This week marked the first anniversary of the tornado that ravaged so many neighborhoods on the North Side and across the Fifth Congressional District.
On Monday, I penned an op-ed for the Star Tribune. The op-ed made the point that especially in the aftermath of the tornado our inner city needs focused leadership.
As evidence I cited the fact that our city has:
- The worst achievement gap in education between black and white students in the entire country.
- The worst unemployment gap between blacks and whites in the entire country.
My op-ed was critical of Keith Ellison’s meandering focus on geo-political issues at a time when crucial leadership was needed in his own backyard. I made the point that policy changes and smart, focused and selfless leadership were sorely needed.
By Wednesday Keith fired off a snarly op-ed that misrepresented my position. He said:
“My Republican opponent, Chris Fields, recently penned an op-ed implying that north Minneapolis lacks leadership (“North Side needs attentive leadership,” May 21). I strongly disagree.”
He followed it up with a radio interview with Al McFarlane on KFAI and attempted to slam me by saying that his ‘Republican Opponent thinks he’s the Savior of North Minneapolis’. This is the same exact phrase the Minnesota Progressive Project blog used to attack me.
Nice to know that I am the subject of a coordinated attack and smear campaign!
Devin Henry at MinnPost picked up on the dueling op-ed and commentary. Devin is typically a straight shooter. Devin noted that in his piece Keith“offered up a list [of] other federal funding he’s helped secure for Minneapolis, including a $28 million grant for an education initiative at a North Minneapolis high school.”
It’s true that the Northside Achievement Zone received Federal funding. It’s shameful to see Ellison tout that as one of his personal successes when insiders know that Senator Al Franken was the lead advocate for the grant. Keith only signed on at the end when it was basically a done deal.
In an effort to get relief for the tornado victims the same thing happened. Franken took the lead and Keith just signed his name to the effort, despite his promise to residents to “lean” on FEMA. (Click to see Franken’s letter for yourself.)
In the same MinnPost article Devin Henry noted that:
“Fields' main point, that Ellison failed to secure federal assistance following last year’s tornado, is both right and wrong.”
The right part being that Ellison did in fact fail to secure assistance for individuals; the wrong part being that some assistance was provided due to the declaration of disaster in June. I respect MinnPost’s view but still maintain that if we were a hotly contested district or a swing state, individual assistance would have been made available to us without delay.
It may have been a challenge, but it’s not hard. I’ve lived hard. Hard is something Marines do every day before breakfast.
As a Marine I personally witnessed what’s possible when the President, U.S. government and focused politicians want something done. It can be awe-inspiring. The fact that Keith Ellison couldn’t deliver is part of the reason people have lost confidence in the federal government.
If Ellison’s argument in this election is that he’s done a wonderful job and if he just had another two years he can give us more of the same, then I look forward to that debate.
In fact, yesterday we challenged Keith to a real debate in each of the cities in the Fifth Congressional District. We are eagerly awaiting his acceptance of our offer.