I understand that emotions are running high in the community and across the City. I share many of the emotions that people are feeling in Minneapolis today. I firmly believe in everyone’s right to protest and understand that people want to have places where they can gather and do that peacefully. We also want to ensure everyone’s safety. Chief Harteau and I are asking officers to exercise maximum restraint, and are asking protesters to act peacefully. I thank the many officers and protesters who are doing just that.
The tears kept coming on Friday, June 26th. (My staff can attest, there was dancing too.) Joyful tears at the knowledge that the freedom to marry—the ability to legally commit to care for and love someone for a lifetime—was now accessible to every American, no matter where they live or who they love. Sorrowful tears for all those who came before us and fought this fight never to see its victory. And then there were the “I just can’t believe we freaking did this” tears.
It was a day that forever changed the course of our nation’s history. It was a day I will never forget.
Minneapolis was electric, charged with people’s energy. The exaltation, relief, and optimism for the future hung in the air like the humidity that descended on our city. Nowhere was that energy more palpable than at the Pride Festival in Loring Park.
And with this energy Minneapolis created something beautiful.
A poem arrived in my inbox a few weeks after the last of the rainbow streamers had been swept away, and I want to share it all with you.
John Medeiros, a writer and immigration lawyer in the Twin Cities, has been co-curating Queer Voices, a reading series featuring LGBT writers, for the last decade. (It’s the longest running series of its kind in the country; how Minneapolis is that.) John and his co-curator Andrea Jenkins wanted to do something memorable and artistic, of course, to honor the series’ 10th anniversary. Poems! That was their first idea. And they did just that, handing out close to 2,500 during the festivities. But they wanted more. Something memorable. Something creative.
John and Andrea wanted to capture the community’s artistic response to the Supreme Court’s ruling that marriage is a fundamental right for all Americans. “we” is a poem that does just that.
People contributed in a manner of ways, some adding full lines, others a word or image. After the festival John edited (minimally) the poem for flow. Some lines are a culmination of multiple people’s additions to the poem.
To every passerby who stopped at the Intermedia Arts tent, I thank you. I thank you for your verses, your standalone words, your images. I thank you, John for pulling it altogether and yet leaving it virtually untouched.
The people of Minneapolis created something awesome—in the truest sense of the word.
Without further ado, here is “we”, curated by John Medeiros, written by the people of Minneapolis.
(a community art project sponsored by IntermediaArts and written by the community during the Twin Cities Pride Festival, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the recognition of same-sex marriage is a fundamental right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution)
like the night
stars dancing in a crazy wind
we shine at the beach
and sing in one voice, ticking like a joyous metronome
like a thousand divas
moving forward in vociferous vibration.
to turn back time and do it all again.
we sing like Miriam at the Red Sea
celebrating our international friendships
hanging out and sharing hugs
družim in delitev objemov.
we sing for our children and their friends
for David (lost and sadly missed)
for sunny days and summer skies
for a nation as it celebrates love.
we sing so we have music to dance to.
and faces surround us –
faces of joy and inclusion
beaming like little lights of the world
as fear and hatred dim and flicker and fade
we are one
a myriad of volatile voices
speaking in harmony
sprouting like young green leaves
all around us.
there is thrill in completion
in having come this far after walking for so long
our steps, heavy and weary.
but here we are
a community glowing, surrounded by affection,
strong and beautiful and authentic
in our gender
and in our love.
there are flags and kites and feathers
of future generations
majestic in their colors
majestic in their flight
floating in unison
as minds and hearts open
and love (equally)
our brothers and sisters
in this, our Garden of Eden.
we say yes to love,
yes to always
yes to unity and acceptance
and, after long last,
to loving openly.
we say no
to shame we don’t deserve.
like Vonnegut we hate this war
– this fight against oppressive swords.
yes, the battle was necessary
to honor those who came before
and those who have yet to come.
our guide is this brilliant sun
a sun of intuition
reflecting blues and greens pride of years long past,
reflecting back to the grass where love first started,
where love took root and grew as roots so often do.
our guides are those heroes who taught us
to love who we are
to fight with the strength of a diseased tree
to stand against hatred and injustice
and to remember where we came from.
love is always the answer, says the Court
let her in. let her in now.
love is the answer. the answer is love.
and now we can find comfort in our own skin
and not hide our love within
and like roses we grow
graceful despite our thorns.
in the end we are a proud
rainbow of traditions and colors –
a community that has learned to love
in the midst of hate.
faith is our pride.
we have learned to love a queer love
an awesome, beautiful, powerful, political,
strong, unique, colorful, big, bold, queer love
that, when tossed away by others,
like a boomerang always manages to come back.
and who expected this sun to shine?
who expected love to flow,
hugs to abound
and kisses to flow without fear?
who expected us to be here
brilliant as the first sun just after the first rain?
who knew we would win 5 to 4?
who knew ours would be a rapid flight,
that feathery clouds would take wing,
that the Court would spawn such inspiration and passion and love?
who knew freedom would taste like this?
that our bellies would expand so with such joy?
that fifty states would now be mandated
to recognize love equally.
we shine despite the darkness
we sing despite the silence
we love despite the hatred
because love wins.
it is so ordered.
thus sayeth the Court.
When I was in high school 30 years ago, I had season tickets to the Minnesota Strikers soccer team of the Major Indoor Soccer League. My mother lettered in soccer at her high school back in the 1950s. Growing up in our house, soccer was a beloved sport long before the rest of the country caught on to it.
I love soccer.
So I was very disappointed yesterday to learn, along with the rest of Minnesota, that the McGuire investment group is seeking a public subsidy from both the City and the State for their new soccer stadium. Their request for a subsidy directly contradicts their claim that their facility will be privately financed.
There is no need for a subsidy for this facility, or this ownership group, whatsoever. The subsidy they are requesting will have a direct and negative impact on the taxpayers of Minneapolis.
First, the McGuire group is asking to avoid paying their fair share of property taxes — not just for a limited term of time, but forever.
The land where the MN United ownership group proposes to build the stadium is currently privately owned, so it currently pays property taxes that would disappear if the soccer stadium were exempted from taxes. Beyond that, given this land’s location on the growing edge of our booming downtown, and its proximity to the upcoming $1.6-billion public investment in Southwest light rail, there is no question that this property will be redeveloped, stadium or no stadium. A truly private development would pay property taxes there; but if a tax-exempt stadium is built there, Minneapolis taxpayers would forego millions of dollars of value on the property-tax rolls.
The argument that property taxes have been abated for other stadiums just like this one is a false one, because every other sports facility in the region has some component of public ownership. However, the ownership group said Tuesday that the soccer stadium would be privately owned and operated. This stadium is not like other stadiums: rather, this proposal is as if a private developer asked to pay no taxes — ever — on a $150-million mixed-use development in downtown Minneapolis.
There is no precedent in Minnesota for a private development’s being exempted from paying their fair share of property taxes in perpetuity. None. If this subsidy were granted, other Minneapolis homeowners and business owners would pick up the property-tax tab for a private development that will prove hugely profitable for the owners.
Second, the McGuire proposal would create a new facility that directly competes with the Target Center, a taxpayer-owned City facility. The proposed new soccer stadium is about the same size as Target Center and shares all the proximity to downtown and transit, with the advantage of being outdoors and being new. We are currently, and wisely, investing $130 million to renovate Target Center and keep it competitive for the next several decades. Why would we turn around and give away taxpayers’ dollars to compete with ourselves?
Let me be clear: I would be pleased to see a new, truly privately-financed soccer stadium at this site. A truly privately-financed stadium would pay property taxes. Those new property-tax dollars could make up for any impacts to Target Center and the City budget.
This request for a public subsidy ignores that the public has already made significant investments that will benefit the proposed soccer stadium, in the form of the $1.6-billion Southwest light rail line that includes a station at the stadium’s front door. Moreover, the proposed Bottineau LRT line will have connecting service just one station away.
And let’s also remember that the public has already financed two soccer-ready stadiums in Minnesota: the new indoor Vikings stadium is built for soccer, and the outdoor TCF Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota has already hosted professional soccer matches. A third, truly privately-financed soccer stadium may be welcome; but we do not need a third, publicly-subsidized one.
The McGuire group has failed to demonstrate any need whatsoever for a public subsidy. Even if they choose to build a third soccer stadium, the ability of these owners to pay their own way is obvious: this remarkably high-powered ownership group, perhaps the largest ever assembled in Minnesota, can easily pay for their facility without any public assistance.
As a lifelong soccer fan, I am excited that Major League Soccer is choosing to expand in Minneapolis, and I know that my excitement is shared by thousands of fans for whom soccer has great, unique appeal. But as Mayor of Minneapolis, it’s my job to put the public’s interests ahead of private wants.
We have the strength we need to address our biggest challenges: climate change, workforce, public safety, community trust, equity, to name some of them. To meet those challenges successfully, we are going to need our greatest strength: our people and every bit of talent and every ounce of genius we have got. All of that genius is right here, ready to build our economic future, and our city’s future. The question before us is: how much of that genius are we going to leave on the table?
This is the question I posed in the speech I delivered last Thursday in my State of the City address at the American Swedish Institute. You can watch the speech here.
We need each one of us, including our young people.
My Cradle to K Cabinet is moving into implementation mode, to make sure that every bit of talent and genius our community has to offer is nurtured, starting at the very beginning of life. Our final recommendations will be ready in mid-May. The whole community will be invited to do whatever each of us can do to make a difference for our youngest kids.
The welfare of boys and young men of color is also crucial to the future of our society. With the President’s My Brothers’ Keeper Community Challenge, we are focusing on improving outcomes for 18- to 24-year old men of color.
Too often our stories show the worst rather than the best in our young men. We hear a lot of stories about young men who are behaving poorly, young men who commit crimes. What we don’t hear are the success stories.
I invite you to share your stories of success of young men and boys of color on my website, so we can be reminded how much genius is carried in every single brain, how much passion and compassion is in every single heart, how much possibility there is in every single life.
We can all ensure our young people are ready to lead by making a personal commitment to help kids succeed. Please consider being a graduation coach to mentor a Minneapolis public high school student through Achieve Minneapolis.
Each one of us has a gift to offer the next generation, and today is a call to you to use your gift. If Cradle to K is about making sure we are nurturing our genius even before early education starts, graduation coaching is about believing no genius should be left on the table as a young person takes her first steps out of her high school’s doors.
We don’t just need to build the workforce of the future, we need to build the workplace of the future. The expectation that if you worked hard you could get ahead is now more myth than reality for low-income people and many people of color. Even in Minneapolis, where we are famous for our class mobility, the mobility becomes very limited when we start looking at outcomes for people of color.
The growing income inequality in our economy has devastating economic effects, and devastating social and moral effects as well. It hurts all of us, no matter our income, gender, or race.
I am proud to announce that I, in cooperation with Council Members, advocates, and the business community, am championing a Minneapolis Working Families Agenda. Together, we will address three key issues that our workers are facing, especially our low-income workers: fair scheduling, wage theft, and earned sick and safe leave.
Sometimes getting our genius to the table means getting out of our own way.
Last year in the State of the City address, I announced Minneapolis: Business Made Simple, a project to examine all the places where we as a city get in the way of people investing in Minneapolis. After talking with business owners and reviewing our policies, practices and ordinances, we have created a set of recommendations for how we as a city can change how we do our business that will make it easier for entrepreneurs to do their business. We are now ready to move ahead with implementing these recommendations.
Each one of us can do something here to stop the progress of climate change. Each one of us has a gift to offer the process. Each one of us has something we can do, that we choose to do, to make sure we have a healthy planet and healthy people.
I invite each of you to join me in the Minneapolis Climate Champs Challenge. Each month I will take on the challenge of new behaviors and habits. Learn more and participate in the challenges at the Facebook page: Minneapolis Climate Champs Challenge.
I am excited to announce that the process for creating the city’s zero waste plan is underway. Council Members Kevin Reich, Cam Gordon, Linea Palmisano, Alondra Cano, and I convened the Policy Work Group in March to kick off a year-long planning process to move Minneapolis toward zero waste. Our goal is to come up with a plan that will help everyone who lives and works in Minneapolis recycle more and throw away less.
Our common future depends on our ability to sustain a strong economy and strong community. Our common future depends on having a population that is healthy, housed, educated, and contributing to the economy. Our common future depends on no life outcomes being determined by race, class, or zip code. Our common future depends on all of our genius being on the table.
Because we can’t do this without you, Minneapolis. Everyone must be in this picture or we will not be One Minneapolis.
Knowing that, the answer to today’s question is an easy one for all of us. How much genius do we want to leave on the table? How much are we willing to sacrifice our future prosperity because we struggle to muster the courage to head into a future that is thus far uncharted? None. None at all.
In the week or so since the Star Tribune reported my thoughts about the best path forward for a minimum-wage increase, some people have respectfully asked for more information about where I stand on support for working families. I am happy to provide that here.
Wages in the American economy for low-income and middle-class workers and families have stagnated in the last 40 years. The gap between low- and middle-income workers on the one hand, and the highest-paid people on the other, is the widest it’s been in nearly a century. In our region, people of color and women disproportionately suffer the consequences of such inequality. That shameful gap, unfortunately, continues to widen as family-supporting jobs are harder and harder to come by. This structural income inequality has devastating economic effects, and devastating social and moral effects as well. It hurts all of us, no matter our income, gender or race.
For these and other reasons, I support higher wages for low- and middle-income families generally, and I support increasing minimum wages. I was part of the broad coalition at the State Capitol last year in the fight for the minimum-wage victory here in Minnesota. I have stood with fast-food workers in Minneapolis to support industry-wide minimum-wage increases in that sector. For the good of our economy and the good of all of us, the minimum wage in our country and our state should be higher.
In the bigger picture, I strongly support reviving collective bargaining in the private sector overall. It’s a key part of our collective future prosperity. Our country’s 30-year, post-war economic boom was built on the foundation of strong unions, and our economic stagnation since then is due in large part to the weakening of collective bargaining in the private sector.
Collective bargaining and broad-based minimum-wage increases are two powerful tools to support and elevate working families. There are many potential tools in our tool belts that could make a big difference for working people: I am weighing all of those policy choices so that we have the best outcomes possible in Minneapolis for low-wage workers and their families.
In addition to the urgent need for state and federal action to raise the minimum wage, I believe we can explore a regional approach to raising it. Such an approach might fit our region and our families well.
I have also studied work other cities have done and are doing on municipal minimum-wage increases. Comparatively, Minneapolis alone doesn’t dominate our region the way Seattle, Chicago and New York dominate theirs. We are also unique among metro regions in having two core cities, not one, and suburbs that are home to significant numbers of minimum-wage jobs as well: Saint Paul and Bloomington are rich in the kind of jobs and businesses that would be affected by an increase. I believe Minneapolis’ going alone on a minimum-wage increase in this environment doesn’t make strategic sense for the long-term health and prosperity of the city.
I am also concerned in this context about two harmful proposals at the State Legislature. One bill would roll back last year’s statewide minimum-wage success by instituting a tip credit, which is nothing more than a loophole that would create two classes of low-wage workers. Unfortunately, Seattle took this approach to its minimum wage. This regressive policy has no place in our state and should not be part of any minimum-wage proposal.
Second, another bill would ban any city not only from raising its own minimum wage, but from requiring paid sick time. In this context, it is unwise to pursue a one-city, go-it-alone strategy, because it would create a target for legislators who are hostile to minimum-wage increases to pass laws to preclude them altogether at the local level.
I support a wide array of policies that would support and uplift working people and working families. I support minimum-wage increases as one of those policies. I was proud of us as a state last year when we made it a priority to increase the minimum wage, with indexing, and I know the good it is already doing for everyone in Minnesota. I also believe an innovative regional approach to the minimum wage may be promising. I am proud to be part of the broad conversation in Minneapolis about how to best support working families to build wealth and how best to support low-income workers improve their lives. I have been and continue to be engaged in that conversation and, along with others, am weighing the best policy options moving forward. There is a lot we can do and will do to ensure that all of Minneapolis can participate in and benefit from our growth and prosperity. Together we can find that path forward.