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Saturday, January 26, 2019

Local Politics - Editorial, The Week in Review


Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
01.26.2019

Local Politics

What is going on with the City Council and the Mayor’s office?

For most of my life the city has just kind of bumbled along without making much news. There have been some persistent blunders, like the K-Mart development on Lake Street, and some successes like the development of the North Loop, but in the last four years the city government has lost its lid.

If they can’t get their act together they all need to be fired, starting with our ridiculous mayor, Jacob Frey.

I was happy to vote for him, though I did not know much about him at the time. He had the trust of some people I know, people who worked for him, and so I thought what the hell give the guy a shot, and I was happy to say good-bye to Betsy Hodges.

Here is my big question:

How the hell did the homeless encampment on East Franklin come to be?

It took months for a plan to take shape and months longer to execute, and it seems that the mayor and the city council were content to let the problem grow, only taking action to address it when people started dying there, and the Minneapolis Fire Department had to make multiple calls to put out fires once the cold weather set in.

This was a disgrace, and a national embarrassment. The fact that it existed at all was bad enough, it seems like the mayor and the city council would like to pretend that it did not happen.

Some churches and non-profit groups have stepped up to help the people who were encamped there transition into shelters, and begin the move to permanent housing, and that is great, I am thankful for their leadership, and I appreciate whatever help the city gave them to facilitate their work.

The fact that people started looking for ways to resolve the problem is really good news, since the people who had been living there would be facing sub-zero cold if they had not.

Where was the public discussion about this problem before it took hold? Where is the public discussion happening right now? The people of Minneapolis do not deserve this, and I am not talking about the people driving by it on their way to and from work. I am talking about the people who don’t have a roof over their head.

The city needs a solution to its housing shortage, and the solution to homeless is not going to be resolved by the free market, by the 20-40 plan or anything like it. It will require thoughtful concerted effort on the part of our elected leaders, something they seem incapable of while they are day dreaming about how many miles of bike lanes they can boast of.

Over the past week there have been a group of people sitting out front of the TCF Uptown, bed rolls on a wooden pallet, a fire lit in a grill to keep themselves warm, what the hell.

I spent some of my teenage years panhandling Uptown, I am not against that. A person should have a right to beg, in many cultures this is considered a holy occupation, but wat a situation like this represents is a dereliction of our duty to provide for the common good.

This is not good in January, in sub-zero temperatures.

Heading Home Hennepin is Hennepin County’s initiative to end homelessness, this is the initiative that the City of Minneapolis supports as a part of their effort to manage the issue of homelessness and affordable housing.

I used to volunteer for this organization, at their semi-annual event, Operation Homelessness Connect.

I went to their website today and found their last annual report available as of 2017. I found their last count of unsheltered people living in Hennepin County as of July 2018, it was about 1400 people, and their current count of people living in shelters, numbered at 1600 people.

Finding housing for 1400 more people should not be seen as an insurmountable problem, the mayor and the city Council need to get it together and help these people, help them get a roof over their head, and help them on the path to employment, or to receiving the social services they need and deserve if they are disabled for one reason or another.

Nothing will happen without a plan, and right now the city council and the mayor’s office are all about bike lanes, and traffic reduction, and light pollution, and other bourgeoisie nonsense.

I opted to take a look at the priorities listed on my city council person’s web page, and it has not been updated since 2015, it is as if Lisa Bender has no priorities since her “successful first year in office.” Nearby council person Lisa Goodman, has no priorities listed on her web page at all, and Linnea Palmisano, just to single out another lack luster politician, she has not updated her page since 2014.

The Mayor, Jacob Frey deserves credit for publishing on his web page that affordable housing is a top priority, but he is going to have to do more than that. If he can’t exercise his leadership to move the city council in the same direction, then he is not good for much, and the fact that the East Franklin homeless encampment developed on his watch says a great deal about his problem solving abilities, not much of it in a positive light.  


Throw the bums out.  


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