Category Archives: Uncategorized

For the record: Trump tracking, January 13, 2018

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The Emperor’s New Clothes

I do not like writing about Trump. I fear that writing about him only strengthens him by giving him more of the attention he craves and thrives on. Nonetheless, this year is already full of so much new information about his racism, lies, and other bizarre behavior that I will record several reports here, to make track-backs easier for myself and for anyone else who may want the information. Continue reading

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Tax cuts: ABCs and BS

If you are confused about the “tax cut” bill, you are not alone. I took two semesters of tax law way back in the day, and I do my own taxes every year, so here’s my explanation of just one of the ways the “tax reform” cuts taxes but actually leaves you paying more. Continue reading

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Helping after Hurricane Harvey

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Texas National Guard Soldiers respond to the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tim Pruitt) Photo used under Creative Commons license.

Just a couple of quick notes to anyone who wants to know how to help after Hurricane Harvey – because there are so many ways to do it right, and just as many ways to do it wrong. Here are five ways to do it right: Continue reading

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Retirement is a good time to go to work

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Association House – a settlement house in Chicago, where Chester Kolmodin volunteered for West Town Legal Services. (Photo from Chicago History in Post Cards)

When I read about Jim Scheibel and the Encore Fellowship program at Hamline University, my mind slid back in time, remembering a retiree volunteer named Chester Kolmodin.

I was a young lawyer, just licensed and working at a settlement house in Chicago. My job: directing West Town Legal Services, the legal aid program I had started when I was still in law school. I was the only lawyer. My job included raising the money to pay my munificent $12,000 a year salary, and training and supervising a paralegal to help clients with welfare appeals. Continue reading

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Taking down ‘Scaffold’ at the Walker

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Coya Hope’s Twitter post was one of many protesting ‘Scaffold’ in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

A tall gallows structure stands in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, near the iconic Cherry and Spoon, the new Giant Blue Chicken, and the mini-golf course. But not for much longer.  After an outpouring of pain and anger from Minnesota’s Native American community, the Walker has agreed to remove ‘Scaffold.’

Sam Durant, a white Los Angeles artist, first created ‘Scaffold’ in 2012 in Germany, and the sculpture has been exhibited in other cities. The sculpture features gallows from seven hangings. The largest one, which supports all the rest, is a model of the Mankato gallows  on which 38 Native American men were hung on December 26, 1862 in the largest mass execution in U.S. history. The Walker planned carefully for the opening of the new sculpture garden, but they failed to consult Minnesota’s Native American communities.  before erecting ‘Scaffold.’

Over and over, the Native Americans denouncing the sculpture repeat: we were not consulted, we were not listened to, our voices are not heard. Rather than adding my voice to the discussion, I want to amplify their voices in this blog post: Continue reading

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Budgets are moral documents – and Trump’s budget is an immoral failure

Martin Luther King, Jr. said it half a century ago: budgets are moral documents. The budget that Trump sent to Congress this week is immoral as well as unworkable. It deliberately overstates the amount of money available, which will lead to even greater deficits.  Then it slashes programs that build for the future, protect clean air and water, and serve our most vulnerable citizens and children.

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Legislating against agriculture and environment

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According to Governor Mark Dayton, “Agriculture is not a partisan issue—all Minnesotans want a strong agricultural industry.” That’s far from evident in the agriculture omnibus bill that Republicans in the legislature sent to the governor –which he vetoed last week. Besides restricting spending for the Agriculture Growth, Research and Innovation (AGRI) program, the bill takes away the Department of Agriculture authority to enforce pesticide regulations. That puts Minnesota in conflict with the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Continue reading

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Undermining Public Safety: the Republican Ominous Bill

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Republicans like law enforcement, right? You wouldn’t know it from the cuts and underfunding in the Judiciary and Public Safety omnibus bill. Continue reading

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St. Paul shenanigans make bad legislation

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Just thirteen more days in the session, and the behind-closed-doors shenanigans have begun. First, Republicans refuse to even negotiate with Governor Mark Dayton over the budget. That’s stupid, but well within the realm of hyper-partisan politicking. The real fast ones are being pulled in conference committees, out of sight of the public and sometimes even out of sight of the rest of the legislature.

As Sally Jo Sorensen writes, it’s magic:

“It’s spring, there’s magic in the air, and language now appears suddenly in Minnesota legislative conference committee, popping up overnight like the state mushroom or asparagus.”

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Sneaky stuff in omnibus bills

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Thanks to two whistle-blowing state senators, we know about two sneaky provisions hiding in plain sight in the final three weeks of the Minnesota legislative session: repeal of campaign finance reforms and a sell-out of Minnesota privacy rules. Continue reading

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