COMMUNITY VOICES | Minneapolis cab drivers perpetrate racism as Star Tribune reporters witness blatant bias

After graduating with honors from Grambling State University this past Spring, Brittany Bentley returned to Minnesota to participate in the Teach for America program. Out of ten choices, Minneapolis was her fifth.  We moved to Minneapolis when my daughter was eighteen months old, but she has always believed she’d feel more welcome in other parts of the world. My daughter has grown to accept her placement here after meeting some of the 5th graders she will be teaching in the fall. Her experience this past weekend brings some realities back to the forefront. The race relations issue in this state exists at every level of the spectrum. Here is an account of what she experienced this past weekend while trying to hail a cab in downtown Minneapolis. “Two Caucasian reporters from the Star tribune come up to me and ask how long I’ve been waiting for a cab. I tell them that I’ve been waiting for over an hour. Continue Reading

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

NEIGHBORHOOD NOTES | Savoren’s Auto Service in Webber-Camden thrives on word of mouth from satisfied neighbors

“I’d say 70 percent of our customers are repeats,” says James Savoren, the owner and operator of Savoren’s Auto Service in Minneapolis’s Webber-Camden neighborhood. These are clients he has carefully built up since he bought the garage in 1978. That loyal base is not silent, recommending Savoren’s to those seeking reliable auto service on the North Side. North Minneapolis is an area that many people associate with crime and poverty, but the impression that one gets from the neighborhood around Savoren’s is that it is quiet, clean, and orderly. When asked if the area has a lot of crime, Savoren’s answer was that he hasn’t had problems since the 1980s.James Savoren is personable, and will discuss your problems in a friendly manner. Continue Reading

An end to compostables odor?

Scrambling to beat the clock, officials at Organic Technologies Incorporated (OTI) say they’re close to having odors at their site at Dowling and Washington avenues North under control after two, going on three, frustrating and stinky seasons. Until recently, the company handled all of the City of Minneapolis’ compostables transfer after a second company went bankrupt “and left us holding the bag, literally,” said OTI’s president Greg Austin. Tons of bags.Non-compostable plastic bags and anything else that couldn’t be chipped was piling up. But several things have changed just recently. They now have an arrangement with Great River Energy in Elk River to take loads of this material to burn. Continue Reading

MN VOICES | Playing nice with DJ Shannon Blowtorch, an entertainer who’s making a difference

Shannon Blowtorch, one of the Twin Cities’ busiest DJs, knows the local queer nightlife scene like few others—which means that she knows a unified “queer scene” doesn’t exist. “The gay boys have their own thing going on. The lesbians don’t have their own bar, but there are different nights in the Twin Cities that work for them.” And then there are the indie queers, who prefer the likes of Le Tigre to Justin Bieber. There’s the Berlin dance night for them…and then there are dance nights Blowtorch helps run for queer women of color. “We see Somalis, Chinese, Indians…it’s pretty beautiful to see that happen in the Midwest.”Blowtorch has earned her savvy: she averages 15 to 20 DJ gigs a month, playing for everyone from the collegiate hipsters at Triple Double to the drag-and-burlesque crowd at Grown and Sexy Pride. Continue Reading


North Minneapolis has many fences. Four feet high chain link fences, ten feet high homemade wood fences, chest high white plastic picket fences. Fences staked in the 1920s, last fall, in the 70s. I notice them on my runs, which span from six to ten miles, total, every six days. Sometimes I run into neighboring northeast Minneapolis, and on occasion into suburban Robbinsdale. Continue Reading