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Day in the Life: March 28

We had some good news today.  For the first time in memory, every department in the city underspent its budget....so if you see a manager from the city, thank them for good work.   It means we have a one time windfall.  There are plenty of pent up spending needs but I feel strongly that we have to be smart about it and use it to give us longer term financial breathing room.  My recommendation is that we use it to pay debts so it frees us money over the long term. 

Think of it like this: If you get a Holiday bonus, you could use it to go on a trip, or you could use it to pay off your credit card bills....Paying the bills first means you have more to spend over the long term.  That's why I'm recommending we use $10 million to pay off debt, which means we have $1 million a year more to spend every year for the next decade.   I have committed that that$1 million a year will go to public safety so if we do this it will head off some of the public safety cuts we don't want to make.

In addition, the good management by department heads means we will have $2 million to move forward on the One Call system that will mean as of January you can call 311 to get any department in the city. This, too, should save us money in the long term and make it easier for citizens to get service.

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I had a really interesting couple hours this morning at Henry High School. My goal was to listen to kids talk about how to make their neighborhoods in north Minneapolis better.   I got a lot out of it; with all the work we are trying to do in north Minneapolis I have many many people telling me what is best for youth....so it was refreshing to hear from youth themselves.   Most of the time I listened and heard a lot.  An overwhelming theme was about not having enough places to go to feel safe and comfortable.   Think about it: where do we really welcome teenagers?  Parks that close too early, businesses that limit the hours teenagers can be there....     I heard a lot about kids wanting to find places to work...Step up helps but many added that they need work all year around.

We also got a lot into gangs and the effect they have on the kids' lives.  They are facing some real challenges but I was really impressed with how clear they were.  There were also some really good stories in the class, about kids who are facing some real obstacles but won't let that stop them....one kid moved from another school where he had gotten into some trouble but now was getting straight A s.

It's also really impressive to see how the teachers get the kids to open up.....especially John Strand, the English teacher who organized the visit for me.

I was also really happy tonight when I got to my computer to find an email from one of the students who had more ideas about what we need to do in the neighborhood.  I hope they keep writing. 

March 28, 2005 in Day In The Life | Permalink

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