John Thomas


Graduates, it’s time to fulfill your civic duty

I cannot recall a bloodier, more unforgiving year than 2016. The problems highlighted by catastrophes this year — police brutality, racism, homophobia, socioeconomic injustice — are not new, but they’ve just now reached a boiling point.  A complex web of issues precipitated the injustices we’ve seen in Orlando, Louisiana, Dallas and Minnesota, and now, the healing must begin with the young people in our communities.

You owe them your attention

Late last June, security at Memphis International airport threw a disabled woman to the ground and arrested her. Her mother pleaded with agents, attempting to convince them that her daughter was resisting simply because she did not understand what was going on or what they had planned to do to her. Agents didn’t listen to her pleas, and now a six-figure lawsuit sits at the feet of the Transportation Security Administration and the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority.

God loves, man vapes

I used to smoke a pack a day, or, more accurately, as many cigarettes as I could get my hands on.  That’s right — I was cool. Nowadays, I’ve all but quit, averaging one every week or two. I’m no nicotine-free saint, but even though I occasionally text the Marlboro Man at two in the morning, at least I’ve never done more than a one-night stand with Cancer Robot 2000 in any of his artificially flavorful forms. 

University representative seeks Metropolitan Council chairmanship

One of the Metropolitan Council members who represents the University of Minnesota seeks to become the council’s next chair amid new initiatives and structural changes for the governing body. District 8 Met Council member Adam Duininck hopes to replace Susan Haigh when she steps down at the end of the year. And around that time, the position’s requirements will change in an attempt to better address its responsibilities, Gov. Mark Dayton announced late last month.

Efforts to boost midterm voter turnout ineffective

Minnesota had the lowest voter turnout in 30 years during last month’s election, officials announced last week. While voters historically turn out in lower numbers for non-presidential elections, data from the secretary of state’s office show that this year’s results are low even compared to past midterm elections. “You have a government as a whole trying to make it easier for people to cast ballots — why is it going down?” said Larry Jacobs, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for the Study of Politics and Governance.

St. Paul to better communicate parking bans

St. Paul residents should expect clearer communication about winter parking restrictions this season. The St. Paul City Council is slated to adopt two ordinances next week that would cut down on the bureaucracy required to restrict parking on non-snow emergency streets. Officials say the change is a response to problems during last year’s harsh winter. The city imposed one-side parking bans across various streets last year for the first time in recent memory, said Kathy Lantry, St. Paul City Council president and sponsor of both ordinances.

MNsure asking for another try

After a tumultuous first year, Minnesota’s state-run health care exchange opened for its second enrollment period on Saturday. At a Friday event at the University of Minnesota, officials and experts in the field asked Minnesotans frustrated with the MNsure website failures to give the exchange another shot.

Want $10 an hour? Grab a shovel at TCF

Officials say they need help removing snow from TCF Bank Stadium before the University of Minnesota’s Saturday football game — and they’re willing to pay anyone who pitches in. The University announced Wednesday that it will pay $10 an hour for help shoveling the stadium before the Gophers face Ohio State. About 100 people showed up for the first shift on Wednesday afternoon, said Associate Athletics Director of Facilities Scott Ellison. Ellison said officials are aiming for another 30 to 50 people per shift but he welcomes any help.

Eventful week brings campus discussion of Israel and Palestine into focus

Events this week across the University of Minnesota’s campus have highlighted the conflict and connection between Israel and Palestine. University groups Students Supporting Israel and Students for Justice in Palestine are holding cultural and educational events this week to raise awareness about unrest in Israel. The events, though planned weeks in advance, come at a time when violence and other controversies in the West Bank stir.