WATCH: Midwest Forum on Fair Markets

Date: 22 Sep 2022 | posted in: agriculture, Retail | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

With Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison,
FTC Commissioner Alvaro Bedoya,
and Leading Advocates for a Fair Economy

Americans are suffering the consequences of government policy actively encouraging corporate concentration for the last several decades. From stagnant wages to sky-high prices, struggling family farms to shuttered local businesses, communities across the country are squeezed as a few giant corporations consolidate control over our economy and political process. Monopoly power has become a leading issue at the kitchen table and along Main Street. 

The Midwest Forum on Fair Markets, held Thursday, September 22 at Open Book in Downtown Minneapolis, explored new federal and state action to reinvigorate our antitrust policies and support small businesses, family farms, working people, and communities.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and FTC Commissioner Alvaro Bedoya made keynote addresses at the forum, which also featured panel discussions by people on the frontlines fighting for antimonopoly reform in Minnesota and nationally. Together, they helped lay out a path for creating an economy in which power and prosperity are widely distributed and progress is easier to achieve. You can read Commissioner Bedoya’s speech here

Co-hosted by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and Open Markets Institute, this is the antimonopoly, pro-democracy event you don’t want to miss!





Welcome Remarks:

**Click participant to see bio**
Barry C. Lynn is the executive director of the Open Markets Institute. Over the past two decades, Lynn pioneered understanding of how the monopolies of the 21st century threaten our democracy, individual liberties, security, and prosperity. Lynn’s efforts to update anti-monopoly law and thinking for the digital era have been fully embraced by the Biden administration and have shaped the thinking of policymakers and scholars around the world. His warnings on structural flaws in international systems predicted today’s supply chain crises, and his proposed remedies have been widely studied by the U.S. government, Europe, Asia, the IMF, and the OECD.

Lynn developed his thinking in three books — End of the Line (2005), Cornered (2010), and Liberty from All Masters (2020), as well as numerous articles, speeches, and congressional testimony. Lynn’s thinking has been profiled in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Politico, The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, and CBS, and his work has been translated into Chinese, Japanese, French, and Danish. Lynn was previously the executive editor of Global Business Magazine and a correspondent for The Associated Press and Agence France-Presse in South America. He holds a B.A. in English from Columbia University.

Stacy Mitchell is Co-Executive Director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a research and advocacy organization that challenges concentrated corporate power and works to build thriving, equitable communities. ILSR has been a pioneering leader in the growing anti-monopoly movement and has a long track record of working alongside grassroots groups to develop better alternatives, from community-owned broadband, to independent businesses, to distributed solar.

Stacy has produced pivotal research and reporting on the policies driving the decline of small businesses and the economic and political consequences of monopoly power. In 2020, she was profiled by the New York Times for her analysis of Amazon’s power and her leadership in building a broad coalition to counter it. Her reports and articles about the tech giant have drawn a wide and influential readership. The House Judiciary Committee cited her research extensively in its “Investigation of Competition in Digital Markets.” In 2022, political strategy firm Baron named her an “Antitrust Super Influencer” for her role in shaping the policy debate.

Stacy has written for The Atlantic, New York Times, The Nation, Wall Street Journal, and many other outlets. She’s the author of the book Big-Box Swindle. Her paper, “Antitrust and the Decline of America’s Independent Businesses,” was recognized in 2017 as part of the annual Jerry S. Cohen Award for Antitrust Scholarship.

Stacy’s perspective and research are frequently cited in national news media. She’s appeared in several documentaries, including FRONTLINE’s award-winning “Amazon Empire,” and on numerous national radio shows and podcasts, including NPR’s On The Media and Chris Hayes’ Why Is This Happening? She’s also a frequent speaker at conferences and in 2012 gave a popular TEDx talk on “Why We Can’t Shop Our Way to a Better Economy.”

As a strategist and advocate, Stacy has helped build coalitions and win campaigns for policies that level the playing field for independent businesses, curb corporate power, and strengthen communities.

In addition to her work at ILSR, Stacy serves on the board of the Maine Center for Economic Policy. She’s a graduate of Macalester College, where she trained as a historian. Stacy lives in Portland, Maine.



Keith Ellison was sworn in as Minnesota’s 30th attorney general on January 7, 2019. As the People’s Lawyer, Attorney General Ellison’s job is to help Minnesotans afford their lives and live with dignity, safety, and respect. His guiding values are generosity and inclusion.

From 2007 to 2019, Keith Ellison represented Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he championed consumer, worker, environmental, and civil- and human-rights protections for Minnesotans. He served for 12 years on the House Financial Services Committee, where he helped oversee the financial services industry, the housing industry, and Wall Street, among others. Among his legislative accomplishments are passing provisions to protect credit-card holders from abusive practices and protect the rights of renters and tenants. While in Congress, he founded the Congressional Antitrust Caucus and the Congressional Consumer Justice Caucus. He also served as co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which he helped build to more than 100 members.

Before being elected to Congress, Attorney General Ellison served four years in the Minnesota House of Representatives. Prior to entering elective office, he spent 16 years as an attorney specializing in civil-rights and defense law, including five years as executive director of the Legal Rights Center. As the leader of this public-interest law firm, he oversaw a team of attorneys focused on delivering justice for Minnesotans who had nowhere else to turn. He was also a noted community activist.

Attorney General Ellison received his law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1990. He is the proud father of four adult children: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Elijah, and Amirah. He is the first African American and the first Muslim American to be elected to statewide office in Minnesota.

Alvaro Bedoya was sworn in May 16, 2022 as a Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission. President Joe Biden named Bedoya to a term that expires on Sept. 25, 2026.

Bedoya was the founding director of the Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown University Law Center, where he was also a visiting professor of law. He has been influential in research and policy at the intersection of privacy and civil rights, and co-authored a 2016 report on the use of facial recognition by law enforcement and the risks that it poses to privacy, civil liberties, and civil rights. He previously served as the first Chief Counsel to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law after its founding in 2011, and Chief Counsel to former Senator Al Franken, of Minnesota. Prior to that, he was an associate at the law firm WilmerHale.

A naturalized immigrant born in Peru and raised in upstate New York, Bedoya previously co-founded the Esperanza Education Fund, a college scholarship for immigrant students in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. He also served on the Board of Directors of the Hispanic Bar Association of the District of Columbia.

Bedoya graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College and holds a J.D. from Yale Law School, where he served on the Yale Law Journal and received the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. He lives in Rockville, Maryland with his wife, Dr. Sima Z. Bedoya of Louisiana, a pediatric psychologist at the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute. They have two toddlers.


Panel Discussions:

Retail and Buyer Power – Remedies that state and federal policymakers have to level the playing field in the retail sector where mega corporations abuse their power to control prices and product availability. Featuring:

Shawn Phetteplace is the Midwest Regional Manager for the Main Street Alliance. Prior to joining MSA, Shawn had a 14 year career as an organizer, working for President Obama, three members of Congress, the ONE Campaign and in the labor movement. He lives in Madison, WI with his wife and son.
About MSA: Main Street Alliance (MSA) is an organization founded by small business leaders in 2008. MSA organizes small businesses around issues that matter most for businesses, their employees, and the community they serve. MSA aims to build a powerful, self-funded, multi-racial, small business membership organization that can shift our economic narrative, wield political power, and win policy reform for small business owners, employees, and communities.
RF Buche is the CEO and President of GF Buche Co. since 2000. GF Buche Co. was established in 1905 in Lake Andes, SD by RF’s great grandfather. RF is a 4th generation grocer. He has had the passion for the grocery business since he snuck out of the house at the age of four years old in blizzard like conditions just to walk to the store to be at work with his dad. RF has been working in the stores at every level ever since.

GF Buche Co. core focus is “supporting their local communities by winning at retail!” To accomplish this, GF Buche Co lives their cove values of being the best in customer service, being growth orientated, being adaptive and always doing the right thing!

RF Buche owns and operates grocery, convenience, fast food, hardware, and auto parts stores in 23 locations in 12 different communities spread throughout South Dakota. The Buche Company employs approximately 450 team members and is planning for more growth.

In 1992, RF graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Black Hills State University in Spearfish, SD where he also played football for the Yellow Jackets. During his professional career, Buche has been involved with most of his location’s chamber of commerce and other community events. RF Buche has served on the board of directors for the National Grocer’s Association. He currently serves on the board of South Dakota Retailers as past president and on the board of directors for Jobs for American Graduates (JAG). He and his wife Tammi have four children named Molly, Shannon, Gus and Gracie and one great grandchild named Tate. Gus is only 13 years old, but with having the founder’s namesake, RF is hoping he will be a 5th generation grocer.

Angela Schwesnedl runs Moon Palace Books and was named the 2020 Midwest Bookseller of the Year by the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association. Moon Palace Books is an independent bookstore in the Longfellow neighborhood of south Minneapolis.
Khali Jama is an organizer who has lived and worked in the Twin Cities since 1994. She has organized around Somali and Islamic rights for almost two decades here in Minnesota. She has been working at Amazon training new hires for just over six months. In addition to her work at Amazon, she also works as an on-call nurse and organizes with SEIU Local 26. Khali is the proud mother of two children.


Food Systems – How corporate consolidation harms farmers, food chain workers, and the families that depend on them, and how regulators can foster resilient and equitable food systems. Featuring:

Elizabeth Odette is Assistant Attorney General in the Consumer, Wage and Antitrust Division of the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, focused on Antitrust. Elizabeth joined the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office two years ago after more than 15 years in private practice at the Minneapolis law firm Lockridge Grindal Nauen. Much of her career in private practice was spent pursuing potential violations of the federal antitrust laws on behalf of nationwide classes. Additionally, she has represented classes and individuals related to consumer, product liability and securities laws. She has had the privilege to be a part of more than a dozen trial teams in these areas. For more than a decade, Elizabeth has provided pro-bono services representing youth clients in foster care in child protection cases through the Children’s Law Center of Minnesota. Elizabeth received her BA and JD from the University of St. Thomas Law School.


Healthcare and Hospitals – How antitrust policy can reverse the concentration in healthcare and hospital systems that has led to poorer health outcomes and care for midwesterners. Featuring:

Sarah Greenfield has over 15 years of experience integrating policy, advocacy, and grassroots and labor organizing to win ambitious policy change. As Health Care Program Manager at TakeAction Minnesota, Sarah played a key role in winning campaigns to expand and defend Medicaid and MinnesotaCare and implement the Affordable Care Act in Minnesota. Since joining O’Connell Consulting in 2019 she has worked with a diverse set of clients to advance and win policy objectives. She is committed to well-crafted policy, collaborative relationships, and helping organizations engage their members and win in the policy arena.

Sarah holds a B.A. in political theory from Hampshire College. She lives in Minneapolis with her family, two cats, and an ever-expanding vegetable garden.

Tracy began her career in Human Resources working for Kay Jewelers Inc. as a Benefits Administrator in Alexandria, VA. She returned to Cleveland and continued to forge a career in Human Resource Management with Midial U.S. Retail Group’s Fanny Farmer Company in Benefits Administration. Upon the sale of the company, she began her search for a meaningful change in her career. Her search led to a position with Case Western Reserve & Akron University through a partnership to examine the messages of HIV/AIDS prevention education for African American women. This was a career-defining turning point and the beginning of her true life’s work. During the next 5 years, she worked to educate women and inner-city teens on the importance of HIV/STI prevention. After this engagement, Tracy moved on to work in the funding world at the City of Cleveland Department of Public Health’s HIV/AIDS Unit as the office’s Program Director. During her post, she directed (14) HIV Prevention Programs for women, men who have sex with men, at-risk teens, and chemically dependent adults. After several years as a funding director, Tracy had a strong desire to return to direct service and did so through a post at the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland.

In October 1999, Tracy joined the AIDS Taskforce as Director of Education. During her tenure, she has also performed in the capacity of Assistant Executive Director, Chief Operating Officer, and Chief Executive Officer.

In 2012, Tracy helped to shepherd the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland into a new era of service provision by embarking on a search for an organizational partner. The Taskforce settled on a partnership with the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), a nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization, a global organization providing cutting-edge medicine and advocacy to more than 1.6 million patients in care in 45 countries and 17 cities in the US.

The AIDS Taskforce became a proud affiliate of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in May 2013 and soon after Tracy assumed the role of Midwest Regional Director. Most recently, Tracy added to that role the title of Director of National Mobilization Campaigns and Senior Manager for AHF.

Tracy has nearly 30 years of experience in non-profit management and HIV/STI Prevention Education. She holds a master’s degree in the Management of Non-Profit Organizations from Case Western Reserve University and her undergraduate degree is from Kent State University. She is the Co-founder of the Beyond Identities Community Center for youth and is published in the Health Issues Confronting Minority Men Who Have Sex with Men, printed in 2007.

John Farina is the Associate Director of Advocacy for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. He is responsible for advocacy through the organization’ social media outlets, as well as legislative affairs and policy work.

John has more than 30 years of experience in nonprofit management, fundraising, public policy, and advocacy. John is a veteran political organizer and consultant to many political campaigns. In addition to working for AHF, he runs his own boutique consulting firm, Shore Acres Strategies, specializing in small nonprofit consulting and political campaign outreach.

Jessica Astrup Ehret is a PharmD and 3rd generation owner of, Minnesota-based, Astrup Companies. Her grandfather founded their first business, Sterling Pharmacy, in 1952 and today the family of businesses has grown to include a dual-accredited (50 state licensed) specialty/infusion pharmacy, 2 national independent pharmacy buying groups, 4 long term care pharmacies, and 13 community pharmacies.

As a Communication Studies major, turned Pharmacist, Jessica is passionate about the value of interpersonal relationships in and around healthcare. She believes that when patients know and trust their providers (including pharmacists!) they will have greater success navigating their local healthcare environment, which will lead to better outcomes, in health and in life.

She believes that community pharmacists are healthcare providers and critical healthcare access points, and therefore she advocates for the advancement of community pharmacy practice and for improved access to local pharmacy care.

Steve Simenson, BPharm, FAPhA, FACA, DPNAP serves as Treasurer and Managing Partner five Community pharmacies in Minnesota. Located in Primary Care clinics, a grocery store and a traditional stand alone Community Pharmacy. He has cared for patients since graduating from the University of Minnesota in 1977. He as an adjunct faculty at the U of MN College of Pharmacy, Residency and APPE Preceptor, on the Board of Directors of Pharmacists Mutual Insurance Companies & Community Pharmacy Foundation & a CPESN MN leader, Advocates for Clinically Integrated Care, Pharmacist Delivered Direct Patient Care that includes Collaborative Practice and Pharmacogenomics. He is actively advocating for the pursuit of Patient Access to and Coverage for Pharmacist Patient Care Services.

He participates daily, and serves as an example of, innovative practice initiatives., practice based research, medication therapy management, collaborative practice, employer health and wellness services, and compounding.

He is past-president and founder of the Minnesota Pharmacists Foundation and past-president of the Minnesota Pharmacists Association. Steve was the 2013-2014 President of the American Pharmacist’s Association and is on the Board of Directors of Pharmacists Mutual Insurance Companies.

Rose Roach is the Executive Director of the Minnesota Nurses Association. Ms. Roach has thirty plus years of experience in the labor movement in MN and CA. Ms. Roach is also a member of the Healthcare for All MN Board of Directors and sits on the national Steering Committee for the Labor Campaign for Single payer.

A Minnesota native, Ms. Roach spent eleven years, from 2003-2014, working for the California School Employees Association and was an active leader within the CA health care policy reform movement.

A passionate advocate for health care justice, Ms. Roach is a national speaker on healthcare reform specifically via a single payer, Improved and Expanded Medicare for All system. Ms. Roach has been recognized as one of Minnesota’s 100 influential leaders in health care in 2016 and again in 2020. Ms. Roach served on former Governor Dayton’s Health Care Financing Task Force and as a co-chair of the St. Paul City Task Force on Earned Safe and Sick Time. Ms. Roach was also a member of MN Attorney General Keith Ellison’s Lowering Pharmaceutical Drug Prices Task Force whose final report won national Notable Document award from the National Conference of State Legislators.




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Reggie Rucker

As Communications Director at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Reggie develops communications strategies and leads campaigns to build public support for ILSR local power initiatives. Contact Reggie with media inquiries.

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