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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Rep. Peppin vs. The MN State High School League

Category: Society
Posted: 12/08/14 16:43

by Dave Mindeman

Soon to be GOP Majority Leader in the House, Rep. Joyce Peppin, went out of her way to comment on the Minnesota State High School League's new policy on transgender policies. Her comments didn't specify what exactly brought about this statement after the transgender policy was announced, but she did indicate that more "oversight" of the league was needed.

It can only be assumed that the "new" GOP House is still locked into the "old" GOP fixation on social issues.

Peppin's remarks are not just those of a legislative individual. She now speaks as one of the core leadership of the new Republican majority. So that must mean that the MN High School League policy is now a "target" of the House majority.

It has been difficult enough for the MN State High School League to find a way that allows transgender athletes to participate in high school sports with at least a modicum of normalcy. But add the always volatile element of politics and you have an unwanted focal point of attention.

It is unfortunate for this type of meddling to begin even before the policy has been implemented.

Is this really the type of priority this "new" majority wants to open with?

Isn't the budget and transportation funding enough to keep them busy?

I applaud the Minnesota High School League for attempting to tackle a very sensitive issue. They will have their hands full navigating the waters of parental influence.

But it would be advisable for the legislature to keep their partisan, political hands off the topic - and give the League at least a chance to give it an honest and fair trial.
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Hubbard Broadcasting Is Still In Denial

Category: Society
Posted: 12/05/14 16:25

by Dave Mindeman

MinnPost published a letter from Stanley Hubbard, CEO of Hubbard Broadcasting - the parent company of KSTP Channel 5 - to the MN Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

His letter was in response to the SPJ concerns about Pointergate and their call for KSTP to disavow the story.

Hubbard refused and gave a lengthy defense of the station's actions.

In fact, Hubbard criticizes the SPJ for being "taken in by a deliberate attempt through misinformation on the Internet to embarrass and discredit KSTP-TV."

Frankly, Hubbard seems to be in total denial regarding this story.

There are some key points about this that Hubbard never addresses.

1. KSTP was the ONLY news organization which aired this story after, what I can only assume was a "shop around" of a political dig at the mayor.

2. No other news organization picked up the story after the fact....other than to comment or air stories about the internet response.

3. Even though Hubbard goes to great lengths to explain the gesture's use in gang context and seemingly corroborates it with law enforcement, the story only obliquely references the simpler explanation of simply pointing at each other.

4. In addition to that, although Hubbard points out that they contacted the Mayor's office and that there was a somewhat confusing exchange of e-mails with assistants, the mayor herself was never talked to directly. Which means that Hubbard's news team went ahead with a dubious one-sided story that could have easily been explained away with a little persistence.

Hubbard states it this way:

We do not make editorial decisions based upon popular opinion, Twitter trends, or potential social media backlash. We recognize our obligation to our community to report the news responsibly, and that's what we did.

Yes, editorial decisions should not be based on popular opinion (although I suspect Hubbard's organization prefers to persuade public opinion rather than follow it), but social media backlash does have one redeeming quality... the magnitude of the response can show how bad a story done by conventional media can be - or how responsible or irresponsible the organization has been.

Given the large and vocal backlash from social media on this particular story, Stanley Hubbard should have simply apologized.

Because he refuses to do that, the reputation of KSTP is tarnished and the "brand" has to be considered suspect.
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The Michael Brown Case: An Intentional Confusion For The Jury

Category: Society
Posted: 12/05/14 14:12

by Dave Mindeman

It is unusual for a District Attorney to release the documents pertaining to a grand jury investigation, but the DA in the Michael Brown case did just that.

And Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC's the last word found a legal conundrum in that document dump....

The background of this situation is that Lawrence O'Donnell reported that after reviewing the transcripts of the Darren Wilson Grand Jury, his analyst discovered that Assistant District Attorney's working for Bob McCullough gave the Jurors an outdated copy of Missouri Law that all that was required for an Officer to use deadly force is their "reasonable belief" that there was a threat.

In 1985 the Supreme Court amended this law to include a "probable cause" requirement under Tennessee v Garner and the Jury wasn't informed of this until 3 months later just before their deliberations, nor even at that time was the difference and relevance of this explained to them clearly.

The misleading information was given to the Grand Jury directly before Darren Wilson's testimony giving the impression that all that was required under the law for Wilson to kill Michael Brown was his belief that he was in danger, without the additional requirement of probable cause for such a belief.

The Missouri AG now proclaims that was wrong and the Missouri Law needs to be changed and updated to reflect the Supreme Court's ruling.


What is even more disturbing is that this same Asst DA did NOT explain the differences in the old law vs the corrected law.

A juror even asked a question about whether a Supreme Court decision trumps Missouri law.

As you think about that, I would hope that a basic civics class comes to mind and a simple "yes" would immediately be formulated in your head.

But the Assistant DA, for some reason, could not do that. The answer was:

"As far as you need to know, just don't worry about that," (Asst. DA) Alizadeh told the juror. Alizadeh's colleague, Sheila Whirley, added, "We don't want to get into a law class."

A law class? A law class would be needed to answer that question?

Justice has eluded this whole case. In an actual jury trial, that kind of legal misconduct would immediately raise the spectre of mistrial. But in the grand jury chambers, there is only the district attorney. There is no cross examination. There is no give and take from competing sides. Only the presentation of evidence in the manner the DA's office chooses to present it.

The District Attorney gave us a glimpse of how the secret workings of the grand jury are constituted.

In the Michael Brown case, it was ugly as sin.
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