John Hopkins University Academic Finds COVID Hasn’t Increased US Death Rate

covid_19_box.jpgWith all of the news about the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19, have you ever wondered about how the overall death rate in 2020 compares with that of prior years? writer Michael Haynes wrote on November 27 that Dr. Genevieve Brand, the Assistant Director for MS in Applied Economics at John Hopkins University gave a video lecture in which she examined the deaths due to COVID-19 and deaths overall in the US through September. Her analysis found that COVID-19 has resulted in no excess deaths.

Briand’s lecture, using data drawn from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website found:
• The deaths of older people stayed about the same before and after COVID-19
• The percentages of deaths among all age groups remain relatively the same
• COVID-19-related deaths have exceeded deaths from heart diseases – unusual since heart disease has always prevailed as the leading cause of deaths
• When compared with 2018, 2020 has not had the expected drastic increase across all causes of death – in fact, there was a significant decrease in heart disease and other causes of death
• The total decrease in deaths by other causes almost exactly equals the increase in deaths by COVID-19 – perhaps due to the recategorization of the cause of deaths
• By the CDC’s own account, in this pandemic, deaths of children have been less than in each of the last five flu seasons

The university removed an article written about her findings published in the online version of the John Hopkins University newsletter. Their reason? “It was being used to support false and dangerous inaccuracies about the impact of the pandemic.”

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Minneapolis Residents Suing Over Police Funding Cuts


Hennepin County District Court Judge Jamie Anderson issued an order on November 20 ruling that Minneapolis’ citizens have standing to sue the City over the decimation of its police force by the City Council and Mayor.

The Court found that the City Council and Mayor “have no authority to divert funds from the Minneapolis Police Department if they have not met their public duty to fund a police force of at least 0.0017 employees per resident.” The Court added that “misallocation of money that properly should fund a police force is an unlawful disbursement of funds.” The Court’s order allows the petitioners, eight residents of Minneapolis’ embattled North Side communities, to discover the police-force and budget numbers that that City has failed thus far to fully report.

The Court’s order rejected the City of Minneapolis’ attempt to have the residents’ lawsuit thrown out on standing grounds. The parties will now submit a discovery plan to the Court, and the Court will set an evidentiary hearing to take place in early 2021, where the parties will offer testimony and other evidence.

Cathy Spann, one of the petitioners who initiated this legal action, said: “The Court rightly rejected the City’s attempt to have our lawsuit dismissed because we haven’t taken bullets ourselves, as we have watched our neighborhoods become full of violence and stray bullets. We look forward to testifying in Court about the City’s failure to protect us, and we will get to the bottom of the actual numbers of police officers protecting the North Side and the City.”

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December State Central Meeting Will Elect MN GOP Secretary

Tanya_Simons_David_Pasco_MN_GOP_Secretary_candidates.jpgThe Minnesota Republican Party holds State Central Committee meetings twice a year, in late fall and late spring. On Saturday, December 5, State Central Committee delegates and alternates will convene by Zoom teleconference for their last meeting of 2020.

The Committee Meeting will elect the State Party Secretary, consider proposed changes to the Party bylaws, and transact other business as required. The MN GOP Chair, Jennifer Carnahan, and legislative representatives will provide updates and wrap-up the recent election. The other executive officers will also provide party status reports.

The election of the State Party Secretary became necessary when the previous secretary, Barbara Sutter, resigned in August to become the Republican National Committeewoman from Minnesota. Tanya Simons was appointed the acting secretary in August and is running to complete the term, which ends in April, 2021. David Pascoe is also running for secretary.

Tanya Simons is a mother of two, a twenty-year business professional at a Fortune 500 Minnesota company, a local school board member, and a Deputy Chair of Senate District 36 (Brooklyn Park, Champlin, and Coon Rapids).

David Pasco is a dad of one, a licensed attorney and certified financial planner, a Naval Reserve officer, a party leader at various levels including Senate District 60 (portions of north and east Minneapolis) and Congressional District 5. He served one term as MN GOP Deputy Chair, following which he had a one-year military deployment.

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Walz Emergency Order Blocks Holiday Party, Group Events

Restaurant_Interior_Holiday_Party_2020.jpgGovernor Walz announced new pandemic restrictions on November 18. The restriction went into effect from midnight Friday, November 21, to midnight Friday, December 18. The latest order essentially closed restaurants, bars, and movie theaters to on-premises enjoyment by members of the public.

Consequently, our traditional holiday party in early December is no longer possible. We’d begun planning a special holiday gathering at the Nonna Rosa Ristorante Italiano in Robbinsdale. Recently acquired by former MN GOP Deputy Chair Jesse Pfliger and his business partner Tony Lazzaro, they had offered to open the restaurant just to our group one evening. Although we will be unable to enjoy Nonna Rosa’s hospitality for our holiday party, seriously consider trying their take-out while we wait for the ban on table service to be lifted..

Mann_Hopkins_Theater.jpgSadly, the Mann Cinema 6 Theaters in Hopkins has become a permanent casualty of the emergency order. As reported by AlphaNews the Hopkins movie theater announced in a Facebook posting that it will be permanently closing its doors. “While Hopkins Cinema 6 did all it could to adjust, it is not enough to stay afloat, and we sadly join a growing number of small businesses and movie theaters closing permanently.”
It was a venue that could hold over 100 people in compliance with earlier physical distancing criteria, and we made good use of it for private movie events and presentations.

While nowhere close to the same experience, Zoom conferences may be the only option for SD49 Republican gatherings until the pandemic restriction are lifted.

State-funded Recount of Bloomington’s Ranked Choice Voting Ballots Denied

Small_Cropped_image_only_Logo_No_Ranked_Choice_Voting.jpgEfforts to secure a recount of the votes cast for Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) in Bloomington ran into several obstacles last week that appear insurmountable. 

As we mentioned in our last newsletter, the RCV question on the Bloomington ballot only passed by 0.19% over the 51% threshold required to change the Bloomington city charter.  By state statute, a voter may request a recount at state expense if the difference between the “Yes” votes and the “No” votes is less than 0.5%.  However, the Recount Statute was written with candidate elections and ballot questions in mind that require a simple majority to win (50% +1 vote).  It does not consider questions that require 51% to win.

The City of Bloomington required the requesters to file a bond or cash of over $12,000 within less than four days if they wanted to proceed with the recount.  Many people were willing to donate to the effort, but ultimately it was not possible to raise enough in the short time available.

As an alternative to cash, several Bloomington residents who had been trained as Election Judges volunteered their time and expertise to perform the recount.  This offer was made to the city as a way to reduce the cost.  On Friday evening, November 20, Bloomington’s Assistant City Manager responded,

     “The City of Bloomington conducts all election-related activities in strict conformance with state law.  All election related tasks are performed by paid City employees under the direction of the recount official, the City Clerk.  We are not willing to deviate from that standard and use volunteers.”

The Bloomington voters who sought the recount are specifically concerned with the count of the absentee ballots.  Votes against RCV on Election Day exceeded votes for RCV by 58% to 42%.   However, virtually two-thirds of the total ballots were cast absentee, before Election Day, and they went for RCV 57% to 43%

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Ranked Choice Voting Petition for Recount Submitted

Small_Cropped_image_only_Logo_No_Ranked_Choice_Voting.jpgAfter the final absentee ballot was tallied, Bloomington announced that the ballot initiative to implement Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) for municipal elections had passed, but by a slim margin.

Going forward with Ranked Choice Voting requires a change to the Bloomington City Charter. Any Charter change must pass by 51%. Of the 49,489 votes cast on the question, 25,239 were needed to reach the 51% threshold. “Yes” votes count was 25,332. This represents a margin of 93 votes, or 0.19%.

By law, if the margin of victory is less than 0.5% of the total number of votes cast when the total number of votes cast is less than 50,000, a voter may request a recount at state expense. Such a request needs to be accompanied by a petition signed by at least 25 eligible Bloomington voters and submitted within seven (7) days following the meeting of the Hennepin County Canvassing Board.

On Monday, November 16, Randy Sutter, as the voter of record, formally requested a recount of the votes registered for Bloomington Ballot Question 3 on Ranked Choice Voting. The request was supported by a petition signed by 94 Bloomington voters, collected over five days following Election Day.

Bloomington Seeks Charter Commissioners

City_of_Bloomington_logo.jpgThe chief judge of Hennepin County is accepting applications to fill vacancies on the Bloomington Charter Commission.

Applications will be accepted through 4 p.m. on December 10. Applications may be obtained by calling Bloomington Civic Plaza at 952-563-8733, or you may apply online at

The Charter Commission is charged with studying issues and making recommendations relating to the city’s governing charter. The commission meets annually on the first Thursday evening in May and additionally as needed, if directed by the Bloomington City Council to study a particular issue.
For more on the Charter Commission and other Bloomington Advisory Boards and Commissions that are seeking volunteers, please CLICK HERE

SD49 Republican Leadership says: "This is one of the community government roles that a prospective future candidate should consider to gain some experience and community credibility."

Update - Zoning Changes for Pandemic Housing in Progress

Bloomington_City_Hall_for_Newsletter.jpgThis Thursday, Nov. 19, starting at 6 PM the Bloomington Planning Commission meeting will review the City staff's revised proposed ordinance on "Temporary Pandemic Housing" and hold a public hearing. This is item 5 on the agenda.  Only phone testimony is possible and you must register before 4:30 that day by calling 952-563-8920.

Bloomington's City Council tabled / continued their hearing on proposed changes until Monday Nov 23 (meeting starts at 7 PM),  awaiting a recommendation from the Planning Commission.

The Bloomington city website entry about “Temporary Pandemic Response Housing”  provides links to the revised documents.

Bloomington Considers Zoning Changes for “Pandemic Housing”

Bloomington_City_Hall.JPGBloomington's City Council and Planning Commission are conducting fast-track hearings on proposed changes to zoning regulations that attempt to address homelessness under cover of "Pandemic response".  The Planning Commission hearing was Thursday, Nov. 5, and the City Council special meeting is Monday Nov. 9.  Both are being conducted as remote meetings, so only telephone testimony is possible.

The Nov. 5 Planning Commission meeting voted to carry-over this item to Nov. 19, requesting staff revise the proposed ordinance (i.e., not forward this for City Council approval). Unfortunately, we have recent experience of the City Council overriding a Commission’s decisions and then bypassing additional Hearings.  This may be the ONLY City Council hearing on the topic unless they agree to table / continue it.

The entry about “Temporary Pandemic Response Housing” on Bloomington’s website states:

"The Planning Commission and City Council will hold public hearings on November 5 and November 9, respectively, to consider proposed city code amendments to create a new use category for temporary housing for individuals or families on an interim basis to reduce the transmission of disease within the community during a pandemic. The proposed ordinance defines a new interim use called “temporary pandemic response housing” and establishes use standards, including requirements related to duration, licensing, security, management and operations, building and site requirements, and inspections. The amendments also modify definitions and add penalty language.”.

The city code amendments seem to offer a solution that is neither temporary nor interim.

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A Big Thanks to our Volunteers!

thanks-1314887_640.jpgThe 2020 election season was long and contentious. Our candidates deserve our thanks for stepping forward into the arena. However, the outcome of the election was determined in large measure by the effort that volunteers put forth to support those candidates. To all those volunteers – THANK YOU. Please know that our candidates benefitted from that time and toil.

In recognition of their outstanding efforts, here are some of the people that made a difference by contributing time and effort on multiple occasions:

Jim Bowen worked continuously from Labor Day to Election Day heading up volunteer organization

Lit Bag Stuffing: Trish Burnison

Door knocking within our Senate District: Michael Barg, Jim Bowen, Nancy Carlson, Steve Curry, Sonia George, Dennis Hamilton, Dennis Hogan, Tom Hulting, Carol Kerr, Joel Quinnell, Jim MacDonald, Al Muerhoff, Vince Riehm, Randy Sutter, Julia Tate, Joe Thalman, Pam Tucholke, Dennis and Vicky Withers.

Sign Location Identification: Russ Burnison, Nancy Carlson, Dennis Hamilton, Dennis Hogan, Tom Hulting, Carol Kerr, Joe Thalman, John Tschohl. 

Sign Installations and Removal: Michael Barg, Jim Bowen, Russ Burnison, Nancy Carlson, Steve Curry, Kathy Frey, Dan Hallberg, Janene Harker, David Howell, Dennis Hamilton, Dennis Hogan, David Howell, Tom Hulting, Don Johnson, Carol Kerr, Kathy Kranz, Jim Lund, Al Muerhoff, Vince Riehm, Randy Sutter, Pam Tucholke.

Fundraising: Steve Curry, Tracy Eberle, Julie Hanson, Julia Tate, John Tschohl,

A number of people from SD49 also volunteered on or around Election Day as Election Judges and Poll Challengers.


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