Jeff Skrenes--who is both a private citizen AND the Hawthorne Housing Director--once said, "There is no good way to pose for a photograph while holding a sausage." It is unknown in which capacity Skrenes said that--Housing Director or private citizen. If I had to take a guess, I'd say...
In any case, the image above was taken about a month ago at a backyard bonfire in the Hawthorne Eco Village where Council Member Diane Hofstede showed up in response to an invitation, that night giving many hours of her time to both casual conversation and policy discussion while my son, Alex, helped tend to the fire.
This is what we do in NoMi. We sit in our backyards, eating and drinking with our "band of brothers" neighborhood buddies and talking about how to improve our surroundings. Much comes of these discussions. It was wonderful of Hofstede to join us and hopefully we'll see her (and her amiable, engaging husband!) more frequently.
But back to the sausage...
The sausage was made by the husband of "the Polish lady," a highly-skilled artisan of meat. For a while this spring, it seemed like every time a decrepit old building got demolished, the Polish lady would come out in her yard to give sausage to both myself and Jeff Skrenes. I remember one early cold morning when that sausage was the only breakfast I had, since so many volunteer hours were being poured into the Eco Village. I posed with Jeff for a photo (both of us waving our sausages) and for ages that photo was my Facebook profile image. It is, therefore, right and fitting that Diane Hofstede receive one of these coveted and symbolic sausages. Our neighborhood has improved by leaps and bounds under her term in office, bouncing back from a foreclosure crisis which was the result of NATIONAL policies, not LOCAL control. Hofstede can't be blamed for the foreclosure crisis, but should get credit for her response.
In politics, there is a natural tendency for voters to reward incumbents when things seem to be going well, and to punish incumbents when things are going badly. This is not always fair, since many things which impact citizens are beyond the control of any particular public official. However, the incredible drop in crime experienced in Minneapolis--particularly North Minneapolis--appears to be a direct result of work by individuals like Rybak, Samuels, and Hofstede. When public officials do well, they deserve to be re-elected and we NEED them to be re-elected.
So, first and foremost, this blog endorses Rybak, Samuels, and Hofstede because of the incredible drop in crime and their work in the wake of the foreclosure crisis.
Secondly, none of these officials have any competition worthy to be their replacements. Rybak is facing a cast of cartoon characters so motley and depressing they remind me of group therapy sessions at the psychiatric facilities where I used to make a living. These opponents of Rybak don't need your vote so much as they need some meaningful purpose in their otherwise empty lives, with the exception of one candidate--You Know Who--who should be sedated and tagged with some kind of tracking device.
Nobody can blame Rybak for refusing to debate opponents when one of those opponents is infamous for outrageous, physically frightening behavior. There is debate enough in the media. The fact all of these opponents COMBINED don't have enough political jack to force the mayor into a face-to-face debate is all-too-revealing. Let this blog be the first to make this statement:
Congratulations, Mayor Rybak, on your re-election Tuesday, November 3. You deserved it!
Now as for Ward 5 City Council Member Don Samuels...
Like Rybak, Don Samuels is up against an unspectacular field of shrill political midgets, one of which is facing charges for an incident (allegedly) involving a violent altercation with his mistress. None of Samuels' opponents is worthy to hang up Don Samuels' coat at the Peace Foundation ball and--in desperation--they have resorted to crude, disgusting race-baiting rhetoric which didn't work in the last Ward 5 election, and likely won't work in this one. So, I have to wonder, what's up with that? Why would you use tactics that don't work TWICE? Did somebody skip Political Science 101?
Samuels has won the endorsement of Congressman Keith Ellison as well as the Star Tribune. Not only does this blog ENDORSE Don Samuels, but I predict a VICTORY MARGIN of 20 percent or more.
I regret that I, personally, will be driving a great big International box truck on election night, probably somewhere in Illinois. Please, somebody take a big swig of victory booze for Johnny Northside and mention my name. I'll be there in spirit.
One of Samuels' opponents (the one facing charges for alleged violence against a woman) said Samuels doesn't care about "the woman on the corner with three kids and no job."
However, Samuels has been overwhelmingly successful in bringing businesses to North Minneapolis which will create jobs and, furthermore, the Peace Foundation--which Don Samuels helped to start--has been directly credited by the Star Tribune as one of the factors in the steep drop in Minneapolis crime. Clearly, the mother with three kids would like her children to live in a neighborhood where bullets don't fly and hit children.
Samuels started as a neighborhood activist who cleaned up his block, driving out drug dealers. Now all of Ward 5 has become Don's block, and thank god for THAT. This blog enthusiastically endorses Don Samuels.
My endorsement for Diane Hofstede comes after much soul-searching. Realistically, Hofstede is going to win the election because she has no opponent with enough political jack to beat her.
It is true that in the past I have aired complaints of "unresponsiveness" at Hofstede's office. HOWEVER, let me say something about this whole idea of responsiveness: there is no end to the needs in Ward 3. When a politician is responsive, word gets out and guess what? More people contact the politician, wanting help. Inevitably, no "responsive" politician will be able to please everybody all of the time. It appears Hofstede took criticisms to heart which were made by myself and others, and her office is now quite responsive.
This much I know about Hofstede: she wants hookers and drug dealers out, out, out of Ward 3. She is no friend of slumlords, either, though she takes a prudent and measured approach which can cause neighborhood groups to grow impatient. But at the end of the day, things are going very well in Ward 3 and Hofstede deserves the credit, therefore Hofstede deserves re-election.
However, I would like to give an honorable mention to one of the other candidates in Ward 3, Allen Kathir. I believe Kathir will give Hofstede a run for her money.
Kathir is bright and running a professional campaign. I will give Kathir the same advice here which I gave him at a backyard bonfire: Allen, you are not a home owner. You RENT, for crying out loud. Constituents want a city council member who has committed themselves to the ward through home ownership and who doesn't answer to a landlord. I mean, they're called land LORDS for a reason. Somebody with that much power over a city council member might be inclined to use it.
Nope, I don't want my city council member answering to a landlord any more than I'd want my president answering to a pope. (Addendum: I hasten to point out, it's not a question of a person's FAITH but whether the person takes direct and specific marching orders, whether somebody has TOO MUCH POWER over that person. I assert that a landlord--ANY landlord--would have too much power over a city council person living under their rented roof. "President answering to a pope" was just the first controversial metaphor which came out of the mental bag)
Furthermore, Allen, you haven't been around long enough. You should BUY A HOME (prices have never been better!) join your local neighborhood association, and put in about half a decade of work to gain a reputation as a grassroots neighborhood activist. Pick some kind of difficult local project or problem and work tirelessly on that issue.
When the issue is solved, you will have a reputation as "the guy who tackled Problem XYZ," kind of like everybody knows Don Samuels cleaned up his own part of Ward 5. This kind of activism at the neighborhood level is the traditional path to a seat on the city council.
Allen, your work on civil rights doesn't quite reach a level of recognition within the neighborhoods of Ward 3. All the same, I hope you do VERY WELL on election night, simply because I hope you will stick around and run for more offices and put your energy and intelligence into bettering our city. Hofstede is a known commodity, and I feel safer with her because, for one thing, I feel I can read her attitudes about the police. But I'm not sure about yours, Allen. I feel like you're being much too careful about what you say, and if elected you may hamper effective police work in North Minneapolis with attitudes like those of Melissa Hill.
(Let the record reflect I would NEVER throw an ACTUAL tomato at Melissa Hill, nor any other vegetable, and there is no reason for the notoriously-excitable Farheen Hakeem to think otherwise)
Finally, my endorsement of Park Board candidate Michael Guest rests on different criteria. Parks are getting a raw deal, and this city needs somebody energetic and clever to shake up the dismal park situation. Michael Guest managed to get the endorsement of FORMER VICE PRESIDENT WALTER MONDALE. I mean, wow, how did a candidate for A LOCAL PARK BOARD pull off something like THAT?
Expect the best. Vote for Michael Guest.
On a final note: Come election night, Ward 5 needs every kind of poll watcher who can be rounded up to be available and observing action at the polls. When losers get desperate, they resort to cheating. Some of the candidates opposing Don Samuels already have signs posted at vacant houses, so who is to say VOTES may not come from those same addresses? Ward 5 already witnessed an incredible, vicious, bitter battle during the DFL endorsement process, click here.
Yes, you might "expect the best" and vote for Michael Guest, but when it comes to angry, unprofessional candidates like Kenya McKnight expect the WORST.
Call your friends. Call your neighbors. Ferry troops to the polls and keep an eye on those polls, for our lives really do depend on the outcome of this election.
ALL OUT ALL OUT ALL OUT FOR ELECTION DAY TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 3!!!!!!!!!!!