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Minneapolis City Council votes not to pause homeless encampment evictions

Plus: U of M working on plan to let students walk at graduation; Minnesota State makes largest-ever state funding request; Voting rights group promotes machine counting of ballots; and more.

Signs on a tree located near the entrance to the Powderhorn East homeless encampment in south Minneapolis. The encampment was cleared by Minneapolis Police on July 21, 2020.
Signs on a tree located near the entrance to the Powderhorn East homeless encampment in south Minneapolis. The encampment was cleared by Minneapolis Police on July 21, 2020.

At MPR, Grace Birnstengel reports, “In the wake of two police clearings of homeless encampments in the past month that led some homeless people to pitch tents outside City Hall in protest, the Minneapolis City Council on Thursday declined to take concrete action on the clearings, at one point questioning if that would even be within their control. The 13-member council voted against a proposal to temporarily stop evicting tent encampments in the city, a practice carried out by Minneapolis police in which homeless residents are given little notice, lose their belongings and aren’t often provided an alternative place to go.” 

A Star Tribune story by By Alex Chhith and Paul Walsh says, “University of Minnesota officials are now developing opportunities to allow for all graduates to walk the stage to receive their diplomas after renovations potentially jeopardized the rite of passage … 3M Arena at Mariucci, where most graduations are usually held, is closed for “extensive renovations,” according to an email from David Greenstein, interim dean at the College of Biological Sciences. Initially, students would have celebrated with a “number of other UMN colleges” at Huntington Bank Stadium, according to Greenstein’s email. An email sent to the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resources students said the joint ceremony would not have allowed students to walk across the stage and receive diplomas, according to Szatkowski.”

An AP story says, “Outside the beige walls of the Ramsey County Courthouse, more than 30 people chanted ‘Democracy!’ in near-freezing weather Wednesday and held up signs reading, ‘We Choose Us’ — the name of a voting rights advocacy organization that opposes efforts to make voting more difficult in counties across Minnesota. Members said groups such as the Dakota County Patriots and MidWest Swamp Watch are ‘attacking our democracy’ by calling for ‘dangerous changes’ that include hand-counting ballots, limiting drop-off boxes, and flooding a county election office with dozens of data requests that are bogging down staff. … In the weeks leading up to the election, members of We Choose Us plan to testify at county board meetings in hopes of persuading officials to continue with machine counting of paper ballots instead of switching to hand counting. Election officials counter that machine counting is more accurate than hand counting.” 

For the AP Steve Karnowski writes, “The Minnesota Legislature should mandate that the secretary of state’s office proofread every county’s ballots before they’re mailed out, Republican challenger Kim Crockett said Thursday as she decried ballot printing errors in four counties. Crockett acknowledged that state law does not require the secretary of state’s office to review the ballots of each precinct across the state for accuracy — that’s long been the responsibility of Minnesota’s counties. But she suggested that Democratic incumbent Steve Simon should have caught the errors anyway, since counties are required to mail copies to his office.” 

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In the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Lawrence Andrea writes, “After retaining a Wisconsin law firm that represented former President Donald Trump in his effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson’s campaign has launched a website encouraging voters to report instances of suspected election fraud. The move comes as Republicans have raised doubts about confidence in election results despite recounts, court rulings and nonpartisan audits that confirmed Joe Biden’s victory over Trump by about 21,000 votes in the 2020 presidential count in Wisconsin.”

A PiPress story by Josh Verges says, “With pandemic-relief grants running out and enrollment falling faster than expected, the Minnesota State college and university system is preparing its largest-ever state funding request for the upcoming biennium. The system wants a $350 million increase in state support to pay for a tuition freeze, increased student services and financial aid, job-training improvements, and increased core funding for the 26 colleges and seven universities. Chancellor Devinder Malhotra said he’s proposing such a ‘bold and aggressive’ request, not because he wants a piece of the state’s huge budget surplus, but so that the system’s campuses can continue to support the state’s economy.”