Four months ago, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter had to answer what has become a controversial question: How much money should their cities spend on police in 2019? After several high-profile incidents of black men being killed by law enforcement in recent years, police-reform advocates have been looking to see how Minneapolis and St. Paul would approach public safety going forward. Recent cases of excessive force by local officers (and their dogs), as well as allegations of racism within the departments, have intensified criticism, too. So, while completing the annual task of presenting their budget proposals in August, the mayors approached the issue carefully, hoping to satisfy both activists seeking reform and residents worried about safety in their neighborhoods. In Minneapolis, Frey proposed a funding boost so that eight officers could move from desk jobs to beat work, increasing the number of cops on streets and backfilling their office positions … [Read more...] about The debate around policing is similar in Minneapolis and St. Paul. How the cities are responding is not.
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St. Paul Public Schools easily won a property tax increase Tuesday that will boost annual per-student funding by $475. The 10-year levy won the approval of 66 percent of voters. St. Paul property owners now will pay $1,180 per student each year in special funding for the city’s public schools. The district’s previous levy raised $705 per student. Eric Cegla, a 44-year-old construction worker with a child entering kindergarten next year, voted for the tax increase. He said the old levy was significantly lower than what other area school districts are getting. The new levy, Cegla said, “seems more in line with what it should be.” Anna Sutheim-DuFrain, 32, a private school classroom assistant, also voted for the higher levy. “Any dollar you spend on a kid is a dollar well spent,” she said after voting at Arlington Hills Community Center. Diliet Tekie, 21, the son of immigrants, voted for the increase because, he said, U.S. schools aren’t as good … [Read more...] about Voters raise school taxes in St. Paul, Minneapolis, suburban districts
In St. Paul’s Como neighborhood, St. Andrew’s Church could be demolished to make room for a three-story expansion of the popular German Immersion School next door. Or the imposing, 91-year-old former worship space could be preserved as-is due to a local historic designation that took a step closer to reality on Monday night. “Clearly, it’s a significant historic building, at least in my mind,” said St. Paul Heritage Preservation Commission member Stuart MacDonald. With dozens of audience members filling seats and crammed against walls, teachers, parents, students, neighbors and school board members argued their case during a nearly 3 1/2-hour public hearing before a panel of historic preservationists at St. Paul City Hall. A granddaughter of building architect Charles Hausler flew in from Florida to testify against demolition. Taking the opposite tack, Anthony Radecki, whose children attend the growing charter school, wore a poster affixed to his torso … [Read more...] about St. Paul panel votes to preserve Como church building that charter school wants to raze
The candidates for West St. Paul mayor have been on opposite sides of two divisive issues. City Council Members Anthony Fernandez and Dave Napier are competing to replace Jenny Halverson, who in April announced she would not seek re-election. She was elected in 2016, defeating incumbent Dave Meisinger. The first contentious topic came shortly after Fernandez was sworn to represent Ward 2 in January 2016. Fernandez sided with council members John Bellows and Ed Iago in requesting a special meeting to review the contract for then-City Manager Matt Fulton. But before a meeting could be held, Fulton resigned, saying he believed there would be enough votes on the council “to provide new leadership.” Napier was a Fulton supporter who voted against a separation agreement, which gave Fulton $75,200, medical and dental coverage, and retirement benefits over a six-month severance period. Fernandez and Bob Pace, who also was newly elected, voted for the agreement and were criticized … [Read more...] about Two West St. Paul council members competing to be mayor. They disagree on divisive issues.
Cash-strapped because of debt to redo South Robert Street, West St. Paul will ask its voters to approve a half-cent sales tax that would generate an estimated $1.3 million annually for funding future road projects over the next 20 years. The city council last week unanimously approved a resolution that puts the question on the Nov. 6 general election ballot. If passed by voters, the 20-year sales tax would have to be authorized by legislators during the next session and sent back to the city council to adopt. The earliest it could go into effect is Oct. 1, 2019. The council’s decision to pursue a local sales tax comes after several years of failed attempts by city and state elected officials to get additional state funding for rebuilding Robert Street into a four-lane road with a center median. They say the city is paying for a disproportionate amount of the $46 million project, which was completed last year and meant to improve the look, functionality and safety of the … [Read more...] about West St. Paul considering local sales tax to pay for road improvements