February 2022 Community Meeting

Audubon Community Meeting

Online via Zoom

February 7 2022, 7pm


City Council Update, Elliot Payne

Be SMART Presentation, Megan Marsh

Audubon Farmers Market Update, Deborah Brister

City Council Update, CM Elliot Payne

I am the ward one council member. Happy Black History Month to everybody. We are celebrating this Black History Month this year with a heavy heart with the death of a mirror lock. I'm sure you've all been paying attention to the news and he died by the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department during a no not born on Wednesday morning.

I personally ran for city council because of just how traumatized I was over the murder of George Floyd I, in my kind of thinking brain knew another shooting would inevitably happen under my watch. I my feeling heart wasn't necessarily prepared for it to happen so soon into the term. But this is why I'm here. And this is why I ran and so I'm not sure if you have all seen either report in the news or if you follow any of my newsletter or social media accounts. I'm working with my colleagues to introduce the Department of Public Safety. This is going to be different from the debate that we live through during the election cycle. I'm working with my colleagues to get to a unanimous support to have you know, and if this process is we're early in the process, there's gonna be room for me to work with my colleagues.

I've had a great conversation with the mayor over the weekend. building support for a unanimous process where we could do this via ordinance just with city council. As long as we're all on board with the same ideas and I'm building I'm building momentum around the concept that really there was a lot of consensus around during the election cycle of this both this concept of a both and approach where we want to start bringing in alternatives while taking on the issue of police reform. And so it's very early. There's not a lot of news to share other than the fact that I'm pursuing it and that I've had really constructive conversations both with the mayor and a lot of my colleagues and so there's going to be more to come there. You know, I would have otherwise been prepared to share kind of just some standard information about the new term. My committee assignments are public health and safety. I'm a leader. I'm in the leadership position there as the Vice Chair.

I am on the Public Works and infrastructure, which I think is a notable committee assignment. As it relates to the 29th Avenue reconstruction project Lowry Avenue is getting redesigned. 37th Avenue is getting redesigned. And there's going to be some work on Central Avenue as it relates to bus rapid transit down the road. pun fully intended, but we'll go with it. And, you know, a month in a lot of the work that we're doing is building relationships, figuring out what all my colleagues priorities are and I'm feeling really, really, really good about a lot of that early work that I'm doing with my colleagues. And unfortunately, the issue of public safety has risen to the top once again because of the circumstances that we're in, but I am this is what I'm here for I'm ready to lead in this conversation. And I'm I'm very hopeful about our path forward as a big or constructive path forward. And I think that we have been able to settle some of the political debate around this and can begin moving into a more productive territory where we really actually just need to address this this crisis that we're constantly living under.

Another area of high priority is housing policy, whether that's rent stabilization or the need for new construction where we have housing prices that are pretty out of control right now. I'm definitely digging into that and I'm just excited to be here and I guess I should also say I'm an Autobahn resident. I live right across the street from Northeast middle school, so I have to go to every neighborhood association as a as a council member, but this is actually my home neighborhood. So I'm happy to be here and happy to have questions, if anybody has any.

Anne Bechtel

Yes, Councilmember Payne, we talked when you were running we met in my front yard, which was nice to see you here. And can you fill us in a little bit about what your vision for a Department of Public Safety looks like briefly?

The concept is, we have a lot of different initiatives around public safety that are not directly associated with the police that are kind of disconnected. And so you know, one of the things that I ran on was the work around the mental health response and so that that team is now launched and in the field, it's a it's a pilot right now. But it is teams of an EMS paired with a mental health professional that can directly respond to 911 calls when there's somebody that's experiencing a mental health crisis. And we have the Office of Violence Prevention which is in the Health Department, which has some of the violence interrupters that are doing work around group violence, also known as gang violence.

We have initiatives around utilizing regulatory services to take police reports for non violent theft reporting. So we have these various approaches to public safety that aren't directly a police response that exist and all these different pockets within city hall. And the concept of the Department of Public Safety is to bring all of those different responses under one roof so that you can have a more connected and integrated approach to that. And it's in my vision, it's not getting rid of the police. It's having these alternatives available when appropriate. And you know, my aspiration would be that these are such strong responses that we don't need to rely on the police for as much stuff so that the police can strictly focus on what they are best prepared and trained to do. And so if anybody hopefully hasn't had to experience calling the police but if you have experienced calling the police you know, especially I feel like over here at the top of the hill and park.

A lot of things that we'll typically deal with are like a garage break and which I think is one of the more common things or, you know, my next door neighbor did get there. They got their catalytic converter stolen. And it was terrible because I have one of those doorbell cameras and I was able to like actually have a little video clip of when it happened and it happened so fast. It was like three in the morning. And when you have to call the police for that you know, they'll come and they'll take our report. But there isn't a lot they're going to be able to do to get your catalytic converter back or to, you know, restore your stolen bike. Oftentimes you just need that report for insurance purposes.

So it's to shift some of the burden off of the police department. And have it be a response that can handle that more appropriately. So that's the concept of the Public Safety Department. And I'll say this, this is not going to be a rehash of what we just voted on. And a lot of that has to do with during the last election, we also had the ballot measure around this concept of a strong mayor. So this department is still going to report directly to the mayor whereas what we voted on last time was theoretically moving all of these responses including the police under City Council's oversight. It's all going to be managed by the mayor still this is more of a operational streamlining when it comes to coming up with alternative responses for some of these less urgent issues or more, more preventative issues. So another update to when it comes to that is the second precinct is going to have new leadership coming in. Our inspector has retired. He retired at the end of January. And so we are getting a new inspector moving over from the third precinct and he's also bringing over some of his team members for the second precinct. And I'm arranging a meeting along with my colleagues and the third ward and Second Ward because the second precinct serves all three of those words word one, two and three.

There'll be more to come from that and another big update is we just appointed a new director of Public Works which is going to be really important as it relates to some of the new construction projects. And it is Margaret Anderson Kelleher is going to be our new director of Public Works. She is formerly the commissioner walk she's probably currently the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Transportation. And you will probably know this name if you have even had a modicum of paying attention to politics in Minnesota. She was our last DFL endorsed candidate for governor and I think that was back in 2010. And prior to that she was the Speaker of the House and so she brings really deep experience and knowledge when it comes to policymaking, let alone managing a large government department. So that's a pretty big update. I'm sure there's more to talk about that. I mean, your locks death is still really heavy on my mind and on my heart. So I think that kind of covers that.

Be SMART Program, Megan Walsh

My name is Megan Walsh. I'm a volunteer with Moms Demand Action and I'm actually the lead volunteer for the SMART program which is mom's educational program. Obviously we just heard from the council member and gun violence right now feels very political and urgent. And I 100% feel and expect lots of emotions around around this issue tonight. I wanted to start out though by saying that the be SMART program is really focused on keeping kids safe, and things that we can all agree on. We recognize that individuals who are law abiding have a right to keep a gun in their home. I'm not here to talk about that. I'm not here to question that. And I'm not here to talk about laws. I'm really here to talk about things that we can all agree on and things that we can all do as a community. And so that's one of the really nice things about being here with you tonight. I love to see this kind of civic engagement and people really acting locally, to be part of their communities and making a better place and that's that's part of why I do this work. I got involved with Moms Demand when I have my own kids. I now have three daughters who are loud and on their way to bed so you might hear them in the background. We know that as a slideshows, more than 1600 children under the age of 18 are killed with guns in the US every year and that makes an average of five children every day. Most recently, the statistics have changed to show that gun violence is actually the leading cause of death when you incorporate all children and teens. up into the age of 19. And even without the teen numbers. It's the first leading cause of death for black children.

Approximately 5.4 million children in the US live in a household with at least one loaded, unlocked firearm. school shootings and mass shootings typically make headlines. But the reality is that for children under the age of 13 homicides most frequently occur in the home when they occur with gun. It was just in December that there was a school shooting in Oxford. I'm sure that it's also on your mind. And of course we have the shooting here in Richfield. We know that an incidence of gunfire in school grounds up to 80% of shooters under the age of 18. Obtain the guns they use from their home or the home of a family member or friend. And of course that's exactly what happened in Oxford. I know this is a hard issue, especially after the week. That we've had in Minnesota. But I'm here to ask you to leave politics at the door for now and focus on things that we can all agree on. One, we all want our kids to grow up happy and healthy, to each have the right to make a decision about how to protect our families and our communities. And that includes the right for law abiding gun owners. To choose to have a gun in their home. And third, if we can prevent even one child death or injury at the hands of the gun. It's our responsibility to do that.

Be SMART is an acronym. And so this slide shows you what all of the letters in smart stand for S is securing your guns and is modeling responsible behavior is asking about unsecured guns and other own homes and ours for recognizing the role of guns and suicide. T is for telling your peers to be smart so the essence smart is for securing your guns in homes and vehicles. This is really the crux of the be SMART program because we know that secure storage can truly save lives. Their team millions households with children contain at least one gun and the majority of children and gun owning households know where the gun is stored. As I said before an incidence of gunfire in school grounds the majority of school shooters under the age of 18 obtain their guns from the home of relatives or friends. So ensuring that your children that your teens cannot access firearms, especially in a time of emotional crisis and other situations can can truly save a life and we want to emphasize that hiding a gun is not securing a gun. Securing when we talk about secure or safe storage means securing your firearm with the lock and securing the ammunition separately from the gun. Of course in Minnesota, we have laws that allow individuals under the age of 18 to get a firearms permit for hunting. And so here of course we do have children under the age of 18 who are trained to use guns and can access them. So that's that's another part of the undercurrent of this message is this is this is something that happens all the time in Minnesota. We've had a huge increase in the amount of guns that have been purchased since the pandemic began. And with that number we have also seen a rise in unintentional shootings of children and and that's something we really can prevent that, actually the average age of unintentional shootings of children occur with toddlers. You might have heard also in Minnesota that on Thanksgiving we had an incident where some children were making a social media video, and a child was shot unintentionally and ultimately died from his injuries. So this is something that that happens here in Minnesota, unfortunately several times every year for as long as I've been doing this.

M is for modeling responsible behavior. As we saw on the slide before, a study showed that the majority of children are aware where their parents store their guns and more than 1/3 reported handling their parents guns, even without the knowledge of their parents. Nearly a quarter of those parents did not know that their children had handled the gun in their own home. So our perspective on this is that it is a parent's responsibility to ensure that firearms are locked and secured. And we encourage you to talk to your children about firearms and what to do in a situation where they might come across a firearm. But we want to encourage you to think about that's not a guarantee. That's a precaution at this point. I mean, I'm talking with my children about firearms. We all have to figure out how to have those conversations with our kids. But one of the things that we ask volunteers to do is just kind of imagine what it was like when you were younger. And was there something that you did that you know you weren't supposed to do and your parents never found out and if you can put yourself in that mindset helps you kind of think about what a child might be going through who stumbles upon a firearm or finds one in a closet or at a friend's house or something like that. So modeling responsible behavior means that smart adults are making sure that their kids don't have the opportunity to access firearms. A and smart is for asking about unsecured guns and other homes. I know when I have young kids who are going over to friends houses for the first time I have a series of questions that I often ask I might say that you know my daughter gets very scared around large dogs. If you have a child with an allergy, you're probably very much used to having a conversation about what your child can and cannot have or snacks. And we encourage you to think about asking about unsecured firearms when your children will be in other homes. A couple of suggestions we have our trade an email or text if at first you are feeling a little awkward about it. I will say I've had this conversation a number of times and I've never had a negative reaction. One thing that we do encourage people to ask is you don't have to necessarily ask like do you have firearms? One way that we have encouraged people to say it is if you have firearms which you share how they're secured. And then it's not a question that's putting them on the offensive about if they have a gun in their home or not. It's more about this is what I'm concerned about. I'm concerned about my kid accidentally finding a firearm. So I would love to know how they're secured so that my child doesn't do something he or she is not supposed to do. As your kids get older you can think about having conversations in a different context. I'm not there yet, but thinking about if there's going to be alcohol in the home, if a parent or guardian or another grown up, we'll be home while the children are there. If there's gonna be video games, things like that. So even though this can feel a little awkward at first, we're really just trying to kind of create a ripple effect and the more parents who have this conversation, the more normalized it will be. I will say it's led to really good conversations among my friends among the parents of my children. And as I've been doing this for several years now, it's more and more common that every time I give this presentation that there's someone in the room and more often several people who have done this themselves and have had good experiences or is for recognizing the role of dons and suicide and and I always like to say at the beginning of this slide that I'm always a little uncomfortable talking about this because I'm not a medical professional by any means. I'm not an expert. I'm just sharing this information with you to deal with it to make your own decisions. Recognizing the role of guns in suicide requires us to think about these things. Most people who attempt suicide do not die unless they use a gun. In fact, 90% of suicide attempts with a gun result in death and that is a much higher fatality rate than any other means of self harm. And this contributes to the fact that 40% of child suicides involve a gun.

So if you know that your loved one is in distress, you might want to consider temporarily removing a firearm if you have one in your home local law enforcement may be willing to temporarily store your guns and I actually recently had a conversation with a former Hennepin County officer who said that Hennepin County will take firearms I know you guys are all in Hennepin County but even if you're not in Hennepin County they will accept firearms. Some licensed gun dealers or gun ranges may be willing to temporarily store your guns or you can temporarily store them in the home of a family or friend. The National Youth Survey conducted by the CDC showed that 17% of high school students surveyed had seriously considered attempting suicide within the last year. And that number always hits me really hard because if I think back to high school and think about one in five of my friends would have been going through that. That seems like like a really significant number to me. And remember these numbers are pre pandemic and we all know that our teenagers have been going through much more emotional stress as they navigate the pandemic as we all are. And one study showed that 41% of adolescents in gun owning households report having easy access to guns in their home. Research shows that secure firearm storage is associated with a decreased risk of child firearm suicide. And that relates to to all the factors that I just discussed above. These are some resources that are available the Suicide Prevention Lifeline The Trevor Project which works with LGBTQ youth, and then there's a text number that you can contact from anywhere in the United States about crises. I also encourage you of course if you have concerns about mental health in your home to reach out to medical professionals, as I said, I'm not I'm not a medical expert. But we know that when we stop access to firearms when you have someone who is in a time of crisis that truly can save lives because the fatality rate is so much higher when attempts are made using a firearm.

We partner with law enforcement we partnered with St. Paul city council members we've partnered with religious organizations PTAs all kinds of Rotary Clubs. Anyone who is interested in talking about how to keep kids safe. Someone here's the the smart message everyone 21 minutes and we encourage you to use something that you may have heard tonight, if you have children were asking is something that you can incorporate into your practices. That's another way to be smart. Say hey, I saw this presentation at my community meeting. So it's on the top of my head. Really anything that that makes you feel comfortable using your own words. I mean, I'd love to have more volunteers too. We do this all volunteer so if anyone is interested, I can put my email in the chat. Because we're always looking for people to give these presentations to do outreach. If you have a community or even a group of parent friends, you know we do these presentations for smaller groups. So please contact me. We just are trying to get this message out and to have people talk about this. And again, this is the B SMART acronym securing firearms modeling responsible behavior, asking about unsecured guns, recognizing the role of guns and suicide and telling your peers to be smart. I also like to show this slide at the end. Just shows that I'm not making it up. These are all our all our sources. For all the data that I shared today. And you know, it's not the easiest to read, but I promise it's there. So I am happy to take any questions or if anyone has a discussion point that they want to share.

I also want to just share one more thing. We did get a grant to purchase a lot of gun locks that we are distributing for free and and has volunteered to be a resource and if anyone here has a use for a gun lock. They're not intended to be like party gifts. They're intended to hopefully go to homes that want to lock up their gun and we'll use them but I'm happy to deliver them to Ann and she can get them to people in your community.

So here are their cable locks that we give away. So you thread them through the firearm and then they can't be discharged when the gun is attached. These ones are key locks. We also encourage people if you're concerned about trying to access your firearm quickly, there's a lot of really cool safes, some of which are biometrically connected. So all you have to do is touch your finger to the lock to get it open. Otherwise there are some with numbers on them. Like number codes and so you can practice going to do through the code really quickly so you can still have the firearm secured and also access it quickly if you need it in an emergency.

Anne Bechtel

Okay, so I'll connect with Meghan to get a handful of them and if you can feel free to reach out to me and and we can connect and I can get you one or two gun gun locks if that is something that you would find useful. Yeah, don't don't underestimate the power of children to explore and find things that they're not supposed to find and play with them. That is often what we hear about in the news when when you learn that a child has died of an accidental gunshot and it's completely unintentional but prevent preventable, preventable

Absolutely, yeah. And Plymouth a few years ago we had a child who access to a firearm that was hidden in a toy box. It was a someone from outside the home had left it in the home and the parent didn't even know it was there. And the child accepts it and then ultimately perish from his injuries. So this happens. So sadly, very, it's very preventable. Yet it happens multiple times over a year here in Minnesota. Okay. Well, thank you very much for your time. Thank you and for for having us here and to everybody for listening to me.

Audubon Farmers Market, Deborah Brister

Our farmers market season is coming up. Our dates are going to be June 9 through September 29. And they will be on the same days on Thursdays from four to seven. So three hours per market. But we have some new news. We will be moving the market this year. We are still exploring locations but we have some very good possibilities one of which may be the a portion of the public parking lot That is on 28th and Johnson right next to coffee shop Northeast and the northeaster. But we are still talking about that. So nothing is nothing is set in stone yet but that looks like that can be a very good, viable location, both not only for the farmers market but also for our businesses on Johnson Street as well. So that's pretty exciting. I am going to be looking for an assistant Farmers Market Manager and so I will be putting together the job description here probably within the next week or so. And so we'll be posting that. And I will also be having applications posted. Again, within about a week to two weeks we'll get those out and those will look different this year as well. We're going to be using a service called Manage my market. And it's completely online. It's an application that if a vendor wants to do multiple markets, and those markets are also on this on this app, they don't have to go through the real laborious task of all the applications and submitting all the insurance information and things like that. It's very streamlined, both for vendors and for the market managers. So all in all, it's going to be a very exciting year this year. And we're looking forward to it and I hope I hope we'll all see you out there. Okay, and that's what I've got for the Farmers Market Report. They have any questions?


How many hours a week is the assistant that you're posting for just in case anybody has any ideas of a good candidate for us?

Deborah Brister

Well, it's probably going to end up being about six hours a week, give or take. And it's going to require some a good workout both before and after the market because it will entail helping the setup. The canopies the tents. Tables and chairs and things like that as well. Weights also. So by the end of the market season, you know we're always in pretty good shape because we've been lifting weights all summer long, but in terms of time, it will be basically assisting with setting up working through the market. Now I'm doing a lot of community engagement. So if you like people and really enjoy reaching out to people, it's a great gig. You get to know you know your neighbors and and you know be around food and love kids and it's it's really fun. And then so then it will also include breaking down the market. And so I would say putting, putting an hour on both ends of the market so that's about a five hour day on Thursdays, and then probably about one hour during the week for posting on social media and other miscellaneous tasks.

Meeting adjourned