BUZZ Blog: How should the DNT label the divide on the city council?
Peter Passi and Brandon Stahl cover issues related to the city of Duluth. Follow BUZZ on Twitter.
It's the ____ vs. the _____
So, among the many things I've written over the last week and a half on the NorShor that I've been told was more or less idiotic came from the Monday night story on the council approval of the purchase:
"...they eventually split along partisan lines. Democratic councilors said the opportunity to remove the strip club from the NorShor building and renovate the theater was too good to pass up."
Did you catch the screw up? Councilor Jay Fosle called me the next day blasting me for calling him a republican.
"But wait," I said, "I don't remember calling you a republican."
But I labeled six of the councilors as democrats, he said. Therefore, he argued, the three that opposed them were inferred to be republicans.
"And I'm not a republican," he said. "I'm an independent."
Um. Ok. I tried to explain that I was attempting to label the council voting bloc for the average reader who doesn't follow the council closely, but would be hyper-interested in the NorShor sale. As he knows, and readers of this blog know, there is a group of six councilors, all of whom label themselves as democrats, have been endorsed by the Duluth DFL and who traditionally vote together on partisan items such as tax increases, union issues, and even the NorShor. Does the general public know that? I'm not so sure.
And there are three councilors -- Fosle, Todd Fedora and Jim Stauber -- who often vote against the six. While Stauber is openly republican, Fedora doesn't claim a party, and Fosle told me that he believes both parties are broken.
Nevertheless, the three often vote together. It doesn't always happen that way -- last year Fosle voted for the property tax increase, if I remember correctly -- but more often than not that's just the way it goes down. I feel there is a distinct partisan divide on the council.
"But the council is non-partisan," Fosle said.
Yeah, well, I guess in theory. But party endorsements and campaign contributions long ago wiped out the notion that you had nine truly party independent city councilors. I met four of the six democratic councilors at the DFL convention Friday and Saturday (three were actively cheering for R.T. Rybak), and I was told two of them were around.
And so let's just be realistic and say there is a split. But how to label that split? I've run into this problem continuously since taking the city beat a couple years ago.
I agree with Fosle that labeling the six as democrats infers that the other three are republicans. I've done it as liberals vs. conservatives in the past, inferring that it's fiscal liberal vs. fiscal conservative. But to some "fiscal liberal" is an offensive term. To some even "liberal" is an offensive term. There's progressives versus conservatives, but that infers the progressives are the ones for progress, while the conservatives are not. I've even considered the Jets vs. the Sharks. But which ones are the Jets and which ones are the Sharks?
So help me out here. How should I label the divide on the council?