“Convenient” Prison To North Minneapolis Connection Draws Boos For Rep. Newberger

Rep. Jim Newberger (R-Becker) is against more funding for Minnesota’s North Star rail, a line that was originally supposed to go between Minneapolis and St. Cloud but has yet to be extended that far. During debate on a transportation bill Newberger said he’s against expanding the route because the tracks would go near St. Cloud’s prison.

“Boy, wouldn’t that be convenient, to have that rail line going from the prison to North Minneapolis,” said Newberger. After hearing some grumbling he quickly added, “or to any section of our state.” Boos were heard in the House chamber.

North Minneapolis is a neighborhood with a racially diverse population.

Newberger quickly apologized for naming North Minneapolis, “but that’s what came into my mind. It doesn’t matter, it could be any part of the city. But if you’re going to connect a large metro to a prison there’s going to be some concerns. I would be lying if I said there wasn’t.”

Newberger said in his “neck of the woods,” there’s a different name for the North Star. “We don’t call it North Star, we call it the black hole because that’s where all the money goes.”

Video and updates:

UPDATE 1:
Later in the evening, Rep. Rena Moran (DFL-St. Paul) took to the House floor to respond to Newberger’s comments.
More here:
Structural Racism At Root Of Offensive Remark About North Minneapolis Says Rep. Moran

UPDATE 2
Governor Mark Dayton says Republican leadership in the Minnesota House should take action against Newberger for his comments. At a news conference on an unrelated topic Wednesday morning, Dayton said “I think it’s horrible, I think he should be reprimanded, if not censured, by his leadership. The fact that nobody has made comment on that in House leadership, I think is appalling,”

According to the Star Tribune, Newberger’s office has apologized again. “I sincerely apologize,” Newberger said in a statement issued on Wednesday. “I recognize my comments last night offended some people. I will work in the future to not repeat this mistake.”

UPDATE 3
Rep. Raymond Dehn (DFL-Minneapolis) who represents the North Minneapolis neighborhood is calling for Newberger to apologize. In a press release to the media Dehn said:

“Not only was the comment highly offensive, it appears to be based on woefully inaccurate stereotypes about the type of people living in North Minneapolis. I represent a diverse group of people in North Minneapolis. Many are largely successful and many others are working hard to get ahead and help their families. It’s exactly these types of prejudices that make it so easy for the GOP to target the hard working people in one part of one city in Minnesota. At a minimum, Rep. Newberger should apologize on the House Floor.”

Michael McIntee

Michael McIntee is a former network TV news executive with more than 30 years of broadcasting experience. He began his broadcasting career at the University of Minnesota's student radio station. He is an expert producer, writer, video editor who has a fondness for new technology but denies that he is a geek. More about Michael McIntee »

7 thoughts on ““Convenient” Prison To North Minneapolis Connection Draws Boos For Rep. Newberger

  1. The sad part is the prejudice is so jarring, you have to hear it twice to notice the utter lack of a coherent point.

  2. I just saw this story on the evening news…. it came immediately after a story about a man who duct taped and threw his son in the river in North Minneapolis, and another story about a man who was robbed on his way home from a north Minneapolis convenience store and had to be hospitalized for his injuries. Maybe Rep. Newberger watches the same news broadcasts that I do night after night and just isn’t afraid to admit that there are a disproportionate amount of crimes being committed in this area versus some of the other areas in the metro.

  3. What I found most disturbing is how comfortable he was in making his offensive comments. As thoughhe was among other like-minded individuals representing our great state.

  4. It took a moment, but she, Rep. Rena Moran, said what needed to be said. What Newberger did, was just another example of certain corners of American stupidity arrogantly feigning a sense of morality, yet spewing subtle racist innuendo that continues to expose the perceived rottenness below the surface. He’s so intoxicated with his own self importance, yet ignorant and ambivalent to the fact that via Vimeo, and Youtube, and a plethora of other global connections the world is seeing the disingenuous reality of America for themselves. So why should anyone, anywhere in the world, believe in any sincerity based upon our glorified assertions of “American Values”. This is the reckless message this duplicitous ghoul Newberger imparts to the world, and needlessly makes the US a growing enemy in the eyes of the world which consists mostly of people of color. What stupidity for a man to be in a high profile professional position.

  5. It amazes me how myopic many seem to be only to notice an atrocious criminal act when it takes place in a specific community but get temporary amnesia when the media is rife with all types of crimes of others engaged in sexual molestation, absconding with the life savings of others with Ponzi schemes, as well as the perennial violent crime of having their spouses killed for insurance policies just bought last week. The beat goes on, crossing all color lines despite proportion, but admittedly disproportionate but generally based upon economic condition, crossing all color lines around our nation. With that said, Rep. Newberger doesn’t need to be holding public office promulgating such divisive irrelevant time wasting diversions as those he continues to offer. It would be better if he’d leave office and just get together maybe, in either his or your man cave to drink a Bud and engage in racially inflammatory crazy talk, and let others trying to benefit the state get serious work done that is lagging way behind.