By Esme Murphy


MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Later this week, the mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul will be presenting their budgets for 2020. Both are halfway through their first terms, so we thought it would be a good time to see if they’re making the grade.

WCCO’s Esme Murphy presents her mid-term report card for St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter. (She will grade Minneapolis Mayor Frey on Wednesday.)

“St. Paul is a city of great momentum, but it’s also a city of deep inequity,” Carter said at his 2018 swearing in ceremony.

When it comes to tackling inequality we give the Mayor an A for fulfilling two campaign promises: raising the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, and setting up a college fund to launch in 2020 with $50 in it for every child born in St. Paul.

“I think raising the minimum wage is an enormous deal,” Carter told WCCO recently.

As for roads, we give the Mayor a D-. That is the letter grade equivalent to the 62 out of 100 rating that the public works department just gave city streets in a report. The report also blames years of under-funding. The Mayor says even with an old problem, the buck stops with him.

“My wife will always remind me I spent two years asking everybody for this job. We’ve got to get the work done,” he said.

For Affordable Housing the Mayor gets a B. He pushed through a $10 million Housing Trust Fund with an additional $2 million of funding every year to provide housing initiatives to low-income residents.

On crime it’s a C. While crime dropped in 2018, violent crimes are up 6.1 percent in 2019.

For sustainability, Carter gets an A. St. Paul was awarded a $2.5 million climate challenge grant last year

Beyond the main grades, Carter also gets extra credit for expanding access to after school programs, recreation centers and even libraries where attendance is up after he helped abolish library fines.

However, the mayor gets a demerit for a vacant St. Paul home he owns with his ex-wife. The house has been cited for city code violations.

“It’s in disrepair right now, so we’re in the process of getting bids,” Carter said.

As for what grade he’d give himself, Carter says “I think it’s not up to me, it’s up to the people of this city to give me a grade, the taxpayers, the voters of this city to give me a grade. As far as I’m concerned, it’s never enough and we have to keep on pushing.”

Murphy said obviously these grades are subjective, but for an explanation, see the full report card below:

Esme Murphy

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