This week’s edition covers stories
from September 15th to September 27th, 2023.
Today’s issue is 950 words, a 7-minute read.
Ebe talks cannabis market’s bumpy start, holocaust denier Vaughn Klingenberg runs for Roseville Area school board, Union members at Seward Community Co-op to strike soon.
Hi ya’ll, Ebe again! You ever catch a whiff of something so specific that it transports you to not only a different time in your life but makes you remember a particular item from your past? The other day I was perusing the trinket section of Target (you know, the shelves of cheap items that greet you at the front of the store) and thought “it smells like Lisa Frank Halloween-themed erasers over here.” I don’t know about you guys, but stepping outside during the start of fall always takes me back to the start of elementary school, when our backpacks would be packed to the brim with unopened packages of crayons, markers, erasers, pens, and other little things we couldn’t wait to tear into.
Minnesota’s new cannabis market is off to a “bud” of a bumpy start. The state’s first legal cannabis director quit just one day after her job announcement last week Friday. After an MPR News-APM Reports investigation found that her business called Loonacy Cannabis Co. sold products exceeding state limits on THC potency, owed money to former associates, and accumulated thousands of dollars in tax liens, Erin DuPree stepped down from Director of Minnesota’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency after being appointed by Governor Walz. The findings raised serious questions about how thoroughly the administration checked her background before giving her the job.
“Not our finest hour,” said Walz in an interview with MinnPost on Saturday. “In this case the process did not work, and we got this wrong.” Cannabis shop owner, Adam Wagner of Twin Cities THC commented, on the situation in an MPR article, saying that it didn’t make sense that the state would appoint someone to enforce Cannabis regulations when they, themselves, couldn’t comply with them. In her public resignation statement, DuPree maintained her innocence, writing “I have never knowingly sold any noncompliant product, and when I became aware of them I removed the products from inventory. Conducting lawful business has been an objective of my business career. However, it has become clear that I have become a distraction that would stand in the way of the important work that needs to be done.” DuPree was also found to have lost multiple court cases having to do with unpaid wages or work that she failed to perform, reparations which she still has to pay. Walz issued his own statement after DuPree’s resignation and said that Charlene Briner would continue to lead the regulatory agency on an interim basis as the state works to hire nine leaders and launch the rulemaking process in October.
Vaughn Klingenberg, a holocaust denier, filed to run for the Roseville Area school board. That’s right, if you thought being holocaust denier was absurd, imagine having one make decisions on your child’s education. Klingenberg has not only made several comments about how Nazis didn’t want the holocaust and were actually trying to help Jewish people, but he has written an entire book dedicated to the subject, titled The Big Lie: The Holocaust (An Introduction to the Greatest Fraud of the 20th Century). Back in July, Klingenberg appeared on the podcast called VT RADIO: Uncensored Alternative Foreign Policy Talk, in which he stated that the Holocaust was orchestrated by “big Zionist Jews” to persecute “little Jews” and claimed that “the Jewish religion is an ideology based on victimization.” His other claims were that there was no evidence that Jewish people were gassed in concentration camps, and that “Jews, systematically, in particular, don’t want to know history if it contradicts their orthodox framework for the Holocaust.”
Roseville Area Schools Superintendent Dr. Jenny Loeck told Newsweek “Roseville Area Schools strongly rejects any language or stance that denies the truth of the Holocaust and its devastating impact not only Jewish people but our world. We stand for truth, human rights, and human dignity.” Other district leaders have pushed back against Klingenberg’s beliefs.
Union members at the Seward Community Co-op voted to strike last week Tuesday. Although no strike date has been set yet, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 663 members are fighting for livable wages, pay equity, and secure benefits, citing unfair labor practices. In a statement to 5 Eye Witness News, the union’s baragaining committee said that this strike was a last resort and that the Seward Co-op should ideally understand the union’s needs to uplift and support the community as it continually talks about equity.
Union members have also brought charges against the Co-op for unilateral changes in the contract, retaliation and bargaining in bad faith. Management at the co-op responded to the strike in a statement saying, “We are very sad to hear that UFCW 663 has chosen to initiate a strike authorization vote, especially given the fact that we are together at the bargaining table today. We are hopeful that we will be able to come to an agreement that will provide the best possible workplace experience while also ensuring the long-term financial sustainability of our community-owned co-op.”
As a Augsburg Alumnus, I used to frequent the Seward Community Co-op in between classes or meetings for my internship. As an activist of workers rights, however, it’s becoming increasingly less surprising to me to learn about the working conditions in seemingly great places around the Twin Cities. The efforts of UFCW 663 and other labor unions continue to give me hope for better working conditions for all.
That’s all from me, we’ll see you next time.
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