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Election 2013, Volume 1, Issue 5: Hanna, Hartwig, Hodges, Iverson, Kahn

August 27th, 2013 (11:15 pm)

We're finally getting to one of the pirates -- not Captain Jack Sparrow (he comes rather late in the alphabet) but Kurtis W. Hanna of the Pirate party.

Kurtis W. Hanna (Pirate)
John Leslie Hartwig (Independent)
Betsy Hodges (DFL), City Councilmember, Ward 13
Gregg A. Iverson (DFL)
Bill Kahn (Last Minneapolis Mayor)

Kurtis W. Hanna (Pirate)

Weirdly, in the small picture, he looks insufferably smug; in the larger version (which pops up for me if I hover -- that may be a Social Fixer feature, not a Facebook feature) he looks like someone who's very uncomfortable having his picture taken in a tie and is making the best of it.

So, apparently the Pirate Party is an actual thing and not just this one guy being goofy. Here is their website: https://uspirates.org/ And their values statement: https://uspirates.org/values-and-name/

Kurtis's main value, though, based on what he highlights on his Facebook page, is that he wants to be able to smoke weed, given that he put "Against Cannabis Prohibition" as the first thing after "Mayoral Candidate." He also has a Q&A on his Facebook page, which includes this exchange:

Q. Are you going to address the lack of school funding in gang territories?
A. As a rule, I hope to decentralize as many government services as possible. This will include decision making, but it also will include resources. As Mayor, I would advocate first and foremost for local people to gather together to try to solve local problems in a way that doesn't require the need to depend upon government funding. If this can not be achieved, I would make sure the distribution of funds aren't unequally distributed due to the number of gangs in certain areas.

...so, apparently, he's in favor of the poorest residents of Minneapolis gathering together to solve the problem of educating children in a way that "doesn't require the need to depend on government funding." The awesome thing about being a bullshit candidate with no chance of being elected is that you can spout bullshit answers like this and not have to worry about the potential consequences of actually enacting policies based on this idea.

The Pirate Party website reminded me of the Libertarians a few years ago, when they were younger and cooler. (There was a joke I heard, ages back, that went, "What's the definition of a Libertarian? A Republican who wants to sleep with pro-choice girls.") The idea that we should abolish public education in favor of having town-hall meetings in Phillips so that everyone can brainstorm ways to teach the kids how to read when all the adults in their household need to work full time to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table....yeah, that totally sounds like a Libertarian variety of bullshit, only completely untouched by age and maturity (the Pirate Party website talks about how they're totally younger than most political parties. I AM SHOCKED. SHOCKED.)

Also, WEED.

1. Is there any reason to think he could plausibly do the job? No.
2. Could he plausibly win? No.
3. Is there any other reason to vote for him? If you think the Pirate Party is TOTALLY AWESOME and want to give them a boost. I suppose there's a dim possibility that votes for him will be interpreted as "whoo, weed should be legal!" votes, but given that he's running as a Pirate candidate and not as a Grassroots candidate, I think that message would be thoroughly diluted if it got through at all.

FTR, I totally think we should legalize weed. However, I ALSO THINK WE SHOULD HAVE PUBLIC SCHOOLS. Jesus H. Christ.

John Leslie Hartwig (Independent)

I found literally nothing about this guy online other than his affidavit of candidacy. Based on that: he lives in South Minneapolis and his printing is pretty marginal in terms of legibility. MinnPost says he ran for school board in 2009.

1. Is there any reason to think he could plausibly do the job? No.
2. Could he plausibly win? No. He's not even making a pretense of running.
3. Is there any other reason to vote for him? To force him out of hiding? No.

Betsy Hodges (DFL), City Councilmember, Ward 13

1. Is there any reason to think she could plausibly do the job? Yes. She's served for eight years on the City Council.
2. Could she plausibly win? Yes.
3. Should you vote for her? Maybe.

I have a friend who works in city government who is supporting Betsy and assures me that she's totally awesome. This absolutely biases me in her favor, because our preferences in politicians tend to align pretty well. So, there's that. She's got a wide range of endorsements, including former opponent Gary Schiff (who endorsed her for mayor when he dropped out of the race), various small business owners from town (including the guy who owns the Gandhi Mahal restaurant, which I find intriguing), and the Sierra Club. I was a little startled that the Sierra Club didn't endorse Mark Andrews considering that environmentalism is kind of his schtick (SOLAR PANELS FOR EVERYONE!) ... but I went back over to his website and he actually has no endorsements from environmental organizations that I spotted, despite the environmentalist schtick. Interesting.

Her Issues page leads to a beautifully-laid-out PDF, which annoys me; you can give me the option of downloading a PDF, but when I'm reading you on the web, I would prefer it if you'd just give me a web page. For one thing, web pages let me C&P your positions to my blog post, which makes it easier for me to critique them. (Weirdly, this PDF does let me copy and paste stuff. It's just that I think I'm copying something about creating clean-energy jobs and what comes out when I paste is "5ISQVO5QVVMIXWTQ[ITMILMZQVKTMIVMVMZOaRWJ." Not super helpful.)

I guess I will have to summarize. Her positions are an interesting mix of stuff I like, and stuff I dislike, and I'm going to be diving back into the municipalization stuff again, so this is going to run long.

Betsy's first set of issues are environmental. She wants to block increased garbage burning (for the out-of-towners who read this -- Minneapolis disposes of much of its solid waste by burning it, and actually generates power by burning the garbage); expand recycling and composting to the whole city; and support Minneapolis Energy Options in renegotiating with Xcel and Centerpoint.

So, not burning more garbage is fine with me. Citywide compost collection is great. (Minneapolis already has citywide recycling, and has for years and years, though they improved things significantly by switching to single-sort right after we moved to St. Paul. Anyway, I'm not sure what she's saying Minneapolis needs, there.) But I stand by my assessment that municipalization is a stupid idea.

Here's the website for Minneapolis Energy Options. They actually let me C&P so let me just go through a few points from their FAQ.

Q. How does the process of a municipal ballot initiative work?

A: First, the City Council must vote on a resolution to create a municipal power utility, if the City can prove that it can deliver energy as cheaply and reliably as the existing utilities while achieving its renewable energy and efficiency goals. Within sixty days, this will be put to a vote of the people of Minneapolis. If the referendum passes, the City will be authorized to purchase the electric and/or gas utility infrastructure in Minneapolis. The City will then investigate whether it can purchase and operate the utility infrastructure as cheaply, reliably and more cleanly than the current utilities.

So here's the thing. Minneapolis Energy Options was pushing for the City Council to resolve to create a municipal power utility and have Minneapolis residents vote on whether to proceed with an authorization....after which the City will investigate whether they can actually improve on (or at least meet the standards of) the current utility provider. This seems utterly backwards to me. I think municipalization is a stupid idea for various reasons but I'm open to being persuaded otherwise but I want the due diligence to happen first. Maybe the city could appoint a citizen's committee to investigate the feasibility of this, etc., instead of voting first and then checking on feasibility after.

Q. Will this raise energy rates?

A. No. The referendum the Minneapolis Energy Options campaign is advocating would require the City to prove that it will not raise rates. If the City can’t prove that, the authorization will not take effect. And remember, rates have been going up under the current utilities. Xcel has raised rates four times since 2006.

...which is not surprising given that the price of every fossil fuel has been going up, and it's not as if Minneapolis will overnight be equipped with a herd of magical unicorns that fart electricity, if they buy out Xcel. Even if you assume that they will put a high priority on constructing wind farms and solar arrays (I'm sure they would intend to put a high priority on constructing wind farms and solar arrays, I'm just not convinced it would happen), it will take a long time to build capacity. (I mean MY GOD the Central Corridor light rail line won't be operating until something like a year from now, despite the fact that I look at it and think, "your RAILS are down and your STATIONS are done, how much more can you even need to do? really, not until 2014?")

Anyway. I am deeply skeptical about the idea that the city "proving" that they won't raise rates will actually result in them not raising rates. I am willing to believe that the city will not raise rates more than Xcel would, although building the green energy capacity that everyone wants will take money. They have an advantage of not needing to turn a profit, but they do need to break even.

Q. What will this mean for reliability?

A. The City provides highly reliable utility services today: drinking water, sanitary sewer, storm sewer, garbage and recycling. In the most recent customer satisfaction survey, no Minneapolis utility service received less than 80% favorable ratings from residents. And again, the enabling referendum will require the City to prove that it can keep reliability as good or better than the incumbent utilities.

I love that again, the city will PROVE, in advance, that they will TOTALLY be reliable. For the record, Minneapolis is mostly awesome at drinking water -- but there were two separate massive floods in town this year caused by water mains that broke abruptly after years of neglect (my recollection was that when downtown flooded, that was the explanation: a water main that should have been re-done years ago). Sanitary sewer mostly works fine, but STORM sewers have been chronically problematic over the years, with probably the most dramatic failure involving a guy who got killed by a flying manhole cover (I looked for the news story about that and couldn't find it, but I did find a City Pages blog piece about a storm sewer turning into a geyser and a video of similar issues.

Q. Will this impact jobs and people employed by the utilities?

A. On average, municipal utilities employ more local people than investor-­owned utilities.

On average? That is the most breathtakingly disingenuous response in the entire FAQ, I think. Xcel is headquartered in Minneapolis. They made it clear that if Minneapolis went forward with municipalization, they'd move, and I really don't think that's unreasonable blackmail. You don't keep your headquarters in a city that doesn't want to buy your product.


Betsy doesn't actually say that she wants to municipalize the city power; she says she wants to renegotiate a better (and shorter) agreement, and I think that's reasonable, although the idea of holding a citywide referendum (which I think died last month) that would authorize the city to acquire the lines and open a utility company.... SERIOUSLY, there is SURELY a less insane way to negotiate with the utility companies than this. (Also, let's say you DID hold the election and a majority of Minneapolitans said, "are you fucking kidding me? after that guy never turned up to inspect my stupid dishwasher?" Your leverage is then instantly gone!)

Her next big issues is "Creating Jobs in Every Neighborhood." My take-away from this is that there's yet another mayoral candidate who wants to streamline regulatory processes for small businesses. Maybe that means it'll actually happen? Then "Making the City Work For You," where she talks about a balanced budget, investing in distressed neighborhoods, and getting the City Council to coordinate with the Park Board and School Board and the Metro Council and so on, which seems like a self-evidently good idea that is apparently not currently happening (I wish that surprised me, but I bet no one wants to deal with the School Board. Including the people on the School Board, who have a tendency not to run for re-election. I wonder how the lady who never sleeps is doing these days?)

"Moving Jobs to People" is about transit and she talks about how we should be doing everything, including modern streetcars. So here's what I don't understand; I googled modern streetcars, and I'm kind of at a loss as to how they're an improvement over buses. I mean, okay, they do cite one major advantage in an article I found: because streetcars run on tracks, you can't CONSTANTLY CHANGE THE ROUTES, you have to pick a route and STICK WITH IT. Um, guys, I don't know if you've noticed this, but you are the ones who are constantly changing the bus routes. I suppose at this point, no one would believe them if they said they were going to knock that off; they are forced by their past record to build rails to show that THIS TIME THEY MEAN IT.

I mean, honestly, I was also genuinely doubtful about Light Rail. It turns out that lots of people who hate buses, love trains. Light Rail works almost as a gateway drug for public transit, and maybe streetcars will be like that.

Anyway, in addition to streetcars, she's in favor of light rail, improved buses, nice bike trails, and other stuff I like, so you know, whatever.

"Making Sure Our Children Thrive" mentions having the Health Department do more outreach to pregnant mothers. I think that's a good idea if it's done intelligently. When I was pregnant with Molly I got a call from the Health Department (I think) to enroll me in a program where they'd track Molly's vaccinations and send us ... I don't even remember. They'd help us find free immunizations if we lost health coverage, though, that was one of the benefits. The lady calling cheerfully told me that there were incentives to signing people up in my zip code, and I remember trying to think of a way to say delicately, "look, I'm middle class. GO FIND A POOR PERSON TO OFFER THIS TO."

Of course now I'd say that they were totally after the idiot hippies who don't vaccinate because OMG CHEMICALS TOXINS AUTISM. But back in 2000, that wasn't on the radar.

Anyway. Outreach to pregnant women is a good idea and heck, now that I think about it, enrolling the middle-class mothers in programs to encourage them to vaccinate their children is probably a good idea, too.

"A City That Welcomes All" includes workforce goals for women and minority hiring in city projects (good, IMO); she points out that she opposed the stadium deal and says she's trying to make it fairer; she wants immigrants to feel like they can call the police if they're victims of a crime without feeling like they'll be deported.

"A Safer City" talks about 911 response times, and how she helped to increase the number of 911 operators. You want enough operators but you also need enough cops, something she doesn't really talk about there.

I'm going to tell my frustrating story. We had some neighbors down the block from our old house who occasionally had really loud arguments. They were not usually physical, but on one occasion a physical altercation was brewing, very late at night, in the back yard; they'd gone from shouting to shoving. The shover was trying to get the shove-ee to leave, and I was pretty sure that a sight of a cop car would de-escalate things and everyone would go in separate directions. I called 911, explained that a shouting argument had turned to shoves, and said exactly that: "I think if a cop car would just come and drive down the alley, it will break things up." No one ever came. And really, WTF? WHY would you ignore a request like this? I am still baffled.

Anyway. Betsy then talks about increased civilian oversight of the Police Department. The police in Minneapolis are a PROBLEM. There are some really, really racist cops, and there is some really, really racist policing that happens, and this has been an issue the entire time I've lived in Minneapolis and THEY NEED TO FIX IT. Betsy's specific goal struck me as weak and inadequate, although marginally better than nothing. She also wants to recruit more minority police officers.

"A Place to Call Home" mentions something that slipped by me last spring, probably because I was so thoroughly distracted by marriage equality. Minnesota passed a "Ban the Box" law, which prohibits employers from asking about your criminal record on the job application:

The new law requires private employers to wait until a job applicant has been selected for an interview, or a conditional offer of employment has been extended, before asking a job applicant about criminal records or conducting a criminal background check. This requirement has applied to public employers since 2009.

Existing laws will continue to protect vulnerable adults and children from people with violent or sexual criminal histories. Additionally, employers may exclude applicants if a crime is relevant to the position's job duties.

I'm kind of amazed that passed with so little controversy. Anyway, Betsy's in favor of enforcing it.

Having looked at the whole document (which is here, FYI, if you want to take a look yourself -- obviously, I left a lot out of my discussion), I am ... undecided about what I think. I like her ideology, but I have to admit that I am taking her pragmatism on faith. My friend who supports her is pragmatic, and values pragmatism in politicians.

Part of the problem may just be that I didn't live near Ward 13. (I lived in Ward 12, which is nowhere near Ward 13. Go figure.) I did live near Ward 9, Gary Schiff's ward, and part of my draw to Gary Schiff was that he had a solidly liberal ideology but I also had personal confirmation of his pragmatism from my many, many friends who lived in the ward. Gary Schiff was also pretty good at making sure his name got mentioned in the newspaper articles about the small businesses he helped out (I vaguely remember him being involved in something beer-related but I can't remember if it had to do with Surly, or Lake Harriet Brewing, or something else entirely. BUT HIS NAME WAS DEFINITELY IN THE ARTICLE ABOUT IT.)

Anyway. If you're a Hodges constituent, or a supporter, or a detractor, please feel free to share in the comments what you love / hate about her.

Gregg A. Iverson (DFL)

Doesn't appear to have a website. I know his name from prior runs for various offices. I went looking through my own archive to see if I'd ever found out anything of interest about him. Nope. Apparently his hobby is filing for office. He once got endorsed by Dick Franson, who has the same hobby.

1. Is there any reason to think he could plausibly do the job? No.
2. Could he plausibly win? No.
3. Is there any other reason to vote for him? No.

Bill Kahn (Last Minneapolis Mayor)

He's not an end-times nut or under the delusion that he's Sharon Sayles-Belton; his platform is that the office of mayor should be abolished, and replaced with a City Executive Manager who'd be hired (by the City Council, presumably; under his plan, they'd cut the number of wards to 4 or 5, but the Council Members would still be elected).

1. Is there any reason to think he could plausibly do the job? No, but he's not actually offering to do the job.
2. Could he plausibly win? No.
3. Is there any other reason to vote for him? Sure: if you think that the office of mayor should be abolished and replaced with a city manager, this is a fine symbolic vote.

It's so much more entertaining to snipe at the weirdos than to actually summarize and respond to substantive policy positions on stuff. I'm glad the legit candidates are spread out.

Election 2013 Index of Posts.


Posted by: CRZ (CRZ)
Posted at: August 28th, 2013 05:56 am (UTC)

I'll say one thing about Gregg Iverson - he is DEDICATED to voting for Gregg Iverson and will reply to any email Cc:'d to all 35 candidates from Bob Carney with only "I will vote for Gregg Iverson" prepended to the entire quoted reply. He also managed to be the first guy to file, as I lost by an hour...so he's got that going for him.

Also, may I say how much I hate alphabetical order? I'm tackling the candidates one by one on my own Facebook "campaign" page but going in order of filing. Tomorrow I'll only be up to #4 (good ol' Ole Savior), which means I've only written up two, skipping myself ... but in my defense it's STILL only August. So, if you're interested in reading another opinion of Iverson and Cohen... well, I won't plug my page but hopefully it can be found on Facebook or crossposted on my personal website using the techniques already mentioned in these fine posts.

I look forward to seeing how I rate - although I believe I may already know! (Naomi, if you ever want to chat, I'm painfully easy to find online)

Posted by: Naomi (naomikritzer)
Posted at: August 28th, 2013 06:11 am (UTC)

Your Facebook page writeups are awesome, although I spent several minutes scrolling around trying to find Candidate #2. (Right, right, you skipped yourself. I GET IT NOW. I should probably go to bed, it's late.)

You are the first of the candidates to turn up in my comments! Last time around it was the Lauraist Communist.

Gregg Iverson sounds like someone I would really not want to be stuck sitting next to at a party. To be fair, though, that's also true of Jackie Cherryhomes.

I'll link and recommend your Facebook page when I get to you.

Posted by: (boing!) Cnoocy Mosque O'Witz (cnoocy)
Posted at: August 28th, 2013 10:35 am (UTC)

The Pirate Party has a few members in various parliaments in Europe, where they're more focused around liberalizing copyright law. (I've heard about them through Boing Boing, who, unsurprisingly, think they're the bee's knees.)

Posted by: Naomi (naomikritzer)
Posted at: August 28th, 2013 03:41 pm (UTC)

The impression I got was that they favor not so much "liberalizing" copyright law as eliminating the concept of copyright and intellectual property altogether.

Posted by: (boing!) Cnoocy Mosque O'Witz (cnoocy)
Posted at: August 28th, 2013 03:53 pm (UTC)

That sounds accurate to me.

Posted by: drinkingcocoa (drinkingcocoa)
Posted at: August 28th, 2013 12:05 pm (UTC)

I dropped in on your LJ just because I'm curious about Betsy Hodges' run for mayor. I know nothing about Minneapolis politics (wow, clown car!). I went to college with Betsy and knew her peripherally. For what it's worth, she was a solid, ethical, thoughtful person then, and from the little I've seen of her since, I believe that remains true. I'm fairly hardline left-wing on LGBT and race issues, and I trust her completely on those. About municipalization, all I can say is "..." So, I'm not particularly helpful on anything substantive -- but if I heard that a city got Betsy as mayor, my first gut reaction would be "oh cool, good for them" rather than any sort of worry.

Posted by: Naomi (naomikritzer)
Posted at: August 28th, 2013 04:07 pm (UTC)

In Minneapolis, even the Republicans are hardline on LGBT issues (I'll be getting to the Republican, Cam Winton, in my last post. He's not actually running as a Republican but he's the one the Republicans are backing. And ... he's vehemently pro-LGBT-rights, pro-marriage-equality, etc.) At least, they'll all have the liberal stance on the big issues of the day (marriage equality! everyone's for it except for a handful of the fringe candidates). Similarly, all the serious candidates will at least pay lip service to racial issues.

Which is why one of my big questions is how the next mayor will deal with policing, and oversight of police. There was an article in the Star Trib this morning about how the current system (an office set up last fall) has received 439 complaints and not actually disciplined any officers. If we needed confirmation that the current system IS NOT WORKING, I think we've got it. There are huge racial disparities in how citizens are treated, although frankly some of the police officers in Minneapolis are equal-opportunity assholes.

In my own experience, I mostly dealt with kind and helpful police officers (when I called to report a broken car window, when I got pulled over for driving the wrong way on Hennepin Ave, etc.) But I'm a middle-aged white lady, in the precise demographic that is probably LEAST likely to run into problems with the Minneapolis cops.

Anyway. Betsy wants to eliminate the current system and go to a Civilian Review Board with actual teeth, which is good.

Mark Andrew....heh, okay. "Closing the Opportunity Gaps: The gaps in educational achievement, employment, housing and criminal justice rates for our children and neighbors of color currently tell a modern day Tale of Two Cities. Minneapolis has yet to face this reality. We must confront the racial and economic disparities that we have tolerated for too long. We have accomplished great things in Minneapolis, but there is more work to do." With absolutely no program or specifics or any of it. He pretty much epitomizes the problem of liberals who will recite the talking points but without any specific ideas for what we ought to be doing differently. HOW is he planning to "confront the racial and economic disparities"? Not impressed.

Posted by: A Wandering Hobbit (redbird)
Posted at: August 28th, 2013 11:36 pm (UTC)
purple trilobite

I'm in one of the two states that recently passed marijuana legalization, and is now trying to sort out details. But you know, once we have that sorted, we'll still have to figure out transit funding and infrastructure repair and police misconduct and probably a dozen issues I haven't been here long enough to really be aware of. (The police handing out Doritos at Hempfest is cute PR, but not much more than that.)

Posted by: coho29 (coho29)
Posted at: August 29th, 2013 05:30 am (UTC)

(Again--speaking only for myself here.) One of the early draws of Betsy Hodges for me was her well-reasoned opposition to the Vikings stadium plan. Rightly or wrongly, I used stadium funding as litmus test to rule out several candidates for my initial first choice.

Another early draw was her work on merging some city expenses into larger entities, particularly troubled pensions but also libraries. Every candidate talks about doing this, but she's done it, and in practice it seems a rather thankless job. My source for this is admittedly one-sided: her MinnPost interview. On a different subject, another passage from that interview caught my eye: her point that when it comes to helping a community such as North Minneapolis, the city should work "with the community, not for the community....you have to lend your voice to the voices already in the community, rather than trying to be that voice yourself." Somebody contrasted this passage with a quote from Mark Andrew where he compared the north side to a "blank canvas."

I think that both Cradle-to-K (which I'm sure will help parents as well as kids) and the zero-waste goal are great points of emphasis. On the other hand, I too am skeptical about streetcars. I support Hodges in spite of her stance here; I'll just note that Andrew is right there with her on that topic.

Thank you for your close reading of the MEO FAQ. Your criticisms seem fair to me. I wish that MEO had gotten off the ground earlier and that some of that due diligence had been done sooner. (For that matter, I wish that MEO had a better FAQ.) I'd guess that the weird conditional pre-approval had something to do with becoming a viable alternative in time for the next contract. With that said, part of me insists that muni energy would not be the end of the world, not in the literal way(s) that climate change could be. Another part of me simply trusts Hodges's approach, even with its potential for brinkmanship, far more than I trust Andrew's call for "constructive engagement" with his ex-client. I was struck by the "Track record is less than perfect" section of Cam Gordon's essay (apart from the first paragraph; the private jet doesn't rankle me). I think the city must challenge Xcel and drive the conversation in order to meet its clean energy goals; by that metric, MEO has already had success.

Betsy Hodges has done a good job on the City Council with the extremely tough hand she was dealt: past mistakes by the city, the Great Recession, and Republican state government. Her top opponent is incredibly well-connected and will be very tough to beat. I could be wrong--I could be wrong about all sorts of things--but I expect that these candidates will be the last two standing, and I expect that it will take extraordinary action by ordinary folks for Hodges to win. Thanks for reading.

Posted by: Naomi (naomikritzer)
Posted at: August 29th, 2013 04:55 pm (UTC)

I think stadium funding is a perfectly reasonable litmus test. I used ballpark funding as a litmus test a few times way back when....not that it blocked the ballpark, alas. (In fact, I think the candidate I backed for the State Senate in part because of her principled opposition to public funding for a ballpark and her major opponent's support for it, later ran as stadium-shill Roger Moe's running mate in a Gubernatorial race.)

I like that interview; she does a better job there of explaining what she wants to do in terms of coordinating with the School Board, etc.

Posted by: Erica Mauter (swirlspice)
Posted at: September 13th, 2013 05:25 pm (UTC)

I'm also a Hodges supporter. (I was a delegate at city convention, volunteered for her campaign at convention, and have been volunteering for her campaign since then.) coho29 makes some great points, which I will not re-hash.

The garbage burner is my favorite example to illustrate why I support Betsy. There's the obvious environmental position about reducing waste (with citywide composting as one tactic) enough so that there is no garbage to burn. My background is chemical engineering, and for a long time, I believed that there HAD to be a technical solution to the HERC's pollution problem. At this point, that still may or may not be the case, but the fact is there is no movement on that issue. In the mean time - and this is where Betsy distinguishes herself - there's the environmental justice issue of where the pollution blows and how much we care about that. Right now it pollutes in communities with high proportions of economically disadvantaged people and people of color. You can be damn sure if that pollution were blowing over Kenwood, well, it wouldn't still be doing that. So, since there's no movement on the energy recovery technology itself, the environmentally responsible thing to do is to not have garbage to burn and the environmentally just thing to do is to shut down the pollution. That's Betsy's position.

I'm not necessarily in favor of holding up participation in the Minnesotans United campaign as a litmus test, but it is meaningful to me that Betsy engaged in that campaign as fully as anyone possibly could. Phone banking, door knocking, fundraising, donating, all of it. Mark Andrew did NARY A THING (not even donate). He was good on LGBT issues 20 years ago, but he is not good on TODAY'S LGBT issues. That Stonewall DFL endorsement is worthless; I fear that, to the less educated straight ally voter, it carries a lot of weight.

I like that Betsy's background is in progressive community organizing. Many candidates hold progressive/liberal policy positions. Betsy arrives at those positions from an economic, social, and environmental justice point of view.

I don't know enough about education policy and all the different players in our system to have an informed opinion about what to do there, but her position that the achievement gap starts before kids even get to school so let's address what we can seems perfectly sensible. I guess I'd like to see the mayor stay in his/her lane on that issue. There are a lot of things I appreciate about Cam Winton, but his proposal to lobby for mayor-appointed school board seats is a non-starter.

Her rationale in favor of streetcars is that permanent infrastructure draws development in a way that bus lines do not. But we have way more flexibility in building streetcar lines than we do with light rail. That said, IMO, there is certainly not massive development along the Hiawatha line, and it's been around long enough for that to have happened. However, it has succeeded in getting a lot of folks who live in north and northeast a quicker, easier ride to jobs at the airport and the MOA.

Posted by: Naomi (naomikritzer)
Posted at: September 14th, 2013 02:00 am (UTC)

Reading the education policy statements of the various candidates has been interesting, because for pretty much every candidate it's a mix of substance and posturing (and is mostly really heavy on the posturing.) I completely agree that Cam Winton's idea for mayor-appointed school board seats is a pipe dream. (You know what we ought to do as a first step to fix the schools in Minneapolis, honestly? We ought to RAISE THE PAY of school board members, because it is a more-than-full-time job and it pays so poorly that most of the smart, informed, involved people I know with substantive ideas on how to fix stuff can't afford to run, because they need to work in a full-time job that actually puts food on the table and a roof over their head.)

Anyway. I don't know whether the school board salaries are set by the city (which means the mayor actually could potentially raise them) or if they're set by the state (in which case the mayor has no control over this whatsoever) but I certainly don't expect anyone running for any office to say, "hey, we should totally pay politicians more -- especially the politicians who've been doing a crappy job for many years."

I agree that things like health department outreach to improve the health of at-risk children is an excellent way to improve school readiness.

You know another excellent way to improve school readiness? Making sure that poor families are using libraries. One of the ways in which the Minneapolis/Hennepin library merger has been a clusterfuck was that they instituted fines on children's materials for the first time, and also clamped down on librarians who might quietly erase fines for some patrons -- they were no longer allowed to do this, ever. (And don't even get me started on what happened with the East Lake library.)

In St. Paul, they still don't charge fines on children's materials; they still allow librarians some leeway with fine forgiveness; and most summers they'll have a "read-down" where kids can come in, sit in the library, and have $1 in fines erased for each hour they're sitting in the library reading a book.

Posted by: Erica Mauter (swirlspice)
Posted at: September 13th, 2013 05:33 pm (UTC)

One more thing I like about Betsy: her other, non-city-council job is serving as the president of the League of Minnesota Cities. What that says to me is that she has a posture of collaborating with our neighbors, which I think is a good feature in a mayor. She's endorsed by Chris Coleman; I think it's important for the mayors of Minneapolis and Saint Paul to get along. Also, as this SWLRT thing goes down the tubes, I think it's probably a good thing for the mayor of Minneapolis to have a good relationship with the mayor of St. Louis Park. Mark Andrew continues to piss in that pot.

Posted by: coho29 (coho29)
Posted at: September 15th, 2013 03:53 pm (UTC)

Thanks for the shout-out, swirlspice :) One factual correction: Hodges' term as president of the League of MN Cities ended recently. But I agree that her having earned and served in that role is a good sign. I have to think it will help her advocate for Minneapolis at the state level.

Posted by: Erica Mauter (swirlspice)
Posted at: September 16th, 2013 02:22 am (UTC)

Ooh, that's good to know. Thanks for the correction.

Posted by: billkahn (billkahn)
Posted at: September 29th, 2013 09:00 pm (UTC)
Bill Kahn

Just wanted to check in and add some information to that in the post about me and what I want to do, although there is more on my website that Ms. Kritzer kindly linked.

The Council-manager system is used by more than half the cities in the country, even charter or home rule cities like Minneapolis.

Presently, I want to keep the same number of city council members, but reduce the number of wards to five, roughly corresponding (reapportionment will set different borders) to the traditional sectors of the city (clockwise): North, Northeast, Southeast, South, and Southwest. The remaining eight council seats would be at large for a total of 13 members, i.e., it would kind of be like having eight mayors working on a number of issues and finding consensus with the traditional wards, once fiefdoms, now participants in city wide issues.

This is a charter amendment yet to be written, so if there are other ideas out there (lots have made noise about going back to two year terms and also increasing the number of council seats, but I'm not sure this would help), I am willing to consider them.

Win or lose, I'd like to see Minneapolis city government more responsive to citizens and proactive on the issues of importance to us and our status in the world; the Council-manager form of government will help us achieve that. I'll keep the site up and welcome comments on any of my posts.

I had not included an e-mail address when I put up my website before filing, but it is bill [at] lastminneapolismayor [dot] org.

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