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A little over a month ago, I held my annual fundraising week. To say that I appreciate those people who contributed is understatement. Due to some unusual circumstances, I’m holding a supplemental fundraising drive.

Last night, I wrote my first post on a series about ‘creeping Shariah’. I’ve written about many important issues in the 11 years I’ve operated LFR. None of those issues is as big as this issue. In fact, none are even close in importance.

I’m a strong believer in the old Biblical admonition that “a worker is worthy of his wages.” With most issues, I don’t press my case on this. Most issues, though, are transient. The issue of creeping Shariah isn’t transient. It’s the opposite. It’s existential. The harm that Shariah law can do to western civilization is immense, though CAIR will attempt to minimize Shariah’s impact. I will attempt, through this series, to highlight the potential impact of Shariah.

If you want to contribute to getting this information to the public with a check, leave a comment to this post and I will contact you on how we can make this happen. Otherwise, feel free to contribute by clicking on the Donate button in the upper right hand corner of the page.

As always, thanks for your contributions. Know that they’re definitely appreciated.

When I wrote this article, I included an email sent out to the SCSU community through their Announce listserv. The email was sent by SCSU History Professor Mark Jaede. The email that Prof. Jaede sent out raised awareness of the fact that “Granite City Baptist Church in St. Cloud is sponsoring a presentation by a speaker who tours the country denouncing Islam and warning that Muslims are conspiring to take over America” and that “#unitecloud, an organization that seeks to support immigrants and bring together people from the St. Cloud area of different religious perspectives, is holding a counterdemonstration Friday at 5 pm.”

Then Prof. Jaede added this:

“This announcement is posted consistent with the guidelines for SCSU-Announce which can be found here:

http://huskynet.stcloudstate.edu/policies/announce_discuss.asp

and say in part:

“Examples of acceptable use:

  • Event announcements
  • Items that have been lost or found
  • Awards and recognitions
  • Community opportunities related to the university

As always, any comments, responses, or denunciations should not go to Announce, but should go either to Discuss or to me personally.”Interestingly, Prof. Jaede highlighted “event announcements” and “community opportunities related to the university.” What I’d be interested in hearing is Prof. Jaede’s explanation how a religious event at a church is related to St. Cloud State University. (BTW, the University’s spelling sucks. It shouldn’t be spelled “related to the university” because it’s talking about St. Cloud State University, which makes it a proper noun, which requires a capital letter. But I digress.)

Further, I can’t wait to hear Prof. Jaede’s justification for using government resources to talk about a counterprotest put on by a progressive political organization named #unitecloud. If you visit their missions page, it says “Who is your neighbor?

LGBT, Muslims, Christians, Immigrants, Disabled, Homeless, Poor, Women, Whites, Blacks, and on and on. We all have biases. They influence how we treat each other. You don’t have to agree with your neighbor’s lifestyle to promote a culture of respect. You don’t have to agree on anything to be kind. Our commonality is based in our humanness. Take time to look them in the eye, learn their story, and see how much we all hold in common.”

If that doesn’t sound like a DFL front group, then DFL front groups don’t exist. And I know DFL front groups exist because I’ve exposed more than a few dozen DFL front groups.

I’d love hearing President Potter’s or Prof. Jaede’s justification for using government resources to announce a political protest at a church on the opposite side of town from the University. I’m betting that they’d fumble their way through a justification if I asked them that question without notice.

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Rachel Stassen-Berger’s article provides a little levity at a critical time. Ms. Stassen-Berger’s article opens by saying “Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton will spend his holiday weekend reviewing the minute details of the spending and tax bills the Legislature delivered for his signature as he decides their fate.” If that’s true, it will mark the first time in his administration that Gov. Dayton will have paid any attention to the details of any legislation.

Right before FarmFest 2013, Gov. Dayton discovered the farm equipment repair sales tax in the Tax Bill he personally negotiated with Sen. Bakk and then-Speaker Thissen. After FarmFest, Gov. Dayton promised to repeal the farm equipment sales tax during a special session of the legislature. Then Gov. Dayton and the DFL legislature broke that promise.

In 2012, Gov. Dayton was outraged to find a provision in the Vikings’ stadium bill that gave the Wilfs the authority to charge extra for PSLs, aka Personal Seat Licenses. Like the farm equipment repair sales tax, the Vikings Stadium bill was a bill Gov. Dayton personally negotiated with the legislature.

In the interview, the governor said he had already pored over the lawmakers’ work.

“I spent six hours on Wednesday and about four hours yesterday going through them in detail with staff,” Dayton said. “We went through all the major bills with a fine-toothed comb and asked for some further analysis I’m going to get by the end of the day.”

If Gov. Dayton vetoes the GOP’s tax relief bill, Republicans will hang that veto around the necks of every DFL legislator or challenger in a swing district. Not even Gov. Dayton is that foolish. Here’s why:

The Legislature, on wide bipartisan votes, also approved tax cuts and credits that cost the state cash in its short- and long-term budgeting. Students with college debt, veterans, tobacco companies, families and cities are among the beneficiaries.

Throughout the session, the DFL’s top priorities were for broadband expansion, raising the gas tax and spending more to reduce racial disparities. They voted for tax relief because voting against it would’ve been political suicide but it wasn’t a priority with the DFL. Likewise, it isn’t a priority with Gov. Dayton.

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Chester Rorvig’s LTE sounds reasonable. It’s just missing one thing. First, let’s look at Mr. Rorvig’s LTE.

Rorvig’s LTE starts with “Legislators of both parties, along with transportation experts, agree that Minnesota needs $600 million per year for 10 years to get the state’s roads and bridges up to par.” That’s the conventional wisdom but I’m always skeptical of CW. It’s been wrong too often for me to think it’s reliable.

Rorvig goes wrong when he asks “Could not Democrats agree to divert this vehicle repair sales tax for half of the need, $300 million? Could not Republicans agree to a 10-cent-per-gallon gas tax increase, which, at the rate of each cent raising $30 million, would provide the other half of the need, $300 million?”

First, I’ve written many times that the last gas tax increase didn’t provide nearly the money the DFL predicted they’d need to fix Minnesota’s roads and bridges. The whole idea behind Chairman Kelly’s transportation plan was to provide a more reliable revenue stream.

This is the biggest point of contention I have with Mr. Rorvig’s LTE:

I find it hard to believe that not one Republican would agree to the gas tax increase and that not one Democrat would agree to the vehicle repair sales tax diversion.

It isn’t that Republicans didn’t see the opportunity. It’s that they knew a gas tax increase is an outdated method of funding road and bridge repairs. Couple that with the fact that the vast majority of Minnesotans don’t want the gas tax increase and you have 2 powerful reasons not to raise the gas tax.

After all, the will of the people being governed should be heeded. I know it’s a radical idea but it makes sense.

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When I wrote this article, I expected to have lots of company covering Rep. Thissen’s abusive behavior. Since the 7 GOP legislators wrote the letter to Rep. Thissen, I’ve done searches to see if anyone had written about Thissen’s disgusting behavior. I wrote, too, about how the DFL sat silent while Rep. Thissen repeatedly taunted GOP staffers.

Thus far, the silence has been deafening. It’s been telling, too.

When 7 legislators say that they’d “witnessed a disturbing pattern of verbal abuse of Republican Staff by [Rep. Thissen] on the floor of the House of Representatives,” that’s a big deal. When Reps. Peppin, Franson, O’Neill, Mack, Albright, Fabian and Nash said that they’d witnessed Thissen’s abusive behavior “throughout this session”, that should’ve gotten reporters’ attention. Apparently, it didn’t get the media’s attention.

It’s disgusting that the DFL legislators that Rep. Thissen allegedly leads to sit silent. It’s in their partisan interest to look like they aren’t led by a man who can’t control his temper. It’s one thing to protect a politician in you own party. It’s another to protect a politician when you’re supposed to be a reporter at a major newspaper or TV station. I’m even willing to cut columnists a certain amount of slack.

It’s quite another thing when a chief political reporter for KSTP or the Pioneer Press mention the incident in a tweet, then go totally silent on the subject. I get it that the end of session is the biggest story of the week. It’s another thing to just be silent about another big story. And yes, the Thissen story is a big deal.

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When the DFL senators amended the Bonding bill at the last second, they made sure there wasn’t enough time to pass it in the House. The DFL senators who insisted that the bonding bill include money for the SWLRT did Minnesotans a great disservice. They insisted that they get everything they want and that public safety be damned.

When the session ended and the bonding bill crashed, left unfunded was the Highway 12 safety upgrade. According to this article, that stretch of road is exceptionally dangerous. According to the article, “There have been 21 people killed over the past five years on the 38-mile stretch of road from Wayzata to Cokato, giving it one of the highest fatal crash rates in the metro.”

Public safety is a core function of government. Light rail projects aren’t. While transportation lobbyists will disagree with me on the latter statement, most Minnesotans will side with me in saying that making Highway 12 safer is an infinitely higher priority than funding the SWLRT project. If a pollster informed people of how dangerous that stretch of Highway 12 is, then asked people whether Highway 12 funding was a higher priority than the Southwest Light Rail project, 95% would pick the Highway 12 project as urgent.

When the DFL amended the bonding bill, they knew that they were killing funding for the Highway 12 project, at least temporarily.

I’ve criticized Rep. Thissen fairly frequently. While I didn’t know that Rep. Thissen was vulgar, I knew that he wasn’t a man of integrity. Today, 7 members of the House GOP sent a letter to Rep. Thissen criticizing him for Rep. Thissen’s “disturbing pattern of verbal abuse of Republican Staff.” The letter was signed by House Majority Leader Peppin, Mary Franson, Marion O’Neill, Tara Mack, Tony Albright, Dan Fabian and Jim Nash. According to Rachel Stassen-Berger’s tweet, Rep. Thissen has apologized because Rep. Thissen’s “behavior was over the line.”

That’s BS. The letter from Reps. Peppin, Franson, O’Neill, Mack, Albright, Fabian and Nash said “Throughout this session, we have witnessed a disturbing pattern of verbal abuse of Republican Staff by you on the floor of the House of Representatives.” Thissen’s behavior wasn’t “over the line.” They weren’t an aberration. They weren’t his reaction in the heat of the moment during the last pressure-packed night of the session.

They were the actions of a coward. Later in their letter, Reps. Peppin, Franson, O’Neill, Mack, Albright, Fabian and Nash said “Despite this near-universal recognition, you routinely made derogatory remarks about our staff by name on the House floor and in the Rules Committee. These comments were made knowing that our staff cannot respond in kind and that staff has no microphone to defend themselves.”

Another thing that stands out is the fact that the DFL watched Rep. Thissen’s abusive behavior and didn’t do a thing to correct Thissen’s behavior. It’s bad enough that Thissen acted like Harry Reid during one of his mindless temper tantrums. It’s worse that the DFL did nothing after witnessing their ‘leader’ abuse defenseless staffers.

It isn’t enough for Rep. Thissen to just apologize. That’s required but it isn’t enough. What’s required, too, is for Thissen to resign his post as House DFL Leader. Repeated abusive behavior is proof that he doesn’t respect the people who support legislators. It’s proof that he thinks they’re his servants, not valued support staff that makes the legislature work.

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Greg Davids, the chairman of the House Taxes Committee, issued this statement in announcing an agreement on an innovative tax cut bill. He should be proud of the accomplishment. Unfortunately, Gov. Dayton is acting like a sourpuss holding the signing of the bill hostage if he doesn’t get his way on more reckless spending.

According to Briana Bierschbach’s reporting, “On Friday evening, DFL Gov. Mark Dayton called the tax proposal ‘within the ballpark of fiscal responsibility,’ but added that he would not sign any tax bill without a budget bill he finds acceptable.” In other words, Gov. Dayton thinks that the tax bill is good legislation but he won’t sign it if he doesn’t get his way. Whatever happened to doing the right thing for Minnesotans? Clearly, Gov. Dayton’s highest priority isn’t to Minnesotans. It’s to the DFL’s special interests.

Some of the components of the tax bill would dramatically help Minnesotans. For instance, Rep. Davids’ bill includes “$90.6 million in agriculture property tax relief for Minnesota farmers, $110 million in tax relief for college graduates paying off student loans through a refundable tax credit up to $1,000, $49 million in tax relief for families who contribute to 529 Plans to save for their children’s college costs, $146 million in property tax relief for every small business in the state by exempting the first $100,000 of commercial-industrial property, $13 million in tax relief for veterans by raising the income eligibility threshold, and increasing the total credit from $750 to $1,000, $150 million in tax relief for working families by expanding the working family tax credit and $32 million to reduce the cost of childcare; by expanding the childcare tax credit, families could earn a tax credit up to $960.”

Whether the spending bill comes through or not, Gov. Dayton should sign Chairman Davids’ tax bill. The thought that Gov. Dayton is holding this tax relief hostage on some questionable policies is disgusting. This exposes Gov. Dayton as the partisan I’ve always known him to be.

The DFL is whining about nothing getting done. Sadly, they’re the architects of that obstruction. It wasn’t the GOP that proposed a $1,800,000,000 bonding bill. It wasn’t the GOP that proposed wasting money on statewide pre-K. It was the GOP, however, that put together a tax bill that helps students with loan debt, parents saving for their children’s college education and provides property tax relief for farmers and small businesses.

If Gov. Dayton doesn’t sign this tax bill into law, then he’s entirely to blame.

UPDATE: Dayton is threatening to veto the Tax Bill:

A $257 tax cut package did pass and is on its way to Dayton’s desk. Dayton says there are many good provisions in the bill, however he is not sure if he will sign it. That’s because of a provision giving approximately $35 million in tax breaks to tobacco manufacturers. On Monday morning Dayton said he would make a decision on signing it and the other session bills in the next 48 hours.

That’s pathetic. Gov. Dayton is willing to sabotage a tax bill that provides property tax relief to farmers and small businesses, that establishes tax credits for paying off student loan debt and that incentivize parents to save for their children’s college education because it might help a tobacco company?

If that happens, then Gov. Dayton should be known as the most incompetent person to ever serve as Minnesota’s governor. That’s pretty astonishing considering the fact that Jesse Ventura was once our governor.

Last night, I noticed several tweets from the DFL side from Susie Merthans. After the session ended, a loyal reader of LFR sent me the link to ABM’s statement. According to the statement, Merthans is identified as “the Communications Director at Alliance for a Better Minnesota.”

That’s an attention-grabber because Ms. Merthans’ Twitter profile says “Communications Director for @ABetterMN by way of @mnhouseDFL.” Taxpayers shouldn’t pay the salary of someone who draws a salary as the communications director for the DFL’s campaign messaging unit. That’s what ABM is. If I had a $10 bill for each time I wrote about ABM’s role in DFL campaigns, I’d be living the life of luxury.

The DFL is a different operation. Their campaign communications are run through ABM’s offices. The DFL hasn’t been involved in campaign communications in years. ABM is as dishonest as they are corrupt. Check this paragraph from ABM’s statement out:

Republicans will be eager to start campaigning in their districts on the merits of this session. However, their record shows that they prioritized a Trump-like agenda that focused on tax giveaways to corporations and the wealthy, restricting women’s healthcare access, and denying that issues like climate change are a concern for Minnesota’s future.

First, as a proud member of the #NeverTrump resistance, I can’t figure out what Trump’s agenda will be beyond building a wall on the Tex-Mex border and stopping refugee resettlement programs from Muslim nations. I’m certain that the House GOP didn’t try enacting legislation making those thing the law in Minnesota.

Second and more importantly, the GOP fought for middle class tax cuts. If it was left to the DFL, they didn’t want to pass tax cuts. They wanted the money spent on broadband and on programs aimed at reducing racial disparities. Here’s Greg Davids’ statement on the GOP tax cuts:

“Over the past two years, I’ve continued to say ‘don’t stop believing,’ and today I’m proud that we can deliver significant tax relief for Minnesota families,” said Davids. “From a farmer in southern Minnesota, to a family in the suburbs, to a small business owner on the Iron Range, to a recent graduate at the U of M, this plan provides targeted relief to the middle class throughout the state.”

In the next three years, the plan provides tax relief in the amounts as follows:

  • $90.6 million in agriculture property tax relief for Minnesota farmers
  • $110 million in tax relief for college graduates paying off student loans through a refundable tax credit up to $1,000, the first of its kind in the country.
  • $49 million in tax relief for families who contribute to 529 Plans to save for their children’s college costs.
  • $146 million in property tax relief for every small business in the state by exempting the first $100,000 of commercial-industrial property.
  • $13 million in tax relief for veterans by raising the income eligibility threshold, and increasing the total credit from $750 to $1,000.
  • $150 million in tax relief for working families by expanding the working family tax credit
  • $32 million to reduce the cost of childcare; by expanding the childcare tax credit, families could earn a tax credit up to $960.

Those aren’t “tax giveaways to corporations and the wealthy.” They’re middle class tax cuts. The DFL spinmeisters at ABM aren’t interested in the truth. They’re interested in savaging Republicans at all costs. If they have to make things up, that’s what the DFL will do. ABM isn’t there to tell the truth, as I’ve pointed out multiple times. ABM is there to be the DFL’s hatchet against Republicans. If the DFL and ABM need to lie about Republicans, then that’s what ABM will do because that’s what the DFL wants them to do.

That’s hardball politics. What I have a complaint with is when the DFL expects the taxpayers to pay part of their communications director’s salary. There should be a constitutional amendment prohibiting people like Susie Merthans from ever working for as a legislative staffer. There should be a bright line between campaign shills and taxpayer-funded positions.

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I knew that the DFL and ABM would start spinning things after they created a mess but this is ridiculous. While the legislature was still in session, Susie Merthans started spinning things. She quoted Paul Thissen as saying “Modest victories are due to Gov Dayton & DFL Senate dragging GOP kicking and screaming across the finish line.” Then, as though that wasn’t enough, she added “Paul Thissen: GOP beholden to corporate special interests, it’s time for a change.”

First, it’s frightening that Ms. Merthans admits in her profile that she’s the “Communications Director for @ABetterMN by way of @mnhouseDFL.” Why should ABM’s communications director get paid by Minnesota taxpayers? That’s the definition of corruption. ABM doesn’t change when the session ends. It’s the same dishonest messaging as they used during the legislative session. The only difference is that ABM will spend more money on mailers and ads during the campaign. The dishonest themes remain pretty much intact.

That’s before talking about the dishonesty of Thissen’s statements. The DFL is the party that does whatever the environmentalists tell them to do. Actually, they don’t do what the environmental activists tell them not to do. Think about the DFL’s opposition to the Sandpiper Pipeline project. Think about the DFL’s opposition to a resolution at their State Convention in 2014 that said the DFL supported mining. At the DFL’s State Convention in Duluth in 2014, that timid resolution was pulled by Ken Martin said it was too controversial. Seriously.

Another example is how the DFL rammed through forced unionization on in-home child care providers at the end of the 2013 session. Despite a massive lobbying effort organized by in-home child care providers, the DFL ignored the in-home child care providers and sided with public employee unions. Again, the DFL didn’t care about the people. The DFL sided with their special interest allies. It isn’t surprising. That’s their habit.

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If this LTE doesn’t put Sartell’s bonding referendum in perspective, nothing will. The LTE’s second paragraph contains the first red flag. That paragraph says “It’s just one meal out at a restaurant a month, right? It will only lengthen your mortgage payments for up to six months on the average home. No big deal; what’s six months? Most residents won’t live in their home for 25 years, which is the length of this bond.”

While the writer didn’t say that she got the “one meal at a restaurant a month” figure from the school board, it isn’t a stretch to think that that’s where she got it from. It’s an old sales technique that’s used to make something sound inexpensive. It’s like the TV sales pitch for leasing a vehicle. Rather than saying what the cost of a vehicle is, these types of ads usually say something like ‘you can lease a brand new Mercedes for only $295 a month’ right before they tell you that they require $5,000 down at signing.

What they don’t tell you is how much money you’d spend during the cost of the lease only to have to lease another vehicle. That isn’t the case in this LTE. Instead of glossing over that statistic, Tammy Hagerty puts it into perspective by saying “But say you are a farmer owning 140 acres and rent another 400 acres from other landowners in this district. (Landowners rent their land to cover their taxes.) Taxes on that farmer’s homestead and acreage are $2,319.39 a year. With the projected increase of $948 a year, the family farm that you’ve owned for over 35 years will cost you an additional $81,610.75 over the next 25 years.”

It’s one thing to hear that a property tax increase would only cost “one meal at a restaurant a month.” That’s pretty reasonable sounding. It’s another when the taxpayers hear that that bonding initiative alone will cost a farmer $81,610.75 over the course of 25 years.

Taxpayers, it’s time to stop accepting sales pitch figures that politicians use. It’s time to demand that they use dollars and cents figures. Further, we should insist that school board members that don’t tell the truth should be immediately thrown off he board. I wrote this post about Colleen Donovan’s LTE because of this information:

“The Dec. 19 Times report “St. Cloud schools hike tax levy 14.75%” reported the district stating an owner of a home valued at $150,000, if their home value did not increase, would pay $49 more in taxes due to the 2015 levy increase. My 2015 tax statement showed that levy increased my taxes by 54.5 percent, or an increase of $79.59. And my house is valued under $100,000. This is far from the $49 on a $150,000 the district reported in December. The district did not need voter approval to do this.”

In short, these school board members don’t automatically tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Unfortunately, it sometimes requires citizen pressure.

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