9:33 PM | Posted in
Last week in the Minnesota House of Representatives and in the Minnesota Senate, we saw steps toward reforming the way in which health care is delivered throughout the state. The Senate version (SF 3099), which passed today, has been the culmination of a variety of groups and people. Some of those include the Legislative Commission on Health Care Access, the Governor’s Health Care Transformation Task Force, the authors of SF 3099, and even the Governor (although he has since expressed misgivings about having worked with Democrats).

Some of its key provisions include:

o SF 3099 will develop a registration for Health Insurance Access Brokers. Any corporation selling insurance will be able to apply and act as an Access Broker. This will entail helping small businesses and individuals purchase health care insurance and set up Section 125 plans. MNCare enrollees above 200% of the FPG will be allowed to purchase the essential benefit set through this brokerage.

o SF 3099 establishes what is considered “affordable” for health care coverage. Health care costs consist of premiums, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket costs. For those individuals and families with incomes below 300% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG), the maximum amount of spending on health care costs would be on a sliding-scale basis, and would not exceed 7% of gross monthly household income.

o A subsidy program is also established to help employees whose health insurance costs exceed the established affordability standard.

o State funding would be provided for farmers applying to MNCare, pending federal approval which would reimburse state costs for this expense.


On the House side, there was a press conference last week to discuss their version and hear from community supporters of the legislation. This is the very 5% solution that I discussed with House DFL candidate, Rob Jacobs, who will be running against Dan Severson.

Press Conference (Part 1)


Press Conference (Part 2)


I encourage everyone to mail, email, or call their local legislators to encourage them in their efforts to reform the health care system in this state. This is especially needed for our more belligerent legislators. Let them know that their inaction and roadblocks are neither helpful nor welcomed.
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Local conservative economist, King Banaian, has taken issue with the recent St. Cloud Times editorial written by 6th District candidate Elwyn Tinklenberg. The title (El Tinklenberg -- Pro-Earmark Candidate), which I can only assume is a mistake from a highly educated man or a purposeful misstatement from a man who doesn't teach English, misses the entire point of the piece.

Actually, I take that back! It proves exactly the point that Mr. Tinklenberg was making about living in a black or white, right or wrong, and Pro or Anti world.

Elwyn Tinklenberg:

When 6th District Rep. Michele Bachmann recently pledged not to use the earmarking process to obtain federal funding, she could not have foreseen the emergency closing of a bridge in the heart of the largest city in her congressional district.

Therein lies the problem with taking extreme political positions that leave no room for the unexpected.

...

The concern is that not all earmarks are "bridges to nowhere."


And the black/white response from the peanut gallery:

But even more interesting is that Tinklenberg, rather than tack towards Bachmann on the earmark question, is willing to take a pro-earmark position.

What? To any honest observer, the Tinklenberg letter reads that not all earmarks are created equal. There certainly are earmarks that could be deemed wasteful but there are also earmarks whose purpose is truly helpful to a district or state. One of those earmarks could help the city of St. Cloud recoup the costs of building a new bridge. This is part of the massive gray area that conservatives refuse to recognize.

But even MORE interesting is that King doesn't mention the fact that the top two earmarkers in the United States Senate are Republicans and two of the top three earmarkers in the House of Representatives are Republicans. Oh, and did King mention that under the "evil" Democratic Congress the earmark process became much more transparent and cut the amount of money spent on those earmarks by 25%? Probably not...

Cross Posted on Dump Bachmann
Over in Senate District 14, the DFL endorsed Larry Hosch and Rob Jacobs for the Minnesota House of Representatives. For Jacobs, it took two ballots to achieve the required amount of support for the endorsement while Hosch cruised to a unanimous endorsement. Having met both these men, I can say with no uncertainty that they are fantastic choices and would serve the area well.

On the delegate front, I wasn't able to get hard numbers from District 14 but it appears as though Tinklenberg and Franken cleaned up much in the same way that they did in Senate District 15.


In Senate District 15, the DFL endorsed Larry Haws and Joanne Dorsher (both unanimously) for the Minnesota House of Representatives. I am hoping, in the next month or so, to do some more detailed reporting on the Dorsher campaign. She has a difficult road ahead to unseat Steve Gottwalt but after a brief conversation, it seems as though she is ready for that challenge.

Larry Schumacher has a nice article up on the events of the day. He also took some video of the day which you can view here. Although only here can you find speeches by the candidates in their entirety. Take that Larry! :)

There were some wonderful speeches given by various Democratic candidates throughout the day:

Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer


Jack gives a great stump speech and really knows how to inspire a crowd. While the challenge ahead of him is almost insurmountable, I become more supportive of his candidacy every time I hear him speak.

Bob Olson


Elwyn Tinklenberg


This is quite possibly the best speech I have heard Mr. Tinklenberg give and if he continues to improve like this our hopes of defeating "The Dimmest Bulb" will grow exponentially.

Tarryl Clark


Larry Haws


The Haws speech was hands down the best speech of the day. He has a "fire in his belly" for service and that bodes well for all of us in House District 15B. On the several occasions that I have been able to speak with Mr. Haws, I have been supremely impressed. With personality and humor he all but dares you not to go along with him. Keep up the great work Larry!

Joanne Dorsher


Unfortunately, due to my own ineptness, I was unable to get the entire speech. However, this small segment highlights the commitment Joanne has to addressing the needs of education.
I will have some more information regarding the District 15 Convention (with corresponding youtubing) but for now there is only time for a quick update.

From two fairly reliable sources, I can say with some certainty that Elwyn Tinklenberg comes out of this convention with 11 committed delegates while Bob Olson comes out with 2 committed delegates. There appears to be 1 uncommitted.

Joanne Dorsher got the nod to run against Steve Gottwalt while Larry Haws got a resounding endorsement and made a great speech as he moves one step closer to re-election.

I am still awaiting word on Senate District 14...
10:03 PM | Posted in ,
Have you ever been sitting around the house thinking, "Where is the best place to get my Bachmann apparel"? Well, look no further than Scare Baby Design!

From tote bags and buttons to ever style shirt/sweatshirt you can imagine. I urge readers to show this designer your support so that perhaps he/she will continue to create the apparel necessary to show our "support" of Michele Bachmann.

Check it out:















A Bachmann thong? This is quite possibly the most disturbing thing I have ever seen!













I would have to say the best part about this item is that the gear in the middle almost covers her mouth. Oh, if only it wear true!












This one is my personal favorite! Put Bachmann on your dog.













Cross Posted on Dump Bachmann
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5:29 PM | Posted in
Larry Schumacher has an excellent article in the St. Cloud Times today describing the nonsensical reasoning behind Michele Bachmann refusing to support earmarking money to help with the recently shut down DeSoto Bridge.

Important Quotes:



“She says she wants to look out for the people in her district, but if she’s not going to support our earmarks, we’re going to lose out,” said Kroll, who described himself as “not satisfied” with her position.





“If we get any (federal) money for the DeSoto Bridge, it’s got to be earmarked,” said Teresa Bohnen, St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce president. Bohnen attended Thursday’s meeting with Bachmann.
“If (Bachmann) removes herself from the earmark process now, before there’s a better system in place, it seems like there’s going to be an opportunity cost to the district. We’re going to lose out on our own tax dollars. They’re going to go somewhere else.”



Bachmann may just rue the day that she decided on a "No Earmarks Pledge" as people in the area will begin to see her for what she is, a rigid ideologue with little interest in helping the constituents she serves. Check out story chat as it appears as though, in amongst the usual apologists, there are some folks who normally support Representative Bachmann having second thoughts. As I have detailed earlier (here and here), there is a fair amount of hypocrisy in the new found aversion Republicans have for earmarks. There is also a wonderful critique written back in August over at Bluestem Prairie of congressional earmarking.

Cross Posted on Dump Bachmann
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5:14 PM | Posted in ,
H/T to TIME Quotes of the Day:

While I would argue that it is possible to prosecute someone for lying and possibly even for being stupid, those arguments make this quote is no less amusing:


Open quoteWe have no intention of prosecuting Rush Limbaugh because lying through your teeth and being stupid isn't a crime.Close quote

LEO JENNINGS
spokesman for Democratic Attorney General Marc Dann, after the conservative radio talk-show host encouraged Ohio Republicans to take a Democratic ballot in the March 4 primary in what he calls "Operation Chaos"
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5:11 PM | Posted in ,
Today I had the opportunity to meet and chat with Rob Jacobs, DFL candidate seeking the endorsement to run against Dan Severson in District 14A. We discussed a variety of issues and how he plans to defeat Mr. Severson in a district that hasn't had DFL representation since the 1970's and Al Patton.

Mr. Jacobs works at the St. Cloud Prison teaching a trade to inmates. He is President of his AFSCME Local and has lived in the district for some 37 years. His campaign team includes former candidates Barb Beniek and Dennis Molitor. The primary focus of his campaign appears to be helping Minnesota achieve the dominance we once held among the states on a whole host of criteria. The regression we have seen under the Pawlenty Administration has prompted him to run against one of the foot soldiers in that regression.

He is exactly the type of moderate DFL candidate that we need to embrace in order to provide contrast to the Republican brand which demands complete obedience. As the Republican Party seeks to expunge its moderates, so must the Democratic Party embrace moderates in order to build a lasting majority that will return our state to one of common sense leadership. In each topic we discussed, you could immediately sense the cautious moderation between the sometimes extreme factions of Democrats and Republicans.

On taxes, Mr. Jacobs shies from discussing any new taxation preferring to highlight the need to rebalance our taxation away from property taxes which has been smothering communities across Minnesota ever since Tim Pawlenty took office. In amongst that shift are the issues facing rural communities being forced to go to the voters year after year in order to adequately fund the education of their citizenry.

On health care, Jacobs does not leap immediately to single payer health care as many liberal activists have advocated but prefers to look at "what baby steps we can take" to achieving universal coverage. He advocates for something known as the "5% Solution" which is supported by a variety of organizations, including Education Minnesota and the Children's Defense Fund.



Amongst the issues we discussed, Mr. Jacobs expressed serious concern about an organization known as MINNCOR. This organization, which struck a deal with the legislature some 15 years ago, has since that time taken steps that perhaps cost the taxpayers more than they have saved. Things such as inmate laundry sent from St. Cloud to Faribault to the tune of $10,000 per month when St. Cloud has its own laundry facilities. Others including an abrupt move to a new plate production facility in Rush City.

I will be taking a closer look at MINNCOR and I encourage other bloggers to do the same as there appears to be some conflict in a for profit company whose board members also sit at the highest levels of the Department of Corrections.

With the District 14 DFL Convention coming on Saturday, March 29th, I would encourage everyone attending to take a close look at Mr. Jacobs and make him the candidate to defeat Dan Severson come November. If you live outside his district, I would encourage you to help him in his quest to bring the DFL brand back to District 14A whether that consists of leg work or pocket book support, let's get out there and help Mr. Jacobs win.

Thank You for your time, Mr. Jacobs, and let us hope that moderation wins out this time over ideological rigidity.
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I had every intention of ending the issue analysis series I had been running due to the exit of Mike Ciresi. However, inspired by a post from Cucking Stool, it is time once again to look at the Senate race here in Minnesota between Al Franken and Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer.




Today we examine these two candidates on various social issues of concern. While I would argue that these issues should not be the center point of a campaign or of a decision of support, they are still prominent in the progressive canon.

Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer on Social Issues:
While most candidates lump social issues into one issue category on their campaign pages, Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer devotes one link to the issues of the GLBT community and another to issues of choice.

On the GLBT community:

I advocate repeal of sodomy laws and I support efforts to pass federal, state and local legislation to prevent hate crimes and employment discrimination. I will work tirelessly so that GLBT people are not denied custodial, adoptive or foster parenting options, workplace or housing opportunities, domestic partner benefits and equal marriage rights due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

I oppose any efforts to use legal or constitutional means to discriminate against GLBT persons.

As a religious person, I am deeply troubled by the use of religion to justify discrimination, hatred or exclusion of GLBT people, including denial of dignity and civil rights. I have marched proudly with PFLAG families and will use my personal and public voice to encourage a culture of respect and a politics of equality and fairness.


On Choice:

First, when my wife Sara and I lived in Nicaragua for two years in the 1980s, we learned that many Nicaraguan women died as a result of illegal abortions. Criminalizing abortion doesn’t result in fewer abortions but it often results in needless trauma and death.

Second, I believe the number of abortions will drop as we empower and educate women, provide safe and affordable family planning options, reduce the costs of adoption and achieve greater justice in our economy.

Third, I believe the decision of whether or not to have an abortion lies with the mother and not with the state.

Fourth, I believe it is possible for groups who hold different views to find common ground on some aspects of this issue by focusing on policies that would result in fewer abortions. Examples include:

  • The Bush administration’s refusal to fund United Nations’ family planning programs has resulted in millions of additional abortions worldwide. We need to restore those funds.

  • The Republican Party’s “abstinence only” approach to sex education has resulted in many unwanted pregnancies and increased abortions. We need to fully fund broader sex education efforts.

  • Economic insecurity is a significant factor for many women as they make reproductive choices. Achieving greater economic justice and providing quality health give families a realistic chance to adequately care for a child that may result from an unexpected pregnancy.
Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer does not shy away from these often times hot button issues. He tackles them as they should be tackled, with the evidence at hand. The GLBT community deserves to be treated equally and issues of choice, while uncomfortable, are far more sensibly addressed by keeping abortion safe and legal but also by trying to solve the underlying factors that cause women to make this choice. Once those issues are addressed, we can begin to reduce the number of abortions in this country thus making the issue moot.

Al Franken on Social Issues:
Unfortunately, I could find no evidence of Al Franken taking a stance on either the GLBT community or the issues of choice. While I have no problem supporting a 'Pro-Life' candidate, it seems somewhat disingenuous to try to hide ones beliefs on these issues. Perhaps someone out there has some evidence of Franken taking a stand on these issues and can provide that stance in the comments section. However, the purpose of these posts has been to examine the candidates from the information found on their campaign sites and Franken has chosen not to display such information on that site.

The win clearly goes to Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer for his straightforward stance on these issues. We have folks in the party who are 'Pro-Life' (from Larry Hosch on the state level to Jim Oberstar in Congress) but what makes them all the same is that they are brave enough to come out and proclaim themselves as such. This gives yet another impression of Franken as a man trying to be everything to everyone.

I have long been an advocate of the brand of 'Pro-Choice' Mr. Nelson-Pallmeyer advocates. We must continue to keep abortion safe and legal while at the same time finding ways (both economic and educational) to reduce the number of abortions performed in this country and even around the world. One of the easiest ways to go about this is to abandon the failed 'abstinence only' failures across the country and begin teaching true sex education.

What do you think?

I encourage anyone who supports one of these three candidates to comment about the positive aspects of their candidates social issue positions. Perhaps I missed some policy statements or other evidence highlighting what your candidate will do in terms of social issues. Also, if you are so inclined, I would be interested in hearing about other issues we can examine.
It has been some time since we last examined Michele Bachmann at Clare Boothe Luce. In this episode, Bachmann touts the Bush economy as one of endless prosperity and success. Unfortunately, as is the case with so many things that come out of her mouth, the facts tell a wholly different story.



Michele tries to use statistics such as that the economy grew at an average rate of 1% before the 2003 tax cuts while after the tax cuts the economy grew at a rate of 3.1%.

However, what she doesn't tell the crowd is that economic growth has fallen every single year since the 2003 tax cuts. From a high of 3.6% in 2004 it fell to 2.2% in 2007. It would be equally valid to say that average economic growth has continually fallen ever since those tax cuts were put into place.

"The big hue and cry that all these talking heads..."


Michele, trying to dismiss opposing arguments by using hyperbole simply shows the hyper-partisanship that has become the norm for your tenure in office. It would be interesting to note that TEN Nobel Laureates came out in opposition to the Bush tax plan. While I understand that those of Bachmann's ilk scoff at academia, it seems to me that the authority of ten economic nobel laureates far outweighs that off a religious zealot from Stillwater, Minnesota.
Beyond statistics, there are the realities we have previously discussed about this great economy of ours. Bachmann continues to ignore the rising levels of poverty in this country, the increasing number of people without health insurance, and the falling wages of American workers. Check it out here, here, here, and here.

Bachmann Money Quote:
"All the cliches that you think about liberals and conservatives, THEY'RE TRUE! THEY ARE ABSOLUTELY TRUE!"


So, if we are to understand Mrs. Bachmann correctly, every overused expression used to describe conservatives is true. Has she just admitted that conservatives are war mongering, bigoted racists, and bent on creating a theocratic rule out of the United States government? Add in your own conservative cliches as they have been officially given the Bachmann stamp of approval.

More Bachmann Money Quote:

"putting their John Henry on..."


Excuse me, ma'am? Could you please stop claiming to be patriotic if you cannot even get the name of John Hancock correct.

WHAT! Another Money Quote:
"When Nancy Pelosi took office, oil was being sold at $52 barrel. You know what it was this week? $98 per barrel. That's what happened with these phenomenal spike ups in spending."


Apparently, the implication here is that Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats are to blame for the rise in oil prices. Never mind the fact that when President Bush took office, oil prices hovered below $30 per barrel. Also, never mind the fact that Republicans increased spending by 50% in the years since President Bush took office with nary a veto pen in sight.

With so many inconsistencies, I will leave it to others to fill in the blanks in the comments section.

Cross Posted on Dump Bachmann
9:46 AM | Posted in ,
Larry Haws has a letter to the editor in the St. Cloud Times today discussing the closure of the DeSoto Bridge.

Letter: DeSoto closure was a much gentler wake-up
By Rep. Larry Haws, District 15B

Published: March 26. 2008 12:30AM

The closing of the DeSoto Bridge is a second wake-up call. I say it's a very lucky second warning.

St. Cloud was saved by a state Department of Transportation inspection and our citizens will be well served by a newly adopted transportation plan that works, and here is why.

Minnesota has 12,736 bridges, and until the passing of this year's transportation bill, Minnesota had a stagnant and dangerous lack of transportation funding. The new plan invests $6.6 billion over 10 years in roads, bridges, highways and transit needs in outstate Minnesota and the Twin Cities.

During the next decade, the city of St. Cloud will receive $7,252,000, Stearns County will receive $32,629,000, Sherburne County will receive $12,883,000, and Benton County will receive $7,711,000 over and above what they would have received without this legislation.

Please also note that this legislation is a property tax relief measure.

Property taxes are the single largest source of transportation funding in our state, and we must reverse this trend. As a result of this new law, homeowner property tax burdens will be eased because cities and counties will be relieved of the burden of financing area road construction projects.

The new transportation plan is also about jobs, thousands of jobs, and had we done this last year we would have made a significant impact on today's economy. The most significant benefit of the transportation bill is safe transportation for our citizens as they travel our roads and cross our bridges.

The barriers across the DeSoto Bridge detour our travel and should clear our thoughts to the benefits of the 2008 transportation bill. I'm grateful for the gentler wake-up call.

We are all grateful (well, most of us anyway), for the leadership of Mr. Haws and those that helped override the veto so that we can take care of our transportation needs responsibly rather than delaying the funding once again or putting the tab on the state's credit card for future generations to pick up.


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11:16 PM | Posted in
Congratulations to Education Minnesota for getting itself a Youtube page! On this page you can find videos from the recent Representative Convention (although I would like to point out that my videos were up FIRST). However, they do have the address made by President Tom Dooher.







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4:32 PM | Posted in
With the recent news that Bob Olson will remain in the race for the 6th District DFL endorsement, I have decided to post the entirety of the debate held at Anoka City Hall on March 16th.

Those who read this blog already know my feelings on this race and therefore I left out all commentary that I may or may not have about each video and only posted the question being answered. I encourage both sides to use the comments section of each posted video to discuss the merits or demerits of the answer.

Olson/Tinklenberg Debate Guide:
Cross Posted on Dump Bachmann
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4:29 PM | Posted in
On March 16th, 2008, Bob Olson and Elwyn Tinklenberg met at Anoka City Hall. These are their opening remarks for that debate.

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4:27 PM | Posted in
Question: How would you balance the need to protect the U.S. from terrorists while protecting the Constitution and civil rights of Americans?

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Question: Do you believe the best way to provide for health care needs of the United States is to require all Americans to have health insurance or would you support other options? If so, which ones?

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Question: Do you believe global warming is real and if so, what actions do you support on the part of the federal government to tackle this issue?

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Question: Do you support a timetable to get the US out of Iraq and what are the conditions you would set for this withdrawal?

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Question: What tax would you favor to correct our huge debt?

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Question: Should local police officers be required to check the legal status of all suspects they encounter in their every day police work?

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Question: What can you do in Congress to make life for us in Minnesota better?

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Question: What would you do in Congress to help restore the balance of powers between the President and the other branches of government?

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Question: What will you do to break the “gridlock”?

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3:58 PM | Posted in
Question: What sets you apart as the candidate who can defeat Michele Bachmann? What segments of the voters can you take from Michele Bachmann?

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3:57 PM | Posted in
Question: What other DFL candidates have you worked for or campaigned for in the 6th Congressional District?

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3:54 PM | Posted in
Question: What concerns or opinions do you have regarding the proposed Northwest Airlines/Delta merger?

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3:52 PM | Posted in
Question: Do you support the right of workers to form a union?


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Question: What would you do to improve science, math, and engineering excellence? Discuss your views on higher education.

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Question: What is your position on stem cell research and how can you support the program at the national level?

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3:45 PM | Posted in
This was a question to Mr. Olson about previous comments he made.

Question: To whom were you referring when you used the term “mealy-mouthed Democrats”?

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3:40 PM | Posted in
Unfortunately, the answer to this question was somewhat lost because I was in the middle of changing the tape in my camera. However, I put it up due to the exchange that comes at the end of the responses.

My apologies to the Tinklenberg Campaign...

Question: Could you speak to the impact of offshoring of industry and manufacturing on our national security and economy?

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3:26 PM | Posted in
In this two part video, candidates were given time to ask four questions. Candidates were then given two minutes to respond to their opponents question.

Candidate Q&A Pt. 1


Candidate Q&A Pt. 2
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3:20 PM | Posted in
These are the closing statements of both Bob Olson and Elwyn Tinklenberg at the Anoka City Hall debate on March 16, 2008. As part of those closing statements, the moderator asked the candidates to address why people should endorse them and whether they will honor the endorsement of 6th District Democrats.

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11:12 AM | Posted in














Yesterday, officially began the spring season. With the sun shining, the birds chirping, and green returning to the area the family and I headed to the north country from where I originate.

Spring was certainly in the air!

Springtime in North Dakota: Ain't it Grand
video
The difference in leadership that exists in House District 15B when compared to House District 15A is enormous. On the one hand you have personable and friendly Larry Haws while on the other you have the man who scoffs at dissent. While I have no expectation that everyone will agree with me on every issue, the most recent experiences I have had with Steve Gottwalt have been ones of bitterness and resentment that I and others would dare have a differing opinion.

Beyond personality, when you examine the important work of our two Representatives in District 15 it is clear who works harder and who uses their position wisely rather than using their position to push divisiveness in the public.

In 2008, Larry Haws has authored 17 bills (which happens to be ONE more bill than Mr. Gottwalt has authored since he got elected and took office in 2007).


Some of his accomplishments thus far this session:
  • HF 3877: Minnesota GI Bill per semester and annual grant amount increased for veterans.
  • HF 2769: St. Cloud Technical College; Allied Health Center design funding provided, bonds issued, and money appropriated.
  • HF 2768: St. Cloud State University; Brown Hall science renovation funding provided, bonds issued and money appropriated.
  • HF 2836: Nonmetro regional parks and trails system recommendations required, funding provided, bonds issued, and money appropriated.
Larry Haws is using his influence in state government to help keep Central Minnesota students (including veteran students) gain access to the highest quality education and resources. He is making sure that our parks and trails have the funding necessary to sustain themselves thus keeping the quality of life in the area livable for all its residents.

In 2008, Steve Gottwalt has authored 6 bills.

Some of his accomplishment thus far this session:
  • HF 2965: Driver's license photographs required to show full head and face.
This is a purely divisive bill meant to demagogue new immigrants (primarily from Arab countries) whose customs require them to have their face covered at all times.

If the people of House District 15A cannot recognize that Mr. Gottwalt does little to work for them and much to keep them divided, they will continue to be represented by a politician whose sole claim to fame is wedge politics rather than improving the lives of his constituents. At first glance, the man seems to be ready to solve the problems of the district, but on further inspection it appears as though he is doing little to address the real problems.
7:31 PM | Posted in , ,
Josh Behling, Republican candidate for House District 15B, took one more step this past weekend in his journey towards a concession speech in November to Mr. Larry Haws. He delivered a speech to the crowd at the Republican Senate District 15 Convention.

Let me start out by telling you the reasons that didn’t influence my decision to run.

I’m not running because I was sitting around one night and thought, wow, I don’t think I have enough to do.

I’m not running because I look forward to being away from my wife and son many nights at the Capital.

I’m not running to try and gain fame and definitely not to gain fortune.

I’m not running to get vacation days from work, even though I would love a vacation.


It becomes very tiresome to constantly be the grammarian for a campaign I don't support. Could someone please inform Mr. Behling that he will be at the CAPITOL or in the CAPITAL. Is someone qualified to be at the Capitol if he doesn't actually know the proper word?

However, I am glad to hear about all the reasons why Mr. Behling isn't running for the House of Representatives. It sets my mind at ease to know that he isn't one of those celebrity candidates like Mr. Haws who pulls down a six figure salary endorsing a line of fedora hats.

I began campaigning in June of last year, and have already realized how much time and dedication it takes to do this. And believe me, when I am elected I will give all of my time and dedication to making sure your voices are heard in St. Paul.

Wait! You don't look forward to abandoning your wife and child, but you are going to do it anyway? Interesting...

I’m running for State Rep. because, as a father, I want a better life for my son. I want Hunter to have a great education that focuses on core academics that he will use in the real world. I want him to grow up in a world where he won’t be held back or chastised for saying the word “God”.


As an educator, I would love to know what the term "core academics" is referencing. Also, if this is some sort of veiled attack on the public school system for supposedly taking the word "God" out of school I can assure you Mr. Behling, you have been had by the theocrats in your party and that there is no systematic effort to destroy religion. As a liberal, I cannot even count the number of times that I have referenced "God" in my classroom and witnessed students independently discussing their religion with others around them. If you could please knock off the divisive Jerry Falwell style politics, then I would be very much appreciative.

10:38 PM | Posted in ,
While some have covered the smack down (check it out here and here and here) Michele Bachmann gave to John McCain, global warming, and florescent light bulbs, there seems to be more to this story that has not been covered. A loyal reader (who is apparently set to take an epic ride on his hog with another member of the Communist coalition in 16B) pointed out that some of the resolutions offered by the Republican Party in 16B are quite interesting.

The Party Resolutions

In the power of fear category we have several resolutions to protect us from the oncoming hordes:

Cut all social programs for undocumented aliens

Strengthen and enforce illegal immigration laws, eliminate sanctuary cities, withhold state and federal aid and impose criminal penalties on government officials practicing sanctuary city policies, deter illegal entry by expanding the zero tolerance prosecution policy, control visa overstays, support adding a border fence, $10,000 penalty for a first offense of knowingly hiring an illegal alien, double thereafter

Create an enforceable employer verification system to check the legal status of employees

Require a fingerprint encoded identification card for all legal aliens.

With regard to law enforcement: form immigration enforcement effective partnerships with state and local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws. Evaluate non-citizen prisoners so illegal aliens may be deported at the end of their sentence. End the policy which allows illegal aliens to be released on bail while they await their initial court appearance. Expand the National Crime Information Center's immigration violators file to include aliens against whom a final order of removal has been issued, aliens who have signed voluntary departure agreements, aliens who have overstayed their authorized period of stay and aliens whose visas have been revoked

Deny federal funds to any entity that undermines federal law by assisting illegal aliens in any way and close financial loopholes that allow illegal immigrants to open US based bank accounts

Improve the legal immigration process. Replace the current visa lottery and chain migration with a merit-based system. Remove the pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens.


In the we want more nuclear reactors in our backyard category:

Remove the moratorium on nuclear power plants in Minnesota


But the best was yet to come when I noticed this resolution:

With regard to family law, fair treatment of both parties of abuse cases


Gosh, I could never even venture a guess as to where this resolution originated! Certainly there is no one in 16B who feels as though he was unjustly convicted of abuse. What might this person mean by fair treatment? Would this resolution have been made if this person had won his case and been vindicated? It is curious that he would use the words fair treatment after getting into an argument with an autistic child over a game of monopoly. Oh to have been a fly on the wall when discussion of this resolution came up.
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10:25 PM | Posted in
What a great story:

Blood donation bill signed into law

State Sen. Kathy Sheran, DFL – Mankato, and Rep. Patti Fritz, DFL – Faribault, joined Gov. Tim Pawlenty today as he signed into law new legislation that will allow 16 year olds in the state to donate blood with the consent of their parent or guardian.

The inspiration for the legislation came from Joe Gibson, a 16-year-old high school student from Blooming Prairie. Joe became involved in the issue after losing his grandfather to leukemia and subsequently trying to donate blood as a way to memorialize his grandfather’s passing. Joe – who was 15 at the time – was prevented from making a blood donation by a state law which restricts anyone under the age of 17 from doing so, even with parental consent.

In an effort to rectify this issue in state law, Joe met with Rep. Fritz to suggest that the minimum age for donation be reduced to 15 years. After Rep. Fritz heard concerns from some pediatricians that 15 might be too young, Joe – showing a keen ability to navigate the political process - agreed to raise the allowable age of donation to 16 in his proposal. Rep. Fritz then teamed with Sen. Sheran to shepherd companion bills through the House and Senate, eventually passing the bills unanimously through both bodies.

Under the new law, 16 year olds will now be able to donate blood, as long as the teen has the written permission of their parent or guardian and does not receive any compensation for the donation. The law will go into effect July 1, 2008.

“Through this process, I have learned that youth can make a difference,” Joe Gibson said. “I have also realized that there are really good people here at the Capitol and that our legislators are working really hard.”

The bill’s authors commended Joe’s efforts in support of the legislation, which Rep. Fritz described as “instrumental” to its passage.

“This bill is about how we listen to our constituents, young and old," said Rep. Fritz. “Joe Gibson is a thoughtful young man who not only wanted to help out his grandfather, but also saw the opportunity for other young adults to become eligible donors and help out blood centers. It is especially gratifying that it moved through both bodies and was signed into law so quickly."

Sen. Sheran added that she hoped Joe’s efforts would inspire more young people to engage in the political process.

“It was an absolute honor to work with Joe, who brought an incredible level of compassion, commitment and enthusiasm to this important issue,” said Sen. Sheran. “Allowing young adults to donate blood with their parent’s consent will help blood centers and emergency management organizations meet the current demand for lifesaving blood products and will foster a commitment to community service among high school students across the state. Joe’s hard work has truly made Minnesota a better place to live.”

The proposal received support from several organizations, including the American Red Cross, Memorial Blood Centers of Minnesota, and the Mayo Clinic Blood Donor Center. Several states, including California, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin and Puerto Rico already have passed similar legislation.


No word yet on whether Governor Pawlenty will lose his leadership position for allowing DFL sponsored legislation to pass. Marty Seifert was unavailable for comment but word on the street is that he condemned Governor Pawlenty for not following "Republican Principles".
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10:11 PM | Posted in ,
Today, Tarryl Clark put out a press release discussing the budget shortfall and the proposal put forward by Governor Pawlenty. While she agrees with Pawlenty about the need to close loopholes and cut administrative costs, she also takes him to task for once again putting the bulk of the difference onto the backs of students in Minnesota.

Here it is:


State Senate Assistant Majority Leader Tarryl Clark
208 State Capitol, 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155-1606
E-mail: www.senate.mn/senatorclark
Phone: 651-296-6455
March 18, 2008


Budget shortfall highlights need for stable spending and revenue

Given the decline in Minnesota’s economy since 2002, it didn’t come as a surprise that the state’s budget deficit ballooned to $938 million this February.

In making those choices, we should set priorities and pursue strategies that take into account the immediate, along with the long-term effects, of budget decisions. We need to do more than just balance the budget; we need to help make Minnesota stronger and more prosperous.

Minnesota’s constitution requires the state’s budget to be balanced, which means that cuts in a number of areas will be needed to balance the budget before the Legislature adjourns.

The governor offered his proposals for balancing the budget. Some of them make sense, like closing tax loopholes on corporations with shell operations in foreign countries and cracking down on tax cheats. So, too, are administrative cuts in state agencies.

Other cuts are more troubling, like delaying a paltry 2 percent raise for nursing home workers for a year and shifting more higher education costs onto students and parents through higher tuition. In these cases, making cuts seem simple, but we should be aiming for something more difficult—but more profound: structurally lowering the costs of government services.

There’s no doubt about it, health care costs, especially in long-term care, such as nursing homes, are spiraling out of control. With both an aging population and increases in the number of people living with disabilities, projections are that the need for long-term care will triple by 2050.

Simply stated, this is a situation that cannot be managed by cuts here and there, we need to stick to a long-term strategy that addresses how needs of the elderly and disabled are met. That includes incentives for people to acquire long-term care insurance, developing a stronger system of at-home care, and a strong network of services that includes transportation, meals-on-wheels, help maintaining a home and so on.

That may sound like a lot, but it’s far less expensive than the $4,500+ monthly cost for nursing home care. That’s one way to meet the need at lower overall cost.

It won’t be easy to do. Add to that the need to ensure that the people who provide services are trained, qualified and property supervised, and it adds up to a monumental challenge for policymakers and stakeholders.

In higher education, the proposed cuts to public colleges, like SCSU and the university, are just cost shifts to students and parents through higher tuition. With tuition rising an average of 40 percent in Gov. Pawlenty’s first term, it hardly seems fair that students and parents should again bail state government out of a budget crisis.

This proposal is shortsighted. High tuition is a barrier to completing college. For those who do complete their education, soaring debt is a barrier to getting on with life. It hinders the ability to do the things that Americans expect to do as a birthright—purchase a home, start a family and save for retirement.

Making college affordable makes all those things less difficult and builds Minnesota’s ability to attract and keep quality jobs. Making college “harder” through high costs is false economy. It hinders income and purchasing power. It’s a drag on the state’s economy. It makes Minnesota less strong and less prosperous.

To build Minnesota’s strength and prosperity, we need to be doing more to encourage college and training after high school, not less.

This legislative session will end with the state’s budget balanced. But, at the same time, I hope we can work across the partisan divide to pursue those things that reform the way the state operates and builds strength and prosperity for our businesses, our economy and our people.


Let's just hope that this bipartisanship doesn't lead to everyone but Marty Seifert, Steve Gottwalt, and Dan Severson being booted from the party. They could rename the party the Toxic Avengers!
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7:41 PM | Posted in ,
H/T to Larry Schumacher:

Apparently, Dan Severson (R) dislikes Mexican Americans so much that he voted against a bill that would provide a memorial plaque recognizing Mexican American veterans and ALL other veterans.

Well, perhaps it was going to cost to much for the taxpayer? As you know, Mr. Severson is ALL ABOUT "fiscal responsibility".

Oops, it seems as though a private foundation (AMVETS-Mexican American Post 5) would pick up the entire cost of the plaque.

The Bill:

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA:

Section 1. PLAQUE HONORING MEXICAN-AMERICAN VETERANS.
A memorial plaque may be placed in the court of honor on the Capitol grounds to
recognize the valiant service of all Mexican-American veterans and veterans of all other nationalities, ethnic groups, and subgroups who have honorably and bravely served in the United States armed forces, during both peacetime and war, since the founding of this great nation. The plaque must be furnished by the AMVETS-Mexican American Post 5 and must be approved by the commissioner of veterans affairs and the Capitol Area Architectural and Planning Board.
EFFECTIVE DATE.This section is effective the day following final enactment.


So, what was the ever so eloquent reason to vote against this plaque?

"Even if it honors all veterans, it is still sponsored by just one minority group"


Mr. Severson, are you also opposed to the existence of the memorial to women veterans that already exists?
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7:19 PM | Posted in ,
Congressman Jim Ramstad addressed the Education Minnesota Representative Convention this weekend and gave an excellent speech about partisan politics and the need to support education. In the second part of the speech, Mr. Ramstad discusses the work he has been doing on mental health parity and his memories of Paul Wellstone.

We need more Republicans like Mr. Ramstad:





Unfortunately, they are being driven from the party and punished for voting their conscience. There is a significant lesson here for Democrats. We cannot be a party that kicks out its moderates. We must embrace them and encourage them as they show that we are a party of inclusion and not a party of exclusion. They show that we are a party that encourages dissent and independent thought in its membership. If we do that, the larger population will see our message of inclusion and the Republican Party will be increasingly relegated to the fringe of society.
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6:28 PM | Posted in
This past weekend I had the honor of representing my local teachers for the third year in a row at the Education Minnesota Representative Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. As always, a fun time to connect with those people I don't normally see on a daily basis and to begin developing new friendships.

On Saturday, we had the pleasure of hearing two of our national leaders speak. Both Reg Weaver from the National Education Association and Ed McElroy from the American Federation of Teachers addressed the crowd.

Reg Weaver gave a stirring speech about the spurious "Center for Union Facts" and its new campaign to bring down the education unions. Check out his discussion of the triangle in which he points out that while accountability is necessary, it can only come with the adequate resources that make up the base of the triangle.

The money quote from Mohammad Ali used by Mr. Weaver:

"If you dream that you can beat me, you better wake up and apologize!"




Ed McElroy gave a speech about political activism and the need to continually engage teachers in the union.

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I have been a supporter of Bob Olson for some time now. After he came to me last fall and asked for my support and discussed the issues I was impressed enough to devote significant time on this blog advocating his positions. Through these past months I have worked hard to portray Mr. Olson in a positive manner and tried to convince others of his virtues. He is a good man with a good heart and progressive beliefs which closely mirror my own.

However, our beliefs diverge in how campaigns and campaigning should run. It is NOT my belief that slash and burn politics are an effective means to win an endorsement and it is NOT my belief that it is necessary to bloody our opponents in order to achieve victory.

Over the past few months I have witnessed a campaign that has gotten either progressively more desperate or progressively more bitter in its tone. In my naivety, I tried to justify this tone as the game of politics. The tipping point came tonight as I watched one of the most painful sights I have witnessed in my life. Mr. Olson took his campaign down a road that even his campaign team urged him not to travel. A campaign team that appears to be heading for the lifeboats while its captain pursues the "white whale" to his own eventual demise.

It is time, Mr. Olson, to take your exit from this race. It is time, Mr. Olson, for you have done significant damage to your image and to progressive politics. It is time, Mr. Olson, for you to apologize to Mr. Tinklenberg for the disrespectful way you carried yourself at the debate.

While the Tinklenberg campaign may need to do some courting of this blogger in order for me to fully embrace his candidacy, I can no longer count myself as a Bob Olson supporter.

On the other hand, it was equally disheartening to watch high level Tinklenberg supporters (campaign managers and such) openly mock, laugh, and ridicule as Mr. Olson spoke. The actions of Mr. Olson were certainly not excusable or even the slightest bit defensible but it also does not make supporting Mr. Tinklenberg easier when you watch the unprofessional manner that his staff display. Elwyn Tinklenberg handled himself well and I admire him for that but his campaign team does him a disservice by claiming the high road but acting in such a manner as they did in full view of the public. I have chastised the likes of Steve Gottwalt for similar actions and it would be hypocritical of me to ignore those actions when coming from a Democrat.

Within the next few days I will have up video segments of the debate for people to judge for themselves, but I can no longer be party to a campaign as vitriolic as the one I saw tonight. For now, I will be focusing on Michele Bachmann as I still believe she needs to be replaced but I will not be posting on the Democratic candidate in the 6th District until I can be convinced that they are respectful enough to warrant discussion.

Cross Posted on Dump Bachmann