Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas, My Friend

HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan (Jan. 01, 2002) -- A U.S. Marine with Battalion Landing Team 3/6, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), helps conduct a Cordon and Search Raid at a suspected Al Qaeda hideout in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan.

North Star Liberty dedicates this poem to all active duty, Reserve, and National Guard soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guard who stand upon a wall and say, "Nothing's going to hurt you tonight, not on my watch." God bless you all this Christmas season, and always.

by Marine Lance Corporal James M. Schmidt (1986)

Twas the night before Christmas, he lived all alone,
In a one bedroom house made of plaster and stone.

I had come down the chimney, with presents to give
and to see just who in this home did live.

As I looked all about, a strange sight I did see,
no tinsel, no presents, not even a tree.
No stocking by the fire, just boots filled with sand.
On the wall hung pictures of a far distant land.

With medals and badges, awards of all kind,
a sobering thought soon came to my mind.
For this house was different, unlike any I'd seen.
This was the home of a U.S. Marine.

I'd heard stories about them, I had to see more,
so I walked down the hall and pushed open the door.
And there he lay sleeping, silent, alone,
Curled up on the floor in his one-bedroom home.

He seemed so gentle, his face so serene,
Not how I pictured a U.S. Marine.
Was this the hero, of whom I’d just read?
Curled up in his poncho, a floor for his bed?

His head was clean-shaven, his weathered face tan.
I soon understood, this was more than a man.
For I realized the families that I saw that night,
owed their lives to these men, who were willing to fight.

Soon around the Nation, the children would play,
And grown-ups would celebrate on a bright Christmas day.
They all enjoyed freedom, each month and all year,
because of Marines like this one lying here.

I couldn’t help wonder how many lay alone,
on a cold Christmas Eve, in a land far from home.
Just the very thought brought a tear to my eye.
I dropped to my knees and I started to cry.

He must have awoken, for I heard a rough voice,
"Santa, don't cry, this life is my choice
I fight for freedom, I don't ask for more.
My life is my God, my country, my Corps."

With that he rolled over, drifted off into sleep,
I couldn't control it, I continued to weep.

I watched him for hours, so silent and still.
I noticed he shivered from the cold night's chill.
So I took off my jacket, the one made of red,
and covered this Marine from his toes to his head.
Then I put on his T-shirt of scarlet and gold,
with an eagle, globe and anchor emblazoned so bold.
And although it barely fit me, I began to swell with pride,
and for one shining moment, I was Marine Corps deep inside.

I didn't want to leave him so quiet in the night,
this guardian of honor so willing to fight.
But half asleep he rolled over, and in a voice clean and pure,
said "Carry on, Santa, it's Christmas Day, all secure."
One look at my watch and I knew he was right,
Merry Christmas my friend, Semper Fi and goodnight.




Monday, December 17, 2012

History: who's story?

"The philosophy of the schoolhouse today is the philosophy of the government tomorrow." —Abraham Lincoln (attributed)

Minnesota's academic standards in social studies, created in 2004, are nearing the end of their year-long review cycle, and will likely be adopted pending a hearing before an administrative law judge on Thursday, December 20.

As a member of the Academic Standards Committee that created the 2004 standards, I recognize some improvements to the process and structure of the standards, but I am troubled by how the U.S. history standards were rewritten to tell a story of European oppression of native and minority peoples, while suppressing or deemphasizing American values of liberty, inalienable rights, and the best that America has to offer.

For example, here are some of the standards that will be considered at the December 20 hearing.
Standard 16 Rivalries among European nations and their search for new opportunities fueled expanding global trade networks and, in North America, colonization and settlement and the exploitation of indigenous peoples and lands; colonial development evoked varied responses by indigenous nations, and produced regional societies and economies that included imported slave labor and distinct forms of local government. (Colonization and Settlement: 1585-1763)

Standard 18 Economic expansion and the conquest of indigenous and Mexican territory spurred the agricultural and industrial growth of the United States; led to increasing regional, economic and ethnic divisions; and inspired multiple reform movements. (Expansion and Reform: 1792-1861)

Standard 19 Regional tensions around economic development, slavery, territorial expansion, and governance resulted in a civil war and a period of Reconstruction that led to the abolition of slavery, a more powerful federal government, a renewed push into indigenous nations’ territory and continuing conflict over racial relations. (Civil War and Reconstruction: 1850-1877)

Standard 20 As the United States shifted from its agrarian roots into an industrial and global power, the rise of big business, urbanization and immigration led to institutionalized racism, ethnic and class conflict, and new efforts at reform. (Development of an industrial United States: 1870-1920)
Yes, our country's mistakes must be acknowledged, or we are doomed to repeat them. Still these new standards raise the question: what is the story that our public education system will inculcate into the next generation? Is the United States an oppressive and racist society where most people are victims of economic injustice with a future of despair? Will American exceptionalism be replaced by "leading from behind" and "apology tours?"

Or is the United States like the city upon a hill, looked to by the rest of the world as a land of opportunity? When the torch is passed to the next generation, will our public schools prepare them to "pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty?"

Here is the official notice of the hearing.

See Education Liberty Watch and this blog for updates on the new social studies standards, and the Minnesota Department of Education for detailed information on the standards.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Republican Party is dead. Long live the Republican Party.


The defeat of Mitt Romney for President and the reelection of Barack Obama, on the heels of the 2008 defeat of John McCain, preceded by the popular vote defeat of George W. Bush in 2004, has finally convinced me that the Grand Old Party is not so grand anymore.

The Republican Party is in need of some creative destruction. Minnesota Republicans are leading the way in this evolutionary process, even in the face of powerful opposition from their own party. In 2008, supporters of Texas Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX14) elbowed their way into the Minnesota precinct caucuses like a couple of Obama party crashers, much to the chagrin of longtime activists.

In 2012, Minnesota Paul supporters turned from party crashers into the party planners.

Led by Marianne Stebbins, the Minnesota delegation to the Republican National Convention voted 33 of its 40 votes for Ron Paul. "I don’t think Mitt Romney is a strong candidate," said Stebbins in the Eagan Patch. "He represents old ideas and what the party has stood for over the last couple of decades, which is not necessarily what the voters want."

It's not just a small group of Ron Paul gadflies who are working for change. Minnesota, Land of 10,000 Taxes, is also home to the Minnesota Liberty Caucus. numerous TEA Party groups, bloggers, Atlas Shrugged book and movie groups, and even small groups of BPOU activists meeting at social events publicized on Facebook.

They are disillusioned at big business joining the Democrats and labor unions in lobbying for ever more government spending. Some Republicans declined to campaign for the Marriage Amendment and either voted No or abstained (which are both counted as "No" votes). Local (now syndicated) radio commentator Jason Lewis was one of the first so-called conservatives to publicly question our country's long and expensive military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The labels of Republican and Democrat, or even conservative/no-new-taxes and liberal/progressive/tax-the-rich, are largely meaningless in this brave new political world. The real line in the sand separates libertarians and statists, those who promote liberty and equal opportunity versus those who believe in elite, bureaucratic government control and equal outcomes. These are issues that can challenge traditional party loyalties.

As Kurt Bills pointed out in his statesmanlike concession speech, Republicans must espouse its messages to voters that it has traditionally conceded to the Democrats. "If we don't become the party of addition and multiplication, we will become the party of subtraction and division."

To quote Thomas Paine, "These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph."

Republicans have a lot of work and soul-searching to do if they want to avoid becoming a permanent minority party.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Not optimal


The 2012 campaigns came to an end on Election Day, in a stunning victory for Democrats, and in disbelief for Republicans.

The day began with reports of heavy voter turnout with few problems at the polls. At the Minnesota GOP Victory Party at the Bloomington Hilton, the evening began with cautious optimism. The parking lot was full to overflowing by 7:00 p.m., with television satellite trucks stationed on the south side of the hotel. Activists admitted the possibility of losing the majority in the Minnesota Senate, but expected to retain control of the House. They were hopeful for at least a slim Electoral College win for Mitt Romney, with fingers crossed.

Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, who ran unopposed for reelection, hosted a hospitality suite with his family and Chester, the family bulldog and mascot of the self-proclaimed Hennepin County Taxpayer Watchdog. The suite became the unofficial headquarters for SD44 activists, where they monitored the election returns via cable TV and a rather flakey WiFi connection, while munching on popcorn, party mix, and yes, "puppy chow."


The SD48 hospitality room, really a conference room, was standing room only with candidates and activists and the requisite TV displaying election coverage.

At his hospitality suite, U.S. Senate candidate Kurt Bills greeted a steady stream of supporters, as his campaign staff hovered over a laptop computer. I spent a few minutes with Bills communications manager David Strom before the candidate gave the nod, and then led his entourage downstairs to the main ballroom to deliver a gracious concession speech while encouraging the party faithful to stay engaged to fight in 2014.



Chris Fields, who challenged Democrat Keith Ellison in the Fifth U.S. Congressional District, admonished Republicans to hold elected officials at all levels accountable by continuing to discuss campaign issues like the economy and government spending. Receiving over 25% of the vote in the Fifth, Fields asserted that Republicans achieved a new credibility in the historically-Democrat district.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. —Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Poll watching

"One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors." —Plato

Today is Election Day. Get out to vote!

Before you vote, review the Election Integrity Watch Action Plan, and if you see something, say something. To report any suspicious activity at your polling place, call 877-602-WATCH.

After you vote, share your voting story with Minnesota Public Radio News at their special web page.

After the polls close at 8:00 p.m., you can watch the results come in at any of several election watch parties, or hunker down at home in front of the TV. If you want to follow certain races closely, try the MinnPost Live Election Results Dashboard, which you can view from an Internet-connected computer or mobile device. The official results will be posted at the Minnesota Secretary of State website. There is a dubious report circulating that Secretary of State Mark Ritchie is hoping for a 150% voter turnout to defeat the Voter ID amendment.

Over the weekend, I was encouraged by the turnout at a Saturday morning campaign literature drop and Sunday afternoon phone bank shift. There were so many volunteers scheduled for phone bank shifts that all of the calling stations were full, so they were buying cell phones to enable even more calls. People also stopped by to pick up campaign lawn signs. Minnesota visits on Sunday by vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan and yesterday by presidential candidate son Josh Romney have Republican activists energized and hopeful for today's elections.

Monday, November 05, 2012

DFL running scared?

By David Faith, sd44gop.com

Over the last three days, I've received no fewer than three expensive glossy mailers paid for by the DFL attacking David Gaither. These mailers are the worst sort of political trash. They feature an unflattering screenshot of David apparently laughing and juxtapose it with a series of slanders, including (I'm not making this up) that he wants old people to starve. They are premised on the sad, tired DFL argument that only the central government can accomplish anything and that if, like Gaither, you believe government should live within its means then you must not care about the needy. They are premised on belief that only central government can help people, and that local governments, communities and private organizations don't exist. They are premised on the belief that rather than empowering people to help themselves we should treat Minnesotans as helpless sheep, powerless without the DFL shepherd.

Yet in a way, I was actually glad to receive these mailers because they told me something very important. David Gaither has the DFL running scared. There are a lot of tight races in Minnesota and the DFL would not be spending massively in Senate District 44 unless they thought there was a very good chance that David Gaither can defeat DFL incumbent Terri Bonoff. Gaither could be the key vote to defeating Gov. Mark Dayton's plan to make Minnesota the highest-taxed state in the nation, and the DFL is willing to to dig deep into their coffers to keep him out of the Senate. I think you measure a man by his enemies. David Gaither has made an enemy of the DFL money machine. That should tell you everything you need to know about his candidacy.

Let's get out there and elect David Gaither to the State Senate!

David Faith is Vice Chair at Large of the SD44 Republicans. This article originally appeared on sd44gop.com.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Trick or treat?


Looking at this direct mailed campaign lit piece, you might think that Rep. John Benson (DFL-Minnetonka) has been endorsed by the popular former Congressman Jim Ramstad (R-MN3). Just look at that nice photo of the two shaking hands, under the headline that calls Benson "The Right Choice for Minnetonka and Plymouth." The word "right" is even underlined, in case you didn't get the hint.

At the League of Women Voters candidate forum, Benson said, "I have been endorsed by two very important and highly respected Republican politicians: a former Republican governor and a former long-term U.S. Congressman."

Although a picture is worth a thousand words, nowhere on the lit piece does it actually say that Ramstad, who has retired from partisan battles, has endorsed Rep. Benson. At the forum, Benson did not say which Republican former long-term U.S. Congressman endorsed him. When the campaign of Benson's challenger, Mark Stefan, asked Ramstad for clarification, here is what he replied via e-mail:

To Whom It May Concern:

I want to set the record straight that I have not endorsed State Rep. John Benson.

Sincerely,

Jim Ramstad
Member of Congress
1991-2009


The DFL legislators on this side of town are sure working hard to look like Republicans, at least until the Legislature is actually called into session. I wonder how many voters will fall for this trick-or-treat.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A time for choosing

Kurt Bills, the Republican endorsed candidate for U.S. Senate, sent the following message to supporters. It is directed squarely at those Republicans who either stayed home on Election Day, or used their vote to "send a message" or "teach a lesson" to the Republican party "establishment," for endorsing the "wrong" candidate.

Elections have consequences. With Gov. Mark "Tax The Rich" Dayton and two liberal U.S. Senators later, how did that work out for ya?

I would add to Bills's commentary the practice of certain former Republican elected officials to undermine the candidacies of Republican-endorsed candidates by publicly endorsing their DFL opponents. The First Amendment applies to these members of the old guard as much as to any other American, but such a public repudiation of the party is also a betrayal to those of us who still work to advance Republican values.

If you have issues with the Republican Party, and many of us do, fine, next election cycle, run for delegate in your precinct, fight for changes to the platform, work hard for the candidate of your choice. But days before Election Day, it is a time for choosing. Vote next Tuesday, but please don't sabotage our fight from within.

In June 2009 Norm Coleman conceded his Senate race to comedian Al Franken.

He lost the race, after 6 months of recounts and legal battles, by 312 votes.

In December 2010, Tom Emmer conceded his race for Governor after a similar recount, losing by fewer than 9000 votes.

Both races have something in common much more important than the fact that they ended after recounts: they ended with extremely liberal politicians taking power entirely due to the defection of Republicans to third-party candidates.

In a very real way, Democrats didn’t win those elections as much as Republicans chose to lose them.

In my mind, that is shameful. Do any of the Republicans who voted for Dean Barkley or Tom Horner really believe our state and our country are better off with Al Franken and Mark Dayton as Senator and Governor?

The reasons for some Republicans to defect from Coleman and Emmer are a mirror image of each other. Some Republicans expressed dissatisfaction with Coleman because he was not conservative enough for their taste; in Emmer’s case, others thought he was too conservative.

They were looking for the “Goldilocks” candidate in the race, and voted for a third party candidate or stayed home. In the Emmer race, former Republican Tom Horner garnered over 250,000 votes, more than 25 times the margin by which Emmer lost. Not all those votes were disaffected Republicans, of course, but too many of them were.

The results are stark: Minnesota didn’t get a centrist, “goldilocks” Senator or Governor. They were saddled, instead, with two of the most liberal politicians in the country representing them in Washington and St Paul.

Republicans who didn’t vote for their Republican candidates are responsible for the passage of Obamacare, a bill that would have been stopped had Norm Coleman been in the Senate.

I am not one to believe that we should abandon our principles and simply adopt the Party line. Many of you recall that I am the Republican Senate candidate today because I ran an insurgent campaign from outside the Party structure.

I firmly believe it is our responsibility to fight within the Party to ensure it represents our principles. Ronald Reagan was an insurgent, and eventually won out against the Rockefeller Republicans after nearly two decades of work in the trenches.

During that time Reagan was both a loyal Republican and a principled warrior for his cause.

That is what each of us needs to be today. Day in, day out each of us needs to work tirelessly to persuade other Republicans to our side when we disagree; and day in, day out we need to fight to defeat Democrats who are pushing policies which if left unchecked will bankrupt our country and undermine the constitutional foundations of our country.

Ronald Reagan hit it on the nose when he declared: “The person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally — not a 20 percent traitor.”

That is why I am voting for a Republican straight ticket this Election Day…and why you should, too.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Generation R

By David Faith, sd44gop.com

If you checked out the Star Tribune’s website this weekend you probably noticed two things. One, in what has to amount to the least surprising development of the entire Presidential campaign, the Star Tribune editorial board endorsed Barack Obama. Two, and far more interesting, was an article about how young people coming of age during the Obama Presidency are becoming more and more fiscally conservative. Indeed, Republican identification among young voters is the highest it has been in many years.

This corresponds exactly with my anecdotal observations over this election season. One of the most exciting things about this year’s election is the number of young people getting involved in helping out our Republican candidates. If you’ve been coming out to meet the candidates in Senate District 44, to fundraisers, to parades, and to other volunteer events of all kinds, you’ve met a new generation of Republican activists that are changing the political calculus of the State of Minnesota.

And it’s no wonder. Our Republican candidates are the only ones in the room speaking to young people like adults and addressing the fiscal mess they’re going to inherit. A central theme of the campaigns of SD44 State Senate candidate David Gaither, and our State House candidates Sarah Anderson and Mark Stefan, is that the current generation’s spending binge has to come to end if we’re going to give the next generation a fair shake at the same opportunities we enjoyed.

Young people are among the reasons that in addition to returning Republican majorities to the State Legislature, we have a real shot of helping to elect a Republican President of the United States. The latest Rasmussen polls show Mitt Romney drawing to within 5% of Barack Obama in Minnesota, the closest we’ve seen the race in the entire election season. What’s more, the momentum is clearly in Romney’s favor, having improved an astonishing 5% just since October 18.

At our recent SD44 gala we had the tremendous pleasure of welcoming former Senator Rudy Boschwitz to make the keynote address. Among his observations was the fact that Ronald Reagan won 49 states in 1984 without once blaming Jimmy Carter for the fiscal mess Reagan inherited. The Senator noted, with wry humor, that he was embarrassed to say what the 50th state had been. It was Minnesota. We have an historic opportunity to turn Minnesota around for Republicans with a message of limited government and personal liberty that resonates especially with the young. We will not waste that opportunity. We’re going to win this for our candidates, for our children, and for ourselves.

David Faith is Vice Chair at Large of the SD44 Republicans. This post originally appeared on sd44gop.com.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Political parties


As regular readers of North Star Liberty know, my favorite part of politics is the political parties. I don't mean the partisan political organizations, I mean the social events that those groups conduct!

From attending Republican election night parties, Red, Right and Brew happy hours, SD44 PUBlicans happy hours, Minnesota Organization of Bloggers events, senate district fundraisers, candidate meet-and-greets, and other such events, I have learned that Republican activists are well-informed, intelligent, passionate, interesting, successful, and just plan fun to hobnob with.

SD44 had its most successful event in years last Thursday, a fundraiser at the Medina Golf and Country Club. The attendance was great. They had a silent auction and a "wine pull." The food and drink were excellent. The men cleaned up and the women were dressed to the nines. They attracted great speakers like U.S. Senator Rudy Boschwitz (a district resident), Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Zellers, Hennepin County Commissioner (and district resident) Jeff Johnson, and of course local candidates David Gaither, Sarah Anderson, and Mark Stefan. (In the auction, I won an American flag and four dozen oatmeal M&M cookies freshly baked by Rep. Anderson.)

Also this year, SD44 has held happy hours at various venues around the district. You never know who or how many will show up, but you can usually count on district treasurer Geoff Shipsides to save a spot for the group. I attended events at Jake's in Plymouth and The Muni in Wayzata. They were great opportunities to meet other Republicans to talk politics and other common interests. At Wednesday's event I met a supporter and friend of Marc Berris, a candidate for Hennepin County judge who strongly endorsed him and handed out his campaign cards for good measure.

Once in a while, campaigning can almost seem like a party. The Pawlenty bus tour in 2006 was a fantastic experience. So was blogging at the 2008 Republican National Convention in Saint Paul, where I met U.S. Senators Fred Thompson and Jim DeMint.

Election night parties can be exciting, and of course they are a lot more fun when your candidates win than when they don't. I enjoy being a part of history in the making, along with the media, candidates, and activists on election night. But win, lose, or draw, I am always proud to stand with my fellow activists, knowing that we did our best, and looking ahead to the next campaign.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

If in doubt, vote early

Minnesota Ballot CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 by bicyclemark
Written by David Faith, SD44gop.com

In 2008, roughly 30% of voters nationally voted before Election Day.  One of the less appreciated factors in Barack Obama’s sweeping victory in 2008 was that Democrats dominated early balloting.  In virtually every state, including Minnesota, early voters tended to be Democratic voters.  This was not an accident.  It was a core part of the President’s campaign strategy, and of Democrats’ larger strategy to get out their vote.  The reasoning behind this strategy is blindingly obvious and borne out by both common sense and statistical analysis.  All other things being equal, people are more likely to vote if they have a month or more to accomplish it than if they have to remember to do it on a particular day.  

Voter turnout is the key to winning elections, and this is particularly true when you’re talking about state and local races in swing districts.  In state legislative elections just 1 or 2% difference in turnout could make the difference between sending small government fiscal conservatives like David Gaither, Mark Stefan, and Sarah Anderson to St. Paul, vs. sending DFL candidates that will rubber stamp Mark Dayton’s plans to make Minnesota the highest taxed state in the union like current DFL senator Terri Bonoff.

If you care enough to vote, you should care enough to vote early if there is any scenario you can imagine that would cause you to be unable to vote on Election Day due to absence from the precinct, illness or disability, religious observance, or service as an election judge in another precinct (you will have to certify to one of those four reasons).

This election is likely to be close, very close.  Consider this.  The incumbent DFL representative in SD44, John Benson, won his 2010 election by only 595 votes out of 17,399 cast, a margin of just over 3%.  It is not at all hard to imagine that just over 3% of voters had something come up that kept them from the polls.  A last-minute business trip?  A family emergency?  Health problems?  Life is complicated and unpredictable, and even determined voters can have something come up that takes priority.

I’ll say it again.  If in doubt, vote early.  Fortunately, it’s easy.  In Minnesota you can cast an absentee ballot in two ways.  First, you can send in an application to receive an absentee ballot by mail.  The form and instructions are available at the Secretary of State’s website.  Second, you can vote in person at your local city hall, or at the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis, during regular business hours.  Some locations have extended and weekend hours.  Details for Minnetonka can be found at the City of Minnetonka website.  For Plymouth, visit the city of Plymouth website.

David Faith is Vice Chair At Large of the SD44 Republicans. This post is cross-posted from SD44gop.org.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fact checking Terri Bonoff

By Janet Schutz

Fact checking has been in the news quite a bit lately. I decided to do some of my own fact checking on the SD 44 Senate race. I served for two terms on the Wayzata School Board, so I do have a bit of an inside view to see through a big hole in one of Terri Bonoff’s claims.

DFL Senator Bonoff boasts that a bill she co-authored “allowed the Wayzata School District to expand without raising taxes.” That sounds really good. Too bad the statement doesn’t quite meet the fact-checking standard.

This bill provides early eligibility to the Wayzata School District for Alternative Facilities financing (Statute 123B.59). Wayzata can now issue debt for certain maintenance projects and charge the taxpayer for those debt payments without first getting taxpayer approval. With multiple buildings that need to be maintained, the bill is a good thing for the school district. Alt Facilities monies, however, cannot be used to expand.

Wayzata Schools is in fact expanding its elementary space. But they’re doing it via capital lease levy financing (Statute 126C.4), and would have done it regardless of the outcome of the law to which Terri refers. It’s also true that they are able to build without raising current levels of taxes. That’s because as old debt rolls off, they are replacing it with new capital levy obligations. It is a debt structure carefully designed to minimize taxpayer impact. This is due to years of prudent management on the part of Wayzata Schools’ administration and school boards.

I take pride in the history, success and AAA bond rating of the Wayzata School district. I am disappointed that Terri Bonoff has chosen to use the Wayzata School District’s accomplishments as a tool for her own political gain. I expect more from our elected officials.

This post originally ran on the Plymouth Patch as a letter to the editor on October 23, 2012.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

An offer we can't refuse

Click image to zoom in

"As government expands, liberty contracts." —Ronald Reagan

Light rail transit is rolling down the tracks to a neighborhood near you. As far as the Metropolitan Council and Gov. Mark Dayton are concerned, taxpayers and those who live in the trains' path have three options:
  • Lead
  • Follow
  • Get out of the way
Three lawsuits against the Central Corridor LRT line illustrate this.

When Minnesota Public Radio complained that light rail trains rumbling down Cedar Street in front of its downtown Saint Paul lobby doors could disrupt its broadcast and recording studios, the Metropolitan Council refused to re-route the tracks. When MPR asked for a spring-steel floating slab system that has proven to reduce noise and vibration from a similar transit route in Basel, Switzerland, Met Council Chairman Peter Bell said, "I think MPR does an excellent job in news and classical music. Engineering light-rail systems is not their area of expertise." MPR's subsequent lawsuit against the Met Council was dismissed. A less-expensive rubber-based floating slab system will be installed, which the experts at the Met Council assure MPR will work just fine.

When the University of Minnesota balked at the prospect of vibration and electromagnetic interference from light rail trains disrupting sensitive laboratories through the heart of its campus, they proposed an alternate route on the northern outskirts of campus. When the Met Council declined to reroute the tracks, the U sued. The University dropped its lawsuit in an agreement with the Met Council that includes mitigation measures that the Met Council assures the U will work just fine.

When the Saint Paul NAACP complained that potential negative effects of the line on residents and businesses have not been adequately analyzed, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman's office commented, "I'm not sure it's inevitable bad things will happen." The NAACP's lawsuit against the Met Council, the Federal Transit Administration, and the federal Department of Transportation is still pending.

Governor Dayton is a big supporter of the proposed Southwest Light Rail Transit route. Just don't confuse him with the facts.

When Gov. Dayton's own Department of Employment and Economic Development rated the proposed Southwest Light Rail Transit last out of twelve metro area projects for grant money (see chart), Gov. Dayton ignored his own agency's scorecard and awarded the proposed Southwest Light Rail Transit a $2 million DEED grant.

The Southwest Transitway Draft Environmental Impact Statement lists "severe" noise impacts "in a number of residential locations...[due to] high anticipated speeds of [sic] or light rail vehicle-mounted audible warning signal (bell) use at some stations and crossings;" vibration; noise and vibration from freight trains re-routed to make way for the light rail; up to hundreds of property acquisitions depending on the final route; and safety and security impacts.

I wouldn't bet against the Southwest LRT getting built due to environmental, noise, vibration, or safety concerns from property owners and residents. Light rail transit in the Twin Cities metro area is an offer from the Met Council we can't — or won't be allowed to — refuse.



Friday, October 12, 2012

Republicans hope, but don't change

By: Peter Schiff
August 17, 2012
 
For much of the past few generations, the debate over balancing the federal budget has been a central feature of every presidential campaign. But over time, the goalposts have moved. As the amount of red ink has grown steadily larger, the suggested time frames to restore balance have gotten increasingly longer, while the suggested cuts in government spending have gotten increasingly shallower. In recent years, talk of balancing the budget gave way to vague promises such as "cutting the deficit in half in five years." In the current campaign, however, it appears as if the goalposts have been moved so far that they are no longer in the field of play. I would argue that they are completely out of the stadium.

It says a great deal about where we are that the symbolic budget plan proposed last year by Congressman Paul Ryan, the newly minted vice presidential nominee, has created such outrage among democrats and caution among republicans. The Obama campaign warns that the Ryan budget is a recipe for national disaster that will pad the coffers of the wealthy while damning the majority of Americans to perpetual poverty. The plan is apparently so radical that even the Romney campaign, while embracing the messenger, is distancing itself from the message (it appears that Romney wants to bathe himself in the aura of fresh thinking without actually offering any fresh thoughts). In interview after interview, both Romney and Ryan refuse to discuss the details of Ryan's budget while slamming Obama for his callous "cuts" in Medicare spending.

(It is extremely disheartening that the top point of contention in the campaign this week is each candidate's assertion that their presidency could be the most trusted not to cut Medicare. Mindful of vulnerabilities among swing state retirees, Republicans have also taken Social Security cuts off the table as well. What hope do we have of reigning in government spending when even supposedly conservative Republicans refuse to consider cuts in the largest and fastest growing federal programs?)

So what was the Ryan Budget's radical departure from the status quo that has caused such uproar? If enacted today, the Ryan budget would so drastically upend the fiscal picture that the U.S. federal budget would come into balance in just... wait for it.... 27 years! This is because the Ryan budget doesn't actually cut anything. At no point in Ryan's decades long budget timeline does he ever suggest that the government spend less than it had the year before. He doesn't touch a penny in current Social Security or Medicare outlays, nor in the bloated defense budget. His apocalypse inducing departure comes from trying to limit the rate of increase in federal spending to "just" 3.1% annually. This is below the 4.3% rate of increase that is currently baked into the budget, and farther below what we would likely see if Obama's priorities were adopted.

Because there are no actual cuts in his budget, Ryan hopes that fiscal balance can be restored by 2040 only because he assumes that we achieve returns to the annual economic growth that are equal to levels averaged for much of the last century. In other words, he sees slow growth of the last four years as the aberration, not the new normal. As with all other government projections, this is on the extreme optimistic end of the spectrum. In truth, there is nothing on the horizon that should make anyone think these growth figures will be achieved. America's crushing debt, burdensome regulations, political paralysis, and nagging demographic problems bode poorly for the return to trend line growth anytime soon. More likely, based on the speed towhich republicans will shrink from popular backlash, is that the "cuts" that Ryan proposes will be abandoned as soon as they prove to be politically unpopular.

In fact, among his other overly-optimistic assumptions are that the unemployment rate falls to 4% by 2015 and an unprecedented 2.8% by 2021, another real estate boom begins almost immediately, and there is an average inflation and ten-year treasury rate for the next ten years of 2.04 and 4.15 respectively. These are assumptions that would make even the most rabid economic cheerleaders sit on their pompoms. Despite these pollyannish economic growth and record low unemployment projections, Ryan still assumes interest rates will remain near historic lows and that none of the cheap money showered onto the economy will ever find its way into the CPI. In other words, it's the economic equivalent of winning the lottery twice in a row while failing to account for the higher taxes that accompany such good fortune.

Like all other government forecasters, Ryan never considers how rising interest costs on the many trillions of dollars of outstanding government debt holdthe potential to completely upend budget projections. For more on this, see my recent commentary "The Real Fiscal Cliff."

More likely, the continued accumulation of unsustainable levels of debt under the Ryan plan will eventually cause our creditors to lose confidence in our ability to repay. It will cause interest to spike, the economy to tank, unemployment to soar, spending to rise, revenues to decline, and the budget deficit to spiral out of control. Rising interest rates hold the potential to spark a sovereign debt and currency crisis that willrender the entire plan irrelevant anyway.

While I appreciate that Ryan has the courage to take a position at the vanguard of his party in the campaign for fiscal responsibility, the modesty of his plan is just the latest reminder of how utterly divorced from reality Washington politicians remain. Like all of his brethren, Ryan is pinning his budget battling plans on the pain free "grow your way out of it plan." But as long the government consumes so much of the nation's productivity, the conditions to create that growth will never occur. Hope is not a strategy.

Peter Schiff is an author and the CEO & Chief Global Strategist of Euro Pacific Capital. Originally posted on the website of Euro Pacific Capital.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Republican majorities missed an opportunity

By Phil Krinkie

Regardless of how policy makers would like to characterize the session, there is a phrase that comes to mind by American author H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
“Nothing is more expensive than a missed opportunity.”
The 2012 legislative session was disappointing not only for what they did, but also for what they failed to do. For the first time in 38 years both the House and Senate were controlled by Republicans who ran on a promise to reduce the size of government and provide tax relief to hard working Minnesotans. In January Republicans gathered at the State Capitol to present an “aggressive” reform agenda which called for tax relief and government reform. Early in the session the budget forecast brought news of a billion dollar budget surplus. This should have cleared the way for swift progress and a speedy conclusion to the session, yet it took the conservative majority three months to send their first tax reform bill to Gov. Dayton.

Rather than working to enact the priorities that got them elected; Republican legislators let Gov. Dayton set the agenda and wasted time on meaningless hearings, meetings with Vikings owner Zygi Wilf, and approving a long list of public pork projects.

In the end GOP lawmakers failed to accomplish any of their major goals and succumbed to Gov. Dayton’s desire to increase the state’s debt and approve a taxpayer funded billion dollar sports palace.

Phil Krinkie is the President of the Taxpayers League of Minnesota.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sarah Anderson: proven leader

Written by David Faith, SD44gop.org

House District 44A (Plymouth) has the good fortune to be represented by Sarah Anderson, an experienced legislator with a record of standing up for small business, taxpayers, and pragmatic solutions to our state’s problems.  A legislator’s voting record says a lot about them.  Anyone can offer platitudes that they think voters want to hear, but at the end of the day we’re electing someone that will actually make the right call on legislation.  I’ve taken a hard look at Sarah Anderson’s voting record, and what I’ve found is a pragmatic conservative that has repeatedly made the right call for the people of her district.  Let’s take a look.

Taxes

Just this last session Sarah voted for business property tax relief, a common sense measure to reduce overhead for small Minnesota businesses at a time when they’re struggling with a weak economy.  This measure passed the House of Representatives with broad support, largely because most legislators recognized that Minnesota has become a comparatively hostile environment for business.  But Mark Dayton vetoed the measure.  This is only the latest pro business, pro taxpayer measure she’s supported.

Sarah has repeatedly voted against DFL measures to raise virtually every category of taxes: income taxes, gas taxes, alcohol taxes, & surtaxes and surcharges on everything from car registration to certain types of interest.  She’s voted to make Minnesota one of the many states that welcome our nation’s heroes by ending the tax on military retired pay.   But she’s not just a doctrinaire conservative.  When a tax cut proposal doesn’t make good fiscal sense, such a symbolic temporary gas tax holiday proposed a few years back, she votes against it.  Sarah’s record is of someone who believes in taking less from Minnesotans while at the same time being responsible about the state’s finances.

Role of Government

Lots of conservatives talk about limiting the power of government and returning it to the people, but Sarah has actually made the difficult votes necessary to achieve that objective.  She took the gutsy and politically risky stance of voting against the Vikings stadium measure, not because she has anything against the football team, but because she believes on a principled level that it is not the proper role of government to finance vast entertainment projects.  That is the kind of principled leadership we need.

Sarah’s record is of someone who seeks not only small government, but responsible government.  If you look at her votes on budget issues, she has consistently voted to slow the growth of government.  But at the same time she’s fought for proper financing of those government programs that are genuinely necessary.  For instance, she voted to use unexpectedly good tax revenues from hard-working Minnesotans to pay back funds borrowed from the state’s education funds.  The DFL defeated the measure, preferring to keep those funds available to finance other government boondoggles.

Finally, Sarah has voted to stand up for individual freedom against government regulation in countless specific ways.  To name just two, she voted to treat Minnesotans as adults and let them purchase fireworks, and she voted to protect peoples’ right to use deadly force to defend themselves from criminal attacks.  These measures are important, because it shows a commitment to an individual-centered society, where people are given the freedom and responsibility to make decisions about their own lives rather than have the government make those decisions for them.

Voter ID

Sarah is a longtime supporter of voter ID, and her voting record reflects that.  She repeatedly voted to require photo identification to verify the identity of voters, despite the inevitable Mark Dayton vetoes, and helped to get the proposed amendment onto the ballot.  She recognizes that the only way to detect voter fraud, let alone stop it, is to have in place some method of verifying that people casting ballots are actually registered voters in the district where they are voting.  Asking people to collect a free government-issued ID is a small price to pay for integrity, and we need people like Sarah that are willing to stand up for voters.

Sarah has proven herself standing up for us.  It’s time we did the same for her.  If you are in 44A please make sure that you vote.  If you’re at all unsure about being able to vote on Election Day, then take advantage of early voting.  Have a plan.  We need to keep Sarah in the Legislature.

David Faith is Vice Chair At Large of the SD44 Republicans. This post originally appeared on SD44gop.org.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

SD44 announces gala on October 18

SD44 cordially invites you to its "Take Back Our Country" gala event, Thursday, October 18 at the Medina Country Club in Medina. Here's a chance for us parade walkin', door knockin', lit droppin', sign poundin', similin' and dialin' GOTV callin' volunteers to clean up, dress up, and show up to hobnob with our fellow Republican activists and candidates and recharge for the final three weeks of the campaign. You don't have to live in the district to attend — and we won't (necessarily) be checking photo IDs at the door! Click the image for details.

You can save $10 by buying an advance ticket at www.sd44gop.org. It's a fundraiser, so please bring your wallet. It's your patriotic duty! Be there, aloha.


Thursday, October 04, 2012

League of Women Voters SD44 forum liveblog

Forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters, Plymouth City Hall, October 4, 2012, 7:00-9:00 pm. Candidates participating:
  • SD44 Sen. Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka), incumbent
  • David Gaither (Republican)
  • SD44A Rep. Sarah Anderson (R-Plymouth), incumbent
  • Audrey Britton (DFL)
  • SD44B Rep. John Benson (DFL-Minnetonka), incumbent
  • Mark Stefan (Republican)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Why Legislative elections matter

Written by David Faith, SD44gop.org

Amidst the drama and 24/7 coverage of a Presidential campaign, it can be easy to lose track of state and local races. People have a tendency to think that bigger means more important and the federal government is obviously bigger than Minnesota’s.

State politics is poorly covered by the media and there are many otherwise well-informed citizens that couldn’t tell you who their state representative is. This is a problem because state and local governments have enormous power over citizens living in their jurisdictions. This is a problem because the state of Minnesota has a governor champing at the bit to raise your taxes dramatically in order to fund an enormous and likely-permanent expansion of state government. This is a problem because the only thing standing in that governor’s way is a Republican legislature.

An examination of the DFL platform and the governor’s agenda reveals exactly what they plan for Minnesota. Let’s take a look at just a few key elements.
  • Regulation – The DFL’s official party platform shows an astonishing faith in government regulation of private activity. It endorses “reasonable” regulations of “fair competition,” regulations of prices, environmental regulations, regulations of labor, regulations of businesses, and regulation of investment. It endorses requiring more government inspections, more government licensing, and even more government supervision of the election process. The platform never says precisely what “reasonable” regulations entail, but you can be certain that “reasonable” means “more.” This is despite the fact that we are already living in the most regulated society in American history. To cite just one example, in the 1950’s less than 5% of occupations required a license from the government. Now people in nearly 30% if occupations must obtain permission from the government before they can even practice their trade. If you think we should turn more power over to government officials to decide what we can and cannot do then the DFL platform is for you.
  • Taxes – Mark Dayton is famous for being perhaps the most pro-tax governor in America. He has repeatedly advocated raising taxes and in the last legislative session vetoed a Republican effort to provide moderate tax relief to Minnesota businesses struggling with the comparatively unfriendly tax environment in this state. Unusually even for a Democrat he has waxed poetic about his love of taxes, calling them “the lubricant for the machine of democracy” and the “fuel of our social engine.” He flippantly declared “Read my lips, tax the rich.” Last year he proposed raising state taxes to 10.95%, the highest in the nation, on “rich” folks making the Donald-Trump-like sum of $85,000/year. Make no mistake, Dayton’s views on taxes reflect the DFL’s platform of “progressive” taxation, and it is only the steadfastness of our Republican legislators that has prevented him from enacting his tax policies so far.
  • Religious Freedom – The DFL platform mentions separation of church and state twice, but curiously does not refer to the general constitutional rule preventing an establishment of religion under state authority. Instead the DFL endorses “separation of church and state” with regards to particular pet issues, including right to privacy, school curriculum and educational funding. To translate, the left has historically used “right to privacy” to advance their views on social issues, so “separation of church and state” in respect to privacy means that the DFL wants churches to butt out of social issues and to force churches to fund family planning and other practices that worshipers consider contrary to their religious beliefs. “Separation of church and state” as to education means that religious viewpoints are not welcome in schools and that the state should discriminate against religious schools by denying them, and only them, access to state funds generally available for other educational institutions (including other private institutions). The DFL platform also advocates taxing certain property of tax-exempt (often religious) organizations. Unsurprisingly, one thing you will not find in the DFL platform is an endorsement of the free exercise clause of the United States Constitution, which guarantees religious freedom against governmental interference.
  • Second Amendment – The DFL platform advocates “reasonable firearm policies.” Three guesses what that means, and the first two don’t count.
Minnesota’s legislative elections this year matter, perhaps more than ever, because there is a clear distinction between the Dayton/DFL agenda and that advocated by our Republican legislature. If you want to live in a state with low taxes, fewer regulations, freedom of conscious and the right to bear arms, then it is vital that you get out there and support your state legislative candidates by giving of your time, your money, or at the very least, your vote.

David Faith is Vice Chair At Large of the SD44 Republicans. This post originally appeared on SD44gop.org.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mark Stefan could tip the balance in the House

Written by David Faith, SD44gop.org

The Minnesota House of Representatives is up for grabs this election. And the stakes couldn’t be higher. Just last week, DFL Governor Mark Dayton delivered a speech re-confirming three key points: (1) that raising taxes is the “acid test” (his words) of his entire administration, (2) that he is disgusted with attitudes that gave rise to the tea party, and (3) that the only thing standing in his way is the Republican legislature.

Mark Stefan is the GOP-endorsed challenger battling to topple incumbent DFLer and reliable Dayton-man John Benson in House District 44B. Stefan is in many ways the ideal candidate to bring the message of economic liberty. He’s seen the economy from the virtually every perspective, having worked variously as a small businessman, consultant, and employee. He understands how budgets work and decries the accounting tricks, such as transferring funds from education accounts to cover general expenditures, which have characterized DFL governance. His financial stance is simple and concrete: (1) A real balanced budget (no new gimmicks); and (2) a tax and regulatory environment friendly to small business.

Stefan understands that 75% of new jobs come out of small business. He’s seen how government red tape can squash fresh business ideas in their cradle. He’s seen punitive taxes and bureaucracy hurt not only business owners, but also the people they employ. Employees, after all, are the first to suffer when a business simply can’t afford the continued costs of complying with government. Anyone that has met Mark can tell you he’s committed to this race. He’s not a career politician. He’s never run for political office before. He’s in it because he genuinely believes that excessive government is creating a barrier for his children and yours and making it harder for the next generation to achieve their dreams.

Many, indeed, most House races this year will not be close. Most districts are solidly in the bag for one party or another. That means that Republicans’ ability to maintain control in the legislature and provide a counter-balance to Mark Dayton will come down to an astonishingly small number of key races in swing districts. 44B is one of those districts. Depending on which index you look at, 44B is somewhere between DFL +3 and dead even, which means it is within the margin of error under even the most pessimistic assumptions. Republicans can win here, and they’ve won here before. Mark Stefan can win this race, but he needs support. If you’re in 44B, or if you’re in a district that will not be close, one of the best things you can do this election to advance economic liberty is to support Mark Stefan in any way you can.

David Faith is Vice Chair At Large of the SD44 Republicans. This post is cross-posted from SD44gop.org.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Terri Bonoff is no "moderate"

Written by David Faith, SD44gop.org

The citizens of Senate District 44 are represented by two very different Senators. The first is the Senator voters see during the campaign season, a consummate politician that portrays herself as pragmatic and moderate. The second is the Senator that goes to Saint Paul and reliably supports the tax, spend, and regulatory agenda of the DFL. Both are named Terri Bonoff.

Terri Bonoff is not a moderate. She is a liberal activist and leading Obama fundraiser that supports higher taxes, more government, and less individual freedom. We know this by looking at her voting record, and the bills she sponsored in the state Senate. It is easy to call yourself moderate. It costs nothing, and it is good politics in a swing district where moderate voters decide elections. But words are cheap unless followed up with action. When it came to action, when it came to casting her ballot to support real legislation, Senator Bonoff has sided again and again with big government and against Minnesota taxpayers.

Let’s examine just a few concrete examples of the Bonoff record.

On raising taxes – Bonoff has repeatedly voted to raise taxes on the people of Minnesota, including measures to raise gas taxes and sales taxes at a time when many Minnesotans are already paying too much for basic goods. In the last two sessions Bonoff authored two tax bills that are especially telling:

1. A bill making it harder to get rid of “temporary” tax increases passed to fund capital improvements. The bill works by allowing taxing districts to propose a new capital project as soon as an old project, which originally justified the tax increase, expires, and put it on the ballot as a “renewal” while representing to the voters that it is not a tax increase since it is the same as the previous (supposedly temporary) levy. This avoids having to propose a new referendum asking voters for a tax increase to support each new project.

2. A bill calling for a “Tax Expenditure Advisory Commission.” For those unversed in the Orwellian newspeak of the left, “tax expenditures” is what liberals call tax cuts. Bonoff’s commission, together with its taxpayer-funded professional staff, would review tax cuts and make recommendations each legislative session about which tax cuts ought to be abolished. The bill would also cause various tax cuts to automatically expire if they are not explicitly re-authorized by the legislature every ten years.

These two Bonoff-authored bills make it absolutely clear what her philosophy is on taxes. She thinks that tax increases should be easy and subject to less scrutiny. Tax cuts, by contrast, should be hard, jealousy scrutinized and automatically terminated.

On spending – While calling on citizens to tighten their belts to pay more to the government, Bonoff has steadfastly opposed efforts to reduce the state’s own bloated expenditures. Just in the last two sessions she voted against mild budget reductions for state bureaucracies, against small decreases in the government workforce, and against repealing unaffordable expansions to the state’s already unsustainable Medicare spending. Indeed, she’s authored bills to appropriate more government money to such vital projects as purchasing park land, creating more bike paths, and reimbursing filmmakers for making movies that contribute to “heritage.”

On Voter ID – Bonoff voted against requiring the same degree of security to prevent voter fraud that every state imposes to prevent 20-year-olds from drinking. She voted against even allowing the people of Minnesota to vote on a measure that would require people to show state-issued photo identification at the polls, even if such IDs are provided for free to anyone that can’t afford it.

On education – While Bonoff has shown some willingness to experiment around the margins, such as with alternative teacher licensing, her primary solution to our education challenges has been the same one offered perennially by every Democratic politician. Throw more money into the same 19th century education system and hope for a 21st century result.

Bonoff voted against a measure that would have prevented public Universities from raising tuition more than 3-5% per year. She also opposed any reduction in taxpayer subsidies to the same Universities. Republicans have realized that squeezing the taxpayer for University funding isn’t going to help Minnesota families so long as Universities have no incentive to cut costs. Bonoff has lined up to defend the status quo.

David Faith is Vice Chair At Large of the SD44 Republicans. This post is cross-posted from SD44gop.org.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Econ 101: Klobuchar watched while misery doubled

Since Sen. Amy Klobuchar took office, the National Debt has doubled.
Since Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) took office, the National Debt doubled, unemployment doubled, and gas prices doubled.

Economics teacher and Republican Senate candidate Kurt Bills has set up a little visual aid at the Minnesota State Fair this week, to illustrate the federal spending binge. Jars of corn kernels show how the federal debt doubled on Klobuchar's watch, to over $15 trillion and counting.

national debt

Obviously to anyone but President Obama and the Democrats in the U.S. Senate, which hasn't passed a budget since April 2009, this level of debt is irresponsible and unsustainable. We must send fiscal conservatives like Bills to Washington, D.C. to stop the bleeding and quite literally save our country.

Kurt Bills and Klobuchar will debate this Thursday, August 30, 12:00 noon, at the Minnesota Public Radio booth at the Minnesota State Fair.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Primary election day

Today is Primary Election Day in Minnesota. Go to the polls today and support the candidate of your choice. To find your polling place and a sample ballot, visit mnvotes.org.

My precinct's primary ballot in SD44 has little drama. The party endorsees should win on the front page of the ballot. The back page is a little more interesting.

There are ten primary candidates for Hennepin County Commissioner in District 2, which includes Golden Valley and Medicine Lake; portions of Crystal, New Hope, and Plymouth; Northeast and North Minneapolis; and Saint Anthony. The district's former commissioner, Mark Stenglein, resigned to head the Mineapolis Downtown Council.

Rolf Erickson is the only unapologetic fiscal conservative on the county commissioner ballot. On his campaign Facebook page, Erickson says, "My work history as a former union member, a former Hennepin County employee and now as a contract property tax assessor, supervising employees, and working with local and county governments, gives me a unique insight into the internal workings of government that most career politicians do not have.

"I understand how government employees view the law makers and policy creators who define their jobs. I have struggled to administer the same types of laws that require employees to spend much of their time on busywork while the important part of the job has to be hurried along.

"I will work to simplify government and make it more efficient. I pledge to listen to county employees and I will do this with a monthly meeting where county employees will have a chance to bring forth ideas on how to improve delivery of services.

"When elected my top priorities will be:

• Public safety
• Cut the County Commissioner salary by 10% the first year.
• Maintain existing infrastructure of roads and bridges.
• Put together a joint task force to overhaul Minnesota’s property tax system.
• Use zero-based budgeting on the county budget."

Former Hennepin County Commissioner Penny Steele is one of three candidates vying to challenge the incumbent for Three Rivers Park District Commissioner in District 1. Steele proved her dedication to good government and fiscal responsibility over four terms as county commissioner.

Vote for Erickson and Steele, or similar candidates in your "down ticket" races in today's primary election to ensure that voters have clear, commonsense conservative choices in November.




Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Kurt Bills ready to give Klobuchar her econ grade



Campaign staff from Kurt Bills will be in SD44 on Wednesday to help with a lit drop and provide support to our local candidates. Please visit his website and YouTube channel, and make a generous donation to help Kurt Bills in his quest to replace "Klobanomics" with Econ 101 in Washington, D.C.

Bills, the Republican-endorsed candidate for U.S. Senate, says that the incumbent Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) has only agreed to two debates — both before Labor Day. He is suggesting a dozen or so town hall-style meetings, including several in October.

Klobuchar is sinking in her seat like a struggling student in an economics class at Rosemount High School, where Bills teaches. The voters deserve to have their Senator stand and deliver at the front of the room on the U.S. Senate's and President Obama's performance on employment, federal regulations, the national debt, and the federal budget.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Gaither: 'lanes before trains'

David Gaither, GOP-endorsed candidate for state Senate in SD44, had a great radio interview (Late Debate - 07/14/12: Jack and Ben, AM 1130 Twin Cities News Talk) a couple of weeks ago.

Gaither explained his transportation priorities in three words: "Lanes before trains." While the only two-lane stretch of I-494 creates headaches every day in SD44, Gaither's opponent, Sen. Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka) has been a prominent proponent of the Southwest Corridor light rail boondoggle project — which won't haul the commercial cargo or groceries that I-494 does. While Bonoff touts the southwest suburbs' desire to benefit from a taxpayer-funded labor train, Gaither favors measures that would improve the business climate for all Minnesota businesses.

Interestingly, Gaither asserted that he is "not running against Bonoff." Instead, he said that is running for better ideas for SD44 and the state of Minnesota. Accordingly, Gaither believes that the GOP must retain its majority in the Senate to block Gov. Mark Dayton's agenda in favor of its own. Gaither said that Bonoff voted with the DFL caucus 85% of the time during her tenure in the Senate.

Yet Gaither said that he is prepared to work with his DFL colleagues in the Senate and with Gov. Dayton. He did just that during his tenure in the Senate (2002-2005). "I don't care who gets the credit," said Gaither, "I care about getting things done."

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ten everyday activities requiring photo ID



Why not voting?

Protect your vote, protect my vote. Vote YES on the Voter ID Amendment on November 6.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

SD44 campaigns heat up

David Gaither, Hamel Rodeo Parade, July 8, 2012.

The campaigns in SD44 are in full swing and hotter than a firecracker on Independence Day. The candidates are door knocking, walking parades, and meeting and greeting at summer festivals in the district.


Businessman Mark Stefan, who is challenging current Rep. John Benson (DFL-Minnetonka), had supporters in campaign shirts at both the June 30 Music in Plymouth 5K run and the 40th annual music and fireworks event on July 4. Stefan, who worked on the campaign of state Senate candidate Norann Dillon, has traded places: now Dillon is managing his campaign.

David Gaither, who is challenging current Sen. Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka), had the most popular giveaway item of that sweltering evening at Music in Plymouth: handheld fans. The entire stock of several hundred were distributed in the first hour. Sen. Bonoff had a booth near one of the park entrances, handing out balloons and greeting constituents.

Voter ID advocates from ProtectMyVote.com were on hand to raise awareness and answer questions about the photo ID amendment to the Minnesota Constitution, which will be on the ballot in November.

Hard-working U.S. Senate candidate Kurt Bills walked the Hamel Rodeo Parade on a sunny and hot July 8 not once, but twice: once before the parade started, then in the parade itself. The Minnesota state legislator and economics teacher will challenge current Sen. Amy Klobuchar with a simple but powerful message of "Economics 101." Kurt and his supporters are Tweeting with the hashtag #noklo2012. Rep. Erik Paulsen's (MN-3) typically large volunteer contingent also braved the hot sun to walk the parade with his orange campaign signs. Gaither walked the parade with his wife Susan, as his volunteers handed out frozen ice pops to the crowd.


Friday, June 08, 2012

Bonoff and Gaither to woo swing voters

Sen. Terri Bonoff (Source: Minnesota Legislature)
Tuesday's town hall meeting at Plymouth City Hall hosted by Sen. Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka) was a Legislative session recap event for constituents, not a re-election campaign event. Still, a few likely campaign themes emerged during the senator's amicable 90-minute conversation with twenty or so of her constituents.

Senator Bonoff has been building her brand as a non-partisan, "moderate" legislator. Some Republican candidates in this area have done the same. Bonoff touts a bipartisan style at the Capitol. She even included a photo of herself with the popular retiring Sen. Gen Olson (R-Minnetrista) on the 2012 Legislative Report flyer that was distributed at the meeting. Her last campaign signs omitted the DFL label, and some of her constituents are still surprised to learn that she's a DFLer.

With victories in a special election and two general elections so far, she must be doing something right. But are Bonoff's Plymouth and Minnetonka constituents getting what they voted for?

Despite the nonpartisan branding, Bonoff was elected Assistant Minority Leader by the Senate DFL caucus. She is responsible for ensuring that Senate DFLers vote in concert to advance the DFL party's and Governor Mark Dayton's agendas (read: Vikings stadium). It is by definition a partisan role.

After voter ID legislation carried by former Minnesota Secretary of State and current Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake) was passed, then vetoed by Gov. Dayton, the Legislature sent a voter ID amendment to the Minnesota Constitution directly to the voters. With her DFL partisans in the Minnesota Senate, House, and Gov. Dayton, Sen. Bonoff opposes the ballot question, in spite of polls that show 80% of Minnesotans have consistently supported the idea since 2006.

Terri Bonoff was one of the top bundlers for Barack Obama in 2008.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, "Bundlers are people with friends in high places who, after bumping against personal contribution limits, turn to those friends, associates, and, well, anyone who's willing to give, and deliver the checks to the candidate in one big 'bundle.'" The center's web site lists over 500 bundlers for President Barack Obama's 2008 campaign, only five of whom are from Minnesota. Terri Bonoff is one of them.

Republicans who hope to unseat Bonoff with their endorsed candidate, Sen. Bonoff's SD43 predecessor David Gaither, will not impress swing voters in this district by attacking the incumbent with overheated direct mail attack pieces. On the flip side, Occupy-style rhetoric will also suffer a cool response from the folks who eschew At Issue and Almanac: At the Capitol for brunch at The Original Pancake House or a burger at The Muni. Voters in this west metro district, where the women are strong and the school districts are all above average, will respond to the candidate who clearly presents the better plan to solve local problems and improve the statewide economy.

As I greeted Plymouth City Council member Tim Bildsoe after the Bonoff meeting, he said, "I guess this is the start of the season for you." So it is. Grad parties and weddings will soon make way for door knocking, campaign lit dropping, parade walking, sign pounding, candidate debates, and shifts at the get-out-the-vote phone bank. And blogging. See you on the trail.


Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Inside the smoke-free room of SD44

The SD44 BPOU convention on March 24 pretty much filled the upper level of the cafeteria at Wayzata High School. Like the first day of spring training, the convention offered an opportunity to reconnect with old and new friends, start with a clean slate, and enjoy the optimistic feeling you get before the first game of the season is played. The parliamentarian geek in me enjoys hearing credentials committee reports, voting on temporary rules of the convention, and looking up the order of precedence of motions, but part everyone actually enjoys is the camaraderie and talking politics.


Tom Gerrety was elected BPOU chair, hopefully to build on previous chair Larry Thompson's recent successes in the areas of fundraising, organization, and candidate support. Jim Unterseher is the new BPOU treasurer, and Geoff Shipsides will serve as secretary. Six vice-chairs were also elected to the board. The full board of directors and all delegates and alternates to the GOP Congressional District and state conventions are listed on SD44's new website at www.sd44gop.org.

BPOU favorite son and District 7 Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson told delegates that at the end of his first term, his view that the county has more than enough money has not wavered. As the latest piece of evidence, Johnson pointed to the $25 million purchase of the 18-story office tower at 701 4th Avenue South. It made Hennepin County, what the seller might call a "motivated buyer" in the transaction, the first county in Minnesota to enter the commercial leasing business, in direct competition with the private sector. Johnson says that the county must lease 150,000 square feet — over half the total — to private tenants or operate at a loss. The county's purchase also removed it from the property tax rolls, increasing the burden on the rest of downtown Minneapolis. You can read more about this 11th Golden Hydrant Award winner (and the other ten) at Johnson's Hennepin County Taxpayer Watchdog blog.

As a frequent lone vote on the board, Jeff Johnson could use an ally. The Twin Cities Daily Planet reports that there are now five candidates for the Hennepin County board to replace the retiring District 2 Commissioner Mark Stenglein ("Five up for Hennepin County post so far," March 11, 2012). They are a member of the Minneapolis School Board, a five-term DFL state senator, a former policy aide to Stenglein, a Northwest Hennepin Human Services board member, and Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels. Something tells me that there will be more Golden Hydrant Awards in the county's future. Johnson is also running for re-election this year — throw the Watchdog a bone at his campaign web site.

Endorsement candidate for U.S. Senate Kurt Bills gave the most rousing speech of the day. The first-term state representative and high school teacher from Rosemount wowed delegates with an impassioned defense of conservative values, a perspective of unions from his memberships in labor and teachers unions, and a mission to bring "Econ 101" to Washington. His credentials include serving on the Rosemount City Council and on the Minnesota House Taxes, Education Finance, and Capital Investment committees.

After his speech, Bills quickly took the microphone back and admitted that his wife had just given him a sharp elbow, telling him that he forgot to end his speech by repeating his name to the west metro delegates. He repeated his name, to laughter and applause. Judging by the several well-wishers who subsequently approached him and took away a piece of campaign literature, all was forgiven.

Rep. Sarah Anderson (R-Plymouth), who represents the old HD43, touted the Republican-controlled legislature's successful effort to turn last year's $5.2 billion state budget deficit into this session's over $800 million surplus. She also pointed to the Republican House Caucus's Reform 2.0 initiatives that she hopes to help to advance if reelected. Anderson ended by publicly (and belatedly, at her admission) recognizing her number one supporter and campaign volunteer: her husband.

Third District Congressman Erik Paulsen (R-MN3) discussed the need to repeal the medical device tax and the Obamacare legislation. Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek reported on the continued decline in violent crime in the county, and state-of-the-art technology that is reducing costs and more swiftly bringing criminals to justice.

Counting the numerous ballots for BPOU officers and delegates is always time-consuming. As a teller, I hope that a future convention will use machine-read or computerized balloting, at least for the Congressional district and state conventions delegate election. This year's manual tally with computer spreadsheet support in the delegate elections wrapped up around 4:00 pm, long after just about everyone else had emerged into the bright sunlight to enjoy the rest of an unseasonably warm Saturday in March.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Gaither to challenge Bonoff in SD44

The former Republican state senator from Plymouth, David Gaither, will challenge incumbent Sen. Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka) in SD44 (the former SD43). Gaither was the incumbent in SD43 until then-Governor Tim Pawlenty named the freshman senator his chief of staff in 2005. Gaither was endorsed by acclamation at Saturday's BPOU convention at Wayzata High School in Plymouth.

In a demonstration of unity, Gaither yielded the floor during his acceptance speech to previously-declared SD44 endorsement candidate Norann Dillon. Dillon told the convention that she withdrew her candidacy because she did not want to be used as "an excuse" by some for a continued rift in the BPOU. The conservative activist will manage the campaign of Mark Stefan, who was endorsed to run against Rep. John Benson (DFL-Minnetonka) in HD44B. Dillon has always been politically involved to advance a conservative agenda, not personal ambition. On Saturday she showed this again with grace and class.

In his endorsement candidate speech, Gaither hit the right notes with delegates, starting with his community roots as a  Wayzata High School alumnus and a youth football program coach, member of the Wayzata public school district's Citizens Financial Advisory Council, member of the Plymouth Planning Commission, children in the Wayzata schools and Providence Academy, his wife on the Wayzata School Board, executive in the private and not-for-profit sectors. Gaither was also assistant minority leader in the Minnesota Senate.

Gaither's statements about equal opportunity over equal outcomes and his pledge to wage a war of ideas and facts also resonated with delegates.

Contrary to stereotypes portrayed by the DFL and media, what Republicans may not be able to match is the apparently unlimited source of money from wealthy donors like Alida Messinger (who was mentioned by name a couple of times at the convention), state-protected labor unions, and Alliance for a Better Minnesota. Instead, said Gaither, Republicans must win by making the case to Minnesota voters with better ideas rooted in the principles of The Founders, individual responsibility, and government that lives within its means.

The majority caucus in the Minnesota Senate will need all the help it can get to retain its majority, not to mention recover from a season of scandal and advance the conservative agenda. If the Ron Paul and Tea Party supporters in Dillon's brigade join with BPOU activists from the former SD33, a rejuvenated SD44, and Gaither's get-er-done, pragmatic A-Team, Gaither will be a force to be reckoned with in 2012 and beyond.