Minneapolis City Council and Mayoral races are done with instant runoff voting, but school board is not. There’s a primary (you vote for one) and then a runoff between the two top candidates. Five candidates are running for one at-large seat.
In Minnesota, a lot of cities have charters. Your city charter is sort of the constitution by which your city is run. Ordinances can be changed fairly easily, by having the City Council vote; in order to amend a City Charter, you need a referendum. (This is not entirely true — noncontroversial stuff can just be approved by the City Council. But a lot of stuff requires votes.)
I’ve written about the Minneapolis City Charter a couple of times. In 2018, there was an amendment to revise liquor licensing laws. More notably, in 2013, the whole charter got a massive revision. The Charter Commission rewrote it in modern English instead of archaic legalese and took out all the bits that had been superceded by other bits. This had to go to two referendum votes (which were on the same ballot), because passing anything related to alcohol requires a larger majority, and they agreed that having most of it in modern English but reverting abruptly to archaic legalese whenever alcohol was mentioned would still be an overall improvement. (Both pieces passed.) Nothing about the rules was actually changed in 2013 — the goal was not to fix the rules (many of which are overly fiddly and very much something that should be in the ordinances, not the charter), it was to fix the problem where people couldn’t even figure out what the rules were because the charter was such an overall unreadable mess.
By chance, the section I pulled out in 2013 to illustrate the difference between the old charter and the new charter is the one under discussion right now. Here’s the current version:
(a) Police department. The Mayor has complete power over the establishment, maintenance, and command of the police department. The Mayor may make all rules and regulations and may promulgate and enforce general and special orders necessary to operating the police department. Except where the law vests an appointment in the department itself, the Mayor appoints and may discipline or discharge any employee in the department (subject to the Civil Service Commission’s rules, in the case of an employee in the classified service).
(1) Police chief.
(A) Appointment. The Mayor nominates and the City Council appoints a police chief under section 8.4(b).
(B) Term. The chief’s term is three years.
(C) Civil service. The chief serves in the unclassified service, but with the same employee benefits (except as to hiring and removal) as an officer in the classified service. If a chief is appointed from the classified service, then he or she is treated as taking a leave of Revised Charter 30 Proposed 1 May 2013
absence while serving as chief, after which he or she is entitled to return to his or her permanent grade in the classified service. If no vacancy is available in that grade, then the least senior employee so classified returns to his or her grade before being so classified.
(D) Public health. The chief must execute the City Council’s orders relating to the preservation of health.
(2) Police officers. Each peace officer appointed in the police department must be licensed as required by law. Each such licensed officer may exercise any lawful power that a peace officer enjoys at common law or by general or special law, and may execute a warrant anywhere in the county.
(b) Temporary police. The Mayor may, in case of riot or other emergency, appoint any necessary temporary police officer for up to one week. Each such officer must be a licensed peace officer.
(c) Funding. The City Council must fund a police force of at least 0.0017 employees per resident, and provide for those employees’ compensation, for which purpose it may tax the taxable property in the City up to 0.3 percent of its value annually. This tax is in addition to any other tax, and not subject to the maximum set under section 9.3(a)(4).
“The City Council must fund a police force of at least 0.0017 employees per resident, and provide for those employees’ compensation” is a rule that makes it extremely difficult to do meaningful police reform. If we want real change, a charter amendment is needed. Here’s the full text of what the City Council is proposing. The whole policing section above is replaced with the following:
Police Community Safety and Violence Prevention.
(a) Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention. The City Council must establish, maintain, adequately fund, and consistently engage the public about a department of community safety and violence prevention, which will have responsibility for public safety services prioritizing a holistic, public health-oriented approach.
(1) Director of Community Safety and Violence Prevention Department. The Mayor nominates and the City Council appoints a director of the department of community safety and violence prevention under section 8.4(b). Individuals eligible to be appointed as director will have non-law enforcement experience in community safety services, including but not limited to public health and/or restorative justice approaches.
(b) Division of Law Enforcement Services. The Council may maintain a division of law enforcement services, composed of licensed peace officers, subject to the supervision of the department of community safety and violence prevention.
(1) Director of Law Enforcement Services Division. The director of the department of community safety and violence prevention shall appoint the director of the division of law enforcement services, subject to confirmation by official act of the City Council and Mayor.
However, in order for Minneapolis residents to be able to vote on this, the Charter Commission has to put it on the ballot, and that’s something they have to do by early August.
From the WedgeLive article:
Written comments can be submitted here. Instructions for how to participate by phone in the July 15 virtual public hearing will be available here once the meeting notice has been posted.
If this is something you want, make your voice heard. And note that this is not, in fact, a proposal to abolish all policing; instead, it would allow the city to choose to spend less money on a bunch of suburban bullies with guns to solve problems that they’re unequipped (by training, temperament, or inclination) to deal with. And hey, maybe this means that on occasions when there is something a bunch of armed people are needed to deal with, they’ll actually fucking show up? (“John Elder, a Minneapolis police spokesperson, said officers were simultaneously handling two other shootings in which a total of eight people were wounded.” There are 800 officers in the MPD. It’s super weird that apparently they were so overwhelmed by two shootings that they couldn’t send anyone to a shooting-in-progress where a bunch of kids were in danger!)
(There are 425,403 people in Minneapolis. 0.0017 police department employees per resident = 723. There are 800 sworn officers plus 300 civilian employees. So even if this doesn’t pass, we could, in fact, drastically cut the budget under the current charter and redirect money towards things that are not cops. I don’t think that’s the ideal situation, and the situation with that shooting at Jordan Park illustrates why. “Oh, we would have liked to respond to a shooting-in-progress at a park full of kids, but gosh golly we were just too busy” is unmitigated steaming horseshit, and their blithe expectation that everyone just swallow it is exactly why this department can’t be reformed, it has to be fucking eliminated. If there are any non-rotten apples in the MPD barrel, maybe we can recruit them for the law enforcement division of the Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention.)
Anyway. Want to be able to vote on this in November? Send in a written comment and watch for the opportunity to attend (virtually) the hearing.
Something I honestly did not know before this past week is how deeply confusing living through a crisis like this is. Speculation gets turned into rumor gets turned into “I know this for a fact!” more quickly than I would have thought possible.
But there are hundreds of eyewitness reports from around Minneapolis that arsons were being committed by small groups of white men, apparently outsiders, moving rapidly around the city mostly in vehicles without license plates; watching that get endlessly dismissed on Twitter as “what the authorities always say” from people outside the state has been enraging.
First, I just want to note: all of this is happening because a group of Minneapolis police officers murdered a non-resisting Black man who’d been accused of the pettiest of all possible minor offenses. They murdered him in cold blood, in front of witnesses, with a camera running, because they felt completely immune from consequences. This is happening because in murder after murder like this, the cops are immune from consequences. There have been endless peaceful demonstrations, from marches to letters to the editor to sports teams “taking a knee” and police officers still assume that they can murder Black men with no consequences, and when they discover they might possibly be faced with consequences, they are enraged and take out their anger on the entire community.
That’s how things started here.
(Cutting here because this is going to run long.)
So heyyyyyyyyyyyy, my fellow Minnesotans, as you (hopefully) know, this year we have a PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY (which I will write about shortly) THAT IS HAPPENING AS AN ACTUAL ELECTION ON MARCH 3RD. I am VERY MUCH looking forward to casting a ballot for my preferred Democrat at my usual polling place, it’s going to be so great.
But! Caucuses are still happening, and you can still go. They’re happening on February 25th, and you can find the location of yours via the Secretary of State caucus finder page. Note that the Republican and Democratic caucuses take place on the same night but (usually) in very different locations. Do not go to the Republican caucus and then look around for the DFL caucus; you will not find it.
Caucuses are basically the grassroots-level party meeting for the political parties. Things you can do at a DFL caucus (I think you can also do most of these at a GOP caucus but I’ve never gone):
- You can introduce a resolution, which is forwarded up the chain and used to write and revise the state party platform.
- You can often meet elected officials and candidates, and hear them speak.
- You can often sign up to hold office within your local party unit. (In theory you “run” for these jobs but in practice you usually “raise your hand when they ask who’s interested.”)
- You can often sign up to be a delegate to your Senate District convention, where you’ll have the opportunity to endorse candidates for State House and State Senate, and elect delegates to go to the State DFL convention (and, ultimately, the Democratic National convention).
In my opinion, it’s the opportunity to be a delegate to your Senate District convention that is the main reason to go — at least if there’s an open seat, or a challenger. The DFL endorsement has historically been extremely powerful in legislative races, and it’s the Senate District conventions where these endorsements are given or denied.
There are a lot of reasons to dislike this system. But if you have the time and wherewithal to go to your Senate District convention, it’ll be you with the outsized piece of political influence. Which might be an improvement. Or you could go and do your best to block endorsement; that’s also an option. (Here’s my Beginner’s Guide to Senate District Conventions, for those who need it.)
There are a number of vacancies this year, as well as incumbents with challengers. (Here’s a handy article from MinnPost with a list of who they know is running.) Below, you will find my best attempt at a guide to whether your Senate District convention (which also includes the conventions for your State House district, as a convention-within-the-convention) is likely to be worth attending.
A COUPLE OF IMPORTANT NOTES.
- I based my “is this person opposed?” mostly on that MinnPost article. For any open seat, expect additional people to join the race.
- If you become a delegate and the endorsement is contested, you will be contacted by everyone running. They will all either call you or show up at your house to knock on your door, or both. Some people find this intrusive. I really like it: it means I get to chat with the actual candidates and ask them all my questions. But mileage varies here.
- I do not write up races prior to endorsement. You’ll have to do your own research. Which should be easy enough because the candidates will literally be knocking on your doors. Ask them your questions!
- If you want to go to your Senate District convention and can’t make it to your caucus, you can send in a form asking to be made a delegate in absentia. There’s a decent chance you’ll at least get to be an alternate.
Of course, the Senate District convention is basically an all-day event, and are you even available? I have included dates and location information. (Many thanks to the person who sent me the spreadsheet after I complained on Twitter about this information not being available.)
Senate District 59
Senator Bobby Joe Champion
59A Rep Fue Lee
59B Rep Raymond Dehn
When is the SD 59 convention? March 28th, convening at 9:30 a.m., North Community High School (Jacobi Gym).
Senate District 60
Senator Kari Dziedzic
60A Rep Sydney Jordan
60B Rep Mohamud Noor
Is anyone here being challenged? Given that Sydney was elected last month after an 11-person special primary, it seems really likely that she’ll be challenged, but no one’s listed in the MinnPost article.
When is the SD 60 convention? April 18, convening at 9 a.m., Edison High School.
Senate District 61
Senator Scott Dibble
61A Rep Frank Hornstein
61B Rep Jamie Long
Is anyone here being challenged? If so, I found no information about challengers when I looked.
When is the SD 61 convention? March 21st, at Washburn High School.
Senate District 62
Senator Jeff Hayden
62A Rep Hodan Hassan
62B Rep Aisha Gomez
When is the SD 62 convention? March 28th, 9 a.m., at South High School.
Senate District 63
Senator Patricia Torres Ray
63A Rep Jim Davnie
63B Rep Jean Wagenius
Is anyone here being challenged? Jean Wagenius is not running again, and there are at least five people running for her seat: Husniyah Dent Bradley, Jerome Evans, Eric Ferguson, Emma Greenman, and Tyler Moroles.
When is the Senate District Convention? April 19th, 11 a.m., Sanford Middle School.
Senate District 64
Senator Dick Cohen
64A Rep Kaohly Her
64B Rep Dave Pinto
Is anyone here being challenged? After being challenged by Erin Murphy, Dick Cohen decided not to run again. At the moment, she appears to be the only person running for the seat, and possibly no one who might be interested is going to bother challenging her for the endorsement.
When is the Senate District convention? March 15th, 1 p.m., Central High School.
Senate District 65
Senator Sandy Pappas
65A Rep Rena Moran
65B Rep Carlos Mariani
Is anyone here being challenged? Not according to the MinnPost article.
When is the Senate District convention? March 14th, 10 a.m., St. Paul Central High.
Senate District 66
Senator John Marty
66A Rep Alice Hausman
66B Rep John Lesch
When is the Senate District convention? Saturday, April 11th, 9 a.m., at Washington Tech high school.
Senate District 67
Senator Foung Hawj
67A Rep Tim Mahoney
67B Rep Jay Xiong
When is the Senate District convention? March 28th, 9:30 a.m., Harding High School.
Oh hey, 60A people, you have an election on Tuesday. Your options:
Sydney Jordan (DFL)
Marty Super (Legal Marijuana Now party)
Sydney is a Democrat and seems fine. Marty hasn’t bothered to set up a website. He does seem to have a personal Facebook with a number of world-readable posts. I visited, and found out that he likes Bernie, weed, and Bernie’s stance on weed.
(Edited to add: I would vote for Sydney, in case that wasn’t clear from “seems fine.”)
If you had an opinion about this race, I hope you voted in the primary.
There’s going to be another special election this year, for the Minneapolis City Council, Ward 6, because Abdi Warsame is resigning to take over leading the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority. I’ll write about that once it actually starts happening. And I’m going to write about the Presidential Primary, but not until after New Hampshire votes.
I wrote about this race in the primary, but I emphasized what an absolute asshole Rich Stanek is, so I wanted to briefly revisit this race and talk a little about what makes Dave Hutch so cool.
Rich Stanek (who’s an asshole) is a Trump supporter and an ICE lackey. Dave Hutch wants to make sure that anyone, regardless of where they were born, can come to law enforcement if they’re a victim of or witness to a crime, and if they’re suspected of a crime, he wants them treated like anyone else.
(Here’s a really excellent article that talks in more detail about the Sheriff’s role in immigration policy enforcement, and how Dave Hutch will be different from Rich Stanek.)
Hutch wants to require training on mental health crises and de-escalation. He wants transparency in government (Stanek is openly contemptuous of FOIA requests.) He would be the first openly gay Sheriff in Minnesota. He has decades of experience in law enforcement and is also the son of a police officer, so if you’re looking at all this thinking “yes, but can he do the actual job here,” the answer is definitely.
If you live in Hennepin County, please vote for Dave Hutch and talk to your friends about this race. Hennepin is an overwhelmingly DFL county, but a lot of people don’t know a ton about the Sheriff’s office or Rich Stanek. Make sure they know why they should vote for Dave Hutch!
EDITED 10/20 TO ADD: a Facebook Live video of a Stanek fundraiser (which he’s at). He poses with “MAGA-Woman,” there are two people cosplaying Trump, it’s really … something.
Both Minneapolis and Saint Paul are running a school funding levy referendum this year.
In Minneapolis, there are two questions:
Approval of School District Referendum Revenue Authorization
The Board of Special School District No. 1 (Minneapolis Public Schools) has proposed to increase its general education revenue by $490.00 per pupil. The proposed referendum revenue authorization would increase each year by the rate of inflation and be applicable for seven years beginning with taxes payable in 2019, unless otherwise revoked or reduced as provided by law.
Shall the increase in the revenue proposed by the board of Special School District No. 1 be approved?
Approval of School District Capital Project Levy Authorization
The Board of Special School District No. 1 (Minneapolis Public Schools) has proposed a capital project levy authorization in the amount of 2.249% times the net tax capacity of the school district to provide funds for the purchase, installation, and maintenance of software applications and technology equipment, and for training and directly related personnel costs. The proposed capital project levy authorization will raise approximately $12,000,000 for taxes payable in 2019, the first year it is to be levied, and would be authorized for seven years. The estimated total cost of the projects to be funded over that time period is approximately $84,000,000.
Shall the increase in the revenue proposed by the board of Special School District No. 1 be approved?
In St. Paul, there is one question:
Revoking Existing Operating Referendum Revenue Authorization; Approving New Authorization
The school board of Independent School District No. 625, Saint Paul Public Schools, has proposed to revoke the school district’s existing operating referendum revenue authorization of $704.52 per pupil and to replace that authorization with a new authorization of $1179.52 per pupil. The proposed referendum revenue authorization would increase each year by the rate of inflation and be applicable for ten years, beginning with taxes payable in 2019, unless otherwise revoked or reduced as provided by law.
Shall the school district’s existing operating referendum revenue authorization be revoked and the increase in revenue proposed by the school board of Independent School District No. 625, Saint Paul Public Schools, be approved?
Saint Paul has a Vote Yes site.
Minneapolis has a Vote Yes Twice site.
There does not appear to be any organized opposition to either initiative.
I didn’t write about this race in the primary because there were five candidates running in the primary, four of whom would advance to the general election, and I thought that surely Doug Mann would come in last and I could just write about this race in October. That is exactly what happened. There are four candidates running for two at-large seats (which is to say, seats that are supposed to represent the whole city).
On the ballot:
Kimberly Caprini and Josh Pauly are both DFL-endorsed. Rebecca Gagnon is an incumbent. There are two open seats, so you get to vote for two people (but you don’t get to rank people because school board races are controlled by state legislation and not by the city).
There is a City Charter referendum on the Minneapolis ballot this year, asking the following question:
Remove Area and Spacing Requirements for Liquor Licenses
Shall the Minneapolis City Charter be amended to remove from the City Charter the area and spacing requirements pertaining to liquor licenses?
You vote either YES or NO.
Coverage I’ve found:
Basically, right now, if you are a restaurant owner whose building is on quaint little street corner that’s not a large commercial district, and you would like to serve wine, beer, and cocktails, you have to hire a lobbyist to get you an exemption from the state legislature in order to serve the cocktails. You also have to get a liquor license from the city for all this stuff.
This will remove the step where you have to go to the legislature. (Licensing will work basically the same otherwise.) This does not affect retail establishments such as grocery stores and liquor stores — just restaurants.
This is a ridiculous thing to even have in the city charter and can definitely be handled by the licensing board. Vote yes.