Casting my ballot early today, I agonized a little bit and then threw my support to Blong Yang over Linda Higgins for Hennepin County Commissioner, District 2.
I did this solely on the basis of the issue of Level Three Sex Offender (L3SO) concentration in our neighborhood and not for any other issue or reason. I like both of these candidates and North Minneapolis will be well served by either of them, including on this specific issue. However, here is my rationale for voting the way I did.
First of all, don't look now but North Minneapolis is about to be overwhelmed with more Level Three Sex Offenders.
Oh, you think we have a lot of them NOW? Think of what we have now as numerous sappers who are inside the wire, but the enemy is about to send an entire battalion our way...
I refer you to an article in today's Star Tribune, "Panel looks at options for sex offenders." It's very clear the trend is toward releasing dangerous sex offenders on the illogical basis that treatment isn't working very well and they remain deprived of their freedom too long. Well, they'll just have to be monitored better on the outside, won't they?
So where will this wave of newly released sex offenders end up "on the outside?" The historical trend shows North Minneapolis will get a disproportionate number of them. Think of it as a "matching grant" for the two dozen or so we already have.
Both Blong Yang and Higgins have given this blogger statements about their position on the current concentration of L3SO's. Click here for the statement by Blong Yang, and here for the statement by Linda Higgins. Though Higgins makes a longer statement, both statements can be summed up in the following way:
This is a problem. This problem needs attention. While acknowledging the humanity of these sex offenders and their need for help and stability, my concern is with the neighborhood.
I give both their statements almost equal weight. There is only one thing in Blong's statement that makes it weigh just a bit more.
He has small children. Blong feels this issue in his gut in a primal way, the way somebody like neighbor Denny Wagner feels it when confronting an unhelpful, uncooperative, and tight lipped Department of Corrections over dumping YET ANOTHER LEVEL THREE SEX OFFENDER IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD.
Beyond that, there is the history of the two candidates and their background. Blong is a lawyer. As Jeff Skrenes wrote on his blog (when he wasn't busy bashing a 76-year-old cat rescuer, boo) the Hmong community was thwarted in its desire to see a Hmong police officer on day shift until Blong Yang went through the contracts with a fine-toothed comb and found a rationale to overcome what everybody in officialdom said was an insurmountable problem.
What does our neighborhood need to solve this problem of L3SO concentration? WE NEED A CLEVER LAWYER LIKE BLONG YANG TO DIG DEEPLY INTO THIS ISSUE AND FIND US SOME GROUND ON WHICH TO STAND AND DEFEND OUR POSITION.
Linda Higgins has served as an elected official for 16 years. And she moved the ball forward on this issue, getting a bill passed which said concentration of sex offenders shouldn't happen. But the bill was watered down by others, and "concentration" wasn't defined. What will Higgins do differently in the next few years? Especially as the perverts come pouring over the wire as the state lets them go? I suspect she will figure out how to get them jobs and treatment while tolerating their overwhelming numbers.
On the political spectrum, Higgins is a bit more liberal than Blong. They are both good democrats, don't mistake my meaning, but on the spectrum of issues I feel (subjectively, my gut feeling) like Blong is pretty "law and order" when it comes to these sex offenders and Linda is more, "Oh, how are we going to help these poor men?"
Help them, I say, by making sure they aren't concentrated all in one place. It isn't good for them, and it isn't good for our neighborhood. HELP THEM WITH A KICK IN THE ASS THE (EXPLETIVE) OUT OF NORTH MINNEAPOLIS. (Excuse me. That was MY passion expressed there, and not the position of either candidate)
My vote has nothing to do with the stadium, with race, with a newcomer upstart versus the old guard, with gender, with any of the many issues facing our neighborhood.
I vote solely based on the Level Three sex offender concentration issue and I'm throwing my vote to underdog Blong Yang.