Friday, October 31, 2008

You don't know what you've got 'till it's gone

The next time you hear someone say that they will be so glad that campaign season is over, or worse yet that they won't be voting, you might want to remind them that many of our patriots died to protect our free elections and freedom of speech, and that other governments have killed to prevent the same.

I have friends who fled Cuba in the 1960s after Fidel Castro began nationalizing private property and cracking down on political dissent. They will never take voting for granted or forget that freedom is not free.

The last Plymouth campaign sign report

As reported by the Plymouth Police Department:
  • Theft, reported 10-25-2008. Political signs taken from yard. 165xx 39 Ave.

  • Theft reported 10-26-2008. Theft of 5 political signs from their yards overnight. 38xx Glacier Ln N.

  • Theft, reported 10-26-2008. Report of theft of political signs on Fernbrook Ln between 34th Avenue and Rockford Rd.

  • Theft, reported 10-27-2008. Report that sometime overnight unknown person(s) took 3 political signs out of yard. 47xx Upland Ln N.

  • Criminal Damage to Property, reported 10-29-2008. Victim reported her political signs were thrown into the street and her solar light was broken with a brick over night. No dollar damage amount listed. 144xx 19th Ave N.

The Plymouth Police does not publish the political party involved in these reports. Please report campaign sign damage or theft to your local police department.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Smilin' and dialin'

Yesterday I put in a shift at my local Republican Victory Office phone bank, calling identified Republicans to remind them to vote our Republican ticket, from John McCain and Sarah Palin, to Sen. Norm Coleman and Third District Congressional candidate Erik Paulsen, to Brian Grogan for Minnesota House (43B), to John Cooney, the Republican endorsed candidate for the nonpartisan Hennepin County Commissioner in District 6.

Phone bank work is essential, not only to remind Republicans to vote, but also to update party records with current names and phone numbers, which are constantly changing as folks move and get new phone numbers.

We're down to the final week before the general election, and your entire Republican ticket needs your help now. Contact your local Republican Victory Office to find out how you can make a difference.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Vote your values

The Minnesota Family Institute has a comprehensive voter education web site at One feature of the web site takes the typical interest group scorecard one step further, by allowing you to print a voter guide that is tailored to the candidates you will see up and down ticket, from President to legislative and judicial races. It has always been particularly difficult to make an informed vote on judges, so this feature alone is well worth your time.

This election isn't just about partisan agendas, it's about the economic, cultural, and political future of our country. Get informed, and vote on November 4.

More Plymouth campaign sign thefts

As reported by the Plymouth Police Department:
  • Theft, Reported: 10-16-2008. A resident reported that his political signs were stolen out of his yard within the last day. 115xx 44th Ave N

  • Theft, Reported: 10-16-2008. Victim reported the theft of political signs from the lawn overnight. 4xx Niagara Ln N

  • Theft, Reported: 10-16-2008. Complainant reported a political sign was stolen from his front yard sometime overnight. Comp reported this is the second time in the last week, his sign was stolen or vandalized. 43xx Deerwood Ln N

  • Theft, Reported: 10-18-2008. R/P called reporting his political yard signs stolen. 8xx Vicksburg Ln

  • Theft, Reported: 10-18-2008. Theft of political sign from the yard sometime overnight. 39xx Arrowwood Ln N

  • Theft, Reported: 10-18-2008. Victim reported that a political sign was taken from her yard sometime during the night. 60xx Annapolis Ln N

  • Theft, Reported: 10-19-2008. Victim reported that 3 of his political signs were stolen from his front yard during the night. 48xx Orchid Ln N

  • Theft, Reported: 10-21-2008. Political sign taken from yard. 110xx 40th Pl N

The Plymouth Police does not publish the political party involved in these reports. Please report campaign sign damage or theft to your local police department.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fiscal restraint needed on Hennepin County board

The MPR story, "Hennepin County commissioners give themselves a pay raise," reveals the apparent hubris gone wild on the Hennepin County board. What else could explain how the commission could vote this way given the current economic situation?
St. Paul, Minn. — Hennepin County commissioners voted 5 to 2 yesterday to give themselves a 3.4 percent pay increase in each of the next two years.

Their salaries will top $100,000 in 2010.

The increases match the maximum raises offered to regular county employees for 2008 and 2009, and property taxes are expected to decrease slightly for many Hennepin County homeowners next year.

But the county is also facing a significant budget shortfall, and may have to make hundreds of layoffs in 2009.

Outgoing commissioner Penny Steele, of Rogers, abstained from the vote. She said she didn't want to vote for a pay increase she would not have to answer to voters for. Steele also said it was a bad time for a raise for elected officials.

"You know, obviously, with the kind of pressures on the people that live in Hennepin County, in terms of job losses in terms of their own property taxes still perhaps going up or not being reduced, and yet the valuations are not where they were a few years ago. I mean, there's a lot of pressure on the people that live in this county," Steele said.

Commissioner Linda Koblick, of Wayzata, voted against the pay raise.

Both Steele and Koblick are retiring from the board. They both heroically opposed the confiscatory taxpayer subsidies granted to the Minnesota Twins professional baseball team and its owner, Carl Pohlad, that enabled the new Twins stadium to be built in a brazen example of public debt financing private profit.

In November, the property taxpayers of Hennepin County desperately need to elect two commissioners that will carry on Steele and Koblick's record of service to the taxpayers. Jeff Johnson is running to succeed Penny Steele in District 7, while John Cooney is running to succeed Linda Koblick in District 6. Both candidates are Republican endorsed, and Johnson is running as a self-proclaimed "taxpayer watchdog."

Monday, October 20, 2008

Grogan on the air

I returned home from a lit drop in time to get some yard work done (it was a beautiful day for either activity) and hear House District 43B candidate Brian Grogan interviewed on Saturday's Northern Alliance Radio Network show, "The Final Word."

Grogan talked with host King Banaian about reducing the number of mandated coverages in Minnesota on health insurance, which increases premiums; repealing the state moratorium on nuclear power plant construction; making the business tax and regulatory environment more attractive to investment and job creation; the incumbent Rep. John Benson's (DFL-Minnetonka) record as a tax-and-spend liberal and his opposition to school choice and parental choice initiatives.

Click the button to hear a replay of the show, courtesy of AM 1280 The Patriot. The Grogan interview begins about 1/3 of the way into the 46-minute segment.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Sid's Discount Liquors (photo: North Star Liberty
Although not jaw-droppingly vast like the selection at U.S. Liquor & Wine in Minnetonka, the selection of beers and hard ciders at Sid's Discount Liquors is surprisingly wide and discerning. Sid's has imports like Moretti Birra Firulana from Italy and Smithwick's from Ireland; the local socially-conscious Finnegans (no apostrophe), brewed by Summit; obscure craft brews like Hobgoblin dark English Ale; and even a novelty brew called Monty Python's Holy Grail Ale ("Tempered over burning witches"). They also have a variety of brews from Milwaukee's Sprecher Brewery and seasonal variety packs from Sam Adams, et al.

A distinctive feature of Sid's is the walk-in, self-serve cooler, which backs up the standard glass-doored refrigerated aisle. It's just the thing when you need a few ice-cold 24-bottle cases for the party (yes, they also have kegs). Buy some Genuine Draft if you must, but treat your more adventurous guests (and yourself) to a choice of craft brews, imports, and ciders.

The Sid Applebaum family operates five Twin Cities locations under the Sid's and Big Top brands.

Sid's Discount Liquor
10200 6th Avenue North
Plymouth, MN 55441

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Plymouth campaign sign thefts

From the Plymouth Police Department:
  • Theft, reported 10-11-2008: Political sign that was nailed to fence was broken off and taken sometime within the last week. 143xx 50th Pl N

  • Theft, reported 10-12-2008: Theft of political sign overnight. 117xx 26th Ave N

  • Theft, reported 10-12-2008: Victim called to report that 2 of his political signs were taken from his yard during the night. 47xx Kingsview Ln N

The Plymouth Police does not publish the political party involved in these reports. Please report campaign sign damage or theft to your local police department.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Gorgan would live within our means; Benson, not so much

Brian Grogan, who is challenging Rep. John Benson (DFL-Minnetonka) for the seat in House District 43B, recently made a promise "to the citizens of Minnesota to solve the projected 2009 state budget deficit by advocating for reductions in government spending before supporting any tax increases on Minnesota citizens and businesses."

Benson has not signed the Live Within Our Means Commitment, a one-page statement of fiscal restraint. The statement is sponsored by the Minnesota Coalition for Fiscal Responsibility in Government, an informal alliance of organizations established solely for the purpose of administering the Live Within Our Means Commitment process. According to the Live Within Our Means Commitment web site, "Coalition members agree that it would be more responsible for the Minnesota state legislature to seek first to reduce government spending before giving any consideration to increasing taxes for Minnesota families or businesses."

Minnesota is projected to have a $2 billion or greater budget deficit in 2009. Because our state constitution requires a balanced state budget each biennium, the Legislature must cut spending or raise taxes in order to address the budget shortfall.

Over sixty candidates for the House have signed the commitment so far. Visit the Live Within Our Means Commitment web site to see whether the candidates in your area have made this promise of fiscal restraint, and ask them whether they would cut spending before raising taxes.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hate mongers

The mainstream media and lefty blogs have focused during the current news cycle about those angry, dare we say "hateful," Republicans at John McCain's last two rallies in Waukesha, Wisconsin and Lakeville, Minnesota.

Polinaut's Tom Scheck titled his blog post on the Lakeville rally, "Out for blood..." At least he exercised some typographic restraint: it could have been OUT FOR BLOOD!!
The crowd at John McCain's townhall meeting in Lakeville was, shall we say, a bit partisan. Some called for McCain to fight Obama at next Wednesday's rally. Another woman said she didn't trust him because he was an Arab. Another said they didn't know if they could live in a country that had Barack Obama as its president.

Helpfully, Sheck also posted the full audio of the town hall, from McCain's entrance to his closing remarks. The audio reveals that the crowd at the suburban Lakeville South High School sounded more like Minnesota Nice than "out for blood." Unreported was the crowd's applause when McCain corrected the ignorant characterization of Obama as an "Arab."

Yet Sheck was mild compared to Bob von Sternberg in the financially troubled Star Tribune. In Sternberg's version of the story, "In Lakeville, McCain tamps down hostility," McCain was "Struggling to contain an emotional fire his own campaign kindled."

Shocking reports of "hate" and "anger" (or even partisanship) were curiously missing from media coverage of anarchist "demonstrations of free speech," in which real damage was done to property and persons peaceably assembled for the Republican National Convention. Pheisty and Michelle Malkin have documented other recent examples of liberal hate speech (viewer discretion advised).

The McCain rally reports hype a few exceptional comments but fail to further understanding about how Midwestern grassroots activists feel about issues like socialism, the economy, and the right to life. Intentionally or not, they serve Obama's campaign by stereotyping conservatives and attempting to demoralize the Republican base. Don't fall for it.

Some of the passion shown at the rallies is directed at the McCain campaign as the game clock winds down with our team down by a field goal. We have the better ideas and the better candidate, so let's score a touchdown and win this game, Senator.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Benson and Grogan to face-off at TwinWest forum

 House candidates in districts 43A and 43B will discuss business-related issues at a forum sponsored by the TwinWest Chamber of Commerce on October 23, from 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm. There will be questions from the chamber and the audience, and opening and closing statements from the candidates.

Invited candidates from HD 43A are incumbent Rep. Sarah Anderson (R-Plymouth) and challenger Clint Faust (DFL). Invited from HD 43B are incumbent Rep. John Benson (DFL-Minnetonka) and challenger Brian Grogan (R). Public registration for the event is open until October 21.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Plymouth campaign sign crime recap

From the Plymouth Police Department:
  • Theft, reported 10-02-2008: Theft of political sign. 123xx 61st Ave

  • Criminal Damage to Property, reported 10-04-2008: Report of political sign in victim’s yard spray painted overnight sometime. 4xx Brockton Ln N

  • Theft, reported 10-07-2008: Theft of political sign off front lawn. 126xx 58th Ave

  • Criminal Damage to Property, reported 10-07-2008: Political sign in lawn was damaged overnight. 45xx Deerwood Lane

The Plymouth Police does not publish the political party involved in these reports. Please report campaign sign damage or theft to your local police department.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Benson: hey, big spender!

Rep. John Benson (photo: Minnesota House of RepresentativesMinnesota Majority reported that Minnesota House District 43B Rep. John Benson (DFL-Minnetonka) scored a favorable rating of ZERO out of fourteen tax-and-spending votes tracked by the organization. Benson scored an overall favorable rating of 16% across 43 votes in a wide range of issues.

Benson voted to raise taxes, against tax cuts, and against spending restraint on these occasions (search the House Journal yourself by entering the HJ page number here:
  • Increased Taxes and Government Spending: HF2268 included tax increases, increased local government aid and mandates automatic spending increases. HJ page 7575.

  • Restrict Bonding to Emergency Spending: Amendment to HF886 to reduce a pork-laden $334 million bonding bill to $8 million for emergency spending only. HJ page 2222.

  • Eliminate State Income Tax on Social Security Income: Amendment to HF3149 eliminating state income tax of Social Security income. HJ page 11320.

  • Tax Increase on Compressed Natural Gas: SF3564 imposes a 37% tax increase on compressed natural gas for transportation. HJ page 10737.

  • Omnibus Bonding Bill: Were it not for line-item vetoes, HF 380 would borrow over one billion dollars for mostly "pork barrel" spending projects. HJ page 9689.

  • Property Tax Increase: Omnibus tax bill HF3201 raises property taxes for most Minnesota property owners. HJ page 8103.

  • Limit Tax Increases on Cabins and Recreational Property: Amendment to HF3201 that would have limited property tax increases on recreational property. HJ page 8072.

  • Property Tax Freeze for Seniors: Amendment to HF3201 preventing an increase in the assessed taxable value of homes owned by senior citizens. See HJ page 8099.

  • Override Governor's Veto of Gas and Sales Tax Increases: A vote to override the governor's veto of HF2800 which increased taxes by $6.6 billion. HJ page 7889.

  • Massive Transportation Tax Increase: HF2800 created one of the single largest tax increases in Minnesota's history by raising gas, excise and sales taxes. HJ page 7883.

  • Require Referendum for Sales Tax Hike: Amendment to HF2800 that would require a referendum to raise the sales tax in affected counties. HJ page 7862.

  • Arts/Outdoors Sales Tax Increase: A historic $11 billion sales tax increase for the arts and outdoors to be approved by voters via a constitutional amendment. HJ page 7684.

  • Reduce Income Taxes in all Brackets: An amendment to HF3149 to reduce state income taxes in all brackets by 1/2%. HJ page 11297.

  • Super Majority Required to Raise Taxes: An amendment to the rules of the House requiring a 60% majority to raise taxes. HJ page 586.

This is a long list, but the scorecards from Minnesota Majority and other groups are valuable because they clearly show how each member of the legislature represents his or her district. They are not "cherry picked" votes meant to distort the record; the same votes are tracked for all members. By reviewing these scorecards for the incumbents in your district, you can cast an informed vote on November 4.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Benson and Grogan spar at forum

Brian Grogan (photo: submitted)House District 43B incumbent Rep. John Benson (DFL-Minnetonka) and Republican challenger Brian Grogan provided the most confrontational exchanges of Tuesday evening's Wayzata/Plymouth Area League of Women Voters (LWV) forum in the Plymouth City Council chambers. Participating were candidates for seats in House Districts 33A, 33B, 43A, and 43B, and Hennepin County Commissioner District 7. Only thirty minutes or a little less was devoted to each race, so the affair felt a little like a political speed dating session.

Benson used his introductory time to highlight his "friend of education" awards from the Association of Metropolitan School Districts, which lobbies on behalf of Twin Cities school districts, and the Education Minnesota teachers union, the state's largest political lobby.

Benson was president of the Education Minnesota local in Edina and the pre-merger Minnesota Federation of Teachers in the 1990s, and state president of the Minnesota Federation of Teachers from 1987-1995. He taught social studies in the Edina public schools for over thirty years. Benson currently sits on the education policy and education finance committees in the state House, in what must be a very direct route from the union's lips to the Legislature's ear.

Grogan highlighted the state budget deficit, unemployment, and the economy as reasons to reject Benson and vote for Grogan. He questioned the wisdom of bigger government in light of the DFL-controlled Legislature's insatiable appetite for more spending and higher taxes.

The LWV moderator posted questions to each candidate, alternating who answered first. Each candidate only had a minute or so to respond.

Areas of government needing reform: Grogan said that an education system that consumes more and more taxpayer money while delivering poor student performance needs reform, and the welfare system needs further reform to reduce fraud and waste. Benson said that reforms should be made in the areas of teacher recruitment and retention.

Priorities in education policy and funding: Benson said that suburban districts need more state aid to cover higher operating costs. Grogan said that the emphasis needs to be on accountability for the achievement gap between white and ethnic minority students.

Homelessness and affordable housing: Grogan did not respond to this topic, instead challenging Benson's characterization of last session's transportation bill, which passed on an override of Governor Pawlenty's veto, as "bipartisan." He also attacked the new DFL education bill, known as the "Minnesota Miracle II," for dropping the Q Comp alternative compensation program for teachers, which has been successful in the Wayzata school district. Benson responded that he supports Q Comp, but because the governor has not been "helpful" with the bill, Q Comp was dropped to bring him into the negotiations. He said that he expects it to be added back into the final version of the bill.

Transportation: Benson reiterated his claim that the transportation bill was a bipartisan bill because of the six Republicans who voted to override the governor's veto (also known as "The Override Six"). Grogan again challenged the bipartisan nature of the bill, which increased as taxes, license fees, new car taxes, and sales taxes by $6.6 billion. He said that none of the licensing fee increases or sales-and-use tax increases will fund road and bridges, instead they will fund mass transit outside the district.

Aging population: Grogan said that a strong (taxpaying) workforce (implying a friendly business climate) is needed to ensure that the growing Baby Boom generation is properly cared for. Benson said that increased aid to nursing homes will be needed.

Economy: Benson said that government's ability to deal with a downturn is limited. Grogan responded with a laundry list of how businesses in Minnesota are overregulated and overtaxed, and cited several examples of businesses leaving the state or locating new operations out-of-state for more business-friendly states, including Marvin Windows, Northwest Airlines, and Polaris. Benson said that reducing regulation and taxation on businesses is the best way for the state to improve the economy.

Child care for low-income families: Grogan said that in order to better care for low-income families, fraud and waste needs to be eliminated from aid programs. Benson called for increased spending for Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) and all-day kindergarten.

Attendance at the forum was depressed by the coincidental scheduling of the nationally televised second presidential debate between Barack Obama and John McCain. The forum will be rebroadcast on Comcast channel 12 and LMCC channel 21. Channel 12 also has forum archives for viewing on their web site.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Lewis, Bachmann voice conservative angst

On Wednesday's Jason Lewis Show (100.3 KTLK-FM), Lewis, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN6), and several callers expressed their frustration at John McCain's lack of walking the conservative walk.

After pledging as president to veto any bill that contains earmarks, McCain voted (with Barack Obama) in favor of the $800 billion lender bail-out bill, which one caller called "the mother of all earmark bills."

In March, the New York Times reported, "McCain Rejects Broad U.S. Aid on Mortgages." At Tuesday's town-hall debate, McCain proposed a $300 billion government mortgage buyout plan. Even Obama called the plan "costly and out of touch."

Bachmann said that she was almost "breaking pencils" during the debate as McCain passed up several golden opportunities to make the conservative case against Obama's liberal positions.

As McCain runs toward the middle, he is running away from the conservative base of the Republican party — you know, the likely voters who man the phone banks, drop literature, pound lawn signs. When he announced Sarah Palin as his running mate, and Palin made her national debut in Saint Paul last month, McCain enjoyed a post-convention bump in poll numbers, fundraising, and volunteer enthusiasm. Post bail-out, McCain's poll numbers are sagging along with grassroots morale. It will be interesting to see how many show up to McCain's (Palin-less) Lakeville town hall meeting on Friday.

Conservatives are afraid that "change is coming," alright: socialism, regardless of who wins in November.

Lewis urged frustrated conservatives to redouble their efforts to support solid conservatives down-ticket, to rebuild the Republican party from the grassroots up. One caller speculated about a Palin-Bachmann ticket in 2012.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Campaign signs stolen in Plymouth

Here are the most recent campaign sign incidents reported to the Plymouth Police Department. The political party is not specified by the police reports. Please report campaign sign theft and vandalism to the police. And for God's sake, keep your hands off of campaign signs regardless of candidate.
  • Reported: 09-28-2008, 2900 block, Urbandale Ln N. Victim reported a 6' metal pole holding a political sign, and a driveway reflector were stolen from his yard last night.

  • Reported: 09-30-2008, 18000 block, 4th Av. Political sign taken from yard sometime overnight and replaced with opposition sign.

  • Reported: 09-30-2008, 500 block, Alvarado Ln N. Report of a political sign getting stolen from the front yard at the residence.