Cathy Velasquez-Eberhart of the group Citizens Acting for Rail Safety-Twin Cities (CARS-TC)

Residents respond to railroad “pipeline on wheels”

Two years ago on July 6, an oil train explosion in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, killed 47 people, and to prevent a similar catastrophe from occurring in Minnesota, Citizens Acting for Rail Safety-Twin Cities (CARS-TC) held a press conference in St. Paul on Tuesday, July 7, to address this threat in the Twin Cities. “There’s been some good, some bad and some ugly,” Representative Frank Hornstein said, commenting on the progress between railroads and public safety. CARS-TC hosted the “Minnesota in the Blast Zone” press conference on July 7. The press conference glossed over the danger of railroads in the Twin Cities and gave a legislative update on rail safety and a critical evaluation on the railroad industry’s response. Continue Reading

Bernie Sanders makes his first campaign appearance in Minnesota

It’s no secret that most of the heavy-hitters in the DFL are already pledged to Ms. Clinton. So who were the people who turned up to hear and cheer for Bernie Sanders? Generationally, they appeared to be a diverse crowd, ranging from 18 to 80-plus. The crowd was noticeably less diverse with perhaps 5 to 10% people of color. Primer on Bernie Sanders: He’s 73 and has been the junior Senator from Vermont since 2007. Continue Reading

Drivers license bill stalls as session ends

Much-awaited legislation allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses (HF97) was shot down in the House Transportation Committee as the 2015 legislative session hurtled to a close.  All House Republicans voted against incorporating the language into legislation at a 5-5 vote. “The bill is included in a transportation bill, and the only thing that the house has to do is to agree with the bill that is being proposed by the Senate. The House simply has no excuse not to do this this year. They made a commitment last year. Continue Reading

Leslie Ann Crosby spoke about her four hour a day commute

Transit time hinders upward mobility

Community members, along with leadership from Neighbors Organizing for Change (NOC), Take Action Minnesota, ISAIAH, and several State representatives presented the report It’s About Time: The Transit Time Penalty and Its Racial Implications, which was written by The Center for Popular Democracy, along with additional assistance from local partners. It highlights the racial disparities in the transit system and adds that extra time spent on commuting actually hinders people’s ability to lift themselves out of poverty. Anthony Newby, the executive director of Neighbors Organizing for Change, cited, “the need for more and better funding to get to the heart of racial disparity in transit.” All public transit users spend more time than drivers on their commute alone, but black and Latino transit users spend the equivalent of 3.5 weeks of work more than white drivers on their commute. A May 7th New York Times article reported that commuting time is the single strongest factor that changes the odds of escaping poverty. Continue Reading

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Martin Luther King Goes to the Mall (or WWMD?)

“It’s important to make an example out of these organizers, so that this never happens again.” This message was sent to the managers of the Mall of America by Sandra Johnson, the City Attorney of Bloomington, Minnesota, where the Mall is located. The “organizers,” whom she also refers to as “criminals,” assailants” and “ringleaders” were involved in one way or another with a peaceful, multi-generational, multiracial rally held in the Mall’s rotunda to draw attention to racist police brutality. Such events are what “must never happen again.”

Johnson’s over-the-top push make the defendants pay for the police overreaction has raised eyebrows in legal and business circles and alarmed civil libertarians. The Mall had earlier rebuffed her proposal to punish Mall employees for showing sympathy with the rally, citing “the potential for further press.” “Further press” is what the City Attorney appears determined to deliver. Continue Reading

Gov. Mark Dayton enters the room to deliver his biennial budget proposal Jan. 27. Photo by Paul Battaglia

Dayton’s budget focused squarely on education

Gov. Mark Dayton has proposed a $42 billion, two-year budget heavily focused on Minnesota’s youngest residents. Unveiled Tuesday, Dayton’s budget framework would spend most of the state’s projected $1 billion surplus on program areas like early childhood education and child health, and would provide nearly $100 million in child care assistance tax credits to Minnesota families. The plan would increase state spending by roughly $2.5 billion more in 2016-2017 over the current biennium and leave $35 million of the projected surplus unspent. “I’m placing my priority on the future of Minnesota,” Dayton said during a morning news conference. The proposed spending, he said, is aimed squarely at closing the state’s achievement gap between white and minority students by doing more, earlier, to place less of a burden on the state’s schools to solve the disparities. Continue Reading


Structural Racism At Root Of Offensive Remark About North Minneapolis

Others booed, but Rep. Rena Moran (DFL-St.Paul) thought for several hours before responding to an offensive remark Rep. Jim Newberger (R-Becker) had made about North Minneapolis.During a debate on funding for the North Star rail line Newberger said “Boy, wouldn’t that be convenient, to have that rail line going from the prison to North Minneapolis.” After hearing some grumbling he quickly added, “or to any section of our state.” Boos were heard in the House chamber.As the clock was approaching midnight, Moran got up to address the body on a point of personal privilege.“So often we say let it go, let it pass. You know, don’t respond to it. But I feel that I have a need to respond to Rep. Newberger’s comments that he made earlier.”Moran said she found Newberger’s initial comment offensive. “I truly felt disrespected myself. And I know I don’t stand alone in feeling disrespect but North Minneapolis and St. Continue Reading

Location of a proposed soccer stadium in Minneapolis.

Tax exemptions are bad for city

A proposal for a new soccer stadium in downtown Minneapolis is drawing controversy because of how it may be funded. The owners of the Minnesota United soccer club have stated that they will privately fund the stadium, which will cost an estimated $150 million, without any direct subsidies from the state. However, their proposal for the stadium included a request for a sales tax exemption of about $3 million, as well as a permanent property tax exemption.These requested exemptions have received mixed reactions. Some are potentially supportive of the deal. Several City Council members have asked for more details about the proposal, and Gov. Mark Dayton has said he may offer public dollars for certain stadium improvements.  Others oppose any permanent tax exemptions. Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges called the request a “public subsidy” that “will have a direct and negative impact on the taxpayers of Minneapolis.” On Monday, the state Senate voted almost unanimously to ban state funds from being spent on the new stadium. Continue Reading