I struggle with how often this needs to be pointed out. I haven’t written about it on this website in a while. It’s time for a refresher, because there are probably a lot of people who don’t realize Carol Becker is an elected official in Minneapolis. She’s a member of the Board of Estimate and Taxation (which is the often uncontested race at the end of your ballot in odd-year city elections). Even if just one person takes Carol Becker’s concern for “racial disparities” — published yesterday in the Star Tribune — at face value, that’s one person too many.
[If you want a point by point rebuttal to Carol Becker’s latest, here you go.]
Here are three perfect sentences towards the end of her piece that need some unpacking:
In Minneapolis, urban progressivism is driven by a tiny number of activists, mostly online and mostly paid. Anyone who strays from their orthodoxy is immediately harassed and humiliated, until they are driven out of the policy discussion. That is what instantly shut down the discussion of a different structure for the City Council.
1. “In Minneapolis, urban progressivism is driven by a tiny number of activists, mostly online and mostly paid.”
If you listen to Carol, you’ll learn that nobody who disagrees with her is anything but a paid activist. In 2017, a number of Minneapolis residents were expressing concern about an infusion of PAC money (ultimately more than $270,000 from downtown business interests) into the City Council election. In response, Carol Becker wrote in an online forum that she wasn’t so concerned about it. Instead, she wanted an accounting of who was funding a “paid advocacy class” that includes Black Lives Matter, several other local groups focused on racial justice, and the Bicycle Coalition.
Weird counterpoint, Carol.
2. “Anyone who strays from their orthodoxy is immediately harassed and humiliated, until they are driven out of the policy discussion.”
Nobody has humiliated Carol Becker more than Carol Becker. Almost two years ago, Carol tried to hurt me. But like all stories about Carol, she hurt herself so much more. It’s a defining characteristic. She’s incapable of acting in her own best interest, let alone the best interest of the public.
In 2014, I started the website you’re reading right now. I named it Wedge LIVE. In 2017, Wedge LIVE was prominent enough to have won an award (City Pages Best Website), which means I had air-tight legal claim to the name. In 2018, Carol Becker (remember, she’s an elected official) attempted to steal the name Wedge LIVE by filing bogus trademark paperwork — out in the open, using her own name, for everyone to see. You could say she was trying to drive me out of the policy discussion! (I took defensive legal action; Carol Becker was forced to acknowledge my ownership of Wedge LIVE™.)
The outcome: endless public shame for Carol Becker, initiated entirely by Carol Becker.
3. “That is what instantly shut down the discussion of a different structure for the City Council.”
In 2019, Carol Becker’s plan to restructure the City Council was a tactic that is often judged to be a violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (moving to at-large voting). She wanted to eliminate 7 of 13 city council wards (districts); enlarge the remaining six wards; and add three at-large seats elected by citywide vote. Because of racial disparities in voter turnout, this would have shifted electoral power from people of color to whiter, wealthier parts of the city. In the words of the city’s top elections official, responding to this proposal at the time: “It won’t matter what north Minneapolis says… northeast Minneapolis, downtown, it won’t matter. The larger your districts, the whiter your candidates and outcomes…”
Beware of Carol Becker lecturing you about racial disparities.
Let’s tack on a bonus conspiracy theory, from Carol Becker’s portfolio of online advocacy (Paid or unpaid? I’ll leave the conspiricizing to readers). A lot of what Carol does and says can be traced to her opposition to the Minneapolis 2040 Plan (her motivation to steal Wedge LIVE was because I was supportive of the plan; her attempt to restructure city elections was aimed at getting rid of progressive council members who supported the plan).
In a post to the local internet forum e-democracy on June 17, Carol Becker suggests that much of the city was burned after George Floyd’s murder because of the 2040 Plan.
Is this conspiracy supposed to have happened among business and building owners? Was it carried out by city officials? It’s worth pointing out that widespread destruction followed the city’s busiest streets and commercial corridors, lined with businesses. These are characteristics that tend to stand out on a zoning map … or a transit map, or a map of our city’s widest and most dangerous county roads. Just pick a government agency you’d like to be at the root of your conspiracy theory.
Reminder: Carol Becker is an elected official. Not only is she an embarrassment to herself, she’s an embarrassment to us all. Tell your friends about Minneapolis’ most obscure, dishonest, and self-shaming elected official.
John Edwards lives in the Wedge neighborhood and is the chair of the Club for Taxpayer Justice and Not Carol, a political action committee.