Monday, July 17, 2017

Tenth Ward Update: Saralyn Romanishan enters Ward 10 City Council race

Following the short-lived campaign of Scott Fine, and the blunderous beginnings of candidate David Schorn, Ward 10 now has a third city council challenger: Saralyn Romanishan. Romanishan is best known for her work running the Facebook page Minneapolis Residents for Responsible Development Coalition (MRRDC).

She's risen to become a leading figure in a movement of southwest Minneapolis anti-apartment activists who have become increasingly bold in the last few years, engaging in acts of vandalism such as letting the air out of the car tires of a worker who was removing appliances from a vacant house [VIDEO].

In 2015, both Romanishan and I were serving as board members with the Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association. Though Romanishan's campaign material now touts her role with the neighborhood organization's Zoning and Planning Committee from 2015 to 2017 as "promoting relations between the city, residents, and developers," this doesn't accurately reflect what she was up to at the time. 
Since the 2013 election in which Lisa Bender was elected to the City Council, Romanishan has gained prominence as Bender's chief antagonist: coining the term "Bendrification," calling the city's plan for equitable neighborhood engagement a "pogrom," and comparing the actions of city planners to Hitler's Third Reich.

A good example of that antagonism came in July 2015, when Romanishan wrote a Facebook post addressing a parking reform ordinance [screenshot] authored by Lisa Bender.

In the post, Romanishan plays to nativist sentiment, deriding Bender as an illegitimate newcomer to the neighborhood. She points out that Bender "moved into this neighborhood 2 or 3 years before running for office."

Romanishan goes on to observe that Bender "is from a 4th ring small town suburb and only lived in SF and NY for a very short time before moving here and running for city council..."

This was the context in which I shared a link to Romanishan's remarkable piece of political commentary:

Below is the email that I, and 10 other LHENA board members, received from Romanishan later that day:

Today, Romanishan is explicitly running her campaign for city council based mostly on the "community organizing" she did over the past four years with LHENA and MRRDC. So I guess you could say my big offense in sharing her parking commentary was chronicling the rise of a prominent neighborhood activist and budding political star.

Four days after Romanishan's initial message (and three days after I declined to delete my tweet), I received this email threatening my girlfriend, accompanied by a link to a sexually explicit online personals ad:

"pat farrell" is not a real name.

To summarize the timeline: in an email sent on a Friday night, Romanishan accused me of "stalking." Then, on Tuesday morning, someone acting on behalf of "LHENA volunteers" put my girlfriend's name, personal details, and location on Craigslist, inviting strangers on the internet to show up at her home.

Romanishan runs with a nasty crew of people, and she does her best to rile them up with wild accusations detached from reality. However remote her chances, and whatever your political inclinations, the idea of Saralyn Romanishan as a member of the Minneapolis City Council should scare you. If you are a journalist writing about her candidacy, please portray her as the fringe figure she truly is.