‘What’s that smell from City Hall’ inspires counter-attack from Scallon and Kozack
When the article “What’s that smell from City Hall?” was published on the Minneapolis Issues List it inspired a response from former Council Member Tony Scallon and Andy Kozack, the lobbyist for Glen Taylor and the Timberwolves.
Tony Scallon quotes Andy Kozack: “Perhaps it’s his squandered term in office that compels Eddie to resent and smear people like Mark Kaplan, Chuck Lutz and myself who, when given the opportunity, have worked hard and honorably on the city’s behalf.”
Thank you Tony and Andy for bringing back memories of when I was “squandering” my term in office. That was almost 40 years ago.
Are we the only people still alive from that era?
I was then, and am now, a radical in the Floyd B. Olson tradition: “I am what I want to be, a radical. I’m not a liberal. We need a definite change in the system. We need a Cooperative Commonwealth.” Mayor Al Hofstede once walked into a committee room where I was chairing a meeting and said, “Ah, Eddie, my little Maoist.” I have never made a secret of my politics. I invite you to buy a copy of “TAKE THE STREETS!”, an account of my participation in protests against the Vietnam War in 1972, the year before I was elected.
In spite of my radical politics, I was able to get a few things done during the two years the citizens of the 8th Ward gave me the privilege of serving them as their representative on the City Council.
I authored the amendment to the Civil Rights Ordinance that made it illegal in Minneapolis to discriminate against anyone on the basis of their sexual preference. No other council member would hold hearings on the amendment, so I held hearings on it in my Health and Social Services Committee.
I was the original author of the first Gay Pride Day resolution.
I downzoned my ward to existing usage preventing the invasion of two-and-a-half story walk-ups.
In order to protect some of our more vulnerable neighborhoods, I authored an ordinance that stopped halfway houses from locating within 500 feet of another halfway house.
I authored an ordinance that allowed renters to pay the utility bills for their unit if the landlord was delinquent in order to prevent shut-offs, and the tenant was allowed to deduct that amount from their rent.
I was co-chair of the City-County Daycare Taskforce that studied ways to increase funding for daycare in Minneapolis. I personally secured hundreds of thousands of dollars from the federal government’s Community Development Block Grant Program for daycare subsidies for low income families.
I was part of the Council that began the first homeowner’s loan and grant program, and we were recognized nationally for the creation of a citizen participation program that was a forerunner of the Neighborhood Revitalization Program. We passed an Open Meeting law and campaign disclosure laws.
I ran for City Council originally because of an instance of police brutality. After I was elected, the City Council hired a new city attorney. We gave the Civil Rights Department the right to investigate the police, and with the power of subpoena and the right to award damages, they were much more effective than the present Civilian Review Authority. At the end of my two years, the city attorney told me they had prosecuted four police officers for the use of excessive force and had gotten two convictions. The Police Federation never forgot my role in this, and after I was defeated the power to investigate the police was taken away from the Civil Rights Department.
I had some notable failures.
I experimented with the city’s first recycling program. We collected newspapers, but the Council wasn’t ready for it, and the city engineer, Clayton Sorenson, asked me, “Glass? Why would anyone want to recycle glass? It’s made out of sand, the most common substance on earth.”
I tried to establish some kind of rent control in the city to protect renters who were being driven out of their apartments by gentrification and a 300% to 400% increase in rents.
I tried to convince the City Council to undertake a feasibility study to determine whether it would be financially feasible for the City to purchase and operate the electric company. I was invited to present my case for municipalization to the Central Labor Union Council (CLUC)—dominated at that time by the Building Trades. I argued that municipalization would do three things: It would give us some control over how our electricity was produced; it would be cheaper—rates would be one-third cheaper without federal and state taxes; and, it would immediately organize the clerical workers into a union. One union official at the table told me, “If they ain’t organized, p—s on ‘em!” I asked the other union officials at the table if that was their sentiment. After I lost my bid for re-election, Virgil Moline, the head of CLUC, claimed credit in his newsletter saying I had lost with “a little push from behind by Labor.”
But, as Joan Rivers says, “Enough about me. What do you think about me?” You say I squandered my short two years on the City Council. Webster says squander means to “1. Waste (something, esp. money or time) in a reckless and foolish manner; or, 2. Allow (an opportunity) to pass or be lost.”
Yes, I was reckless and it may have seemed like I was wasting my political career, but I was determined to make every moment that I was in office count for something. It was amazing that I was ever elected to public office in the first place, given my politics, and I was not going to keep my head down just so I could get re-elected. I was determined not to waste that moment and do everything I could to make a difference in the lives of people who are not ordinarily represented in the councils of government.
Tony, you criticize my two years in office. I invite you to compare it with 10 years of your tenure.
Andy, your role in lobbying the City Council and then acting as their surrogate on the Redistricting Commission is a naked example of corruption. You are doing the City Council a favor by looking out for their interests, and you reasonably expect them to return the favor by granting your patron, billionaire Glen Taylor and the Timberwolves, a continued $5 million a year subsidy for the Target Center. The state legislature said that the $5 million a year revenue from tax increment districts could either be spent on the Neighborhood Revitalization Program or on a subsidy for Taylor’s Timberwolves. The City Council chose Taylor. You were a much better salesperson than the neighborhood organizations that are getting starved out of existence. Can you honestly say you have never contributed to a City Council campaign, never written campaign literature, never arranged fundraisers? Do we need to go through all those campaign treasurer’s reports? I am confident we’ll find your name. Please, tell me I’m wrong. Tell me you haven’t showered thousands of dollars on our mayor and City Council members. If you can’t do that, then have the decency to admit that your role has been to “honorably” serve as the bag man for a billionaire.