Missing & Dysfunctional Crosswalks
I'm researching information on Northeast Minneapolis intersections (crossing points) that desperately need a marked crosswalk or flashing signal or where there are existing crosswalks that have installed signals that are malfunctioning or where signage is generally ignored by motorists. Please send me the details including exact locations and whether you've alerted the City of Minneapolis to the need for crosswalks, repairs or enforcement. 311 tracking numbers would be helpful if you have them. Email AskGladys@live.com or submit the info through the contact form on my main page.
Do you have an occupied residence on your block where the sidewalk has not been shoveled all winter (or insufficiently shoveled), and which has also been reported to 311, but no compliance has been achieved yet? Please send me the details including exact address, number of complaints made to 311 and any 311 reference numbers if you have them. Email AskGladys@live.com or submit the info through the contact form on my main page.
Alley Trawlers (Theft of Recyclables)
Who are these strange people I see driving through my alley taking recyclables and other things?
D. D., Waite Park
Yours Truly has an almost endless list of pet peeves--as you might guess--but this one, I must say, is near the top. Those people are what I disdainfully refer to as Alley Trawlers – more commonly known as thieves, crooks and trespassers.
I have been tracking one particularly notorious Alley Trawler for nearly eight years now, having been nearly clipped by him numerous times as he speeds, without care, from alley to alley without bothering to slow for pedestrians at sidewalk crossings. I have nicknamed him, “Menace to Society,” and have made countless calls to 911 in an attempt to expel him from my neighborhood.
The City of Minneapolis actually has several ordinances which address the various actions and activities of these lawbreakers. To begin with, ordinance 244.355 states that “recyclable materials placed at the solid waste collection point (SWCP)… shall be collected only by the city's recycling crews,” and that “no unauthorized person shall collect recyclable material set out at the SWCP or otherwise intended for city authorized collection.”
The ordinance states in summary that “unauthorized collection or ‘scavenging’ may reduce the volumes of material collected as part of the city's designated program and thereby threaten the economic viability of the program,” as well as cause confusion among residents.
Setting aside the arguments about whether or not the Overseers of This Great City of Ours properly manage its financial resources, the theft of recyclable materials steals revenue from the City. Guess what happens then? The City has another excuse to raise taxes and fees. I don’t know about you, D.D., but Yours Truly has just about reached the breaking point with this city’s taxes and fees. We’ve got sales taxes, property taxes, restaurant taxes, stadium taxes (yes, I know that’s Hennepin County), liquor taxes, lodging taxes, transportation excise taxes, entertainment taxes, fees, surcharges, levies, additional overcharges and on and on! I’ll save that rant for another day, back to the Alley Trawlers…
A number of years ago, I telephoned Susan Young, the Director of Solid Waste and Recycling for the City of Minneapolis, to see what she had to say about the theft of recyclables in Minneapolis. The first word out of her mouth was a resounding “Arrrgh!” (It seems as if the mantra of Yours Truly is catching on!)
Ms. Young explained that the City of Minneapolis is one of the few cities in the nation that just breaks even on its recyclable program. Young said, “I can’t sell garbage, but I can sell recyclables.” She said that in 2006 the City’s recycling program took in $1.8 million, and that income from the City’s recycling program helps to keep solid waste fees down for businesses and residents. She says the money is also being saved to pay for a new transfer station. “I’d rather ‘pay as you go,’ as opposed to bonding for that,” she said.
Young says she’s spoken to the police about the theft problem and encourages all residents to call 911 whenever they see the scavengers. “We have one guy from Elk River that we can’t catch, he drives a black truck. He leaves the city everyday with about $500 to $700 worth of aluminum,” she said. “We want to catch these people.”
Other City ordinances state that it is illegal to remove anything from a dumpster or waste receptacle without the consent of the owner or occupant of the property (255.590 and 255.720). Section 530.150 (Title 20) also prohibits vehicular traffic from using alleys for through-transportation—the vehicle and occupant must have a verifiable reason for traveling through any alley not adjacent to one’s own property.
In summary, D.D., call 911 when ever you see a suspicious vehicle in the alley or if you witness the theft of recyclables.
I was recently verbally accosted by a panhandler on an exit ramp by the Quarry shopping center. I called 911 and reported the person. What else can I do to help clear my neighborhood of panhandlers?
T. P., Audubon Park
Ahhh, I’ve always said, “Opportunity abounds in this country.” Where else can you potentially earn in excess of $60 an hour for standing on a street corner doing nothing more than sticking your hand out? That’s far more than Yours Truly earns as a lowly advice and opinion writer. Hmmm, I bet I could dig up a piece of cardboard somewhere.... Oh, sorry, I’m getting sidetracked.
First, T. P., I've been told that most of these people prefer to be called SCAMMERs (Swindlers Cashing-in At Many Minneapolis Exit Ramps). Others prefer the term HOMELESS (Hustlers On Minneapolis Exit-ramps Lying to Extract Silver from Samaritans). Although, the latter is a bit of a misnomer since the Minneapolis Police Department tells us on its website that many of the solicitors do, indeed, have homes--in addition to making up stories to get your money and using money for drugs and alcohol. Still, some are sticking with the old-school nomenclature of BUM (Bilking Unsuspecting Motorists).
You were correct in calling 911. The City of Minneapolis has an ordinance prohibiting aggressive solicitation, or panhandling. According to the Minneapolis Code of Ordinances, 385.60, solicitation occurs when the person makes a “vocal request for an immediate donation of money or items,” or when the person “verbally offers, or actively provides, an item or service of little value in exchange for a donation” (cleaning vehicle windows, for example). However, the ordinance notes that it is not considered solicitation if the person is “passively standing, sitting, or engaging in a performance of art with a sign or other indication that a donation is being sought, without any vocal request other than in response to an inquiry by another person.”
According to the ordinance, solicitation is considered “aggressive” when it becomes “disturbing or disruptive to residents or businesses,” or when it causes the “loss of enjoyment of public places” or contributes to a “sense of fear, intimidation and disorder.”
The ordinance states that aggressive solicitation may include “approaching or following pedestrians, repetitive soliciting despite refusals, the use of abusive or profane language to cause fear and intimidation, unwanted physical contact, or the intentional blocking of pedestrian and vehicular traffic.” How many times have you missed a light because some “not-smart” person with a guilt-complex holds up traffic while peeling off dollar bills to some guy who probably makes more money than he or she does? Arrrrgh!
To add further insult, Yours Truly has heard the Sex Offender Notification Coordinator for the Sex Crimes Unit of the MPD remark that he often sees his “clients” at the exit ramps with their cardboard signs. T.P., people really need to think more clearly about the kinds of people they are supporting when they give money to panhandlers. Double arrrgh!
The ordinance goes on to list a number of locations where solicitation is prohibited: Restrooms, bus stops, light rail stops, crosswalks, on public transit, sidewalk cafés, in lines waiting for admittance to a commercial or governmental establishments, within twenty feet of an automatic teller machine or entrance of a bank, other financial institution or check cashing business.
It is also unlawful for the solicitor to touch, block the path of, or follow behind, ahead or alongside a person who walks away from the solicitor after being solicited.
T.P., I feel your pain. Even the mayor of our “progressive city” has implored residents not to give money to panhandlers, and the MPD recommends that you continue to call 911 every time you are solicited. May a plague of locusts alight upon the people who perpetuate this scourge on our society by continuing to give money to panhandlers!