October 2020 Board Minutes

BOARD MEETING MINUTES – Monday, October 19th, 2020 – 7:00 p.m., via Zoom

Board members present: Dan Williams, Pat Collins, Jon Dejong, Lori Gubrud, Dick Fiala, Joan Staveley, Brenda Anderson, Kellie Hanson, Carl Arrell, Alyssa Thull, Dan Treinen, Heather Grovum

Board members absent: Brian McDonald, Dirk Nicholson

Also present: Councilmember Jeremy Schroeder, Inspector Amelia Huffman (5th Precinct Commander), 8 community members

Called to order: 7:02

Officer Reports:

Secretary – Carl moved to approve September minutes. Lori seconded. Voice vote, all in favor, motion approved.

Treasurer – Brian expects the first check from our Green Partners grant and the final check from the Organics grant soon. TNA’s bank balance is healthy.

Councilmember Schroeder

Mayor Frey’s proposed budget includes $6 million for neighborhoods and the neighborhood group funding levels will stay the same as last year. The city created a new community safety website with information about safety activities from mayor, council, and Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) which they hope will be a resource going forward. MPD also started a new community-policing focused gang violence prevention program last month. The City Council is also looking at increasing the number of violence interruptors in this team. The budget also has increased and continuing funding for aging services like activities and transportation and Jeremy is happy to report that sustainability initiatives are still in the budget. But he noted that every department will see budget cuts.

Jeremy added that Hennepin County has expanded ballot drop-off sites (including one at Mount Olivet Lutheran Church) in addition to early voting sites and mail-in ballots.

Last week the City approved funding for a new shelter with ~100 temporary beds which will be up and running by the end of the year.

Carl asked about any updates on MPD’s approach to policing after the George Floyd protests. Jeremy said he has been continuously asking Mayor Frey and Chief Arradondo about any changes for south/southwest Minneapolis but there is no movement as yet.

Community Safety Update

Inspector Huffman said that for 2020 the most persistent and troubling pattern in city overall has been a spike in street robberies and car-jackings. She said these haven’t touched Tangletown as much as neighborhoods further north like Lowry Hill East and Whittier. These crimes appear to involve groups of juveniles working together who stop residents and demand purses, keys, and phones. In some cases a weapon is implied, sometimes real and replica guns are displayed, and sometimes victims are assaulted. Many of the groups have been identified and many suspects arrested, including the same suspects multiple times. Unfortunately the patterns have been very persistent despite the fact that the same individuals have been involved in multiple cases. In Tangletown recently a woman was driving down Minnehaha Parkway, picked up a group of juvenile girls who had flagged her down for help, and who subsequently stole her car after she gave them a lift.

Inspector Huffman said violent crime has increased in 2020 over 2019, but is less than 2016 and 2017. There were eight violent crimes in Tangletown this year. Half of those were robberies, including two involving Washburn students. The rest were domestic disputes. There has been an increase in burglaries in the city, especially business and apartment burglaries. Residential burglaries mostly involve garages and most do not involve forced entry. There have been a few occupied residential burglaries in Tangletown this year and again most did not involve forced entry. There were only six occupied residential burglaries in the 5th Precinct so far this year, which is lower than the city average..

One new trend this year that has touched Tangletown is catalytic converter theft including a few in the last week. Toyota Prius, Honda Element, and other Toyota models are specific targets. They can be worth hundreds of dollars at scrap yards. Dealers and other shops can sometimes install protection plates that may deter thieves.

Carl asked about longer-term crime statistics. Amelia answered that crime is definitely trending lower though robberies, shots fired, and gun injuries are up significantly over 2019. The 5th precinct had 7% of shooting victims so far this year as opposed to 4% in 2019..

Joan asked about the efficacy of home security cameras. Amelia answered that home camera systems are worth considering, though everyone has different ideas on surveillance systems and privacy. Amelia knows of instances that suspects realize they are being recorded and leave the scene. Home security video is also useful for police especially if it’s well-placed to see faces rather than just heads. Joan also asked if retaliation against home-owners was known; Amelia said it does not usually happen.

Lori asked Amelia about her thoughts on the city council’s previous vote for defunding certain functions of police like mental illness response. Amelia said staffing will be an issue throughout the force due to personnel reductions because of early retirement, regular attrition, and higher than normal medical leave. This means the number of officers who are able to respond to 911 calls has dropped. They are unsure about the number of positions they can hire for, and the hiring process  (exams, screening, academy, training) takes a long time until the officer is fully part of the force. This is especially a problem for large situations (like large traffic accidents) that tie up many squads and reduce the number of officers available for 911 response.

Lori asked if the increase in crime is largely due to COVID-19 causing increased joblessness and juveniles with lots of free time due to school changes. Amelia said that has likely been a large factor along with the breakdown of normal life structure which is now showing up in bad ways.

Jim Meyer asked why multi-unit buildings were higher value targets. Amelia answered that they are easier to enter, there are more targets (like multiple vehicles in parking garages), and unknown people usually are not challenged on entry. Many buildings do not have cameras or active surveillance systems.

Neighborhoods 2020 Update

Sally shared that TNA partnered with other neighborhoods to advocate for a larger neighborhood group budget allocation of $7.1 million than the currently proposed $4.1 million. All the partnered neighborhoods agree that racial equity is a good thing to support but given the proposed allocation formulas many neighborhoods would see a dramatic funding decrease which would be very detrimental. TNA and other neighborhoods have advocated for a specific base-level of funding to allow all neighborhood organizations to continue basic operations.

The City Council separated approval of the neighborhood funding program itself from the actual budget allocation discussion which is a good sign. The City indicated willingness to extend the current CPP funding (which forms the bulk of TNA’s income) for an additional 6 months until guidelines and rules of Neighborhoods 2020 are established.

Committee Updates

Equity: the task force was unable to meet this month due to changes Zoom made to video meeting setup procedures. They are working with the East Phillips Neighborhood Institute (EPNI)  to help re-develop the former Roof Depot industrial area. The City wants to consolidate public works activities on the site and will tear down a large building on the site, which is being opposed by the EPNI and other neighborhoods. The task force is also helping to support another neighborhood on racial justice, pollution, and housing. They are also trying to find time to invite board members to attend a task force meeting.

Spaces: the committee held a successful Autumn Alley Cleanup event. Residents dropped off mostly construction debris and not much organics this year. The new Washburn water tower sign hit a speedbump because the city requires a different size and type of sign than expected and Sally and the committee are working with the City to determine their requirements.

Engagement: Bluma and Wise Acre/Tangletown Gardens will participate in the committee’s Welcome Bag program. The committee will hold a winter coat drive on Saturday November 7th, including collection of articles that need minor repairs. Due to COVID-19 they are discussing alternative ideas to last year’s successful Winterfest, like a virtual movie night.

Environmental: The committee will hold a virtual viewing event of the film “True Cost” on Thursday October 22nd with a panel discussion following. Over 50 have already signed up. They are planning a conscientious purchasing and donation of textiles event in November, and received positive feedback from the Resilient Yards event.

Executive Director Update

Get Out The Vote flyering: Sally partnered with the Garfield 2020 neighborhood group and flyered all of Tangletown with information about the unique nature of voting this year.

46th and Pilsbury project: Sally and the Spaces committee had a good follow-up discussion about housing development in the neighborhood which resulted in a list of suggestions sent to the developer of the project at 46th and Pillsbury. The developer will return their response to TNA, which will in turn send that response to neighbors of the proposed development. Sally indicated the developer is willing to modify designs to address some  concerns and were very receptive to suggestions. All property owners within 500ft of the proposed project will be flyered when the it goes to the city planning commission.

Adjourned: 8:20

Minutes submitted by Dan Williams, TNA Secretary