Support the Minneapolis Clean Energy Partnership on December 10th

Update: The Minneapolis City Council voted 13-0 on December 10th to restore the full $150,000 for the Clean Energy Partnership into the final 2015 budget.  The City of Minneapolis adopted Goals and Strategic Directions back in March which reads “We sustain resources for future generations by reducing consumption, minimizing waste and using less energy.”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.Restoring the full funding for the Clean Energy City-Utility Partnership in the city budget this Wednesday will be a great step toward that strategic direction goal. City Council took an unexpected 7-6 vote on December 1st to cut the Clean Energy City-Utility Partnership budget in half from $150,000 to $75,000, before its board meets for the first time early next year.  Already, hundreds of community members have voiced their support for the Partnership, and called on the Council to restore this cut because they realize the following:Minneapolis residents and businesses spend $450 million annually on electricity and gas, and national research shows that at least 30% of our energy use is preventable waste. This Clean Energy Partnership is a long-term effort to move tens of millions of energy dollars annually back into the pockets of Minneapolis families and businesses, while creating local jobs with a special focus on neighborhoods suffering the worst effects of energy poverty. This Partnership has the potential to transform energy management for Minneapolis energy consumers enough to meet very aggressive greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets and produce very significant savings to Minneapolis residents and businesses.  These benefits could amount to tens of millions of dollars per year. We don’t want to nickel and dime this work.  Important Opportunity! Take Action!We have a chance to restore funding for this crucial investment in long-term energy prosperity for the city’s residents and businesses! Continue Reading

Lee Samelson: Will Republicans get away with their economic sabotage?

Since Barack Obama took office, Senate Republicans have used over 440 filibusters to block or kill even some of the most routine legislation. Come on Mainstream media, call it what it is: Republican economic sabotage and obstruction!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.An example was in January, when they filibustered an extension of unemployment benefits which John Boehner refused to let the House of Representatives even take a vote on.Of course it is far more ideal for people to be successfully employed in work rather than living off of unemployment insurance or off of “government welfare”. However the Republicans routinely vote against jobs bills and infrastructure projects that would actually enable those jobs to become available. The Restore the American Dream for the 99% Act would have boosted employment by almost 2.3 million jobs in 2012 and almost 3.1 million jobs in 2013 if Republicans in Congress had not blocked it! Continue Reading

Performance artist Peterson Toscano on LGBTQ and climate justice intersectionality October 29th

While at the People’s Climate March in New York City on September 21st I had the pleasure of personally meeting performance artist Peterson Toscano, and hearing about his “The Queer Response to Climate Change” creation. He will be using storytelling, humor and skilled facilitation to perform “Climate Change: What’s faith got to do with it?” October 29th at 7 PM at All God’s Children MC Church 3100 Park Ave S as well as “Transfigurations–Transgressing Gender in the Bible” 30 October 2014 7:00 pm at Richfield United Methodist Church 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.As someone who has done spoken word comedy performances about global warming myself, I can attest that it is exciting and uplifting to bring together the diverse interests of faith community building, LGBTQ liberation and climate justice. Peterson recently wrote that he addressed these three important issues “always with the goal to hold out hope and to encourage us to dream and scheme about how we can envision and achieve a future world that is more just, clean, and stable for all.“ Peterson’s optimistic vision can only be held up by taking robust, coordinated action to address the climate crisis which I “voted” for by putting my body in the street for the People’s Climate March. While each climate march up to this point has been sponsored by a much small handful of organizations, this climate march was unprecedented as a diversity of over a hundred groups and organizations took part. A whole new meaning opened up for me when I saw a website about one of the groups in the march called “Queers for the Climate”. Continue Reading

The Trans Fat-cific Partnership – Clogging the artery of local democracy and sustainability

The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is referred to as a “trade agreement” between the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations but it is a Trojan horse for granting even more privileges and undeserved rights for multinational elite mega-firms. To state it bluntly, the TPP basically lets a cabal of foolish lawyers interfere with saving the planet. If the TPP is approved in its current form, it will basically pull the rug out from any efforts to cultivate sustainable local economies and food systems. That is why The Land Stewardship project is one of many groups who has been mobilizing to stop it from being approved by the US Congress. Similar to Trans Fats, the TPP is an artificially concocted health hazard that needs to be labeled, publically denounced, avoided, boycotted and then banned.On Thursday April 16th, 2015 leaders in the U.S. House and Senate leaders announced that they have reached a deal on legislation aimed at ramming the Trans Pacific Partnership through Congress. They intoduced a bill usually known as Fast Track but formally titled “The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015, TPA-2015”. It will come to a vote in coming weeks and must be stopped at all costs. Elite corporate interests are pushing hard for this fast track bill in order to limit the opportunity that public opposition has to stop overall approval of the TPP.  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.SUING FOR PROFITS THAT THEY WOULD HAVE MADEThere is a most particularly problematic part of the TPP is a type of arbitration called the “investor state dispute settlement”. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | Citizens chained and united – Let’s pass HF 276 the “We the People” Act

The “We the People” Act HF 276/ SF 17 has passed Minnesota’s Civil Law Committee and needs everyone’s help as it faces an imminent make or break close vote in the full State House. It succinctly requests a U.S. Constitutional Amendment to overthrow the Supreme Court’s rulings in favor of both Citizens United and Shaun McCutcheon. Thanks to a citizen’s organization called Move to Amend, 500 cities/ towns plus 16 States have voted in support, and with HR 276 Minnesota could be the next. Minnesota Move to Amend will be having a rally at the state capitol 2PM on Wednesday, April 30 joined by Common Cause, Friends of the Earth and League of Women Voters though the critical vote may happen earlier.Rarely in human history has there ever been an arrangement where so few people could single-handedly inflict so much damage to so many as just 5 Supreme Court justices just did.  (Click here to read my addendum on The Supreme Court’s 5-4 rulings) Farewell to fair play.In the McCutcheon ruling announced April 2nd, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the $123,200 aggregate limit for how much money any individual donor could give to candidates, parties or PAC’s in a two-year election cycle was unconstitutional under the First Amendment even though money is mentioned nowhere in the first amendment. (Click here to read my addendum on McCutcheon Tarnishing the Name of Free Speech)Here is a parable to explain illegitimate court-fabricated doctrines that these 5 out-of-touch justices they have imposed upon our nation:1: Declaring corporations to be “legal persons” under the 14th Amendment thereby having first Amendment free speech rights is like chaining natural persons to the wall behind the elephant in the room. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | Legislation to empower all four Minneapolis Energy Pathways gets March 17th committee hearing

Three state legislative bills that would greatly help implementation of the Minneapolis Energy Pathways Study recommendations are set to have a March 17th hearing in the Energy Policy Committee. The Monday hearing will begin at 12:00 PM in Room 10 of the State Office Building across the street from the capitol. Community members are encouraged to attend the hearing both to provide a positive visual presence of support for the legislators and because Committee Chair Representative Melissa Hortman might ask for public testimony about the proposed legislation. Any of these three pro-local control bills has to win the vote of the committee in order to have a chance at becoming law this year. To help Energy Pathway #1 (Enhanced Franchise Agreement) H.F. 1450/ S.F. 1490 would open up franchise agreements to be inclusive of a city’s energy efficiency, renewable energy, equity and local jobs goals rather than the scope be restricted to a narrow focus on public right of way and fees. MN state statute 216 B.36 currently imposes and limits on the scope of what can be included in a franchise agreement.To help Energy Pathway #2 (City-Utility Partnership) H.F. 1450/ S.F. 1490 would provide cities more explicit legal authority to create a formal collaborative structure with utilities, ratepayers and the community to meet mutual environmental and jobs goals. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | City of Minneapolis moves forward on goals advanced by Minneapolis Energy Options last year

        I had the pleasure of attending the February 24th meeting of the Health, Environment and Community Engagement Committee where the long-awaited Energy Pathways Study was introduced. Mike Bull of Center for Energy and Envrionment articulated to the Council Committee about the status quo where the city and energy utilities work very independently from each other aside from narrow-scoped sporadically forged franchise agreements:         “We realized early on that the status quo was not an option…that it would not allow the city to achieve its climate action plan or goals or its energy vision.” This was the basis for studying 4 different pathways which would give the city varying degrees of greater influence, responsibility and control:1: Enhanced (broader set of goals) Franchise agreements2: A City-Utility Partnership (with a coordinating entity to set and track mutual goals)3: Community Choice Aggregation (Minneapolis contracting directly for energy supply)4: Independently owned and operated Municipal Utility Overall, the Energy Pathways Study recommended a hybrid focus on pathways #1 and #2 in the short term but left the option open for the city to explore pathways #3 and #4 if that doesn’t result in effective action. City Council members on the HE & CE committee and were enthusiastic about this approach and were united on the need for a new relationship to our energy utility system. Both parties at the hearing widely credited Minneapolis Energy Options with bringing this issue forward:          Alondra Cano, Ward 9 council representative voiced in graditude “I did want to recognize folks in the room who are with Minneapolis Energy Options and all of the hard work, that the organizers and activists have done to help us to vision a new future …Without your hard work, your voice and your courage we would not have this amazing product here today.”            “The city has gained great momentum on energy issues. The advocates have done a tremendous job at driving a city wide conversation on energy options”affirmed Mike Bull as lead presenter of the Energy Pathways Study.Lisa Bender, Ward 10 council representative similarly expressed praise,        “I think this is a really innovative strategy and I wanted to thank you (chair Cam Gordon) and council member Glidden for your leadership last year in taking all of the great work that advocates did and turning it into something that is really forward looking and I think it’s exciting.”  From my observation of being present at the council hearing, the most praise and consensus among all parties seemed to be centered around pathway #2. Continue Reading

Ward 9 city council candidate forum: A summary

Ward 9 voters gathered at the Midtown Farmers Market on the morning of September 21 to hear the first Ward 9 city council candidate forum since the DFL ward convention. Here are each of the 5 candidates spoke to their strong points followed by the one or two word term they were asked by the moderator to distinguish themselves by.Ty Moore “Social justice” has spent his whole adult life winning victories in community struggles as an organizer such as saving homeowners from predatory bank foreclosures and saving North High School. He offered a consistent theme of people over profits vowing to stand up to the chamber of commerce, big developers and structurally embedded racism. While the candidates expressed unanimous opposition to the Vikings Stadium tax vote Ty answered that it is just the tip of the iceberg as far as widespread corporate welfare offenses within the city.Alondra Cano “Powerful feminism” has a community organizer background like Ty Moore. For the past 12 years Alondra organized for immigrant rights, education reform, and environmental justice from an equity analysis and being a voice for cultural inclusion. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | Ward 9 candidates offer their own unique angles on Minneapolis Energy Options with a consensus on accountability

In building upon Veronica Schwenn’s article on the September 21 ward 9 candidate forum, I would like to include what all of the candidates had to say in response to the question relating to Minneapolis Energy Options from the notes I took while attending. It was not a direct question on whether or not they supported municipalizing Minneapolis’s energy given that question is not going to be on the city ballot this year. The question referred to basically read “What would you do as a city council member to hold Xcel and Centerpoint accountable to the clean energy concessions they offered to the city as a result of the Minneapolis Energy Options campaign?”In response to the question on Saturday, there was a broad consensus around holding Xcel Energy accountable to the sustainability goals of the Minneapolis Energy Options campaign.For the most part, this echoed the ward 9 candidate forum on May 1st that was actually sponsored by Minneapolis Energy Options where all six candidates in attendance publicly endorsed the campaign. But what was interesting is that each candidate had their own unique angle to view the situation from.Pat Fleetham’s angle on the situation is that we need detailed explanations and transparency as to what exactly we as the city are holding Xcel and Centerpoint accountable to rather than it all happening behind closed doors. And it will be hard work for the city council and state legislature to try to get the vital information we need.Ty Moore lauded The Minneapolis Energy Options campaign for “doing an amazing job” making clean, reliable, affordable energy an issue in Minneapolis. Continue Reading