2023 Minneapolis Election Issues Overview

This is intended as a preamble to my forthcoming Minneapolis City Council endorsements, and to give readers a better sense of how I see some of the issues at stake in this election. My endorsements in key races will follow in this post.

It’s a city council election year in Minneapolis. Early voting is underway. 13 seats are up for grabs, I’d say only 5 are competitive. The mayor is not up for reelection until 2025. If you haven’t been tuned into Minneapolis politics for the last several years, here’s a recap, along with my thoughts on the big issues.

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St. Paul church holds blessing ceremony for new bike parking

I was on location for the blessing of a newly installed bike rack at St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church on Sunday morning. Churchgoers are excited to have a place for their bikes after spending years locking up to random street fixtures like railings or signposts — or carrying their bike up three flights of stairs. The rack was installed thanks to the efforts of the church’s Creation Care team, with 50% of the cost covered by the transportation non-profit Move Minnesota through their bike parking cost share program. It’s a story you’ll only see on Wedge LIVE.

Interested St. Paul businesses or organizations can contact Move Minnesota.

Is Bike Resentment Back for the 2023 Minneapolis Election?

The Star Tribune’s 2023 Minneapolis City Council candidate questionnaire asks a question that divides our city and inflames the culture war: “If you’re faced with the choice of spending $1 on a road for vehicles or $1 for a bike lane, which do you choose and why?” The existence of this question gives you hope that maybe crime resentment is dead and good old-fashioned, “Nazi lane” style bike hate might return (the photo above is from the 2017 election).

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Protect Mother Earth From Increased Parking Constraints

Have you ever pondered a fun thought experiment like “What would happen if everyone in my city flushed their toilets at the same time — never before has a comprehensive plan specifically authorized this many theoretical toilets operating in sync.” That’s pretty close to the premise of the never-ending legal crusade to stop the Minneapolis 2040 Plan.

If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that back in 2018, some very wealthy pretend environmentalists created an entity called Smart Growth Minneapolis for the sole purpose of suing the city over triplexes. Now in 2023 — after ping ponging between district court, appeals court, and the state supreme court — this group has convinced a district court judge to take seriously the idea that every plot of land in the city is about to be built up to the fullest extent of the law, damaging the environment. So the judge has halted the 2040 Plan temporarily, as we wait for an environmental analysis (likely to be followed by yet more legal action contesting the validity of that analysis).

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Landlord Zoom Call: Ward 12 Candidate Luther Ranheim

One of the things I DO FOR YOU is listen to landlord zoom calls. If you’re not familiar, Kari Lundin (the “Duplex Chick”), a realtor and mentor to the local landlord community, hosts Q&A sessions where Minneapolis candidates give revealing answers, but only after being reassured that a wider audience will never see it. Past guests include LaTrisha Vetaw, who embarrassed herself so thoroughly on a landlord zoom call in 2021 that voters in Ward 4 elected her to the City Council.

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What a wise old man taught me about the past and future of Lyndale Avenue

A grizzled old friend of mine (who will remain anonymous) told me a story about a long ago Hennepin County Public Works official who decided a reconstruction of Lyndale Avenue was just too difficult — even though age and condition meant the street was overdue for it. And so for many years it was just arbitrarily shoved aside.

We’re lucky that feckless bureaucrat was there at the time, because if the county had done a reconstruction 10 or 15 yrs ago, they’d have given us the same horrifying layout that was already there. Too wide, too fast, too dangerous. It would have robbed us of the chance to make it the great neighborhood street it has the potential to be.

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City Says They’re Committed to Future of Open Streets Festivals

After three days of concern about the status of the popular annual events known as Open Streets, Minneapolis Public Works Director Margaret Anderson Kelliher made a public commitment Thursday that the city would continue to partner on those events in 2024 and provide the same support services like trash, traffic control, and police. What’s unclear is what the events will look like if Our Streets Minneapolis, the longtime organizer, is not involved. The city plans to put out a request for proposals from potential organizers, which could still include Our Streets.

On Monday, the city put out a statement claiming a “mutual agreement” with Our Streets to not extend the contract for 2024. The response from the organization’s executive director: “1000% not true.” Our Streets says they haven’t had a chance to discuss the 2024 season with the city, though they have made it clear it’s unsustainable to continue to do the event for free. The organization submitted a budget of $851,000 to do five events next year.

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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.

We’ve Seen Enough: Ricky Cobb’s Killing Was “Unjustifiable”

Here’s what we know of Ricky Cobb’s killing during a traffic stop, from police video and news reports:

After being pulled over on I-94 in North Minneapolis by the Minnesota State Patrol, Cobb had been waiting in the driver’s seat, compliant and in possession of his car keys, for about 20 minutes. When three state troopers re-approach his car, having confirmed Cobb was wanted by Ramsey County, they ask him to step out of his car. He doesn’t comply. He insists they tell him why. The trooper on the driver’s side repeatedly asks Cobb for his keys, seeming to anticipate that Cobb might decide to drive away. At roughly the same moment when Cobb begins to get his car lurching forward, troopers open doors on both the passenger and driver’s side and reach inside the car to pull him out. Six seconds later, as the car continues to jerk forward, the trooper on the passenger side, Ryan Londregan, shoots Cobb at least twice. As Cobb speeds off, two of the troopers fall to the ground. All three run back to their patrol cars. Cobb drives a short distance down the interstate, dying, about thirty minutes after being pulled over for a taillight violation.

After watching the video of Cobb being shot to death by police, U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips (one of the most conservative Democrats in the country) posted his reaction on social media: “Law enforcement is a very difficult and risky job, but shootings like this are unjustifiable and more must be done to prevent them.”

The Star Tribune editorial board chastised Phillips for his comments and urged us all to “allow the investigative and legal processes to take their course.” While the legal process moves at its own pace, I think the rest of us have seen enough, in part because we’ve seen this before.

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