Thursday, January 27, 2011

Debtris US



Pretty sad when it's put in perspective like this. What do we do about it?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chris Matthews Attacks Tea Party Leader Over Bachmann





Monday, January 24, 2011

Regarding The Minneapolis Dog Park Debacle

Quite a few of you have been following the comedy of errors that is the current Minneapolis Dog Park debate. Generally, I don't really talk about it here, but I'm making another exception today to bring you the complete text of a piece written by a neighbor, and fellow dog lover.

Of Dogs and Men: Race, Symbolism, and an Ill-Fated Dog Park in South Minneapolis
by Jennifer DeJonghe

When I first saw the fliers around my neighborhood for a proposed dog park in my local park, I immediately and unquestioningly signed up as a supporter. I had just recently adopted a rescue dog and had been feeling guilty about the extra driving I was doing to take him to dog parks.

I have long been a heavy user of this local park, which had been named for the slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. I walk with my two children to the playground and the pool multiple times a week in the summer and visit less frequently in the winter for sledding. My family has barbecues there and we attend events such as the annual park festival. Certain parts of the park are busy during the summer, but is fairly large and has plenty of underused space. The proposed dog park was to occupy a small fenced area along the freeway, behind some tennis domes. Perfect, I thought. Better yet, there seemed to be a lot of local support for the proposal, including by city officials who seemed happy to have their faces attached to it.

I heard the first rumblings of trouble on my way to a public information meeting advertised by the Park Board at the park last summer. My kids were coming with me to play at the park during the meeting and some of their African American friends from the neighborhood joined us, all taking turns riding in and pulling a wagon along the way. “My grandma says that they are taking out the playground equipment and giving the whole park to dogs instead”, said one young boy. I was surprised, but thought the public information meeting would help clear up any misinformation that might be floating around.

But instead of gaining information when I walked into the meeting, I was given a red sticker and asked to use it to place a vote on a board – for or against a dog park. City officials were suddenly either nowhere to be found, or were acting curt and trying not make waves. There was no information presented other than some drawings on poster boards. I was able to gather from the whisperings in the room that some African American elders had begun to voice opposition to the dog park, a position which had taken supporters and city officials by surprise.

From that point on, I saw my neighborhood go through a public struggle over race and symbolism like I’ve not personally seen before in my part of Minneapolis, a city that like many in the US prefers to not discuss race and to think of racial conflict as a relic of the past. The media portrayed the issue as “White vs. African American” and the story was covered widely. Public meetings were punctuated with shouting and tears, and public officials would not take a stand either way – instead advocating for more and more moderated discussions. Sub committees and task forces on race and healing were formed faster than I could keep up with, yet publicly the drama continued to escalate.

On one side was mostly elder members of the African American community, some of whom did not live in the neighborhood but still held strong ties to the park. They argued that a dog park would disrespect the memory of Martin Luther King Jr, particularly since dogs were used as weapons against civil rights activists in the 1960s. They also spoke of historical discrimination inMinneapolis and of inequities still not addressed. MLK park is clearly an important destination and symbol for many African Americans in Minneapolis, a remembered place of refuge in a segregated city, and naming the park after Martin Luther King Jr. had been an important victory back in the 1960s. Furthermore, they lamented the fact that the city had allowed the park and a memorial sculpture contained within it to fall into disrepair.

On the other side were the dog owners (mostly White) who said that they are already walking their dogs through the park anyway and that they only want a very small fenced in area to do it in instead. They argued that it would be a great community building place and a positive addition to an unused area of the park. Other nearby parks had been ruled out as potential dog park locations in the past, and MLK park was centrally located and in a more demographically diverse part of the city. Most of the rest of the dog parks in the city are located in affluent communities in Minneapolis and this would serve a broader cross section of people.

As someone who writes and reads a lot about racism and nature, I found myself surprisingly unable to make a decision. I wondered if my own initial support of the dog park was selfish, and illustrative of the fact that no matter how much Tim Wise I read, I will instinctively wield my class and race privilege when faced with an issue that affects me personally. But I also believe very strongly that urban parks should be about broad usage by the immediate populace, not about preserving or memorializing. And yet.. I took very seriously arguments that such a park could bring pain to some of my neighbors. There is no denying that historical injustices leave enduring scars, and by no means can I or should I hope to understand the struggle of anyone else.

'

From that point on, I saw my neighborhood go through a public struggle over race and symbolism like I’ve not personally seen before in my part of Minneapolis, a city that like many in the US prefers to not discuss race and to think of racial conflict as a relic of the past. The media portrayed the issue as “White vs. African American” and the story was covered widely. Public meetings were punctuated with shouting and tears, and public officials would not take a stand either way – instead advocating for more and more moderated discussions. Sub committees and task forces on race and healing were formed faster than I could keep up with, yet publicly the drama continued to escalate.

On one side was mostly elder members of the African American community, some of whom did not live in the neighborhood but still held strong ties to the park. They argued that a dog park would disrespect the memory of Martin Luther King Jr, particularly since dogs were used as weapons against civil rights activists in the 1960s. They also spoke of historical discrimination inMinneapolis and of inequities still not addressed. MLK park is clearly an important destination and symbol for many African Americans in Minneapolis, a remembered place of refuge in a segregated city, and naming the park after Martin Luther King Jr. had been an important victory back in the 1960s. Furthermore, they lamented the fact that the city had allowed the park and a memorial sculpture contained within it to fall into disrepair.

On the other side were the dog owners (mostly White) who said that they are already walking their dogs through the park anyway and that they only want a very small fenced in area to do it in instead. They argued that it would be a great community building place and a positive addition to an unused area of the park. Other nearby parks had been ruled out as potential dog park locations in the past, and MLK park was centrally located and in a more demographically diverse part of the city. Most of the rest of the dog parks in the city are located in affluent communities in Minneapolis and this would serve a broader cross section of people.

As someone who writes and reads a lot about racism and nature, I found myself surprisingly unable to make a decision. I wondered if my own initial support of the dog park was selfish, and illustrative of the fact that no matter how much Tim Wise I read, I will instinctively wield my class and race privilege when faced with an issue that affects me personally. But I also believe very strongly that urban parks should be about broad usage by the immediate populace, not about preserving or memorializing. And yet.. I took very seriously arguments that such a park could bring pain to some of my neighbors. There is no denying that historical injustices leave enduring scars, and by no means can I or should I hope to understand the struggle of anyone else.



As of late January, it appears that the Park Board has finally decided to officially take a stand against a dog park at Martin Luther King park, something that is almost a relief to even many who supported the park. By the time the snow has melted this spring, some of the hurt feelings between neighbors will probably be healed. But I will not easily forget the behavior of the elected officials and the way they scrambled and dithered over the issue as soon as the topic of race came up. And I hope that the hard work the dog park supporters put into developing the plan is acknowledged, and that an alternate dog park site is selected. And I hope that the hurt feelings of the opponents of the park is also acknowledged, and that the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr can be better honored in our city. And I hope that for a while people remember that our history is filled with pain and conflict, and that until we discuss and acknowledge our past it will erupt in unexpected places in our present.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
A well-written and well-informed piece Jennifer. Thank you for letting me share it with my regular readers. More thought and insight from Jennifer can be found here on her blog:


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

De-stress Day


Tired of politics, and arrogant politicians who think that the entire populace are ignorant drones, tired of hard-headed Midwesterners of all races who are inflexible and don't know when they're being played, and SICK and tired of a certain Minneapolis City Council member. (There will be a series of articles showing the dark side of that particular individual soon, including a most intriguing e-mail exchange.)

But all that takes a backseat today. I declare today, January 11, 2011 (1/11/11... I just noticed that and the day's almost over) Mindless Eye Candy Day, subtitled Cool Shit Misplaced Found On The Internet.

Enjoy.



At some point, I'll dust off some fiction I was working on last Summer before my unscheduled "hiatus". Baby steps for now. Giant leaps by Springtime.


Monday, January 10, 2011

Let's Get This Straight

I was going to rant a bit about this past weekend's shootings in Tuscon, but then a friend forwarded a link to a blog written by Melissa McEwan on her blog Shakesville. (link below)

I'm going to shelve my article, and reprint hers instead to bring it to a wider audience.

[Trigger warning for violent rhetoric of many different stripes.]

Both sides are, in fact, not "just as bad," when it comes to institutionally sanctioned violent and eliminationist rhetoric.

An anonymous commenter at Daily Kos and the last Republican vice presidential nominee are not equivalent, no matter how many ridiculously irresponsible members of the media would have us believe otherwise.

There is, demonstrably, no leftist equivalent to Sarah Palin, former veep candidate and presumed future presidential candidate, who uses gun imagery (rifle sights) and language ("Don't Retreat, RELOAD") to exhort her followers to action.

There is no leftist equivalent to the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), a group which was created from the mailing list of the old white supremacist White Citizens Councils and has been noted as becoming increasingly "radical and racist" by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which classifies the CCC as a hate group—and is nonetheless considered an acceptable association by prominent members of the Republican Party, including a a former senator and the last Republican presidential nominee.

There is no leftist equivalent to Glenn Beck, host of a long-running nationally syndicated radio show, former host of a show on CNN and current host of a show on Fox, best-selling author, DC rally organizer, and longtime user of eliminationist rhetoric, including equating universal healthcare to rape, joking about victims of forest fires being America-hating liberals, comparing Al Gore to Hitler,condoning the murder of Michael Moore, accusing Holocaust survivor George Soros of being a Nazi collaborator, joking about poisoning Nancy Pelosi, equating immigration reform with burning US citizens alive, publicly endorsing violent revolution, and winkingly telling his viewers not to get violent, all of which amounts to a speck on the tip of a very big iceberg.

There is no leftist equivalent to Ann Coulter, best-selling author and syndicated columnist, who has been a panelist on Fox's Hannity 28 times and was on Hannity & Colmes an additional 18 times, who has been a guest multiple times on The O'Reilly Factor, Geraldo at Large, Larry King Live, Huckabee,Your World with Neil Cavuto, Hardball, and other cable news shows, has made appearances on The Tonight Show, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, The Daily Show, and Real Time with Bill Maher, and has co-hosted The View, and has also said that a baseball bat is "the most effective way" to talk to liberals, as well as: "We need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed, too." And: "My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building." And: "In [Clinton's] recurring nightmare of a presidency, we have a national debate about whether he 'did it,' even though all sentient people know he did. Otherwise there would be debates only about whether to impeach or assassinate."

There is no leftist equivalent to Bill O'Reilly, Fox News television show host, nationally syndicated radio show host, and best-selling author, who has appeared on The Tonight Show eleven times, The Late Show with David Letterman six times, The Daily Show six times, Live with Regis and Kelly five times, The View four times, Good Morning America three times, and Real Time with Bill Maher twice, among other national shows, and has lied about and stalked his critics, said that progressive bloggers should be dealt with "with a hand grenade," said Air America hosts were traitors and should be "put in chains," as well as: "And if Al Qaeda comes [to San Francisco] and blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it. We're going to say, look, every other place in America is off limits to you, except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead."

There is no leftist equivalent to Rush "I tell people don't kill all the liberals. Leave enough so we can have two on every campus—living fossils—so we will never forget what these people stood for" Limbaugh, nationally syndicated radio show host and invitee to the Bush White House.

There is no leftist equivalent to Pat "Hitler's success was not based on his extraordinary gifts alone. His genius was an intuitive sense of the mushiness, the character flaws, the weakness masquerading as morality that was in the hearts of the statesmen who stood in his path" Buchanan, a regular MSNBC contributor and syndicated columnist.

There is no leftist equivalent to Michelle "In Defense of Internment: The Case for 'Racial Profiling' in World War II and the War on Terror" Malkin, a regular Fox panelist, best-selling author, and prominent conservative blogger.

There is no leftist equivalent to Pat "The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians" Robertson, host of The 700 Club, who was a guest on Fox's Hannity & Colmes five times.

There is no leftist equivalent to Michael "Howard Dean should be arrested and hung for treason or put in a hole until the end of the Iraq war" Reagan, or Michael "Smallpox in a blanket, which the U.S. Army gave to the Cherokee Indians on their long march to the West, was nothing compared to what I'd like to see done to these people" Savage, both nationally syndicated radio show hosts.

There is no leftist equivalent to the Minutemen and other radical and eliminationist-spewing anti-immigration groups, some of whom have been subcontracted to work the border by the US government.

There is no leftist equivalent to radical and eliminationist-spewing anti-choice groups, who openly target doctors and call for their assassinations—and had a success just last year in the murder of Dr. George Tiller—and whose leaders get featured in whitewashing profiles in the Washington Post.

Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.


This is not an argument there is no hatred, no inappropriate and even violent rhetoric, among US leftists. There is.

This is evidence that, although violent rhetoric exists among US leftists, it is not remotely on the same scale, and, more importantly, not an institutionally endorsed tactic, as it is among US rightwingers.

This is a fact. It is not debatable.

And there is observably precious little integrity among conservatives in addressing this fact, in the wake of the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Palin takes the absolute cake for audaciously asserting that her rifle sight imagery was really "a surveyor's symbol," and not even having the decency to sheepishly acquiesce that, even if that were true (and not evident bullshit), it's understandable how a reasonable person could look at her "surveyor's symbol" alongside the word "target" and get the wrong, ahem, idea. No, it's all just a wall of total denial in the Palin camp, when she's not whining about being a victim herself of people who have the temerity to actually hold her accountable for her carelessly casual violent rhetoric. It's all fun and games until someone gets hurt. And then it's deny and play the martyr.

But it's not like Palin's ideological allies are covering themselves in glory, either. There's no call for accountability, no call for reflection, not among conservatives. Just the usual game of deflection and projection, as they desperately try to find a way to make this liberals' fault.

Bill Kristol took to the airwaves this morning to call criticism of Palin "a disgrace" and accuse liberals of "McCarthyism." Commentators on Fox News, meanwhile, blame President Obama for not changing the tone in Washington, like he promised. Which would be hilarious, were that redirection of blame not a key part of conservatives' strategy to dodge responsibility for the eliminationist rhetoric that certainly contributed to the tragic events of this weekend.

When, a few months ago, there was a spate of widely-publicized suicides of bullied teens, we had, briefly, a national conversation about the dangers of bullying. But in the wake of an ideologically-motivated assassination attempt of a sitting member of Congress, we aren't having a national conversation about the dangers of violent rhetoric—because the conversation about bullying children was started by adults, and there are seemingly no responsible grown-ups to be found among conservatives anymore.

Faced with the overwhelming evidence of the violent rhetoric absolutely permeating the discourse emanating from their side of the aisle, conservatives adopt the approach of a petulant child—deny, obfuscate, and lash out defensively.

And engage in the most breathtaking disingenuous hypocrisy: Conservatives, who vociferously argue against the language and legislation of social justice, on the basis that it all "normalizes" marginalized people and their lives and cultures (it does!), are suddenly nothing but blinking, wide-eyed naïveté when it comes to their own violent rhetoric.

They have a great grasp of cultural anthropology when they want to complain about progressive ideas, inclusion, diversity, and equality. But when it comes to being accountable for their own ideas, their anthropological prowess magically disappears.

Only progressives "infect" the culture, but conservative hate speech exists in a void.

That's what we're meant to believe, anyway. But we know it is not true. This culture, this habit, of eliminationist rhetoric is not happening in a vacuum. It's happening in a culture of widely-available guns (thanks to conservative policies), of underfunded and unavailable medical care, especially mental health care (thanks to conservative policies), of a widespread belief that government is the enemy of the people (thanks to conservative rhetoric), and of millions of increasingly desperate people (thanks to an economy totally fucked by conservative governance).

The shooting in Tucson was not an anomaly. It was an inevitability.

And as long as we continue to play this foolish game of "both sides are just as bad," and rely on trusty old ablism to dismiss Jared Lee Loughner as a crackpot—dutifully ignoring that people with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators; carefully pretending that the existence of people with mental illness who are potentially dangerous somehow absolves us of responsibility for violent rhetoric, as opposed to serving to underline precisely why it's irresponsible—it will be inevitable again.

Let's get this straight: This shit doesn't happen in a void. It happens in a culture rife with violent political rhetoric, and it's time for conservatives to pull up their goddamn bootstraps and get to work doing the hard business of self-reflection.

This is one problem the invisible hand of the market can't fix for them—unless, perhaps, it's holding a mirror.

Wise words from a fellow blogger. Check out more from Melissa at: http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com





Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Politics Goes to the Dogs


"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

I can no longer remain silent about something that matters to me, and the lost sheep who have chosen to oppose something that matters to me.

I'm talking about the proposed off-leash area in Martin Luther King, Jr. Park in Minneapolis.

As many of my readers know, I have been a core team member of the Kingfield Dog Park Task Force since 2009. I have refrained from speaking here about negotiating the politics, and labyrinth process involved with the proposed addition of a desired amenity to an existing, unused area of a neighborhood park.

Since the beginning of the process, the Task Force has taken pride in the true grassroots and community-oriented nature of it's charged initiative. One of the reasons for the progress made thus far has been the inclusion of as many neighbors, businesses, and corresponding neighborhood and business associations of the neighborhoods surrounding MLK Park. This includes not just the Kingfield and Bryant neighborhoods which border the park, but also the Tangletown, Central, and Regina neighborhoods. The Task Force also kept the community informed of the progress of it's study by sending representatives to not only Park Board meetings, but also scheduled meetings of the above mentioned neighborhood and business associations.

When the Park Board was informed that there was overwhelming support from the surrounding community for the promised Park District 6 off-leash area to be located in MLK Park, it immediately began the public notification process, which it has adhered to and complied with in an admirable fashion.

The process has not been without some controversy. In 2010, a small group of individuals who are occasional users of MLK Park were given incorrect information about the promised District Six off-leash area, and the intentions of the established and recognized Task Force charged with exploring the issue.

Basically, these casual users of MLK Park felt slighted, because they were given incorrect information by park staff members who were not involved with the Task Force in any capacity, and felt that they had been "left out" of the decision making process.

When the Task Force became aware of the potentially racially-charged nature of the misunderstanding, a meeting to discuss the issue was immediately held, and a local politician was present. At this meeting, the Task Force indicated that they wished to sit down with the opposing parties, clarify the intentions of the Task Force, and share all information and research gathered to date with the intention of clearing up all misunderstandings about the proposed project. It was strongly suggested by the politician that they should facilitate any discussion between the Task Force and the opposition. Even though the Task Force indicated that since there were minority members in their ranks who were better suited for such a discussion, the politician insisted that they would "handle it", and under no uncertain terms should an African-American member of the Task Force attempt to contact the opposition.

The Task Force reluctantly agreed to these terms, placed their trust in the politician to speak on their behalf and waited for the discussion to begin.

It never did.

The process continued on.

On December 15, 2010, the Park Board adopted a Resolution Authorizing the Formation and Charge of an Appointed Sixth Park District Off-Leash Recreation Area Citizen Advisory Committee:

WHEREAS, the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board (MPRB) is the steward of the Minneapolis Parks; and

WHEREAS, the Board successfully provides off-leash recreation areas in five of the six park districts; and

WHEREAS, off-leash recreation areas provide social opportunities for dog owners, have a positive impact on pets and help build strong communities;

WHEREAS, there is a demonstrated need for an off-leash recreation area in the Sixth Park District, especially in Community Service Area 10;

WHEREAS, the Board desires a citizen advisory committee to provide recommendations for an off-leash recreation area in the Sixth Park District with special focus on Community Service Area 10; and

NOW THEREFORE, be it resolved by the Commissioners of the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board as follows:

Direct staff to convene a Sixth Park District Off-Leash Recreation Area citizen advisory committee (CAC) with the following charge and composition:

CAC Charges:

1. Recommend a location for an enclosed off-leash recreation area within Community Service Area (CSA) 10 of the Sixth Park District specifically focusing on areas along Stevens Avenue South between E 40th and 42nd treets and areas along Kings Highway/Dupont Avenue South between W 38th and 40th Streets. The CAC will present recommendations and methodology of recommendations at the March 16, 2011 Planning Committee of the Board.

2. Assess community interest in piloting programming for residents and their dogs in Southwest/South Central Minneapolis. Assess community support for
piloting alterative methods of providing off-leash areas in the Southwest/South Central Minneapolis. If community support is garnered to pilot alternative methods, assist with pilot implementation and evaluation.

The proposed CAC would be composed of 23 individuals appointed by entities or persons with some vested interest in the community:

CAC Composition:

Appointing entity or person

Board President (appoints chairperson)
Other At-Large Commissioners
Commissioner District Six
Commissioner District Five
Commissioner District Four
Ward 8 Minneapolis Council Member
Ward 10 Minneapolis Council Member
Ward 11 Minneapolis Council Member
Ward 13 Minneapolis Council Member
Kingfield Neighborhood Association
E. Harriet Farmstead Neighborhood Association
Lyndale Neighborhood Association
Tangletown Neighborhood Association
East Calhoun Community Organization
Calhoun Area Residents Action Group
Lynnhurst Neighborhood Association
Field Regina Northrop Neighborhood Group
Bryant Neighborhood Organization
Mayor of City of Minneapolis
Kingfield Dogpark Task Force
Dog Grounds
Sabathani Community CeItalicnter Board Chairperson

An incredibly fair and diverse cross section of the surrounding community, right? The opposition (born from the AARP group at the Sabathani Community Center) even has been given the right to appoint a representative to the CAC, even though the Sabathani Community Center is not located in, and many members of the opposition do not reside in or near Park District Six.

You'd think that this would be seen as shining example of inclusion, cooperation, and willingness to compromise and find common ground, right?

Wrong.

Late yesterday afternoon, I got two phone messages. One from a Park Board Commissioner, the other from a fellow Task Force Core Team member. They were both telling me that the formation of the CAC was now off the agenda of the January 5, 2011 Park Board meeting. When I asked why that was, it was explained to me that a letter had been received by the Park Board from a group calling themselves "Citizens In Action For Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park -- CIA FOR MLK". The text of the letter follows. For the purposes of clarification and truth, I will interject in italics where necessary:

December 29, 2010

Dear Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Commissioners:

CIA for MLK represents a large, city-wide community of citizens who have a strong interest in the character of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park (MLK). It appears, to us that the process for choosing a site for an off-leash dog park in the sixth park district has trampled the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s (MPRB) usual methods of informing the public, soliciting public comment and keeping stakeholders informed. Further, it appears to us that the proposed site for a dog park at MLK Park ignores the MPRB’s own guidelines for appropriate locations that discourage sites close to areas where there is active recreation or places where children usually play. We are writing this to offer an alternative process for locating an off-leash dog recreation area in the Sixth Park District at the MPRB meeting January 5.

The Process Trampled Usual Methods of Community Participation

Timeline
• 2001 – Off Leash Recreation Area Site Study Committee identifies and ranks 19 potential sites but makes no recommendation.

• January 2002 – MPRB receives final report of the off-leash dog exercise area feasibility study.

• 2009 – Kingfield Neighborhood Association (KFNA) establishes a Dog Park Taskforce.

This is almost correct. In 2009, a group of residents from the Kingfield, Bryant, and Tangletown neighborhoods formed a task Force to look into the feasibility of finally establishing the promised Park District Six Off-Leash Area. After it was determined that there was significant demand for such an amenity, the project was adopted by the Kingfield Neighborhood Association, and the existing Task Force was permitted to continue it's work.

• May 5, 2010 – Kingfield Dog Park Committee presents a proposal for an off-leash dog park at MLK to the MPRB during open time at its regular meeting.

This was a public meeting. The agenda was public information as it is for all public meetings of the Park Board. This implies that the Task Force should have been required to seek out any potential opposition before that meeting. This is simply ridiculous, and is not a precursor to the process for obvious reasons.

• July 22, 2010 – MPRB holds an “open house” meeting at MLK on this proposal.

This meeting met all criteria for public notification, and was well attended. The letter writer implies that they were not notified of this meeting... yet other members of the opposition were in attendance. There was also specific notification on City Council Ward Eight's website: http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/ward8/docs/8thWardNewsletterJuly2010.pdf

African-American Newspaper Insight News reported the upcoming July 22, 2010 meeting on July 12, 2010:

• Sept. 2, 2010 – MPRB holds another meeting on the dog park at MLK.

And again, this meeting met all criteria for public notification. Once again, there is also mention of the meeting on the Ward Eight website... in August no less, well in advance of the meeting:


• December 1, 2010 – Regular MPRB meeting where the dog park proposal was discussed.

Another public meeting that met all criteria for public notification.

• December 15, 2010 - MPRB Planning Committee approves a resolution to create a Community Advisory Committee (CAC).

Yet ANOTHER public meeting that met all criteria for public notification, including the meeting agenda being made public on advance.

• January 5, 2011 – MSPB full meeting that will take action on the resolution.

Tomorrow's meeting that the Park Board has already buckled on. The CAC is now off the agenda because of this letter.

Concerned Citizens’ Participation Was Systematically Left Out

• Nine years elapsed between the feasibility study and the current activity.

The current activity picked up where the previous activity left off, including re-evaluating each original potential site.

• None of the elders who were involved in renaming Nicollet Field to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park were notified of any Kingfield planning or Dog Park Task Force meetings.

It is difficult to expect a group of neighbors to seek out an opposition group that they are not even aware of the existence of.

• No community members or parents of children that use MLK Park were notified about the proposal presented to the May 5th MPRB meeting.

This is simply not true. Community members and parents of children who use MLK park have been involved in the process since the beginning. Members of the Task Force are residents of the neighborhood that border MLK Park, and have children of the two-legged as well as the four-legged variety.

• Community members received no formal notification of the July 22 meeting.

As shown above, the July 22, 2010 meeting met all criteria for public notification. It was well-attended, which indicates that the Community was indeed formally notified. Members of the opposition were present at this meeting as well... Who exactly was it that missed the memo that so many others got?

• In early August, Elizabeth Glidden arranged for a meeting with the Sabathani AARP chapter and Park Board Chair, John Erwin.

The Kingfield Dog Park Task Force was not notified of this meeting between Councilmember Glidden, and Park Board President Erwin. Is the writer's intention to inform the Task Force of the injustice committed by the opposition when the Dog Park Task Force was not permitted representation at what amounts to a secret meeting between the opposition to a proposed public project, and two elected officials who could potentially influence the outcome?

• At the September 2 meeting members of the community provided contact information to be informed of next steps and to help plan ways to honor Dr. King’s legacy.

• Most of the community members who provided contact information were not informed about the December 1 MPRB meeting. Mr. Mays called MPRB to get information but got no response. He then called Elizabeth Glidden and was told it wasn’t necessary to attend because the dog park was not on the agenda. When Mr. Mays watched the meeting on cable, he saw that the dog park was discussed, that members of the dog park coalition were there and heard Mr. Bourn comment that, “Apparently there is no more opposition to the dog park because nobody showed up.”

This isn't entirely accurate. It is true that the proposed off-leash area was not on the meeting agenda, however, since Park Board meetings are public, and time is generally made available for the public to speak at these meetings, I get the impression that the problem the letter writer has is that supporters of the proposed off-leash area are taking it upon themselves to show up at Park Board meetings and speak in support of the proposed project. Does the letter writer expect to be informed each time a random member of the general public chooses to show their support of something they may oppose? Yes, Task Force members are present at each public meeting, and speak in support of the proposed project at every opportunity. That's part of the process. It seems we're being faulted for following the rules.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park

• Although it was dated December 10, most people on the contact list did not receive notice of the December 15th Planning Committee meeting until December 13th or 14th. By that time, it was too late to offer an alternative to the proposed resolution.The composition of the CAC proposed in the December 15 resolution guarantees a skewed result.

The heavy snowstorm of the previous weekend delayed the mail for the entire city, not just the letter writer. This is a moot point however, as I was at the December 15, 2010 meeting, and spoke to the other stakeholders in the lobby of the Park Board building after the conclusion of the Planning Committee Meeting.

As for the proposed CAC producing a "skewed result" please refer to where I talked about the CAC above... It is set to be composed of residents of the community surrounding MLK Park. Could it be that your claim of potential "skewed results" are indicative of the fact that you have become aware that the community at large disagrees with your issue?

MPRB meeting notice for January 5th stated, “The Board does not ordinarily take comment on agenda items, so it is not anticipated that the Board will take public comment on this item”.

From our perspective, it seems like we were shut out of the whole process. The last notice culminates a series of events where we were not notified of meetings and now we apparently are denied opportunity to comment on a Community Advisory process that shuts out our voice as well.

Other Off-leash Sites in Low Recreation and Child Play Areas We are puzzled why the MPRB would even consider an off-leash site in a place like MLK. The six off- leash sites are in areas that are away from housing, playgrounds and other recreational areas.

Seriously? The letter writer is implying that the existing off-leash areas, and therefore the very parks they are in are located in areas away from housing, playgrounds and recreational areas... the above statement is inaccurate at best.

...wait a minute... isn't a park itself a recreational area? The letter writer is also suggesting that we locate the off-leash area... which is a recreational area... AWAY from recreational areas? By this logic, the letter writer is also suggesting that there is no housing near any parks with existing off-leash areas, and that said park must also be devoid of playground equipment, basketball and tennis courts, baseball and softball diamonds, and anything else that could be construed as a "recreational" area.

Proposal for an Alternative Community Advisory Process
• Charge the CAC with proposing a site within the sixth Park District.

What the letter writer is proposing here has already been done. In fact, the letter writer is the one who has put a stop to the very process that the Park Board has created to include his group of stakeholders.

• Set 2 meetings one week apart and notify the community according to park board rules plus a public notice in the newspapers and notice to all those on the contact list. Anyone who is interested can attend.

This is exactly what a CAC is supposed to avoid. The letter writer seems to think that inviting the general public to attend a meeting a 23 members of the general public will serve what purpose exactly?

• Meeting 1 – Park Board staff review the Sixth District Feasibility Study providing the rankings of 19 sites and the criteria for ranking. Park Board staff also review the Kingfield study and rationale for the proposed Kingfield site. Park Board staff makes both documents available to the public electronically and in hard copy. Each group can choose one person to present their case to the community. After presentations, the assembled group can break out into small groups. Discussion groups will be facilitated by Park Board staff.

Most of this was done in 2001/2002; then again in 2009 and 2010. The letter writer not only wants to waste time and resources doing work that has already been done three times, but they are actually suggesting that the entire process return to square one simply because they did not take an active interest until after the process had already begun.

The purpose of these small groups is to clarify any questions and/or information.

No. That is the charge of the proposed CAC. It is part of an already tested and proven process. The letter writer's suggestion is akin to a group of blind men trying to describe an elephant. There must be no more time or resources wasted on work that has already been completed to the satisfaction of the process.

• Meeting 2 – Break the assembled group into small groups by random assignment. Park Board commissioners will facilitate each group discussion. The groups will discuss the merits of each position and rank potential sixth district sites according to the criteria set by the sixth district feasibility study. Small groups report back to the larger group and rankings are aggregated by Park Board staff. The result of the combined rankings is made known and the whole group has a chance to comment. The rankings and the commentary are transmitted to the MPRB for final
action.

The letter writer suggests that we further complicate the process by trying to schedule a meeting of 23 people, broken up into "small groups", and a Park Board Commissioner "facilitating" each group discussion...

I can't even begin to imagine what a logistical nightmare scheduling such a meeting would be. Unfortunately, the other stakeholders are somewhat misguided in their purpose due largely to a lack of their receiving correct information. The letter writer indicates that there are misunderstandings as to how the process works.

We support the need for an off-leash dog recreation area in the sixth district. All we ask is that the MPRB recognize the special significance of MLK Park. We think that if MPRB were consistent, using its own criteria, a site other than the MLK Park would be easily apparent.

We look forward to hearing from you about our proposed alternative before January 5th.

Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,
Charles Mays

Representing Citizens In Action for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park – CIA FOR MLK

In a nutshell, the other stakeholders have become aware that there is overwhelming support for the project in the community. This displeases them, so they're now trying to alter the process to favor the outcome that they desire... which is contrary to what the community has indicated it would like.

To the Park Board Commissioners who read this... and we know you all will:

"Cowardice asks the question 'Is it safe?', expediency asks the question 'Is it politic?', vanity asks the question 'Is it popular?'. But conscience asks the question 'Is it right?' and there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one's conscience tells one that it is right."

- Martin Luther King, Jr

Mull over that Commissioners. I'll see you at tomorrow's meeting.

Tomorrow morning I talk to the local media... Let the games begin!!!






Monday, January 3, 2011

Post-Holiday Reload


Yeah... I'm back. Trying a new look for the blog... it's subject to change.

It's been a longer layoff than I expected, but I feel recharged and newly motivated.

After my Festivus celebration this year, I asked myself, "Why should I limit myself to airing my grievances only once a year? I have a blog, I can bitch and rant and complain all I want!"

That being said, I'll just start here...

To all of you who either flip-flopped your wishy-washy ideals and switched your vote from bluish to reddish this past election because Obama and the lukewarm Dems failed to solve all world problems in 700 days, or because you got yourself so emotionally riled up/mentally watered down by the sexy caveman grunts of the Tea Party that you actually bought the BS line about being "mad as hell" about nothing even remotely coherent.

Here is your grand message: You are hereby wonderfully, thoroughly screwed.

Oh darling, it's so very true. The fun-filled news is, despite all the bluster and rhetoric, thinly veiled racism and rampant Islamophobia on display, the new army of jittery, anti-everything GOP bobbleheads that you just voted into office doesn't care a single iota about you, or your haphazard values, or what you sometimes occasionally stand for. And what's more, deep down, you secretly know it.

Are you slightly offended? Are you scowling and mistrustful of the notion? I'm delighted to hear it. Also, It doesn't really matter.

You don't have to believe me. Just wait until nothing at all is done to service the Tea Party non-agenda, because it's ridiculous and impossible to service. Just wait until you note how there is no actual shrinking of government, no restoring some bogus sepia-toned idealism that never existed, no saving of your job. There is, of course, but one GOP agenda: furthering their personal stranglehold on all things powermad and avaricious.

That's not to say they won't try to tackle some issues. Boehner & Co care very much about nailing down enormous tax cuts for wealthy people, preventing education reform, gridlocking Congress at every turn, denying the fact that seven billion rapacious humans have an effect on climate change, and blocking as much newly available health care for 30 million Americans as possible. And so on.

But truly, the issues themselves don't matter. For what Boehner & Co value most is not so much making any sort of significant change in American culture, but rather, in keeping the anger, the dread, the paranoia alive.

In other words, they care most about keeping you in the lower, plebian castes all riled and blind as long as possible. This way, power lies. This way we find war and military expenditure and all manner of misprision, torture, environmental rape, WMD and homophobia, you name it. Just ask Karl Rove. Hey, it's a platform. It worked for Dubya. Well, sort of.

Perhaps you secretly agree with this assessment, understanding that the Repubs are indeed mostly shmucks, but at least they're shmucks fighting in your corner. Maybe you think the Dems are no better, and it's all a matter of lesser-of-two-evils, a needful balancing of power, that the nation's new rightward tilt serves Obama right for -- what was it again? "Overreaching"? For daring to accomplish in two short years more than any president in six decades? Right.

One thing's certain: the populace remains angry and scared about, well, what we've always been angry and scared about: jobs, a massive deficit, war and terrorism, taxes and drugs, gangs and goons, evil bumps in the night.

But these days, one source of anger trumps all others. We are perhaps most furious about our dysfunctional political system, one that cherishes acrimony over cohesion, backstabbing over unity, bickering over a calm and respectful, unified vision. (Which is a little strange, considering how much Pelosi and the Dems accomplished in two years. It might have been acerbic, but the output was actually sort of stunning. But never mind that now).

Are both parties to blame for this hateful, acerbic tone? Are they equally responsible for the ongoing divisiveness? Sure. To some degree. Then again, no. Not really. Not by a long shot.

Let's be perfectly clear: The modern Republican party has one masterful, godlike skill unmatched by any other org in this century: Its leaders are geniuses at deceit, at leading throngs of blind believers into rabbit holes of war and fear and factual inaccuracy, often using an aggressively dumbed-down form of Christianity as a trump card. Sexual dread, mistrust of youth, of women, of gays, foreigners, of the ever-changing cultural landscape? It's in the DNA. And the Tea Party chugged it like Budweiser-flavored heroin.

And the Dems?

Please.

The Dems wish they could be that masterful. Progressives are just terribly weak in fearmongering. There is something about the liberal spirit that values independent thought and self-determination, that defies screaming eye-glazed megachurch groupthink dread. This makes it tough to hold power for very long. It's so much easier to rally around sameness, conformity, institution, fear of the Other. Right, Karl?

Proof? Look no further than the GOP's leaders and mouthpieces: Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, O'Reilly and Fox News and even newly minted Senate demigod Mitch McConnell, et al. There are almost no liberal equivalents to these professional liars, warmongers, kingmakers and overlords. In the category of media and message manipulation, the libs have proven disastrous.

I take it back. Not all red-leaning voters this election are hereby screwed. If you're tremendously wealthy and/or run a very large corporation, you're feeling damn good right about now. Wall Street is giddy like Charlie Sheen in a Bangkok brothel, eager for more deregulation, bigger bonuses, less oversight. The CEOs of every oil company in the world are positively orgasmic knowing that their GOP breathren will now asphyxiate all attempts at new environmental legislation and regulation. And so on.

But if you are a lower to middle-class Republican, Tea Partier or flip-flopping indie voter, you are now in the most delightfully ironic position of all - you think you just voted yourself more voice, when in fact you voted for far less. You think yourself a lion; you're actually the meat.

You actually voted yourself into an even lower position on the food chain.

Congratulations.

Misplaced will return tomorrow.