Goodnews Minnesota: Politics Outreach


(Voter Guide)


  • publishes online voter guide Morris Sun Tribune Published Wednesday, October 29, 2008

  • "The Morris Sun Tribune has published an online voter guide for the citizens of Morris, Hancock and Stevens County.
    To learn more about the candidates and races on the ballot on Nov. 4 in west central Minnesota, go to:

    Voter Guide

    The voter guide has everything you need to know about the candidates and issues on your ballot for federal, state and local races in Stevens County.
    You can review the individual candidates in your county, mark your choice for each race and then print out your own election ballot guide to take with you to the polls.
    For questions and/or comments, you may e-mail:> or call (320) 589-2525."


    -County Commissioners

  • Jail project focus of county candidate forum Morris Sun Tribune Published Saturday, October 11, 2008 By Tom Larson Sun Tribune

  • "The Stevens County jail and courthouse remodeling project was the primary talking point for commissioner candidates Thursday during a “Meet the Candidates” forum at the Morris American Legion.
    Candidates for county seats, Morris City Council, the Morris Area School Board, and House District 11A discussed various issues during the three-hour forum.
    Incumbent county commissioner Larry Sayre is being challenged by Donny Wohlers, and Craig Murphy and Ron Staples are vying for the seat being vacated by the retiring Neal Hofland. Incumbent Paul Watzke is running unopposed.
    Wohlers said that, as a Morris businessman, he understands the financial hardships people -- particularly elderly and those on fixed incomes -- are facing due to increasing taxes and a stagnant economy, and he also said the county’s budgeting problems would only intensify as the state faces additional funding cuts and more unfunded mandates.
    “Maybe we need someone who will go to the Capitol and yell at them and tell them to take some things back that they’re laying down on the county,” Wohlers said.
    Sayre touted his experience, first as the county’s sheriff for 21 years, and as a board incumbent. He also noted the difficulty in the state pushing services down to the county level, such as public defender funding for child protection cases, and moving shorter-term state offenders into the custody of county jails instead of the prison system.
    Sayre said he has helped institute cost-saving sharing between counties, such as the Veterans’ Services Officer, and the three-county public health service -- Sayre is leading an effort to expand the service to a five-county operation by initiating merger talks with Pope and Douglas counties.
    Watzke said his first term was a “tremendous education,” and that he wanted to see through unfinished business. At two points, he also mentioned his involvement in organizing Stevens FORWARD!, a county-wide effort to identify ways to solve problems and enhance various aspects of the county’s quality of life.
    Staples said he chose to run because good people were involved in county operations and “I’d like to keep it going that way.”
    Later in the forum, he noted that his father, Wally, was a county commissioner for more than three decades and that he grew up hearing and learning about county issues.
    Murphy was unable to attend the forum. In a letter, Murphy said he had to tend to his mother, who was dying. In canvassing the county, he stated, he has been expounding on the virtues and collaborative nature of alternative energy, promoting local foods and the Stevens FORWARD! initiatives.
    “I have a renewed zeal to serve in the capacity of county commissioner,” Murphy stated.
    He cited several boards he’s worked on, and that he’s had to think creatively about problem solving as an organic farmer.
    “I will bring this ingenuity to this position,”he stated.
    Discussion of the county’s $15 million building project -- which includes a jail, Law Enforcement Center and courthouse remodeling -- dominated the county panel’s discussions.
    Sayre and Watzke, both of whom voted for the project, said the board researched the jail issue for several years in various scenarios. The 40-bed concept made the most economical sense.
    The county is risking serious liability issues the way prisoners are now restrained and transported among the public and staff in the courthouse, Sayre said.
    No county commissioners or law enforcement officers are pleased about operating jails, but state statute requires all counties to have jail facilities, he said.
    “They’re a pain in the rear but they’re a necessary evil,” Sayre said.
    Watzke said no commissioner likes to vote to increase taxes on themselves and their constituents, but “I believe (the building project) is the right thing to do.”
    To a related question about a 2006 voter referendum that rejected a jail building plan, Watzke called the referendum “ill-conceived,” noting that because of the way the tax burden would have fallen, there was no way it would pass. In fact, he said, jail referendums in the state are typically never attempted, and it’s why the state gave counties the ability to bond for them.
    “As the story of this building project unfolds, I think you’ll find more value in it,” Watzke said.
    Wohlers said his research into jails in the surrounding area indicated to him that Stevens County could have built a 72-hour holding facility at much less expense. The tax increase is going to hit county residents hard.
    “I think we could have gone back to the drawing board, come up with a little less money and got a project done,” Wohlers said.
    Staples said “I think we could have got something done for less,” and that increased taxes and an unstable world economy are hurting people.
    “It’s going to be tough for them,” Staples said."


  • 11A candidates put bite into Legion forum Morris Sun Tribune Published Friday, October 10, 2008 By Tom Larson Sun Tribune

  • "The House District 11A candidates had a half-hour drive between a TV debate in Appleton and a candidate forum in Morris Thursday night.
    The down time didn’t dull their political knives.
    DFL candidate Bruce Campbell took after incumbent Republican Torrey Westrom, and Westrom responded in kind. Independence Party candidate Dave Holman didn’t always stay on point, but injected some levity into the half-hour session at the Morris American Legion.
    The District 11A debate was one of four between candidates for the Stevens County Board of Commissioners, the Morris City Council and the Morris Area School Board at a “Meet the Candidates” forum sponsored by the VFW, Legion and AmVets auxiliaries and the League of Women Voters Stevens County.
    See Saturday’s Sun Tribune and an updated story on this Web site on Friday afternoon for reports on the county, city and school discussions.
    In his introduction, Westrom praised City of Morris officials for allocating a portion of increased state aid received this year to reduce city property taxes in its proposed 2009 budget.
    Campbell introduced himself by criticizing Westrom for bashing Democrats, telling the Legion audience that “Republicans haven’t done the job for you.”
    He said Westrom let state residents down by not supporting a controversial gas tax that ultimately passed, for not supporting an amendment on this year’s ballot designating funds for clean water, parks and the arts, and for not supporting an increased minimum wage.
    Campbell said some people are working two or three jobs to make ends meet and Republicans don’t want to help, noting later that Westrom also voted against an increased income tax on corporations.
    “What the heck is that about?” Campbell said.
    “It’s not realistic to think we’re working our way out of this deficit,” he said.
    Westrom said Campbell was incorrect on the corporate income tax issue in that he voted to reduce some taxes but not eliminate them. He also stated that he voted against the gas tax because it did not contain adequate measures to ensure reform in the transportation department and perpetuated the “same old inefficiencies.”
    “He’s for it,” Westrom said of Campbell. “I’m not.”
    Taxpayers also will receive relief in the form of a 3.9 percent cap on tax levies, although some local government officials in the state criticize it, Westrom said.
    Westrom suggested streamlining the complicated task of contesting property value assessments as a way of helping property owners reduce their tax burden.
    “When values go up the tax goes up fast, and when it goes down (the tax) should go down just as fast,” Westrom said.
    When the subject of the amendment calling for a 3/8ths of a percent sales tax increase for clean water and arts was broached again, Campbell said he supported it but that it didn’t provide enough money to clean up increasingly polluted waters, and he wasn’t thrilled that the state would have discretion on how a large portion of the money raised is spent.
    To that, Westrom accused Campbell of “talking out of both sides of your mouth.”
    “You can’t say you support it, and then three questions later say it was a bad bill,” Westrom said, adding that he believed other bills introduced over the last 10 years were better but that they died in committees.
    Programs to clean up the environment are critical, Westrom said, but it can’t be at the expense of rural areas. He noted the JOBZ program, which he claimed was in the crosshairs for elimination by metro legislators until he and other rural lawmakers said “enough” and fought to save it.
    Holman said he has a simple solution to ensuring the amendment money would be spent property: “Hire honest people.”
    “Somebody has to be put in charge and they have to know what they’re doing.”
    When the candidates were asked what voters should remember about them, Holman got serious for a moment. He had the audience, as well as Westrom and Campbell, laughing several times with some off-topic jokes, but he mentioned several times the need for more state help for schools. He closed by saying that he would be remembered by insisting that “all requirements made by the state will be funded by the state.”
    Campbell called himself “an education kind of guy,” and that it was vital for Minnesota youth to compete in a growing global marketplace.
    Westrom hinted that he would push for education funding reform.
    “We have to change the formula,” he said."

    -Congress: U.S. District Representative (#7)

  • 7th District: Farm bill dispute one issue in race Morris Sun Tribune Published Thursday, October 09, 2008

  • "ST. PAUL – Glen Menze picks at Collin Peterson's biggest accomplishment – herding the 2008 farm bill to passage, and repassage over a presidential veto.
    Menze, a Republican trying for the second time to unseat western Minnesota's Democratic congressman, complained that the farm bill contains too much pork, but said it did not help pork and other livestock producers.
    "It really picked winners and losers," Menze said. "If you are in livestock, you not only didn't gain anything – there wasn't really anything in there for hog and beef – but you found out that the disaster program, for example, is going to require a lot more money.”
    Veteran lawmaker Peterson, finishing his second year as chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, said the farm bill was a good compromise.
    "There wasn't any pork in there," he said. "We had no earmarks in the farm bill that passed the House."
    However, senators insisted on some earmarks – funding for specific programs.
    "It was the price I had to pay to get the bill passed," Peterson said. "That is just how the Senate operates. I fought it as long as I could."
    Such relatively minor disputes illustrate the 7th Congressional District race, where Menze and Peterson compete to represent a large chunk of western Minnesota from the Canadian border south almost to Iowa. The two are seeking a job paying $169,300 annually.
    Peterson is known as one of the House's most conservative Democrats – and 13 years ago helped form the Blue Dog coalition of conservative and moderate Democrats.
    Menze, a former farmer and like Peterson an accountant, is not as strict a conservative as Republicans often put up to fight Peterson, but on most issues he is to Peterson's right.
    The federal government should offer disaster insurance to farmers, Menze said, instead of the current subsidies farmers receive. At some point, he added, private insurance companies should take over the program.
    Farmers could take out the type of insurance they want – flood, tornado, pest, etc. – under the Menze plan.
    "In a farm bill, what we really should be doing, is providing affordable risk-management tools," Menze said.
    Menze's goal is to get rid of subsidies, although he did not say that was possible immediately.
    "I am interested in the parts of the ag bill that we use as a carrot that we use people to do the environmentally right things to do on their property," he gave as an example of government's role.
    Peterson said southern congressmen prevented as big a change in farm policy as he would have liked.
    "Farm bills are evolutionary, not revolutionary," he said.
    A new voluntary program is the biggest advancement in the new farm bill, Peterson said. It would allow farmers to enroll in the program that guarantees crop revenue equaling 90 percent of that obtained the previous two years.
    While he complained about Peterson's farm bill, Menze also paid the incumbent a compliment. "On ag issues, he is effective."
    The two western Minnesota candidates came close to agreeing on the financial institution bailout bill. Peterson voted against both versions debated in the House, and still opposes it. Menze said he might have voted for the measure, but would have much preferred to see private money spent to rescue troubled banks.
    "It is almost like saying things are so bad that only the government can solve this problem," Menze said. "When it comes to financial matters, I know there is private money out there that can solve these problems. ... It is not a real easy choice on this one. If they are going to do it, I hope they are going to do it right."
    In an editorial page column Peterson wrote after the second bailout vote, he said the bill was "very unlikely to solve the actual problem."
    Spending in the bill is not funded, he said, so just makes the country's national debt larger.
    "The bailout bill will probably add billions more, though the president and others say lots of it 'will be paid back.'" Peterson said. "I certainly hope so, but I’m not optimistic about it."
    On other issues:
    • Peterson said that on energy issues, he works with chairmen of committees with jurisdiction on the subject so he can influence funding more ethanol research. Grocery organizations, livestock groups and others opposed to ethanol subsidies "have tried to gin up opposition, but they are not making progress," he said.
    • Menze calls for tax cuts and reducing the number of federal mandates on small businesses.
    • Disputes over the Iraq war seem to be resolving themselves, Peterson said. Just about 50 representatives, out of 435, are calling for leaving Iraq immediately, "but they don't have the influence they used to have," the congressman said.
    • "We need to know who is an American," Menze said, seeking federal laws that make stopping illegal immigration a priority.
    • The next foreign affairs concern, Peterson said, is Afghanistan, which "is flaring up to be the big issue." There appears to be congressional agreement to send more troops there, he added.
    • Even if the recently enacted bailout law helps the economy now, Medicare will pay out more than it takes in by 2012 and Social Security will face a similar fate five years later, Menze said, hitting the economy hard. Those potential events need immediate action to ensure those two federal programs are reformed, he said.
    • Peterson said his western Minnesota district is in better economic shape, and in less need of federal help, than many in the country. "We didn't run the price of houses up way beyond what they should have been," he said. "Farmers have money. We are doing pretty well."
    • Menze seeks more oil refineries in the Midwest and, like most Republicans, wants to see more off-shore oil drilling. But overall, he said, he wants the market, not government, to decide where the energy industry goes.
    • One of Peterson's rural goals is to find a way to get more Internet broadband capability. And he said he is working with Transportation Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar of Minnesota to make sure rural Minnesota gets transportation and other infrastructure funds it needs.
    • One of Menze's complaints is "Washington has gone away from being statesmen. It has become so partisan there." But Peterson said that may be an overstatement: "It is not as bad as bad as you see on television. It is bad, but not as bad.""


  • Stevens County GOP-Republicans

    (League of Women Voters)


  • 2.9 million Minnesotans show up to vote at the polls, Posted at: 11/05/2008 08:10:25 AM By: Jeff Fett (

  • "MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - It was another runaway year for Minnesota voter turnout, but it doesn't appear to be quite the showing that election officials hoped for.
    Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said he wanted to get "80 in '08" - meaning 80 percent of eligible voters.
    With 99 percent of precincts reporting, it appeared that about 2.9 million people cast ballots. With about 3.71 million eligible voters, that's about 77.5 percent turnout.
    Minnesota turnout hasn't topped 80 percent since 1956, when 83 percent of eligible voters showed up. That was a presidential year that saw Dwight D. Eisenhower win re-election over Adlai Stevenson.
    (Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)"


  • Christian talk hosts reflect on Christianity at the RNC, Published by Minnesota Christian Chronicle — October 2008 (Minnesota Christian Chronicle) MCC staff report

  • "ST. PAUL — The protestors, politicians, celebrities, delegates, media members and most others associated with the 2008 Republican National Convention have gone home. The major news headlines during the convention ranged from arrested protestors, to the possibility of a downsized event, to Sarah Palin’s debut as the vice presidential nominee.
    But what role did faith—and specifically Christianity—play during the three-day event, which concluded Sept. 4? Lee Michaels and Jeff Shell, co-hosts of KKMS Live on AM 980 reflect on their experience broadcasting live from the RNC.
    MCC: What was your involvement with the RNC?
    Michaels: We were broadcasting live all four days of the RNC. We were also simulcasting our show on our sister station KSLR in San Antonio, Texas.
    Shell: We had a chance to interview a fascinating list of guests including: Sen. Norm Coleman and Rep. Michele Bachmann; Robert Mosbacher, general chairman of the McCain Campaign; Pastor Mike Smith, who ministered to the protesters; Orson Swindle, John McCain’s cell mate at the “Hanoi Hilton”; Gus Booth, Minnesota Delegate and the pastor of Warroad Community Church who is challenging the IRS on free speech; and Sallai Meridor, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States.
    MCC: How would you describe how faith in general was treated during the convention?
    Michaels: KKMS was one of the only media outlets covering it with a Christian worldview. We were interviewed a couple of times from other media outlets asking us about our take on it as Christians—specifically regarding the selection of Gov. Sarah Palin as John McCain’s running mate.
    MCC: What about Christianity specifically?
    Michaels: There was more interest in Christianity because of the Palin pick.
    Shell: Journalists were interested in our response to the news that Bristol Palin was pregnant out of wedlock. Based on the questions, they seemed to think we would be judgmental against this. We had to school them about how it was more important in the way Christians respond to a problem, and that Christian families are not immune to these types of problems.
    MCC: Are there any moments of the convention in particular that stand out in your mind in regard to Christianity from the stage? How did the crowd react?
    Shell: I can’t recall the specifics, but I know the crowd responded enthusiastically to a reference to [Palin’s] faith in her acceptance speech.
    MCC: McCain has a reputation of being “closed-off” about his faith. Did he do anything to contradict that image during the convention?
    Shell: Nothing overt other than the selection of Palin as his VP, which was an indicator of his level of comfort with a person who’s faith is at the core of what influences her worldview. He also shared his P.O.W. story about coming into contact with a Christian guard who provided him physical relief from a torturous confinement and how that impacted him.
    MCC: Having now been through the convention and having had time to process your experience, how big a factor will faith be in the race for president?
    Michaels: In my opinion, the selection of Gov. Palin energized the conservative base and got the evangelical’s excited about the campaign. I had some issues with McCain, but I would have voted for him because of the possible Supreme Court nominations that our next president will make. But, adding Palin to the ticket was a big plus.
    Faith will be a factor in this election because evangelicals now have a ticket that is 100 percent pro-life and a vice presidential candidate who will fight for the defense of marriage and speaks out about her faith.
    Shell: The influence and impact of evangelicals was made evident by two events—Rick Warren’s Forum at Saddleback Church and the selection of Sarah Palin as the vice presidential candidate. Warren’s Forum at Saddleback Church did much to make clear the differences in the faith and values of the two candidates, making evangelicals more comfortable with McCain and skeptical of Obama’s legislative agenda. The response to the “life” question was pivotal.
    The selection of Sarah Palin sucked the oxygen from the Obama campaign, giving him no bounce from the convention and causing McCain skeptics such as James Dobson to state he could now vote for McCain."

    Campaign for:

    -Voting on these amendments:

  • November ballot to include amendment Written by Calla Bjorklund Friday, 17 October 2008 (University Register)

  • "On November 4, Minnesotans will have the opportunity to vote for the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment (CWLLA). This amendment to the state constitution would be a prominent move to preserve the natural areas of Minnesota, as well as the arts and culture.
    If the amendment passes, it will be in effect for the next 25 years. The amendment would increase the tax rate by three-eights of one percent on taxable sales. This increase would begin on July 1, 2009 (with the money beginning to be available in 2010) and would last until 2034. This slight increase in taxes would raise approximately 291 million dollars per year. The Department of Revenue estimates that this tax increase would cost the average Minnesota household an additional 60 dollars per year.
    The CWLLA would fund the protection of several of Minnesota’s assets. The money raised by this amendment would be divided into four funds: the Clean Water Fund, the Outdoor Heritage Fund, the Cultural Heritage Fund, and the Parks and Trails Fund. According to, 40 percent of Minnesota’s lakes and rivers are polluted. A projected 100 million dollars (33 percent of total funding) would go into the Clean Water Fund. The Clean Water Fund would be used to clean up polluted rivers, lakes, and streams, as well as fund protection of drinking water. The cleaning up of polluted water would, in turn, protect the organisms living in Minnesota’s lakes, streams, and rivers, and it would keep these areas safe for swimming and wildlife-watching.
    The Outdoor Heritage Fund would also receive 100 million dollars (33 percent). This initiative would offer protection to the forests, parks, and natural trails of Minnesota. Protection of these areas would ensure the survival of wildlife habitats, as well as the environment for hunting, gaming, and fishing. Because Minnesota is growing so rapidly, it is projected that one million acres of wooded land, farmland, and natural areas will be lost over the next 25 years. The money from this fund would help to minimize this number and care for natural areas used for recreation.
    Fifty-nine million dollars (19.75 percent) would go to the Cultural Heritage Fund, which would focus on the arts, art education, access to art, and the preservation of Minnesota’s history and cultural heritage. Right now, the funding for the Regional Arts Council is about ten million dollars per year, meaing that in the first year alone, it would increase to 30 million dollars, an effective tripling of the current funding. Currently, the arts make up only ten million dollars of the state’s annual budget of 35 billion dollars. However, the arts almost always lose funding in a time of deficit. There is also no direct state funding (aside from ordinary education funding) for arts education. The CWLLA would set aside a portion of its funding for arts education, which, among other things, will decrease the number of schools cutting arts programs when money gets tight.
    Finally, the Parks and Trails Fund would be endowed with 14.25 percent of funding, or 43 million dollars. This money would go to support parks and trails of statewide or regional significance.
    If this amendment passes, the Minnesota state legislature will oversee how the funds are used for culture and the environment. In addition, since it creates its own revenue, the amendment will not take away from the rest of the state’s budget.
    Unfortunately, a large percentage of Minnesotans have not heard about the amendment. Leaving the amendment question blank on the ballot will count as a vote against the proposal.
    Despite this, Ken Martin, campaign manager for Vote Yes (the group pushing for the passage of the amendment), is confident. “People care about the outdoors,” said Martin. “They care about their water in this state, and they’re going to do the right thing.”"


  • Minn. constitutional amendment passes , Posted at: 11/05/2008 03:46:34 AM (

  • "..With 94 percent of precincts reporting, the amendment had drawn about 1.55 million votes in favor and about 1.1 million "no" or blank votes..."

    -MN Supreme Court Justices

    Minnesota Supreme Court Justice 3

  • Justice Paul Anderson

  • Tim Tingelstad

  • " I believe that justice is served when judges fear God and love the people, and as a Minnesota Supreme Court Justice, I will be impartial to the parties, while partial to the original intent of the Constitution..."
    Minnesota Supreme Court Justice 4
  • Justice Lorie Gildea

  • *a UMM (Morris, MN) connection
  • Deborah Hedlund
  • -U.S. Representatives


    #3 Ashwin Madia (D) vs. Erik Paulsen (R)
    Minnesota’s 3rd district race could be a tossup BY Devin Henry PUBLISHED: 10/13/2008 (
    "DFL candidate Ashwin Madia was the first of the candidates to take part in a week-long Humphrey Institute forum with the 3rd district candidates with his appearance on campus Monday.
    Madia said his district, which includes cities such as Edina, Bloomington and Minnetonka , is ready for something more than just electing a new candidate.
    “We need to try something new,” he said. “I think that’s the reason that the 3rd District is going to get behind change.”
    Madia, 30, is an Iraq War veteran who has made ending the War a priority. He’s also a former Minnesota Student Association president who said it’s important to identify why college costs are as high as they are.
    “To me, cost shouldn’t be a reason why smart kids decide not to go to school,” he said.
    Republican candidate Erik Paulsen, 43, is a veteran in the Minnesota House of Representatives, serving as majority leader in the past."

  • Congresswoman Michele Bachmann

  • "About Michele Michele Bachmann
    Elected in 2006, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is the first Republican woman to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Minnesota. In only her first term, Congresswoman Bachmann developed a reputation as a \"principled reformer\" who stays true to her conservative beliefs while pushing for real reform of the broken ways of Washington. And, her strong advocacy for her constituents earned her a second term in Congress in November 2008...

    Related Sites:

  • Election 2008: Who People in Minnesota Should Vote For, October 16, 2008, 9:30 AM from
  • United States House of Representatives elections in Minnesota, 2008, from Wikipedia

  • "..All 8 congressional seats that make up the state's delegation will be contested. Representatives are elected for two-year terms; those elected will serve in the 111th United States Congress from January 4, 2009 until January 3, 2011..."

    - U.S. Senate


  • U.S. Senator Norm Coleman
    *Al Franken, challenging incumbent Coleman

  • U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar

  • Coleman declares win, recount looms , Posted at: 11/05/2008 12:06:19 PM (

  • "ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Sen. Norm Coleman is claiming victory in Minnesota's nail-biter U.S. Senate election even though the margin is close enough to trigger an automatic recount.
    Coleman says Wednesday he understands a recount is likely but says Democrat Al Franken could opt to waive it. Franken said earlier that he would not do that.
    Of nearly 2.9 million ballots cast, Coleman led Franken by 725 votes in unofficial returns from the Minnesota secretary of state.
    Coleman had 1,211,625 votes, or 42.03 percent; Franken had 1,210,900 votes, or 42.01 percent.
    Dean Barkley of the Independence Party was third with 15 percent.
    Secretary of State Mark Ritchie says a recount won't start until mid-November at the earliest and would probably stretch into December.
    --- Associated Press Writer Patrick Condon reported from Minneapolis
    (Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)"

    (St. Paul)

    Picture of a "Peace" Vehicle during the Republican Convention taken along I-94 going west towards downtown Minneapolis


    Protesters and police in Mears Park, St. Paul, MN during the Republican National Convention 2008

    " Thursday, Sept. 4th

  • Police Surround Crowd On Bridge, Arrest Hundreds, Sep 4, 2008 11:16 pm US/Central (

  • "Police in riot gear skirmished with a rowdy band of protesters around the state Capitol and Xcel Center in St. Paul, firing tear gas and "flash bang" canisters trying to disperse and control the crowd.
    At 11 p.m. Thursday, officials said 88 people had been arrested. Officials said they still had to process about 200 more people, bringing the total number of people arrested in St. Paul Thursday night to nearly 300. Officers closed in on groups throughout the night, taking some into custody then swirling around other pockets of people roaming the streets.
    Police surrounded about 300 people, including WCCO photojournalist Tom Aviles, AP reporters Amy Forliti and Jon Krawczynski and reporters from other news outlets. Officers ordered them to sit on the pavement on a bridge over Interstate 94 and to keep their hands over their heads as they were led away two at a time.
    The scene was a stark contrast to the scene inside the nearby Xcel Center where Sen. John McCain accepted his party's nomination for president.
    Earlier, police in riot gear arrested three people on the grounds of the state Capitol and during a standoff with anti-war protesters on top of the John Ireland Bridge in St. Paul Thursday evening.
    Officers on horseback also blocked access to the site of the National Republican Convention as hundreds of protesters roamed around the state Capitol in an evening standoff hours before McCain was due to accept the GOP nomination for president.
    Protesters didn't start their march until just before their permit for the event expired. When they tried to cross a bridge over Interstate 94 to head toward the Xcel Energy Center, police blocked it off. After an hour-long standstill, marked by protesters playing hopscotch and chanting, police warned that they would fire pepper spray if the crowd didn't disperse.
    The hundreds who were left then went to another intersection, where they were also blocked by police.
    "The important thing is even though we didn't have a permit to march, people have decided they want to keep protesting despite all these riot police," said Meredith Aby, a member of the Anti-War Committee.
    Police donned gas masks and riot gear for a possible confrontation. Protesters chanted "Whose war? Their war. Whose streets? Our streets." Others chanted, "This is what a police state looks like."
    Earlier in in the afternoon, employees were being allowed to leave work early in St. Paul Thursday so they could avoid any problems with possible street violence on the last day of the Republican National Convention. The First National Bank building warned its tenants of "riotous conditions" and suggested employees be allowed to leave early.
    The Department of Economic And Employment Development said it had given employees the option of leaving at 1 p.m. Employees were told they could work from home or use vacation time.
    Ramsey County also closed two of its buildings that are along the protest route. The Juvenile and Family Justice Center and the Public Health Facility are both closed to the public.
    Several other companies in the area around the Xcel Center had also allowed workers to take the afternoon off.
    Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty blamed the violence this week on a small group of "anarchists, nihilists, and goofballs who want to break stuff and hurt people."
    "They need to be dealt with," Pawlenty said in an interview with WCCO-AM of Minneapolis. "When you want to break stuff and hurt people, you can't do that."
    Police arrested 102 protesters in downtown Minneapolis early Thursday after a concert by the rock group Rage Against the Machine.
    An intersection was blocked off as police processed those arrested. Young people sat on a sidewalk, their backs against a building, or stood quietly in line, their hands in plastic cuffs behind their backs.
    In a warmup to Thursday's expected main protest, about 50 college and high school students staged an anti-war rally at the Capitol at midday. Eight police officers watched the rally from afar, with most leaning against their cars. None wore riot gear.
    Organizers said they were trying to put on a safe, nonviolent event for the whole family. When a musician singing and playing a guitar uttered a profanity, she was chastised by the crowd and quickly promised to clean up her language.
    Including the Minneapolis protest, police have arrested 422 people since Saturday in pre-emptive raids and at protests in downtown St. Paul that were marred by violence. St. Paul was quieter on the convention's third day, when four women from the peace group CodePink were arrested after crawling under a fence a couple blocks from the Xcel Center where the convention is being held. They were released.
    CodePink also took credit for disrupting Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's speech on Wednesday night. The group said two of its members were given tickets to the speech by a Republican delegate who was frustrated with the party and Palin.
    The CodePink members, Medea Benjamin and Jodie Evans, were escorted from the Xcel Center after yelling and displaying a banner. They said they were held until after her speech but not arrested.
    Police said they broke up more serious plans to disrupt the convention.
    Search warrants and other police documents made public this week claim that anarchists discussed plans to throw Molotov cocktails, sabotage the Xcel Energy Center or the St. Paul Downtown Airport, stretch metal chains across freeways and kidnap delegates.
    Authorities filed felony charges Wednesday against eight people they said were core members of the RNC Welcoming Committee, a group that has worked to plan and support efforts to attack the convention. The eight, swept up in weekend police raids at houses and a Welcoming Committee workspace, were each charged with conspiracy to commit riot.
    Four remained in custody Thursday while four were released, according to Celia Kutz with the Welcoming Committee.
    Members of the Welcoming Committee denied committing any violence.
    "There are no terrorists up here. There are no terrorists in the Ramsey County Jail," said Betsy Raasch-Gilman with the group. "There are terrorists in the Xcel Energy Center. There are terrorists in the White House."
    Also Wednesday, federal authorities announced charges against another man accused of planning to use Molotov cocktails to attack the Xcel Center."

    200+ RNC Protesters Detained as McCain Delivers Speech Police separating journalists from RNC protesters Last Edited: Thursday, 04 Sep 2008, 11:05 PM CDT Created: Thursday, 04 Sep 2008, 11:46 AM CDT Tuesday, Sept. 2nd (
    "ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Police are trying to separate journalists from protesters after detaining a group of about 200 corralled on the Marion St. bridge over Interstate 94.
    Others were arrested in confrontations with police elsewhere in St. Paul, as protesters tried to make their way to the Xcel Energy Center on the fourth and final night of the Republican National Convention.."

  • Police, Protesters Clash Again On Day 2 Of RNC Arrests Interrupt Rally At Mears Park , Sep 3, 2008 12:13 am US/Central (WCCO)

  • "ST. PAUL (AP) ― Police arrested 10 people Tuesday, including at least three people during a tense march against poverty.
    A police spokesman declined to be specific about all the arrests Tuesday, but the three occurred during the march that ended near the Republican convention arena with police using tear gas and flash-bang grenades to disperse protesters they said were trying to get past security fences.
    "There's a group that appears to be trying to breach the (Xcel Energy) Center," said Tom Walsh, a St. Paul police spokesman. Police successfully moved the protesters away, he said.
    Police estimated about 2,000 people took part in the march, which lasted about three hours. They said the number of arrested might go higher.
    A day after nearly 300 people were arrested and violence broke out following an anti-war march, police were on alert Tuesday.
    Hundreds of officers, many in riot gear, shadowed the rally and march by a group called the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign. Officers handcuffed a woman in a black bicycle helmet, and in a separate incident, handcuffed a man and a woman after a brief skirmish.
    About 50 people watching the arrests of the man and woman chanted, "Let them go, let them go!" The heavy police presence included officers on horseback, others in riot gear, and officers on bicycles and on foot.
    As the march wound toward its end, police trailing the rear grabbed one marcher and began spraying pepper spray on people in the area. It wasn't immediately clear what led them to grab the man.
    Marchers stopped near the end of the fenced-off parade route near Xcel while organizer Cheri Honkala made them promise to remain nonviolent. She and about a dozen others continued to the fence where she shouted through a megaphone at the riot police.
    "We want to charge the folks that are in the Xcel Energy Center with crimes against humanity," Honkala said.
    The crowd took up the chant, "The whole world is watching," but no officers came to the fence.
    Honkala said she would leave the citizens arrest on the hope that they would deliver it and the marchers then turned around and began dispersing.
    Not long after, police discharged a series of flash-bang grenades and smoke canisters at an intersection not far from a security fence surrounding Xcel. Walsh said the tactic was aimed at protesters trying to breach the fence.
    Police then pushed remaining protesters north, away from the arena and toward the Capitol grounds, and the crowd slowly trickled away.
    Jan Nye, 62, of Minneapolis was part of the march and then the group of people pushed away from the arena.
    "Everything was going really well, and all of a sudden it just got heavy. It seemed like people were getting moved for no reason," Nye said.
    She said she was right in the intersection where the police percussion grenades went off.
    "It was really scary," she said. "But most of the scariness comes from them," she said, meaning police. "They really got adrenalized and there was this horrible inevitability to it. They've got their toys and they want to use them."
    The arrests on Tuesday came a day after violence erupted following a largely peaceful anti-war march by some 10,000 people. Afterward, police blamed a splinter group of about 200 for harassing delegates, smashing windows, puncturing car tires, throwing bottles and starting at least one fire.
    The RNC Welcoming Committee, a self-described anarchist group that has worked for months planning convention disruptions, claimed success in e-mails to its members and media. "The spectacle has been crashed!" read one.
    That group wasn't officially connected with the organizers of either march. According to search warrant application and supporting affidavit obtained by news organizations Tuesday, the Ramsey County sheriff's office and other law enforcement agencies started investigating the RNC Welcoming Committee just over a year ago. The document said investigators determined that the group's membership had fluctuated between 30-35 members who had met more than 100 times in the past year.
    The investigation included an undercover investigator and two confidential informants who all posed as members of the group, as well as a review of publicly available information such as the group's Web site and videos posted on YouTube, the document said.
    It described the group as "an organized criminal enterprise" that had a three-tier strategy of blocking the Xcel Energy Center, immobilizing the delegates' transportation and blocking connecting bridges.
    It said the organizers' discussions included talk of blocking traffic; attacking police with Molotov cocktails, sharpened poles and shields; using marbles or ball bearings to trip police horses and people; using liquid sprayers filled with urine or chemicals; sabotaging the Xcel Energy Center and the St. Paul Downtown Airport; and even kidnapping delegates.
    The committee traveled to or communicated with "anarchist affinity groups" in 67 cities and hosted two major meetings -- attended by 150 to 200 people, and more than 100 people respectively -- to develop plans for disrupting the GOP convention, the document alleged. The committee also hosted an "action camp" July 31-Aug. 1 in Lake Geneva, Minn., to teach "direct action techniques" to other groups from across the country, including the use of Molotov cocktails and techniques for blocking traffic.
    Investigators identified six leaders of the Welcoming Committee, all Minneapolis residents, who they alleged were particularly active in organizing efforts and in stockpiling materials. Five of them were arrested last weekend when authorities executed the search warrant."

    Monday, Sept. 1st
    Hundreds Arrested During Protest March National Guard Troops Called In To Help Metro Transit Service Into Downtown St. Paul Resumed, Sep 1, 2008 9:35 pm US/Central (
    "Police wielding pepper spray arrested at least 256 people....
    ..Members of the Connecticut delegation said they were attacked by protesters when they got off their bus near the Xcel Center, KMSP-TV reported. Delegate Rob Simmons told the station that a group of protesters came toward his delegation and tried to rip the credentials off their necks and sprayed them with a toxic substance that burned their eyes and stained their clothes.
    One 80-year-old member of the delegation had to be treated for injuries, and several other delegates had to rinse their eyes and clothing, the station reported.
    Of the arrestees, 119 faced possible felony charges, authorities said. .."

    163 RNC protesters, 4 jounalists arrested in St. Paul , Posted at: 09/01/2008 08:50:41 PM (
    "ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Protesters attacked delegates, smashed windows, punctured car tires and threw bottles Monday, a violent counterpoint to an otherwise peaceful anti-war march at the Republican National Convention. Police wielding pepper spray arrested at least 163 people.
    The trouble happened not far from the Xcel Energy Center convention site, and many of those involved in the more violent protest were clad in black and identified themselves to reporters as anarchists. They wrought havoc by damaging property and setting at least one fire. Most of the trouble was in pockets of a neighborhood near downtown, several blocks from where the convention was taking place.
    But the main antiwar march was peaceful, police said, estimating about 10,000 people participated. Late Monday afternoon, long after the antiwar marchers had dispersed, police requested and got 150 Minnesota National Guard soldiers to help control splinter groups near downtown
    Five people were arrested for lighting a trash bin on fire and pushing it into a police car, St. Paul police spokesman Tom Walsh said. Authorities didn't have immediate details on the other arrests.
    At least four journalists were among those detained, including Associated Press photographer Matt Rourke and Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now!, a nationally syndicated public radio and TV news program. Goodman was intervening on behalf of two producers for her program, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar, when she was arrested, said Mike Burke, another producer.
    Walsh said he had no immediate information on the four.
    The antiwar march was organized by a group called the Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War, whose leaders said they hoped for a peaceful, family-friendly event. But police were on high alert after months of preparations by a self-described anarchist group called the RNC Welcoming Committee, which wasn't among the organizers of the march.
    "Unfortunately today, a very small handful of individuals decided to break the law, damage property, and put people's safety at risk," Mayor Chris Coleman said.
    About 180 protesters who weren't part of the march caused trouble, St. Paul Police Chief John Harrington said.
    Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner said she expected her office to consider charges, including possible felonies, on Tuesday against those arrested. She said she couldn't speculate on how long they would be held before having a chance to post bail.
    Protesters, many who were dressed all in black and covered their faces with bandanas or gas masks, broke windows, tipped over newspaper boxes, pulled trash bins into the street, threw bottles, bent rearview mirrors on a bus, flattened tires, and attempted to block intersections by joining hands.
    Some protesters were seen lying on an interstate exit ramp to block traffic in downtown St. Paul and linking arms to block other roads.
    At one point, people pushed a trash bin filled with trash and threw garbage in the streets and at cars. They also took down orange detour road signs. One of them used a screwdriver to puncture the back tire of a limousine waiting at an intersection and threw a wooden board at the vehicle, denting its side. Another hurled a glass bottle at a charter bus that had stopped at an intersection. The bottle smashed into pieces but didn't appear to damage the bus.
    After the official march ended, police spent hours dispersing smaller groups of protesters, employing officers on horses, smoke bombs and pepper spray.
    Protesters put eye drops in each other's eyes after police used chemical irritants such as pepper spray and tear gas. Some wore bandanas and masks to protect themselves.
    Terry Butts, a former Alabama Supreme Court justice who is a convention delegate, was on a bus taking delegates to the arena when a brick through the window sprayed glass on him and two others. Butts said he wasn't hurt.
    "It just left us a little shaken," he said. "It was sort of a frightening moment because it could have been a bomb or a Molotov cocktail."
    Organizers of the antiwar march had hoped 50,000 people would turn out for the march. One of the largest rallies in the Twin Cities in recent history was a 2006 immigration rights protest in Minneapolis that drew about 35,000.

    (Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)"
    Dozens arrested outside of Republican convention, updated 1 hour, 42 minutes ago By Scott J. Anderson CNN
    " ST. PAUL, Minnesota (CNN) -- At least 56 people were arrested Monday after police fired projectiles and used pepper spray and tear gas to disperse a crowd demonstrating near the site of the Republican National Convention.
    CNN photojournalists witnessed police detaining between 20 and 30 individuals with plastic handcuffs a few blocks from the security perimeter around the Xcel Center in downtown St. Paul.
    A crowd of 300 individuals was later seen conducting what appeared to be a sit-in at a parking lot near the Mississippi River.
    Earlier Monday, a group of self-described anarchists threw park benches into streets and smashed windows, police said. Video Watch police detain nearly two dozen people �
    Thomas Walsh, a public information officer for the St. Paul Police Department, said Monday afternoon that 13 people had been arrested so far, accused of damage to property and conspiracy to riot. Those arrested will be formally charged in Ramsey County District Court on Tuesday, he said.

    The arrest of the "anarchists" came after nearly 5,000 protesters marched peacefully outside the site of the convention site.
    While Walsh described the individuals as a being part of a "splinter group" from the main body of protesters, he said it would not characterize their activity as being a protest. Video Watch the police use pepper spray �
    "I think they did a disservice to those that came here to protest," he said.
    Besides damaging private property, the group also smashed in the windows of five squad cars.
    Police on Sunday saw little disruption in advance of the convention, which is being greatly scaled back because of Hurricane Gustav. And, despite the disruptions Monday, the security scheme is working as planned, Walsh said. Video Watch the police take on the protesters �
    "We had some expectation that there may be some of this activity," he said.
    The Republican convention, which officially began Monday, has been designated a "national special security event," which means the Secret Service is responsible for planning and implementing the security scheme. View the convention security plan �
    But the primary responsibility for street-level security falls to the local police agencies. St. Paul received $50 million in federal grant money to pay for additional security measures. advertisement
    The St. Paul Police Department estimated it would require $34 million to bring in and pay 3,500 extra officers. The rest of the money is for training and new equipment, the department said.
    Numerous federal agencies are helping to provide security. The Federal Protective Service, the Customs and Border Protection agency, the FBI, the Coast Guard, the Transportation Security Administration and other agencies are providing resource to help the Secret Service implement its plan."


  • 'RNC 8' protesters charged, group promises to reveal themselves , Posted at: 09/03/2008 11:14:42 PM By: Nicole Muehlhausen, Web Producer (

  • "Eight members of the RNC Welcoming Committee, a self-described anarchist organization, each one faces four charges for their alleged plans to disrupt the convention.
    Each individual was charged Wednesday with second-degree furtherance of terrorism, conspiracy to riot, conspiracy to commit civil disorder and conspiracy to damage property.
    Those arrested were Robert Joseph Czernik, Monica Rachel Bicking, Erik Charles Oseland, Garrett Scott Fitzgerald, Nathanial David Secor, Max Jacob Speckton, Luce Guillen-Givens, and Eryn Trimmer.
    The eight were arrested after Ramsey County Sheriff�s deputies raided four homes in Minneapolis and St. Paul on Aug. 30 and 31. They are all being held at the Ramsey County Jail, each on $75,000 bail.
    If convicted, each faces up to five years in jail, a $10,000 fine, or both.
    In a media released issued by the RNC Welcoming Committee called the charged members the �RNC 8.� The group promised to reveal their identities and share their stories behind their message during a question and answer session with the media on Friday.
    The sheriff's office said it confiscated weapons including a machete, hatchet and several throwing knives, empty glass bottles, rags and flammable liquids, homemade devices used to disable buses, metal pipes, axes, bolt cutters, sledge hammers, empty plastic buckets made into shields, an Army helmet, and large amounts of urine.
    Protesters said deputies also seized materials including laptops, protest literature and sign-making materials, bus schedules and a topographical map of St. Paul, site of Xcel Energy Center, and the convention hall.
    In a statement, Sheriff Bob Fletcher said authorities moved to head off planned illegal acts.
    "These acts include tactics to blockade and disable delegate buses, breaching venue security and injuring police officers," Fletcher said.
    The RNC Welcoming Committee has taken credit for several violent protests, resulting in police intervention, during the first two days of the RNC."

  • Mich. man charged for alleged Xcel bomb plan, Posted at: 09/03/2008 10:38:35 PM By: Nicole Muehlhausen, Web Producer (

  • "A 23-year-old Michigan man faces up to 10 years in jail for illegally possessing bombs, which he allegedly intended to use to destroy the Xcel Energy Center during the Republican National Convention.
    Matthew Bradley DePalma, of Flint, Mich., was charged Aug. 30 with one count of possession of firearms.
    According to his criminal complaint, DePalma had several Molotov cocktails in his possession a week before the start of the RNC.
    DePalma had been under investigation by federal investigators after he attended a protester conference in Wisconsin in July.
    Officials said DePalma went to the Hennepin County Library on Aug. 18 to research how to make �special� Molotov cocktails that would stick to people and other targets.
    Investigators recorded a conversation that DePalma had with another individual, where he described his plans to disrupt the RNC by setting off bombs in the tunnels underneath the Xcel. He also discussed causing a power outage and lighting police officers on fire.
    DePalma allegedly manufactured two jugs of homepage napalm and had been overheard saying his plans then involved bombing the Xcel Energy Center on the final day of the convention.
    DePalma was spotted in a remote location in Roseville a few days later, where he was experimenting with chemicals and testing his homemade bombs.
    Also known as petrol or gasoline bombs, Molotov cocktails are generally easy to make due to the availability of the materials.
    DePalma was arrested without incident on Aug. 30 at a residence in south Minneapolis."

    Alaska Governor Sarah Palin @ 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota accepts Vice Presidential Nomination (Part One)

    "Alaska Governor Sarah Palin speaks at the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. She is the Republican Vice Presidential nominee. This is Part One. "

    Picture (Sunday, August 31st of 08') of the U.S. Flag painted along I-94 going East in St. Paul's (east of downtown)


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