Listen: 88083.wav

Gary Eichten interviews the leading candidates for mayor of Minneapolis. Lisa McDonald, DFL candidate and Sharon Sayles Belton, Incumbent DFL Mayor.

Read the Text Transcription of the Audio.

(00:00:00) With news from Minnesota Public Radio. I'm Stephen John members of Minnesota's largest state employees union plan to demonstrate outside of the Vikings training camp at Minnesota State University Mankato today, the informational battering is designed to draw attention to the possibility of a strike by state employees in September rank-and-file afscme members will vote on the state's latest offer beginning August 27th Twin Cities Lutheran Bishop Marcos Hansen was elected this weekend to be the next presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America as Bishop of the st. Paul Area, Synod Hanson was recently involved in a controversy over the ordination of an open lesbian at the st. Paul Reformation Church. Hansen says the ELCA supports gays and lesbians as members of the clergy, but only if they take a vow of celibacy, but he says there are many in the congregation that believe gays and lesbians in committed relationships should be ordained. We will live with that pension and we will live in that conversation and we will seek to to have it in a way that is both respectful of For pure and one another and it will continue. I I'm just aware of that as the new head of the one of the country's largest Protestant churches Hansen says he wants to bring more of a sense of diversity and unity to the Lutheran Church Anson starts his six-year term as Bishop November 1st Arden Hills based Land O Lakes is planning to absorb three dairy cooperatives in an effort to boost itself back into second place among the nation's largest milk suppliers experts say it's necessary to cope with rapidly consolidating Dairy markets the forecast calling for mostly sunny conditions Statewide highs around 70 Northeast to the low 80s in the Northwest. Maybe some thunderstorms in the northeast tonight right now Fargo Moorhead is sunny and 70 the same temperature in st. Cloud. It's 72 in Winona and in the Twin Cities that's news from Minnesota Public Radio. I'm Steven John. Thank you Stephen. It's six minutes now past 12:00. And good afternoon. Welcome back to midday in Minnesota Public Radio. I'm Gary eichten glad you could join us voters in the City of Minneapolis have quite a choice this year next month on September 11th. Minneapolis residents will win. Oh the race for mayor down to two candidates and the competition to finish among the top two is already pretty intense in all there are 21 candidates on the ballot, but four of them are generally recognized as the FrontRunner in today. And today we're talking with all four so you can get a better idea of just who they are and what they stand for last hour. We spoke with dfl rt Rybak and independent Mark sting line and later this hour, we'll be talking with incumbent dfl. Mayor Sharon Sales Belton, but to begin this hour we've been joined by city council member Lisa McDonald. Mrs. McDonald is a dfl her. She served on the Minneapolis city council since 1993, and she is Hang up her second term on the council Lisa McDonald. Thank you for coming in today. (00:02:56) Thanks caring for the (00:02:57) invite as we've asked the other candidates. Let me ask you. What do you see as the one or two big issues in this year's (00:03:04) campaign to issues. I think are the biggest in the city one is to get the city's Financial house in order and the second is to deal with the affordable housing crisis, which has occurred under the current mayor's watch. We've lost conservatively over 4,000 units in the last 10 years and Sharon has no plan to replace any of them nor does any of the other two (00:03:25) candidates? Mmm, what's wrong with the city's finances? (00:03:29) Well as somebody who's been a fiscal moderate since the day I walked in the door and has held the line the first four years with a fiscal moderate caucus on taxes and has had to vote against the last three budgets. We have a couple problems in our finances one is we continue to spend but we never cut we have the highest debt level and for example Most AAA cities have a debt level about Seventeen seventy per net and you know net debt per capita. Our city has 2680 net debt per capita to put that in simpler terms essentially every dollar that you send to us from your taxes 29 cents of it goes to pay debt. And I've also held the line on me you're spending as well as some of these big projects like Target blocky Etc. The second thing the city does is it robs Peter to pay Paul? So we're always taking money from one funding source to pay whatever the immediate need is without thinking about the fact that at some point you have to pay it back. It's not unlike people who get cash on their credit cards to pay their bills, but at some point you got to pay that credit card, (00:04:38) the mayor has said that given this changes in the state's property tax laws. It's going to be necessary to raise property taxes in the city. Would you agree with that? Would you support a tax increase? (00:04:52) Well, no, I think that the mayor's usual stance on this is always reactive not proactive. She is in a habit of blaming other people for the problems. She's now blame the city council the legislature for our financial issues. But let's face it. She makes the budget every year. She has the whole staff at her disposal. We only get to look at it for three weeks. So if there's a problem with the budget, I think it rests squarely at the feet of the mayor if she doesn't like the budget we come up with she can veto it. She's never done that and thirdly she sets the tax rate at the board of estimate and Taxation and we know from this year that she was virtually absent at the legislature when this tax rate change was coming down we've known for several years at the legislature was going to change the way we could use Tiff and was going to change the tax rate some cities like st. Paul were smart and decided to rein in their spending on be a little more fiscally responsible Sharon did not and to blame that on the legislature now, (00:05:52) I think it's absurd but given of what's happened. Would you support a tax (00:05:56) increase not until I get a handle on exactly where the money's going and let me tell you what I mean by that. First of all, I think that we have to go to What's called a zero-based budgeting approach. That means everything's on the table. Currently. We leave all the basic budgets intact in the Department's everything needs to be looked at. Secondly. I called two months ago for an independent review of the MC DA's finances. I mean we need to see where that money's going. What's redundant what could be cut. We also need to be more Innovative in terms of delivery of services. I'll give you an example of that. We're getting ready to do a brand-new asphalt plant rather than taking on the debt to put that together. Why don't we merge with a private concern several have expressed an interest? Let them fund The Debt Service for building the plant have two sets of silos and have a 20 to 50 year lease in the city gets to use that that's the kind of innovative stuff we need to do and last even though the mayor claims that the use of tax. Herman financing is not an issue it is because every one of those projects keeps taxes out of the general fund for as long as 20 years. So when prices go up costs go up wages go up. We need that money being funneled into the general fund in order to take care of those (00:07:08) needs. Now you mentioned housing is well and my understanding is that you're talking about what spending fifty million dollars a year on housing in the (00:07:18) city where we are correct? In fact, I am the only candidate with an affordable housing trust fund plan that could actually produce potentially 8,000 units in five years and the great thing about the plan which has been out there for four or five months is it doesn't require an increase in taxes. What it does is it floats 250 million dollars worth of affordable housing trust fund bonds, which would generate fifty million dollars a year up front for the first five years the repayment sources for that would be sources that we already are using in the city and are generally being used to buy political. Rivers or you know anything that the current leadership wants their Community Development block grant money home funds which come from the feds. We can bundle Section 8 housing certificates together and use them for cash. The public housing authority has been doing that quite successfully proceeds from the Hilton Hotel sale the trust fund we would take the interest that we learn off of that every year the 16 million dollars that and RP has set aside for housing. And then in 2010 most of the Tift a lot of the Tif districts roll over and will generate 20 million dollars into the general fund. We can take a portion of that to pay off these housing funds. The reason this plan works. Well is because it's a supply and demand issue. We simply do not have enough units. We have a one and a half percent vacancy rate during the time that I've had this plan out in the table. Nobody's been able to poke any holes in it. So it seems to me it would work pretty (00:08:47) well. What kind of housing are you talking about? Is this housing for people? Who are Dirt poor people who are making 20 grand a year people who were making 50 Grand a year. What kind of housing are you talking (00:08:58) about? This is a housing at 30 and 50% of the Metro median income which is considered affordable. This is basically the kind of folks that are working in the service sector industry people who are bus drivers receptionist's working at our hotels bolstering up our Convention Center business teachers on the lower end folks that basically are out there working but because of the wage situation cannot afford to place a place to live hmm, (00:09:27) the people in Minneapolis seemed generally satisfied, if you believe that Star Tribune poll in June 70% said the city was heading in the right direction doesn't sound like there's a big demand for huge overhaul at City Hall. (00:09:42) Well a couple of things about that survey one. It was not voters. It was just residents to it occurred before the article. The Star Tribune about the Target store debacle and certainly before all the recent events of the last couple of weeks. I've certainly done my own polling and what it indicates is that people are ready for a change. They may be okay with the way things are going but they think things could be better and I think that's really the issue is should the leadership in Minneapolis be doing a better job (00:10:15) does the Brian here and incident indicate that corruption is a problem in the city. (00:10:21) I don't think so. I think when this is all said and done with that, we're going to find that most of our Rank and file staff inspections fire department. CCP save will be exonerated in this deal. I think when you have an incident like the Ortega incident when you have four or five departments that have been working for five years to amass enough complaints for a license revocation. It seems to me hard to believe that there's an opportunity for collusion. I know that commissioner staying line indicated that the I is widening their investigation. I don't know if I would agree with that. I think that they're doing their homework and they're talking to everybody and certainly they may be looking and other elected officials but I don't get the impression that any particular staff members are problematic. Hey, I could be wrong about that and then we'll take the right action. But I think people have a right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. And I think if there's anything that we might want to look at is our process. How do we go about doing this stuff in the future (00:11:24) the Target store blocky developments your been very critical of those why I mean, it does seem like they will bring more life to the downtown area get a big store signature store from Target big Entertainment District in a city that used to be kind of the entertainment mecca for the Upper Midwest what could be wrong with those projects? (00:11:49) Well, there's a lot that's wrong with those projects. I'm the only candidate of the four who are running who basically led the charge against those because they're fundamentally flawed for a few reasons. First of all cities should be built for the people that live there and the projects that we should build should be Urban in nature eyesight our Theater District or the Milwaukee Road Depot as projects that you can't do in the suburbs both Target and blocky our Suburban style copycat projects the Target store. No one I know has feels there's any dearth of Target stores to shop at and it destroyed what was a very pedestrian friendly area on the mall that people loved it brought a lot of activity down there people like to sit around have lunch have coffee block. He's even more fundamentally a problem because it is funded over 20 years, but it's basically collection of restaurants movie theaters that you have to pay to park to use and a video arcade that you can get a drink at. I mean, I don't see anything enticing about that and the problem with retail is that it basically has To be every five to seven years. It has to be retooled City Centre is an example of that so I can tell you that we will be putting a lot more money into blocky and the Long Haul I found it interesting listening to both. Mr. Ryebeck and mr. Sting line who were silent when we were out there trying to lead the fight against these projects certainly. Mr. Ryebeck at the time was course working for targets. So he was not out there ahead of the bunch saying this is a problematic project. So for him to now say, oh I have a problem with it is a little bit disingenuous and commissioner sting line had an opportunity because every TIF district goes to the county to be reviewed. So if he has a problem with the amount of money that was spent on the target project. He certainly didn't say anything when the county had a chance to review it. What about schools in (00:13:40) the city? The mayor of Minneapolis does not have any direct control over the school system, but it is an essential part of the city. Fabric. No question about it. Is there something that the mayor of Minneapolis should be doing to try to make sure the schools are up to Snuff. (00:13:56) Certainly. We have an independent school district, but in the new economy schools are going to be incredibly important because people want to live in cities where they're clean, they're safe and they have good schools and I hear time and time again when I door knock and chat with people who have children How concerned they are about it. What can the mayor do as mayor? I would appoint a liaison person who did nothing but school stuff just keeping up on it. I would work with the school system to go to the legislature to talk to them about why Minneapolis has special needs we have an incredible immigrant population. We have a lot of kids with special needs that the federal government is in funding. We just deal with a lot of children who are in poverty. So we have a Front I think amount of children that have special needs compared to other areas. I think that we need to work together at the legislature. I also think that the mayor needs to make sure that affordable housing is taken care of because the school system will tell you almost 4,000 kids a year are constantly moving from school to school causes a very disruptive element in the classroom. And these kids can't get the education they need and so where we need to be partners with the school system is to try to help provide that housing that students need (00:15:10) police relations. What about all the crime rate? Let's start crime in the City of Minneapolis. Do you still the crime rate has gone down substantially. Do you see crime as a non issue at this (00:15:23) point Heavens? No, once again when I door knock depending on what part of the city you're in people have different opinions on that and some people don't think it's down you talk about the crime rate being down what's happened is part one crimes was the most vicious crimes are down overall, but Per capita crime is not down in 1966 with a hundred thousand more residents than we now have in Minneapolis. The crime rate was 52 crimes per thousand people today in 2000. The crime rate with a hundred thousand less citizens is 73 crimes 4,000 people. So while the part one crime rate may be down part one crimes per capita are (00:16:03) up and what would you do about that is the mayor? (00:16:07) Well, I think that one of the issues that people feel about the police department is that they don't sense that there's a police presence on the street and I really think I found it interesting commissioner Stern line at talking about the car issue people want the cops out of the cars on the street walking a beat on a bicycle. They want that presence because you don't really know what's going on in the same way and you don't have the relationships with the citizens when you're in a car with the windows rolled up. So that's the very first thing we have to do the second thing. Is that the current chief who I did not vote to Rio. Point has basically decentralize the department and in doing that what has happened is that he's created much more Management on the top and less officers out on the street and I don't think that's a good plan. I think that where we should be deploying. All of our forces is out on the street where they can have the most effect (00:16:58) so you would not reappoint Robert (00:17:00) Olson. I did not vote for his reappointment and I would not reappoint him and it's because basically he has neither the confidence of the citizenry nor the (00:17:09) rank-and-file right racial profiling. Is that a big issue with the Minneapolis Police Department? (00:17:14) Well, I think that it's a big issue in terms of the way both Chief Olson Insurance Sales Belton have handled it. Basically they are so behind the curve compared to st. Paul which jumped on it took some active steps worked with the community secondly code for which is a policing policy that the mayor and the chief of adopted is part of why we have racial profiling it basically focuses crime efforts in a certain area often in a Over hood that is predominantly black. The third thing is that in terms of the statistical stuff that we've been collecting the statistics we collected were so bad that basically the Council on crime and Justice said they were useless and Sharon and chief Olson have not turned this around in a way to engage everyone to get a solution to this. If I were mayor I'd be talking to the rank-and-file to management on the police department to the community because after all this impacts them the most to come up with some standards that we could live with and to do some statistical analysis that would really show us where the problem lies and if we have one (00:18:20) you think race is a big problem in the city bad race roll race (00:18:23) relations. I think it is. I think that we're seeing a little bit more of that as we have larger groups of immigrants move into the city. I mean, I'm not from here originally I'm from Cleveland, Ohio, but I've lived here 25 years and we've had such a systemic change in the Last few years in terms of the amount of Somalian Hispanic Hmong. Plus there's the African-American Community here that yes, I think it is an (00:18:48) issue. Anything the mayor can do to make things better. (00:18:53) Well, I think the mayor needs to help all those folks integrate better into the fabric of society and it's not necessarily about social service programs particularly in the Immigrant Community. It's about they have this incredible entrepreneurial Zeal and they want to go out and start a business and we need to help facilitate that process (00:19:11) talking with commissioner sting line last hour. And he was saying that parts of the city are just filthy and much much more needs to be done in terms of cleaning up the city making it a more attractive place. And so people feel better about City. Would you agree with (00:19:25) that? Oh certainly and I'm certainly glad to see the commissioner staying aligned agrees with attacked I've taken for the last year and a half focusing on graffiti cleaner City Etc. But commissioner staying lines solution, which is to sweep the streets every month. It's an additional 12 million dollars a year or so, it would be interesting to see where he intends to get that money. I think that one of the things we need to look at is how can we are? For example provide better garbage pickup on all of our commercial corridors. That's the first issue is there's no place to throw the garbage away then look at potentially one more street sweeping a year because of the Watershed District. Look at helping business associations do a clean sweep effort in their particular areas beefing up our graffiti efforts particularly cleaning off all the public infrastructure that it takes months to get cleaned off and having a Greener City. I think more emphasis on trees flowers plants water elements, all of that creates a sense of Pride that people want to pick up after themselves, but it comes at a cost and it comes at a price and people need to realize that (00:20:32) should the city spend any public money on trying to keep the big sports teams in town that have twins in the (00:20:37) Vikings. Well, I certainly think that I'm a big baseball fan, but I believe that we should pay for baseball by buying a ticket and I think the citizens in Minneapolis have said over Wyoming lie that they want to cap their contribution at 10 million dollars. So the next mayor if an opportunity comes because the legislature puts together a package is going to have to work with the private sector and potentially maybe Hennepin County to fill in the gaps because citizens have said 10 million is it and I'm going to honor that I'm not going to try to get around that with any gimmicks. (00:21:13) What about the neighborhood revitalization program now that's been 20 million dollar a year project to get money out into the neighborhoods with the state property tax law changes the mayor current mayor Sharon cells belt and says that money will have to be cut back in the NRP program. Would you make similar Cuts proposed similar Cuts in that program? (00:21:37) Well, as I said earlier and this is another area where there's been no leadership on the mayor's part because she literally wasn't even on a radar screen until the last two weeks of the special session at the legislature. I think that inner peace of Program I think we need to look at the best parts of it since we probably will not be able to fund all of it. And that's why I asked for an independent review of the McD a because those two programs are linked together and we need to make sure we need to look at where ever we can free up some cash to fund NRP. I would not be adverse if citizens wanted to take it out for a public referendum. I would support that if people want to pay more taxes in order to fully fund it I think that's a decision that they should make but within the framework of what the mayor can do. I think we're going to have to concentrate particularly on the housing element of NRP in terms of the funding sources. We currently (00:22:27) have do you think that program is accountable and off the way the money is actually been spending the past is there enough combat ability there. (00:22:34) I mean, I think there are a couple of times we've had some problems but overall if you look at the benefits that NRP has provided in the city, it's been phenomenal our housing stock 70% of it was built before 1930 and we've seen Revitalization of our housing stock because of the money that NRP has put into that as well as into amenities that citizens want Parks Green Space neighborhood identification. I would say that we have one or two instances where we've had problems, but generally it's been a very good (00:23:07) program. What would mayor McDonald do about airport noise in Minneapolis? (00:23:12) Well, certainly one of the first things I would do would be to sit on the Mac the mayor can either appoint someone or sit on the Mac or self and that would be a priority for me. Secondly. I would engage in an environmental study of noise and pollution provided by the airport. First of all, just to give us a benchmark about where we're at and secondly to potentially use analytic ation strategy people need to realize that Northwest Airlines has received over a billion dollars in subsidy from the state of Minnesota. They owe it back to the citizens to provide quieter planes and more noise insulation. And I think it's got to be probably a third or fourth on the list priority. Mayor because it impacts a lot of South Minneapolis. (00:23:53) Is there any way that you would think about using Minneapolis City money to help supplement the Metropolitan airports commission's noise insulation program. Apparently they have decided that more people need the insulation but they don't have the money to and so I think that's the (00:24:08) responsibility of the mac and let me tell you why we have one of the very lowest Landing fees nationally and we could raise it and still be one of the lowest Landing fees nationally and anybody who's been to the airport recently is noticed about all the new businesses Etc. The Mac is making a lot of money and a lot of tests sales tax Etc off those businesses. We should Lobby to get that money dedicated to fund the noise insulation program (00:24:34) and I ask you this if you couldn't vote for yourself September 11th, who would you vote for for mayor in Minneapolis? It would depend on the matchup (00:24:42) between the various (00:24:43) candidates. What does that mean? (00:24:45) Well, you know the lesser of two evils and who would that be? um You know, I really couldn't say unless I gave it some thought no one's asked me that question. Yeah, that's a great (00:24:56) question. Well, I want to give you a minute here before we wrap up to make a little pitch for the votes. (00:25:03) Well, okay. Thanks Gary. Certainly. I think that I found it interesting that commissioner sting line said he was the true independent, but the independence party endorse me and across endorsement. So I think that they think I'm the true independent. I'm a moderate Democrat fiscally very responsible, but socially very inclusive after all what a mayor does has to be first and foremost about people and it has to be about including them and considering them. The mayor is the salesperson for the city and the chief designer, and I've got a reputation in a track record for having been out there in front of his shoes for the citizens and people won't need to worry about where I'm coming from I and I've got the vision. I've got the leadership and even more important. I've got the can do get it done skills that you need to have in order to make Minneapolis a better City. (00:25:50) Well, good luck to you and thanks for Again today thanks Our Guest this half hour Minneapolis city council member and Minneapolis. Mayoral candidate Lisa McDonald, by the way, if you missed this particular interview, it'll be on a 10-2 night. We're going to be rebroadcast all four of these interviews from 9:00 to 11:00 this evening here on Minnesota Public Radio. It's 12:30 now and we're going to take a break for news headlines. And when we return we'll be talking with incumbent. Mayor Sharon cells Belton, but right now Stephen John joins us with some headline Stephen. Thank you. Gary. President Bush is mixing golf with Middle East diplomacy during a round of golf near his Texas ranch Bush told reporters the Israelis and Palestinians need to work harder for peace an 800 official calls The Landmark peace Accord in Macedonia a light in something. That was a Darkness macedonia's rival political leaders have signed a peace pact aimed at ending six months of Bloodshed. It gives ethnic albanians a larger share of power jurors and Texas have heard from an attorney for Bridgestone Firestone. Who says the Wasn't responsible for a rollover crash involving a Texas family in opening statements in a tire defect trial the lawyer blamed Ford for the accident saying the Ford Explorer is uncontrollable at highway speeds weather is helping wildfires Char thousands of acres in Nevada extremely dry conditions, lightning packed thunderstorms and high winds have pushed a series of large fires across the state blazes are also burning in California Washington and Oregon a former executive at Northwest Airlines is getting into the doughnut business. Stephen. Gorman has been named North American president of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Gorman spent five years at Northwest. He resigned last week as head of the carrier's Technical and flight operations charges are pending against an 18 year old Minneapolis, man who allegedly carjacked an SUV in st. Paul with a 62 year old woman still in it, the woman suffered minor injuries when she jumped from the vehicle police found it about two hours later MnDOT reminds motorists in the Twin Cities to stay. Off the wet paint striping crews are working to maintain Lane markings on the roads. It takes about three minutes for the paint to dry the forecast today calling for mostly sunny conditions dry highs around 70 Northeast to the low 80s in the Northwest maybe a thunderstorm in the northeast tonight and then tomorrow a chance of thunderstorms mainly in the north currently. It's 66 degrees in Duluth. Pipestone has 68 69 in Rochester and it's 72 in the Twin Cities this hour and that's a news update from Minnesota Public Radio. All right. Thank you Stephen. It's about 27 minutes. Now before one o'clock midday on Minnesota Public Radio. And today we are talking with the four leading candidates for mayor Minneapolis next month on September 11th and hapless voters will decide which two candidates for mayor will move on to the November general election, and no needless to say the voters will have lots of candidates to choose from there are 21 candidates count them 21 candidates on the nonpartisan primary ballot today on midday were talking with the four candidates who are given the best chance of finishing in the Top two next month. We've already heard from DF ehlers Lisa McDonald in RT Rybak and independent candidate Mark sting line this final hour. We're talking with incumbent dfl. Mayor Sharon Sales Belton who is running for a third term as mayor. She was first elected to the city council in 1983 and then was elected mayor in 1993 Sharon cells Belton. Thank you for coming in (00:29:13) today. So it's my pleasure to be here Gary. (00:29:15) Now. What do you see as the one or two big issues this time around? (00:29:19) Well, generally I think there's three but the two top ones are that I think are going to get the bulk of the play during the election are number one affordable housing and number two education everybody Across. The Nation is a talking talking about affordable housing in the fact that there is a shortage of housing a for people across the Spectrum. It's not just low income housing, but it's also housing for our aging population. They too are looking for the opportunity to move out of their homes and move into a housing. That's more. Fitting that the lifestyle that they want to have as they get upwards in age one percent vacancy rate is what we've got in the City of Minneapolis. And what we need is production. (00:30:02) How do you as mayor plan to Spur that (00:30:06) production? Well, one of the things that I've been doing on the national level is drawing of the attention of the problem to Congress, it's hard to believe that our national representatives are not you know familiar or attuned to this problem. So the US Conference of Mayors, I've been leading a task force on investing in America's cities and my special focus is on housing. We've had lots of conversations with mr. Martinez from a HUD and it's well the Bush Administration to remind them that they have a role to play in making sure that Americans are adequately house. We're putting together a three-prong Approach at the national level that talks about more money from the federal government. We want more tax credits. We want more money in the home program. We are So want them to support a partnership with us between the Mortgage Bankers of America and the national Builders Association again, so that we can put in a folks to work for us with mortgages out there that are affordable to people who are at the low end of the of the housing scale. So we're working hard on trying to get all of our partners involved. Secondly. I'm working a with a met Council to try to get our mayor's across the metropolitan area focused on this agenda. We all have our own perspectives about the affordable housing problem. In fact a year ago. We were all defining it differently. That's not the case anymore. Thanks to a task force that I co-chaired along with the mayor of Lakeville. Our goal was to get it get everybody on the same page in the problem. And then to try to address the barriers that keep us from building the housing in this legislative session because of our work we were able To get laws change that affect zoning and also a laws change with regard to petitioning the government so that you could even get the question of affordable housing before the policymakers. These are great breakthroughs for us in the Twin Cities area at home. What I've done in this budget framework that I put forward to the city council last week was to say in spite of all the changes that we are experiencing in our community because of changes at the state with regard to the 2001 tax bill. We are still going to honor all of our commitments to build affordable housing in the City of Minneapolis will pull the tax increment dollars that we have yet available to us to work in this particular area. And of course, we have other your money's of from the federal government through cdbg, so we're going to take this three-prong approach and I am convinced that we are going to be able to make a significant and a meaningful. Difference in increasing the amount of affordable housing that's available in Minneapolis for low-income people and as well housing for our (00:33:02) seniors. There was a recommendation a couple of years ago that the city should be spending fifty million dollars a year on housing and that particular year. There was a ten million dollars allocated in the next four years if you're re-elected. Do you see that that funding from the city never mind the federal government or Regional government? So it so from the city you think the city should be spending 50 million a year on (00:33:26) that. I think the City of Minneapolis does not have 50 million dollars to a spend on affordable housing and one of the things that I said to the affordable housing advocacy Community is that we need Partners here. We need the private sector the philanthropic community and others to be our partner in making available some 15,000 housing units that they believed were needed at this time. This the know Number is significant. And again, the thing that I think we have to do is make steady progress and we have to bring our partners to the table. But by itself Minneapolis cannot solve this problem (00:34:06) the other folks that we've spoken to today all have suggested that there's really no reason to raise property taxes. As you have proposed that reallocating money is there's there should be plenty of money available to fund needed Services priorities in the city without raising property taxes, and that in fact, that would be one of the worst things you could do if you want to keep people in the city and give them a nice place to live and so on, (00:34:33) you know, one of the things that people often say is that you don't need taxes to perform, you know more taxes to perform city services, but what they're not doing is they're not aware of and I think some of my Challengers are not We're of the issues that are facing the city for five years. Now. We've been talking about a crumbling infrastructure and the city council and me as the mayor of been talking about reinforcing and strengthen our infrastructure so that it continues to serve the citizens and serve the citizens. Well well to do that it cost money and while we issue bonds generally to provide this activity the bonds have to still be paid for and they're paid for by taxes that are generated and at the same time the citizens have an expectation that they would have a higher level of service from government. They want information provided to them electronically now, not manually they want to go into their computers and access information about the city in order for us to speak to our citizens through technology. We have to make technology Investments again that cost money and one of the things And I'm not afraid to do as the mayor of the City of Minneapolis is to share with people the cost associated with the services that they want to purchase. Now when we initially made our investments in public safety back in 1995 in response to the growing crime rate. We did go into City Hall and and in our city operations in pool some 15 million dollars out of our general operating budget and dedicated and focus it on Public Safety. We tightened our belt. We you know starved ourselves if you will in some cases because we needed to make the investment in public safety. So I know how to do that as well. What I don't know how to do is to tell people I'm going to do something and give them a service and then not find a way to pay for it and I have people who are sitting on the city council right now who are candidates for mayor who have said I want to buy this I want to buy that and if not ever voted for the budget, too. For the services that they want to buy that's not right and that's irresponsible. I will stand behind the budgets that I proposed and I will defend the Investments of that. We are making when they are in the interest of the citizens of the City of Minneapolis, (00:37:07) you mentioned education as being a big issue of the mayor doesn't have any real control over the schools. But what would you do as mayor over the next four years to try to beef up the education system in the in the (00:37:20) city first? Let me mention just quickly what I've done in the last two years in the last two years. We've been not shifting our Focus but expanding our Focus to pay attention particularly to Children achieving academic performance at grade level, and I've been focusing on my interest on K3 education. We launched a program two years ago called everybody reads. We wanted to make sure that every child in our public schools that were in K3 were reading at grade level. Organize a group of volunteers coming into the schools working in cooperation with the Senior Resource Center and a loaned executive that I had actually gotten from one of our local companies Ceridian and we really try to get into the schools and give our children access the volunteers and mentors who could help them with their reading we're going to take that program Gary and we're just we're going to expand it. We're going to expand it to include parents. We're going to expand it to include our teachers and the student and get all three of them in our gate grades k-3 focused on an individual educational program that's designed to ensure that their reading and doing math at grade level. The research tells us that if we can accomplish that we are less likely to see these children fall behind academically and have trouble socially we think this is important and we think it's critical and right now I'm working with our teachers union. I'm working with the Superintendent of schools and with parent organizations to try to see if we can't make this happen. If we are successful in our rec and our initiative here, we believe in the long term more and more of our students are going to be able to graduate from high school and ready to take on the challenges of being adults and we will certainly make sure that the children in our public schools have the solid foundation that they need in order to continue their education. The mayor of the City of Minneapolis can play a critical role in the issues of education and a community and I will tell you that this is one of the areas that I have been, you know outstanding in my leadership with regard to moving the Minneapolis public schools forward and ensuring that our schools are can provide an excellent education for our City's children. (00:39:50) Lots of criticism as you know about the Target store development downtown and there have been suggestions that that project along with several other development projects of have put the city finances on Shaky Ground in retrospect looking back. If you had it all to do over again, would you support the level of subsidies that that you do the city ended up providing to the Target development? (00:40:17) First of all, let me say that there are over 22 cranes in the downtown a Skyline that are helping to build and grow our economy and they represent some two billion dollars in private sector investment. I don't think that there's a city in the state nor in the region with the exception of Chicago that can boast of that kind of economic investment on the part of the private sector. So we have a lot to be proud of and I think it bodes well for Minneapolis is Future. Now specifically on the question of Target, I think target is going to be a great project for the downtown. There's over 145,000 workers who are in the downtown today and that number will grow by another 5,000 over the next five to six years 25,000 people are living in downtown. We've already exceeded our 2010 goal to create opportunities for residential living in the downtown and the downtown has to serve the workers and the residents that live there and an are surveying of both residents and workers. They wanted access to mid-priced retailing and we had lots of conversation as well as well over the last 10 years with the target Corporation about their presence in the downtown and they didn't want to be in the basement of City Center. They didn't want to be in a city center project. They wanted to be have a presence on Nicollet and we created an opportunity for them to have a So an egg lit and as well, I think bring much-needed parking into the south end of the Nicollet Mall the Target store I think is going to facilitate the continued growth and development of downtown Minneapolis and the south end of the mall in particular and I think in the long run, it will prove to be an exciting and a meaningful catalytic investment in Downtown Minneapolis. And I say the same for blackie blackie is on Hennepin Avenue Hennepin Avenue is our entertainment Corridor. I was one of the facilitators of getting that Corridor a jump start with the restoration of the State Theater and the Orpheum Theater and look what that's done to that one end of Hennepin Avenue. I want to take that same enthusiasm and energy and move it forward and move it North down Hennepin blocky. We'll be are 100% entertainment intersection and people will have a chance to do the fun game works. They'll eat an exciting and wonderful restaurants that are proving to be drawers and other major cities all over the country and the lights will be shining bright 24 hours a day 7 days a week on blocky and you know what I believe will show I believe blocky will help us to again move that energy and that excitement down Hennepin Avenue to the world class Planetarium and new Central Library that is being planned right now. (00:43:33) The Brian Heron incident raised the Specter of corruption in Minneapolis city government word that we seldom hear in conjunction with government in Minnesota in any city is is there more there is We expect more Revelations are the more people being shaken down more people on the take. (00:43:56) I don't think so Gary. I did talk to the US attorney on the day of our initial press conference reporting Brian's confession of extortion and the US attorney told me at that meeting that there were no other elected officials that were being investigated. They were investigating the possible involvement of an employee but that wasn't but they didn't have any facts right now and that investigation would would continue we pledge to them that we would cooperate with them fully as a city and we also indicated that we would start our own investigation. I know that there are talking to members of the city council right now to determine whether or not they, you know knew anything or have any insights or to share. But I am under the impression and and I am of the belief that Brian herons our behavior is just that the behavior of an individual and it was criminal and he will be held accountable for it. But the elected officials that serve in the City of Minneapolis and in the state of Minnesota are good and decent and honest people who just want to do the right thing. Unfortunately anytime any elected official does something wrong it taints all of government and I think that's because people generally don't trust government and what we have to do is help people know that in Minneapolis. The government is honest. It is forthright. And when we find people who violate that we will help them hold them accountable for their actions and that Is happening right now. (00:45:52) What about police relations in the City of Minneapolis continuing complaints, especially relay in relation to the African-American Community. What do you think needs to be done? If anything to make that situation better over the next four (00:46:06) years? Well, what I want to tell you is that I've grown up in the Twin Cities and I believe that police-community relations are improving where we're at a stage in our relationship with the police that we are talking with one another and we're planning law enforcement strategies together and eyewitness that a couple of nights ago and we did National Night Out and I've seen it every every year that the National Night celebrations have taken place and in community meetings all over the city. That's a good thing right now the police Administration and the community are sitting down. And talking about racial profiling and we're examining the procedures that we have adopted in the City of Minneapolis. And we're getting additional input from the community. Those meetings aren't cantankerous. They are hostile. They're really good meetings where people are expressing their ideas in a manner that is respectful and it's great. So I believe that there's a lot of good things in store for the City of Minneapolis with regard to a police community relations, but let's not fool ourselves and believe that we still don't have a bias and some of the policing that occurs on the streets of the City of Minneapolis, and there isn't profiling that take place on the part of us some officers, but it is our goal to eliminate it and it is Our intention to when we find it to hold those officers accountable for their behavior and and there's no doubt in the minds of I think members of our police force that the City of Minneapolis is absolutely committed to Fair honest decent respectful (00:48:11) policing The Challengers that we've spoken with today none of them were well they're their attitudes very little bit but nobody seemed to be too enthusiastic about your choice of police chief Robert Olson if you are a reelected will you reappoint (00:48:26) him well, you know Robert Olson is appointed on a cycle that's just slightly different from that of the other Charter Department had specifically because in elections the police chief is always often used as a you know, a point of contention and we're not gonna let that happen in this Minneapolis election the police chief is already been appointed and he's been appointed for a three-year term. So his term will overlap this election. So if I'm re-elected he stays serving out his term and if the others are elected, maybe they'll have to buy out his contract and send him on his way. I believe Robert Olson has been doing a good job as the chief of police in the City of Minneapolis. And I feel very good about the fact that the crime rate is down to a 34 year low and it was our intention to really affect serious crime in the City of Minneapolis like homicide and rape and burglary and again, I have not forgotten and I don't think other people have either that in 1995. There was a record number of homicides in the City of Minneapolis, and they involve very young. Children and most of those children were African-American and what we have done through our initiatives through our efforts is to cut that homicide rate down and all other serious part one crime more and more people are focusing their issues on livability crimes, like loitering and prostitution and graffiti and vandalism and they're reporting those crimes and we think that's good because we do have a strategy in place that helps us focus on livability crimes. We have a community Court. We have Community restorative justice programs that are designed to hold people accountable for the livability crimes that they they cause our (00:50:38) community public money for the twins in the Vikings (00:50:41) public money for the twins in the Vikings. Yeah, that never goes away. Well our citizens in Minneapolis have said Ten million dollars and I think that's fine for them to Define that here's what I said about it. I'm not going to spend more than the taxpayers in Minneapolis want to spend but one of the things I think we need to do at the state level and our conversations and even locally as we continue to discuss this issue is that we have to be able to convince the public that we have first taken care of our critical business if our critical business is Public Safety then tell me we got Safe Streets if our critical business is making sure that people have adequate housing then demonstrate to me that you as a state and as a community are dealing with the issue of the housing shortage show me that you are willing to make the critical investments in transportation infrastructure. So that people can get to work across this Metropolitan region if we do those three things and do them. Well, I think the public will acknowledge the fact that amenities like access to professional sports. Art and culture and all these other important, you know Community elements are important and should be supported by the community but it's got to be first things first and I think that's education. I think that's Transportation. I think it's housing and I think it's Community (00:52:07) safety political question the Star Tribune poll that was taken in June indicated that about 60% of the people in Minneapolis generally approve of your performance in office, but they many of them said they were open to voting maybe for somebody else. You were denied your party's endorsement this past spring. Why is there not more enthusiasm for mayor Sharon sales belt and specially among dfl has your own party members. Well, (00:52:31) first of all, I like the fact that there's a 60% approval rating of my performance as mayor. I feel really good about that. I feel really great about the fact that 70% of the people in the poll said the city is moving in the right direction and when you're pulling that that train forward and People are feeling good about the direction. You're moving in moving in. I think it leaves one again feeling proud. And I think what I have to do is I have to reminder the voters in the City of Minneapolis each and every day how hard I work in order to affect that kind of change and that the work that I'm doing in the City of Minneapolis is not the short-term kind of work of that a lot of politicians engage in but really long-term more work that's focused on the future and that when we do that, we secure our high quality of life of for years to come that's the kind of work that I've been doing Gary and I've got to go out there door to door and let people know that remind them (00:53:34) of that. All right. Well, let me give you a minute to remind everybody why it is you want to be (00:53:38) re-elected. Well, first of all, one of the things I'd like to say is that under the leadership of Sharon Sales Belton we've seen the crime rate in the City of Minneapolis. It dropped to an all-time low 34 Year low crime in the City of Minneapolis. I think that bodes well last year alone 3,000 people who are otherwise not gainfully employed now have access to living wage jobs that pay benefits, you know, what happens when you have strong families strong families will support healthy children and healthy children will do better in school and healthy children will be position to again take their place in our business community and ended in the Civic life of our city as the mayor of the City of Minneapolis. I'm help make those things happen since I was first elected mayor the City of Minneapolis has had 12,000 brand new jobs two billion dollars worth of private sector investment. The riverfront has been forever changed because of my work Gary I feel proud of it and all people have to do is look out in their neighborhoods and across the city and they can see the progress and the prosperity (00:54:46) we're out of time. But thank you for coming in today. (00:54:48) It was my pleasure to be here. (00:54:50) Sharon Sales Belton, who is Seeking a third term as the mayor of Minneapolis if you missed our interviews with the leading candidates will be re broadcasting this entire program from 9:00 to 11:00 tonight. And on Wednesday get a chance to hear from the candidates for mayor of the city of st. Paul. So hope you can join us Gary eichten here. Thanks for tuning in today. (00:55:09) There are some sweet sounds in Minneapolis. It's the 34th Annual Gospel Music Workshop of America. I'm Kathy Wars ER that story and all the news tomorrow on Morning Edition from 4 to 9 on Minnesota Public Radio, Canada. Will you FM? You're listening to Minnesota Public (00:55:27) Radio. We have a sunny Sky 72 degrees at Kenner wfm 91.1 Minneapolis. And st. Paul Sunshine through the afternoon with a high about 76 degrees partly cloudy tonight with an overnight low in the low to mid-50s tomorrow little bit warmer partly cloudy with a high from 80 to 85. It's one o'clock.


Digitization made possible by the State of Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, approved by voters in 2008.

This Story Appears in the Following Collections

Views and opinions expressed in the content do not represent the opinions of APMG. APMG is not responsible for objectionable content and language represented on the site. Please use the "Contact Us" button if you'd like to report a piece of content. Thank you.

Transcriptions provided are machine generated, and while APMG makes the best effort for accuracy, mistakes will happen. Please excuse these errors and use the "Contact Us" button if you'd like to report an error. Thank you.

< path d="M23.5-64c0 0.1 0 0.1 0 0.2 -0.1 0.1-0.1 0.1-0.2 0.1 -0.1 0.1-0.1 0.3-0.1 0.4 -0.2 0.1 0 0.2 0 0.3 0 0 0 0.1 0 0.2 0 0.1 0 0.3 0.1 0.4 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.4 0.5 0.2 0.1 0.4 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.2 0 0.4-0.1 0.5-0.1 0.2 0 0.4 0 0.6-0.1 0.2-0.1 0.1-0.3 0.3-0.5 0.1-0.1 0.3 0 0.4-0.1 0.2-0.1 0.3-0.3 0.4-0.5 0-0.1 0-0.1 0-0.2 0-0.1 0.1-0.2 0.1-0.3 0-0.1-0.1-0.1-0.1-0.2 0-0.1 0-0.2 0-0.3 0-0.2 0-0.4-0.1-0.5 -0.4-0.7-1.2-0.9-2-0.8 -0.2 0-0.3 0.1-0.4 0.2 -0.2 0.1-0.1 0.2-0.3 0.2 -0.1 0-0.2 0.1-0.2 0.2C23.5-64 23.5-64.1 23.5-64 23.5-64 23.5-64 23.5-64"/>