Mpls Mayoral Race: Gers, Hoch, Hodges, Iverson

On to the next four candidates! (Just to reiterate: I’m profiling candidates four to a post. I’m going in alphabetical order. If you’re looking for Frey, he was in the last post. If you’re looking for Levy-Pounds, she’ll be in the next post.)

Charlie Gers LIBERTARIAN PARTY
Tom Hoch DEMOCRATIC-FARMER-LABOR
Betsy Hodges DEMOCRATIC-FARMER-LABOR
Gregg A. Iverson DEMOCRATIC-FARMER-LABOR

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Mpls Mayoral Race: followup on last post

In a conversation on Facebook, a couple of people piled on Frey a bit. Someone noted that he had taken a $250 donation from the Police Federation a few months back, then defended this with “it wasn’t that big a donation.” Someone else noted that he called himself “the BLM candidate,” adding, “I can honestly say that I never saw his butt at the 4th Precinct or anything else. Dehn was there regularly.”

And this kind of touches on two issues I was thinking about last night but was too busy to pull into focus. (I started that post nine days ago and had it sitting in an open browser window and kept getting bogged down so I really wanted to get it done.)

  1. Frey is really working from an outdated script on police issues. While I would not vote for him for mayor, I feel like browsing Al Flowers’ history with the Minneapolis Police puts a lot of stuff out there pretty clearly. He is a Black man who has been repeatedly beaten up by the cops for no reason. And this isn’t new. This isn’t remotely new. But since 2014, thanks to the Black Lives Matter movement, there’s increasingly an expectation that people like mayors take action to actually deal with out-of-control, brutal police officers, people who use their badge as a license to abuse and even kill with impunity and to endanger the communities they allegedly serve.

    But Frey is still talking about how having beat cops will solve this problem. Having Christopher Reiter patrolling your neighborhood every day is not going to help anything. (That link leads to an article with a video of Reiter kicking the man in the face. This guy had been ordered out of his car; he obeyed immediately and got on his hands and knees, like you literally could not ask for someone to be more obviously unresistant and unthreatening. Reiter broke his jaw and left him with a permanent brain injury.)

  2. Frey is also really fond of claiming credit for stuff, and maybe he actually did a lot of stuff, but there are thirteen people on the city council and it’s kind of hard to believe that he was as personally responsible as he claims to be for as many things as he says he led on, piloted, ran, authored, etc. I hesitated to say this last night because it felt unfair; there are people who are just that energetic. But … I mean … there are also a lot of people out there who will unhesitatingly claim sole credit for a team effort. And someone who will claim to be the BLM candidate (as a white guy! in a race that also includes Nekima Levy-Pounds! when you weren’t showing up at the protests!) …hearing that made me think, “maybe I was trying too hard to be fair about the ‘claiming credit for everything good that’s happened since he took office’ stuff.”

Finally, someone e-mailed me an article about the use-of-force policy stuff that Frey was probably talking about. (Noting that it probably wouldn’t have made a difference for Justine Damond.)

I have never been entirely clear about the extent to which the mayor can impose policy on the police department, in part because the Minneapolis Police Department seems to operate so thoroughly without oversight of any kind. But this bit:

[Police Officers Federation President Bob Kroll] also challenged a provision that would hold an officer accountable “if their actions unnecessarily place themselves, the suspect, or the public in a deadly force situation.” That would make it easier to punish officers even if their actions comply with a law allowing the use of deadly force to protect themselves from great bodily harm or death, he said.

That is exactly the sort of policy change we need, whether cops like it or not. If you shoot a person dead because you put yourself in a bad situation where you then felt the need to kill someone to protect yourself? Yeah. You should be fucking held accountable. I’m sorry that it offends you that the people you supposedly are here to protect want you to actually prioritize not killing people as you do your job?

(And not firing at moving cars ought to be standard policy. You will miss and your bullet will probably hit someone else, so yeah, just get the hell out of the way. I had a friend years ago who watched a security guard fire his gun at a car that was backing out at about 5 mph as the guard tried to block the parking space to keep a shoplifter from getting away. It was in the parking lot of the Lake Street Cub Foods, which is in the same plaza as the Lake Street Target — this is a parking lot that is routinely full of people, day and night, and a bullet that misses its target could hit any number of random people, some of them children. I was so incensed I got in touch with my City Council rep and demanded an investigation. The guard claimed that they were “coming at him and trying to hit him” and as far as I know, absolutely nothing came of this.)

I also heard a bunch of complaints about my comparison between upzoning and deregulation. And, fine. Upzoning isn’t removing zoning, it’s just changing the zoning. But fundamentally, someone found a fancy-pants real estate term to avoid pointing out that the complaint here is that there are a bunch of regulations put into place by well-meaning people that are restrictive, annoying, and having results you don’t like, and you are hoping that removing some of these restrictions will result in market-based solutions to things that everyone agrees are a problem (like “not enough affordable housing.”)

I just find that funny! I mean, on a local level, there are plenty of places where the conservative/liberal divide starts to fall apart. Almost everyone agrees that Minneapolis has a lot of pointless and annoying regulations that are not effectively accomplishing any useful goal; that’s not a Republican stance, that’s the stance of anyone who’s ever found out they were supposed to have their dishwasher installation officially inspected by someone from the city. (To name one minor example.) I am in favor of regulations (including zoning) that accomplish the goals I think are a good idea, and we can join hands across the partisan aisle (although in Minneapolis, the partisan divide is Democrat vs. Green) and remove the regulations that discriminate against the already marginalized (and also the regulations that do literally nothing other than annoy everyone and possibly provide full employment for dishwasher inspectors.)

Finally, I got an e-mail from a friend about this “naturally-occurring affordable housing”:

I’m kind of stuck on the notion of “naturally occurring affordable housing,” as if this is some kind of natural resource that just sprouts out of the ground or something. Do you know if that’s, in fact, code for “older housing stock that is cheaper because of smaller square footage”?

I’m pretty sure that’s an example of what they mean. That in general, it’s housing that’s cheap, not because it’s subsidized or was built as part of a planned affordable housing development, but because it’s just not all that desirable. It’s old, dumpy, small, run down, not terribly private, ugly, in someone’s finished basement to which they added egress windows… anything like that.

I mean, I’m glad we’re talking about this. I’ve lost track of the number of newspaper articles I’ve seen over the years, celebrating the fact that we’re tearing down a “problem property” or unsightly 70s-era apartment complex, glossing completely over the fact that these apartments were actually affordable and are being replaced by trendy condos for the affluent. (There’s usually a single resident who gets quoted saying “I don’t know where I’m going to go,” then back to the “but neighbors said they won’t miss the peeling paint,” etc.)

 

 

Mpls Mayoral Race: Benjegerdes, Dehn, Frey, Flowers

OKAY. ::cracks knuckles:: Let’s get this election-blogging-show on the road. The first set of four (edited to note: these are the first four alphabetically, I will be covering all sixteen candidates):

Troy Benjegerdes FARMER LABOR
Raymond Dehn DEMOCRATIC-FARMER-LABOR
Jacob Frey DEMOCRATIC-FARMER-LABOR
Al Flowers DEMOCRATIC-FARMER-LABOR

Four years ago, I suggested that when picking three candidates (out of 35) to rank, the two most basic questions are, “who here could plausibly do the job?” and “who here could plausibly win?”

Occasionally, candidates show up really mad when I say they’re not a serious candidate. Here’s how I know that you are definitely not a serious candidate for a job like “mayor” — if you have no campaign manager, no fundraising link, no way for interested people to volunteer, no one who appears to be volunteering for you, and no one who’s endorsed you. (If I can’t even figure any of that out because you have no website, then you definitely are not a serious candidate.) Even if all your ideas are perfectly sensible, if you’re not doing this fairly basic stuff, you’re not a serious candidate.

In most cases, not all their ideas are perfectly sensible. They’re a crank. Or they have no actual ideas. Or they’re running 100% on platitudes. (There are serious candidates who run 100% on platitudes, but they also have high-powered endorsements. This might seem unfair; you can take comfort from the fact that I, for one, do notice when someone’s running 100% on platitudes.)

Anyway, on to the first set of candidates!

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Minneapolis Mayoral Race, 2017

Here’s the list of everyone running for Mayor of Minneapolis, broken up into convenient chunks of four because I’m thinking I’ll do four people per post.

Troy Benjegerdes FARMER LABOR
Raymond Dehn DEMOCRATIC-FARMER-LABOR
Jacob Frey DEMOCRATIC-FARMER-LABOR
Al Flowers DEMOCRATIC-FARMER-LABOR

Charlie Gers LIBERTARIAN PARTY
Tom Hoch DEMOCRATIC-FARMER-LABOR
Betsy Hodges DEMOCRATIC-FARMER-LABOR
Gregg A. Iverson DEMOCRATIC-FARMER-LABOR

Nekima Levy-Pounds DEMOCRATIC-FARMER-LABOR
Ronald Lischeid PEOPLE OVER POLITICS
L.A. Nik INDEPENDENT
Aswar Rahman DEMOCRATIC-FARMER-LABOR

David Rosenfeld SOCIALIST WORKERS PARTY
Ian Simpson THE IDEA PARTY
Captain Jack Sparrow BASIC INCOME GUARANTEE
David John Wilson RAINBOWS BUTTERFLIES UNICORNS

Some of these people have web pages that are linked from the MyBallot site. Of those, some of them also work. (John David Wilson’s site has not yet loaded for me, which is very disappointing as I’d like to know what the principals of the Rainbows Butterflies Unicorns party are.)

 

Caucuses are terrible.

Of all the weird things I would have predicted for 2017, “caucuses are awesome and we should switch to them!” as a national movement would not have been on the list. I feel pretty confident in asserting that the bulk of the people currently agitating for caucuses are doing so 100% because their preferred candidate did better in caucus states, and not because they live in a caucus state.

Minnesota has caucuses. I’ve been going to them for years. THEY ARE TERRIBLE.

Let’s assume just as a baseline that you love going to meetings. (Because that’s what caucuses are: meetings.) Do you love enormous, overcrowded meetings where you can’t hear and have only a vague idea of what’s going on? What if the room is too warm because there are about five times as many people in it as are supposed to be in it?

Do you like having to park a mile away and walk the rest of the way to your meeting? Do you like having to stand outside in a long line just to get into the building, which turns out to be people just trying to look at maps to determine which meeting they’re supposed to go to, and once you’ve done that, would you like to stand in yet ANOTHER line to get into your specific room, where you’ll then have to stand because they ran out of chairs?

Do you love it when the people running things are inexperienced volunteers who have held meetings before, but they were the sort of meeting that only 15 people came to, and now there are people spilling out of every doorway? (No one ever gets good at running these because presidential caucuses happen every 4 years. And if there’s a Democratic incumbent they’re pretty much a formality.)

Because, I mean, if you’re a fan of all this — even if your state doesn’t hold caucuses for the presidential race, they probably do hold party meetings of some kind and you could still go. (The horrible traffic snarls and parking hassles might be harder to arrange, but you could simulate them by driving very slowly to your destination and parking a mile away and walking, if that’s an important part of the experience for you.)

Minnesotans have done caucuses basically forever and we are so fed up with them that we passed a law this spring switching to a primary for 2020. It passed with overwhelming majorities in both houses of the legislature, because after the 2016 caucuses, legislators were inundated with irate phone calls and e-mails from constituents saying, “THIS SYSTEM IS TERRIBLE. WE WANT A PRIMARY.”

In 2016, Minnesota had 204,000 Democrats show up to caucus, and 114,245 Republicans. In Wisconsin, which has a similar population and general voting turnout, they held a primary a month later. 1,000,000 people cast a Democratic ballot, and 1,000,000 cast a Republican ballot.

Caucuses suppress turnout. (That’s obvious to everyone, I hope?)

But more than that: caucuses rely on suppressed turnout.

Because two million Minnesotan cannot caucus.

As it was, on March 1, 2016, traffic backed up more than a mile on Snelling Ave an hour before the caucus was convened because people were trying to get to the site. A bunch of my friends in Minneapolis stood in line for an hour before they were even able to get into the building. If you multiplied the number of people attending by five, it would completely shut down Minneapolis and St. Paul.

When your system relies on people not showing up, it’s not a functional system.

(Finally, regarding the claim that they’re cheaper: in Minnesota, the parties had to cover the cost of the caucuses, so yes, they were cheaper for the state. You know what? If you put every precinct in a ward in one location, and reduce voting hours from 13 hours to 1.5, that’ll be cheaper. You know what we call it when it happens in a general election? VOTER SUPPRESSION.)

For more on caucuses, please see the series of posts I wrote last year, doing my part to explain this somewhat mysterious system to novice users:

Do you want to be in the room where it happens?
How to find your caucus location.

Minnesota Caucuses: The Basics
Location and time, who can caucus, how the presidential preference ballot works (new in 2016: it was actually binding on both parties), accessibility, obstacles.

Minnesota Caucuses: What Actually Happens
Signing in, parliamentary procedure, resolutions, guest speakers, recruitment, delegates, counting the ballots.

Minnesota Caucuses: FAQ
How to minimize the time spent at your caucus if all you want to do is cast a goddamn ballot; just how does the whole “party” thing work anyway; what does it mean if it’s a mess and everything goes wrong; CAUCUSES ARE TERRIBLE, HOW DO I DEMAND A PRIMARY LIKE NORMAL STATES HAVE?

 

Election 2017: City Races in Minneapolis and St. Paul

I really need to get going on election blogging, but I have a novel that’s due in November, and I wanted to get a first draft done before I dived into this.

The draft is done! Done-ish. (I need to do a first pass before I send it to beta readers.) It is a YA novel based on my short story Cat Pictures Please, to be published by Tor YA. Anyway, I’ll be getting to this soon, and I took a peek at the city ballots to see just what I was in for.

Both Minneapolis and St. Paul have city races this year. St. Paul’s mayor, Chris Coleman, is not running again, so it’s an open seat. Minneapolis’s mayor, Betsy Hodges, is completing her first term and a number of people are dissatisfied with her, so she’s viewed as vulnerable. Minneapolis also has races for Park Board, City Council, and There are also races for Park Board, City Council, and Board of Estimate and Taxation. (That one’s not a competitive race; if I’m reading it right, there are two seats up for election, and exactly two people running for those seats, both of them incumbents.) In St. Paul, there’s also a School Board race.

Last time, Minneapolis had thirty-five candidates running for Mayor. In the intervening four years, they raised the cost of filing to run from $20 to $500, which has significantly cut down on the number of people doing it — it’s now only 16, so a little under half the number who ran last time. Of those 16, there are 5 or 6 with a reasonable shot at actually winning; 2-3 more who are treating their own candidacy seriously even if no one else is; and a couple of weirdos. I’m really curious whether David John Wilson of the Rainbows Butterflies Unicorns party is John Charles Wilson the Laurist Communist but with a new name and political party? His website isn’t loading for me.

There are three people running for City Council in my old ward; not sure about other wards, and I need an address to plug in to get the Secretary of State site to cough up a sample ballot.

Nine people are running for three Park Board At Large seats. There’s also three people running for the District 5 Park Board Seat. (Again, I’ll need to go hunting for the info on who’s running in the other districts.)

Minneapolis residents can rank three candidates in each race.

In St. Paul, we have ten people running for mayor. There are three I’d describe as front-runners, a couple more who are serious candidates, and one person who I think gets messages from space aliens through her dental fillings. We also have six people running for three School Board seats. In St. Paul, we get to rank up to six candidates for mayor. We get to vote for three school board candidates (because there are three open seats) but we don’t get to rank them, because the method of choosing school board candidates is determined by the State Legislature. (Don’t you envy the people who get to hand over ballots and explain that to people? If you do, you can sign up to do it! They are ALWAYS looking for election judges.)

Anyway! I will be back to start work on this soon. If you live in Minneapolis and want to be sure I cover your City Council race and/or your Park Board race, please leave an address in your precinct in my comments so I can plug that in to the SoS site. (And if you want to just pull up your own sample ballot, you can get it here: http://myballotmn.sos.state.mn.us. This site will also tell you where you go to vote.)

I’m in a Fringe Show about motivational speaking

So hey, everyone, I AM IN A FRINGE SHOW. It’s called “Your Motivational Power Hour” and we are spending an hour making fun of motivational speeches.

I’m satirizing “Who Moved My Cheese,” and if you like my science fiction, you’ll probably like my bit in this show. Also in the show: Haddayr Copley-Woods, satirizing the HEROICALLY INSPIRATIONAL DISABLED PERSON school of motivational speaking, and Ed, who will be making fun of Covey’s time-management techniques and that video about people having fun at work by hurling fish at each other.

I think it’s going to be a lot of fun to watch, and the great thing about Fringe is, even if I’m lying and it’s actually terrible, you’ll only be there for an hour, and then you can use your day pass to go see something else right afterward! (I really think it’s going to be awesome, though.)

I wrote about the Minnesota Fringe a lot back on my old LiveJournal, because I’ve been going for years, and I really love it. There are groups / individuals who I’ll seek out because they are consistently awesome, but part of the magic of the Fringe is that they make it really easy to just check out the next show at that same venue (or right nearby) and I’ve seen some pretty awesome stuff largely on impulse.

Here’s how Fringe (currently) works: you buy a day pass from any venue box office ($16/weekdays, $22/weekends, $5/kids under 12) and you can see as many shows as you want with that pass. There are four shows a day on weekdays, seven shows a day on weekends, and you can see as many as you want. If there’s a show you’re worried will sell out, you can reserve a seat for an extra fee; otherwise, it’s first-come, first-served.

Our show is at the Phoenix Theater, at 2605 Hennepin Ave. Performances are Thursday, 8/3 at 8:30 p.m.; Sunday, 8/6 at 7:00pm; Tuesday, 8/8 at 5:30 p.m.; Friday, 8/11 at 10:00 p.m.; and Sunday, 8/13 at 4:00pm.

Please come! (And please leave a review! Reviews are a big part of how Fringe-goers decide what to see next.)

If you look at the schedule, you’ll note that there’s a half-hour break between shows. If you book it, you can switch neighborhoods in that half-hour, but what we usually do is just to plan an evening or an afternoon in some specific neighborhood. Phoenix Theater is in Uptown, within a 20-minute walk of Intermedia Arts, Bryant-Lake Bowl, HUGE Improv, and Jungle Theater. So if you’re coming to see us, you’ll be near those other theaters; check out the shows at those venues as well. (The “20 minute walk” is based on Google Maps thinking you can walk 1 mile in 20 minutes; if you’re a slow walker, plan accordingly.)

If you’re a regular Fringe attendee, I hope you’ll check out our show! If you’ve never been to a Fringe show but are going to come see our show because you know one of us, I hope you’ll check out some other shows with your day pass, and discover just how much fun the Fringe is.