I like to think of myself as part South Minneapolitan. This is because I lived there for several years and adopted it as my community. A large part of me would prefer to live there than any other part of the Twin Cities.
So, I write this post with sadness as well as anger, because the fundamental core of society and politics in South Minneapolis — intelligent politics of inclusion and caring — have been sullied by stupid, selfish, and craven politics.
This is a complicated mess, and it will require some background for those not in the know about our local esoteric political system. If you already know everything about SD62 and recent events there, skip right to the big block of quote down below, and ignore my preface.
Minnesota is divided into many Senate Districts, called SD01, SD02, etc.
SD62 covers a large part of South Minneapolis (and no, that is not the name of the city. Minneapolis is divided into a North, South, Northeast, Southeast, and Downtowns [1&2]).
Each Senate District is divided into two parts, A and B. It seems to be a pattern that if one is north and one is south, the northern part is A and the southern part is B. These are the two House districts, represented by representatives to the House of Representatives for the state.
SD62A includes a large part of the East African community of Minneapolis (mainly Horn of Africa, many Somali).
This community provides a great lesson for multi-generation Americans, which I have enjoyed watching develop over the years. During my years living and travelling in Central and East Africa, and South Africa, I learned that in most urban African communities (across several countries) people tend to be very politically aware, conversant, and involved. Comparing the political interest level and woke-ness of urban adults from East Africa to Americans is like comparing professional union contractors to home owners who can’t change a light bulb. It took Minneapolites a long time to realize this, because they did not see it coming, but the East African community of South Minneapolis is in the process of taking over large chunks of city politics, mainly representing their own communities but others as well. We are, verily, lucky to have this infusion of spirit and political intelligence.
Anyway, SD62A is in a transition from sleepy, old, and mostly white (but classically liberal) to vibrant, young, and African (but left in different directions, call it “progressive.”) And, the old guard of SD62, which in South Minneapolis is, as noted, liberal, but also a little diverse (Hispanic, African American, LGBTQ) is apparently a bit shell shocked.
Saturday, SD62A had its convention. I was not there, and everything I can report about it I’ve got second hand, but from multiple sources. And there are two sets of sources. People I know and trust who seem to be providing a consistent and apparently accurate position make up one set of sources. The other also includes people I know, but frankly, the trust level is heavily eroded, and they appear to be providing a considerable amount of false information. One way to tell it is false information is that critical facts that you would expect to be mentioned do not actually appear on their own. They only appear when they are needed. Like they were just made up, to counter some statement. Plus, they contradict more trusted sources, and in some cases, simply defy plausibility. Also, about half of the Great Stream of Yammering that is coming from that side of the story is actually coming from people who were no more present for this event than I was.
In a nutshell, the old guard that was running the convention let it get out of hand (see below for details) and after many hours it was shut down because too many people had left. The convention was slated to convene at 9:00AM, which means people are expected to arrive closer to 8:30AM to register, and be ready to be seated by 8. The Convention ended well after 8:00 PM. So those people left because the convention was so badly botched as en event, that after 12, going on 13, hours, people simply had to go home (again, see below for details). Then, the convention had to shut down before the important business of selecting delegates to the US House Congressional district convention, and the State convention could happen.
I believe, but this is partly conjecture on my part, that the people who ran this convention needed a scapegoat to cover their own asses, for having disenfranchises so many voters.
I note that as the scapegoat, they picked the Rebecca Otto for Governor campaign. It suddenly dawned on me as to why they may have done this, but this is a guess. Otto has a long association with the East African community in Minneapolis. Keep that in mind while you read the document below. It will click into place why, if I’ve got this right, the 62B old guard screwed over the 62A new guard and blamed the Otto campaign for it. (As you know, I’m a strong Otto supporter.) Who knows, just a guess on my part.
Anyway, that blame game went on for a while, and focused on a key Otto campaign staffer who was at the convention. It took the Otto campaign a full 48 hours to respond for reasons that I am not sure I’m allowed to convey, but lets say it involved the emergency room and near death experiences and children and stuff. Things that take precedent even over the wild attacks between political factions.
Then, Otto’s people responded with a clear statement, which, without further comment from me, I give you:
From the Otto campaign team:
Last weekend, the SD62 DFL convention recessed when it lost quorum after 13 hours and per DFL rules was no longer able to conduct business. Rebecca shares the frustration that so many are feeling with the events of that day, and looks forward to SD62 completing their convention business.
Claims that the Otto campaign caused this however are false. The Otto campaign did not instruct anyone to call for quorum, and no campaign staff were on the floor with “illicit” credentials. All gubernatorial campaign staffers wore the credentials they were given by the credentials table. All the campaigns used their credentials to talk to delegates in the same way the Otto campaign used theirs.
The purpose of the DFL’s quorum rule is to protect against disenfranchisement. The DFL’s quorum requirement is a majority of delegates present. That means when quorum was called at SD62, less than half of the delegates remained. Without quorum, the convention cannot continue to conduct business, including electing state convention delegates. Suggesting that it should have continued is essentially arguing for disenfranchisement and for decisions to have been made by a minority of delegates mostly from the less diverse Southern half of the district.
The convention lost quorum because after it adjourned into its 62A and 62B legislative district halves, the 62A half never convened after several hours of discussions over credentials and other issues. This delayed the entire SD62 convention almost three hours. There were several candidates for state house in 62A of East African heritage. When the 62A half of the convention failed to convene, most of the delegates supporting these candidates left. To have elected state delegates in SD62 with almost no one from this important community present to run or to participate in the delegate selection process would have disenfranchised a large portion of the delegates of color, making a mockery of the DFL’s value of diversity and inclusion. Those claiming to be concerned about people of color having a voice in SD62 proceedings cannot at the same time argue for the SD62 state delegates to have been chosen after almost all the East African community delegates and many other people of color had left the convention.
By 8pm many more delegates were leaving. This is understandable; people have children to take care of and jobs to go to. When it was clear quorum was lost, but before the quorum call was made by a delegate, the DFL officials running the convention asked a representative from each gubernatorial campaign – Otto, Walz, and Murphy – to come backstage. There the officials told the campaigns the convention had lost quorum.
Had the convention continued after losing quorum, the delegates that would have been elected at SD62 would have been subject to a credentials challenge at the CD5 Convention and/or the DFL State Convention, and may not have been seated, thus disenfranchising the entire senate district. To avoid that, there needs to be a process to ensure SD62 is well-represented at both conventions.
The DFL straw poll shows all the gubernatorial campaigns have substantial support in SD 62. It was not in the interest of the Otto campaign or any other gubernatorial campaign not to elect state delegates.
Some have claimed that other conventions this year have elected state delegates without a quorum, but provided no evidence of this. This claim casts aspersions on the integrity of the many dedicated DFL volunteer convention officials, on the validity of the delegates elected so far, and on the DFL process itself. Spreading unsubstantiated rumors like this is destructive and damaging to every DFLer in Minnesota and should be avoided, even when politics are heated.
Regarding the photo of Jim Niland wearing a delegate badge: During most of the convention the floor was not controlled and credentials were not required or given to campaigns. Later in the convention the Sergeant at Arms began telling campaign staffers on the floor that they now needed to go to credentials and get a visitor badge. Ottos staffers all went to the credentials table, where they were told that the credentials officials did not have visitor badges, and so the credentials officials gave them delegate badges.