Tuesday, December 20, 2005

FUBAR in the Granite City

"Today [Monday] the Supreme Court of Minnesota confirmed what the facts have already shown: [Republican endorsed candidate] Sue Ek doesn't live in St. Cloud, and wasn't telling the truth when she ran for elected office saying that she did." —DFL Party Chairman Brian Melendez, in a statement on the Minnesota Supreme Court decision to remove Ek from the December 27 special election ballot for House District 15B in Saint Cloud
It seems that the only things that will get Minnesota Republicans, from the party leadership at the state and BPOUs to the grassroots, serious about winning elections is a Democrat governor and a DFL-controlled House and Senate.

Read Ramsey County Judge George T. Stephenson's "Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law" from last Friday, posted on the mn-politics-discuss Yahoo! Group. Judge Stephenson's ruling is clear and correct. The entire endorsement process suffered a system-wide failure.

The Pioneer Press quoted House Speaker Steve Sviggum (R-Kenyon), "I feel real bad for the citizens of St. Cloud. They will not have a choice now. The write-in option now might be the only way to go." Who will be held accountable for this train wreck? The DFL had nothing to do with it; all they had to do was stand back and smile. Of course, this sort of thing happens in both parties, it's just the Republicans' turn.

"Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time. I wouldn't give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That's why Americans have never lost and will never lose a war, because the very thought of losing is hateful to Americans." —Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.
The RPM has its work cut out for it in 2006. From down at ground level where I operate, I can already hear Republican voters staying home and their checkbooks slamming shut.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Morgan Freeman exposes identity politics

"I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." —Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The distinguished actor Morgan Freeman revealed himself on last night's episode of 60 Minutes as the pilot of his own airplane, the captain of his own yacht, and a straight-talking critic of identity politics.
Morgan Freeman criticizes black history month

December 15, 2005, 2:29 PM EST

Morgan Freeman says the concept of a month dedicated to black history is "ridiculous."

"You're going to relegate my history to a month?" the 68-year-old actor says in an interview on CBS' "60 Minutes" to air Sunday (7 p.m. EST). "I don't want a black history month. Black history is American history."

Black History Month has roots in historian Carter G. Woodson's Negro History Week, which he designated in 1926 as the second week in February to mark the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.

Woodson said he hoped the week could one day be eliminated — when black history would become fundamental to American history.

Freeman notes there is no "white history month," and says the only way to get rid of racism is to "stop talking about it."

The actor says he believes the labels "black" and "white" are an obstacle to beating racism.

"I am going to stop calling you a white man and I'm going to ask you to stop calling me a black man," Freeman says.

The Wikipedia.org article on this topic says it well: "Resources and organizational opportunities for deeply positive change are squandered in the relentless search for specific group identity." By opportunistically and cynically pitting groups against each other (liberals vs. conservatives, labor vs. management, gay vs. straight, rich vs. poor, black vs. white, rural vs. urban, Christian vs. atheist, men vs. women, public schools vs. private schools, etc.), you create winners and losers at the expense of empathy and understanding. This can increase political power, but doesn't promote collaboration, enable problems to be solved, or enable society to advance.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Pub grub

Blogging in Minnesota is not about sitting in front of a computer screen, wearing pajamas, and typing deathless prose in the dark (well, not entirely). Credit for this goes to our mentors from the Northern Alliance of Blogs, especially the cherubic Brian "St. Paul" Ward (Fraters Libertas) and the inimitable Mitch Berg (Shot in the Dark). They created and are nurturing the Minnesota Organization of Bloggers (MOB) for the free exchange of ideas, teaching each other the fine points of blogging and RSS, and quaffing a pint of your favorite brewed beverage in the friendly crowded confines of Keegan's Irish Pub and Restaurant in Northeast Minneapolis.

When you show up to a MOB meeting, blogger or not, be prepared to introduce yourself to a lot of people, be introduced to a lot of people, put some names and URLs together, talk, listen, and laugh. It's a highly interactive, pop quiz, social overload kind of time, especially for introverts not in sales for a living.

Mitch reported an RSVP of "over 70" prior to Friday's MOB meeting, and I would estimate easily that many came and went during the proceedings. MOBsters in attendance ran the gamut from the unassuming Kelly (The Patriette), five-months pregnant military wife and my new favorite milblogger; to the very loud, tall, and gregarious Derek Brigham (Freedom Dogs). The latter was there hawking his remaining stock of MOB t-shirts, and keeping us humble ("Hey, look at that, five geeks around a computer!" he said in a booming voice that cuts through noisy pub chatter like a foghorn). King Banaian (SCSU Scholars) and Craig "Captain Fishsticks" Westover of (Craig Westover) held court over a "power corner" of upholstered chairs where the digital literati hobnobbed over a pint of Guiness Stout or Killian's Irish Red. Mitch, "St. Paul" Ward, James Lileks (The Bleat and various other projects), and the legendary yet low-key John Hinderaker (Power Line) rounded out the Northern Alliance crew.

I sought out Doug Bass, whom I first met at last year's winter MOB event. Doug is having entirely too much fun with RSS, OPML, and XML to create an aggregator website (MOBANGE!) of the entire MOB (at least every one with an RSS feed, which is most of them).

The most interesting blogger I met was Tom "Swiftee" Swift (Pair o' Dice). It turns out we share an interest in education reform (school choice, K-12 finance, etc.). Swiftee had some very interesting insights to share about the Saint Paul Public Schools. Articulate, opinionated, with a cowboy hat and a muscular tattooed forearm, he looks like someone you would want on your side in a bar fight!

I was pleased to see David Strom and Margaret Martin (Our House) in attendance, considering David's recent Trip to Hell (and back!).

And what MOB event would be complete without an appearance from political pundit Sarah Janecek of Politics In Minnesota? Janecek will soon host a new daily, afternoon drive time show with liberal Brian Lambert on the new 100.3 FM when it switches formats from "cool jazz" to talk.

More MOB event coverage can be found on various MOB blogs, notably Hammerswing75, with photos and links to even more coverage at other MOB blogs. Read them all, there is so little overlap in content (it was at Keegan's, and Mitch was there) that you might wonder whether all we went to the same party. As widely noted, as the MOB grows in numbers, it is increasingly difficult to meet and talk to everyone on your list, and it's disappointing to not have seen certain bloggers mentioned in the various reports.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night. See you at the next MOB event, and keep on blogging.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Et tu, Randal?

In an unprecedented move in a season full of unprecedented moves (multiple multiple firings, a death in the family, a broken ankle), Donald Trump asked Randal, whom he just hired, if you were me, would you hire Rebecca, too? Rebecca must have been thinking, "Randal, who's your buddy, who's your pal?" A $200,000 salary and the chance to manage the construction of a flagship Trump property were at stake. Would Randal pull Rebecca up from the abyss — or let her drop like a rock?

No way, replied Randal. It's called "The Apprentice," not "The Apprenti."

A gasp was heard from the audience, and my first thought was, "Why you lying, backstabbing..." After all, the second hour of the two-hour finale was filled with scenes of the Final Two sharing a meal, decompressing from their respective challenging final tasks, and declarations of mutual respect. It was a reflection of their previous fifteen weeks of seemingly friendly competition. The pair was popular with fans: in the Yahoo! web site poll this morning, 48% would have hired both candidates. Everybody loves Randal. You would expect something like that more from Alla (who did not disappoint in that regard last night).

Yet, Randal, like every single candidate in four cycles of The Apprentice, came to New York to win. As Michael Corleone said, "It's not personal, Sonny. It's strictly business." Rebecca was just as willing to leave Randal behind if that's what it took to hear the words, "You're hired." Randal survived the meat grinder and raised $11,000 for charity in his final task. He won.

Like a political candidate who suffers a disappointing election night, Rebecca, sans crutches, will stride into her next challenge with a confident smile, look you in the eye, take command, and she will win.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Let freedom ring

Today is election day in Iraq!

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of the Middle East.

Let freedom ring from the Cradle of Civilization!

Let freedom ring from the splendid metropolis of Baghdad.

Let freedom ring from the mountains of the north, across the deserts of central Iraq, to the Persian Gulf in the south.

Let freedom ring up and down the banks of mighty the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every province and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, Sunni and Shiite, Arabs and Kurds, Muslims, Christians, and Jews, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Death and taxes

"What do you call this?" said Joe. "Bed-curtains?"

"Ah!" returned the woman, laughing and leaning forward on her crossed arms. "Bed-curtains."

"You don't mean to say you took them down, rings and all, with him lying there?" said Joe.

"Yes I do," replied the woman. "Why not?"

—from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Publius 2001 at Feet to the Fire was rightfully hot under the collar recently about Minnesota Republicans taking credit for turning the state's $4.5 billion budget deficit into a projected $1 billion budget surplus.

What the Minnesota GOP and Governor Pawlenty neglect to mention while patting themselves on the back is that a significant portion of this surplus was made possible by estate tax collections. Grassroots Republicans should remember that the state party's standing platform, which we delegates in the rabble take seriously, calls for the abolition of "death and inheritance" taxes.

This sin of omission is especially egregious in light of likely the largest estate tax collection in state history: $112 million from the estate of James Binger, former chairman of Honeywell, who died in November 2004. To add insult to injury, according to Mr. Binger's granddaughter, "we paid out at least that much to the federal government, maybe a little more. It's been sort of a nightmare." The dollar amount of this collection from a single estate is only slightly less astounding than the apparent lack of tax-advantaged, wealth-protecting estate planning that one would expect from your average H&R Block tax preparer, let alone the well-paid team of Big 4 CPAs within the reach of someone like Mr. Binger.

As Stephen Moore, in his column "Repeal the Grave Robber Tax," points out, "this tax is imposed on dollars already taxed when the income was earned during the deceased's lifetime." The estate tax is a double-taxation windfall for the government that should be repealed.

If you think this is a partisan issue, consider the words of Hillary Rodham Clinton during her 2000 Senate campaign: "You ought to be able to leave your land and the bulk of your fortunes to your children and not the government." (Hat-tip to our favorite econ prof King Banaian, SCSU Scholars.)

Good luck, Rebecca

Yes I know there are many more important things to be blogging about, but it's my blog and I'll indulge if I want to. For the first time a native Minnesotan is in the "final two" on The Apprentice. Rebecca Jarvis, 24, is a St. Paul Academy alum and former KARE-11 TV on-air reporter for the Saturday morning "Whatever" show. During the second episode of the season, she broke her ankle during a hockey scrimmage. Since then she has been gamely hopping and hobbling around on crutches. She has been seen stepping up to the plate, but early on she inexplicably threw herself in front of a Boardroom bus (she survived) to save a weaker player (fired the following week), and has a worse win-loss performance than her formidable opponent, Randall.

The final Task is tonight. The Donald will choose his next Apprentice on next week's season finale. Good luck, Rebecca.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Ringing in help for those in need

I was a first-time bell-ringer with my family for the Salvation Army this past weekend. The majority of shoppers put in a dollar bill or some change, and we responded with a smile and a "thank you" and "Merry Christmas." Everyone cheerfully responded in kind. One woman even came back outside with some hot chocolate for us from Caribou Coffee. It was a fun and easy way to support a great faith-based service organization in the spirit of the season.

The Salvation Army serves nearly six million persons during the holiday season alone. From The Salvation Army web site:
Motivated by the love of God, as a leader in Christian faith-based human services, The Salvation Army is committed to serve the whole person, body, soul and spirit, with integrity and respect, using creative solutions to positively transform lives.

Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.

By the way, the Salvation Army still needs volunteer bell-ringers. Visit the Salvation Army web site to sign up.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Well duh: winning in the west metro

"I don't want to get any messages saying, 'I am holding my position.' We are not holding [any]thing. Let the Germans do that. We are advancing constantly and we are not interested in holding onto anything, except the enemy's balls...Our basic plan of operation is to advance and to keep on advancing regardless of whether we have to go over, under, or through the enemy. We are going to go through him like crap through a goose..." —Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.

Quick, what do Eva Young and George S. Patton, Jr. have in common?

They both have an insight into what it might take for west metro Republicans to start winning elections again. Said Eva:
One way would be to invest more resources into getting decent candidates to run in the Minneapolis districts. The problem with allowing Minneapolis incumbents to go without serious challenges, is it allows these incumbents to send their volunteers out to help with other campaigns.

With the DFL targeting even more wins in 2006 Gold Coast legislative elections, Republicans shouldn't be interested in just "holding on" to this House seat or even winning back that Senate seat. Competitive campaigns in "safe" DFL districts, even when we don't win, could have short- and long-term benefits statewide.

David Strom for Senate!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

SD 15 special election

Minnesotans will have another opportunity to participate in the democratic process, with two special elections in the Saint Cloud area. Republicans should be wary of falling victim to the Democratic process.

In SD 15, four-term Republican Sen. Dave Kleis's seat is up for election, after Sen. Kleis won his election for mayor of the Granite City. In HD 15B, DFL Rep. Joe Opatz's seat is up for election after he accepted a position as interim president of Central Lakes College in Brainerd. Candidates have until this week to file for these seats. The election will be held on Tuesday, December 27.

It will be interesting to see whether Republican activists in the area, and the Senate Republican Caucus, and the Republican Party of Minnesota, and Governor Pawlenty find the prospect of losing yet another seat in the Senate to the DFL serious enough to put holiday celebrations on hold, execute their ground game, and WIN. It would be fun to get some coverage of the race from some Saint Cloud area bloggers.

On the House side, there's an opportunity to add one seat to the Republican majority.

The Republican Party of Minnesota seems more engaged this time around. In a fundraising e-mail to Republicans, chairman Ron Carey said,
The DFL and liberal 527s are already working hard to defeat us in these special elections. If the special election in Senate District 43 last week is any indication, these groups will stop at nothing to win. Just like in 2004, the 527s are out door knocking and misleading Minnesota voters.

[Well, perhaps, but four words: "twenty percent voter turnout." —Ed.]

That’s why we need your help right now. Our staff is mobilized and working hard for our Republican candidates. Door to door campaign workers are out knocking on doors and identifying new Republicans. Field staff are organizing phone banks and literature drops.

Our victory in the St. Cloud mayoral election was a great example of what a fully funded Republican Party can do. We took out a popular Democrat Incumbent mayor. This is the first time in 25 years that an incumbent mayor lost in St. Cloud. We did this by identifying voters, targeting our message and getting Republicans out to vote. We need to do the same things again in these special elections.

Good luck, Saint Cloud Republicans. All politics is local, so only you know how to win your elections. May you find a way to build on the momentum of the Kleis mayoral victory to keep his Senate seat in the Republican caucus, and win one back in the House. (Hint for vacationing SD 15 voters: vote absentee before you leave town!!)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

I love Thanksgiving because it means time with family, and because it has escaped heavy commercial merchandising due to its proximity to Halloween and Christmas. This gives us the opportunity to reflect on the meaning of this American holiday, perhaps after Thanksgiving dinner and before the day-after-Thanksgiving sales. Happy Thanksgiving, blogosphere.




The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

Pendulum swings, Bonoff wins

Terri Bonoff defeated Judy Johnson by 9 percentage points in the Senate District 43 special election. Bonoff swept all of the Minnetonka precincts and the single Medicine Lake precinct, and took six Plymouth precincts from its own mayor.

Gay marriage advocates and Darwin protectionists are crowing over the win, citing the candidates' clear differences on, well, gay marriage and intelligent design.

The effectiveness of the DFL ground game should not be ignored, meaning simply they got more people to actually vote for their gal. In a low turnout election (20%), every vote counts: in one Minnetonka precinct, where 48 persons voted, Bonoff won by four votes, 26 to 22! In a Plymouth precinct, where 642 persons voted, Bonoff won by 16 votes. Bonoff is well-known and well-liked in Minnetonka, which gained her more than a few friends-of-Terri loyalty votes in those precincts.

If the too-close-for-comfort win in 2004 by HD 43B Rep. Ron Abrams (R-Minnetonka) was a surprise, and John Kerry's win in the district was a disappointment, SD 43 Republicans should consider the Bonoff win a wake-up call. Although Senator-elect Bonoff's seat will be up for reelection next year, with HD 43A Rep. Jeff Johnson (R-Plymouth) running for Attorney General, there will be another open seat in the district. With Bonoff's sweep in Minnetonka, Abrams has to be considered vulnerable. To prevent this DFL win from turning into a district-wide sea change, the SD 43 organization will have to reconnect with its base and grow its ranks with new, committed activists. They should expect to be in the DFL crosshairs for the forseeable future; the question is will they respond aggressively or like a deer in headlights? How will the Republican Party of Minnesota respond to the DFL resources from outside the district?

Johnson thanked a roomful of her supporters at Woody's Grille last night, saying she trusts that despite disagreements on some issues, she knows that Terri Bonoff will represent the district well. Feeling exhilarated by the frantic fire-drill campaign, and obviously disappointed by the outcome, Johnson thanked her tireless and still-enthusiastic grassroots supporters. "You're young," observed Senate minority leader Dick Day (R-Owatonna), alluding to Johnson's future political prospects as he praised her candidacy.

In the SD 19 special election, Republican Amy Koch won her Senate special election with 51% of the vote in a three-way race, with a voter turnout of only 13%.

UPDATE: More election coverage:

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Special election day coverage

Remember to vote today in the Minnesota Senate District 43 and 19 special elections. Click here for your polling place. Let us know in the comments how busy your polling place was.

When I voted in Plymouth Precinct 14 at Wayzata Central Middle School, I was the only voter in the entire polling place. I was outnumbered by the election judges by a margin of four to one. Especially in low-turnout elections, every vote counts. It could be a close race.

Judy Johnson's campaign lawn signs are decorated with American flags today. Terri Bonoff had volunteers waving her campaign signs near the transit stop at I-394 and Plymouth Road during morning rush hour.

In SD 19, it's a three-way race between the DFLer John Dietering, Independence Party candidate Del Haag, and Republican candidate Amy Koch.

The polls close at 8:00 pm tonight.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Bonoff, Johnson address education funding

The Wayzata Legislative Action Committee distributed a questionnaire to SD 43 Senate candidates Terri Bonoff and Judy Johnson, who will face the voters in tomorrow's special election. Here are their responses.

1. What are your top three goals for representing Senate District 43?

Bonoff: Work to shift our education structure and state government thinking from a K-12 model to a Pre-K-12 system. This means that our public schools could have both the resources and the accountability for early childhood education. Studies have shown that investment in early education has the highest rate of return in improving school performance later on. Fix the bottlenecks in our roads and demand there be a plan for a modern transit system, advocating personally for the 394 corridor. Attack the healthcare problems with a combination of short-term cost saving strategies combined with a long-term strategic plan so that every MN citizen has affordable health insurance.

Johnson: I will work on transportation, education, public safety and ending unfunded mandates on local government. As Mayor of Plymouth and past city council member, I have proven experience and leadership in advocating for these issues for nine years as the local level and want to continue to work on them at the legislature on behalf of the people and businesses in SD43.

2. Basic education funding has not kept pace with inflation since 1992. What ideas do you have to move towards more stable basic funding for E-12 education in this state?

Bonoff: [No response.]

Johnson: I will work to fulfill the state's obligation to fund education in our public schools. As a mother of four children in Wayzata Schools, I have supported more long-term stable funding at the Capitol that does not always rely on local school levies which ultimately increases property taxes. I also want to be sure our Wayzata Schools are treated fairly with per pupil funding compared to other metro districts. I support funding that also measures accountability and gets to the students in order to improve education.

As League of Minnesota Cities President and Mayor of Plymouth, I worked to form a Local Government Finance Task force where we studied the issue of local government funding and presented our findings before the house and senate tax committees. I have also worked to form a coalition between the League of Minnesota Cities, the Minnesota School Boards Association and Minnesota Association of Counties so all organizations can work on areas of common concern and interest at the capitol. I have faced similar issues in the city community and am very prepared to tackle this if elected senator.

3. State special education funding formulas have been frozen and state special education aid is prorated, putting incredible strain on school districts statewide. As an example, the cross-subsidy, or shortfall between revenue and expenditures for special education in Wayzata Schools is over $4 million for this school year. How do you propose to address this challenge in the legislature?

Bonoff: This is a problem we must confront head on. School districts cannot afford to fund special education directly from general fund dollars. The process by which the State contributes makes this even more difficult by paying their portion in arrears and then pro-rating that. If elected, I will work towards establishing a dedicated stream of special education funding. I will continue to voice strong opposition to the federal government’s lack of special education funding. We must, as a State Legislature, put significant pressure on our US Senators and Representatives to address this issue at the federal level.

Johnson: I have a strong record as Mayor, LMC President and as a Wayzata Schools parent on opposing unfunded mandates on schools and all local governments. I believe the state and federal government must meet their obligations to our local communities. I will support bills that work to this end.

Bonoff: mandatory government preschool?

According to a candidate questionnaire given to the SD 43 Senate candidates Terri Bonoff and Judy Johnson by the Wayzata Legislative Action Committee, Bonoff would "work to shift our education structure and state government thinking from a K-12 model to a Pre-K-12 system. This means that our public schools could have both the resources and the accountability for early childhood education. Studies have shown that investment in early education has the highest rate of return in improving school performance later on."

First of all, early childhood special interest groups love to play the "studies have shown" card regarding early education, but not everyone believes that mandatory preschool (a.k.a. Baby Ed) for all would be an effective use of tax dollars (and it would be a lot of tax dollars). Well-funded early childhood education provider lobbying groups like Ready4K and Minnesota Early Learning Foundation will be meeting with the Senator from SD 43 next spring, urging the Legislature to fund the shift that Bonoff advocates.

Is this where we are going, the Profile of Learning (performance-based assessments) for tots? What's left for parents, just breed 'em and feed 'em?
Early education, or stolen childhood?

Britain wants kids to start training for school in infancy. The goal is babies who are "competent learners." The critics say it's madness.

By Shelley Emling
Cox News Service

Last update: November 19, 2005 at 6:20 PM

LONDON - Can your baby or toddler distinguish patterns? Surely he or she can make comparisons, right? Or perhaps your youngster is mostly good at just making a mess?

If the latter is the case then you might have something to worry about if you live in Britain.

Under a new government proposal, British children will start training for school almost as soon as they leave the womb.

Indeed, the initiative would require every nursery and every caregiver to teach newborn babies and toddlers an "Early Years Foundation Stage" curriculum beginning in 2008.

National inspectors would be required to verify that children are developing in four distinct curriculum headings.

Margaret Morrissey, a spokeswoman for the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations, called the proposal "absolute madness."

"The government is trying to take childhood away from babies and toddlers straight out of the maternity ward," she said.

But the government says its aim is to help youngsters develop faster, both socially and intellectually.

Most children in Britain already start full-time school -- in so-called "reception" classes -- at age 4.

In general, the proposal would require babies and toddlers to become "competent learners," which means they would be able to accomplish a variety of tasks such as comparing, categorizing and recognizing certain symbols and marks.

They also would need to be able to classify items and to do imitations, while also being able to play imaginatively by using all their senses.

The proposal also would make it compulsory for all 3-year-olds to be taught rudimentary math, language and literacy.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Judy Johnson for Senate

Judy Johnson for Senate

The public is crying out for pragmatic thinkers and enthusiastic public servants who remember whom they work for. I want to play a part in getting the job done on time and engaging in a respectful debate on the important issues Minnesotans care so much about.
—Judy Johnson, candidate for Minnesota Senate, District 43

Judy Johnson's experience on the Plymouth City Council since the late 1990s and as Mayor since 2003 has well-prepared her to represent the interests of SD 43 in the Minnesota Senate.

Having already worked with the federal, State of Minnesota, and Hennepin County governments, and four school districts, for several years on behalf of the City of Plymouth, Johnson has learned what it takes for a city to function effectively and collaboratively with a complex mix of funding and services from multiple sources. This understanding gives Johnson a head-start on representing all of SD 43.

Johnson's modest nature obscures the fact that my friend Mayor Judy is an even stronger candidate for Senate than I first realized. Johnson's experience is not only deep on local issues but wide and varied:
  • Local government: As board member and current president of the League of Minnesota Cities, Johnson's perspective on local governments is statewide. This will help Johnson to represent the interests of SD 43 while truly understanding the concerns and needs of Senators from inner city and outstate districts. She also serves on Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman's Minnesota Mayoral Advisory Committee, and was a participant in a legislative forum on "practical politics" conducted by the TwinWest Chamber of Commerce.

  • Education: With four children enrolled in the Wayzata School District and as a frequent parent volunteer, Johnson is a strong supporter of public schools.

  • Youth: She is a current liason to the Plymouth Youth Advisory Council, and liason to the Wayzata School District's Communities in Collaboration Council (which promotes collaborative planning and development thoughout the community in order to build assets for youth). She also helps to hand out the D.A.R.E. graduation certificates at Plymouth grade schools.

  • Housing: Johnson is a liason to the Plymouth Planning Commission, a commissioner of the Plymouth Housing and Redevelopment Authority, a board member of Common Bond Communities Village at Basset Creek Senior Housing, and was a panelist on the Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners (ICOP) Affordable Housing Forum.

  • Public safety: Johnson was appointed by Governor Pawlenty to the State Fire Fighter Board of Training, and graduated from the Hennepin County Sheriff's Citizen Law Enforcement Academy.

A large part of politics is relationships. As even this small excerpt of her resume shows, Johnson has contacts statewide that she will be able to leverage right away in her work at the Capitol. Serving for nine years in nonpartisan office, Johnson has focused on solving problems, improving efficiency, and growing the city of Plymouth. This pragmatic approach to governing is sorely needed in the era of bitter partisanship and gridlock in Saint Paul.

I am proud to join my fellow SD 43 residents of all political stripes in endorsing this hard-working, experienced, dedicated public servant, neighbor, and friend for state Senate. SD 43 is truly fortunate to have the opportunity to elect Judy Johnson as its next state Senator on November 22.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Red herrings

DFL Terri Bonoff flyer
The DFL mailed a postcard on behalf of the Terri Bonoff campaign that implies that Judy Johnson is someone who would "impose a personal ideology into public school classrooms" because of her response to an intelligent design question at the TwinWest forum last month.

What this flyer conveniently neglects to mention is that Johnson also said at that forum that she would leave this issue up to local school boards to decide. Anyone who has had a three-minute conversation in the hall with Johnson knows that she is new to the intelligent design debate. She believes what she believes, but she is far from an ideological boogeyman (boogeywoman?) to be feared by Darwin fundamentalists and secular extremists. She would rather talk about local government aid, public safety, and property taxes.

Johnson expresses her beliefs without "imposing" them on anyone. Regardless of her views, the question is moot: the state Academic Standards for Science have been written and approved by the Legislature. Hypothetical questions on hot-button topics such as intelligent design, "conceal carry" legislation (old news, already in statute), and abortion (federal law), can be hyped to distract voters from more relevant issues like proven leadership, knowledge, and experience in government.

Terri Bonoff doesn't need red herrings to win; voters are smarter than that anyway. To her credit, campaign lit published so far by Bonoff's campaign (as opposed to the DFL party) takes the high road by focusing on her strengths in the business world, and her legislative interests like education and health care reform.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Bonoff, Johnson reveal views at forum

Well, I thought things were getting a little dry around here.
Although both Terri Bonoff and Judy Johnson have pledged to put constitutent concerns over partisan politics if elected to the Minnesota Senate from SD 43, both candidates leaned away from dead center at last night's sparsely attended League of Women Voters candidate forum in the cavernous (for the attendance) auditorium at Wayzata Central Middle School in Plymouth. The nonpartisan nature of the forum was emphasized, and the audience was cautioned to refrain from personal attacks, cheering or booing, demonstrations, etc., although considering the attendance it would have been difficult to make much of a ruckus for or against either candidate.

So since chances are you weren't there last night, here is the best coverage anywhere of this forum:

In opening statements, Bonoff emphasized her business experience, stay-at-home-mom decision, and service on the Hopkins Legislative Action Coalition and Minnetonka Planning Commission. Johnson highlighted her nine years on the Plymouth City Council (including the last three as mayor), her recent term as League of Minnesota Cities president, and her endorsement by the entire Plymouth City Council and Minnetonka mayor Karen Anderson. She is also a licensed Realtor, mother of four, and partner with her husband in a moving business. Johnson also corrected a story about her in the Star Tribune, by stating that she is not in favor of teaching intelligent design in the schools, and has never challenged public school science curriculum.

The candidates were given two minutes to respond to each of nine written questions from the audience. The moderator had the candidates take turns responding first to each question, and addressed the married women as "Miss Bonoff" and "Miss Johnson," (it is the League of Women Voters, after all).

  1. Top three legislative priorities — Johnson would pursue transportation funding (I-494 upgrades, "sensible" mass transit), public safety, and stable funding for education. Bonoff would emphasize funding for early childhood family education (ECFE), reducing health care costs, mass transit funding.

  2. Carrying of concealed weapons — Bonoff said that in spite coming from a family of hunters and in spite of the Second Amendment, she is "against conceal-carry legislation." Johnson pointed out that because the conceal-carry law (Minnesota Citizens Personal Protection Act) passed, was challenged in court, and passed again by a wide bipartisan margin, arguments for or against the law are moot. She reminded the audience that the current law is actually more restrictive than the old law. Johnson said, "I am not worried about law-abiding citizens with guns. What concerns me are the criminals who have guns."

  3. Separation of church and state in light of "faith-based initiatives" — Johnson said that she supports "the separation of church and state as intended by our Founders," but she thinks it is important to fund non-religious social services provided by faith-based non-profit groups because "government can't provide answers for all people," especially in light of funding cuts. She cited Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners (IOCP) and People Responding In Social Ministry (PRISM) as examples of public-private partnerships. Bonoff, while stating her strong Jewish faith, said that there is "a bigger problem right now. I think that ideology is getting into government, and that we have groups of people who are faith-based that are shaping the politics." As an example, she said that she supports faith-based initiatives for social services, but would be worried about a faith-based group providing abstinence-only counseling. She would trust a secular organization to provide "whatever [family planning] services she needs to make the best choices for herself...We must stop the ideologically-based thinking from getting into our politics."

  4. State-funded vouchers for private schools — Bonoff opposes state-funded vouchers for use in private schools. She said that it's a matter of accountability: when a school is labeled "non-performing," students are allowed to take funding with them (in the form of a voucher) to a private school "where there is no accountability," it hurts the public schools. Johnson said, "I don't want to undermine public education," but added, "I believe that we do need to inject some choice into opportunities for children."

  5. Stadiums — regarding the Twins stadium proposal, Johnson believes that Hennepin County voters should be allowed, as required by state law, to vote on the local option sales tax increase that would partially fund the stadium, especially since cities are required to go to the voters to raise a local tax to build a fire station, a community center, or a library. A Gopher football stadium would be a state-owned asset, so Johnson would take a "closer look" at a state funding proposal. She views a Vikings stadium proposal from a statewide perspective, not just a local one. Johnson said that she is generally not in favor of public dollars for professional sports teams, while acknowledging that those teams are valuable, statewide economic assets.

    Bonoff seemed conficted about the Twins stadium proposal. She is "for building a new stadium in Minneapolis for the Twins." She is such an outdoor baseball fan that she takes her children "all over the country to see outdoor baseball: Yankee Stadium, Wrigley Stadium, in Seattle, in Boston, everywhere." She is not sure that the current proposal is the best, especially in the light of calls for a referendum, yet she seems to support it. "We are a representative government, so once elected we don't take everything to a referendum...I am afraid if we do a referendum we have a chance of losing the Twins. On the other hand, I represent the people." She is "open" to the Gophers stadium. Vikings: "not right now."

  6. "If Roe v. Wade is overturned and abortion is remanded to the states to decide, what will your position be?" — Bonoff said, "I'm the pro-choice candidate...To quote the Clintons, make abortion safe, legal, and rare...I am not for [abortion]; however, I am for keeping women's right to choose." Johnson said she is pro-life, with exceptions for the life of the mother, rape, and incest. She is very sensitive to the plights of women in need, saying "I have been a single mother, and I have been someone who has been in need." Johnson feels that women who choose to keep their children need to be supported. "I think that in the pro-life community it's important that we don't just say we're pro-life and then walk away when the children get here...I am pro-life, with some consideration for women in difficult situations, but I certainly would not be for aborting children in the third trimester in any event."

  7. Keeping the Legislature moving, avoiding special sessions, refusing per diem during a special session — Johnson said that legislative leadership needs to end the partisan bickering that results in special sessions in the evenly divided Legislature. Johnson cited her experience in nonpartisan government, uniting people, and focusing on issues. She would forfeit her per diem during a special session. Bonoff would use the business philosophy, "process defines behavior" to fine a vision, set goals and objectives, and obtain "buy-in" to get the work done. "I know that using that process will have the fighting and bickering fall away. Nobody ever fought when they worked for me." She would also forego her per diem in the event of a special session.

  8. Affordable housing — Bonoff would use her experience on the Minnetonka Planning Commission to model the "best practices" from Minnetonka and Plymouth for addressing this issue statewide. Johnson said that state, local government, and private sector can work together to provide affordable housing, and that much hinges on coordinating funding cycles with the state. Moving beyond building affordable housing to operating it affordably, Johnson said that she would work very hard to help local governments to hold property tax increases to a minimum, presumably by carefully weighing the impact of reduced funding from the state to local governments.

  9. "In the event of an economic downturn, what would your budget cutting priorities be?" — Johnson said that she has a lot of experience managing and cutting budgets, in the Johnson household, in her husband's moving business, in the City of Plymouth, and for the League of Minnesota Cities. She bristled at Bonoff's implication earlier that she was a "career politician" with no business experience. Before raising taxes, Johnson said she makes sure that the city is working efficiently and creatively with non-profits, school districts, and other partners. She said that the most vulnerable should be protected from budget cuts, and that "education can't take any more cuts." Bonoff said that we must get health care costs under control. "My vision is that each and every citizen has health care insurance." Bonoff cited Sheila Kiscaden's (IP-Rochester) bill (SF 1638) based on a plan by the American Medical Association for universal health insurance, as a way to cut health care costs. Bonoff also has learned of a state fund dedicated to MinnesotaCare that has a surplus, which she says could be tapped for community clinics to reduce health care costs.
There were no closing statements. The forum was covered by local cable TV Channel 12.

See also my post on last month's TwinWest candidate forum, the candidates' first public meeting.

The Senate District 43 special election is Tuesday, November 22. To find your polling place, see the Minnesota Secretary of State Pollfinder.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


Scholar the Owl was pleased to find this statement on Judy Johnson's campaign mailer, received in the mail this week:
Judy will continue to work with public, private, charter and home schools to make sure all kids receive a quality education.

Terri Bonoff's web site is silent on school choice, but perhaps her endorsements from the Education Minnesota teachers union, the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees (MAPE), the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), and the Service Employees International Union speak louder than words.

Johnson isn't an anti-government school ideologue. She believes that "all kids" should "receive a quality education." Judy and her husband were listed as supporters of the Wayzata Schools levy referenda, and their kids are enrolled in Wayzata schools. Support for the public schools and school choice are not mutually exclusive (although the unions might lead you to believe otherwise). Craig Westover said it best:
In short, "public education" is education in the public interest. It is a "public good" in the sense of "benefit to all." It is worthy of tax dollars. But "public education" is NOT the private fiefdom of the tenurial few. "Public education" is NOT equivalent to a government monopoly. It is NOT a specific institution.

"School choice" is committed to the concept of "public education" in the public interest, not to any specific method of delivering knowledge and skills. A vital "public education" system consists of a diversity of educational options — government-run schools, charter schools, private schools, religious schools and a plethora of other options.

Furthermore, "school choice" means that when any educational institution is not meeting the needs of any individual student, that student has an actionable alternative — a choice. A public education system has a moral obligation to both provide that alternative and make it actionable — for all students.

Johnson is in the mainstream as a school choice supporter. According to a recent column on charter schools by Joe Nathan, Director of the University of Minnesota Center for School Change, "Eighty percent of Minnesotans answered 'yes' earlier this year, when asked in a Center for School Change poll if they thought families should have a right to choose among various public schools. Like other public schools, charters are free, non-sectarian, and open to all."

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Peterson, Moroz re-elected in Wayzata

According to the Wayzata School District web site, district voters re-elected Carter Peterson and John Moroz, and elected new board member Susan Droegemueller to replace the retiring Connie Doepke, to four-year terms on the Board of Education.

In my opinion, board candidate Audie Tarpley had the strongest resume by virtue of his membership on the district's Legislative Action Committee and Citizens Financial Advisory Council. But Droegemueller, an attorney and Judicial Clerk for the Hennepin County District Court, is a reserve teacher and volunteer in the schools, among many other qualifications listed on her web site. I think the web site deserves some credit for Droegemueller's win. It's so difficult to vet these candidates from just their brief Sun Sailor writeups and last week's candidate forum. Lots of voters were surfing the web up to Election Day in search of information on these candidates.

Tarpley should run again. I supported current board member Gary Landis during his first run for the board, which he lost. He ran again and won.

Voters also passed the two levy referendum questions. The first, for general education revenue to be used to reduce class sizes, passed by 12 percentage points. The second, a capital project levy for technology, passed by 6 percentage points. Wayzata is a well-run district with plenty of citizen oversight, and they made a detailed case for the two levy questions early and often with district residents (credit to district communications coordinator Steve Brantner, and the volunteer Vote Yes committee).

Several thousand votes were cast, in a school district that touches all or part of eight west metro suburbs, including Plymouth and Wayzata. The relatively few voters voting demonstrates the importance of voter education and GOTV efforts in these school district elections.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Political party

A few dozen of Judy Johnson's relatives, close personal friends, and assorted public figures gathered last night at the cozy confines of the busy, newly-opened Woody's Grille in Plymouth, to officially kick off Johnson's campaign for state Senator from SD 43. The best part of political parties is, well, the parties — especially with the attentive waitstaff and delish hors d'oeuvres provided at Woody's.

I represented the MOB by hobnobbing with Mayor Johnson, SD 43 activists, government relations/lobbyist types, and Judy and her husband Phil's family and friends. I arrived just after Governor Tim Pawlenty left for another event across town, and just before Sen. Dick Day (R-Owatonna) finished chatting up Johnson's supporters. Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Stenglein, stadium tax opponent and SD 43 co-chair John Knight, and Minnetonka Mayor Karen Anderson also rubbed shoulders with party guests. One of your fellow North Star Liberty readers was also there, humbling me with compliments for the blog.

According to Johnson and her campaign manager, Plymouth deputy mayor Tim Bildsoe, Johnson is enjoying the ground game of campaigning: door knocking, scoring lawn sign locations, lit dropping, and talking to voters. Both Johnson and her opponent, Terri Bonoff, are also receiving campaign assistance from their respective state parties in the form of mailings and phone bank calling.

The special election for this Senate seat (and in SD 19) is Tuesday, November 22, which is the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. If you will not be in town or can't get to the polls that day, you can vote absentee on the ballots mailed to SD 43 residents, or contact the Minnesota Secretary of State's office.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Absolutely the last word on the Minnesota Vikings "sex cruise"

Every kid around the world who plays soccer wants to be Pelé. I have a great responsibility to show them not just how to be like a soccer player, but how to be like a man. —Pelé

Monday, October 31, 2005

More buzz on the SD 43 race

Be sure to pick up the Sun Sailor and the Lakeshore Weekly News this week for more election information, including polling locations and a new crop of endorsement letters-to-the-editor. In SD 43 we'll have two election days in November: next Tuesday for school board elections and school district levy referenda; and on November 22 to elect our next state Senator.

I found some interesting insights into the Senate race at a post from earlier in October on The First Ring Blog, in the post itself and in the comments.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Wayzata school board candidate forum set for Nov. 3

The Wayzata School District PTA/PTSO Liaison Committee is conducting a School Board Candidate Forum next Thursday, November 3, at 7:30 PM in the Central Middle School Auditorium.

Now what could possibly be exciting enough to get everyone to TiVO The Apprentice in the precious few hours of free time on a Thursday night and drive over to Central Middle School to sit through a debate on the esoteric issues of running a public school district?

How about one word: trust.

We elect directors whom we trust to run the schools in our district, so we don't have to. Over the years I have met, spoken with, served on committees with, and gotten to know Wayzata Board of Education directors Greg Baufield, Gary Landis, Carter Peterson, Pat Gleason, and Connie Doepke. Peterson is running for re-election along with John Moroz; Doepke is retiring from the board at the end of her current term.

While I may not agree with them on every issue, I have found them all to be smart, dedicated public servants whom I trust to work with each other and the community to make the Wayzata School District one of Minnesota's best. This is important to me as a resident, a taxpayer, and a parent with children in the Wayzata schools.

You can't trust someone whom you don't know anything about. So if you are a district resident, read the candidate bios and essays in the latest Plymouth Sun Sailor voter's guide (in home this week), and show up to next week's forum ready to listen and ask questions. If you live elsewhere, I encourage you to do the same due diligence where you live.

Then vote for the candidates of your choice on Tuesday, November 8.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Bonoff and Johnson to meet voters again November 14

The League of Women Voters of Plymouth-Wayzata is hosting a candidate forum for the two candidates running for the Minnesota Senate District 43 seat. The event will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, November 14 at the Wayzata Central Middle School Auditorium. Judy Johnson of Plymouth, the Republican endorsed candidate, and Terri Bonoff of Minnetonka, endorsed by the DFL, will participate.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Bonoff and Johnson appeal to business leaders at TwinWest forum

TwinWest candidate forum. (Photo: North Star Liberty)
DFLer Terri Bonoff and Republican Judy Johnson, opposing candidates for the Senate District 43 seat in the Plymouth-Medicine Lake-Minnetonka area, introduced themselves to voters at Tuesday's TwinWest Chamber of Commerce candidate forum at the Sheraton Minneapolis West Hotel, near the Ridgedale mall in Minnetonka. It was the candidates' first appearance at a public forum. Partisanship was practically non-existent between the candidates; in fact, at times cordiality ran so high that they almost sounded like members of the same party preparing to face each other in a primary election.

Approximately forty attendees sat at the five round tables for lunch, with over twenty more in the cheap seats around the perimeter and spilling out into the hallway outside the small banquet room, where hotel staff delivered an extra stack of chairs. Most of the attendees were TwinWest Chamber of Commerce members, but a few Wayzata school board members and Plymouth City Council members (including Johnson's campaign manager Tim Bildsoe) were also there. Lloydletta's Nooz blogger Eva Young introduced herself to me; she was already acquainted with Johnson and struck up a conversation with Wayzata School Board member Gary Landis.

One of the local TV stations covered the event with a videographer and reporter. Both candidates had a campaign brochure at the registration table, and Bonoff wore a campaign button. There were no signs or other campaign presence, which was appropriate for the event.

The moderator emphasized at the beginning of the program that the nonpartisan TwinWest does not endorse candidates.

Terri Bonoff and Judy Johnson at the TwinWest forum. (Photo: North Star Liberty)
TwinWest asked the candidates two questions prepared in advance. Then eight written questions from the audience were read to the candidates by the moderator. The candidates took turns answering first. Both candidates were also permitted opening and closing statements.
  • Transportation - both candidates agreed on the importance of a comprehensive transportation plan (including roads and transit) to the public and business. Johnson said that growing population projections make such planning imperative.

  • Legislative priorities - Bonoff would introduce bills to support
    early childhood and higher education, saying that her "strength" is in education policy (which a glace at her resume confirms). Johnson would address unfunded mandate relief for local units of government (cities and school districts among them), and rising health care costs to business and consumers.

  • Intelligent design (ID) - I'd bet my MOB t-shirt that Eva Young threw this one in. Johnson is relatively new to the ID/creationism/evolution debate. She believes that "all points of view" should be taught, but also believes that curriculum decisions should be made locally. Bonoff called ID/creationism a faith matter best taught at home or in parochial schools, but not in public schools.

  • Income Taxes - Bonoff believes in a sufficient level of taxes to support high quality services, but claims not to be "a tax-and-spend liberal," citing her business perspective (most recently as a vice president at Navarre Corporation). Johnson said that government shouldn't penalize success (a reference to progressive income taxation), and that the entire tax code should be evaluated as a whole for sound fiscal practices and reformed where needed.

  • What Senate committees would you like to join if elected? Johnson would join Sen. Larry Pogemiller's (DFL-Minneapolis) Taxes Committee, in a heartbeat. She noted how taxes touch virtually every aspect of citizens' lives. Johnson is an opponent (yes, an opponent) of TABOR, as you may recall from her lively discussion with David Strom on his radio show awhile back. For Johnson, local control trumps "no new taxes" dogma. Bonoff would join the majority party in Sen. Steve Kelley's (DFL-Hopkins) Education Committee, where special education would be an area of interest.

  • Health care costs - Bonoff believes health care costs should be shared between employers and employees. Johnson favors competition between insurers, and employees who take personal responsibility for their health. She cited her family's experience with the more visible expenses in a traditional high-deductible major medical plan, compared to a co-pay type plan like an HMO.

  • Would you favor government-mandated production of energy using renewable resources? Johnson would oppose production mandates, but instead would favor incentives for using renewable energy. She also cited an endorsement by an environmental group as evidence of her dedication to a clean environment. Bonoff would favor mandating a specific percentage of energy produced from renewable sources by a certain target date.

  • Repeal of the 2001 property tax shift - Bonoff says no, Johnson also said no. Confession: I am not a political reporter, I just play one in the blogosphere. I do know that "the shift" screwed up K-12 finance and local government aid when income tax and sales tax collections went south. Johnson revealed her inner tax policy wonk during this discussion, demonstrating how the she would keep up with the best of them in Sen. Pogemiller's committee. I also know that because Mayor, mom, and taxpayer Johnson knows this stuff cold, as a constituent, you could walk up to her at Cub Foods and say, "Judy, could you explain what this market value credit deal means to me," and she could clearly explain it to you in the time it takes to walk from one end of Produce to the other.

  • Caucus discipline - Johnson said that although she is onboard with advancing the Republican agenda, and will vote with the party most of the time, she put Senate Minority Leader Sen. Dick Day (R-Owatonna) on notice that the interests of SD 43 and the state will come before party when she casts her vote in the Senate. Bonoff said that her campaign slogan, Uniting the Middle, says it all. She will not hesitate to break ranks with her party, to work with both sides of the aisle.

  • Clean water - Bonoff is proud of the clean water initiatives in Minnetonka and Plymouth. She is a strong advocate of clean water, while allowing environmentally-sensitive development. She feels that SD 43 municipalities can serve as a model for the rest of the state. Johnson said that funding the Clean Water Act now is imperative for future growth in SD 43 and other fast-growing Minnesota communities.
In closing, Johnson highlighted her experience as a "proven leader" on the Plymouth City Council, as mayor of Plymouth, and as president of the League of Minnesota Cities. Bonoff said that she would take the longterm view in the tradition of past visionary governors, rather than see only until the next election.

UPDATE: I was informed that WCCO-TV was not at the forum, it was another station. I have modified my story accordingly. Also, although I am certain that the TwinWest moderator said that they do not endorse candidates, I have since learned that the TwinWest Political Action Committee will announce an endorsement soon in a press release. Eva Young has informed me and the world via the Internet that she in fact did not submit that ID question (see Comments).

Monday, October 24, 2005

SD 43 candidate forum is tomorrow

Reminder: you can meet Senate district 43 candidates Terri Bonoff (DFL endorsed) and Judy Johnson (Republican endorsed) at tomorrow's public TwinWest candidate forum. Lunch is available for $15 ($12 for TwinWest members). The forum is conducted during during the lunch, which begins at 11:45 am.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Be true to your school

The Star Tribune has published a voters guide for the November 8 suburban school board elections. The web version allows you to scroll down to your district and click on candidate names for a brief bio and brief comments by the candidate. On the Gold Coast, The Plymouth Sun Sailor and Lakeshore Weekly News are preparing their voter guides as well.

In the Wayzata district, there are five candidates running for three seats. Incumbents Carter Peterson and John Moroz are running for re-election. The remaining candidates are running for the open seat being vacated by Connie Doepke, whose term expires this year:

  • Andrea Boado, attorney, relocated to Minnesota from Chicago in 2002, current member of the district's Citizens Financial Advisory Council (CFAC) so she's already familiar with district finances

  • Susan Droegemueller, longtime district parent, gets my awesome website award (check it out for much more info on why she thinks you should vote for her, it's pretty sophisticated, a lot of legislators could learn a few things here)

  • Audie Tarpley, real estate developer/construction manager, member of CFAC and the district's Legislative Action Committee

Minnetonka School District residents have been hearing about some of its board members having difficulties getting along. A set of proposed new "operating principles" could have the effect of stifling minority dissent, according to board member Bill Wenmark.

In that district, six candidates are vying for three seats: incumbent board chairwoman Erin Adams; and Paul Borowski, MaryLouise Bowe, Pam Langseth, Cathy Maes, and Robert Schmidt. Web sites and endorsements are more common among these candidate profiles than in the Wayzata profiles.

(Incidentally, the political parties look to nonpartisan offices like school boards for future legislative candidates. As Lincoln said, "The philosophy of the school house in this generation is the philosophy of the government in the next generation." Well, this is a political blog.)

We elect school boards to run the schools on our behalf, so we don't have to. Get to know your school board candidates, and vote on November 8.

SD 43 candidate forum scheduled

The TwinWest Chamber of Commerce has scheduled a forum for candidates running for the state Senate seat in district 43. So far, the candidates for this seat are the DFL endorsee Terri Bonoff and the Republican endorsee Judy Johnson. Candidates have until tomorrow to file with the Hennepin County Auditor for this election.

TwinWest Chamber of Commerce
Senate District 43 Special Election
Candidate Forum

Tuesday, October 25, 2005
11:45 am - 1:00 pm
Sheraton Minneapolis West
12201 Ridgedale Drive

Reservations due by Monday, October 24: 952-540-0234

The event is free and open to the public (there will presumably be a charge for the luncheon; details to follow).

Monday, October 17, 2005


Regarding the alleged off-field behavior of certain highly-paid professional football players (i.e., Arctic Blast, Randy Moss in general, Vikings sex cruise a.k.a. the Bacchanal on the Canal or Win One for the Stripper), they apparently feel no quaint "obligation to the community" to act as role models for youth, honorably represent the team in their off hours, obey the law, or even hire Minnesota, uh, entertainers.

Perhaps they have earned the right to free-ride college scholarships and pro contracts, but one thing they have definitely not earned is to profit from a state-subsidized football stadium. I applaud Vikings owner Zigi Wilf's outrage, and sympathize with those in the Vikings organization who have kept the franchise's Norm Van Brocklin/Bud Grant legacy. But to today's Vikings: Build Your Own Ballpark.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Election days in SD 43

Checks and Balances incorrectly reported yesterday that there are no elections in Plymouth on November 8. The Wayzata Independent School District is holding a levy referendum with two questions, plus a school board election for three seats. In Minnetonka, some northern precincts of which are in SD 43, is also holding a school board election, where six candidates are vying for three seats.

C&B also reported that Tony Wagner is in the race. Either they scooped both me and Eva Young (who has been following this race very closely), or C&B is reporting old news (Wagner is not in the race to my knowledge).

See y'all on the campaign trail!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Special election to be held November 22

You read it here first, sports fans.

Terri Bonoff and Judy Johnson will face the voters in Senate District 43 in a November 22 special election called by Gov. Tim Pawlenty. If a special primary is necessary, it will be held on Tuesday, November 1. Since the DFL and Republican parties have endorsed their candidates, a primary election is unlikely unless two or more candidates emerge from a third party.

Both candidates now have about 40 days to execute their ground game: lit drop, door knock, phone call, put up signs, shake hands, kiss babies, and state their cases on web sites and in the blogosphere. Debate, anyone?

Vikings stadium tax: tough act to swallow

Tonight at 7:00 p.m., the Minnesota House of Representatives Taxes Committee (Rep. Phil "Dr. No" Krinkie (R-Circle Pines), Chair) holds a public hearing on the proposed Anoka County sales tax for a Vikings stadium. The hearing will be held at the Majestic Oaks Golf Club, 701 Bunker Lake Blvd. in Ham Lake, a short distance from the proposed site near I-35W and Lexington Ave. For details, see the web site of the Taxpayers Against an Anoka County Vikings Stadium.

Last month, Pat Kessler at WCCO-TV provided a Reality Check on pro football stadium funding:
...it is common for taxpayers to pick up stadium tabs. The public paid for 100 percent of the construction cost for the Tennessee Titans. The public also paid for 58 percent of the cost of renovating Lambeau Field for the Green Bay Packers. [Only 58 percent? --Ed.]

Yet, the owner of the New England Patriots built a new stadium in 2002 with no tax money.
The Vikes and Anoka County are asking the Legislature for permission to raise a county tax to pay for the majority of the stadium -- without approval from the voters of Anoka County. Sound familiar?

The timing of this hearing is unfortunate for the Vikings, with the team off to a 1-3 start, and KARE-11 and KQRS-FM abuzz about certain upstanding players allegedly using their bye week to take in more than just the sights on Lake Minnetonka.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Parties endorse candidates for state Senate

In the special election for the Minnesota Senate seat being vacated by David Gaither, whom Gov. Pawlenty named his new chief of staff, Terri Bonoff won the DFL endorsement, and Plymouth Mayor Judy Johnson won the Republican endorsement, at party endorsing conventions last Saturday.

Since the Patty Wetterling entry into the U.S. Senate race seems to have pushed this story off the Star Tribune front page, check out Lloydletta's Nooz for the details. (This delegate was a no-show due to being on my son's Boy Scout camping trip over the weekend.) Blogger Eva Young noted the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and the lack of fire and brimstone from the "Leviticus Crowd" at the Republican SD 43 endorsing convention. I wonder if the F--- Bush/Michael Moore/Cindy Sheehan Crowd was at the DFL endorsing convention. My guess is no, that's more of a Minneapolis deal, even in the Blue precincts of the Gold Coast.

In other SD 43 news, the #4 Wayzata football team thrashed crosstown rival Armstrong 49-7, with quarterback Ben Gaither (yes, that Gaither) passing for 222 yards and four touchdowns. With the Gophers bringing the Little Brown Jug back to Minnesota from Ann Arbor, it was a big football weekend.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

GOP, DFL to endorse candidates for Gaither seat

The DFL and Republican Party endorsing conventions for the special election in Senate District 43, to fill the seat being vacated by Sen. David Gaither, will be held this Saturday, October 8.

Democratic Farmer Labor Party
Senate District 43 Endorsing Convention
Wayzata Central Middle School, Plymouth
10:00 a.m.
Announced candidates: Terri Bonnof ("Uniting The Middle")
SD 43 DFL web site: http://www.sd43.org/

Republican Party of Minnesota
Senate District 43 Endorsing Convention
Hopkins North Junior High School, Minnetonka
8:30 a.m.
Announced candidates: Judy Johnson ("Common Sense at the Capitol")

I haven't heard when the special election will take place, but apparently it will be after the November 8 general election. In November, the Wayzata School District is holding a levy referendum and an election for three school board seats. The Minnetonka School District is also holding an election for three school board seats.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Blogs: what's really happening

Frank Johnson of the U.K.'s Daily Telegraph hits the nail on the head regarding the mass media and the blogosphere, in a wonderfully long statement that drifts dangerously close to becoming a run-on sentence:
The only way to follow anything that happens in the United States today is not to rely on what drifts back into the British media from the overwhelmingly liberal American establishment newspapers and national television bulletins: almost the sole source for, say, the BBC. Instead we must search America's blogs and websites.
(Hat tip: Julie Quist. Also noted awhile back in The Hedgehog Blog.)

Thursday, September 29, 2005


Politicians now have yet another way to have their ears to the ground, to feel the pulse of their constituents, and to figure out which way the wind is blowing — at least amongst the wired populace.

MNSpeak.com is like a cross between the mn.general Usenet bulletin board and City Pages, with Scoop-like features that let readers comment and contribute. It's arty and hip (read: left-leaning), with very cool photography of these Twin Cities and an attitude.

Blog readers will especially enjoy the MNSpeak Aggregator, the aggregator for the rest of us. (An aggregator is software that pulls content from many web sites, using RSS, and displays it in one place, so you don't have to click down a long blogroll or bookmark list.) By visiting it, you can quickly survey 200 or so Minnesota blogs, including 44 political blogs from the left, right, and Centrisity. It's a nice collection if you don't want to (or have the inclination to) roll your own. I am doing something similar on my education web site, Minnesota Education Reform News.

We now return to our regularly scheduled, technobabble-free programming.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Focus on Plymouth

Illustration: North Star Liberty

This September has been busier than usual here in Plymouth, what with the rematch of high school football rivals Wayzata and Minnetonka, back-to-school curriculum nights, the jam-packed Plymouth on Parade day approaching on September 24, and oh yeah, Gov. Tim Pawlenty's appointment of State Sen. David Gaither (R-Plymouth) as his new chief of staff.

BPOU activists — Republicans, DFLers, and others — are scrambling to prepare for a fall special election to fill Sen. Gaither's Senate seat until the 2006 general election. All concerned have painted a big red target over the fair city of Plymouth and the northern precincts of Minnetonka, where one of only three seats in the evenly divided Minnesota Senate will be up for grabs. First-term Senator Gaither and his Republican supporters were planning on defending Gaither's Senate seat next year, but now all bets are off and the schedule has been moved up significantly.

The blogosphere is abuzz with speculation: Eva Young is taking a special interest in the race. GOPWingman at The Wind Beneath the Right Wing apparently had some inside info on the Gaither appointment. (For the latest on the SD 43 Senate race, do a Google Blog Search ...and stay tuned right here to North Star Liberty.)

Judy! Judy! Judy!

SD 43's annual golf tournament, held under yesterday's brilliant if breezily cool sunshine at Elm Creek golf course in Plymouth, turned into a launch of Judy Johnson's campaign for the Gaither Senate seat. Johnson is Plymouth's effective and popular mayor and President of the Minnesota League of Cities. She has excelled in her current nonpartisan office (even some of her neighbors had no idea she was a Republican) by setting a more cooperative tone on the City Council, and overseeing a vibrant, growing, and well-run city. She intends to run a strong campaign for the SD 43 Republican endorsement and work hard to keep the district's seat in the Republican caucus. Although the endorsement is up for grabs until the soon-to-be-announced endorsing convention, possible contender Bruce Lambrecht is now said to be out of the race, and SD 43 co-chair John Knight is co-chairing Johnson's Senate campaign, with SD 43's other co-chair, Planning Commission member, and civic activist Frank Weir serving as Johnson's campaign treasurer.

Minneapolis blogger Eva Young had this advice for any would-be DFL candidates for the SD 43 seat: oppose the Twins stadium tax. So who might the Dems run in 43?

Terri Bonoff is a member of the Minnetonka Planning Commission and co-chairwoman of the Hopkins School District's Legislative Action Coalition. According to Eva Young, "Terri is running as a candidate who believes that abortion should be legal, and also opposes the Bachmann amendment and supports full equality under the law for gays. Terri mentioned she has a gay brother - so this issue is personal for her."

Tony Wagner, Director for Carlson Wagonlit Travel and Minnetonka City Councilmember.

Buck Humphrey, son of former Minnesota attorney general Skip Humphrey, would connect with Gold Coast DFLers via his work on the Kerry campaign.

The Strib reported today that Minnetonka mayor Karen Anderson has already said no thanks.

With Sen. Mark Ourada (R-Buffalo) planning to resign by year's end to take a job in Washington, D.C., and Sen. Dave Kleis (R-St. Cloud) running for mayor of St. Cloud in the Nov. 8 election, the DFL has a golden opportunity to increase its majority in the Senate by three more seats.

The "other" Johnson

That "other" Johnson in Plymouth, state Rep. Jeff Johnson, is vacating his House District 43A seat to run for Attorney General. The Senate District gave the rising star a set of heavy elephant bookends to help decorate his new office — which will hopefully move from the State Office Building to the Capitol, down the hall from Gov. Pawlenty's office. With Judy Johnson now running for Senate instead of the House, Plymouth Republicans are vetting a new 43A candidate for 2006.

Ron Abrams

For his part, HD 43B Rep. Ron Abrams, elected to the House in consecutive terms since 1988, thanked SD 43 activists in advance for working hard to keep their Senate seat in the Republican caucus, and to keep him happy with a Republican "A-side" colleague in 2006.

CORRECTION: I incorrectly identified John Knight as co-chair of Judy Johnson's campaign. Plymouth City Council member Tim Bildsoe is Johnson's campaign chair.