Ten candidates file for St. Paul ranked-choice mayoral race

Posted on 10 October 2017 by Calvin

Instead of seeking a fourth term, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman has decided to run for governor. Ten candidates have filed for the mayoral race. The ranked-choice election is set for Nov. 7, 2017.

Sharon Anderson
Anderson ran unsuccessfully for the mayor’s office in 2005, 2009, and 2013. In the past, she has also sought the Ward 2 Council seat and ran as a Republican candidate for the office of Minnesota Attorney General and Minnesota Senate District 64. In fact, Anderson claims to have run for public office every year since 1970.

If elected, Anderson would downsize all city departments, combine DSI with health, combine sheriff and police, and elect the city attorney and police chief.

Melvin Carter
Carter formerly served as the Ward 1 St. Paul Council Member, was Director of the Minnesota Office of Early Learning, and is currently Executive Director of Governor Dayton’s Minnesota Children’s Cabinet.

Carter lists his priorities as: lifelong learning and opportunity from pre-K to career to retirement; raising the minimum wage in St. Paul; creating new jobs by making it easier to start and grow local businesses; ensuring households of all sizes and ages can affordably rent or own a home; making sure everyone feels safe by ensuring police, firefighters, and inspectors reflect and honor the diversity of St. Paul and have the resources they need to succeed; and making 21st century infrastructure and service investments that modernize and strengthen neighborhoods throughout the city.

Trahern Crews
Crews is a former spokesperson for the St. Paul Green Party of the fourth congressional district, and former Community Liaison at Dayton’s Bluff Community Council. He recently started a company called Original Man Farms that does urban farming and teaches urban youth how to grow food and sell it; is a nonviolent advocate consultant with Black Truce; and a community organizer with the Black Saint Paul.

Crews list his priorities for the city’s budget as: 1) Economic development/jobs; 2) Public safety; 3) Parks/Recreation/Library; 4) Equity; and 5) Environment. If elected, his top three priorities would be economic development, public safety and eliminating disparities.

Elizabeth A. Dickinson
Dickinson has been married for 18 years to Christopher Childs, is a former national spokesperson for Greenpeace, and author of “The Spirit’s Terrain” (Beacon Press, 1998). She has lived on the West Side of St. Paul for 18 years. In her spare time, Dickinson enjoys gardening, writing, and yoga.
If elected mayor, Dickinson would increase transparency and community engagement at every level of city government.

“We need to leverage our existing talent and nurture new leadership from all our local communities, including from women and communities of color,” she said. “In the St. Paul city government I envision, everyone has a seat at the table. … The way to achieve that is to make sure everyone is welcome, that everyone has a voice, and that everyone’s voices, hearts, and opinions are respected and listened to.”

Tom Goldstein
Goldstein is a long-time advocate for neighborhoods, a lawyer, businessman, and former school board member. Goldstein has lived in St. Paul since 1984 and has owned a home in the Hamline Midway neighborhood since 2004.
That same year, Goldstein made the transition from businessman to community organizer and advocate, including positions working on affordable housing for the Minnesota Housing Partnership, volunteer coordinator and staff attorney for the Minnesota Justice Foundation, committee administrator at the Minnesota State Senate, and union representative and consultant for SEIU Healthcare Minnesota.

If elected, he would make job creation and attracting cutting-edge businesses to St. Paul his number one priority. He would also use his business background to help transform City Hall into a customer-service-oriented institution and demand complete transparency of departmental budgets and contracts.

Pat Harris
Harris has lived in St. Paul for his entire life, as have four generations of his family. He is currently Senior Vice President at BMO Harris Bank with state-wide responsibility for government banking. He has worked in finance for over 16 years and holds membership in many professional public finance organizations. Harris served on the Saint Paul City Council for 12 years.

His priorities include: public safety for all; creating jobs and promoting economic growth; public education that serves all students; providing libraries, parks, public safety, and other basic services to every one of its community members without overburdening its citizens with excessive taxes; equity and opportunity; and enhancing parks and libraries.

Chris Holbrook
Holbrook is an 18-year St. Paul resident who has lived in the Midway and Frogtown neighborhoods. He has an associate degree in architecture and has spent his career in the wholesale building products industry. He has been politically active for several years as a member of the Libertarian Party of Minnesota and was elected as Chair of the Party in 2017.

He labels himself socially liberal and fiscally conservative. “I am running for Mayor of Saint Paul to lower taxes. This will grow the city and make it more livable. This will create jobs and let workers have more money. This creates more affordable housing and transit options. We begin by putting a stop to the mismanagement of your hard earned money. Saint Paul has been wastefully overspending on frivolous projects instead of basic services. … I commit to an audit and cost-benefit analysis of every regulation, department, program, and proposal with a simple barometer. If it lowers your property tax, I will support it. If it raises your property tax I will oppose it,” said Holbrook.

Tim Holden
Holden has lived in West Saint Paul for most of his life. He owns a business along University Ave. and decided to run for mayor after attending meetings about the Central Corridor and not seeing any changes occur to the plan following public comment.

Public and street safety are his number one priorities. Holden believes in collaborative decision-making as opposed to top-down management; community policing; collaborating with the school district, other educational entities, and businesses to ensure educational fairness for all; and making sure every dollar spent enhances the vitality of the city.

Dai Thao
An immigrant and a refugee who grew up in poverty, Dai lives in Frogtown. He was first elected to serve as Ward 1 council member in 2013. Dai began as a community organizer because he “believes the government is for the people by all the people, not just the elites.”

He said, “We can’t keep taxing the hard-working people of St. Paul to solve wasteful spending. Our city needs a bold direction that will tackle the racial disparities gap that is crippling our economy, make sure that our city services operate equitably across all neighborhoods, and assure that residents are invested in because they are the infrastructure of our community and economy.”

Barnabas Joshua Y’shua
No web site
Y’shua, a homeless man who has resided at the Union Gospel Mission for the past two and a half years, has no political platform other than helping others.

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Six running for three open at-large school board seats

Posted on 10 October 2017 by Calvin

In the St. Paul School Board race, two incumbents face four newcomers. There are three at-large seats available.

The Saint Paul school board consists of seven members elected to four-year terms. Elections are held at large on a staggered basis so that three or four seats are up for election every November of odd-numbered years.

Luke Bellville
Bellville is an attorney in St. Paul. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota in philosophy in 2006, and his doctor of law (J.D.) from the University of North Dakota School of Law in 2011.

John Brodrick
Broderick is a lifelong Frogtown resident. He worked as a teacher and coach for 16 years. Broderick has been endorsed by the St. Paul Federation of Teachers, Teamsters Joint Council 32 and the DFL.

“Saint Paul Public Schools should always be, and have striven to be, friendly and welcoming places,” said Broderick. “Learning occurs best in an environment that is respectful and safe. As our city has been a destination for many individuals, I am proud that our schools have responded to the opportunity to make new connections, and have been successful enough that people have chosen to stay and to reunite other family members.

“All of us, in Saint Paul and in our schools, have benefited from Saint Paul’s immigrant community and tradition. Even those of us who are a generation or two removed from our own immigrant experience smile when we see graduation ceremonies, cultural events and hear proud parents and grandparents tell stories about their kid’s successes.”

Greg Copeland
Copeland has lived in the Cook/Payne Ave. neighborhood since 1992. The 60-year-old widower was the primary caregiver for his wife, Betty, for 16 years following a traumatic brain injury.

His first job after college was as a newspaper reporter covering public schools. Copeland has also been a contract compliance officer for community college-based job training program and a recruiter for a private industry-public partnership on-the-job training program. He formerly served as city manager of Maplewood, then Minnesota’s 18th largest city with a population of 36,000, over two budget cycles. He formerly chaired the Saint Paul Charter Commission, was vice chair of the Saint Paul Capital Improvement Bond (CIB), and chair of the Payne-Phalen District Council.

If elected, Copeland would reform the school board election process to ensure the east side and the west side have adequate representation. He would also initiate complete televising of all board meetings from beginning to end.

Jeannie Foster
Foster is a lifelong resident of St. Paul who had her first child at age 16 and then raised two kids alone through a cycle of abuse. “I want to challenge the notion that poor kids with many barriers can’t make it,” said Foster.

Foster is a Saint Paul Public Schools graduate, attending Hancock Elementary, Highland Park Junior, and Highland Park High School.

She has worked for 25 years in early childhood education, spending 18 years at the Wilder Child Development Center. In 2015, Foster was recruited by Community Action of Ramsey & Washington County to manage Family Services, where she is focused on producing outcomes in core Head Start priorities including family support, child development, education and parent involvement.

Foster would bring staff together and improve relationships with the administration; keep children and equity at the center of decision-making and help the system to be more responsive; and increase parent and family engagement so kids and families can better navigate the system to find success.

Andrea Touhey
Facebook: TouheyforSchoolBoard
Touhey is an education consultant and former teacher, who also lists policy maker, program designer and evaluator, instructional coach, educational researcher and data scientist under her qualifications.

If elected, she would survey student regularly about their experience within the district; ask teachers for regular input into the direction of the district; and engage parents through regular surveys.

She also supports building a career pathway for Educational Assistants to become teachers; ensuring students have preparation for, access to, and encouragement to pursue AP/IB courses; having students’ learning experiences be relevant to them; providing the structure for students to explore their interests through the AVID program; adopting a framework for technology integration that is focused on using technology to amplify and transform the learning experience; having a majority of teachers be National Board Certified; and protecting the learning environment of undocumented immigrants.

Marny Xiong
Xiong was born and raised in the heart of St. Paul in the Frogtown neighborhood. Her parents were refugees who immigrated to the U.S. from war-torn Laos, and they taught her that, to succeed in the U.S. and reach her highest aspirations, she needed to finish her education. She earned her bachelor’s degree in political science and African and African American studies from the University of Minnesota, Duluth.

Xiong has been a community organizer for over ten years and worked on various campaigns to fight for racial and economic justice. Her experience includes the Vote No Campaign, Take Action Minnesota, SEIU Local 113 and serving on various boards, such as the Payne-Phalen Neighborhood.

“I am committed to collaborating with students, parents, unions, educators, and stakeholders to ensure equity for all students, increased enrollment, and education achievement for college success,” said Xiong.

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Community Engagement Forums series begins Nov. 4

Posted on 10 October 2017 by Calvin

Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, 1636 Van Buren, has joined with members of the surrounding community to create a series of community engagement forums dealing with racial, ethnic, and cultural understanding and reconciliation. This project, “Community Conversations for Racial/Ethnic Reconciliation and Understanding,” stemmed from the realization that communities throughout our country are looking for ways to achieve harmony, and build compassionate and respectful connections among diverse neighbors. The ability to communicate and dialogue with others on these issues in a respectful forum is a critical component to achieving such understanding. People need to be able to ‘tell their stories,’ freely ask questions, and learn about each other to achieve these goals.

The first forum, ‘Jim Crow: Then and Now,” is scheduled for Sat., Nov. 4, 2-5pm. It will be held at Holy Trinity, 1636 Van Buren Ave. This a free event and RSVP’s are welcomed as space is limited. For more information call the church office at 651-228-0930.

Holy Trinity Episcopal Church has been a part of the Hamline-Midway neighborhood for over eight years but only recently finalized steps to permanently secure their presence in the area with the purchase of sanctuary previously owned by Epiphany Episcopal Church.

Holy Trinity has plans to increase their involvement with the larger community through a series of outreach activities. One of which is this series of four community engagement forums which will use excerpts from fact-based movies or documentaries to engage participants on issues of race and diversity. In explaining their rationale for this series, Holy Trinity feels that Faith Communities (large and small) along with other community partners can play an important role in assuring the well-being and cohesiveness of our community.

These interactive forums will educate, engage and inspire participants to confront and change the negative elements that often divide us. Participants will be encouraged to share their stories and develop individual and collective strategies for living harmoniously in our increasingly diverse community.

To achieve this, the church has received a grant from the Episcopal Church of Minnesota and has partnered with residents in the surrounding Hamline Midway neighborhood along with the privately-owned business Mosaic on a Stick, Concordia University, Laura Jeffries Academy, and several others.

Very active in this community partnership and the project’s development is St. Matthews Episcopal Church who has shared their commitment and resources in this endeavor.

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Midway Center site redevelopment financing moves steadily forward

Posted on 10 October 2017 by Calvin

Tax increment financing (TIF) is poised for use in Midway Center site redevelopment. The St. Paul City Council, acting as the Housing and Redevelopment Authority Board Sept. 13, voted 5-2 to make findings needed for building demolition and a future TIF district on the shopping center property.

Council member Rebecca Noecker and Jane Prince voted against the TIF district; Dan Bostrom, Amy Brendmoen, Russ Stark, Dai Thao and Chris Tolbert voted in support.

The TIF district would cover an ell-shaped property that includes the shopping center and buildings to the north along Snelling and University avenues, as well as the vacant lot at the northwest corner of Pascal St. and St. Anthony Ave. Most of the stadium is being built on Metropolitan Council-owned property where a streetcar and later bus garage stood for decades. That property isn’t eligible for TIF.

A Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) staff report indicated that the 15.6-acre site needs an “infrastructure system of streets, pedestrian-friendly sidewalks, walkways, and utilities installed. Private sector investment will finance site redevelopment, but additional financial resources may be necessary in the future to assist in turning this large and complex transit-oriented development site into a vibrant community hub of diverse businesses, jobs, housing, and entertainment.”

Part of Midway Center, including Rainbow Foods, Midway Pro Bowl, and several shops to the east in the strip mall, must be torn down to make way for the Allianz Field soccer stadium’s north end.

Although Minnesota United FC is paying the entire cost of building the roughly $200 million stadium, lead stadium partner Bill McGuire recently entered a master lease for the 15.6-acre Midway Center property itself with owner New York-based RK Midway.

Rainbow Foods and Midway Pro Bowl closed in September. A home rental store closed in August. Other closings haven’t yet been announced.

The demolition agreement is with the newly formed Snelling-Midway Redevelopment LLC. The TIF district is classified as a “renewal and renovation district” which could allow for TIF to help cover some of the related costs. St. Paul Director of Planning and Economic Development (PED) Jonathan Sage-Martinson said the findings are “limited and technical in nature” to allow the city to enter into the demolition agreement.

It does leave open the option to create a TIF district in the future, he added. The staff report states that “the developer intends to submit an application to the HRA for tax increment assistance in the future in connection with a proposed development to be constructed by the developer or its successors or assigns on the property. To preserve TIF eligibility, Minnesota tax increment law requires certain findings be made by the HRA before the demolition of the buildings or removal of improvements. This action does not obligate the HRA to create a Tax Increment Financing District.”

The demolition agreement for Midway Center is required by state TIF law. Any future application for the TIF district itself would have to show that the redevelopment cannot proceed without that form of public financing.

There are no plans for land acquisition using eminent domain.

Noecker, who tried to block the use of TIF for Midway Center in 2016, said she continues to oppose its use. “Frankly, we’re giving up property taxes,” she said. In a TIF district, the added property taxes generated by redevelopment are instead used to pay project costs for a time, instead of being paid to the city, county and school district. Noecker also said she believes the stadium itself will be a catalyst for redevelopment and questioned if TIF is needed.

Prince agreed with those sentiments. She and Noecker also cast the votes against using $900,000 in TIF generated at other sites to help with the stadium site’s environmental cleanup.

“I see this as a way that cities impoverish themselves,” Noecker said.
But other council members said the option to use TIF needs to be kept open.

Ward One Council Member Dai Thao, whose ward includes the stadium and shopping center site, said he favors TIF. He expressed support for redevelopment that would include affordable housing, given the site’s proximity to good transit.
“We should keep every (development) tool and option on the table for as long as we can,” said Ward Three Council Member Chris Tolbert. He said it would be “premature” to block TIF now.

Snelling-Midway Redevelopment LLC owns what is called “possessory rights” for five of the Midway Center properties. Its affiliate MUSC Holdings, LLC is the owner of possessory rights in the adjacent parking lot parcel in the southeast corner at Pascal and St. Anthony. McGuire is the controlling partner of the LLC.

For TIF to be used, the HRA needs to make specific legal findings including a finding that the property eyed for TIF is blighted. The Minneapolis-based consulting firm of LHB, Inc. was hired by the city to inspect and evaluate properties within a proposed TIF district made up of Midway Center and a vacant property at the northwest corner of Pascal St. and St. Anthony Ave. LHB looked at the site as well as the buildings. One determination LHB made is that Midway Center and the Big Top Liquors building, are in the poorest condition.

The LHB report documents that parcels consisting of 70 percent of the area of the property are occupied by buildings, streets, utilities, paved or gravel parking lots. About 20 percent of the buildings meet the state’s legal definition of “substandard” structures. Another 30 percent would require substantial renovation or clearance to address existing conditions.

Next up for the project will be council action on the TIF district itself, as well as a final decision on the property plat. A preliminary plat for the soccer stadium area won City Council approval more than a year ago, along with the master plan for Midway Center site redevelopment. The final plat is expected to go before the City Council this month.

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Lyngblomsten’s Heinecke named 2017 recipient of 50 for the Next 50 award

Posted on 09 October 2017 by Calvin

Lyngblomsten President and CEO Jeff Heinecke (photo right) has been named a recipient of LeadingAge Minnesota’s 50 for the Next 50 award. The award honors leaders who pursue innovation and advance excellence in aging services, make forward-looking changes in their organization, serve as motivational leaders and mentors and empower Minnesotans to age well and live fully.

“Jeff is committed to excellence in all things, most especially the quality of life for older adults and their families as well as career development opportunities for those in the senior care industry,” Lyngblomsten staff wrote in Heinecke’s nomination letter. “He encourages the innovative spirit of employees, volunteers, residents, and families by listening to their ideas for enhancing existing services and for exploring new ones.”

Heinecke was among 50 individuals chosen to receive the award from LeadingAge Minnesota, which sought to recognize professionals for their role in transforming and enhancing the experience of aging as part of the association’s 50th anniversary. LeadingAge Minnesota announced 50 for the Next 50 winners on Sept. 20 at its annual meeting.

“50 for the Next 50 are pioneers, challenging the status quo to transform and enhance the experience of aging,” LeadingAge Minnesota President and CEO Gayle Kvenvold said. “These leaders are making forward-looking innovations in service delivery, elevating the profession of caregiving and best preparing Minnesota for the future needs of its aging population. We are energized by what lies ahead with the mix of these experienced and next-generation leaders at the helm.”

During his time at Lyngblomsten, Heinecke has been instrumental in driving several initiatives, including the development of eMenuCHOICE, a software tool that allows residents more freedom in choosing their meals, and the launch of 2nd Half with Lyngblomsten, a life enrichment center offering numerous community programs, events, and services.

Heinecke has served as President & CEO of Lyngblomsten since fall of 2013, his latest position in a 20-year career in older adult services. He served as Administrator of the Lyngblomsten Care Center from 2005 to 2013. Before arriving at Lyngblomsten, Heinecke worked for the Good Samaritan Society.

Heinecke serves on the CareChoice Board of Directors and the Board of Directors for LeadingAge Minnesota Solutions. He has also served on other committees with LeadingAge Minnesota. As part of his involvement with the University of Minnesota, Heinecke recently participated in a task force seeking to shape the future of the school’s long-term care administrators program and also mentors students seeking licensure.

LeadingAge Minnesota is the state’s largest association of organizations serving older adults through efforts to transform and enhance the experience of aging. Together with more than 50,000 caregivers, LeadingAge Minnesota members provide quality services and supports to nearly 70,000 older adults every day in independent senior housing, assisted living communities, in-home care, adult day services and skilled nursing facilities.

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Como Park High Ms. Somerville

News from Como Park High School

Posted on 09 October 2017 by Calvin

Compiled by ERIC ERICKSON, Social Studies Teacher

• Como senior Keleenah Yang (photo right) wrote an award-winning essay in a state-wide contest sponsored by the BestPrep Program. Yang will present her essay at the BestPrep Educational Forum on Oct. 24 at the St. Paul RiverCentre in front of an anticipated audience of 700 guests. The event’s keynote speaker will be retired Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page.

Keleenah’s essay was based on Page’s theme of “Tomorrow’s Leaders” and the prompt “Why Character Matters.” Yang will have an opportunity to meet with Page at a reception before the evening program along with many of the corporate sponsors of the BestPrep Educational Forum including Thomson Reuters, 3M, Cargill, General Mills and Ecolab.

BestPrep has a 40-year history of support and programming as a non-profit organization with a mission to prepare students with business, career and financial literacy skills through hands-on experiences that inspire success in work and life.

• Como Academy of Finance (AOF) coordinator and teacher Kris Somerville was selected by the Minnesota Council on Economic Education (MCEE) for the 2017 Personal Finance Leadership Award. This annual award is supported by Thrivent Financial. Somerville is receiving this award in recognition of her commitment and contribution to personal finance education and professional growth.

Photo left: Como teacher Kris Somerville will receive an award and speak at the Minnesota Council on Economic Education’s recognition event on Nov. 2. Somerville (3rd from left) is pictured here with former Como students at the U of M’s Gopher Business Camp. (Photo provided)

Somerville will be honored at the MCEE’s EconFest celebration on Thur., Nov. 2 at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska. She will receive a $1,000 check for her leadership and provide remarks about how personal finance education is essential to the mission within Como’s AOF.

• The National Merit Scholarship Program has recognized Eva Hanson and Eli Pattison from Como’s class of 2018 for their academic excellence. Hanson and Pattison each received a Letter of Commendation for their exceptional academic promise and outstanding potential. Both students are ranked in the Top 10 of the senior class.

• A dozen Como seniors in AP Government and Politics classes will be serving as Ramsey County Election Judges in the upcoming Nov. 7 election. The non-partisan service to the community is a wonderful opportunity to promote the democratic process and ensure fairness in the administration of elections. Students will be trained by Ramsey County officials and then work at their local precincts along with a team of judges.

• Como’s Theatre and Music Department will present the annual fall musical in the Como Auditorium on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 9-10 at 7pm both nights. This year’s show is “Monte Cristo,” a modern adaptation of the classic novel set in an English class’ film competition during a school lockdown. Tickets are $7 for adults, $5 for students, and can be purchased at the door.

• Construction of the new turf field inside the track was completed during the first week of October. The finished playing surface was scheduled to be completed in August according to project managers. While causing a space crunch and frustration in the short term, the field does look beautiful, and there is hope of hosting a home football playoff game on the site in late October.
Bleachers, press box, and a public address system are still needed. Funding, installation, and timing of those stadium features are still fluid. But the field surface itself will be dedicated on Wed., Oct. 18 at 1pm with a ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring local officials, representatives from the Minnesota Vikings, Como students and families. All community members and alumni are cordially invited!

• Building additions located to the south of the west wing, toward the railroad tracks, continue to progress. Excavation, footings and foundation work have been completed, and steel beams will be built up during October. The day to day operations of the school have been smooth and without disruption from the work. The majority of the loudest construction is scheduled for after the 2:15 dismissal from classes.

• A video produced by Como teacher and assistant football coach Nick Vruno earned 3rd place in the national “High School Equipment Makeover” contest, thanks to community support and voting. The initiative organized by “Let’s Play” had corporate sponsors with prizes of $1,000 for the ten schools that garnered the most online votes. The Como community responded with great participation to earn a spot in the Top 10 out of what were originally hundreds of entries.

A committee from Let’s Play chose the winner from the ten finalists. While Como was not selected for the grand prize, the $1,000 in physical education equipment will benefit Como students, and the voting campaign inspired both staff and students as the community rallied around the effort.

• Como Cougar cross country running star Florance Uwajenza, a senior, won the Roy Griak Invitational in the scorching afternoon heat on Sat., Sept. 23 at the Bolstad Golf Course on the U of M campus. Uwajenza was the champion of the Maroon Division with over 400 other high school runners. Her time of 12:03 in the 2-mile run earned the gold medal and brought pride to herself and all her Cougar teammates.

• Homecoming week events at Como were festive and fun with spirit days in school, a pep fest, coronation, and “Battle of the Classes” on Fri., Oct. 6. Saturday culminated with the football game and a dance at the school. Special recognition and thanks go to the Como Park Booster Club for their support, fundraising, and labor.

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Como Community Council Corner

Posted on 09 October 2017 by Calvin

By MICHAEL KUCHTA, Executive Director

Want to make the park better?
District 10 is looking for community members who want to keep Como Regional Park on the right path. Here are two opportunities:
Dockside: We’re looking for one community member to serve on the restaurant’s evaluation committee. Committee members will assess quality, customer service, community access, and other aspects of Dockside’s performance.
On the Right Path: We’re creating a workgroup that will recommend how to make it easier to get around the park when you’re not in a vehicle. We’ll assess signs, paths, maps, and more. We’re seeking members of different backgrounds who use the park in different ways: walkers, runners, cyclists, wheelchair users, behind strollers, etc. Members will grade the quality, usefulness, and consistency of current “wayfinding” tools. Then they’ll suggest ideas to eliminate confusion and improve routing within the park, including to destinations on both sides of Lexington and outside of the Zoo/Conservatory campus.

If you are interested in either role, get us your name no later than Sun., Oct. 15. You can get more information and fill out an online application on District 10’s website: go to www.district10comopark.org and click “Keep the Park on the Right Path.”

Special Board election Oct. 17
The Como Community Council holds a special election on Tues., Oct. 17 to fill another board vacancy from Sub-District 4 (Energy Park and South Como). The election takes place at 7pm, before the monthly board meeting at the Como Park Streetcar Station.

Candidates: You can find information about candidates on the District 10 website: www.district10comopark.org. (Write-in nominations will be accepted from the floor the night of the election.)

Voting: Any Sub-District 4 resident at least 18 years of age is eligible to vote; so are representatives from businesses or institutions based in the Sub-District. The boundaries are Dale on the east, Snelling on the west, and the two sets of BNSF railroad tracks on the north and south.

The truth and myths about credit scores
District 10 will host a free financial workshop focused on how individuals can improve their credit score. The workshop is being organized and presented by TopLine Federal Credit Union and LSS Financial Counseling.

The workshop will cover topics such as the rules and myths of credit scoring, how to spot errors on credit reports, and exercising rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

The workshop takes place on Wed., Oct. 18, from 6-7:30pm, at the Como Park Streetcar Station, which is on the northeast corner of Lexington and Horton. The workshop is free, but you must register in advance at www.district10comopark.org/workshop_registration.html or by calling TopLine at 763-391-9494.

Upcoming District 10 Meetings
• Como Community Council Monthly Meeting: Tues., Oct. 17
• Environment Committee: Wed., Oct. 25
• Land Use Committee: Wed., Nov. 1
• Neighborhood Relations and Safety Committee: Tues., Nov. 7
All meetings begin at 7pm at the Como Park Streetcar Station, which is at the northeast corner of Lexington and Horton. Community members are always welcome to attend and participate. Whenever possible, agendas are posted in advance in the “Board News” section of District 10’s website.

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News from Hamline Midway Library

Posted on 09 October 2017 by Calvin

The Hamline Midway Library, 1558 W. Minnehaha Ave. is providing a wide variety of arts, science, and literary programming for all ages this October and November. Stop by to check out books, CDs, DVDs, and magazines or to surf the Internet in one of our neighborhood’s coziest, most welcoming spots!

Preschool Storytimes in English happen Fridays, 10:30-11am, with upcoming events on Oct. 13, 20, and 27 and Nov. 3 and 10. Storytimes feature stories, songs, puppets, and more. They’re a great way for caregivers to bond with children and build social skills, listening comprehension, letter and number recognition, and more. Children of all activity levels are welcome!

The library also offers Evening Storytimes on Tuesdays from 6-6:30pm. These storytimes feature the same kinds of stories, songs, puppets, and games you’ll find at the daytime storytimes. Upcoming Evening Storytimes will take place Oct. 17 and 24 and Nov. 7, 14, 21, and 28.

Sat., Oct. 14, 1:30-3pm, the library presents the popular Science Saturdays program. This month’s theme is Spooky Shadows. School-aged kids and their families are invited to join in a shadow theater to see what they can create with flashlights and shadows. Sat., Oct. 14 is also Math and Science Day at the library. From 11:30am-5pm, you can join in fun, hands-on math and science activities all around the library!

On Tuesday afternoons in October and November from 4:30-6pm, poet Becca Barniskis, and musician Nick Jaffe will present Word and Sound Lab, a series of open studio workshops for youth grades 5-8 that explores the intersection of poetry, sound, and video. iPads and other tech will be available to use on-site or participants may bring their own devices. This activity is open and free to grades 5-8. No registration necessary; just show up! Come to one session or attend all as you’re able. Word and Sound Labs take place Tues., Oct. 17, 24, and 31, and Nov. 7, 14, 21, and 28.

Jody’s Documentary Film Series happens on Wed., Oct. 25, 1-3pm. This month, Jody will host a showing of “The Grownups” by filmmaker Maite Alberdi. The film tells the story of middle-aged friends with Down Syndrome working as caterers, looking for romance, and hoping for independence in Chile. This program is a collaboration of the award-winning PBS POV, the Hamline Midway Elders, and the library. Come for the film and snacks, stay for a thought-provoking post-film discussion facilitated by Jody.

On Wed., Oct. 25, 7-8pm, the Park Square Theatre presents Behind the Curtain, an evening with actors from the upcoming production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Attendees of the library program are invited to purchase up to four half-priced, standard tickets to see a performance of the show at Park Square Theater (Oct. 26-Nov. 11). All tickets must be purchased in advance of the Oct. 25 discussion program at the Hamline Midway Library and can be picked up the evening of the Oct. 25 presentation. Please visit www.thefriends.org/hamlet to register and receive the discount code via email. This presentation is sponsored by the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library.

The Novels at Night Book Club meets on Thur., Oct. 26, 6:30-7:30pm to discuss “The Sisters Brothers” by Patrick deWitt. This darkly comic novel takes place during the great California Gold Rush and follows the misadventures of the Sisters brothers, two hired guns tracking down a target who gives them a real run for their money. Join other fiction enthusiasts for a lively discussion every fourth Thursday!

The new Start a Series Book Club will meet on Sat., Oct. 28, 3-4pm to discuss L.A. Meyer’s “Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary ‘Jacky’ Faber, Ship’s Boy.” This book club is recommended for grades 6-8, and each month will focus on a discussion of the first book in a series.

On Sat., Nov. 4, 1-2pm, the Saints and Sinners Book Club meets to discuss good mysteries. Contact volunteer G. Balter for book lists and more information at gerribalter@gmail.com or 651-224-5570.

On Wed., Nov. 9, 6:30-7pm, participants in ARTful Expression: Acting with Teatro del Pueblo, an acting program for adults ages 50+, will give a free performance to demonstrate what they learned during the program. Enjoy a little theater and cheer on the actors!

The library and the Hamline Midway Elders present Chair Yoga on Thursdays from 10:30-11:30am on Nov. 9, 16, and 30. All movement is done while seated or standing using the chair for balance. This class for adults is taught by Nancy Giguere.

All St. Paul Libraries will be closed on Nov. 10 and 11 in observance of Veterans Day.

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Monitor in a Minute

Posted on 09 October 2017 by Calvin


Max property tax levies are set
St. Paul’s property tax picture is coming into focus, with St. Paul School Board and City Council adoption of 2018 maximum property tax levies. The City Council approved city levies Sept. 20. The St. Paul School Board adopted its levy Sept. 19.

The Ramsey County Board did likewise Sept. 27, with a 4.3 percent increase over 2017’s levy.

State law calls for Minnesota’s local units of government to set maximum levies by the end of September. After that, levies can be reduced but not increased.
St. Paul city officials are setting the largest levy hike in recent memory, with a 23.9 percent increase over 2017. About 19 percent of the increase is driven by the end of the street right-of-way maintenance assessments for many services. Most services were shifted back to property taxes after a court decision found the charges couldn’t be assessed to tax-exempt property owners.

City Council approval of the 2018 levy was 6-1, with Ward Six Council Member Dan Bostrom against. He is hearing from constituents concerned about the level of increase and is concerned that the city officials are giving people “a false sense of security” when the high increase is described as a shift.

The maximum levy approved Sept. 20 is $139.3 million in 2018. Most of that, about $107.3 million is for city operations. The amount includes the $17.9 million levy for the library agency.

For 2017 the city levied $113.9 million.

The council also approved a $1.961 million maximum levy for the St. Paul Port Authority. The Port levy was $1.81 million.

The council, acting as the Housing and Redevelopment Authority Board, approved a $3.8 million HRA levy Sept. 13. That represents a $275,562 increase over 2017.

The city’s truth-in-taxation hearing is Wed., Dec. 6.

The levy increase proposed for St. Paul Public Schools is 6.6 percent. That amount was adopted Sept. 19.

Levy dollars will support the school district during the 2018-2019 school year. The total budget for 2018-2019 hasn’t been set.

School district staff outlined the factors affecting the levy including changes in pupil counts, legislative changes to education formulas, the inflation increase for the current referendum, pension contributions required by law, insurance, and other employee benefits, employment changes that drive severance need, capital bonding, long-term maintenance, and other obligations.

The school levy is divided into categories, for general operations, pension and contractual obligations, community education, and facilities.

The total levy proposed for 2018 is $157.2 million, up $9.2 million from 2017’s amount of $148 million. It represents a 6.22 percent levy increase.

The school’s truth-in-taxation hearing is at 6pm, Tues., Dec. 5 at 360 Colbourne. A final vote is Dec. 19.

Ramsey County Manager Julie Kleinschmidt proposed a biennial budget of $704 million for 2018 and $723 million for 2019—a 1.9 percent increase of $12.8 million in 2018 and a 2.8 percent increase of $19.5 million in 2019.

About 42 percent of the county’s budget is funded through property taxes. The proposal calls for an increase in Ramsey County’s property tax levy of 4.3 percent in each year, or $12.7 million in 2018 and $13.3 million in 2019. The county’s truth-in-taxation hearing is Nov. 27 at the Shoreview Branch Library.

Payment options are eyed
St. Paul City Council members and Mayor Chris Coleman are poring over a Citizens’ League study of payment instead of taxes and voluntary payment programs. The City Council accepted the report Sept. 6 after a presentation from study group co-chairs Kay Rakow and Joe Reid, and Sean Kershaw, president of the nonpartisan group.

The City Council will look at and discuss the study in the future. Any ideas that emerge won’t be part of the 2018 budget but would be implemented in 2019 at the earliest.

The task force study extended over several weeks. The group recommended that talks start soon with the city’s largest property-owned nonprofits. Coleman said in a statement that he is reaching out to the largest nonprofits.

Nonprofit property owners paid right-of-way maintenance assessments until 2016 when the Minnesota Supreme Court found that the payments are illegal.

Ways to make up that lost funding have been discussed by City Council members and city staff. In its last year, the right-of-way program brought in $32 million.
Council members were told that in the context of the city budget, a voluntary contribution program would bring in very little revenue. The report states that any payment program or initiative cannot and should not be viewed as a solution to the city’s budget challenges.

But it does recommend talks start soon about the possibility of voluntary payments. Rakow noted that most programs studied from around the country raise a very small amount of funding. Less than 25 percent of the city is tax-exempt property according to the study. That is comparable to other major Minnesota cities including Minneapolis and Duluth.

Tobacco restrictions laid over
Proposed restrictions on sales of menthol, wintergreen, mint, and fruit-flavored tobacco products will be discussed by the St. Paul City Council Oct. 25. If the proposal wins approval, it would take effect a year from now and would restrict the sales to tobacco shops, which are only open to adults.

The council held two packed hearings on the measure in September but laid the matter over. Ward Five Council Member Amy Brendmoen said that while she supports the ban, the process leading up the ordinance was flawed and lacked adequate input from both sides.

St. Paul has already restricted many flavored tobacco products but had left menthol, mint, and wintergreen products alone when it last changed the restrictions more than a year ago. The proposed ordinance adds fruit, menthol, mint, and wintergreen to the list of restricted flavors. The city already restricts products containing chocolate, cocoa, vanilla, honey, and any candy, dessert, alcoholic beverage, herb or spice. The ordinance governs tobacco products, tobacco-related devices including cigarette papers or pipes, tobacco vending machines, as well as “electronic delivery” or e-cig products.

Anti-tobacco advocates, led by the Association for Nonsmokers (ANSR) and the Beautiful Lie, Ugly Truth campaign have been lining up support for several weeks. The St. Paul School Board in June voted to support the restrictions. But tobacco companies and the stores that sell the products are fighting back, under the banner of the Enough is Enough St. Paul campaign. They contend that the sales will simply go underground, opening an illegal market that could criminalize smokers. Some store owners and employees dropped their keys on the podium when addressing the City Council, saying the ban would force businesses to close and jobs to be lost.

Housing project moves ahead
Low-Income Housing Tax Credits will be used to help provide housing for homeless youth in a new building project planned for University Ave. Project for Pride in Living and Ain Dah Yung are teaming up on the project at 771-785 University Ave. The St. Paul City Council, acting as the Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Board, approved the project and a second Selby Ave. project for the tax credits.

The project will provide 42 affordable housing units for homeless and formerly homeless youth, between 18 and 24 years of age. The $11.4 million housing project is for low-income young people. The city is allocating $465,012 in tax credits for the project. The University Ave. site is currently a house, with a large vacant lot to the west.

The second project funded is for two mixed-use senior housing buildings on Selby Ave. That project is led by the Rondo Community Land Trust.

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Pierce Butler basin fall planting underway

Posted on 09 October 2017 by Calvin

Pierce Butler basin fall planting schedule
— Sun., Oct. 15, 9am-1pm: Pierce Butler Meadows Community Planting Day. In partnership with Capital Region Watershed District, Ramsey Conservation District, and Minnesota Department of Transportation, Hamline Midway Coalition will host a Community Plant Day with a celebration walk and parade on Sat., Oct. 21.
— Mon., Oct. 16: Hamline U and Hamline E build and plant partnership; time to be determined.
— Wed., Oct. 18, 10am-1pm: Plant and build
— Fri., Oct. 20, 1-3pm: Finish the build at Hamline U
— Sat., Oct. 21, 9-11am: Celebration Walking Prairie Parade

Holiday Pop-Up Shop
Midway Holiday Pop-Up Shop returns for its’ 3rd year on Nov. 25! We are seeking local vendors to participate in Small Business Saturday.

Owning a small business can come with its challenges of retail space, visibility for your business, and spaces to sell your products. Midway Holiday Pop-Up Shop provides a welcoming space for shoppers, families, and small businesses to support one another during the Holidays. The Pop-Up Shop host over 35 vendors, has hot drinks, hot foods for purchase, and a lovely visit by Santa himself. Mark your calendars for Small Business Saturday on Nov. 25, 10am-4pm, and come to the Celtic Junction, 836 Prior Ave, Saint Paul to support these businesses!

Environment Committee
Hamline Midway Coalition is seeking applicants for the Hamline Midway Environment Committee. Do you have an interest in tracking, discussing, and taking action related to sustainability and the natural environment? If yes, this committee is for you. You must live, operate a business, or own property within the Hamline Midway to join this committee. Anyone interested should call or email Melissa at 651-494-7683 or melissa@hamlinemidway.org.

Transportation Committee
Hamline Midway Coalition is seeking applicants for the Hamline Midway Transportation Committee. The Hamline Midway neighborhood is a residential community bisected by a critical node within the local and regional transportation network. This committee seeks to find the proper balance of meeting its multi-modal needs of transportation in the Hamline Midway neighborhood. If you are interested or have questions about this committee, please call or email Melissa at 651-494-7683 or melissa@hamlinemidway.org.

Represent your neighborhood
Run for the HMC Board of Directors by declaring your candidacy by Mon., Nov. 20.

Hamline Midway Coalition is seeking candidates for its Board of Directors. Anyone age 16 or older that resides within, owns property within, or owns a business that is headquartered and principally operates within the Hamline Midway, is eligible to run AND vote in the board elections. If you are interested in working with an informed and engaged group of neighbors to focus on local issues around transportation, development, sustainability and more, consider running for the board.

Anyone interested in running for a seat on the Board of Directors must return a completed application to the Executive Director no later than 5pm on Mon., Nov. 20. To request an application or for more information about serving on the HMC Board of Directors, please contact Michael Jon Olson at 651-494-7682 or michaeljon@hamlinemidway.org.

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