Second Ward, Minneapolis

This is the public policy forum of Minneapolis Second Ward (Green) City Council Member Cam Gordon and his staff. We use this space to talk about some of what Cam’s working on, explain his positions, and share a little of what life in City Hall is like. Please feel free to comment on posts, within certain ground rules. See our disclaimer, including ground rules, here:

Friday, October 21, 2011

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.


At 12:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Cam---I live in the 7th Ward. I have noticed that those in the occupy MN group have brought small children into their gov. plaza site. It is fortunate that the MPD has stationed multiple officers there---Hopefully, this will maintain the safety of those children. Apparently, there is an area set aside by the occupy group as a play area for the kids. This appears to mean that the parents are not monitoring their own children. No one knows the backgrounds of the people who have shown up to join this group. I am an RN, and therefore am concerned about the public health and public safety issues involved with the Occupy group. Per report of multiple people commenting on a Star Trib article, regarding the group, the general area of gov. plaza now smells so bad due to poor hygiene in the area that, instead of Mace, one suggested that the MPD carry bottles of Febreeze. As this group seems to be composed primarily of teens and twentysomethings, not an erudite group of thinkers, I'm surprised that the Minneapolis City Council has made a public statement, as a group, on a topic that is so potentially treacherous for all of you. This group is going onto private property and threatening people. Did you see the Star Trib photo of them in the Wells Fargo Bank? They were standing with arms raised with clenched fists---That is a terroristic threat in a private property. The Occupy group in New York has been threatening people in the nicer neighbors---Are you of the City Council going to allow that in Minneapolis? What about allowing Occupy to exist in downtown Minneapolis until they create an epidemic in the city? That's what happens when people congregate in close quarters for long periods of time with poor hygienic conditions. I have contacted the MN Dept of Health and urged them to send a rep to the gov. plaza site and monitor the situation. I have also contacted Hennepin County Child Protection as a third party mandated reporter urging them, also, to monitor the well-being of the children brought to that site. I am concerned about what I have seen in photos and TV interviews with some of the parents. In other cities sexual assaults are taking place at the Occupy sites. This group is a mob and the behavior of mobs is unpredictable. It is not in the best interest of children to be brought into conditions existing at this site. I'm familiar with your extensive experience with children and hope that you will be involved to protect the kids there. My area of expertise in nursing is psychiatry---I have worked in acute care for both children and adults for the past twenty years. I feel very uneasy, because of my background, about the potential for damage and harm to individuals in this city, especially after getting caught in the group of hundreds who descended upon the Federal Reserve.

At 10:43 AM, Blogger Robin Garwood said...

I could not disagree with you more. These folks are engaging in constitutionally-protected free speech, and they're *right*. The financial and electoral systems in this country are not working well for the vast majority of people, but working quite well (as they were set up to do) for the wealthiest Americans. It's well past time that a popular movement formed to call attention to this, and urge policymakers at all levels to do something about it. I'm proud that the Council took a position, and thank CM Hodges for bringing it forward.

I'd also note that your entire diatribe against the Occupy protest relies on a series of ad hominem attacks and insinuations. If that's all you've got, it's hard to take your concerns very seriously.

At 6:06 PM, Anonymous Brian monroe said...

My personal experience with occupy mm, although somewhat limited, has been overwhelmingly positive.
Thank you for your support.

At 8:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am in complete support of the Resolution.

In reply to anonymous psychiatric nurse: No one wants kids to be exposed to bad conditions, but that's not what this is really about. Your snide, officious, smarter-than-thou attitude, your rambling all over the place diatribe and just plain snarky remarks make it hard to take seriously your pontificating on what is best for children.

The one theme that comes across clearly is your disdain for people you look down your nose at.

P.S. It's not good for a child's mental health when their parents lose their jobs and homes due to corporate greed and perfidy. Letting big banks get away with causing all this suffering -- THAT is "treacherous" to use your word.

At 8:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, Cam. I am in complete support of the Resolution.

Re: anonymous psychiatric nurse --
What happens to a child's mental health when their parents lose their jobs and homes due to corporate greed and perfidy?

"Treacherous," to use your word, would apply to letting big banks get away with causing all this suffering and rewarding them with cushy bailouts.


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