Archive for the ‘Minnesota politics’ Category

Putting Andrea Kieffer’s money where her mouth is

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

 

By now I’m sure you’ve heard the story coming out of my home state in which a Republican legislator objected to an omnibus bill called the Minnesota Women’s Economic Security Act.  It’s calling for long overdue changes to state law like a higher minimum wage, expanded sick leave, and most frustratingly of all, pay equity.

Why so frustrating?  Because the legislator opposed to this bill is a WOMAN.

Here’s a transcript if you aren’t willing and/or able to endure the flat Midwestern accent:

“We heard several bills last week about women’s issues, and I kept thinking to myself: these bills are putting us backwards in time. We are losing the respect that we so dearly want in the workplace by bringing up all these special bills for women, and almost making us look like whiners.”

Whiners?  Oh dear.

Poor Andrea Kieffer is now all over the news, being raked over the proverbial coals for her ill-informed remarks. I HAVE GREAT NEWS FOR HER!  I have a quick and easy solution that will restore her credibility.

Members of the Minnesota Legislature earn a yearly salary of $31,140.  According to a 2013 report from the National Women’s Law Center, in the private sector, white women like Rep. Kieffer typically earn only 77 percent of what their white male counterparts do.

Pardon me while I crunch the numbers:

ColbertGIF

 

To put her money literally where her mouth is, Rep. Andrea Kieffer can accept an immediate salary reduction to $23,978 per annum.  

If that seems like too bitter a pill to swallow,she should thank her lucky stars that she’s not African-American or Hispanic, because those House members would have their pay cut down to $19,929 and $16,815, respectively.

I’m going to write Rep. Kieffer an email RIGHT NOW (rep.andrea.kieffer@house.mn and andrea.kieffer@yahoo.com) to let her know of this brilliant plan. I would hate it, JUST HATE IT, if anyone thought she was a hypocrite!

 

 


 

Manuscript Monday: “Legalize Love”

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Today’s excerpt is dedicated to two people I love dearly, who appear in my book under the pseudonyms Kelly and Gretchen.  They are very important members of my family, and whenever anybody asks me why a straight middle class housewife gives a crap about marriage equality*, I mention them.  In fact, Kelly took this picture of Elliott at a marriage equality rally our families attended on February 12, 2009:

 

I remember that rally well–I delivered a speech on behalf of Minnesota NOW that was received warmly by the less then the few dozen people who bothered to show up.  Today, my friend Kelly is back at the Capitol, with THOUSANDS of  ecstatic people ready to celebrate marriage equality in our state.  Among those thousands are Kelly and Gretchen’s two daughters, who can’t wait to be bridesmaids in their mothers’ LEGAL Minnesota wedding.

LEGAL!  

I can’t believe it.


Kelly and I were both good American girls, born in the land of the free, rewarded with Social Security Cards and easily obtained passports.  Had I fallen for a lederhosen-wearing Bavarian named Matthias Schwarz (instead of a professor’s brat born within a mile of UC-Berkeley), his road to citizenship would be assured.  Kelly, on the other hand, had no such opportunity.  She could not legally sponsor the citizenship of the foreign-born person she loved.

“Ugh,” Matt said, his usual eloquence failing him.

Deep in the throes of liberal guilt, I blurted, “you’re lucky, then, that you’re a white European and not a dark-looking terrorist.”  Post-9/11 hysteria brought new reports daily of Muhammads and Fatimas kicked off airplanes, hijab-wearers taunted with racial slurs, rocks thrown in mosque windows.  Gretchen admitted that her citizenship class had zero attendees of obviously Arab descent.  The Muslim students took great pains to announce that they were Somali war refugees.  Well into 2003 there was still palpable fear that al-Qaeda lurked in every (swarthy, hijab-clad) corner.

Matt returned us to the original point. “It shouldn’t be against the law to sponsor the person you love.”

Kelly shrugged.  “We can’t get married,” she said simply.  “If we’re not legally married, our relationship doesn’t exist.”

“But we have some domestic partner laws,” I said.  “Are you able to register as partners?”

Gretchen lifted her head from her thick textbook. “We can register all day long, but it still doesn’t mean anything.”  Then she returned to The New Citizen’s Guide to the Constitution.

Kelly shrugged.  “I guess it would be nice to have a big party,” she said, “but it’s true that it doesn’t mean much.  I still can’t give Gretchen any of my job’s benefits.  I can’t even carry her on my health insurance.”

“I have to buy my own,” the student of American law announced.

I decided, after draining my Summit Extra Pale Ale too quickly, that The Happy Hetero ought to state the obvious.  “That’s really expensive.”

Kelly nodded.  “Yes,” she said.  “Yes, it is.” At least [their son] Morgan could be added to Kelly’s coverage without any trouble; unmarried mothers, once a category as publicly shunned as homosexual couples, were wholly unexciting in the 21st century.

Gretchen passed her citizenship exam easily, returning home from her swearing-in ceremony with the gift awarded to her by the Customs Bureau, a tiny American flag stapled to a barbecue skewer.  “USA! USA!” she taught Morgan to shout.  He ran around the yard, chanting and waving, chased by Elliott, who shrieked that he wanted a turn.  Frustrated, Elliott grabbed Morgan by his overall straps and threw him to the ground, WWF style.  The home of the brave, indeed.

 

 

 *though anyone who would ask me such a stupid thing deserves a kick in the crotch, not a polite answer

 

 

It’s time

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

I know it’s time.  You know it’s time.  We all know it’s time.

Yet whenever I read this phrase, so casually and coolly dropped into news articles on the happenings at my state capitol today….

“Minnesota is expected to become the 12th state making same-sex marriage legal”

….I have to do a little:

!!!!

OH MY GAWD!

IT REALLY IS TIME!

 

The unemotional can watch the Uptake’s live stream, but I am already a bit too verklempt, especially since the person introducing the bill in the House is Rep. Karen Clark, the longest serving openly lesbian member to serve in a state legislature in the United States.  Since 1980 she has kicked all kinds of butt for equality and justice in Minnesota, and everyone exulting today (on the live stream you can hear them chanting, howling, and screaming outside the House chamber) owes her an enormous debt of gratitude.

Now I just have to break the news to Elliott that he’s probably a little too old to be a ring bearer.

 

 

 

Manuscript Monday: “Two moms, two dads, who cares?”

Monday, March 25th, 2013

An excerpt from Chapter 8:

GLBT-friendly diversity curriculum being proposed for our elementary school might bring out a crank or two from the Catholic parish across the street, but no sensible person at my school would object to inclusivity.

Would they?

 

The first sign that I was wrong appeared when Elliott and I approached the northeast side of the school.  Cars were double-parked in the school’s surface lot, with more cars lining the streets as far as I could see. I soon discovered the reason for the parking squeeze—the entire south side of the school block was swallowed up by four Minneapolis Police squad cars and an enormous mobile satellite truck from the local Fox affiliate.  “Cool!” my son squawked from the back seat.

I allowed him to gawk the crowds and cops without registering that this was, in fact, a bad thing.  This meant that someone, somewhere, anticipated a burst of hysteria that four, count ‘em, four MPD officers would be required to quell.  Elliott also failed to notice that he was the only child in the overcrowded music room.  “HEY!” he yelled as a teacher waved from across the aisle.  “DID YOU SEE THE NEWS TRUCK OUT THERE?  COOL, HUH?”  She nodded and stifled a giggle.

A school district representative approached the microphone with a plea for respect and self-restraint ahead of the short film that would preface our discussion.  From her tremulous, agitated tone I assumed we would be watching a clip from Good Will Humping or You’ve Got Male, and I had my hands ready to cover my son’s eyes and ears if need be.  I was disappointed to see a fairly boring five minutes of cute multi-culti children gabbing about their families, a few of which were headed by same-sex parents.

 

Post-viewing, a stack of index cards was passed throughout the room.  Did we wish to share our opinions with the group?  I nudged Elliott.  “Yeah,” he said, cookie crumbs from the snack table tumbling down his shirt, “I wanna.”  I wrote out our names and handed the card back down my row.

“Okay everybody,” announced the school principal, his usual look of hurried anxiety replaced with what looked like defiance.  “Please,” he urged, “remember to be respectful and to honor everyone’s opinions.  Our first speaker is Shannon Drury.”

Elliott squeaked with glee.  I felt a moment of deep gratitude for holding off on the Thin Mints, for when the Fox 9 News camera operator caught sight of me he whipped his enormous lens directly into my face, where any telltale brown specks would be instantly visible.  I edged through the crowd to the microphone, Elliott bumping knees and elbows with abandon as he trailed behind.

I cleared my throat, blushing under the telephoto lens and the hundreds of eyes fixed upon me.  “First of all, I want to express how grateful I am that our school is offering to pilot this program,” I said.  “It means the world to me that our school takes seriously the fact that children are already bullying and stereotyping each other.  I am a member of the Human Rights Campaign, and I believe in their mission of equality and civil rights for everyone.”

A murmur went through the crowd.  Had I said something wrong?  Hell, you’d have thought I just declared myself a feminist.

As I warmed up, I revealed the shockingly obvious truth that children, our innocent and loving children, are born without prejudice.  Their social phobias are learned from the adults who pass them along.  I explained that when it finally dawned on Elliott that his best friend Morgan had two moms, his reaction was not “ew, gross,” but “NO FAIR! I only have ONE!”

I paused for the laughs that never came.  That story usually killed, but in this crowd, it died.  Tense anticipation showed in the sea of clenched jaws surrounding me.  Every chest in that room was crossed with defiant arms ending in tightly balled fists.  Uh oh.

I gave up and adjusted the mic for my short partner.  “Hi, I’m Elliott, and I’m in second grade,” he said.  The cameraman moved in closer.  For a second I feared Elliott would shout in the mic for the guy to back off, which would be a trigger for pandemonium.  Instead, he remained calm.  “I think that bullying is just wrong,” he said.  “Two moms, two dads, who cares?  It doesn’t matter!”

The room erupted—with applause.  The camera caught Elliott’s truly perplexed shrug as he wandered away for another dozen cookies.

 

 

To find out what happened next, check out my June 2008 column “What Would You Call a Welcoming School?”  ….and of course my long-threatened book The Radical Housewife,  coming to you soonish from Medusa’s Muse Press.

All illustrations by the brilliant Todd Parr

 

Surprise, surprise

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

So THIS just appeared across the street:

 

It’s the first VOTE YES marriage amendment sign I’ve seen anywhere, let alone in a deeply blue corner of the People’s Republic of South Minneapolis.  I don’t know the neighbors, who haven’t attended a National Night Out function in the nine years I’ve lived here and therefore haven’t clue about the many LGBT people living on our street and on streets nearby.

I think I’m supposed to feel rage or contempt, but mostly, I just feel sad.

Really sad.

Sigh.

To get your own ORANGE lawn sign for a donation of only $10, please contact Minnesotans United for All Families.

Please.

 

 

$42,429

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

 

What would YOU do with that much money?

Would you pay for a year’s tuition at my alma mater, Carleton College?  It wasn’t that steep when I went there, luckily.  If it was, I’d never have been allowed to leave the Evans Hall dishroom.

Would you buy a car–or several of them?  My mid-life crisis car has always been an early ’70s Chevelle SS or Dodge Charger, and for that much dough I could get one of each!

Would you click over to Amazon.com to charge up two thousand copies of Davina Rhine’s book Rebel Moms, all because you aren’t Trish from Mississippi, winner of my first-ever book giveaway?  And you tend to overcompensate when you lose random blog raffles?

Probably not.

You’d think of something sensible to do with a pile of cash that large. If you were the mayor of a large city you might use it to fill potholes, clean up dirty parks, improve bike lanes–you know, the usual, boring, “make a city more livable” stuff.

My hometown, the everlovin’ City of Minneapolis, spent $42,429 on THIS:

 

 

 Photo credit: Occupy Homes MN

A recently released document shows that my city spent $42,429 to “protect” this empty home from the peaceful, but fiercely determined, protests of Occupy Homes activists.

The Cruz family claims that an online accounting error led them down the rabbit hole of foreclosure with PNC Bank, who had at one point pledged to work with the family to straighten out the mess and allow them to stay in the home on 4044 Cedar Avenue South. (HuffPo coverage of the standoff can be read here.)

Cedar Avenue is a north-south throughway that I use almost daily.  I’ve been by the Cruz house countless times, and I can attest that it is a fairly nondescript little thing, a dinky 1910s-era bungalow that is typical of the area.  It’s nothing fancy.  It is totally insignificant to a bank like PNC that holds assets of $270 billion.

Yet PNC somehow cowed my city into putting its muscle, and $42,429 of its cash, in the service of ridding the house of peaceful, but fiercely determined, protesters.

I was born in this city and have lived here for the vast majority of my life, but a story like this makes me fear that I slipped dimensions and entered Bizarro Minneapolis.  How do I slip back, I wonder?  In the meantime, I should head over to Lakewood Cemetery to see if Paul & Sheila Wellstone’s grave is moving….

 

 

Whew.  There’s still hope.

On that note, tomorrow is Occupy Homes’ #J21 National Day of Action Against PNC Bank.  People across the country will support David and Alejandra Cruz as they visit PNC’s Pittsburgh headquarters to hand-deliver loan modification documents to its CEO, Jim Rohr, who earned $16 million in 2011.

Wow! $16 million is a lot of money….!

It could buy 380,952 Minneapolis police actions like the one pictured above.  It could buy EIGHT HUNDRED THOUSAND copies of Rebel Moms, which would make it a bestseller so massive it would be immediately be turned into a major motion picture starring Kristen Stewart as Davina Rhine herself.

Damn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ladies unite for the War on Women!

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

The following is a guest post by Mrs. Matthew Black, member of the Twin Cities chapter of Ladies Against Women.  Though I object to everything she wrote here, she threatened to reveal my eBay username if I didn’t allow her to post this unedited. –SD

On April 28, 2012, I was invited by local ladies of my acquaintance to attend an event relating to this War on Women that everyone’s talking about. I usually don’t express myself in public in this manner (preferring to let my husband speak for me, of course), but I felt that a War on Women was something that the ladies and I could get behind. Here we are:

Photo credit: a young man who was thrilled to be of service

Mrs. Ballentine looks depressed because she accidentally left her pearls at home, the poor dear.  I would chide her for this oversight if I weren’t guilty of a crime against decency myself–the wearing of white shoes before Memorial Day.  I share this unretouched photo in hopes that my gentle readers will learn from my mistake:

Photo credit: Mrs. Robert Rolle

It will take a little more than a wardrobe faux pas to keep me from speaking my mind about this War on Women.  As I said in my remarks, just about everything wrong with America can be traced back to the day in 1920 when non-male adults were given permission to vote.  On this issue I agree with Miss Ann Coulter, though I don’t make it a habit to pay attention to women who don’t have the sense to get married at least once.  Even vulgar trollops like Misses Madonna Ciccone and Britney Spears have been married twice each (just not to each other, for heaven’s sake).

Photo credit: Mrs. Robert Rolle

Confidential to strapping bachelors and wealthy widowers: Miss Emily Johnston, the young lady holding my umbrella, is single and looking for a breadwinner who will allow her occasional use of his Kohl’s card!  Interested gentlemen may send resumes, sperm counts, and credit reports to MrsMatthewBlack@LadiesAgainstWomen.org.

The crowd really seemed to enjoy my story about how I reacted when people assumed I supported Michele Bachmann for president.  The very idea of a WOMAN president gives me horrible gas.  It twists me up so that I can’t help making faces like this:

Photo credit: some feminist in cahoots with Sen. Sandy Pappas, a speaker at the rally

Here’s something that keeps me popping Tums late into the night: I assumed a member of the Minnesota legislature who goes by “Sandy” must have the first name Alexander on his birth certificate.  Was I ever wrong!  This Sandy creature and Michele Bachmann are two of a kind–women who forgot that they are supposed to be working in the kind of house that has a white picket fence around it.  Leave the state and federal Houses to the menfolk, please!

It’s my great hope that this day of rallies in support of the War on Women will alert ladies and the gentlemen who support them to the danger posed by women legislators, contraceptives, and the unmarried.  I invite ladies across the country to join me in not voting on November 6.

Sincerely,

Mrs. Matthew Black

Standing with Planned Parenthood

Monday, April 9th, 2012

…well, most of us were standing.  Some of us were playing Angry Birds Space on the iPod.

If The Radical Housewife: The Blog has been quiet lately, it’s only because the radical housewife, the person ( i.e. me) has been so very, very busy.  In a few days Minnesota NOW is hosting its combined state & regional conference, and I’ve been typing my wrists off in an attempt to publicize it.  But if my six years at the helm of this organization have taught me anything, it’s that the local media doesn’t care much about feminist actions that lack the word “slut” in the title.

(note to self: change conference name to “SLUTFEST 2012,” take phone off hook)

But no amount of press releases could get in the way of last Friday’s annual solidarity event at the St. Paul Planned Parenthood.  We travel across the river every Good Friday to show our support for the clinic’s staff and patients, who must endure the presence of literally busloads of antis that day.

Two years ago,  Minnesota Public Radio News printed my essay on why I bring my family every year.  An excerpt:

Those who oppose abortion demand to know why I would bring my children to a place they consider incompatible with their “family values.”  In reply, I point out that my family reinforces my commitment to reproductive freedom.

As a stay-at-home mom, I experience frustration, exhaustion and anxiety at every turn, and I’m one of the lucky ones. I’m as lucky as Bristol Palin was lucky to have financial and emotional support in place for her to consider parenthood at 17. I’m as lucky as Pam Tebow was to have given birth to a healthy baby boy.

Bristol, Pam, and I are fortunate, indeed……[but] our experiences are ours alone, and cannot be expected to set the standard for every other woman across the globe.  Like other structures and systems, families function best when they develop deliberately.

Speaking of families, here’s an absolutely adorable one, featuring some Minnesota NOW friends.  My preggo tummy wasn’t nearly this cute when I waddled on Good Friday 2005:

 

I suspect the little girl is grimacing because she knows Elliott and Miriam were the ones who hoovered up the cookies at the volunteer table.  Sorry, kiddo.

This year I allowed Elliott to film a portion of our visit.  Serendipitously, my sister and her daughter arrived to meet us as Elliott filmed.  Now that’s what I call FAMILY VALUES!

Until next year, kids.

If you’re in the Twin Cities area this weekend, don’t forget to stop by SLUTFEST and say hello!

 

The Radical Housewife gets awesome!

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

It has come to my attention that my recent blogs have been using the category “Idiots” far more often than the category “Awesome.”

Perhaps that explains why I am so far behind in the 2012 Circle of Moms Top Political Mom Blogs contest.  As of this writing, I am #23 in the rankings.  Though I don’t mind losing to The Mamafesto, Blue Milk, PunditMom and current leader Monologues of Dissent, I MIND VERY MUCH that I’m 12 places behind Pamela Geller, a racist so virulent she’s being watched by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Sigh.

I hereby vow to be more proactive about sharing all that is awesome with my readers.  I’ll start with an heartfelt appreciation of my representative in Congress, Keith Ellison, shown here at the 2011 Minnesota State Fair with two adorable constituents and their dorky mom*:

 

Rep. Ellison issued the following statement yesterday, after previously confidential reports showed that the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is using a race-based strategy to pursue its decidedly non-awesome agenda:

The exposed documents reveal that NOM’s ‘strategic goal’ is to ‘drive a wedge between gays and blacks – two key Democratic constituencies.’

Our nation was founded on the principle of liberty and justice for all people—regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. NOM is clearly opposed to these basic ideals that so many Americans hold dear.

I call on people from all backgrounds to speak out against NOM’s agenda and vote NO on the anti-marriage amendment this November.

Isn’t that awesome?  I bet you’re jealous that Rep. Ellison doesn’t represent you.  

But there’s more!  Check out this video from the House floor, taken only hours ago:

 

 

Damn!  I wish Rep. Ellison had done that, and I’m so glad Rep. Rush did.  But since no one can vote for either of them until November, please make sure you vote for me, NOW!

AWESOME!

 

*Confidential to Ms. Geller: yes, I did let a practicing Muslim near my children.  Shortly after this photo was taken, my children and I were killed in a terrorist attack.**

**Just kidding!  Pamela Geller is a racist idiot!  Please don’t let her win!  Vote for ME!  

 

 

A stadium for the 0.1%, on the backs of the 99.9%

Monday, March 5th, 2012

What follows is a commentary on the latest in the embarrassment that is the negotiations to build a new Vikings stadium (owned by the 1%) here in Minneapolis, WITHOUT putting the matter to a voter referendum (which would involve consulting the 99%).  It was written by Ed Felien, publisher & editor of Southside Pride, and is excerpted here with his permission.  

Photo via The Uptake

 

A “People’s Stadium?” Really?

By Ed Felien

[Minneapolis mayor] R T Rybak and [Minnesota governor] Mark Dayton are going to tear down the existing Metrodome because, we are told, it’s outdated. It doesn’t have enough luxury boxes, so it doesn’t make enough money for billionaire Zygi Wilf . Ticket prices have to be higher. Ticket prices for a Viking game are already so high that most people who live in the City can’t afford them, but R T and Dayton are going to send us a bill for $338.7 million to tear down the existing stadium and build an even more expensive one. And they’re calling that a “People’s Stadium”…..

In 1977 the Minneapolis City Charter was amended in a referendum with almost 70% of the voters approving a provision that requires the City to get the voter’s approval on any expenditure for a sports stadium that exceeds $10 million. R T and the legislature believe they can sidestep a Minneapolis referendum on this question because the City of Minneapolis is granted its charter by the State of Minnesota. And what the State granteth, the State can taketh away….

How is this stadium a “People’s Stadium?” The existing Metrodome is quite adequate for high school football, soccer games and monster truck rallies. The only difference between the existing stadium and the new one would be the addition of more luxury boxes for Viking games. That’s a benefit for Viking ticket holders.

There are 64,111 seats in the current Viking stadium. There are 5,344,861 people in the State of Minnesota. So, that’s not a case of the 99% subsidizing the 1%. That’s a case of the 99.9% subsidizing the 0.1%.

It’s certainly a case of the taxpayers of Minneapolis subsidizing the ticket prices of wealthy people generally living in the suburbs. Those same people elect State Senators and Representatives that have cut financial aid to the cities, so that city property taxes now subsidize suburban and rural police and fire departments.

Carol Becker, the city-wide representative on the Board of Estimate and Taxation, has said, “$300 M at a modest 3% a year interest rate is roughly about $20 M a year each year for 20 years. When you divide this by the number of people in Minneapolis, you get a figure of $53 per person per year. Or for my family, it is a whopping $159 dollars a year for a football stadium. $159 a year!”

Minneapolis could buy a lot of police and fire protection for $20 million a year.

If this were a genuine “People’s Stadium,” it would be open to kids in the neighborhood; it would be a sports and health club that poor people could enjoy; it would have a swimming pool so people could exercise in the winter; it would be built with strict affirmative action guidelines making sure that neighborhood people (where there is the highest unemployment in the City) would be employed.

R T claims he’s a tough negotiator. He’s not. He gave away the store.

We’re giving away $368 million that could have been used to help the City budget in exchange for the privilege of watching rich suburbanites come in here and tailgate.

 ”MONEY FOR HUMAN NEEDS, NOT FOR STADIUMS!”