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desertThis article is about a month old, but certainly nothing has changed. Plenty can change, though, if the DFL controls the legislature by comfortable margins, beginning next year. If you know what I’m saying.

Officials in Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration say Minnesota should look at strengthening its renewable energy law. The state is on track to meet a requirement of 25 percent renewable electricity generation by 2025. But that has not been enough to help reach another state goal: a major reduction in the greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change.
Republicans and Democrats came together in 2007 to act on climate change. The Minnesota Legislature passed goals that — at the time — were among the most ambitious in the country, and then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed them into law.
The Next Generation Energy Act set goals of a 15 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2015, 30 percent by 2025 and an 80 percent reduction by 2050.
But the state missed its 2015 target and is not on track to meet the other goals. Lt. Gov. Tina Smith said that has to change.
“We not only want to be making progress on this, I think Minnesota wants to be leading on this issue again, and we have lost that leadership,” she said.

July 2016 was the hottest month on record. Here’s a lot more about all that.


It’s Inevitable (police shootings)

by Mike Tikkanen on August 23, 2016 · 0 comments

People smarter than me have clearly explained the underlying institutional dysfunctions that ensure the next (inevitable) police shootings.


Dallas Police Chief David Brown accurately stated that law enforcement has become the safety system in schools, a primary community mental health service provider, and of course the armed responder to a growing number of society’s violent problems.


Recently, Minnesota sheriffs from Hennepin, Ramsey and Washington Counties wrote a half page Star Tribune article threatening to sue the State for failing to provide timely mental health services to people locked up in their jail cells. This failure has turned law enforcement into a provider of mental health services to a large and growing population of often dangerous people.


MN Law enforcement officers killed 12 people in 2015 and each year are dealing with more unstable people and potentially dangerous encounters with the wrong training needed to slow this racially unbalanced social dysfunction.


Our public health issue of mental health and the violence and dangers it presents will never be dealt with effectively by Law Enforcement (or teachers, or social workers or other untrained service providers). Sheriffs, police and police chiefs talk about dealing with this growing number of unpredictable, mentally unstable people (and even whole families).   They know that the center cannot hold and that when the weak link breaks bad things happen.



Let Me Show You the Money

by Mike Tikkanen on August 22, 2016 · 0 comments

mararishi guatemala thanksgivingI once owned a junkyard that recycled cars so I’m pretty good with managing maintenance, money, expenses and greasy auto parts.


Later I became a volunteer Hennepin County guardian ad Litem – which I recommend highly for anyone interested in a more complete perspective of one’s own self and community and a better understanding of people and economics.  In my CASA guardian ad Litem tenure, I helped to remove about 50 children from their birth homes.


I now see how taking care of broken children is economically a lot like taking care of trucks and crushing equipment at the junkyard.


When I tended to the damaged parts of my equipment, everything ran better, there were fewer injuries and no major catastrophes.


Back to all-too-often underfunded public school

by Dan Burns on August 18, 2016 · 0 comments

abandoned2Though I was good at school I didn’t like it much, and always got bummed out at this time of year. Decades later I still experience a residual echo of that, now and then. Anyway:

Indeed, back to school supply lists are likely longer than ever before due to the simple reason that schools increasingly don’t have the funds to pay for items on the list. And because of persistently inadequate budgets that continue to dog our schools, you can be sure the longer your shopping list, the worse the funding situation is throughout your child’s school system.
Not only are school stockrooms increasingly bare of supplies, but teachers aren’t being adequately paid, class sizes are ballooning, programs are being cut and school buildings increasingly forego required maintenance.
(Campaign for America’s Future)

Two more relevant items:


Your Children – Your Grandchildren & Mental Health

by Mike Tikkanen on August 17, 2016 · 0 comments

If you have children, grandchildren or just like other people’s children, you should read this to the end.  You could help keep them safe from terrible things by understanding the connection between this mental health discussion and those terrible things.
These Star Tribune articles by Chris Serres, Brandon Stahl and Paul Walsh should wake us up as to the cost and danger we all face by ignoring, undertreating and maltreating mentally at risk people. Last week Chris wrote about the broken bones and violence done to children in the justice system because of their mental health struggles.  Thank you Star Tribune for bringing this long avoided topic to the front page.
Chris Serres’ first (above) article concentrates on the logjam and wait periods patients and providers face in this state and the human suffering that that accompanies it. Paul Walsh and Brandon Stahl write about Cory Morris punching his infant daughter 22 times to her death.  Cory had recently been turned away from mental health care because there were no beds available.
Not mentioned are the 900-1000 emergency psych visits to HCMC every month and that some psych patients are waiting three months to be admitted (and that’s just one MN hospital).  Allina Health DR Paul Goering states that “it’s been so paralyzing for the community to say ‘it looks like things are broken,’ and then to say it again next year”.


Taking on predatory lenders in Minnesota

by Dan Burns on August 17, 2016 · 0 comments

predatory-lending-practices-how-to-avoid-them-12-638This article is well worth reading in full. There are ways to make things better, even when corporatists in both parties are being unhelpful, to say the least.

Even as guidelines against payday lending services stall out in the labyrinth of bureaucracy, local changemakers continue to provide relief for families caught up in debt traps–and fight to keep wealth within our communities and out of the hands of financial predators…
Payday loan services have been a staple on the public financial landscape since the 1980s. By definition, a payday loan is a small dollar loan, usually between $200 to $1,000, with an extraordinarily high interest rate that requires the borrower to pay back in full with their next paycheck, or risk even further financial penalties. The average annual percentage rate (APR) on payday loans is about 273 percent.
Shockingly, payday loans are still legal and in many states operate without regulation. Even in the face of overwhelming evidence as to the predatory and unjust nature of such loans, multiple efforts to impose national guidelines on payday loans since the 2008 recession have failed. Payday lenders even have both Minnesota DFL and Republican parties eating out of their hands.
(Twin Cities Daily Planet)


imagesqtbnANd9GcSZspAVD2tLmnO6nfzr8GRRrcxptdR9GGJhQgVDlYnCtVzbgJ5ykQIt wasn’t all bad news. From last Thursday:

Today, the DEA announced that it was not rescheduling marijuana, in effect refusing to recognize marijuana’s medicinal benefits. But in what is viewed as a victory for the marijuana reform movement, the DEA said that it was ending its monopoly on marijuana research.
“Keeping marijuana in Schedule I shows that the DEA continues to ignore research, and places politics above science,” said Michael Collins, deputy director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “In reality, marijuana should be descheduled and states should be allowed to set their own policies.”
One move that was positive was eliminating obstacles to research. “Ending the DEA-enforced NIDA monopoly is a very welcome move that will enable more research,” said Collins.
(Drug Policy Alliance)

This seems inexplicable, unless you consider that there are those in power, still, who nurse irrational fear and hate for marijuana and it users. But they’re swimming – flailing, is more like it – against the tide of history:


The Star Tribune’s exposing violence done (broken bones) to Minnesota’s youngest citizens while in state care reminded me of my own experiences growing up and 40 years later as a CASA volunteer guardian ad Litem.


In my middle class 1977 Minneapolis neighborhood, the family next door’s 15 year old grandson became psychotic and behaved dangerously. Mom and dad tried to find him mental health help to no avail. The only option that provided treatment for their son was the Juvenile Justice system.  The boy’s entrance into the system required he be charged with a crime.  Their boy killed himself a few years later.


Since then, I’ve witnessed parents failing to find mental health services for their children many times, experienced dozens of children’s mental health tragedies and hundreds of mental health near tragedies.   Only extreme cases make the news.  Michael Swanson, Kendrea Johnson and Jeff Weis all sought help and were terribly underserved.



ellisontppBut nothing’s over. Not even close.

There are lots of stories in the media claiming that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is dead for now.
And why wouldn’t TPP be dead? Both presidential candidates say they are opposed to TPP. Various Congressional leaders have said that it is unlikely to come up. Nancy Pelosi has spoken out against it. Harry Reid says he opposes it. All labor and environmental organizations along with most consumer, health, human rights and other progressive-aligned groups oppose TPP. Six Republican members of Congress who voted for the “fast track” Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) have sent a letter opposing TPP. Even the Tea Party opposes TPP, calling it “Obamatrade.” Under these circumstances, the very idea that it could come up for a vote at all, never mind that it might even pass, is an insult to democracy.
But here’s the thing: Wall Street wants TPP and the giant multinational corporations want TPP. And what Wall Street and giant multinational corporations want from Congress, Wall Street and giant multinational corporations usually get from Congress. It’s not like insulting democracy is a big no-no to that crowd. So did you really think TPP would just go away?
(Campaign for America’s Future)

It’s telling that TPP ratification is expected to be no problem in more overtly authoritarian places like Malaysia and Vietnam (maybe it’s already been ratified in those, for all I know), but is facing serious issues in the U.S., Japan, Canada, and Australia. Based on my searches this morning, Japan’s legislature is still holding off, waiting to see what the U.S. does. (It was introduced in the legislature there, then tabled.) An important Australian commission came out against the deal. Here’s an example of what the opposition is presenting in Canada, and I wish them well.
Comment below fold.

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Mike Gelfand has long been the metro area’s most edgy and humorous sports and political scold. Although “Stretch” no longer splashes vinegar on KQ’s Morning Show, he podcasts on Mondays and Fridays at about 1:15 p.m. on Bob Sansevere’s “The BS Show” at   Mike occasionally supports Democratic Visions, in its Quixiotic mission to rescue local lefties from the pundits, snoozers and wonkers of Almanac, Esme and AM950.


Gelfand welcomed me to his St. Louis Park backyard a few days after the Democrats left Philadelphia for the two of us to co-anchor the edition of Democratic Visions that would need to slog through the dog days of August and the annual plague of State Fair boosterism.


The two of us introduce an exclusive, 1988 interview I conducted with legendary WCCO-TV newsman, Dave Moore in Loring Park. Dave comments about the silliness of TV news, his then diminishing anchor role at Channel 4, the notable news magazines and documentaries that he fronted, and the fondly remembered “The Bedtime Newz,” an occasional TV news send-up that Moore confesses was not that good.


Our August initiative also includes a post Hillary nomination remix of the Junk Yard Democrats’ rippingly fun cover of “Who Let the Dogs Out” (now sporting Bernie and Hillary cameos) and  humorist Jon Spayde, in the guise of his “Professor of Negativity” character, ruminating about campus political activism and passing snippy judgement on several local colleges and one infamous, national, for profit, online University.


Regulars and staff of the Golden Leaf Tobacco gathered for the cigar lounge's wake on July 22nd, its last night of operation. Photo by Mohamud Mumin/Copywright 2016.

Regulars and staff of Golden Leaf Tobacco gathered for the cigar lounge’s wake on July 22nd, its last night of operation. Photo by Mohamud Mumin, Copyright 2016.

The half hour, however, begins with my brief eulogy of Golden Leaf Tobacco, the Minneapolis premium, cigar sampling lounge that operated on Lake Street between Bryant and Colfax Avenues. Until it closed its doors on July 22, “The Leaf” was the kind of institution to which Damon Runyon would have assigned his Underwood Six typewriter. During my three years of visits, The Golden Leaf was an ever changing, collegial carnival of the successful, wounded, thoughtful, entrepreneurial and humorous; of the NHL /MLB/ NFL flatscreen addicted; of the informed and ignorant of American politics, business, literature, cinema, cigars and food. For me, it made life during these strained political times – survivable. And I could read books with paper pages while savoring a hand-rolled cigar un-interrupted by drunks and waiters.


Here’s the link again.



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