Political Change in the City of Lakes
The first important chapter in the tale of the Minneapolis mayoral race will be written next Saturday (June 15). More than 1600 DFL delegates will choose, or decide not to choose, to endorse a party standard bearer. In what looks to be a crowded field which will gallop all the way to November, thanks to ranked choice voting, the DFL endorsement offers several important advantages. The obvious benefit is the unification of the network of DFL-endorsed candidates for City Council, Park Board and Board of Estimate and their respective campaigns. Without a candidate at the top of the ticket, the impact of their endorsement dwindles considerably. No doubt council candidates Hofstede, Lilligren and Tuthill are all hoping for a no-decision. The most practical advantage for mayoral candidates comes in the fundraising department. The universe of donors interested in the outcome of the mayor’s race is limited, and all of the campaigns are reporting that this universe is close to tapped out. If there is an endorsement the DFL will immediately become the most powerful force as far as third party expenditures go. The lucky endorsement winner can turn to donors already at the $500 maximum and steer more dollars to the race via the DFL.
These high stakes will fuel the high drama delegates and campaigns will endure at the gathering next week. “Conventional” wisdom is that three candidates—Mark Andrew, Betsy Hodges and Gary Schiff—could get endorsed. The other major players—Jackie Cherryhomes and Don Samuels—have enough support to move the no-endorsement needle. All campaigns are expected to direct their delegates toward no-endorsement should they fall into second place or beyond.
Another wild card at the convention will be those delegates who caucused supporting the ranked-choice voting (RCV movement). Apparently these do-gooders are bent on blocking any endorsements. They hope that no one candidate will have an advantage in the field and that their dream of a consensus will be selected by their byzantine voting method in November. We old political hands confess to being somewhat offended by this clique of elitists proselytizing Utopian government, sneaking into the party process, a process they openly decry. Endorsement or no, we would like to think the decision next week will be made by the rank-and-file who believe in strong political parties.
Welcome the Piazzas
While there is significant push in both public and private sectors for park-like green and open gathering spaces, the private sector is already providing infill with smaller, more programmed spaces highly conducive to the gathering we are all so desperate to achieve. One great example is a European-style “piazza on the Mall” that is coming to the Nicollet Mall between 12th and 13th Streets just south of the Westminster Presbyterian Church. Our friends at the Musicant Group have been retained by the owner of the space to transform the formerly-barren concrete plaza into a vibrant piazza through the addition of a warm and inviting patio deck, new tables and chairs, and a bocce ball court. We understand that the signature amenity—a ping-pong table built to withstand the elements—is already in place; paddles and balls are free to use. In addition to these new amenities, there will be programs and activities happening in that space throughout the Summer and into the Fall. For further information visit the piazza’s very own Facebook page, www.facebook.com/piazzaonthemall.
Reshaping Downtown East
The design for the new replacement to the Metrodome and the plaza-paloozas that surround it have got nearly everybody in Minneapolis talking about Downtown East. The Wells Fargo office tower complex complete with green space proposed by Ryan Companies has only heightened interest in this neglected section of Minneapolis. When you combine these two projects with the reality that all light rail lines built in the Twin Cities will converge at this point, one realizes that the course for the future of this part of Downtown Minneapolis will be set for the next 100 years. The citizenry is eager to engage in debates about how much green space is enough, how much plaza is enough, how much parking, how many streets should be closed, on and on. These are great discussions but they can only be useful if they are informed. One opportunity to learn about what is happening in Downtown East is being presented by the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association at a collaborate meeting on June 24 at 6:30 p.m. to be held at Open Book, 1011 Washington Avenue South. Michele Kelm-Helgen, chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, will give an update on the new Vikings stadium project, and Mike Ryan and Rick Collins will preview the Ryan Companies East Village redevelopment proposal as well. It is a great opportunity to learn more about the historic transformation of the Downtown East neighborhood. For further information: http://www.thedmna.org/joint-neighborhood-meeting-scheduled-for-june-24/
BULLETINS and BYTES…
- We think it is fitting the day after gay and lesbian couples are officially permitted to apply for wedding licenses in Minnesota that we pass on the news of an effort to provide a very special tribute to one of the true trailblazers in the fight for human rights, that is, the late State Senator and University of Minnesota professor Allan Spear. The local chapter of Join the Impact—a national organization promoting full equality for gay, lesbian and transgender people—is proposing to designate a colonnade in Mueller Park to the memory of Senator Spear who passed away in 2008. In the days leading up to and following the Marriage Equality Act passed by the State Legislature this session, there were thousands and thousands of enthusiasts celebrating this advancement and the usual suspect politicians touting their important role in its passage. We may be cranky (what’s new?), but from our point of view speaking to the like-minded at political gatherings is a far cry from the true meaning of the struggle. Allan Spear lived the struggle. When he came out in 1974, Senator Spear was one of the first openly gay Americans serving in elected office. It was a very high and lonely platform with no safety net. When he first appeared in public with his beloved life partner, Junjiro Tsuji, Allan knew full well what the whispering was on the other side of the room at the cocktail party and what the stares meant at the grocery store. And while sadly Senator Spear could not live to see the days that began yesterday in Hennepin County Government Center and other courthouses around the state, we are glad that Jun was able to experience history for both himself and his late partner. People for Parks, a non-profit dedicated to improving and enhancing Minneapolis parks, has stepped up to be fiscal agent to collect funds for the memorial. For further information http://www.peopleforparks.net/projects.html.
QUARKS and QUOTES…
Finally, we backed a winner! This from Matt Clark:
Thank you for supporting my Man of the Year Campaign. Your donation helps fund lifesaving cancer research and services for patients, bringing help and hope to thousands of people battling blood cancers. Your generous contributions totaling $43,000 enabled our campaign to fund more than 43 weeks of cancer research. The Minnesota Man & Woman of the Year campaign featured ten incredible candidates who collectively raised $192,000. I was humbled and honored to be awarded the 2013 “Man of the Year” title for this LLS chapter. My thanks go to my friend Mark Thurbush, whose story inspired all of us to serve; our campaign manager Sarah Broadwater, who dotted I’s and crossed T’s all the way through our journey; my wife Heather, who provided her love and support; my nominator Nadine Babu for believing in us; and countless others who made this all possible. Thank you again, and if you’d like to learn more about Man & Woman of the Year visit www.mwoy.org. To learn more about The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and other ways to support this great organization, visit www.LLS.org.
Submission for short fiction section; author unknown:
She pursed her lips and placed her index finger firmly against mine. “Shhh, we aren’t taking about what has passed; this will never be about the future. We are talking about this moment, now. What can only be if…” her voice trailed off. The gaze remained. What to do? What would anyone do?