Bloomington staff intended to seek initial City Council reaction and input on the draft Ranked Choice Voting ordinance at the City Council’s Monday, March 1 meeting. No public inputs are expected to be solicited at this meeting.
The staff will then draft the version of the ordinance that will be subject to a public hearing on Monday, March 22. The draft ordinance can be found on pages 302-311 of the March 1 meeting packet. The draft indicates that the language of the ordinance is based on similar ordinances in other Minnesota cities that have adopted ranked choice voting.
The most notable policy issue will be the number of candidates the voter may rank for each office. The draft proposes allowing voters to rank their top three choices for each office. The City Council may direct another threshold during the March 1 meeting, as the number of ranked candidates will impact ballot clarity and ease of use for voters. It will also have an impact on tabulation procedures and the time it will take to tabulate final results.
In addition to reviewing components of the ordinance and seeking Council feedback, city staff will also share a general overview of plans for voter education and outreach surrounding ranked choice voting during the March 1 meeting.
Bloomington residents concerned about Ranked Choice Voting should plan to be part of the City Council meeting Monday, March 22.
On February 27th, a large and active group of local Republicans from Bloomington and Richfield gathered in person with facemasks and social distancing to elect State Central Committee Delegates and Alternates. The main purpose of the Convention was to determine local Delegates and Alternates who will vote for the next Chair of the Minnesota Republican Party at the State Central Convention on April 10, 2021. The Convention additionally elected the Senate District 50 Executive Committee which includes 4 new members from Bloomington and 3 from Richfield.
Senate District 50 Republicans have welcomed Bloomington residents who have left the DFL because of riots and excessive city overreach such as Ranked Choice Voting. The highlights of the Convention included local issue discussion and the importance of financial oversight and transparency at every level of the Republican Party.
Invited speakers included State Senator Mark Koran and MN GOP Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan who are running for the State Party Chair, as well as Candidates Doug Wardlow for Attorney General and Phil Parish for Minnesota Secretary of State. Senate District 50 Republican Delegates learned more about Bloomington City Council Candidates Paul King known for his famous fund-raising popcorn and Ric Oliva who has served on the Bloomington School Board.
Kathy Kranz and Jim Lund, SD50 Co-Chairs
John Schultz, the superintendent of Edina Public Schools, recently announced his intent to retire at the end of the 2020-21 school year. Schultz is leaving one year into his three-year contract. This follows the departure of Assistant Superintendent Bryan Bass in 2020. Dr. Bass accepted the position of president of De La Salle High School in Minneapolis.
The Edina School Board is mounting a search for Schultz’ replacement. They have contracted with a superintendent search firm, School Exec Connect, which counts former Edina Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Kenneth Dragseth as one of its consultants.
The school board also sent out an email to some members of the community sharing a Superintendent Search Survey. It is not clear that the school board email went to everyone in Edina. However, the survey is open to all Edina residents. The purpose is to determine the challenges, strengths, and goals of the district, and what characteristics or skills are important in a superintendent. The survey closes Thursday, March 4.Read more
Gov. Tim Walz has included in his 2021 budget proposal a “SAFE Account,” a $35 million slush fund specifically intended for local governments should they need emergency backup in times of violent demonstrations or escalating civil unrest.
Early in February, the MN House committee on public safety voted to advance Walz’s proposal along party lines.
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-East Gull Lake) quickly came out against this set-aside. The Wadena Pioneer Journal quoted Gazelka saying, “I don’t want to give a dime to the city of Minneapolis. The city council there wants to defund the police.” A spokesperson for Senate Republicans said Minneapolis currently owes $137,000 in unpaid mutual aid agreement bills.
Legislative Republicans consider the proposal a “bailout” for a city that has understaffed its police department and should be responsible for paying for any mutual aid that they might need on their own.
Walz, the DFL governor who unilaterally imposed control over the state during the pandemic without consulting the legislature, accused Republicans of seeking to divide rural Minnesota from the metro with their rhetoric. “This is the cancer in our country,” Walz said on February 3. “This is about dividing. This is never about trying to unite together.”
Sen. Gazelka responded the next day, expressing his surprise and disappointment in the words Walz chose and saying that Walz was the one sowing division.
Minneapolis already gets Local Government Aid, or LGA. LGA is the funding allocated to local governments by the legislature every year for police and fire departments, among other local costs.
Sen. Gazelka also pointed out that the governor does have at this fingertips the National Guard and the Highway Patrol. The Governor was certainly quick to call them out when he thought that there would be an insurrection at the Minnesota Capitol on January 20.
Minnesota Senator Mary Kiffmeyer (R, Big Lake) continues to voice the concerns of state voters who have had questions about Secretary of State Steve Simon’s administration of elections, especially regarding voter identification and provisional ballots. Simon appears to increasingly take these questions as personal attacks.
There is perhaps no one better to question how Simon has performed his duties to ensure election integrity in Minnesota. Kiffmeyer served as Secretary of State from 1999 to 2007. She is currently the chair of the Senate Government Finance and Policy and Elections Committee. Kiffmeyer has been particularly pointed in her questions about voter identification and provisional ballots, both of which Simon has opposed.
The relationship has been civil until recently. Sen. Kiffmeyer believes that it is important to raise all of the questions that constituents have, and that Secretary Simon has an obligation to answer them.
Rather than address questions about election procedures that might appear to offer opportunities for voter fraud, Simon has increasingly dismissed such questions as rehashing of past elections and unproven allegations of ballot harvesting.
How testy have the exchanges gotten? Peter Callaghan reported in a February 2 article in MinnPost that Simon wrote to Kiffmeyer that “some people (including elected officials) have chosen to wield conspiracy theories and misinformation in an attempt to undermine public confidence in our election system. … Those attempts are dangerous for our democracy. I hope you’ll join me in loudly and publicly identifying and debunking such corrosive fantasies.”
He also called the allegations of a tainted election “foolish and irresponsible.”Read more
The mask has slipped from the DFL in the last month as evidenced by various attempts to punish Republicans who dare to question irregularities in the recent elections. House Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL - Brooklyn Park) is under fire from Republicans for pushing a narrative in which the MN Bureau of Criminal Apprehension was investigating several Republicans who spoke at a political rally at the MN Capitol in St. Paul on January 6.
Speaker Hortman did pledge on Jan. 11 to open an investigation as to "whether there were members of the Minnesota House of Representatives who advocated for, incited or supported acts of domestic terrorism" and publicly acknowledged on Jan. 13 that the BCA was investigating the Jan. 6 MN rally.
The MN Department of Public Safety recently released a statement acknowledging that there was no criminal activity at the Jan. 6 MN rally and that any statements were protected political speech. Speaker Hortman's reaction? That "speech has consequences". Unsurprisingly, it seems that Speaker Hortman's support of the First Amendment ends where you disagree with her.
Sen. Melisa Franzen (DFL - Edina) recently proposed a Senate Resolution to pigeon-hole Republicans into blindly ignoring any constituent concerns around potential election irregularities. GOP Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R - East Gull Lake) offered an alternative resolution. While both resolutions condemned the unrest on Jan. 6 at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., Franzen's proposed resolution stated the legislators were "committed to upholding the results of the free and fair election that was just held".
The fact of the matter is that there is a large portion of the country that has concerns around the integrity of our elections, and valid questions from concerned citizens should not be simply brushed aside as Franzen and the DFL leadership would like to do. As Majority Leader Gazelka mentioned on Jan. 11 , elected officials "don't get to decide if people are wrong and shouldn't have the opinions they have".
And in the MN House, the DFL has recently committed to removing additional election integrity safeguards. Bill HF 9 introduced by Rep. Emma Greenman (DFL - Minneapolis) proposes automatic voter registration, restoration of voting rights for convicted felons, and aims to "strengthen" absentee balloting - by removing the witness requirement, i.e., further removing accountability in the absentee voting process.
Contact Sen. Franzen, who is the MN Senator for SD49, and our House Representatives to let then know that you oppose removing additional voting procedure safeguards, or continuing the practices that had so many questioning the integrity of the 2020 election. CLICK HERE to see their contact information on our website.
Pints & Pent-up, a local online forum for the exchange of Conservative perspectives, resumed its monthly Monday evening meet-ups on January 25 with two influential speakers, Kim Crockett and Sen. Scott Jensen.
Kim Crockett started the evening off with a report on what Republicans need to do to improve election integrity. More detailed coverage is in a separate article HERE on our website.
Sen. Scott Jensen MD (R, Carver County) spoke about his experience with the pandemic responses of the Center for Disease Control and the Minnesota Department of Health. He pointed out that basing the government’s response on science is only as good as the data on which the science is based. Early on, test positivity rates proved inaccurate when it was found that the Swab test kits were contaminated. Adjustments in the desired sensitivity of the test analysis also affected the reported positivity rates. Then the World Health Organization came up with two codes for COVID diagnoses, probable and confirmed, that were used somewhat interchangeably. Some reporting systems combined the 2 codes and reported all as “confirmed”.
Jensen noted that the number of reported COVID-19 deaths was also problematic. On April 3, 2020, the MN Department of Health sent an email to physicians across the state. It instructed that the doctors were to state on death certificates if the deceased had COVID-19 at the time of death. In essence, as a doctor, he was being asked to change something that he had been doing for 17 years. No longer was he to describe what the deceased had died of but rather what the deceased had died with. It didn’t matter whether COVID-19 was the cause of death or merely a contributing factor, COVID-19 should be put down as the cause on the death certificate.Read more
Kim Crockett challenged Republicans to pay more attention to future elections in her remarks to participants in the January 25 Pints & Pent-up Zoom forum. Borrowing from Dinesh D’Souza, she noted that “Republicans focus on campaigns; Democrats focus on elections.”
Crockett is the Legal Policy Advisor at the Minnesota Voters Alliance. She has written articles on election issues for the Star Tribune, AlphaNews and co-hosted a show on election integrity on AM1280 The Patriot. She previously worked at Center of the American Experiment and Charlemagne Institute, publisher of Intellectual Takeout.
She is now focused on election integrity issues both here in Minnesota but also across the country. In 2020, she spoke out on the need to get Republicans more involved as election judges and poll challengers (cities often do not have enough Republicans to fill these vital roles) but more importantly, for citizens of both parties to serve on absentee ballots boards. Party balance is required by the law for a reason: it keeps the count honest.
In her brief remarks, Crockett hit several points. Republicans need to do a better job at voter registration. She said that 30% of attendees at President Trump’s Duluth rally were not registered to vote. When they walked out, they were still not registered.
Republicans need a national platform focused on election law well before the next national election. Democracy Docket, founded by Marc Elias, lists the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and the League of Women Voters among its “Partners and Sponsors”. Crockett said that Democracy Docket exploited the COVID-19 pandemic, working with friendly Secretaries of State and state supreme court justices to loosen election laws well before the November election.Read more
Within the last two weeks, both the GOP and DFL announced 2021 legislative priorities. The main requirement for the 2021 session is the biennial state budget. The GOP is dedicated to closing the projected deficit without raising taxes, including requiring state agencies to find savings within their own budgets. A key priority for Republicans within the budget is reform targeting the elimination of waste, fraud and abuse by state agencies.
Additionally, redistricting will occur in 2021 based on the new census (a once-in-a-decade occurrence).
In contrast, the DFL is dedicated to increasing taxpayer funding to various constituencies with little to no regard for any mention of fiscal responsibility, transparency or accountability.
On Thursday, Jan. 21 the MN Senate GOP caucus released its 2021 legislative plan. Key components include:
- Safely re-opening Minnesota businesses and schools, ending Gov. Walz's authority to close schools and limit other emergency powers
- Imposing state agency budget cuts of 5 percent to balance the budget without raising taxes
- Helping disadvantaged students attain great educations through opportunity scholarships
- Protecting Minnesotans from Gov. Walz unilaterally implementing onerous new clean air standards for cars based on California's emissions standards, and
- Election integrity initiatives, including a photo ID requirement for voters.