Daily Reformer: Back to school

Rodney Dangerfield in "Back to School."

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Gov. Tim Walz will announce plans for schools at 2 p.m. today. Expect it to be localized, based on case counts in your county. 

Totally normal: President Donald Trump floated the idea of delaying the election, falsely claiming mail-in voting due to the pandemic will result in voter fraud. Election Day is in federal law and it can’t be changed except by act of Congress. Even his authoritarian ranting will have deleterious effects on the nation, as they will de-legitimize the result should he lose. 

Authoritarians often use emergencies — artificial and/or real — to create chaos and strengthen their hand. 

I don’t know why I bother but let’s just play the “What if Obama did this?” game for a minute. Now watch as the national media suddenly covers delaying the election as “the debate over delaying the election.”   

The Minneapolis Charter Commission had an alternative amendment to the city charter that would have eliminated the Police Department’s minimum staffing requirement, but the commission rejected it. Deena Winter reports. Next week they take up the City Council’s charter amendment to eliminate the Police Department and replace it, which could go to the voters as soon as November. 

Reader C.F. was displeased at some of my descriptions of Charter Commission members’, er, experience. Edited for space, clarity and ad hominem

These Charter Commission people are really on the hot seat and should be respected for the very difficult job that has been thrown at them.  I personally think it is a good idea to have different perspectives in a group based on age, gender, race, even political party!  I also think the Charter Commission is a good counterweight to the extreme youth and inexperience of our current City Council. I know (commissioners) weren’t elected but neither are members of the (U.S.) Supreme Court. I actually feel better knowing that the Charter Commission is above politics, that they are NOT elected and as such are answerable to no one. We need to put aside cynicism and assume that these people volunteered to serve on this commission because they truly care about the city of Minneapolis. 

Fair point. Indeed, as I wrote last week, I’m a fan of Federalist 10 and some of the anti-majoritarianism of the U.S. Constitution, which seeks to temper the passions of the crowd. 

But just as we would expect the U.S. Supreme Court to be at least somewhat representative of the American story — it’s not: they’re all Harvard or Yale — so too we would expect the Charter Commission to be somewhat representative of the city of Minneapolis. 

The backdrop of the Charter Commission’s deliberations: The city’s nightmare summer of crime continues, with a good Samaritan gunned down after he tried to help a woman who had been robbed, Libor Jany reports.  

Some good news, however: Police say they have identified the infamous “umbrella man” of the George Floyd riots, who smashed windows at the AutoZone and is blamed for inciting rioting on Lake Street. He has ties to white supremacist groups and was found after a tipster emaiiled, Libor Jany reports

Mayor Jacob Frey closed bar areas of drinking and eating establishments in response to recent outbreaks and rising case counts around the country, Max Nesterak reports

Statement from Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association Executive Director Tony Chesak

“Broad brushing the entire industry in Minneapolis is overreaching. Most bars and restaurants are complying, which is what we’re hearing from the regulators. Punishing those who are complying is uncalled for.”

Reformer contributor Tony Webster: 19 days after I published this story [in the Reformer] about a @MnDPS_BCA database with personal details on the people who protect critical infrastructure like power plants being breached, they finally sent out a notice to those people, confirming my story.

The U.S. economy shrank 9.5% last quarter and the GOP Senate doesn’t want to do the $600 per week enhanced unemployment benefits, even though it’s going to trash their own reelection prospects. 

Related: Manu Raju reports that Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse “whacks (Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin” as a ‘big-government Democrat’ and says ‘Democrats and Trumpers’ are trying to outspend each other in stimulus talks.” 

This led to some speculation that Sasse and maybe also Sen. Ted Cruz see the writing on the wall and are now beginning the traditional Republican turn to austerity once a Democrat is in the White House, and positioning themselves for 2024. (Another hallowed Republican D.C. tradition — deficit panic and austerity when Democrats are in the White House; nevermind: fiscal profligacy when Republicans control the executive branch.)

Dems passed two major childcare bailout bills out of the U.S. House, with GOP Rep. Pete Stauber of northeast Minnesota voting ‘yay’ on both, Allison Stevens reports from our D.C. bureau. I found this striking data: 

More than 400,000 Minnesota children are in paid child care, and the cost is a significant burden for young families. The average annual cost of infant center-based care is 139% of the cost of tuition and fees at a four-year Minnesota college, and center-based infant care is nearly one-fourth of the state median income, according to a report by the Committee for Economic Development of the Conference Board, a business group.

And yet childcare workers — most of them women, many women of color — are also severely underpaid. 

Re: Stimulus and the extra $600, Reformer intern Avi Waldman has a piece on a Yale study that shows the extra money did not keep people from looking for work. Study uses data from Homebase — a scheduling and time clock software company. 

This is a very good commentary by an emeritus St. Thomas professor laying out very clearly and simply all the ways that race and racism still play a predominant role in the structure of our society. The headline is provocative and doesn’t match the piece very well, but whatevs. 

With the CEOs of the tech giants on Capitol Hill yesterday defending their companies from allegations of antitrust violations, I got to thinking about whether we have too much market concentration and market power in a lot of industries. 

See this (warning: very wonky) piece about market power from the Booth School at the University of Chicago. The piece does not conclude one way or the other that we have a market power problem but lays out the stakes: 

If markets are indeed becoming less competitive, that could mean not only paying higher prices for worse products, but also enduring lower wages, fewer innovations, and less business investment, as well as a smaller, slower-growing economy. 

The next attorney general will be extremely important for airing out the lawlessness of the current White House. But antitrust will also be an important issue for the next attorney general. I can think of a Minnesota senator who has taken an interest in the issue and endorsed Joe Biden the night before Super Tuesday. (Which was like years ago, right?)

Finally, we were at 2 Scoops on Selby (thumbs up) sharing a chocolate and banana ice cream and a cup of strawberry ice cream and I asked the 3 year old which was his favorite. 

Answer: “Both.” 

Right answer!

The bike ride home was a struggle but we made it. 

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Have a great day all. JPC