Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Consider the source

When you're a virtual house organ of the DFL party, endorsements are less about vetting candidates and more about turning Minnesota blue.

Case in point: the Star Tribune's endorsements in the west metro. In seven races, the newspaper endorsed two Republicans: one who had no DFL challenger, the other a city council member whose DFL opponent has zero experience in elective office. For the five remaining races, the paper endorsed two DFL incumbents and three DFLers running for open seats.


The Strib saved its biggest brush-off of Republican candidates for Judy Johnson, who is challenging Sen. Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka), a newcomer to elective office until last year's SD 43 special election. The Strib portrays Bonoff with "a winning, enthusiastic manner," while pinning Johnson and her campaign with "an unfortunate fragrance of vendetta...bitterness and innuendo."

Anyone who has worked with Johnson during her past ten years on the nonpartisan Plymouth City Council and as mayor, on either or both of her campaigns for state Senate, League of Minnesota Cities board member and president, parent volunteer in the Wayzata Schools, and practically countless other roles serving the community and state, even Terri Bonoff must recognize the Strib's characterizations for what they are: a smear.

Republican Bill Cullen would take his ideas of limited government "further in that direction than District 42A's representative ought to go." One wonders how far such ideas should go, in the Strib's view? Can you say "Twins stadium?" How about "light rail?" "Constitutionally mandated funding for the arts?"

The Strib condescendingly predicts that Republican Dave Johnson "would be a junior player at the Capitol for some time." Apparently the Strib missed Johnson's debates with his DFL opponent in HD 43B, John Benson. I think that Johnson would more than hold his own from the floor of the House to committee hearing rooms.

The Strib thinks that HD 43A candidate Sarah Anderson's ideas "appear to spring right out of the state GOP platform." Oops, I guess Anderson should have been reading the state DFL platform instead!

In the end, these elections will be decided by the voters, not by the liberal media. West metro Republicans have a slate of candidates that offer a clear choice for smaller government, lower taxes, free markets, education that is accountable to parents and taxpayers (rather than teachers unions), strong families, secure borders, and liberty. With the entire Legislature up for election this year, the course of our state will be decided by those who show up and vote next Tuesday.

| | |

Trick or treat

With one week to go before Election Day, Tuesday, November 7, it's FUD time.

FUD stand for Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt. At this stage of the campaign, as the incumbent, all you have to do is sew enough fear, uncertainty, or doubt about the challenger to make your candidate look like the safer alternative: "the devil we know."

If your opposition researchers can't find any dirt to exploit in the challenger's past (a controversial vote, voting against an otherwise popular bill because of an unacceptable tag-on amendment, appearing in a photo with George W. Bush, or preferably some personal problem), then make up something!

The latest four-page DFL hit piece sent via bulk mail on behalf of Sen. Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka) says, "Last year, Judy Johnson said 'creationism' should be taught in our public schools [lie]. Now Judy Johnson has suddenly changed her tune [lie], but who knows what Johnson really believes? And how can we trust Judy Johnson to be our schools' advocate in St. Paul?"

These charges are a rerun of a lit piece from a year ago. Well, if you repeat a lie often enough, people will start to believe it. Injecting wedge issues like this, especially late in the campaign, may rev up your base, but will do nothing to unite the middle. Of course the business of political parties is to win elections, not unite the middle. I get that.

The truth

Johnson is first and foremost an advocate of local control of schools, including curriculum decisions. "While state standards are important, local officials, school curriculum experts, teachers and parents are the best people to decide how to implement those standards in a manner that represents the interests of our local communities," says Johnson on her campaign web site.

As city council member and mayor, Johnson has a long record of working collaboratively with the school districts (Wayzata, Robbinsdale, Osseo, and Hopkins) that lie within the Plymouth city limits. All four of her children attend or attended Wayzata public schools (her oldest is a 2001 graduate of Wayzata High School). From the Johnson campaign web site:
During her years of public service, Judy has promoted innovative initiatives that have helped stretch public education dollars farther for our children. In creative partnerships, the City of Plymouth and our local school districts have worked together to offer more opportunities for our youth by collaborating on award-winning parks, pools, ice arenas and programs. By working in joint partnership, millions of tax dollars were saved and more opportunities have been made available for all students.

As President of the League of Minnesota Cities, Judy recently advocated for joint work with the Association of Minnesota Counties and the Association of Minnesota School Districts. This new effort of partnership advances cooperative thinking, stronger advocacy and legislative action at the Capitol that seeks to better serve our taxpayers and constituents. Never have these three organizations worked in such a collaboration to improve service delivery to the citizens of Minnesota.
How can we trust Judy Johnson to be our schools' advocate in St. Paul? Look at her record, not demonizing hit pieces from the DFL.

| | |

Monday, October 30, 2006

Conservation funding proposal collapsed under weight of DFL add-ons

A vote to re-elect Sen. Terri Bonoff would be an endorsement of her vision of a big-government utopia, including a government-subsidized Twins baseball stadium, government-subsidized light rail, and constitutionally-mandated, government-subsidized funding for the arts. If you don't share this vision, you should carefully consider your vote before sending Bonoff back to Saint Paul for four more years.

Her challenger, Plymouth mayor Judy Johnson, believes in asking the voters, as required by state law, for permission to raise local option taxes. Johnson has a comprehensive plan for highways and transit without light rail. She believes in transparent ballot questions, not tag-on amendments like the conservation/arts funding question that was defeated in the last legislative session.

No vote for Bonoff
To the Editor:

Sen. Terri Bonoff, when running last fall, said that she would help to simplify government.

To me that meant not having "tag on unrelated amendments" attached to meaningful legislation. I very specifically asked Sen. Bonoff to support the natural resources clean water bill without any tag on amendments, which included funding for the arts.

Her response to me was that she already had supported the bill with tag on amendments. Those amendments were not related to the bill and helped to kill the bill. This was just what the Senate majority leader planned...not to give the citizens of Minnesota, Plymouth and Minnetonka a voice in the matter! What this means is that all of Sen. Bonoff’s constituents do not have a voice, and we are not able to voice our opinion in the fall election by having the bill on the ballot.

I even suggested that there be two separate bills on the ballot, one bill was for natural resource funding and the other for the arts, and I received no response.

I do not see any help in the Senate. Vote for common sense in November! Sen. Bonoff will not receive my vote!

Roger Elias
The notion of combining conservation with the arts: Conservationists, at whatever cost, must never allow this to occur again in any consideration of dedicated funding. The shotgun marriage of the two, foisted upon the Legislature by Sen. Dick Cohen of St. Paul and his DFL colleagues, was embarrassing on many levels, not least the unseemly begging for a spot at the public trough that ensued by Bill Kling, president of Minnesota Public Radio...

In the end, however, the arts and its supporters proved themselves not only bad partners, but poor sports — seeking money in amounts that likely would not have survived public scrutiny before the November election, had dedicated funding for public radio and TV, among others, been achieved at levels sought by the DFL.1

The polling data I've seen, and my experience, tells me that the more focused a constitutional amendment proposal is, the better its chance of passage. I don't believe the arts brought added value to the bills. —DNR Commissioner Gene Merriam2

1 "Changes needed if funding is to pass," by Dennis Anderson, Star Tribune, June 12, 2006.

2 "Merriam still optimistic about dedicated funding," by Dennis Anderson, Star Tribune, June 22, 2006.

| | |

Bonoff would give the green light to light rail

My weekday commute takes me suburb-to-suburb, between Plymouth and Eden Prairie. I used to take the side streets, winding through Plymouth, Minnetonka, Hopkins, Minnetonka again, and Eden Prairie, and reversing course in the afternoon. Sections of Shady Oak Road and Minnetonka Boulevard were often jammed during afternoon rush hour. I-494 was usually backed up for miles at that time.

This month, the long-anticipated third lane in both directions on I-494 between Eden Prairie and I-394 fully opened for business. The widening of this I-494 segment was completed in 2006 thanks to a decision by Gov. Tim Pawlenty to get an early start on several approved highway construction projects. It's been clear sailing ever since. The far left lane is clear most of the time, except for the speed demons going in excess of 70 MPH, even during afternoon rush hour. It's almost like the autobahn of the western metro — south of I-394 at least. North of I-394 is another story.

The northwestern suburbs, namely Plymouth, Maple Grove, and points east and west, need a comprehensive transportation plan, yet none is scheduled for almost a generation! Sen. Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka) said in a recent press release, "I was surprised to learn that the western suburbs are not part of the long-term metropolitan light rail transit plan, and I strongly believe the I-394 Corridor is an extension of the central corridor that serves a growing population of commuters," said Bonoff in the press release. Last legislative session, Bonoff authored a bill to have the Met Council study I-394 for a possible light rail line from downtown Minneapolis to the western suburbs.

Bonoff thinks that we all need to get onboard light rail in the northwestern suburbs now, even before the Met Council studies the situation. Light rail, an expensive and inefficient people mover, is not the answer for I-394. According to U.S. Census data, road congestion has actually increased faster in cities with light rail than in cities that have invested mainly in roads.

The Interstate's HOV lanes have already been outfitted with MnPASS. MnPASS has increased traffic flow in both the HOV and regular lanes on I-394, without building additional lanes. "Income is expected to increase in years to come as overall traffic in the corridor increases, and MnPASS supporters expect the project to become fully self-sufficient within a few years." Further, half of excess MnPASS revenues ("profit" in the private sector) is earmarked in statute for transit.

Judy Johnson, Bonoff's Republican challenger for the SD 43 seat, has already been "an effective statewide leader on transportation issues," according to David Olson, president of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and Minnesotans for Better Roads and Transit. Johnson's $2.5 billion plan for highways and multimodal transit will get the northwest metro moving again — especially on I-394, I-494, and Highways 55 and 169 — without raising taxes and without light rail.

| | | |

Friday, October 27, 2006

Team Minnesota?

When I went to Gov. Tim Pawlenty's web site this morning, I was so surprised to see the Governor dressed in a t-shirt with the Independence Party of Minnesota candidates' slogan, Team Minnesota, that it made me wonder if there has been some creative web site hacking going on!

| | |

Thursday, October 26, 2006

TwinWest Chamber of Commerce forum

About 30 audience members attended Tuesday's lunch hour Minnesota Senate candidate forum at the Minnetonka Sheraton, sponsored by the TwinWest Chamber of Commerce. The smallish room was packed pretty full, with four round tables set for lunch, a head table for the candidates, a coat rack, and a row of chairs along the back wall for the cheapskates not having lunch (me included).

Candidates on the forum panel were:

Senate District 32: Sen. Warren Limmer (R-Maple Grove)

Senate District 33: Sen. Gen Olson (R-Minnetrista), Margaret Davis (DFL), Tim Carlson (Independence).

Senate District 42: Sen. David Hann (R-Eden Prairie)

Senate District 43: Sen. Terri Bonoff (R-Minnetonka), Judy Johnson (R-Plymouth)

Bonoff and Johnson had their campaign lit at the registration table outside the banquet room. Bonoff had her recent four-page "Uniting the Middle" piece there, with a photo of her with Wayzata High School graduate Amy Klobuchar, DFL candidate for U.S. Senate, and a list of her endorsements from numerous unions, special interest groups, and two important business groups: Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Leadership Fund and the TwinWest Chamber of Commerce PAC.

Johnson displayed her latest "Modern Voter" lit piece, her earlier four-page "Time for a New Voice" piece with issue policy statements and endorsements from U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, U.S. Rep. Jim Ramstad, former governor Al Quie, and local leaders Greg Rye, Ellie Bathe, and former Plymouth Police Chief Craig Gerdes. Also at the table were two white papers on education and Johnson's extensive public service resume.

Following candidate statements were a few questions from TwinWest, followed by a few written questions from the audience, and then closing statements. The program wrapped by 1:00 pm so everyone could get back to work.

TwinWest Question 1: (Paraphrase from my notes) With state tax revenues growing thanks to a strong economy, do you think that current revenues are sufficient to meet state needs? Do you plan to keep a lid on taxes?

In addition to the obvious right answer (Yes-Yes), the candidates added a few unique tidbits to their responses:

Johnson pointed out that she is not endorsed by special interest groups that are advocating for new expensive government programs.

Bonoff cited her innovative idea of dedicating automobile lease taxes to transportation, which was carried in the House by former Republican HD 43B Rep. Ron Abrams. She said that she is not making any pledges, but does not favor any new taxes (except a 30-year, $1.1 billion Hennepin County sales tax to help fund a new Minnesota Twins baseball stadium, but that's not a state tax).

Sen. Hann favors resisting the temptation to continually add to what government is already doing, thus putting pressure on increasing the budget and raising taxes to fund it.

Davis asserted that reductions in local government aid (LGA) leads to property tax increases.

Carlson made a speech about renewable energy.

Sen. Limmer explained that former Gov. Ventura's "Big Plan" to buy down property taxes actually took away an important hedge against inflation from the state. Now the state's fortunes are closely tied to the economy via income and sales taxes. In a good economy, revenues go up. In a downturn, revenues go down.

TwinWest Question 2: What are your top three priorities for the state budget, and how would you spend smarter in each of these areas?

Sen. Olson: 1. Education; 2. Transportation; 3. Environmental protection; 4. Health care reforms.

Davis: 1. Education, including early childhood family education; 2. Health care; 3. Energy: nuclear, wind, solar, automobiles with better fuel economy.

Sen. Hann: 1. Education, with an emphasis on better results through initiatives such as QComp, charter schools, more school choice, a "competitive dynamic." 2. Health care, again with consumer choice and competition to rein in costs. 3. Transportation.

Carlson: 1. Education (the candidate, a current teacher at Wayzata High School, used his entire allotted alloted time to speak on this point).

Sen. Bonoff: 1. Transportation, including a vision of lots of trains as in other metro areas (there's that vi$ion thing again). 2. Health care, driving costs out of the system. 3. Education.

Sen. Limmer: 1. Transportation, we need a long-range plan that includes third-ring suburbs. 2. Education, recognizing Minnesota's global competition; 3. Budget management, with zero-based budgeting, wherein budget items must be rejustified every biennium.

Johnson: 1. Education, recognizing declining enrollments and thinking differently about funding. 2. Transportation. 3. Health care, containing costs with private, consumer-driven health care, tort reform, etc., not government health care.

Audience Question 1: Are you in favor of the MVST amendment?

This constitutional amendment would dedicate the entire state motor vehicle sales tax to transporation, but the wording is problematic for some: "at least" 40% of the total would be dedicated to mass transit, and "no more than" 60% for highways. If the candidates did no more prep for this forum than look at the TwinWest home page on the Internet, they would see that TwinWest is a big supporter of this question. It was no surprise that the candidates were unanimous on this one.

Audience Question 2: (paraphrase from my notes) What is the best way to ensure adequate and stable state funding for transportation?

Most of the candidates support dedicating the MVST to transportation in statute if the voters do not approve the constitutional amendment. (Statute is where this sort of thing belongs, not in the constitution, which the Legislature knows.) Most of the candidates also said that in either case, the smartest way to use the additional money would be for bonding, as opposed to the pay-as-you-go approach, due to the cost savings.

Johnson said that the transportation funding formula needs to be revisited, and funding for local roads needs to be considered. She opposes a metrowide tax, but would be open to a gas tax increase, which would tax and benefit the entire state.

Sen. Bonoff said that dedicating the MVST to transportation would bring federal dollars to the state for mass transit.

Sen. Hann urged caution in moving toward rail transit, favoring maintenance and expansion of roads first, noting that the buses can't run unless the roads are working.

Davis favors light rail for the 394 corridor, toll roads, and better bus systems.

Carlson would not support toll roads, but sees MVST as a way to attract federal funding for rail.

Closing statements

The most interesting comments came during the candidates’ closing statements.

Carlson announced that universal single-payer health care is “inevitable, so we best get on with moving in that direction.”

Sen. Olson said that if reelected, with her seniority she may consider re-joining the Senate Education Committee, but would hold open the possibility of giving up her seat to a promising freshman Republican as she has done in the past. On hearing this, Johnson’s face lit up, as if to say, “Would you have anyone in particular in mind?”

Sen. Hann said that demographics point to fewer people in the workforce, which in turn will result in lower tax revenues, so the state must determine how it will function in this environment.

Sen. Bonoff informed the audience that since the DFL will retain the majority in the Senate, the west metro needs her, a Democrat, on the Senate Taxes Committee to represent a pro-business point of view – presumably versus committee chairman Sen. Larry Pogemiller (DFL-Minneapolis). Bonoff said that she is seen as having leadership potential, so her viewpoints are respected in the leadership of the DFL Senate Caucus.

Johnson, supported by nonverbal cues from the three other incumbent senators and others in the audience, took issue with Sen. Bonoff's prediction of a certain DFL Senate majority this fall. She pointed to her strong record of leadership, in government but also running a moving and storage business with her husband, and being a Realtor in her own right ("Running a business is different from just being in business," Johnson said). She cited her twelve years of working with TwinWest, sharing and promoting its agenda as a member, Plymouth City Councilmember, and mayor.

Johnson was the last candidate to leave, touching base with various members of TwinWest, then off to other campaign events and a city council meeting in the evening. Johnson is clearly energized by the campaign, meeting people, and in her element debating the nitty gritty policy points, even at this late stage and sometimes to the amazement of her campaign. One volunteer told me that she was still going strong during a recent late night meeting, when everyone else was ready to go home.

| | |

Consumer-Directed Health Care

From the Center of the American Experiment:

Consumer-Directed Health Care
What Does It Mean?
Where Are We Headed?

Grace-Marie Turner

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Noon to 1:30 p.m.

Hilton Minneapolis, Symphony Ballroom
1001 Marquette Avenue South, Downtown Minneapolis

American Experiment Members: $25
Non-Members: $30

REGISTER ONLINE or contact Peter Zeller at Peter.Zeller@AmericanExperiment.org or (612) 338-3605 to register.

To register via mail please send a check or credit card information to:
Center of the American Experiment, 1024 Plymouth Building, 12 South 6th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402

Please join us for an American Experiment Luncheon Forum at which Grace-Marie Turner, one of the nation's most fluent and influential free-market voices of reform, talks about consumer-directed health care, answering good questions such as:
  • What, exactly, is it?

  • What's its future?

  • What's all this enthusiasm, and sometimes commotion, over Health Savings Accounts?

  • And might HSA's work for you?
Ms. Turner is president of the Galen Institute, a Virginia-based, nonprofit research organization that focuses exclusively on health policy. It's grounded in the old-fashioned idea that consumers and physicians, not bureaucracies, should be in charge, and that such a reorientation will "lower costs, promote innovation, expand choice, and increase access to better medical care."

Sounds promising — but can it really work? Especially since no aspect of American life is harder for mere mortals to understand, much less navigate, even when healthy.

A former award-winning journalist who continues to write prolifically, Grace-Marie Turner founded the Galen Institute in 1995. She currently serves on a Congressional commission charged with modernizing Medicaid.

Liberal is the new moderate

A letter to the editor appeared in this week's Sun Sailor and Lakeshore Weekly News that illustrates how "moderate" is truly in the eyes of the beholder [with editor's notes]:
My definition of a moderate is someone who respects a woman's right to choose [abortion on demand], will stand strong behind the teaching of science [unless it conflicts with Darwinian macroevolution dogma] and will not allow the Constitution to be an instrument of politics and the religious right [but will allow the judiciary to be an instrument of politics and the secular left]. Until Judy [Johnson] answers these questions [liberally], I will not consider her a moderate.

My vote Nov. 7 will be for a senator with a proven track record on these issues, a genuine moderate, Sen. Terri Bonoff.

Peter Hill
Be sure to check out this week's Sun Sailor for their always thorough voter guide, encourage your friends and family to learn about their candidates, and vote on November 7.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Fact check: Judy Johnson and MCCL

Last week, Sen. Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka) was the target of an anonymous, anti-abortion "hit piece" flyer distributed in Plymouth. KSTP-TV quoted Bonoff as saying, "They're lies. They said some horrible, horrible things. And I just thought that's the kind of thing that makes someone never run for public office." In the same story, Bonoff's opponent for the SD 43 seat, Plymouth Mayor Judy Johnson was quoted, "Hate is not something we want to see in our community. And it certainly does not belong in campaigns when we should be issue-based about things that really matter to people in district."

DFL FlyerA few days later, Johnson was the target of a pro-abortion "hit piece" flyer widely distributed via bulk mail by the Minnesota DFL Party. The hit piece makes several provocative statements in an attempt to distract some voters from Bonoff's actual voting record, including the controversial Twins stadium tax vote.

DFL Statement: "In past campaigns, Judy Johnson has been helped by radical, anti-choice groups like the MCCL [Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life] who want to outlaw abortion in Minnesota."

Fact: Judy Johnson's past campaigns for city council, mayor, or state Senate were not "helped" by "groups like the MCCL." Cleverly, this vague statement never claims that Johnson received money or an endorsement from the MCCL, neither of which has ever happened.

DFL Statement: "MCCL even supports a ban on abortions in the case of rape, incest, or to protect the health of the mother."

Fact: This statement is made to set up the third bullet point. Question 4 of MCCL's 2006 candidate questionnaire says:
According to recent polls, most Minnesotans believe that abortion is morally wrong. Though some of these people are not yet convinced that the procedure should be outlawed, many of them do not want to actively participate in the process, including allowing their tax dollars to fund the procedure.

4. Will you vote against the use of government funding for abortion other than to prevent the death of the mother, when the pregnancy is the result of forcible rape (reported to law enforcement agencies within two days), or when the pregnancy of a minor is the result of incest (with the perpetrator reported to law enforcement
DFL Statement: "Now Judy Johnson is trying to downplay her ties to the extreme and anti-choice agenda of the MCCL. But don't be fooled."

Fact: Johnson has no "ties" to the agenda of MCCL to downplay. Johnson has publicly supported exceptions to a ban on publicly-subsidized abortions in the cases of rape, incest, or to protect the health of the mother.

DFL Statement: "Judy Johnson is ready to follow MCCL's playbook to the letter."

Fact: Judy Johnson is not endorsed by the MCCL.

I suppose it would be a bit much, for partisan reasons, to call on Bonoff to denounce this misrepresentation of the MCCL's position and Johnson's stated views as an attempt to scare and distract voters from the significant issues of this election, including education, transportation, and taxes. Fortunately for you, dear reader, these topics and others were examined by the candidates at yesterday's TwinWest Chamber of Commerce candidate forum in Minnetonka, which I attended and will report on shortly.

| | |

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Announcing: Election Night Policy and a Pint

Election Night Policy and a Pint

Presented by MPR News, The Current and the Citizens League

Hosted by Steve Seel and Tom Crann

Live audio and video broadcast on the web and on 89.3 The Current

Tuesday, November 7

7:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m.

The UBS Forum at Minnesota Public Radio

Tickets to this event are free, but registration is required. To reserve tickets to this event click here.

Minnesota Public Radio will host an "alternative" election night event in The UBS Forum modeled after The Current's successful Policy and a Pint series. This event will bring together 80+ bloggers, news junkies, and interested citizens to talk about politics and election results in a informal and non-partisan atmosphere co-hosted by the Citizens League.

Steve Seel and Tom Crann will anchor a four-hour live webstream from the forum as well as cutting into The Current to provide election updates. The forum will host high-profile political bloggers from the region who will update their blogs and and participate in the hosted discussion. Steve and Tom will talk politics with local political analysts and commentators and, where possible, connect with the candidates themselves. Monitors throughout the forum will broadcast the latest results from MPR and other sources while a DJ provides entertainment during breaks in the action.

Politically-themed snacks and various refreshments (a limited amount of beer and wine) will be served.

This is a non-partisan election activity. No campaign or issue-related signs or banners may be displayed inside the Minnesota Public Radio headquarters building. No campaigning is allowed in the building including the distribution of campaign materials. MPR encourages respectful debate during all election programming.

Blogs and bloggers scheduled to be represented:

| | |

Cover story

Judy Johnson for Senate
The campaign of Judy Johnson, who is challenging the incumbent Sen. Terri Bonoff in SD 43, recently sent out (bulk mail) the most creative and clever lit piece of the current season. One side details Johnson's endorsements in a magazine cover format. The cover shows Third District Congressman Jim Ramstad, Hennepin County Sheriff Pat McGowan, Rep. Barb Sykora (R-Excelsior), and former Wayzata School Board member Greg Rye with the heading, "Why our community leaders support Judy!", followed by the heading "EXCLUSIVE JUDY! Not bought and paid for by special interests."

Judy Johnson for Senate
The reverse side summarizes Johnson's policy positions on health care, education, transportation, the environment, and more.

This positive and upbeat discussion of the issues strikes quite a contrast with the DFL's misleading hit piece received in homes (bulk mail) last weekend, just hours after Johnson denounced the anonymous anti-abortion hit piece targeting Bonoff. Johnson's lit was so positive and upbeat that it failed to mention Bonoff's vote to authorize a $1.1 billion, 30-year Hennepin County sales tax without voter approval as required by state law to finance a new ballpark for our beloved millionaire Minnesota Twins baseball players and billionaire Carl Pohlad. In contrast to Bonoff's vision, the City of Plymouth (Johnson is the current mayor) is asking the voters for $9 million to purchase land for open space and parks. Asking. The. Voters. Talk about uniting the middle!

| | |

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Anonymous anti-abortion flyers don't help anyone

Minnesota Monitor reports that anonymously-produced and distributed anti-abortion flyers are being circulated in SD 43 and 42, urging the reader to vote against Sen. Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka) and Rep. Maria Ruud (DFL-Minnetonka), respectively.

Bonoff's opponent Judy Johnson told me that Bonoff informed her about the flyers. Both candidates reject their use, and are sharing any information they discover about them. Anonymous hit pieces have no place in the west metro.

| | |

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

West suburban races in the news

The SD 43 race between Sen. Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka) and Judy Johnson (R) was covered this week as a competitive one to watch this season. "Two candidates face off again for District 43 seat", by Jenna Ross in the Star Tribune summarizes the "rematch" of the November 2005 special election. "Both candidates said her [Bonoff's] record as state senator is key to this election," said the article. (Yep.)

The end of the article mentions the House race in 43B, between retired teacher and union local president John Benson (DFL) and Medtronic employee Dave Johnson (R).

Control of Legislature hinges on a few competitive races, Martiga Lohn (Associated Press) in the Brainerd Dispatch picks three House races, including the 42A race between Rep. Maria Ruud (DFL-Minnetonka) and Bill Cullen (R), and three Senate races, including the Bonoff-Johnson tilt in SD 43.

UPDATE: Jenna Ross (Star Tribune) also mentioned House District 33B (Lake Minnetonka area), the House and Senate races in SD 42 (Eden Prairie), and HD 43A. In the latter race, "Sarah Anderson, a Plymouth Planning Commission member and former aide to House Speaker Steve Sviggum, faces DFL-endorsed Sandy Hewitt, a Plymouth City Council member, for the seat vacated by Jeff Johnson, who is running for state attorney general.

Ross's Strib article said that Benson "thinks the district votes not according to party but according to candidate." Maybe this is why the west metro races are so competitive: a relatively large number of independent voters who are unaffiliated with any party.

| | |

Hatch for gov — NOT

We don't really want to wake up on November 8 to discover that this man is our next governor, do we?

| | |

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

MPR: election battleground in the western suburbs

Minnesota Public Radio's Laura McCallum has filed a good overview of the west metro legislative campaigns in SD 42 and 43 yesterday. McCallum used the candidate forum she moderated at Minnetonka High School for some of the audio. You can listen to the audio on the story page on the MPR web site.

Read my summary of the Minnetonka forum here, where you can hear the audio of the Terri Bonoff-Judy Johnson dustup over Education Minnesota's teacher health insurance pool that McCallum's report left out.

| | |

Taxpayers League blog!

Finally, the Taxpayers League of Minnesota has a blog. Finally.

Up to now, Minnesota's first couple of conservatism and cigars, David Strom and the lovely Margaret Martin, have provided their insightful opinions on their personal blog, Our House. On the new TLM blog, State of Nature, David and Margaret will be joined by Taxpayers League staff Jordan, Hobbes, and Matt.

I think the name is a tad esoteric, but welcome to the blogosphere, TLM.

| | |

Monday, October 16, 2006

Bonoff apologized for what, exactly?

It seems that Sen. Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka) has unfairly mischaracterized the audience at Living Word Christian Center's forum on the Minnesota Defense of Marriage Amendment, just to score debate points at this fall's Debate Minnesota SD 43 debate in Plymouth.

Bonoff appeared at the March 2006 Living Word event on a panel discussion of DFL and Republican Minnesota state senators. She told the September 28 debate audience that the experience was "unreal," with Living Word audience members chanting, "NO GAY MARRIAGE," waving her arms to dramatize her point. Steve Keith of Plymouth said,
I and the 2000 people in attendance that evening can, without equivocation, say this DID NOT HAPPEN. At no time did any member of the audience conduct themselves in a manner disrespectful of the elected officials addressing them.
Others who attended the Living Word forum, including Living Word staff, corroborate Keith's description of the event. According to Keith, "I asked Senator Bonoff yesterday about this and was told that she was sorry for the offense taken."

According to Eva Young (Lloydletta's Nooz and Comments):
I talked to Terri Bonoff about this, and she told me was disappointed that her remarks had offended anyone, and because of that called the church [Living Word Christian Center] to formally apologise - and they told her that no apology was necessary, and they appreciated that she came to their church.
Well, we all make mistakes, but these are non-apologies that let Bonoff have it both ways. Is Bonoff sorry that some people where offended by her story (which she stands by as true), or is she sorry that she portrayed DOMA supporters falsely in order to score political points? If the latter, why was it necessary to misrepresent an opposing viewpoint at a public debate?

Elected officials should respectfully listen to all viewpoints, not use wedge issues to divide and conquer. Is this Bonoff's vision for uniting the middle?

| | |

Friday, October 13, 2006

Education Minnesota endorsees should ask: how much?

When you buy a car, do you ask the seller, how much?

When you buy a house, do you ask the seller, how much?

When you buy a stadium, do you ask the seller, how much?

When you ask for the Education Minnesota teachers union's endorsement, do you ask, how much?

In their 2006 candidate questionnaire, Education Minnesota made clear their policy and funding goals over the next biennium. By pricing these big ticket items, it is immediately apparent that it would be impossible to fund these proposals without raising corporate and individual income taxes, and property taxes.

How much? Here's how much on a few of the items in the teachers union's shopping cart:

  • Guarantee adequate funding for school districts that keeps pace with inflation - If all K-12 programs and early education/community education programs were increased by these rates of inflation the total for the biennium would be about $410 million. (Source: Minnesota House of Representatives Research)

  • Guarantee that special education is a fully funded program - If the state funded the cross-subsidy gap with state aid, the latest annual estimate of the adjusted net cross subsidy is $377 million per year, or approximately $754 million over the next biennium. (Source: Minnesota Department of Education)

  • Significantly reduce class sizes - In order to significantly reduce class sizes at several grade levels, the additional cost of approximately 2,000 teachers would be about $200 million over the next biennium. (Source: House Research)
Adequate funding for education is a top priority for both parties, and is constitutionally mandated. But how much would Education Minnesota's Full Meal Deal cost taxpayers in new funding? Stay tuned.

| | |

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Bonoff vote enabled Hennepin County tax increase

On the CCARL Yahoo! Group, Ray Rossberg of Eden Prairie posted this cogent argument for why Sen. Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka) was wrong to deny the residents of Hennepin County the right to vote on their own tax increase. Excerpts:
While some may have little sympathy for our misfortune of having to pay the $1+ billion bill for this and dismiss it as being someone else's problem or even feel they got something for nothing, it's important to keep in mind that the referendum requirement your representative subverted protects all of us, regardless of where we live.

The referendum provision was included in the statute to ensure that new local sales taxes have public support since it would affect stores, restaurants, and other businesses by putting them at a competitive disadvantage to those in surrounding areas.

It makes the approval process the same as that required for bonding items such as schools, swimming pools, skating rinks, parks, etc. so that governments would not abuse taxpayers by shifting expenses to this funding mechanism without public consent.

The legislature has always required counties and municipalities to have sales tax referendums for their requests. Since a sports franchise was involved in this situation, these common-sense protections became inconvenient so it was decided that the residents must not be allowed to participate in any way except to pay for the stadium and related expenses.

The House Tax Committee debunked the myth that visitors to the area will pay for this by showing that 92% of the tax will actually be paid by the county's residents. Other than some nearby bar and restaurant owners, few people other than the Twins owner will benefit from this.

Traditionally, state legislators don't pass or introduce measures for specific counties and districts unless the legislators from the affected areas support them since they would have a better understanding of the implications for their constituents. There is also nothing more repugnant for people than to have outsiders make their choices for them.
Bonoff has always been candid about her vision that Major League Baseball is essential for a vibrant metropolitan area like the Twin Cities, and therefore would be worthy of public subsidy. She makes no apologies for bypassing the taxpayers, even though state senators representing districts within Hennepin County voted 11-5 in opposition to the bill (HF 2480) that exempts Hennepin County from the taxpayer protection statute.

| | | | |

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Literature envy

One of my favorite SD 43 Republicans stopped me over at Cub Foods (we can't all shop at the Wayzata Lunds) to express grudging praise for Sen. Terri Bonoff's latest direct mail literature piece, an "Independent expenditure paid for by the Minnesota DFL Party," according to the disclaimer. "Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee." (See my previous post on this lit piece.)

It's an 8-1/2 x 22 inch piece, folded into four panels to 8-1/2 x 5-1/2 for mailing. This enables the message to be told in four steps, like a TV ad: cover, first inside fold-out, second inside fold-out, and mailer. It was printed in full color, "on recycled paper using soy-based inks," as it says on the mailer side. The colors are in tasteful earth tones, very appealing to a west suburban audience. The message is simple, with bold bullet points that highlight Bonoff's legislative accomplishments.

The best part of the piece is the photography. There is at least one photo of the candidate on every panel, and the flattering photos of the candidate in a light-colored suit portray her as accessible and "working to bring people together." The piece was sent via bulk mail, not dropped by volunteers. It doesn't look like they produced this piece on the cheap.

It's nice for the candidate when the party makes these big independent expenditures, because this leaves more money for the candidate's campaign committee to buy other things like signage and their own lit. Candidates who abide by voluntary campaign spending limits receive cash subsidies from Minnesota taxpayers. In exchange for this money, candidates need to be careful to not circumvent the spending limits by simply having another entity produce their lit, for example.

The DFL has apparently figured out how to get these wonderful photos of the candidate "without the express or implied consent, authorization, or cooperation of, and not in concert with or at the request or suggestion of, any candidate or any candidate's principal campaign committee or agent," which is the definition of an independent expenditure in Minnesota Statue 10A.01 Subd. 18. I wonder how they managed that?

| | |

Prove it

Stadium tax? What stadium tax?

The letters-to-the-editor fact checking policy at the Plymouth Sun Sailor newspaper has gotten much more stringent under Joe Kieser. A North Star Liberty reader shared this reply he received after submitting his letter about Sen. Terri Bonoff's vote in favor of the $1.1 billion, 30-year Hennepin County sales tax to the Sun Sailor:
Thanks for your letter submittal, but there are a few issues...you have to submit proof of what you are claiming Bonoff voted for and where you come up with the $1.1 billion number. I ask that you re-submit this information with your letter when you can. Since I will be out of the office after 5 p.m. Monday through the end of the week, I ask that you re-submit this letter with the information I asked for to www.sunsailor.com.


Joe Kieser
I find it odd that Kieser asked someone to e-mail a letter to the editor to a web site address that first of all is not the newspaper's web site, and second is not possible since you can only send e-mail to an e-mail address, not a URL. Oh well, maybe he was in a hurry to get out of the office.

I find it remarkable that Kieser has apparently not heard of the stadium bill (HF 2480) or the $1.1 billion, 30-year Hennepin County sales tax. It was in all the newspapers (with the possible exception of the Sun Sailor)!

| | |

Monday, October 09, 2006

Minnesota's Mrs. Right?

DFL campaign literatureThe DFL sent this direct mail lit piece to SD 43 homes over the weekend. The cover says, "The last thing we needed was another 'Yes' man in St. Paul."

It struck me as odd that this piece, sent by the party of political correctness and gender sensitivity, doesn't acknowledge that two women ran in the 2005 election that sent Sen. Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka) to Saint Paul. Oh well, campaign literature from the state and national level in both parties tends to be a little weird.

Incumbents generally have the luxury of sending positive messages that say, everything's OK, a vote for me is a safe vote, which this lit piece does well. Challengers must make the case for change, holding incumbents accountable to their records, energizing the base without turning off independents with an overly negative message.

The DFL's piece for Bonoff even appeals to the Republicans in SD 43 with a message that "Bonoff has shown the courage and the independence to do what's right for our families — even when it puts her at odds with her own Party [emphasis added]." With a wink and a nudge, the piece's tagline is "She's doing what's right for Minnesota [emphasis in the original]."

As Jesse Ventura might say, "She portrays herself and tries to call herself 'Mrs. Right,' Minnesota's Mrs. Right." That's a smart tactic for someone who has supported such wrong-headed ideas as I-394 light rail and the new $1.1 billion Hennepin County sales tax without voter approval.

| | |

Friday, October 06, 2006

Minnetonka candidate forum replay on MPR web site

In case you missed it, Tuesday's candidate forum on education at Minnetonka High School was taped by Minnesota Public Radio, and can be streamed from the Internet at the MPR web site (1 hour 28 minutes, requires RealPlayer).

Participating candidates: SD 43, Sen. Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka) and Judy Johnson (R). HD 43B, John Benson (DFL) and Dave Johnson (R). HD 42A, Rep. Maria Ruud (DFL-Eden Prairie) and Bill Cullen (R).

The forum was sponsored by Community Action for Student Education (CASE), which is the school district's legislative action committee.

The first 30 minutes or so of questions from the moderator were variations on the theme, "Are you in favor of more money for the public schools (special education, early childhood family education, Kindergarten Readiness Assessment, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate)?" Remember, this forum was sponsored by a school district, and held at a school. Guess what, all of the candidates are in favor of more money for the public schools!

Everyone withheld support for vouchers, or assigning state funding to the student rather than the school district, but Cullen took the opportunity to raise a question familiar to readers of Craig Westover: what about school choice for lower income families that cannot afford to move to the suburbs or enroll in a private school and continue to pay taxes to support their public school district? Shall we continue to preserve and protect the status quo of government-funded schools at all costs, even if we fail to close the achievement gap, asks Westover?

The liveliest discussion occurred on another point of agreement amongst the candidates: the Education Minnesota teachers union's proposed mandatory statewide health insurance pool. The candidates — even the Education Minnesota endorsees — couldn't run away far enough, fast enough from this proposal. One of the state's most powerful special interest groups, which lobbies on behalf of its 70,000 AFL-CIO affiliated union members (about the size of one state Senate district), is pushing hard for this measure, which would lower health insurance costs for some school districts, at the expense of other districts (such as those in the west metro) that are lowering insurance costs on their own. When Judy Johnson suggested that Sen. Bonoff was in favor of a compromise that would create the pool yet allow "larger" school districts (over 400 enrollment) to opt-out, Bonoff said, "That's a lie," then quickly apologized. Check out this audio excerpt from the MPR recording:

Click here if the audio player does not display above.

| | | |

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Some differ with Bonoff's account of event

People are talking about Sen. Terri Bonoff's account of a Minnesota Defense of Marriage Amendment (DOMA) event at Mac Hammond's Living Word Christian Center, where several Minnesota state senators from both parties took part in a panel discussion. Steve Keith, who was in the audience at this event, copied me on his letter to the editor:
Senator Terri Bonoff has done it again. At the Debate Minnesota Forum last week she stated that while attending a forum on traditional marriage last March at a "2000 member church" she was confronted with chants of "No Gay Marriage," the congregants "standing and waving their arms." I and the 2000 people in attendance that evening can, without equivocation, say this DID NOT HAPPEN. At no time did any member of the audience conduct themselves in a manner disrespectful of the elected officials addressing them.

In fact, Senator Bonoff when speaking of her Jewish roots, was greeted with a WARM PROLONGED STANDING OVATION. Living Word Christian Center has long been a strong supporter of Israel and Judeo-Christian traditions. The membership is undoubtedly the most diverse in the Twin Cities with attendees of every race and creed, and enjoys an expressive form of worship.

I asked Senator Bonoff yesterday about this and was told that she was sorry for the offense taken. Unfortunately the damage has been done again, apologizing in private, after-the-fact does not in any manner undo the public harm done by the derogatory rhetoric aimed at a community of faith. Apologies cannot undo the polarizing effect on our community.

This from the candidate who says she is "uniting the middle?"

Steve and Blanche Keith, Plymouth
The staff member I spoke with at Living Word assured me that Pastor Hammond, a veteran United States Air Force combat pilot, set a respectful tone for the event by asking the audience to refrain from loud demonstrations and to respect all points of view. He also told me that Pastor Hammond instructed uniformed security and ushers to be ready to escort any demonstrators out of the meeting — which turned out to be not necessary.

| | |

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Will blog for food

Some of the top liberal/progressive bloggers in the Twin Cities are being paid to blog! And I'm not talking about those little blogads and affiliate programs that I fool around with, I'm talking $4500 for three months!

Why can't some conservative shadow group come up with the dough to help conservative bloggers like me spread the Reagan legacy, one browser at a time? With a little help to stock the fridge, the left has come up with some effective web sites/blogs in a professional news format. Of course, who pays the piper calls the tune, so we would have to be careful to fully disclose which side our bread was buttered (the right side, in our case), so our readers could take what we say with a grain of salt.

| | | |

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Cruisin' on the Gold Coast Autobahn

Commuting on the new, three-lane Pawlenty Highway, a.k.a., the Gold Coast Autobahn, is a real pleasure. After years of fighting or avoiding I-494's constipated rush hour traffic flow between Eden Prairie and Plymouth, commuters are enjoying all-day excess capacity (capacity was increased by 50% in both directions), now that Governor Tim Pawlenty's MnDOT has put the "free" back into "freeway." According to MnDOT:
The $137.5 million project took about two years to complete, removing and replacing the existing freeway lanes and adding a new lane in each direction along nearly eight miles of I-494 through Eden Prairie, Minnetonka and Plymouth. Crews also widened 14 bridges that cross the freeway or its cross streets so that at some point in the future MnDOT can more easily add an additional travel lane. Both the interchanges at Hwy 62 and Hwy 7 we completely rebuilt and about four miles of soundwall were constructed at various locations along the corridor. A merge lane was also completed along eastbound I-394 to clear up the nightly congestion that used to occur as traffic tried to go east from northbound I-494.
Finally, the Lexus SUVs from Plymouth, the Porsche Caynnes from Wayzata, the GMC Denalis from Minnetonka, and the occasional Eden Prairie Land Rover can accomplish their suburb-to-suburb commutes in record time. And time is the most precious commodity that this construction project has given to suburban commuters. We're even getting better fuel economy with less emissions, thanks to the elimination of idling in traffic or at stop lights on neighborhood surface streets.

Freeways are the best way to move people and commerce through the metro, 24/7 (there are no FedEx cars on a light rail train). This is just what we needed.

| | |

Monday, October 02, 2006

Minnesota governor candidates to debate online

E-Democracy.Org and the Blandin Foundation are pleased to announce an online candidate debate with Minnesota’s gubernatorial candidates. The e-debate starts on Monday, October 9th and goes through Thursday, October 19th.

The officially confirmed and participating candidates include:
  • Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Republican

  • Attorney General Mike Hatch, DFL

  • Peter Hutchinson, Independence

  • Ken Pentel, Green

  • Leslie Davis, American

  • Walt Brown, Quit Raising Taxes
With new responses each weekday, this "on-demand" debate lets you choose which candidates and questions to follow (and when).

For further info, see the e-Democracy.org Minnesota Elections page.

| | |