Walking to Cub Foods today, to buy some cage-free organic eggs, walking around unafraid of street crime, practically skipping and jumping with love for my rapidly-improving NoMi neighborhood, I picked up a copy of a not-very-widely-read North Minneapolis publication printed on overly-slick, too-glossy paper kind of like a porno magazine. Careful not to drop my eggs, I flipped through some old articles about candidates in the Fifth Ward city council election.
"Geez," I thought. "What a crude axe job on Don Samuels. Good thing I didn't read this BEFORE the election, because it would really irk me."
While scrambling my eggs, sizzle sizzle, I found myself basking (yes, BASKING) in the post-election world of FOUR MORE YEARS OF DON SAMUELS, WOO HOO!!!!!!!
How Many Years, Don? FOUR MORE YEARS, DON!
Well, I don't want to be a "sore winner" and go on about the crushed, defeated hopes and dreams of the losers--losers who said terrible, ugly, untrue things about Don Samuels--but those articles in The Sentinel really got me going. And even though I was holding back, even being a little bit lazy and procrastinating, I decided over that plate of scrambled eggs that it was time to do the JOHNNY NORTHSIDE "GLOVES ARE OFF" POST-ELECTION ANALYSIS.
So here we go...
Let's start with Lennie Chism, so Lennie can actually be first at something, for once. Lennie appeared to be playing the role of "bad cop" in this election, saying the kind of mean stuff Natalie Johnson-Lee couldn't say, because lord knows it didn't work for her in the last election. Yeah, let's just leave Lennie by the roadside for a moment, and talk about Natalie for a second (or, as the Sentinel called her, "Natvalie.")
Isn't it about time "Natvalie" found something better to do with her life than run against Don Samuels? I just thank god for heavy rain on election day, so people driving along Broadway didn't have to endure the sight of "Natvalie" holding a campaign sign and doing the bah-donk-a-donk for passing cars. I wasn't here four years ago to see it myself, but I've heard the stories.
In any case, what's the most amazing about "Natvalie's" campaign is that she basically used the same tactics, the same arguments that failed four years before. You know that old saying about fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me? Well, what about when you manage to fool yourself twice into thinking you can win? HELLO, she couldn't beat Don in HER OWN WARD after she'd been in office for FOUR YEARS and he was the NEWBIE TO THE FIFTH WARD. So what made her think she could beat Don after she'd been gone four years and CRIME WAS DOWN FORTY PERCENT? That's the kind of delusion which requires more than just a mental reassessment, but may call for actual psychotropic meds. I'm just saying.
Now let's say a word or two about Roger Smithrud. I tell you...
Roger Smithrud has class. And, I might add, good sense. On election night, he came to Don's victory party and reportedly scored more than one slice of pizza after congratulating Don. I picture that scene like something out of The Godfather. First, lay down the Italian opera soundtrack. Then in comes Roger, hat in hand, a terrified look on his face. He approaches Don, trying not to grovel but he's quaking inside. He says, "Don...Don...I don't know what I was thinking, trying to oppose you. I must have been crazy. My no-good slumlord brother, he put me up to it. Please, don't make me meet you at the Butter Roll Bakery. I'll be loyal from now on. I promise. I SWEAR IT--!"
And Don pats Roger on the cheek and says, "Roger...you think I thought for a minute you could hurt me? Roger, you amuse me. It's good, you coming around like this to show respect. Roger, have yourself some pizza. And, oh, hey...I like your hat. Can I have your hat? Thanks, Roger. This is kind of a trophy. I'll put it right next to the brick I got from Uncle Lennie's."
What's really funny about Roger Smithrud is that here's a guy who complained in the pages of The Sentinel about how he couldn't even swing enough time off from work to run a real campaign. And yet his vote totals--minor as they were--still blew Lennie Chism out of the water. And this with Insight News saying nice stuff about Lennie, virtually ignoring Roger.
Oh, yeah, let's talk about Insight News for a moment. This publication did everything in its power to promote Kenya McKnight, including having its publisher--Al McFarlane--speak so long and glowingly of Kenya at the Fifth Ward DFL Convention that there was hardly time for Kenya HERSELF to speak. At times, Kenya seemed almost like the CREATION of Insight News. Gee, I'd sure love to see the campaign expense reports showing who actually paid for all those large "dead tree" ads for Kenya in the pages of Insight News.
But when the rubber met the road, and those who actually SHOWED UP at the polls cast their votes, Kenya had a paltry 15.6 percent of the vote. In fact, she had less votes than 500, the magic number of residents on her so-called "petition" allegedly supporting her run for office.
First of all, this embarrassing public episode shows you what an endorsement from Insight News is worth. Second, Kenya needs to rethink who she lets into her life to advise her and put her up to stuff. Here's free advice to Kenya: go finish up your college degree before you try to run a major metropolitan area. The cringe-worthy misspellings on your Facebook page alone are a good reason to go back to school. And, really, why was Kenya running anyway when she knew the whole thing was rigged by the Queen of England? (Click here if you don't follow what I'm alluding to)
But back to Insight News and Lennie Chism. Insight News praised Lennie as somebody who brought new "firepower" to the contest in the Fifth Ward. OK, so let's talk about Lennie and "firepower." Lennie is a documented abuser of women whose ownership and possession of firearms anywhere in the United States--and Native American nations--is prohibited by law. So the idea of Lennie and "firepower" isn't even legal to have in the same sentence. Is this the kind of "insight" which this publication delivers to the community? Praise for a woman-abuser because their blind hatred of Don Samuels is so strong? I weep for the trees sacrificed to publish their evil gibberish about city council elections. (I will draw the distinction between their abysmal election coverage and their coverage of other stuff, some of which is actually useful and informative though still hardly worth the trees)
Last of the last, let's talk about the mayoral race. Mayor Rybak's tactic of not wasting time on a campaign against fringe opponents paid off handsomely for all of us. The mayor kept this great city running and didn't needlessly waste energy on an election that was already sewed up tighter than a professionally-rolled blunt. (Al Flowers...cough cough) The mayor's opponents were left to stew in the gut-wrenching bile of their own irrelevancy and whine about how the mayor wasn't running a real campaign against a motley grab bag of pity-inducing also-rans.
Mayoral candidate Al "I Am The Community" Flowers predicted he was running second in the mayoral race. In fact, he was third. Way third. When his votes were counted, Al Flowers had four percent. I say again, AL FLOWERS HAS GOT FOUR PERCENT. For those who aren't already familiar with the many North Minneapolis in-jokes about notorious loon Al Flowers, here is one of them: Al Flowers showing up at the JACC press conference, and yelling, "I got FOUR PEOPLE says you was illegal..." Over and over he shouts "I got FOUR people." So when people want to imitate or parody Al Flowers (and people often do) what do they say?
I GOT FOUR PEOPLE--!
Well, what does Al actually have? FOUR PERCENT OF THE VOTE.
Four percent of the vote and a couple bucks will get you a ride on the bus, but that still won't take you to the imaginary intersection of West Broadway and Colfax.
But enough about losers. Let's talk about winning. North Minneapolis (NoMi) just won another four years of unstoppable revitalization. Ironically, the folks who will benefit the most are the ones who were the most vulnerable to the hateful snake oil being sold by shysters like Lennie Chism. Thanks to Don Samuels, jobs and development are coming here, as well as higher-quality housing as slumlords are forced to provide the rental housing equivalent of good customer service. Children who were born into a tough neighborhood might yet live long enough to find themselves in a cool neighborhood, a fun neighborhood, a safe and prosperous place where everybody wants to be. They might take on a new sense of identity and make something of their lives instead of dying on a corner in hail of bullets.
Rumor has it a collective cheer went up inside the election office when the Samuels votes were totaled on the second round. It was like DING DONG THE WITCH IS DEAD because so many people at city hall couldn't bear the thought of working with Natalie Johnson-Lee. That collective cheer has rippled across our neighborhood, and our city, and as we remake our neighborhood the day is coming when the cheers for Don Samuels will spread across the country and the world. This is NoMi, and the future of NoMi is no longer in doubt.
We've passed the tipping point. We've tipped toward urban utopia.