Tag Archives: Minneapolis

RT Rybak, The Rhyming Mayor of Minneapolis

It occurs to me that many of you may not know this because you don’t live in the Twin Cities or are not Facebook Friends of the Mayor of Minneapolis, but the guy is very funny and creative and produces a lot of poetry, especially this time of year.

In Minneapolis, there is an arcane system of plowing snow that I will not even attempt to explain. (I come from New York and Boston where the system for removing snow from the city streets makes perfect sense.) The point is, if you mess up they tow your car to a sort of automotive dungeon and it costs a lot of money to get it back.

So, when the snow flakes start flying RT starts rhyming, as a public service. Like this:

RT_Rybak_Mayor_DancingOn snow emergency routes:
Here’s your motto
By nine o’clock tonight
Please move your auto

Here in Fun City
Rock out, wine and dine
But from snow emergency routes
Move your car by nine

You ain’t so groovy
You ain’t no playa
If you can’t move your car
Without a poem from da Maya

The mayor will be replaced in January, but we are hoping he will stay on as Poet Laureate of the City of Lakes.

A Short List of Candidates for Mayor of Minneapolis

A few days ago I wrote a note to each of several trusted fellow political activists asking them to provide me with a short list of which of the many candidates running for Mayor of Minneapolis they would feel comfortable with winning this important race. I did not ask for their number one choice, but rather, which of the candidates they would be reasonably comfortable with if they won. These fellow travelers in local politics were assured that I would include any and all names they gave me on the list, the list would be alphabetical and not ranked, there would be no indication as to who listed what candidate, and the names of the individuals I asked for this advice would be confidential. (I actually promised to destroy the replies.)

The reason I did this should be obvious to anyone following the Minneapolis Mayoral race. At present there are 35 candidates running for mayor. This includes a number of individuals who currently or have held public office in the area, or are otherwise politically involved, and are clearly serious candidates. It also includes a number of individuals whom it is hard to take seriously, such as the person who named himself after a well known movie pirate and one person running under the “Last Minneapolis Mayor” ticket. (I’m not sure if that candidate expect to be the last mayor of Minneapolis, or is making a statement that we’d like to keep the last mayor in office.) Many other candidates, perhaps most, are serious candidates (though often, it seems, with very narrow agendas). The problem is, there is no such thing as a serious candidate if the following two things are true: 1) There are dozens of candidates; and 2) a particular voter is not savvy to the local politics and is thus faced with a huge list of seemingly random names among which it is expected that the voter makes an informed choice.

One can get mad at individual voters for not paying enough attention to be able to vote responsibly in the election for their own mayor. But one can absolutely not expect a citizen to have a cue as to what to do when faced with this absurdly long list. Also given the large number of candidness and the fact that Minneapolis has a ranked-vote system, it is quite possible that a candidate with a funny name (such as the afore mentioned pirate) would be added as third choice by a lot of voters just for fun. And then get elected. Such a thing would not really be democracy in action. It would be something else.

I don’t vote in this election; I live in a different city. But I hold Minneapolis to be a “third home town” because my time spent living in that city is important to me. Also, Minneapolis is a big important city in my larger community. So that’s one reason I’m doing this. The other reason is that Julia just moved to the city and this is her first year ever being able to vote. That made me think of all the other first-time voters in the city, and the possible cynical (and very appropriately so) they may develop when approached with the problem of ranked voting (which is already a complication, though not much of one) and a multi-page ballot (I assume) because so many people simply signed up to be mayor.

The current situation with the Minneapolis mayor race is a joke. Minneapolis, however, is not a joke. It is a wonderful and important city. Clearly, the process has failed and needs to be revised.

My noting that the process has failed, by the way, is not a negative comment on the endorsement system itself. I do have some negative comments on that, but I am not dismayed that the DFL caucus system did not produce a candidate. That actually happens every time there is an open seat for Mayor, it seems. For what it is worth, I do have a few reform suggestions for the caucus. First, make the caucus about the caucus, not about the “very important business” of the party. A typical caucus involves hours of messing around with party business followed by the endorsement of a candidate, and if there is not enough time for that, or everyone is exhausted, that part is shortened. It should be the other way around. The caucus should involve ONLY the endorsement, and a separate meeting held later (or earlier) should address party business. Second, the mayor race appears to have no primary step. There should be one, perhaps. That might involve a third reform, that is, making the race partisan, which it currently is not. I have no useful opinion on whether or not that should be changed.

In any event, here is my list. This is, to reiterate, a list of candidates that people I trust, who are generally politically progressive Democrats, can live with. There is actually quite a bit of political diversity on this list. It happens to include the list I myself would have made.

votemgnA Short List of Candidates for Mayor of Minneapolis:

A Short List of Candidates for Mayor of Minneapolis:

  • Betsy Hodges
  • Bob Fine
  • Don Samuels
  • Jackie Cherryholmes
  • Jeffrey Wagner
  • Mark Andrew

The Wondrous Mystery of Valet Parking

So, Lizzie1 and I drove up to the restaurant in downtown Minneapolis and spotted the Valet Parking sign. I wanted to valet park because downtown, we’d have to park in a ramp2 anyway, so the cost would be the same or less, and much more convenient and comfortable on this slightly chilly winter night. Plus some kid would get a tip; Some kid saving for college or whatever.
Continue reading The Wondrous Mystery of Valet Parking

Strong Ideas and Exclusionary Thinking: Obama, Palin and Greek Food in Minneapolis

Christos Greek Restaurant is one of three well-known Greek restaurants in Minneapolis. The other two are It’s Greek to Me and Gardens of Salonica. Which one you like may be a matter of cultural survival.

It turns out that Greek restaurants in Minneapolis are to the citizens of this area what operating systems and political candidates are to computer users and activists. You’ve got one you love, and the rest suck. Although I’ve lived here long enough to be mistaken at times for a native, this particular form of Greek love/hate is not one I’ve assimilated. I’ve been to all three of these restaurants a number of times, and in my view, they each have their strengths and weaknesses. Mostly strengths, actually. Even my friend Lizzie, who normally has a solidly rational view of the world, has a somewhat all or nothing view of the Greek Cuisine in the city. (The fact that she served at one of these restaurants for about a year may be a factor in this case. I’m not sure.)

…. read the rest here.