Civic beat: Property tax forum

Forum aims to tackle property taxes questions

After years of annual property tax increases — and with a proposed 11.3 percent hike being considered this year — an upcoming event aims to answer, “What’s up with that?”

City Finance Director Pat Born and city Budget Director Heather Johnston will discuss the city’s property tax structure, as well as how the annual rates are determined, at a public forum. There will be time for questions from the audience.

“What’s up with those property taxes?” — scheduled for 6–8 p.m. Nov. 17 in the Walker Art Center’s cinema — is sponsored by the Lowry Hill Neighborhood Association. Janet Hallaway, association president, said in a news release that neighbors recently have been asking a lot of questions about their taxes.

“We’re not encouraging a particular point of view. Residents can make their own determination about taxes,” Hallaway said. “We just want them to be better informed.”

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call Hallaway, 237-8980, or Anita Tabb, 377-6926.

Rybak opponents take concerns directly to mayor’s office

Minneapolis mayoral candidates who have felt largely ignored this election season organized a joint news conference last month to call for a debate with incumbent R.T. Rybak, who had not participated in any forums with his opponents.

Candidates Bob Carney Jr., James Everett, Al Flowers and Bill McGaughey met at City Hall Oct. 21 to publicly share their grievances about how the city is run and call out Rybak for what they said is his disinterest in discussing them.

“Rybak is not treating us respectfully,” McGaughey said. “He’s treating us as if we don’t exist.”

The group followed its conference with a trip to Rybak’s office, where they delivered a list of the issues they discussed during an Oct. 7 televised candidate forum that Rybak did not partake in. Among those grievances were property tax increases and police misconduct. The candidates also said that, if elected, Rybak wouldn’t dutifully fulfill his term.

When this edition of the Southwest Journal went to press, Rybak had agreed to participate in a debate on Minnesota Public Radio the day before the Nov. 3 election. That event will feature endorsed candidates only, meaning that he will be joined by one opponent, Republican and Independence parties-endorsed Papa John Kolstad.

Rybak also was expected to appear at a question-and-answer session with two fellow mayoral candidates, Flowers and John Charles Wilson, during the Lyndale Neighborhood Association’s general membership meeting on Oct. 26.

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What if Rybak wins and then runs for governor?

One argument repeatedly heard on the campaign trail from R.T. Rybak’s opponents for the mayor’s office is that he’s really already running for governor. Rybak hasn’t done much to squelch the rumors — he has said he’ll “very likely” enter that race and has participated in several forums featuring announced gubernatorial candidates. He’s even already picked up an endorsement for higher office, from Teamsters Local 120.

So what would happen if Rybak were to win a third mayoral term, announce a run for governor and then end up winning that race, too? Chapter 2, Section 16 of Minneapolis’ city charter provides the answers.

Essentially, voters would end up with another mayoral election, which would have to be held within 75 days of the mayor’s office going vacant. A period for candidates to file for the office would have to last at least eight days and must end no later than 40 days before the election. Until voters choose a permanent replacement, the City Council president would serve as interim mayor.

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2005 mayoral candidate named national Green Party co-chair

Farheen Hakeem, a Minneapolis community organizer and 2005 mayoral candidate, has been named one of three new co-chairpersons of the National Committee of the Green Party. The appointment makes her the highest-ranking Muslim woman in any United States political party, according to a news release.

Hakeem joins four existing Green Party steering committee members and three fellow newly elected co-chairpersons, including fellow Minnesotan David Strand, a founding member of the Lavender Green Caucus.

Hakeem has worked on several municipal campaigns this year, including those of mayoral candidate Al Flowers and of Ward 8 City Council candidate Jeanine Estimé, for whom she is campaign manager.

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Street sweeping under way throughout city

Minneapolis Public Works’ annual fall street-sweeping project is under way.

Since Oct. 27, crews have been collecting leaves and sweeping streets from curb to curb. The project, which will take about four weeks, is expected to hit 1,100 miles’ worth of city streets.

Crews are expected to post “no parking” signs at least 24 hours before sweeping begins on a street. Parking is not allowed from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on the day a street is swept, and vehicles out of compliance will be ticketed and towed.

Updates on the project can be found at several online locations, including facebook.com/cityofminneapolis, twitter.com/CityMinneapolis and www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/streetsweep. Go to the latter site to see when individual streets will be swept.

The city also asks that residents not push leaves, grass clippings or other debris into the streets, as it’s bad for the environment. Debris that ends up in storm drains eventually flows into the city’s lakes or the Mississippi River.