COMMUNITY VOICES | You really don’t want to meet the Dicks at Dick’s Resort in the Mall of America

I’m not one to cry. Truth is, I rarely cry, but during a visit to Dick’s Resort in the Mall of America I was literally reduced to tears! The bartender was abusive, abrasive, and mean as HELL. I wasn’t sure why he was in a bad mood, but later found out that it is their “niche” to be mean as spitfire. Were they really trained to treat people like this, to the point of harassment? Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | The Big E sizes up MN GOP candidates

The Big E, confessing to Minnesita Progressive Project (MPP) readers and contributers, recently wrote that his heart no longer pines to hose down right wing sparkle ponies like Michele Bachmann or even review books by the likes of a Keith Ellison.  The Big E (known to his Minneapolis neighbors as Eric Pusey), is the founding scold of the MPP lefty sentry post and appears on the current edition of Democratic Visions as he retires from political blogging. After a moment of posing as a weary blogosphere elder  (as if blogging was old enough to earn elders), the smart, liberal confederate, prompted by an actual DFL elder,  Tim O’Brien, shines with bemused and bewildered takes on the current state of the Minnesota Republican Party and its clownish, hopeful State and Congressional candidates.   Mr. Pusey, who has splashed gleefully in the rushing stream of blogs, Tweets, Facebook twerking and probably Skype, does quite well in the “legacy” medium of television where I operate.  Fox Nine News knew that and for a while put him on from time-to-time.  But the Fox 9 News producers didn’t have the cojones to make him a regular pundit.   Too bad.  Mr. Pusey has good chemistry. This ten-minute Eric and Tim segment is yours to consider.  Its “tagged” (the TV producer’s sense of the word) with an homage to the late, great, populist troubadour Pete Seeger and Twin Cities activism thanks to the air guitar wonders -The Junk Yard Democrats, a peoples’ anthem, and creative editing.  Enjoy!  Enjoy!  Democratic Visions February Segments Ex-blogger Eric Pusey and Tim O’Brien on senate and gubernatorial hopefuls.Jon Spayde as a clinically depressed motivational speaker with advice for Republican hopefuls.I report on the DFL 48 Precinct Caucuses and present an award winning short film making change. Democratic Visions is handcrafted by Eden Prairie, Edina and Minnetonka volunteer Democrats at the Bloomington Community Access Television studio by arrangement with the Southwest Suburban Cable Commission. Democratic Visions Cable ScheduleMinneapolis – MTN Channel 16 – Sundays at 8:30 p.m.; Mondays 3:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. Hopkins, Minnetonka, Edina, Richfield and Eden Prairie – Comcast Channel 15 – Sundays at 9 p.m., Mondays at 10:00 p.m. and Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. Bloomington – BCAT Cable 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. The entire Feburary program and 183 archived Dem Vis segments can be seen on the Democratic Visions Channel on YouTube. Democratic Visions has become the  liveliest political issues show in Minnesota.   I know.  I produce the darned thing.   Continue Reading

Northeast Minneapolis parents offer praise and questions for MPS Five-Year Enrollment Plan

The proposal to add more Early Childhood education programming to Minneapolis Public Schools sites was a hit with many parents at the October 14 Northeast Minneapolis forum on the Minneapolis Public Schools new Five-Year Enrollment Plan.Parents and community members filled the Northeast Middle School Media Center to listen to Area A Superintendent Michael Thomas explain, using a PowerPoint presentation, the district’s new five-year plan and how it would impact their neighborhoods. Following Thomas’ presentation, people split into groups consisting of one district employee and five or more attendees.Anchoring one of these small groups was North High School Senior Academy principal David Branch. Branch expressed support for the proposed new early childhood centers, one of which would be located at North High School. Bringing young children into the building would be a good fit for North, Branch said, and would give older high school students a chance to gain valuable skills, and offer their services, by reading with the younger children.The district’s efforts to bring more focus to young children brought both hope and concern for downtown Minneapolis resident Denise Holt. Holt, who does not yet have children, was at the meeting as an advocate for the growing neighborhoods of downtown Minneapolis.   Letter from Downtown School Initiative to school boardDear Minneapolis Public Schools -We are aware of the Minneapolis Public School’s Five-Year Enrollment Plan and the accompanying attendance boundaries proposals for the downtown Minneapolis area. In order to maintain neighborhood cohesion and continue to build a community in this relatively new residential area, we strongly urge the Minneapolis Public Schools to consider downtown – North Loop, Downtown East, Downtown West, Elliot Park, and Loring Park – as one community when drawing attendance boundaries. Families choosing to raise their children in downtown Minneapolis share the same culture and values; they support building a dense, vibrant and walkable community. Continue Reading

Bicyclists, walkers celebrate at Minneapolis Bike Walk to Work Day

Commuters who bike and walk, and other people interested in biking and walking, stopped by the Minneapolis Bike Walk to Work Day celebration at the Hennepin County Government Center plaza Thursday morning. There were speeches, demonstrations, things to eat and coffee to drink, and information at tables around the fountain.The event was sponsored by Hennepin County, the city of Minneapolis, the Current, One on One Bicycle Studio, and Commuter Connection. Continue Reading

Speculation runs wild in Franklin shooting case — Without an ‘official’ report, family and friends remain skeptical, plan May 31 protest

Terrance Franklin, the 22-year-old who on May 10 was shot and killed in the basement of a South Minneapolis home by police after a pursuit, appeared to have been shot five times in the back of the head and twice in the back according to a knowledgeable source who saw Franklin’s body; the source requests that his/her name be withheld.

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65,000 hours to help adults learn to read: Minnesota Literacy Council celebrates volunteers and learners

There were a lot of people in attendance at the Loft Literary Center on May 22; and as formal as it appeared, it was clear that the majority of the attendees had all known each other for quite some time. Learning and teaching together is a great way to build a healthy and diverse community and I couldn’t help but feel like I was on the outside looking in as volunteers and students from the Minnesota Literacy Council (MLC) gathered to celebrate the release of a new edition of Journeys, the organization’s annual compilation of writing by adult English learners.At 6:00 p.m. the ceremony began, honoring those who received the Thomas M. Kraemer Memorial Education Grant. It was the first year that the grant had been presented at the Journeys event. The grant’s purpose is to assist the recipient in continuing education beyond the MLC program. There was some hint that the grant doesn’t always have to proper funding to be awarded every year and is not awarded to many, but the passion and dedication present throughout the evening are proof that the students receive the tools they need to be lifelong learners. There was certainly no shortage of passion and dedication for the Minnesota Literacy Council’s cause as the organization recognized over 20 volunteers for their service time. Continue Reading

Minneapolis date nights at Mona Restaurant and the Grand Cafe

Thursday is Valentine’s Day, but my sweetie was feeling surprisingly unromantic about the prospect. “I’m not really in the mood for going someplace for an over-priced special menu dinner just because it’s Valentine’s Day so you have to go out and celebrate,” she said. Or words to that effect.I hope she feels the same way about over-priced flowers. We’ll see.At any rate, we’ll probably spend Thursday evening at home, nibbling on assorted aphrodisiacs. So instead, we’re planning on celebrating early—on Tuesday night, when the Grand Cafe has its Date Night Tasting Menu. Unfortunately, that’s right after this week’s deadline, so the original published version of this review will be a little sparse on details (check back for an update).At any rate, we’re longtime fans of the Grand Cafe and its owners, Mary and Dan Hunter, and the Date Night menu sounds great: three courses with wine for $50 for two. Continue Reading

New approach to health care uses holistic model, focusing on wellness and prevention

NorthPoint Health and Wellness, Hennepin County Human Services and Public Health, Hennepin County Medical Center and Metropolitan Health Plan are partners in Hennepin Health, a local accountable care organization (ACO) pilot program that began last January. ACOs are alternate healthcare models, where groups of partners such as hospitals, clinics and physicians voluntary join together to serve a specific population. Its ultimate goal is to improve health care and reduce costs.The Hennepin Health model serves low-income single adults ages 21-64 without dependents living with them, with incomes at or below 75 percent of poverty. It started with 4,884 enrollees: Nearly 70 percent are people of color, and 60 percent either have some level of chemical dependency, mental health needs, chronic pain or unstable housing.Minnesota Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson told the MSR during a healthcare forum in St. Paul in December that ACOs are “a shared-saving clause [of the Affordable Care Act], and basically an incentive to providers to do better and do it more efficiently…a new way that the federal government can work directly with…a group of providers.”NorthPoint CEO Stella Whitney-West in an interview with the MSR last week said that to effectively serve the target population it must be done comprehensively. Continue Reading

Area homeless shelters swamped and worry about what’s ahead

More homeless people — particularly families — are knocking on the doors of emergency shelters in Minneapolis and elsewhere this fall than last.A continuing shortage of affordable housing tied to mortgage foreclosures and the North Minneapolis tornado is squeezing low-income persons onto the streets and into shelters, advocates for the homeless say. The Minneapolis vacancy rate for low-income housing is around 1 percent and the Hennepin County rate only somewhat better.Joblessness, a fallout of the Great Recession, remains a problem. And families and individuals who have spent down savings and other assets and have worn out couch-hopping welcomes with relatives and friends have no where left to turn but to shelters.Community Sketchbook focuses on the economic and social challenges facing communities, especially low-income communities and communities of color, and how people are trying to address them.It is made possible by support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Minneapolis Foundation, and some Minneapolis Foundation donor advisors.Community Sketchbook articles may be republished or distributed, in print or online, with credit to MinnPost and the foundations.On Monday night alone, for example, more than 1,600 men, women and children were housed in shelters run by the six organizations that contract with Hennepin County to provide for the homeless.“We’re pretty close to crisis mode right now, and I’m not a person who tends to hyperbole,’’ says Daniel Gumnit, executive director at People Serving People, a family shelter in the shadow of the Metrodome.“Last year we had an average of 350 a night. [Recently] we had a record-breaking 416. You literally now see a sea of toddlers. Continue Reading

TUESDAY PICK | Jonathan Kimple gives voice to the Minneapolis Pops

I’m going to shoot straight with you: I never thought of myself as a pops kind of guy. Sitting on a lawn listening to hoary old classical warhorses? Thanks, but no thanks. Then, a couple of weekends ago, I happened to be biking past the Lake Harriet Bandshell during a pops performance, and I was pleasantly surprised with what a large and diverse crowd were out enjoying the music despite the intense heat. Families were grilling, kids were dancing, skaters were passing through…it was the picture postcard of a Minnesota summer evening. You can step into that postcard on July 24 at Elliot Park, when baritone Jonathan Kimple joins the Minnesota Pops in performances of music by Copland, Mozart, Tchakovsky, and (you’ve been warned) Wagner.

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