Rybak sets plan for Minneapolis

Kevin McCahill

In the same theater where Prince launched his career, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak discussed what he says will launch the future of the city, which included adding more police to the city’s north side, uniting communities and creating a sustainable environment.

The mayor gave his annual State of the City address Tuesday at the Capri Theater in north Minneapolis.

Rybak outlined six main points the city will focus on in the upcoming year, which included making the city a safe place to live, creating a united Minneapolis and making it a destination for visitors.

The main focus of his speech was cleaning up the battered north side of Minneapolis. He said a new police initiative has been put in place for officers to get to know residents personally in the areas they patrol.

“Crime is not acceptable, and it must stop,” Rybak said. “Community policing is a key part of our work as we wrestle with safety in this city.”

He said a strong police profile will be noticed not only in north Minneapolis, but in downtown and Uptown as well.

Minneapolis City Council President Barbara Johnson agreed that changes need to be made in the city.

“For people who love Minneapolis, this is a really hard time,” she said.

Johnson wants the city’s goal to lessen the differences between rich and poor people.

“In many ways this is a tale of two cities,” she said. “We have neighborhoods that are used for promotional videos, and there are others where shots are reported fired.”

Rybak also talked about economic and cultural gaps in the city. He cited the Phillips neighborhood which he said has added jobs and seen housing prices increase. Rybak said he wants to see the north side make a similar change, but admitted it wouldn’t be easy.

“We have to get at the deep-rooted inequities,” he said.

In his inaugural address earlier this year, Rybak envisioned a “new Minneapolis” which would connect the that cultures, values and economic capabilities within the city. He continued with this theme at his address.

To help push the city into the future, Rybak promised the next generation of students will have career counseling in every high school in the city.

“We’ll even find the money to get you into college,” he said.

Rybak said he wants to make Minneapolis a sustainable and environmentally friendly city, which includes protecting lakes and rivers from storm water runoff that could contain toxins.

Ward 3 Council member Diane Hofstede, who represents Dinkytown and the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood, said the mayor’s speech was an excellent step toward the future.

“I think we have a commitment to change,” she said.

Hofstede pointed to the issues of public safety and sustainability as the key programs she wants to see implemented.

Others weren’t as impressed by the speech.

“There were a lot of good ideas, but I would have liked to see a different focus,” said Ward 2 Council member Cam Gordon, who represents Southeast Como, Prospect Park, Cedar Riverside and the University area.

The issue of racism wasn’t addressed, but should have been, Gordon said.

“He talked about the haves and have-nots, but you might as well call it what it is,” he said.

Gordon also wanted to see more emphasis placed on reaching at-risk youths at a younger age rather than in high school.

“I felt like he glossed over early childhood,” he said. “We need to catch at-risk kids when they are little.”

Gordon said he liked what Rybak said about creating a green city, but thought he could have gone further.

“We need to raise expectations,” Gordon said. “There is a lot more that we can do.”