After history of anti-basketball racism, sport could make comeback at Mueller Park

In 1998 Mueller Park’s basketball court was cut in half after decades of racist complaints about basketball in the park. Over the years, neighbors made connections between basketball and crime; basketball and drug dealing; basketball and discomfort with strangers in the neighborhood. Concerned residents were quoted in the neighborhood newspaper saying things like: “ruffians”… “many of whom I do not recognize”… “descending on our park by the carload”… “music on full blast.”

A Park Board representative in the early 1980s admitted the obvious: “I do think some racism is involved.”

Continue reading “After history of anti-basketball racism, sport could make comeback at Mueller Park”

Worst of Wedge LIVE 2018: A Year of “Disarray”

We saw a noticeable uptick in local gaffes in 2018. Some would attribute this disarray to the fact Minneapolis elected five new members to the City Council in 2017. Personally, I happen to subscribe to the old adage: “to bloop is human.” These bloopers served as the basis for Wedge LIVE’s least popular new segment in 2018.

Continue reading “Worst of Wedge LIVE 2018: A Year of “Disarray””

2018: A Look Back at the Year that Was

2018 was a big year. The year of Minneapolis 2040. The year of the Red Yard Sign. The year Wedge LIVE was declared “Best Website in the Twin Cities.” The year that an elected official tried to shut down this website by attempting to trademark the name “Wedge Live.” The year that same elected official couldn’t stop barking “Balls!” during meetings at city hall.

Let’s take a look back at some of 2018’s top local moments.

Continue reading “2018: A Look Back at the Year that Was”

The Whole Story on Minneapolis 2040

We’re being flooded with national takes about what happened in our city last week. Esquire magazine is writing about zoning in Minneapolis. The New York Times says the city has taken a “bold move to address its affordable-housing crisis and confront a history of racist housing practices.” Coastal elites are saying we’ve made “zoning history,” becoming the first major American city to abolish single-family zoning — and the third major US city to eliminate minimum parking requirements. Or, maybe we haven’t done anything very radical at all: Minneapolis is just “welcoming back historic, modest housing types: duplexes and triplexes.” 

The truth about what happened last week is that it was six years in the making. How did we get here? Who is responsible? Where will we park? Like nearly all stories worth telling, this one begins in the Wedge neighborhood of Minneapolis.

Continue reading “The Whole Story on Minneapolis 2040”

Wedge LIVE prevails in legal action

The legal effort to defend Wedge LIVE from Carol Becker has ended in victory. In a settlement reached late Monday, and fully executed yesterday, Becker has acknowledged my ownership of the name “Wedge LIVE.” Additionally, Becker has agreed that she will “never assert any claim to these marks in the future.” Other details of the settlement agreement must be kept confidential.

As a result, I have dismissed my lawsuit against Becker that was previously pending in Hennepin County District Court.

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Judge denies request to delay Mpls 2040 vote

After a morning hearing, Hennepin County district court Judge Joseph R. Klein took a few hours to decide not to delay a vote on the Minneapolis 2040 comprehensive plan. He denied a request for a temporary restraining order from an anti-2040 group recently formed under the name Smart Growth Minneapolis. The group has been planning a legal action to stop the plan for months.

The City Council’s final vote on the plan will happen tomorrow as scheduled. The lawsuit may still go forward. Continue reading “Judge denies request to delay Mpls 2040 vote”

Police divestment a focus of Minneapolis budget hearing

At yesterday’s 2019 budget hearing a large contingent of folks showed up to Minneapolis City Hall to ask the City Council to divest 5% from police, and invest in community instead. Among them was Wedge resident Andrew Beeman:

“I’m also a public health worker. I can tell you an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Let’s think about some of that preventative work we can do.”

Mayor Frey’s budget provides $40 million in funding for affordable housing programs. It also includes a 2.8% increase in funding for the police department, for a total of $184.5 million. The Mayor has proposed a total budget for 2019 of $1.55 billion. The City Council will amend and vote on Mayor Frey’s proposed 2019 budget next week. Continue reading “Police divestment a focus of Minneapolis budget hearing”

Hennepin County District 2 Candidates Field Questions from the Business Community

At an early morning candidate forum hosted by the Northeast Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce, Irene Fernando and Blong Yang fielded questions on matters of concern to the business community in Hennepin County’s District 2.

It was way too early to livetweet, so here are some things that stood out to me. Continue reading “Hennepin County District 2 Candidates Field Questions from the Business Community”

Neighbors Sue to Stop Apartments at 36th and Bryant

The immediate neighbors to a recently approved 41-unit apartment project at 3612/16 Bryant Ave S have notified the City of Minneapolis of their intent to file a lawsuit in order to stop construction. [Read the complaint.]

The apartments, located near a transit and commercial corridor at 36th and Bryant, were approved by the City Planning Commission on April 23. Neighbors of the project, led by Steven Verdoorn, appealed that decision to the City Council. That appeal was denied in May. Verdoorn is also one of the plaintiff’s behind the lawsuit.

The complaint alleges that the apartment proposal approved by the city council “represents a substantial change in the character of the neighborhood and is a substantial detriment to neighboring properties.” There are three four-story buildings directly across the street from the site. There’s a seven-story building a half-block north.

The complaint also alleges, among other things, that the city “abused its discretion” because “the density approved was more than three times the maximum required by the comprehensive plan.”

The lawsuit can be seen partly as an extension of the ongoing politics around the Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan update. The lawyer representing Verdoorn (and “Friends of 36th Street”) is Timothy Keane, who is also the registered agent for a group called Minneapolis for Everyone. This is the organization famous for its red apocalyptic yard signs with messages like “STOP Mpls 2040.”

Minneapolis 2040 is the name for an update to the city’s plan to accommodate equitable growth in Minneapolis over the next 20 years. Opponents of the plan have concerns about density, traffic, and neighborhood change. Supporters of the plan like that it tries to address the housing shortage caused by ongoing population growth, and fosters neighborhoods that are less car-centric.

(Full disclosure: one of the leaders of Minneapolis for Everyone is Carol Becker, who is the elected official and trademark troll who recently tried to steal the name “Wedge Live” which is the name of the website you are reading right now.)

The 36th and Bryant lawsuit comes on the heels of a Minnesota Supreme Court decision ending a years-long legal battle over a condo tower on the edge of downtown Minneapolis. A group calling themselves Neighbors for East Bank Livability, many of whom live in towers themselves, were successful in delaying the project for years. Ultimately neighbors lost in court — in addition to losing the $100,000 bond they were required to post in order to move forward with the lawsuit.

ANALYSIS: Even if neighbors can’t win in court, lengthy delays aren’t just costly, but they have the potential to kill projects entirely. The economic situation years from now might not be conducive to constructing an apartment building. Legal challenges and other delay tactics (from people with the means to deploy them) also work in tandem with exclusionary zoning that says whiter, wealthier neighborhoods are off-limits to change.