Senator Tarryl Clark has created a youtube page and will be providing legislative updates via this account. In her first update she addresses the recent idea she and Representative Haws and Hosch put forward to combine three counties into one large county.



Also, in Tarryl Clark news, there is an LTE in the St. Cloud Times where she discusses the reasons behind this idea to combine counties and create what she calls borderless government.

From the St. Cloud Times:

We hope this proposal to establish a unified county in Central Minnesota will start the renewed discussion. The discussion should raise a wide variety of thoughts and ideas.

As a start, we offer three questions to be answered by all of us.

1. Will a unified county in Central Minnesota be more efficient and effective for most households?

2. Will a unified county improve our business climate and help create jobs if employers only have to meet one system of standards, procedures, and regulations rather than three?

3. Will a unified county provide more accessible and consistent services for veterans, seniors, and families?

It is an interesting concept and is sure to bring resistance from those comfortable with the norm. However, in these economic times it is nice to see that my representation in the state legislature is willing to look at any and all ideas for improving government and saving money.
5:54 PM | Posted in ,
A friend of the blog sent me an email today about "concerns" Michele Bachmann has about the Land Management Bill the President signed into law today. While this friend pointed out how closely these "concerns" mirrored those of her corporate puppets, I found it more interesting that her "concerns" and her post in general are little more than a copy and paste job from the Republican Study Committee legislative bulletins site.

From the RSC:

On March 11, 2009, House Republicans defeated identical legislation (S. 22) under suspension of the rules. After defeat, the Senate considered the legislation again by bringing up the House-passed Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Battlefield Protection Act (H.R. 146) and replacing its text with the text of the House-passed Omnibus Lands Package (S. 22). Procedurally, this means the House can only “concur” with the Senate amendment and prevents House Republicans from offering a motion to recommit.


and from Michele:

On March 11, 2009, House Republicans defeated identical legislation (S. 22) under suspension of the rules. After defeat, the Senate considered the legislation again by bringing up the House-passed Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Battlefield Protection Act (H.R. 146) and replacing its text with the text of the House-passed Omnibus Lands Package (S. 22). Procedurally, this means the House can only “concur” with the Senate amendment and prevents House Republicans from offering a motion to recommit.

The concerns set forward by the RSC with handy dandy marks so that conservatives can cut along the dotted line and not have to think too hard:

And from Michele:

KEY CONCERNS:

– Blocks millions of acres from new oil and gas leasing, logging, mining, and all other business activity in these areas.

– Eliminates 1.2 million acres from mineral leasing and energy exploration in Wyoming alone - withdrawing 331 million barrels of recoverable oil and 8.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas from domestic energy supply.

– Designates more than 2 million acres of land as wilderness areas; permanently eliminating human access for energy exploration or recreational opportunities.

– Eliminates a proposed terminal site for importing liquefied natural gas (LNG) in Massachusetts by designating a river that runs through a city as “wild and scenic”.

– Authorizes $5.5 billion of new discretionary spending over five years and $900 million of direct spending.

– Makes collecting fossils an illegal activity, subjecting thousands of hobbyists to 5 years in federal jail.

– Pork Projects: $3.5 million to the city of St. Augustine, FL for a birthday party, $200,000 for a tropical botanical garden in Hawaii, $250,000 to study the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and $37 million for a park in New Jersey that is not even supported by the National Park Service.


You will notice that she gives no credit to her overlords at the Republican Study Committee and represents these concerns and this writing as her own. I understand the use of talking points but to completely lift the entirety of those talking points word for word and pawn them off as your opinion seems intellectually dishonest.

After reading this you have to wonder what percentage of the "concerns" Michele Bachmann has on any issue are her own and what percentage are verbatim talking points cut and pasted directly into her brain. Perhaps we in the 6th District are now being represented by the Republican Study Committee? In the future, if I have a question or comment about legislation will I need to contact the RSC in order to determine the opinion of Representative Bachmann?

Cross Posted on Dump Bachmann
��
6:09 PM | Posted in ,
In this weekly address, President Obama addresses the flood situation currently taking place up and down the Red River Valley. As part of his address he highlights the call to service that has driven people to help fight back the rising waters of the river. For more information and current updates on the flood situation, I would encourage readers to follow @fargofloodstage, @redriveratfargo, & @egffloodstage on Twitter. Also, the best coverage online that I have seen has come from Minnesota Public Radio, Bob Collins NewsCut Blog, and The Uptake.

From the White House Blog:

"In the Fargodome, thousands of people gathered not to watch a football game or a rodeo, but to fill sandbags. Volunteers filled 2.5 million of them in just five days, working against the clock, day and night, with tired arms and aching backs. Others braved freezing temperatures, gusting winds, and falling snow to build levees along the river’s banks to help protect against waters that have exceeded record levels."

��
7:37 PM | Posted in ,
Earlier this week we learned that conservative blogger, Leo Pusateri, was elected as secretary of the Senate District 15 Republican Party:

Dan Ochsner was elected to be the HD-15A vice-chair while Barbara Banaian, King’s wife, was elected to be the HD-15B vice-chair. Leo Pusateri is our new secretary. Darlene Thompson was re-elected to a third term as treasurer.


Today, Pusateri posted a piece on his blog regarding the expansion of Americorps. By the end of this post he was all but accusing Barack Obama of being a nazi. In fact, he even provided this wonderful image to enhance his "point".

So, is this supposed 250-person "civilian defense team" going to be Obama's "end-around" of the Posse Comitatus Act that will domestically achieve the 'One's' "security objectives" he has in mind?


As an elected and apparently respected member of the Senate District 15 Republican Party, are we to assume that the rest of the Republican leadership in SD-15 believe that Barack Obama is tantamount to a nazi? How about Republicans in SD-15, do they support the view that Obama is a nazi?

Furthermore, how can one possibly have an intelligent and productive dialogue across the aisle when the other side comes to the table believing you to be evil incarnate?

It is unfortunately all too common for people on both sides of the aisle to throw around these inflammatory terms to describe each other. It becomes even more unfortunate when those terms begin entering the rhetoric of even the people in leadership positions. These are the people who should be above the petty namecalling. Excellent work, SD-15 GOP!
��
7:15 PM | Posted in
A friend of mine has been uploading pictures of the flooding going on in my hometown of Grand Forks, North Dakota. She was kind enough to let me steal a few and post them on the blog.

These are images from today 3/25/09:

These are removable flood walls installed in both Grand Forks & East Grand Forks after the flood that occurred in '97.

For a little perspective, THIS is what the Sorlie Bridge normally looks like.

This spire (or would it be an obelisk?) indicates the various high flood levels throughout the history of the cities. The top line represents the flood of '97...
While Fargo is getting the brunt of the water right now and we hope for the best for them, Grand Forks will be getting those waters within the next week or so. I have family in both locations and am hoping for the best...
��
9:51 PM | Posted in
So during my nightly relaxation time in which I nerdily browse around the internets for stories and interesting dirt I happened upon this video created by Eric Kleefeld at Talking Points Memo:



I was a little taken aback when I noticed that the middle video segment was from the debate I posted back in October of '08. Unfortunately, there was no credit given so my obscurity continues unabated...

Although, I was quickly forwarded an email indicating that Mr. Kleefeld had attempted to give credit by emailing the folks at Dump Bachmann where the video was also posted. So, we will see if there is any subsequent follow up...

UPDATE: So, here I am with a little egg on my face! Had I been paying attention rather than peering in awe at the utter stupidity of Michele Bachmann I would have seen that my LitloC Youtube account was in fact credited within the video. Thank You, Eric Kleefeld, for clearing things up and for making me feel slightly more famous than I was when the day began.
Category:
��
7:04 PM | Posted in
Rather than calling for a civilian army to overthrow the government, perhaps my Congresswoman should spend a few moments perusing that document which she claims to defend?

From Minnesota Independent:

Rep. Michele Bachmann grilled Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke on Tuesday afternoon about the U.S. Constitution. Bachmann seemed unclear about Congress’ duties under the Constitution.

I get, Michele, that you want to be perceived as some sort of super Constitutional scholar who abides by the strict constructionist school of thought. However, you may want to try your strict constructionist shtick on something other than one of the first Executive Departments created within our government. Although I would love for you to offer a strict constructionist argument telling me that the framers, including Alexander Hamilton (1st Secretary of the Treasury and co-writer of the Federalist Papers explaining the Constitution), never intended for the Treasury Department to manage the money resources of the United States government.

While Andy Birkey aptly points out that your job, Michele, as defined by Article I Section I of the Constitution is to "legislate", I would like to offer some other Constitutional provisions that perhaps you and your position on the financial services committee should be better acquainted with:

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States

To borrow money on the credit of the United States

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

Just because you are a strict constructionist does NOT mean you have the ability to deconstruct and then reconstruct the Constitution to suit your strict constructionist delusion...
Category:
��
8:04 PM | Posted in
That's right, 13 participants.

Vice President was in St. Cloud today to discuss his middle class task force and take questions from the audience. Apparently, 13 college Republicans from the area were not keen about the idea of a middle class and organized a protest.

From the St. Cloud Times:

The group included three students from the College of St. Benedict, seven from St. John’s University and three from St. Cloud State University, said Abdul Magba-Kamara, state chairman of the College Republicans.

While I applaud the passion of anyone willing to challenge those in power, it really says something about a relatively conservative area that it can only muster 13 participants to protest a Democrat. Also, I get that you are protesting the spending but do you really think its strategically wise to protest a meeting whose purpose is to find ways to build up the middle class?



Good job college Republicans! You found a way to both show yourself as irrelevant with your weak showing and demonstrate why the middle class has entirely turned its back on your ideology with your protest of a middle class task force.

For more information on the task force, check out the White House Website...
Category:
��
7:15 PM | Posted in
So there is this brand new blog in Minnesota that is all the rage. The build up to the big roll out has been dramatic due in no small part to Dusty Trice pimping himself out all over the Twitterverse.

It is particularly amusing to see that Mr. Trice has chosen Norm Coleman and Michele Bachmann as his subjects of choice. I hate to rag on Trice so early in his blog career & I certainly don't want to pick a fight with a self described political ninja (I tried that one time and got the beat down) but is this really what we have been holding our breath for? Another examination of just how crazy Bachmann is and more content about the Coleman v. Franken story. Perhaps you could also do some stories on how the grass seems to keep growing and the Earth continues to spin dutifully around the sun (although that one might be disputed by conservatives).

As I am little more than a blip in the blogoverse and Trice probably already has many more readers than I do this message will probably fall on deaf ears. However, could we please stop fooling ourselves into believing that Dusty Trice is shiny and new? It's the same old political topics of choice for liberals in Minnesota repackaged.

On to the weekly romp:

When will our friend from the southern district realize that the true emotional health of the 6th District has much to do with its inversely poor mental health? It is quite easy to be emotionally healthy when one is living with the delusional belief that Michele Bachmann is an effective and honest representative.

Those damned communists are at it again trying to beat down the wealthy who so generously grace us with their presence on this Earth! These are people we should be treating as demigods. Unfortunately, the filthy communists are trying to lift up those lazy poor people instead of forcing them to lift themselves up by their bootstraps. Don't they realize that the demigods amongst us will trickle down upon us all the wealth we will ever need (although they will decide in their infinite wisdom how much we "need").

The DFL proposes deep cuts across the board and conservatives whine. The DFL proposes tax increases and conservatives whine. Let's play what do these two sentences have in common...

I do so love when people take a historical event, entirely misinterpret its meaning, and use it as a clarion call to organize the equally uninformed masses. Just to review, the Boston Tea Party was an organized effort to protest a trade deal foisted upon the colonies by Parliament that would have taxed them without their representation despite the fact that it actually lowered the price of tea. Just because you lost an election doesn't mean you don't have representation! Perhaps you should stick to hating brown people and obsessing about mythical literary figures rather than trying to interpret history.

Don't you realize that those aren't earmarks? They are requests for already appropriated monies to be spent on a particular project within the district. Huge difference, HUGE!

Isn't it nice to see the conservatives claiming that we DON'T need to form militias and begin an armed revolution. What a calm and level headed group. Although I might question sanity of my ideological brethren if a post such as this is necessary. I'm just saying...

Here are some things I learned from Freedom Dogs:
Those damned Democrats! How DARE they go out and actually TALK to people about the agenda put forward by President Obama. Damn you communism, DAMN YOU! It just chaps my hide when people try to organize others.

I have come to realize that this site is the perfect example of the rugged individualism expressed by the conservative movement. Chocked full of original content, he strives to make success for himself rather than riding the coattails of others.

If you haven't begun reading Lake Minnetonka Liberty, then you are really missing out. Where else can you learn the following things:
Come on, wouldn't it be more economically viable to make road construction and bridge building a part of the private sector. Why do I need the government directing where a road should or should not be? This is about the freedom to build my road wherever I damn well please!

Republicans would NEVER restrict access to the media, would they? It's not like they would hold a district convention and keep ALL media from recording the events. Right?

WHAT! Tim Pawlenty is running for President? Now there is some hard hitting investigatory journalism...

Wait one hot minute! Are you telling me that if we were to let business do whatever they want, then they will, in fact, do whatever they want and may not act as the beacons of virtue that free marketers assume they will be? SHOCKED, I tell you, SHOCKED!

Well that was quick. It only took the folks at MNPublius a week to indoctrinate Jeff Rosenberg and change him from a great analytical writer to one spouting useless rhetorical crap. Poor Jeff and his handy dandy graphs gone forever...

Why does it take so many words for you to simply say, DAMN POOR PEOPLE?

I certainly would scared if I were a member of the Olmstead County DFL. Why? This guy is an absolute EXPERT at copying and pasting stories from across the intertubes. Those are some serious skills...

Why does Leo Pusateri hate Christianity so much?

This week in Andy Aplikowski hilarity (it's been a fun one):
So I discovered this week that both Mitch Berg and I are from North Dakota. That being said, let me state that the views expressed by Berg DO NOT necessarily reflect the opinions of most or any North Dakotans!

Hey, you leave King Banaian ALONE! He is an economist you know and is therefore above criticism. It's not as though he uses his position as an economist to push conservative ideology!

ALERT! The Republican Party of Minnesota is dead. Here I thought it was just void of ideas and filled with vitriolic characters with no real leadership value. Had I known it was actually dead I would have been slightly more sympathetic.

So Drew Emmer really hates all the government spending and highlighted this: Big Lake is getting $500,000.00 for their regional ice arena. Should we tell him that it was requested by Mary Kiffmeyer (R)?
Category:
��
10:30 AM | Posted in ,
Congressman James Oberstar discussed a bill he sponsored titled Water Quality Investment Act of 2009 (HR 1262). The bill would provide money to states to control water pollution.

I have been on the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure from the time it was the Committee on Public Works. I started my career in this House in January of 1963 as Clerk of the Subcommittee on Rivers and Harbors, the oldest committee of the House, the first committee of the House.

Our work has evolved over many years to encompass a wide range of issues related to investment in the Nation's well-being, but none more fundamental, more important, than water. All the water we ever had on this Earth, or ever will have, is with us today. We aren't going to create new water from any technological source. No comet is likely to come into our orbit and deposit new ice to form water. Our responsibility is to care for the water we have.










��
10:15 AM | Posted in ,
Senator Amy Klobuchar took to the floor of the United States Senate for two straight days in order to express her support for the nomination of David Ogden as Deputy Attorney General. She hammered away at accusations being levied against Ogden by Republicans and repeatedly reminded Senators of the demoralized condition which the Bush Administration and its politicized Department of Justice left the offices in Minnesota and across the country.

Some highlights:

I have heard all these allegations made, including by my colleague. I want to tell you some of the people who are supporting David Ogden. His nomination is supported by a number of law enforcement and community groups, including among others, the Fraternal Order of Police--not exactly a radical organization. He is supported by the National District Attorneys Association, the Partnership for a Drug Free America, and the National Sheriffs' Association.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is a strong supporter. In fact, they sent a letter saying they gave David Ogden their enthusiastic support.

...

As I said yesterday, we had a great attorney general's office in Minnesota for years and years under both Republican and Democratic administrations, and then something happened. A Republican-appointed U.S. attorney, Tom Heffelfinger, was a friend of mine, U.S. attorney under George Bush I and II, who left of his own accord. When he left he found out his name was on a list to be fired. He was replaced with someone who didn't have management experience, and that office nearly blew up over a 2-year period with one person in charge.





��
10:10 AM | Posted in ,
Over the past few weeks Congressman Tim Walz has given a few one minute speeches on the floor of the House of Representatives. The first came the day after the speech to Congress by President Obama. Walz highlighted how the 1st District would benefit from the investment (energy, health care, & education) priorities laid out by the administration.

I represent the southern Minnesota district that includes the Mayo Clinic. I also represent a district that is a leader in wind production and biofuels, not just nationwide but internationally.

I also had a guest last night, Chuck Ehler, the superintendent of a small school, Rushford-Peterson, in my district. That community was devastated by flooding that had a Federal disaster in 2007. It's a 103-year-old building.

The people and the citizens who will fuel our economic recovery are those citizens trying to learn in a building that will not work. We must invest in the future. That's how we repair our economy.



Earlier this month, Walz took some time to honor the American Legion and its committment to the veterans of the United States.

As a member of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, I look to the American Legion for guidance on the priorities of our Nation's veterans. It is because, every day, the Legion is out there, working with our veterans. They understand what is needed.



Just this week, Walz took to the floor to discuss health care reform and herald the role that the Mayo Clinic will play in those reforms.

My home State of Minnesota has been a leader in this. In my district, the Mayo Clinic, in particular, is a renowned medical institution that has always been at the forefront of efforts to reform and improve health care. They helped pioneer the use of electronic medical records. Electronic medical records reduce the time patients spend in waiting rooms filling out forms, and they also let doctors access a patient's history immediately, reducing errors. They cut down on administrative costs, saving our entire system billions of dollars. In addition to leading the way on medical technology, Mayo has been a leader in providing high-quality care.

Category: ,
��
10:05 AM | Posted in ,
Representative Keith Ellison led the floor discussion of the Progressive Caucus this week. The issue at hand was the need to provide voting rights for Washington DC through a voting representative. You may notice that Ellison mistakenly began the discussion by calling for DC STATEHOOD rather than simply adding a voting member to the House of Representatives.

��
3:38 PM | Posted in ,
President Obama touts one of the proper functions of government as keeping our food supplies safe in his most recent weekly address. To fulfill this mission, he nominated Dr. Margaret Hamburg as the head of the Food & Drug Administration.

From the White House Blog:

"We are a nation built on the strength of individual initiative. But there are certain things that we can't do on our own. There are certain things that only a government can do. And one of those things is ensuring that the foods we eat, and the medicines we take, are safe and don't cause us harm."

��
1:03 PM | Posted in
H/T to MNPublius

This coming Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden will be in St. Cloud for a Town Hall Forum. While the details of the appearance are unavailable, it appears as though Biden will be taking questions about the middle class task force this administration has created.

From the St. Cloud Times:

The White House formally announced Friday that Biden and members of a White House task force on the middle class will visit the New Flyer Bus Co. and hold a town-hall meeting there. The meeting will be the second official meeting of the task force, which Biden chairs.

Biden and task force members will be taking questions submitted through a White House Web site, www.astrongmiddleclass.gov, and from members of the audience, according to a news release.


If you are a frequent reader of this blog, then you will know that Joe Biden was actually my first choice to be President of the United States. Depending on the details of the appearance, I may be in attendance to provide video coverage of the event. Perhaps some of my friends in the state legislature from St. Cloud can get me a picture with the Vice President?
Category:
��
8:45 PM | Posted in
And ALL in the same night...

Via Think Progress and my good friend Blue Man, it looks like Bachmann has stepped in it once again. This time over her apparent on again off again relationship with earmarks. You may recall that last year Bachmann was asked by several St. Cloud officials to sponsor an earmark to rebuild the DeSoto Bridge after inspections revealed gusset plate wear similar to that found on the I35W Bridge. Her answer, NO BRIDGE FOR YOU!

Now it appears that even though she is touting her opposition to earmarks she is requesting them anyway. Via Blue Man:

The truth:
In fact, according to Legistorm, Bachmann has requested 7 earmarks in Fiscal Year 2008 costing tax payers a total of $3,767,600. Some examples:

- $94,000 for Sheriffs Youth Program of MN
- $335,000 for Equipment Acquisition for Northland Medical Center
- $803,000 for Replacement Small Buses, St. Cloud Metro Bus
These aren't earmarks to be distraught over. It would appear that these are legitimate needs for the district, yet Bachmann flat out lies about the earmarks.


While I completely agree with Blue Man, I have a slightly different question: If you were requesting these earmarks last year, then why did you also decide to deny the request to rebuild a bridge that represents major infrastructure within your district?

Could it be that you thought these other projects were low profile enough that you could get them under the radar whereas the bridge was high profile and allowed you to play hypocrisy politics with your constituents?

Which brings us to tonight's awards...

On 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with David Shuster, Bachmann got an honorable mention on the nightly hypocrisy watch for her love/hate relationship with earmarks:



On Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Bachmann received a "Worse Person" award for that same hypocrisy:



Cross Posted on Dump Bachmann
Category:
��
7:30 AM | Posted in
Last night I uploaded the Senate DFL Press Conference from yesterday. I will have more comment on this as I do a little bit more research:







��
At my recent Education Minnesota Lobby Day there was a bill that caught my eye:

SF372/HF0586: Instituting a freeze on salaries and wage rates for government employees

Essentially, the bill would freeze pay for ALL government employees, including teachers, for a period of 2 years. Once this time period has expired, the bill even makes it illegal to retroactively make up for any lost wages incurred by the freeze.

While I am not necessarily opposed to a pay freeze as a method of saving money and more importantly saving jobs within school districts, it seems somewhat hypocritical for a party which touts local control as its mantra to begin dictating salary to local units of government across the state.

There are districts throughout the state with extremely healthy fund balances. For them there is no reason to institute a salary freeze. There are other districts in dire trouble. For them there will most likely be no other option than a salary freeze. If we are so often told to institute a business model, then we must recognize that businesses across the state are not a monolithic group. There are businesses hiring and there are businesses increasing employee salaries. There are also businesses cutting back and freezing pay. Why should school districts be treated any differently?

Shouldn't these decisions be negotiated in good faith between local school districts and their local union? Does the Republican Party have so little respect for school boards and their union counterparts that they would try to circumvent them and abandon their local control principles?
That is the question posed by educator Clay Burell at Change.org...


My answer as Co-President of my local is obviously a resounding no but my realistic nature requires me to say, well of course they do from time to time. No organization or group of people is wholly perfect and above a bashing from time to time. Unfortunately, the bashing is usually in the form of wholesale blame for all the problems within the education system.

Take, for example, this relatively innocent article from the St. Cloud Times about proposals to suspend or do away with state laws that require schools to start AFTER Labor Day. There is no indication in the article that Education Minnesota opposes the measures to change start dates and I can tell you that they DO NOT. Does that matter? Apparently not given that the comments are devoted to blaming unions for this provision:

This is such bull! This is about faculty, staff and administrators wanting to get to their cabins early!! Don't these people have ENOUGH time off!!! So, we should cut our summer short and the kids (in some schools) suffer without air conditioning so they can "get out early" in Spring.

GOOD!!!! 1. The teachers would have to work a full year for their pay! (However, no raises should be given)
2. We need year round school, maybe our stupid kids could catch up to the rest of the world. Too many are falling behind. One of the main problems is that parents are basically on dates with their kids, they don't parent, they don't discipline or set high enough expectations for their kids.

YEAH, year-round school.

i blame the school system for caving to the union so they get a 3 month vacation on top of all their breaks.

The teachers and the union become a convenient scapegoat for an issue which they do not oppose and which is generally speaking, out of their control. At no point have I ever heard the union to which I am a proud member proclaim opposition to changing the school calendar or creating a year round school system. I only wish that these people making these comments would realize that the summer vacation is not a byproduct of unions but rather a historical construct left over from our agrarian society.

Another example comes from an editorial in the St. Cloud Times bashing Education Minnesota for commercials that ask the state to spare education funding as they look to make deep cuts in government spending.

Are they asking for more money for their union members or for the school districts in general? Every time we turn around, our public school systems are begging for more of our money. When is enough ever enough?

I have yet to see the commercial in question but it seems somewhat combative to immediately use words such as begging. Any increases in funding would be used to keep crucial programs running and fund initiatives that help children learn. Would some of the money pay teachers? Certainly, but one would hope that teachers have as much right to earn a decent living as the next person. Also, this question of when is enough ever enough consistently comes up and I always wonder if they could define what it truly should cost to educate a child in a world where we are consistently being asked to take on more responsibility. So, what should be the perfect amount of money be to educate a child?

Yes, education is important. But where is the accountability for how that money is spent? For example, do the unions base teacher salaries on performance or merely on how long a teacher has been working?

Interestingly, this leads to a speech given by President Obama today in which he touted the need for merit pay. While I have no problem with the basic concepts of merit pay in which teachers are paid more based on a set of accountability standards, there needs to be a long discussion of what we mean by accountability and performance. Reading the above editorial you might think that the evil union would have screamed bloody murder at the initiative laid out by Obama today. Yet, what you got was a measured response that makes me proud of my union:

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, a union with more than a million members, said in a statement that "teachers want to make a difference in kids' lives, and they appreciate a president who shares that goal and will spend his political capital to provide the resources to make it happen."

"As with any public policy, the devil is in the details," Weingarten said. "And it is important that teachers' voices are heard as we implement the president's vision."

There are many times when the union must look inside itself and make sure it is being reasonable but the same must be asked of those people who automatically attack the union. It is difficult to take a measured position when those opposing you stake out such a virulent and mean spirited stance against you.

5:52 PM | Posted in ,
One of the leading objector's to the Crown Hydro Project has been Vice President Walter Mondale. Two Putt Tommy over at MN Progressive Project addressed some of the objections Mondale raised in a letter to the Minneapolis Park Board. One of those objections:

We understand that the developer has assured the Park Board that the flow would not be impaired beneath 1,000 cubic feet per second. Look at the picture above and appreciate a 90+ reduction in the force of the flow and ask yourself what this will do to the most historically significant resource-the most visited attraction-that which we come to see as the power which gave rise to an infant industry by which Minneapolis became the flour capital of the world. Can anyone conclude that the assault from this project on our citizen's right to history is not harmed. [emphasis mine]


I have already addressed in a previous post:

That being said, there have been engineers hired by Minneapolis Park Board as well as University of Minnesota St. Anthony Falls Lab engineers who indicate that the water flow will be largely unaffected and any affect will be visually indiscernible. There are other safeguards put in place by Crown Hydro to make sure that no more than 1000 cubic feet per second of water is taken into the intake structure.

Further, I would love to know where Mondale gets his figure of a "90+ reduction in the force of the flow". In a believability contest between Vice President Mondale and engineers from various institutions I am going to have to go with the engineers every single time, but that is just me. The best part, however, of the post written by Tommy is a letter of support from the late Paul Wellstone:

I could go on fisking Vice-President Mondale's letter, but it's time to contrast Vice-President Mondale's letter to Senator Paul Wellstone's letter of support for the Crown Hydro project:

I am writing in strong support of Crown Hydro's proposal for a FERC license. Crown Hydro proposes to build a small hydro power, renewable energy project on the Mississippi River's west bank of the St. Anthony Falls in the historic Mills District. Not only is this an important renewable energy initiative, is also an attempt to restore a bit of Minneapolis' rich "Mill City" history to this easily accessible downtown location.

I applaud the efforts of Crown Hydro for doing their homework. They have worked in close consultation with the Army Corps of Engineers, the Minnesota Historical Society, the Minnesota Hydropower Task force which includes the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Pollution Control Agency, Northern States Power, the National Park Service, the Minneapolis Community Development Agency, the Minneapolis Park Board, the St. Anthony Falls Heritage Board, and the Minneapolis City Council The Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources allocated $120,000 to this project because of its dual benefit - - a produce of renewable energy and the restoration of an historic archaeological mill site. (more, here)

It is time to move this project forward. With all the necessary state and federal hoops having been jumped through, there is little reason for a local Park Board to obstruct on what appears to most as very flimsy reasoning. It is high time that we begin contacting those who wish to hold this project up and demand answers.
Category: ,
��
2:30 PM | Posted in
A recent tweet from SCSUScholars (On the show today, we'll ask the question, what would Reagan do (if he lived in these times)? #finalword) got me wondering about a few things.

First, isn't one of the core principles of conservatism a fervent belief in self reliance? The idea that you should be able to do things on your own without the assistance or interference from any other person or government?

Second, If this is one of the core principles of conservatism, then why is the above question about what Reagan would do asked so often? A party which prides itself on self reliance and decries the reliance on others really ought not be relying on Ronald Reagan for its ideas and solutions.

Perhaps I am missing something here but it seems to me that conservatives are oft to ridicule those who believe that we must rely on each other for our personal success yet don't even realize that they rely almost solely on someone else to tell them what they believe and what they should do.

[Photo via Cafe Press]

On to the weekly romp:

I have warned you people time and time again not to mess with The Ox! Did you listen? NOPE. Now I am not saying she will hunt you down but when she is linking to Andy Aplikowski for support of her beliefs you have to believe that she might.

Hooray, it's time to make fun of children who are strategically programmed to love Ronald Reagan and hate those evil liberals. Does it say something about the conservative movement that their newest idea makers are a fourteen year old kid and a guy who pretends to be a plumber?

That bastard President had the AUDACITY to have a Super Bowl Party? Oh, I hate him so much! I mean President Bush only partied when ONE city was under water.

You really have to hand it to the folks over at Dump Bachmann. Day after day they dive head first into the seventh level of hell to keep track of Michele Bachmann. If I cared this much about any one subject, I too would have delusional fantasies...

ALERT! When Minnesotans attend listening sessions to fight for programs that work, they are lazy whining welfare consuming communists whose opinions shouldn't matter. When Minnesotans call in to a phone number to verbally assault all things government why those are the REAL Minnesotans. By the way, I really enjoyed the prep work given to each caller and the rule that only private sector citizens were allowed to respond!

Well that SUCKS! Now who am I going to go to for direction on which people should be loathed and feared? Has Barack Obama destroyed our social fabric already that Dobson is just waving the white flag.

TRANSLATION: Stop picking on my President you meanie face!

I just cannot understand how conservatives have lost their majorities. They have done all the work of foregoing ideas for namecalling. What more do you people want? Hell, they have even made up folksy songs about how global issues can be debunked by examining localized occurences.

So the conservatives have chosen to make as the leading intellectual figures of their party a Governor from Alaska, a plumber, and a 14 year old kid? They do realize that being in the minority does not necessarilly mean they have to give up, do they?

Seriously, what is the purpose of this blog? I have been hoping and praying to one day find an original thought and not a wholly copied and pasted story from elsewhere. I am not entirely sure one can refer to oneself as heavy handed when one never uses said hand.

It is time once again for the things I learned from skimming Lake Minnetonka Liberty:
You leave those poor congresspeople ALONE! The obvious reason that they are opposed to earmarks is that the realize that they have a problem and are seeking a remedy to their illness. Call it the 12 step program for earmarking.

JUST A REMINDER TO EVERYONE: Michael Brodkorb runs his own blog and has in no way been instructed by his bosses in the Minnesota Senate Republican Caucus to feverishly attack the opposition through that blog! Seriously, this information just comes to him and is certainly not obtained through the course of his actual job. I just wanted to clear that up for everyone...

I like MinnesotaBrown and all but he writes some of the most boring crap I have read in all my life. Can't you PLEASE write something that is more mockable? Ideas include completely incendiery remarks about Republicans or Democrats in the area. Also, highly partisan rhetoric that is obviously not helpful to the overall debate would be acceptable. Just a request...

Why do poor people expect to eat more than 125 million meals per year in the first place? That seems to be an excessive amount of meals by any standard.

Well now I am just ANGRY! I was under the impression that Obama was going to bilk the rich and so I voted for him now you tell me that it just isn't true?

That silly Dave Mindeman, doesn't he know that facts and figures and nobel prize winning economists don't matter? What matters is yelling really really loud about socialism and communism and the end of freedom as we know it...

Is there anything better than faux outrage to advance your political agenda? Although I am proud to see that the usual Al Franken lovefest that typically eminates from MNPublius has given way to other, equally vapid, DFL talking points.

Dear Paleocon, do you think it might be possible for you and "Heavy-Handed" to team up? That way we would only have to visit ONE site in order to see copied and pasted materials from around the internets. Just a suggestion...

Hey buddy, you need to pick a side! We have no room in this country for people who think both political parties are abject failures. It makes it really hard to mock and ridicule you when you acknowledge that neither party is perfect, so KNOCK IT OFF!

Now Barack Hussein Obama is worse even than Hugo Chavez? Is there any way you guys could create some sort of flow chart or handbook so that I might be able to follow the conservative meme of the day? I get that he is a scary muslim who hates America but the interchangeable uses of the words Communist, Socialist, Fascist, Dictator is getting a bit muddled.

You mean to tell me that T-Paw suggested that Republicans need to begin coming up with their own ideas and stop recycling Reagan? HOW DARE HE! We don't need no stinkin' new ideas, the old worn out ones have worked just fine so far. In other news, before clicking on this link you need to make sure you picture Andy Aplikowski with his overalls and pitchfork jumping up and down because he is hoping mad. Kind of makes you giggle...

Dear Mitch Berg, stop writing about things which I am forced to agree with you on! We are supposed to be mortal ideological enemies and as such should NEVER find ourselves in agreement on ANYTHING. In other Mitch Berg news:
Two themes emerged from Minnesota Independent this week: Michele Bachmann is still an idiot & Tim Pawlenty is unpopular, hates Ronald Reagan, and loves God. Was there some sort of Captain Obvious Award up for grabs this week that I was unaware of?

Twitter, like so many other things in life, deserves its share of mockery. Excellent work! By the way, you can follow me on twitter by clicking HERE. I tweet A LOT of boring and useless crap.

It looks like Jeff Rosenberg will be bringing his handy dandy graphs and so called facts over to MNPublius. Bets will now be taken as to how long before Rosenberg can only write about how super awesome Al Franken is...

I realize that this is further proof that I am an elitist America hating communist, but let's be honest people: TATOR TOT HOTDISH SUCKS!

Are you really still pushing this meme? Really? Let's review: Your thesis is that Bush loves the military more because he gave a few high fives and Obama hates the military because he didn't. Might a better indicator be which President sacrificed fewer of our young men and women to die? I guess I would just rather be alive and forego the high five than get the high five and then be sent to fight in a senseless conflict. But hey, that's just me...
Category:
��
10:17 AM | Posted in ,
In the weekly address, President Obama discussed the release of his first budget and the current economic picture. From restructuring mortgages to jump starting lending to making the initial investments in health care reform, Obama is taking on the tall task of fixing the economy that he inherited.

From the White House:



Let us hope that the voices who wish for failure are drowned out by the sensible amongst us who would like to find actual solutions to actual problems.
��
8:33 PM | Posted in ,
Nearly a year ago I wrote about the vast difference between my legislator, Larry Haws and the legislator next door, Steve Gottwalt. Part of that analysis was to show how very little the legislator next door gets done in the realm of things that matter:

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.


Well, Gottwalt and friends are back at it this session despite real problems such as, I don't know, a massive budget deficit! Perhaps the Republican Party in Minnesota will one day realize that it is the consistent pounding of wedge politics which keeps them in political limbo...

The St. Cloud Times Editorial Staff took Gottwalt and the other co-authors to task for signing on to this useless waste of time:

What priority?

Even with the changes, we question if this is really a legislative priority for law enforcement.

Why? Well, not only have we heard little to nothing from local law enforcement leaders, but the state police chiefs association — the main backer — does not list it under “Current Policing Issues” on its Web site. Similarly, when asked Wednesday by this board about its position, the Minnesota Sheriffs Association had to poll its leaders to determine an official stand.

All of that speaks volumes about its priority level among public safety challenges in Minnesota.

Apply it and think!

Perhaps most distressingly, though, is supporters (including co-authors Reps. Larry Hosch, Dan Severson and Mary Kiffmeyer) appear not to have thought through what they were asking for — especially the original idea that an outright ban makes it faster and easier to identify people.

Set aside potential culture wars and think about it.

A police officer stops someone whose religion requires they wear headgear in public. But when the officer looks at the license, the photo shows no headgear. So much for easier identification.

Similar logic applies to recognition by revealing hair and scalp. Of all the features on your head — ears, eyes, chin, nose, skin, mouth and hair — which of those have you (or, OK, genetics) changed the most in your lifetime? And which is easiest to change?

At least the changes announced Thursday put the measure more in line with the initial goal.

Still, the reality is Minnesota’s existing requirements for pictures on driver licenses and state ID cards are very adequate. They require a “full-face image taken by the [state] that is a representation of the true appearance of the applicant. ... The face of the applicant must be uncovered and unobscured. ...”

Please note that does not allow veils, scarves or anything that covers the face. And it’s already incredibly close to exactly what passports require.

Given all of that, please don’t bother with this proposal.


Excellent work, Steve! In the midst of a budget crisis you didn't take your eye off the divisive politics ball. You are a true gem to the conservative movement...
��