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Monday, July 27, 2009

Obama to Helena

If Obama is serious about Public Option, he should go to Helena, Montana and hold a town hall meeting to pressure Max Baucus. Then North Dakota, Arkansas and wherever else these corrupt Senators are from. If Obama won’t go, then maybe Big Eddie will, after his town hall in Canada. This article is encouraging: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0709/25181.html.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Concerns about Elizabeth Glidden

This includes dates of the votes.
Source: http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/council/archives.asp

Glidden voted to appoint Timothy Dolan. (10/20/06)

Glidden supported a loophole that allowed police to fire foam bullets from non-conventional firearms at the RNC. She moved to delete Cam Gordon’s wording that would have prevented police from compiling political dossiers on protesters. (7/25/08)

Glidden voted to merge the city and county libraries, circumventing the charter process. (3/09/07)

Glidden voted to appoint Joan Campbell to implement the ballpark process, and Joel Rainville to head the MTN cable TV network. (6/16/06, 2/23/07)

Glidden voted to allow permits to organizations that violate the Animal Welfare Act. (9/21/07)

Glidden authored a resolution “Celebrating the Sesquicentennial of the City of Minneapolis” – a time when treaties were broken with Native Americans. (7/18/08)

Glidden voted to spend $125,000 for the 2007 Holidazzle Parade. (12/7/07)

Glidden voted for a resolution that allowed council members to continue collecting a car allowance of up to $400 per month. (2/29/08)

Glidden voted to keep the photocop contract open, but she weakened penalties for motor vehicle idling. (5/12/06, 6/6/08)

Glidden voted to license Hooter’s, Divas, Gabby’s, and Porky’s, but she wouldn’t keep liquor stores open another 2 hours. (6/16/06, 8/4/06, 2/15/08, 12/1/06, 6/30/06)

Glidden voted to provide directions for drug testing of city employees. (8/22/08)

Glidden voted to demolish Olivet Methodist Church and the East Isles Residents’ building, but she voted to permit building of a home near a wetland. She voted to reduce 35W bridge reconstruction funding by $300,000 when a bicycle tunnel was being considered. (10/5/07, 1/23/09, 6/16/06, 2/15/08)

Glidden voted for contracts with Unisys, Comcast, and US Internet Wireless. (4/14/06, 7/20/06, 9/1/06)

Glidden voted against having the City Coordinator work with the NRP Director. (3/09/07)

Glidden voted to award seats on the Neighborhood and Community Engagement Commission to government entities that pay $500,000 per year to the Neighborhood Investment Fund. (1/23/09)

For water works and bus shelter designs, Glidden voted to bypass the competitive bidding process. (3/27/09)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Fire the Mineapolis Chief of Police

Today I had the honor of preparing and reading the opening statement for our press conference, in the Minneapolis City Hall rotunda, in front of the Father of Waters statue. Three Green Party and three allied candidates participated in the press conference. After I spoke, the candidates spoke in the following order:

Dave Bicking (Green) City Council Ward 9
Al Flowers (DFL) Mayor
Jeanine Estimé (Green) City Council Ward 8
Michael Cavlan (Independent) City Council Ward 8
Andy Exley (Green) City Council Ward 6
Brent Perry (Socialist Action) City Council Ward 12

After the press conference, we walked down the hall for the official candidate filing process.

Below is the text of my statement, followed by city council and CUAPB concerns, followed by a supporting timeline with links to sources.


Monday, July 20, 2009
11:30 am
Minneapolis City Hall Rotunda
350 South Fifth Street

Members of the media, supporters, interested observers:

We welcome you, and thank you for attending this joint announcement by candidates for Minneapolis local offices, mostly city council. This is a multi-partisan event. I’m Tom Cleland, and I serve on the Steering Committee of the Fifth Congressional District Green Party. We are here, united, on a number of issues. One of those issues is police accountability and opposition to the appointment of Timothy Dolan as Chief of Police. Dolan’s term expires January 4, 2010, so this is an important issue before the council. The next council will also decide whether to reappoint for the term which expires three years later.

We hold the current council responsible for appointing Dolan to the term which began three years ago, and we call on our opponents to go on record regarding the possible reappointment of Dolan next year. The Chief of Police sets the tone for the conduct of the department, and we are appalled by what we have seen.

There are many examples of police misconduct we’d like to discuss over the course of the campaign, and today I want to start by talking about the case of Fong Lee, because many people are familiar with it, and because it illustrates the problem on multiple levels, from the police officer, to the police chief, to the city council. Fong Lee was shot and killed July 22, 2006, nearly three years ago, by a Minneapolis police officer.

Last month, on June 15, Jason Andersen, the cop who shot Fong Lee, was arrested for domestic assault. Channel 11 reported that the woman involved suffered some injuries. We don’t know what will become of that case, but we do know that in the Fong Lee case, Andersen contradicted his own testimony. As reported on Channel 9 a few months ago, Andersen said Lee, while laying on his back raised the gun up, but later Andersen said the gun fell three feet away. Which is it? Which is it?

Mark Robbins, the Mankato law enforcement expert in the Channel 9 report, thought that Lee’s wounds were consistent with a defensive reaction. Lee had blood in his right palm, and a bullet wound between the third and fourth fingers of the left hand, in a slightly upward direction. His left arm and hand were full of blood.

Anderson got off on May 28, 2009. MPR reported the verdict was announced before Lee's family could get back to the courtroom to hear it in person. Attorney Jim Moore convinced the all-white jury that Andersen believed his life was in danger when he shot Lee 3 times from behind and 5 more times while he was on the ground.

Look at the security video frame by frame. In and around Lee’s hands, sometimes you see shadows, sometimes you see nothing. Moore asserted that the security camera had poor resolution.

If that’s the case, then why did Police Chief Dolan present Andersen with the Medal of Valor? We know the police had the video, according to a StarTribune article three days after the shooting, the same day Dolan allowed Andersen to come back to work. How could Dolan be so sure this cop was a hero? What kind of message does this send to the city, and especially the Hmong community? The medal was awarded July 28, 2008, nearly one year ago, and is documented on the city’s web site.

When the city council appointed Dolan on October 20, 2006, the Fong Lee shooting had already taken place three months earlier, and Dolan had already begun serving as Interim Police Chief six months earlier. They couldn’t have known that Dolan would present Andersen with the Medal of Valor, but they did know that Dolan had returned Andersen to work three days after the shooting, before an internal investigation by the police department could be completed.

In a memo dated September 25, 2006 and reprinted in the StarTribune, three council members shared 8 concerns about Dolan with Mayor R.T. Rybak. One of the concerns was, QUOTE Returning Officer Andersen to the street before the investigation was complete or the community’s concerns had been assuaged. UNQUOTE

In a memo of his own, Rybak replied, QUOTE With regard to keeping an officer on administrative leave until an investigation is complete, I believe the Chief of Police must retain discretion to make decisions on all discipline issues. UNQUOTE

Well, if the mayor wants to grant discretion to the Chief, then he has to take responsibility for what the Chief does. And the City Council has to take responsibility for going along with the mayor. Because they all voted to appoint Dolan, all except Remington.

This is how a killer cop gets put back out on the streets.

Chapter 6, Section 1 of the City Code Charter states that the mayor QUOTE may make all needful rules and regulations for the efficiency and discipline UNQUOTE of the city police force. If there are loopholes that disrupt accountability in city government, then they need to be fixed. What we have now has all the appearances of a wink and a nod to police thuggery.

The council should have known better. In their October 7 newsletter, Communities United Against Police Brutality, CUAPB, listed 7 warnings about Dolan, including his involvement in awarding an earlier Medal of Valor, to Dan May, as reported in City Pages in January 2006. Dan May is the cop who shot Tycel Nelson in the back in 1990.

The council also heard testimony from Dave Bicking, currently running for Ward 9, who said, QUOTE Dolan represents the status quo for the Minneapolis Police Department, and the status quo is simply not acceptable…There is case after case of police brutality with no discipline of those involved… The taxpayer is forced to step up and take responsibility, in the form of millions of dollars of lawsuit settlements… YOU have the power to approve the new police chief. And you can insist of any candidate for the position that he or she commit to issuing discipline in sustained cases from the CRA [Civilian Review Authority]… Acting Chief Dolan has shown by his record that he opposes this, and…has stated that he feels the need to exercise his own judgement in these cases… USE your authority, and use it wisely, to reject this nomination. If you do not, you too have taken responsibility for what happens during the next three years of Chief Dolan’s tenure. UNQUOTE Bicking warned that Dolan would not make himself accountable to the Civilian Review Authority.

According to CUAPB, Rybak nominated Dolan with a virtually non-existent selection process and no opportunity for input from the community. A month later, the city council rubber-stamped the mayor’s decision, and they deserve to be replaced. There’s much more to say, and I will leave that to others. Thank you.


In a memo dated September 25, 2006 and reprinted in the StarTribune, three council members (Glidden, Gordon, and Hodges) shared 8 concerns about Dolan with Mayor R.T. Rybak.

1. Incorrect data sent to the FBI resulting in a public black eye for the City
2. Failure to communicate with community groups prior to rollout of SAFE CITY initiative
3. Returning Officer Andersen to the street before the investigation was complete or the community’s concerns had been assuaged
4. Poor communication and process regarding cameras at Cedar-Riverside
5. Gave misleading information to Council Members regarding Dr. Campion as a consultant for the City
6. Defensiveness rather than action regarding redlining
7. Support for the “alley ordinance” ahead of Council action
8. Inadequate progress on CRA complaint backlog and refusal to discipline many sustained cases

Source: http://www.startribune.com/462/story/717439.html
Rybak’s reply: http://www.startribune.com/462/story/717446.html


In their October 7 newsletter, Communities United Against Police Brutality (CUAPB) listed 7 concerns about Dolan:

1. Dolan was in charge of the 4th precinct during the Terrell Oliver and Julius Powell shootings--which sparked the uprising that led to federal mediation and a class-action lawsuit against the city.
2. Dolan flat refuses to implement the terms of the federal mediation agreement. After the city's police psychologist (who conducts psychological screenings of candidates) was outed as a racist and homophobe, the PCRC demanded he be fired and the city agreed. Dolan claims to have had a private conversation with him, after which he was put him back into the same job where he blocked perfectly good candidates and contributed to decreased diversity in the department.
3. Dolan has played a key role in the practice of not disciplining sustained Civilian Review Authority complaints, leaving the community no recourse against brutal cops.
4. Dolan dismisses sustained Internal Affairs cases. In one case, officers were caught on tape kicking out the teeth of a handcuffed man. Internal Affairs recommended the officers be fired but Dolan overrode the recommendation and dismissed the case.
5. Dolan was complicit in giving a medal to killer cop Dan May for shooting unarmed teenager Tycel Nelson in the back, even posing with May for pictures after the awards ceremony.
6. Under Dolan, Jason King and Lawrence Loonsfoot--cops who have been involved in other outrageous police brutality incidents and shootings-gunned down unarmed, mentally disturbed Dominic Felder after his family called seeking help. Both of these killer cops are back on the street, thanks to Dolan.
7. The police chief is supposed to live in the city but Dolan doesn't think Minneapolis is good enough for him. Rybak is giving him special dispensation to continue to live in Edina.

Source: http://www.charityadvantage.com/CUAPB/100706Newsletter.asp


12/1/1990: Tycel Nelson is shot by Dan May in the back six times as he fled police, who later claimed he had been armed. Witnesses state he was unarmed and the gun found on the scene had no fingerprints on it.

11/1/2000: Police claim Alfred Charles “Abuka” Sanders was driving erratically so they boxed his car into an alleyway near his home and opened fire, shooting at least 35 times. He was unarmed.

8/1/2002: According to CUAPB: Martha Donald is shot in mysterious circumstances in the restroom in the lobby of her apartment complex. Two police officers were in the restroom with her and one, Melissa Schmidt, was also killed in the incident. Police have alleged that Ms. Donald had a 38-caliber gun hidden in her buttocks, despite the fact that she was wearing tight pants and that they had searched her. Community members are doubtful of this explanation.

8/6/2002: CM Natalie Johnson Lee writes to constituents, “On this day of mourning, we pause to reflect on the untimely deaths of two fellow citizens.”

8/7/2002: The Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis chastises Johnson Lee for suggesting that Schmidt and Donald were “equally deserving of our grief.”

8/22/2002?? : Terrell Oliver was shot 6 times in the back as he was jumping a fence while running from police. This happened in broad daylight (about 3:30 p.m.) in front of many witnesses. Dolan was commander of the 4th precinct (North Minneapolis) at the time. According to Michelle Gross, “Right after the shooting, cops told people in the neighborhood ‘you got one of ours, now we got one of yours’ (though, much to the cops’ chagrin, Oliver didn't actually die). I was in the neighborhood immediately after the incident and personally witnessed cops terrorizing the community--running around aiming guns at people, zooming all over the neighborhood calling people names out of their squad car windows.”
Source: Michelle Gross, CUAPB

8/27/2002?? : A rally is held in defense of Johnson Lee, and a coalition established to bring about federal mediation.

8/29/2002?? : 4th precinct cops shoot Julius Powell. This leads to a major uprising on the Northside. The coalition asks a federal mediator to visit. Dolan was commander of the 4th precinct (North Minneapolis) at the time.
Source: Michelle Gross, CUAPB

2003: The Police Community Relations Council is formed as a result of federal mediation.

10/14/2005: City Pages reports that “MPD's federal mediation agreement has failed.” MPD Lt. Medaria Arradondo, a negotiator skilled in bringing both sides together, is removed from the talks. Mark Anderson, a “mental health” community rep on the PCRC, states that R.T. Rybak has “been disengaged from the whole process” and that after the PCRC wrote him that mediation was going nowhere, “We didn't hear back for two months.”

1/12/2006: Dan May receives Medal of Valor for shooting Tycel Nelson.

1/19/2006: Dan May returns Medal of Valor.

1/25/2006: City Pages reports that MPD awards committee coordinator Lieutenant Richard Thomas did not recall Dolan raising any concerns with him about the Medal of Valor awarded to Dan May. City Pages also reports that Police Community Relations Council member Ron Edwards and others believed Dolan was complicit in giving the award, even going so far as to pose for photographs with May at the Fifth Precinct.

4/15/2006: Timothy Dolan is appointed Interim Police Chief.

7/22/2006: Officer Jason Andersen shoots Fong Lee.

7/25/2006: Dolan allows Andersen to come back to work. Police say they have some video.
Frame by frame: http://tomstream.blogspot.com/2009/06/fong-lee-close-ups.html

8/2006: Dolan suspends police psychologist Dr. Michael Campion.

9/21/2006: Dominic Felder was suffering from mental illness when his family called 911 for help. Officers Lawrence Loonsfoot and Jason King arrived. Rather than taking him in for mental health care, they chased Dominic and—according to witnesses—opened fire on him as they caught up to him. He was shot 7 times in front of numerous family members and other witnesses. He was unarmed.

9/25/2006: Glidden, Gordon, and Hodges send memo to Rybak listing 8 concerns about Dolan. They also meet in person. The StarTribune updates this story on their web site by 10/2.

9/26/2006: Christian blogosphere believes that Michael Campion, a Christian psychologist, is “re-suspended” from Minneapolis Police on this day, over pro-family group membership.

9/27/2006: Gay blogosphere says that Campion is reinstated.

10/2/2006: Rybak has replied by now, in a memo of his own, saying he gives the chief discretion on disciplinary issues, although the city charter empowers the mayor to make rules regarding discipline.

10/4/2006: City Pages reports that Dolan lifted Campion’s suspension, the rationale being that “Dolan was unable to find evidence that Campion, whatever his personal views, had treated prospective gay officers unfairly.” They report that Campion had published an article about curing homosexuality through Christian love.

10/7/2006: CUAPB newsletter states that Rybak has nominated Dolan with “a virtually non-existent selection process with no opportunity for input from the community.” They list 7 warnings about Dolan, including his involvement in awarding an earlier Medal of Valor, to Dan May, as reported in City Pages (See 1/25/2006).

10/9/2006: CM Gordon holds a meeting to get public input.

10/10/2006: CUAPB Rally against Dolan. Gordon accepts letter from CUAPB. Remington acknowledges the group. At Mayor’s office, subordinate Sherman Patterson said they should have called for an appointment and offered to schedule one for 10/25.

10/11/2006: City Council Executive Committee votes to move Dolan appointment forward. SWAT team is at City Hall and Rybak enters the council chambers with an armed guard.

10/11/2006: Dolan answered questions from CM Gordon. “ ‘I’m going to have discretion I'll use on discipline--I want that,’ Dolan said Wednesday, adding that the mayor, council or CRA will not dictate his decisions. ‘I owe that to the officers and the community, but I also owe it to myself ethically.’ ”

10/18/2006: City Council Public Hearing: Public Safety and Regulatory Services committee (PS&RS). CUAPB calls this “way too late to do any good.”

10/18/2006? : Dave Bicking testifies before the city council, warning that Dolan will not make himself accountable to the Civilian Review Authority.

10/20/2006: The City Council votes to approve Dolan as Chief of Police.

11/2/2006: CUAPB reports that the MPD has already put the Felder case on hold.

7/28/2008: Dolan presents Andersen with Medal of Valor.

12/9/2008: Quincy Smith was a former DJ with KMOJ Radio in North Minneapolis, and died shortly after being tased by Minneapolis police during a confrontation on Knox Avenue on the north side. “He is at least the 20th person killed by police in Minnesota this year,” according to Twin Cities Indymedia.

4/10/2009: The city of Minneapolis agrees to pay five high-ranking black officers $740,000 to settle a lawsuit they filed in 2007, alleging racial discrimination and a hostile working environment.

5/4/2009? : Channel 9 (KMSP/FOX TV) reports Jason Anderson’s contradictory testimony. Andersen said Lee, while laying on his back raised the gun up, but later Andersen said the gun fell three feet away. They also report that Mark Robbins, the Mankato law enforcement expert in the Channel 9 report, thought that Lee’s wounds were consistent with a defensive reaction.

5/28/2009: Jason Andersen is acquitted. Attorney Jim Moore asserts the security camera had poor resolution.

6/15/2009: Jason Andersen is arrested for domestic assault.

7/29/2009: Michelle Gross of CUAPB reports that, according to Ken Brown with the Mpls Civil Rights Commission, “we're sitting at over $6 million in settlements and judgements paid out for police actions in the last 4 years.”
Source: Michelle Gross, CUAPB

1/4/2010: Dolan’s term expires.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Rybak Opponent Slapped With Condemnation Notice

Friday, 17 July 2009 22:23 TYzaguirre .The City of Minneapolis condemned mayoral candidate Al Flowers' home yesterday, July 16th. Flowers, who announced earlier this year that he is running against incumbent Raymond T. Rybak, had the condemnation notice plastered on his door with reason reading water shut off. The Flowers family is to vacate the property by Sunday, July 19th.

I went over to the house today, only to discover that the water was running just fine. View video.

They have also been slapped with $800 in inspection fees for having windows without screens, which they have. While I was there, I noticed some of their neighbors don't have screens on their windows. I wonder when the last time a house in Minneapolis was condemned due to water shut off that is still running?

More of the story soon to follow...

Minneapolis Mirror story here.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Gordon-Rybak 2008 agreement

Click here to listen to audio excerpts.

Greens who endorsed Cam Gordon May 9 may be surprised to learn that he had already agreed to endorse R.T. Rybak by then.

In Bicking v. Rybak July 7, the mayor was asked when he first had discussions with the council member about mutually supporting each other.

“I believe it was some time in 2008,” Rybak replied. He went on to say that he approached Gordon and expressed a desire to support him in the next race. “I believe he said that he had similar feelings and supported me,” Rybak said.

When asked if it was his understanding that Council Member Gordon intended to endorse him for Mayor, Rybak replied, “Absolutely.”

Later, Peter Wagenius, Senior Policy Aide to Mayor Rybak, took the stand. He said he spoke with Gordon and with Gordon’s Aide Robin Garwood “as early as mid-2008.”

According to Wagenius: “Just like the mayor was going to discourage the DFL party in Ward 2 from endorsing somebody against Cam, Cam was going to discourage the Green Party from running somebody against R.T.”

This may explain why Cam personally lobbied me against the idea of endorsing Al Flowers as a Green candidate for Mayor.

How can we as a party provide an objective critique of R.T. Rybak as mayor, and perhaps an alternative vision, as is our purpose?

Saturday, July 04, 2009

I was the swing vote

You’ve probably all heard by now that Al Franken has won the U.S. Senate election recount contest appeal in the Minnesota State Supreme Court, eight months later, defeating Norm Coleman by a mere 312 votes out of 2.9 million cast.

An interesting factoid that seems to be forgotten in all the hoopla is that the Green Party of Minnesota did not run a candidate. If we had, we almost certainly would have tipped the balance in favor of Coleman. We are more liberal than the Democrats, and could have provided an easy protest vote for many good citizens on the Left. To give you some perspective, our U.S. Senate candidate received 10,714 votes in 2006. This was 34 TIMES Franken’s margin of victory.

To be sure, getting a Green Party candidate on the ballot in 2008 would have been problematic. But we had done it before. When Michael Cavlan ran against Amy Klobuchar in 2006, we collected 3,500 signatures, nearly double the 2,000 required by the State of Minnesota. Of that total, Amber Garlan collected about 1,000 and I collected about 500 for Michael Cavlan. And when Cynthia McKinney ran against Barack Obama for President last year, we again collected well over 2,000. I gathered about 1,200, and Amber got over 700. It’s true we did have a longer time period to petition for President, and essentially a shorter period to petition for U.S. Senate, because many of us were in Chicago the second week to attend our national convention in Chicago. But with a few more volunteers, energized behind a candidate, ballot access would have been entirely doable. Three of our local candidates each exceeded their requirement of 500 signatures.

So why didn’t we run a candidate? What makes this story even more interesting is that Michael Cavlan did seek Green Party endorsement again in 2008, but he fell short by one vote. A two-thirds majority was required, and the final vote was 26-14. If Michael had added two votes, making it 28-14, or gotten one person to switch, making it 27-13, that would have been enough. (27 / 40 = 0.675)

Procedurally, the sequence of events was intriguing and somewhat bizarre. The two-thirds requirement was not in the state party bylaws. Earlier in the day, we passed it by consensus. In the Green Party consensus process, all must agree, and unless there is a blocking concern, the motion passes. We all agreed, even Michael, who said he didn’t want the endorsement unless he had two-thirds. He certainly did have at least half the members supporting him, and if they had organized a floor fight, they could have insisted on a simple majority requirement, and probably would have prevailed.

Another interesting footnote is the story of Cameron Osborne. He would have voted for Michael Cavlan, but was not allowed to vote. Cameron joined online through the Green Party of the United States (GPUS) May 7, 2008 and was issued a membership card from the national party. He was not on the state membership rolls in time for the June 7 Mankato convention. There's a 60-day waiting period and this was less than 60 days prior. According to GPMN rules, he still could have voted if someone had vouched for him. David Strand, who drove Cameron to the convention, said he didn’t vouch for Cameron because Cameron didn’t ask him to. Cameron said he didn’t ask because he believed there was a requirement to attend a meeting, which he hadn’t. If the convention registrar accidentally gave Cameron incorrect information, then Cameron may have been unwittingly disenfranchised.

Sound familiar? In the court fight, one of Coleman’s contentions was that absentee ballots were wrongly handled because of inconsistencies from county to county due to errors by election judges.

After our convention, I wanted to follow up on Cameron’s story because I knew how strongly Michael felt about electoral integrity. Michael traveled to Ohio as an observer of the 2004 recount, and it was one of his top five issues in his 2006 campaign. At one point he had said it was THE top issue. The last thing I wanted was allegations of voter disenfranchisement. As it played out, Michael never challenged the outcome, and party leadership never researched whether vouching is allowed for brand new members who have not been to any meetings.

It may be a cause for concern, but Cameron’s vote alone would not have been enough to put Michael over the top. If Michael had brought any one of a number of people with him to Mankato, however, the outcome may have been different. His campaign manager had a family emergency. Dori Ullman, David Shove, Danene Provencher, and Ken Pentel were not present.

There were actually two votes that day. On the first ballot, it was:

Michael Cavlan: 25
No candidate: 5
Thomas Harens: 1
NOTA or No candidate: 1

On the second ballot:

Michael Cavlan: 26
NOTA: 14

There were 14 of us who voted None Of The Above (NOTA). I suppose any of us can lay claim to being the true swing vote, but I feel that I swung the farthest. I know I’ve always had an inflated sense of self-importance, but this time I really do think I was pivotal. I was arguably Michael’s most vocal supporter in 2006, and his most vocal opponent in 2008. What happened?

There were almost as many reasons as there were people...

Some wanted the party to place more emphasis on local races.

Some felt Michael didn't have a strong enough campaign organization.

Some felt he was against things but not for things.

Some disagreed on external political issues such as 9/11 and impeachment.

But for me, it was something entirely different.

I thought Michael was great on the issues, better than Franken. Better on cutting the funding for Iraq, phasing out nuclear plants, and supporting single payer health care. (No, Franken did not promise to support single payer health care. He hedged by saying, “…today’s political environment requires a creative and flexible approach to covering every American.”)

No, for me, I was more concerned about internal Green Party issues – inside baseball if you will. Michael believed that the 2004 national convention was unfair, and that Ralph Nader was treated unfairly in 2004 and 2008. Having personally worked on the Presidential Campaign Support Committee (PCSC), I felt that the GPUS processes, while not perfect, were reasonably open and fair. Some states had a requirement that candidates be members of the Green Party, and other states required that candidates announce their candidacies. Nader had done neither.

Another source of contention at the national level had to do with delegate apportionment to the national convention. One of my tasks on the PCSC was to review the delegate selection rules for each state and post them to the national web site. The processes seemed reasonably fair to me, and the ratio of members to delegates was relatively proportional within each state. Critics of the party noted that ratio was not proportional nationwide, however. For example, California was capped at 25% of the total delegates, even though they have an extremely high proportion of voters registered as Greens. This seemed reasonable to me, though, given that California is about 12.5% of the national population, and states like Minnesota don’t register voters by party. As I see it, the current system is intended to encourage campaigns to organize in smaller states, not unlike Howard Dean’s “50-state strategy” you could say. Another consideration is the Electoral College, which requires victories on a state-by-state basis.

In the lead-up to our state convention in Mankato, a couple other things disturbed me. At one point, Michael had talked about the state party disaffiliating from national. That seemed excessively drastic to me. Michael had also posted a rumor to the web, stating that 2004 Green Party Presidential candidate David Cobb had taken a paid position with the Progressive Democrats of America. We never found the source of the rumor.

In the absence of convincing evidence, I felt that Michael's criticisms of the party were harmful to morale. It’s great that he’s radical, but sometimes he’s too radical even for the Green Party, in my opinion.

I suppose one could argue that personal and emotional baggage affected my decision. But I really don’t think that’s the case.

It’s true, I helped try to block the endorsement of Norm Coleman for St. Paul Mayor at the 1993 DFL convention, back when I was a Democrat, and the next day my wife and I separated. When the house was sold in 1997, I spent the bulk of my equity on the campaign of Sandy Pappas, Coleman’s opponent – a largely emotional decision. And two days after I lost my job in 2002, Senator Paul Wellstone was killed, and Norm Coleman went on to win the election.

On the more positive side, it’s true that I enjoyed listening to Al Franken’s radio show in my truck at work. I particularly enjoyed “Mastication Theater.” But I really think my reasons were rational and party-related.

You might be wondering who I voted for in November. I’m not saying. The Green Party policy is, in the privacy of the voting booth, you don’t have to vote a straight ticket, but keep it to yourself. So although we had no endorsed Green in the race, I still feel like following that guideline. I will say that I certainly did not vote for Norm Coleman, and that I did not vote for Dean Barkley. Many Greens did, but after reading “The Web of Debt” by Ellen Brown, I concluded that Barkley was fear-mongering the debt. So I either voted for Franken, or I cast a write-in vote for Michael Cavlan. I still like Michael, I saw him today, in fact.

Another interesting factoid is that in 2006, we did not run a candidate for Secretary of State. We ran candidates for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and State Auditor, but we did not oppose Mark Ritchie, who went on to oversee the Coleman-Franken recount. In fact, Michael and I were part of a small team of Greens that crashed the DFL convention that year. After we unfurled our anti-war banner from the balcony, we attended a debate between Ritchie and his DFL opponent. After the debate, Michael spoke one-on-one with the candidates, and came away finding Ritchie relatively acceptable.

So, long story short, I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m kind of like the character played by Kevin Costner in the movie “Swing Vote.” Or maybe I fancy myself as some sort of real-life, quasi- Forrest Gump character.

And now world history hangs in the balance. Much has been made of Franken being the magical sixtieth vote, giving the Democrats a filibuster-proof majority. Actually the Democrats have 58, with 2 Independents. But Bernie Sanders almost always votes with the Democrats, and Joe Lieberman used to be a Democrat. Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd have health problems, but I understand they’ve been making it onto the Senate floor for important votes.

Another interesting piece of trivia is that Al Franken will be the fourth consecutive Jew to hold that same U.S. Senate seat. Rudy Boschwitz, Paul Wellstone, and Norm Coleman precede him. And it is still within the realm of possibility that the Minnesota Governor’s race will be between Norm Coleman and Chris Coleman. Heaven help us.

I will end with what I hope will be the new Green Party mantra: “60 votes, no excuses.”

Thursday, July 02, 2009

McKinney kidnapped by Israelis


For Immediate Release:
Thursday, July 2, 2009

Scott McLarty, Media Coordinator, 202-518-5624, cell 202-904-7614,
Starlene Rankin, Media Coordinator, 916-995-3805, starlene@gp.org

Statement from Cynthia McKinney; Israel holds 'Free Gaza 21' in a
prison in Ramla, Israel

• Cynthia McKinney calls WBAIX from Israeli prison:

• Texas Greens will participate in a press conference on the Free Gaza
21 in San Antonio on Friday, July 3

WASHINGTON, DC -- Former US Representative and 2008 Green presidential
candidate Cynthia McKinney has issued a statement on the seizure of
the Free Gaza Movement's 'Spirit of Humanity' relief boat by Israeli
gunboats in international waters on Monday.

Ms. McKinney and 18 other members of the 'Free Gaza 21' are currently
being held in Givon prison in Ramla, Israel. Two of the Free Gaza 21
have been released.

Cynthia McKinney delivered the following statement by phone:

"We were in international waters on a boat delivering humanitarian aid
to people in Gaza when the Israeli Navy ships surrounded us and
illegally threatened us, dismantled our navigation equipment, boarded
and confiscated the ship. All of us on board were then taken off the
ship and into custody, and brought into Israel and imprisoned.
Immigration officials in Israel said they did not want to keep us, but
we remain imprisoned. State Department and White House officials have
not effected our release or taken a strong public stance to condemn
the illegal actions of the Israeli Navy of enforcing a blockade of
humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians of Gaza, a blockade that
has been condemned by President Obama."

Ms. McKinney and other Free Gaza 21 members have refused to sign a
self-incriminating 'deportation form' stating that the Spirit of
Humanity was violating the Israeli blockade and trespassing Israeli
territorial waters by attempting to deliver supplies to Gaza. In
fact, the Spirit of Humanity was in international waters when it was
illegally seized by the Israeli navy in an act of piracy. The
imprisonment of the Free Gaza 21 and the Israeli navy's jamming the
boat's navigation system are further violations of international law
-- as are Israel's blockade of Gaza, occupation of Palestinian
territories, and violations of Palestinians' human rights.

The boat was on a voyage to deliver medical supplies, cement, and
children's toys to Gaza following an appeal by President Obama for
supplies to be sent to Gaza. Because of their refusal to sign the
form, Israeli authorities will reportedly hold Ms. McKinney and other
Free Gaza 21 members in the prison for three more days before the
Israeli Government can either choose to release them or continue to
detain them.

In a phone call with WBAIX from the prison (listen at
http://www.wbaix.org/), Cynthia McKinney said, "It is incumbent upon
President Obama to stand by his reported policy of easing the Gazan
blockade and of allowing building supplies, medical supplies, and
school supplies to go through," adding "we call upon President Obama
to use the highest level of his authority to transmit this message to
the Israelis."

Along with Ms. McKinney, Nobel laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire is
among the Free Gaza 21's international list of human rights activists.
(Democracy Now! interview with Ms. Maguire from her prison cell:

The Green Party of the United States has called for the immediate
release of the Free Gaza 21 and for permission for the Spirit of
Humanity to resume its delivery of urgently needed medical and other
supplies to Gaza, which is suffering the effects of a brutal invasion
by Israel last December and January

Green leaders have urged party members and other concerned about the
situation to call the White House, the US State Department, and
members of Congress.

Texas Greens (http://www.bexargreens.org/ /
http://txgreens.org/drupal), in coalition with the Council on
American-Islamic Relations (San Antonio), Muslim Public Affairs
Council, Esperanza Peace & Justice Center, and Fellowship of
Reconciliation, will hold a press conference on the Free Gaza 21 on
Friday, July 3, noon at the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center
(http://www.esperanzacenter.org/), 922 San Pedro Avenue in San Antonio.
The contact for the press conference is Kat Swift, who ran for the
Green presidential nomination in 2008. Ms. Swift can be reached at
210-471-1791 and kat@txgreens.org.

For further information and updates, see the Free Gaza Movement web
site (http://www.freegaza.org/). For more communications and updates
from Cynthia McKinney, visit her Green Party page
(http://www.gp.org/cynthia/index.php) and blog


Green Party of the United States http://www.gp.org/
202-319-7191, 866-41GREEN
Fax 202-319-7193
• Green candidate database for 2008 and other campaign information:
• Green Party News Center http://www.gp.org/newscenter.shtml
• Green Party Speakers Bureau http://www.gp.org/speakers
• Green Party ballot access page http://www.gp.org/2008-elections
• International Committee of the Green Party: http://www.gp.org/committees/intl

Green Party releases:
• "Breaking news: Cynthia McKinney aboard detained Free Gaza Movement
relief boat," June 25, 2009
• "Greens join Global Day of Action for Boycott, Divestment and
Sanctions on March 30 to end the Israeli occupation," March 26, 2009
• "Green Party: Israel-Palestine truce must include end of Israeli
occupation and observance of international law or violence is likely
to resume," January 19, 2009

2009 Annual National Meeting of the Green Party, Durham, NC, July
23-26 http://www.gp.org/2009-ANM
• North Carolina page http://ncgreenparty.org/2009-ANM.html
• Media credentialing page http://www.gp.org/forms/media

Green Pages, Vol. 13, No. 1
The official publication of record of the Green Party of the United States

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