Monthly updates for Minneapolis Ward 12
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Council Member Andrew Johnson

Upcoming Events

12/29 - Ward 12 End of Year Happy Hour
12/30 - NENA Night Before NYE

12/31- Sibley Park New Year's Eve Family Skating Party 

1/25 - LCC Tenant Advocacy Discussion
1/28 - LCC Annual Winter Warming Party


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Updates from Andrew

Please join me this Tuesday the 29th for an end of the year happy hour at Parkway Pizza. As 2015 comes to a close let’s toast to our accomplishments, celebrate the holidays, and look forward to the coming year. Stop by anytime between 5pm and 7pm for this casual event.

This month we wrapped up the City budget for 2016, which will result in a property tax cut for most homeowners. It is a well-rounded budget which funds a number of important priorities. I was happy to take a leadership role on several of these:

I frequently hear from residents concerned about crimes that undermine our basic sense of safety, such as burglaries. One thief can hit dozens of homes over a period of months, so stopping them sooner is essential to making our neighborhoods saferThat's why I am happy to have successfully pushed for additional investigations personnel and resources. I also asked Public Works to bring forward a proposal to fast-track the rollout of LED streetlights, which was included in the budget and will not only reduce the City's energy consumption, but will save residents money in the long-term by lowering our energy bill. In the new year, I will continue working to make our City safer and more environmentally sustainable.

For Ward 12, I helped secure previously lost funding for Nokomis Healthy Seniors and Longfellow Healthy Seniors. These programs are vital to helping thousands of residents stay in their homes as they age, and to keeping them healthy both physically and mentally. As the number of seniors grow, such services are necessary to ensure that Minneapolis is a city for all residents. In the new year, I will continue working to attract more senior housing options and improving City services to be more senior-friendly.

Finally, I wanted to highlight the work around racial equity. I love Minneapolis, and we're a great city, but we also have egregious racial disparities and a responsibility to resolve them. Beyond the moral imperative, addressing racial inequities directly benefits all residents (for instance, you and I pay more in property taxes due to suppressed housing values in racially-concentrated areas of poverty.) That's why in this budget I am proud to report that we are *tripling* funding for restorative justice initiatives. This has been a priority of mine since taking office and prevents youth from entering the criminal justice system by helping get them back on the right track when they make mistakes. This budget includes funding for TechHire, an initiative to provide IT skills training to low-wage workers and people of color, enabling them to qualify for well-paying tech jobs. This budget fully funds enforcement for paid sick leave, an issue I have been a leader on and discussed in my previous newsletter. And I also co-authored two of three budget amendments to further racial equity by fast-tracking implicit bias and procedural justice training for our police officers and by directing staff to create a website for increased transparency and accountability of the various racial equity initiatives. In the new year, I will continue working to reduce systemic disparities so that Minneapolis is more prosperous for all residents.

This is our 2016 budget, a budget that not only includes these important initiatives and many others, but helps ensure that basic City services improve across the board while reducing property taxes for most homeowners. I am proud to have worked on it and to have represented you in 2016. A special thank to my staff and all City staff for their tremendous work.

Happy Holidays and I hope to see you on Tuesday!

Prevent fires this holiday season
Winter holiday celebrations often include cooking, heating, and candles, which are the top three causes of home fires. The Minneapolis Fire Department recommends a number of measures to help celebrate safely. Every home should have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms properly installed. When cooking, never leave the stove unattended, stay awake and in the house if the oven is being used, keep cooking areas clean of towels or oven mitts, and make sure children and pets are away from the oven and stove. For heating, residents should have their furnace inspected annually and furnace filters replaced monthly. If space heaters are used, it should only be in an occupied room, three feet from anything combustible (such as furniture, walls, drapes, or bedding), and never used while sleeping. Falling asleep with a cigarette is the number one cause of fire-related deaths, causing about half of them. People who smoke in their home should never smoke in bed, when tired, should use heavy, spill-proof ashtrays, discard cigarette butts only when completely extinguished, and keep matches or lighters away from children. 
Met Council seeks applicants for Equity Committee
Applicants interested in the Metropolitan Council's newly created Equity Advisory Committee should apply by January 4, 2016. This committee was established in October of this year, following the recommendations of a working group and four partner coalitions advocating for more equitable outcomes for people who live and work in the Twin Cities region. The committee will advise the Metropolitan Council in advancing equity in the region and create an annual work plan including policy questions from the Metropolitan Council and policy topics identified by the committee. The committee will have 21 members, representing geographic districts to assure region-wide representation, as well as people from different races, incomes, abilities, and backgrounds. It will include four sitting Metropolitan Council members. There will be two co-chairs including one Metropolitan Council member, and one member of the community. Terms will be staggered so approximately half the members will be up for reappointment every two years. More information on how to apply is available online or by calling the appointments coordinator at 651-602-1630. 
Winter Farmers Markets are in season
Thanks to winter farmers markets, local produce is still easy to buy. Many of the markets accept “electronic benefits transfer” cards as payment to give residents on federal food assistance easier access to fresh, healthy food. Buying food directly at a farmers market strengthens the community between the farmer and the eater, and it supports the regional economy by allowing the local farmer to keep 80 to 90 cents per dollar of sales. 
A list of winter farmers markets is available on the Homegrown Minneapolis website.  These markets have scheduled special holiday events and regular market days throughout the entire winter. 
Lake Hiawatha groundwater update
Plans for potential renovations to the Hiawatha Golf Course led to the recent discovery that a very significant amount of groundwater and surface water are being pumped out of the golf course. The next steps for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) staff and consultants are to measure the amount of groundwater and surface water in various locations, while continuing to have the pumps function. The majority of the measurement equipment is in place and data is being recorded but has not yet been collected. The MPRB is utilizing Barr Engineering as the consultant on this project, and their work will be peer reviewed by Dr. Otto D.L. Strack, an civil and geological engineering professor at the University of Minnesota. More complete information is available on the MPRB's website
Rules expand for community gardens
Recent changes in rules for leasing City-owned vacant lots for community gardens aim to make these gardens more easily accessible in a number of ways. Now 43 more City-owned parcels will be available for community gardeners to lease in 2016, bringing the total to more than 100. In addition to community gardeners, urban farmers and market gardeners will be eligible leaseholders. Leases can be for one, three or five year terms. The insurance liability requirement was decreased by $1 million. Lease agreements will require pollinator-friendly practices. These changes came about through the Homegrown Minneapolis Food Council’s 2015 policy recommendations in response to increased demand from residents for both community and commercial gardening space in the city. For more information on community gardens in Minneapolis, visit the Homegrown Minneapolis website

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