Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Irrelevant Erik Paulsen Mumbles

You might want Rep. Erik Paulsen to prepare your income  taxes, but you certainly would fire him as your representative in Congress in a perilous time when the country is being run by a corrupt tyrant and his cronies.
After winning two lotteries — one to get a ticket to a “town hall” meeting and another to ask a question — I got my first face to face with Paulsen Wednesday night at a well attended event he arranged at the Brooklyn Park Community Center.  
He answered meekly, “no comment” when I pondered aloud:  “You have been getting a paycheck from taxpayers for 14 years and serving in the House without distinction so wouldn’t now be a good time to road test trickle down economics?  Have you contacted Target about getting your old job back.” 
The disagreable scold who was the meeting’s monitor commented that I was “rude.”  (Ms. Manners continually admonished the enthusiastic audience to be “civil.”)  If ever there was a time to be candid, it’s now I concluded after about 45 minutes of his inane mumblings.  
Anyone who avoided sleep during the event could see that Paulsen lacks conviction and passion for the job in a Congress that desperately needs people of conviction about liberty and equality.
Another resident asked the somnulent congressman while he has waited almost 8 years to hold a “town hall” event.  For him it was a brave decision to meet constituents although he dislikes uncivil discourse and acknowledges that “you can’t please everyone.”
A senior man with died blonde hair and sporting a “Trump” lapel pin seemed to be a functionary for the congressman’s team but didn’t ask questions.  
We had to write our names and cities on an index card and throw them in a bowl for a drawing to determine who could ask questions.  Impromptu outbursts were not allowed in this tightly controlled event.

Planned Parenthood had a huge presence outside the Brooklyn Park Community Center Wednesday night for the Paulsen event along with freelance protestors.  The protestors lacked “tickets” to the meeting so were not allowed inside the building.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Southdale Library Plans

EDINA — The new Southdale Library should include a theater for the performing arts, a Bloomington resident suggested Monday night at a community meeting hosted by MSR architects at the exsiting library.
Library patrons crowded into the community room to brainstorm in small groups on their hopes for a new library.  A meeting room that could accomodate up to 100 people and larger elevators for the handicap and baby strollers were among the proposals for the new building.
Four to five acres of the existing seven acre site would be devoted to the new library, the architects said.  In meetings last year input was sought by MSR for non library development of the remaining two acres which would include “affordable housing.”  (Has the Suburban Hennepin Housing Coalition provided input on what is “affordable”?)
Hennepin County Commissioners will decide on final plans for this new multi-use development on York Avenue.  The next community meeting will be held at the Southdale Library at 7 pm July 23.
Thomas Meyer, FAIA, Jeffrey Scherer, FAIA, and Garth Rockcastle, FAIA, established MSR in 1981. Their office is located within the ruined walls of the National Historic Landmark Washburn A Mill above the Mill City Museum. The MSR-designed complex has won numerous awards, including a national AIA Honor Award and National Trust for Historic Preservation Honor Award.

(I had asked in the small group if taxpayers were paying for the architects’ work of if it was pro bono, which brought an angry response from a library patron for my apparent “stupidity”.)  The architects are funded by tax dollars.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Understanding Local Police

One of the unknowns in trying to understand “police use of lethal force” was the background, education, etc. of local police officers.  So I spent an hour Thursday visiting with officers at “Coffee with a Cop” at Ikea’s restaurant.  This was a followup to the class I recently completed at U of M OLLI with Connie Osterbaan, a retired research criminologist and adjunct professor in criminal justice at the U.
Osterbaan showed videos that put into question the value of body cameras on police officers because the view from the cameras doesn’t give an accurate record of the event.  The officers at Thursday’s discussion disagreed and gave enthusiastic endorsements of body cameras as a “fantastic tool providing data that makes police work harder not to use force.”
Some officers graduate from community college law enforcement programs, but one detective said that officers are “poorly trained” and Bloomington city government doesn’t provide enough funds for police training.  It will take another 25 years to catch up on police training with emphasis on human traits data, the detective added.
One of the complaints made by Black Lives Matter activists is that police don’t live in the communities where they are employed and therefore may not be involved in community building with people of color.  That certainly is true in Bloomington where only a small percentage of the 120 officers on the force are Bloomington residents.  Officer McCullough said for him it “is a benefit not living in the city.”
I had an interest in pursuing the police culture topic having served for about a year covering the cop shop for the Idaho Statesman in 1965-66.  Unlike my coworker Dave Frazier I was not that interested in law enforcement although I went on a high speed hot pursuit chase with Sheriff Paul Bright in the back seat of his Chrysler Newport squad car.  Also I covered a jail break in the Ada County courthouse where officers had their guns drawn.  I wrote the initial story on the Billie Butler coed murder in 1965 in Boise.
Bloomington offers a Citizens Police Academy Thursday nights from 6 - 9 p.m. for ten weeks during September 6 - November 8, 2018., but the hour long Coffee with a Cop on Thursday satisfied my curiousity.  Their work involves more than giving tickets to speeders on 98th Street.  More police attended the Ikea coffee conversation than residents and all were caucasian with a few women officers.

The detective immediately identified me as not a typical resident based on the questions I asked.  He observed that a must be a reporter.  I told him that I had local government reporting experience with the Idaho Statesman.