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: US Senate

If you’re feeling like you just voted for Tina Smith, that’s because in 2018 she was on the ballot to finish out the two remaining years of Al Franken’s term. This year she’s on the ballot for a whole six-year term.

On ballots statewide:

Tina Smith (DFL)
Jason Lewis (Republican)
Oliver Steinberg (Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis)
Kevin O’Connor (Legal Marijuana Now)

For extra fun and confusion while researching this particular race, I discovered that there is a Kevin O’Connor running for US Senate in the Republican Primary in Massachusetts, and there is a Senator Jason Lewis — a Democrat — in the Massachusetts State Senate. “Not the same guy” is super duper obvious with the other Jason Lewis but I was temporarily thrown by Kevin O’Connor because, for one thing, we had a Texan running against Tina in the primary so “but he isn’t from here?” isn’t the obvious answer you might think.

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Election 2020: Let’s Do This

The candidate lists are up on the Minnesota Secretary of State site, and here are the contested national, statewide, and metro-area races plus the Minneapolis ballot questions, which unfortunately are not going to involve policing. (Fuck the charter commission.)

I’m not planning to write about all the legislative races because there are 36 of them, most are only barely contested, and for fuck’s sake, people, it tells you on the ballot which one’s the Democrat! Just vote for the Democrat! (There is one Green running, I’ll try to do that race. There are also a few races with candidates from the two (two!) Yay Weed parties. You’ll get my rant on that at the end.)

I’m going to try to get these done a lot earlier than I did with the primary races, because I know a lot of people are planning to vote early. (As happened with the primary races, this plan may get pre-empted by edits arriving from my publisher.)

The Presidential ballot is not actually available yet on the My Ballot site — I assume because there isn’t officially a Republican candidate yet (and possibly because whether Kanye gets on our ballot is still up in the air). I’ll write about it at some point, mostly just because researching all the weirdos like Kanye is entertaining. But, that’s why I’m not listing that race on this post.

US Senate

Tina Smith (DFL)
Jason Lewis (GOP)
Oliver Steinberg (WEED)
Kevin O’Connor (WEED)

US House – District 4

Betty McCollum (DFL)
Gene Rechtzigel (GOP)
Susan Sindt (WEED)

US House – District 5

Ilhan Omar (DFL)
Lacy Johnson (GOP)
Michael Moore (WEED)

Minneapolis: City Question 1

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?

Minneapolis: City Question 2

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?

Minneapolis School Board At-Large

Michael Dueñes
Kim Ellison

Minneapolis School Board District 2

KerryJo Felder (Incumbent)
Sharon El-Amin

Minneapolis School Board District 4

Adriana Cerrillo
Christa Mims

Saint Paul School Board

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

Associate Justice of the Supreme Court (Statewide)

Paul Thissen
Michelle MacDonald

2nd District (Ramsey County) Court 8

Ngozi Akubuike
Pat Diamond

STATE LEGISLATURE

Senate District 59

Bobby Joe Champion (DFL)
Paul Anderson (GOP)

House District 59A

Fue Lee (DFL)
Marcus Harcus (WEED)

House District 59B

Esther Agbaje (DFL)
Alan Shilepsky (GOP)
Lisa Neal-Delgado (GREEN)

Senate District 60

Kari Dziedzic (DFL)
Mary Holmberg (GOP)

House District 60A

Sydney Jordan (DFL)
John Holmberg (GOP)
Calvin Lee Carpenter (Veteran’s Party of America)

House District 60B

Mohammed Noor (DFL) (Unopposed)

Senate District 61

Scott Dibble (DFL)
Jennifer Zielinski (GOP)

House District 61A

Frank Hornstein (DFL)
Kurtis Fechtmeyer (GOP)

House District 61B

Jamie Long (DFL)
Lisa Pohlman (GOP)

Senate District 62

Omar Fateh (DFL)
Bruce Lundeen (GOP)

House District 62A

Hodan Hassan (DFL)
Arjun Kataria (GOP)

House District 62B

Aisha Gomez (DFL)
Ross Tenneson (GOP)

Senate District 63

Patricia Torres Ray (DFL)
Diane Napper (GOP)
Chris Wright (WEED)

House District 63A

Jim Davnie (DFL)
Penny Arcos (GOP)
David Wiester (WEED)

House District 63B

Emma Greenman (DFL)
Frank Pafko (GOP)
Dennis Schuller (WEED)

Senate District 64

Erin Murphy (DFL)
Sharon Anderson (GOP)
Patricia Jirovec McArdell (WEED)

House District 64A

Kaohly Her (DFL)
Sherry Schack (GOP)

House District 64B

Dave Pinto (DFL)
Georgia Dietz (GOP)

Senate District 65

Sandra Pappas (DFL)
Paul Holmgren (GOP)

House District 65A

Rena Moran (DFL)
Amy Anderson (GOP)

House District 65B

Carlos Mariani (DFL)
Margaret Mary Stokely (GOP)

Senate District 66

John Marty (DFL)
Greg Copeland (GOP)

House District 66A

Alice Hausman (DFL)
Brett Rose (GOP)

House District 66B

Athena Hollins (DFL)
Mikki Murray (GOP)

Senate District 67

Foung Hawj (DFL)
Alexander Deputie (GOP)

House District 67A

John Thompson (DFL)
John Stromenger (GOP)

House District 67B

Jay Xiong (DFL)
Fred Turk (GOP)

Regarding the YAY WEED parties:

There are two weed parties, the “Grassroots – Legalize Cannabis” and the “Legal Marijuana Now” parties. They are, under state law, “Major” parties in the State of Minnesota. Would you believe that as of August 23rd, neither one has a working website?

There are, I am sure, differences between the two parties — for example, the Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis party is at least willing to acknowledge that if marijuana legalization is actually something they care about, they should be concerned about the obvious Republicans hopping onto tickets in swing Senate districts to try to swing the race to the Republicans, since if the DFL has a pretty goddamn great marijuana legalization bill in the House and what’s going to keep that from becoming state law is the CURRENT REPUBLICAN CONTROL OF THE STATE SENATE. Also, the Legal Marijuana Party has a candidate whose slogan includes the phrase “No Whores.”

But, fundamentally, the complete inability of both of these two “major parties” to so much as have a functioning website for their party and their candidates makes me want to note, for the record, that they are both embodying every stereotype of the stoners I remember from high school.

Dear organizers for the “Legal Marijuana Now” party and the “Grassroots – Legalize Cannabis” party: the State of Minnesota may be required by state law to engage in the pretense that you are “major” parties, but I am not.

And hey, for everyone else who’s read 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. I’ve got three small projects, and one big project, to point everyone to.

  1. Ms. Stenzel, a teacher at Lucy Laney (an elementary school in North Minneapolis), is thinking about ways to doing distance learning with her students and would like a rock tumbler to get them interested in geology. She needs $167.
  2. Ms. Stenzel would also like some books for herself to help her improve her teaching. Titles include books on teaching kids mindfulness and self-calming strategies, and also books on anti-racism. She needs $326.
  3. Ms. Stephanie, who teaches autistic and developmentally disabled students at Andersen United School, would like materials that she can send to her students’ homes to help them engage with distance learning. She needs $581.
  4. Finally: 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 $8,456 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!)

 

Elections 2020: Minneapolis Ward 6 City Council. NOT A PRIMARY.

Abdi Warsame, the former Minneapolis City Council rep for Ward 6, resigned in March to lead the city’s Public Housing Authority instead. There is a special election, and on August 11th (the same day as the primary) Ward 6 residents will have their election for this open seat. They will be using ranked-choice voting so there is no primary. Voters will get to rank three candidates, and the August 11th election is the actual election.

The winner will serve for one year, then (presumably) run for re-election in 2021.

There are 12 candidates on the ballot.

AK Hassan (DFL)
AJ Awed (Independent)
Michael P. Dougherty (DFL)
Mohamoud Hassan (DFL)
Nebiha Mohammed (DFL)
Suud Olat (DFL)
Jamal Osman (DFL)
Sara Mae Engberg (Humanity Forward)
Alex Palacios (DFL)
Saciido Shaie (DFL)
Joshua Scheunemann (Green)
Abdirizak Bihi (DFL)

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Election 2020: Charter Amendments & Police Reform

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:

7.3. Police
(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:

§ 7.3. 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.

 

Election 2020: Democratic Primary

I first got asked when I was going to write this post in early February of 2019. Fortunately, by virtue of waiting until after Iowa and New Hampshire, I never had to develop an opinion on Andrew Yang more complicated than, “I have always said that the Presidency is not an appropriate entry-level political job, and nothing that’s happened since 2016 has made me reconsider this stance.”

TL;DR — I’m endorsing Elizabeth Warren.

Here’s who’s on the Minnesota ballot, but no longer running:

Andrew Yang
Cory Booker
Deval Patrick
John K. Delaney
Julián Castro
Marianne Williamson
Michael Bennet
As of 2/29, Tom Steyer. (I left my assessment of him below.)
And as of 3/1, Pete Buttigieg (Ditto.)
Holy shit, Amy Klobuchar dropped out on 3/2 (assessment is still below.)

I am not going to write about any of these people. They have dropped out. If you are dead set on voting for one of them anyway, you obviously already have an opinion and thus don’t need mine.

On the ballot and also still running:
Bernie Sanders
Elizabeth Warren
Joseph Biden
Michael R. Bloomberg
Tulsi Gabbard

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My 2019 Fiction Roundup

The cover of my book, CATFISHING ON CATNET. Shows a teenage girl looking in alarm at her cell phone, with the tagline, "How much does the internet know about you?"

The only fiction I had published in 2019 was my novel, CATFISHING ON CATNET. If you’re nominating for awards, the Hugos, the Nebulas, and the Locus Awards all have a special category for YA. (Okay, technically the Andre Norton Award may be a separate award, but it’s presented along with the Nebulas, and the Lodestar Award is a separate award, but it’s presented along with the Hugos.)

It is also eligible in the novel category.

It is currently a finalist for a Minnesota Book Award (!) and the Edgar Award (!!) (that one still blows my mind.) My publisher also ran out of printed copies and had to order another run — so if you tried to buy it locally and couldn’t, just know that it should be available again shortly!

Since the beginning of 2020 I’ve had a short story published on Clarkesworld (“Monster“) and my short story “Little Free Library” will appear on Tor.com this spring. The sequel to CATFISHING ON CATNET is scheduled to come out in April of 2021.

Election 2020: Special Election, State Representative District 60A

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.