Blog My random thoughts

July 13, 2011

Failure in Government

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 9:08 PM

I never thought I would see a day come that I would feel so let down by every level of government. Probably I never thought about the possibility because it seems very likely the more that I do think about it. But this letdown is particularly demoralizing because it is a personal, societal, and professional letdown. To be fair and honest, the government usually lets me down. But the current system wide failure is haunting in a way I cannot remember ever feeling. What is it that is bothering me? Federal failure, state ineptitude, and city ignorance.

Let’s start with the easiest one – city ignorance. As you may or may not know, I ran for city council in Minneapolis in 2009. My Ward included about half of North Minneapolis. If you’re not from here, that’s where the tornado hit the hardest a few months ago. But trust me, North Minneapolis had plenty of problems before the tornado. I’ll admit to being partially biased about the lack of attention paid to North Minneapolis since I was a candidate there, but seriously? Try a google image search for North Minneapolis. The first five images I get are a street corner, a dead body, graffiti, two foreclosed homes, and a dense map of foreclosures in the area. This area has the highest foreclosure rate in the twin cities, the highest murder rate in the twin cities, the most devastating natural disaster in the twin cities and it pretty much gets ignored by the city council. I will further admit my bias that I think the current city council member, Diane Hofstede (the incumbent that I lost to in the 2009 election), does not do enough for this area. But here, check out her website and judge it for yourself – http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/ward3/.

Again though, this is only part of the city’s problem. I live in another less dangerous neighborhood now, but despite the rather large Gunshot Identifier 3000 or whatever this is called – http://science.howstuffworks.com/shotspotter.htm (which I honestly find very cool) sitting on my corner, there are still random shootings mere feet away – http://blogs.citypages.com/blotter/2011/05/minneapolis_shootings_memorial_day.php. But don’t worry because – “Palmer says that no one in custody in connection with the case, nor any of the other shootings that night.” It’s alright, we don’t really solve murders here.

To pile it on:

1. The streets here are atrocious. Potholes are practically sinkholes. And the best part is we are paying for the privilege of failed streets – http://www.startribune.com/local/minneapolis/125192884.html

2. I love how Minneapolis Government is exactly like “Minnesota Nice” – cover up the ugly spots, say something nice, then brutally gossip behind the backs of the public. In this case, homelessness – http://www.kare11.com/news/article/922039/391/Homelessness-rises-among-Minn-families-

3. Finally, in this city part, the dumbest proposed legislation of the year – http://www.ouruptown.com/2011/05/more-on-outdoor-patio-ordinance/ (good idea except that the only reason people go out in uptown is for the outdoor patios… so that makes it a what? bad idea?) Hush, hush, don’t worry about the killing, the shooting, the random violence, don’t worry about the theft, the robbery, the embezzlement, don’t worry about the failing businesses, the homeless, the unemployed, for there are noise violations to create and enforce.

And the real problem with city ignorance is it does not just come from politicians but also exists in citizens. Do you know the voter turn out for the 2009 election when I ran? 9% city-wide. In a city of around 380,000 people, that’s 34,200 or so people. Dividing that by the roughly equal (although by no means fairly drawn) 13 wards, my election came down to a total of 2,600 people. Voter apathy makes sense to me -2009 was the year after one of the most charged elections in my lifetime. There were no major ballot issues other than city council and mayor. And people do not know what the city council does anyway (which is entirely the city council’s fault). And so I am stuck, along with the rest of Minneapolis, with a monopoly that is nothing more than a poor excuse for a city council. I want to add one more interesting fact. Only 34,000 or so people voted. If 10,000 more voted, that would be 44,000. If all 10,000 voted the same way, that would be just shy of a quarter of the voters. There are around 10,000 Somali refugees living in Minneapolis. That does not count the second generation folks either. How interesting would it be to see a refugee community completely sway an entire city election?

I’ll work on the State and Federal failures and get back to you with more.

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