Archive for the ‘OccupyMN’ Category

$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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!”

Meet Occupy homeowner Bobby Hull

Monday, December 5th, 2011

If you had any doubts about the moral imperative behind the Occupy movement, I promise that they will disappear after you watch this five minute video, made by Peter Leeman and Kyle Kehrwald of OccupyMinneapolis.  It features father, grandfather, uncle, Marine, and lifelong south Minneapolis resident Bobby Hull, who is scheduled to be evicted from his home in February 2012 by Bank of America.  To Hull, this house at 3712 Columbus Avenue is more than a home–it’s the beating heart of his family, his community, and his life.

 

 

I don’t know Bobby Hull, but I feel like I do.  I too grew up on the south side, a daughter of the working class.  My father hauled trash for thirty years, and his buddies all talk like this.  These are the kind of guys who shovel the entire street after a snowstorm, who gladly jump start your car when it freezes, who always have a couple of bucks in their wallets for you if you need it. They do this automatically, without hesitation or antipathy, because they always, ALWAYS remember the time when someone else did them same for them.

As Hull says near the end of the clip, “We’re supposed to unite.  That’s what our forefathers did, you watch my back, I got yours.  You know, we are the United States and we haven’t been united for a while.  And we need people who care about people.  We need to protect our country, whether it’s from foreign or domestic….I think right now, our fight is domestic.”

 

To learn more about the Hull family and the occupation that kicks off tomorrow, Tuesday, December 6, please go to OccupyMN’s Facebook page.

As Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said in 1967:

“A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth…. America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.”
                        

The 99 percent includes kids, too

Monday, October 10th, 2011

Proof that activism should neither be limited to grownups nor devoid of fun: scenes from the first day of Occupy MN, Friday, October 7, 2011.