Tonight’s “community event” sponsored by TakeActionMinnesota and AFSCME was sparsely populated. The Atwood Center Theatre, which hosted the event, can hold at least 150 people with a better than average possibility of holding 200-225. Tonight’s event attendance, includng the 5 organizers and the 6 conservatives in the room, was 43. Let me repeat that. Tonight’s attendance was 43 people if you include the 5 union organizers.
The event was supposed to start at 5:30 but was pushed back 10 minutes “to give our guests enough time” to show up. What wasn’t missing were 2 empty chairs in the middle of the stage. Finally, one of the organizers stepped up to the podium and got the event started, saying that they hoped Rep. Banaian and Sen. Pederson would arrive by 6:00.
The second speaker was Elianne Farhat. She identified herself as the “Political & Community Organizer at the Minnesota AFL-CIO.” She spoke about the need for Republicans to compromise with Gov. Dayton. She was mostly a pleasant voice but without alot of substance.
The third speaker, Kendal Killian, MAPE’s Political Affairs Coordinator, apparently had the responsibility of reciting the talking points from the last day before the shutdown negotiations. He said that Gov. Dayton had made a proposal in the morning and that the Republicans’ proposal on June 30, 2011, the last day of the 2010-2011 biennium, had too many divisive issues in it. According to Mr. Killian, Republicans wanted Gov. Dayton to “sign off on their redistricting map, Photo ID and banning cloning”, giving “Gov. Dayton no choice but to reject their proposal.”
According to this documentation, none of the things that Mr. Killian said were included in the Republicans’ final budget counterproposal were actually in the final GOP counterproposal.
Prior to the event, three gentlemen were talking about how little they’d heard about the event. When asked if they’d heard anything about the event on local radio or read anything about it in the newspaper, they unanimously responded by saying that they hadn’t. One gentleman said that he thought it was odd that this type of an event hadn’t been publicized more.
After the event, Ms. Farhat spoke about how civil and respectful the meeting was, finishing by saying that a conversation had gotten started in the Atwood Theatre. The spirit of compromise and genteelness was broken when it was said that “it would have been possible to get a better conversation started had there not been as many lies told on stage.”
At that point, Ms. Farhat asked what lies the person had heard. What the person specifically mentioned was that Sen. Pederson and Rep. Banaian hadn’t gotten invited. Ms. Farhat returned with a local organizer who stated emphatically that she’d “watched while the calls were made.”
This unidentified local organizer said that she knew “Rep. Pederson” very well. It was then pointed out that she’d mispronounced Sen. Pederson’s name, that his name was pronounced Peet-er-son, not Pet-er-son. A little later in the dispute, the local organizer was challenged as to whether she knew Sen. Pederson well, considering the fact that she’d mispronounce his name repeatedly and that she was still refering to him as Rep. Pederson, not Sen. Pederson.
When Sen. Pederson, Rep. Gottwalt and Rep. Banaian hosted a townhall meeting at the Haven Township hall, there were more than 75 people stuffed into a tiny room, most of them demanding that the three Republicans compromise with Gov. Dayton “rather than protect the richest 2%.”
That night’s participants were animated and angry. Tonight’s event attendees were almost dispirited. The difference in attitude was dramatically different.
Finally, Mr. Killian announced that they were organizing a “Ring of Fire lit-drop” for this Saturday morning. He said that they’d be covering all the territory that’s in Rep. Banaian’s current district as well as areas that might be in his new district. Mr. Killian then said “Hopefully, this lit-drop will set the table for defeating them next year.
It’s amazing how things went from starting with talk of defeating Rep. Banaian and Sen. Pederson to finishing with “starting a conversation” with the community.
It would be interesting to hear the report from the event organizers to their bosses in St. Paul. If they were honest about tonight’s sparse crowd, they’d give their bosses heartburn because sparse crowds and little energy don’t win budget battles and they don’t win elections.