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Activists at Minneapolis inauguration ceremony

by Dan Burns on January 7, 2014 · 1 comment

Aerial_photo_of_downtown_MinneapolisI don’t see that there’s any doubt that most Minneapolis progressives see the city election as a big victory. And they expect results, not any kind of capitulation to the suits in the skyscrapers. The latter do of course make plenty of pious noise about “closing the gap,” but never at the possible cost of even a pennyworth of their government-provided big leg up.

As the crowd dispersed after the ceremony and her address, about 50 activists seized the steps and began singing “We Shall Not Be Moved,” beside a banner reading “Equity now/ One Mpls vs. the 1%” with references to a $15 minimum wage and affordable housing.
(Mayor Betsy) Hodges briefly joined them on the steps and sang before returning to greet more well-wishers.
“I think this is a respectful celebration of the kinds of values that we’ve been talking about all year,” she said. “This isn’t a disturbance as much as it is a celebration, and good for them.”
Beneath the clamor was a general sense of unity about incoming city leaders’ priorities for closing disparities in jobs and education among whites and blacks.
(Star Tribune)

Equally interesting, for a political wonk like me anyway, is the latter part of the article, which details the new Council structure, committee chairs and so forth. For example:

Most of the council’s work is done in committees, where members take testimony and make crucial decisions on development projects, ordinances and contracts. Committee decisions are rarely overturned by the full council.
Blong Yang, who represents the North Side, will chair the public safety committee. Lisa Bender, who has a background in urban planning, will chair zoning and planning.
Lisa Goodman won more power under the new structure. Goodman’s community development committee, which oversees the use of housing funds and steers economic development initiatives, now includes regulatory services.

Yang and Bender are both newly elected members.

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Precinct caucuses are February 4th

by Eric Ferguson on December 23, 2013 · 1 comment

That headline is true for all parties since the state sets the date, a date that’s too early if I may editorialize, and this is a blog, so … why can’t caucuses go back to March? OK, editorializing done. What follows might not apply to parties other than the DFL. Like I mention when I think there might be need for disclosure that my blogging is separate from being a local party chair, I’m a local party chair. Specifically Senate District 63. Which mean planning the caucuses and SD63 convention is my problem, the necessary but less fun part of the job.


The caucuses on Feb. 4th convene at 7PM. Sign-in begins at 6:30. The Secretary of State’s office will have precinct caucus finder eventually, though they don’t at this writing, so here’s a link to the SOS web site section on elections. The state DFL also has a district finder which will tell you your legislative district, congressional district, etc.


If you happen to live in my senate district, and presumably that’s true of one in 67 of you (to resolve the quizzical looks, Minnesota has 67 state senate districts), you can get caucus location information now on the SD63 web site.


The state DFL has made a video showing what happens at a precinct caucus. The actors are grassroots DFLers who did a terrific job. If you think I’m saying that because I know a bunch of them and they might read this, um, OK, maybe partly I suppose. But really, this explains the process well:


The video used the phrase “organizing unit”, which I think can use some more explanation, albeit at the risk of going into more detail than strictly necessary, but here goes.

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New Council President in Minneapolis?

by Dan Burns on December 10, 2013 · 1 comment

Aerial_photo_of_downtown_MinneapolisIt could happen.

The political change that swept over Minneapolis City Hall in this year’s election could sweep a new City Council president into office.
Council Member Elizabeth Glidden is challenging Barbara Johnson for the council presidency, a position Johnson has held for the last eight years.
Glidden’s bid is being fueled by a group of newly elected council members. If she succeeds, it could pull the state’s most liberal city council even further to the left.

Looking at the numbers, it should come down to a couple of swing votes. Though some last-minute shifts, based on perceptions of the likely outcome, could change that. Fun stuff!

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Minneapolis mayor: How did Betsy Hodges win?

by Dan Burns on November 14, 2013 · 14 comments

306645_361485947283742_1466729850_nBeats me. I didn’t expect it. It wasn’t some ranked choice voting fluke, either. In a bloated field, she kicked butt.
The above is what I thought when I first pondered this. Upon reflection:
- She could legitimately claim to have overcome a lot, to get to where she is. It’s generally called “a compelling personal story.“ That approach can seem hokey and contrived, in our cynical milieu, but in her case, it clearly didn’t seem that way, to enough voters.
- She seems reasonable and open-minded. Those are, of course, disastrous qualities to display in a red congressional district, these days, but they work in a place like Minneapolis. For example, she voted against the Vikings stadium deal, but has taken the approach that now that it’s here, she’ll help work to make the best of it. Note that approval of the Twins stadium rose substantially, after it was up and running.
- I’m hesitant to even broach this, because it seems too good to be true, but could we be entering an era where being female actually helps a candidate’s chances? O happy day, if so.
- There was nothing near a can’t-miss candidate, in this field. Mark Andrew was perceived, fairly or unfairly, as too corporate and too willing to try to please all comers. Don Samuels had an eccentric, loose-cannon reputation, and was (and remains) horrible on public schools. Cam Winton was a stealth Republican. Comeback bids are tough, and Jackie Cherryhomes’s never got anywhere. Dan Cohen was a nut with money (though a lot less of it, now).
- It’s no secret that, except for the work of a handful of writers (like Rachel Stassen-Berger, Jon Tevlin, and Dennis Anderson), my opinion of the Minneapolis Star Tribune is far, far from admiring. I am therefore loath to confess that it looks to me like its endorsement of Hodges may have been a factor, and a big one at that. But there it is.


Minneapolis school board appointment

by Dan Burns on November 13, 2013 · 0 comments

541939_469996109725972_930429095_nHappened yesterday evening:

Mohamud Noor won a first-ballot (of current school board members) victory for a seat on the Minneapolis school board on Tuesday, filling the District 3 vacancy caused by the August death of Hussein Samatar.
The board’s appointment makes Noor only the second Somali-born Minnesotan to hold public office. He’ll be seated on Dec. 10, nearly a month before newly elected Abdi Warsame will be sworn onto the Minneapolis City Council…
The 35-year-old Noor, a friend of Samatar, has sought public office before. He ran for school board in 2010, finishing seventh in a 10-person primary election for a citywide seat. He fared better the following year when he finished second in the DFL primary for a state Senate vacancy, in which he was backed by the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers.
(Minneapolis Star Tribune)

That MFT previously endorsed Noor is an indication that he’s at least reasonably progressive on education. By “progressive,” I mean pro-child, not pro-continued/expanded corporate rapine and degradation of our schools.

With several high-stakes initiatives on the agenda for Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) in coming months, the appointment has been the source of anxiety within education circles. Presumably, the new board member will have an influence on the outcome of the district’s push for changes to the teachers’ contract that would enable the overhaul of MPS’ lowest-performing schools.

I think that progressives that are engaged on education issues know full well what “overhaul” would mean, if the deformers get their way. Corporate charters, teacher-bashing, test-til-you-drop, the whole drill.


The new Minneapolis City Council

by Dan Burns on November 12, 2013 · 2 comments

Aerial_photo_of_downtown_MinneapolisEverything is official: The Minneapolis City Council will have seven new members. Newbies are asterisked.
Ward 1 – Kevin Reich, Ward 2 – Cam Gordon, Ward 3 – Jacob Frey*, Ward 4 – Barb Johnson (who is the current Council President – whether or not there will be an effort to change that remains to be seen), Ward 5 – Blong Yang*, Ward 6 – Abdi Warsame*, Ward 7 – Lisa Goodman, Ward 8 – Elizabeth Glidden, Ward 9 – Alondra Cano*, Ward 10 – Lisa Bender*, Ward 11 – John Quincy, Ward 12 – Andrew Johnson*, Ward 13 – Linea Palmisano*.
Two notes, that are as relevant, or not, as you want them to be:
- In every ward where there was a DFL endorsement, the endorsed candidate won.
- Whoever got the most first-place votes always ended up winning it all, in ranked choice voting.

The following excerpt is from an article that’s similar to what I’ve seen in a number of places; it’s just better-written.

The generational turnover in the Council has dropped the average age from 52 to 41, by my reckoning, and increased the non-white membership from 1 to 3 of 13 – all of whom are foreign-born.
Is this the future of the Democratic Party? The short answer is yes, but it starts small. Leadership is developed at the local level, and there’s no better place to develop it than the City Council. Minneapolis has a Weak Mayor system, so it’s the council that actually runs things. And not only is the new council much younger, it was generally elected on a platform of social justice and neighborhood development – not downtown…
Much was made during the election at the voter rage at being forced to pick upwards of $675M of the tab for the $1B Vikings Stadium. It’s far more than that. Minneapolis has always been a city ruled by the wealthy in one way or the other, funding big civic improvements, primarily Downtown. Those days are now over. The new council is going to be much more neighborhood oriented, given what the new members campaigned on. It will be a different city in 4 years, no matter what.

Standing up to pressure from corporate interests, to put aside any hippie-liberal ideas they may have about being more “neighborhood-centric,” but rather to continue to prioritize the suits in the skyscrapers, won’t be easy, individually or as a group. I wish the Council well, on that.
For serious Minneapolis politics junkies, this article from MinnPost has plenty of interesting speculation, about the immediate future for the Council’s power structure.


jack-sparrow-drunkNow that we finally have a Mayor-elect, it’s time to review the high points, low points and bizarre points of the 2013 Minneapolis Mayoral race. First of all, a $20 filing fee made this all possible. This is probably the last time the filing fee will be so low. In the future, I’m guessing that there will be signature threshold for candidates that don’t want to pay the filing fee.
The $20 filing fee brought us a man who had his name legally changed to Captain Jack Sparrow. If it wasn’t for his squeaky voice
Jeffrey Wagner got the world’s attention when his video went viral. It got over 500,000 views and ranks as one of the most bizarre campaign videos ever. He even promised not to go to strip clubs anymore if he got elected.
Wagner ranks up there with Jimmy McMillan and his Rent Is Too Damn High Party, the 2008 Mike Gravel ad in which he stares at the camera for one minute before stumping away and, while it’s not from her campaign, the Bad Lip Reading Michele Bachmann commercial.
Former Alderman Dan Cohen came back from the dead to run for the office. He was last on the Council in the 1970s and last ran for Mayor in 1969. He spent his lawsuit winnings to run. He even proved to all of Minneapolis that he has a picture of a Latino. Though I’m not sure what that proved.
Ole Savior ran. That is funny in and of itself.
Dick Franson faxed out his announcement that he was going to run for either Mayor or Ward 12 City Council. BTW, what is this fax technology you speak of? Is that from the 19th Century? Sadly, he decided to go and lose the W12 Council race instead.
What was your favorite bizarro moment of the campaign?

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betsy-hodgesIn the race to replace the outgoing Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak, Betsy Hodges leads the pack of three top candidates. Upon examining Mark Andrew and Don Samuels vote totals on the second and third ballots, I simply don’t see a way that they might win. I’m reasonably certain that Hodges will be our next Mayor.

1st Choices 2nd Choices 3rd Choices
Hodges 36.16% Hodges 20.81% Samuels18.37%
Andrew 24.92% Samuels 20.37% Andrew 14.70%
Samuels 10.56% Andrew 18.27% Hodges 11.15%

Samuels doesn’t even break 50% if you add all three together. He’ll eventually get eliminated leaving Andrew and Hodges.
If Mark Andrew gets ALL of his 2nd choice votes, he’s still at 46%. He could break 50% of 77% of his 2nd and 3rd choices didn’t rank Hodges higher. Theoretically possible, but less likely.
Yet Hodges only needs two-thirds of her 2nd choices to not be for Andrew on their 1st choice. The math goes like this:

  • She needs 13.84% to reach 50%.
  • 13.84% divided by 20.81% = 67.94%

I think the odds are stacked in her favor.
I concede that some ballots may not have Andrew or Hodges chosen at all. I also concede that I’m just playing around with statistics. I was about to compare my percentages to the actual vote totals when I made the mistake of refreshing the MN Secretary of State’s site … I can no longer find their Minneapolis election totals. It appears they’ve taken it down. And the Minneapolis election night page is an utter piece of s**t.


Minneapolis City Council Races

by The Big E on November 5, 2013 · 0 comments

home-cityhallWards 5, 9, 12 and 13 have no incumbents. Don Samuels (W5), Gary Schiff (W9) and Betsy Hodges (W13) all ran for Mayor. Incumbents Diane Hofstede in Ward 3, Robert Lilligren in Ward 6 and Meg Tuthill in Ward 10 all lost the DFL endorsement and face tough challenges. In Ward 12 Sandy Colvin Roy announced her retirement after a near loss, no endorsement.
Jacob Frey faces Hofstede in Ward 3, Abdi Warsame faces Lilligren in Ward 6 and Lisa Bender faces Tuthill in Ward 10.
Linnea Palmisano and Matt Perry neck and neck in W12. 3rd choices might prove the difference.

Ward 1 8 of 9 precincts reporting
Kevin Reich 79%
Mark Fox
Vincent Coffeen
Ward 2 9 of 10 precincts reporting
Cam Gordon 87%
Diane Newberry
Ward 3
Diane Hofstede
Jacob Frey 61%
Kristina Gronquist
Michael Katch
Ward 4
Barb Johnson 54%
Kris Brogan
Ward 5
Ian Alexander 30%
Brett Buckner 21%
Kale Severson
Blong Yang 42% of 1st choices,
but 30% of 2nd choices.
Ward 6
Robert Lilligren
Abdi Warsame 63%
Abukar Abdi
Sheikh Abdul
Abdi Addow
Mahamed A Cali
Ward 7
Lisa Goodman 94%
Ward 8
Elizabeth Glidden 97%
Ward 9
Alondra Cano 40% of 1st, 31% of 2nd choices.
Has enough 2nd choices to win.
Ty Moore 38% of 1st, 23% of 2nds.
Charles Curtis
Greg McDonald
Abdi Abdulle
Pat Fleetham
Ward 10
Meg Tuthill
Lisa Bender 64%
Scott Hargarten
Ward 11
John Quincy 67%
Matt Steele
Bob Schlosser
Ward 12
Andrew Johnson 54%
Ben Gisselman
Dick Cohen
Charlie Casserley
Chris Lautenschlager
Ward 13
Linnea Palmisano 42% of 1st, 30% of 2nd choices.
Matt Perry 38% of 1st, 33% of 2nd.
Missy Durant
David Regan
Rob Reuer


Minneapolis Mayor results thread #1

by Dan Burns on November 5, 2013 · 3 comments

1005PM: With 118 out of 119 precincts reporting, Betsy Hodges has an 11.52% lead over Mark Andrew in first-place votes, and a 2.46% lead in second-place ones. Assuming no significant glitch in the tallying, would I bet my life that she’s won this thing? No. But I would bet pretty much anything else that I have.

937PM: I’ve looked all over, and I can’t find any outfit (local news stations, etc.) willing to declare Hodges the winner, despite what looks like a strong showing. So, we wait. The rest of this post is from earlier this evening.
As you’ve likely seen and heard, fast results are not expected. Plenty are anticipating that a winner won’t be announced until Thursday. I don’t know about that, but in any case, I’m not going to spend the evening, much less the next days, posting every bit of minutiae that appears.
I don’t know whether ballot-counters intend to keep at it all night long, or will cease their labors at a reasonable hour, and resume in the morning. I’m not staying up all night, or anything like it. (I pretty much did, in 2010, but that was a stressful scene. Slept the restorative slumber of the righteous, in 2012.)
All that being said, the Secretary of State website’s relevant page appears to be set up in such a way that it may be possible to get a decent feel for what’s going on, by later this evening. I should have something of interest, here, by 9:30 or so. Maybe.
850PM, 68/119 precincts reporting, and the top 3 first-place vote-getters are Betsy Hodges at 32.25%, Mark Andrew at 26.40%, and Don Samuels at 11.72%. At a glance, Andrew may be underperforming, given that he’s been more or less favored. But I know nothing about the ideological makeup of precincts that have reported, vs. those that haven’t.
855PM, 111/119 reporting, and Hodges has a solid lead in first-place votes, and a slight lead for second. This one could be hers.