BY ED FELIEN
The Our Revolution Twin Cities membership meeting on Sunday, May 21, endorsed Ray Dehn for mayor of Minneapolis.
They sent out a lengthy questionnaire to all candidates seeking the Our Revolution endorsement. One of the questions asked was: “What are your top three priorities once elected?”
Ray Dehn replied: “1) Police reform—we must demilitarize our police department, enact a complete culture shift focusing on community building, and implement de-escalation and bias training; 2) Affordable housing and renters rights—the city needs to build enough housing to meet demand, and incentivize being a high quality landlord as a majority of our residents are renters; 3) The working families agenda—this goes beyond a $15 minimum wage and earned sick time. We need to focus on equitable education, and dismantle systems that perpetuate inequity.”
The question asked mayoral candidates that was most controversial was: “Will you commit not to veto any City Council action supported by Our Revolution Twin Cities?”
Frey, Hodges and Hoch answered “No.” Ray Dehn answered: “Yes.”
Of course, by the time an action of the City Council comes to a vote there has been extensive discussion of the merits of the proposal, and if the mayor has any support of City Council members, then he or she has had plenty of time and opportunity to contribute to the wording and intent of the final motion.
Our Revolution understands that process. They appreciate that the mayor will have tremendous power to shape the actions of the City Council. Our Revolution simply wants some assurance that the mayoral candidate they endorse will not work against their values once elected.
The full Platform of Our Revolution Twin Cities is available on their facebook page. It is pages 44-51 of the Meeting Packet. It is also available at: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4F5qAkYJECDdlRqMHNlQ2J4R0k/view.
The Platform is remarkable for its depth and understanding, and it would lead to revolutionary and progressive change for the people of Minneapolis.
If I had been asked, I would have added four additional amendments.
Under their title: Racial Justice, there is currently no call for an independent investigation of the murders of Terrance Franklin and Jamar Clark by the Minneapolis Police Department. It is clear that the Minneapolis Police Department and the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office are incapable of a fair and objective investigation of the homicides of minority youth by the MPD. The mayor and City Council should request that the Minnesota attorney general appoint a special investigator to examine the evidence and the police reports to determine if there was misconduct by members of the Minneapolis Police Department.
The Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission has the power to investigate all cases of discrimination except for incidents involving the Minneapolis Police Department. The Commission has the power of subpoena and can award damages. Forty years ago the Minneapolis Police Federation successfully lobbied to have the MPD excluded from the jurisdiction of the Commission. This needs to change. The MPD must understand it is bound to respect the same laws as every other citizen in Minneapolis.
Under Economic Justice, I would have added a proposal that the city use the $7.5 million revenue from the Vikings’ sales tax to pay for a free bus pass for all city residents. Transportation is one of the greatest expenses for low-income workers. A free bus pass would give low-income people the opportunity to work, and it would reduce our carbon imprint by supporting public transportation.
Under Public Education, I would propose that the city ask Hennepin County to use the excess revenue from the sale of bonds for the Twins stadium (paid for by the county sales tax) to buy free tuition scholarships to Minneapolis Community and Technical College for all residents of Hennepin County. Combined with all other financial aids, this could mean that everyone in Hennepin County would be eligible for a free two-year college education.
The DFL City Convention will be held Saturday, July 8, at the City Convention Center. It begins at 10 a.m. In addition to an endorsement for mayor, the Convention will also discuss endorsements for the Board of Estimate and Taxation and the Park Board.
A race that is of particular interest to people in South Minneapolis is the contest between Steffanie Musich and William Shroyer for Park Board in the 5th District (the area around Minnehaha Creek, Lake Nokomis and Lake Hiawatha).
Southside Pride has long been concerned about the dams along Minnehaha Creek that have raised the water table around Lake Nokomis and Lake Hiawatha and caused homes to have flooded basements and the golf course to pump millions of gallons of water into Lake Hiawatha only to have the water come back to the golf course through the water table.
Southside Pride asked the candidates: “Do you believe the dam at 27th Avenue is partly responsible for the flooding of basements in South Minneapolis and the flooding of Hiawatha Golf Course?”
Steffanie Musich, the incumbent, gave a curiously equivocal answer: “I do not believe that any one thing is the sole cause of the water issues that are present at Hiawatha Golf Course and in the surrounding neighborhood.” Without committing to anything, she seems to be saying that the dams could be one of the causes of flooding in the area around Lake Hiawatha.
William Shroyer, the challenger, answered, “The issue of flooding at Hiawatha Golf Course and the risk to basements in the surrounding neighborhood is a serious problem. If the dam at 27th Avenue is part of the problem it may need to be removed or lowered. The DNR, Watershed District and the Park Board do not want to be responsible for the flooding of basements. Some compromise will have to be worked out. Removing the dam would be the best option. Golf is a valuable resource for the community and the Park Board. It is not exclusive of a natural recreation area that is in line with the long-term mission of the Minneapolis Park Board. The Greening of the Park Board is indeed the goal, but recreation, jobs and the accessibility of golf are feasible.”
The reason the dams exist at the exits of Lake Nokomis and Lake Hiawatha is to help prevent the spread of zebra mussels that seem to be travelling down Minnehaha Creek. Some careless yachtsman brought the zebra mussels to Lake Minnetonka, and, now, homes and the golf course in South Minneapolis must be made to pay for that irresponsibility by the flooding resulting from the raised water table. The zebra mussels have already reached Lake Hiawatha so there seems little point in continuing to dam the creek. Theodore Wirth dredged Lake Hiawatha and Minnehaha Creek in 1929 and created the parks we enjoy out of what was then a swamp. The area around Lake Hiawatha was almost uninhabitable before that. The current policy of the Park Board seems to be to return the area to a muddy swamp. This policy has never been openly discussed or debated by the Park Board, and this election will be the only opportunity voters will have to be heard on whether they want to live in a swamp.
We urge support for William Shroyer.