Author Archives: Bill

Counting Over, Back Still Sore

Promised to march a while back, so I did and I have to say there has been some improvement in my back pain; so I’m going to march some more, perhaps with a “No More Mayors” sign. If we weren’t headed into winter, I suppose I might also don a light robe and sandals just to more look the part of a latter day prophet of better government.

We have a great deal of tradition wrapped up in the structure of our government and passing the plain language charter amendments will make it a simple matter to change that structure; with the continued caprice in actions of our local government catering to the whims of the one percent, we will eventually have a majority of folks who believe it is time to change to a form with inherent protection for the citizens of Minneapolis from those who would exploit them.

Thanks to the few hundred folks who voted for the changes embodied in my campaign and I hope that we will have more candidates step forward to run on the Last Mayor of Minneapolis slate in elections to come; unless we pass a referendum before then, of course.

 

 

Oh My Aching Back

Been on my back most of the day as I’ve had sciatica for a few days and thought that might help a bit. Got a midday phone interview with someone from MPR News, an intern named Cody Nelson. He says he’ll have something Friday. Oh boy.

If I were not in much pain, I suppose I might have been haunting some of the debates going on. As it is, I’ve only participated in one, and most of my exposure has been through survey questions from one screening organization or another who only invite the big money candidates for debate and/or Q&A.

I continue to believe that until candidates are ‘punished’ for barraging us with the stuff that big campaign war chests can buy, we will continue to be buried with it and the news people, other than our steadfast local rags and aggregators, will ignore everyone who hasn’t raised at least a few thousand.

I suppose I should have printed out a few cards, knocked on a few doors, and talked to a few more people wherever, but I’m sore and have other responsibilities. Minneapolis folks have enough to worry about without being pestered by politicians, so win or lose, I’m happy I have not bothered them a whole lot. Those other folks and their volunteers should be absolutely ashamed at themselves with all the bother they’ve caused. They should really just blog and let the masochists read; it is a whole lot cheaper and no one gets anything they didn’t ask for.

 

I was just listening to a new TV ad from one of the candidates with hundreds of thousands (his own, perhaps from his settlement with the StarTribune) who says all 34 other candidates are fine folks who would make a good mayor someday, while he is ready today. I’ve got news for him: there are no good Minneapolis mayors and this will not change with him.

We need to abandon elected executives in favor of professional city management. We can do it now or we can do it later, but I think it has to be done.

A little more acetaminophen, ibuprofen, some stuff for neuropathy I’ve got and I’ll get a good night’s sleep and think about imposing on some potential supporters, or maybe not. There are other sorts of pain that the drugs do not work on.

Guess I’ll try some physical therapy, soon. I know my back will get better, but I have less hope for our city.

Election Day

I will not ask anyone in this city to vote for me first, second or third, but I hope that by the next time you vote in a city election that you will have as many choices as you want; in this particular election, I would like to have at least a dozen, but offering six, just as the City of St. Paul uses, would only take one more page with our 35 candidates on Nov. 5. I think it makes sense to vote for one of the so-called “major candidates,” third, just so one of your three choices count if you decide to use the first two choices for one of us “minor candidates.”

Instant runoff voting or as FairVote and the City of Minneapolis has chosen to call IRV/single transferable vote, ranked choice voting (all the voting methods ever used in this country are ranked choice voting), will give us a great deal of information about what people might be thinking about the issues and candidates campaigning on them, but there is a better way that will give us much more with as many candidates as care to pay the fee and gather as many signatures as the next Council may designate (state law suggests guidelines).

Score voting is probably familiar to most of you, but you may not realize that you have used it or seen it in action for most of your lives. If you have ever rated a movie on netflix or another rating system for something else using numbers of stars or some other symbols (Pinnochios for the Washington Post columnist who judges veracity of given political utterings), you have used score voting. If you’ve ever watched judged Olympic Games events as the judges reveal their scores and waited until their averages are calculated and announced, you’ve seen score or range voting in action. It is simple.

Once you hold a score voting election, there is no doubt about who voters prefer and that is the candidate who wins. How refreshing, yes?

A candidate reaches a threshold of ratings, 50% of ballots plus one, and her ratings will be averaged; if a candidate gets the best average of ratings, he wins. You can have a large range, 1-100, or you can have a small range, 0-1; it does not matter, but I’d like to see 0-9 or 0-5. We would run down the list of candidates and fill the bubbles for our rating for each, or not perhaps. At the end, we’d have not only a winner, but a record of just what we thought of every candidate; I think that is quite useful information, e.g., if a candidate won with an average of 3 in a range of 0 to 9, he’d not assume a mandate for much of anything.

As I’ve stated before, I don’t really want to be mayor; but I don’t want anyone else to be mayor, either. It is not really a contradiction; if you, like me, want to eliminate the office of mayor, then vote for me and let your Council member know what you want and should I win, we will have it done within a few months.

If I don’t win, and I expect this will happen, you can work with me to change the charter by citizen petition to vote on the matter with no distractions from the candidates anointed by the media based on the campaign cash given by gawd knows who. They cannot ignore a charter amendment like this.

We can run local election campaigns with a pittance–I’m up to $66.30 for mine–if we simply had reasonable press coverage. We don’t have that at all as it is based on how well one grovels for campaign cash: that stinks.

 

Rank Choices

How does one decide among 35 candidates? How do you pick three–unfortunately, you can only pick three in Minneapolis–and what order do you choose?

The main worry of just about all folks with any knowledge of instant runoff voting is that ballots will be exhausted to the point that a winner will have a plurality victory, i.e., one in which a winner has less than half of the total votes cast. What this means, just as in the case of the plurality system we had before, is that voters chose losers or that they chose such obscure candidates that their later, perhaps saner choices were eliminated before the rounds in which their later choices would have counted.

IRV is better than what we did before, but we can do better by adopting score voting when we’re good enough at IRV, or ranked choice voting as those who think people are too stupid to learn about all manner of things that are thought we cannot do without.

Am I a sane choice for mayor you might ask? Why, no. I am not a sane choice.

I and the 34 other candidates are not sane choices, but I might be the smart choice.

It is not sane, in the classic Einstein definition of insanity, to elect mayors again and again to the same result of dysfunctional government.

The only sane choice is to vote for a charter amendment to alter our government to a council-manager form.

I would go further in any charter amendment I spearhead as mayor, and reduce the number of geographical wards to five from 13 to break up the local power cliques that inevitably form in our old and corrupt system.

Within that corrupt system, our leaders have simply pretended to work on our real problems of poverty and to remedy all the deficiencies that lead to and reinforce the horrible conditions with which some in our city must live.

I would also advocate for eight at large members in a majority position in the council. This would effectively give us eight folks nearly as powerful as our present mayor who with the five ward council members would direct a professional city manager to run the day to day operations of our city without the caprice that appears when one human being with no real executive skills or even knowledge of city government is elected by folks with even less knowledge than that (sorry folks, it’s the truth).

We need to elect the last mayor of Minneapolis, but it doesn’t have to be me. In fact, if a better qualified candidate publicly adopted my Last Mayor of Minneapolis charter amendment proposal as a part of their platform, I would endorse that candidate and drop out. I’d even donate the use of this website to them and turn over the domain when it expires.

 

 

MPR Libel Case Averted. Whew!

Like I would sue almost anyone. Hasn’t happened yet, but I guess there’s always a first time. This won’t be the one for me, thankfully.

I have been continually irritated that a post in the MPR blog, The Cities, came up every time I searched the web for information on me and  campaign developments as sure as the click ads from Cam Winton and Bob Fine (Should we click them? A lot? I haven’t yet, but how else am I to find out about their campaigns?). I discussed the matter on the website, here.

Finally I was so irritated that I contacted them, laying out how serious an error I considered this post.

They pretty much acceded to a suggestion I made to settle the matter and so it is settled with an “update” to the blog post mentioning me and my campaign, adding a short explanation of what “Last Minneapolis Mayor” means, and a link here to this website.

All is right with the world, provided we can make a few other changes here in Minneapolis, like a charter amendment to abolish the office of mayor, change number of wards to five corresponding to traditionally recognized sectors of the city, and add eight at large council seats.

 

How much does a candidate need to raise or spend to get press?

Where should the money come from?

I decided a few years ago that I was not going to contribute to any candidates in any race, the only exception being that I drop a buck or two to defray costs at functions of my political party, the Democratic Farmer Labor Party and one or two candidates I can’t beg off from a few bucks. This was a pretty easy decision for me as like many others, I don’t have a whole lot of money to throw around.

I believe that we must get all of the private money out of political campaigns if we can, and we should know where it all comes from if we don’t get the money out.

Much talk around the 35 candidates in this race centers on some sort of threshold to limit the numbers of candidates (I do agree with most that the lack of DFL endorsees might have opened things up more). The Council was considering a high filing fee, but really the only currency that should count in politics, the kind of politics to which most should aspire, is in the choices that people make. If we are as a city to defray the cost of those filing for office, fees should not go beyond the cost of processing the form.

A would be politician who wishes to run for office should gather supporters, and if the press continues to make money the criterium for coverage, then they do us all a disservice.

 

 

 

Misdirection of Education in Mayor’s Race

With today’s StarTribune editorial and the Q & A with Mayor RT Rybak in MinnPost, I think it is time to weigh in here because this new found interest in city government getting into the education business is malarky.

The roots of the gap are in the poverty that we have tolerated, seemingly forever, along with the crime and the poor economy that lingers, plaguing us all.

The notion that Rybak in his three terms and all of the other mayors in their time in office have done anything of lasting good in addressing the roots of the problem that the opportunity or achievement ‘gap’ represents, is crap, i.e., some folks in government, the fourth estate and all of the corporate types who supposedly have all the answers have had their heads up their own larger posterior orifice that they can’t remove them now.

We need to bring our problem citizens into ‘the fold’ and provide the same nurturing environment all over the city to raise future generations who never leave it. Schools are a part of that, but education begins at home whether it is the presently troubled homes of some North and South neighborhoods or those in the city on the other side of the gap.

Losing mayors, reducing individual ward influence and bringing city wide issues to the fore will allow us to effectively address ‘gap’ problems, not electing another megalomaniac.

Leadership is fine, but we need it everywhere, not just at city hall, and we need leadership from those who all live in the same reality, free of the ideological extremes that make every path a zero sum game that most must lose.

Needed to Move Things Down a Post

I suppose folks seeing an attack on my website, justified or not, on a venerable institution responsible for bringing invaluable services to voters is getting a little old, so here’s another post just for the heck of it.

You know, the more I think about it, the more I believe that the worst thing imaginable to happen to me would be winning this election on November 5th. I hate this stuff. I think perhaps I am good at politics and at moving things through a structured bureaucracy of any kind, but I do hate it. I’d much rather be doing other stuff (I do mostly, given my campaign war chest of zero dollars).

I want people to consider a different form of city government that I feel will serve us all better than what we do know, and I hope that we will make it happen whether I win or not.

This site will stay up in one form or another, win or lose, and I may try to organize a petition effort for a charter amendment referendum for a council-manager form of government.

I think that the form of any amendment ‘may’ be worked out and an amendment written before that happens, so between then and now, I hope that folks will vote for the plain language charter amendment, because that will make writing such another amendment to change to a council-manager government, easier to do.

More About the Minneapolis League of Women Voters

I’ve had this exchange with three women from the League (starts with the last e-mail below, my response to their letter requesting my Campaign Finance Statement to my suggestion as to how they might serve voters well in our first real test of instant runoff voting on the 5th of November):

Ms. Skahen, Ms. Teleen, and Ms. Hocker;

Thank you for your response, but you are still dead wrong.

I think your policies need to be completely reworked in light of supporting justice and transparency in democratic elections using alternative voting methods like instant runoff voting where there will always be more candidates than in conventional elections using plurality voting. Frankly, I am surprised that you have not attempted to do so.

The debate format you have traditionally provided will not do for Minneapolis and you need to do something different long before November 5 to maintain any sort of legitimacy that you once had.

You need to take advantage of the ubiquitous technology in use everywhere today to provide a clear picture of every candidate relative to the others.

KFAI is the only news outlet providing a modicum of information about each candidate, probably the only exposure than some of us will ever get in the news media, with their short interviews aired on the Morning Blend this month. I believe they did this after I suggested via e-mail that KNOW do the same when their reporter, Curtis Gilbert, libeled me in his post to the MPR blog, The Cities (I also balled out Gilbert, as this was indeed libel and quite actionable; but it would not have served me well to sue, I think, although it still rankles when it pops up in web searches).

The KFAI interviews suggest a path for LMVMpls.

LMVMpls can sponsor in partnership with some public television or radio station (MTN or TPT or MPR or perhaps a paper), rounds of video interviews with each candidate using identical questions, providing each candidate the answers of every other candidate for rebuttal should they choose to address any of the issues that come up (they may ignore other candidates and their issues at their peril), and subsequent rounds for elucidating the different arguments.

Such a video debate broadcast over the air or on the web along with Minneapolis cable 14 & 79, will provide a better service for Minneapolis voters than picking winners based on money raised. The debate could be broken down into programs for each question or topic in the debate as a whole, i.e., do it as a series.

You have eliminated participation for over three quarters of those candidates in the race; this is directly contrary to your mission and is unacceptable. You must act to remedy this error, now.

Bill Kahn

On Sep 15, 2013, at 1:29 PM, Vote LWVMpls <vote@lwvmpls.org> wrote:

Dear Mr. Kahn,

Thank you for your email.  We appreciate your questions and concerns, and will take them into consideration for future forums.  Due to the new challenge of a large candidate pool in Minneapolis and limited organizational resources, the LWV Mpls Board made a best effort to create fair, inclusive selection criteria for this year’s forum.  As was mentioned in your invitation, all candidates were invited to submit their information to the LWV Mpls for consideration, and only candidates who chose to submit their info to the LWV Mpls office were considered for participation, regardless of campaign finance status.  Additionally, all candidates, regardless of participation in the forum event, are welcome to bring literature to display at the designated tables outside the event.

The LWV Mpls believes strongly in its mission to encourage informed and active participation in government, and is acutely aware of its nonpartisan status.  The League plans to revisit our policy for future forums, and welcomes constructive feedback for consideration.

Sincerely,

Kara Skahen
Candidate Forum Coordinator

Pam Telleen
Co-President
LWV Mpls

Ruby Hocker
Co-President
LWV Mpls


From: Bill Kahn [wjkahn@aol.com]
Sent: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 11:43 PM
To: Vote LWVMpls
Subject: Regarding Your Minneapolis Mayoral Debate
Hi,

I have not registered my campaign committee as I’ve spent a little over $30 so far, just my filing fee plus a domain registration fee and a month’s worth of hosting services, so I haven’t filed any Campaign Finance Reports, either; however, all future Campaign Finance Reports from me will show the same number of contributions: none.
I’ll be tied for dead last with a number of the other 34 candidates.
I hope you find other criteria for choosing who will participate in your debate than financial support, from supporters or the candidate’s own deep pockets, and you can find further advice and hopes at my website.
Sincerely,
Bill Kahn

 

 

League of Women Voters Pick Mayoral Debaters based on Money, Money, Money

Got a letter in the mail from the League of Women Voters of Minneapolis, Inc.®. It was all about how money dominates politics and always will.

I’m supposed to send my Campaign Finance Report to the LWV for them to determine the biggest beggars of Minneapolis and if I am among the top eight who will participate in their debate.

I haven’t registered a campaign committee yet, but my first report and all subsequent reports will show that I have not raised one single campaign contribution.

I’ll never be among those eight, but LWV says I can display literature at a table in the hallway outside the event; my guess is that there will be one of 27 8 1/2″X 11″ spaces on that table assigned to each candidate not debating. I’m considering Xerox®ing my buttocks for them to display and hopefully kiss. At least let me spend a little on a big poster board and see if Minneapolis Central Library has 27 easels for us to display them on, sort of like a conference or symposium poster session, or perhaps LWV could gather enough easels from other HENNEPIN COUNTY LIBRARIES or from somewhere else.

I find it ironic that an organization advocating for better elections and campaigning in the first real demonstration of the power of instant runoff voting in Minneapolis–keep in mind that IRV is supposed to reduce the influence of money in elections–has based who it will invite to their debate on how much money they raise.

I am afraid I am not much of a politico. The first bit I really learned about current and alternative voting methods was from an LWV pamphlet. It looks as if I have left LWV far behind.

I expected the corporate press to ignore me and base all of their decisions to cover candidates  on money, but et tu, LWV?

There has got to be a better way.