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Stories relating to the Twin Cities and Minnesota

Transportation Bill Override

Remember the big fight earlier this year about transportation spending? Should we raise taxes to pay for bridges and roads and such or should we just bond for it all? Well, with the financial markets in the situation they are now, I'm damn happy our Legislature took responsibility for our infrastructure and stood up to Pawlenty.

The mnpACT blog notes this and the ramifications of the politically expedient answer to bond for maintenance.

First RNC Lawsuit

St. Paul is now being sued over its behavior during the Republican National Convention. This lawsuit covers an utterly ridiculous police raid on a house in St. Paul which had guests who are part of a group that does video work - their work in NY during the last Republican Convention resulted in the judge throwing out charges against hundreds of demonstrators because the video proved police were lying.

So they were targeted in St. Paul before any demonstrations even occurred. There is no way to tie any of these people with those who planned violence or disruptions. These were media workers, who were subjects of harassment. Local media has done a dismal job of covering this raid - preferring instead to cover the punk houses that got raided and supposedly had urine and bomb-making equipment (though I remain deeply skeptical of police press releases during the RNC).

Much as I deeply wish the City would not have to deal with lawsuits, it certainly looks like the the City violated the rights of many people during that week. That was the Mayor's choice and we'll see what comes of it. I never had a problem with this mayor until the RNC, when I think he took too much of an alarmist position following the actions of perhaps 15-20 people who broke windows and did property damage in downtown.

Great Rail News!

Looks like Representative Oberstar has come through again for the infrastructure we need for the future - high speed rail. He says (optimistically) that we could have high speed rail from St. Paul to Chicago in 5 years! In the interview, he suggested 3 hours to get there. That would be incredible!

Overall, creating effective rail will save fuel and also relieve pressure on major airports like O'Hare which are serving many local places that could be served by rail. And I would way rather ride a train than a plane to Chi-town.

Lafayette Bridge Public Comments

The Lafayette Bridge - connecting South St. Paul to St. Paul (HWY 52 just before it hits 94) is going to be rebuilt. But the current plans do not call for a bike lane. This is absurd - the bridge will last for decades and we are already seeing bike commuting rising dramatically today.

We are also seeing deaths from bike accidents increase as more people ride regularly. We need to build bridges that are designed for bike commuter safety from the start. This is a major bridge that should accommodate bikers - it is quite close to the Bruce Vento trail, which could be expanded to connect to the bridge.

You have until Oct 10, 2008 to comment on the design - please print this pdf and send a comment that you would like to see a bike lane on the new bridge.

Environmental Amendment

When you hit the ballot box this fall in Minnesota, you may be confronted by a decision on a Constitutional Amendment regarding funding for arts and environmental issues.

A co-worker tipped me off to this article on MinnPost discussing why we should vote against the amendment.

More information on the amendment from the MN Daily and MPR.

Here is the text of the amendment:

Clean Water, Wildlife, Cultural Heritage, and Natural Areas

Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to dedicate funding to protect our drinking water sources; to protect, enhance, and restore our wetlands, prairies, forests, and fish, game, and wildlife habitat; to preserve our arts and cultural heritage; to support our parks and trails; and to protect, enhance, and restore our lakes, rivers, steams, and groundwater by increasing the sales and use tax rate beginning July 1, 2009, by three-eighths of one percent on taxable sales until the year 2034?

Ultimately, I fully support raising sales taxes to support these causes. This is a good use of taxpayer money. But these decisions must not be written into the Constitution. They should be dealt with by the Legislature. I encourage you to Vote No though I do so with a heavy heart.

Cyborg Protester?

How the hell can anyone take that much pepper spray? And what happened to actually allowing people to leave or arresting them rather than just beating them forward? Stunning - from the few survey's I did, it seemed like Fox9 locally offered better TV coverage of protests than any other local station.

On the lighter side, Dave Barry's RNC coverage was hilarious - but I don't have time to track down a working link. What a country.

What is it like to see the making of The Daily Show? Awesome, apparently.

Rage Against the Machine

Holy Balls. Last night, Michelle and I attended the most explosive concert I've ever seen. Some are calling it the local rock convert of the decade. It was insane. SO much thanks to Kimmi for my ticket - I was totally blown away by the intensity.

The only downside was looking around and realizing that so many of the people where there for the music and not for the message. Rage Against the Machine has proved to be a tremendous band but for all their great lyrics and rebellion-encouraging, I'm not sure most of their fans are any closer to being inspired by radical politics than if Rage had not existed. But some are - and maybe they will make a difference?

Regardless, the show was great. Inspiring to see that much energy on stage.

This is a good commentary on the concert sociology.

Police Raid in St. Paul

I was one of the earliest people on the scene at this raid on Saturday and watched it unfold throughout. This video explains what happened:

To clear up potential confusion, I did not make this video. I'm just putting it up as an explanation for those who are interested because MPR and the local papers are not covering anything other than destruction and some police activities.

Still Not Arrested

I ended up downtown St. Paul again tonight but left just before they started gassing so I'm safe once again. I put up a few shots on Flickr - hope to get more up before the convention ends! My flickr RNC photos thus far.

Not Arrested

I followed a lot of crazy shit going on in St. Paul today - following an unpermitted march through St. Paul which did some property damage. I left before all shit broke loose I guess as it sounds like lots of people have been arrested. I may be heading back down there in a bit. We'll see, I'm tired and I want to get photos but don't want to get busted.

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