Monday, May 30, 2011

MN-02 : Kline Eerily Silent on Troops to Teachers Program

Memorial Day should not only be the time to remember those whom have given the ultimate sacrifice in support of our country, but also to recognize that too many veterans are unemployed.

While Congress may be considering a number of proposals (including Senator Amy Klobuchar’s Veterans Employment Act ), there is one program that could be terminated as a result of the zeal to eliminate the federal government spending.

At the heart of the decision-making is John Kline (R-MN-02). Mr. Kline is Chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee but is also a member of the House Armed Services Committee … thus his views on the troops, teachers and jobs will impact the future of the Troops to Teachers Program.
But like so many other issues, Mr. Kline remains silent … no public comment … no press releases addressing the subject … just silence hoping that voters do not pay attention … especially military veterans looking for a new career after active duty service.

The Troops to Teachers Program is not a new program … it was established in 1994. It has proven to be successful as spotlighted in a March 2006 GAO report indicating that over 80 percent of Troops teachers are male and over 25 percent are African American—characteristics that differ from the overall teacher population. Troops teachers were placed in districts designated as high-need on the basis of serving children who qualify for federal assistance. According to the study, about one third of Troops hired reported teaching in the priority areas of math, science, special education, or vocational education. 60 percent of participants reported that they would not have become a teacher without the TTT program. Since 1993, over 12,000 retired members have brought math, science and foreign language expertise to schools through the program.

Sounds like a good program … putting true “Role Models” in the classroom.
However it faces a threat today as blind budget-cutting that seems to be the mindset of the Republican-controlled House ... funding for the Department of Education is an easy target (especially after so many members campaigned on eliminating the Department during the 2010 elections.)
This week, Mr. Kline’s E&W Committee cut 43 education programs. Mr. Kline, who has targeted programs that job training programs specifically, stated At a time when our nation faces a historic fiscal crisis, we must make a concerted effort to reduce federal spending. A necessary step in this process is to eliminate and streamline federal programs.

The TTT program costs …in terms of government spending is modest … funding for the program has declined, from a high of $29 million in FY03 to lower amounts … typically $15 million annually.

The Obama Administration has proposed to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to move it from Education to the Department of Defense. The move to Defense will help ensure it runs smoothly and has no adverse impact on program enrollees while providing .better oversight of program outcomes by simplifying and streamlining program management.

The TTT program has its supporters in Congress … and even improving it … Tom Petri (R-WI) has introduced H.R. 1947 ( the Post-9/11 Troops to Teachers Enhancement Act of 2011) to expand the program, Mr. Kline remains silent … but the legislation has been endorsed by :

The American Legion
The American Military Retirees Association
The Military Officers Association of America (MOAA)
The Military Order of the Purple Heart
The National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE)
The National Education Association (NEA)
The Student Veterans Association

During the last session of Congress, a similar bill was introduced - HR 3943 - which had 171 co-sponsors including Minnesota military veterans Tim Walz (D-MN-01) and Colin Peterson (D-MN-07) … but not Mr. Kline.

Mr. Kline controls the gavel … he wields the power to deny Congressman Petri’s bill a hearing … he controls whether Troops will be encouraged to Teach … Mr. Kline, do the right thing … support the Troops … support Teachers.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

MN-02 : Redistricting Opens Door for Morrow

Multiple Choice Question : Why has John Kline won so convincingly each term ?

A. After years of public involvement in service to local communities on school boards and at the state legislature, he is will known to independent voters that are the true majority of Second District constituents.
B. As a Congressman, he has exerted influence to ensure government funds are properly directed to the district for infrastructure investments (roads, water and sewage systems, etc.) but not wasteful “Bridges to Nowhere”.
C. He’s blanketed the airwaves with commercials citing his accomplishments while participating in a public Town Hall meetings non-stop from Memorial Day until Election Day.
D. The national Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee has never funded the challenger.

Ponder that question for a moment, and consider that the Republican-managed Minnesota State Legislature has approved a proposal that re-shapes the Second District. Media reports indicate that Tim Walz (D-MN-01) will lose a reliable group of voters in Nicollet County that will switch to Mr. Kline’s Second District.

Is this bad news for Congressman Walz or Mr. Kline … depends on how you feel about the issues.

There was a reason why people voted for Tim Walz … it was people like me, a true independent that want fiscal responsible legislators … those Nicollet County voters will now have a chance to “meet” John Kline … and John Kline is no Tim Walz (remember Mr. Kline supported TARP and every Defense project while rejecting any attempt to pay for them). There are plenty of voters in Nicollet County that will want to “meet” the DFL candidate that will take on Mr. Kline.

No doubt Mr. Kline will proclaim his “fiscal hawk” persona but once voters compare the fiscally prudent Tim Walz who has not accepted a pay increase while Mr. Kline has awarded excessive bonuses to his employees … while increasing his staff operating expenses (which Tim Walz has routinely returned to the US Treasury), they will recognize Mr. Kline as a true Washington politician who is motivated with self-promotion at the taxpayer's expense.

Yet, there will be voters that will be pondering the aforementioned “Multiple Choice Question” and look for a candidate that has those attributes … and they may be looking for someone from their local area. It turns out that not only has Tim Walz been elected by Nicollet County voters for the past three elections, but also they voted to have Terry Morrow represent Minnesota State House (23A).

For the record, I have never met Terry Morrow (nor Tim Walz or John Kline), so my observations are from his record and votes.

Terry Morrow just always seemed to be there … for example, when the MN-GOP charted a plane to fly into Mankato to defend their budget cuts which the local media reported, but the local meadia also reported that Representative Morrow was at a ceremony honoring a Minnesota National Guard member who was about to be shipping off to Iraq. When the I-35 Bridge collapsed, Representative Morrow was appointed to the committee to review the incident. When the state legislature wanted to review the best ways to confront the increase in unemployment, Representative Morrow joined the bi-partisan Jobs Task Force.
Clearly, Representative Morrow has the respect of his colleagues for the right reasons ... competancy and caring attitude.

Prior to running for the House, Terry Morrow served on the Saint Peter School Board for several years.
Representative Morrow is currently a member of the House Agriculture, Rural Economies & Veterans Affairs Committee and the House State and Local Government Operations Reform, Technology & Elections Committee, and is also a member of the Finance subcommitteees for the Transportation and Transit Policy and Oversight Division and the Transportation Finance and Policy Division.

As large as the Second District is many voters may not know Representative Morrow … unless they saw the ridiculous attack ads that were run by Take Back Minnesota … while TakeBack Minnesota efforts were successful in converting the legislature to Republican, District 23-A voters overwhelmingly voted to have Terry Morrow represent them in the House.

My answer to the “Multiple Choice question” is D --- the DCCC has not financially supported Mr. Kline’s opponent.

IMO, voters don’t know John Kline … he’s a Washington insider … best known in the District as John “Franked Mail” Kline (after all taxpayers funded the bills to tune of $92,942.59 in 2009 which increased to $125.939.89 in 2010) … meeting constituents are managed with Tele-Town Hall phone contacts which Mr. Kline has noted that traditional town halls “have become partisan battlegrounds,” and because the phone calls can be made any time, it limits organized opposition and disruption. Indeed, if a constituent becomes disruptive during his or her question, the congressman on the other end can simply click them off.”
John Kline is simply an incumbent that the DCCC has not decided to challenge, therefore voters just reluctantly accept him.

IMO, it’s time to start a DRAFT Terry Morrow for Congress movement.
The Second District needs somebody that cares about Minnesota and not Washington.