Sen. Al Franken finds favor and distrust at north Minneapolis block party

Franken_north_mpls.jpg.JPG
Jesse Marx
U.S. Sen. Al Franken at the Broadway Day Block Party
Saturday's Broadway Day Block Party was an opportunity for north Minneapolis to celebrate the end of summer and bask in its cultural goodness. Community organizers enlisted new recruits, musicians wailed, and the hungry salivated over roasted cayenne-peppered corn.

It was, in some ways, a miniature version of the Minnesota State Fair with one notable constant: the presence of U.S. Sen. Al Franken.

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He's up for reelection in the fall. The National Journal wrote last week that, unlike other Democratic senators, "Franken is running an unusually low-key race, giving off the vibe that there's nothing to see here." But if the senator was looking for a quiet event Saturday, he did not find one.

It begins well enough. A trail of admirers follow Franken as he tours Bryant Avenue, listening to the activists he meets. Behind an ice cream truck, he shakes hands with a disabled vet and, after a lengthy chat, asks an aide  to take down the old soldier's contact information.

"North Minneapolis is very important," Franken tells us. "We unfortunately have, as a metropolitan area, some of the greatest disparities in terms of everything -- education, employment, and health care. All of this stuff is connected."

He expounds on the same point on stage, noting the need to fund early childhood education and the passage of the Affordable Care Act, both of which get applause. He moves then to drug policy, highlighting an ACLU study showing that blacks are way more likely to get arrested for pot possession than whites, though the two groups smoke at roughly the same rate.

"This policy and the way it's been administered is wrong and it's destructive," he says. "And we have to change that." More hand-clapping follows.

But as Franken prepares to go, the voice of Mysnikol Miller, a spa manager, rises above the speaker: "What can I do about that?"

"You can vote," the senator says.

Two voices -- one male, one female -- come flying at once: "For what?!"

"For me," Franken adds. "I'm going to help you by using my power as a United States senator to fight for the things I'm talking about. That is how I'm going to do it. And it isn't like a magic switch that I can pull." He goes on to assure the voices that he thinks about the repercussions of federal policy every day.

"But you don't live it every day," Miller says.

"Yes, I do," Franken insists.

Next he asks staff to gather up contacts, but it fails to stop the questions. What is the strategy? another woman asks. Franken responds, "One thing we can do is make it available for them to get loans for college," and comes the quick reply from a man: "Who is them?!"

Franken stops. He looks flustered.

"OK, listen," he says. "I'll do a specific question-answer period." He laughs, then backpedals: "I'm not sure I can, actually, because I have to go to the State Fair. But why don't you talk to my people? I think that's more productive."

"No," Miller counters. "I want you to talk."

A few seconds later, Franken is apologizing: "I feel like this is my fault that this has gotten out of control."

Anthony Newby, the organizer of the block party, hurries to the mic. He tells his neighbors that the senator is working on both transit issues and racial disparities at the federal level -- to which Franken agrees.

Two men from the crowd yell, "Shut up," and the senator asks that people look at his record, specifically where he voted to lower mandatory minimums on drug charges. Finally, he makes his exit, leaving Ron Brown, an illustrator, with tears dripping down his cheeks.

"Al Franken ain't here because he gives a fuck about the North Side," Brown says, turning to his friends. "It's the same old bullshit ... just as he told y'all to your fucking face: 'I got to go to the State Fair and talk to more important people.'"

Brown pauses and looks his interviewer in the eyes: "Shame on me, as a black American, to believe anything a white person says."

-- Send story tips to the author or follow him on Twitter @marxjesse



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105 comments
bgroetsch
bgroetsch

North Minneapolis is nothing more than a eugenics experiment by the Democratic Party in Minnesota. They love to dump all the poor and low income minorities, usually black folks by the way, and keep them there in a state of socioeconomic misery while the helpless continue to collect welfare benefits from the county without any incentives to lift them out of poverty and into the middle class. The poor in Minneapolis are subjected to classism, discrimination, constant harassment by the police, forced to live in plight urban decay, and social isolation that is driven by unjust economic segregation and housing bias policies by city hall, all run by DFL liberal elites with intentions to create a two-tier society through urban density, mass public transit, and a bloated housing market. If you want to know what causes urban poverty, then look up Micheal Teitz on Google and read his economic study (University of California in Berkley) on why poverty is concentrated in mass urban cities across the United States. Is ain't individuals are the problem, its BAD PUBLIC and SOCIAL ECONOMIC POLICIES.

standard_guy
standard_guy

These are serious times.  Minnesota is not a serious state, if this is the representation they select.

misaoudia
misaoudia

Being oppressed disinfranchised, underrepresented, and underclass is no excuse for lacking class.  At least he showed up.  How many Republicans would stroll through North like that?  Instead of engaging in productive dialogues with the senator people made asses out of themselves and others like them.  How has THAT helped? 

ilonam05
ilonam05

Seriously, I do believe that Al Franken does give a fuck about us.  Remember, there is one of him and 500,00 of us.  We need to get involved. Locally, nationally...whatever it takes.  Mr. Franken has been to our union hall several times over the last several years and he does the same there.  Mostly men but many women and minorities make up this group of people and he says and does the same thing. Stops by for 10 or 20 minutes...tops.  That's what they do...Bobby Champion, the same thing.  They are on a schedule and usually a pretty tight one. Here is his voting record just for 2014:


Bill Title Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014 Bring Jobs Home Act Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014  Appropriates Funds to the Highway Trust Fund Transportation Empowerment Act Exempts Infrastructure Damaged by Natural Disasters from Environmental Reviews Protect Women's Health From Corporate Interference Act of 2014 Nomination of Julian Castro to be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Protect Women's Health From Corporate Interference Act of 2014 Bring Jobs Home Act Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act Minimum Wage Fairness Act Paycheck Fairness Act Minimum Wage Fairness Act Paycheck Fairness Act Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 Military Justice Improvement Act of 2013 Temporary Debt Limit Extension Act Temporary Debt Limit Extension Act Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 Delays the Implementation of Certain Provisions of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 and Amends the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 Emergency   that is just within the last year.

ilonam05
ilonam05

Can't we all just get along?  


Bobbie
Bobbie

Hopefully the democratic followers are building some esteem to know the democrats use what democrats call the "minority" class to demean and condescend. Democrats would rather their socialist interests were funded then their job to maintain the roads for all. There's no reason for gas tax or any tax to go up for democrats to do their job. Especially when the population of drivers increases (more taxes.) Yes Mr. Brown can believe in white people in general. Just not white democratic political pukes whom forces through manipulation, "need" and political promises on everyone that isn't white!. It's about time democratic members were held to specifics to show their true face as Franken cowers to call questions  "out of control."

Scott Dentz
Scott Dentz

Out of all the homes I've been in, in North Mpls and there have been a lot of them since both family and friends are there, I've NEVER been in this new that didn't have a basement!!! We are all people of Color, racism exists in every RACE of people!!! The ignorance on this post is just mind boggling! Al Franken is a complete moron who doesn't have a clue!!!

kurt124
kurt124

Are minority Democrats figuring it out?  That Dems just culturally pander to them!  Or is it that they don't want mandatory minimums for those that have trashed their neighborhood?  Or, are they just pissed because they are not getting enough free stuff?  

John Bunch
John Bunch

Most liberal senator in a state that is 47% Republican.

Carolyn Murray
Carolyn Murray

wish the Eagan stoners would go back to their parents' basement that are polluting my neighborhood with their nonstop array of friendstomers and idiocracy

Clara
Clara

This whole event that happened just sounds awful. Brown's comments about white distrust and Franken's comments in general. Brown was prejudiced and Franken just stupid. The Northside deserves better treatment from politicians and better press coverage from media.

Sarah Holliday
Sarah Holliday

And trying to get a meeting with any of them is a pipe dream unless you're with some kind of moneyed organization.

Sarah Holliday
Sarah Holliday

I'd like to see him take a minimum wage job and live on the northside for at least a year. Then maybe I'll believe he lives it every day.

Craig Viknx
Craig Viknx

Democrats do nothing but talk, & make it worse for working poor...that is normal.

electheatherjohnsonm
electheatherjohnsonm

Dear My Voice Nation and readers,


I am going to put it out there for all to see. I am Heather Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate for U. S. Senate in MN.  As a third party candidate I am automatically excluded from the debates and most of the media as well as the large dollar donations. Exclusive election laws were created by democrats and republicans alike. Make no mistake, when it comes to preserving status, money, and power, bipartisan efforts in D. C. come easily.


Before I comment, let me share a bit of my agency. I was born and raised in MN. I used to live in North Minneapolis. I went to Sheridan Elementary over NE. I was bused out to the suburbs like many of us from the North Side to supposedly obtain a better education and more opportunity. My life is far from perfect. I am a single mother with two kids, a returning college student, and long time activist in MN. I understand how welfare fails us, how the education and health system fails us and how many laws imprison us for the very profitable war on drugs. 


I truly wish I had been in attendance at the block party. I really do. I was not aware that candidates could speak, but then maybe I would not have been allowed. I've been shut out before.


On Al Franken's comment, I must say it is difficult to speak in front of crowds. It can be intimidating. It isn't an excuse to avoid questions. I would say Al Franken stating that he lives the agency of North Minneapolis and by that I am guessing he means poor, minority people I am not sure. 


It is disingenuous to come out at campaign time to fish for votes from women, minorities, and poor people when the track record on the issues in MN and in the nation from politicians, even progressive liberals shows something entirely different.


We need a paradigm shift in society and in government. The changes needed require the public and elected servants (not crony politicians), but leaders who respect those they swear to serve. 


Personally, I think it is time we the people hold our elected officials accountable, root out corruption, and we directly help one another because they aren't doing it for us. Are they? They want to give us free food, phones, and a railway to build someone else's wealth, when we really need careers and bright futures of our own. 


At the end of the day, are we still women, poor, minorities, marginalized individuals, workers, students, taxpayers, churches, landowners, renters, and even businesses holding these people up in D. C.? We are in fact supporting them and their lifestyle more than they do for us. So I am asking as a Minnesotan and single mother, isn't it time for us to stand and be the difference? I have some ideas on how to do it and I believe that a bunch of other people do to. 


Best wishes,


Heather



Lyman Packard
Lyman Packard

Someone should tell Ron Brown to vote for the Republican since he is so cynical because you know how great they are at identifying with the plight of a minority in America.

apismellifera
apismellifera

Shame on all of us for believing anything a white person says.

MNjoe
MNjoe topcommenter

Let the stupid fucks vote for McFadden and see what that asshole does for them. 

TOMJOHNSON6
TOMJOHNSON6

Wow.. I voted you in 2008 and you haven't down anything productive to the community. Remove fluoride from mpls public water NOW or i will vote for the other candidate. WE WILL NOT BE DUMBED DOWN FROM OUR WATER!!! GET THE HAZARDOUS WASTE CHEMICALS OUT OF OUR WATER ASAP!!! WATER IS ESSENTIAL FOR LIFE. POLITICANS ARE A JOKE.

Chumped
Chumped

@misaoudia 

Republicans will show up when they will be listened too. So far, they have hooked their wagon to the left who has done nothing but they wont change their vote.  Hell No!   You see, the left has you right where they want you...and until you realize you are being chumped by the dems, republicans will never get a fair hearing..  You see, MLK wanted the African Americans to strive to make a difference, Dems want them down just enough to need them....how sad is that. They talk like they care but the fact is, its all lip service. 

standard_guy
standard_guy

@misaoudia NOBODY is "disenfranchised".  That is BS.  Some people are being sold out by clowns like franken who want to bring in an unlimited supply of unskilled labor to take their jobs but hey, they'll turn out to vote for him anyway.

Clara
Clara

Republicans don't do shit. You choose which person you want to do nothing for you, if that's how you think.

digitalprotocol
digitalprotocol topcommenter

@electheatherjohnsonm Libertarianism is a myth. funny that you think you or any of your cohorts have the clout required to "hold elected officials accountable" and what not


here's an idea...stop voting and paying for shit. make the system adapt ...if it can

Bobbie
Bobbie

@electheatherjohnsonm I agree with your stance, Heather. I also agree voting outside dem or rep. is going to lose votes. Not sure who this Michele Bachmann is because the one I know or was under the impression of, respects people, all people to know central government is not needed but for government power, control and limitless costs only. Freedom and independence is what America is all about and Minnesota should build the strength of all people into self governing over Al Franken's poor peoples' programs doing anything but his job and discouraging the thought of poor people gain. We'd have money in our pockets if we weren't overcharged on property taxes and ungodly assessments that doesn't meet the intermittent job's worth. And as we see by our roads and private businesses giving up their dignity to drop down to government dependency, money doesn't go where democrats tell us the need for money is. All goes into their deep pockets to play politics with their pity party.  There's got to be lines drawn and repercussions for crossing them. We're people not political pawns!

MicheleBachmann
MicheleBachmann topcommenter

@electheatherjohnsonm Voting for a Libertarian would be a huge risk since there has never been a successful Libertarian government in the world.  Libertarian policies don't work in a modern globalized world.   A global economy like the United States needs a strong central government.   It's good in theory to talk about wanting a small government but very few people want it in practice.   That's why you speak only in vague generalities and not in specific policy choices.   The people of the North side wouldn't like your ideas about cutting social welfare, education, and healthcare spending.  


If you cared about the North side you would have been at the event.  The DFL had their candidates at that event because they care and reach out to community leaders.  You are being disingenuous claiming you really wanted to be at that event.  If the North side was important to you you would have been on that stage.   Only one party cares about the North side.  That's why Al Franken was alone on the stage taking the praise and frustration of community leaders.  The DFL isn't perfect but there are more people on the North side with healthcare thanks to Obama and Al Franken.   You won't even tell those people the truth about how if you were in charge you'd take away their access to healthcare.   

Chumped
Chumped

50 yrs since MLK and the dems have done nothing for you....   Funny, they didnt even want to vote for civil rights but hijacked the movement by offering money for votes...


LOL  Guess Lincoln didnt understand the plight huh? 

kurt124
kurt124

@MNjoe We don't want Free Stuff Moron!  I don't want any politician to do much for me, that 's the point.  You want freebies from others labor, which is why you vote for freaks that use and pander to minorities.  Folks like this Stuart Smalley.  

MNjoe
MNjoe topcommenter

@TOMJOHNSON6 Get some mental help and turn off your caps key.  P.S. You can drink bottled water and line the inside of your hat with foil. 

kurt124
kurt124

@Clara How about School Choice?  Republicans are for that while the Dumocrats you keep voting for want districts segregated by neighborhood schools.  Think for once!  Or is it just free stuff you want?

electheatherjohnsonm
electheatherjohnsonm

@digitalprotocol


Thanks for your response.


The idea of "starving the beast" as you've suggested has been implemented by a large number of people, and by looking at recent elections from 2013, more than 50% of eligible voters did not vote. So your plan certainly is in action here and globally by libertarians and other various self-identified labels alike. At the same time, it is an imperfect plan. Anyone who uses transportation of any kind besides walking or something of their own making, anyone who utilizes housing of any but their own making, using the internet, food other than what they've grown is feeding the beast. 


However, it is a myth to think people cannot effect change in both ways or more, through elections and indirectly through the market. It has been done historically I am sure you're aware. Government is a tool, people must become involved in whatever capacity suits them to ensure that tool is not overly used or misused. 


As far as clout, libertarianism has grown rapidly in America and in other nations as a response to government corruption, misuse of power, and ever expanding limitations placed upon the people. Despite the insistence that libertarians are not relevant, we've grown a great deal to the point that "major" parties and the media has taken notice globally. I am not sure about other candidates, but I personally was asked to run, having no desire to hold office for a long period of time and every aim to thwart corruption. 


Not trying by every nonviolent means afforded us is disingenuous. Despite my human flaws, I am putting forth every effort to serve in that change.



kurt124
kurt124

@MicheleBachmann @electheatherjohnsonm Don't let Bachmann fool you heather, he's a hateful Moron who wants nothing more than a huge local, State and National Government.  Just look at Bachmanns posts. He/She is a nutter.  

electheatherjohnsonm
electheatherjohnsonm

@MicheleBachmann @electheatherjohnsonm


Michele Bachmann thank you so much for your response.


It's great that you think because I was not present at the North Side event, I do not care. Your post is rather emotionally charged rather than factual in nature. 

I am actually from the North Side. Perhaps you missed that point. Perhaps you missed out on my points about institutionalized "assistance" and our experience with government "help". It always seems to have some very negative repercussions. 


Like every candidate, I attend a great number of events. Unlike the two major parties, my resources are greatly limited. Instead of paying lip service once every election cycle to an issue Michele, I am actually directly active in helping people. 


So far, I haven't seen Al Franken at the GMO protest, Sandpiper hearings and protest, the police brutality protests and events or the movement to challenge corruption in government. Why, because he's a part of it - taking government donations - IRS. Check the records people, I'm not lying. The public should know who shows up and who really continues to work actively on the issues, it's grass roots party members, green party members, libertarians, voluntaryists, independents, blue republicans, anarchists, and unaffiliated individuals. These types of activist (not just me) show up whether there is an election or not, whether we'll win or likely lose. 


If Senator Franken were so about we the people, why is he supporting discriminatory election laws that limit third and individual party access in MN and across the nation? Why doesn't he create legislation with term limits on Congress, reduce their salaries, expense accounts, and eliminate government funding of political parties and campaigns?


To your claim on a libertarian government system, guess what Michele? No matter the government system, resolving issues of social and economic concern has never come from a government system. Check your history or am I wrong in saying that the whole world over people are still suffering poverty, crime, racism, economic disparity and more? Why is that? Oh... yeah, you can't guarantee outcomes. Nothing in life is guaranteed. So why greatly reduce personal freedom over one's own life, property, and liberties? That is why libertarians advocate maximum liberty to the individual and responsibility to the individual, communities, and states - cause the government cannot resolve social and economic need - it NEVER has. We still have those problems... Does it really make sense to trade in our lives, liberties, and properties to a system that cannot provide indiscriminate justice and guarantee outcomes in life?


So long as we're not harming one another through criminal acts of fraud, force, or coercion the government really has no place. I realize that the war on drugs, illegal gambling, and even voluntary prostitution between adults, has become quite profitable for inflated government entities, but it has also caused international violence, funded criminal organizations around the world, increased the exploitation of nonviolent "offenders", and created a steady stream of inmates in for profit prisons, sometimes facing sentences longer than murderers and rapists. I DO NOT call that justice. It is exploitation of the people for crony political gain.


No politician can claim to represent all of we the people when they advocate for only certain groups and certain interests. No individual or group can expect equal representation under the law when personal need and ideology is pushed through government - a tool, a limited tool created for all.


For this reason, we the people are better off resolving all social and economic concerns directly, we'd get more results, more opportunity, competition in the market and industries, diverse input, varied solutions, because more than one might actually prove more effective, after all we're living in a diverse world, and without the heavy price tag of massive government corruption and war mongering. 


To your outrageous lies about Libertarians - Take away people's access to healthcare? That is an outright lie or at the very least a lack of understanding. Proposing other ways of doing things isn't eliminating access. In fact, I'd say my ideas increase possibilities and access for more people, because it includes direct input and support from the people these types of services deliver or do you actually think doctors and patience know less than politicians, pharmaceuticals, and HMOs know about personal care needs?


FYI, MnCare and MA in Minnesota were more effective prior to ACA, at least to direct reports from vulnerable adults and elderly patients I've spoken to.




MNjoe
MNjoe topcommenter

@kurt124 @MNjoe  Kurt, you're a stupid hick racist POS. We don't care what you think. You're in an ultra minority that will NEVER see a candidate in MN win an election. Move to Alabama and go hang out with the rest of your KKK friends. You're a dying breed. Franken will be reelected and there's not a goddamned thing you can do about it but continue to whine.

Chumped
Chumped

@ilonam05 @Chumped


For the same reasons I stated above.


Republicans will show up when they will be listened too. You Demonize the party of abolishment, the ones that pushed for African Americans to serve in the military and not as cooks. The originators of civil rights before it was hijacked by the left for votes. So far, they have hooked their wagon to the left who has done nothing, but they wont change their vote.  Hell No!   You see, the left has you right where they want you...and until you realize you are being chumped by the dems, republicans will never get a fair hearing..  You see, MLK wanted the African Americans to strive to make a difference, To be the best they can be. To push themselves to reach the next level. You can never make the leap being coddled. There is nothing gained that way. No respect in it. In fact, using a label to identify our different groups only adds to this. Why cant we all just be Americans? Why so many different groups if we are all the same?  Dems like the labels so they know who they have to cater to next to keep content. Dont you find being labeled a bit racist?  Dems want them down just enough to need them....how sad is that. They talk like they care but the fact is, its all lip service. 50 yrs since MLK and the AA community is no better off today than then...in fact worse. Thats the same time they hitched their wagon to the Dems. 

Where are the mentors the dems have promised? Where is the community coming down on the bad elements? You have to make a stand! 


Side note- How do you think this amnesty thing is going to work out for the African Americans? The dems already have your vote....while they push for illegals to take the jobs. Securing more votes and leaving the African Americans a smaller, less needed voting block that will get less and less help. You cant see that? They have so many labeled interest groups they cant possibly worry about them all. Cant satisfy them all. And since the African Americans will be a small group compared to the new game in town, you will be passed over yet again.


You made the wrong choice in the 60's with the democrats. 

digitalprotocol
digitalprotocol topcommenter

@electheatherjohnsonm i didn't say libertarians are not relevant, i said they dont exist. if you label yourself a libertarian (like Lyndon Larouche) your either a fascist, a hipster, or brainwashed.


isnt the tea party a "libertarian" movement... isnt cliven bundy a libertarian. these folks are simple fools. 


the market is perverted and cannot be relied upon. the political system is the same. 


dont think you can do something by playing the game that was set up by the establishment. you cant. 

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