Naomi [userpic]

Election 2013, Volume 4, Issue 3: Minneapolis City Council, Ward 10. Meg Tuthill vs. Lisa Bender

October 21st, 2013 (09:06 pm)

So, we're getting into the home stretch of the election and interestingly, people honestly have NO IDEA who's going to win. When I chat with Minneapolis friends I often ask them who they're voting for and most of them haven't decided and don't know much about the candidates.

If you're one of the people who's reading this because you want to see if my opinions mesh with yours (as opposed to one of the people reading because you're hoping I did your homework for you) and you have a strong attachment to a particular candidate, I would STRONGLY suggest that you TALK TO YOUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS and ask them to vote for your favorite. Chances are excellent that they haven't been paying attention to the race, and if you talk to them, they'll figure, "well, he always shovels his walk promptly and I like his dog. Sure, I'll vote for his mayoral candidate for my first choice. Or at least my second choice, or my third choice." For that matter, if you don't have a yard sign for your candidate, put one up! This could be a race where the yard signs actually matter.

Anyway! Today I'm going to write about the Ward 10 race. There are four people running:

Meg Tuthill (DFL, Incumbent)
Scott Hargarten (Pirate Party)
Nate Griggs (Independence)
Lisa Bender (DFL, endorsed by the DFL)



Meg Tuthill
http://www.megtuthill.com/

Looking at Meg's website, the first thing that makes me raise my eyebrow is this statement: "She has been one of the Council's strongest supporters of the City's firefighters and police." In a city that has had some serious ongoing issues of police misconduct, saying that you're one of the "strongest supporters of the police" without any caveats makes me think you might be kind of an asshole. She's endorsed by the Police Federation, making me further concerned that she's not a great person to have weighing the costs vs. benefits of the current oversight system.

Also, she voted for the stadium. You know, one of the things that has made me happy in this election is that a LOT of the Council Members who voted for the Vikings Stadium deal have paid a political price for it (or are on the brink of doing so).

She's in favor of snow shoveling, she's opposed to cars running over pedestrians, and she's in favor of re-opening Nicollet at Lake Street. I don't think any of these are particularly controversial stances.

One of the other things that strikes me about her website is that for lots of the warm, cozy, kittens-and-unicorns stances, she says she "supports" or "favors" stuff, not that she worked on it in any way. "Meg supports increased recycling by Minneapolis residents and businesses by switching to single sort recycling. East Calhoun was one of the two neighborhoods chosen for the single sort pilot program, which was a huge success. Citywide implementation of single sort recycling began in November 2012 and will be completed in April 2013." Note the lack of agency here -- she wants you to think she deserves credit for the implementation of single-sort, but she's not actually claiming it. I doubt that's out of modesty.

Moving on. Meg failed to get endorsement at the DFL Convention; she'd previously said that she would suspend her campaign if she failed to get endorsement, and then a month later jumped back in the race. (I had this memory of her insisting that she'd said she would "suspend" her campaign and she hadn't said for how long! and she DID suspend it and now she was un-suspending it so shut up with your complaining. However, I think I may actually be remembering something an entirely different candidate did. Possibly in another state. Meg's statement is all about how people were calling and begging her to keep running so IT'S THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE and we need STABILITY in the 10th Ward, which is totally why she ran in the first place four years ago against an incumbent, who incidentally bowed out of the race because she got the endorsement.) (Edited to add: found it! "The Uptown convention may prove to be the most decisive, since Tuthill pledged during the proceedings to suspend her campaign if someone else took the endorsement. When Bender won after five ballots, however, Tuthill questioned what 'suspend' really meant. 'It didn't say for how long, it didn't say permanently, it didn't say for 20 minutes, it didn't say for four years,' Tuthill said. 'I don't know.'")

The City Pages describes her as a patio-hating joykill and has the audio of an incredibly snotty, patronizing voicemail she left for a would-be brewpub owner. She's a patio-hating joykill because she picked a fight with the Uptown restaurants in 2011 over patios. Her website talks about "finding balance" and yeah, I can imagine that if you live in Uptown it's probably annoying to deal with parking problems and late-night noise, but you know, you chose to live in Uptown and for the vast majority of Uptown residents, there was a thriving restaurant/bar district up the block when they moved in, so my sympathy is limited. (Apparently there was/is a particular business that generated a lot of obnoxious drunks. So, you know, there are ways to deal with businesses that generate surplus obnoxious drunks that don't take down all the other nearby businesses.

(Her defense of both the patronizing voicemail and her patio-hatred is here, if you're interested.)

Anyway. I have lived in Minneapolis for long enough that I remember when the stretch of Lake Street that was east of 35W and west of Hiawatha was a miserable stretch of mostly-empty buildings, broken up by the occasional "Checks Cashed Here!" place. (That's not Uptown; Uptown was already doing pretty well when I moved to town. But that stretch on the border of Powderhorn and Phillips was in terrible shape.) Meg says that Uptown doesn't need to be revitalized; that it's VITAL and thriving. And it is. But that can change, if you're an arrogant dick to business owners and jerk them around and treat them like the enemy. And as annoying as parking problems undoubtedly are to Uptown residents, a sea of empty buildings just to your north would be a lot worse.

I actually remember the voicemail message from the time, and I would be strongly disinclined to vote for any politician who would respond to a request -- even an unreasonable request, which this IMO was not -- with that sort of condescension and scorn. You can say "no" without being an asshole about it. The fact that she felt the need to be an asshole (and doesn't even apologize for it, in her defense! she basically doubles down!) says a lot about her, none of it good.

Scott Hargarten (Pirate Party)
No website; you can find his Twitter here: https://twitter.com/ScottHargarten

Scott appears to be an Occupy activist. The Pirate Party website says, in its summaries of the candidates, "Scott has advocated for electoral reform and direct democracy for almost 3 years. He has helped found multiple projects dedicated to the involvement of citizens in their democracy, and has advoated for comprehensive campaign finance reform at the state capitol." (Typos theirs.)

The Southwest Journal put together a voter's guide to the ward 10 candidates that doesn't have a lot about him, but says, "Top priorities: Hargarten is promoting the concept of 'liquid democracy.' Policy would be developed through regular community forums." The Pirate Party website talks about Liquid Democracy, which appears to be a project to direct policy decisions by way of Internet polls. That might be a little unfair, but it's hard to say; the first link on that page doesn't work, and the second link (to the Liquid Democracy Beta) gave me a warning that the security certificate was forged and someone might be trying to hack my computer.

I'm not impressed, but I'll admit that I was not expecting to be.

Nate Griggs (Independence)
http://www.abetterminneapolis.com/

So, let me just say that I am truly impressed that he scored that particular URL. I really would have expected one of the mayoral candidates to have scooped that up. It's an overly flashy website that's kind of difficult to read, though the "Pro-Love, Pro-Indiana Jones, Anti-Michele-Bachmann" rolling bit on the front page is amusing.

The most important thing to know about Nate Griggs is that according to the campaign Facebook page, he dropped out of the race yesterday due to taking a job that requires relocation. Dear Nate: update your campaign website, not just your Facebook page which lots of people looking for info won't even see.

Lisa Bender (DFL, endorsed by the DFL)
http://www.votelisabender.com/
https://www.facebook.com/votelisabender

I looked at her Vision statement and she looks like a pretty standard-issue Minneapolis DFLer. Pro-bikes, pro-curbside-composting, pro-small-businesses. She doesn't talk on her website about patios or her ability to respond to phone calls in a non-assholish way, so I'm not sure where exactly she stands on the hot-button issues of Ward 10.

But there's also this excellent interview: http://www.ouruptown.com/2013/04/lisa-bender-ward-10-candidate/ There were a couple of pieces here that made me think, "Oh. I would like being represented by her." She talks about improving pedestrian infrastructure: "Pedestrian improvements can be expensive. While it's important to find funding for improvements, this makes it even more important to take advantage of every street construction project possible to improve our pedestrian environment." And -- yeah. That's an excellent way to approach it. A lot of pedestrian improvements actually AREN'T that expensive if they're being done with other stuff, and if you're paying attention, you can improve things in lots of ways. And then this, later, in response to a question about conflict: "One thing that is very important to me is authentic public engagement. I hate the public meetings that are designed to keep everyone quiet and where staff explain what can't be done. I've been in that position myself, and it's important to let people's voices be heard. We learn a lot from hearing our neighbors' priorities and concerns."

So yeah, THAT is important to me.

She also had her second baby on the 14th. Campaigning while pregnant is seriously badass, IMO.



So, the key info:

* Nate Griggs dropped out; this is actually a three person race.
* Scott Hargarten fails the "is this person a real candidate" test (no website of any kind, unless you count Twitter. I don't count Twitter.)
* That leaves Meg Tuthill vs. Lisa Bender. I'm endorsing Lisa. If you really hate Meg Tuthill, mark Nate as your second choice; he'll still be on the ballot and plenty of people don't know he's dropped out. (The bottom line, though, is that it's really Meg vs. Lisa; you don't need to make a second choice unless your first choice is Scott.)

Election 2013 Index of Posts

Comments

Posted by: Sharon Kahn (dreamshark)
Posted at: October 22nd, 2013 03:07 am (UTC)

Such an interesting race - makes me wish I lived in Ward 10. I enjoy reading your summary and analysis of races that I otherwise wouldn't know much about. Thanks.

Posted by: Naomi (naomikritzer)
Posted at: October 22nd, 2013 03:52 am (UTC)
witchlight

An addendum to the "Meg Tuthill: total asshole" catalog came in via Twitter. This quote, from her Facebook page: "Since you [a commentor] live in San Francisco, you aren't aware that my opponent has been going on and on about her being a cancer survivor and a mom. One of my supporters got tired of it."

(You know, it's entirely possible that Lisa Bender HAS been going on and on about being a cancer survivor and a Mom. All political candidates tend to highlight the dramatic, story-worthy bits of their personal histories, right? A savvy candidate with some actual social skills might phrase this complaint as, "My opponent has highlighted her cancer battle rather than her political experience. I'm certainly happy for her that she survived cancer, but I think this race is about [personal pet issue] and [other personal pet issue] and [here, I'll segue to some interesting bit of my own bio] and [blah blah talking points]." Rather than something like, "OMG she will just not SHUT UP about her stupid KIDS and her stupid CANCER BATTLE.")

Posted by: A Wandering Hobbit (redbird)
Posted at: October 22nd, 2013 05:03 am (UTC)

Rather. One of the annoying things about some of my local races is that it's hard to find anything more useful than "as a long-time resident with children in our schools, I care about improving the school system." Which is okay as part of a candidate statement, but when it's basically all anyone says, it doesn't give me much to work with.

I am also faced with four "advisory votes" on the ballot. These are literally meaningless: they each take the form "the state legislature did X that has some effect on taxes. Do you approve?" It says explicitly that the results of these votes will affect nothing. They might as well ask me to vote yes/no on apple pie.

Posted by: Naomi (naomikritzer)
Posted at: October 22nd, 2013 07:57 pm (UTC)
witchlight

As noted in an edit to the main entry, I found the bit where Meg said, "oh of COURSE I said I'd suspend my campaign, I just didn't say for how long, tee-hee!" The actual quote was, "It didn't say for how long, it didn't say permanently, it didn't say for 20 minutes, it didn't say for four years. I don't know."

Seriously, don't vote for this lady. Regardless of party or position, I think we can nearly all agree that blatantly disingenuous behavior is not a trait we like in politicians. Condescension and rudeness when refusing a request: also not good. You really do want a Council Rep who has basic social skills, because frankly this is one of the politicians you are MOST likely to interact with personally, and in this situation you are probably going to be interacting with them over something that is relatively small potatoes in the grand scheme of things but a big deal to YOU. If you call Keith Ellison, it's probably going to be to express your support/opposition to some legislation he's pushing for/opposing and you'll call his number, talk briefly to a staffer, and the call will be done. (It's possible you'll need constituent services from your Rep or one of the Senators; that's a whole separate process, though, and again, you will probably be talking to a staffer.)

If you call your Council Rep it will probably be because you're having some huge issue with a city department, or because your neighbor's dog won't stop barking and the city isn't enforcing the ordinance about it, or some other small-to-her, big-to-you sort of thing. You want your Councillor to be friendly, responsive, and NICE TO YOU. And good enough at dealing with other people that they don't make things even worse.

Posted by: HWulfsberg (Heather Sampon Wulfsberg)
Posted at: November 3rd, 2013 09:13 pm (UTC)

SO you think Lisa Bender is the one for the job? Does she even understand the job description? When I’ve heard her flimsy platform…she touts the desire to have better schools. Maybe she should run for School Board? She is sorely lacking in experience for this office. All of her goals general and vague; if she is voted in the 10th ward, we are going to be short changed in its representation. She says she wants a healthy environment, who doesn’t? And how is she going to accomplish this? Lisa claims she would put people first over corporations, but when asked about patio noise issues she claimed this was a trivial nonissue (I guess she doesn’t care about the people of the neighborhoods). Not to me, a resident living 3 blocks off of Uptown. I take offence that our needs don’t matter. The small businesses wouldn’t be doing so well if the neighborhoods surrounding Uptown weren’t thriving. The city makes a lot of money from our property taxes. If our needs aren’t addressed many of us will leave. To be replaced by absentee land lords and low rents and everything else that comes along with that. We will see how safe the spoiled “20 somethings”feel with the exodus of the middle class and the decline of property values. Think a little beyond yourself, that is Megs approach. And FYI we don’t all ride bikes. Being an advocate for the bicycle coalition doesn’t prepare you for the job of City council.

Posted by: Naomi (naomikritzer)
Posted at: November 4th, 2013 02:29 am (UTC)
witchlight

My goodness, you moved in three blocks from Lake Street and didn't notice the business district full of bars and restaurants?

Your neighborhood would not be thriving without the businesses of Uptown, and the city makes lots of money from liquor and restaurant taxes as well as from residents' property taxes.

If there's a specific business that's causing a problem, work with the business or use the many tools at the city's disposal to make that business's life difficult; don't go after every business with a patio.

Posted by: Anjac (anjac)
Posted at: November 4th, 2013 01:05 am (UTC)

Unfortunately the DFL and Lisa Bender seem to feel threatened enough to launch an ugly campaign against Meg Tuthill of out right lies, distortions, and half truths.
The Bender campaign has tried to paint Meg Tuthill as basically “not green enough.”
They have gone so far as to say “she took credit” for Open Streets after objecting to it. Meg Tuthill has never taken credit alone for anything. She always gives credit where credit is due. As for “objecting” to Open Streets. Silly. She asked that they go back to the drawing board when it was clear starting at Franklin would not work. It was a public safety issue. It was never an issue of “not supporting” Open Streets.

Meg Tuthill has earned my respect during this campaign. She has stuck to the facts. It is a fact the Bender campaign has accepted money from a developer that has stuck out his tongue at our neighborhoods. Is he sorry he is pumping ground water into the lagoon? I am sure he is very sorry now that Anita Tabb and Meg Tuthill have moved the City to finally act. The only thing he is sorry about is he is now required to act on something that should not have happened in the first place.

As far as being responsive? Meg Tuthill wins hands down. She and her staff have responded to our [my spouse and mine] emails and phone calls. The Bender campaign, not one response to emails and phone calls. Not even from her supporters. Once, in September, three weeks after a Bender door knocker came a knocking, I finally got a phone call asking how Lisa could "win my vote." Way back in May I had emailed and called Lisa Bender. I was one of those people who wanted a real race. I didn't think, just because I couldn't make it to the DFL Caucus, I should be disenfranchised. I didn't realize all the unendorsed candidates would drop out. Sorry, I was naive. I had not heard the candidates had made some sort of promise to drop out. In my email I strongly urged Bender and Tuthill to run. At the time I was not even a big Tuthill fan. I was kind of hoping Ken Bradley would continue.

The Bender campaign has been using the favorite Republican tactic; If you say an untruth enough, people will start to believe it. I dislike this kind of underhanded campaign. The name calling? Really? "Meg Tuthill: asshole." What an asshole thing to say.

Council member elections should be free of attacks and negativity. We are, after all, neighbors, friends and colleges. Once the election is over we still all live here. We will need to continue to work together and get along for the greater good.

Posted by: Naomi (naomikritzer)
Posted at: November 4th, 2013 02:32 am (UTC)
witchlight

For the record, I am not even remotely part of the Bender campaign and I don't speak for anyone other than myself.

In my personal, non-affiliated-with-any-campaign, punditry-for-the-hell of it asshole opinion, only an asshole leaves a voicemail that sounds like this one.


Posted by: Anjac (anjac)
Posted at: November 4th, 2013 03:17 pm (UTC)
pic#122140344

I have listened to that voicemail a few times now over the past several weeks. I guess the beer guy's feelings were hurt. He has been crying into his beer ever since. Milking the sympathy card along the way.
Is Meg Tuthill perfect? Nope. But I like a gal who will stand up to the developers for our neighborhoods. Lisa has said, yep, she took the money from the Knox and Lake guy. She thinks that's just fine. I don't. That same guy wants to develope Lake and James. Guess what?! He wants another few variances! I want our asshole Meg, to help make sure our neighborhoods are heard. I don't want Lisa there thinking she can reason with these guys. You can't. They are greedy and want it all at the expense of the neighborhoods.
I would have liked to see Lisa come on to the scene four years from now. I like her ideas. I spend half my time on my bike. I get her ideas. However, I don't like to see how this campaign has panned out. I don't understand how Lisa could allow out right lies taint her campaign. Meg and Lisa are neighbors. I don't get how Lisa could be so nasty to her own neighbor?
I really do feel Lisa has not taken the high road on this campaign. She could have, but didn't. That was disappointing. For awhile there, I thought I could vote for her.
Whoever comes out on top tomorrow, I will see them each month. If it is Meg, then, I hope to make it clear we hold her to higher standards now. If it is Lisa, I hope we can make it clear she needs to actually listen to us, her neighbors, not just give the lip service she has given so far.

I will apologize for implying you are an asshole. I doubt you are. Neither is Meg. One could argue some of your replies to some of these postings are a bit smarmy or assholy. So Meg had one voicemail that seemed to hurt someone's feelings. Have you considered how you sound? Why be so judgmental? Never had a bad day?

over and out--Anja

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