Like many who follow Minnesota politics, Bluestem is watching the state House of Representatives debate the Transportation Omnibus bill. There have been some moments--like Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa) minimizing the dangers of texting while driving (and belittling bicyclists)--but nothing measures up to Rep. Jim Newberger (R-Becker) and his special moment.
Newberger has a history of making extreme remarks.
The Uptake's Mike McIntee has pulled a clip of the moment in a post, “Convenient” Prison To North Minneapolis Connection Draws Boos For Rep. Newberger. Here's the video:
Rep. Jim Newberger (R-Becker) is against more funding for Minnesota’s North Star rail, a line that was originally supposed to go between Minneapolis and St. Cloud but has yet to be extended that far. During debate on a transportation bill Newberger said he’s against expanding the route because the tracks would go near St. Cloud’s prison.
“Boy, wouldn’t that be convenient, to have that rail line going from the prison to North Minneapolis,” said Newberger. After hearing some grumbling he quickly added, “or to any section of our state.” Boos were heard in the House chamber.
North Minneapolis is a neighborhood with a racially diverse population.
Newberger quickly apologized for naming North Minneapolis, “but that’s what came into my mind. It doesn’t matter, it could be any part of the city. But if you’re going to connect a large metro to a prison there’s going to be some concerns. I would be lying if I said there wasn’t.”
Newberger said in his “neck of the woods,” there’s a different name for the North Star. “We don’t call it North Star, we call it the black hole because that’s where all the money goes.”
Other representatives brought up the presence of St. Cloud State University, which had 17,231 students enrolled in 2011, but Newberger? Mention St. Cloud, and the first thing he's thinking about are 1035 prisoners now living in the state prison. According to the April 21, 2015 facility inmate report, 50 percent of those incarcerated are from non-metro areas, while 23 percent are from Hennepin County.
But on Planet Newberger, those 250-odd souls (and who knows how many of the Hennepin County population of the prison are from North Minneapolis) are the magnet for the North Star line if it's extended to St. Cloud.
Newberger has been a frequent subject for Bluestem posts, beginning with our December 2012 post, Scary MN: Representative-elect Jim Newberger totally freaks about EQB & Citizens Forums:
. . .For Representative-elect Jim Newberger at the Central Minnesota Tea Party Blog, it's no dogwhistle, but a full-throated tornado siren shrieking across the prairie and Granite City quarries. In Agenda 21 Coming to St. Cloud!, he writes:
It is time to act. The Environmental Quality Board is organizing an Agenda 21-style "congress” for Minnesota. I have received reports from folks who have attended the Rochester and Bloomington “congresses”. This is a huge move by the state to force a “Green Agenda”.
We have an opportunity to attend, to vote, and to speak at these events. The Liberals have been stuffing these rooms FULL. I was told there were 160 at the Rochester event! I was also informed that the majority of these people were government union people, or staff members from one of the MANY agencies behind this “congress”.
St. Cloud is Central Minnesota. This is OUR home turf. We need to be there. If we pull together: Liberty folks, TEA Party folks, Republicans and Conservatives then we CAN make an impact. We must stand together!
GET YOUR PEOPLE to the St. Cloud event. I will be there.
I will also be having an organizational meeting BEFORE this takes place so we are united and can work as a team. Stay tuned. Details to come.
Since Newberger hasn't been sworn into office yet, we suspect open meeting laws don't apply. Will his pre-Citizen Forum organizational meeting for his kindred spirits be open to the public and the press?
Following that introduction, we posted Captured on the Minnesota House floor: Pat Garofalo reacts to Jim Newberger, in which Garofalo indicates with hand signal that his colleague isn't mentally well; In prolonged rant on anti-bullying bill, Jim Newberger plays Orwell & Hitler cards (the headline speaks for itself); and MN House Coal Caucus votes to keep bill about air pollution away from environment committee.
We have more, but those are pretty good introductions to Representative Newberger.
Photo: Jim Newberger.
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