It’s time to turn on the video cameras at City Hall

If you’ve ever enjoyed a Wedge LIVE! video you may not realize the debt you owe to workers at Minneapolis City Hall who operate the cameras and make sure those videos make their way to YouTube. It’s been invaluable for me, and the journalism I do, that City Council meeting are recorded and broadcast to the public. Same goes for the Planning Commission.

But not everything that happens in the council chambers is streamed, recorded, and archived to video. This lack of basic transparency is a reasonably big deal at the moment: there’s a group trying to dramatically alter the way our local democracy functions by changing the composition of the City Council. The first step in that process involves presenting the idea to the city’s Charter Commission. But Charter Commission meetings aren’t broadcast or archived to video. The cameras are there, in the room where the meetings happen — but they aren’t turned on.

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Wedge LIVE! News Brief – March 18, 2019

A digest of all the news you may have missed in the last two weeks.

🤑 💪 SW Minneapolis Power Grab

There’s a contingent of southwest Minneapolis residents who feel like the last few election cycles have left them disempowered. Now they’re out to change the rules of city elections.

👉 Read our coverage of what’s happening at the Minneapolis Charter Commission.

👉 See what this proposal could hypothetically do to the city’s Ward map.

📼 Devastating Doctored Video

I have taken Lisa Bender’s actual words and moved them around to form new meanings. Readers of the nextdoor website will surely want to tell their friends about this doctored video confirming everything they thought they knew about our City Council President.

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What’s wrong with Carol Becker?

In response to some accusations being leveled against me by a Minneapolis elected official, it was necessary to draft this official response in the form of a Wedgipedia entry.

Who is Carol Becker?

Carol Becker is a member of the Minneapolis Board of Estimate and Taxation.

What is the Board of Estimate and Taxation (BET)?

The BET sets the city’s maximum tax levy and approves bond sales.

There are six members. Two members are elected directly to the BET, and receive nominal pay for each meeting (this is more like a glorified volunteer position). The other four members are: the city’s Mayor, the City Council President, a Parks commissioner, and the City Council’s Ways & Means Committee chair.

Does Carol Becker show bad judgment in performing her job on the BET?

Yes.

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Plan to eliminate City Council seats and overhaul district boundaries would empower wealthier, whiter south Minneapolis

March 6, 2018 meeting of the Minneapolis Charter Commission

[This local news coverage made possible by readers like you.]

On Wednesday the Minneapolis Charter Commission was presented with a proposal to cut the number of city council seats from 13 to 9. The plan would also replace 3 district-based ward seats with at-large members elected by a citywide vote. This would reduce the number of wards (districts) by more than half — from 13 to 6.

Minneapolis’ City Clerk and top elections official, Casey Carl, spoke bluntly about the “wealth of research” showing the racist effects of such a radical change to the way voters elect members of the city council.

According to Carl, “research and practice in other jurisdictions” shows that “at-large elections do tend to favor white, wealthier, homeowning, property owning, higher educational status people.”

Carl added: “Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg stated that along with racial gerrymandering… at-large elections are the primary means of diluting the power of the vote and denying equal opportunity for minority voters and candidates.”

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Minneapolis prepares to quintuple the number of scooters on city streets

[This local news coverage made possible by readers like you.]

The City of Minneapolis has crunched the numbers on their 2018 scooter pilot, finding that the availability of just a few hundred rental scooters “contributed to reduction in Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Vehicle Miles Travelled.”

On Tuesday, the City Council’s Transportation and Public Works Committee approved a proposal to raise the limit on rental scooters from 400 to 2,000. This number would be split between at least two, but no more than four scooter providers. The University of Minnesota campus had its own scooter pilot in 2018, which allowed up to 200 scooters.

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Minneapolis neighborhood organizations fall short of diversity targets

[This local news coverage made possible by readers like you.]

The percentage of people of color and renters serving on the boards of Minneapolis neighborhood organizations has remained flat since 2014, far below their share of the city’s population as a whole. This is according to a demographic survey conducted by the city’s Neighborhood and Community Relations department. The results were presented to the City Council’s Public Health, Environment, Civil Rights, and Engagement Committee on Monday.

People of color make up 36% of the city’s population, but are only 18% of neighborhood boards. Renters are 50% of the city’s population, but make up only 17% of neighborhood boards.

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