The mean backyards of Bloomington (5×8 – 8/30/11)

Busting the birdman, tapped-out FEMA, should daycare providers be required to join a union, blues for Honeyboy, and 500 people in 100 seconds.


“What are you in for?”

“Murder. You?”

“I fed the birds in Bloomington.”

OK, so Craig Brown was never really in danger of going to jail for feeding birds in Bloomington, but he’s been placed on probation for a year for doing so, the Star Tribune reports. Bloomington bans the feeding of wildlife, and neighbors complained that he was attracting rodents, deer, and birds by scattering feed on the ground, a charge he denied just before his case was to go to trial.

In an e-mail to the paper, Brown said his career as an ornothological ne’er do well is over:

“I am not worried about anything happening during the upcoming year of probation because I have long ago taken all of my feeders down and I am done feeding the birds as long as I live here in Bloomington,” Brown wrote. “I will continue to keep my three water sources in my backyard for the birds to drink from and bathe in, so we still will get a chance to occasionally see some birds out there through our windows.”

Feeding the birds per se isn’t illegal in Bloomington. Here’s the actual ordinance:

No person shall feed or allow the feeding of wild animals as defined in Section 12.91 of this City Code, such as, but not limited to, raccoons, deer, turkeys, ducks and geese, within any area of the City of Bloomington. For the purpose of this Section, feeding shall mean provision of non-birdseed mixtures, grain, fruit, vegetables, hay, mineral salt or other edible material, either on the ground or at a height of less than five (5) feet above the ground. Living food sources, such as fruit trees and other live vegetation, shall not be considered as prohibited feeding.

Song birds can be fed if the feeders are five feet above the ground. But not all birds eat from feeders. Some eat off the ground, and prefer, for example, corn or peanuts.

Cardinals, grosbeaks, crows, ravens, jays, doves, ducks, and cranes are in the corn club. Jays, crows, chickadees, titmice, and woodpeckers like peanuts. The problem is those feeds attracts house sparrows, cowbirds, starlings, and geese. And bears and deer.

Brown probably has the right idea. Give up. Birdies, you’re on your own.

Get a couple of these babies, instead, if you want to hear a little chirping.


FEMA – the Federal Emergency Management Agency — has run out of money. There have been 10 natural disasters in the country this year and the government is tapped out. It’s taking some money from Joplin, Missouri, where a tornado struck earlier this year. That’s over the objections of that state’s two senators. “If FEMA can’t fulfill its promise to our state because we have other disasters, that’s unacceptable,” Republican Roy Blunt said.

House Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor says if the U.S. is going to need more money for disaster aid, it’s going to have to cut somewhere else.

What about you, Fargo Moorhead? Would you be willing to give up some of your federal money for your floods to help out the people of Vermont and upstate New York? Let’s face it: This year’s flooding in the Red River Valley was nothing compared to this.

Here are some other ways you can help.

Now that the hurricane didn’t pan out for the important people of Washington, the Washington Post says, people there are going on a food binge to eat all the junk food they bought in anticipation of hours of isolation.

Stocking pantries is a finite answer to an infinite problem: Life is precious and indefinite. It ends, even­tual­ly, whether you buy 17 tins of tuna or not. The tuna is the symbol of our fears, our attempts to take human control over something that is larger than humanity. Hurricanes are horrible. If the power goes out or the roof caves in — if something unspeakable happens — let it be known that we did the tiny things we could do to prepare. We bought the canned fish.

A five-year-old girl in Pennsylvania filed constant updates on CNN’s iReporter site about the hurricane. They’re as substantive as anything else the TV networks provided in live reports.

Oh, and another hurricane may be coming.


Should daycare providers be forced to join a union? WCCO reports Gov. Dayton could sign an executive order soon mandating that daycare providers join AFSCME. Supporters say it will provide better training and more clout. Wisconsin and Iowa have gone down the same road.

More information? Here’s a pro-union website of child care providers, which contains this open letter:

The issue of homes being employees for purposes of negotiating with the state is a hybrid form of union. It’s not reducing any power of a home provider to run her business. In no way does a union tell you how to run your business. It’s a way to bring more providers together to advocate for themselves and parents. I can understand your opposition to unions who do a bad job. But the principle of union organizing is a democratic gathering together of folks to make their life better.

And here’s a site operated by providers who are against the idea of a union.

Your view?


The blues, the uniquely American music, is young enough that when an old blues man dies, it’s like losing Mozart.

David “Honeyboy” Edwards has died at age 96.

“You play a lowdown dirty shame slow and lonesome, my mama dead, my papa across the sea I ain’t dead but I’m just supposed to be blues. You can take that same blues, make it uptempo, a shuffle blues, that’s what rock ‘n’ roll did with it. So blues ain’t going nowhere. Ain’t goin’ nowhere,” he told the Associated Press in 2008.

Pour yourself a cup of joe, click this, and raise your mug to a pioneer. Work can wait.


If 500 people in a country, using 1,500 different images can come together to make this, isn’t anything possible?

(h/t: Neatorama)

Breaking arts news: We have a winner in the annual World Air Guitar Championship in Finland.


A recent rash of killings in Minneapolis has prompted alarm, in part because some of the victims have been quite young. One 14-year-old was shot while playing a game of tag. Today’s Question: What’s the answer to youth violence?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: How to trust your boss.

Second hour: How do small businesses access national representatives and impact federal policy?

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Live coverage of President Obama’s speech to the American Legion convention in Minneapolis.

Second hour: A Chautauqua Lecture by Erik Larson, author of “In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin.”

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: TBA

Second hour: What is combat really like?

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – We’ll have plenty of coverage of today’s speech by President Obama to the American Legion convention in Minneapolis.

NPR will look at the songs of J.D. Souther.

  • matt

    Re: the daycare divide

    Having 5 kids between 6 and 10 I offer this is a bit of a “daycare consumer” expert. If I felt that my daycare provider did not have “enough training” or clout I would have chose another provider. I have no problem with daycare providers joining a union but forcing them to? Was Dayton feeling left out of the “ignore the important stuff and insert govt into everything it doesn’t need to be in” games since the Repubs pushed through the same sex marriage vote? The state does pay for a lot of daycare and I can see where they would require contracting daycare providers to have some level of continuing education or other standards, which could be accomplished through a union but without a union as well. But in the end it is the parents of children that are the best judge of their providers qualifications not a union and not Dayton.

    That is it. I am not letting any politicians into my anarchy parade next week. Well, I won’t stop them because that would be creating rules but I will frown in their general direction.

  • John O.

    #1) I’ll bet that Bloomington neighborhood’s block party is a gasser! I would think that the City of Bloomington has more important issues facing it than whether or not a bird feeder meets the minimum standard of five feet off the ground.

    I wonder if they have an ordinance that establishes minimum setbacks for the placement of plastic pink flamingoes too?

    #3) Oh puhleeze. This is all about AFSCME collecting more union dues that are ultimately paid for by the parent(s). If enough kids dig in the sandbox, can they choose to be represented by the United Mine Workers instead?

  • David

    I’d love it if my retired neighbor would stop feeding “birds” on the ground as the food on the ground primarily attacts squirrels, mice, and raccoons. This is of her own admission.

    I’m not a fan of the extra rodents in my yard, especially all the mice in the fall, but I don’t have the heart to call the city or ask her to quit.

  • Bob Collins

    We need more foxes in our neighborhoods to eat the rodents.

  • lucy

    //We need more foxes in our neighborhoods to eat the rodents.

    There was an old lady who swallowed a spider…

    oops that’s a story about a lie that snowballed, but then again this is a story about bird fanatics.

    I think the problem might have to do with the proximity of the airport. Geese/birds and jet engines or props do not mix.

  • JackU

    I saw the report on ‘CCO last night and John O. what was said at the end of the story is that the issue of dues had not been determined. There are some situations were the dues is not mandatory. Since most of these operators are sole proprietors I would suspect that they wouldn’t be forced to pay dues.

    I would think that union membership would allow information to flow both ways. If something is happening at the capitol that will impact the daycare providers and the clients the union, which is there tracking legislation, can bring that information to the providers. If the providers notice that there is a need for legislation the union can advocate for them. I would hope that it wouldn’t be a forced thing but that it would be akin to a professional association with the overhead spread out over not just the day care providers but the other members of AFSCME.