Posts Tagged ‘Law’


  • The Daily Planet has the scoop on what Minneapolitans need to know about education issues. School board candidates, a referendum on changing how school board members are elected (Councilmember Cam Gordon says vote yes), and a referendum on a property tax increase for school funding. I promise, you can stop all the cramming on candidates and issues in four days. Hang in there.
  • CM Gordon also had the deets on reorganization in the city government that will better engage residents on the neighborhood level. “Last month, the Council voted to establish a new Department of Neighborhood and Community Relations and a new Neighborhood and Community Engagement Commission. These lay the foundation for what will likely be a similar, but significantly different, neighborhood revitalization program and a potentially much more effective City community engagement system in the future.” Sounds like the exact future of the Neighborhood Revitalization Program is still unclear.
  • Amy Rea recently visited the James J. Hill House for a social studies assignment. I don’t know what her kid’s homework looked like, but Amy’s looks pretty good.
  • Buy the Change (building community through commerce) wants you to truly put your money where your mouth is. They have the following goals: “To help people connect with their neighbors and people who share their values while supporting the organizations and businesses they care about.” AND “To raise awareness of the power of individual purchasing decisions and to provide tools that harness this power as a force for social change.” This video explains how it works. This better video explains how it works. They have larger goals, geographically speaking, but right now they’re heavily focused on Twin Cities neighborhoods. [Buy the Change blog] (via @MNWINwebmaster)
  • Ban the Ban Minnesota is “a nonpartisan, non-profit organization dedicated to helping the people and independent small businesses in the state by providing advocacy, education and data, and information dissemination regarding smoking bans so that the real heart of the matter can be addressed; namely the issues of rights, essential liberty, and our ability to live our lives and run our businesses as we so choose. We demand that we be treated like the responsible adults that we are and be free of busybodies who think that we need to be forcibly protected from ourselves.” Those crazy Libertarians! [facebook group]
  • This MnIndy item is ancient news now, but I still think it’s hilarious. “This [I Will Vote] sticker was observed Oct. 21 stuck to the parking lot surface at the K-Mart in Minneapolis — clear evidence that ACORN has been illegally registering inner-city blacktop to vote.” Why’s it gotta be blacktop?
  • Leif reports that the downtown Target is now has groceries and a deli, meaning they have beaten the Lunds and Whole Foods projects to the punch (somewhat) and have probably made a whole lot of downtown residents pretty happy.
  • Are you planning to take Election Day off? You work that out with your employer (they’re required by law to at least let you out to go vote). If you feel a need to declare more formally your intention to sit on the couch with CNN all day, RSVP on facebook to TAKE ELECTION DAY OFF, hosted by The Campaign for Change (Ellison, Obama, and Franken). And should you get hungry or thirsty at some point in the day, The Herkimer will be having 2 for 1s all day and all night and will also have election-type stuff up on the big screens.
  • Minneapolis has a fire fighter museum? (via @g_rote)
  • Growing Communities of Science is a blog chronicling one local teacher’s use of computers in his science classroom. (via Conner McCall)

Minnesota State Bar Association’s Unmarried Couples Task Force

I hate that this even had to happen this way, but I found out about this via Katherine Kersten’s column in today’s Star Tribune:

Paving the way for gay marriage in Minnesota

Below the radar, the groundwork is being laid to change the meaning of marriage in Minnesota.

The new “Rights of Unmarried Couples Task Force” of the Minnesota State Bar Association is the latest step in this process.

Here’s how the Bar Association defined the task force’s mission: “In light of the disparity between legal rights and protections available to same-sex couples as compared to different-sex couples,” the task force will “review the current state of Minnesota law and … make recommendations as to desirable changes, if any, in the law to address this disparity.”

“The task force’s goal is to ensure that Minnesota law treats all people equally and with fairness,” said attorney David Ahlvers, a task force co-chairman. “It is not to make recommendations on equal marriage rights for same-sex couples and heterosexual couples.”

I even finished reading it and I do believe my blood pressure did not rise at all. Which is not to say that I agree with her. It’s just that she rehashed an old, tired argument and then drew a ridiculous conclusion. Same ol’, same ol’. Oh, and I avoided all the reader comments.

Looks like the the MSBA assembly voted to create the task force in April of this year and expects to finish staffing it soon as applications to serve on working committees are due today.

There are currently 515 ways in which Minnesota laws discriminate against couples and families (pdf) (start on page 9). Knowing what those are, it’ll be interesting to see what the task force recommends.

Folks are working on it. That makes me feel good.

State Law on Campaign Yard Signs

I had an Obama/Biden yard sign up in my “yard” for just a few days before it was removed. I thought at first that our homeowner’s association may have had something to do with it, but I’m not so sure that’s the case anymore. I don’t know what happened to it and it doesn’t really matter at this point.

So when you have a complaint, the first thing you do is you blog about it, right? My friend KathyHowe kindly pointed me towards the state law on campaign yard signs.

Some municipalities have ordinances restricting the placement of lawn signs. In a state general election year (even years), these ordinances are overruled by Minnesota Statutes 211B.045 from August 1st until 10 days after the general election, and campaign signs may be posted in any size and number. In municipalities which have no sign ordinance, campaign signs may be posted in any size and number throughout the year.

Additional information on the legal placement of signs may be found in the DOT Letter to Candidates (pdf).


In any municipality, whether or not the municipality has an ordinance that regulates the size or number of noncommercial signs, all noncommercial signs of any size may be posted in any number from August 1 in a state general election year until ten days following the state general election.

So display your yard sign proudly. Even though you might not catch the bastard thieves, you can feel whatever you need to feel knowing your display was not illegal.

Sorry Mommy Minnesota, I’m still going to text and drive

Our government officially decided we can’t handle patting our heads and rubbing our stomachs yesterday. I got the news last night at about 8:30 p.m. last night via Twitter, a mobile social network I frequently use when driving.

According to the KARE 11 story about the bill passing:

If you’re caught composing or sending a text message while you’re behind the wheel of a moving car you can be pulled over and ticketed. Even reading incoming messages could lead to a citation.

Judging from the Pioneer Press article about the bill, it was passed using anecdotal evidence that 1) people can’t handle texting while driving AND 2) it’s a problem worth legislating against, despite the lack of solid research across a wide range of demographics and psychographics.

In fact, the article only lists stats about only teens. Of course teens are distracted drivers…they are also minors, so they are pretty much fair game for passing both disapproval and legislation against. That’s fine with me. But all the news articles and broadcast segments I’ve seen interview adults on the street or in their cars and ask them if they are good drivers when they text and drive. Pretty scientific stuff to base a broad, sweeping bill on, huh?

But what about the general population, some of whom may actually be able to handle reading and replying to e-mails, surfing the web, tweeting and sending text messages? Mommy Minnesota has decided to set some new rules for us, and I’m sorry, but I’m not going to obey them.

In February 2007 I wrote a post here at MB called “I can drive and talk on my cell without crashing” in response to an eerily similar, albeit more stringent, 2007 nanny state bill that would double the fines of any moving violation if the driver was on a cell phone at the time.

Here are some highlights from that post that perfectly reflect the sentiment I’m feeling today:

Remember in grade school when the teacher had to teach the class at the pace of the dumbest student? It slowed down the rest of your class and impaired those who were fast learners and could easily handle the challenges of the day. I know many of my liberal friends don’t see the issue with this. They believe it’s the government’s responsibility to keep us safe from ourselves. But I wish to stress the importance and inevitability of the slippery slope of government mandates on our private lives.

Unfortunately, in the post-9/11 era, our society is relying more and more on the big brother government to “keep us safe.” California, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and the District of Columbia each have enacted a jurisdiction-wide ban on driving while talking on cell phones. Six states (Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, and Pennsylvania) allow localities to ban cell phone use. Only eight smarter states than Minnesota (Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Utah) prohibit localities from banning cell phone use. (then I gave a breakdown of state laws and legislation)…

At what point are we legislating to the lowest IQ of our population? At what point does society either evolve or operate outside the boundaries of the idiots in our society? …

My biggest point is that sure, use of cell phones are distracting. But look at Vermont, which is considering a measure to ban eating, drinking, smoking, reading, writing, personal grooming, playing an instrument, interacting with pets or cargo and possibly even scratching an itch while driving.

Sometimes the freedom to be an idiot is preferred to the handcuffs of what our government thinks we handle.

While I don’t doubt there are people who cannot handle texting while driving, I do not believe it’s the government’s responsibility to GIVE or TAKE AWAY that right.

Minnesota has now become only the third state (after Washington and New Jersey) to pass this ban on texting and driving, and since it was only based on anecdotal accounts and the gut reaction of a dying generation intimidated by 1) technology and 2) a rising culture of electronically connected multitaskers, there’s no way to measure if it was effective. Driving legislation in Minnesota can only get more restrictive from here, and that just isn’t okay with me.

As early as this afternoon, I’m going to be back on the roads, skimming my e-mail, tweeting and reading while I drive. I’ll pay the ticket. It’s worth the price of freedom.

And what are your thoughts, my fellow Minnesota drivers?

No Match for Bureaucracy

You may have been Uptown a couple of weeks ago and noticed picketers outside the D’amico and Sons restaurant at 2210 Hennepin who were, in my opinion, bringing attention to an escalating issue regarding the U.S. workforce. The protesters were reacting to D’amico and Partners’ termination of 15 Latino employees from a “no-match list” after they did not, or were not able to reconcile their social security information.

From what I can tell, a no-match list consists of people whose social security numbers do not match their names and other personal information, therefore not validating their eligibility to work in the States. This sample employee no-match letter from the National Immigration Law Center asserts that a no-match does not mean termination of employment, and that no-matches may be clerical errors, or something else not necessarily indicative of “illegal” status.

However, the Department of Homeland security has been trying to install a law requiring employers to terminate no-match employees. The law, according to the NY Times, was blocked last October to protect businesses, but the DHS is trying to impose it again.

I think there is some debate as to whether D’amico and Partners was discriminating against Latino employees, or if the company was within its legal jurisdiction. An employer can pay a massive fine for not providing valid social security information for no-match employees, so I can see why nervous human resources departments might take stringent action with this no-match law dangling over their heads. In a company-wide letter to employees issued on March 31st, which I have a hard copy of, D’amico said that it gave no-match employees over seven months to resolve their information, and provided a Spanish interpreter in September 2007 to aid in resolution. The no-match law faltered last October, so the company was clearly trying to protect itself early. But since the law was blocked, it seems that employers are now doggy-paddling in a gray area between discrimination and illegal employment of immigrants.

In an article on the myths and realities of Mexicans in Minnesota originally run in the Pioneer Press, Bruce Corrie says:

They take our jobs: If this statement is aimed at citizens, it is wrong, as these workers compete in the market for work. If it is aimed at undocumented workers, the kinds of jobs these workers do are in the low-wage, back-breaking, finger-numbing and high-turnover tasks that most people do not want to do.

I’m inclined to agree, and having worked in restaurants for over a decade, I can attest to the large percentage of staff that is Latino and/or of immigrant status in both the front and the back of the house. They often start with the work that many people won’t deign to do for minimum wage, then work their way up to better positions. I’ve chatted with servers who have mentioned that their Minneapolis restaurants have been compelled to let people go too, some places finding themselves shortstaffed and having to find temporary help.

It’s led me to wonder who is going to take the biggest blow from stricter immigration laws, which I think is a common debate these days. A Mexican co-worker of mine posited that it could be the States, because “Mexicans lose their jobs and have to go home, but you don’t have us anymore.” Which is a good point, the States would lose a large portion of the workforce and the money those people put back into the economy through consumption.

So, maybe we’re not feeling the full effect yet, but getting a meal at your local grub hub may take longer and longer because the place is shortstaffed, due to the government deciding that things just don’t match. And that would be just the beginning.

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