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Minneapolis, Minnesota

Jackie Cherryhomes, a former president of the Minneapolis City Council, has announced her candidacy for the mayor’s office in the November 2013 city elections.

From a Star Tribune interview: “She said in an interview that she would no longer lobby in City Hall if elected, though she said she could continue to serve nonprofits and other clients on various types of work.”

Really? In what warped universe does that make any sense?

Beyond that dubious promise of conflicted actions to come, one must wonder about her desire to keep businesses in the city and bring jobs downtown. As council president, she presided over the development of Block E on Hennepin Avenue, an ill-advised project that sits nearly as vacant today as it did before Minneapolis threw away $39 million to support its building.

Cherryhomes should quit the race now, while she is ahead.

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Minneapolis, Minnesota

November 6, 2012

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Mitt, Mitt, Mitt.

Running for office can be hard. I know – did it once.

Anyone who believes there is not a free market at work has never thrown his or her hat in the ring to stand for election. Messy and tough as it can be, that’s democracy.

The world is run by those who stand up and show up. Yet, while I believe every citizen should stand and file for some office at least once in a lifetime, no one has to do so.

No one held a gun to the roof of your car and said “Make a run for the White House or the dog gets it!”

People who seek responsibility and accountability in public life don’t get to make the rules. Hell, there are no rules.

I ran only for the Minneapolis city council. There were no requirements or expectations that I publish my tax returns. I would have if necessary.

You want us to trust you with our lives as our commander in chief, but you won’t trust us and follow the time-honored conventions pioneered by your own father.

Don’t release your returns for me. I’m going to vote for the guy your campaign surrogate said needs to ‘learn how to be an American.’

It’s time for you to learn how to be that. In this democratic republic, the people get to decide based on the merits of the case. If you want to win, you have to ante up the returns and answer Forbe’s 35 Questions Mitt Romney Must Answer About Bain Capital Before The Issue Can Go Away.

If you don’t, that sucking sound you hear isn’t from all the jobs you allegedly allowed to be outsourced overseas. It’s from your candidacy circling the drain.

John McCain said today that the multiple years of tax returns you released to him in 2008 had no bearing on his selection of Palin as his running mate. In so many words, he said she simply was a better candidate than you, Pawlenty, and all the other possibilities.

You want to be the better candidate? You want to be the most powerful human on the planet? Start acting like it. Power knows how to be humble and vulnerable. Prove it.

Release your tax returns already.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Politico is out with a story today that says GOP super PACs and their fellow travelers plan to spend $1 billion between now and November in order to buy control of the House, the Senate, and the White House. The total includes $300 million by groups related to Karl Rove and nearly $400 million of spending by a network bankrolled directly and indirectly by the Koch brothers.

These forces are not content with the national embarrassment and gridlock occasioned by their thuggish tactics of obfuscation and obstruction in the last three and-a-half years. They are beyond embarrassment, and gridlock has merely served their own special and selfish interests at the expense of the country.

Their aim is not a balanced democracy that serves our people. They will say that they seek to preserve American values and freedom. In reality, they seek to subvert and destroy. They seek for themselves total and amoral power and control over all checks and balances of the government, the economy, the culture, and religion.

UPDATE: Thursday, May 31, 2012: Politico is out with a story this morning that reports some of the GOP’s mega-donors are upset that their names have become part of the public dialogue, and that some people have ascribed nefarious motives to their attempts to accomplish the equivalent of anonymous, political hit jobs in the dark of night. Sorry, but bullying of any kind is not an acceptable American value.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

We Minnesotans have always been passive aggressive with each other. Beginning with statehood, we had two state constitutions because both parties at the time refused to sign on with each other. No surprise now if it feels like every bill passed by a legislature controlled by one party is vetoed by a governor from the other. My optimist angel says the legislature should carry on until next week’s mandated deadline; my pragmatist angel says “shut the session down tomorrow.” Present circumstances are better than intra-state civil war with real bullets – but my head screams “make them stop!”

Kurt Zellers, the GOP speaker of the state house, is a particularly interesting study of ineffectiveness. Regardless of his position on any issue, he seems not to understand that when accepting a leadership position, his “positions” are no longer all about him – he needs to anticipate, get out in front, try to work with all constituents; in essence, he needs to lead and take whatever salvos come his way. He had some effect as a low-profile back-bencher but, unfortunately, he is miscast as a legislative leader.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

According to Minnesota Public Radio, both proponents and opponents of the 2012 marriage ballot amendment to the Minnesota Constitution – that would define marriage as between one man and one woman – missed the deadline to have booths at the Minnesota State Fair.

However, proponents for the amendment have a booth presence at the fair. I saw it on Underwood Avenue, when attending on Friday, Sept. 2.

According to MPR, the amendment’s opponents were told in July that the Fair was sold out of concession space. A Fair spokesperson, Lara Hughes, told MPR that the proponents had submitted a registration request on Aug. 31 and that the Fair had found a location for them.

The Minnesota State Fair has some real explaining to do.

Is MPR’s reporting on this matter complete and accurate?

Was concession space sold-out in July and, if so, was that fact communicated to both the proponents and opponents?

If both sides were told that space was not available, how did it happen that the proponents’ late request was accomodated?

Republican legislators fervently invited a 15+month brawl when they voted to place this question before Minnesota’s voters in November 2012. It appears that they will not be disappointed.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

I here offer my deepest apologies and sincerest regrets to my fellow citizens for failing to properly shoulder the burden of maintaining our faltering economy. I offer no excuses other than my unwillingness to manage the paperwork.

This is about those endless offers from credit card companies that fill our mailboxes and keep the post office from going completely broke. In the 12 weeks since June 5, I received 24  of those suckers from outfits that promised in large print to guarantee freedom and simplicity in my life, plus another six mailings containing “convenience checks” for my existing credit card accounts.

I just spent 90 minutes tearing all of them into tiny pieces that fill a brown paper grocery sack.

However, with Michele and her fellow travelers running their mouths so much lately about all of our disappearing freedoms, I feel guilty, and really should do something with these offers besides shred them. In addition to gaining copious amounts of new credit that adds consumption capacity to the economy, I could transfer outstanding balances on existing cards for a low-percentage fee, pay no interest on transferred balances for generous lengths of time, and thereafter pay APRs ranging from 3.99% to 18.99% (the average for my 12 weeks of offers was 11.99%).

From four of the offers, I could obtain 30,000 free bonus miles each, 120,000 in total, to use on American Airlines, a company that serves Minnesota minimally and with which I have done only minor amounts of business over the years. Still, that’s four times around the world.

I am pretty adept with a spreadsheet, and with a bit of concentration I could probably play this shell game for years without paying out any real money on either my principal or interest.

Hell, if I was half as smart as my ego would have it, I would take these offers, cash them out to the max, quit working, and use the remaining years on my passport and my life to remain free and simple outside the country. Makes sense. If Rick Perry and Texas can secede from the Union, why can’t individuals separate themselves from the hard work of living and embrace the slick and easy promises of freedom and simplicity?

These proferred possibilities spell “freedom” with a capital “F” and “simplicity” with a capital “S.” For sure!

Then, as these importunings are so rich for folks like me, one can only imagine how important they must be for the credit card companies themselves and for the compensation of their shareholders and corporate leaders.

By now, all of us should know – from the mouths of Boehner, Cantor, Mitchell, and our GOP brethren in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and elsewhere – what that kind of financial good fortune means to our economy, for these people, the shareholders and corporate leaders, are our job creators. They are the very lifeblood and hope for our nation’s financial salvation. They count on people like me, and you, to choose freedom.

Thus, I take seriously my shirking of responsibility for insuring freedom and simplicity in this particular realm for myself and my fellows. Simply put, however, I choose to believe that life is too short for the paperwork, and even shorter for the rhetoric of the empty promises.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Famine has afflicted the world at various times throughout recorded history, including the successive generations of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Biblical book of Genesis. In modern day Somalia, however, there is no Joseph, ordained by God to save his people. Instead, the global community is called to act as the children of Israel and Ishmael.

Displaced Somalis pour daily into the Dadaab refugee camp – the world’s largest – across the border in neighboring Kenya, fleeing two years of drought – East Africa’s worst in 60 years – rising food prices, and armed conflict in food producing areas. Most immediately, they flee famine with its attendant malnutrition, starvation, epidemics, and mortality.

Eighty percent of those arriving at Dadaab are women and children. Their men are fighting, dead, tending herds, or giving their families all of their money to travel, on foot, across the border. In camps built to house 90,000 people, more than 400,000 now live in a space one third the size of Minneapolis.

Their hope lies primarily in the Somali Diaspora.

Minneapolis-St. Paul has become the de facto capital of Somalia in North America. This community of immigrants has taken up the frontline fight against famine in Somalia and other countries in the Horn of Africa. The American Refugee Committee, and its Neighbors for Nations–Uniting Communities to Help Somalia, are working with Minnesota’s Somali community to raise money, buy food, and send it to the Horn of Africa.

The sons of Ishmael cannot do it by themselves. They need all of the children of Israel. Every financial gift of any size is generous and will save lives and provide relief in Somalia within days. There is no time to debate who, or what, is right or wrong.

From Minneapolis City Councilmember Gary Schiff:

Every single day I meet people in Minneapolis who are preparing for a trip to the Dadaab refugee camp or to Somalia to help with famine relief efforts. Abdi Phenomenal Farah is a student from Augsburg College who is leaving this week. Abdi is a spoken word artist, and he will have much more to say when he returns. Please watch this link of his amazing art and meet one of the upcoming leaders of our city.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Six Wisconsin senate districts will hold recall elections on Tuesday, Aug. 9. Residents who care about the future of that state and the nation must turn out to vote.

The recalls have been prompted by the legislative agenda rammed through the GOP-controlled Assembly and Senate by GOP Gov. Scott Walker. The extremist and un-American agenda seeks to alter the state’s political dynamic under the guise of financial stewardship. Republicans control the senate by a margin of 19-14; Democrats must pick up a net of three seats in the recalls in order to gain majority (17-16) control of that chamber and restore checks and balance to Wisconsin’s political process.

The electoral stakes are high for both sides, as reported by Politico and articulated by Judson Phillips, CEO of Tea Party Nation. Speaking at an Aug. 6 rally in Thiensville, Wisconsin – sponsored by the Tea Party Express and promoted by the Republican Party of Milwaukee County – Phillips said “I detest and despise everything the left stands for. How anybody can endorse an ideology that has killed a billion people in the last century is beyond me.” A day earlier, according to Politico, Phillips “likened protestors of Gov. Scott Walker to Nazi storm troopers.”

Also according to Politico, another speaker at Saturday’s rally, Vince Schmuki, said “Tuesday is going to be the beginning of our takeover. And we’re going to follow it up the following week, and then we’re going to polish off the enemy in November 2012.”

In response to voter petitions in each district, recall elections were scheduled for nine incumbents – six Republicans and three Democrats – including the six Republicans up for vote on Aug. 9:

District 2 – incumbent Robert Cowles, R-Green Bay, challenged by Nancy Nusbaum, D-De Pere;
District 8 – incumbent Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, challenged by Rep. Sandy Pasch, D-Whitefish Bay;
District 10 – incumbent Sheila Harsdorf, R-River Falls, challenged by Shelly Moore, D-River Falls;
District 14 – incumbent Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, challenged by Rep. Fred Clark, D-Baraboo;
District 18 – incumbent Randy Hopper, R-Fond du Lac, challenged by Jessica King, D-Oshkosh;
District 32 – incumbent Dan Kapanke, R-LaCrosse, challenged by Rep. Jennifer Shilling, D-LaCrosse.

Two Democratic senators will face recall votes on Aug. 16: District 12 incumbent Jim Holperin, D-Conover, faces challenger Kim Simac, R-Eagle River, and District 22 incumbent Robert Wirch, D-Pleasant Prairie, faces challenger Jonathan Steitz, R-Pleasant Prairie.

District 30 incumbent Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, defeated his Republican challenger, Dave VanderLeest, with 66% of the vote on July 19.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has tagged the recall efforts as “ugly, unnecessary, and expensive,” and has declined to endorse any candidates on the principle that recalls should not be used to dispute policy differences.

Most other Wisconsin newspapers are playing it straight-down-the-middle, opting to encourage readers to vote without making endorsements. One exception: The Capital Times in Madison endorsed Democratic challenger Clark over Republican incumbent Olsen in District 14.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

In 11 days, delegates of Minnesota’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party will begin gathering in Duluth to endorse candidates for statewide office. My schedule and stamina will not permit me to join them on the convention sidelines to help seal the deal that makes Paul Thissen our candidate for governor. Thus, I offer these thoughts to the delegates, particularly to my GLBT friends and colleagues.

I met Paul several years ago through his wife, Karen Wilson Thissen, with whom I served on a nonprofit board of directors. They are good people.

As lifelong Minnesotans, Paul Thissen and I share a deep appreciation and affection for the land, the people, and the traditions that give color and meaning to our lives. Both of us have traveled extensively throughout our state and understand the inherent goodwill, sense of fair play, and yearning for integrity that characterizes our people. Paul embodies these traits with a fresh and enthusiastic optimism matched by a can-do spirit of pragmatism.

As the number of days behind me continues to outpace those ahead, I still want to “win” at life’s various adventures and to follow my heart with as little compromise as possible. Paul is a solid candidate on the issues that voters and candidates of all stripes should care about. Nonetheless, our party is given to imposing a 100% purity test on issues and – especially – nuances, and then tries to take the safe route by endorsing the candidates who seem to have the greatest name recognition, money, and insider connections. I am old enough to recall the last time Minnesota elected a DFL governor, and I know how well our past patterns of endorsing behavior have not worked.

Given the temper of our times, the personality and character of the next governor will be prime in determining the outcome of legislation and policy. We need to play this election to win.

As a gay man who never could have imagined the possibility of marrying his high school boy friend, I have experienced personally and vicariously the profound changes of attitude, heart, and behavior within myself and others that have replaced shadows with sunshine, fear with strength, and despair with hope. Like the best of leaders, Paul calls forth the higher angels of our nature. He has done this in speeches to assembled throngs, in one-on-one conversations, and in the introduction and passage of legislation.

As the real deal, he also does it in the raising of his own kids, all of whom accompanied us in last year’s Pride Parade through the streets of downtown Minneapolis. Would that our own parents ever would have placed in our hands signs that read “Our friend has two mothers, and we think it’s great!”

As a one-time political candidate, I know about the ineffable campaign experience that Paul has undertaken. I am inspired by his work ethic, the competence and confidence of his campaign team, and the equanimity of his person. I will be proud to have him serve as governor of my state, and I ask you to join me and other Minnesotans for Thissen to help make that happen!

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