Category Archives: Politics

More Maplewood, Minnesota fireworks


Welcome, City Pages readers! You may want to start here to get a quicker summary of what my Maplewood City Council commentary here is about. Enjoy you’re visit! :)

I seem to have drawn a little more attention concerning my [recent][2] [comments][3] on political movings in Maplewood, MN. A blog has appeared yearningly named: “[What’s Left of Maplewood][1]”. (I do actually like the play on words from the apparently “progressive” blogger.) Why does the old shop-worn idea of tax/spend/regulate get called “progressive”? Marketing, I guess. Anyway, this blogger said something plain wrong about what I’d written. That’s too bad, though it hints to me the strength of their position.

Their blog writes of little ‘ol me:

> This blogger from Saint Paul [Ed: that’s me!] is mostly complaining that the newspaper researched the background of interim manager Copeland (a Republican activist), but did not dig into the background of various Democrats/progressives who were quoted speaking in support of Mr. Fursman or criticizing the new council at the meeting. His complaint is bogus. The background of a completely unknown person who has just been made the executive in charge of the city is 100% newsworthy, and the sort of thing we Maplewood residents wanted and needed to know.

My complaint, far from bogus, is plain and obvious. They “did not dig into the background of various Democrats/progressives”. Just read the article. They didn’t. My [first post][2] found that fact and the tone and language of the article odd. My [second post][3] suspected it may be on purpose, and gave reasons. Also, the “mostly complaining” comment is wrong in that I did not complain at all that Copeland drew fire, and it was much more than just the perceived imbalance that I was “complaining” about.

Now, if Copeland is “completely unknown”, then he’s not much of a “Republican activist”, is he? But of course he was not a completely unknown entity, as the East Side Review’s reporting found out. And if the blogger would do me any justice at all, he would have noted that I didn’t mind that Copeland got coverage, as I’d written…

Continue reading More Maplewood, Minnesota fireworks

Keith Ellison, DFL candidate for MN 5th District


[Keith Ellison][5] is the DFL-endorsed candidate for Minnesota’s Fifth District congressional seat. Do not vote for him.

Ellison has been the subject of [pretty intense scrutiny over at Power Line][a], and in my opinion, that’s a very good thing. Power Line seems to be doing better investigative reporting than either of our local newspapers.

Sure, I can pretty much be counted on to prefer that a democrat doesn’t get voted into any particular office, but the thing that bugs me is when standard media outlets don’t seem to pursue investigating all sides with equal vigor (as regular readers [already][2] [know][3]).

One tiny little thing about [Ellison’s speech quoted today at Power Line][1] which made me want to post was this (the context is the alleged unfairness of prosecuting [“Kathleen Ann Soliah”/”Sara Jane Olson”][4] for her involvement in a fatal bank robbery among other things):

> The idea that the people who want to prosecute Sara Jane Olson have, well,they have a “June Cleaver” concept of what women are supposed to be about. They have a “June Cleaver” idea that Sara Jane Olson, women in general, were supposed to be in the kitchen cooking -SOMETHING. Right? And are NOT supposed to be engaged in political protest, laying out political thought, and certainly not breaking out of some concrete stereotype or image that they had. In the 60’s, when we fought for public housing: housing for people to live in, not shanty shacks or sugar ditches, and ghettos in Detroit, Chicago, so on.

Good heavens, what obtuse rhetoric. Interestingly, “political protest, laying out political thought, and [breaking out of concrete stereotypes and images]” weren’t on her indictment. “Conspiracy to commit murder, possession of explosives, explosion and attempt to ignite an explosive with intent to murder” were.

Call me a prude, but I hold to the high example set by June Cleaver that not carrying and using explosives and not intending to murder people is good.

What could possibly be Ellison’s point? Let’s (painfully) grant that all her causes were noble and her heart was pure as the driven snow. Should she not have been prosecuted?

Anyway, that speech alone would cause me to run looking for anyone else to vote for, regardless of party. But if you’re interested enough, the [other Ellison posts by Power Line][a] reveal someone who really wants to distance himself from his not-so-distant past views. And apparently our local newspapers are willing to help.

Ellison’s probably a perfectly nice guy. And he is out there in the public arena trying to get done what he thinks should get done. I always think a level of respect should always be given to those who take on public office – even if I disagree with them – and so I tip my hat to Ellison for being in the game. Even though I hope he doesn’t make it to the U.S. House.

And from a tech perspective, he has a [good web site][5]; standards-compliant and it looks like it was made with Adobe GoLive. :)

And though I’d urge you to consider [Alan Fine for Minnesota’s Fifth District congressional seat][6] instead, I gotta say the code behind *that* site makes me cringe. Microsoft Office indeed! {shudder}

The local paper is at it again


Well, [I didn’t want to think][0] Holly Wenzel’s *East Side Review* coverage of the shakeup in Maplewood, Minnesota politics was just the rambling of an unhappy constituent or partisan, but good heavens, what can I conclude after this week’s piece [“Fursman firing raises resident ire”][1] with the promised next in the series “Who ordered a background check on Interim City Manager Greg Copeland?”.

Even the way the three pull-quotes were done bugged me. In the second, why highlight “loser” and not “move on”? Well, because “move on” doesn’t look as negative in bold. “Loser” can be mistaken to be in like spirit to the other two comments. (You lose a bit of this without seeing the actual paper.)

The article spends little time on Fursman, and somehow still can’t seem to track down **any reason** he was fired. Great reporting.

But perhaps this isn’t meant to be reporting.

Continue reading The local paper is at it again

Who’s teaching these kids?


Well, there was one of those important, meaningful protests in town today. A bunch of kids protesting a couple of recruiting offices. Supported by groups like “Socialist Alternative”, they came to share their anti-war perspective. Is that bad in itself? No way. They should be free to express themselves… Freedom of Speech and all, right?

Well, the protest itself is so iconic it’s pretty useless as a method to meaningfully express the intended viewpoint. But what *was* revealed was interesting.

Continue reading Who’s teaching these kids?

A tiny peek at local politics


Lately I’ve really enjoyed perusing the local “neighborhood” paper, [The East Side Review][3]. Seeing all the local little things that escape notice in the larger metro area, scanning the police blotter, looking at the ads; it’s all interesting.

Yesterday, I was almost giggling over the coverage over what seems to be a pretty big deal and which plainly has stoked passions: “[Surprise! East Side activist named interim Maplewood manager][1]”. The best I can tell, the Maplewood city council newly has a Republican majority and Mayor Diana Longrie is also a Republican. The city administrator Richard Fursman, who seems not to be, has been fired. Apparently, the mayor and city administrator were not getting along. And Greg Copeland is the surprise *interim* replacement city administrator. An “activist”! Oh no!

Copeland seems to be a long-time, persistent conservative in a region where conservatism isn’t necessarily very cool. (Well, conservatism is actually way cooler. Some folks are just out of touch.) And he may very well be an activist. But it was odd to see the label. I didn’t notice anyone else labeled similarly.

Anyway, I could be completely wrong, but my perception was that author and managing editor Holly Wenzel seems displeased about the firing of the Fursman.

If you read the article, I wonder if you can figure out a substantive reason Fursman was fired. I expect the answer would come back to me “well, no one knows… there *is* no good reason” as this was alluded to in the article. Still, is there really *nothing* to find concerning this? What was the history like since January? What were the city council meetings like? What policies is the mayor wishing to change that Fursman supported? A brief peek through the city council minutes makes me wonder if wetlands/public use/property rights might be a point where they differed.

Sure, that’s a bit of homework, and maybe too much to expect from a small local paper. But then you find the companion story on the jump, “[Greg Copeland, too, has been ousted from office][2]”. Well, apparently *some* research was done then! Go back ten years and we find he was fired, and printed right there is a selection from “a long laundry list of 25 alleged improprieties”.

How odd. Why print a ten year old list of *allegations* about the Republican newcomer, but print nothing negative and no allegations about the fellow actually being fired?

Or, oft-quoted council member Will Rossbach has run for mayor, and Copeland has run for House and Senate, but only Copeland is noted as losing his bids. (Rossbach did, too, and had he garnered just a few hundred more votes, this story could be quite different.)

Continue reading A tiny peek at local politics

Google bans website? Probably not as evil as it seems.


There’s a little chatter out there concerning a site I’d never heard of called [The People’s Cube][2]. They appear to have been banned by Google. Since they are apparently a politically right-leaning site, conspiracy theories flew and the apparent banning [drew more attention][1]. But it seems most likely they simply got caught doing a sneaky little thing to boost their search engine rankings.

Search engines “read” web pages to see what’s in them. But, in general, they aren’t good readers, and can be fooled by putting words in the page and then “hiding” them using things like CSS. But those words may make the search less effective, so Google sometimes manually removes web sites that do that to help ensure reliable search results.

There’s a good description of what probably happened [here][3]. And a cached version at Yahoo! is [here][4], where my geek friends can look at the source code.

Note to self: No sneaky SEO tricks.

Don’t miss an interesting thread

The comments on my post about [Saint Paul’s new smoking ban][1] are really pretty interesting. A couple of gentlemen from very different perspectives have weighed in. I appreciate the conversation. I hope it can continue to be fairly civil. Let’s not go ad hominum, please. :)


St. Paul’s dirty trick

St. Paul, Minnesota has just adopted a smoking ban. I know that’s not terribly uncommon anymore, but it sure seems cowardly. Cowardly because the folks pushing these initiatives won’t do what should plainly be the Right Thing (from their perspective) and outlaw tobacco.

Of course, they would reply that Big Tobacco is too powerful; big money lobbyists. But it sure seems there are some pretty deep pockets behind the anti-smoking folks, too. And if Big Tobacco’s lobbyists are too powerful, it’s only because they are able to sway politicians.

And if politicians are easy to sway or not able to be trusted to rise above the crass temptation of lobbyists, should we be trusting them to curtail our liberties at all?

Continue reading St. Paul’s dirty trick

Global warming? If you care, kill all the plants.

> German scientists have discovered a new source of methane, a greenhouse gas that is second only to carbon dioxide in its impact on climate change.
> The culprits are plants.

[From here.][1] It makes me think we should maybe just slow down and keep improving our data before we go making any big changes. Besides, even if global warming really hits, it seems we have a good chance of making it another [55 million years][3]. That’s not too bad. :)