Things got somewhat heated Tuesday night, when the details of voting for a new school board member weren't immediately released by the board, but there's a bit of a back story.
The board's chair, Alberto Monserrate (right), said only that the winner for the District 3 seat had gotten a majority, without further details. Monserrate said he was just following the procedure the board used when it voted at the end of 2011 to fill another board vacancy.
That didn't satisfy some partisans favoring Ubah Jama for the latest vacancy, most notably activist Al Flowers Jr. When Monserrate said details of the vote would be released later, Flowers kept talking, causing Monserrate to declare a 13-minute recess to cool things off. With a crowded meeting agenda, the delay helped to delay the board's ultimate adjournment that evening to 11:30.
That's not unprecedented. He did the same thing last summer when a group of parents from a charter the district was evicting got overheated at a board meeting.
Although the board usually votes orally, because it was using ranked-choice voting, it used written ballots in which the applicants were ranked were ranked first through fourth. It used the same procedure to name Kim Ellison to fill the last vacancy.
What grated on some was that even partial results of who voted for whom weren't released for almost an hour, and then only via e-mail to two reporters. The full rankings weren't released until a reporter requested them the next day. Monserrate said the rankings could have come out quicker if matters hadn't gotten so tense.
"You learn every time," he said later in the week. "You learn and adjust."
The top two candidates for the seat were Mohamud Noor, who got the job on a 5-3 vote, and Ubah Jama. Noor gave by far the most polished performance at the board's interviews, but may have been hampered by a perception of carpetbagging. He and his family live in a northeast Minneapolis house, but Noor moved into a room in Cedar-Riverside just soon enough to meet the board's residency requirement for District 3. He said they plan to buy a home in the Seward neighborhood.
Jama was a sentimental choice as the widow of Hussein Samatar, whose death caused the vacancy, and brought the most supporters to speak for her in the board's comment period. Some saw her as best representing Somali-American women who are single heads of household.
Two board members who favored Jama, Tracine Asberry and Carla Bates, lowballed Noor by giving him a third ranking. One Noor supporter, Kim Ellison, did the same for Jama.
Here are the rankings by board members: Monserrate: Noor, Jama, Ira Jourdain, Nicque Mabrey; Richard Mammen: Noor, Jama, Mabrey, Jourdain; Rebecca Gagnon: Jama, Noor, Jourdain, Mabrey; Asberry: Jama, Jourdain, Noor, Mabrey; Bates: Jama, Jourdain, Noor, Mabrey; Jenny Arneson: Noor, Jama, Jourdain; Josh Reimnitz: Noor, Jama, Jourdain, Mabrey; Ellison: Noor, Jourdain, Jama, Mabrey.
The selection of Mohamud Noor to fill the seat vacated by the death of Hussein Samatar came on a 5-3 first-ballot margin Tuesday night at the school board.
The meeting was recessed for 12 minutes after the vote when some activists supporting Ubah Jama, including Al Flowers Jr., demanded to know the count.
The district later released the tally, which showed something of a gender gap among the board.members. All three of those supporting Jama, Samatar's widow, are women. They were Tracine Asberry, Carla Bates and Rebecca Gagnon.
All three of the board's guys voted for Noor, joined by two female board members, Those supporting him were Richard Mammen, Alberto Monserrate, Josh Reimnitz, Jenny Arneson and Kim Ellison.
Noor was endorsed by the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers when he ran in a special election for a Senate seat in 2011. Jama's late husband voted against the last teacher contract. But the distribution of votes suggests that the views of board members on whether there's a need for greater or lesser change in the district's teacher contract wasn't determinative of the outcome.
The district lies between Interstate 35W and the Mississippi River, generally north of E. 36th Street.
(Photo above: Mohamud Noor)
Minneapolis’ longtime garbage contractor is getting a sweeter deal than expected.
The City Council voted Tuesday for a five-year agreement with trash consortium Minneapolis Refuse Inc., months after approving a three-year contract with two one-year extensions.
"Our staff believes that the five-year contract … was what gave us the best deal,” said Council Member Elizabeth Glidden. “And that is also similar to what they're seeing in looking at other contracts in other similarly situated communities."
The city sought bids this year from companies to haul half the city’s trash (city crews already handle the other half) as Minneapolis Refuse Inc.’s latest contract is due to expire in 2014. MRI has done the job for decades and secured the work again in 2008 after the city opened it up for competition, following a lawsuit and heated discussions about whether the city was getting the best deal.
The consortium had to agree to abide by a labor peace resolution that allowed the Teamsters to try to recruit employees to become union members on the condition that MRI could not have any work stoppages. Aspen Waste, the main rival for the job then and now, rejected the labor peace requirement.
MRI beat out five other companies for the contract this year, coming in lower than its current price.
There's strong potential for Minneapolis to seat three immigrants on its City Council for the first time since 1947.
That's with Abdi Warsame the victor in Ward 6, Blong Yang leading in Ward 5, and Alondra Cano ahead in the much tighter Ward 9. And only if you count Cano an immigrant. She was born in the United States, but her parents moved back to Mexico for years before coming back to the states.
According to Tony Hill, the historian of all things political in Minneapolis, the council had three immigrants from 1942 to 1947. They were Eric Hoyer (Sweden), Norman Irgens (Norway) and Oscar Cleve (Norway). The latter two were defeated in 1947, and Hoyer went on to become mayor in 1949.
Subsequent immigrants on the council include Joe Greenstein (Poland), Keith Ford (Great Britain) and Don Samuels (Jamaica).
Day 2 of counting votes cast by Minneapolis voters got under way shortly after noon Wednesday in an off-limits room in the basement of Minneapolis City Hall.
Post-election observation by news media and campaign representatives was limited to watching a video feed from the former emergency operations center where the computer work was going forward.
The tabuilation of results is focused on the second or third-choice of voters who gave their first choices to candidates who are ruled out mathematically, or later on, are the lowest candidate as ranked by first choice voters.
The process will continue until one candidate exceeds the 50 percent threshold, or only two candidates remain.
That work starts with the mayor's race, which election officials hope to finish before their planned midnight quitting time. It continues with wards 5, 9 and 13 City Council races, and finishes with the three at-large Park Bord seats, which was also counted last in 2009.
But unlike 2009, when the last result didn't come for two weeks after the election, City Clerk Casy Carl said that final results are expected by the end of the week, in time for the council to act as the canvassing board on Tuesday and declare them official.
The video feed of the counting, focused on three partially visible computers where the tabulation is done, is available only in the rotunda of City Hall, where the adjacent Father of Waters statue appears unperturbed by the hubbub.
The 2009 post-election process was accessible to observers at the city's northeast Minneapolis election warehouse, where ballots were sorted, stacked and counted according to the rankings of up to three candidates. That was repeated for every race without a clear winner.
But that part of the process has been automated as part of an upgrade in voting systems funded by Hennepin County, and the remainder consists mainly of election workers cutting and pasting columns of figures. They work in two teams of two workers who cross-check their totals.
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