Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The top ten reasons to attend your precinct caucus on March 7

10. Find out who's running for office in your area, and if you're lucky, meet them in person

The Senate District 43 Republicans have announced that the following candidates will be asking delegates for their endorsement to run in this fall's elections:

State Senate 43 – Mayor Judy Johnson and James Seim, to challenge incumbent Sen. Terri Bonoff

State House 43A – Sarah Anderson (former Executive Assistant to Speaker Sviggum), for the seat of incumbent Rep. Jeff Johnson, who is running for Minnesota Attorney General

State House 43B – incumbent Rep. Ron Abrams

For further information about Precinct Caucus Night 2006, visit the Minnesota GOP web site or the Minnesota Office of the Secretary of State.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Good news from Iraq

Anyone looking for a counterweight to the defeatist drumbeat from the left concerning Iraq should check out:
  • MidwestHeroes.com - a new web site that gives a progress report on helping Iraqis take control of their country and on making the United States safer from terrorists. (As John Hinderocker said, "My own guess is that liberals aren't afraid that the Midwest Heroes are wrong. They're afraid they're right.") You may see the Midwest Heroes ad on TV during the Olympics.

  • Laura Ingraham - check out the blog and photos from Laura's fact-finding, troop morale boosting trip to Baghdad.

The mission is not without its challenges and setbacks, but it is not without its successes either.

UPDATE: Hinderocker was right. When KTLK-FM's Brian Lambert interviewed Lt. Col. Robert Stephenson, USMC, of MidwestHeroes.com and MNFamiliesUnited.com, the best he could come up was to change the subject from Iraq to linking Stephenson to a group called the Alliance for the Separation of School and State, solely via a petition he signed several years ago. Co-host Sarah Janecek was embarassed and apologized to Stephenson on air for Lambert's attempt at a backhanded ad hominem attack. Listeners anticipating a fisking of Stephenson's statements by Lambert, supported with facts, were left wondering, "where's the beef?"

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Edina smackdown

Laura Lehmann from Citizens for a Stadium Tax Referendum ventured into the lion's den on Tuesday in support of a very simple resolution that would have put the City of Edina on record in favor of asking all citizens of Hennepin County for permission to levy a county-wide sales tax to subsidize a new Twins Stadium:



WHEREAS, Hennepin County and the Minnesota Twins are proposing to construct a baseball stadium in the City of Minneapolis; and

WHEREAS, Hennepin County is proposing to financially fund a significant portion of the stadium with a County-wide sales tax; and

WHEREAS, Hennepin County and others are in favor of bypassing Minnesota State Statute 297A.99, subdivision 3, part (a), which requires a referendum before imposition of a local sales tax.

NOW THEREFORE, LET IT BE RESOLVED that the City Council of Edina, which is the representative governing body of the residents of Edina, supports the necessity of a referendum, as it is required by law.

Over four hours later, after the resolution's turn on the agenda finally arrived (it was after 11:30 pm), Lehmann emerged from a verbal smackdown from the council. Lehmann recalled in an e-mail to me:
He [Council Member Scot Housh] said "You accuse us of politicizing this (which I did not, I merely asked that they lay political considerations aside and think only of the good of the citizens of Edina) but you are the one politicizing it." He kept saying this was a County and State matter, not a City matter. I asked how it was not a city matter when every resident in the city would be taxed personally for purchases and businesses' sales would be affected?

The Mayor [James Hovland] said it was "premature." I asked how it was premature when a judge had just ruled the day before that the Twins had to stay in the Metrodome only on a year-to-year basis and it was all over the papers, TV and radio how the Twins would use this as leverage at the Capitol to get a deal through the legislature — there had even been quotes from the governor and legislative leaders on the subject. The mayor said he didn't know anything about that and I said I guess he must not read the paper then. It was ridiculous.

You can witness this spectacle on Edina Community Channel 16. Set your VCR for four hours after the rebroadcast of the February 7, 2006 city council meeting begins.

Besides the rude treatment received by this citizen speaking to a resolution that was properly on the agenda before her city council (nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition), they protest too much, methinks. This is the perfect bipartisan issue. Liberals can protest the corporate welfare, while conservatives can protest the wink-and-a-nod exemption from state law. As Plymouth Mayor Judy Johnson was quoted: "The Plymouth City Council, last year, passed a motion that Hennepin County should send this proposed tax increase to the voters as required by current law...cities that propose a local option sales tax or an increase in their sales tax for local projects, like libraries, must go for voter approval as required by state law." If it's good enough for local governments, why not Hennepin County?

Citizens interested in looking past the (anti-referendum) marketing language about "representative government" from certain Hennepin County Commissioners and politicians in both parties (notably DFL Sen. Steve Kelley and Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty) should consult the following for more information:Do I wish we had a beautiful new ballpark for the Twins, like Miller Park in Milwaukee? You betcha. But let's uphold the law of the land and let the people vote.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Optimistic leadership

State of the Union 2006 (Photo: White House)
President Bush in Tuesday's State of the Union address:
Fellow citizens, we've been called to leadership in a period of consequence. We've entered a great ideological conflict we did nothing to invite. We see great changes in science and commerce that will influence all our lives. Sometimes it can seem that history is turning in a wide arc, toward an unknown shore. Yet the destination of history is determined by human action, and every great movement of history comes to a point of choosing.

Lincoln could have accepted peace at the cost of disunity and continued slavery. Martin Luther King could have stopped at Birmingham or at Selma, and achieved only half a victory over segregation. The United States could have accepted the permanent division of Europe, and been complicit in the oppression of others. Today, having come far in our own historical journey, we must decide: Will we turn back, or finish well?

Before history is written down in books, it is written in courage. Like Americans before us, we will show that courage and we will finish well. We will lead freedom's advance. We will compete and excel in the global economy. We will renew the defining moral commitments of this land. And so we move forward -- optimistic about our country, faithful to its cause, and confident of the victories to come.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Grassroots and the web

Minnesota Republicans are underutilizing the Internet. I'm not talking so much about the state party, but the party's BPOUs, the basic political operating units (local party groups organized in state Senate districts or counties).

There are only 29 BPOU web sites listed on the state GOP web site. Increasingly, people expect businesses and nonprofits to have a web site. Not having a web site in the 21st century is like having an unlisted telephone number in the 20th century.

BPOUs are the entry points for party activists. If the party wants to grow, it needs to provide an easy entry point for future delegates, election judges, volunteers, and candidates. Sure, you call the state party office at (651) 222-0022, but a web site can instantly provide a personalized, in-depth introduction to the local activist group.

A BPOU web site should:

  • Identify the area's elected officials

  • Identify the BPOU officers with contact information

  • Make it easy to make a contribution and obtain a Minnesota Political Contribution Refund (PCR)

  • Publicize BPOU events such as meetings, precinct caucuses, parades, conventions, and fundraisers

  • Invite and encourage participation

  • Articulate Republican values and platform points

  • Convey the image of an active, relevant, high-quality, and fun organization

Two of the best BPOU web sites according to these criteria are from Senate District 42 and Senate District 63.

The center column of the SD 42 home page has a news feed that is updated locally and continually, and includes links to news sources and sometimes even this blog. The site is packed with party and community event information, and includes a link for donations via PayPal. Somebody (or a group of somebodys) is working very hard on this site!

The SD 63 web site is another activist-centered web site with lots of great information. It includes a link to Jerry Plagge's SD63 blog.

Some BPOUs use web space and a format (template) provided by the state party. Other BPOUs roll their own, hosting their web site independently.

I am reminded of a vintage video with Ronald Reagan showing Republican voter ID and get-out-the-vote (GOTV) efforts using then state-of-the-art technologies: typewriters, ditto machines, maps, pushpins, and lots of volunteer power. BPOUs have a lot of unused potential power in Internet technologies such as web sites, e-mail, instant messaging, podcasting, RSS, and discussion groups. With each election cycle, these technologies will grow in importance in attracting the newer voters who are growing up with them. The state party should be aggressively enabling the BPOUs with these grassroots-reaching tools.

EPILOGUE: Just before I was going to publish this post, my point was disproven somewhat. I was invited to join the SD 43 Meetup Group, the 475th Republican Meetup Group on Meetup.com. This idea is a continuation of the successful national "Parties for the President" by the Bush Cheney '04 campaign. Check it out, this another way activists are using Internet technologies to find each other and make connections, which will be essential to winning elections in 2006. I'm glad to see that Republicans are "getting it."