Minneapolis manufacturer: The city doesn't care about protecting us -- so we're outta here

After 33 years in Minneapolis, Kris Wyrobek thought he could rely on the city to protect his manufacturing business. In the wake of the city’s paralysis in the rioting — which the Star Tribune helpfully notes “sometimes overshadowed peaceful protests” — Wyrobek has had enough. He’s packing up his 7-Sigma plant to rebuild elsewhere after the city let it burn down, and he’s taking 50 jobs with him:

A Minneapolis manufacturing company has decided to leave the city, with the company’s owner saying he can’t trust public officials who allowed his plant to burn during the recent riots. The move will cost the city about 50 jobs.

“They don’t care about my business,” said Kris Wyrobek, president and owner of 7-Sigma Inc., which has operated since 1987 at 2843 26th Av. in south Minneapolis. “They didn’t protect our people. We were all on our own.”

Wyrobek said the plant, which usually operates until 11 p.m., shut down about four hours early on the first night of the riots because he wanted to keep his workers out of harm’s way. He said a production supervisor and a maintenance worker who live in the neighborhood became alarmed when fire broke out at the $30 million Midtown Corner affordable housing apartment complex that was under construction next door.

“The fire engine was just sitting there,” Wyrobek said, “but they wouldn’t do anything.”

The city’s mayor Jacob Frey disputes that characterization, claiming that police and fire were doing everything they could, but no one will get fooled by that for long. The news coverage of the riots made the retreat by the city crystal clear. Even Gov. Tim Walz called the city’s response an “abject failure” when he belatedly called up the National Guard to put down the rioting and looting.

Some may shrug at Wyrobek’s declaration and say that it’s just 50 jobs, but Wyrobek isn’t likely to be alone. He just has the distinction of being the first to go public with his decision to leave, and the reasons for doing so. How many business owners in Minneapolis might decide that the risk of a repeat is just too high, and that the track record of city leadership represents a bad risk?

For that matter, some businesses might not have the ability to reopen in place even if rebuilt. Insurance losses in the riots will go over $500 million, and customers in Minneapolis will have higher rates as a result of the suddenly-exposed risk of doing business in the city. For some businesses, that might be too much of a hurdle for reinvesting in the city.

At this point in time, the city should be stressing continuity and a return to normality. They need to preserve their tax base and their jobs market in order to get the resources necessary for recovery. Instead, the city council has focused on radical change in “dismantling” the police department, rather than focus on reforming their own agency. The council president has scolded people who might be concerned about burglaries as needing to “check their privilege.” How many looted businesses will want to reopen with the city’s attitude toward protecting them after this? Even those with the financial resources to reopen? Will that cause insurers to feel more comfortable underwriting businesses in Minneapolis, or less? Lisa Bender is making the case that Minneapolis doesn’t care about its business or residential community more than her critics are.

Nevertheless, the big story in today’s Strib isn’t that the Minneapolis city council is busy burning down the rest of their credibility. It’s that Republicans are “pouncing” on it, or at least it was until the Strib changed their headline overnight. No one’s “pouncing” in this morning’s version of the story, but Donald Trump is now “on the attack”:

Hours after a majority of Minneapolis City Council members announced plans to dismantle the city’s police department, the idea reverberated in campaigns from Minnesota to Washington.

President Donald Trump went on the attack Monday, his campaign calling on Democrats to denounce the “radical” move, which Republicans say will only create more chaos in cities already damaged by riots. “We’re already seeing leading Democrats join this movement, and indeed it is consuming the entire Democrat Party, as the most extreme elements have the loudest voices and demand acquiescence,” said Tim Murtaugh, communications director for the Trump campaign.

Democratic candidate Joe Biden responded immediately in a campaign statement saying that while there’s “urgent need for reform,” he does not support defunding the police. “He hears and shares the deep grief and frustration of those calling out for change, and is driven to ensure that justice is done and that we put a stop to this terrible pain,” Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement.

Minneapolis should focus on its own failures to properly oversee its police department rather than burn it all down a second time. But even if they don’t, you can bet that the real problem at the Strib and other media will be all the pouncing Republicans do over it.