News Releases

MN Transportation System Will Clearly Benefit from Federal Infrastructure Package

Minnesota Report

 

Federal dollars usually come with a string attached and that is a state match. On Tuesday, MNDOT Commissioner Margaret Anderson Kelliher identified $1 billion in need for bridge repair, in the land of the 35W Bridge collapse. If this is the starting point for discussions on a Bonding Bill, then the $1.5 Trillion Infrastructure package currently being debated in Congress will be a worthy addition to the calculus.

Our state’s infrastructure has significantly diminished to the point where people leaving the state in any direction be it, on 94 East into Wisconsin, 35 South to Iowa, Highway 90 to South Dakota or 94 West to North Dakota can no longer make their own comparisons to the higher quality of roads here in the Land O’ 10,000 lakes.

When we live in a state with five seasons and the fifth being Road Construction, we al know the pangs of traffic delays, but if the bill passes Congress and the legislature passes a sizable Bonding Bill and construction crews work in night time hours when traffic is lower, we might see marked improvements.

Minneapolis, Bloomington, Minnetonka and St Louis Park; Set to Not to Comply with State Election Law

Minnesota Report

Minnesota State Statue Article 206 is entitled Voting Systems.

Article 206.80 states:

206.80 ELECTRONIC VOTING SYSTEMS.

(a) An electronic voting system may not be employed unless it:

(1) permits every voter to vote in secret;

(2) permits every voter to vote for all candidates and questions for whom or upon which the voter is legally entitled to vote;

(3) provides for write-in voting when authorized;

(4) automatically rejects, except as provided in section 206.84 with respect to write-in votes, all votes for an office or question when the number of votes cast on it exceeds the number which the voter is entitled to cast;

(5) permits a voter at a primary election to select secretly the party for which the voter wishes to vote;

(6) automatically rejects all votes cast in a primary election by a voter when the voter votes for candidates of more than one party; and

(7) provides every voter an opportunity to verify votes recorded on the permanent paper ballot, either visually or using assistive voting technology, and to change votes or correct any error before the voter’s ballot is cast and counted, produces an individual, discrete, permanent, paper ballot cast by the voter, and preserves the paper ballot as an official record available for use in any recount.

(b) An electronic voting system purchased on or after June 4, 2005, may not be employed unless it:

(1) accepts and tabulates, in the polling place or at a counting center, a marked optical scan ballot; or

(2) creates a marked optical scan ballot that can be tabulated in the polling place or at a counting center by automatic tabulating equipment certified for use in this state.

We suggest you strongly pay attention to 206.80 (b) 2 because the State of Minnesota, through the Secretary of State has not examined or certified an election system which tabulates Ranked Choice Voting.

Now, it is our understanding, the cities in question Minneapolis, Bloomington, Minnetonka and St Louis Park are all prepared to tabulate their own municipal elections via an Excel Spreadsheet with formulas to sort out the results. An Excel Spreadsheet is not a viable option for doing so, as per state law.

The point is clear, if this counting method and if the election results are reported out to the public and more importantly to the canvasing board, the election results are illegitimate for the municipal races which are not 50%+1 on the first ballot.

Why Minneapolis Municipal Elections Results are Actual Lies

Minnesota Report

In Minneapolis, if you fail to select a candidate, who is not one of the final two finishers your ballot is deemed “Exhausted,” and you have been functionally disenfranchised. We thought this was an egregious issue on its own, but not we understand, those votes are not even included in the overall count and are not part of the denominator for determining 50%+1 on subsequent ballots.

This is the difference between a “Static” result, where all of the votes in the first round set the bar versus a “Dynamic” result. Talk about giving a false outcome.

This means if you again only voted for a single candidate, and they don’t continue either through here rounds in Minneapolis or six in Bloomington, you are SOL and to add insult to injury you might as well have not voted at all, because the results is nearly the same.

Redistricting Eric Eskola Style

Minnesota Report

We have conceived of a novel idea, which we have always attributed to Eric Eskola of WCCO Radio and TPT Almanac fame, who posed the question of a 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 budget solution of 1999 at a gubernatorial press conference. When Reform Party Governor Jesse Ventura, Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe (DFL, 02, Erskine) and House Speaker Steve Sviggum (R-27B, Kenyon) all agreed to divide the state budget into three pieces. We once asked Moe, the consummate negotiator, why he had agreed to such a thing, and he said, “Because it was all I could get.”

To this end we believe, the congressional and state legislative maps should be similarly aligned. Congressionally, there should be three rural districts decided on by Senate Republicans, two urban districts and one suburban district decided on by the House DFL and two suburban/exurban districts decided on by the 5-judge panel.

Similarly, there should be 22-rural senate districts decided on by Senate Republicans, 22-urban/suburban senate districts decided on by the House DFL and the 23-remaining decided on by the 5-judge panel.

We believe this is a plan, if logical heads were to prevail, would be one that will far better reflect the political representation of our state. One caveat being, in the case of the regional centers of Duluth, St Cloud, Mankato, Moorhead and Rochester the bias should be reflective of the party of the current state senator.

DFL Senate Selects Franzen As New Leader

Minnesota Report

Last night the Senate DFL met to choose a successor for Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent (DFL-53, Woodbury) who had announced her resignation earlier this month. As we expected, he 31 member caucus selected Sen Melisa Franzen (DFL-49, Edina). The affable, Puerto Rican born, attorney, and mother of two will the second woman to leader her caucus after she resigned from a Assistant Leader position over a mishandled sexual complaint by a senate staffer.

The most significant challenge Franzen faces is not the forthcoming legislative session, but rather the recruitment candidates and retention of caucus members after the 2022 redistricting plan is finalized. A continued shift in t he state’s population is expected to reduce representation in Greater Minnesota by as much as two senate seats, which is the bastion of the Republican senate control. The key elements of the new map will be how the suburban and ex-urban districts are aligned.

We will watch the ongoing positioning very closely.

Senate Republicans Select a New Leader and the Post Gazelka Era Commences

Minnesota Report

The Republican Senate Majority Caucus advanced Senate President Jeremy Miller (R-28, Winona) from the podium to the floor last night in an election to fill the vacancy created by Sen Paul Gazelka’s (R-09-Nisswa) resignation as Majority Leader. Miller a fourth-term member, is a deliberative legislator, who leaves a solid the impression that he fully listens to concerns and takes them into consideration. He is a rather fresh face to most outside of the legislative process. As a small business owner and Chief Financial Officer for his family owned scrap metal business he knows the value of a resource and also the value of recycling and as a  past member of the Tax Committee, he knows where the state’s revenue comes from. We doubt though, as a member of the Redistricting Committee he and his caucus can strike a bargain with the DFL House Caucus on a redistricting plan that will not be drawn by the courts, although we suggest a legislative route is a far more beneficial path when attempting to protect something rather than letting the chips fall where the five judge panel drops them.

The caucus announcement of his election is shown here.

Today Senate Republicans elected new leadership. Senator Jeremy Miller (R- Winona) was elected to the leader position after Senator Paul Gazelka announced he was stepping down last week.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to be elected by my peers as Leader,” Miller said. “For the last five years, Senate Republicans have worked to advance Minnesota in so many ways. From lowering taxes, historic funding for the education of our students, stabilizing healthcare markets, fixing MNLARS, prioritizing small businesses, and supporting our law enforcement, I’m incredibly proud of the way our majority has improved the lives of every Minnesotan. As we head into a bonding year, we will invest in the top priorities for the state and create a fair and transparent redistricting process for the next election.”

Senator Miller was first elected to the Senate in 2010. He has been President of the Senate since 2019, and at the time, was the youngest serving President to hold the position.

Additional Biographical Information

Miller lives in Winona with his wife, Janel, and their three sons: Drew, and twins Luke and Tom. Miller is a 2004 graduate of Minnesota State College – Southeast Technical and earned an Associate Degree in Accounting from the Winona campus.

Miller is also the Chief Financial Officer for Wm. Miller Scrap Iron & Metal Co., a family owned and operated business that dates back to 1910. Miller and his two brothers are the fourth generation from their family to be involved in the company and they work together with their father and a dedicated team of employees. Miller’s responsibilities include accounting, business development, marketing, human resources, as well as domestic and global sales. He also oversees the company’s Quality, Environmental, Health & Safety Management System.

Miller serves as Vice President of the Morrie Miller Athletic Foundation, an organization that has been instrumental in supporting and sustaining youth athletics. He is a Director on the Winona State University Warrior Club Board, Saint Mary’s University Athletic Advisory Board, and the Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical President’s Advisory Board and a member of the Winona Area Chamber of Commerce.

New Minneapolis Ballot Language is as Clear as Mud

Minnesota Report

It is good to see the Mill City is on one-hand seeking to follow the governance structure of the Capitol City and empower the mayor. On the other, the language of the proposed Minneapolis Charter Amendment on Police Reform in Minneapolis is still an amorphous issue and was made slightly better by the recent changes by the Minneapolis City Council, but doesn’t change the constant problem in the Mill City, which is too many fingers in the pot. The question over the “Weak Mayor” system will be addressed in addition on another ballot question, but here in the one place where the mayor has the greatest amount of authority, selection of the Police Chief, is a strong mayor situation, in which the complete responsibility is in the hands of the Chief Executive and the accountability rests with the mayor.

The new language continues to foster the decision by committee process in Minneapolis and the creation of a new Department of Public Safety versus a Police Department leaves many with the feeling there will be few protections for communities across the city.

In the aftermath of George Floyd, clarion calls for change became the rule of the day, but as is also obvious the devil is in the details and making a complex decision based on a referendum is a poor process choice. At the end of the day, the final decision will be left to the mayor and the city council, and the referendum is merely an advisory, or guidance in the process conceived of by the city council.

As we look at the question facing Minneapolitans it seems clearly evident the position taken by the independent group AllofMpls is the best route vote Yes, on the charter amendment to adopt St Paul’s model of city government and No, on the charter amendment to eliminate the Minneapolis Police Department.

But you can read it for yourself. The language for deletion is struck out and the new language is underlined.

RESOLUTION By Jenkins

Adopting title and ballot language pertaining to a proposed amendment to the Minneapolis City Charter relating to the removal of the Police Department and the creation of a new Department of Public Safety, to be submitted to the qualified voters of the City of Minneapolis at the Municipal General Election on November 2, 2021.
Whereas, a petition was submitted by the Yes4Minneapolis Coalition to the Charter Commission, which was then transmitted to the City Council; and
Whereas, the petition has been verified and deemed a valid petition by the City Clerk; and
Whereas, the Minneapolis City Attorney’s Office made the following findings in its legal opinion dated July 13, 2021 as follows:
1. All technical requirements for the petition have been met.
2. The amendment is a proper subject for the Minneapolis Charter.
3. The amendment is constitutional and complies with federal law, state law, and state public policy.
4. The City Council should place the proposed amendment on the ballot in the form of a ballot question at the general election on Tuesday, November 2, 2021; and

Whereas, the proposed amendment submitted by the Yes4Minneapolis Coalition would, if approved, amend Article VII, Sections 7.2(a), 7.3, and 7.4(c), and Article VIII, Section 8.2 of the Minneapolis City Charter relating to Administration: Departments, Administration: Police, Administration: Fire, and Officers and Other Employees: Officers Generally, as follows:

  • 7.2. – Departments.

(a) The departments generally. The City Council must establish, organize, and otherwise provide for these departments:
(1) a City Coordinator;
(2) a City Clerk (section 4.2(e));
(3) a City Assessor;
(4) a City Finance Officer and budget office, including a director;
(5) a City Attorney and legal department;
(6) a civil rights department, including a director, and a civil rights commission (section 7.2(d)); (7) a department of community planning and economic development;
(8) a fire department (section 7.4);
(9) a health department, headed by a health commissioner;
(10) a planning commission (section 7.2(e));
(11) a police department department of public safety (section 7.3);
(12) a public-works department;
(13) a purchasing department;
(14) a regulatory-services department; and
(15) any other department necessary or convenient for the efficient delivery of municipal services.

  • 7.3. – Police.

(a) Police department. The Mayor has complete power over the establishment, maintenance, and command of the police department. The Mayor may make all rules and regulations and may promulgate and enforce general and special orders necessary to operating the police department. Except where the law vests an appointment in the department itself, the Mayor appoints and may discipline or discharge any employee in the department (subject to the Civil Service Commission’s rules, in the case of an employee in the classified service).

(1) Police chief.

(A) Appointment. The Mayor nominates and the City Council appoints a police chief under section 8.4(b). (B) Term. The chief’s term is three years.

(C) Civil service. The chief serves in the unclassified service, but with the same employee benefits (except as to hiring and removal) as an officer in the classified service. If a chief is appointed from the classified service, then he or she is treated as taking a leave of absence while serving as chief, after which he or she is entitled to return to his or her permanent grade in the classified service. If no vacancy is available in that grade, then the least senior employee so classified returns to his or her grade before being so classified.

(D) Public health. The chief must execute the City Council’s orders relating to the preservation of health.

(2) Police officers. Each peace officer appointed in the police department must be licensed as required by law. Each such licensed officer may exercise any lawful power that a peace officer enjoys at common law or by general or special law, and may execute a warrant anywhere in the county.

(b) Temporary police. The Mayor may, in case of riot or other emergency, appoint any necessary temporary police officer for up to one week. Each such officer must be a licensed peace officer.

(c) Funding. The City Council must fund a police force of at least 0.0017 employees per resident, and provide for those employees’ compensation, for which purpose it may tax the taxable property in the City up to 0.3 percent of its value annually. This tax is in addition to any other tax, and not subject to the maximum set under section 9.3(a)(4).

7.3 Public Safety.

(a) Department of Public Safety.

(1) Function: The Department of Public Safety is responsible for integrating its public safety functions into a comprehensive public health approach to safety, including licensed peace officers if necessary to fulfill the responsibilities of the department.

(2) Commissioner of Public Safety Department. (a) The Mayor nominates and the City Council appoints a commissioner of the department of public safety under section 8.4.

  • 7.4. – Fire.

    (c) Fire police. The City Council may provide for fire police within either the fire department or the police department of public safety. The fire department may command the police these officers at any fire.

  • 8.2. – Officers generally.

Except as this charter otherwise provides:
(d) Tenure. Each officer takes office, after having qualified and taking the required oath—
(1) in the case of an elected officer other than a Council member, elected in a regular general election, on the first weekday in January that is not a holiday in the calendar year next following the election;
(2) in the case of Council members, elected in a regular general election, on the first Monday in January in the calendar year next following the election;
(3) in the case of an elected officer elected at a special election, when the results are certified;
(4) in the case of an officer appointed under section 8.4(b), other than the police chief, on the first weekday in January that is not a holiday in an even-numbered year; and
(5) in the case of the police chief, on the first weekday in January that is not a holiday in the year the appointment starts; and
(6 5) in the case of any other office, as any applicable ordinance provides, otherwise upon election or appointment.
Whereas, the City Council has neither authority to reject this proposed amendment nor authority to change the language of this proposed amendment; and
Whereas, the City Council’s only duty, which is dictated by statute, is to fix the ballot question for this proposed amendment; and
Whereas, a vote for or against specific ballot question language is not an indicator of a Council Member’s approval or disapproval of this proposed amendment;
Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved by The City Council of The City of Minneapolis:
That the proposed amendment relating to the removal of the Police Department and the creation of a new Department of Public Safety be submitted to the qualified voters of the City for adoption or rejection at the Municipal General Election to be held November 2, 2021, and that such notice of such submission be given by the City Clerk by publication of such notice and amendment, in full, once a week for two successive weeks prior to November 2, 2021, in the Star Tribune, a newspaper of general circulation in the City of Minneapolis, and in Finance and Commerce, the official newspaper of the City of Minneapolis.
Be It Further Resolved that in submitting the proposed amendment for adoption or rejection by the qualified voters, the title and language of the question shall be presented as follows:

“City Question #2
Department of Public Safety

Shall the Minneapolis City Charter be amended to remove the Police Department and replace it with a Department of Public Safety that employs a comprehensive public health approach to the delivery of functions by the Department of Public Safety, with those specific functions to be determined by the Mayor and City Council by ordinance; which will not be subject to exclusive mayoral power over its establishment, maintenance, and command; and which could include licensed peace officers (police officers), if necessary, to fulfill its responsibilities for public safety, with the general nature of the amendments being briefly indicated in the explanatory note below, which is made a part of this ballot?

Yes ___
No ___

Explanatory Note:

This amendment would create a Department of Public Safety combining public safety functions through a comprehensive public health approach to be determined by the Mayor and Council. The department would be led by a Commissioner nominated by the Mayor and appointed by the Council. The Police Department, and its chief, would be removed from the City Charter. The Public Safety Department could include police officers, but the minimum funding requirement would be eliminated.”

Tony Lazarro’s Contributions

Minnesota Report

First off, in order to find all of the contributions Anton “Tony” Lazarro made to candidates, party units and PAC’s you will need to look under a number of names. This is significant because as of now, state law only allows active political campaigns to only give $100 to a charitable interest. We understand the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board is wrestling with this issue. This means it will take some time for candidate to whitewash the Lazzaro money.

We will break out each name and the amounts and years contributed.

In 2018, Lazzaro Anton, Anton, who gave $500 to the Log Cabin Republicans of Minnesota.

While in 2020 Lazzaro, Anthony, gave $500 to the Schwanke, Ben Senate Committee.

Also in 2020, Lazzaro, Anton, gave $12,280 to various entities, $5,080 to the Republican Party of Minn, Freedom Club State PAC, MN Young Republicans Victory Fund, Pfliger, Jesse House Committee and again Schwanke, Ben Senate Committee. In 2019, it was $14,765 to the same interests, but including $500 to the Housley, Karin Senate Committee. In 2018 , it was many of the same with $25,000 to the Freedom Club State PAC, $11,040 Republican Party of Minn, including $1000 to the Daudt, Kurt House Committee, $550 to the 5th Congressional District RPM and $700 to the Johnson, Lacy Lee House Committee. In 2017, $4000 to Johnson, Jeff R Gov Committee and $250 to 5th Congressional District RPM.

The earliest political contribution occurred in 2014, with two contributions totaling $1250 to Honour, Scott Gov Committee.

In 2017,  Lazzaro, Anton J, gave $250 to 59th Senate District RPM and in 2018, a total of $14,180 to 59th Senate District RPM.

In 2020, Lazzaro, Tony gave $500 to the 33rd Senate District RPM and in 2019 $800 to the same.

We will be interested in how the money is redistributed, but in this case the various campaigns are able to make many $100 contributions to noble caucuses.

Wattson Releases Redistricting Plan

Minnesota Report

Today, former Senate Counsel Peter Wattson along with former Ramsey County Election Director Joe Masky, have put forward a redistricting plan in support of their case before the five-Judge Redistricting Panel. The plan accounts for three rural Congressional Districts, 1, 7 & 8, three suburban Districts 2, 3 & 6 and two urban districts 4 & 5.

The location for the information is on the League of Women Voter’s website, which is a petitioner in Wattson’s suit.

Wattson Plaintiffs Release Proposed Minnesota Congressional District Plan — League of Women Voters Minnesota (LWVMN).

Need for a Forensic Cyber Audit at the State Patrol?

Minnesota Report

A press release from the MN-ACLU, provides a very disturbing view of a potential cover-up by the Minnesota State Patrol’s use of excessive use of force during the George Floyd protests. If the alleged email and text purge occurred then holding the perpetrators accountable will be a larger undertaking.

This gives credence to the thought, all who wear a badge, are merely part of the great Blue Shield, and will stop at nothing to protect one of their own or themselves, including breaking the law.

Court Transcript Reveals State Patrol Purged Emails, Texts after George Floyd Uprising 

A “vast majority” of the Minnesota State Patrol performed a massive purge of emails and texts after police were accused of using excessive force during the George Floyd uprising, according to a recently filed court transcript.

“The purge was neither accidental, automated, nor routine,” the ACLU of Minnesota said in documents filed late Friday as part of an ongoing lawsuit to prevent police assaults on journalists. “The purge did not happen because of a file destruction or retention policy. No one reviewed the purged communications before they were deleted to determine whether the materials were relevant to this litigation. The impact of this purge is compounded by the fact that during the protests Troopers were either directed not to complete use of force reports or told that such reports were not required.”

This destruction of public records makes it nearly impossible to track the State Patrol’s behavior, and the ACLU-MN questions whether that was by design. The filing contends, based on MSP testimony from a July 28, 2021, hearing in the ACLU-MN’s Goyette case, that MSP also:

  • Concocted false reports to justify abuse of force
  • Failed to discipline or reprimand even a single Trooper for misconduct.

“The Minnesota State Patrol’s self-described actions – purging emails after the George Floyd uprising and failing to investigate its improper arrests and assaults on journalists – show an alarming lack of accountability for misconduct and complete disrespect for the right to assemble and the right to a free press. It is time for police and our community to stop turning a blind eye to police misconduct, and we hope this lawsuit helps stop this reprehensible behavior,” said ACLU-MN Legal Director Teresa Nelson.

The filing is a continuation of the June 2020 lawsuit Goyette et al. V. City of Minneapolis et al. that the ACLU-MN filed on behalf of Jared Goyette, the Communications Workers of America, and other journalists who were attacked by police while covering the George Floyd protests. The lawsuit led to an April 16, 2021, temporary restraining order barring police violence after State Troopers attacked journalists during the Daunte Wright protests. The latest filing Friday asks U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina M. Wright to convert that TRO into a preliminary injunction.

The ACLU-MN is joined in the case by pro bono attorneys at Fredrikson & Byron, the Law Office of Kevin Riach, and Apollo Law.

Case Number:  0:20-cv-01302-WMW-DTS.

Learn more about the Goyette case at: https://www.aclu-mn.org/en/cases/jared-goyette-et-al-v-city-minneapolis-et-al.

View the motion for a preliminary injunction at: https://www.aclu-mn.org/en/press-releases/court-transcript-reveals-state-patrol-purged-emails-texts-after-george-floyd-uprising.

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NPR Censors Opposition Comments on RCV

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2017 House State Fair Poll

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76 Days After Wuhan Lock Down

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What the House Looks Like During COVID-19

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