This morning in the Reformer:
Ricardo Lopez reports the Senate DFL is asking the Senate secretary for an outside investigation into allegations of sexual harassment leveled by a former staffer against a DFL operative, who is brother of the staffer’s boss at the time, state Sen. Jason Isaacson, first reported by Ricardo. The caucus is meeting Wednesday. Is this investigation a kind of release valve that buys Minority Leader Susan Kent some time, or — let’s mix metaphors — a drip drip drip ahead of a leadership change?
Just 10% of Minneapolis National Night Out event organizers welcomed police, Max Nesterak reports. Recall that National Night Out was created to bridge community-police relations. There seems to have been a two-step process to invite police to Minneapolis events, so maybe that’s the cause of the lower number. Still and all, wonder if this is a harbinger of the fall election, when Minneapolis voters will have the chance to dismantle the police department and create a new department of public safety.
Max has a fun piece about visiting the bipartisan Habitat for Humanity build. First, kudos to everyone for volunteering and helping build a deserving family a house. But then Max also asked some pointed questions about affordable housing and zoning rules. There seems to be some confusion among Republicans. On the one hand, they say they want the free market to determine what gets built. On other hand, they say local government should be allowed to use zoning regulations — which is the opposite of a free market — to dictate what gets built in their city.
Some more subtext from me: The law requires we desegregate schools. If the Legislature placed affordable housing in all cities in the metro, this would go a long way toward meeting that requirement, would it not? And, desegregated schools are a proven method for improving outcomes. Here’s U Cal Berkeley economist Rucker Johnson:
Significant efforts to integrate schools occurred only for about 15 years, and peaked in 1988. In this period, we witnessed the greatest racial convergence of achievement gaps, educational attainment, earnings and health status.
Rilyn Eischens with a good little scoop about Enbridge Line 3. Their permit required that they report the number of Minnesotans who got jobs building the new pipeline. It was a major selling point. Here’s the catch: They don’t have to report on this until the project will be more or less finished.
And our guest commentary today is from first-time contributor Julie Bach, who writes about her life in two insular cultures: Evangelical Christianity and the anti-vaxx world. (As we now know there’s some overlap.) She is ambivalent about whether we should be angry or compassionate toward the anti-vaxxers who have helped the Delta variant of COVID-19 proliferate. She finally settles on the idea that story can be an important tool. Great read!
Jensen running away with it
I talked to a GOP source Tuesday who confirmed my suspicions: Former state Sen. Scott Jensen has considerable momentum in the governor’s race. The source has a finger on the pulse of activists who will gather at next year’s GOP convention and endorse a candidate. Unlike on the DFL side, Republicans tend to nominate the candidates they endorse at conventions.
“I think Jensen's got the endorsement locked up.”
The source described Jensen as having a Trumpian sway over GOP activists, an emotional pull that makes any damaging opposition research — like Jensen’s wavering on gun rights, for instance — irrelevant. (Remember that Trump had all kinds of marks on his record, like giving to Democrats and Planned Parenthood etc but it never broke the emotional bond with his volk.)
What is the root of this emotional bond? Republican activists are most engaged by COVID-19 restrictions. They suspect it was all cooked up to give DFL Gov. Tim Walz more power. They have doubts about whether COVID-19 is dangerous and about the effectiveness and safety of the vaccines. Jensen has fueled those doubts, and he provides a medical imprimpature because he’s a doctor.
He’s our very own expert! And he’s been on Fox News!
But there are worse Republicans running. Check out this video from someone named Mike Murphy who endorses extralegal police killings of looters, among other things.
Ellison’s conviction review unit
Good for Attorney General Keith Ellison, who has set up a conviction review unit. Strib reporting:
Minnesota's first statewide initiative dedicated to reversing wrongful convictions started taking applications Tuesday, marking the latest step by Attorney General Keith Ellison to make his office a major player in criminal justice reform.
Also in the Strib, impressive reporting on how state contractors are not meeting diversity goals:
Last year, construction companies wrapped up 167 state contracts that cost $100,000 or more. Contractors met the latest goals for women in their workforce in just 12 of those cases, and only 26 times for people of color, Department of Human Rights data show. The numbers were even lower in 2019.
Self-criticism is a sign of health and strength
The N.Y. attorney general reports on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s sexual harassment, as well as the bullying and potentially illegal behavior by him and staff, and it’s devastating. President Joe Biden rightly called on him to resign. The fact that Democrats are throwing him overboard is a sign of a healthy political party.
In an ideal world, both parties would be quick to dump their worst actors. In the real world, one party still shows fealty to a failed putschist.
Chris Cuomo, the CNN anchor, was participating in his brother’s damage control campaign, the attorney general found. Brian Stelter of CNN reports:
“One document included in the report shows Chris Cuomo participating in an email chain on Feb. 28 in which the group drafted a formal public statement for Governor Cuomo; the statement was issued by the governor’s office later that day. Chris Cuomo appeared to weigh in on the wording of the statement, although it was unclear if he wrote it.”
I have no idea why anyone watches cable TV news, but in any case, by any reasonable standard of media ethics, Chris Cuomo should be escorted from the building.
We are St. Paul famous
Hey! The Pioneer Press said some nice things about the Reformer.
Betsy is Savage Love famous
Former Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges makes an appearance in the sex advice column “Savage Love,” offering advice to a man in an awkward spot.
The current mayor, Jacob Frey, is announcing his reelection campaign today.
Have a great day all! JPC