Leaders Lead!
by Silence Dogood

According to an article published on on October 19, 2014,

Dr. Raymond Burse, the President at Kentucky State University in Frankfort is taking a $90,000 pay cut “so the lowest-paid workers on his campus can get a wage boost.” Essentially, 24 employees will get a pay raise from $7.25 to $10.25 per hour.

Dr. Anne Blackhurst, the new President at Minnesota State University—Moorhead during homecoming week celebrations two weeks ago led a fundraising effort by running 12.5 miles (50 laps around the track) and personally donated $1,000 per lap out of her own salary towards the effort for a total donation of $50,000. Her fundraising efforts raised a total of $1,200,000, which is the largest fundraising effort in MSUM’s history!

What has President Earl Potter done?

At SCSU, President Potter is once again heading to China for several weeks. This, despite the fact, the university is facing a $9,500,000 shortfall in this year’s budget, enrollment is down over 5% for the fourth year in a row, Coborn’s Plaza is hemorrhaging money costing SCSU $6,400,000 in the first four years of operation and an incredibly low approval rating of President Potter and his administration as evidenced by the results of the Great Place to Work Survey.

Winona State University’s Faculty Senate on Monday unanimously voted “no confidence” in MnSCU Chancellor Steven Rosenstone.

According to the article the reason for the vote by the Winona Faculty Senate was

“a recurring pattern of secrecy in MnSCU decision making regarding the hiring of private consultants, questionable spending decisions by the System Office, and an unwillingness to incorporate greater student and faculty input into long term planning.”

Let’s look to see if these same issues occur at SCSU.

Anyone familiar with SCSU knows that has become easier to hire a consultant than hire a part-time faculty member. While some consultants may be performing worthwhile functions, the sheer number of consultants that have been hired the last few years is simply stunning—and those are only the consultants we know about! Consultant contracts range on the low end from a few thousand dollars to nearly half a million dollars.

SCSU also seems to have several questionable spending decisions of its own—most notably the contract with the Wedum Foundation for the Coborn’s Plaza Apartments, which has taken $6,400,000 from the university’s budget in the first four years of operation. On top of that, spending $720,000 on a three-year contract for additional police officers in the community surrounding the SCSU campus, $450,000 for the Confucius Institute and $459,000 on a ‘Rebranding’ campaign. This is only a partial list of major expenses!

Lastly, the lack of input and consideration of a wide array of opinions prior to making major decisions is the norm at SCSU. Most decisions are simply announced after the fact. Multiple administration positions have been filled without searches or consultation with the faculty. Some of these positions have been filled this way for several years. Even when the faculty requested inclusion in the process for removing grades from student’s transcripts, the President denied the request. So much for being ‘open and transparent.’

Perhaps the wrong senate took a vote of ‘no confidence’ in the wrong person.

The Winona State University (WSU) vote was taken by the 28 faculty members who comprise their Faculty Senate, which is the governing body for the faculty at WSU. The Great Place to Work Survey conducted at SCSU with 634 of 1,582 of those invited responding was clearly not a vote of confidence in President Potter and his administration. However, with such abysmal results for the senior leadership, it certainly could be viewed as a vote of no confidence in President Potter and his administration.

President Potter, with the support of Chancellor Rosenstone, simply refuses to see his part in the decline of what was once bragged to be the ‘flagship’ university in the MnSCU system. It truly is a shame because without leadership that is supported by the faculty and staff, things simply aren’t going to change for the better.

When the city of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho passed a non-discrimination ordinance, they opened up a nasty First Amendment can of worms:

Two Christian ministers who own an Idaho wedding chapel were told they had to either perform same-sex weddings or face jail time and up to a $1,000 fine, according to a lawsuit filed Friday in federal court. Alliance Defending Freedom is representing Donald and Evelyn Knapp, ordained ministers who own the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel in Coeur d’Alene.

“Right now they are at risk of being prosecuted,” their ADF attorney, Jeremy Tedesco, told me. “The threat of enforcement is more than just credible.”

According to the lawsuit, the wedding chapel is registered with the state as a “religious corporation” limited to performing “one-man-one-woman marriages as defined by the Holy Bible.” But the chapel is also registered as a for-profit business, not as a church or place of worship, and city officials said that means the owners must comply with a local nondiscrimination ordinance.

It’s difficult seeing this ordinance passing constitutional scrutiny by a real court. It was upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The next step will be to the Supreme Court. The First Amendment doesn’t just protect citizens, as we learned in this summer’s Hobby Lobby ruling.

I suspect that this is just another attempt to strike down that ruling.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, told me it’s “open season on Americans who refuse to bow to the government’s redefinition of marriage. Americans are witnesses to the reality that redefining marriage is less about the marriage altar and more about fundamentally altering the freedoms of the other 98 percent of Americans,” Perkins said.

Governments, whether they’re local governments or the federal government, don’t have the authority to tell religious institutions what they must do. That’s what Coeur d’Alene is attempting to do. Their city attorney, Warren Wilson, apparently isn’t that schooled in constitutional law.

Thankfully, the Knapps are standing their ground, with assistance from the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Family Research Council. It’s important that government not have the authority to tell people how they can practice their faith. That’s a major reason why people left Europe. It’s important that we fight against being returned to European-style governance.

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More on Projections
by Silence Dogood

On April 14, 2014, the seven MnSCU universities were required to project their final FY14 FYE enrollments and FY15 FYE enrollments. At that point in the semester, with only four weeks left in the semester, the registration numbers for FY14 should be pretty firm. The table reproduced below came from SCSU’s Office of Finance and Administration’s website:

A graphic representing the difference between the “Projected FY 2014″ and the final actual FY2014 FYE enrollments (taken from MnSCU data) is shown below:

Clearly, some universities did a better job of projecting final enrollments than others. Moorhead’s, SCSU’s and Winona’s projections were significantly different than the eventual final enrollment. Remember, these are projections of the final enrollment only four weeks from the end of the semester. In the case of Moorhead, they underestimated their FY14 enrollment so at least the surprise was a good one. In the case of SCSU and Winona, the actual enrollments were significantly below their projections. Most financial people don’t like ‘surprises’ especially if they are bad ones! For SCSU, the decline of 62 FYE only represents an error of 0.5% so it might seem like ‘making a mountain out of a mole hill.’ However, clearly from the data, four universities did a better job than SCSU. Additionally, assuming that 1 FYE produces a total of $11,500 (tuition and state appropriation), 62 FYE accounts for a total of $713,000. That mole hill is beginning to look like more of a mountain!

Switching to the FY15 Projections. The data in the table also shows each university’s percent change in their enrollment from their estimated FY14 FYE enrollment as compared to their estimated FY15 FYE enrollment.

A positive value (shown in blue) indicates that a university is expecting an increase in enrollment from FY14 to FY15. A negative value (shown in red) indicates that the enrollment is expected to go down. For some universities, there is a lot of ‘red’ in the figure.

Winona was the only MnSCU university to project an increase in enrollment for FY15. Metro projected that their enrollment would remain constant in FY15. Both Bemidji and Mankato projected slight declines of 0.1% and 0.3%, respectively. Southwest projected a slightly larger decline at 1.2%. Both Moorhead and SCSU projected declines greater than 3%, which by any measure is a significant decline in enrollment.

Last year, Moorhead went through retrenchment and layoffs and reduced its faculty and staff by 10% as a result of a three-year decline in enrollment of 11.4%. As a result, you might expect to see an enrollment decline simply resulting from fewer course offerings because of having fewer faculty.

SCSU is the clear leader in projecting an enrollment decline at 3.5%. Following declines of 5.9%, 5.4% and 5.1% during the last three years, an enrollment decline of only 3.5% would be a significant improvement.

For a number of years Tom Fauchald, a Bemidji State University faculty member, has provided information about enrollments within the MnSCU system. In his latest report, he compares the FYE fall enrollments for all of the MnSCU colleges and universities. The data he presented was based on enrollment as of September 13, 2014 and was compared to the enrollment on the same date the prior year. The percent change for Fall semester at each of the MnSCU universities is shown in the following figure:

Clearly, the data shows enrollment at all of the MnSCU universities is down compared to the prior year on the same date.

A more interesting comparison might be how the enrollments compared with each of the university’s predictions. The following figure shows the difference between the projected percent enrollment (for FY15) and the percent FYE enrollment decline on September 14, 2014 (year-to-date comparison):

The red in the Figure shows that the enrollments at all of the MnSCU universities are lower than their projections. More red in the figure, the larger the decrease from a university’s projected enrollment. It is important to note that the enrollment projection made by the university was for the entire year and the enrollment data is only year-to-date enrollment data for fall semester (summer was not included and spring has yet to occur). As a result, these numbers may change. Concurrent enrollment is only significant at Southwest, SCSU and Mankato so they may see a small improvement in the enrollment numbers. However, it is not likely that the numbers will change substantially as the last of the concurrent enrollment is registered and spring semester is added.

Bemidji and Mankato seemed to do the best job at predicting their enrollments with errors of 1.0% and 0.5%, respectively. The remaining five universities all varied in their underestimation of their enrollment decline between 1.7% and 2.7%. Since SCSU is the largest of these universities, SCSU’s actual FYE decrease is much larger than any one else.

If Mankato is SCSU’s main rival, it is clear that there is a significant difference in almost every measure of recent performance. It also appears that the difference is increasing. And SCSU is not on the ‘right’ side of the changes!

Whenever a DFL politician talks about major construction projects, whether it’s the Sandpiper Pipeline project or the PolyMet Mining project, they always say these 6 extra words:

“We need to do this right.”

This time, the politician was Al Franken and the project he was talking about was PolyMet. Unfortunately, Sen. Franken loves using the environmental activists’ code words. Here’s a perfect example:

The Minnesota Democratic senator, who is in a re-election contest with Republican challenger Mike McFadden, spoke about the copper/nickel/precious metals venture during an interview at the Mesabi Daily News Monday morning. The senator said he believes “a vast majority of Minnesotans want to see those (PolyMet) jobs … no question about that.”

Franken said he has regularly been in touch with PolyMet officials. And he has also heard from critics of the project. “One thing I’m very aware of is that we haven’t done this before here,” the senator said. “But boy, can I understand how people are frustrated” about the nine years of environmental review. “Believe me that’s not lost on me.”

Franken said he aligns himself with the Iron Range Legislative Delegation on the issue — “Get it done based on the science.”

“Get it done based on the science” is code for ‘let’s let the environmental activist organizations drag this out with lawsuits, PR stunts and propaganda wars’. DFL politicians are experts at that. DFL politicians like Sen. Franken and Rep. Nolan are professionals when it comes to looking like they’re doing something while dragging their feet.

That’s what they’ve both done since getting to DC. Nolan voted for HR 761, then promised environmental activists that he wouldn’t vote for it again if it came back for final passage:

Northern Minnesota is known for its great fishing, so perhaps it’s fitting that tracking 8th District Congressman Rick Nolan’s position on a bill that deregulates the mining industry and fast tracks the permitting process for PolyMet is a bit like watching a fish flopping around on a dock: first he’s against it, then he’s for it and now he once again opposes it, this time promising to vote against the legislation if it “comes anywhere near close to becoming law.”

This weekend, Nolan told Tom Hauser that he voted to streamline the permitting process. Sen. Franken couldn’t say that because he hasn’t lifted a finger to make PolyMet a reality. Nor has he done anything to streamline the permitting process in the future.

Instead, Dayton, Franken and Nolan have worked hard to walk a perilous tightrope. Dayton, Franken and Nolan have to appear to be friends of the miners without overstepping the environmental activists’ boundaries.

The PolyMet supplemental draft environmental impact statement is currently in the comment review phase, which Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr said earlier this month should be completed in early-2015.

If the project receives a certificate of adequacy from the SDEIS, permits can follow, with construction beginning. The venture is projected to create 360 permanent jobs, hundreds more spin-off positions and more than 2 million hours of construction.

“We’ve got an incredible deposit of minerals,” Franken said. “But if this had been done too soon and it was tainted and the watershed contaminated, it would be mitigated for decades or centuries. And what would that have meant for the second or third project?”

Throughout this process, environmentalists have portrayed mining companies as deadbeats that destroy the environment, then skip the country while taxpayers foot the cleanup bill. They’ve also portrayed mining companies as thugs who love destroying the environment in their lust for big profits. This is dishonest.

That isn’t what happens. These companies have a history of following the rules. They have a history of doing things right.

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When it comes to national security, Sen. Franken is a lightweight. This article provides additional proof of that:

Franken said Obama doesn’t have authority to bypass Congress, but he has long backed closing the military prison and handling suspects through the American judicial system. Franken said he worries Guantanamo’s continued existence has only boosted terrorist recruitment efforts, and said there are plenty of high-security prisons in the United States to house the dozens of terrorism suspects at Guantanamo.

Sen. Franken isn’t serious about fighting terrorists. Check out this statement about taking on ISIL:

There are no good options on Syria. But as I’ve said, the use of chemical weapons to kill over a thousand people and injure many more is a horrendous act, and there have to be consequences for that. Whatever action the United States takes, it has to be limited action. This can’t be an open-ended commitment, and it definitely should not lead to American boots on the ground. Congress now has an important role to play, and I look forward to participating in a vigorous debate about the use of force and the best interests of our country.

Destroying ISIL isn’t possible without putting American boots on the ground. If you’re opposed to putting American troops into harms way, Sen. Franken, then just say that you aren’t really interested in doing what it takes to destroy ISIL.

There’s no doubt that Sen. Franken thinks that that’s the best poll-tested statement he could issue. Similarly, there’s no question that half-hearted airstrikes without boots on the ground is a political action. It isn’t a serious attempt to destroy ISIL. The Democratic Party, led by pacifists like President Obama and Sen. Franken and Sen. Klobuchar, is going soft on national security again. Closing Gitmo, not taking the airstrikes on ISIL seriously and ruling out putting boots on the ground in Anbar Province and in Syria says one thing unmistakably clear.

It says that Obama, Franken and Klobuchar aren’t serious about national security.

Why wouldn’t you keep Gitmo open? Why give these terrorists the opportunity to radicalize American prisoners? Back in 2006, Amy Klobuchar said that it was important to get out of the war responsibly. In 2008, Franken campaigned on the same message. Then-Sen. Obama campaigned on getting us out of Iraq. Franken, Klobuchar and Obama didn’t talk about winning wars. I wrote about that multiple times in 2006-2008.

As George Will and Charles Krauthammer highlight, the fastest way to end a war is to lose that war. That’s what Franken, Klobuchar and Obama are about. If they aren’t about losing winnable wars, then they’re doing the same things that people who want to lose wars would do.

Politicians that aren’t interested in killing terrorists and winning wars are anti-American. Sen. Franken and President Obama, it’s sad to see that that shoe fits.

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If people had said that Iowa was leaning Republican at the start of 2014, people would’ve said that that means Republicans were heading for a very good year. Based on the last 4 polls in Iowa, I’d say that Republicans were closing in on a strong year in the Senate:

Braley’s campaign is doing everything it can to frighten voters into voting for Braley:

With just weeks left in a tight Senate race that he started with an advantage, Democrat Bruce Braley is pressing to raise concerns among women voters about his Republican opponent, Joni Ernst, and take some of the sheen off the farm-raised, military veteran who rose from relative obscurity to GOP stardom during the campaign.

The all-abortion-all-the-time campaign worked so well for Mark Udall that they’re apparently shipping it to Iowa. A campaign is running on empty when their best hope is frightening people into staying home. That’s the Braley campaign’s only hope.

Frankly, it’s a high-risk attempt. Joni Ernst just isn’t frightening. She’s a military vet. She’s a state legislator. She’s got personality. It’s difficult to make someone with those attributes sound scary. One woman that is scary campaigned for Braley this weekend:

“What the Republicans are really fighting for is a world which there is less and less investment in your future, less and less opportunity for you and more and more protection for those at the top,” Warren told a crowd of about 500 people Sunday in the Iowa Memorial Union ballroom on the University of Iowa campus.

That Massachusetts windbag is all BS and no substance. There’s no question, though, that she’s the brightest star in the Democratic Party. The thing is that she’s talking generically. She isn’t directly talking about Joni Ernst. While her speech probably whipped the activists into a frenzy, it isn’t likely that she convinced independents that support Joni Ernst into supporting Braley.

If this race represented a Christmas stocking, Braley would be a lump of coal. He’s a check-the-box politician. He’s good enough to be a back-bencher but he isn’t good enough to be a star.

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During his interview with Esme Murphy, Rick Nolan reiterated his support for overturning the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens United vs. the FEC lawsuit:

The Supreme Court ruled against BCRA, aka McCain-Feingold:

Independent Expenditures by Corporations

The Court overruled Austin, striking down § 441b’s ban on corporate independent expenditures. It also struck down the part of McConnell that upheld BCRA § 203’s extension of § 441b’s restrictions on independent corporate expenditures. The Court held that the “government may not suppress political speech on the basis of the speaker’s corporate identity. No sufficient governmental interest justifies limits on the political speech of nonprofit or for-profit corporations.” An analysis of this holding follows.

As Applied Challenge. First, the Court held that the case could not be resolved on an as applied basis without chilling political speech. Under an “as applied” challenge, the Court’s review of the law’s constitutionality is limited to the set of facts in the case before it. The Court therefore broadened the case from Citizens United’s initial narrower arguments, focusing only on Hillary, to reconsider both the validity of its prior decisions in Austin and McConnell and the facial validity of § 441b.

In reaching this decision, the Court reasoned that among other things:

1. Citizen United’s narrower arguments, including that Hillary is not an “electioneering communication,” are not sustainable under a fair reading of § 441b, and

2. it must therefore consider the statute’s facial validity or risk prolonging its substantial chilling effect.

The First Amendment’s protections apply to all political speech. The argument that ‘corporations aren’t people’ is laughable at best. Nowhere in the First Amendment does it say that the First Amendment protects only individuals. Does the Fourth Amendment protect only individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures? Of course it doesn’t.

But I digress.

Nolan said that he’s “the lead sponsor of new legislation in Washington to reverse Citizens United.” That means, according to the Supreme Court’s ruling, Nolan wants to reverse the chilling effect McCain-Feingold had on political speech. For those asking why that’s a bad thing, I’ll answer with a question. Do you want the government to say what’s acceptable speech and what isn’t? Before answering that question, think about this: Lois Lerner “served as associate general counsel and head of the enforcement office at the FEC“:

One of Lerner’s former colleagues tells National Review Online that her political ideology was evident during her tenure at the FEC, where, he says, she routinely subjected groups seeking to expand the influence of money in politics, including, in her view, conservatives and Republicans, to the sort of heightened scrutiny we now know they came under at the IRS.

Before the IRS, Lerner served as associate general counsel and head of the enforcement office at the FEC, which she joined in 1986. Working under FEC general counsel Lawrence Noble, Lerner drafted legal recommendations to the agency’s commissioners intended to guide their actions on the complaints brought before them.

Isn’t it frightening that a corrupt bureaucrat like Lois Lerner could be the final arbiter of what’s acceptable speech and what isn’t? If Nolan’s legislation passed, it’s possible a corrupt, hyperpartisan bureaucrat could determine which speech is acceptable and what speech isn’t.

Nolan’s legislation would make it illegal for unions to advocate for their endorsed candidates. Nolan’s legislation might be used to shut down ABM, Nancy Pelosi’s superPAC and the DCCC. Is that what Nolan wants?

I’d bet it isn’t. He’s been silent while the DCCC ran its disgusting ads. He’s been silent while Nancy Pelosi’s superPAC ran disgustingly dishonest ads. Apparently, Nolan only opposes money in politics when he’s in front of a camera. That isn’t a principled position. It’s a political position.

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Is an Enrollment Management Plan Really Necessary?
by Silence Dogood

Just over three years ago, on September 20, 2011, President Potter gave Dr. Mahmoud Saffari, Vice President for Enrollment Management, ninety days notice that his contract was being terminated (i.e., that he was being fired). Dr. Potter stated that his firing was, in part, because he failed to develop an Enrollment Management Plan. Three years later, there is still no enrollment management plan and, surprisingly, no one else has been fired. Perhaps the lack of an Enrollment Management Plan was just a ruse for getting rid of Dr. Saffari because it certainly seems that there has been no urgency to develop one since Dr. Saffari’s departure.

In the fiscal year following Dr. Saffari’s departure, SCSU lost 5.4% FYE enrollment, followed the next year by another 5.0% FYE enrollment decline. The administration is projecting another loss between 4-5% this year. The cumulative enrollment loss over the three-year period FY13-FY15 is 14.2%. That’s assuming that the enrollment is only down this academic year by 4.5%.

In order to better predict enrollments, three years ago President Potter formed the Data Analytics Group. The Data Analytics Group’s enrollment prediction for FY14 was a projected loss of 2.4% enrollment. Enrollment dropped by 5.0%. Last March, the Data Analytics Group’s enrollment projection for this year was for a loss of 3.2% enrollment. That number has since been raised to a loss of between 4-5%. As a result of their consistent and significant underestimating of the enrollment declines the past two years, it is really difficult to believe that the projections of the Data Analytics Group are accurate.

Minnesota State University—Mankato has a lot of information that is available on its website to anyone with a computer. This certainly isn’t the case for SCSU where lots of information simply isn’t available, not updated, or only available to people having access to the SharePoint website.

One of the notable pieces of information that is publically available on Mankato’s website is their Enrollment Management Plan.

Mankato’s Enrollment Management Plan is a total of three pages long and contains aspirational goals that can be readily assessed. Mankato’s Enrollment Management Plan is reproduced below.

In the three years since Dr. Saffari’s departure, President Potter has failed to develop an Enrollment Management Plan. The only thing resembling an Enrollment Management Plan that has come from Dr. Potter is that he is ‘right sizing’ the university. If you do not have a plan all roads lead to an unknown destination. Mankato has specific goals so they know where they are going and at critical decision points they can choose a path with a higher probability of reaching their goal. Since SCSU has no plan, decisions are made without consideration of the intended final destination. It appears that SCSU is proclaiming that we arrived at our destination and claim that was where we were going all along. As a result, I suggest that SCSU use Mankato’s Enrollment Management Plan as template. With a few changes, it will give SCSU some goals that the university can work toward achieving. Having a plan, even the Mankato plan, would give SCSU some goals to work towards and a means of assessing the university’s progress towards those goals. Right now all we have is someone saying we’re ‘right sizing.’

With the assumption that SCSU only loses 4.5% this year, which is an overly optimistic projection, SCSU will have lost 21.5% of its FYE enrollment in five years. On the other hand, from its Enrollment Management Plan, it is clear that Mankato is aspiring to grow its headcount enrollment from 15,000 to 17,000 by 2017. Clearly, SCSU and Mankato are heading in different directions. If you had a choice, which path would you chose? Apparently, Minnesota students and parents are choosing and it doesn’t look too good for SCSU.

I’ll risk saying this but the professional political punditry needs to get start seeing things through a policy impact perspective, not through a ‘will it play politically’ perspective. During this morning’s gubernatorial debate, Gov. Dayton said that he’s long advocated for a single-payer health care system.

What was the collective reaction from the professional political punditry? Crickets. No big deal. Keep moving.

The government, whether we’re talking about the Obama administration or the Dayton administration, is incapable of handling anything that complex. In too many instances, it’s incapable of handling fundamental responsibilities.

That professional political pundits think it isn’t a big deal to advocate for a system that’s never worked anywhere because that’s been his standard answer is shameful. Style points seem to matter more than character, policy impacts and what’s best for Minnesota.

It’s time to tune out the professional political pundits because they’re too interested in election outcomes. Unfortunately, they aren’t interested enough in policy outcomes. Jeff Johnson’s policies will make life better in Minnesota. Unlike Gov. Dayton, Jeff Johnson will fight to build the Sandpiper Pipeline because that’ll free up railcar space so farmers can get their crops to market. That makes life better for hard-working Minnesota farmers. Unlike Gov. Dayton, Jeff Johnson will fight to open PolyMet because that’ll create hundreds of good-paying jobs. That’d make life significantly better for miners and mining communities.

Apparently, these things don’t matter to the professional political punditry from both sides of the aisle. Their tweets didn’t speak to what’s best for Minnesota. They just spoke to who won or lost based on game-changing moments and style points. That isn’t responsible journalism. That’s the type of partisanship that’s rotted our institutions and corrupted the political process.

If Republicans retake the House of Representatives and Gov. Dayton gets re-elected, Republicans will have a mandate because they spoke about issues. Gov. Dayton will have retained his title but he won’t have a mandate because he hasn’t spoken about what he’d do in his second term.

The DFL isn’t the party of no. They’re the party that won’t say no to their special interests that are driving Minnesota’s economy into the ground. Ask an Iron Ranger if they’re better off now than when Gov. Dayton took office. If they’re honest, they’ll say they aren’t. Their median household income has increased marginally. The percentage of people living below the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) grew by roughly 50%.

Health insurance premiums have skyrocketed. It’s virtually impossible to get changes made to policies to include or drop people from coverage. Still, Gov. Dayton insists that “it isn’t perfect” but that it’s getting better. Once a month, if not more often, we hear of another MNsure-related disaster.

Meanwhile, the professional political punditry insist that Gov. Dayton is winning because Jeff Johnson didn’t have that big game-changing moment. With all due respect, these political junkies are missing the point. Jeff Johnson has been solid. He’s provided sensible solutions to Minnesota’s biggest problems. Gov. Dayton has been dismissive, arrogant and utterly incompetent. He’s Minnesota’s version of Jimmy Carter.

It’s time to ignore the political junkies because they’re worried more about gamesmanship than doing what’s right for Minnesota. While we’re at it, it’d be great to get rid of the incompetent in the Governor’s Mansion, too.

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This LTE fails miserably in tying Stewart Mills and the NRA to the Ebola outbreak. Here’s the heart of its attempt:

A year ago Stewart Mills signaled his candidacy with an open video “letter” to Rep. Rick Nolan. It promoted the need and right to own an assault rifle as a constitutional symbol of American freedom. Now with the Ebola outbreak, this NRA and its wider coalition doctrine is pitted even more squarely against government involvement in health, both at the preventive and care level.

We don’t have a surgeon general because the NRA effectively blocked his confirmation. The American Medical Association and NRA have been feuding for years over such things as the NRA’s opposition to a physician’s right to ask patients about guns, its killing of a CDC study on gun deaths, and medical consensus that our 30,000 annual gun deaths should be treated as a public health problem. This partisan austerity anti-government stance has cut in funding of the NIH and CDC such that the NIH director recently noted that we otherwise should have had an Ebola vaccine by now.

That’s breathtakingly ill-informed. That’s a stretch of Olympic proportions.

It’s the latest attempt by the gun control crowd to tie Ebola to constitutional conservatism. First, progressives said that the Ebola crisis was the result of Republican budget cuts to the CDC. Now they’re saying that it’s conservatives’ fault because the NRA rejected President Obama’s surgeon general nominee.

It’s long past time to mercilessly ridicule this type of thinking.

Saying that gun deaths are a “public health problem” is insanity. The vast majority of gun deaths are caused by criminal activity. How will doctors treat that? Say ‘take 2 short clips and call me in the morning’?

Next, saying that Stewart Mills’ video to Rick Nolan “promoted the need and right to own an assault rifle” is breathtakingly dishonest. The video that Mills put together that went viral showed how little difference there is between an assault rifle and other firearms. This buffoon’s attempt to frighten people into thinking that Stewart Mills is obsessed with putting automatic weapons in everyone’s hands is laughable.

Ebola exposes how attempts to use market-forces alone in health care have again failed the U.S.

The man that wrote this LTE just identified himself as Nolan’s base: pro-gun control and pro-socialized medicine.

That puts to rest the argument of who would accurately represent Minnesota’s Eighth District and who would represent Nancy Pelosi.

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