Full disclosure of corporate corruption: Bluestem's owner and editor was the Betty Crocker Family Leader of Tomorrow for St. Peter High School (and one of five state finalists) back when Trix's great-grandmother was a pup. Popularly known as the Betty Crocker Homemaker, awardwinners were selected by a written test and essay.
Two wildly separate news items today, connected only by the fundmental human need for food, underscore the failure of Minnesota's 87th Legislature. The legislature managed to put a divisive, retro amendment on the ballot, asking voters to enshrine anti-LGBT bigotry in the state constitution. It did not address fundmental problems with funding social services on the local level.
First off: Minnesotans for Marriage pathetic protest in Golden Valley against General Mills' courageous decision to oppose the marriage amendment. As Javier Morillo-Alicea notes in Someone wasn’t eating his Wheaties when he came up with ‘Dump General Mills’:
When it comes to protest, a general rules applies: Don’t Over-Promise. Don’t Under-Deliver. The brainchild behind the “Dump General Mills” campaign might have thought of that before getting all of the Minnesota media out to meet what was reported as “about 50″ or “dozens of supporters” ready to do some dumping. . . .
Morillo-Alicea notes that as the media reported that either 50 or 75 amendment supporters picketed Doughboy Central, the organization's communications department inflated resistance to Betty Crocker's evolving stance from "hundreds" to "thousands." Oops.
The best touches in the reporting? The Star Tribune's note that General Mills served coffee and water to the picketers:
“It’s the neighborly thing to do,” General Mills spokesman Tom Forsythe told those who had gathered. “I was raised as a Minnesotan, and when people drop by your house, you put on coffee, so that’s what we did.”
And in this morning's Hot Dish e-newsletter, a sweet bit of Minnesota Nice in this Baird Helgeson item:
Marriage amendment supporters weren’t the only ones dropping off General Mills products during Tuesday’s rally at the company’s headquarters. Minnesota for Marriage is protesting the company’s opposition to the amendment that would ban same-sex marriage. The group collected General Mills products from amendment supporters that will be donated to local food shelves. But in a move to thank General Mills, at least a couple amendment opponents came over to donate food, too. Mark Bauer, an amendment opponent, donated $20 in General Mills cereal, with more to come in coming days. “I disagree with what they [amendment supporters] are doing, but I definitely agree with them on feeding the needy and helping the poor,” he said. -- Baird Helgeson
Drinking Liberally is holding a "Thanks, General Mills" food drive tomorrow night. If you're in the Cities tomorrow, drop off some GM items for area food shelves.
And so to the news from Faribault about another food-related protest that involved about the same number of protesters. In More than 50 turn out in rally for Rice County social services funding, Joseph Lindberg reports:
Justice, compassion and Rice County families.
Those are the reasons more than 50 county residents — many toting signs and bells, nearly all carrying personal stories — lined the southern entrance to the county’s Government Services Building Tuesday morning.
They want it known: The Rice County Social Services system isn’t delivering services, and families are paying the price.
“Just recently I had a family fight over food,” said Dan Dimick, a family therapist and psychologist who works all over Rice County. “A kid ate some cheese, and the mother got angry. It’s stressing families.”
According to the story, Rice County faces a "a 150 percent increase in food support applications alone since late 2007."
The Rice County board is committed to keeping "the lowest per capita property tax levy in the state at $294, one of only two counties that are under $300, according to county documents" but faces sanctions from the state if it does not reduce the backlog of paperwork.
And the "no new taxes" philosophy is also delaying payments in other areas, while the board pins its hopes on a new data system, rather than hiring new staff to eliminate the backlog:
"Nine months is a long time to wait," said Malecha. "In the meantime we've got nursing homes not getting paid and daycare providers not getting paid.
The mandate of services to counties and the "not a cent more" dogma at the legislature --as well as the board's stubbornness--fuel this real food fight. Recall that the Republican House Caucus produced and released the infamous Mary Franson video in which Franson repeated inbox malarky comparing feeding the poor with feeding wild animals, while touting "welfare reform" that would cut families off from aid.
Morillo-Alicea notes that the Republican-controlled legislature picked the fake fight over solving the real one:
In Minnesota, it was the Legislature that picked this fight. They did so even as they drove the government to shut down, even in the middle of a budget crisis, even in the middle of a jobs crisis, even in the middle of a financial meltdown. They made this their priority. That, in addition to dramatic generational and cultural shifts, has energized those who believe our constitution should not be used to limit the freedom to marry.
We'll hear more about Minnesotans For Marriage fake food fight in the War Against Betty, and Bluestem encourages people across Minnesota to buy and donate General Mills products to their local food shelves.
Then vote no on the marriage amendment in November, and pick state legislators who will get back to the people's business. Enough already.
Image: General Mills' Lucky Charms. Feel the Rainbow, Minnesota