What’s wrong with Carol Becker?

In response to some accusations being leveled against me by a Minneapolis elected official, it was necessary to draft this official response in the form of a Wedgipedia entry.

Who is Carol Becker?

Carol Becker is a member of the Minneapolis Board of Estimate and Taxation.

What is the Board of Estimate and Taxation (BET)?

The BET sets the city’s maximum tax levy and approves bond sales.

There are six members. Two members are elected directly to the BET, and receive nominal pay for each meeting (this is more like a glorified volunteer position). The other four members are: the city’s Mayor, the City Council President, a Parks commissioner, and the City Council’s Ways & Means Committee chair.

Does Carol Becker show bad judgment in performing her job on the BET?

Yes.

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The Whole Story on Minneapolis 2040

We’re being flooded with national takes about what happened in our city last week. Esquire magazine is writing about zoning in Minneapolis. The New York Times says the city has taken a “bold move to address its affordable-housing crisis and confront a history of racist housing practices.” Coastal elites are saying we’ve made “zoning history,” becoming the first major American city to abolish single-family zoning — and the third major US city to eliminate minimum parking requirements. Or, maybe we haven’t done anything very radical at all: Minneapolis is just “welcoming back historic, modest housing types: duplexes and triplexes.” 

The truth about what happened last week is that it was six years in the making. How did we get here? Who is responsible? Where will we park? Like nearly all stories worth telling, this one begins in the Wedge neighborhood of Minneapolis.

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Wedge LIVE prevails in legal action

The legal effort to defend Wedge LIVE from Carol Becker has ended in victory. In a settlement reached late Monday, and fully executed yesterday, Becker has acknowledged my ownership of the name “Wedge LIVE.” Additionally, Becker has agreed that she will “never assert any claim to these marks in the future.” Other details of the settlement agreement must be kept confidential.

As a result, I have dismissed my lawsuit against Becker that was previously pending in Hennepin County District Court.

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Group Plans “Legal Action” Against Mpls 2040

Every great battle to keep more people out of a neighborhood ends in a frivolous lawsuit. The heated debate over the Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan is no exception. The city’s long-range plan is intended to help Minneapolis equitably accommodate the next 20 years of population growth by legalizing more homes across all parts of the city.
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My statement on the legal process to defend Wedge LIVE!

Wedge LIVE! anchor and managing editor John Edwards (and his newsbike).

Hi! I’m John Edwards. For the past four years I have been producer, writer, and all-around content creator for Wedge LIVE, a hyperlocal news source based in the Wedge neighborhood of  Minneapolis (Twitter , Facebook , YouTube , wedgelive.com). In addition to general political coverage and analysis focusing on Minneapolis and St. Paul, I report on local housing and zoning issues in detail: attending neighborhood meetings, livetweeting planning meetings, and producing video content that I hope is both entertaining and educational.

On August 10, a longtime Minneapolis elected official named Carol Becker, who I have at times been critical of, filed multiple applications with both the state and federal government in an attempt to secure rights to the name “Wedge Live.”  I believe this was an effort to shut down my platform and steal the identity by which the community has come to know me. Lacking a clear understanding of trademark law, I was initially afraid I’d had my identity stolen out from under me.

If you’re wondering — just as I initially wondered — whether any of this is legal, here’s what a law professor said about Becker’s actions in the Star Tribune: “That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works. You don’t get to steal someone’s brand out from under them by filing an application for registration — especially one that doesn’t have any use for it yet.” While she has temporarily withdrawn her applications, Becker has vowed to do this all over again in six months  (and has started comparing me to Nazis on a local internet forum).

Becker has put forward competing explanations for why she’s doing this, sometimes saying that acquiring the name would be a good business opportunity: “I think they’re worth money and I think I could make some money off of them.”  At other times she’s said she wants to use it as leverage to force me to change how I operate Wedge LIVE!: “I don’t know any other way to get through to [Edwards].”  Becker has also used language indicating that she is just one person among a larger group seeking to take my name:  “Becker repeatedly used the word ‘we’ while describing her efforts to file the business and trademark registrations.”

I believe this, or something similar, is likely to happen again. If it’s not Carol Becker, it will be someone with similar aims. So I have begun a legal process. While I will continue to make jokes about this ridiculous situation, I’m also taking my position very seriously. I will do everything in my power to defend myself. I will not leave myself vulnerable to a person, or group of people, with the money and motivation to engage in an unlawful effort to shut down the platform I’ve spent more than four years building.

SUPPORT WEDGE LIVE!

I’m starting this fund because people have asked me for a way to support Wedge LIVE! during this time (aside from a monthly Patreon contribution). I don’t entirely know what to expect from the legal process ahead, but I want to be prepared for it. To everyone who has asked how they can help: Thank you.

Read my complaint against Carol Becker.

Local news coverage of this situation:
Tony Webster
Star Tribune
City Pages
Pioneer Press
Pioneer Press
Star Tribune, Letters to the Editor

Carol Becker vows to come back to take “Wedge LIVE!” in 6 months

Maybe you’ve heard: a local elected official named Carol Becker is “behind an effort to file business and trademark registrations for Wedge LIVE!” (which is me, the guy you’re reading right now). Becker currently serves as President of the Minneapolis Board of Estimate and Taxation. This appears to be an unlawful effort to shut down speech she doesn’t like.

After a weekend of backlash, Becker indicated in a forum posting that she will temporarily back off. She said she “will be back in about six months” to try and take possession of the name “Wedge Live.”

It is my intention to take steps in the meantime that would prevent her from doing that. Here’s a countdown clock so we can all prepare.