Mayor Rybak, Council Members: President’s Immigration-Reform Proposal Reflects Minneapolis Values

Mayor: President’s proposal pulls everyone who can contribute to our success out of the shadows

January 29, 2013 (MINNEAPOLIS) — Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, along with City Council Vice President Robert Lilligren and Council Member Elizabeth Glidden, today expressed support for President Obama’s proposal for comprehensive federal immigration reform, saying that it is based in Minneapolis values and will strengthen the city’s neighborhoods and economy.

Mayor Rybak encouraged Congress to begin action on the President’s proposal immediately.

“We know in Minneapolis that in order to for our neighborhoods to prosper and our city to succeed on the global stage, we need everyone. Luckily for us, people have come to our city from around the world to help us do just that,” Mayor Rybak said.

“President Obama’s immigration-reform proposal today pulls everyone who can contribute to our success out the shadows and gives them a chance to work and to play by the same rules as everybody else. His plan lays the essential groundwork for our economic success and the future of the American Dream, not only in Minneapolis but in every corner of our country,” Mayor Rybak added.

“I encourage Congress to act on the President’s proposal immediately — not as Republicans and Democrats, but as fellow Americans. Everyone’s success depends on their success.”

On January 24, 2013, the Intergovernmental Relations Committee, which is composed of all 13 City Council members, unanimously added to the City’s federal legislative agenda a set of principles for federal immigration reform. Many of these principles are directly reflected in the comprehensive immigration-reform package that President Obama proposed in Las Vegas today.

The full City Council will vote formally on Friday, February 1 to include these principles in the City’s federal legislative agenda.

Council Vice President Lilligren, who chairs the Council’s Committee of the Whole, said, “The principles of federal immigration reform that the City Council will adopt on Friday reflect the dreams and vision of our newest city residents. They emerged from the Latino Engagement Task Force through a community-engagement process to empower people to influence City-government decisions to shape their city and their lives.”

Council Member Glidden, chair of the Council’s Intergovernmental Relations Committee, said, “I thank the President for taking a tremendous step forward on one of our nation’s most pressing issues: fixing our broken immigration system. In Minneapolis, we’re proud to have worked with a strong coalition of community members to identify the principles that are most important to us in comprehensive, fair immigration reform, and I’m pleased that the President’s proposal today reflects so many of these principles.

“President Obama clearly understands that respect for the dignity of all people and their families, no matter their origin, is at the core of making sure that we are not a nation divided, but a nation that builds on our strengths.”

Pushing forward in the fight against gun violence

We have much work to do to turn our despair about gun violence into action, and we’re doing it. I’m writing to update you on two important steps forward: one we took last week, and one we’re taking this week.

Last week, and as I promised last month, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and I, along with our two cities, hosted a daylong Regional Gun Summit in Minneapolis. In the midst of a robust national debate, around 100 participants from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa and Missouri — mayors and city council members, police chiefs and officers, prosecutors, sheriffs, state and federal law enforcement, judges and advocates, along with national researchers — gathered for an honest conversation to search for Midwestern solutions to gun violence that are rooted in Midwestern values.

We are not new to this work, and it’s important to note that this groundbreaking summit was a year in the making and not a quick reaction to the terrible events of recent months. Every participant at the summit has been engaged in the fight against gun violence for many years, but it was the first time that so many people from our region met face to face to share information, best practices, common opportunities and challenges.

Mayor Barrett framed our motivation in powerful terms: “We are fighting for the freedom of a grandmother to sit on her porch and watch her grandchildren play safely. We are fighting for the freedom of people to attend church on Sunday morning safely.

“Unfortunately, people’s freedoms are being taken away by gun violence and those who commit it. We are fighting to win those freedoms back.”

At the end of a day of vigorous and honest discussion on many topics, we settled on three areas that require action immediately:

1)      Congress must amend or end the restrictions on the ability of federal officers to share information about guns with local law enforcement. These limits make it more difficult to solve gun crime and to answer the critical questions, where did the gun come from and who is arming our kids? When a mother asks those questions as she stands over the body of her murdered child, we must be able to answer them for her — but highly politicized congressional regulations still stand in the way.

2)      Congress must confirm a permanent director of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). Some in Congress, aided by pressure from the outside, have kept that critically important agency without a permanent director for almost 10 years — and have kept it chronically underfunded, which has limited the ATF’s ability to collect the data we need to fight illegal guns and solve gun crime.

Nothing should stand between law enforcement and the need to make our communities safer. Frankly, we could save many more lives if politics in Washington would get out of the way and let us do our jobs.

3)      We need a coordinated strategy to gather more information about the mental-health challenges that people who buy guns or seek gun licenses may be facing, and to set higher mental-health standards for gun permitting and ownership.

On top of those action items, we committed to even deeper collaboration across our borders between policy makers, law-enforcement partners, advocates and community.

That’s an important thing we did last week. On Wednesday of this week, I will be joining more than 50 other mayors from around the country — who, like me, are members of Mayors Against Illegal Guns — to push Congress to make these sensible reforms. In addition to the ones above, we will be fighting for:

  • Requiring a criminal background check for every gun sold in America.
  • Making gun trafficking a federal crime, with real penalties for so-called “straw purchasers” who knowingly buy guns for people who are legally barred from doing so.
  • Banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. There is no reason on earth for these weapons of war to be on our streets.

I am very encouraged by the effort to put an end to gun violence that Vice President Biden is leading on President Obama’s behalf, and look forward to the White House’s proposal later this month.

We are at a critical juncture and are making progress. Now, I know that if you turn on talk radio or cable news channels, it’s easy to believe that despite all the tragedy around us, nothing will change. But I believe this: the only way that we can guarantee that nothing will happen is if we assume that nothing will happen. And since we have no choice but to make change, we must believe that we will. That’s why we keep pushing forward.

Water service will resume today to buildings affected by water main break

Temporary service will be in place for six buildings until permanent repairs can be completed

Jan. 6, 2013 (MINNEAPOLIS) Water service will be restored for all customers who were affected by Thursday’s water main break around 10 p.m. this evening. Repairs to the broken water transmission line are ongoing, but a backup service using temporary lines is being put in place for the six buildings that have been without water since the break. The water will be available for household tasks, however, it will take about 24 hours to test the water to ensure it’s drinkable, so anyone who wants to drink the water in those buildings is advised to boil it first. City staff are notifying people in the affected buildings about the restoration of water service, and they will receive an update once the water testing is completed and it is confirmed to be safe to drink. Again, this advisory only applies to the six buildings that have been without water since the break, and other folks who experienced water issues on Thursday do not need to boil their water– it is safe to drink.

Approximately 14 million gallons of water flowed out of the system following a break in a water transmission line at a construction site Thursday afternoon. Crews have been working around the clock since that time to repair the break and restore normal water service. By Thursday evening, all but three blocks of 2nd Street North had water service fully restored, including every bar and restaurant in the area. The buildings that will be placed on a temporary water service are on 2nd Street North, between 3rd Avenue North and Hennepin Avenue.

Meanwhile, the City has reopened most streets affected by the water main break. In addition to removing water and ice, crews are also made sure the streets themselves were not damaged by the excess water. All streets are now reopened except two in the immediate vicinity of the break. While northbound Hennepin Avenue is open to traffic, two blocks of southbound Hennepin Avenue are closed, from 1st Street to Washington Avenue. A block of 2nd Street North is also closed, from Hennepin Avenue to 1st Avenue North.

Partnerships keep crime at historically low levels

Today I stood with Police Chief Janeé Harteau and top Minneapolis Police command staff as we released statistics that show that violent crime in 2012 was at the second-lowest level since 1983, and only slightly higher than the recent low of 2011.

In addition, violent and property crime together — called Part I crime — remains at low levels comparable to the mid-1960s.

Now as Chief Harteau said, while these numbers are good, we’re not satisfied with them, because even one crime is too many. We all have to remember that behind these numbers are not just crimes, but victims.

Some of the highlights of the statistics we released today are:

  • The number of violent crimes committed in 2012 was lower than any year since 1983, with the exception of 2011.
    • Violent crime rose 4% citywide in 2012 compared to 2011.
    • The largest decline in violent crime took place in the Fifth Precinct, where it fell 17.7% compared to 2011.
  • Violent and property crime combined (Part I crime) remained flat — rising only 1.3% compared to 2011 — and stayed at levels comparable to the mid-1960s.
  • Burglary, an enforcement priority of the Minneapolis Police Department in 2012, fell 6% citywide compared to 2011.
    • The largest decline in burglary took place in the Second Precinct, where it fell 12% compared to 2011.
    • This decline in burglary in 2012 erases a rise in burglary in 2011 and brings it back to the lower levels of 2009 and 2010.
  • The numbers of youth diverted or arrested for curfew and truancy violations increased 34% in 2012 compared to 2011.
  • The number of guns recovered increased 27.5% in 2012 compared to 2011.

Now it takes a whole city to keep a whole city safe. While there’s not just one thing we do to prevent and fight crime, but rather many things, much of our progress in 2012 in keeping crime at historically low levels is due to effective partnerships between police and community.

And that’s the story of the success in the Fifth Precinct this year, where violent crime fell almost 18%. Strong partnerships with neighbors there — particularly around so-called “hot spots,” where we specially target enforcement, prevention and engagement efforts — led to violent-crime drops of 28% in part of the Whittier neighborhood and 57% in Stevens Square. Representatives of those neighborhoods today praised the “ongoing commitment” and “multiyear partnership” between police and residents.

The story is similar in downtown Minneapolis. In the first part of last year, we were met with an upswing in crime — first from so-called youth “click mobs,” then later from a few problem bars and clubs. We responded with partnerships on multiple fronts: law enforcement, legal and regulatory staff, youth-service organizations, business organizations and others came together to reverse that trend and cut violent crime downtown during the second half of 2012 below levels recorded during the same period in 2011.

To me, the effectiveness of this partnership illustrates that even when we can’t predict or prevent crime, once it hits, we know how to come together to attack it and bring it down.

Preventing and reducing property crime is no less important: that’s why reducing burglaries was a police priority in 2012. The story of how that happened in the Second Precinct, where burglaries fell 12% last year, is similar: smart policing and community partnership. But some neighborhoods are still struggling with burglary, so in 2013, we will expand these effective burglary-reduction tactics to them.

It has indeed been a multiyear process to build a culture of community partnership and service in the Police Department. I’m pleased that Chief Harteau is committed to building on this success and taking it to new levels. As she said today, we are not a drive-through police department. Our response to the people we serve will be not only quick, but thorough and good.

As we look ahead to this year, we will meet the challenges we face with the same kind of collaboration and partnership. We won’t reinvent the wheel, but we’ll build on our success, expand what works and fix what doesn’t.

But whatever our challenges and whatever our success, we must not be satisfied, and must never forget those whom we have lost. Chief Harteau keeps on her desk a picture of 3-year-old Terrell Mayes, Jr., who was killed by a stray bullet in his home two Christmases ago. His killer has not been caught, in large part because people who have information about his murder have not come forward. So the culture of partnership must go farther and deeper.

Mayor Rybak, Green Bay Mayor Schmitt Place Friendly Wager on Saturday’s Wild-Card Game

At stake: Minneapolis sausages vs. Green Bay cheese

January 3, 2013 (MINNEAPOLIS) — Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt announced today have placed a friendly wager on the outcome of Saturday’s NFC wild-card game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers.

Mayor Rybak will wager house-made sausages from Minneapolis restaurant Butcher and the Boar, recently named Restaurant of the Year by the Star Tribune. Mayor Schmitt will wager BelGioioso cheese, along with Sno-cap Root Beer from Titletown Brewing Company and Beernsten’s Candies, all from Green Bay.

“Three hundred and sixty-two days a year, I represent a city near the border with many wonderful people from Wisconsin. Saturday night, however, my blood will run purple and Viking horns will spear the Cheeseheads,” Mayor Rybak said.

“I’m looking forward to giving new meaning to ‘Skol, Vikings!’ with a good chug of Green Bay root beer and a side of Green Bay cheese,” Mayor Rybak continued.