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Northeast Power Vacuum


Paul Ostrow, the 1st Ward’s City Councilmember, has decided against running for a fourth term in 2009. Ostrow, in my estimation, is knowledgeable and diligent. He seems to have the temperament of a bureaucrat, without the obvious passion several other wards enjoy from their representatives. His decision does not create, but merely amplifies, the power vacuum in Northeast.

Like the rest of Minneapolis, it is essentially impossible for a non-Democrat to win any election around these parts. I predict whoever wins the DFL endorsement will become our next Councilmember. The StarTribune seems to agree:

The line to replace Ostrow began forming even before he disclosed his plans. Two Windom Park neighborhood residents are running for DFL endorsement and two more are considering it.

Doron Clark, 30, chair of the neighborhood group, announced Oct. 27 that he was opposing Ostrow. He's a job skills developer for Target Corp. Kevin Reich, 41, is just beginning his campaign. He's project manager for the Holland Park Improvement Association, another neighborhood group, and also is on the Windom Park board.

Also considering a run is Joe Velez, 51, currently an aide to City Council Member Don Samuels, and before that, development director for the Hawthorne Area Community Council. Susan Howitz Hanna, 49, an account manager for Qwest, also is thinking about running. She's been Ostrow's campaign treasurer and said she'd like to see a strong female candidate in the race.

I would like to see a strong candidate of any gender. So far, I am not impressed.

Clark has been wrong on every important issue facing Northeast Minneapolis over the past several years. He has opposed commercial develepment on moribund Central Avenue. When the Park Board announced plans to finally install the intended bike path on Stinson Parkway, Clark was out front with misinformation helping to whip residents into a frenzied opposition. And he embodies the principal flaws of community activism under the NRP engagement system.

Reich is another NRP flunky. He’s more fun to argue with than is Clark, and seemingly educated about some schools of public choice theory. But, again and in agreement with Clark, wrong on most important questions.

In fact, I am surprised the pair are running in opposition. They are currently “co-chairs” of the Windom Park neighborhood Board. I do not know how they arrived at such a situation, whether to avoid conflict or perhaps to share the workload. I’m pretty sure Minnesota law requires a non-profit corporation to have a real full-on President, but NRP has never been strong on accountability.

For whatever reason their arrangement, it appears gutless. The Eastside could use a fierce advocate for a change. We can’t fill this vacuum with more suck.