July 11, 2013

General Membership Meeting Minutes 07 - 11

July 11th, 2013, 6:30 p.m. – 8:45 p.m.

East Phillips Park Cultural & Community Center, 2307 17th Ave S.
EPIC web address: eastphillips-epic.com
Office: 2536 18th Avenue S., Minneapolis, MN 55404

“The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers,
but most of all the world needs dreamers who do.”

Board Members Present: Carol Pass, Mary Gonsior, Jenny Bjorgo, Linda Leonard, Aisha Gomez, Ali Macalin, Rosie Cruz,
Board Members Not Present:
EPIC Members: Brad Pass, Pat Fleetham, Fowsiya, Gloria Reyes, Anna Zabinski, Diane Peterson, Kim Hayden, Naomi Mohammed, Lee Samelson, Alfonso Cruz, Alondra Cano, Margaret Kirkpatrick.
Guests: Shirley Heyer, Jovita Francisco, 3rd Precinct officers: Michael Sullivan, Don Greeley, and David Menter

6:30            Introductions:

·       Greetings and Introduction
·       Approval of Agenda (PF, JB) Approved with amendment to move up housing and crime concern, first.
·       Approval of Minutes from EPIC 6/20/2013 General Membership Meeting (PF, JB) Approved.

6:55            Announcements:
·       A Haitian Community Benefit, ‘Tonton Dezirab’ special Theatrical Performance, July 20th, 5:00 pm Christo Rey High School, 2924 4th Ave S, Mpls. Adults $25; Students $7; 5 and under $0. EPIC will ask if we can purchase discounted tickets. Contact Carol or Jenny.
·       Midtown Phillips Festival. Saturday, July 20th at Stewart Park, 1:00 – 8:00 pm.
·       Mpls. Aquatennial starts on July 13th. Check paper for week-long calendar of events.
·       Multi-Neighborhood Community Crime Meeting, August 15th, Stewart Park, 6:30 pm.

 7:00            Housing - Our housing grants aren't moving. Income cap too low?
The income guidelines are 80% of the median income. We are finding that the cap is too low, and many people are supporting extended family and as a result, we are excluding many people who need this funding, but don’t qualify. A second factor contributing to ineligibility is any late mortgage payment within the previous year.

Board recommended motion: EPIC moves that we lift our income cap from 80% of HUD median income guidelines to 100% of HUD median income guidelines. See Guidelines (distributed). Approved.

7:10            Main Item: Crime Concerns:

1.     What strategies will we as citizens employ to address these concerns, and partner more effectively with police?
2.     We have decided to invest in one or more crime cameras; this will take some research and probably won’t be decided tonight.
3.     Problem properties.
  • Hotspots
  • strategies the EPIC Board is beginning to pursue and ask for input, suggestions and additions. Some strategies are:
       1) Meeting with Powderhorn, Midtown & Corcoran: Need to pay more attention to Lake St.
       2) Bloom/Cedar/Lake Commercial Assn: It was merged with Midtown Business Association
       3) Patrolling: Should we start again? generate more 911 calls, collect license             numbers
       4)  Request that Salvation Army fence and lock its Parking Lot. EPIC Letter, Problem w/ clothing   donations.
       5)  Insist police remove the vans hanging out and delivering prostitutes.
       6) Distribute court watch clean sheets at membership meetings.
       7)  Letter to Gas Station Owner           
o   Post no loitering signs
o   Lock the dumpsters
   Cameras- Where to place them, suggestions, research, monitoring   

   Problem properties:
        1)   Pick out and watch a few properties. Everyone can drive by, check out behavior, call if necessary.
        2)   Landlord Letters: Determine property owners of problem houses.

Police would like to talk about what they have been doing, strategies and partnerships, crime camera and properties.

Hot Spots:

Michael Sullivan reported: It has been brought to the attention of police in the last few days about the increase in crime in East Phillips. Police are working very, very hard on some specific properties…along Lake St. from about 13th Avenue over to Bloomington – a very strong prostitution detail. 20-30 johns, and some narcotics movers. Arresting every one of these johns, towing cars, and taking johns to jail. Police are pushing further east.

Police are heavily hitting Bloomington Ave, and east (16th, 17th) – calling it a hotspot. Stopping suspicious people, vehicles, arresting the “nuisance”. 134 stops and close to 54 arrests just last week. The CRT Team before this recent prostitution detail, they have made 7 arrests plus the ones last week. This drive has been continuing for the past three weeks.

EPIC asked why our complaint about a white van with blue/teal stripe (Chevy) in a parking lot was never followed up. The van is used for hiding from police, 24/7 crime activity. Reported a year ago. Has a flat tire, is in a parking lot by a big vacant lot. African American male, tall and thin, rides a red motorcycle is always in the van with prostitutes. Also using the trash can on 17th (bus station) as a drug drop, and the Salvation Army parking lot/deposit box for finding change of clothes (change appearance.) Serving beer on the 2nd floor at La Que Buen ?? Last observed two weeks ago. David Menter of Police report that they are checking unannounced – they are not finding this the case. Action: call 911 and report, follow up with Don Greeley or Dave Mentor an email, saying “this is what we saw”.

Will ask CRT Team to push their work on Lake St. 2-3 blocks east. Don Greeley reported that police are well aware that there is a lot of prostitution going on, and they are working on how to address. Don will speak to Salvation Army (SA) about the fence around their property and about their deposit box. Gloria Reyes, a SA employee at the meeting reported that the SA board discussed a budget to fence the property. This is the first time they have heard about the severe problem. The SA board will meet again to learn if the organization will provide funds for fencing. Police suggested that a good first option is really excellent lighting (really light it up). Police can offer good advice about what precautions will provide the best security for their budget. Don Greely will follow up with SA.

EPIC board member Ali reported that there were five cars broken into in their parking lot at 2909 Bloomington Avenue, about a month ago. Their children were playing outside, but could not identify him, but described as a Native American male.

Problem Properties:

2900 16th Avenue (16 unit apt bldg.) Gloria lives at 2908 16th Avenue (remodeled). In the last two weeks, car break-in and was destroyed. Suspect a man who lives at 2900. Sees an older man who brings a lot of women in the building. Everyone is afraid to confront these folks, as they have responded violently to complaints. Dave or Don can follow up with the landlord and put some pressure on him.

1808 26th Street. Shots fired at the property twice in one day; 9 pm and midnight; police arrived and talked with a tenant who was a gang member; probably the source of the shots. Tenants have been moved out of that address. House is now empty. EPIC reported that this is an unresponsive landlord (Robert Knox), and we need help to get him out of the property. EPIC asked if the problem property process is still in place. Police report that it is difficult to get owners out but police can move bad tenants out of problem properties.

2527 18th Avenue. Don reported that this property is on the monthly list discussed with Gary Shiff. Taylor is the owner, no rental license, currently people are living there, police are receiving calls from the properties. Mainly domestic situations between tenants. Property is in the county system, listed as owner Denise Harris (deceased), but no evidence found about narcotics. Dave said this is all under licensing and that is the best way to address this.

Community strategies and Cameras:

Police feel that the mobile trailer cameras are out-dated. $36,000 trailer. Ventura Village has created a memorandum of understanding which is under review; not known whether the memorandum will be approved. Police will not own or maintain, they are maxed out on cameras. Their “box camera” is “semi-mobile”. Ventura Village is required to pay for costs of installation, maintenance. Only police may access the video monitor. Contact Cecil Smith or Mary Watson about their impressions about this.

Citizen patrols. We are not opposed to this as long as community is trained and is properly identified. In the past EPIC had access to driver vehicle services, which made the patrol extremely effective. Police will research and let EPIC know. As far as known, the law hasn’t changed; Don will research. Application will need to be made. A big factor in using citizen patrols is identifying problem properties.

Court Watch clean sheets. Who can distribute court watch clean sheets at EPIC membership meetings. These are posted on the web site, and anyone can access them. The warrant list is also public information.

Q. Does citizen patrol really do more than just move crime a few blocks away. CP reported that that our past patrol got rid of many chronics traveling to East Phillips from all over the metro area and even out-state. It also identified many problem houses (narcotics and prostitution). Don reported that police respond to complaints by the community. Police response creates a “presence/pressure”. The fact is, crime moves. Also, the people who are suffering crime, deserve some relief! This is a way to give them some relief.

Q. Are stats available for the arrests that were made? Arrest records are public information. The Crime Analysis department does not have resources to research trends by neighborhood request. Michael and or Don can pull some (few) trends out of arrest stats if we can be specific about the information that we need. Does the CA Dept. publish any of their data/analysis?

Q. Does Mpls. intervene when arrests are made for prostitution/trafficking. That is the reason police focus on the johns, rather than just picking up prostitutes. Court watch and Clean Sheets track these things, and have diversion programs that provide some help.

Q. Kids with guns. What to tell our kids about reporting. Police biggest effort for youth is focusing on curfew.

MOTION: EPIC will extend the meeting by 15 minutes (Aisha, Carol) passed.

8:15            NCEC Blueprint for Equity Project:

– Blueprint for Equity Handout…Questions that have come up...What should we do?
Considered Core Principles of Community Engagement, especially 4 and 5.
·      NCR Plan
·      4 Neighborhoods’ including ours have raise issues and stated changes and suggestions…

The most frequent is for the neighborhoods to join together and craft this process together.
 Discussion of the Core Principles for Community Engagement – Especially principles 1, 4 and 5.
This project may significantly impact our neighborhood, but we havenot been involved in the design of how we are to be engaged. The process was created by NCR, not us.

Some questions have been raised by other neighborhood leaders, our own neighbors and Board Members.
1. Consider principle 5…Why haven’t we been asked to participate in designing how we participate?
2. Why haven’t we been provided with information we need to be able to participate in a meaningful way?
3. Consider principle 1.  How do we know how our input affects decisions? We haven’t been told what decisions this participation will even impact.

---Our neighborhood is unclear about the goals, strategies and intended outcomes of the process, the use of the data collected, and public access to the data
---How will these questions be posed? Where and how will they advertise these meetings? Will there be interpreters? Will these meetings be recorded?
We don’t know what the other neighborhoods have said.

 Linda’s questions:  How will these questions be posed? Where and how will they advertise these meetings? Interpreters? Will these meetings be recorded? Will there be trained facilitators? How will we know that what is distilled from this process really reflects what people have said? Where is the transparency?

Consider options again:
  • NCR Plan
  • Neighborhood Suggestions – Other neighborhoods in District 7 have stated that they want to have a meeting of all the neighborhoods together and have a unified discussion of equity (fairness) and determine strategies to get there.
  • Board Response and recommended motion:

Board recommended motion: EPIC will join with the other District 7 neighborhoods to respond to the Blue Print for Equity from NCR, and will question the outlined process and seek to honor the Core Principles of Community Engagement , in particular items 4 and 5. Our concern is that the initial design of the process was not done in consultation with the neighborhoods, and the intake of information, and ultimate goals for this process are not stated and not transparent, the project was not initiated by the neighborhoods which may be impacted by the outcome, and appears to violate the Core Principles of Community Engagement. Passed.

8:45            Margaret reported that Greenway and Police met to discuss crime and there is a plan to put in more lighting at various points along the Greenway.

8:48              Adjournment