Council Member Blong Yang Defends Involvement in Community Action of Mpls

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Yang, a first-term council member, doesn't think he should take heat for a scandal that took place before he became involved with the nonprofit.
On the same day officials raided Community Action of Minneapolis, a nonprofit accused in a state audit of misappropriating $800,000 in taxpayers dollars, Minneapolis City Council member Blong Yang defended his short tenure on the organization's board of directors.

Yang, who was appointed to the board early this year -- the audit in question covered 2011 to 2013 -- told us he agreed to serve on Community Action's board at the behest of City Council President Barb Johnson.

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Sen. Barb Goodwin Calls Out Ellison, Other Prominent DFLers Over Nonprofit Scandal


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Military Violated Agreement with Low-Flying Helicopter Training, Minneapolis Officials Say

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Smiley Hill on Twitter
A helicopter hovers over the Minneapolis Federal Reserve building on August 18.
During yesterday's Minneapolis City Council public safety committee meeting, officials threw the military under the bus for the decried helicopter training that took place over the Twin Cities last month.

Matt Clark, assistant police chief, told council members that Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman "needed to approve allowing [the military] to train within both cities." But deputy city attorney Peter Ginder said the military violated the agreement by flying helicopters low over both downtowns.

See also:
Mpls public safety chair Blong Yang says he knew nothing about military exercises


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Minneapolis moves toward deregulating bathrooms, allowing everyone in single-stalls

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An ordinance change that would deregulate single-stall bathrooms in Minneapolis is sailing through the City Council process and should receive final approval next week.

The ordinance, which is the work of council member Andrew Johnson, would leave the choice of whether to have unisex bathrooms to individual businesses. Multi-person bathrooms, such as the ones at McDonald's restaurants, wouldn't be impacted.

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Andrew Johnson's ordinance would ban Styrofoam containers in Mpls


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Mpls public safety chair Blong Yang says he knew nothing about military exercises

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Smiley Hill on Twitter
A helicopter hovers over the Minneapolis Federal Reserve building on August 18.
:::: UPDATE (September 11) :::: Due to lack of quorum at yesterday's meeting, the public safety hearing has been rescheduled for September 27.

Tomorrow, the Minneapolis City Council public safety committee will hold a hearing on the loud, scary military training exercises that took place over Minneapolis a few nights in a row last month.

Ahead of that meeting, we asked public safety committee chair Blong Yang what he knew about the military exercises before helicopters were flying overhead. He tells us he wasn't kept in the loop at all.

See also:
Bad timing: Helicopter exercises rile Twin Cities same day Obama questions police militarization


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Minneapolis officials exploring raising minimum wage in city, à la Seattle

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Frey (left) and Cano (right) support the idea of raising Minneapolis's minimum wage. (The two are pictured here with Rep. Ryan Winkler, who led the legislature's effort to increase the statewide minimum wage.)
The message conveyed by protesters who stormed the Uptown McDonald's last week was heard loud and clear by at least a couple members of the Minneapolis City Council.

Council member Alondra Cano tells us she's working with the U.S. Department of Labor to get a sense of the legal challenges the city could face if officials try to follow Seattle's lead and raise the minimum wage within its borders.

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Hell's Kitchen applauds minimum wage increase


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Minneapolis set to introduce police body cam pilot program this fall

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YouTube screengrab
A body-cam wearing police officer.

Minneapolis officials are on the cusp of rolling out the city's first police body camera program.

Kate Brickman, spokesperson for Mayor Betsy Hodges, tells us she expects the Minneapolis City Council to approve a pilot program this fall that will put cameras on roughly three dozen officers. If things go smoothly, full implementation will follow next year.

See also:
MPD cop isn't in trouble for taking photo of festive U of M women

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Mpls City Council approves Lyft/UberX regulations; Blong Yang casts sole nay vote

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Lyft and its mustachioed cars are now legit in Minneapolis.
This morning, the Minneapolis City Council approved an ordinance regulating so-called Transportation Network Companies like Lyft and UberX .

Council also approved changes to the city's taxi ordinance that deregulate cab companies to an extent in hopes they'll be able to compete with the new TNCs.

See also:
Mpls cab companies not thrilled about impending Lyft/UberX ordinance


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Minneapolis officials advance Lyft/UberX ordinance despite taxi company objections

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Ernesto De Quesada on Flickr
Yesterday, the Minneapolis Community Development & Regulatory Services Committee unanimously approved a new ordinance that will regulate so-called "transportation network companies" like Lyft and UberX, along with changes to the city's taxi ordinance.

The vote means the package of new regulations heads to the full City Council, which could give its final approval next Friday.

See also:
Despite Commerce Department warning, Jacob Frey says Uber/Lyft ordinance still on its way


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Mpls cab companies not thrilled about impending Lyft/UberX ordinance

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Frey on Lyft and UberX: "I think the taxi industry needed some competition."
This week, the Minneapolis City Council Transportation and Public Works Committee will get its first crack at the city's revised taxi regulations and its brand-new "Transportation Network Companies" ordinance. If they approve it, it'll head to the full council for consideration during next week's meeting.

But the author of the TNC ordinance, council member Jacob Frey, acknowledges that even as the city plans to get serious about regulating TNCs and deregulating cabs, "I don't know I can say [taxi companies] are on board with the ordinance at this point."

See also:
St. Paul also plans to regulate Lyft, UberX


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Minneapolis likely to make it more difficult to run for mayor

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@Mrao_Strib
Dressing up as the Minneapolis mayoral ballot for Halloween will likely be a lot less fun in future years.

That's because city officials are considering raising fees for running for office from $20 for all offices to $100 for city council seats and $250 for mayor.

See also:
St. Paul mayoral forum is a clown show [VIDEO]


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