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R.T. Rybak: A Great Leader for a Great City Volunteer Contribute

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Day in the Life: Feb. 24

Just got back from a fascinating community meeting" Drug Court comes to the community"

Judges, attorneys, Minneapolis police and community groups came together to share experiences with drug court and see ways to make it better. I've been especially interested in this topic since two years ago when I went with an undercover police team to observe how they make drug arrests. That night our team included about eight police officers, in two cars...the first a decoy, those of us in the van with a camera. A drug buy was made, the police made the arrest and it was captured on camera. A couple days later I followed the person arrested into drug court where he was given a penalty and "geographic restrictions" that prevented him from going back into the area where the arrest was made. About a month later, we found out he was arrested again, and then again and again. This "revolving door" creates tremendous frustration for our police and certainly for the community. ...as well as those in the judicial system.
Tonight's meeting was one of several being held to make this system work better. I'm really looking forward to their recommendations, and have to applaud the judges who were open enough to bring the issue out to the community to look for ways to improve. I'm also hopeful the improvements can take advantage of the great restorative justice network that operates in these neighborhoods. (Thanks to the sponsors: Franklin Avenue Community Safety Center, Phillips Weed and Seed, Phillips Partnership, West Phillips Neighborhood, Powderhorn Park Neighborhood and Hennepin County Drug Court.)
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The day ended with crime issues, and it also stated that way. The Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee met to talk about coordinating public safety resources in downtown Minneapolis......Chief McManus and Inspector Rob Allen, who leads the downtown command and I have been working with the Downtown Council and the Building Owners and Managers Association on coordinating our police with building security and off duty police hired by businesses...to create a more unified force. Our city attorney has also focused on coordinated enforcement, as has County Attorney Klobuchar's office. Hennepin County has agreed to coordate its probation staff. And Chief Judge Lucy Weiland has made some real progress in working with our police and the attorneys to improve the effectiveness that cases move through their system. Her work is part of three years of efforts by Council President Ostrow, Council Member Niziolek and I to better coordinate courts and cops. -
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I had lunch at the Downtown Council meeting, where I pitched the Step Up program, hoping to get more business leaders to contribute summer jobs for our kids. The main speaker for the lunch was Vicki Tigwell, chair of the Metropolitan Airports Commission. She's speaking to a business groups these days trying to get support for a plan to expand the airport. During her presentation it was clear most of the group couldn't see the drawings so I held them up for her as she gave her talk. Too bad a photographer wasn't there....I can guarantee you there won't be many times when I'll be seen as part of a pitch on the airport.
In the question and answer period she was asked: Do you and Mayor Rybak agree or disagree on this plan. My answer was pretty direct: In 1996 there was a plan to expand the airport and in return we believe there was a very clear promise made to more than 6000 Minneapolis residents that they would get complete noise mitigation on their homes. Now the MAC wants to break that promise and use part of the money to expand the airport. So we are going to sue to protect those citizens. I think a better way would be to keep their promise, and instead of expanding the current airport, expand the Northstar Rail line to the St. Cloud airport, or high speed rail to Rochester's airport...where we could move some cargo flights and get a low cost carrier. More on this later.

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