Daily Reformer: Walz to give out federal CARES Act money

Tasty lunchtime morsels

A gas flare from the Shell Chemical LP petroleum refinery illuminates the sky on Aug. 21, 2019 in Norco, Louisiana. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

Good day. 

Wouldn’t be an election year without a Democratic circular firing squad, or a Daily Reformer without some inside buzz. 

Two DFL sources expressed frustration about how the special legislative session ended in the early morning hours Saturday. 

I’m told there was a deal to be had on distribution of federal CARES Act funding, which is more than $841 million, plus a $58 million supplemental budget that included a pay increase for personal care aides, considered hazard pay for COVID-19. (Though in reality these hard working people — many of them women of color — are badly underpaid even during normal times.) 

Gov. Tim Walz blew up that deal in early morning hours, imploring DFL lawmakers to walk unless there was movement on police reform from Senate Republicans. 

So they wound up without police reform or the $58 million. Then after telling Democrats at the Capitol they would continue using the $841 million CARES Act funding as leverage with Senate Republicans to get a better deal, the administration immediately started planning to distribute that money on their own. 

Which they’re going to do today, according to a source briefed on the announcement. 

(In the journalism trade we call that a buried lede.) 

Which is their last bit of leverage with Senate Republicans, who need to bring that money home to their districts. 

So, no $58 million, which means no raise for PCA workers. No police reform. Leverage gone. 

A DFL source referred to Walz’s decision making as a feckless pursuit of popularity and lacking strategy: “It’s an emotional reaction in the moment.” 

“It’s a poor man’s Trump White House,” the source said. “Without someone giving him approval, he’s paralyzed.”


A Walz World person scoffed at the Legislature and its process: “It’s terrible governance. You can’t do these things at 4 a.m.,” the source said, referring to the early morning negotiating Saturday. Which was the result of the arbitrary one week deadline set by the Republican Senate, to which the House had no choice but to accede.   

“It’s nonsense. It’s crazy. Why are we making decisions at 4 a.m.?”

There was no deal to be had, the source said, before unleashing a torrent of invective at the Legislature. 

Meanwhile, over at Minneapolis City Hall, the “abolish police” caucus is moving ahead with a charter amendment that would replace MPD with something new, Deena Winter scoops. They say they have a veto-proof majority. But do they have the nerve? 

The Strib has their own story, albeit without details of the charter amendment. The Strib story focuses — justifiably so, as far as it goes — a lot on the backlash to abolish police as the city withstands a wave of shootings in the past month. (Rilyn Eischens has some MPD data on shootings and the numbers are up on injury/fatality shootings considerably this June compared to recent Junes.) 

No doubt Mayor Jacob Frey is pushing hard behind the scenes to prevent the charter amendment Deena reported on. Its passage would essentially be like a “no confidence” vote one might see in a European parliament. 

Bizarrely, he’s not quoted in the Strib story, which leads me to believe there was some heavy behind-the-scenes spinning going on. How else to explain a story about the future of the Police Department without a quote from the mayor who has authority over it or even any indication they talked to him?

OK, enough meta media analysis. (And an obligatory disclosure about my old shop: My spouse works there.)   

Senate GOP Leader Paul Gazelka is announcing Minneapolis crime hearings as I write “to determine accountability for a recent marked increase in crime, including rioting, destruction of private business, and destruction of city and state properties.” (At least a couple of the rioters are from up north where he lives, but anyway I’m sure this will be a good faith effort to help the people of the cities and not in any way election year politicking.)

Also in the Reformer, Rilyn Eischens blew up the Internet when she unearthed a podcast from March on which MPD union boss Bob Kroll let his guard down and was very dismissive of civilian review of police. It’s must read, especially in light of this week’s Minneapolis Police Federation Reputation Restoration Tour 2020. 

Rilyn also wrote up the big news that Attorney General Keith Ellison is suing oil companies, alleging they misled Minnesotans about the threat of climate change. Ellison is such a more activist attorney general than his two previous predecessors and you love to see it. 

Jose Alonso Munoz has a guest commentary on the Supreme Court’s DACA decision. He’s a Minnesota Dreamer who expresses relief for the reprieve but anxiety about what’s to come should Trump remain president. 

Protesters, or whatever you wanna call them, not only tore down the statue of an abolitionist in Madison, they also assaulted a progressive gay state senator, the Journal Sentinel reports. (His politics and sexual orientation are irrelevant — no one should be attacked — but it’s worth noting to show how utterly stupid these people are.) Stop it. You’re not helping. 

Speaking of awful people, some local politician in Arizona at an “anti-mask rally” (?!) mockingly exclaimed “I can’t breathe” before taking off his mask, ridiculing George Floyd’s final words. 

While a guy running for state Senate to replace Sen. Scott Jensen thinks George Floyd’s family “got accommodations the average Joe doesn’t get” because they were able to have a funeral despite COVID restrictions. Lucky them. 

More daft: John Reinan has a great and utterly American story about a bar in Sauk Rapids suing UniteCloud — which is a racial reconciliation group in central Minnesota — because UniteCloud says mean things about them on the Internet, because the bar is big on confederate paraphernalia. 

So let’s get this straight: You have a bar in the state that was first to send volunteers to fight for the Union Army, but you celebrate the traitorous slave confederacy. Sure. And then people point this out, which gives you a sad and a mad, and so you … sue them. 

The dry punchline from Reinan: 

Hogrefe was convicted of a felony in 2011 after he ran down a black man with his truck on a St. Cloud street. 

Wednesday I asked you for music recommendations during a walk that I wasn’t able to take yesterday, and I’ll share those tomorrow. Thanks to all who contributed and keep em coming. 

For now, I’ll leave you with a bit of Toni Morrison I heard while watching the Mark Twain Prize ceremony for Dave Chappelle, which he apparently read during the SNL table read the day after the 2016 election: 

“This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There’s no time for despair, no place for self pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. This is how civilizations heal.”

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Have a great day all!