Saturday, February 26, 2011

More than one fresh face elected in SD43

At today's lightly-attended convention held at Wayzata Central Middle School in Plymouth, Senate District 43 Republicans elected a new chair and executive committee that includes both new energy and experience. The day began with an official censure of its 2010 endorsed candidate for state Senate, Norann Dillon, followed about four hours later by its dramatic retraction from the floor.

Brian Grogan, the 2008 and 2010 endorsed candidate for House District 43B, was elected to chair the district. He owns a financial services business, serves on the board of the Minnesota Academic Excellence Foundation, and was recently appointed to the Citizens Advisory Council for the Minnehaha Creek Watershed Board.

Grogan will be joined by Treasurer Jeff Kulaszewicz, Secretary Audrey Fresh, two at-large vice chairs, and vice-chairs for House Districts 43A (northern Plymouth) and 43B (southern Plymouth and northern Minnetonka)

David Gaither, one of the newly-elected at-large vice-chairs, was the senator for SD43 from 2003-2005, and served as assistant minority leader. Gaither is currently the executive director of International Education Center, a non-profit that teaches English and provides education and employment assistance to adult international students. Tracey Taylor was also elected an at-large vice-chair.

Long-time Republican activist and community volunteer Lavonne Sjoberg was elected district 43A vice-chair. Former construction contractor and Grogan campaign volunteer Mike Seuss was elected vice-chair for district 43B.

Dillon censured

SD43 chair Larry Thompson read to the convention an executive committee resolution that censured 2010 endorsed state Senate candidate Norann Dillon for representing the endorsement of former governor Al Quie without obtaining the endorsement in writing, per state law.

Neither Dillon nor her supporters disputed not having Quie's endorsement in writing. Quie told Minnesota Public Radio in October 2010 that "a telephone conversation with Dillon this morning resolved the issue," and Dillon posted an apology at that time on her campaign web site.

Dillon, an SD43 delegate, remained at the convention. Close to the end of the convention, a motion was made from the convention floor to retract the censure, debate was conducted, and in the end the motion passed.

After the motion passed, an emotional Dillon addressed the convention, thanking her supporters and stating that her efforts are about stopping what she sees as the state's move toward socialism. She said that she intends to remain active in the district. The convention reacted with a standing ovation for Dillon. Dillon was also one of four elected by the convention to represent SD43 at the State Central Committee of the Republican Party of Minnesota.

Dillon was a passionate, articulate, respectful, upbeat, and tireless conservative candidate in 2010. She is a relative newcomer to the area and to politics who received long odds from some on the day she was endorsed, and came up short three percentage points in a year that the Republicans retook the majority in the state Senate for first time since 1972. A verbal conversation with Quie was apparently mishandled somewhere along the way, for which the candidate has already apologized. Yet what could an official censure have gained for the district?

Guest speakers say thanks, pitch their candidacies

Many guest speakers took the microphone to thank district activists for their work in helping to bring about Republican victories in 2010, and majorities to both houses of the Minnesota Legislature.

Hennepin County Commissioner and favorite son Jeff Johnson and 2010 endorsed GOP candidate for governor Tom Emmer both announced their candidacies for National Committeeman to the Republican National Committee.

HD43A Rep. Sarah Anderson reported on how Republican majorities in the House and Senate began cutting the size of government immediately, "as they were elected to do."

Third District Congressman Erik Paulsen noted "what a difference two years makes," while noting that Democrats are already busy organizing and targeting him with protests.

State Republican Party Deputy Chair Michael Brodkorb thanked local activists (including several mentions of Norann Dillon), and along with state party secretary-treasurer David Sturrock, asked for state central committee delegate support for their re-election along with chair Tony Sutton.

Former Plymouth Mayor, current city council member, and SD43 Senate candidate Judy Johnson encouraged Republicans to volunteer locally on city boards and commissions, and as election judges.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Trump: it's not political, it's business

Donald Trump may or may not run for president, and he may or may not be electable, but I sure enjoyed many of his scripted remarks and off-script asides at last week's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C. The government is not a business, but who better than Donald Trump to bring a battle-tested, commonsense approach to running the largest enterprise in the world?
America today is missing quality leadership, and foreign countries have quickly realized this. It is for this reason that the United States is becoming the laughing stock of the world. Whether we like it or don’t like it, that’s what’s happening. I deal with people from China, I deal with people from Mexico; they cannot believe what they are getting away with.

I have said on numerous occasions that countries like China, like India, South Korea, Mexico, and the OPEC nations view our leaders as weak and ineffective and have repeatedly taken advantage of them to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars a year. When they talk about raising your taxes, I think: raise the taxes on some of these countries that are taking advantage of the United States.

I’ve said on numerous occasions that we should watch China, and OPEC, because -- by the way, worse than China, worse than everyone: OPEC; they are truly ripping us...Coming over here today one of the people in the car said, “Oh my gosh, look at that, four dollars and fifty-four cents a gallon for gas.” It’s going to go much higher, folks, get used to it, because we have nobody that calls up OPEC -- and they’re only there because of us; we protect them! -- and says, “That price better get lower, and it better get lower fast.”

I can tell you this: if I run, and if I win, this country will be respected again...Just very briefly, I am pro-life, I am against gun control, and I will fight to end Obamacare and replace it with something that makes sense for people in business and not bankrupt the country. If I decide to run, I will not be raising taxes. We’ll be taking in hundreds of millions of dollars from other countries that are screwing us. We’ll be creating vast numbers of productive jobs, and we’ll rebuild our country so that we can be proud. Our country will be great again.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The Dayton education agenda's pre-K obsession

"Instead of talking about how to spend more money and finding ways to spend more money, we ought to be talking about how to focus the resources we have on something we can measure." —Sen. David Hann (R-Eden Prairie), Star Tribune, February 5

Do you get the point that Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton really believes in early childhood education? The governor's seven-point education plan is not content with dedicating one or two of these points to early childhood education, he embeds "ready for K" goals into five of them:
  • Invest in Early Childhood and All-Day Kindergarten
  • Target All-Day Kindergarten
  • Expand existing K-12 system into a comprehensive pre-K-12 system
  • Adopt pre-K - 3 reading standards
  • Support early childhood teacher observation and development
  • Reauthorize Statewide Early Childhood Advisory Council and reestablish Children's Cabinet
  • Charge Commissioner of Education with leadership of early childhood initiatives
Considering the state's barely ten-month old kindergarten-readiness study, this obsession with pre-K seems odd.
The Minnesota School Readiness Study found that between 91 percent and 97 percent of Minnesota five-year-olds were In Process or Proficient in five developmental areas necessary for school success: physical development, the arts, personal and social development, language and literacy, and mathematical thinking. This compares to last year’s study with numbers between 87 percent and 96 percent. The increases are within the margin of error between the two years.
When you couple these findings with national empirical studies on Head Start and other preschool programs that show little if any benefit to pre-K programs, you may wonder why Governor Dayton is so bent on a significant expansion of government pre-K and all-day kindergarten.

"There's nothing terribly new in here," said Rep. Mindy Greiling (DFL-Roseville) in the February 5 Star Tribune article, "Dayton renews pledge to raise school funding." "We're going to have more commissions and more advisory councils. I think we've been there and done that," remarked Rep. Sondra Erickson (R-Princeton), chair of the House Educationn Reform Committee in the February 5 Star Tribune article.

Dayton's myopic focus on pre-K and kindergarten to the exclusion of other education reforms such as streamlining the process for sponsors of successful charter schools to open new sites, and education tax credits is a missed opportunity for much-needed education reform for Minnesota students and families. Dayton's omissions provide an excellent opportunity for the Republican majorities in the Legislature to display some leadership in state education policy initiatives.