoring science; we aren’t driven by dogma or dollars; we’re unapologetically committed to the public good. And there is no greater public good than the continued existence of the public itself.
2040 Comprehensive Plan
But much of the climate policy we’re pushing will only be as effective as we are aggressive in our housing policy. To borrow a sentiment from Janette Sadik-Khan, the former Transportation Commissioner in New York City—
“You want to save the climate? Then move to Minneapolis because changing rules, regulations, and cost structures won’t really matter if we are pushing people further and further away from where they work.”
Last year we passed a historic comprehensive plan to accommodate population growth, allow for a diversity of housing options in every neighborhood, and consequently tackle climate change in one fell swoop.
Thank you to the Council for your partnership in making this landmark policy a reality.
Quiet, Important Work
So many of our achievements have been driven by the community. That’s because in Minneapolis, civic engagement is not a spectator sport. We participate; we shape our futures; and, you better believe it, we vote.
Last year our city turned out to the polls in record numbers. In Minneapolis, 76 percent of registered voters made their voices heard. That’s the highest mid-term turnout in 16 years. Polling places don’t magically pop up. Our City Clerk and the voter services team prepare year-round to conduct elections with integrity and excellence.
We’re just under one year out from an incredibly important count: the 2020 Census. From our political representation, to the allocation of public funds, to policy ranging from the opioid crisis to housing; the census informs how our democracy is organized. Thanks to the good work of our Neighborhood and Community Relations team and Complete Count Committee, Minneapolis is organized and again poised to lead the state in making sure we get the most accurate count possible in 2020.
In addition to being counted, full representation also means being treated fairly at work and being paid the wage you’re promised. Already, more than 5,500 workers have benefited directly from labor standards investigations conducted by our Civil Rights Department. Upholding that most basic contract of employment, Council Members Linea Palmisano and Steve Fletcher are forging ahead on a wage theft ordinance that will help us do even more for workers in our city.
Some of the most important items we have and will discuss today have been driven quietly, by diligent staff work. But one of our City’s greatest tests was handled very publicly.
Red Lake Partnership
Responding to the Hiawatha homeless encampment was the most complex and perhaps most difficult issue we confronted last year. It’s not as if the people experiencing homelessness at the encampment were homeless for the first-time. As with most cities across the country, homelessness is an uncomfortable reality, invariably present throughout Minneapolis history. But it was the visibility of the encampment itself that prompted questions: Are we a city that will take action to end homelessness? And do we believe that housing should be a right for all?
The answer to both is a resounding yes, perhaps signaling a new approach. An approach centered on compassion and a respect for the dignity of every human being. Moreover, and most importantly, an approach that was born out of sincere partnership. One that necessitated our native community lead with their people and on their land.
The Red Lake Nation stepped forward, helping with land and resources. It was that effort combined with the City’s significant investment that led to a navigation center. Was it politically expedient? No. Was it the path of least resistance? No. The challenges were not new. They were difficult issues; ones that we know are all too easy to brush under the rug: overdoses, human trafficking, unsheltered homelessness. The Native experience. None of these challenges are new to government leaders. But we had an entire city resolved to providing an honest answer to a call for help.
Sam Strong, the Secretary of Red Lake Nation, is here with us today. Please join me in a round of applause for Sam; for Chairman Darrel Sekki; for Robert Lilligren; Mary LaGarde; Patina Park; Mike Goze; and every tribal member and every member of the Urban American Indian community, for their exceptional work.
Our City enterprise stepped up in a big way, and that includes our City Coordinator, who orchestrated the endeavor, along with our Health and Fire departments, which effectively averted disaster, kept people safe, and consistently responded with poise under pressure.
Thank you, all.
The collaboration with Red Lake Nation is unique, yes. And it’s in line with the way Minneapolis is now conducting business.
We’re partnering with Hennepin County pushing for the expansion of the D-Line. With Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins’ steady hand guiding us forward, I’ve got faith. She has been at every single D-Line planning meeting with an unflinching position: transit access for all is quite simply good policy.
We’re partnering with our state lawmakers to create the sort of inclusive regulatory and licensing frameworks needed to right past wrongs in our criminal justice system when we legalize cannabis. With the brilliant leadership and regulatory expertise of Council Member Lisa Goodman, it’s only a matter of time.
Today we’re working just as incessantly to partner with the private sector, too.
In exactly one month, some of our city’s most remarkable businesses and buildings will give visitors free behind the scenes access during the first Doors Open Minneapolis.
And this month, we rolled out Tech for Tomorrow, our inaugural Tech Month. Since 2015 the City has invested more than $2 million to provide scholarships and support for low-income Minneapolis residents to train in IT careers. That’s an investment that has paid dividends in concrete ways. Thanks to those scholarships, over thirteen hundred people have been successfully placed in tech jobs with more than five hundred Twin Cities employers, including the City of Minneapolis. By the way, over 30 percent of those grads are women, and over 40 percent are people of color—all in an industry that has seen stunningly low representation across the same groups. And our tech sector is better for it.
Minneapolis is home to nearly five thousand tech business organizations, and the estimated direct contribution of our tech sector to the economy is $27.5 billion. We can continue making these jobs more accessible to all by bringing to bear city resources for support and city personnel for outreach. Already, there have been 40 Tech for Tomorrow events in neighborhoods throughout our city. From coding to drone camp to financial technology courses, you can get connected in an amazing way. We’ve got events running through the remainder of April, which are all available on the city’s website.
Our tech sector is growing and so is the demand for African goods.
We know that statewide the market serving African products totals hundreds of millions of dollars, and we also know that Minneapolis is home to the largest Somali population in the United States. We should provide the proper space for our East African business community to meet that demand. For years now, Council Member Abdi Warsame and I have talked about developing an African market. Now, we’re moving full speed ahead in doing it. We’re narrowing in on a parcel, bringing key partners together, and preparing for an announcement in the next couple of months. Council Member: thank you for your partnership. Our new American entrepreneurs shouldn’t be pushed to the fringes. They should be welcomed as mainstream businesses and activated as economic catalysts.
A lot of the ground we’ve covered thus far has been specific to “new” initiatives and “new” policy. To some extent, that comes with the territory in a State of the City address. But, no one should dispute that our basic obligations come in the form of traditional services. In Minneapolis, we’re the government that doesn’t shut down.
If you call 9-1-1, you need a response in a timely fashion.
If record amounts of snow fall in February…or April, apparently…we plow the streets. By the way, this winter our Public Works Department has handled over 72 inches of snow. I think that deserves a round of applause.
And if April showers bring April potholes, we fill those potholes.
Public safety is also a basic city service. Our ability to make good on public safety commitments defines our ability to maintain the public trust. And our officers are answering the call.
Our Group Violence Intervention (GVI) initiative brings together law enforcement, our health department, social services, and community leaders. Through GVI, group shootings are down on the Northside, the cycle of violence is being interrupted, and people are finding second chances and bettering their lives. That’s thanks in no small part to the department’s discipline, sustained partnerships, and willingness to think beyond traditional policing. The program was built to serve 20 clients per year. In year one, we served 89. Thanks to a 2019 budget that included a two-fold increase in support for GVI, we’re working with the community to bring the initiative to South Minneapolis. With the leadership of our Health Department and in partnership with the MPD and City Attorney’s Office, we’re pursuing further coordination through an Office of Violence Prevention.
I’ve spoken with our Public Works team about a City service and environmental matter that’s easy to take for granted: our water. There is no City service more basic, more essential, than the promise that when you turn on the faucet, clean water comes out. While cities like Los Angeles grapple with drought, and Flint with contamination, our plentiful supply allows for a model of protection, of sustainability, of efficiency. We’re in the midst of a multi-year capital improvement project, making upgrades to our Filter Plant, which has faithfully served Minneapolis for over 90 years. Set to be completed in the next two to three years, the rehabilitated plant will leverage state-of-the-art Granular Activated Carbon to secure our consistent supply for generations to come. Nothing like a Granular Activated Carbon filtration system to keep you interested 30 minutes into the speech. But it does serve as the perfect segue to the next important topic: police training.
In 2019, you can get trained on pretty much anything.
Interested in fly fishing? There’s a training.
Sword swallowing? There’s a training.
Aspiring sushi chef? There’s a training to make it happen.
The same is true of policing. Our MPD is on the cutting edge in the trainings they provide. Our implicit bias training has gained national recognition. There is no department in the state with higher standards when it comes to procedural justice training than ours. With leadership and guidance from Council Member Linea Palmisano, we’ve incorporated wellness training for every officer to allow them to be their best versions of self. Officers often experience trauma on the job. It’s only right that the job recognizes as much.
But there are external trainings that have no place in the vision and culture shift outlined by our chief. Chief Medaria Arradondo’s MPD rests on trust, accountability, and professional service. Whereas fear-based, warrior-style trainings like “killology” are in direct conflict with everything that our chief and I stand for in our police department. Fear-based trainings violate the values at the very heart of community policing. When you’re conditioned to believe that every person encountered poses a threat to your existence, you simply cannot be expected to build meaningful relationships with those same people. What fear-based training teaches is not inherent to the human psyche. It’s learned. Learned experience is not a switch you flip on or off. It’s embedded as muscle memory and in emotional response.
Additionally, aspects of training learned off duty inevitably affect behavior on duty.
Take a look at MPD-sanctioned trainings. You won’t find any that are fear-based. However, fear-based trainings remain available to officers off-duty. That’s why today we’re announcing that the Minneapolis Police Department will be—we believe—the first major department in the nation to prohibit fear-based training. Attending or instructing at a training that relates to use of force will now require approval from our Chief or his administration. Our officers have no business at a training that conflicts with those provided by Minneapolis on use of force and de-escalation. Effective today, we are cementing that conviction as policy. No longer will such trainings be available in any capacity to our Minneapolis Police Department.
We have high standards in this city. In many respects, they’re being met.
In February 2018, compliance with our body camera policy hovered around 55 percent. Today, roughly one year after implementing a more precise policy with disciplinary measures, I’m proud to announce that we are at 93 percent for quarter one of 2019. 55 percent then. 93 percent now. Yes, that’s progress. We’re right to expect a lot from the men and women who serve in our police department. And they would be right to expect that elected officials provide the resources needed to further our stated mission: community policing.
That means giving Chief Arradondo the resources he needs to do his job and do it well.
In 2009, when President Barack Obama increased funding for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program from $20 million to $1 billion, he did so with a call for higher standards. Since that injection, data has shown that jurisdictions that used the money to add officers saw a concurrent drop in crime, notably without an increase in arrests.
This month Chief Arradondo and I announced a new victim-centered and trauma-informed policy designed to address shortcomings in sexual assault investigations. But the strength of this policy will be limited by our ability to implement it. Right now, with over 700 instances of rape reported annually and just eight investigators tasked with working those cases, on top of their other duties, that ability is very much limited. We can’t maintain the status quo and expect better results.
An officer’s work suffers when they’re overscheduled. Fatigue leads to bad decision-making. This is borne out by extensive research, and the data is clear: understaffed police departments experience more complaints and their officers are more likely to use force. For example, a 2017 audit of the King County Sheriff’s Department in Washington state found that working a single hour of overtime led to a 2.7 percent increase in the odds that an officer would be involved in a use-of-force incident the following week. Public safety; police-community relations; these are broad strokes that can be applied to any department. Something that is unique to Minneapolis? Our leadership.
In Medaria Arradondo, we have a chief whose entire 30-year career has been rooted in procedural justice and defined by service before self. He has been asking elected officials for more resources so he can realize his vision for community policing in the MPD. As he has stated, simply running from 9-1-1 call to 9-1-1 call without the time to build out positive relationships is no way to achieve that vision. I think it’s time we listen to him. Let’s have the debate. But let’s have it on honest terms, using facts and research … our communities deserve as much.
VFC – Square
In a city, progress is never guaranteed. Minneapolis is no exception. Sometimes persistence and even skilled leadership miss the mark. Maybe timing, maybe luck, derail the best intentions and plans. But in our city, we are collectively committed to being a place that maximizes the correlation between hard work and success. Sometimes that means direct and material support. Sometimes, it takes a village.
Just ask Me’Lea Connelly.
Village Financial Cooperative is breaking down barriers and surpassing expectations. In two short years they have raised over $1 million in operating funds, collected 1,900 pledged members, and moved over $5 million in deposits to the Northside. The VFC team has challenged the status quo by pushing the boundaries of what a community development financial institution should be all about. Village Financial, the only black-led credit union and CDFI in Minnesota, saw the shifting waves of financial technology as an opportunity for the community to create new financial systems, instead of becoming vulnerable to them. In less than a year, Village has initiated, cultivated, and established a one of a kind relationship with Square, Inc. – a billion-dollar fintech company that is already changing the industry by using innovative tools to reach populations that have historically been left out.
And now because of VFC’s excellent progress over the last year, our partnership is expanding to formally include Square. Square has worked with metro areas throughout the country to deliver financial education programming and resources. With VFC, we can take it a step further in Minneapolis.
In partnership with Square, we can streamline delivery of information about city services, programs, and resources presently available. You won’t need a meeting with your Mayor or Council Member for a primer on navigating City Hall. The information will be provided right there on your screen, and our small business team can be notified of the interest and follow-up. Through VFC, we can be sure that we’re reaching the people we intend to reach through this platform. Our partnership will be guided by the core principle that financial institutions should help meet the needs of consumers in all segments of their communities – starting with those of the Black community, and including indigenous people, immigrants, and other People of Color.
On April 27, we’re hosting Village Squared: a Black Economic Symposium, one of our most important Tech Month events, where black entrepreneurs will receive training on Square products and learn more about the new partnership. If you can join, please do. I want to thank Square and VFC for their commitment to reinvesting in communities and for starting on the Northside of Minneapolis.
Do I expect that every goal and every policy proposal I’ve put forth today will be universally adopted by all in City Hall? No, I’m not that naïve. I’m also not cynical enough to lose sight of the reality that on about 95 percent of the work before us, we are united.
Internally, a united front of impassioned policymakers, directors, and City employees is a force.
Externally, a coalition with community is unstoppable.
But any effective union requires a sincerity of purpose, and a steadfast commitment: we will not succumb to petty politics. We will not deal in ornamental policy. In Minneapolis, our plotline doesn’t require villains to make a point or to achieve progress. We don’t need foils to bolster our arguments or a single protagonist to make our story. National politicians may claim they want to put out the fire of injustice; but they’re pointing out blame with one hand while fanning the flames with the other.
That’s not us.
That’s not our narrative.
It’s not our politics.
It’s not our motto.
We’re on the same team, guided by the same principles, and bound by the same community. In Minneapolis we move forward.