Snack'n Talk on the Bottineau Light Rail Transit Line PDF Print E-mail

 

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                                                Photo by Linda Freemon

 

Packed House at the Roasted Pear, 2/26/14

Sponsored by ACER, Think Again MN, City of Brooklyn Park

 

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Stone Arch Recap: Linda Higgins PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeremy Wieland   

Stone Arch Discussion welcomed minted Hennepin County Commissioner Linda Higgins this January. Commissioner Higgins was elected in a special election to complete the term for former Commissioner Stenglein in District 2, which includes the Northern Half of Minneapolis, Golden Valley and Plymouth.

Issues that Commissioner Higgins jumped right into included transit issues. There are two light rail lines on the books impacting her district; the Southwest Light Rail and the Bottineau line that would run North and West. This latter line is facing much less trouble than the newsworthy Southwest Line. In fact, all of the municipalities impacted by the Bottineau line have given consent for the proposed path. Southwest Light Rail is facing more trouble as Minneapolis and St. Louis Park have no agreement on the alignment or execution. Southwest is troubled.

In addition to the Bottineau Light Rail proposal there is also a proposal for Bus Rapid Transit that would run North and South along Penn Avenue through North Minneapolis. The true value of such a line would be connecting residents of North Minneapolis and Brooklyn Center to the large number of high wage jobs in the southwestern suburbs. Connecting jobs to labor is just one more benefit of developing more mass transit.

Bus Rapid Transit won't be the only benefit for Penn Avenue. Both Penn Avenue in North Minneapolis and Lowry Avenue in Northeast Minneapolis are designated Community Work Projects. They'll see considerable upgrades in the coming future through economic development and improved planning.

Of course one can't talk about county level government without talking about Human Services. Hennepin County will be regionalizing its Human Services locations. Presently anyone who needs to rely on public assistance needs to travel to a single location in downtown Minneapolis. This will change in 2014. Regional offices will be opening across the county to improve access for people requiring public assistance. The offices in Minneapolis will remain to serve the city, but suburban locations will improve the number of access points for residents, eliminating the requirement to travel downtown.

In an effort to help residents of the county presently on welfare, Hennepin County had launched the WIN program. The Workforce Incentive Network program is presently small. The goal is to train recipients in higher wage skills and then provide placement services. To ensure that the county is successful in this program, a control group has also been established. This may seem unkind, but it's a considerable investment to provide training and placement. Comparing outcomes for the trained group to the untrained group is the only way to quantify the program's results.

Hennepin county is also becoming involved in education. Though the county doesn't provide any direct funding or supervision, it can be helpful. Hennepin is looking to establish stable housing for children in poverty and at risk of falling into the criminal justice system. Anyone attending our various Achievement Gap Committee meetings understands that unstable housing negatively impacts educational outcomes. Stability is helpful.

So check out your County Commissioners.

 

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African Immigrant Services: a culture of community innovation and inclusion PDF Print E-mail

 

African Immigrant Services has institutionalized a culture of community innovation and inclusion in how they understand and take action on issues directly affecting their communities. Abdullah Kiatamba, Executive Director of AIS, believes the key is access to information and then mobilizing for action. 

 

See the storygraphic in MinnPost that outlines AIS' work and explains how they plan to use community education and engagement to change the roles of African immigrants and other underrepresented groups in the northwest suburbs of Hennepin County from observers to active leaders.

 

Think Again Brooklyns has worked with African Immigrant Services on the Voter Restriction Amendment and on civic engagement conversations and community forums.


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MN's Electoral Process: Diverse Audience, Excellent Speakers PDF Print E-mail

 

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       MN's electoral process gives all citizens a chance to participate in choosing a party's
       candidates and public policies. Above:  Writing, discussing, and voting on a public policy.

 

joy marsh stephensForum Attendee Joy Marsh Stephens posted in MN's Electoral Process: Minority Influence in 2014
   
9:20pm Jan 16

"If you missed it then you REALLY missed something special. Hats off to all the organizations who sponsored this really valuable educational opportunity. Thanks as well to the many speakers who took time to share their knowledge and empower a whole new base of constituents. I'm glad I was there along with so many of my neighbors."

Points Shared by the Speakers


benjamin kruseBenjamin Kruse opened the forum with an explanation of caucuses as the starting place for MN's Electoral Process.  At the caucuses, precinct chairs and vice chairs are elected, delegates to the Senate District Convention selected, and Resolutions proposed for the Party Platforms.  At the Senate District Convention, candidates for state legislative offices, this year MN Representatives, are endorsed and delegates and alternates elected for the Congressional District and State Conventions.  If you don't want to run to be delegate yourself, you can cast your vote for someone who plans to vote for the same candidates you prefer.

patricia torres raySenator Patricia Torres Ray told the diverse audience that a Caucus was an easy way to become involved in a political party.  It is a way for people to have a big influence because the number of participants tends to be small.  The people who participate become like an extended family.  Senator Torres Ray noted that most of the legislation she proposes has been suggested by her constituents, adding that it is the public that leads on legislation.  Legislators usually support legislation when the public rallies behind it.

 

sarah walkerSarah Walker, President of the Coalition for Impartial Justice, spoke on the large number of black men, one in five, who are disenfranchised in Minnesota.  Due to laws promoted by the American Legislative Exchange Council, many more people were convicted of felonies in states throughout the nation in the last 30 years.  Most of these convictions are for drug use and do not involve violence.  While drug use is similar in black and white communities, stop and search policies in black neighborhoods have resulted in a far higher rate of arrest for black men. Drug arrest policies carried out since the 1980's have resulted in the U.S. having the highest rate of incarceration of any nation in the world. 

MN is one of the states lowest in incarceration, but one of the highest in probation and parole.  Currently people on probation and parole are not allowed to vote.  Ms. Walker stated that the Second Chance Coalition is advocating restoring the right to vote to people convicted of a felony once they complete their prison sentence.  Restoring the right to vote encourages people to take on the responsibilities of citizenship and helps them to become reintegrated into the community. 

 

devin monteroDevin Montero, Brooklyn Park City Clerk, spoke on the important role of election judges, and the extra help that bilingual judges contribute to elections.  He also brought one of the new voting machines and showed how the machine works.

 

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Think Again MN Receives African Immigrant Services Award PDF Print E-mail

 

 

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Think Again MN was given the Award for Community Education and Engagement by African Immigrant Services at the Appreciation and Awards Dinner on November 15, 2013.  Over 300 people attended the dinner including members of Think Again Brooklyns' host team:  Radious Guess, Reva Chamblis, Linda Freemon, and Carol Woehrer.


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Nelson Mandela on Poverty PDF Print E-mail


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Michael Diedrich on Educational Equity (Podcast) PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Farrell   

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Michael Diedrich from MN2020 spoke to the Stone Arch discussion group on October 14, 2013. He talked about educational equity in Minnesota schools.  He has written extensively for MN2020's Hindsight blog on education and achievement.

 

Listen to the podcast

 

Diedrich, born and raised in Rochester, spent two years teaching English at Brooklyn Center High School as a Teach For America corps member. Seeing in his students and colleagues the negative consequences of No Child Left Behind, narrow definitions of achievement, and a punitive attitude towards schools and teachers, Michael shifted his focus to the broader educational system.

 

He is now a Master of Public Policy student at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs, where he is pursuing a concentration in education policy. He hopes to contribute to the development of a new mindset in Minnesota around education that emphasizes equity and reform beyond test-centered policies and "market-based" approaches.


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IRS at 100 PDF Print E-mail

 

How Income Taxation Built the Middle Class

Across the U.S., new progressive state legislative majorities endorsed the income tax amendment in 1910 and 1912.  Early in 1913, final ratification gave Congress a green light to add an income tax to the tax code. Eight months later Congress passed a new revenue act that featured a modest income tax of up to 7 percent on income higher than $4,000, the equivalent of $94,000 today.

john buenker and sam pizzigatiJohn Buenker and Sam Pizzigati explain that during the mid-20th century, a progressive income tax with steeply graduated tax rates raised the revenue that payed for the new programs and services that opened doors into middle-class life.  These steeply graduated rates sent the message that American society frowned on incomes that towered too high.  As a result of the progressive income tax, the U.S. became the first mass middle-class nation in the history of the world where the majority did not live in poverty.  In contrast, tax reductions in recent decades have defunded infrastructure maintenance and development as well as job training and education; eroded middle class incomes and Americans' quality of life, and increased poverty in the U.S.


Read John Buenker and Sam Pizzigati's article:  IRS at 100: How income taxation built the middle class


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MN's Leading Election System

With Secretary of State Steve Simon

 

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Listen to Secretary of State Steve Simon's excellent presentation on MN's outstanding election system emulated by many other states at the Think Again Brooklyns forum January 19, 2016.  Secretary Simon includes ways in which it can be improved, and he explains why it is important to vote.  He concludes with a quote from a tee shirt:  "Failure to vote is not an act of rebellion.  It is an act of surrender."

Get details on how to vote at http://mnvotes.org

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How Oregon Became the Easiest Place to Vote in the US

By Lornet Turnbull
YES! Magazine
October 8, 2016

 


In January, Oregon became the first state in the country to begin automatically registering eligible citizens to vote when they obtain or renew their driver's licenses or state IDs, completely shifting the burden of voter registration from the individual to the government. 

Read the Article

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