Anatomy of a Sellout

Teachers' unions lose a big one as DFL lawmakers find reasons to support the governor's education tax break

THE STANDOFF OVER education tax breaks ended the way it had to end: with the governor and the Legislature both declaring victory. But the real victors may have been the DFLers who were looking for a way to deliver an unambiguous stiff-arm to the teachers' unions. Many of them have been queasy about the party's cozy relationship with the teachers in a political climate that's increasingly suspicious of public schools that are "failing our children." The chairs of the House and Senate K-12 committees, Becky Kelso and Larry Pogemiller, have been especially eager to demonstrate their independence of the unions, pushing through a raft of legislation meant to increase "accountability" in public schools.

Still, given the teachers' generosity to the DFL's soft-money funds, DFL leaders were hesitant to cut the deal with the governor. They stalled until the last possible moment, trying to negotiate the least offensive deal possible: tax credits for private-education expenses, but no tax credits for private schools. The teachers didn't buy it, and on Thursday they interrupted their summer vacations to descend on the Capitol. Their failure to change minds was apparent to everyone, as was the striking contrast with the persuasive power they used to bring to the Capitol's marbled halls. The teachers' few remaining allies are crediting Carlson with engineering the whole thing. "He's great at divide-and-conquer," says one DFL staffer. "First, he drove a wedge between us and organized labor with workers' comp reform, and now it's the teachers. Let's see what happens when we try to raise money for the '98 elections."

FORKED TONGUES

Is the Minneapolis City Council sending mixed messages about how it wants to redevelop Block E? Last week, at the same time the council voted 7-6 to extend development rights to the Hennepin Avenue lot to Brookfield Development, Inc., it also agreed to investigate the credentials of Stanley Castleton, a California investor who is interested in a competing proposal championed by Loon State Ventures.

The interpretation of that addendum depends on your perspective. Loon State's David Sherman says the council's vote indicates members aren't enthusiastic about the Brookfield plan to build a theater/restaurant/hotel complex, and are still interested in hearing other ideas. Sherman, who has been pushing a more grandiose, three-and-a-half block concept since 1995, thinks that leaves the door open for his plan, but wonders what happens if both he and Brookfield end up wooing the same tenants: "It feels like a mess coming up."

But Sherman may be overstating his chances. While even some of the council members who voted for the Brookfield proposal admit they're not crazy about it, they're apt to endorse it in the interest of expediency--Block E, after all, has been vacant for more than a decade. And the decision to look into Castleton's background? "It doesn't mean much," says a council member who voted for Brookfield. "I think it was more of a palliative."

KILLING IT SOFTLY

The fate of the Civilian Police Review Authority is still uncertain, despite last Friday's effort by a handful of Minneapolis City Council members to pull its few remaining teeth. In a 7-6 vote, the Council voted to eliminate the executive director's position, and move the board to the administrative City Coordinator's Office. Yesterday, however, Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton vetoed the measure pending an evaluation of its efficacy. In the past several months, critics have complained that the CRA--an independent citizens group that airs grievances of police misconduct--is too costly, too clunky, and impotent. But those in favor of keeping the CRA out of the city's clutches maintain the budget brouhaha is a smoke screen.

At issue, say Council member Jim Niland and community activist Ron Edwards, is the CRA's autonomy. "This [vote] effectively kills off the CRA," says Niland. Edwards adds that while the city intendedthe board to be toothless, it's even further hamstrung under this latest proposal. "The city's shrewd enough to know they need to have something in place, but [the proposal] dilutes it even more," says Edwards. "It's like the '60s here. There are volcanic stirrings underneath."

PUBLICDOMAIN

Kelly Holsopple, Plaintiff, vs. WHISPER, Inc., Evelina Giobbe, and Mary Madden, Defendants; complaint filed in Hennepin County District Court June 26, 1997. Plaintiff states and alleges as follows:

[...] Defendant WHISPER [Women Hurt in Systems of Prostitution Engaged in Revolt] provides community education on prostitution as a form of systematic violence against women and children, and assists women in escaping systems of prostitution by providing social services to them.

[...] Plaintiff Kelly Holsopple is a former prostitute and stripper. She first became a client of WHISPER when she attended a Radical Education and Support Group facilitated by Evelina Giobbe in the fall of 1992.

[...] Plaintiff quit stripping on Sept. 21, 1994. Her motivation to quit included her admiration of Defendant Giobbe's work for prostitutes, her desire to do similar work, and Defendant Giobbe's promise to be a mentor and teacher to her.

[...] Exploiting Plaintiff's admiration and affection, as well as her vulnerability and trust in WHISPER, Defendant Giobbe engaged in inappropriate sexual contact with Plaintiff while she was a client and former client of WHISPER, as well as an employee. Among other actions, Defendant Giobbe: Invited her to an intimate party at her apartment; told Plaintiff she loved her; told her she was bisexual; drank and danced with her at bars and clubs; asked her to stay overnight at her apartment; partially and fully disrobed in her presence; told Plaintiff she was sexually attracted to her; commented seductively on her physical beauty and energy; slept with Plaintiff; and physically touched and assaulted her including hugging, kissing, putting her head in Plaintiff's lap, circling Plaintiff's arms around her, and touching and biting her breasts...

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