Rebecca Gagnon: Wrong for Minneapolis School Board

It has nothing to do with schools, but here’s an under the radar story from last year that explains what’s wrong with Rebecca Gagnon, who is running for re-election to the Minneapolis school board. It’s a story about billboard regulations. How does a school board member get mixed up with billboard regulations? Up until this year, Gagnon had been the school board’s representative on the City Planning Commission. Continue reading “Rebecca Gagnon: Wrong for Minneapolis School Board”

Irene Fernando for Hennepin County Board, District 2

It will be no surprise that I am endorsing Irene Fernando over Blong Yang for the open seat on the Hennepin County Board in District 2. There are many reasons you should vote for Irene Fernando, which you can read in the second half of this post. You’re fortunate if you have the chance to vote for her. But first, I have unpleasant memories of Blong Yang in his previous job that I must share with you. Continue reading “Irene Fernando for Hennepin County Board, District 2”

Over-Processed Minneapolis 2040 to Begin Next Step In Process

Lisa McDonald, a spokesperson for a group opposing the Minneapolis 2040 comprehensive plan said at a press conference earlier this week, “the City has failed to engage the community in any meaningful way.” McDonald, who is also a former Minneapolis City Council Member, claimed Minneapolis officials “wrap their work in secrecy” and that there hasn’t been an “honest accounting and summary of what citizens really said in online comments, emails, and meetings.”

Continue reading “Over-Processed Minneapolis 2040 to Begin Next Step In Process”

Dave Hutch for Hennepin County Sheriff

Dave Hutch is available on your ballot. “WEDGE” hat is available in the Wedge LIVE store.

Hennepin County Sheriff is a non-partisan office. But that only applies to what’s printed on the ballot; the candidates really do have political affiliations.

Rich Stanek is the Trump-supporting, ICE-cooperating, Republican incumbent, who once admitted to using racial slurs while on the job. The admission about racial slurs came in a deposition when he was sued for police brutality (the case ended in a settlement). In 2006, Stanek used $30,000 in sheriff’s office training funds to produce a “not-so-thinly-veiled campaign video,” depicting events in the aftermath of the I-35 bridge collapse. In 2016, Stanek sent officers to North Dakota to assist in putting down the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. Continue reading “Dave Hutch for Hennepin County Sheriff”

Angela Conley for Hennepin County Board, District 4

There’s a lot of talk this year about Hennepin County never having had a person of color serve on the board. It’s a big deal, if not surprising. It needs to change. But if you haven’t entirely tuned into the campaign in District 4, you might have the false impression that the arguments here are entirely about identity. They’re not. Continue reading “Angela Conley for Hennepin County Board, District 4”

Local Elections are Happening in 2018

We’re less than two months from election day on November 6. As you’re likely aware, this is a pretty important national election. A great way to get involved during this critical time is with a local campaign. Turning out voters for local DFL candidates (as the Democratic Party is known in Minnesota) means you’ve likely turned out votes for Democratic candidates all the way up the ballot: for governor, the state legislature, and US House and Senate races.

If you live in Minneapolis, the most consequential 2018 races are for offices in Hennepin County. If you care about policing, there’s the sheriff’s race. If you care about criminal justice issues, there’s the county attorney. If you care about housing, transit, health care, and human services, there are two competitive races for the Hennepin County Board, which controls a massive budget of $2.4 billion (for context, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey recently proposed a 2019 budget of $1.6 billion). You should find a reason to feel strongly about one or more of the candidates below. They need your help over the next two months.

Please note: this list is for informational purposes only. These are not endorsements. Some of the candidates listed below are terrible. Wedge LIVE endorsements will be announced at a later time. For more information about these candidates, and those in next door Ramsey County, consult MSP Votes.

Hennepin County Board District 2

Irene Fernando (DFL endorsed) – VolunteerDonate
Blong Yang – VolunteerDonate

Hennepin County Board District 4

Angela Conley – VolunteerDonate
Peter McLaughlin (incumbent) – Donate

Hennepin County Attorney

Mike Freeman (incumbent) – Donate
Mark Haase (DFL endorsed) – VolunteerDonate

Hennepin County Sheriff

Dave Hutch (DFL endorsed) – VolunteerDonate
Rich Stanek (Republican, incumbent)

Minneapolis School Board At-Large

(You vote for two candidates)

Kimberly Caprini (DFL endorsed) – Donate
Rebecca Gagnon (incumbent) – Donate
Josh Pauly (DFL endorsed) – Volunteer – Donate
Sharon El-Amin VolunteerDonate

Minneapolis 2040 is back!

Minneapolis 2040 is back! In just a few weeks a second draft of the proposed comprehensive plan will be released by the city. This is a big important document guiding future decisions on street design, housing, land use, and job access.

In an article originally headlined, “Minneapolis 2040 scares the rich. Is that such a bad thing?,” City Pages relays concerns from two Minneapolis City Council Members.

Lisa Goodman, who represents the ritzy lakes-area neighborhoods of Ward 7, tells a sad story:

“If somebody lives in a house they bought 30 or 40 years ago for $300,000,” she says, “and it’s now valued at $900,000, and they can no longer afford the property taxes on it, that’s often the cause of people moving.” 

That’s sad, but tragedy plays out on a sliding scale. Try telling one of Ellison’s [Ward 5] constituents how hard it is to own something worth so much you can’t resist the urge to sell it.

Any plan for how we create a city that’s affordable to everyone shouldn’t be focused on the needs of wealthy people (yes, if you own a $900,000 house free and clear, you are a wealthy person). It should be focused the huge chunk of Minneapolis renters, predominantly people of color, legitimately struggling to afford a home.

If property taxes in exclusive neighborhoods are high, Goodman created that by advocating for policies that concentrate wealth and shut out new neighbors. Exclusionary zoning drives the shortage which promotes skyrocketing property values and higher taxes in these neighborhoods. This result was achieved on purpose.

Linea Palmisano, who represents swanky Ward 13, says her constituents have been subjected to unfair criticism, including from city staff. She suggests there have been accusations of racism, and says that’s “a great way to end a conversation.” Others might suggest many of her constituents would rather not have a conversation about systemic racism and exclusionary zoning.

Speaking of great ways to end a conversation, Minneapolis for Everyone (the group behind all those red yard signs foretelling the apocalypse) has a reaction to the transportation policies contained in Minneapolis 2040. In the Star Tribune (“To cut pollution from cars, Minneapolis wants more neighborhood destinations”) Minneapolis for Everyone co-founder Lisa McDonald says of the Minneapolis 2040 draft plan: “It has no room for cars. They don’t mention cars. They want to get rid of cars.”

(Full disclosure: Minneapolis for Everyone is an organization co-founded by Carol Becker, who is the very weird elected official who recently attempted to trademark/steal the name of this website because she doesn’t like the content. I am currently embroiled in legal wrangling.)

The plan isn’t nearly as revolutionary or scary as McDonald makes it sound. A city planner put it in common-sense terms: “Put the stuff closer together so it’s easier to get to the stuff.” You’re more likely to drive if your destination is further away and harder to get to. In other words, we should make it legal for more people and businesses to exist in more places while expanding options for getting there. Let’s make it easier to not drive.

Minneapolis was built to serve cars. You might say we’ve spent the last 50-plus years using a blueprint called Minneapolis 1970. It’s very easy (and will remain very easy) to drive your car in Minneapolis. You can’t always say the same about walking, biking and transit. Plans for the future should be focused on making those alternatives more viable, if we care about having options for sustainable, safe, and affordable transportation.

Change is hard, especially when you’ve spent generations doing exactly the wrong thing. The truth is, we will probably end up with a Minneapolis 2040 plan that doesn’t go nearly far enough. Transit, bike, and pedestrian advocates will still have to fight too hard for small victories. Driving will remain easy and the vast majority of people will continue to do lots of it. We will continue to take concerns about neighborhood character far too seriously when deciding what kind of person can live in which kinds of homes in which parts of town.

In comparison to the hole we’ve dug for ourselves, these are only the smallest of first steps towards making Minneapolis a more affordable, sustainable, and livable city. If we’re going to take those steps, we need more people willing to say yes.