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Harold Hamilton has an interesting read in this week’s commentary. Each Friday, Hamilton provides a weekly commentary on what’s happening politically in Minnesota. This week’s commentary is about Minnesota’s political alignment.

In the commentary, Hamilton wrote “The first glimmers of realignment began in the 1980s as the DFL became an abortion-on-demand party, causing many lifelong Democrats to migrate to the GOP because of deep seated beliefs regarding the sanctity of life. Next came gun control, as Democrats in the urban core became avowed enemies of law-abiding gun owners. The latest split on social issues has occurred in recent times over the gay marriage issue.”

In his abridged version of Minnesota’s transformation, Hamilton continued, saying “After Minnesota Democrats (and a handful of Republicans) legalized gay marriage in 2013, many rural Democrats lost their legislative seats in the 2014 election. The GOP held these seats in 2016, despite claims by the DFL that the seats were merely “rented.” If those seats are rentals, they are surely long-term leases. After the schism caused by social issues, the DFL suffered a catastrophic breakdown of their coalition over economic the economic issues that have become preeminent in recent elections. Strident DFL objections to mining, pipelines and oil extraction have proven to be the final straw for legions of erstwhile rural DFL voters.”

I’ve written extensively that the DFL has turned into the urban party that’s out-of-touch with rural Minnesota. If the truth is told, the DFL isn’t pro-farmer or pro-labor. They’re pro-hardline environmentalists and pro-government unions. Every 2 years, they make a pitch for the Iron Range but they’re losing their grip on that.

Ken Martin is the state DFL state party chair. When I did a search of YouTube’s videos with Martin in them over the past month, it came back with nothing. That’s understandable since the DFL doesn’t have a message and Martin’s DFL has been on a sustained losing streak. If I was in Chairman Martin’s situation, I’d hide, too.

If the DFL keeps urbanizing, they’ll soon be Minnesota’s minority party for a generation. That’s the trajectory they’re on.

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Last week, Gov. Dayton recommended that a fund be started to instruct police officers. At Gov. Dayton’s announcement, unfortunately, the most well-received speaker was Valerie Castile, Philando Castile’s mother.

That’s mostly because Gov. Dayton proposed that the training fund be named after Philando Castile. That didn’t sit well with the police. Their response was that “Still, the topic of naming the fund came up. Dennis Flaherty, a former executive director of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association who was at the meeting, said it was ‘fair to say there was disagreement’ in the law enforcement community over naming the fund.”

Castile’s mother was well-received because she said “At the end of the day, everyone wants to go home. The police wants to go home and the civilian wants to go home. And if we can combine and work together as human beings that will happen. We got to learn how to communicate better with each other. We’re supposed to be the most intelligent species on the planet, but look (at) what we do to one another. We’re worse off than some animals, that just go around and prey on people.”

A loyal reader of LFR told me that Philando Castile’s uncle has participated in some meetings designed to work on police training issues. I was told that Castile’s uncle, for whatever it’s worth, is fairly level-headed. That’s believable in light of this paragraph:

Of police, she said, “We need them because the world would be chaotic if we didn’t have the police. Don’t get me wrong: I love having the police to protect and serve us. But when it comes to the point where there’s miscommunication and it turns out the way it turned out for my son, it’s unacceptable.”

This is a tragedy. This is the dashcam video of the shooting:

Gov. Dayton, unfortunately, spoke before he had the facts in the shooting. When he spoke, Gov. Dayton said that Castile probably wouldn’t have gotten shot if he was white. Gov. Dayton said that not knowing that Officer Yanez is Hispanic. Gov. Dayton said that without seeing the video of the shooting.
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Remember when President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize less than a month into his presidency? It’s over 8 years ago but it shows how some awards are totally phony. This article tells a similar story except on a statewide scale. According to the article, “Minnesota State Auditor Rebecca Otto has been warded the 2017 William R. Snodgrass Leadership Award by the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers (NSAA). Otto was presented the award by current NSAA President Steven Eells, State Auditor of New Jersey. The award is given annually by the organization to ”…recognize individuals who have demonstrated sustained outstanding leadership and notable contributions to state government auditing.”

The article continues, saying “Award winners must have exhibited long-term leadership in a state auditing environment; distinctive leadership and notable accomplishment in state government auditing; innovative thinking and/or creative development of improvements in state government audit programs or techniques; and, recognized leadership and professionalism at the state level.”

If that’s the criteria for winning this award, Otto should’ve told the NSAA that she didn’t deserve it. That’s because the counties that were audited by her office finished too late and cost taxpayers far more than the counties that were audited by private firms. That isn’t my idea of exhibiting “long-term leadership” or “notable accomplishment.” In fact, that’s my definition of failure.

Otto was named by The Institute of Internal Auditors as one of the “15 Most Influential Professionals in Government Auditing” in 2014. She received the NASACT President’s Award in 2014 for her work on the national alliance to transform state government. Under her leadership, the Minnesota Office of the State Auditor received an NSAA Excellence in Accountability Award in 2009 for the special project “Best Practices Review: Reducing Energy Costs in Local Government.”

Instead of wasting time on that “special project”, is it possible that Otto could’ve spent more time making sure audits got finished on time?

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Friday night on Almanac’s roundtable, Mike Hatch said something that Gov. Dayton probably didn’t want him to say. First, Gov. Dayton wants to get Republicans to renegotiate parts of the bills Gov. Dayton signed. Speaker Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Gazelka have steadfastly refused to do that.

Specifically, Gov. Dayton wants Republicans to repeal parts of the Tax Bill and renegotiate the teacher licensure reform bill that Gov. Dayton signed. At this point, there’s no incentive for Republicans to renegotiate any of those things because, in Hatch’s opinion, Judge Guthmann essentially said that the legislature is a core function of government that has to be funded.

One of the precedents established by Minnesota’s courts is that things that are deemed core functions of government get funded.

Needless to say, the St. Cloud Times published an Our View editorial that’s virtually incomprehensible. The Times is famous for blaming both sides in a political fight. This time, it’s mostly Gov. Dayton’s fault, though you wouldn’t know that from the Times’ editorial:

In the wake of a judge’s ruling last week granting temporary funding for the Minnesota Legislature, let’s hope the lawsuit in need of the ruling drags on, and on and on and on, ideally until Election Day 2018.

Why? Perhaps if this lawsuit, paid for 100 percent with tax dollars, stays in the news that long, voters will have a top-of-mind reminder to finally cast ballots for state office holders whose top priority is public service through compromise, not political gamesmanship through stubbornness.

What the Times omits from their editorial is that none of this would’ve happened if Gov. Dayton hadn’t reneged on his promise to cut taxes in 2016. Originally, Gov. Dayton agreed to a massive tax relief package. After the legislature passed the bill with overwhelming bipartisan support, Gov. Dayton vetoed the bill.

Minnesota doesn’t need tons more “state office holders whose top priority is public service.” Minnesota needs one less dishonest governor who reneges on legislation that he’s agreed to sign. Let’s be clear. Gov. Dayton isn’t trustworthy. He’s proved that the last 2 years.

Finally, I hate to disappoint the Times editorialists but this lawsuit is virtually over. Gov. Dayton has lost the suit. The only thing that’ll save him is if the Minnesota Supreme Court rules that the entire legislative branch isn’t essential. That won’t happen because the Court would become a laughingstock.

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Part of Friday night’s Almanac roundtable discussion centered on Gov. Dayton’s line-item veto of the funding for the legislature. It was interesting that Phil Krinkie said that this fiasco actually started last year when Gov. Dayton initially agreed to cutting taxes before he reneged on that. Krinkie said Gov. Dayton’s renege caused the distrust that led to the legislature inserting the Department of Revenue provision into the bill this year. If that’s true, then Gov. Dayton created the distrust that led to him vetoing funding for the legislature.

There’s more to this than just funding the legislature. In Harold Hamilton’s weekly commentary, he wrote “Recall that DFLers in the Senate built a new office building for themselves just before they were removed from the majority in the 2016 elections. That building was financed with $90 million in bonds, which are sold in the private debt markets and are an instrument that comes with rights and obligations. The legislative budget that the governor vetoed contains the regular payments that the state makes on the bonds. Thus, unless and until funding is restored, there is no money to make scheduled bond payments. If those payments aren’t made, the state defaults on the bonds.”

Friday night’s Almanac also featured Sarah Walker and Javier Morillo-Alicea bragging about the structural surplus in the budget. They didn’t want to talk, though, about the downgrading of the state’s credit rating. It isn’t surprising why they didn’t want to talk about that.

If the state’s bond rating drops, every bonding project across the state is immediately inflicted with higher interest rates. Think of how many millions of dollars that would cost the state. Think of how much that would cost each city building a new high school or parking ramp or convention center. Think of how much an interest rate hike would cost taxpayers for state trunk highway projects.

This isn’t a tiny sum. It’s a gigantic amount, all thanks to Gov. Dayton pulling this unprecedented stunt.

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In this article, Minnesota DFL Chairman Ken Martin said “That sense of inevitability led to complacency, which led to our defeat in 2016. We need to not get too in front of this election and do the hard work that we need to do. We can never assume that we are ahead.” That’s the wrong analysis. In fact, looking at the election results for the Minnesota House and the Minnesota Senate, lots of DFL incumbents got defeated by substantial margins.

Chairman Martin is kidding himself if he thinks that complacency cost the DFL their majority in the Minnesota Senate. Then-Senate Tax Committee Chair Rod Skoe lost by 5,200+ votes. Lyle Koenen lost by 5,700+ votes. Those aren’t examples of DFL complacency. They’re proof that the DFL was utterly rejected by Minnesotans and that the DFL was rejected pretty much statewide.

I understand that the DFL chair has to put the best spin on things but there’s a limit to that. The truth is that the DFL brand is toxic beyond the Twin Cities, Duluth and the Arrowhead. It isn’t that the DFL got complacent in 2016. It’s that the people rejected the DFL’s agenda.

It’s time for the DFL to stop acting like they hate the blue collar workers that the mines employed. It’s time for the DFL to stop letting the environmentalists get everything they want while ignoring the blue collar miners.

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In one of the least surprising tidbits of news, former Speaker Paul Thissen announced that he’s running for governor. This isn’t surprising. The only surprising part about it is that it took this long. According to WJON’s article, “Thissen plans to formally launch his campaign Thursday to replace Gov. Mark Dayton, who decided against a third term. He’s in his eighth two-year term representing southwest Minneapolis.”

The truth is that the DFL lost its majority in the 2014 election, then lost more seats in the House in 2016. What’s more interesting is that Rep. Thissen announced that he wasn’t running for House Minority Leader at the start of this session. That signaled to me that he was planning on running for governor.

Furthermore, it isn’t likely that the DFL will retake the House until they stop catering to the environmentalist wing of the DFL. Thissen has decided that it isn’t likely for him to become speaker again. Further, Thissen likely thinks his best chance of becoming governor is when he’s still a household name, which is today.

This paragraph is telling, too:

Thissen became speaker in 2013 when the DFL had a lock on state government with the Legislature and Dayton in control. But House DFLers lost their majority in 2014 and additional seats in 2016, leaving party leaders concerned about the 2018 election.

DFL party leaders have a legitimate right to be worried about the 2018 election.

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This morning on At Issue, Ember Reichgott-Junge said something off-the-charts stupid in terms of understanding the Constitution. She was asked about Gov. Dayton exercising his line-item veto on the legislature’s budget. Reichgott-Junge said that it’s a political issue and that she thought the court would refuse to accept the Republicans’ lawsuit. Sarah Janacek disagreed with ERG, saying that this also has a constitutional aspect to this lawsuit, which is obviously true. Later in the segment, Ms. Reichgott-Junge said that a judge could just order the legislature and the governor to sit down and work out their differences.

That’s just kicking the can down the road. Neither side will budge an inch until public opinion starts going against them. If I had to bet, I’d bet that Gov. Dayton would lose this PR fight. It’s one thing to play hardball to get some tax cuts passed. It’s quite the other thing to shut down an entire branch of government for the next 4 years. That’s what Gov. Dayton’s line-item veto did.

First, this is a fight Gov. Dayton shouldn’t have picked. It shows him to be a petulant, little man. Next, this is a PR fight that Gov. Dayton won’t win because he’s acting like a spoiled brat who didn’t get his way.

Since announcing that he wasn’t seeking re-election, Gov. Dayton has picked fight after fight, sometimes against Republicans, sometimes against Democrats. (Think about his fights with Tom Bakk about commissioner pay raises and Sen. Bakk’s agreeing to a bipartisan budget agreement with Speaker Daudt.) Since that announcement, he’s been an ornery cuss, getting grumpier and more unreasonable by the week.

It’s time Gov. Dayton stopped acting like a total jerk. It’s time, too, for Gov. Dayton’s apologists to stop apologizing for his inexcusable actions. He’s done things the past 2-3 years that’ve made nonpartisans scratch their heads.

Based on this article, it sounds like Republicans are planning on playing a little political hardball. After Gov. Dayton unconstitutionally vetoed most of the legislature’s operating budget for the next biennium, Speaker Daudt spoke about Gov. Dayton’s demands for another special session. Speaker Daudt said “I’m not going to sit down with the governor to renegotiate something he has already agreed to.”

Gov. Dayton thinks that he’s dealing from a position of strength. He’s demanding that Republicans eliminate tax breaks on tobacco products, cancel changes to the state’s estate tax that would impact Minnesotans who die with estates valued at more than $2 million, or farmers and businesses valued at more than $5 million, eliminate a freeze on statewide business property taxes, remove a measure that explicitly prevents undocumented Minnesota residents from obtaining a state driver’s license and amend changes to the state’s teacher licensure system that were included in the omnibus education finance bill.

In this post, I quoted from Gov. Dayton’s letter about giving drivers licenses to illegal aliens. Gov. Dayton started the letter by saying “The un-Minnesotan provision that Republicans insisted be in the Public Safety Bill is divisive and destructive to all Minnesotans.”

In that sentence, Gov. Dayton essentially stated that Minnesotans oppose following the rule of law. That’s as asinine as the time he told St. Cloud residents they should leave the state:

Rest assured, those types of statements aren’t playing well in Minnesota. If anything, they’re alienating Minnesotans from the DFL. Further, Gov. Dayton’s demands won’t play well in rural Minnesota. If Gov. Dayton thinks he’s helping the DFL with these statements, he’s foolish. He’s driving Minnesotans away.

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It isn’t surprising that Gov. Dayton caved to another special interest group this weekend. In a statement to illegal aliens, Gov. Dayton wrote “The un-Minnesotan provision that Republicans insisted be in the Public Safety Bill is divisive and destructive to all Minnesotans. I understand the anger, and share the very legitimate concerns, of Minnesota’s immigrant communities, and will continue to fight with them to remove this hateful provision from state law. I will meet with members of our immigrant communities very soon to listen to their concerns and explore their suggestions to make Minnesota a more welcoming place for all people. As governor, I will continue to do all I can to protect our state’s hard-working immigrant communities from the destructive immigration policies of the Trump Administration.”

That sounds nice but it doesn’t mean a thing. Gov. Dayton signed the bill. Republicans won’t change their mind. Illegal aliens won’t get drivers licenses until there’s a DFL majority in the House, a DFL majority in the Senate and a DFL governor. Based on how things are going, the next time there’s a unified DFL majority government might be a decade away or more.

What’s interesting is seeing the speed with which Gov. Dayton caved:

The groups, including ISAIAH and SEIU local 26, issued a statement Friday afternoon saying in part, “We have held negotiations with the governor and have come to some agreements we know are necessary to keep our families safe. We have asked the governor to explore every last piece of executive power afforded to him to protect the community. We look forward to the governor honoring his commitment to continue to meet with the immigrant community directly.”

The other interesting thing worth highlighting is Gov. Dayton essentially saying that it’s “un-Minnesotan” to obey the law. Think of how radical that statement is.

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