wombat_socho (wombat_socho) wrote,

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How the Minneapolis DFL really works

Cobb's essay on demographics yesterday reminded me that I've been stewing over a couple of things I've heard on the radio from people who normally strike me as very perceptive in matters of local politcs, namely Mitch Berg and Bob Davis.
Mitch and the rest of the Northern Alliance radio gang were talking about the general anti-business stance of the DFL and the decision by Target to move their headquarters out to the northern suburbs instead of trying to cope with the pettifogging of the Minneapolis city government, which with the Red Star is now whining about sprawl and why are businesses so mean to us? Bob was going on this morning about a study that first saw print in the Downtown News (and apparently now in the Strib) that restated Pareto's thesis to the effect that 33 offenders were responsible for 20% of the crime downtown.

Mitch flat-out doesn't understand the dynamics of the Minneapolis DFL, and I really wished David Strom, who lives in Minneapolis and (hopefully) understands the Donks there as well as I do, was there to dispute his take on things, which is that there is no pro-business wing of the DFL in Minneapolis, there's only different flavors of radicals, which may be okay if you're just writing tubthumping polemics but as serious analysis isn't worth the paper it's not printed on.

For most of the time I lived in Minneapolis, it seemed clear to me that there were two main blocs in the DFL. One, represented by Jackie Cherryhomes and Sharon Sayles-Belton, is the wing Mitch denies the existence of. This group is all about keeping their labor and big business (mostly in construction and finance) friends happy by building all kinds of stuff in the core city and making sure the city government has lots of jobs for the AFSCME and other unions to benefit from. This group also is well represented in the county and state governments and usually agitates for more transfer payments, sports stadia, and other devices for moving money from the suburbs to downtown. The money flow here should be obvious. These may also be referred to as "machine politicians", and Peter McLaughlin is merely the most recent candidate of this group.

The other wing of the Minneapolis DFL is closer to the Greens, because their concern is more with the neighborhoods. They don't care so much about downtown, and resent that so much of the city's time and attention under Sharon Sayles-Belton were spent on Block E, the "new" Target headquarters, and so forth. A lot of folks in this wing of the party are active in the neighborhood groups that form a sort of shadow government/minor leagues in Minneapolis politics. This is the background that Rybak comes from, and it's also the wing that has helped the Minneapolis Public Schools become the sorry mess that it is - outside of the southwest corner of the city, anyway. As much as I despised SSB and her crowd, I'm not sure Rybak and his allies are much of an improvement, since their guiding attitude seems to be "I'm all right, Jack!" If their schools are okay, then the MPS is okay. If their neighborhood is safe and crime-free, then the rest of the city must be okay too. You see where this is going? Straight to Detroit, unless the folks in the rest of the city get their act together and put a leash on these people. Unfortunately, since the 11th, 12th and 13th Wards tend to be wealthiest and most active voters (eh, that's redundant) I don't see that happening.
Tags: culture & politics

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