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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

61 Seconds

Category: Society
Posted: 03/30/16 23:45

by Dave Mindeman

Police officers have a very tough job. It is dangerous. It is scrutinized heavily. And it can often be pretty unrewarding.

But it also has clear responsibilities.

In the case of Jamar Clark, the thing that hit me right away was the time frame. 61 seconds. The time from the arrival of the two police officers until the shooting of Jamar Clark. 61 seconds.

Sure a lot can happen in that time frame. Stare at a watch and it might seem longer than you first think. But it is what you do in 61 seconds that make the real difference.

When a police officer arrives on an active scene, he has to make a lot of quick assessments. Those assessments are critical to an officer's actions and on the outcome.

It is difficult to believe, anymore, that assessments made when the suspect is black vs. when the suspect is white are the same. They are not. It may not be intentional or even done consciously, but I believe that a police officer, especially a white officer, tends to intervene in a much more defensive and aggressive manner if the suspect is black.

During those 61 seconds of Jamar Clark's life, two police officers determined a lot of things. Obviously they were reasonably sure that Clark was unarmed; otherwise they would not have approached him so quickly. They decided to focus on the suspect, rather than securing the ambulance. They moved to apprehend the suspect without much dialogue or conversation. It would seem that the obvious first step would be to talk to the suspect and determine his frame of mind. Repeatedly asking him to take his hands out of his pockets is not a conversation. Also in those 61 seconds, these officers threw the suspect to the ground....struggled with him....placed themselves and their equipment in direct contact with the suspect...and seconds later shot him. Not in the arm or the shoulder or the leg. They shot him in the face.

That is a lot of decision making in 61 seconds. And frankly, it was a lot of bad decision making.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman laid out the legal recourse in excrutiating detail. And he should be given credit for trying to be as transparent as possible. A lot of other cases in other major cities have not been so clear about explaining the evidence.

But transparency and legal procedure does not absolve poor judgment. Maybe charging these officers with murder would be a difficult thing to justify, but they clearly made mistakes. There should be some kind of accountability.

If the Minneapolis police department wants to keep their credibility, then they should be just as transparent about their own internal investigation. They should examine the situation in every aspect, including how these officers, and indeed any officer, approaches a situation based on a suspect's race or age or gender. There is clearly a problem here. There are clearly differences here.

And the only way we can begin to fix this is to be brutally honest about the problem.

61 seconds from arrival to death is not an acceptable outcome...under any circumstances. I hope all of police protocols will be under review, and those protocols need to be examined for racial inequities.

This is not going to go away any time soon. And indeed it shouldn't. The Minneapolis police department has a community relationship that it needs to heal.
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Voting Is One Thing - It Is Really About Delegates

Category: GOP Presidential Candidates
Posted: 03/29/16 21:20

by Dave Mindeman

The GOP Presidential race is the most bizarre race anyone has ever seen. You have a front runner in this race who has the Party scrambling to stop. You have active participation in promoting an open convention scenario. And you have a party split as a given but it has become the least of their worries.

Another phase came out today. Marco Rubio is sending letters to states where he gained delegates, telling them that he wishes to keep them. That is particularly interesting for Minnesota which is the only actual state that he won. He has 17 delegates here - his largest count next to the 23 he won in Puerto Rico.

How this plays out is a little mysterious. There is still an active GOP rule that no candidate can be placed in nomination without winning at least 8 contests. Rubio does not meet that criteria. However, does that mean he cannot control the delegates that he won - who knows? And rules can always be changed. If he is allowed to keep them, that could make him a significant player in an open convention. And he seems to want to maintain that possibility.

Complicating things is Louisiana - which has already distributed the delegates that would have been pledged to him at their state convention. Ted Cruz worked the convention to get all of them (5).

I can't imagine that there will not be a multitude of credential challenges in various delegations. And trust me, people are going to be seeking those slots on the rules committee - there will be fights to get on there.

Donald Trump seems to be finally getting the idea that he needs more people with convention expertise to monitor the process. Arcane local rules could be a major factor in how this all plays out.

Primaries and caucuses may be thought of as a voice of the electorate - but delegate selection is in the hands of the Party. And it is all about the delegates.

You are probably going to learn more than you ever wanted to in this regard.
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Rep. Knoblach Thinks NorthStar Can Work With Phantom Money

Category: GOP House Republicans
Posted: 03/28/16 23:44

by Dave Mindeman

Rep. Jim Knoblach represents St. Cloud...and St. Cloud has been kind of shortchanged when it comes to the NorthStar rail line. By shortchanged I mean they don't have service. They have to drive or bus to Big Lake.

But Knoblach wants that line extended. However, he has an unusual way of doing it - phantom money.

Rep. Jim Knoblach, GOP chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, authored a bill that will be introduced Tuesday to require the state to negotiate with BNSF Railway to extend the commuter rail line to St. Cloud from its current end point in Big Lake. Knoblach's bill doesn't include any funding for an expansion, and prohibits the state from spending any more on operating costs than already budgeted. But he says he doesn't anticipate any additional cost to run the trains an additional 27 miles to the Amtrak station in St. Cloud.


A 27 mile extension at no cost. Imagine how surprised everyone must be at how magical this all seems. Yes, the BNSF railroad has extended their tracks to St. Cloud....and yes, the Amtrak station is right there, operating. But I am skeptical that the BNSF railroad is going to just let the NorthStar line use its facilities and change its scheduling, and operate within the station for NO COST!

Yes, Rep. Knoblach's bill restricts things to "negotiations" right now and he doesn't even allow his bill to talk about any funding mechanism. But, really, this is too cute by half.

The transportation department isn't buying it. The response...

MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle and Metropolitan Council Chair Adam Duininck released a joint statement responding to the Knoblach proposal: "It's not feasible to extend service, build additional track, serve more people, and have it cost the same as it does today. It is unlikely that BNSF railroad would allow the state to operate on its track at no additional cost. Any proposal to extend Northstar will take real funding solutions."

This situation was botched when the NorthStar came into being. We have years of pent up costs to deal with - even though BNSF has completed track now, Minnesota still has to decide how this will get laid out with BNSF scheduling and station stops - and this will still cost money to do.

Even if this particular bill passes, it really counts for very little.

All this seems to be is an election year ploy for Knoblach to try and keep the citizens of St. Cloud thinking that Knoblach is working on this.

Let's just cut to the chase....he isn't.
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