Where to find Wedge LIVE during a time of transition

Wedge LIVE grew up on the micro-blogging platform called Twitter. It’s the format that suits me best and it’s fostered an incredible community, so it’s been hard to watch the destruction of the platform.

The original is still here: Most of the action is still happening on Twitter. I’ve heard from some that they miss being able to go directly to our Twitter profile without the hassle of logging in. You can still do that! Just go here: https://nitter.net/wedgelive

The alternatives aren’t ready: We are on Bluesky and Threads. There will be limited posting happening on these apps for the foreseeable future, as they still lack key features. I think Bluesky has the most promise as a Twitter alternative, but it’s still invite-only and is missing other important features.

The future: As these platforms develop we may switch to making them a priority, but neither one of them is ready.

The Wedge LIVE podcast is available wherever you get your podcasts. Video content and podcast episodes are posted to youtube.com/wedgelive.

Most importantly, please support Wedge LIVE on Patreon. And if you’re already doing so, thank you for keeping us alive and paywall-free during a time of transition.

Plan to expand “forested green space” in Uptown at risk over parking concerns

You may not have realized Uptown’s “the Mall” is a park because it functions like a parking lot. There’s even a long-range plan, adopted by the Minneapolis Park and Rec Board in 2020, that would install “forested and open green space” to replace some of the parking at the west end of the Mall. But two commissioners elected in 2021, Elizabeth Shaffer and Cathy Abene, have initiated a process that could scrap that part of the plan. Among their concerns are loss of 25 parking spots, public safety, and preserving the “historic symmetric design” of the parkway/parking lot.

Note: MPRB is voting on this language tonight (Tuesday, May 7 at 5 pm) if you want to show up and testify.

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New Hope for Public Works Leadership That Won’t Kneecap Transit

We never thought this day would come. The transportation needs of car-free, low-income and disabled residents has become a top concern. Everyone across the region is in a panic over what happens if we fail these people. Did you think we meant transit riders? Sorry, no, we meant the Uber and Lyft situation.

But rideshare aside, many of us really are hoping for city leadership that follows through on ambitious commitments to affordable, safe, sustainable transportation. And Minneapolis is about to get a new Public Works director. Timothy Sexton is certain to be confirmed at a City Council meeting this Thursday.

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2040 Plan, Five Years Later: Pretend environmentalists say they’re not against density, this is about ethics in city planning.

It was more than five years ago that the nationally-heralded 2040 plan, with a vision of a dense pedestrianized city, was passed by a 12-1 vote of the City Council. But before that vote even happened, the city was taken to court by Smart Growth Minneapolis. This is an organization formed for the sole purpose of suing the city to stop modest upzoning (legalizing triplexes) in residential areas that had been restricted to single-family housing only.

SGM was founded by John Goetz of the personal injury law firm Schwebel Goetz & Sieben and borrows its name from a prominent national organization called Smart Growth America. But these two organizations hold views that are diametrically opposed – Smart Growth America disavows any connection to its Minneapolis namesake, says the lawsuit is “sad” and that the 2040 Plan is actually the definition of “Smart Growth.” Despite SGM having no environmental agenda apart from the one lawsuit, they have had success getting themselves labeled as an “environmental” group in news stories.

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Delegitimizing Gaza Conversation Misses the Point

A draft resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza has been introduced and will be taken up by the Minneapolis City Council at a committee meeting on January 24. Council Member LaTrisha Vetaw has responded, in an opinion published in the Star Tribune, calling it “dangerous” and “divisive” — without pointing to any particular language in the resolution. She accused one colleague of language “clearly meant to incite violence.” A serious enough charge that you’d expect her to specify what had been said — but she didn’t. And she’s set a record for the number of days into a new term that a council member pretends to be offended and demands an apology from the council president.*

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Return of the Mayoral Power Grab

In addition to all the other stuff scheduled to be on your 2024 ballot, Minneapolis voters may get to weigh in on another amendment to restructure city government. The Minneapolis Charter Commission (the authors of our new strong mayor form of government adopted in 2021) is currently discussing a proposal to strip the City Council of their power to confirm certain mayoral appointees. This could include the directors of departments like Public Works, CPED (planning), Civil Rights, Regulatory Services, Emergency Management, Health, and Tax Assessor. The number of council-confirmed roles could go from the current 12 to as few as five.

There’s no agreed upon proposal, nothing has been voted on, but this commission has a preference for concentrating power in the mayor’s office so let’s sound the alarm. This could be bad and you should pay attention.

Josh Martin and I discuss the issue in detail for this week’s episode of the Wedge LIVE Podcast, available wherever you listen. Or watch on YouTube:

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Mayor Frey Squanders Post-Election Opportunity, Loses Another Friend

It’s been a manic week and a half for Mayor Frey. He followed up a rough election night with a rapidly escalating fight over police bonuses that gave former ally Emily Koski a platform to trash his leadership two times in the span of four days. There is more to this police bonus story than what you’re seeing on the local news (“golly gee, we’d have a fully staffed police force if not for that meddling city council!“).

As I wrote last week, my hopeful election reaction was that fear tactics were fading and the debate at city hall could soon become less dumb and more collaborative. Well, not so fast. Frey hasn’t abandoned his preferred tactic of bull-rushing the city council with press conferences, fear, and manufactured deadlines. And it will only get harder for him come January, when Lisa Goodman departs and Andrea Jenkins is no longer council president.

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Election Result: Relief

Watch or listen to the Election 2023 Results Episode of the Wedge LIVE podcast.

If you watched the most recent episode of the Wedge LIVE podcast, you know that I am seriously relieved by last week’s election results. Mayor Frey’s rich friends at All of Mpls poured at least a million dollars into an independent expenditure campaign. The Star Tribune editorial board made some questionable endorsements that have further eroded the institution’s credibility. These things weren’t enough to save the Frey-aligned council majority.

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My Thoughts On Election Eve 2023

Are we voting our fears again this year? Last week in Ward 10, I received a mailer from a crime-themed PAC slicing the city’s crime stats in a way to show me crime is actually up, despite all those news stories telling me crime is down. But I’m clever, so I recognized this as an attempt to get me to vote for Minneapolis City Council candidate Bruce Dachis, who is alarmingly ignorant and whose policies are extremely against my interests.

Dachis appeared on a local right wing talk radio show on yesterday. The host falsely accused Council Member Aisha Chughtai of supporting Hamas. And at another point they sat there listening to a Vietnam-era country song bashing anti-war protesters. Election 2023 is weird and gross in ways I had not expected.

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More on the Scott Graham episode

We’ve got a podcast episode out today about Ward 7 City Council candidate Scott Graham’s record as a landlord (listen wherever you get podcasts or watch on YouTube).

In our conversation, Julia Curran talks about her experience renting from Graham for four years, which ended in 2011. You may have already heard about the gaping hole in an exterior wall, written about by Naomi Kritzer here. But there’s more: Julia getting staples in her head after having a poorly installed light fixture fall from the ceiling; having no heat in the winter to the point one of the tenants left due to a frozen toilet; squirrels chewing through walls, a problem covered up by hanging a painting (you know, scooby doo style); failure to address a leaky roof and a carpenter ant infestation; never delivering a lease to Julia despite her requests, then asking other tenants for leases after his hard drive failed; having Graham kick her and others out of the house soon after the door-pounding delivery of a foreclosure notice; Graham nickel and diming his tenants on the way out, billing them for the problems he failed to address.

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