Category Archives: National

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

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.
Well, people are very disappointed for the closure of the building. However, there’s this new rumor that building might turn into a commercial office space for rent.

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