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30 Minutes with Ken Martin

by JeffStrate on January 13, 2017 · 0 comments

State DFL Chair Ken Martin and Tim O’Brien take measure of the 2016 election and the future of Democrats in Minnesota and the nation on this half hour Democratic Visions special. Martin and DFL Vice Chair Marge Hoffa took office in 2011 and are seeking a third term as DFL Party leads. Martin and Hoffa have a campaign website.

 

As of the publication of this post, only former State DFL Associate Chair Donna Cassutt (2005-2011) is challenging Martin. Cassutt served with state party Chair Brian Melendez who announced his retirement two days after the guberantorial vote recount that confirmed in December 2010 Mark Dayton’s win.   Cassutt has a campaign venue on Facebook.

 

Democratic Visions is an independent community access CableTV and internet program handcrafted by southwest suburban, lefty volunteers. I’m in my ninth year of producing the thing.

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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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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.

 

 

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Oil pipelines, oil satire, T2P2 and Mike Gelfand

by JeffStrate on January 13, 2015 · 0 comments

 

The first of nine public and evidentiary hearings this month on the proposed Minnesota reach of the Sandpiper Pipeline convened on January 5th at St. Paul’s River Center.

 

Ballrooms A and B, combined, are as large as Iowa and more than 200 citizens showed up to listen and/or speak.  I was there for about an hour with my video camera; the session went on into the night.  The hearings are being conducted by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission and provide ample time for pro and con opinion and, under oath, experts, scientists, State DNR and MPCA regulators and Enbridge Oil, Inc. officials to clarify information.

 

The approximately 600-mile long pipeline would carry Bakken crude oil from North Dakota to Superior, Wisconsin.  About 300 miles or more of it would pass through Minnesota.   75% of Enbridge’s proposed Sandpiper alignment in Minnesota would be constructed within existing pipeline corridors.  There are alternate pipeline alignments in the discussion at least one of which would run entirely within existing pipeline corridors.   Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy (MCEA) attorney Kathryn Hoffman and others say that 25% of the Enbridge favored alignment goes through sensitive peat and bog lands, forests and lake and stream watersheds.  MCEA and citizen groups including Honor the Earth and Friends of the Headwaters oppose the Enbridge plan.

Kathryn new1_2

It gets complicated being that the review and approval/denial process involves studies, reports and claims being generated by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, the MN DNR, MPCA, Enbridge, organized labor and others.  MCEA and Friends of the Headwaters have jointly filed a suit in Ramsey County requesting a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the thing.  Add in just a few of the operating acronyms – EIS, PUC, EPA, FOH – and It gets very complicated for the un-baptized.   But on the current edition of Democratic Visions, Kathryn Hoffman, Tim O’Brien and the Dem Vis graphics/editor guy admirably service we non-wonks.

 

The O’Brien and Hoffman discussion is followed by a satirical, animated short crafted by Vancouver-based editorial cartoonist Dan Murphy.  Murphy’s targets are Canada’s oil executives, pipeline politicians and its image, now dripping with tar sand oil.

 

As grandson and grandmother characters, Brandon Boat and Maggie Sotos from The Theater of Public Policy (T2P2) weigh in on the generation gap among Minnesota Democrats in an improvised sketch and humorist/provocateur Mike Gelfand speaks of the distracted drivers in his neighborhood.

 

Democratic Visions is an independently produced public access television monthly that can be viewed on flat screens in the following cities –

 

SW ‘burbs — Channel 15 in Eden Prairie, Richfield, Minnetonka, Edina and Hopkins – 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.

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New Junk Yard Democrats Video

by JeffStrate on March 27, 2014 · 1 comment

The Junk Yard Democrats, their fans and some bar flies in a suburban rock dive, weigh in on climate change, right wingers, the NRA, and Egyptian democracy in their new video “Break on Through.”  The bit is featured in the new edition of Democratic Visions which is cable cast in Minneapolis and six well known suburbs.  See the schedule below.

Tommy Johnson, Norb Gernes and Jeff Strate at the Senate District 48 DFL Convention, March 8, 2014.

Tommy Johnson, Norb Gernes and Jeff Strate at the Senate District 48 DFL Convention, March 8, 2014.

The faux rock group performed at the March 8 Senate District 48 DFL Convention.   Jeff Strate, the group’s musical director, posing as an emissary from the GOP SD 48 convention to the DFL  gathering (with a metaphorical olive branch and a fist full of apologies for bad GOP behavior), attempted to lead the trio in singing “We’re in the Money,” the hit song from the Warner Brothers movie  The Gold Diggers of 1933  as a means of finding  common ground through music.  Several attempts were made to begin the song, but the boys instead launched into Woodie Guthrie’s version of “This Land Is You land.”  Their effort sparked an enthusiastic convention-wide sing-a-long. Most younger DFLers were confused searched with their smart phone apps for clues. Their elders, however, enjoyed the scam.

YouTube’s Democratic Visions Channel sports nearly 180 videos.   The monthly program is handcrafted by Minnetonka, Eden Prairie and Edina volunteers (mostly Democrats)  in a Bloomington community access studio and on location throughout the metro area.

The program is also cable cast in Minneapolis and six famous suburbs –

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

Bloomington – BCAT Cable 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.

Segments of the program are posted on the web at www.dfl48.org/.

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The Big E on Democratic Visions

by JeffStrate on February 17, 2014 · 1 comment

 

The Big E, confessing to MPP readers and contributers recently that his heart no longer pines to hose down right wing sparkle ponies like Michele Bachmann or even review books by the likes of a Keith Ellison – Eric Pusey, the founding scold of this lefty sentry post, none-the-less, appears on the current edition of Democratic Visions.   After a moment of posing as a weary blogosphere elder  (as if blogging was old enough to earn elders),  your smart confederate, prompted by an actual DFL elder,  Tim O’Brien, again shines with bemused and bewildered takes on the current state of the Minnesota Republican Party and its clownish, hopeful candidates.   Yes, the lad who has splashed gleefully in the rushing stream of blogs, Tweets, Facebook twerking and probably Skype does quite well in the “legacy” medium of television.  Fox Nine News producers knew that, but ain’t got cajones and stopped asking Eric back to their Eden Prairie redoubt.

 

EP is also where I hang out and I can gaurantee that there will be more from the Eric Pusey/Tim O’Brien session next week.  For now, this ten minutes is yours to consider.  Its tagged with an insider’s homage to the late, great, populist troubadour Pete Seeger and Twin Cities activism thanks to the Junk Yard Democrats (Tommy Johnson, Norb Gernes and Doug Lind),  a fightin’ anthem, and creative editing.  Enjoy!  Enjoy!

 

 DEM VIS FEBRUARY STORY LINE UP

 

Ex-blogger Eric Pusey and Tim O’Brien on senate and gubernatorial hopefuls.

Jon Spayde as a clinically depressed motivational speaker with advice for Republican hopefuls.

I report on the DFL 48 Precinct Caucuses and present an award winning short film making change.

Democratic Visions is handcrafted by Eden Prairie, Edina and Minnetonka volunteer Democrats at the Bloomington Community Access Television studio by arrangement with the Southwest Suburban Cable Commission.

 

CABLE SCHEDULE

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

 

Bloomington – BCAT Cable 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.

 

The entire Feburary program and 183 arhived Dem Vis segments can be seen on the Democratic Visions Channel on YouTube –  www.youtube.com/user/DemocraticVisions/

 

We’ve become the  liveliest political issues show in Minnesota.   I know.  I produce the darned thing.

 

 

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Head for your caucuses!

by JeffStrate on January 26, 2014 · 1 comment

 

Minnesota’s precinct caucuses will be held on Tuesday February 4.  I’m hoping you attend and nudge your friends to attend.  I have produced the accompanying Democratic Visions video as a kind of motivational sneak preview.

 

But I here share with you a portion of a January 18 letter-to-the-editor published in  The Journal, a New Ulm, Minnesota newspaper.

 

The letter is co-signed by the Brown County Chairs of the Republican and DFL political parties.  That would never happen in Senate District 48 (Eden Prairie/Southern Minnetonka).  The political culture here in the southwest suburbs may be trending blue, but right wing activists continue to dominate the local Republican Party and, given early PAC mail attacks on moderate, freshman, Representative Yvonne Selcer (DFL, HD 48A), political party lefties and righties aren’t likely to co-author love-notes about Minnesota’s democratic process.

 

In 2012, Senate District 48 voters provided right wing ideologue David Hann with a small, re-election victory and Senate District 49 voters (Edina, West Bloomington and pockets of Minnetonka and Eden Prairie) stunned Tea Party Republican operatives by voting in rookie DFLer, Melisa Franzen over uber right winger Keith Downey.  Downey had hoped to move from the House to the Senate.  He now famously chair’s the Republican Party of Minnesota.  Hann famously heads the Senate minority caucus.  Remember  The Peter Principle?  A member of an organization will rise or get promoted to the level of his or her incompetence.  DFLers are subject to the same dynamic.

But its damn comforting to know that local GOP and DFL officials elsewhere in Minnesota are,  in tandem, making a good case for caucus attendance. New faces can oxygenate.  Here’s what they co-signed:

 

As leaders within our political parties in Brown County, we would like to personally encourage you to attend your precinct caucus on Tuesday, Feb. 4.  The precinct caucus is a gathering of your friends, family, and neighbors to exercise your rights in the American political process. It is your first opportunity during an election year to talk about issues, learn about the candidates running for statewide and local office, make recommendations for changes in your party’s platform, and choose delegates to represent you at upcoming county conventions and beyond.  You are welcome to express your opinions on important issues, or you can come just to listen and observe. The atmosphere is similar to that of a neighborhood town hall meeting where the exchange of ideas is encouraged and all participants are treated with fairness and respect, regardless of whether you are expressing your opinion or just listening to others.  The caucus system in Minnesota is a unique system in the United States, where ordinary citizens have the opportunity to participate not only in the selection of the candidates who will represent your political party but also in defining the issues and positions under which those candidates will run in elections. It is participation citizen democracy in action.

Jim Hahn – Chair, Brown County, Republican Committee
Lori Sellner – Chair, Brown County DFL Committee

So, dear Possums, in New Ulm, where the shadow of the giant Herman the German memorial rises high above drifted village and corn stubble,  a welcome “we’re-in-this-together” advisory penned by partisans.

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Video: Precinct Caucuses On Tuesday Feb 4

by JeffStrate on January 25, 2014 · 1 comment

Here’s a video:
 

 
Minnesota’s precinct caucuses will be held on Tuesday February 4. I’m hoping you attend and nudge your friends to attend. I have produced the accompanying Democratic Visions video as a kind of motivational sneak preview.
 
But I here share with you a portion of a January 18 letter-to-the editor of The Journal, a New Ulm, Minnesota newspaper.
 
The letter is co-signed by the Brown County Chairs of the Republican and DFL political parties. That would never happen in Senate District 48 (Eden Prairie/Southern Minnetonka). The political culture here in the southwest suburbs may be trending blue, but right wing activists continue to dominate the local Republican Party and, given early PAC mail attacks on moderate, freshman, Representative Yvonne Selcer (DFL, HD 48A), political party lefties and righties aren’t likely to co-author love-notes about Minnesota’s democratic process.
 
Senate District 48 voters provided the very conservative MN Senate incumbent David Hann with only a surprisingly narrow, re-election victory and Senate District 49 voters (Edina, West Bloomington and pockets of Minnetonka and Eden Prairie) stunned Tea Party Republican operatives by voting in rookie DFLer, Melisa Franzen over uber right winger Keith Downey.  Downey had hoped to move from the House to the Senate.  He is now Chair of the Republican Party of Minnesota.  Hann heads the Senate minority caucus.
 
But its damn comforting to know that local GOP and DFL officials elsewhere in Minnesota are,  in tandem, making a good case for caucus attendance. Here’s what they co-signed:
 

As leaders within our political parties in Brown County, we would like to personally encourage you to attend your precinct caucus on Tuesday, Feb. 4.
 
The precinct caucus is a gathering of your friends, family, and neighbors to exercise your rights in the American political process. It is your first opportunity during an election year to talk about issues, learn about the candidates running for statewide and local office, make recommendations for changes in your party’s platform, and choose delegates to represent you at upcoming county conventions and beyond.
 
You are welcome to express your opinions on important issues, or you can come just to listen and observe. The atmosphere is similar to that of a neighborhood town hall meeting where the exchange of ideas is encouraged and all participants are treated with fairness and respect, regardless of whether you are expressing your opinion or just listening to others.
 
The caucus system in Minnesota is a unique system in the United States, where ordinary citizens have the opportunity to participate not only in the selection of the candidates who will represent your political party but also in defining the issues and positions under which those candidates will run in elections. It is participation citizen democracy in action.
 
Jim Hahn – Chair, Brown County, Republican Committee
Lori Sellner – Chair, Brown County, DFL Committee

 
So, dear Possums, there you have it:  In New Ulm, where the shadow of the giant Herman the German memorial rises far above snow drifts as high as an elephant’s eye, a welcome “we’re in this together” advisory penned by competitors.

 

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Nomination for Best Political Video

by Grace Kelly on December 11, 2013 · 0 comments

What did you see this year that really was the most persuasive? I nominate this video.

 

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Update on The Uptake’s marriage equality film

by JeffStrate on August 31, 2013 · 0 comments

Uptake logo

As of this posting, The Uptake is short by more than $7,700 of its Kickstarter fundraiser deadline goal of $21,211 for its documentary project on the struggle for marriage equality in Minnesota; that deadline arrives on SEPT 6 at 11:59 p.m.  The Uptake, a non-profit, citizen-propelled video news service, says the program will be crafted for a national TV audience.

The gubernatorial signing of Minnesota’s marriage equality legislation came just six months after the unexpected defeat of the discriminatory constitutional marriage definition amendment question on the November 2012 ballot.  “That’s our story,” says The Uptake’s Mike McIntee.

The Uptake can select interviews, demonstrations, legislative debates and protests from hundreds of hours of streamed and taped video from its own coverage and the video vault of the Minnesota United for All Families, the lead organization in the fight for equality. If the funding pledge deadline goal is made, The Uptake will be good to go.  But if the $21,211 Kickstarter pledge goal is not reached by 11:59 p.m. on September 6, the film will not be produced.  The project will need to pay for such production costs as sifting through and selecting video clips from three years of coverage, scripting, digitizing the chosen footage for computer editing, music use fees, audio mixing, graphics and some promotion.

Referring to the documentary’s small budget, McIntee says, “There’s some money in here for promotion and distribution, but not a lot.  We’re hoping that once we get this made other like-minded organizations are going to help us out on that.  It will get seen nationally.  Free Speech TV is one outlet for that.  I’m hoping that others will be available as well.”

During the evening ramp up to the first, legal, same-sex marriage ceremonies at Midnight on August 1st, I assisted McIntee and Uptake videographer Bill Sorem at the Wilde Roast Restaurant at St. Anthony-on-Main.  They were live-streaming interviews of couples, activists and political supporters of the marriage equality campaign that I was recruiting from the jovial and reflective celebrants.  The three of us later added to that footage at Minneapolis City Hall before, during and after Mayor R.T. Ryback legally married the first group of 46 same-sex couples.  You’ll see clips of the evening in my accompanying video.

McIntee explained that if the target amount is not raised by the September 6 deadline, pledged gifts will not be processed – prospective donors will keep their money. If the deadline goal of $21,211 is reached or surpassed, donations will be tax deductible.

Here is the link to the film project’s information and pledge page at Kickstarter.

Here is the link to my second promotional video in support of the project.  Enjoy and give.

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