Nearly two years after George Floyd’s murder, still looking for leadership on transforming law enforcement

Say thousands of angry citizens stormed the streets because our drinking water was polluted and the government wasn’t fixing it. Police are called in from multiple jurisdictions to quell the unrest. Citizens report multiple cases of excessive use of force.

When the dust settles, would our most urgent task be to figure out how to fix law enforcement’s crowd control?

No. We’d be rushing to find ways to get clean drinking water.

So when angry citizens take to the streets because of police brutality — such as what happened after George Floyd’s murder — why are we focusing on improving law enforcement practices and slow to act on a law enforcement system that makes many people feel unsafe, and be unsafe?

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A hard look at the State of MN’s commitment to ‘meaningful consultation’ with Native Nations

Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan failed miserably to live up to the spirit of their pledge of “meaningful consultation” with Native Nations. Examples include the state’s approval of Enbridge Line 3, MinnTac mine’s ongoing wild-rice-damaging pollution, the proposed Huber Lumber mill, and other environmental issues.

All state agencies are required to have tribal consultation policies on file with the Governor’s Office. Healing Minnesota Stories obtained copies through a Data Practices Act request.

The “meaningful consultation’ agencies provide don’t include any accountability or enforcement measures. Agencies aren’t transparent on how Tribal consultation affects their decisions.

A state law passed last year could strengthen the practice of “meaningful consultation.” Only time will tell.

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What does Tribal Consultation look like?

The Minnesota Legislature strengthened the state’s commitment to consulting with Native Nations, but agencies still need to follow through

On April 5, 2019, Governor Walz issued Executive Order 19-24: “Affirming the Government to Government Relationship between the State of Minnesota and Minnesota Tribal Nations: Providing for Consultation, Coordination, and Cooperation.” It commits the state to “meaningful and timely” consultation.

That’s profound. It means sharing power with Native Nations on issues of mutual concern to make decisions beneficial for both sides.

The executive order states agencies “must consider the input gathered from tribal consultation into their decision-making processes, with the goal of achieving mutually beneficial solutions.”

The Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline provided an early test for the Walz administration’s promise. The administration failed.

A bill passed during special session this year makes another effort to strengthen the state’s commitment to meaningful consultation with Native Nations.

Key to this conversation is being precise about exactly what “meaningful consultation” means and looks like.

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Star Tribune steps up to the plate on treaty rights, swings, and misses

I was excited when I read the Nov. 13 Star Tribune headline: Minnesota officials work to mend historically fraught relationship with tribes. I was hoping for a thoughtful analysis.

Reading it, I was reminded of what my friend Bob Klanderud called a “wish sandwich”: Two pieces of white bread with nothing in between other than a wish for some peanut butter.

The story lacked peanut butter, I wish it were there.

The story didn’t mention Enbridge Line 3 once. It’s an open wound and central to Minnesota’s current “fraught relationship” with Native nations in northern Minnesota.

For years, the Red Lake and White Earth nations have argued that the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline violates treaty rights to hunt, fish, and gather on lands they ceded to the U.S. government. They have received zero support from the Governor’s Office or his agency heads.

The Star Tribune was willfully ignorant of how important Line 3 is in Indian Country and/or it didn’t want to ask tough questions.

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Aitkin County Sheriff to bill Enbridge 4,800 staff hours for Line 3 training and responses

And pushing back on Sheriff Guida’s claims his office didn’t take sides in the controversy

[The correct date for this blog is Nov. 11, 2021]

Aitkin County Sheriff’s Office will submit bills to the Enbridge Line 3 Public Safety Escrow Account for reimbursements for 4,800 hours of staff time dedicated to Line 3 work, Sheriff Dan Guida said in a statement issued Wednesday.

Specifically, the county will bill 4,373 hours for public safety responses and 450 hours for staff training on pipeline construction. Guida didn’t include a dollar figure for those costs. A back-of-the-envelop calculation estimates salary costs around $140,000. The final bill could go higher if it includes benefits, travel, equipment and other costs beyond salaries.

In his statement, Guida said his office stayed neutral on the conflict. That claim needs to be challenged.

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MN environmental leaders press Walz to pull Line 3 permits, PA Attorney General sues pipeline company for ‘environmental crimes,’ and more

In this blog:

  • Minnesota environmental leaders press Walz, Flanagan to pull Line 3 permits due to Enbridge’s construction problems and reporting failures
  • Scientists provide extensive list of Enbridge Line 3’s construction and oversight problems
  • Pennsylvania Attorney General sues Energy Transfer for ‘environmental crimes’ during construction of the Mariner East 2 Pipeline
  • Scientists release water analysis from Enbridge Line 3 frac out sites
  • Looking at future environmental damage from Enbridge Line 5 in Wisconsin
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Key political leaders have ducked the Line 3 controversy, pressure now on Biden to embrace the moment

Those of you, like me, who went to elementary school in Minnesota will recall playing the game “Duck, Duck, Gray Duck!”

We apparently are unique in using this name, as kids in every other state call it “Duck, Duck, Goose!”

Politicians have come up with their own version of the children’s game around the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline. They call it “Duck, Duck, Duck, Duck, Duck, Duck.”

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Reading the fine print on the MPCA’s commitment to ‘meaningful consultation’ with Native Nations

Gov. Tim Walz issued an executive order in 2019 committing the state and its various departments and agencies to “meaningful and timely consultation” with Native Nations on issues of mutual concern. So why didn’t the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) meaningfully consult with Tribes on Line 3? First in a two-part series.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) approved several key permits for Enbridge to build its Line 3 tar sands pipeline through northern Minnesota’s streams, wetlands, and wild rice areas, including one certificate that’s supposed to protect water quality.

Under Walz’s executive order 19-24, the MPCA was supposed to engage in meaningful consultation with Native Nations. By all appearances, the agency failed to do so on Line 3.

Examining the MPCA’s tribal relations policies tells why.

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Walz flops on question about what his Line 3 support says about his climate leadership

I spoke to candidate Tim Walz twice when he was running for Governor in 2017, once at a house party, once at a DFL unity event at a St. Paul brewery.

Both times I asked him one question: Where do you stand on the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline?

Both times he assured me he opposed the project. “Peggy would never let me do that,” he said, a reference to his running mate, Peggy Flanagan, an enrolled member of the White Earth Nation and then an outspoken Line 3 critic.

Walz spoke briefly about Line 3 Friday on MPR. I wasn’t surprised at his comments, but still angry.

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