Friday, February 26, 2010

Enough Already! Sign the Waiver! Release the Exhibits!

Every now and then, somebody on the Mpls Issues will claim Zimmermann was framed or persecuted as posted Wednesday.

The debate continues:

The subject being discussed was the city council being in the pocket of monied interests and developers. The reason I specifically mentioned Johnson-Lee and Zimmerman is that there is have been some claims that the Greens on the city council have been no more populist or resistant to corporate influence than the DFLers and I didn't feel that the examples we have had show that.

As a person who most closely aligns with Libertarian Socialist political philosophy, they certainly haven't been as progressive or radical as I would like to see, but I suspect that any politician who was progressive or radical enough to make me happy would not represent their ward.

I included Zimmerman because, while he clearly screwed up (and paid for it), I believe that he represented his constituency far more than he represented corporate interests.

I say that even though I leaned towards Ken Avidor's perspectives regarding PRT (although with decidedly less vitriol on my part). I didn't feel that his conviction was relevant to the question at hand, but since its been brought up, one might suggest that the nature of the crimes he was convicted of support my adding his name to a list of those not in the pocket of monied interests or developers.

One example is the lack of a quid pro quo on the "accepting a gratuity" issue. Yes, accepting a gratuity from someone who has business in front of the city is (and should be!) illegal and Zimmerman shouldn't have taken an envelope of cash and especially not taken anything from someone with business in front of the city. However, while former CM Zimmerman was convicted of accepting and using money from a developer, the case also established that he did not vote in favor of that developer's interests.

Also, IIRC, wasn't one of the things he was charged for basically leaning on a business who wanted some sort of zoning change? My recollection was that he wanted them to supply materials for a retaining wall that would mitigate a negative aspect of their requested change and that he intended to do the labor himself. Yes, again, this is the wrong way to go about it - he should have taken the process of letting them know that unless the wall were part of their application, he wouldn't be able to vote for them when their appeal came up or something like that. It may have been the wrong way to go about it, it may have been illegal, and it may have been part of what landed him in jail, but it strikes me as the sort of action made by someone who cares about their constituency and neighborhood.

Anyway, it has been a while so I may be misremembering the details here, but these recollections are part of why I included Zimmerman in my list of examples of people who were not owned by developers or monied interests. It was not my intention to reopen discussions about the trail or conviction nor was I claiming him to be a paragon of integrity, but his conviction did not seem particularly relevant to the discussion at hand. Had he accepted money and then acted in that party's interest, it would be a different story.

Another opinion from former Senate candidate Michael Cavlan:

First of all, as the saying goes in political circles in Ireland

"Even the dogs in the street know"

That Dean Zimmermann was set up and was in fact one of the more honest and courageous members of the Minneapolis City Council . He sure as hell would not have rolled over on supporting Chief Dolan or RT Ryback. Like I said before, what happened to Dean was one of the more shameful moments in Minneapolis City Council history.

However, when we speak of Cam Gordon being courageous and principled, I will have to interject another perspective.

At the time of the Dean controversy, myself and others set up a meeting. We were discussing just how to deal with it. The meeting took place at Deans House on Clinton Ave. What I am about to talk about Dean Zimmerman or in fact Jenny probably do not know about because they were not present. At this meeting 15 people gathered. We talked about how to deal with it in the public. We decided to hold a Press Conference outside his house. The person chosen to speak on our behalf, in support of our friend, Dean Zimmermann was Farheen Hakeem.

However, there were three people who opposed it. They were Cam Gordon, Annie Young and Dave Burger. Cam and Annie had been decades long friends of Dean Zimmermannn. They said that their concern was that "it may affect 'my' campaign." None the less, the issue was decided consensus style with the majority agreeing to publicly supporting Dean.

I remember that a young lady present gave them all a good tongue lashing and pointed out that she was a Democrat but still supported Dean.

However, it was what happened then that really stank to high heaven, in my own humble opinion.

Apparently Dean's good friend Annie Young decided to call around and talk to any to discuss this further. However "fortunately" the only people she could get a hold of was Cam Gordon and Dave Burger. They decided, right there to create a new consensus. They cancelled the Press Conference that had been set up to give public support to their friend Dean Zimmermann. At a moment that he and the broader movement so desperately needed it.

I know about this because I was there.

So. like i said there are other perspectives on who has courage and integrity in the Minneapolis City Council.

And so it goes... on and on... year after year...

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