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