Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Request for a public hearing

What follows is the email sent 26 May 2009, with copies to the Mayor, Council Members and all candidates:

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Council Member Don Samuels, Chair
Committee on Public Safety and Regulatory Services

Please consider this a request for a public hearing to explore ways to eradicate graffiti in Minneapolis.

City policy now requires ALL graffiti offenses to be prosecuted as a crime. Such a policy ensures that graffiti remains a game of Hide-n-Seek, for which the City Attorney is ill equipped. Not surprising, according to the City Attorney, prosecution for graffiti "crimes" is rare. Hence, most graffiti vandals are free to operate outside the reach of the law.

Both the U.S. Supreme Court (1979) and the Minnesota Supreme Court (1993) allow rules of evidence to be simplified if graffiti tags are treated not as a "crime" but as a civil offense. In such a case, hearings may be less formal, much like resolving a parking ticket or deciding a civil matter in conciliation court. Think in terms of a civil proceeding, respect for liberty, high standard of proof, simplified procedure and due regard for legitimate concerns of the state.

Solving the graffiti menace requires a change in City policy. The end result would involve a transfer of enforcement for SOME graffiti offenses from the City Attorney to the Chief of Police. Such a change in policy merits a public discussion before your committee. Residents need a forum to discuss current graffiti policies openly, in public testimony, and to offer lawful alternatives.

I would like to meet with you to explain in greater detail why an open dialogue on how to solve the graffiti problem would serve the best interests of the City.

The Graffiti Task Force,
Ward 10, Minneapolis, Minnesota USA

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Minneapolis City Convention

On 16 May 2009, Minneapolis held it 2009 Citywide Convention. The resolution approved by the Ward 10 Convention was moved and seconded.

Arguments in favor stressed how the resolution attempts to draw parents into the graffiti solution. It applies mostly to minor graffiti offenses and does not take sides on pending legislation.

According to the City Attorney, prosecution for graffiti crimes is rare [see p. 2]. That's because City policy allows most graffiti vandals to remain outside the reach of the law. It is our duty to ask "why?". We, the adults, need to reject intimidation, choosing instead to discuss graffiti policies openly, in public testimony.

A spirited debate ensued. Opponents called for a quorum. Absence of a quorum prevented a vote on the motion.

At the Ward 10 Convention, the Mayor offered to ask his staff to arrange a meeting with him and the City Attorey to discuss the issue. Staff did not follow-up on his offer.

At the City Convention, the Mayor was asked about the lack of follow-up to his offer. He instructed an aide to make the arrangements. Time will tell.

The Graffiti Task Force,
Ward 10, Minneapolis, Minnesota USA

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Censorship claims to be "The Civil Online Town Hall". For Minneapolis, it's "A place to discuss local-level Minneapolis civic issues". Childish insults are often thrown at the Mayor and other elected officials, while legitimate discussion of issues affecting the politics of Ward 10 are censored.

The post below was deleted 2 May 2009 by David Brauer, E-Democracy Forum Manager. "I'm a censor," he bragged. 

I heard a rumor that Rep. Frank Hornstein and Rep. Jeff Hayden are refusing to support the endorsed candidate for Council in the 10th Ward. Does anyone know if that is true? If true, why not?

Both represent parts of the 10th Ward, so it would be very strange for elected DFL officials to work against an endorsed candidate.

The Graffiti Task Force,
Ward 10, Minneapolis, Minnesota USA

Another example of censorship by David Brauer, E-Democracy Forum Manager:

In the list of All posts in the topic Graffiti - a healthy debate, four are identified. Conspicuously absent is the post that started the discussion (31 August 2009).