As Mayor R.T. Rybak delivered his annual State of the City Address from the stage of the Capri Theater in North Minneapolis, he told audience members “better days are yet to come” not just for the venue where Prince first performed but for all of the long-embattled neighborhoods on the city's North side.
Much of the mayor's April 18 speech focused on revitalizing North Minneapolis and increasing the presence of police throughout the city to combat rising crime. He said he wants the city to focus on basic public services and develop “deep partnerships” with its citizens in order to achieve six major goals. Those goals are:
– Making Minneapolis a safe place to call home;
– Creating one unified Minneapolis;
– Ensuring the city's educational system is second to none;
– Creating connected communities by closing the gaps between the haves and the have-nots;
– Working toward an enriched environment that meets the city's sustainability targets; and
– Making Minneapolis a unique destination.
He touched on accomplishments the city has already achieved with each of the goals and spoke about the work Minneapolis has yet to do with each. Of all the goals, he focused most heavily on improving public safety to ensure all areas of Minneapolis are safe.
“Public safety must be our top priority,” Rybak said.
He highlighted the city's new community policing initiative and touted the 71 additional police officers Minneapolis is in the process of hiring. While that hiring process is in progress, Rybak said additional funds from the state and county will be used to pay for additional overtime hours for police officers that will get the equivalent of 70 cops on the street by May 5.
Other public safety initiatives the mayor spoke about include creating a new Juvenile Unit in the Police Department to coordinate youth enforcement, supporting the successful Downtown Safe Zone, and creating similar models in Uptown and North Minneapolis.
Rybak said his vision of Minneapolis involves making steady progress on all six goals.
“The new Minneapolis is going to be built by us weaving all of these things together,” Rybak said.
City Council President Barb Johnson shared her husband's memories of walking to the Capri Theater and paying a dime to see a matinee as a child. She questioned how many parents would let their children walk to the theater now and said North Minneapolis is experiencing a “hard time.” She also said Minneapolis is a “tale of two cities” with some areas so nice they appear in promotional videos and others portrayed as unsafe. But she said the community is committed to making Minneapolis a livable city, and she and the other Councilmembers are prepared to work toward that goal.
“We look forward to working with the mayor to make Minneapolis a city people want to live, work and play in,” she said.