Weekend Update | Shirley Sherrod / Americans with Disabilities / Sheriff Bob / Seward’s Oak / more


Keep checking back – updated throughout the weekend!

The right-wing attack on Shirley Sherrod succeeded in introducing a heroic figure to the mainstream media, after they – and the Obama administration and the NAACP – recovered from their initial knee-jerk defensive response. Time Magazine published an article introducing the real Shirley Sherrod and her long-time struggle for justice within the USDA: 

It was 1985, 20 years after her father was murdered by a white man who was never prosecuted, and the nearly 6,000-acre collective farm she had helped form in the early 1970s to create a sort of African-American utopia in the midst of Georgia’s white farming community was going under.

It’s a struggle she shared with her husband, SNCC leader, Freedom Rider and life-long civil rights activist Reverend Charles Sherrod. PBS includes a profile in their “This Far By Faith” documentary:

Charles Sherrod was born in Petersburg, Virginia in 1937 and raised by his grandmother, a devout Baptist. Sherrod grew up singing in the choir, attending Sunday school and even preaching to other children at Mount Olivet Baptist Church. He first became aware of racism at age two, when his mother yanked him out of a front seat and pulled him to the back of a bus. He took his first step toward activism in 1954, just after the Supreme Court decision to desegregate public schools. A friend asked him if he wanted to desegregate the white churches, and so the two “sat-in” at white services in Petersburg, long before the sit-in movement began….

Today Maureen Dowd pointed out the problems with an administration (and NAACP leadership) that chose to believe a right-wing attack rather than taking a few minutes to check the facts:

The West Wing white guys who pushed to ditch Shirley Sherrod before Glenn Beck could pounce not only didn’t bother to Google, they weren’t familiar enough with civil rights history to recognize the name Sherrod. And they didn’t return the calls and e-mail of prominent blacks who tried to alert them that something was wrong.

I hope Sherrod agrees to go back to work in Washington. We need her there. And if not in the USDA, then maybe, as Maureen Dowd suggests, in the White House.


20th anniversary for Americans with Disabilities Act – and Wilder Foundation’s Compass program has a web page detailing demographic info on Minnesotans with disabilities – 9.5 percent of all Minnesotans have one or more disabilities, with the highest number in the oldest age groups. According to the press release from ARC of Minnesota:

Despite progress, more work needs to be done. Only 47 percent of Minnesotans with disabilities are employed, according to the statistics from the Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center’s Great Lakes ADA Center (Feb. 2010).   Four thousand Minnesotans with disabilities still wait for services that will help them live more independently and support families who are raising their children with disabilities at home, according to the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

The Justice Department announced that it will publish four new proposals on the accesibility of websites, movies, equipment and furniture, and 911 centers.


More campaign news comes from David Brauer, who reports that 

KSTP-TV and WCCO-TV will not report how much third-party groups such as Alliance for a Better Minnesota and MnForward spend buying ads on each station.

Stations used to report the information because they are required to do so in federal campaigns. Once they discovered that there is no state requirement, these two stopped reporting, effectively concealing the information from the public. Let’s hear the press cheer for openness and disclosure – for everyone else.


In St. Paul, Sheriff Bob Fletcher’s campaign is accused of breaking the law about campaign signs, reports the Pioneer Press, which “verified 10 homes on St. Paul’s vacant-building list have — or recently had — Fletcher campaign signs on the property.”  E-Democracy has an extensive discussion of the illegality of political lawn signs on public property, on vacant houses, on corporate property, etc. Minnesota Progressive Project was, as far as I can tell, the first to blow the whistle on Fletcher.

July 23-25, 2010 • I’m trying something new, with updates on some stories, links to others, and some commentary … a combination of the NEWS DAY blog and From the Editor’s Desk.


Seward’s Ancient Oak: Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Commissioner Scott Vreeland writes on E-Democracy that there will be a gathering of arborists, Park Board foresters, and folks with ideas about what could and should happen to the remnants of the oldest oak in Minneapolis at Riverside Park on Tuesday July 27 at 2:30, Franklin Terrace north of Franklin  Avenue.

“There have been many suggestions about what to do with the wood that can be  salvaged and how much of the tree or trunk could remain. If you can’t  attend  please send me your ideas. We have been talking to Wood in the Hood, sculptors,  oak experts, historians and residents about the next steps of the  tree and replanting.” Contact Scott Vreeland at (612) 721-7892

For background on the Seward Oak Tree, see Losing a great oak in Minneapolis and Minneapolis celebrates oldest oak tree.


The Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder reported on minority business owners’ plans to host a forum for gubernatorial candidates (MN minority business owners seek governor who understands their struggles), and on some of their criticisms of the candidates and MN government. Now they’ve decided to delay the forum until after the primary: 

MBCC President Lea Hargett and Steve Venable, president of the MMSDC want to let you know that MBCC and MMSDC has decided to postpone the GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE BUSINESS FORUM to a date after the primary in order to offer more value to our constituents and community members. The date and venue are to be announced. We both thank you for your understanding.


David Brauer reports on how KSTP-TV and KARE11 newsrooms were fooled by a con man with an “irresistible” story. The con man used a phony name and a phony story of selling an oil well cap to BP and of Washington connections. Of course, the newsrooms’ failure to do the requisite fact-checking may be the real story.

Radford says the station “probably didn’t” Google Mastin, as Fleming did. (O’Connell deferred comment to his boss.) Doing background checks on every source isn’t practical, she notes — but the station may institute a policy of doing so on all-too-alluring subjects like Mastin who “come out of the blue.”

Brauer’s description of what happened and the timeline of the “life cycle of a myth” make a great cautionary tale.