Minnesota Senate primaries Tuesday in Minneapolis, Brooklyn Park

The Minnesota Senate has lost the presence of two longstanding female DFLers, both of whom happen to be named Linda, and the race is on to find their replacement in Minneapolis and Brooklyn Park, with the primary election set for September 13 and the general election on October 18. Sen. Linda Scheid, DFL-Brooklyn Park, died this summer from ovarian cancer after serving 15 years in the Senate and 14 more in the House of Representatives. A primary will be needed for her Senate District 46 seat, which includes Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center, because two DFLers and two Republicans are seeking the nomination. Sen Linda Berglin, DFL-Minneapolis, is retiring from the Legislature after 38 years to take a health care reform policy manager job with Hennepin County. Six DFLers have lined up to succeed her in the left-leaning Senate District 61 district, which includes parts of the Kingfield, Lyndale, Whittier, Phillips and Stevens Square neighborhoods in Minneapolis. Continue Reading

Dayton in St. Cloud: “This close” but still worlds apart on special education, budget

ST. CLOUD — Like most of the  budget mess that has shut down state government, Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican lawmakers in charge of the Legislature are “this close” on K-12 educational funding, and yet worlds apart. (Video from The Uptake below.)That was the message Dayton reinforced Tuesday, July 12 with a stop at Apollo High School for a round table discussion with local St. Cloud school district officials, his first outside St. Paul since the shutdown began nearly two weeks ago.The discussion centered on special education funding, an area of disagreement between the DFL governor and Republicans that could significantly affect the St. Continue Reading

Republican redistricting plan pits 14 DFL legislators against each other

In 2012, Minnesotans will face an entirely new political map, based on the population shifts and demographic changes revealed by the 2010 Census. That map will define Minnesota’s communities, determine which groups vote together and which are separated by political boundaries, and influence which politicians can run for office in what districts for a decade to come. The first, tentative steps toward redrawing that map have only just begun in earnest with less than one month left to go in the Minnesota Legislature’s session, despite having to be fully in place by February 21 of next year. House Republicans on Tuesday introduced their proposed redistricting map for the state’s 134 House of Representatives districts and 67 Senate districts. On April 28, they pushed through HF 1547 on a party line vote of 70-62, a bill that sets the ground rules for redistricting the Legislature’s 134 House of Representatives seats, 67 Senate seats and eight U.S. Congressional seats. Continue Reading

DFL legislators attack proposed GOP cuts to children’s programs

Are Republicans in the Minnesota Legislature targeting minority and poor children disproportionately in their proposed budget cuts? That’s what Democrats whose constituents include those groups alleged Thursday at a press conference at the Capitol. “The proposed Republican cuts are a direct assault on Minnesota communities of color,” said Sen. Patricia Torres Ray, DFL-Minneapolis. “If Minnesota adopts these policies proposed by the Republican majority, children who are poor in Minnesota today will be at greater risk of poverty when they are adults.” DFL lawmakers highlighted cuts to specific programs that they said would negatively affect nonwhite and poor children included in the budget bills the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and Senate have passed thus far, including: ●      Elimination of nearly $100 million in school integration aid, of which 40 percent would be absorbed by Minneapolis, St. Continue Reading

Public employees, unions under attack in Minnesota

Is Gov. Mark Dayton the only difference between Minnesota and Wisconsin when it comes to anti-union bills becoming the law of the land? Coming weeks will tell the tale, but House and Senate Republicans are marching toward the passage of bills that would, if signed into law, make sweeping changes to the state’s balance of power between workers and employers and strip fundamental collective bargaining rights from state employees. As in Wisconsin, many of the bills target the state’s public employees, putting into effect mandates on pay, pensions, health insurance, strikes and other contract areas typically handled through the collective bargaining process. Republicans say they are necessary reforms to get state government refocused and living within its means in a time of massive budget shortfalls. “The overwhelming priority is to make sure we’re funding our priorities and not the bureaucracy, and make sure we’re serving people and not state government programs,” said Rep. Keith Downey, R-Edina, an author of many bills affecting state government employees. Continue Reading

Charters and small schools win big, as education bill slashes Minneapolis, St. Paul, students with disabilities, integration funding

Is it a bold, necessary reform or a dagger to the heart of urban public schools? Either way you look at it, there’s no doubt the Republican-sponsored state K-12 funding bills headed for votes this week in the Minnesota Legislature would toss out most of what public education leaders in Minneapolis and St. Paul have been working toward for several years. “We’re on the road to beating the odds in our public schools,” said Heidi Huelster, a member of the St. Paul Public Schools District Parent Advisory Council who testified against the House Republicans’ K-12 bill last week. Continue Reading

New districts, new candidates for Minneapolis school board

No matter what the result, Minneapolis’ Public Schools Board of Education will look quite different after next month’s election than it does now. 
That’s partly because three incumbent school board members — Tom Madden and Chris Stewart, plus appointee Peggy Flanagan, who is finishing the term of Pam Costain — are not seeking re-election. Because of the results of a voter referendum in 2008, the school board is gradually expanding from seven members to nine by 2012. And to change the longstanding belief that some Minneapolis neighborhoods are getting the short end of the stick, the new school board will have six geographically-based seats, based initially on the city’s park and recreation districts. This year, three geographically based school board seats are open and up for grabs. Seeking them are five candidates — Jenny Arneson and Mike Endrizzi for District 1; Hussein Samatar for District 3; and Alberto Monserrate and John Saulsberry for District 5. Continue Reading

Ramsey County Sheriff: Bob Fletcher vs. Matt Bostrom

The controversial head of law enforcement in Ramsey County for the last 16 years is facing another significant election challenge from a high-ranking officer in the St. Paul Police Department this year. 
Sheriff Bob Fletcher, who survived a 2006 challenge from former St. Paul Police Chief Bill Finney by just over 1,000 votes, is now hoping to prevail against St. Paul Assistant Police Chief Matt Bostrom. It’s been a tumultuous four years for Fletcher, including his pre-emptive raids on the homes of anti-war activists in the runup to the 2008 Republican National Convention and the subsequent fallout, the dissolution and FBI investigation of a Metro Gang Strike Force that Fletcher initiated and the conviction of two of Fletcher’s aides on corruption charges, for starters. Continue Reading