Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Thursday, October 25, 2007
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) committed the biggest blunder of her tenure by pressing the Armenian genocide resolution and then having to back down when her support vanished. She should have taken the advice of Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), who has opposed the Armenian proposal dating back to his days as an aide in the Clinton White House. Democratic support, once at more than 225 members, collapsed when Gen. David Petraeus, the Iraq commander, briefed congressmen individually and pointed out serious problems with Turkey created by the genocide resolution.
- The present inclination by Democrats is to quickly pass a slightly scaled-down version of SCHIP (State Children's Health Insurance Program). That would present a tough decision to President George W. Bush. Should he veto the bill, even though he is likely to get overridden the second time around? Prominent congressional Republicans want a veto, advising that an override would not be all that bad.
- The "mother of all tax reforms" -- to be unveiled Thursday by House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) -- is for show rather than play. It certainly won't pass the Senate and probably won't even get to the House floor.
- In a rare public Democratic split between two important Senate committee chairmen: Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) argues that the party's Pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) rules don't require offsets (tax hikes or spending cuts) to compensate for an AMT (alternative minimum tax) "patch," while Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) insists on PAYGO offsets. Baucus's position is a huge plus for Republican supply-siders.
Monday, October 22, 2007
It was even more outrageous because it came from an 18-term member of Congress.
And it was more outrageous still because it was said on the floor of the United States House of Representatives.
But first, let me give you some context, so you understand the full disgracefulness of the statement.
Last Thursday, House Democrats tried and failed to override President Bush's veto of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) expansion bill.
Just as the President's rejection of the bill was about to be supported by a vote of the House, Congressman Pete Stark (D-Calif.) took to the floor and showed that just when you think the level of debate among the leftwing lunatic fringe can't sink any lower they surprise you.
Here's what Congressman Stark said on the floor of the House, accusing Republicans of funding the war in Iraq but not children's health: "You don't have money to fund the war or children. But you're going to spend it to blow up innocent people -- if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the President's amusement."
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Kalin spent a week living on $3 worth of food per day to “raise awareness” that the government apparently doesn’t give enough food stamps to those in need. To the best of my knowledge, Kalin’s “raise awareness” stunt put no food on anyone’s table.
Now contrast that with his predecessor, Pete Nelson. During his years as a butcher, Nelson helped raise and donate thousands of pounds of food to local food shelves. He has volunteered his services in the Cows, Cows, Cows program since 2000, which has donated literally tons of food throughout east-central Minnesota. Countless thousands of our neighbors ate meals borne from Nelson’s sweat equity and generosity.
That to me shows better than anything what each person has to offer as a public servant. One spends his time making a symbolic plea for more government; the other rolls up his sleeves and goes to work, earning real results. Even though Pete Nelson is out of office, I am sure his generosity continues, because he didn’t do it for personal recognition. He did it because helping those less fortunate is the right thing to do.
I can’t say the same for Jeremy Kalin. I’m afraid we took a step backward last year by electing someone who apparently thinks symbolic gestures are enough to pass as public service. Our communities deserve better than that.
I’m disgusted by the blatant hypocrisy Kalin engages in. On the one hand he pretends to be in sync with the plight of poor Minnesotans by only allowing himself $3 per day for food. But according to a recent report by WCCO television, Kalin’s other hand has been busy stuffing his pockets full of meal money to the tune of $66 per day, six days a week.
According to the report, Kalin took home $7,854 in daily per diem payments in his first session as our representative. If it’s true that food stamp recipients only have $3 per day to spend on food, then Kalin’s meal money from just this year would be enough to fund 7 years worth of food stamps for just one person.
Legislator’s per diem is not automatic, it must be specifically asked for. For Jeremy Kalin to ask for and receive 22 times more meal money per day than a typical food stamp recipient and then claim to be sympathetic to their plight is hypocritical and disgusting behavior.
Jeremy Kalin should be ashamed and we should all be disappointed that our representative believes he is entitled to such a lavish standard-of-living at taxpayer expense.
Oh! Elephant Herd where art thou?
Your thoughts and words are gone.
You left us without a leader,
Now, you sing an East Coast song.
Oh! Elephant Herd where art thou?
It’s gone, but not Goodbye,
If travel you must, I understand
I accept with a gasp and a sigh.
Oh! Elephant Herd where art thou?
Your instructions were so soothing.
You left me in charge and that’s OK,
But, I don’t know what I’m doing!
Oh! Elephant Herd where art thou?
Friday, October 19, 2007
Let’s stick to the facts
To the editor:
I am writing to correct factual misstatements in Bob Barrett’s letter last week’s County Press. He disagrees with my effort for more accountability from MnDOT, and I respect him for expressing his views. However, I want to be sure that we are all working from the same basic facts.
First, stipends for the losing bidders of the I-35W design competition were originally set at $300,000 for each of the three losing design teams. Later, that amount was increased to $400,000 and then finally set at $500,000. Assistant Commissioner Bob McFarlin explained the increase due to adding a "light-rail ready" component to the bridge. However, on Public Radio’s Midday show on October 1, Linda Figg, the lead designer of the winning project, said the light-rail ready addition was "very easily incorporated into the design." McFarlin has yet to clarify the increased stipends in light of Ms. Figg’s statement.
Second, the letter writer accused me of making "false allegations" that a MnDOT employee spent as much as $26,000 of public money on personal travel. I only wish it were false. Sonia Morphew Pitt is being investigated by James Nobles, Legislative Auditor, for exactly this reason. Further, Mr. Nobles publicly stated that MnDOT likely violated the law by not alerting him of the possible violation when they learned of it. I have spoken personally with Mr. Nobles, and asked him to also verify that Ms. Pitt, the director of emergency management for MnDOT, is trained and certified in emergency management. An initial report is due in several weeks.
My hope is to have a bipartisan discussion about the best transportation policy options to make Minnesota’s roads, bridges and transit safe and well-maintained. To do so, we must all work from a common ground of verified facts.
Kalin is correct that facts are essential to a discussion about transportation. But Kalin can’t seem to get it straight what Bob Barrett wrote.
Kalin claims Barrett "...disagrees with my effort for more accountability from MnDOT."
Barrett actually agrees with him for he previously wrote, Kalin "...rightfully complained that a MNDOT employee responsible for emergency management stayed at an east coast business conference and couldn’t be bothered to come home for 10 days after the bridge collapsed. This is a good and important question and deserves, at minimum, an honest answer."
Barrett is right. Kalin is wrong.
Without any stated acknowledgment, by using the word "stipend" in the most recent letter, Kalin accepts Barrett’s corrective that "bonus" was the improper term for the stipends paid to the losing bridge bidders.
Barrett is right. Kalin now accepts the right term without acknowledging correction.
While Barrett stated factually that "Stipends are common in very large design-build transportation projects and are paid out for legitimate public purposes," his main point was that Kalin used the term "excessive bonus" which makes it sound "...much more sinister..."
Barrett won this one as well, because Kalin stripped the prejudicial terminology from his discussion of the stipends in his letter above. (Kalin’s stipend paragraph above is written factually.) Kalin has a right to question the size of the stipends, but the size of stipends is dictated by state law. See here. As a Representative, he should know that.
Kalin claimed Barrett "...accused me of making "false allegations" that a MnDOT employee spent as much as $26,000 of public money on personal travel" (italics added). Kalin misquoted Barrett who actually said Kalin made "...false accusations that this employee spent $26,000 of taxpayer paid travel on what Kalin referred to as "personal pleasure"." Kalin originally said, "...up to $26,000 of her taxpayer-paid travel was for personal pleasure" (italics added, see source).
Bear with me. Let’s sort this out to learn Kalin’s methodology of fudging on the facts.
Barrett is right again. Kalin now tones down "personal pleasure" to "personal travel." That doesn’t sound as bad.
The $26,000 comes from a Star Tribune article which states:
"Since July 2006, Pitt has scheduled 17 out-of-state business trips for herself, including an eight-day training session that was scheduled to start today in Emmitsburg, Md., for "crisis communication during emergency situations."
Including per diem payments, hotel, air fare, registration fees, ground travel and other expenses, all the trips combined cost at least $26,400, documents show."
Kalin hedged his words, but clearly intended to make this sound as bad as possible. Barrett identified it as a false accusation because he apparently looked at the intent of the statement.
Barrett is right because Kalin’s intention is obvious, while he tried to cover it up with "up to."
Kalin wants facts, but Kalin can’t even represent Barrett accurately. There is major spin in almost everything Kalin writes.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
He wrote, "It became clear that the Governor's temporary request was not to keep the bridge replacement on track but rather the other projects around the state on track. The TCAG short-term authorization ensures that 2008 planned projects can proceed, along with the unexpected 35W bridge replacement."
It’s getting impossible to believe what Kalin writes. Either he has a distorted view of reality so that he writes what he believes or he deliberately changes reality to smear and gain votes.
Of course Mn/DOT can’t replace the bridge and do the scheduled transportation projects on the budget that it had for the scheduled transportation projects! It is a given the bridge needs to be rebuilt even if that means putting other projects on hold. No one in the administration or Mn/DOT wants that.
Furthermore, no one was asking for more money for scheduled transportation projects until the bridge collapsed and until the promised $195 million for the bridge from the feds was jeopardized by a threatened veto because of excessive pork in the bill. Apparently Kalin refuses to understand basic cash flow.
Kalin wants to turn it on the Governor that his request for $195 million (with $60 million approval) was to cover un(der)funded 2008 planned projects rather than the I-35W bridge. Kalin is playing politics again.
The Star Tribune article does not support Kalin’s take. It says, "In legislative hearings over the past three weeks, MnDOT officials revealed an upcoming cash crunch related to replacing the I-35W bridge (italics added)." It cannot be clearer than that. The Pioneer Press does not support Kalin’s statement either.
Kalin loves innuendo, stretching the truth, ignoring facts, manufacturing suspicion and operating the spin machine. I cannot trust anything he says.
A New Commissioner At MnDOT Would Have Little Impact
By Phil Krinkie
When the state legislature wrapped-up a special session in one day last month, Minnesotans thought that they would get a break from politics for a few months until state lawmakers are scheduled to reconvene in February. But it seems some legislators just can't pull themselves away. They persist to debate transportation funding with a "he said, she said don't blame me, it was MnDOT's fault" attitude. All of these discussions seem to end with a standard DFL solution, a call for Lt. Governor Molnau to resign as Commissioner of MnDOT, a position she has held for the past 4½ years.
Some of the loudest voices calling for her resignation are State Senator Steve Murphy, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, and Speaker of the House Margaret Kelliher.
While they are certainly entitled to their opinion, after serving in the Legislature for 16 years, I would take a very different tack. What seems to be lost to these legislators, and the public at large, is that MnDOT is a huge bureaucracy, and given its current structure, it is doubtful that anyone can manage that Department effectively. A change at the helm will not fundamentally change MnDOT's operations. Real change will only come through a great deal of legislative leadership and the courage to change the status quo.
Monday, October 15, 2007
There is an explanation of the evaluation for the bridge replacement proposals. The scores for each of the bids that were determined by each of the six people on the technical review committee are provided on page 12 of this document.
The Department of Administration has also submitted a document entitled Bridge Replacement Project Protest Determination. The bidding process is reviewed in this document. I call attention to one specific point made in the introduction.
Finally, it goes without saying that the enormity of the I-35W bridge tragedy has understandably resulted in unprecedented scrutiny of every aspect of the removal and rebuilding processes and has been the focus of intense public dialogue. Consequently, it is essential to provide assurance that significant efforts have been made to ensure that this protest response is as independent, objective and free of politics as possible. Specifically, the individuals signing it are its sole authors [identified on page 1]. Both are civil service employees who are protected in their jobs even if they happen to displease their agency head or other stakeholders. No elected or appointed officials were involved in any way with this document’s content. None attempted to influence the outcome. None requested or received a draft copy. None were aware of the findings and conclusions prior to its publication. The only other individuals who saw this document prior to its release were legal counsel assigned to this matter by the Office of the Attorney General and a state manager and an in-house legal resource in the Administration Department’s Materials Management Division who reviewed for form and clarity.
Today, October 15th, the Governor sent a letter to the LAC to request approval of sufficient funds to commence building the bridge. Read the news article....
The LAC is comprised of Senators Larry Pogemiller, Richard Cohen, Steve Murphy and Michael Jungbauer and Representatives Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Loren Solberg, Bernard Lieder and Doug Magnus.
The LAC met today. Here is the story.
Stopgap spending on roads, bridges sets up showdown
Legislators OK spending $60 million to stop delays. Pawlenty sought at least $145 million.
By Pat Doyle
Seeking to avert a threatened slowdown in road and bridge construction, legislators on Monday authorized the state to spend $60 million more over the next several months to keep projects on schedule.
But Gov. Tim Pawlenty said the extra money probably won't be enough to rebuild the Interstate 35W bridge and keep other needed construction projects on pace through the first half of 2008.
And now two Minnesotans have filed suit against Mn/DOT for awarding the bid for the bridge. Read here and here.
Brian McClung, communication director for the Governor, wrote an editorial, stating that federal regulations make the state-hired bridge collapse investigation information confidential until the NTSB report is final. Here is one paragraph he wrote:
"Nevertheless, the Strib reporters, in what has become an all-too-common occurrence, virtually ignored the information provided to them in order to stir up a tempest with their article. Although the Minnesota Department of Transportation told the reporters that federal law required the investigative information to be nonpublic prior to completion of the NTSB's investigation, that fact was buried in the eighth paragraph, and the opposite sentiment was expressed in the headline."
Here’s what happens in socialized health care. There are not enough dentists in England to provide adequate care for the population. This is the result of the government program.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Alfred Nobel felt horrible about the uses to which his invention — dynamite — was put. So he endowed the Nobel Peace Prize and instructed that it go "to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."
Al Gore has done exactly none of those things.
The allies of the wealthy, the bloggers, are the coalition's hit men. Almost all are males in their thirties. The two most prominent, "Markos and Jerome" (Markos Moulitsas Zúniga of the Daily Kos and Jerome Armstrong of MyDD), gained their fame and won their political clout by latching onto Howard Dean's candidacy in 2003 and using the Internet to help create the "Democratic wing of the Democratic party." Their websites not only constantly abuse thought, but show contempt for intellectuals, even while gaining influence among them. The language is often violent and vulgar. The moving spirit of the Daily Kos is one of anger and resentment, which, when not directed at Democrats who dare to stray from the wing line, is directed at the president, the vice president, and the Iraq war.
To the editor:
Instead of working towards a solution in regards to the bridge tragedy Rep. Kalin continues to politicize the tragedy for partisan political gain. Unfortunately much of what Kalin had to say in last week’s paper was nothing more than speculation, innuendo, falsehoods and political spin.
Just four months ago Rep. Kalin voted to spend over $4.1 billion on various transportation related projects (few of which were related to safety) and now he can’t find the rationale for approving what he referred to as an "unprecedented" cash advance of $200 million to kick start the building of a new I-35W bridge until federal money shows up. It seems that Kalin thinks the public should be concerned because MNDOT didn’t have $200 million sitting in the bank on July 31 waiting for a bridge to fall down. Maybe someone should tell Mr. Kalin that a bridge falling down IS "unprecedented" in Minnesota and his help may be required to get a replacement bridge built.
Among the other complaints Kalin had from last week is that "excessive bonuses" of $600,000 are being paid to the losing bidders of the I-35W bridge rebuild. I realize that Mr. Kalin has no background in bridge building or finances, but that’s a poor excuse for not being truthful on the issue. The fact is that these payments are called "stipends" and not "bonuses". Stipends are common in very large design-build transportation projects and are paid out for legitimate public purposes. But, admittedly, the term "excessive bonus" sounds much more sinister in the paper.
Continuing on, Kalin then rightfully complained that a MNDOT employee responsible for emergency management stayed at an east coast business conference and couldn’t be bothered to come home for 10 days after the bridge collapsed. This is a good and important question and deserves, at minimum, an honest answer. However, not stopping there, he went on to make false accusations that this employee spent $26,000 of taxpayer paid travel on what Kalin referred to as "personal pleasure".
The rest of Kalin’s article was nothing more than an Eddie Haskell like exercise of telling people what he thinks they want to hear under the guise of sounding thoughtful and dispassionate. It’s too bad this energy can’t instead be used on the productive work of getting a new bridge built and making our roads and bridges safer.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
But....dragging out the solution gives them an opportunity to come up with gotchas to reject Carol Molnau.
And they will do everything in their power to make it look like a special session is essential so they can raise taxes.
Then too, Mn/DOT needs their oversight or so they think. These legislators must strut their stuff and moan that they have been shut out of the process. Let the professionals do their job. Just as the Dems in Congress don’t want the generals to fight the war, so these Dems in the legislature don’t want the professionals replacing a bridge on their own. They might make a mistake— well actually, the legislators might miss an opportunity to be self-serving.
Self-importance has become a significant problem among legislators. They act more like kings and queens than servants. These do-gooders are probably itching for a year around legislative session. Most of us can’t wait for the legislative session to be done each year so they don’t do any more damage to our freedoms and pocketbooks. Get the people’s business done. Go home and work like the rest of us must. If you wouldn’t keep poking your nose into our business, maybe you wouldn’t keep raising our taxes so much.
Click here to see all the legislative committees that are meeting even while the legislature is adjourned. They are plotting for February.
Interests in capable hands
TO THE EDITOR:
It is telling that the Chisago County Republican Party kicked off the 2008 fund raising season (Reagan dinner a huge success) by celebrating a famous deceased leader.
Just like Fran Tarkington suiting up to play won’t help the Vikings win a Super Bowl; going back 25 years in political history won’t help us find solutions for the 21st century.
We don’t need old ideas or old leaders; we need new ones. We need new partnerships to end grid lock. And we need a person with the energy to make these things happen.
Since deceased leaders are insignificant in Vitalis’ world, there goes the Heisman Trophy. And I guess he doesn’t think much of the Democrats’ Jefferson Day Dinners either.
At least we Republicans are much more current, modern and up to date than the Democrats who are stuck in the nineteenth century, celebrating a leader who has been dead since 1826! Wow! We are a 175 years more current than they are.
The upbeat, get-the-job-done-Ronald Reagan believed in working together when he said, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." Funny thing; he ended grid lock. It seems some old ideas still work. And, by the way, President Jefferson had a few good ideas as well. It seems he too ended grid lock in the Mediterranean when he defeated the Barbary Muslims.
There probably won’t be any Kalin Day Dinners any time soon.
Friday, October 12, 2007
The article in question can be found here. The most egregious display? It said "Help Susan Collins stand up to Moveon.org". Oh my, such mud-slinging. Google routinely permits the use of company names such as Exxon, Wal-Mart, Cargill and Microsoft in advocacy ads, and had no problem with anti-Blackwater ads. Videos on google-owned 'YouTube' by Michelle Malkin, however, are taboo - and google had no problem letting her know they might just ban her from YouTube altogether.
Come on, people. Do you really want these over-inflated giants deciding what you can and cannot see anymore? Don't they have some sort of civic responsibility at all to play fair? Google is now a publicly traded company, and the best way to get our message across that we matter as much as google-using left-wingers, is to uninstall the google toolbar immediately, sell google stock if you have it, and encourage others to do the same. I can't believe this site - Blogspot.Com - uses gmail (google mail) sign-ins and is wrapped in google, and wonder how long until blogs that mention MoveOn, George Soros, or Al Gore, or John Edwards in an unflattering light are closed down and deleted for supposed "liability". Use your clout, or lose it.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Panel's members want answers to host of MnDOT questions
BY BILL SALISBURY
"Democrats on a Minnesota legislative panel are balking at giving Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty the $195 million he says is needed to avoid delaying other highway projects because of a funding snag for rebuilding the Interstate 35W bridge."Read the whole article...
Anyone capable of understanding fund accounting knows that Carol Molnau and the Department of Transportation cannot be blamed for a shortage of money to rebuild the collapsed bridge. The department receives its money from the legislature. It’s budget is allocated to projects.
When a failed bridge must be replaced, either its whole funding must be infused into the Mn/DOT’s budget or other projects must be delayed to free up dollars to pay for the top priority. It’s rather simple.
It’s not Molnau’s fault that the promised $195 million from the feds is being threatened with a veto by President Bush because the transportation bill is stuffed with pork.
Given the potential delay of receiving this money, it is understandable that legislators and the Governor are cautious about how to fund this temporarily out of state reserves, which should be reimbursed by the feds. That should be regarded as a non-political accounting matter.
In the end, the Donkeys will quit their stiff-legged resistance just in time to avoid actually delaying bridge reconstruction because they do not want to be accused of that. In the meantime, they grandstand to set the stage to remove Molnau as Commissioner.
Prior to the bridge collapse, where was this chorus of Dem falsettos over Molnau and DOT’s use of funds? These Dems shamelessly use a tragedy as an occasion to manufacture fear that other projects won’t be built when it is in their power to provide the temporary funding that will be reimbursed just to attack Molnau. They brazenly use a federal pork-barrel funding fiasco to manufacture a crisis in the state DOT and specifically with Molnau’s leadership.
Mike Nifong found it’s easy to manufacture charges. It certainly appears these Dems are doing the same in Minnesota. The public is not stupid. We are capable of differentiating between manufactured and genuine charges.
The public also expects Democrat legislators to ask Mn/DOT tough questions. After all, both the DOT and legislators work for us. But we also know when they are asking the questions with ulterior motives. It’s getting disgusting–very disgusting.
Check out this commentary as well.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Monday, October 08, 2007
As a legislator, Rep. Kalin chief-authored a bill that secured $200,000 for Chisago County to study the feasibility of a cellulosic ethanol plant in our country. Prairie-grass ethanol has been proven to be much more environmentally-friendly than corn-based ethanol.
This article is a good starting point to challenge Kalin’s dream for Chisago County.
The great danger of confronting peak oil and global warming isn't that we will....do nothing while civilization collapses, but that we will plunge after "solutions" that will make our problems even worse. Like believing we can replace gasoline with ethanol, the much-hyped biofuel that we make from corn.
Sunday, October 07, 2007
"Tax and spend" applies to whom?
To the editor:
First there was Americans for Tax Reform. Then, Citizens against Government Waste. Now, Chisago County GOP. Who will be the first GOPer to protest the National Debt? Who will be the first GOPer to protest the governor signing tax increases of – $1.1 billion for Twins stadium, $60 million for entertainment tax (not allowed at Metrodome), and $250 million for the U of M stadium?
That’s our "NO NEW TAXES" governor at his finest. He certainly got us great national PR after the bridge collapse too. You can bet the bank it won’t be anyone from the three above groups.
Their first spoken words were "tax and spend Democrats" and they’ll probably be their last. They make money lenders from 2000 years ago look like saints!
Would anyone dare suggest that the $9 trillion in GOP debt starting with Regan [sic] contributes to Wall Street brokers getting up to $50 million in bonuses last year. But, they must spend an awful lot of time writing all those bonds for China, Japan, India, etc. Another $190 billion coming for Iraq, 2008. Cut those taxes, make them permanent. Yea, Yea, Yea!
I love the GOP spin machine. "Only 3 cents on $20." (equals $1,001,000,000) [sic] Remember folks, for 25 years you will be paying $2.5 million for each Division I (4/year) Gophers’ football games. Let’s not forget the $1.8 + million salary/year for the coach. Most distressing is they’ll probably lose most of those games.
Then there’s Carl Pohlad. Companies like 3M have billions of dollars invested in buildings and infrastructure. They create thousands of jobs. Carl has 40 + super-rich ball players. They come, they go. The taxpayers build him a stadium. When he doesn’t like it anymore, they build him a new one.
FYI: In March of this year, Carl was 349th, $2.6 billion on Forbes richest Americans list. Now in September he has moved up to 114th $3.1 billion. Poor Carl, is it just part of the rich getting richer, or is he already getting some of the $200 million bump in ‘team’ value expected when those 40 warm bodies move into the new stadium?
Personally, if I was [sic] governor [sic] Pawlenty, I would have a tough time being able to look in a mirror.
Then there’s our local version of the boys in DC. So Pete Nelson was your MC? My first question for you is why did you vote Pete, and Sen. Nienow out of office? I know Pete voted for the stadium and the senator didn’t. Was that enough reason for Sen. Nienow to go? I’ve known for the nine years I’ve lived here that the GOP has been the majority party. Well? It’s too bad you didn’t have the courage to tell your governor to not tax working people to build a sports palace for the 114th richest American. Better yet, after the bridge collapse, you might have suggested he take that tax money back, and apply it to our infrastructure.
Since your GOP coffers are well replenished, I hope you might also this fall be able [sic] help replenish food shelves, Anonymous Santa, etc.
Actually, a great many conservatives did and still don’t like it. The Taxpayers League of Minnesota went on record against public funding of the stadium. Click here and scroll down to "Stadium Subsidies" for their commentary. The Taxpayers League opposes public money for a Viking stadium as well.
Citizens Against Government Waste also were fighting the use of tax dollars for the stadium.
Americans for Tax Reform also expressed their opposition to it.
Brennan missed the most obvious person who opposes the stadium subsidy. The Reagan Day guest speaker, Jason Lewis, is such a conspicuous opponent of it that we do not need to provide any documentation for that assertion.
Any criticism the letter writer gives to the GOP for approving the use of public funds for the Twins stadium must also be leveled against the DFL. When the vote came down, each party was about evenly divided on the issue.
Minnesota Senate: passed 34-32
Aye: 22 Dems and 12 Reps
Nay: 16 Dems and 16 Reps
Minnesota House: passed 71-61
Aye: 34 Dems and 37 Reps
Nay: 30 Dems and 31 Reps
Abstain: 1 Dem
In both the House and Senate, more Democrats voted in favor than Dems opposed. In the House, just two more Dems voting against the stadium would have killed the bill. In the Senate, only 6 more Dems voting nay would have stopped the project. Without the Dems, this bill would not have passed.
Perhaps this article sums it up well: Twins' stadium opponents were tired of the fight; supporters weren't.
Conservatives are getting tired of tax and spend Republicans, but they can’t hold a candle to the tax and spend Democrats of the last session, so that shoe fits.
We welcome Mr. Brennan to help us fight the tax and spend crowd in any party. Let’s not get tired again.
Friday, October 05, 2007
The time is now to come together in the spirit of compromise and bipartisanship to reach a solution that properly addresses the funding deficiencies that have been plaguing our transportation system for many years.
I’m pleased that the governor and Legislature were able to work together and deliver this much-needed relief to those who have been affected by this disaster. Although I am disappointed that this special session did not address the broad safety concerns facing our state’s roads and bridges, I’m hopeful that this spirit of compromise will continue and an agreement on a comprehensive transportation package will be reached in time for the 2008 Legislative Session.
After this seeming good start, however, Olseen is now lining up with his DFL buddies against the Pawlenty administration, calling for the resignation of Transportation Commissioner Carol Molnau. T.W. Budig reports about Olseen:
"The best possible thing for her (Molnau) is to gracefully resign and pass the torch to someone else," said Sen. Rick Olseen, DFL-Harris, speaking at a Wednesday (Sept. 26) press conference in the shadow of the Lafayette Bridge on the Mississippi River in St. Paul.
With this latest declaration, we now should return to his two press releases. Perhaps we need to read them as a statement that the Republican Governor needs to demonstrate a spirit of compromise and bipartisanship and that Olseen was not personally adopting a spirit of compromise and bipartisanship. If that is not the case, he has changed his attitude from August to September.
Once this attitude is adopted, Molnau will not be able to do anything right in the eyes of the attack dogs. Anything that goes wrong (and there is plenty of that), will be her fault even if it is not her fault. We had hoped for a statesman; we are getting a partisan politician.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
All of us should be concerned with the enormous cost of this project. While many Dems are aghast at the price tag, Rep. Jeremy Kalin (D-17B) is still counting the small potatoes. See his press release which was also published in the various local newspapers this week.
Probably more than $393 million will be spent, but Kalin is locked on to two small dollar figures when compared to the hundreds of millions: 1. “...up to $26,000 of her [Mn/DOT's Sonia Morphew Pitt] taxpayer-paid travel was for personal pleasure...” and 2. “...excessive bonuses going to the losing bidders of the 35W bridge contract – to the tune of $600,000...”
Regarding the first point, the personnel review underway may very well disclose some improper use of tax dollars, but it would probably be far less than $26,000. No one who pays taxes wants government waste, but Kalin is so occupied with this that he has not expressed any proper concern in his latest article about the extremely large cost of the project.
Second, his complaint about excessive bonuses for the losing bidders ignores that it is required by state statute. Chapter 161.3426, Subd. 3 mandates:
"The commissioner shall award a stipulated fee not less than two-tenths of one percent of the department's estimated cost of design and construction to each short-listed, responsible proposer who provides a responsive but unsuccessful proposal."Doing this math yields a $500,000 stipend for each unsuccessful design-build bidder on a $250 million project. It’s time our legislator reads the requirement of the statutes and quits attacking the Pawlenty/Molnau administration for supposed incompetence in this area. Whether a Republican or Democrat administration, this is the law–end of matter.
The design-build concept is relatively new to state law. According to former legislator Phil Krinkie, this provision was put in place in 2001 to fast track the Hiawatha Light Rail Line and was supposed to save money. The stipend that consumes Kalin is small potatoes compared to the rest of the provisions of the law. Rather than taking the lowest bidder, it provides for accepting the bid of “best value.”
Mn/DOT has selected the highest bid–$57 million more than the low bid. Another $27 million can be had through bonuses. And this bidder has the longest work schedule by more than two months. These are issues that Kalin should be pursuing because these are the big potatoes.
The real problem is the “best value” law which is administered by bureaucrats which has given us the boondoggle of the excessive cost of LRT, now the bridge, and more to come. The idea isn’t working and should be removed from state law. The lowest, qualified bidder system worked well.
Eventually Kalin may complain about these excessive costs, but it is doubtful he will address the law that creates it because that law caters to liberal thinking. He’d rather use the small potatoes improperly or merely potentially to attack a Republican administration than address true government waste.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
By Bob Von Sternberg
Saying Sixth District U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann has "built her career around divisive issues and a partisan approach," former state Transportation Commissioner Elwyn Tinklenberg launched his second bid for the seat on Monday.
He said his decision was wholly prompted by the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge on Aug. 1: "I knew at that moment I couldn't sit by and allow this inattentiveness to continue."
Read the rest of the story in the Star Tribune.
Tinklenberg is just like Congressman Jim Oberstar, a long time transportation chair, who has known about the need for bridge repair for decades and done little or nothing to provide money for that mundane work, but lavishes dollars on pork barrel projects.
These Dems have no shame, no embarrassment, no recollection of history. While promising to solve the bridge problems, these men have not been part of the solution.
It’s time for Minnesotans to reject those who have been the problem.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Millions heard Limbaugh identify one man, Jesse MacBeth as a pretender, a phony soldier. Of course, Rush Limbaugh is commonly recognized across the political spectrum as a right-winger who defends the military. So why would Harry Reid attack Limbaugh, knowing his assault is a lie?
Being in a constant state of depression, liberals must do something–anything–to feel good. It made Reid feel good to attack Limbaugh just like it made the president of Columbia University, Lee Bollinger, feel good to attack Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Bollinger’s assault had substance, but it just felt good for Harry to attack Rush even though he knows the charge is empty. Evil Rush just needs to be blasted in return for all the critique Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid gets almost daily on the Rush Limbaugh show. Harry stood up to Rush; that’ll show ’em. A smear will empower the base by making them feel good too. Throw in some diversion to get the attention off his failures and Reid can feel good about himself again.
For liberals, the severity of the charge, not the truth of the charge, is all that matters. Stack proof upon proof to demonstrate the charge is ludicrous, and Reid will still hammer the severity of the charge. Liberals do not live in the same moral world that we do. They live as if truth means nothing to them. Right and wrong do not exist. A lie has the moral equivalence of the truth.
But liberals are caught in a vicious circle. Tossing out baseless charges makes them feel good. But there is this little thing called a conscience–God given and impossible to eradicate–that bothers them when they lie. That is why they are so depressed. (Harry Reid’s tortured face tells it all. Rush Limbaugh is a happy person, with a clear conscience.) Telling feel good lies elevates them out of depression, only that nagging conscience cries out again and brings more depression!
Limbaugh does not need others to bolster him in his analysis of politics because he rests his case on evidence in a real world. Reid needs the rush that comes from using the bully pulpit of the Senate floor before his fellow religionists who stroke his ego and salve his conscience. Harry needs the ever-expanding chorus of those who chant the same lie because they too have drunk the liberal kool-aid from their common communion cup. Adoption and repetition of the empty charge by others validates it. Harry can’t stand alone. Rush can.
Check here for the continuing saga of the Crush Rush drama as chronicled by Michelle Malkin. Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar is among the 41 Democrats who signed Reid's denounciation of Rush Limbaugh.