Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Please note I have a new phone number...


Alan Maki

Alan Maki
Doing research at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

A program for real change...


What we need is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would make it a mandatory requirement that the president and Congress attain and maintain full employment.

"Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens"

- Ben Franklin

Let's talk...

Let's talk...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Political Debate: A cornerstone of democracy... why is United States Congressman Keith Ellison afraid to debate his opponent Michael Cavlan

We received the following e-mail this morning from the Cavlan for U.S. Congress-5th District Campaign Committee.

This is not an endorsement of Michael Cavlan since neither of us, nor the Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council, support candidates for any political office from any political party unless they have made concrete written proposals and/or major public statements supporting the rights of casino workers.

The only candidates, to date, running in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan or Iowa meeting our criteria for endorsement are the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party's nominated candidate for Governor, Mark Dayton, who has stated publicly at a press conference that he is in favor a state-owned, state-operated casino that would be smoke-free and provide employees jobs under union contract with the protection of all rights under state and federal labor laws and Greg Paquin and Nicole Beaulieu of the new Warriors for Justice Party running as write-in candidates for Minnesota Senate District 4 and Minnesota House District 4-A, respectively.

In front of 180 people and media representatives from television, radio and the press assembled at the American Indian Center at Bemidji State University for a Minnesota Governor Candidates forum on Native American Indian issues, Mark Dayton profusely apologized for his lack of attention to the plight of casino workers, and pledged, now, to do what is right in return for our support, for not taking up the plight of Minnesota's 40,000 casino workers while he was the Democratic United States Senator from Minnesota, and pledged that he would do everything possible to correct the injustices Minnesota's 40,000 casino workers employed in the Indian Gaming Industry are being subjected to which includes being forced to work in loud, noisy, smoke-filled casinos at poverty wages without any rights protected like all other workers under state and federal labor laws.

We look forward to working with Governor Mark Dayton in resolving these issues. Mark Dayton is the one and only politician since Governor Rudy Perpich and the Warriors for Justice who have been willing to take a stand for justice on this issue.

We would look forward to working with Michael Cavlan as a United States Congressman were he to support a similar position as that taken by Mark Dayton.

However, who we support and endorse is not the issue here.

At issue is the very heart and substance of what democracy is all about because the Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council would like the opportunity to publicly ask Keith Ellison and Michael Cavlan their positions in relation to the plight of casino workers and our struggle for justice.

We note that Keith Ellison takes very substantial campaign contributions from the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association and its member casino managements while remaining silent as hundreds of his own constituents are employed under the most Draconian conditions at the huge and fabulously wealthy Mystic Lake Casino empire employing over 5,000 workers in its casino and related hospitality industry operations who are FORCED to sign statements, in complete violation of all state, federal and international laws and accepted rights and standards, stating that they understand that if they engage in union organizing to protect their rights and their livelihoods and in an effort to gain a voice at work they will immediately be terminated.

Keith Ellison has personally told us on at least three occasions while a state representative and twice while a member of the U.S. Congress when asked about this most deplorable situation regarding the plight of Minnesota's more than 40,000 casino workers: "I don't have time to talk to you right now; make an appointment to come talk to me in my office." Phone calls, letters and e-mails have all gone unanswered for such a request to talk about these problems with Keith Ellison in his office.

Quite frankly, we hope that Keith Ellison is defeated because he is completely dishonest and refuses to represent the best interests of his own constituents in favor of taking bribes from the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association which is nothing but a front for mobsters and organized crime who own the slot machines and table games and operate the illegal prostitution, loan-sharking, gambling (sports wagering--- including in addition to professional sports, college and high school sports and horse racing) not to mention the drug trade.

This Indian Gaming Industry in Minnesota which takes tens of billions of dollars out of Native American Indian communities every single year is directly responsible for the continued shameful poverty and violence plaguing Native American Indians who are predominantly working class and for whom these poverty wage jobs without any rights assures nothing but a life of rapidly expanding and growing poverty while being forced to work in smoke-filled casinos assures illness from cancers and heart and lung diseases--- among the most painful of all human diseases and the most expensive to treat for which there are seldom cures.

Congressman Keith Ellison, like other Democrats and Republicans and the rest of Minnesota's politicians, including the Green Party and other "alternative" parties and their candidates, have the most shameful record when it comes to casino workers' rights.

We point out that Ralph Nader has also been shamefully silent concerning the plight of workers in the Indian Gaming Industry so his endorsement of Michael Cavlan does not impress us.

Again, our concern in having received this letter from the Cavlan Campaign organization is for the well-being of democracy which we know for a fact to be at an all-time low simply because casino workers have been denied their rights and a voice at work through the connivance and scheming of mainly Democratic Party politicians who have seen to it that the mobsters operating these casinos were provided the right to oppress and exploit under "color of law" through the creation of "Compacts" creating this most hideous, racist and anti-labor Indian Gaming Industry... there has never been, in the history of the world, such undemocratic and corrupt connivance and scheming between politicians and the managements of any other corporations and industries even though there have been some real doozies.

We look forward to hearing the views of Michael Cavlan and Keith Ellison on this particular issue during a public debate.

But, alas, we casino workers know from our attempts to simply convey our views to him, that Democrat Keith Ellison is nothing but a big-mouth con-man who is a chicken shit opportunist politician looking to fatten his own pocket-book.

We further understand what many people apparently do not, that if United States Congressman Keith Ellison refuses to accept his responsibility in standing up against the injustices of casino workers taking place right under his nose in his own community, he cannot be relied upon to seek an end to injustices anywhere on any issue--- not in Palestine and not here in Minnesota.

And we further note that in spite of all of Keith Ellison's fancy sounding rhetoric, if casino workers cannot count on him and rely on him to be a voice for these most basic and fundamental human rights and worker rights--- no working people can count on him for anything when they encounter problems.

Of course, we always welcome any and all politicians to change their views taking our injustices into consideration as Mark Dayton has done.

Mark Dayton found out what it was like to be encountered in public with our problems and concerns; so did the other candidates running for Governor--- they failed to address our concerns, and they lost; Mark Dayton went on to win the Primary against an opponent supported by the well-heeled elements in the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party's "Business Caucus" and the Summit Hill Club who had repeatedly spurned us--- Dayton, with our support, won; Margaret Anderson-Kelliher lost.

We are going to do everything we can do to make sure that Mark Dayton becomes Minnesota's next Governor.

We helped to support Mark Dayton from the minute he held a press conference on the steps of Minnesota's State Capitol announcing his support for a state-owned and operated casino in the Twin Cities, to as he said, "Compete with the Mystic Lake Casino."

Of course we applaud Mark Dayton's stand in support of single-payer universal health care based on the Canadian model--- we too have supported single-payer universal healthcare as a first step towards a national public healthcare system; his stand in condemnation of racism and in defense of affirmative action--- this has been our stand from the time we organized; his stand in support of teachers and all public employees who have become targets for other politicians seeking to use them as scapegoats for our many problems--- our Organizing Council and Organizing Committees across Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa have repeatedly been involved in campaigns of solidarity with other workers, including teachers and public employees; and, of course, we admire and support Mark Dayton for having the courage to take up the struggle where Floyd Olson, Elmer Benson and Rudy Perpich left off with a call to "tax the hell out of the rich"--- we have called for peace and an end to these dirty wars and the redistribution of the wealth in this country that can only come from "tax the rich" governmental policies.

We believe it was because of the support Mark Dayton received from the Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council and the Warriors for Justice in his very narrow Primary victory that Mark Dayton is now in the running to be Minnesota's next Governor and we don't intend to let Mark Dayton or any other politicians forget this.

In closing, we would just like to note that when workers are deprived of their voices and rights at work, they have no voices or rights in the communities or states or nations where they live. Because, as we have seen over and over again with workers employed in the Indian Gaming Industry, as soon as they speak out in their communities on issues like the need to raise the minimum wage to a real living wage, they are fired... or, they are fired simply for writing "letters to the editor" which are not approved of by these casino managements and they are even fired for simply "blogging" their views.

Scores of casino workers have been fired for "blogging."

Like Keith Ellison's refusal to debate Michael Cavlan... these are all attacks on the basic and fundamental democratic principles upon which our Nation was founded... Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Crispus Attacks and Tom Paine and that great debater and emancipator, Abe Lincoln, would be rolling and thrashing in their graves if they knew what the democracy they struggled so hard to create has degenerated into.

We want to know, and voters have a right to know, where Michael Cavlan and Keith Ellison stand in relation to the plight of so many of the casino workers who reside in Minnesota's 5th Congressional District--- one of the most impoverished areas of Minnesota.

While we are impressed that Cynthia McKinney, who has taken a very bold, strong stand, both as a Democratic member of the United States Congress and as the Green Party's candidate for President, in support of the rights of casino workers employed in the Indian Gaming Industry to organize unions to protect their rights and their livelihoods... we are unimpressed with Cavlan's endorsement from Ralph Nader who has refused, for many years, to articulate a position in support of casino workers.

Nor do we share Michael Cavlan's complete rejection of Democrats, seeing as how we have found one decent Democrat among those in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa in Mark Dayton... we are sure there are a few more, but a three-fingered man would have difficulty counting them all on his fingers.

Maggie Bird
Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council

Alan L. Maki
Director of Organizing,
Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council

Brenda Long
For the Minnesota Coordinating Council
of Casino Workers Organizing Committees
of the Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council
and resident of the 5th Congressional District

Subject: RE:  For Immediate Release - Nader Endorsement

For Immediate Release: September 8, 2010 
For Further Information: Dori Ullman (612) 414-9528
September 8, 2010
MINNEAPOLIS – The Michael Cavlan for Congress Campaign is extremely happy to announce that consumer advocate and three-time Independent Presidential Candidate Ralph Nader has endorsed Independent Congressional Candidate Mike Cavlan for House of Representatives in Minnesota's 5th district.
Mr. Nader contacted the campaign writing:
“Michael Cavlan – so knowledgeable, so perceptive, so committed to a deliberative democracy – is the Congressional candidate to support inthe 5th district if you want “people” and “justice” to have a chance. Demand that Michael Cavlan participate in the debates with the other candidates. You'll see for yourself that he is truly of, by, and for the people.”
Cavlan said, "We are deeply honored to have Ralph Nader give us such a powerful endorsement”. Cavlan has a history of being a hard-hitting, no holds barred champion of working men and women and said, “We are committed to living up to Ralph Nader's endorsement, his words will be a source of inspiration to all of us working  to improve the conditions not only in the 5th District but in our entire nation”.
Cavlan has also been endorsed by peace activist Cindy Sheehan, former Presidential candidate Representative Cynthia McKinney of Georgia, former US Senate candidate Brother Ray Tricomo as well as the Kalpulli Turtle Island Organization which is committed to creating a more sustainable and equitable nation.
Cavlan repeated his call to the people of Minnesota's 5th District saying: "The Two Party System is the war machine. It's actions are accelerating the decline of our nation's greatness. It is time for officials in both parties  to end the lies. Help rather than hinder the American people in creating a new vision for our nation and our offspring."

The Cavlan Campaign is issuing a call to action. Call the offices of Congressman Keith Ellison. Demand that there be debates and that Michael Cavlan is included in them.

Keith Ellison's Office numbers are
Minneapolis (612)522-1212
Washington DC (202)225-4755