Wednesday, January 27, 2010

SD-26 : Minority Rules ! And What Needs to Change

The results of the Special Election for Minnesota Senate District 26 indicate the People have NOT spoken.

Oh sure, there were ballots counted and a winner was announced, but the turnout was so pitiful that the WILL of the people is not really known.
Historically, Minnesotans take pride in leading the nation in turnout. In 2006, MN-GOP Dick Day was re-elected in SD-26 easily with a participation rate of 71.1%. In the presidential year 2008, the participation rate was 81.2% with 37,732 district voters participating.
The turnout for this Special Election was 27.2% with only 11,486 voters participating.
So, although MN-GOP Mike Parry (MN-GOP) had a comfortable 751 vote margin, 30,682 voters did not participate !
That’s more people that DID NOT participate in this election then all the votes cast in Dick Day's Regular Election contest in 2006.

Although there may be many reasons why voters didn't participate, the timing may have the most impact. Many remember seeing GOP Congressmen with raised purple fingers at President Bush’s State of the Union address to signify solidarity with the Iraqi voters. After the January 26th Special Election, the only purple fingers on Minnesotans would be a sign of frostbite.

It’s just plain silly to have a voting window that is only open for fourteen hours in frigid cold January … especially in a rural district that is spread through three Minnesota counties.

The State Legislature needs to address this.
Senators Katie Sieben, Kathy Sheran and Ann Rest have introduced Senate Bill 853 which authorizes no-excuse absentee voting. Under current legislation, Minnesota residents who wish to vote absentee are required to provide a reason as to why they are unable to go to the polling place on Election Day. The acceptable reasons are clearly defined in current law, but “it might be a blizzard” is not one of them … nor is “I don’t go to town on Tuesdays” … etc.
That’s a start … but even better would be to enact Senate Bill 970 introduced by Senators Sieben, Rick Olseen, John Marty, Sandra Pappas and Jim Carlson which authorizes early voting and would allow Minnesota residents to vote in person before Election Day at the office of the county auditor or other approved polling locations.
That’s the best solution.
The League of Women Voters primarily supports the bill because it will make it easier for Minnesota citizens to vote. "We want to make access to the polls as simple as it can possibly be," Gwen Myers from the League of Women Voters said endorsing this legislation and pointing to people with jobs that call them out of town unexpectedly, people with unpredictable medical conditions and pregnant women who may find it difficult to wait in long lines at their polling place.

Considering that well over $50,000 was spent on this Special Election, you have to wonder....WHO get their money's worth?
It’s time to put the PEOPLE’s Interests before Special Interests ... Let's put an end to Minority Rules.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Pawlenty Priority : Lake Vacation over City Water

“Imagine a typical Minnesota kitchen table. A mom and dad have just tucked the kids into bed with a kiss and a prayer, and they come back to the table to confront economic reality.
On the table are bills, notices and a notepad with a budget that’s tighter than it’s ever been. Hope and fear are also at the table.
How do we pay these bills? How do we fix the car? How do we pay this mortgage? How are we going to afford college or even retire someday?
The couple at the kitchen table begin by setting priorities.
What’s most important?
What can we afford?
What do we give up?
How can we do things different? ”

– Governor Tim Pawlenty, January 15, 2009 State of the State Address

Pawlenty’s analogy seems most appropriate today as the State is facing another fiscal crisis … which has seemed to be the norm during his “no tax increase” tenure.
So, why is the Governor advocating acquiring land for a state park at Lake Vermilion ?
The upfront cost : $18 million cash from the State plus a couple more million dollars in tax “donations” for US Steel.
Then development of infrastructure like roads, water, and a visitor center will cost $25 million to 30 million.
The alternative : The St. Louis County Commission has already zoned for housing development, which is expected to result in 63 lakeshore homes and another 82 inland.
The net impact to the County is a loss of property tax dollars …. and construction of those homes would mean JOBS.
Worse yet, this investment that does not meet the “kitchen table” test.

While every family may dream of a lakefront vacation home, the first priority is to your existing home … and Minnesota’s infrastructure is aging and needing upgrades.
That’s where the priority needs to be. Especially if your “kitchen table” is in Backus, Biwabik, Chisholm, Duluth, Eveleth, Gilbert, Hamburg, Hibbing, Mora, North Branch, Vernon Center, Waldorf, Willmar or any of the more than 30 communities that submitted requests for funding through the bonding proposal for the 2010 legislative session.

Oh, sure the Governor did suggest a “financially responsible bonding proposal” valued at $815 million bonding bill.
Yes, there was $75 million for local bridges, providing the state portion of funding to replace approximately 960 bridges during the 2010-11 construction season but there were also $74 million in requests by MN-DOT that were denied.

Just as the Governor set priorities for the Transportation funding, he also set funding for other areas … areas that have definite “kitchen table” impact. There were over $60 million dollars requested for wastewater treatment facility (WWTF) and Inflow & Infiltration (I&I) Abatement projects … and just like Transportation funding requests, he denied many communities the funding they need.

Governor Pawlenty express a concern that communities must not be looking for "state funding ALL these local projects", without acknowledging that many of these projects have 50% of the funding being generated by the local community ... from taxpayer's fees.

Big towns … medium-sized towns … small towns … what they have in common is disappointment … and their failure to act can have an impact on other communities throughout the state.

No doubt complaints will come again from Duluth’s Chamber of Commerce as once again the City of Duluth $8.5 million request to build sanitary sewer overflow tanks to prevent sewer runoff from flowing into Lake Superior was denied.

The Governor denied the City of Willmar request of $20 million in state funding for the relocation of its wastewater treatment facility (WWTF). This project supports national USEPA goal to improve water quality in the Mississippi River by reducing levels of ammonia and phosphorus within the watershed. Willmar's wastewater treatment facility has been highly ranked on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's priority list. The existing WWTF is the second highest point source contributor of phosphorus (14%) to the Minnesota River. The existing WWTF does not have the technology to remove or treat for phosphorus. The new WWTF will contain the technology needed to reduce the levels of phosphorus discharged by 90 percent, thereby improving water quality to the lower Minnesota River watershed at Shakopee. This will also help improve the water quality as the Minnesota River drains to the Mississippi River and will help reduce the overall phosphorus loading to Lake Pepin.

Small town, Waldorf in Waseca County requested $650,000 in state funding to implement an inflow and infiltration (I&I) abatement program to correct its on-going sewer I&I problem. The community’s wastewater treatment facility (WWTF) was constructed in 1947. The Little Cobb River is the discharge point for effluent from the WWTF, and eventually flows into the Minnesota River through the Big Cobb, Le Sueur, and Blue Earth Rivers.

Failure to get state funding will mean that water quality will be affected ... which will only make those communities less desirable for businesses to operate there ... much less encouraging people to live there. Thus it isn’t just the “kitchen tables” in those communities but water quality will be affected at “kitchen tables” whereever the rivers flow.

The work that needs to be done is essential. The investment would mean JOBS and communities that are more attractive for new business to locate there.

Governor Pawlenty is not setting priorities correctly ... this waste of taxpayer dollars should be an affront to MN-GOPers as well as DFLers.
Pawlenty needs to ask himself those “kitchen tables” questions :
What’s most important? (a new state park or clean water?)
What can we afford? ($50 million for a park plus ongoing maintenance costs for the park or modernizing over 40 communitites thoroughout the state?)
What do we give up? (Give up the lakefront property that most Minnesotans will never visit or water that we drink daily?)

Pawlenty may consider a new Lake Vermilion State Park as his legacy, but his legacy will be one who neglected infrastucture investments.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

SD-26 : Can Dick Day Speak For Mike Parry

Dick Day is on the airwaves warning of “wild things that your hear in the final days of a campaign”.
It’s a good warning … and the reason that the best statements are the ones that include the “tag line” ---
I approve this message.
So, should we listen to the words of candidate Mike Parry or Dick Day who is speaking in a message paid for by the Republican Party of Minnesota ?

Republican Mike Parry has a straightforward solution for the projected budget shortfalls — cut spending by 15 percent. That’s about $5 billion in a $34 billion two-year budget. Parry would exempt only two relatively small sections of the state budget — veterans benefits and public safety programs. According to Parry, every other part of the budget must be cut — even property tax credits and other favored line items that directly reduce people’s property taxes.

Yet, Dick Day is on the radio proclaiming that Mike Parry will fight for Senors and Nursing Home funding.

Should voters believe the candidate or the political party that wants to retain the seat ?

What we do know is that based on past history, Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty has been known to side with Parry’s concept of cutting spending in lieu of raising taxes. In 2004, Pawlenty proposed saving the state about $6.3 million on its payments to nursing homes. And as the Pioneer Press reported on Pawlenty’s recent unallotment “With more than a quarter of nursing homes in financial jeopardy, the withdrawal of rate increases may force some to close and reduce access for seniors. Rate adjustments to compensate for inflation already had been eliminated for 2011, but Pawlenty pushed the schedule up one year. Similarly, the state budget already capped personal care aides, or PCAs, at no more than 310 hours of work per month. Pawlenty would cut that to 275 hours.

In Minnesota, nursing home residents are the true face of government assistance programs. Medicaid nursing home residents comprise over 59% of the typical nursing home’s clients. Medicaid and Medicare comprise nearly 68% of nursing home resident days and are paid for by the State of Minnesota and the Federal Government. In effect, every cut has a triple whammy to nursing homes as every cut in state reimbursement will also mean a similar reduction in federal matching dollars, as well as reimbursements from private insurance plans. The future viability of the nursing home industry is severely impacted by votes that Parry could make.

Fortunately not all seniors live in nursing homes. However, remember Parry’s opinion on property tax credits. Those that own their own homes may be affected in the future --- but for those seniors that rent, they have already felt the cut. The Renter’s Property Tax Credit provides tax relief to low- and moderate-income households whose property taxes are high in relation to their income. Governor Pawlenty used his unallotment procedure to eliminate funding for this program. In Steele and Waseca counties approximately 2600 seniors and persons with disabilities received the Renters’ Credit for tax year 2006 – with an average credit of $601.

Voters should heed Dick Day’s warning … there are “wild things that your hear in the final days of a campaign” so remember Mike Parry’s plans … not Day’s proclamation that Parry will work for seniors … or for that matter middle class taxpayers. Parry and Pawlenty are not a good team for Minnesota.

Conversely, Parry’s competitor Jason Engbrecht realizes that spending cuts need to be part of the conversation but it is not possible to reduce spending alone without impact our senior citizens.

Friday, January 15, 2010

MN-02: Who Stopped more Pork - Kline or Obama ?

Representative John Kline (R-MN-02) re-election campaign was based on there being too much “pork barrel politics” and that he was going stop it. He encouraged constituents to go to his website Stop The Pork for information on “wasteful government spending”. Too often the projects are relatively small dollars (in government terms) but have names that are meant to aggravate the taxpayers (i.e. $49,410 to install new rubber-tiled tennis courts in Montana).

Granted that there is waste, but has Representative Kline gone after the big dollars programs … or just developed a good campaign concept ?

Would it be best to look for programs that have big dollars now and in to the future.
For example, the terrestrial-based, long-range maritime radio navigation system called the LORAN-C. The Clinton and Bush Administrations sought to terminate this program but to no avail. A Bush 2006 study concluded that in addition to the $37 million-a-year cost of the Loran system, it needs up to $160 million over eight years to complete all upgrades. The Obama Administration states in its budget that although the program is not fully developed, it is already ‘obsolete technology’ and that the ‘Nation no longer needs this system because the federally-supported civilian Global Positioning System (GPS) has replaced it with superior capabilities. The elimination of this program would achieve a savings of $36 million in 2010 and $190 million over five years”. In fact, Loran-C receivers have been taken off the bridges of most merchant ships and the US Coast Guard no longer uses the system.
So a quick check of Representative Kline’s StopThePork website does not indicate any comment on the Loran-C program. When the funding request was voted on in the House ( Roll Call 450 ), Representative Kline voted for it.

So Representative Kline opposes “pork” but what three Presidential Administrations have defined as “wasteful government spending” gets his blessing.
Fortunately for the taxpayers, President Obama eventually prevailed.
In fact, a recent analysis by The Washington Times (not exactly a friend of the Democrats) found that President Obama was victorious in getting Congress to slash 24 programs and achieved some level of success in reducing nine other programs. The article discusses another program that Representive Kline supported … the multibillion-dollar F-22 Raptor program which was discussed in a previous commentary.

In fact, President Obama succeeded in eliminating programs that President Bush repeatedly failed to end. President Obama was successful on 60 percent of his proposed cuts as Congress accepted at least $6.9 billion of the $11.3 billion in discretionary spending cuts. By comparison, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget says President Bush won 40 percent of his spending cuts in fiscal 2006 and won less than 15 percent of his proposed cuts for 2007 and 2008.

A last thought is how did we get into this financial debt. David Axelrod wrote an OpEd reviewing the times during the Bush/Kline years : “The day the Bush administration took over from President Bill Clinton in 2001, America enjoyed a $236 billion budget surplus -- with a projected 10-year surplus of $5.6 trillion. When the Bush administration left office, it handed President Obama a $1.3 trillion deficit -- and projected shortfalls of $8 trillion for the next decade. During eight years in office, the Bush administration passed two major tax cuts skewed to the wealthiest Americans, enacted a costly Medicare prescription-drug benefit and waged two wars, without paying for any of it.”
Representative Kline voted for all these problems.

While Representative Kline has an effective campaign concept, he has failed to deliver.
Maybe it’s time for a change this November … it will be fair question at the debates to ask the Democrat challenger and Representative Kline “Will you support President Obama in reducing wasteful government spending … or will you support your Congressional colleagues in continuing funding for obsolete programs?”

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

SD-26 : 4,863 Reasons to Vote FOR Jason Engbrecht

In evaluating the three candidates for the Special Election for Senate District 26, there is one common aspect that can provide insight into how the winner may act once elected.
They all have experience at local government ... or on the school board level.
It’s those community service functions that the art of being a good legislator is learned. As one County Commissioner told me the first thing that he learned upon his election was how to count to three …. with a five seat commission, to accomplish anything, he had to get cooperation from at least two others. That on-the-job experience teaches how to listen to other’s concerns, compromise and resolve issues.

So, let’s look at the three candidates.

The Independence Party’s candidate, Roy Srp has been active in local government for years including a stint as a Waseca County Commissioner. In 2004, Mr. Srp earned a 318 vote margin in a contested 2004 election for Mayor of Waseca and he was re-elected without opposition in 2008. Being a city mayor, he has had to deal first hand with Governor Pawlenty’s unallotments … including a $204,215 reduction in the last go round.
With IP’s Tim Penny’s enormous popularity in Waseca and the voter’s high regard for Mr. Srp, that might bode well for his election. But the problem is that his party is the Independence Party. Reality is that the IP may have an impact on election contests, yet they have no current members in the legislature, thus they are moot. Currently, with 46 of the 67 Senators belonging to the DFL (a veto override majority), if elected Mr. Srp would be vanquished to least desirable committees. Even if Mr. Srp would be re-elected in November, the MN-GOP and DFL members will receive committee assignments ahead of Mr. Srp. Mr. Srp may offer a voice, but his impact will be non-existent.

The MN-GOP candidate, Mike Parry has served as Waseca’s Ward 3 Councilman for one term. Mr. Parry election was assured once no one else put their name on the 2004 ballot. Mr. Parry’s performance as Councilman was marked by poor attendance including 74 percent attendance at City Council meetings; 65 percent for work sessions; 67 percent Joint Government Board; 50 percent Economic Development Authority; and 100 percent Traffic Safety Board. According to Chapter 31 of Waseca City Code, “To ensure maximum representation and allow for orderly conduct of business, the City Council requires all board and commission appointees to attend a minimum of 75 percent of the annual scheduled meetings.”
Obviously, small cities have been hit hard by the economic conditions, but one idea advanced by Mr. Parry was to sell Maplewood Park – a local nature center … not an industrial park. Thanks to excellent research by Bluestem Prairie who reviewed council records and reported this provocative suggestion. The most glaring reaction was that over 1400 people signed a petition opposing Mr. Parry's idea to sell the park.
As such, when Mr. Parry sought re-election, he was soundly defeated garnering only 363 votes.
Why the MN-GOP would endorse this candidate should be the voter’s first question.

The DFL candidate, Jason Engbrecht elective community service is as a member of ISD 656 school board. Mr. Engbrecht might have the most difficult and scrutinized assignment of the three as most parents pay a lot of attention to the school system for twelve years during a child’s education. School boards have had the unenviable task of balancing budgets while state funding is being constrained; facilities are aging, technology is evolving, and test scores are closely monitored. As such, school board elections are also some of the most contested elections. While endorsements by political parties or politicians are common, the most important endorsement a candidate can get is word of mouth from parent to parent. Reading Mr. Engbrecht’s personal bio, it is impressive, yet the key question is “Why would he want to be involved in such a thankless job?” He answered that and more in a newspaper series of questions (that are reprinted below).
What is most impressive is that Mr. Engbrecht studied the School Board and system first … learning what it did well … and what areas needed to be improved … and talked with individuals involved. I suspect that is the reason why 4,863 voters selected him.
Since being elected, Mr. Engbrecht has been actively involved (checkout the minutes including a perfect attendance for the business meetings) and showing fiscal responsibility the Board has twice reduced its compensation from $325 to $250 per month.

The Minnesota Legislature needs more thoughtful, responsible people like Mr. Engbrecht.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
What have you done to educate yourself on how the school board operates?

Jason Engbrecht : After watching school board meetings for some time on our local cable access channel, I decided to run for school board and started the education process by attending the forum sponsored by the current school board and superintendent Stepaniak. Since then I have made it a point to be at every public school board meeting from now until the election. Being a college professor I understand the importance of doing one’s homework. (Something my students can vouch for!) Thus, shortly after declaring my candidacy I began requesting documents from the school district on test scores, district budgets, the proposed referendum, and demographic information on teachers and students for the past ten years. After looking over these materials I met with the curriculum director, the director of finance, the special services director, and superintendent Stepaniak. They and others in the district have been exceptionally helpful in answering my questions.

What is your view on asking for a $15 million bond referendum now?

Jason Engbrecht : These are difficult economic times in which to ask the public to raise their own taxes to support additional government spending. However, after attending recent board meetings, looking over the proposed budget and talking at length with superintendent Stepaniak, I am currently in support of this request.
Our community has an investment of nearly $100 million in buildings and infrastructure. We must protect this investment with proper maintenance so we do not face much larger costs in the future or allow an unsafe environment to develop in our schools.
As a school board member I will make sure the district puts forth a strong effort to educate the public on precisely what the referendum will fund. State law requires that every dollar is accounted for and all projects are justified to the standard of our community and I would work to ensure that this happens.

What is the role of a school board member?

Jason Engbrecht : Simply stated, the role of the school board member is to look after the best interests of our students on behalf of the community. This entails oversight responsibilities such as monitoring the district’s test scores and curriculum plans, overseeing the budgeting process, and ratifying employee contracts. A school district with a $40,000,000 annual budget like ours is a complicated thing, and school board members can not possibly have the expertise to micromanage the district. They can, however, ensure that the district has qualified personnel in key leadership positions to ensure that everything possible is done to improve the education of children in our district. Just as importantly, school board members need to be outstanding communicators who can build relationships between the district’s teachers, administrators, and the larger community, so we are all working together to build a better future for our kids.

What could you do to help the district improve its financial situation?

Jason Engbrecht : After the superintendent, the most important job in the school district is that of the Director of Finance and Operations. Recently, unfortunately, there has been a great deal of inexperience and instability in this position which led to some poor fiscal decisions. Most notably was the overestimate of student enrollment two years ago that led to the hiring of more teachers than the district could afford and thus a drastic downsizing of teachers the following year and continued financial challenges. Fortunately, after meeting with our current financial director, Colleen Mertesdorf, and discussing budgeting issues with her in detail, I am confident that retaining her is the most important thing any board member can do to improve the finances of the district. As a board member I would work with Colleen and her office to make sure that all budgetary decisions are fiscally sound.

How can you promote the improvement of student performance on standardized tests?

Jason Engbrecht : Progress on standardized test scores is another area where instability in district leadership has slowed progress. However, a plan has been developed by the curriculum director in collaboration with representatives from every school in the district. This plan will be implemented during the coming school year. It was developed by our district’s experts in education and is based on solid education research.
As a school board member I would work with the curriculum director to help make sure this plan is implemented successfully and is evaluated fully. I will also encourage teacher input into the plan to help ensure buy-in from the district’s teachers, as they ultimately bear the responsibility of working with students day-in and day-out. Finally, I will ensure that the district communicates effectively with the community on the progress of this plan and our students’ performance.

What are the three most serious issues affecting the school district right now?

Jason Engbrecht :
1) Our teachers are currently suffering from low morale due to the extended contract negotiations and cuts in the number of teachers in the district. Lines of communication between the district’s teachers and the school board must be opened and the board’s support of our teachers must be unequivocal.

2) Our district wide performance on standardized tests scores needs to be improved. As I mentioned earlier, we must take our lower than desired test scores seriously. However our school district is not “failing” and pointing fingers of blame at the school board, teachers, or certain groups of students is counterproductive to a goal that we all share.

3) Our stewardship of the community’s tax dollars needs to be improved. The community needs to have full trust that the district is fiscally responsible.

What would you do to promote stability in the district’s leadership team?

Jason Engbrecht : Instability in the leadership positions of the district has created a wide variety of challenges for our district. Fostering stability in leadership is crucial to moving forward as a district and is one of the areas in which the school board can have a direct impact. When making hires to these positions, competitive compensation packages must be offered. The board must also seek out the necessary expertise to find the right person for the job, which at times will mean hiring external advisors. While tempting, cutting corners in these areas may cost the district much more than it could save.
After the hiring process, the school board must build working relationships with leadership such that the district leadership feels supported by the school board. These relationships will also enable the board to perform the oversight of these positions necessary for a healthy district.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

SD-26 : Mike Parry Big Idea : Cut My District $ 1,957,130 To Start

“A lot of times you’ll see that I’m not politically correct. I think being politically correct is nothing other than a way to hide what needs to be said,” said Mike Parry, Republican candidate for Senate District 26 Special Election.
"I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but I have ideas. If I’m getting spears thrown at me because I have ideas, then so be it, but somebody’s got to speak it.”

Mr. Parry went on to discuss his Big Idea … proposing a solution to the state’s looming billion-dollar budget crisis — a 15 percent cut across the board.

That’s telling it like he sees it --- cut State spending and let someone else worry about the consequences.
Now, a 15% cut could impact a lot of areas … everything from Education and Health Services to State Patrol and National Guard, but let’s just look at one area that has received a lot of discussion and how Mr. Parry’s Big Idea would impact our lives. That would be LGA (Local Government Aid) the program that provides monies for cities core services --- such as police, fire protection, libraries, roads, parks, senior centers and more.

Looking at just a few of the cities in SD-26 (Blooming Prairie, Ellendale, Faribault, Medford, Morristown, Owatonna and Waseca) who saw a $1,132,384 reduction earlier based on Governor Tim Pawlenty’s plan, they would now receive an additional reduction of $1,957,129.50 according to Mr. Parry’s 15% proposed reduction.

The consequences are a direct impact on economic development and the quality of life in these cities. Cities are faced with a non-desirable solutions … raise property taxes, raise water fees, charge fees for services and cut services. Specifically, the Owatonna Peoples Press warned Owatonna could see its high bond rating drop, which, in turn, could cost the city more money as interest on future loans might rise.”

Mr. Parry’s Big Idea is a Bad Idea. It reinforces the traditional viewpoint expressed by many Republicans that delude themselves that spending cuts can be used to starve the beast.
In 2002, LGA accounted for 4.4% of the state’s general fund; in 2008, LGA accounted for only 2.8%. That may not seem like a significant reduction, but over the years, it has cost cities hundreds of millions of dollars and has forced cities to operate as leanly as possible. However, because the items cities purchase—such as concrete for roads, fire engines, fuel for vehicles, etc.—have increased in price significantly since 2002 (so has inflation), revenue increases have been unavoidable. According to Governor Pawlenty’s own administration, property taxes across the state have risen 60% between 2002 and 2008—the same period in which LGA has seen drastic cuts. Cutting another $1,957,129.50 in LGA can only result in shifting more dollars on to the Property Tax bills.

Traditionally, Democrats have been just as likely to be afraid of being seen as tax increasers so they simply refuse to acknowledge reality. But that tradition is changing … Mr. Parry’s challenger, Jason Engbrecht said the state is in difficult times, the economy is going south, we’ve had a difficult couple of years, and we can’t afford to pay for all the commitments we’ve made. There’s no easy answer. I would like to able to tell you that we’re going to raise the revenue we need and make sure we give all the programs the boost that we would love to give them. I don’t think that’s realistic. I think what is realistic is talk about a mixture of raising revenue and also making difficult cuts where we need to make them.”
Mr. Engbrecht added that it’s possible that the Legislature won’t be able to raise funding to schools for the next couple of years. “I hate saying that. I’m on the school board right now and I know how difficult it is, but it may not be realistic if we want to balance the budget”

While Mr. Parry is trying to picture himself as being unabashed about being “politically correct”, Mr. Engbrecht is firmly based in reality.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Mike Parry Meet Tim Pawlenty – A Power Hungry Arrogant White Man

Recently Minnesota’s blogsphere has been dominated by two stories : Republican endorsed candidate Mike Parry (SD-26) thirty-three scrubbed tweets and Judge Gearin issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order against Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty.

The common background to these two issues is our Constitution.

Mr. Parry has a Free Speech right to express his opinions. When Mr. Parry expressed that “Mr. O” was a "Power Hungry Arrogant Black Man" that immediately brought to mind the subject matter discussed in the Supreme Court ruling in Brandenburg –v- Ohio especially with the implied concern that the “President and Congress continues to suppress the white, Caucasian race".
No, Mr. Parry’s Free Speech needs to be heard by the voters as they make their choice in the January 26th Special Election.
Mr. Parry’s comments may be troubling to some, but what should be more troubling is his Waseca County News interview in which he seemed to be blameless and with a faulty memory “If it's on my account I wouldn't know how that one got on there”.
Sure makes you wonder what was stated on the other scrubbed tweets.

This leads to the other Constitutional right … in fact, it is probably our most important right … the protection from the power of government itself. Our Constitutional system is based on a system of checks and balances with the power of government split between the legislative, executive and judicial branches. The idea is to avoid dictatorial and unwarranted power vested in one person ... who would be labeled as Power Hungry and Arrogant.
And to Judge Gearin’s credit that is what she did. In the TRO, she writes that the unallotment statute "is constitutional. It was specific manner in which the Governor exercised his unallotment authority that trod upon the constitutional power of the Legislature, and the Legislature alone, to make laws that, in the Court's opinion, was unconstitutional. [SNIP] … the Governor crossed the line between legitimate exercise of his authority to unallot and interference with the Legislative power to make laws, including statutes allocating resources and raising revenues. The authority of the Governor to unallot is an authority intended to save the state in times of a previously unforeseen budget crisis, it is not meant to be used as a weapon by the executive branch to break a stalemate in budget negotiations with the legislature or to rewrite the appropriations bill.”

That, Mr. Parry is a Power Hungry Arrogant Man (who happens to be a caucasian.)

President Obama has worked with the Congress to authorize spending and tax bills (such as the “stimulus” bill that includes tax cuts equaling $288 billion) … it may be debated whether you like what Congress and the President have done – that’s an opportunity to exercise your Free Speech and tell your fellow citizens and potential voters --- but it was not done in an Arrogant manner … it was done with agreement between the Legislative and Executive Branches.

Contrast that with Governor Pawlenty’s reaction to Judge Gearin’s ruling, stating that she "has inserted herself into a political dispute".
No, she did what her job … protecting the citizens from an Arrogant exercise of power. As University of Minnesota law Professor Fred Morrison said in defending the judge's role: "A judge has a duty to rule on a legal complaint."

Governor Pawlenty’s reaction (and actions) is the definition of a Power Hungry Arrogant Man.