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by NelsonInz on August 10, 2013 · 0 comments

A few days ago I posted an opinion piece that contained the false claim about Betsy Hodges, “Betsy led the charge to slash the firefighters pension.” I think I had heard this claim repeated so many times that I believed it to be true. Well it isn’t. A friend at city hall corrected me. In fact, there has never been a charge to slash anyone’s pension, but there was a charge to merge the pensions into the state system and have state type rules governing admin and other things.


My understanding of the conflict with Gary Schiff related to the firefighters was about whether to lay them off mid-year due to LGA cuts or try to find one-time funds to bridge their employment and hope to find funds to keep them hired the next year.


My sincere apology to Betsy Hodges and her supporters for this false claim.


I was a big fan of Gary Schiff and hoped to support him all the way through to election day. Gary was a populist. He supported issues I care about, like the Occupy Homes movement, small, local businesses, and bridging the opportunity gaps in our schools and neighborhoods. As a city council member, Gary consistently stood up for regular people.


That’s why I was really surprised when Gary chose to pull out of the race after the convention and instead support Betsy Hodges. This endorsement didn’t seem right to me, especially when you consider the differences they had had at the city council.  Strictly based on policy, this friendship made little sense.


At the convention, I was impressed with Betsy’s presence and her cool t-shirts. She seemed like a completely different person from the woman I first met a decade when she was running for city council. I was surprised, however, when a few days later, someone from the Hodges campaign tried to imply over the phone that Mark Andrew was weak on GLTBQ issues. Some of my neighbors had heard the same and assumed I would be supporting Betsy. But what my neighbors didn’t know was that Mark had led major GLBT advancements over twenty years ago as a county commissioner.


I have to be honest, when Mark announced his campaign, I was skeptical, especially when he was endorsed by so many people. But as I have gotten to know Mark and his background, I have come to realize that people are supporting him not simply because he is the frontrunner, but because he really is a great candidate.


Mark is a former cab driver, product of Minneapolis public schools, grew up about four blocks from my current home. My decision was finalized when I learned that Mark paid people at his booths at the State Fair well over minimum wage. These are, in some cases, high school students that by law he could pay less than $7 dollars per hour. Mark recognizes that fair wages are not an economic issue, but a human rights issue.


Since the convention, the support for Mark has kept coming, not from just anyone, but from people I truly respect, like my wife Emily Inz, progressive leaders like Mohamud Noor, former State Rep Marion Greene, Unite Here! Local 17, State Senator Jeff Hayden, State Rep Jim Davnie, the UMTC College Dems, and Vice President Mondale. I’m proud to say my wife, Emily, and I will be ranking him number one in our choice for the next mayor of Minneapolis.


House Passes Wage Increase

by NelsonInz on May 6, 2013 · 2 comments

63ASo the Mn. House of Representatives passed an increase to the state’s minimum wage yesterday on a vote of 68-62. An amendment to include a Tip Penalty failed on a tie vote. I’ve been trying to figure out who voted in favor of the Tip Penalty so I can remind them that servers are among the lowest paid people in the state. If you know the votes, please comment below.


Lost to much of the media was a successful amendment sponsored by Rep. Jim Davnie that would make it illegal for restaurants to use employee tips to pay credit card fees. Thanks Representative Davnie.


Opponents of the wage increase had the usual barrage of ridiculous arguments about how increasing the min wage causes unemployment. If anyone is interested, here is some interesting evidence to the contrary. The article contains this graph which clearly shows no correlation between unemployment and wage increases.



How about a real Minimum Wage Increase

by NelsonInz on May 1, 2013 · 0 comments

WAGE-color-3-col-1024x852Today being May Day and all I can’t help but think about the state of working people in Minnesota. The House of Representatives has a floor vote scheduled on Friday to raise the minimum wage in our state to 9.50/hr, in two steps over the next couple of years.  The Senate has a paltry bill to raise the wage to 7.75/hr, Of course the federal wage is already 7.25/hr, making the Senate bill laughable. Presumably they’ll vote on that bill next week. Sen majority leader Thomas Baak said last week something is going to happen, he “just doesn’t know the number.” I urge you to give him a call and provide some numbers to him. My choice would be 21.72/hr. Thats the number if Minimum wage kept pace with productivity.


Surely we can give hard-working Minnesotans a raise of more than fifty cents. How is anybody supposed to survive on 7.75/hr?


As Rep Tim Mahoney said last week in a hearing  “There used to be a compact: eight hours of work, eight hours of rest and eight hours of family. … It is time America, and Minnesota, and this world, get back to that particular attitude.”


Changing gears a bit … …READ MORE


My Name is MCA

by NelsonInz on April 17, 2013 · 10 comments

As in Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment that is. I’ve spent the last two days administering these tests to my students and reflecting on their purpose and value. In light of some of the recent revelations from DC and Atlanta, I cant help but think we dodged a bullet over the past couple of years when a Republican legislature wanted to use high stakes testing to determine teacher pay. While testing is useful as part of the equation in determining education policy, certainly the heavy reliance on using scores to determine teacher effectiveness has backfired.


It’s hard to imagine my colleagues and I getting together over Pizza to erase incorrect student answers and replace them with correct ones, but the opportunity would definitely be there. I would consider almost all of the people I have worked with in public education to be highly ethical and motivated to help students learn. It isn’t surprising to me that the person -Michelle Rhee- who claimed to put “Students First” by attacking teachers, more than likely helped foster, and then later cover up, an environment of cheating and corruption. Frequently, I have found that when someone blames a teacher for their failures, it is because they don’t want to recognize their own mistakes.


Michelle Rhee claimed that cooperation, collaboration and consensus-building are way overrated.” It’s not too hard to see why she failed as a school chancellor.  I hope people remember that Public Education is an important and complex endeavor, which has had tremendous successes to go along with some failures. As we work to improve the schools in Minnesota, don’t be fooled by a snake oil salesman who has a quick fix. I tell students all the time, the most difficult questions are the ones that teach you the most. It is because public education is so important, that the answers are not easy to find.



Know Where You Eat

by NelsonInz on March 26, 2013 · 0 comments

Today the President of the Minnesota Restaurant Association, JJ Haywood said that the Association wants a Tip Penalty for servers and bartenders attached to the current minimum wage bill. Apparently the association thinks tipped employees make too much money.


Here is a link to the WCCO story which did actually give Wade Luneburg of the Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union a chance to say something.


JJ Haywood is the CEO of Pizza Luce, of which my second cousin is a co owner. I like Pizza Luce. I have a lot of friends that work there. I honestly don’t know if I can go there any more.


Here is a brief list of a few restaurants whose ownership has publicly stated their support for paying servers less than minimum wage:


  • Blue Plate Group: Longfellow, Highland, and Edina Grill, Scusi, Groveland Tap, three squares, The Lowry
  • Parasole: Muffeletta, Manny’s Steakhouse, Chino Latino, Salut, Good Earth, Uptown Cafeteria, Burger Jones, Prohibition, The Living Room, Pittsburgh Blue, Mozza Mia
  • Pizza Luce


Also keep in mind Parasole likes to take a share of all credit card tips to pay the card companies their service charge.


I have been to many of these restaurants and have friends that work at many of them. I don’t want to encourage people not to go to them. Just keep in mind the point of view of their ownership. I’m sure there are many other restaurants I could include, but this list is off the top of my head.


Why take away tips?

by NelsonInz on March 21, 2013 · 1 comment

Kris Jacobs of The Jobs Now Coalition has an article in The Strib today about how opponents to a minimum wage increase base their arguments on a lot of smoke and mirrors. Restaurants are still falling back on the argument that servers are all getting rich, despite what that argument did for this guy:

emmer pic


Some Senators and Reps at the capitol are buying and reselling off the 2013 spring Restaurant industry menu, despite the fact that the ingredients are well past their expiration date. Senator Carrie Ruud  said in a recent hearing supporting a Cap and Freeze on server wages, “What it does for the employers is when they (servers) are making these big amounts of money, they stay at the $7.25 and help these businesses survive.”


My question is, when did tips become a subsidy for restaurants unwilling to pay fair wages? Don’t people at the capitol understand that the vast majority of Minnesotans love their servers and don’t want to see them lose their tips?

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My Campaign to Represent District 61B

by NelsonInz on October 28, 2011 · 0 comments

My name is Nelson Inz, and I’m running to be the next State Representative for House District 61B. With Jeff Hayden’s recent election to the State Senate, there will be a special election to fill his seat in the House. I want to introduce myself and tell you about my campaign for that seat.

I’m running for office because I believe we need more people fighting for progressive values at the legislature. We need Representatives who aren’t afraid to stand up for progressive principles. Even more importantly, Saint Paul needs to hear more from ordinary Minnesotans who support progressive change. Not only will I fight for progressive values, I will do everything in my power to make sure Minnesotans’ voices are heard.

I got involved in politics because of a State Senator who helped me make my own voice heard. In 2004, former Senator Ellen Anderson sponsored a bill to raise the minimum wage, even though Republicans controlled the House. I wrote her a letter about the bill, and to my surprise, she wrote back. But she didn’t just write back — she encouraged me to get involved. Before I knew it, I was volunteering, testifying at the legislature, and recruiting new volunteers. After a lot of hard work, the minimum wage bill passed the next year!

That’s the kind of Representative I want to be. I want to be a champion for progressive values, and I want to get more people involved in fighting for progressive change. You can learn more about the issues that are important to me after the break, or visit my website at
Here are a few of my top priorities as a Representative:

1. Raise the minimum wage. Senator Anderson’s minimum-wage bill was the last time the minimum wage was raised. Minnesota’s minimum wage is now lower than the Federal minimum wage. Minnesotans can’t live on $6.15 an hour.

2. Enact universal, single-payer health care. Every Minnesotan has the right to be healthy. I’m a proud supporter of the Minnesota Health Plan, which would provide coverage for every Minnesotan, save the state money, and simplify benefits for Minnesota businesses.

3. Replace No Child Left Behind. The Governor has applied for a waiver to opt out of No Child Left Behind. As a teacher, I want to play a role in crafting more sensible standards for our teachers and schools.

4. Legalize equal marriage. Marriage is a basic civil right that everyone deserves. As soon as we defeat the anti-marriage amendment, we should immediately legalize equal marriage.

We need to make sure Minnesota works for all Minnesotans, not just the wealthy and powerful. Every Minnesotan has the right to a living wage. Every Minnesotan should have access to affordable health care. Every Minnesotan has the right to a good education. And every Minnesotan has the right to marry the partner of their choice.

These are the progressive values I promise to fight for. To learn more about me, get involved in the campaign, or make a contribution, please visit my website at