Monthly Archives: March 2013

Dancing For Justice…An UpTake Leadership Profile: Ananya Chatterjea

Click on the photo to learn how Ananya Dance Theatre is making an impact through social justice dance.

Ananya Dance Theatre’s performances are about more than entertainment. Their purpose is to make you think … And while using dance might not bring results that can be measured in legislation or at the ballot box, it can achieve social change in different ways. Continue Reading →

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Minnesota Gun Battle Breaks Out of Committee, Moves to House Floor

Battle Lines: Joe Olson, left, president of the MN Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance, spars with Rep. Michael Paymar, D-St. Paul, chair of the House Public Safety Committee, after committee approval of a bill requiring background checks for gun buyers at gun shows. The battle over gun safety now moves to the full House.

A dramatically weakened gun-safety bill eked out a narrow escape from a Minnesota House committee Thursday, keeping the explosive issue of gun violence alive, ensuring that the Legislature will be asked to consider some tightening of Minnesota gun laws, and setting up contentious floor fights over the issue in the House in the weeks ahead. After two months of debate, the House Public Safety Committee, chaired by Rep. Michael Paymar, DFL-St. Paul, passed a bill including a softened requirement for background checks on buyers at gun shows. The narrow approval, on mostly party lines, came on a 10-8 vote (one Democrat, John Ward of Baxter, voted no), that presaged a contentious floor fight ahead. Rep. Tony Cornish, a gun-carrying Republican from Good Thunder, promised as much, telling Paymar after the vote to expect an all-out effort to defeat the bill. Continue Reading →

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The New Watchdogs: Keeping You Posted, by Jason Barnett, Executive Director of The UpTake

What has happened to local and state government reporting in a time of legacy media budget-trimming, staff cutbacks and a loss of commitment to fearless journalism and truth-telling? I’m sure you already know the answer, and it isn’t good. That’s why I have been invited to present a panel discussion at April’s National Conference for Media Reform in Denver in order to examine the debilitated state of local government reporting across the country, and to discuss ideas to strengthen it. The title of my session is, “The New Watchdogs: Holding Power to Account.” And yes, you bet, I believe that The UpTake is one of the best emerging models out there for making sure that the public interest is upheld in the corridors of power. We’ll be talking about the decline of “accountability reporting” — the worrisome state of local political reporting across the country during an era of for-profit media disintegration and disarray, as well as strategies to improve this crucial type of reporting. Continue Reading →

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Healing A Broken World…An UpTake Leadership Profile: Vic Rosenthal

Vic Rosenthal In His Younger Days

Jewish organizer and activist Vic Rosenthal works with communities in Minneapolis and beyond to help repair a broken world. He is the executive director of Jewish Community Action, an organization that mobilizes Jews to work on issues such as home foreclosures, LGBT rights and voting rights, among many others. Continue Reading →

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Non-Removables: The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Welcomes You to St Paul (Again)

St Paul's Crowne Plaza Hotel. Click on the photo to see video of the announcement that the hotel is being bought by the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe

Today, in an ironic reversal of fortune that would have been impossible to foresee just a few years ago, Minnesota’s native people again are warmly welcoming people to their homes on the Mississippi River — homes called The Crowne Plaza and DoubleTree Hotels. Continue Reading →

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Last Rites In Foreclosure Fight? Minnesota Senate Dems Block Hearing on Homeowners’ Bill of Rights

Prayers May Not Be Enough: Click on the photo to see video of activists pushing for Homeowners' Bill of Rights

This is not the way Minnesota housing rights activists thought it would turn out when Democrats regained control of the the State Legislature: Hopes for passing a Homeowners’ Bill of Rights to protect Minnesotans from needlessly losing their homes to foreclosure all but died Friday. A Homeowners’ Bill of Rights — similar to one that was adopted by California last year — would require automatic mediation between banks and homeowners facing foreclosure and prohibit the practice of “dual-tracking,” in which banks negotiate with homeowners while simultaneously moving them towards foreclosure, often without their knowledge. Activists have been hoping that the Legislature will adopt such protections to help end the foreclosure crisis but got a cold dose of political reality: Without banking industry approval, some Democrats in the Senate appear unwilling to support a Homeowners’ Bill of Rights. In a polite but tense, closed-door meeting between activists and staffers for the Democratic chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, Sen. James Metzen of South St. Paul, supporters of the proposal were told that it will not be given a hearing this session. Continue Reading →

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