From the Golden Leaf to The Abiders

On sun-washed, Saturday May 9, the good people of Minneapolis are discovering the emerging greens and gentle breezes of spring and the soft serves at Dairy Queen. Through late afternoon, scents of lilac and freshly mowed lawn and bird song greet folks out for a neighborhood walk or a spin around their chain of lakes. I, however, am hanging out in The Golden Leaf, a tobacco and cigar sampling store on Lake Street near Bryant Avenue. I’m perched on a bar stool near a large, walk-in humidor and have a decent view of the Twins/Indians game on a flat screen TV. A helpful attendant has selected a handmade Dominican cigar for me. Continue Reading

Video: The Future of Southwest Light Rail

Among our regional elected’s, Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin remains one of the strongest voices for an up-to-date public transit system in the Twin Cities metro area. McLaughlin chairs The Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority and the Counties Transportation Improvement Board. The HCRRA has committed to fund 10% and the CTIB, 30% of the Southwest Light Rail Transit project being planned to connect Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Hopkins, Saint Louis Park and the west lakes district of Minneapolis and the southern fringe of North Minneapolis to the Blue and Green LRT lines at Target Field. The State of Minnesota will shovel-in 10%. The plan has been to qualify for Federal Transportation Agency monies which would account for 50% of the project. Continue Reading

Videos: Lorna Landvik & John Marty

Author Lorna Landvik reveals that her recent novel best to Best to Laugh borrows some from her own life in Hollywood.  Minnesota’s most gifted humorist, like the Korean-American protagonist of her book, had been a stand-up comedy hopeful in L.A. who supported herself with a series of eclectic temp jobs and a residential complex injected with LaLa Land characters and urban legend.  Landvik also tells of her real-life adventures on the 3,700 miles long Peace March for Nuclear Disarmament from L.A. to D.C. in 1986.  Landvik’s quick, sharp and easy wit is a delight that is rarely seen on home flatscreens. I consider her Dem Vis appearance a satisfying stew of sly insight on being Minnesotan. State Senator John Marty, Minnesota’s leading progressive law maker, here makes a solid case to Democratic Visions host Tim O’Brien for SF 890 the “Worker Dignity Bill.”  Marty (DFL, Roseville) and co-author Senator Chris Eaton (DFL, Brooklyn Center) proposed legislation would extend the phased-in minimum wage increase; increase the working family credit to exceed the federal earned income tax; provide increased child care assistance to all low-income workers and, among other actions, would reform MinnCare.  SF 890 was referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Human Services and Housing on February 16 where it awaits further action. The full version of the current Democratic Visions includes a short segment on the St. Olaf College dedication of its memorial to civil rights martyr James Reeb.  Rev. Reeb, a 1950 graduate of the Northfield school, was murdered in Selma, Alabama fifty years ago.  He and two other activist clergy had been beaten on the evening of the “Turnaround Tuesday”  march led by Dr. Martin Luther King.  This demonstration had concluded with prayer on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on the highway to Montgomery, the Alabama State Capitol. Lorna Landvik on Dem Vis -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hv7-quYbWXg John Marty on Dem Vis -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CG_Gp8M90U0 Full Democratic Visions programhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAgWRNasNKo CABLE TV SCHEDULEEden Prairie, Richfield, Minnetonka, Edina and Hopkins Comcast Channel 15 – Saturdays 2:00 p.m.. Sundays 9 p.m., Mondays 10 p.m., Wednesdays 5:30 p.m., Bloomington – BCAT Channel 16 — Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m.; Fridays at 9:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. & 2:30 p.m.Minneapolis – MTN Channel 16 — Sundays at 8:30 p.m., Mondays 3:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m.  Program is streamed at the MTN website during cablecasts.Champlin, Anoka,Ramsey, Andover – QCTV Channel 15.  Click here for schedule. Democratic Visions is produced by Eden Prairie, Minnetonka and Edina volunteers at the Bloomington Community Access TV studio. Continue Reading

Video: Gelfand on New Viking Stadium

 Former KQ Morning Show reality check and sports guru Mike Gelfand takes a cynic’s aim at the new Viking Stadium on the current edition of Democratic Visions. The Crystal Cathedral like monument to men who play football and their corporate patrons and politicians (who play games with public wisdom, dollars and common sense) is a major irritant to Audubon Society types who view it as a wall of death for birds. Our feathered friends, they correctly claim, will crash into the stadium’s glass sheeting and die. During the course of his comment, Gelfand reminds us that during the construction of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in 1981 (recently deflated and leveled to make way for the new stadium), KSTP-TV’s news magazine Sunday Extra featured “The Dome Report” updates. These were parodies of, highly hyped, local TV investigative units such as WCCO-TV’s The I-Team, KSTP’s own On Your Behalf with Neil Murray and ABC’s Nightline with Ted Koppel. “The Dome Reports” were fronted by KUOM Radio personality John Barnier. Steve Sanger and I produced them. Continue Reading

Jewish Voice for Peace Minnesota on Israel

 Five local members of Jewish Voice for Peace, a national campaign for Palestinian justice in Israel, are featured on the new edition of Democratic Visions, the political issues program I produce out of the southwest suburbs. The JVP members were panelists at a December 13th forum at the Southdale Library in Edina.  Video clips of the forum combined with additional perspective shared later by lead panelist Andy Berman arc into highly personal stories about being Jewish and coming to reject Israel’s political, economic and military actions towards Gaza, the West Bank and Palestinians. Berman began the forum with this statement:  “I suspect that a common theme we’ll be hearing today is that our solidarity with the Palestinian people and all our work for peace and justice, is deeply rooted in our Jewish identity.” Panelist Marc Trius was born in Russia but grew up and was educated in Haifa, Israel.  He speaks poignantly of situations that turned him into a critic of the Israel government and its defense force with personal anecdotes; one of them is about a picnic held in a park where once stood Palestinian homes.  Marisa Katz grew up in Georgia “with a proud Zionist family history and background.”  Katz attended Jewish summer camps and as a high school student took a study trip to Israel.  She says that she found Israel fascinating but came to feel that the visit was less about education and more about recruiting future citizens.  And then, during college in Ohio, Katz recounts that she began to read and discuss other perspectives. Ilana Rossoff grew up in New Jersey.  Her father is a Reformed Rabbi.  She says that she began asking why reported wartime body counts for Israel were significantly lower than those for its enemies in each conflict.  Andy Berman and Allan Malkis have long lived in Minnesota but grew up in New York City.  Each tells how he has measured the devotion of their respective families to the Jewish traditions of working for social justice and peace against the record of Israel in the mid east. House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress was made after the Jewish Voice for Peace MN forum in Edina.   As Washington’s pro/con posturing sparked by the March 3 Netanyahu-Boehner tag team show becomes amplified by mainstream media, Democratic Visions is providing these 5 small but resonant voices a broader reach.  Click here to link to the 23-minute long Democratic Visions presentation which is an edited representation of the 90 minute forum.  The complete, on-line video presentation is available here on Vimeo at Bill Sorem Videos.  VIEWING DEMOCRATIC VISIONSDemocratic Visions can be seen on several Twin Cities cable systems and on the Democratic Visions  YouTube channel.Eden Prairie, Richfield, Minnetonka, Edina and Hopkins Comcast Channel 15 – Sundays 9 p.m., Mondays 10 p.m., Wednesdays 5:30 p.m., Saturdays 2 p.m.Bloomington – BCAT Channel 16 — Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m.; Fridays at 9:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. & 2:30 p.m.Minneapolis – MTN Channel 16 — Sundays at 8:30 p.m., Mondays 3:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m.  Program is streamed at the MTN website during cablecasts.Champlin, Anoka,Ramsey, Andover – QCTV Channel 15 — Fridays 8 a.m.,Saturdays 6:00 a.m., 10,30 a.m.,10:30 p.m. Segments and full half hours of Democratic Visions are archived on YouTube –   www.youtube.com/user/DemocraticVisions/Democratic Visions is independently produced by Eden Prairie, Minnetonka and Edina volunteers at the Bloomington Community Access TV.  The community cable access program is not funded, endorsed or supported by any political party or political action committee. Continue Reading

Oil pipe lines, oil satire and Mike Gelfand

The first of nine public and evidentiary hearings this month on the proposed Minnesota reach of the Sandpiper Pipeline convened on January 5th at St. Paul’s River Center. Ballrooms A and B, combined, are as large as Iowa and more than 200 citizens showed up to listen and/or speak.  I was there for about an hour with my video camera; the session went on into the night.  The hearings are being conducted by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission and provide ample time for pro and con opinion and, under oath, experts, scientists, State DNR and MPCA regulators and Enbridge Oil, Inc. officials to present factual and clarifying information. The approximately 600-mile long pipeline would carry Bakken crude oil from North Dakota to Superior, Wisconsin.  About 300 miles or more of it would pass through Minnesota.   75% of Enbridge’s proposed Sandpiper alignment in Minnesota would be constructed within existing pipeline corridors.  There are alternate pipeline alignments in the discussion, at least one of which would run entirely within existing pipeline corridors.   Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy (MCEA) attorney Kathryn Hoffman and others say that 25% of the alignment favored by Enbridge goes through sensitive peat and bog lands, forests and lake and stream watersheds.  MCEA and citizen groups including Honor the Earth and Friends of the Headwaters oppose the Enbridge plan. It gets complicated being that the review and approval/denial process involves studies, reports and claims being generated by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, the MN DNR, MPCA, Enbridge, organized labor and others.  MCEA and Friends of the Headwaters have jointly filed a suit in Ramsey County requesting a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the thing.  Add in just a few of the operating acronyms – EIS, PUC, EPA, FOH – and it gets very complicated for the un-baptized.   But on the current edition of Democratic Visions, Kathryn Hoffman, Tim O’Brien and the Dem Vis graphics/editor guy admirably service we non-wonks. The O’Brien and Hoffman discussion is followed by a satirical, animated short film crafted by Vancouver-based editorial cartoonist Dan Murphy.  Murphy’s targets are Canada’s oil executives, pipeline politicians and its image, now dripping with tar-sand oil. As grandson and grandmother characters, Brandon Boat and Maggie Sotos from The Theater of Public Policy (T2P2) weigh in on the generation gap among Minnesota Democrats in an improvised sketch and humorist/provocateur Mike Gelfand speaks of the distracted drivers in his St. Louis Park neighborhood. Democratic Visions is an independently produced public access television monthly that can be viewed on flat screen sets in the following cities – SW ‘burbs — Channel 15 in Eden Prairie, Richfield, Minnetonka, Edina and Hopkins – Sundays 9 p.m., Mondays 10 p.m., Wednesdays 5:30 p.m., Saturdays 2 p.m. Bloomington – BCAT Channel 16 – Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m.; Fridays at 9:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. & 2:30 p.m.Minneapolis – MTN Channel 16 – Sundays at 8:30 p.m., Mondays 3:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m.  Program is streamed at the MTN website during cablecasts. Continue Reading

Democratic Visions: Senator John Hoffman on Minnesota

The year end edition of Democratic Visions had its cableTV premier in the southwest suburbs the same Sunday evening as Barbara Walters’ annual, celebrity-pandering special that spotlighted her personal selections of the year’s most “fascinating” people. The discussion between Minnesota State Senator John Hoffman (DFL, Champlin) and Democratic Visions host Tim O’Brien, was, according to my wife, the most interesting gab on TV that night. Indeed, the former Anoka-Hennepin School District Board member, first term Minnesota State Senator and suburban dad was more engaging than such Baba Wawa fascinating picks as Taylor Swift, Chelsea Handler, Oprah Winfrey, Scarlett Johansson, George R.R. Martin and David Koch. Yes THE David Koch of coal and ALEC fame.This is a Community Voices submission and is moderated but not edited. The opinions expressed by Community Voices contributors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the TC Daily Planet.The new edition of Democratic Visions also concerns itself with California’s upcoming ban on plastic bags and my reluctance to hang around DFL politicians and worker bees who seem in constant need of giving and receiving hugs and back pats. Continue Reading

Democratic Visions: The Theater of Public Policy exposed

The Theater of Public Policy (T2P2) will command just two more Monday evenings at the Bryant Lake Bowl Theater as it wraps its October/November run. The improv comedy company has fashioned shows that blend elements of the Charlie Rose, Match Game and Whose Line Is It? television shows into an informative, literally live, laugh fest.

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