Election Day in Minneapolis

By Max Sparber | Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009

It’s Election Day in Minneapolis, and Minnesota Public Radio offers up two stories about R.T. Rybak for anybody who hasn’t made up his or her mind about him yet. The first, by Brandt Williams, summarizes a debate between Rybak and Republican and Independence Party candidate Papa John Kolstad. Kolstad challenged the incumbent on his effectiveness in stimulating the economy.

At the same time, four other challengers gathered at city hall to offer what sounds like a political hootenanny, singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” with new, anti-Rybak lyrics. Their position: Anybody but Rybak, even recommending people write in candidates rather than re-elect the incumbent. Really? Anybody? Does that include candidate John Charles Wilson, who believes that Laura Ingalls Wilder is God and wants to create a “Lauraist homeland” around Minneapolis?

Rybak’s work as mayor has inspired one college student, at the very least: University of Minnesota undergraduate Andrew LaValle has authored an impassioned letter to the Minnesota Daily chastising the student paper for not endorsing the mayor, claiming the newspaper is overlooking the good work Rybak has done. He summarizes the Daily’s position thusly: “Hey, you gave me CPR and saved my life, but your breath stinks.

MPR’s Elizabeth Dunbar, looks at the election from another angle, asking what would happen if Rybak wins and decides to run from governor, as he has strongly suggested he might, and quoting the mayor’s comments in his debate with Kolstad in which the mayor pointed to his campaigning for Obama: “People didn’t see any drop-off in my production.” Kolstad was unimpressed, saying “We have a lot of problems in Minneapolis. It’s going to take a full-time mayor.

This calls to mind Chris Coleman’s recent announcement that he would not be running for governor, saying that he needs to focus on his work as mayor of St. Paul. And, as it happens, Minnesota Public Radio hosted a debate between Coleman and his challenger, Eva Ng, as summarized by Laura Yuen. The debate was peppered by Ng relentlessly attacking Coleman’s accomplishments: “The RNC convention was an abysmal failure,” she said, and also criticized the proposed Central Corridor light-rail transit line: “I don’t see this particular project as good for the citizens of St. Paul.” Ng essentially categorized herself as a businesswoman who would bring those sensibilities to the office, which allowed Coleman to strike back, saying that government is obligated to provide basic services even when they are unprofitable: “You can’t get out of the library business, you can’t get out of the parks business, and you certainly can’t get out of the public safety business, which is about 75 percent of what we do on the general fund budget,” Coleman said. “As any mayor will tell you, you better not get out of the snow-plowing business or you’re gonna lose your job.

Tom Scheck of Polinaut reports on Tim Pawlenty’s appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” in which the governor refused to say anything good about Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, ultimately saying, “We want Olympia Snowe in the big tent but she can’t say she’s a Republican and vote against the Republican position much of the time.” Scheck points out that this seems to be the opposite of Pawlenty’s repeated urgings that the Republican Party needs to do a better job of reaching out to independents and right-leaning Democrats.

Politco also offered up a look at the fracturing of the Republican Party in an article by Jim VandeHei and Alex Isenstadt republished in the Pioneer Press. It looks at the way grass-roots activists are bucking party lines when they don’t feel Republicans are representing their interests (“I don’t give a crap about party,” a tea bag protester says, giving the quote that titles the story.) The story paraphrases Tom Davis, former head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, who suggests that “this rage against the GOP machine might feel good for disgruntled conservatives, but it could also land Republicans deep in the minority for years to come.”

It doesn’t seem possible that the saga of the motorized reclining chair could have any chapters to it, but, as of today, it has one. Mark Stodghill of the Duluth Tribune, republished in the Pioneer Press, tells us that the chair was pulled from eBay for a trademark violation. It was being marketed as a La-Z-Boy. It is not a La-Z-Boy. As of Monday, the chair had more than $40,000 in bids. As of today, the newly relisted chair has about $800 in bids. And so it turns out the motorized recliner market that so excited us yesterday is just another bubble, capable of sudden and dramatic deflation.

Mary Divine of the Pioneer Press provides the ending for an especially tragic story: that of a Lakeville grandmother who had a few cocktails, took some prescription pills and fell asleep atop her 6-week-old grandson, who died. The grandmother pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 45 days in jail and 10 years on probation. It’s a sentence that Katie Humphrey of the Star Tribune describes as an act of mercy, quoting Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom: “In cases like this, there is no punishment that our criminal justice system can mete out that is worse than that which this woman has already inflicted upon herself.”

Strangely, the same day the Associated Press reported on a man charged with an infant’s death in Fargo. The man had gotten drunk and passed out atop a 2-month-old child he was baby-sitting. These two tales come at the end of a month where there has been a flurry of news reports about a practice called co-sleeping, in which a child shares a bed with an adult: Agence France Presse, as an example, reported that a European study determined that more than half of sudden infant deaths occur when a child and parent co-sleep. ABC reported further, explaining that sharing a bed or a sofa with an adult who has been drinking greatly increases the risk of SIDS.

In sports: The Star Tribune sums up the Timberwolves game against the Clippers: “Wolves so close and yet still falling short.” A commenter on the story simplifies the Wolves’ needs: “We need someone who can shoot the ball!!!

Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Max Sparber on 11/03/2009 - 01:50 pm.

    I see no reason to doubt that Wilson literally believes Laura Ingalls Wilder is God, as he has repeatedly stated that this is what he believes, including listing it in his About Me page along with a series of political platforms, none of which he indicates he means humorously or ironically: http://www.johncharleswilson.name/

    On MnSpeak, he made it pretty clear that he’s not joking: ” am *fully* serious though I may not always look it ‘cuz I’m so disorganised and have few supporters.” (http://www.secretsofthecity.com/mnspeak/what-do-you-do-if-you-think-laura-engels-wilder-is-god#comments)

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