Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Election Day

I voted in today’s odd-year election. When I was studying the candidates, it seemed like Minneapolis was at least as interesting as NY, NJ, and VA, where the national media smell a referendum on Barack Obama's candidacy. Minneapolis seems to be thinking more deeply than personality. The common threads among the challengers are fairness to homeowners, government responsiveness, and small business climate. This is the case across political and sanity spectra. (The Twins' stadium is almost finished and it is a magnificent public work. Besides that, we have been building a lot of condominiums in the last decade, and a new Guthrie Theater. One of the old ruined mills has been reinforced, so it can stand around looking textural and historic, but do it safely.) We have eleven mayoral candidates. One of them worships Laura Ingalls Wilder, and wants to secede from the union. And of course, we have ranked-choice voting. It'll be interesting to see how that works out. The likeliest challenger to unseat Mayor R. T. Rybak is a business owner and guitarist, Papa (it's on the ballot) John Kolstad. Kolstad runs a bumper sticker and lapel-button shop on Lake Street, and has put together endorsements from the Green, Independence, and...wait for it...Republican parties. (Lake Street is a business street that crosses town east to west. Recently it was repaved to the chagrin of business owners, because there was federal money available.) There is also a little flap from a contributing developer-former City Council member who didn't get the vote he wanted from his beneficiary. There are also hints of bad blood between the Council, the Park Board, and something called the Board of Estimate and Taxation. The BET is on the block, with both sides on the proposition claiming greater transparency, and settling scores between Council and Park Board the hidden agenda.

The illustration uses a detail from Thomas Hart Benton’s 1934 painting, Preparing the Bill. Benton was the grandnephew of the Missouri senator of the same name. He was born in 1989, studied in Paris, and successfully synthesized an American directness with the formal experimentation of his older, European contemporaries. The painting belongs to the Randolph-Macon Women’s College in Lynchburg, Virginia.

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