Ward 13 City Council Candidate Q&A

ward13

 Adam Faitek, left, is challenging Council Member Linea Palmisano, right.

Instructions to candidates:

NOC is a black led community based organization with a powerful and growing multicultural base. We value the leadership, courage and sacrifice of our elected officials. We’re honored to present our 2017 questionnaire for the Minneapolis City Council.

Please answer with 150 words or less for each question. The answers to this questionnaire will be made available on our website.

 

Minimum Wage

Minneapolis is well known for having some of the worst racial disparities in the country. One path towards addressing that gap is to raise wages. Do you support raising the minimum wage in Minneapolis to $15 dollars per hour as a way to bridge the racial and economic divide? Should any workers be exempted from a wage increase?

Adam Faitek: I strongly support $15 an hour without worker exemptions. Increasing the minimum wage is one of the most powerful policy levers Minneapolis has to bridge the racial and economic divide. Most importantly, it is an issue that many people of color led organizations like NOC have been taking the lead on and I believe we need to listen and respond to that. 

Linea Palmisano: Everyone deserves the ability to earn a living wage. I support raising the wage and there are many things we can do to raise people’s wages.  Adopting a $15 municipal minimum wage is a goal that most of us on City Council share. I have committed to waiting until the final report is in from all listening sessions. I spend a lot of time hearing from people on this topic and from what I know now, I see a huge benefit in being structured similarly to the state’s existing minimum wage laws. This would mean an inflator for Minneapolis from the state’s minimum wage, and one that would grow along with the state’s economic indicators. It also allows for a training wage and a youth wage. I hope that by hitching it to the state’s structure that this would promote faster and wider adoption of it beyond Minneapolis.

Tip Penalty

The Minnesota Restaurant Association is pushing for a tip penalty, which would set a lower minimum wage for tipped workers and require them to count their tips toward their base wage. Studies have shown that tip penalties hit women hardest and lead to higher rates of poverty and sexual harassment in the workplace. Passing a tip penalty in Minneapolis would also open the door to a subminimum wage for tipped workers statewide. Will you make sure that a $15 minimum wage increase includes tipped workers without a tip penalty?

Faitek: Yes, I support the $15 minimum wage without tipped penalty.

Palmisano: I find the arguments against a tip penalty very compelling. At this point, I think that Minneapolis setting a different rate for tipped workers would set a dangerous precedent at the state level. I don’t think this would help grow the adoption of this and it might bring other parts of the state backwards in progress by its introduction.

Secure Scheduling

In 2015, Minneapolis considered a policy to address the unstable work hours experienced by many hourly workers. Low wage workers in particular are often given little or no advance notice of their work schedule; others are required to work erratic weekly hours. Do you support the creation of a policy to help stabilize the work schedules of low wage workers in Minneapolis? What would your fair hours policy look like?

Faitek: I do support a policy to stabilize work schedules. Erratic work schedules negatively impact workers by increasing undue stress and putting families at risk by not providing consistent schedules and  incomes. This practice disproportionately impacts hourly, lower income employees in the retail and foodservice industry.  I propose a policy which includes guarantees such as advanced guaranteed schedule and provides more transparency and communication to workers around hours. I also want to ensure that employers cannot unfairly target employees who cannot work burdensome shifts hours and the ‘clopens’ that end up being so difficult and disruptive. 

Palmisano: What we learned in 2015 is that this is a big issue, and I think we need to study it more from the legal framework of what we can do in city policy about it. We should start with the safe/sick time and minimum wage policies and not hold them back at this time. My goals with a fair hours policy would look to address scheduling in advance/consistently and addressing the stress of scheduled back to back shifts. I am also committed to opposing preemption at the state level which would roll back our previously passed sick time ordinance and prevent us from tackling scheduling at the city level in the future.

Banking

Banks like Wells Fargo and US Bank, which have a major presence in the city of Minneapolis and downtown lobby groups, have a well documented history of redlining communities of color. Baltimore, Memphis and Los Angeles have sued Wells Fargo, and won hundreds of millions in damages, in response to their racist foreclosure policies. How can and should the city of Minneapolis hold big banks accountable for their lending practices? What city regulations can be created to produce a more equitable lending environment and prevent the theft of generational wealth in communities of color?

Faitek: I spent nearly 7 years working for Prepare + Prosper, a local nonprofit dedicated to provide safe and affordable alternatives to the Banks and alternative financial service providers (i.e. Payday lenders) that have often targeted communities of color with predatory products and lending practices.  Minneapolis needs to act as a watchdog to the Fair Housing Act, to ensure that lending practices are equitable. City regulations to support a more equitable lending environment include:

  • Stricter foreclosure laws and enforcement of payday lenders, limiting the amount and number of loans that can be taken out.

  • Requirement that banks establish low-cost loan programs for low income residents and businesses

  • Requirements that tenants or community members receive first right of refusal when an owner decides to sell a rental unit and make financing programs available for these purchases

  • Strengthening tenants rights, rent stabilization and assistance in relocation.

Palmisano: I think we can create a program for more equitable lending in communities of color and have studied this issue over this first term, working in collaboration with the Minneapolis JCA. I think the city should put your money only in institutions that don’t practice redlining or unfair foreclosure policies. I think we should look at not granting public funds or TIF tax exempt bonds to projects that bank with such institutions.

Access to Democracy

Minnesota has some of the highest voter turnout rates in the nation. Yet voter participation in neighborhoods with high concentrations of people of color is among the lowest in Minneapolis. How would you leverage your position on the city council to ensure that more people are given voting access in Minneapolis? What are some specific voter engagement strategies can you initiate as a city councilperson?

Faitek: Barriers to voter turnout need to be understood.  Minneapolis needs  to ensure that our current policies supporting turnout remain in place, including same day registration, no requirement for voter ID and the recent expansion of early absentee voting.  In my work at Prepare + Prosper, I also helped to lobby a change to add a question on the Minnesota tax returns about whether an individual wanted to register to vote, which would ensure additional access to registration. On top of that, the city council needs to:

  • Identify ward specific barriers to low turnout and develop strategies to increase turnout.

  • Engage community leaders and residents in developing strategies that combat these barriers e.g. – expand number of precincts, expand sites for early voting, door knocks and phone calling campaigns prior to elections

  • Continue to encourage educating our youth supporting curriculums in school that focus on our political process, with programs like mock elections, and voter registration in schools when children turn 18.

  • Mentoring programs for youth of color to engage them in the political process.

Palmisano: This first term, I supported new policy that requires rental landlords to distribute voter registration information to new tenants.  I am passionate about ideas to increase voter turnout and increase participation in all communities, especially communities of color. Locating early voting stations in places that are more accessible to these neighborhoods and having the staff to help them run well has helped.  Also, I’ve championed the social media efforts around early voting and about the “I Voted” campaign which also appear to have had a positive impact. I have been open to the mobile unit vote center, which would have all the ballots necessary and literally get out to residents living in areas with lower voter engagement block by block. I believe strongly in Congressman Ellison’s efforts over the years to focus on renters and young people and engage them with campaigns and within my own campaign to participate.

Education

Nationally, the cost of childcare is exceeding college tuition, and we are seeing the impacts on the local level. The ability to access high quality, affordable childcare is increasingly slim. The MN Child Care Assistance Program, or CCAP, has a waitlist of 7,000 kids, and new corporate-run centers are charging twice as much as independent centers. Do you support using City resources to fund childcare services for low income residents?

Faitek: I strongly support programs that would help mitigate this challenge, including expanded access of the Minnesota dependent care tax credit that has helped to reduce the cost burdon on low-income families.  I would commit to exploring what a city supported commitment to child care would look like. 

Palmisano: Yes, I have authored a direction that is looking at what a Pre-K program would look like at a local level, and this is a joint initiative with myself and CM Rebecca Noecker in St. Paul. Interesting programs that have been done in other municipalities (Denver is an example) have a sliding scale of fees that dramatically help with subsidy for lower income residents. Having Pre-K accessible to low income residents would be a huge step in the right direction. It will be interesting to see what comes back. This would also free up some of the County-issued vouchers to younger kids for childcare assistance. Being part of our Youth Coordinating Board has really opened up my understanding of this issue in a big way. City resources like rec centers and the park board programs are another avenue here for innovation of childcare in our community.

Transportation and Development

Public transportation in Minneapolis is unaffordable for many low income residents. Poor and working families pay a disproportionate percentage of their monthly income for public transportation. Meanwhile, billion dollar light rail lines are being developed and low-income residents are at risk of displacement and gentrification. How would you ensure that any new light rail development will ensure sustainable housing and job creation for local residents? Would you support subsidized or free fare options for low income riders on bus and light rail?

Faitek: I would pass mandatory inclusionary zoning to ensure that new developments along the light rail would require to keep a certain number of units affordable. We also need to protect those that are most vulnerable to transit price changes. I would support subsidized options for low income riders.

Palmisano: I would definitely support subsidized and sliding scale or free fare options for low income residents. I also support enhancing mobility for young people with their existing Go To passes outside of the school day routes (meaning on weekends and before curfew on weeknights). This first term, as the city representative to the SW LRT Community Works planning committee, I have strongly advocated for making sure that all public financing tools around the stations are used for affordable housing initiatives down the length of the corridor.

Housing

Minneapolis is quickly becoming unaffordable for working people. In the last few years there have been rapid rent increases and the provision of affordable housing does not meet the need. How do you plan to make sure Minneapolis retains and grows affordable housing as the region is changing?

Faitek: Affordable housing is a main component for stability and security. The lack of affordable housing in Minneapolis is  becoming a crisis and is a central part of my campaign.  My plans include:

  • As referenced above, passing mandatory inclusionary zoning.

  • Increasing the affordable housing trust fund, creating landlord damage funds, and adding other incentives to add affordable housing (and section 8 eligible housing) throughout the City.

  • Addressing the housing supply shortage by making zoning changes that would make it easier to build affordable housing across the City, and to increase the supply of middle income housing (housing that is 2 to 10 units).

  • Work to address the shortage of landlords taking section 8 housing units across the city.

Palmisano: One way is along transit corridors (see previous question) and doing everything we can to ensure that our affordable housing initiatives are taken up in a regional way, by team players along the light rail corridors. Another thing we need to do is to allow for density in corridors of our city that are zoned already for that, and I think I have made hard but good decisions this way in my first term, including in my own ward. We need to continue the work I’ve started on the public land that is near 58th/Lyndale corridor and also the HCRA property that is near the station area along SW LRT.  These are two potentials for new affordable housing in Southwest Minneapolis. Retaining affordable housing and NOAH is also key in our area, I’ve supported these initiatives every year, and we need to keep growing that.

Immigration

During the Trump administration our immigrant communities will be subjected to ever increasing levels of scrutiny. Countering Violent Extremism (CVE), for example, is a government program designed to profile and surveille Black Muslim immigrants - specifically Somali Americans. How will you leverage your position in the council to reject or promote programs like CVE? Please provide specific strategies to resist or support a presidential order to use local law enforcement to deport undocumented immigrants.

Faitek: I fully support Minneapolis’s status as Sanctuary city and support legislation that would resist a presidential order to use local law enforcement to deport undocumented immigrants. I would pass an expanded sanctuary city law that would prevent any city government employee to work with federal immigration authorities. I would also work to provide education about the CVE and make sure residents know their rights and protections in the event they are targeted.

Palmisano: I reject programs that profile and surveille anyone based on color, religion or immigration status. Our police department does not coordinate with ICE and we need better ways to communicate this to concerned communities. I think that we can be a model of this to others and stand firm in this to gain broader policy reach into other departments across the region and beyond.  This is a hard message to get people to trust and I think we need ways to do this, and part of that is through trusted community partners of all kinds. There is an immediate need to be doing everything we can to build trust with communities of color and immigrant communities.

Environment

We believe Minneapolis must play a leading role in finding environmental justice solutions for climate change. We believe that recycling our waste is not only better for the environment, it can also create community based jobs. What do you see as the path to creating a Zero Waste city in Minneapolis? How can this be done in a way that prioritizes environmental justice? Do you support closing the HERC? How should the city use the money from the Northern Metals  settlement for reparations for North and Northeast Minneapolis?

Faitek: I  support expanding recycling standards and organic waste on commercial and multifamily buildings to help us achieve zero waste city status, including a city ordinance expanding organic waste recycling.  Food waste management is a tremendous opportunity for Minneapolis to achieve zero waste. Working at Second Harvest Heartland, we have developed an innovative food rescue program that saves 30 million pounds of good food a year that would've otherwise go to landfills directly to local food shelves helping our local community. I support a transition away from HERC and support investments in making Minneapolis a zero-waste city.  I  support clean energy alternatives that do not severely impact residents in our City like HERC does. Reparations from Northern Metal need to be reinvested into the community with a focus on health and education programs, specifically targeting asthma and lead levels, community revitalization and job creation. 

Palmisano: We have made some great progress as a city toward Zero Waste this first term, but we have quite a ways to go. Our path to zero waste will mean more policy initiatives, implementation and coordination of efforts (we have set some great goals but we need to achieve them now), and education and jobs training. The way this can prioritize environmental justice is about making sure that environmental initiatives are adopted in every part of our city and providing the groundwork and community connections to make that happen. We have done a lot of good work around community gardens, our recycling vendor, incorporating Better Futures more into our community. We should use settlement from Northern Metals to specifically monitor the emissions of the HERC, the soil, and etc in a way that directly benefits those in North and NE Mpls.

4th Precinct

What lessons have you learned from the death of Jamar Clark and the related occupation of the 4th Precinct? What would you change about the city’s response to the occupation?

Faitek: The Clark shooting should have awakened the City to the fact that it needs to re-examine its entire approach to policing. The reality is that we do not currently have a community oriented policing model. I believe the roles of police should be to first build relationships and trust with the community and work with and on behalf of them in creating safe places to live. The response to the Clark shooting by the Minneapolis Police Department showed me that we are not properly listening to the communities most impacted by their violent interactions. The City should of avoided armed and military style confrontations and actually sat down with community members who are rightfully fed up with the lack of an approach to working with and behalf of them. We need a change in culture of the police department. I would work to change the arbitration process, that makes it virtually impossible right now to get rid of bad cops. I would also work to fast track the number of women and people of color within the police force, and explore a restorative justice program.

Palmisano: The lessons from this tragic part of our city’s experience are numerous.  If I could change something, it would have been around better communication and more communication from the city out to the community.  The 4th precinct occupation would have benefitted all around from this. Additionally, we heard that the community wants more community policing, and we have looked to answer that with several new initiatives this past year including health-based approaches to what used to be considered only police work.  The new grant from SAMSHA will allow us new funds to work closely with the community on what kinds of things we can do better and I’m eager to see the blueprint recently developed in collaboration with the community.

Public Safety

How can Minneapolis better support needs related to mental health, employment, and youth development outside of the current punitive law enforcement model? How would you work to develop new public safety models outside the policing system to prioritize these needs?

Faitek: Supporting these issues requires a comprehensive approach, including local community, churches schools, nonprofits, grassroots organizations and city based programs.  We need to reexamine our partnerships with current programs to make sure they are effective. Most importantly, the City must work harder at providing support to people of color led organizations that are already leading the way on addressing some of these issues. 

Palmisano: Minneapolis can revisit our diversion programs and this is one aspect of policing/judicial reform work that we haven’t looked at as closely as others. We have made progress and can work to innovate the CIT efforts, and I was an early champion of the pilot in progress to pair social workers with certain types of police calls. Public safety is what we are now incorporating more and more into our health department where I have championed the funding of programs to address anti-retaliatory violence and healing of domestic abuse.  I think we need to closely monitor these approaches and if they are good, work to expand them.

Governance

Super Bowl LII is coming to Minneapolis in 2018. How will you ensure that the multi-billion dollar event will benefit the most marginalized residents of Minneapolis, not just major corporations downtown?

Faitek: Despite not supporting public funding for the Vikings Stadium, I do believe the City should ensure the Super Bowl organizers engage with local groups to ensure inclusion of our marginalized residents. I would also support establishing minority hiring goals for the events and requirements to use a minimum percentage of women and minority owned businesses for all Super Bowl related vendors. It is especially important to engage our youth in this experience.  Additionally, there are opportunities for these individuals to experience both volunteer and temporary jobs and individuals from this group need to have the same opportunity and these should be prioritized for City residents.

Palmisano: Much has been made of the need for volunteers to assist the Super Bowl. I would much rather see more people employed at the event, instead of a reliance on volunteers. We have a board to review vendors from a lens of prioritizing contracts that are minority/local owned businesses and we need to look at incorporating employment tied to locals and people from marginalized communities. As chair of the Audit committee, I made comments at our last meeting regarding the current situation with the Vikings stadium and the MSFA. I will work diligently through the Audit committee to make sure all taxpayer dollars are used wisely as it relates to the stadium and Super Bowl. 

Gender and LGBTQ Justice

At the federal and state level, drastic cuts have been threatened to women’s health programs, protections for transgender community members have been rolled back, and the LGBTQ community is facing renewed attack. How would you as a city council member stand up against these attacks on women and the LGBTQ community?

Faitek: My values prioritize equity, inclusion, and respect for everyone.  I plan to fight against the policies that harass, demean, and deconstruct the civil rights of all in our community, especially the proposed and already implemented changes at the federal level including the Trump administration's impact on these communities. We need to strengthen our protections for our LGBTQ community and support local programs that provide provider protection for our communities.  

Palmisano: Continue to be present, continue to speak out all the time, and continue to support all the great work our city does every day to further the tolerance and promote women and the LGBTQ communities as part of what makes Minneapolis vital and whole. I’ll be keenly interested in suggestions from our Transgender Policy Advisory group, which I supported with staff in it’s beginnings as a work group. I’ll continue to work with young people through the Youth Congress and Youth Coordinating Board.

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