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MPRAC's Political Committee (1997)

 

A. Agenda for a meeting on September 20, 1997:

POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE: MEETING AGENDA 9 20 97
MINNEAPOLIS PROPERTY OWNERS ACTION COMMITTEE

Meeting will be called to order 9:30 AM at Nora’s Cafe on West Lake Street S. Mpls, September 20, 1997

NO ITEM ACTION TAKEN YES NO

1. Minutes of 09 06 meeting read and approved
2. Treasurer’s Report read & approved:
PAC forms filed with Hennepin County
3. Discussion of Budget and Campaign functions:

A Discussion of best campaign strategies
supporting candidates

campaign activities
supporting in medias
funding of candidates
working for candidates

4. Bylaws discussion
5. Charlie’s update: Charlie Disney
6. Other old or new business General Discussion
7. Next meeting Date, Time & Location
8. Motion to adjourn

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B. Minutes of meeting on September 6, 1997:

Political Action Committee MPRAC
Minneapolis Property Rights (Owners) Action Committee

Meeting of Saturday September 6, 1997 930 AM
at Nora’s Restaurant on West Lake Street in Minneapolis

Next meeting Saturday September 20, 1997 (30 AM
at Nora’s Restaurant on West Lake Street in Minneapolis

PASSED 1. Minutes of August 23, 1997 meeting approved
Meeting called to order at 945 AM

PASSED 2. Treasurer’s report approved We have money in the bank.

NEWS
Barbara Carlson has 700 lawn signs out.
The lawn sign letter cost about $450 and has brought in $290 to date.
People invited to the MPRAC, September 10, 1997, meeting include Kevin Diaz of the Star Tribune, Kirk Hill of the Tenants Union and our endorsed candidates who survived the primary.
Saturday, September 20, 1997, Steve Minn has a literature drop needing help.

ACTIVITIES at meeting
Jens Christensen passed out the MPRAC-PAC financial report to Hennepin County.
Jens Christensen passed ou the MPRAC-PAC early results of the ‘green card’ lawn sign mailing to 500.
Millers said he’s dnter the results into a database for our use.

DISCUSSION
Of MPRAC-PAC ‘green card’ mailing versus MPRAC telephone calling. The mailing does seem to be working. Jens Christensen committed that we should send out THANK YOU cards to people who responded.
Jens Christensen brought up our spending priorities regarding candidates. Jim Goldstein reminded us that we’d voted to discuss money support to candidates AFTER the primary.
Jim Goldstein pointed out we need to keep complete data on our lawn sign locations, volunteers, money to each candidate, so we have some proof when we claim credit for getting them elected.Should people be encouraged to give directly to the candidate or the PAC How should we claim credit

JOHN WILLIAMS
Talked a little about his cul de sac neighborhood ideas. Keeping apartment building to six units or less to encourage neighborliness. Long hallways are unfriendly. It works in Harlem, NYC. The minus is it concentrates traffic on a few streets and makes it harder to get emergency vehicles to your house if you need them. Minneapolis example is at 14th AvenueSouth and East Lake Street

BYLAWS
Jill Waite and Jim Goldstein report they are reviewing a non-profit corporation’s bylaws and articles of incorporation. They will re-word to work for us. Charles Test volunteered to fax them the Libertarian Party of Minnesota bylaws as a short and compact example of bylaws. He did so later in the day. Jill Waite and Jim Goldstein said they’d have a ‘skeleton’ draft by the next MPRAC-PAC meeting. Jill Waite will help file our papers with the State when we are ready.

MPRAC LIST TELEPHONING
Bill McGaughy reports turning over an un-specified number of lawn sign locations to the Barbara Carlson campaign. He had not sorted out lawn sign locations by ward from the MPRAC list telephoning yet.

CHORES
Craig Miller will create a data base for lawn sign locations. Charles Test will try to coordinate ‘green card’ results and MPRAC telephone results with Craig.

Charles Test 9 15 97 Secretary MPRAC-PAC

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C. Recollections of Bill McGaughey in December 2015:

MPRAC formed a “political committee” to support candidates favorable to our cause in the 1997 municipal elections. Our friend Barbara Carlson was running against the incumbent mayor Sharon Sayles Belton.

I sent out a fundraising letter to landlords in our group and others sympathetic to our cause. It yielded $2,000 to $3,000 as I recall. This money was turned over to the political committee. For the most part, these were not landlords in our group but others sympathetic to our cause.

The political committee operated in an entirely different way than MPRAC. Robert’s Rules of Order governed its meetings. Resolutions were offered and votes were taken. A secretary took notes and produced meetings.

By contrast, MPRAC was an “action committee” that operated by consensus under Charlie Disney’s leadership. Charlie was the magnetic personality that held the group together. He always claimed that it was not his personality so much that explained his success but the willingness to make “thousands of phone calls”. Charlie was on top of things and a master of motivating others to do work that contributed to the organization. But it had no organizational structure to speak of.

I acted as a self-appointed deputy to Charlie. He called me the group’s “chief writer” but I also acted as a strategist and organizer of protest activities.

I have to say that I became contemptuous of the political committee after it met on a bimonthly basis since the spring of 1997 and by the late fall seemed to have accomplished nothing. It was working on bylaws and such rather than helping candidates.

Some time in October - about a month before the November election - I attended a meeting for the purpose of giving the group a list of lawn-sign locations, as I recall. The group voted to delay campaign operations for another week or two. Disgusted, I took the lists back. This high-handed act may have caused some hard feelings.

I think Jens Christensen eventually took charge of the money and gave much of it to Jim Graham who was running for City Council in the 6th ward. He lost, as did everyone else that the political committee supported. Charlie was angry at Jens for having squandered the money but I thought it was OK if candidates were actually supported. By then, the money was all gone.

After the election, Charlie and I had lunch, or coffee, with two of the newly elected City Council members who we had not supported: Paul Ostrow, who later became president of the City Council, and Lisa Goodman, a major power player on the Council. Goodman made a point of how we had supported her opponent in the election. All I could say is that it was not us landlords but our “political committee” which had not been effective. I admired her frankness.

I have to say that even if the political committee failed, it brought me and the group into contact with interesting persons whom we would not otherwise have met. Among them was Alan Shilepsky who was the Reform Party’s candidate for Secretary of State in 1998, the same year that Jesse Ventura was elected Governor of Minnesota with the same party. I followed Alan in political matters, eventually becoming active in the Reform and Independence parties.

The chair of the political committee was Jim Jacobson. On his own initiative, he published a free-circulation newspaper, the Property Owner. It was published for several years. Afterwards, the Watchdog newspaper, published by Jim Swartwood, took its place. These newspapers added greatly to the group’s ability to influence public opinion. Jim Jacobsen now lives in eastern Montana.

Charles Test, the political committee’s secretary, was also state chair of the Minnesota Libertarian Party. He was also one of the participants in MPRAC’s original lawsuit. Charlie Test was quite active in MPRAC in its early days.

Craig Miller, a landlord in Camden, was active in the Republican party. He was friendly with Barb Johnson, who became chair of the Minneapolis City Council. After he moved to Rogers, Craig brought us in contact with Republican state legislators in that area such as state senator Warren Limmer. In short, Craig was our guide to state politics.

John Williams was a landlord whom I had met years earlier - in the 1970s - because he operated a group home on Pleasant Avenue where my brother, David, stayed for a time. John was a social visionary. He had some eccentric ideas that he applied to his housing community. I think John Williams moved to Florida - at least, I have lost touch with him. But, as an ideas man, he was my kind of guy.

Barbara Carlson, the mayoral candidate in 1997, became a close friend of Charlie Disney’s. They often played bridge together. I joined them at one bridge-playing session.

Jill Waite later became an attorney who took on radical causes. She might have gotten into trouble with the legal establishment. Jim Goldstein has died.

Jens Christensen was a leading light of the political committee. He had once represented the 6th ward on the Minneapolis City Council. His expertise in political matters was quite valuable. He, too, has died.

The political committee met at Nora’s restaurant, named after Nora Truelson. Nora’s son, Trygg, was an expert table-tennis player coached by Charlie Disney, Nora used to have a Christmas party at her home to which we were all invited. The Truelsons operated Porky’s fast-foot restaurant on University Avenue in St. Paul for many years. When light rail went in, Porky’s sold its facility to an religious organization that houses senior citizens. The city of Minneapolis killed Porkys on Central Avenue in Minneapolis. Trygg Truelson was its owner and manager. There is a new restaurant called Trygg’s on the Lake Street site where Nora’s used to be located.

So you can see that MPRAC was not adept at electoral politics but its foray into that area was rewarding nonetheless.

 

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