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West suburban DFL candidates looking good

by JeffStrate on September 23, 2016 · 1 comment

Pundits and political operatives are looking closely at several west suburban state legislative races that could be extremely close.   The current edtions of Democratic Visions are featuring DFL endorsed candidates running in Senate Districts 36, 44 and 49 and House District 48A.

Four suburban DFL Candidates

Deb Calvert, Laurie Pryor, Melissa Franzen and John Hoffman

Laurie Pryor may be a freshman candidate in her bid to replace retiring State Represenattive Yvonne Selcer, but she knows most every school, business center and residential cul-de-sac in District 48A (northern Eden Prairie and Southern Minnetonka) from a decade of organizing for local and congressional DFL candidates.   Deb Calvert, another issues informed and politically savy candidate, is running to replace Senator Terri Bonoff in Senate District 44 (northern Minnetonka, southern Plymouth and Woodland). Bonoff, as we know, is running a competitive race with right wing enigma Eric Paulsen in the Third Congressional District.     Senator Melisa Franzen is seeking a second term in Senate District 49 (Edina, west Bloomington and a few eastern precincts of Minnetonka and Eden Prairie.   These DFLers do not have strong Republican opponents but huge amounts of money are being spent on legislative races that can be won or lost by fewer than 40 votes.   Calvert, Pryor and Franzen are interviewed by Ted O’Brien in Democratic Visions September Program One here.


Senator John Hoffman is being challenged by Republican Brooklyn Park Mayor John Lunde in Senate District 36. But the personable and effective Hoffman has helped deliver funding for schools, highways and parks in the north suburban district and is strong on environment and jobs.   His district includes all of Champlin, and parts of Coon Rapids and Brooklyn Park.
Hoffman appears in the first segment of Democratic Visons’s second September program which also includes humorist Jon Spayde’s Professor of Negativity, author-comedian Lorna Landvick and a pro-Hillary, Junk Yard Democrats music video that splashes DFLers with home grown whimsy. Oh yes, Mike Gelfand splashes vinegar on distracted drivers and his romantic relationships.   Click here for program two.
Comment below fold.

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The early summer edition of Democratic Visions features mostly segments that we had recorded in April and May but just couldn’t fit into our spring line-ups.  Each program must come in a bit south of 30 minutes for airing on various cable systems.


30 minutes is an eternity in the tweet and text world and the issues considered on this particular edition have been ruminated about hundreds of times by others in our increasingly fractured universe of new and old media. But proposed copper pit mining in Northern Minnesota, high student loan debts, Trump, Ventura, Reagan and the under informed are here being considered by our ruminators:   DFL elders Tim O’Brien and blogger Steve Timmer and The Theater of Public Policy’s chief  interrogator Tane Danger and political analyst Bob Meek.   These are local guys here provided with a Charlie Rose type TV venue, albeit just a public access studio nested alongside an art gallery within the Bloomington Civic Center  – that is tended to by non-paid volunteers.


Tucked in at the 8’/30″ mark of the program is an initiative of our ongoing mission to restore political humor to Minnesota television.  Our good friend Doug Lind has re-purposed some dusty political jokes.  We recorded him testing his musty slap shots out on a group of Eden Prairie High School millenials at the the “DFL Comedy Club.” We think the joint is located somewhere in Hopkins (a safe zone for progressives) but it could also be out in Carver County which is not a safe zone for the informed or liberal. Enjoy.

Seven years of Democtratic Visions programs and segments are archived on its YouTube Channel.


Democratic Visions On cableTV


Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Edina, Hopkins, Richfield, Comcast Channel 15 —
Sundays at 9 p.m., Mondays at 10:00 p.m., Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 2 p.m.


Bloomington – BCAT Channel 16 — Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m.; Fridays at 9:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. & 2:30 p.m.


Minneapolis – MTN Channel 16 — Sundays at 8:30 p.m., Mondays 3:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. Program is streamed at the MTN website during cablecasts.
Program is lived streamed during airings


Champlin, Anoka, Ramsey, Andover – QCTV Community Channel 15 — Thursdays 2 p.m. For other times see schedule


Democratic  Visions is hand made by unpaid volunteers from Edina, Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Hopkins and Bloomington.  Our program is not financially supported or endorsed by any political party, political action committee or special interest group.


Boy with collected litter.

A public service message from Democratic Visions.

The Star Tribune this morning reports:

A proposal to ban Minneapolis stores from handing out plastic bags — and require them to charge customers for paper bags — has cleared an important hurdle at City Hall.
Monday, following a lengthy public hearing, the City Council’s Health, Environment and Community Engagement committee voted 4-0 to forward the plan to the full council. It appears the plan may have enough support to pass the 13-member council; in addition to the four committee members who voted in favor of the plan, two other council members attended the meeting to voice their support. A fifth committee member, Council Member Andrew Johnson, expressed support for the plan but abstained from voting because he intends to work on an amendment that would make the policy more “consumer and business friendly.”’  Click here for the full story.

This is mighty fine news that I hope the full city council passes … and then the whole State of Minnesota needs similar legislation.  California’s currently stalled plastic bag law was prompted by several earlier municipal plastic bag laws.   State wide regulation made sense to businesses, regulators, environmentalists and legislators. But the California plastic bag law that was passed by the legislature, signed by Governor Brown and had been planned to be effected for large grocery chains and pharmacies on July 1, 2015 and for convenience and liquor stores on July 1, 2016 has been suspended pending a referendum vote this coming November 2016.
California stores would have been required to offer customers recycled paper bags or bags made of compostable material at a cost of at least 10 cents.  Folks on the state’s food-assistance program would not have to pay for the earth friendly bags.  The state of California was slated to provide $2 million in state-backed loans to help businesses transition to re-useables. But last year, plastic bag manufacturing industry opponents to the new law gathered enough valid voter signatures to force a November ballot referendum question on the law.  (More on this here.)
For the past three years Democratic Visions has been running this sly parody of a PBS nature documentary.  It was produced by Heal the Bay (Santa Monica) and is about the life cycle of a plastic bag and is voiced by Jeremy Irons.  We’ve tagged it with a Minnesota-based epilogue.



My Problem with Huggy Democrats

by JeffStrate on February 15, 2016 · 1 comment

Image of MSNBC debate stage

Rachel Maddow hugging Bernie after a recent Hillary/Bernie ‘debate’ on MSNBC.


Over the past seven years I have recorded on my video cam a variety of DFL functions, conventions, rallies, town meetings and Senate District central committee meetings.  I have edited the raw video for segments on Democratic Visions, the public access TV program that I produce with the help of other, unpaid volunteers.

A few elected and rank and file partisans have mistakenly thought that I was a “tracker.”  I and my production colleagues are not trackers.  Trackers are those pale, silent and creepy gents who quietly place a tripod with a tiny, mounted camera at the back of a town meeting.  They are  hoping to record gaffes and clumsy sound bites that can be used against the progressives and liberals of this world.  Lefty organizations also employ trackers, but I am not one of them nor do I know anyone who is but I know a cockroach from a real video journalist.  One of Democratic Visions’ missions has been to capture and to share on cable access TV and its  YouTube channel  the joy, humor, thoughtfulness, diversity and humanity of being a lefty.   One cannot do that from a stationary tripod or from the voyeuristic employ of a cell phone with a peephole lens.


When I am at, say, a DFL convention, I am waltzing about with a serviceable Sony Handicam for different angles of the speakers, panelists, audience members, coffee sippers, applauders and getting shots at the sign-in, candidate and refreshment tables.  I look for moments that can be used to show our essences in our various degrees of genius, wit, gravity and serendipity.  The tracker, on the other hand, with the tiny camera on the tripod or, for that matter, the hired professional/institutional ‘media’ crew with their own tripods and tiny cameras at the back of the room, cannot make anyone look good.  In that respect, they have something in common with the non-partisan, gray ladies who run the League of Women Voters candidate forums.


I grimace when, say, some city council or legislature candidate begins her/his introductory remarks with an unctuously oily ‘I want to thank the League of Women Voters for inviting me to share with you tonight why I am seeking election and how I plan to give back to a community that my family and I love so very, very dearly.’   Well,  ‘Thanks’ for what?   The televised and streaming versions of the stilted and pinched LWV forums are of interest only to a candidate’s campaign manager and spouse, the weekly community newspaper editor and the occasional tracker (if permitted by the gray ladies to set up a tiny camera on a tripod). These, well intended League attempts to spark voter interest are as reliably dull as a Ford Focus coated in February road salt.   It is my view that the LWV is sucking the juice out of Minnesota’s brand of democracy.


That’s why I risk losing what little dignity I still retain as a veteran television producer and journalist by prancing about meetings, kneeling, standing on benches, laying flat on the floor, sneaking up behind the head table or poking my camera into a trio of gabbers.  I am attempting to gather video and sound that local politics, in spite of the muzzle of Minnesota Nice, the leash of the politically correct, and the flare of the Black Lives Matter movements of our times, do indeed have a pulse and an ethic richer than the stump speech or the calculated chit chat on Almanac or the bombastic teasers on FOX and CNN.

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Steve Simon on Democratic Visions

by JeffStrate on January 24, 2016 · 0 comments

Steve Simon at Democratic Visions

MN Secretary of State Steve Simon with Democratic Visions host Tim O’Brien

As the second year begins of Steve Simon’s tenure as Minnesota’s Secretary of State, he shares his perspectives about voting in Minnesota, elections and several non-political services provided by his office on the January edition of Democratic Visions. Safe at Home, for example, is a program that provides safe and anonymous email, postal and residential addresses for victims of domestic violence and victims of stalking who continue to fear for their safety.
Democratic Visions host Tim O’Brien and Simon also weigh in on a U.S. Supreme Court Case (Evenwel vs. Abbott) which could soon reject the “one person one vote” principle that has long been applied in the drawing-up of congressional and state legislative districts.  If the principle is rejected, millions of urban voters will be under represented.
But O’Brien and Simon mostly consider voting reforms and challenges in Minnesota; a state which year in and year out boasts one of the highest voter turnouts in the nation.A segment of President Barack Obama’s emotional, January 5th announcement of executive orders intended to make it difficult for risky people to acquire guns rounds out the program.
Democratic Visions is a community access program produced by volunteers at the Bloomington Community Access TV studio by arrangement with Southwest Community Television.  Democratic Visions is not funded, endorsed or supported by any political party, campaign, political action committee or guest.
This program is on YouTube here.
Democratic Visions Cable TV Schedule –

EP, Mtka, Edina, Hopkins, Richfield, Comcast Channel 15 — Sundays at 9 p.m., Mondays at 10:00 p.m., Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 2 p.m.

Bloomington – BCAT Channel 16 — Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m.; Fridays at 9:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. & 2:30 p.m.

Minneapolis – MTN Channel 16 — Sundays at 8:30 p.m., Mondays 3:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. Program is streamed at the MTN website during cablecasts.

Champlin, Anoka, Ramsey, Andover – QCTV Channel 15 — Fridays 8 a.m.,Saturdays 6:00 a.m., 10,30 a.m.,10:30 p.m.

Segments and full half hours of Democratic Visions are archived on YouTube –



State DFL Party Chair on Democratic Visions

by JeffStrate on October 22, 2015 · 0 comments

Ken Martin and Tim O'Brien

DFL Party Chair Ken Martin and host Tim O’Brien discuss lefty stuff on the current  edition of Democratic Visions.

Ken Martin, Chair of the State Democratic Farmer Labor Party, and Tim O’Brien discuss challenges that Minnesota Democrats are facing during the build-up to the 2016 campaign season on the autumn edition of Democratic Visions.

The 25 minute long discussion is posted on YouTube.   I’ve listed its cable TV schedules below.

Martin, who became politically active as an Eden Prairie High School student when he volunteered for Paul Wellstone’s first U.S. Senate campaign, is optimistic about DFL prospects in Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District. Republican Congressman John Kline is not seeking re-election to represent the 2nd District, which Martin points out, is a swing district trending left. Regardless of who wins the Republican nomination, Martin feels either DFLer Angie Craig or DFLer Mary Lawrence can win in what he feels could be the most expensive congressional race in 2016.


Regarding the presidential race, Martin advises, “We can’t rely on their (the Republicans’) incompetence to deliver the Presidency.” Martin supports Hillary Clinton, but as Chair of the State DFL Party, says that “We’re Democrats. We don’t do a coronation.” In Minnesota, all Democratic Primary presidential candidates and their campaigns will have equal access and be welcomed to debates.


Both Martin and O’Brien also weigh in on next year’s local Minnesota Legislature races and the use of social media in making political connections.  In a related segment, I present my disdainful take politicians who grin for selfies and a humorous advisory from on Facebook etiquette. “Facebook Manners” is a clever, internet video parody of the kind of instructional films that were shown to teenagers during the Eisenhower era.


EP, Mtka, Edina, Hopkins, Richfield, Comcast Channel 15 —
Sundays at 9 p.m., Mondays at 10:00 p.m., Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 2 p.m.

Bloomington – BCAT Channel 16 — Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m.; Fridays at 9:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. & 2:30 p.m.
Minneapolis – MTN Channel 16 — Sundays at 8:30 p.m., Mondays 3:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. Program is streamed at the MTN website during cablecasts.

Champlin, Anoka, Ramsey, Andover – QCTV Channel 15 — Fridays 8 a.m.,Saturdays 6:00 a.m., 10,30 a.m.,10:30 p.m.
Dem Vis is hand made by unpaid volunteers from Edina, Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Hopkins and Bloomington.  Our program is not supported or endorsed by any political party, political action committee or special interest group.


Osama bin Laden 1; Railroads 0

by gregladen on August 25, 2015 · 0 comments

train-derailment-bakken-west-virginia-aerial-view_us-coast-guardThe terrorists have defeated the railroads, and by extension, the people. Well, not totally defeated, but they won a small but important battle.
We have a problem with the wholesale removal of petroleum from the Bakken oil fields, and the shipping of that relatively dangerous liquid mainly to the east coast on trains, with hundreds of tanker cars rolling down a small selection of tracks every day. I see them all the time as they go through my neighborhood. These trains derail now and then, and sometimes those derailments are pretty messy, life threatening, and even fatal.
There has been some effort in Minnesota to get the train companies to upgrade their disaster plans, which is important because about 300,000 Minnesotans live in the larger (one half mile) disaster zone that flanks these track. A smaller number, but not insignificant, live in the blast zone, the place where if a couple of train cars actually exploded you would be within the blast area. For the last couple of years, my son was at a daycare right in that blast zone. I quickly add that the chance of being blasted by an oil train is very small, because the tracks are in total thousands of miles long, derailments are rare(ish), and the affected areas can be measured in city blocks. So a blast from a Bakken oil train may be thought of as roughly like a large air liner crash, or may be two or three times larger than that, in terms of damage on the ground.
But yes, the trains derail at a seemingly large rate.
Now, here is where the terrorists come in. And by terrorists I specifically mean Osama bin (no relation) Laden, or his ghost, and that gang of crazies that took down the world trade center in New York. When that happened, we became afraid of terrorism, and everyone who could use that fear for personal gain has since exploited it. I’m pretty sure that the rise of the police state in America has been because of, facilitated by, and hastened due to this event. For years the American people let the security forces and related government agencies do pretty much whatever they wanted. The Patriot Act, you may or may not know, is a version of a law that conservatives have been pushing in the US for decades, a draconian law that gives great power to investigative and police agencies. That law never got very far in Congress until 9/11. Then, thanks to Osama bin Laden, it seemed like everyone wanted it. Only now, years later, are we seriously considering rolling it back (and to some extent acting on that consideration).
So now, the railroads have been forced to come up with a disaster plan related to the oil shipments. And they did. But for the most part they won’t let anyone see it. Why? Because, according to one railroad official, “… to put it out in the public domain is like giving terrorists a road map on how to do something bad.”
What does he mean exactly? As far as I can tell, the disaster plan pinpoints specific scenarios that would be especially bad. These scenarios, if they fell into the hands of terrorists, would allow said terrorists to terrorize more effectively.
I’m sure this is true. But I’m also sure this is not a reason to keep the plans secret. There are three reasons, in my view, that the plans should be totally available for public review.
1) If you want to know what the worst case scenarios for a rail tanker disaster are, don’t read this report. It is easier to get out a map, maybe use some GIS software if you have it, and correlate localities where the train tracks cross over bridges, cross major water sources, and go through dense population areas. A high bridge through an urban area over an important river, for instance. This is not hard. Indeed, I call on all social studies teachers with an attitude (and most of the good ones have an attitude) to make this a regular project in one of your classes. Have the students try to think like terrorists and identify the best way to terrorize using oil trains. The reason to do this is to point out how dumb the railroads are being.
2) Secret plans are plans that can be exploited or misused by those who make them. We will see security measures taken that, for example, limit public access to information unrelated to oil trains, with the terroristic threat used as an excuse. I’m sure this has already happened. It will continue to happen. It is how the police state works.
3) The plans can be better. How do I know this? Because all plans can be better. That’s how plans work. How can you make the plans better? Scrutiny. How do you get scrutiny? Don’t make the plans secret.
MPR news has a pretty good writeup on this situation here. MPR is fairly annoyed at the secrecy, as they should be, but frankly I’d like to see this and other news agencies, as well as the state legislators involved, and everyone else, more fired up. We should all be working harder against the police state.
I want to end with this: I like trains, and you should too. Trains are among the most efficient ways to move stuff across the landscape. Those of us concerned with things like climate change should be all for trains. Ultimately, I think we can increase the use of trains to move goods and people, and at the same time take the trains off fossil carbon. They are already mostly electric, using liquid fuel to run generators. That liquid fuel could be made, largely, from renewable biodiesel and a bit of grown biodiesel, and more of the trains can probably go all electric. But this secrecy thing is not OK.



Corporatocracy and the State Auditor

by Invenium Viam on June 8, 2015 · 1 comment

This is the end, beautiful friend
This is the end, my only friend, the end.

I’ll never look into your eyes, again.

                                      The End, the Doors



“Two people went into a back room in the middle of the night, behind closed doors, and made some decisions,” State Auditor Rebecca Otto told Eric Eskola and Cathy Wurzer on Almanac last friday night. “And so only those two people know why they did it. … This is about trying to strip and gut a constitutional office … that is the people’s office.”


It’s also about stripping Minnesota Senators, duly elected by their constituencies, of their legislative powers.


It’s also about stripping the power of self-government from the people — who elected those Senators to their Constitutional offices — to choose the kind of state government they want by electing people to represent their well-being and interests at the seat of government.


And it’s about a brazen corporate power-grab of the powers of a constitutional office that answers directly to the taxpayers for how money is spent and how the business of government is conducted.


This, friends, is what a corporatocracy looks like. Did you think that when it came is would look like the Hollywood dystopia of Logan’s Run, or of Blade Runner? It will never look like that.


It will look like what we’re seeing in this covert attack on the State Auditor’s office: the loss of self-government to powerful moneyed interests.


Think about that for a minute. Two individuals took it upon themselves to circumvent the processes of government, to bypass the Minnesota Senate, and to thwart the will of the people who elected them, thereby to achieve purposes that are detrimental to the residents and taxpayers of the state.


At least now we know from the Star-Tribune story posted Sunday, June 7, who the two malefactors are: House Majority Leader Kurt Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk. Strib reporter Ricardo Lopez had this to say about it:

Approved by the House, the measure — which would gut the role of the state auditor, Democrat Rebecca Otto — had never been heard in the Senate. Yet that night, Sens. Sandy Pappas and Jim Carlson, leaders of that bill’s conference committee, were being instructed by Bakk’s chief of staff, Tom Kukielka, to approve the controversial change.


“Do it,” Kukielka said, according to one senator’s recollection of the conversation. Pappas and Carlson told the Star Tribune that Daudt and Kukielka had insisted the change was a crucial part of top leadership’s final agreement. [emphasis mine]


And while Rebecca Otto, speaking in the person of State Auditor, may have been unable to ascribe motivations to the pair, former State Auditor and later Governor Arne Carlson in his blog post Raw Politics and the Office of State Auditor was less reluctant in his willingness to call a spade a spade:

Now, why would Senate Democrat leadership accept a Republican proposal to virtually eliminate the office of the State Auditor which is held by a Democrat incumbent?


The answer likely has little to do with the issue of privatizing the office by permitting local government to contract out their audits and all to do with the incumbent’s stance on mining leases and, particularly, the proposed copper mine located in the Iron Range of northern Minnesota. It should be remembered that in addition to an audit responsibility which charges the State Auditor with oversight of the more than 20 billion dollars spent by local governments, the State Auditor also serves as a constitutional officer elected by the people of Minnesota. As such, she serves on the State Executive Council, the State Board of Investment (pension investments), Land Exchange Board, and a variety of other state boards. One major issue that regularly arises is the management of state lands including the issuances of mining leases.


In politics as in life, the simplest answer is probably the right one. Arne Carlson has been around politics a long, long time. And while State Auditor Rebecca Otto is right that only the two individuals who entered that room at 3:00 a.m. in the dark of night can know what words were spoken between them, it’s clear that their motivations must have proceeded from an equally dark intent — one not meant to see the light of day. Otherwise, why did the House and Senate leaders feel the need to sequester themselves so completely, so that not even their aides and the committee chairs could know what was said? Could it be, merely, as Daudt claims, to rubber stamp a set of budgetary provisions (see esp. Sec. 3. [6.481] COUNTY AUDITS.) already approved by the House? Could it be as innocent, as Bakk claims, as allowing the remaining counties in the state to conduct their own private audits as 28 others are now doing and as requested by the League of Minnesota Counties — a claim now disputed by that organization’s spokesmen?


As former Governor of Louisiana and former US Senator Huey Long liked to say, “That dog don’t hunt.” Was that set of provisions in the budget bill really worth circumventing the entire Minnesota Senate and the voters who elected them? Was it worth forcing the budget committee leaders to include the language in a bill they knew had not been vetted by their colleagues? Is it worth gutting a constitutional office that is one of the pillars of good government in Minnesota and a defender of the taxpayers interests nationally recognized for excellence?


Could something as simple and innocent as what is being claimed by the two majority leaders really be worth all that? And is it worth the fight that Speaker Daudt is now making to keep the language in the budget bill regardless of the Governor’s demands that it be excised and ignoring the warnings of legal scholars that the provisions are not constitutional?


No, it doesn’t pass the smell test. There’s surely a hidden agenda here. It seems much more likely that there were promises and offers made that weren’t in the best interests of the people of Minnesota, but were in the interests of a few power brokers at the capitol, otherwise the thing would never have been done the way it was. We may never know what those promises and offers were, but we can be sure that they are the prime movers working behind the scenes of this debacle.


This is not what Democracy looks like. But it is what Corporatocracy looks like. Be warned.
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Philander T. Overman: The State of the State

by JeffStrate on April 14, 2015 · 0 comments

Shortly after the midterm election in November, Philander T. Overman shared his thoughts about where the State of Minnesota was headed with a divided legislature and DFLers holding down the constitutional positions of Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General and State Auditor.  Mr. Overman did so on Democratic Visions, the no budget community access, cable TV show provided by lefty volunteers out of the SW ‘burbs.  Mr. Overman, dear possums, is not the kind of conjecture oozing pundit on the blandly safe Almanac, nor is he the kind of tart, informed blogger that propels Minnesota Progressive Project.  Philander T. Overman is a rank-and-file, average Minnesota citizen.  He’s the kind of guy that crowded into Menard’s yard and garden section this weekend to buy potted petunias for the patio and wishes he had purchased tickets for the Twins home opener.    You may find a reconsideration of his post-election thoughts to be of interest.  My link to Overman is through Jon Spayde, his St. Paul based agent and mentor.




Jewish Voice for Peace MN Panel on Israel

by JeffStrate on March 2, 2015 · 0 comments

JVP Panel 12.13.2015

Members of Jewish Voice for Peace Minnesota formed a December 13th panel to discuss their journeys as Jewish people to speak out on behalf of Palestinian rights in Israel at. From the left: Marc Trius, Allan Malkis, Marisa Katz, Ilana Rossoff and Andy Berman. The forum was sponsored by Women Against Military Madness and Middle East Peace Now.

Five local members of Jewish Voice for Peace, a national campaign for Palestinian justice in Israel, are featured on the current edition of Democratic Visions, the political issues program I produce out of the southwest suburbs.


The JVP Minnesota members were panelists at a December 13th forum at the Southdale Library in Edina.  Video clips of the forum combined with additional perspective shared later by lead panelist Andy Berman arc into highly personal stories about being Jewish and coming to reject Israel’s political, economic and military actions towards Gaza, the West Bank and Palestinians.


Andy Berman began the forum with this statement:  “I suspect that a common theme we’ll be hearing today is that our solidarity with the Palestinian people and all our work for peace and justice, is deeply rooted in our Jewish identity.”


Panelist Marc Trius was born in Russia but grew up and was educated in Haifa, Israel.  He speaks poignantly of situations that turned him into a critic of the Israel government and its defense force with personal anecdotes; one of them is about a picnic held in a park where once stood Palestinian homes.


Marisa Katz grew up in Georgia “with a proud Zionist family history and background.  ” Katz attended Jewish summer camps and as a high school student took a study trip to Israel.  She says that she found Israel fascinating but came to feel that the visit was less about education and more about recruiting future citizens.  During college in Ohio Katz recounts that she began to read and discuss other perspectives.


Ilana Rossoff grew up in New Jersey.  Her father is a Reformed Rabbi.  She says that she began asking why reported wartime body counts for Israel were significantly lower than those for its enemies in each conflict.  Andy Berman and Allan Malkis have long lived in Minnesota but grew up in New York City.  Each tells how he has measured the devotion of their respective families to the Jewish traditions of working for social justice and peace against the record of Israel in the mid east.


The Jewish Voice for Peace Minnesota forum was held before the announcement of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s March 3rd address to the United State’s Congress.  The panelists focus on their respective and evolving personal takes on Israel rather than Iran’s nuclear program and the Israeli elections.  But, as pro/con posturing over the Netanyahu-Boehner show has been amplified by main stream media, Democratic Visions has provided five small but resonant voices a broader reach.

Click here to link to the 23-minute long Democratic Visions presentation which is an edited representation of the 90 minute forum.

The complete, on-line video presentation is available on Vimeo at Bill Sorem Videos.



Eden Prairie, Richfield, Minnetonka, Edina and Hopkins Comcast Channel 15 – Sundays 9 p.m., Mondays 10 p.m., Wednesdays 5:30 p.m., Saturdays 2 p.m.

Bloomington – BCAT Channel 16 — Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m.; Fridays at 9:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. & 2:30 p.m.

Minneapolis – MTN Channel 16 — Sundays at 8:30 p.m., Mondays 3:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m.  Program is streamed at the MTN website during cablecasts.

Champlin, Anoka,Ramsey, Andover – QCTV Channel 15 — Fridays 8 a.m.,Saturdays 6:00 a.m., 10,30 a.m.,10:30 p.m.

Segments and full half hours of Democratic Visions are archived on YouTube.