Occupy MN Resolution
I strongly supported a resolution authored by Council Member Betsy Hodges this morning, supporting "Peaceable Calls for Reforms to the Income Tax, Financial, and Electoral Systems." This puts the Council on record standing with the Occupy MN protests, the local outgrowth of the Occupy Wall Street protest.
This was not adopted without some controversy. Council Member Colvin Roy attempted to delete the "whereas" clause calling out the negative impacts of the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, and her motion failed on an extremely narrow 6-5 vote. Joining me in voting against CM Colvin Roy's amendment: CMs Hodges, Glidden, Lilligren, Schiff and Quincy. Voting to strip the Citizen's United clause: CMs Colvin Roy, Goodman, Hofstede, Reich and Tuthill.
The arguments against this clause, and against the resolution as a whole, were completely uncompelling. The Council shouldn't weigh in on Supreme Court cases? Why on earth not, if they are objectionable and have negative impacts on Minneapolis residents? Citizen's United doesn't have an impact on local elections? Of course it does - outside groups are now able to spend an unlimited amount of money to influence Mayor and Council races. The Council shouldn't weigh in on federal issues? But we do that all the time: we have a federal legislative agenda. And there is clearly a local-specific issue at hand: the ongoing protest right outside City Hall.
As importantly, this helps push back against attempts to criticize the Occupy protests, including the recent questionable decision by the MPD to issue a press release stating the "costs" of the protests. The MPD response so far has been far better than, for example, our handling of protests connected to the Republican National Convention, but it's not clear to me that we need as many officers tasked to the protest as I see in Government Plaza on a regular basis. And rather than providing this information to the Council through the regular budget process, MPD issued a general press release while the protests are still underway. It's hard to see this as anything but a backhanded attempt to disparage the Occupy protestors.
There may be a similar attempt brewing at the County level, so it's important that the Council come down firmly on the side of the protestors.
I want to thank Council Member Hodges for putting this resolution together, and for speaking so compellingly for it this morning.
Here's the full text:
Whereas, Minneapolis citizens and the City of Minneapolis are suffering from the effects of an ongoing economic and political crisis that threatens our individual and collective fiscal stability and quality of life; and
Whereas, the causes and consequences of the economic crisis are eroding the fundamental social contract upon which the Constitution of the United States was founded; namely, the ability of Americans to come together and form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense of, promote the general welfare of, and secure the blessings of liberty for all, allowing every American to strive for and share in the prosperity of our nation through cooperation and hard work; and
Whereas, far from suffering the effects of the economic crisis Wall Street profits increased 720% between 2007 and 2009 (New York State Comptroller, 2011); and
Whereas, today corporations exert undue influence and power in our country, and the key to this power is the concept of corporate personhood; and
Whereas, the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission rolled back legal restrictions on corporate campaign spending, thus undermining the voices of individual Americans; and
Whereas, income inequality in America is greater than at any time since the Great Depression, with top 1% income bracket controlling 42% of all wealth (Levy Institute, 2010); and
Whereas, the International Monetary Fund found that greater income inequality suppresses economic growth (IMF, 2011); and
Whereas, an October 5th ABC/Washington Post poll showed 75% of Americans support raising taxes on millionaires to reduce the federal deficit; and
Whereas, the lower- and middle-class workers have sacrificed their present and future security in response to the economic collapse while those responsible for it are offered record profits and tax breaks; and
Whereas, over 14 million Americans are unemployed including nearly 16,000 in Minneapolis alone (Bureau of Labor Statistics and MNDEED, 2011), over 50 million are forced to live without health insurance including an estimated 460,000 Minnesotans (U.S. Census, 2007), and 1 out of every 3 children in Minneapolis lives in poverty (Minneapolis Foundation, 2011); and
Whereas, the racial disparity in unemployment rates is higher in Minneapolis than in any other of the 50 largest metropolitan areas (Minnesota Public Radio, 2011); and
Whereas, in addition to lost property value and regulatory expenditures, the City of Minneapolis has spent in excess of $20 million dollars through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program to address the impacts of the foreclosure crisis caused in large part by the financial industry’s overleveraging of high-risk mortgage-backed securities;
Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved by the City of Minneapolis in order to create a shared dialogue through which to address the problems and generate solutions for 99% of Americans the City stands in support of peaceful calls for serious reforms to the income tax, financial, and electoral systems, and of education efforts in furtherance of those goals.