Gosh, you wouldn’t think what is fundamentally a real estate and zoning issue in lower Manhattan would call for comments from Minnesotans. But the so-called Ground Zero mosque — which, as we at the Glean have pointed out before, is neither at Ground Zero nor a mosque — just continues to attract comment. It’s not unexpected that Rep. Keith Ellison might have a few words to say as the first Muslim in Congress, and he wasn’t circumspect about his viewpoint when queried by FOX9’s Jeff Passolt, who asked about common sense and sensitivity. “You would not want me to put your constitutional rights up for popular approval,” Ellison said. “You’re right about that,” Passolt responded. Bob Collins of Minnesota Public Radio’s News Cut has the video.
Sen. Al Franken has also weighed in, and is likewise direct in his opinion, describing the controversy as “one of the most disgraceful things that I’ve heard,” according to the State Journal-Register of Illinois. “They (Republicans) do this every two years,” he added. “They try to find a wedge issue, and they try to work it.”
We don’t expect to hear any Manhattanites opining on light rail construction in Lowertown, even if, as Laura Yuen of Minnesota Public Radio points out, it’s become something of a headache. But, then, public transportation can be unpopular, but it lacks that extra je ne sais quoi of Islamophobia that can really push a topic into the national limelight.
Of course, there’s no Islamophobia at the center of the Target controversy, another local topic that has gone national. It certainly isn’t every day that a business giving money to support a Minnesota politician sparks a flash mob protest in Seattle; but, then, the business is Target and the politician opposes gay marriage, and both have national impact — and isn’t it curious that both the Cordoba House story and the Target donation story revolve around issues of the rights of America’s minorities, and when those rights come into conflict with the already long-established privileges of the majority?
This has complicated things for Target. After all, they have a fall line to get out, and the company had big plans for it, but as Andy Birkey of Minnesota Independent points out, that’s being overshadowed by the gay marriage controversy. Birkey quotes David J. Carr, digital strategy director at Chemistry Group, who discusses Target’s ingenious social media campaign for the Kaleidoscope Fashion Spectacular. You can see the Facebook page here, and you can also see that significant amount of the social media discussion in the lower left hand corner is not about fashion, or the party Target is throwing for it, but instead calls to boycott the business and complaints about Target’s support of GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer. How did this happen? “If your brand and your deeds diverge you will be found out and called out,” Carr notes.
As you might imagine, this has investors a little nervous — you don’t hire Squeak E. Clean to create a composition featuring a 30-piece orchestra and 10-person chorus in order to have it be the soundtrack to protests. According to the Associated Press, investors filed shareholder resolutions with Target (as well as Best Buy). They called the Emmer flap a “debacle” and called for a review of corporate political contribution policies. Trillium Vice President Shelley Alpern, representing the investors, demanded the following: “We expect companies to evaluate candidates based upon the range of their positions — not simply one area — and assess whether they are in alignment with their core values. But these companies’ policies are clearly lacking that.”
There’s a bit more to this story, as MinnPost’s David Brauer points out. Specifically, the investors in this story — Trillium Asset Management, Calvert Investments, and Walden Asset Management — are all “socially responsible investors,” meaning, as Brauer puts it, that “they incorporate human rights, diversity, environmental and other moral stands into their investment decisions.” In other words, this is not blowback from everyday investors, but instead from investors who already have a commitment to social issues.
One effect of the protests against Target is that, according to MPR’s Tom Scheck, it has other Minnesota companies wondering if it is worth it to invest in this election.
And what of Tom Emmer, the politician behind this so-called debacle. Well, there are a few pieces of news we should report: Firstly, there was a gubernatorial debate Thursday in Winona, but Emmer wasn’t there. (“Just one of those scheduling things,” he explained.) His absence, according to Eric Roper of the Star Tribune, “was hard to overlook, given the empty seat at the table and a placard bearing his name.” The other candidates, Dayton and Horner, went ahead and had a lively debate about tax policy without him.
Secondly, the Alliance for a Better Minnesota has been running an ad charging Emmer with missing one of every five votes in Minnesota’s House. WCCO’s Pat Kessler takes a look at this charge and finds it misleading, in part because the ad makes it sounds as though Emmer had done the equivalent of miss one out of every five days of work. But Kessler also points out that Emmer skipped votes that are central to his campaign, missing a vote on the Legacy Amendment for a softball game and excusing himself from a vote on Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s budget cuts to attend his son’s hockey tryouts. Kessler mentions that missing votes isn’t uncommon but also points out that Dayton missed 3 percent of his votes while senator and Republican Marty Seiffert has a perfect voting record.
In arts: Local band Pink Mink wrote an ode to one of the Twin Cities most enduring characters, artist Scott Seekins, which, appropriately, they titled “Seekin’ Scott Seekins,” which you can watch on YouTube. The truth is, you do’t have to look very hard to find Seekins — he pops up with great frequency at cultural events, such as the “4 Nights in Loring” afterparty organized by Andrea Swensson of City Pages, where, wouldn’t you know it, Pink Mink was playing. Swensson tells the story of the band meeting their muse in City Pages’ Gimme Noise blog.
In sports: For those of you whose passion for baseball is only matched by your intolerance for gluten, there’s good news! As blogger Amy Leger points out, republished on MinnPost, Target Field has a larger selection of gluten-free snacks than previously advertised, and that is as it should be. After all, neither peanuts nor Cracker Jacks have gluten in them, and for some reason those are the two foods we at the Glean always associate with the sport.