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 Frey is really working from an outdated script on police issues.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.)