McCollum, Ellison cosponsor resolution calling for end to conversion therapy

Reps. Betty McCollum and Keith Ellison are cosponsors of a resolution in the U.S. House that calls on states to ban conversion therapy for minors. The Stop Harming Our Kids Resolution was introduced by Rep. Jackie Speier, a Democrat from California. McCollum and Ellison are among 34 co-sponsors of the resolution.The SHOK resolution states, in part:It is the sense of Congress that sexual orientation and gender identity or expression change efforts directed at minors are discredited and ineffective, have no legitimate therapeutic purpose, and are dangerous and harmful.Congress encourages each State to take steps to protect minors from efforts that promote or promise to change sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, based on the premise that homosexuality is a mental illness or developmental disorder that can or should be cured.“It’s time to end this abusive quackery masquerading as medicine,” Speier said in statement. “Being transgender, gay, lesbian, or bisexual is not a disease to be cured or a mental illness that requires treatment. Continue Reading

Remittances are lifelines between many immigrants and family members’ survival in Somalia and other East African countries

A remittance is an electronic wire transfer of funds from one country to another. For decades, many immigrant residents of the United States kept family members alive through this way of getting money across borders. Fears that terror groups like ISIS or Al-Shabaab would find ways to divert remittances to a terrorist effort prompted the United States to close down all of the channels for funds, not just from here to Somali or Ethiopia, but also to England, Denmark, Sweden and other countries where East Africans’ relatives might be living. Following earlier efforts by Rep. Keith Ellison and other congressional leaders, channels were reestablished, but on February 6th, the only remaining US channel, the Merchant Bank of California closed its money services business clients’ accounts.A rally in late February by Somali/East African leaders, joined by local and statewide officials began exploring additional steps to be taken by Minnesota’s Congressional delegation to again reopen these channels. Ventura Village’s Sadik Warfa, who is also Deputy Director of the Global Somali Diaspora, located in the neighborhood, stated, “ Although it’s a federal issue and must be solved by federal action, we are going to do our part to meet and develop a united front and explore the next steps to be taken to resolve this crisis. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | North Minneapolis Transit Forum: SWLRT

A little after 4 pm on Wednesday April 9, the Met Council will consider a slightly revised recommendation for the scope and budget of the Southwest Light Rail Project.  When completed, the new light rail line will become the westerly length of what the Met Council has branded “The Green Line.” It will link St. Paul’s Union Station to Minneapolis, St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Minnetonka and Eden Prairie – and the hundreds of businesses and scores of communities along the line.Over the past year, major regional media has obsessed on controversies prompted by recommendations by planning engineers and SWLRT project committees of citizens, businesses and municipal, county and state officials, to route light rail along an active freight line through the so called “Kenilworth Corridor.”   Hundreds of recreational and commuter bicyclers travel through corridor between Kenwood and Cedar Lake neighborhoods every day.Teams of planners, consultants and citizens have addressed the challenges of co-locating freight, light rail and bike trails though what folks have come to think of as a recreational area.  The prospect of moving the freight trains to St, Louis Park or Chaska has now been rejected as unfeasible several times.  Former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Ryback and frosh Mayor Betsy Hodges (in a SWLRT Project committee) have consistently argued against Kenilworth co-location plans called for running LRT through tunnels hidden by the bike trail and vegetation.With pinched sound bites and careless headlines, bolstered by hundreds of reader comments (caustic spitballs for the most part) in the Strib’s coverage, the Kenilworth controversy trumped all other aspects of the $1.6 billion project.  Light rail, if one only browsed Minnpost, the StarTribune and TV news one of the following:1. Continue Reading

FREE SPEECH ZONE | Keith Ellison- The Debate That Never Was

Last night at the Urban League in north Minneapolis a funny thing happened.First, apparently there was a SoapBox session. It was rumored that Mr Ellison was going to appear. The Urban League is where our Congressman has his office.Apparently other candidates for Congress were contacted, includingMs. Torgeson Independent, Mr Thomas Shrunk IP and Mr Damos R.We were not contacted although as I hear, it was advertised that I would be there.Free Speech ZoneThe Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. This is an open forum for articles that otherwise might not find a place for publication, including news articles, opinion columns, announcements and even a few press releases.I found out about it 3 hours before it started. I was literally sitting at home in my underwear and on the computer. Continue Reading

Ellison’s GOP challenger: “End of Times” coming

In Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District, Republicans this weekend chose a Pentecostal minister who has claimed in his sermons that the Biblical End of Times is coming soon, to run against U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn. The statement is made in audio of one of Joel Demos’s sermons at the Christian Liife Center, entitled “The Best Defense is a Good Offense.” It and three more of his sermons are available here. In a sermon delivered in late 2008, Demos praises former President George W. Bush and says his “overwhelming legacy” will be “that we have not had an attack on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001.” Continue Reading

Is this pork?

There’s $45 million for the Central Corridor light rail project. And $300,000 for juvenile crime prevention on the north side of Minneapolis. And $200,000 for afterschool programs for Somali youth in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood.They are among the $300 million in congressional earmarks being sought by Minnesota’s Democratic members of Congress in the House of Representatives.No House Republicans have put in for earmarks this year, calling them pork and wasteful spending. So if you’re in one of their districts, you won’t be getting your federal tax dollars back, unless a Democratic U.S. Senator helps you out.Since the Minnesota legislature is taking a little down time, I thought it was a good time to show you how to see the earmark requests made on Minnesota’s behalf this year. As U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., says in her earmark page, these requests were all submitted at the request of Minnesota constituents.On Congressman Keith Ellison’s earmarks page, each request includes an explanation for the item entitled “Legitimate use of taxpayer funds.”Congresswoman Betty McCollum’s earmarks page is organized by Congressional subcommittee.Some of the requests would bring federal tax dollars back to the members’ districts. Continue Reading

Minneapolis Congressional hearings focus on foreclosure and housing crisis

Congressmember Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chair of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity joined Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Betty McCollum (D-MN) for a congressional hearing examining the foreclosure and affordable housing crisis in the Twin Cities on January 23 at Central Library in Minneapolis. They heard from two panels, which included leaders from Minneapolis, advocates, and people with firsthand experience of the crisis.The first panel comprised local government officials such as State Senator Linda Higgins, State Representative Jim Davnie, Hennepin County Commissioner Gail Dorfman, Minnesota State Housing Agency Commissioner Dan Barholomay, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Deputy Assistant Secretary Erika Poethig, and Minneapolis’s Director of Housing Policy and Development Tom Streitz.Members of the first panel agreed that there would be no end to the foreclosure crisis and housing crisis any time soon, but said that Minnesota had strong collaborations in place to deal with the problems at hand. “We may not have led the nation in suffering from the foreclosure crisis,” said Jim Davnie, “but Minnesota has led in response to it by working collaboratively.”Competition from private investors was a major concern for a number of the panelists. Gail Dorfman said that particularly in suburban areas, where foreclosures increasingly occur, private investors and speculators continually snatch up propertiesbefore potential homeowners seeking to use NSP funds can buy, because of the delays that occur with NSP requirements, such as environmental assessments. Dorfman said she was worried about meeting the September 30 deadline for spending the NSP funds.Tom Streitz said that NSP funding requires properties be sold at a discount, so private investors can offer more money for the properties. “Speculators and investors have an edge up,” he said.In response, Keith Ellison said that “we are defeating our own purpose,” if all the requirements mean that potential homeowners are losing out on buying homes.In the second panel, housing advocates gave witness to the ways they have been using NSP funds thus far, and what more needs to be done.  Two victims of the foreclosure and affordable housing crisis spoke from their personal experience.Chip Halbach, from the Minnesota Housing Partnership, said that while NSP is a good program, it does little to help those on the lowest rung of the economic scale.”We need more affordable housing,” for those living in poverty and for those who are homeless, Halbach said.Michael Dahl, from HOMELine, thanked Keith Ellison for passing tenants rights legislation, but said that it should be permanent. Continue Reading