OPINION

  • Follow the Money: Contributors to Bloomington City Council Candidates

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    Bloomington voters should consider who has contributed to their City Council members, to understand who might be aligned with whom and might be seeking influence.

    According to finance reports filed with Hennepin County, State Rep. Steve Elkins (D, Bloomington/Edina) supported Bloomington Councilman Patrick Martin last year with a donation of $100.  Readers may recall that the previous edition of the SD 49 Newsletter reported on Elkin's bill to use the State's power to effectively outlaw single family residential zoning in Minnesota, and to make other changes to "densify" our neighborhoods.   

    The financial reports show a direct tie between several of the current City Council members and one City Council candidate. Current Council members Jenna Carter and Shawn Nelson contributed to Patrick Martin. Lona Dallessandro also contributed $100 and was listed as Martin's campaign treasurer on the Schedule A of 2020's end of year campaign financing report.  Dallessandro is now running in City Council District 3 to replace retiring Jack Baloga. 

    If Elkins, Martin, Carter and Nelson all support Martin, how do you suppose they will act  ending residential neighborhoods as we know them if Elkins' bill passes?  If Dallessandro wins her race and joins the Council, a majority of the council may be for actions like Elkins' Bill.  

  • Elkins Authors Bill to Eliminate Single-Family Residential Zoning

    MPLS_Sign.jpgHouse District 49B’s state representative, Steve Elkins, is proposing a major change in the way our cities govern themselves. His bill, with no bill number as yet, proposes to take away Minnesota cities’ authority to zone areas for single family dwellings and effectively require cities to allow high density housing everywhere.

    Elkins’ proposal has been ‘advertised’ in a Star Tribune article (‘When You Look At These Neighborhoods, What Do You See?” and in an OpEd Elkins wrote in the Star Tribune (“Twin Cities Housing:  The Flaming Hoops Separating Builders and Cities”. 

    To understand what Elkins’ bill will do, you have to read both articles and then slog through the twenty-four page bill, pen in hand, referring back and forth from section to section. 

    Elkins wants to make state statute outlaw city zoning requirements that mandate single-family dwellings in certain areas of the city. His arguments lean heavily on the inconvenience to builders of the current zoning/building process, but reading through his news articles makes it clear Elkins is motivated by his conviction that our cities’ zoning is racist

    Current zoning restricts building in parts of Twin Cities suburbs to single-family residences, defined as homes which do not share a wall with another residence.  Elkins proposes to open single-family neighborhoods to higher density dwellings – read “large apartments”.   His motivations aside, Elkins goes to some trouble to make sure it is difficult to figure out what this would mean for Bloomington, Edina and Eden Prairie residential neighborhoods, so SD49 Newsletter dug into the details to see what the impact would be.

  • Proud that the CD3 Executive Committee Took a Stand

    An Editorial

    The newsletter this week contains several articles on the recent resignation of the MNGOP Chairwoman, the events surrounding that move, and the events leading up to it.  Noteworthy was the statement released by the Congressional District 3 Executive Committee on August 17,

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    This statement was debated within the CD3 Executive Committee during a special meeting on the evening meeting August 16.  The approval of this statement was virtually unanimous, with no dissenting votes, so strong was the feeling within this elected group. 

    The Executive Committee members knew that the feeling across CD3 was not nearly as unanimous.  Yet almost all of the members had had personal experiences with Jennifer Carnahan or had heard first hand of her actions and of how she had dealt with people that did not support or agree with her.  Allow me to relate a story.

  • Critical Race Theory Deserves the Criticism It's Getting

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    A front-page story ("A new wedge issue in campaign," July 18) and a commentary("What CRT looks like in my classroom," July 17) recently criticized the critics of critical race theory, or at least of the "straw man" the critics are said to have created.

    The critics' claim is that the real critical race theory is a mere corrective addition to the "current" school history standards, which supposedly omits discussion of slavery, racism, Native American/settler conflict and other American shortcomings. This is either naiveté or plain falsehood.

    I hold a Ph.D. in history and I taught, as part of a multiracial staff, at the University of Minnesota's Tri-Racial Center — an actual corrective supplement to high school teachers in Minnesota and Wisconsin in the 1970s. After that time these topics were universally addressed in the high school standards, and have been for decades.

    CRT is a far more dangerous and one-sided attack on the entire range of standards for history, literature and social studies — and on America's fundamental principles of equal treatment under law and outcomes determined by "the content of character" rather than the color of one's skin.

    Let me offer some examples of "proposed" and current CRT-related educational phenomenon (oh yes, it is in our schools now). The proposed CRT-influenced state history standards literally dropped any mention of the actual events, causes or results of the Revolutionary War, the Civil War or World Wars I and II, except in as far as the wars affected Blacks or other minorities, and omitted the Holocaust altogether.

  • Bloomington Human Rights Commissioner Smithson Needs to Resign

    Anita Smithson, a Bloomington human rights commissioner, recently demonstrated that she has neither the disposition nor the lack of bias herself to serve the people of Bloomington in that position. 

    In postings to her personal Twitter account that have been obtained by the Bloomington Patriots organization and reported in AlphaNews and the Minnesota Sun, Smithson is quoted as saying that a Back the Blue Rally held in Bloomington on July 25 was “fascist radicalization.”  “These people stuck in a cycle of fear and division don’t define us and don’t speak for us.”

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    Rebecca Brannon reported that the rally was held in appreciation of Minnesota Law Enforcement.  Her photographs of the rally, one of which is shown above, depict a peaceful rally with a veteran-owned food truck and live DJ music. 

    All proceeds from the event went to the family of officer Matt Ryan, who is currently battling Leukemia for a second time.

    As described in a Facebook post from the Bloomington Patriots, Anita Smithson dismissed the intent of the event.  “The organizers try to say it’s a family friendly event.  They even raise money for a good cause.  But that’s all from the hate group’s planning guide.  It’s still fascist radicalization and a refusal to do the work towards a more just community.”

  • Letter to the Editor: Are Minnetonka Voters Aware of Who is Running for Council and Mayor?

    From Concerned Minnetonka Citizen (name withheld by request)

    Family_Enters_Voting_Building.jpgMinnetonka has odd year elections so people don't vote...most likely because they aren't aware there is an election and Minnetonka has been running smoothly and people trust that this will continue. It won't. The radicals are organized and show up in droves.

    Please read the following:

    Are you aware of who is running for council? (They haven’t filed, but they have submitted campaign finance reports). Candidate filing starts on July 27.

    First up: Candidate Iola Kostrzewski: She is running for council as an act of “active defiance” against Deb Calvert. She has a Nextdoor app post background that makes Antifa look tame. Iola currently and actively protests with Jeremiah Ellison, Minneapolis Council Member and Keith Ellison’s son.  Here’s her website: http://iola4minnetonkacouncil.com/

    Kimberly Wilburn is another candidate: She’s running to be a part of the current system to dismantle the current system.  Apparently to her, America is the system.  Kimberly’s words: “we need to acknowledge the existence of systemic and institutional racism and intentionally work to dismantle those systems.”  Here’s her website:  https://kimberlycaresmn.com/

  • Bloomington Tobacco Shop Phase-Out Enacted for “Equity”, Not Science

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    A recent op-ed in the Star Tribune highlights findings in a new Journal of the American Medical Association article that San Francisco's ban on flavored tobacco products "was associated with increased smoking among minor high school students relative to other school districts."

    This is not surprising given a number of studies pointing to contradictory results with tobacco bans, e-cigarette bans, flavor bans and minimum age laws when it comes to alcohol and tobacco products.  For example, one study points to e-cigarette minimum age laws actually increasing youth smoking participation.

    Recall that the Bloomington City Council recently voted to sunset all tobacco licenses in the city.  Sadly, this will have a devastating effect on small business owners (tobacco shops, convenience stores, gas stations, etc.) as these entrepreneurs will no longer be able to realize the full value of their business should they choose to sell at some point in the future.  In late April of this year, Bloomington's Public Health Administrator Nick Kelley said "the sunset would eliminate the presence of tobacco in the city and the risk of tobacco use among youth.“

    With a variety of outstanding issues over the last year and a half, it is telling that the Bloomington City Council has chosen to focus on restricting the ability of adults to obtain legal products should they choose to do so.  The Minnesota Department of Health's 2020 Youth Tobacco Survey admits that "Minnesota teens are overwhelmingly rejecting cigarettes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco."  Prevalence of tobacco use among high school students in Minnesota is at a historical low (only 3.2% prevalence of cigarette use, and even lower for smokeless tobacco products).

    In doing so, Bloomington has joined just two California cities with similar license sunsets, according to the Star Tribune.  Welcome to the progressive utopia!

  • House Votes for the 21st Time on Ending the Emergency Powers

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    (YouTube video above- Credit: House New Republican Caucus)

    This past week, the Minnesota House took up a vote for the 21st time on ending the Governor's emergency powers. Even though there is clearly NO emergency, House Democrats continue to support Governor Walz in keeping his peacetime emergency powers.

    Walz spokesperson Teddy Tschann responded that the Republican plan is not serious. “It would slow down vaccination, jeopardize hundreds of millions of dollars in hunger relief, and end the eviction moratorium overnight with no plan to provide an off ramp for renters or landlords as we come out of the pandemic.”

    Tschann claims that “Gov. Walz is committed to working with the Legislature and finding bipartisan solutions to improve the State’s response to emergencies,” but has not shown any evidence of that commitment.  Instead, Walz has chosen to rule by decree over the past 15 months, rather than work with the legislature on a transition plan

    Republicans have introduced bills, including one passed by the Senate in May, that would end the emergency in an orderly way. “We have a path to dramatically reduce emergency powers,” Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-East Gull Lake) said. “Our preference would be that we remove them totally. But if it just focuses on the things that receive the federal money, specifically related to COVID, that would be a good thing.”

    Rep. Barb Haley (R-Red Wing) authored a bill to take away emergency powers but still allow the governor to distribute vaccines and receive federal money. “The emergency is over. We’re going to provide the governor the things he needs to do to manage COVID, and we’re going to restore the Legislature as a co-equal branch of government.”

  • A Witness to Bloomington Police in Action

    Bloomington_Police_Car.jpgOn June 15, I had the pleasure of doing a ride-along with one of Bloomington‘s finest. My host was Officer Kyle Maitrejean, a six-year veteran of the Bloomington Police Department.

    I was impressed with the calm and professional demeanor Officer Kyle exhibited in every situation. During those three hours, he interacted with 10 individuals. While there was no violence involved, I could see that everyone he talked to felt better after their conversation with him. I’m certain it’s due in large part to his training and experience. I would expect the same of his fellow officers.

    Having had this experience, I feel better and more secure as a Bloomington resident. I’ve lived in Bloomington for 49 years and I have always had respect and pride for our Police Department. My ride-along today confirmed that.

    I hope that every elected official in Bloomington including the Mayor and City Council does a ride-along with their police officers. In fact, I think it should be a requirement. This will give each of them a better understanding and appreciation for the tough and dangerous work our police officers do every day.

    And a note to the Mayor and City Council members: If you encounter any person (activist, etc) who demands that you not show any public support for our police, just ask them this: Have you done a ride-along with your local community police? If they answer yes, ask them to describe their experience and how they feel about it. If they answer no, tell them to do that before they speak any further about their concerns and demands. Then invite them to share their experience with you. Doing this will likely change the entire conversation.

  • Behavior Controls are Ineffective

    To the editor of the Bloomington/Richfield Sun Current

    Attempts to micromanage human behavior usually fail because the governing entity does not have total control over the behavior they want to stop. This is why ordinances designed to break behavior deemed by officials as being unhealthy or bad are ineffective.

    Blm_City_Council_July_27.JPGTwo ordinances passed by the Bloomington City Council, the conversion therapy ban and the flavored cigarette ban, fall in this category. There are ample opportunities elsewhere to seek similar sexual orientation therapies or buy flavored cigarettes. Furthermore, the internet offers several ways to circumvent these local ordinances. At its heart, bad or unhealthy behavior can only be broken when the individual has the willpower and determination to change that behavior.

    The fact that the government does not have total control over ingrained bad behavior is clearly illustrated in its attempt to prohibit liquor sales in the 1920s and 1930s. For all practical purposes, the conversion therapy and flavored cigarette bans are window-dressing meant to mollify special interest groups.

    Finally, Bloomington voters should wake up to the fact that decisions made at city hall will impact their daily lives more than those made in St. Paul or Washington, D.C.