What might it look like to ‘take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this’?

school shootingPresident Obama said yesterday in the wake of the Connecticut school mass shooting: “We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”

About to start his second term, he’s now in a more realistic position to take the lead on doing something.  The country is more polarized than ever, however. The rhetoric we use (“gun control,” “gun rights,” “gun violence” and “Second Amendment”) reflects this, according to Nate Silver.

The change in rhetoric may reflect the increasing polarization in the debate over gun policy. “Gun control,” a relatively neutral term, has been used less and less often. But more politically charged phrases, like “gun violence” and “gun rights,” have become more common. Those who advocate greater restrictions on gun ownership may have determined that their most persuasive argument is to talk about the consequences of increased access to guns — as opposed to the weedy debate about what rights the Second Amendment may or may not convey to gun owners. For opponents of stricter gun laws, the debate has increasingly become one about Constitutional protections.

Some possibilities on what could be done (gleaned from this NY Times article):

  • reinstate the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004
  • ban high-capacity magazines
  • require criminal background checks on gun buyers at gun shows
  • improve instant background checks to more thoroughly catch people with histories of mental illness.
  • ban the import of assault rifles like AK gun
  • focus on people with mental illness who use firearms
  • toughen background checks, which are not currently required for guns bought from unlicensed, private sellers

The race for US president: Obama vs. Romney

Obama and Romney

It’s one month till the election and the race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney has evidently tightened since last week’s debate.

If you’re looking for an online venue to discuss the race with your fellow Northfielders, this is it.

The race for US Senate: Klobuchar vs. Bills

Klobuchar and Bills

It’s one month till the election and the race for US Senate is between Amy Klobuchar and Kurt Bills.

If you’re looking for an online venue to discuss the race with your fellow Northfielders, this is it.

The race for US Congress, District 2: Kline vs. Obermueller

Obermueller and Kline

It’s one month till the election and the race for US Congress, District 2, is between John Kline and Mike Obermueller.

If you’re looking for an online venue to discuss the race with your fellow Northfielders, this is it.

Election 2012 straw poll: Whom and what are you voting for?

Make your selections, then weigh in with your rationale.










Continue reading Election 2012 straw poll: Whom and what are you voting for?

USPS puts Northfield Post Office building on sale for $845,000. Now what?

Northfield US Post Office building for sale

The government’s listing for the Northfield Post Office building reads:

14 Bridge Square, Northfield, Minnesota represents a unique opportunity to purchase a unique and beautiful former US Postal Service facility. The building is a 9,708 SF and is located on 0.53 acres. This architecturally distinct building was built in 1936 and sits prominently in the historic center of Northfield. The property includes 15 surface stalls in the off-street parking lot.

The realtor is Chris Gliedman, CBRE, based in Mpls.

The Northfield Roundtable held two planning sessions last week, focused on Bridge Square.  The notes from that day are not yet available but see the Feb. 4 Nfld News: Northfield Roundtable focuses on Bridge Square. According to the article, these were some ideas generated at Friday’s session that were Post Office-related:

The downtown post office could be turned into a Northfield Business Center, serving as an incubator and housing the Chamber, NDDC and NEC, along with small shops.

By tying Bridge Square with the service areas and alleys surrounding the post office building and the buildings facing Division Street, all properties on the block could be on the river.

Should the Downtown Streetscape Taskforce buy it, since a year ago, the City Council rejected its recommendation to purchase the rental property at 304 Washington St. for a parking lot at a cost of $760,000?

Jesus: the original Occupy Wall Street protester, but violent

I’ve long been persuaded that Jesus was the first revolutionary mass movement organizer. (See The Power Tactics of Jesus Christ and Other Essays by Jay Haley.)

Jesus: the original Occupy Wall Street protestor Common Sense Jesus
With the growing Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, I’m seeing more discussion about whether or not Jesus would have been one to lead/participate in the movement.

This article in the Guardian by Terry Eaglton has persuaded me that he would have: Occupy London are true followers of Jesus, even if they despise religion . "Jesus’s fury with the money changers was born of anger with the system itself. Yet unlike the campers, his protest was violent."

Rather than squat down with a placard outside the Jerusalem temple, he staged his protest within its walls, and it was a violent rather than peaceful one. The fracas Jesus created in this holiest of places, driving out the money changers and overturning their tables, was probably enough to get him executed. To strike at the temple was to strike at the heart of Judaism. This itinerant upstart with a country-bumpkin background was issuing a direct challenge to the authority of the high priests. Even some of his comrades would probably have seen this astonishing act of defiance as nothing short of sacrilegious.

Jesus was not an anti-capitalist, any more than Dante was a Darwinist. But he was ready to risk death in order to defend what he saw as an authentic form of giving against a system that impoverished it. As such, he would probably have understood what those currently shivering outside St Paul’s are up to. They have certainly managed to throw the ruling caste of a holy place into an unholy panic, just as he did. And to that extent they are his followers, however much some of them may now understandably despise religion.

The deep street hole at 6th & Division: the government was involved

I was walking downtown just after noon yesterday when a Federal government employee (postal worker Tom Kotula) asked me if I’d seen the deep hole in the street at 6th & Division.

deep street hole at 6th & Division deep street hole at 6th & Division deep street hole at 6th & Division Repairs to deep street hole at 6th & Division

Repairs to deep street hole at 6th & Division Repairs to deep street hole at 6th & Division deep street hole at 6th & Division Repairs to deep street hole at 6th & Division
When I arrived to take photos, a City government worker was directing a private contractor (who had been hired by City government Streets and Parks Supervisor TJ Heinricy) to dig up the hole to, um, get to the bottom of it.

According to a story on Nlfd Patch (the Northfield MSM—Nfld Patch, Nfld News, KYMN—had been alerted to the issue via email by City government Administrator Tim Madigan) the hole likely opened up after a Federal Government National Guard vehicle drove over the street.  (Nfld Patch has patch photos. Heh.)

After excavation, City government workers filled the hole and tomorrow will investigate how storm water (created and unleashed by a non-governmental source but rerouted by City Government) caused the hole in the first place.

Where would we be without government?

Save Our Post Office sandwich board makes its debut. Is it legal?

Save our Post Office - Northfield, MNSomeone from the NDDC put up this sandwich board in front of the Northfield Post Office this morning.  I’m not saying who it was.

See the NDDC’s Keep the Northfield Post Office Downtown page for the latest news.

FYI, the municipal code for sidewalk signs reads:

Sidewalk signs in C-1 and C-2 zones. The use of sidewalk signs shall only be allowed in the central business zones (C-1 and C-2). All sidewalk signs shall be limited to two feet in width and 3½ feet in height, including the support members. No sign shall have more than two faces. Changeable copy is permitted except for plastic letters. The sign shall be placed only in front of the business without significantly limiting the normal pedestrian use of the sidewalk. One sign is permitted for each building/land frontage, and it shall be removed from the sidewalk at the end of each business day. No sidewalk sign shall be lighted. No sign permit is required.

That sign looks to be at least a half inch taller than allowed. Someone should report this.

Osama bin Laden killed in a covert operation. Now what?

Osama bin Laden

NY Times:

President Obama announced late Sunday that Osama bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks, was killed in a firefight during an operation he ordered inside Pakistan, ending a 10 year manhunt for the world’s most wanted terrorist. American officials were in possession of his body, he said.

We occasionally discuss national/international issues and events here on LoGro.  Not often. This is one of those times.

Suzie Nakasian and Betsey Buckheit: Get your pens boys, they’re threatening our post office

Betsey-Buckheit Suzie Nakasian 
Northfield City Councilors Betsey Buckheit and Suzie Nakasian are circulating a letter titled: Get your pens boys, they’re threatening our post office.

Get your pens boys… we encourage local residents to immediately write to Post Master General Patrick Donahoe and District Manager Anthony Williams (addresses below) to let them know that the proposed move does not make sense for the majority of our local residents and businesses. Share with them your personal observations and particular stories to help make the case: the proposed consolidation will hurt Northfield and is a bad business move for the Postal Service.

They’re also asking people to sign a petition on Northfied Patch.

Comments on this blog post are closed. Continue the discussion here.

US Postal Service considers closing the Northfield Post Office

Northfield Post Office Northfield Post Office Northfield Post Office Northfield Post Office

Nfld Patch: Downtown Northfield Post Office Could Close

Peter Nowacki, a spokesperson for the United States Post Office, said Monday that the Northfield branch is one of 16,000 sites nationwide being considered for closure.

Nfld News: Downtown post office on the chopping block

While the closing, if it does occur, would likely impact the traffic in the city’s historic business district, the reduction would be temporary, said the city’s economic development director, Jody Gunderson. “I don’t see it staying empty long,” he said. “It’s a phenomenal building. I don’t think it would be very difficult to figure out a reuse for it.”

It seems like a perfect location for a local Northfield church. But maybe there are better reuses for the building?

Update 4/6: I’ve added a recent photo of the exterior and 3 other photos of the interior. I’ve also removed the “Churches to compete for space?” from the blog post title.

After the tragedy in Tucson, can we be better?

The three best opinion pieces about the killings in Tucson that I’ve read thus far are:

I thought tonight’s speech by President Obama at the memorial service in Tucson was pretty darn good.

But what we can’t do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on one another. As we discuss these issues, let each of us do so with a good dose of humility. Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let us use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together.

The loss of these wonderful people should make every one of us strive to be better in our private lives – to be better friends and neighbors, co-workers and parents. And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their deaths help usher in more civility in our public discourse, let’s remember that it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy, but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation, in a way that would make them proud.

Yes, we can be better.

We can be better

Obie Holmen: Obama at mid term

Obie Holmen has a new blog post titled Obama at mid term.

Obie HolmenIt should be remembered that following Churchill’s historic and inspired leadership during WWII, the British voters turned him out in the first election after war’s end.

In the recent midterm elections, it would seem that the voters rejected President Obama.  Six fewer Democratic Senators will serve in the new Congress.  Speaker-to-be John Boehner and the Republicans wrenched control of the House from the Democrats.  According to the voters, it would appear that Obama’s first two years have been an abysmal failure.

Did the voters choose wisely?  Was their judgment sound?

Discuss here or there.

No Labels: A new politics of problem-solving. Northfielders, want to Meetup?

I had lunch with a colleague at the Edina Grill last week and happened to sit at a table next to Tom Horner. (I know Tom a little bit from a consulting gig I did a few years ago.) I asked him about his post-gubernatorial race plans and he indicated he was looking for a way to tackle the political polarization that prevents problem solving.

Perfect timing. I hope Tom read this commentary in Sunday’s Strib: Beyond parties, beyond planks by William Galston and David Frum, introducing No Labels (also on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Meetup).

A single concern brings them together: the hyperpolarization of our politics that thwarts an adult conversation about our common future. A single goal unites them: to expand the space within which citizens and elected officials can conduct that conversation without fear of social or political retribution…

Here’s what it isn’t: It is not a nascent third-party movement. It is not a stalking-horse for an independent candidacy. And it is not a front for anyone’s agenda. In an act as old as America, citizens are coming together out of frustration and patriotism to give their country a better future.

The No Labels site says:

No LabelsNo Labels is a group of American citizens from across the country – Republicans, Democrats, and Independents – who are concerned about the extreme polarization of our politics, and the resulting breakdown of effective governance in Washington, DC. 
Politics can be carried out more effectively and progress can be made if we come together. The end goal, our shared political destiny, is the same: a successful, prosperous, and safe America. Together, we can bridge old divides and move America not left or right, but forward.

My buddy Bruce Morlan commented here earlier this week:

Rational, calm and cooler heads must cease being wallflowers at the political dance, must seize the floor, and must work together to mainstream and make happen a better vision of the future…

No Labels just might be a way to do this.

Want to meet with other Northfielders who are likewise interested?  Sign up for the No Labels Meetup in Northfield and we’ll figure a time and place to meet F2F.

News analyst Juan Williams fired by NPR

It’s all over the MSM, blogosphere and twittersphere today. MPR’s News Cut blog has a good overview: Should Juan Williams have been fired?

The story of the day today seems to be NPR’s firing of Juan Williams, who exercised the poor judgment to go on Bill O’Reilly’s show on Fox to admit to being concerned when he sees Muslims on an airplane, but cautioned O’Reilly not to brand Muslims as terrorists.

Lots of Fox and NPR fans in Northfield so this should be a good discussion.

Tonight's public hearing on revision of flood plain ordinance CANCELLED

The Planning Commission will NOT be holding a public hearing on the proposed revisions to the City’s flood plain ordinance at their meeting tonight; the item has been pulled from the agenda due to some jurisdictional requirement that was not met. (Nothing to do with the City of Northfield, its ordinances, or procedures.)

When I asked City Planner Dan Olson for details, he responded,

Apparently FEMA did not give one community in Dakota County the “full right of notice and appeal” to according to the federal process. As such, FEMA is now ruling that all communities in Dakota County have to stop their adoption process while FEMA attends to the procedural oversight for the one community. This will take approximately 1 year.

Just in case anyone was going to attend tonight’s meeting just for the public hearing….

Stand up and be counted

Census banner at the Northfield Library Census banner at the GBM Census flyer - City of Northfield
Census 2010 banners and posters are appearing around town so send in those forms. The City of Northfield has a Census PDF on its site with details on where to get a blank form and help filling it out.

Health care bill signed. VP Biden says it's a big fucking deal.

I would agree, even if you opposed it. See this post on Ben Smith’s blog on Politico, The mother of all Biden moments. And Press Secretary Robert Gibbs tweets that he agrees with VP Biden. Here’s the video:

Continue reading Health care bill signed. VP Biden says it’s a big fucking deal.

State of the Union, 2010

Barack ObamaPresident Barack Obama delivers his first State of the Union address tonight at 8 pm CT. 

Let’s critique the speech and his first year in office.

Deciphering the paradox of declining female happiness

happiness-cover-sshot The August publication of a 2007 paper titled The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness by Justin Wolfers and Betsey Stevenson has created a bit of a media storm recently. Wolfers lists some of the coverage in his NY Times’ Freakonomics blog post: Happiness Trends Lead to Some Strange Places. Strib columnist Katherine Kersten wrote about it last weekend: Does greater equality mean less happiness? The authors, however, "…are still quite puzzled about just what lies behind [the paradox]". I’ve no clue but then I’ve not yet discussed it with Robbie or any other Northfield women. Here’s my chance.

Obama’s school proposals challenge the education establishment; what will Northfield do?

nea-obamaI wonder how Northfield’s public education leaders will react to President Obama’s $4.35 billion "Race to the Top" fund competition. So far, the NEA is not happy. Among other reasons, they really don’t like charter schools, a fact noted by the Sunday Washington Post editorial titled Charter Success: Poor children learn. Teachers unions are not pleased (reprinted in the Strib today with the watered-down title More proof that charter schools work). More background: (continued)

Continue reading Obama’s school proposals challenge the education establishment; what will Northfield do?

Karl Rove to bring diversity to Northfield next week

I got this email from a local resident:

Karl Rove posterI think it would be interesting to post something about St. Olaf’s decision to bring in Karl Rove on October 1st to speak.  I am actually quite appalled that our hometown Lutheran college would do such a thing.  Ann Coulter was one thing- she’s an over the top media freak who makes money by being just so.  Karl Rove, kindly known as "Bush’s Brain" is a criminal with little regard for the law or the betterment of our society.  Frankly, I think he’s evil and should be in jail!

The slightly defaced poster on the wall of the GBM (my photo above) has more to say, as well as the blog post on Oleville, by the Political Awareness Committee (PAC) of the St. Olaf Student Government Association (SGA) . (continued)

Continue reading Karl Rove to bring diversity to Northfield next week

Obama’s speech to students: show it live

schoolbadge2I spoke with Northfield Supt. Chris Richardson this morning. He’ll have a statement on the District’s web site around noon, basically stating that the District is leaving it up to the classrooms teachers on whether or not to show President Obama’s speech to students live, recorded, or not at all. I think that’s the best approach, unlike the recommendation from Northfielder Charlie Kyte, executive director of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators, to show the speech later. I’m hoping teachers show it live, as events are always more compelling when they’re live. I still remember watching President Kennedy’s inaugural address live as an 8th grader. I suppose others remember President George H.W. Bush’s speech to students in 1991.

Continue reading Obama’s speech to students: show it live

Cash for Clunkers – Saaaaaweeeeeet!

cars-someecard Nicole Maloney Nicole Maloney of Sweet Pea’s Loft, has a new Cash for Clunkers (CARS) car – a Kia Rio. She managed to get her old POS into the dealer before it died.

I tried to qualify but my 1992 Camry doesn’t cut the mustard. The government sent me this Someecard, tho. Nice touch, Barry!

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