News briefs

Caucuses set

The state's precinct caucuses - where political parties start the process of nominating candidates for fall elections - are set for March 7.

Several local, state and federal positions are up for grabs this year, including four spots on the Minneapolis school board, governor, secretary of state, Congress and U.S. Senate.

At the caucuses, party leaders discuss issues and typically elect delegates for conventions at which candidates compete for endorsement.

Each party has its own caucus locations. Hennepin County's website has a caucus locator. Users can type in addresses and it provides locations for the DFL, GOP, Green and Independence parties. Go to www2.co.hennepin.mn.us/voterinfo/caucus/options.htm

Information about the caucuses also is available by phone:

– DFL - 651-293-1200

– Green - 871-4585

– Independence - 651-487-9700

– Republican - 651-222-0022

Allowance doubles

The City Council passed a proposal Feb. 10 that will double the monthly car allowance for councilmembers from $200 to $400.

The outgoing Council approved a $200 monthly car allowance Dec. 23 along with a 2 percent pay raise for councilmembers, who earned $70,312 in 2005.

Council President Barb Johnson (4th Ward), who introduced the measure calling for a $400 monthly car allowance, said it hasn't been increased since 1990. She argued it should be raised to reflect the increased driving costs given the spike in gasoline and car maintenance prices in recent years.

Some say the car allowance is too generous, however.

Councilmember Paul Ostrow (1st Ward), chair of the Ways and Means/Budget Committee, called the allowance &#8220excessive.”

Supporters said the increased allowance is necessary for councilmembers who make frequent road trips to out-state meetings and to St. Paul. Councilmembers can decide how much of the allowance to use.

The Council approved the measure 8-5 after the Ways and Means/Budget Committee sent along the proposal without recommendation.

Rybak urban forum

Mayor R.T. Rybak is holding a forum Tuesday, Feb. 28 at the Museum of Russian Art in Southwest called Re-Weaving the Urban Fabric: Creating Great Spaces for a Great City.

The speech is the second in a series of three Great City forums in which Rybak is outlining the priorities of his second term. The Minneapolis Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the Urban Land Institute is co-hosting the event.

&#8220To reweave the urban fabric, we have to get beyond the silos that often isolate our work,” Rybak said in a statement about the forum. &#8220It is really about how transit, community development, public art, design, green space and more all work together to create great sustainable spaces.”

Rybak's first forum, held Jan. 31 in South Minneapolis, focused on city initiatives investing in Minneapolis youth.

A third forum planned for March 29 will focus on reducing disparities between wealthy and poor communities in the city. A location for that event has not been set.

The speeches will lead up to the mayor's State of the City address on April 18.

The Feb. 28 forum at the Museum of Russian Art, 5500 Stevens Ave. S., will be held 5:30-7 p.m.