RNC anniversary haunts DFL guv-candidate forum


Gov. Pawlenty isn’t the only one feeling a chill at the one-year anniversary of events around the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul. The RNC cast a few odd shadows at a forum for candidates seeking to replace Pawlenty in Minneapolis this morning.

First there was the little clutch of protesters huddling in the rain under an awning outside Mercado Central, where Minneapolis City Council Member Gary Schiff (Ward 9) hosted seven DFL candidates or could-be candidates at his regular “Breakfast with Gary” meeting.

A big banner reading “Dissent is not a crime/RNC8″ was hoisted merely on word that Ramsey County Attorney (and DFL gubernatorial candidate) Susan Gaertner had been invited to the event. (Protesters angered by her prosecution of RNC protesters have dogged her at public appearances as far away as Chicago.)

She didn’t show, but they stayed anyway. Were they transferring their protest to St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman? Not really, said one, even though he’s not their “best bud.”

As the event wound down, Schiff read the last submitted question and called for final statements from Coleman and the others gubernatorial aspirants: Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton, state Sen. John Marty, state House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, state Sen. Tom Bakk, and former state Rep. Matt Entenza.

That brought howls of protest from Ward 12 Minneapolis City Council candidate Charley Underwood and Michelle Gross, a founder of Communities United Against Police Brutality, that no questions about law enforcement had been allowed. “Please respect the process,” Schiff repeated into the microphone.

Last, in his closing remarks, Coleman compared himself favorably with the previous administration in St. Paul with words that seemed to conjure up (unintentionally) images of the days during the RNC when much of Coleman’s city was fenced off to his own constituents:

My predecessor put tens of thousands of dollars of security equipment to lock the community out of his office.





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