Saturday, October 31, 2009

Johnny Northside Blog Endorses Rybak, Samuels, Hofstede And, Oh Yes, Michael Guest...

Photo And Blog Post By John Hoff

In the manner of any other media entity, the Johnny Northside blog chooses to exercise the right to formally endorse political candidates for office. In the manner of a grassroots blog, I choose to print a photo of Diane Hofstede posing with a sausage...

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...

Private citizen.

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.



Anonymous said...

it's not that kenya gave don a good challenge at the convention - it's that she cheated on caucus night and tried to get delegates that were not legit. There was quite the credentials battle leading up to convention and some quesitonable things at convention - like people signing in as a delegate when they really weren't even that person.

You are right tho, desperate people resort to desperate measures.

Can't wait to see the shuttles from the liquor store parking lots to the polling places. Desperation.

Anonymous said...

I'll be voting for Guest as well.

And for the at-large park board commish's... may I recommend voting for
John Erwin
Annie Young
Tom Nordyke.

I highly recommend those 3 candidates.s

Johnny Northside said...


Heck, what I want is VIDEO.

Oh, it's making me nuts that I won't be in town. I could feel better if it were another trip to the Gulf of Mexico but MICHIGAN? I mean, what kind of good thing ever came out of MICHIGAN?

Margaret said...

Olson must be worried, I got a negative mail piece against Guest today.

This IRV thing will be very interesting. I hope that Samuels makes the threshold.

The Hawthorne Hawkman said...

What good came out of Michigan? Hey now...You know I came from Michigan!

Plus, here are some other famous "Michiganders:"

Tim Allen
Michael Moore
Stephen Seagal

Ok, you know what? You may be right after all.

Anonymous said...

Here's another reason to vote for Guest for Park Board District 2:

He works for Organic Technology and here's an article about new laws that require plastic lawn leaf bags to be compostable.

Johnny, I know you love that new law. xoxo.

Anonymous said...

Did you just cast aspersions on electing Catholics president?

Don "Republican" Allen said...

Johnny/Jeff - Why attack Allen? He has a chance. With the IRV its a free for all.

If Don Samuels wins it will be by less than the percent you mentioned.

Rybak - the Star Tribune has protected their golden boy by not giving the 11 other candidates press time and also suppressing the news that all charges (bogus) have been dropped against Al Flowers.

November 3rd will be interesting.

Don (Me) will vote for Papa John (1), Al Flowers (2) and William McGauhey (3) for mayor.

The Hawthorne Hawkman said...

First things first: This particular post was written by John without any coordination whatsoever from me. I personally agree with the endorsements but since Don Allen addressed something to "John/Jeff," I want to make it clear who wrote what.

For JNS newbies, if there is no "Guest post by the Hawthorne Hawkman," under the photo/video header, then John Hoff wrote the article.

@ John, I agree with anon 8:48. I do NOT appreciate your comment about a President answering to a Pope. At best, it's in poor taste. It's your blog of course, but I'm voicing my disapproval of that statement.

@ Don Allen, John's comments towards Allen Kathir were constructive criticisms. This blog does indeed go into attack mode at times, but this was nowhere near that level. Frankly, I have the same sentiments about Marcus Harcus (although I'm not sure if he owns or rents). I like him immensely, and I look forward to him being an elected official SOME DAY, but I don't think he's ready now.

On the topic of the Strib/mayoral elections: The Strib is a business, and as such its first priority is to make or at least refrain from losing money. Without going into the failing financial model of the "dead tree format," I'll say that none of the other candidates has generated enough of a following to deserve significant coverage from a media entity as large as the Strib.

I mean really, do we have to let Joey Lombard is Awesome up on the same stage as the other candidates? I think we'd have a more vibrant election with a viable contender to RT, but it's not the Strib's obligation to prop up someone to make that happen.

Finally, I believe the candidates and the support they have had from media like the Mpls Mirror and ibnn have focused more on whining about lack of attention from the Strib and other mainstream media, and spent too little time and energy on explaining to the rest of us what their vision actually is. If they'd actually done that, and shown that their ideas resonated with a constituency, then they'd have a case for more debates and coverage.

Johnny Northside said...

I did NOT cast aspersions on electing Catholics president or to any other office. The question is not a person's faith, but whether they take direct and specific marching orders from the leader of that faith. In fact, I will go back and add verbiage accordingly.

Johnny Northside said...

Verbiage added accordingly:
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)

If somebody can suggest a more elegant and politically correct simile or metaphor, be my guest.

In fact, don't just BE my guest. Be sure to VOTE for Guest.

Anonymous said...

" 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?
I suppose someone should answer this question. VP Mondale appears to have turned into a single issue candidate. That issue is Hydro power from St Anthony Falls. He opposed Hydro power at the Falls under any circumstances. You can ask any politician in Minneapolis. From what I understand they have all gotten a call from Mondale. For many it is the only time they have ever heard from him since he retired.

veg*nation said...

i don't think it's fair to suggest that a renter is any more beholden to his landlord than a homeowner might be to the bank that holds their mortgage, etc.--i just don't think that, realistically, either is likely to be a very likely "threat."

on the other hand, i do think that home ownership does bring with it a whole set of experiences, as well as a commitment to the neighborhood, that i would expect a council member to have.

Johnny Northside said...

Thanks for your substantive and thoughtful comment, Veg Nation.

But the way I view it...the issue is not just the "degree of being beholden." Sure, a renter is "beholden" to a landlord the way a homeowner with a mortgage is "beholden" to a bank. But if you fail to pay a mortgage, it will be months and months before you are out on the street.

The renter is out on the street MUCH more quickly, and has no equity, no stake in the property, no right to make changes to the property without permission, etc.

Also, in my experience, a landlord usually has a much more personal and direct relationship with a renter than a bank has with a mortgage holder.

And, I should point out, I make this comment as somebody who was actually ON A CITY COUNCIL while I was A RENTER. Yes, that whole Grand Forks, North Dakota thing. Shudder. Did I mention how HAPPY I am to live in the Twin Cities? Anyway...

When I was on a city council, and renting, I heard this criticism from, for example, other council members...and, sure, I had my answer. Renters needed representation, too, and so forth. Home owners answer to their banker if they have a mortgage. Etcetera.

In fact, my landlord in Grand Forks never tried to push their power over me, (it was a pretty big and impersonal company, actually, unlike my previous rental experiences) but if my landlord HAD tried to push their power over me? Gee, I would have been in a tough spot.

But that was THERE and this is HERE. The fact is, owning a home shows you're going to stick around for a while and the idea of a city council member who answers to a LANDLORD goes against my instict over who should represent me and how self-reliant and independent that person should be. And how rooted to the neighborhood they plan to represent.

Allen Kathir is also YOUNG. He is not married, he has no children, he has no HOME OWNERSHIP. He is basically a kid right out of college. He's bright and shows promise. He should buy a home and work his way up through the neighborhood association ranks and maybe, in five or ten years, run for city council. Or four. Four if he's that ambitious.

As for my president and pope comment; I'd be leary of any public official who seemed to be answering directly and specifically to ANY religious leader, or (for that matter) to any powerful interest such as, perhaps, a land developer.

Or their Lord.

Their LAND lord.

Pond-dragon said...

Sorry Mr. Allan,
But Al's dropped charges are posted on the S&T website.