Donors Choose Fundraising Update 2

First, an update from Ms. Stone, the teacher who requested funding for Chromebooks:

I am so excited to receive the Chromebooks and distribute them to students and families! As explained earlier, this project was posted in June, when teachers were unsure what learning model we would be using. Since announcing distance learning late in the summer, the district has been providing devices to students. However, after spending these first few weeks with my third graders, I’m finding that many of them have unreliable devices (issues with cameras, microphones, keyboards, etc.). One prime example: a mother reached out to say her daughter’s device stopped working. The student was unable to sign in for learning for two days since Mom works full-time and was unable to make it to the school to pick up a new one. Having these new, reliable devices will be key in having students consistently engaged in learning.

I’ve also noticed some Donors have been generously giving gift cards to our class even after the Chromebook project was funded. This is WONDERFUL! It means I will be able to create a new project to meet even more of our students’ needs, such as good headphones, learning games, and interactive learning platforms.

Again, I am incredibly grateful for your role in guiding your readers toward DonorsChoose projects. It is so meaningful to me as a teacher right now to have community support. It makes a true difference in our students lives!

And now some additional fundraisers I’d like to point people to:

Mini-Engineering Labs for students at Lucy Laney doing distance learning.

A book-return system for the North High school library, so that books can circulate during distance learning.

Sets of contemporary novels, including Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Talents, for 11th and 12th graders at Como Park High School in St. Paul.

I do not have a Patreon, but take a lot of pleasure from seeing these projects fund. Thank you to everyone who has donated!


Election 2020: Donating to & Volunteering with MN State Senate Campaigns

This is going to be a post specifically about supporting campaigns for Minnesota State Senate candidates. If you live in Minnesota, first of all, you should be aware of the Political Contribution Refund program. This allows you to get a $50 refund if you donate to a legislative race or a political party. (Or races for Governor, State Auditor, Attorney General, or Secretary of State — but those aren’t on the ballot this year.) You donate; they send you a receipt (form EP-3); you fill out a form and send in the form EP-3; the state sends you a check for $50.

Something to bear in mind: the flip side of this is that the campaigns you donate to have to send you that form even for a very small donation. If all you have is $5, then send your favorite candidate $5. But if you have $10, I would strongly encourage you to send it to one candidate and not divide it between two. If you have $20, ditto. If you have $200, then $50 to four different candidates makes more sense. You can also absolutely send donations to the Minnesota Senate DFL Caucus, which will direct funds to candidates in tight races who need them.

One other note: one of the great things about donating to legislative candidates is that if they’re out there campaigning, even if they don’t win, they will help get out the Democratic vote for Joe Biden and Tina Smith. There are Democrats in every part of this state.

On to the specific candidates. These are all candidates for the State Senate who need support, either because they’re Democratic incumbents in vulnerable seats, or Democratic challengers to Republicans in vulnerable seats.


Aric Putnam (SD 14)

Senate District 14 is in St. Cloud. In 2016, the Republican won by less than 200 votes. Aric is a Communications professor at St. John’s/St. Ben’s. His priorities include schools (“the legislature funds our schools like we’re a small town, and we aren’t anymore”), health care, and economic growth. He’s also in favor of marijuana legalization — there’s a “Legal Marijuana Now” candidate on the ballot who’s doing zero campaigning and appears to give not a single shit about the actual race, but filed and is on the ballot. (There was also a third-party candidate on the ballot in 2016, a Libertarian who got over 2,000 votes.) The incumbent opposed the Alex Smith Insulin Affordability Act (until his party leaders told him to vote for it.) Donate to Aric / volunteer for Aric.

Rita Albrecht (SD 5)

SD 5 is near Grand Rapids. The Democrat just barely lost in 2016. Rita is hampered by having two weed candidates on the ballot, one of whom is 100% a Republican who’s deliberately running in the hopes of being a spoiler. Rita supports universal broadband, rural economic development, and a higher minimum wage. She also supports legalizing cannabis, so if that’s an important issue for you, you should absolutely suppose the Democrat who might win over the Republican running as a “legal marijuana” candidate or the perennial weirdo candidate running for “grassroots.” The incumbent, by the way, is this fucking guy (the one in the video, not the person Tweeting — Justin Tweeted that video out but took it down after he got ratioed because OF COURSE HE DID). Donate to Rita / Volunteer for Rita.

Jon Olson (SD 20)

Senate District 20 is south of the metro area and includes Northfield and New Prague. This was a very close race in 2016 (and went for the Democrat in 2012), but like Rita, Jon is hampered by the presence of a Republican running as a “Grassroots – Legalize Cannabis” candidate. Jon Olson is a retired Navy Intelligence Officer who became his father’s caregiver while his father was dying of Alzheimer’s. His Issues pages include a section under the heading “Common-Sense Fairness” that talks about policing reforms, immigration reform, housing, and fair elections. Donate / Volunteer.


Aleta Borrud (SD 26)

Senate District 26 is in Rochester. Aleta Borrud is a doctor who supports universal health care access, police accountability, and pushing back against GOP divisiveness. Her opponent brags about endorsement from a group called “Minnesotans for Affordable Health Insurance,” which I found on Facebook but absolutely nowhere else, so who the hell knows who they are other than “a group, or maybe just one guy, who knows, but WOW do they hate the idea of people with pre-existing conditions doing anything other than just fucking dying.” Donate / Volunteer.

Sara Flick (SD 25)

Senate District 25 is in Rochester. Sara Flick is a farmer’s daughter and a first-generation college graduate. Her priorities include health care, family leave, and data-driven policies. The incumbent is a retired doctor who nonetheless was agitating to end Governor Walz’s emergency orders all the way back in June. Donate to Sara / volunteer for Sara.

Sahra Odowa (SD 55)

SD 55 is in Shakopee. Sahra is Somali-American (she was born in NYC) and works in the mental health field. Sahra’s top issues include racial equity, the environment, and better job opportunities. Donate / Volunteer.

Bonnie Westlin (SD 34)

SD 34 is in Maple Grove and this district went strongly for Tim Walz, despite having been pretty Republican in 2016. Bonnie highlights racial and social justice and police reform as major priorities; her opponent has been a huge roadblock in instituting any accountability for police officers at all. Donate / Volunteer

Ralph Kaehler (SD 21)

Senate District 21 is in southeast Minnesota; Ralph has a map on his website. He’s a 4th-generation farmer and a solar energy entrepreneur. His top three issues are health care, climate, and economic development (especially broadband) in rural Minnesota. You can donate either through ActBlue or PayPal, which is a plus for people who are annoyed by ActBlue. You can also volunteer.

Reed Perkins, SD 1

Reed Perkins e-mailed me to make a case for his race — while the Democrat was trounced rather thoroughly in 2016, this was a blue district as recently as 2012, and he’s working hard to reach out to voters. He’s a former science teacher and a military spouse — his wife is an Air Force officer. One of his first policy points talks about combating disinformation and false Internet rumors about COVID. He has some detailed policies to benefit rural Minnesota, including rural broadband, Right to Repair laws (critically important to small farmers), and the elimination of Daylight Savings Time (I would be fine with DST if we just stayed on it. Or Standard Time if we just stayed on it! Changing our clocks around 2x a year is terrible!) He did a Reddit AMA a while back. Donate here. To volunteer, send an e-mail:


Matt Little, SD 58 (Incumbent)

SD58 is in Lakeville, and Matt won election in 2016 despite his district overall going for Trump. The Republicans would really like to beat him. Matt has a sense of humor and a strikingly good social media presence. Donate / Volunteer.

Susan Kent, SD 53 (Incumbent)

Senate District 53 includes Woodbury, Oakdale, Landfall, and Maplewood. Susan Kent is an incumbent, but held her district very narrowly in 2016 so Republicans are putting a lot of money into her opponent’s campaign. Her opponent was mayor of Woodbury, and has a remarkably content-free website, Facebook, and Twitter; it’s almost like she’d rather just run on anything other than her actual party’s actual platform. Donate / Volunteer.

Lindsey Port, SD 56

Senate District 56 is in the south suburbs (Lakeville, Burnsville, Savage). Lindsey supports protecting the environment, properly funding education and public higher education statewide, and allowing anyone who wants to to buy into MNCare. The incumbent is a homophobic bigot who opposed marriage equality; he also said that legislation requiring that men and women be paid the same amount for the same job would be special privileges for women. Donate / Volunteer.

CANDIDATES WHO NEED VOLUNTEERS (you can certainly donate, but I’ve been told they’re doing OK for cash right now — but would really love more volunteers)

Ann Johnson Stewart, SD 44

Senate District 44 includes Plymouth and part of Minnetonka and went 50.2/49.8 in 2016. The Republican who barely won is not running again this year; it’s an open seat. Ann supports criminal justice reform, action on climate change, healthcare access, and for society to be accessible and equitable for disabled people. Her opponent doesn’t like the way Donald Trump says the quiet parts loud but gosh does he ever love his court nominees. Sign up to volunteer here.

Did I skip your favorite? Add them in the comments! If the race in that district was really not at all close in 2016, thought, I would encourage you to make a case for them and not just drop a link — tell me and my readers why you think they’ve got a shot. You can look up Minnesota Senate Districts (and see the election results from 2016 and 2012) over on Ballotpedia.

Don’t forget to take advantage of the PCR. You can find the PCR form here. It really is an extremely simple form to fill out.


DonorsChoose Fundraising Update

In the comments of my last post, JB posted:

Quick question on the fundraiser. Thanks for highlighting it. I’m a bit confused, because as a parent of a MPS child who’s in distance learning 2nd grade this year, we had the choice of a district supplied iPad OR Chromebook. Why isn’t this MPS school having the same option? It is a district wide policy? I looked on the link you have, and it doesn’t really explain it. My tax dollars are already supporting this, as far as I can tell.

I e-mailed the teacher and here’s what I found out. Yes: the school district is providing laptops. When she posted the fundraiser in June, there had been zero communication from the district about what, if anything, was going to be provided for distance learning. By the time the district announced what they were doing, she’d gotten some contributions and thus didn’t want to just take the whole fundraiser down. Unfortunately, there’s no way to revise a Donors Choose fundraiser after launch. At this point, she’s hoping that it does NOT fund — because (assuming people who donated agree to send the money as a gift card for the classroom) she will be able to use that money for other key distance-learning needs, like headphones and supplies and books that she can send to the kids’ homes. She is absolutely over the moon at the generosity and has a lot of ideas on how she can enhance the learning of these third-grade students but would, in fact, prefer not to spend it on laptops (although she noted that if a corporate donor swoops in and donates the last of the money, as sometimes happens, they’ll be new computers, nice ones, something her students rarely get to experience, and I am going to hazard a guess that the school will not have surplus technology for very long.)

But for now:

I’m going to ask people to, if they have donated to Ms. Stone’s fundraiser, to send the money back to her classroom as a gift card if it does not fund.

But, if they have not donated to that fundraiser and would like to make a different donation that would please me very much, I have found a number of other Minneapolis and St. Paul public school classrooms that could use a hand with supplies and technology for distance learning.

(Update: all of these have funded! I’ve found some additional Donors Choose fundraisers to point people at, and you can find them here.)

Ms. Anglin, a math teacher at Washington Technology Magnet School in St. Paul, would like to provide her students with noise-cancelling headphones. 96% of the students at Washington Tech receive free or reduced-price lunch, and 70% are English-language learners.

Mr. Andy, an autism teacher at Sullivan Elementary in South Minneapolis, would like to provide his students with task boxes, to decrease the amount of required screen time during distance learning.

There are a number of teachers at the Barak and Michelle Obama Elementary School who are looking for help with supplies for at-home learning.

Mrs. Harper would like linking math cubes and also white boards for students to write answers on: and

Ms. Holden would like graphic novels and a webcam for her third-grade students:

Ms. Proeschelt would like write-and-wipe alphabet cards and alphabet floor puzzles to build reading skills in her pre-K students: annd

Finally, I just want to share the e-mail I got via my website from Ms. Stone about a day after I first shared her project:

Wow. You posted a link via your blog and our DonorsChoose project has raised at least $1,500 in one day. Thank you, thank you from our hearts. The support of the community is what students, families, and teachers really need right now. I’m not currently on social media myself, so every share is meaningful.

Please know that even if our lofty $ goal is not fully met, every dollar will raised will still be put towards the basic educational needs of our students. We will already be able to provide so much with what has been raised! I can’t wait to send Thank You photos (or screenshots, future being unknown!).

With Gratitude,

Ms. Stone

Thank you to everyone for your support of these projects — it means a lot to me, but it means even more to the teachers and the students they teach.

Election 2020: Minneapolis City Questions 1 and 2

Minneapolis is voting on two questions that would amend the city charter. Neither is a question about policing, because the charter commission decided that as an un-elected body they were under no obligation to act in accordance with the wishes of the citizenry and didn’t put any questions about policing on the ballot. I bet that some of the charter commission members read my blog, and so before going onward to talk about the amendments that are on the ballot, I would just like to take this opportunity to say to them: why, hello there, fuck 10 out of the 15 of you

The questions on the ballot read as follows.

CITY QUESTION 1 (Minneapolis)
Redistricting of Wards and Park Districts

Shall the Minneapolis City Charter be amended to allow ward and park district boundaries to be reestablished in a year ending in 1 and to allow the use of those new boundaries for elections in that same year; to allow ward and park district boundaries to be modified after the legislature has been redistricted to establish City precinct boundaries; to provide that an election for a Council Member office required by Minnesota law in a year ending in 2 or 3 after a redistricting shall be for a single 2-year term; and to clarify that a regular election means a regular general election?

CITY QUESTION 2 (Minneapolis)
Special Municipal Elections
Shall the Minneapolis City Charter be amended to comply with Minnesota election law related to uniform dates for special municipal elections and to provide that a special election be held on a legal election day under Minnesota law that is more than 90 days from a vacancy in the office of Mayor or Council Member?

You can vote yes or no. The two questions are voted on separately (and although they are both about elections, they’re unrelated.)

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Election 2020: Minnesota House, 64B

On the ballot:

Dave Pinto (DFL)
Georgia Dietz (Republican)

Dave Pinto is a progressive and generally responsive legislator who is doing a fine job.

Georgia Dietz is the chair of the Senate District 64 Republicans and is realistic enough about her chances that she hasn’t bothered setting up a website. Sharon Anderson’s campaign is a good illustration of why it’s always worth having some reasonably respectable Republican show up and file, even if they’re absolutely not going to win.

I’m going to vote for Dave Pinto.

If you’ve read all the way to the bottom: I took the time to look over on Donors Choose for some Minneapolis public school teachers who could use some financial help during These Difficult Times and in particularly with distance learning. Ms. Stone is a teacher at Cityview Elementary in North Minneapolis. She will be teaching third graders this year, and to help them succeed with distance learning, she is requesting a set of Chromebooks for her class. To equip this class of children with the basic technology they will need for distance learning will require another $5,411 to be raised by October 3rd. Can my readers raise that much? If not, can they at least get it to within sight of the finish line so a corporation or foundation will be inspired to swoop in and match our donations? I think it’s worth trying.

(I don’t have a patreon or a ko-fi but I take a lot of satisfaction from seeing projects fund after I point people at them. Please donate!)

Election 2020: Minnesota Senate, District 64

If you were thinking to yourself, “self, there are many interesting races this year, but for which office is local perennial freakshow Sharon Anderson running?” I am here with your answer: she’s running to be my State Senator. Fortunately, I am not super worried about her winning. Here’s who’s on the ballot:

Erin Murphy (DFL)
Sharon Anderson (Republican)
Patricia Jirovec McArdell (Legal Marijuana Now)

Patricia does not have a website. In an article from last year in which the chair of the Legal Marijuana Now party says that he doesn’t want his candidates running against incumbent Democrats who support marijuana legalization, Patricia is quoted as saying, “I believe that my running in this is something that will get these conversations going so that I can ask questions and have the rest of the candidates state their position on it, and to get the conversation more normalized out in public.” Note: Erin is not an incumbent, but the previous state senator, Dick Cohen, was a supporter of marijuana legalization. So is Erin.

I feel like Sharon Anderson’s completely incoherent blog is summed up pretty well by her response to the question “Please provide a brief bio highlighting experience and accomplishments that qualify you to be the next State Senator in your district”:

Sharon Anderson was born in Braham, Minnesota. She attended the University of Minnesota for her real estate license
        Self taught Blogger over 100 plus Forensic Files, pdf pics,unabated by Officials.
St.Paul Home Town, Homegrown Legal Research Analyst,tracking City Hall over 40 yrs.Similarily Situated Homeowners,Seniors,Disable and Vunerable who cannot Speak or Fight4themselves. Sharon must Educate the Public on Sharia Law, DFL liberal Socialism,Antifa,contrary to USA Constitution.

Sharon’s website in the past has included rants about “Muslins” (yeah, she spells it like the fabric) and antisemitic conspiracy theories.

Edited to add: Sharon left a case for herself over on my post about the school board race. I did not approve it, but here’s a screen shot:

Sharon Anderson (@Sharon4Anderson) commented on Election 2020: Saint Paul School Board: Sharons Senate 64 Campaign centers around its OK to be White

(“Sharons Senate 64 Campaign centers around its OK to be White.” Good to know, Sharon. Everyone else: DON’T VOTE FOR SHARON.)

Erin was a State Rep for many years, then ran for governor, losing to Tim Walz in the primary. I like Erin a lot. If you live in MN 64, you should definitely vote for Erin Murphy.

If you’ve read all the way to the bottom: I took the time to look over on Donors Choose for some Minneapolis public school teachers who could use some financial help during These Difficult Times and in particularly with distance learning. Because stuff, amazingly, KEEPS GETTING FUNDED I’ve created a page that hopefully I can just update with new projects if needed and you can find it here:

(I don’t have a patreon or a ko-fi but I take a lot of satisfaction from seeing projects fund after I point people at them. Please donate!)


Election 2020: Ramsey County Judge (2nd District, Court 8)

I think this is the only contested District Court race in either Hennepin County or Ramsey County. (There is a contested race for the Supreme Court, which I wrote about here.) On the ballot:

Pat Diamond (incumbent)
Ngozi Akubuike

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Election 2020: Saint Paul School Board

This is a special election to fill the seat that was left empty by Marny Xiong’s incredibly tragic and untimely death. (She was 31 and died of COVID.)

On the ballot:

Jamila Mame
Jim Vue
James Farnsworth
Keith Hardy
Omar Syed
Charlotte “Charlie” Castro

Jim Vue was elected by the rest of the board to fill the seat until an election could be held, so he’s semi-incumbent but only barely. (Link goes to the Pioneer Press news bank; should be accessible with a St. Paul library card.) Keith Hardy previously served two terms on the Saint Paul School Board before losing his seat in 2015. (He was also a finalist for the interim position). Omar Syed and Charlie Castro both ran for school board in 2019.

One source that gives some really detailed information on each candidate is Saint Paul Federation of Teachers Questionnaire, available here.

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Election 2020: Associate Justice, MN Supreme Court

Okay, wow, WordPress decided to make me learn a new editing interface. I DID NOT ASK FOR THIS, WORDPRESS. Anyway, if the result is that screw up some incredibly obvious trivial formatting task, I WANT EVERYONE TO KNOW THAT IT’S WORDPRESS’S FAULT. Also if there’s some app or extension that will just make WordPress act like it used to, please let me know; this new setup is obnoxious. 

Today’s post is on the Supreme Court race, which should be pretty quick and easy as it’s a perfectly fine incumbent and an astonishingly awful challenger.

Paul Thissen (incumbent)
Michelle MacDonald

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