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February 9, 2004 // UPDATED 2:52 pm - April 24, 2007
By: Scott Russell
Scott Russell

City, county host Black History Month lectures

The City of Minneapolis and Hennepin County are celebrating Black History Month with a weekly food and lecture series, each speaker addressing the theme: "Because they did...We can."

According to a joint news release:

Dr. Verna Price will speak Wednesday, Feb. 11, noon-1 p.m. in the Hennepin County Board, 300 S. 6th St., Room A-24. Price is president and principal consultant for J. Cameron & Associates and JCAMA Publishers. She has custom-designed a multiple intelligences approach that helps her clients rethink leadership and the role of personal power in the workplace. Sample Caribbean food starting at 11:30 a.m.

Sam Grant will speak from noon-1 p.m., Feb. 18 in the City Council Chambers, 350 S. 5th St., Room 319. Grant is cofounder of the Organizing Apprenticeship Project, which partners mentors with new community organizers and is a founding member of the Green Institute, which successfully developed a 70,000-square-foot environmental business incubator in south Minneapolis. He also teaches at Metropolitan State University. Sample soul food starting at 11:30 a.m.

Dr. Joseph White will speak noon-1 p.m., Feb. 25, Hennepin County Board Room (A-24). White has worked 42 years as a teacher, writer, consultant and practicing psychologist. He is has written three books: "The Psychology of Blacks: An African-American Perspective," "The Troubled Adolescent," and "Black Man Emerging: Facing the Past and Seizing a Future in America." His seminal article in Ebony magazine in 1970, "Towards a Black Psychology," was instrumental in the modern era of African-American and ethnic psychology. Sample West African foods starting at 11:30 a.m.

Park, library boards face broadcast hurdles

For those civic junkies who would choose to tune in the web or cable TV and watch their elected officials hash over the issues of the day, Minneapolis has a significant pubic access gap.

The City Council broadcasts its meetings on both cable and the Web through its state-of-the-art production facility in the newly revamped Council chambers, with remote-controlled cameras and on-screen graphics. If residents want to see the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Commissioners debate building a new marina or the Minneapolis Public Library Board members talk about the new Central Library, however, they have to go in person.

In the face of public criticism, the Park Board is trying to figure out how to televise its meetings. The Library Board has already given up.

The Library Board inquired last summer about meeting in the Council chambers so it could broadcast public hearings on its 2004 budget, said Library Director Kit Hadley. The board faced tough budget choices -- should it reduce library hours systemwide or take the controversial step of closing a library? -- and wanted to broaden its audience.

However, "it costs $100 an hour to broadcast the meetings. We can't afford that," Hadley said.

The only other group that uses the Council chambers to televise meetings is the Planning Commission, city Communications staff said.

Steven Ristuben, assistant city clerk, said the $100-an-hour fee pays for production staff overtime and for equipment wear and tear. (The city has a $20,000 annual maintenance contract on the video equipment, Communications staff said.)

Some Park Board critics are pressing to broadcast meetings. They point to the Dec. 17 meeting as one example for the need for easier public access. A deeply divided board voted to hire Superintendent Jon Gurban. He had neither applied nor interviewed for the position. The board took the vote with no public notice it would vote on Gurban or any other candidate for the job.

The Park Board recently bought a new riverfront headquarters but did not budget money to air its meetings. It asked Gurban to report later this month on broadcasting options.

The Park Board will face steep startup costs if it follows the city model. Ristuben estimated the City Council's production facility cost in the ballpark of $500,000.

City Council actions

1/30/04 meeting

Nuisance hearings: Council voted 13-0 to direct staff to improve the nuisance night hearing process, for those arrested for minor offenses such as consuming in public or loitering, by developing community service and pay-by-credit card options.

Market Square: Council voted 13-0 to rezone property at 275 Market St., 200, 746 and 810 Glenwood Ave. and 211 and 301 Lyndale Ave. N. for a 97-unit development.

Planning: Council voted 13-0 to approve $1.4 million for preliminary planning and feasibility studies on 14 projects, including $50,000 for Parcel A Downtown (bounded by 3rd and 5th avenues south and 1st and 2nd streets south); $12,500 for the 3rd Avenue Ramp/ballpark design; and $6,037 for Hennepin Avenue planning.

Lobbying: Council voted 13-0 to amend city's legislative agenda to include support for Gov. Tim Pawlenty's proposal to borrow $20 million this year as part of an effort to end homelessness by 2010.

Landlords: Council voted 10-1 to approve an ordinance to give Licensing staff increased authority to revoke licenses of landlords who repeatedly violate city codes. Dean Zimmermann (6th Ward) voted no. Natalie Johnson Lee (5th Ward) and Robert Lilligren (8th Ward) abstained.

Bike bridge: Council voted 13-0 to direct the City Engineer to get a limited-use permit from the Minnesota Department of Transportation to build and maintain a bike bridge in the I-94 right of way, connecting the Lowry Hill East and Loring Park neighborhoods.

I-35W expansion: Council voted 13-0 for a resolution opposing I-35W lane expansion between Downtown and Crosstown, except

for a fifth lane dedicated to bus rapid transit and high occupancy vehicles (three or more passengers).

I-35W Access: Council voted 9-3 to approve the preferred build alternative for the I-35W Access Project. Johnson Lee, Zimmermann, and Lilligren voted no, and Dan Niziolek (10th Ward) abstained. The Council voted unanimously to approve ongoing discussions with the state, Met Council and Hennepin County on project specifics, such as project financing and scheduling.

Legal fees: Council voted 13-0 to pay $54,230 to the lawyers representing Harry Johnson and others who sued the city for inverse condemnation arising from the failed LSGI redevelopment in the 1980s. The city lost an appeal at the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court ordered the city to pay opposing counsel.

Police chief: Council voted 13-0 to increase incoming Police Chief William McManus' salary from $116,000 to $135,000. The city sought and received a state salary cap waiver.

GMCVA: Council voted 13-0 to loan the Greater Minneapolis Convention and Visitors Association (GMCVA) up to $2.5 million from the city's Convention Center Fund for a joint venture start up with Eutech Cybernetics. They plan a Web-based service for event planners and convention associations to lower the cost of organizing large events. The loan will be repaid with interest no later than 2009, the current term of the GMCVA agreement.

Thanks: Council voted 13-0 for resolutions honoring outgoing Police Chief Robert Olson and Fire Marshall Tom Deegan.