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Don Davis’s article is the perfect starting point for highlighting the upcoming fight between Minnesota’s farmers and Twin Cities environmentalists:

From Gov. Mark Dayton on down, it is common to hear them wishing that Minnesota had a resource worth as much as that being pumped from the Bakken oil field in western North Dakota. Then, almost without pause, a politician can pivot and complain that North Dakota’s oil makes Minnesota a more dangerous state.

So it was no surprise the other day when the Minnesota Legislative Energy Commission slipped, as if on an oil puddle, from talking about rail congestion slowing the delay of coal to power plants to the dangers of railroads transporting oil across the state. Rail safety is not in the commission’s portfolio, but over the past couple of years, the nine or 10 oil trains a day that pass through Minnesota has become an explosive issue in the Capitol.

Six or seven trains, each with at least 100 cars of oil, travel from Moorhead through the Twin Cities and on southeast each day, headed to Midwest and East Coast refineries. Fewer go from North Dakota, then south through Willmar and Marshall to Oklahoma and the Gulf Coast. So when Dave Christianson of the Minnesota Department of Transportation was telling the commissioner about rail congestion that many blame on North Dakota crude oil, questions arose about rail oil safety.

Last fall, Gov. Dayton sidestepped why the commissioners he appointed to the Public Utilities Commission voted to stall building the Sandpiper Pipeline by 3-5 years. Minnesota is at a tipping point, a crisis:

Christianson said that if every pipeline proposed through 2025 is built, “we could empty all the oil trains being moved today.” However, he quickly added, Bakken production is growing so fast that its output would be so big that pipelines could not handle it all and the same number of oil trains would be needed as are on the tracks today.

In other words, Minnesota needs to throw environmentalists under the bus. It’s indisputable that pipelines are the safest way of transporting oil from the oil fields to refineries. It’s equally indisputable that they aren’t 100% safe. What’s sad is that environmentalists insist that they be perfectly safe.

They insist on that knowing that that isn’t possible.

Meanwhile, farmers can’t get their grains to market and iron ore can’t get their ore to steel mills. Environmentalists have consistently won those fights during the Obama administration. Now we’re facing a crisis. We’re experiencing a fracking boom but we don’t have the infrastructure to transport the oil & natural gas fracking is producing.

This year, the DFL will have to decide if they’re pro-farmer or pro-environmentalist. Gas prices are dropping. Home heating bills are less expensive. Families are liking the fact that they’ve got more money in their pockets when they finish paying their bills. That trend isn’t likely to stop anytime soon:

Stan Hubbard’s response to the Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists’ denunciation of KSTP highlights Mr. Hubbard’s substantive criticism of MNSPJ. First, here’s the reason behind Mr. Hubbard’s response:

On November 19, 2014, the Minnesota SPJ asked KSTP-TV to “disavow” its reporting, saying that our story was “fundamentally flawed and based on a faulty premise.” This, because you decided the image in the report showed Mayor Hodges making what the Chapter called a “silly gesture.” KSTP-TV reported that gesture as a known gang sign. We were informed of that fact by several law enforcement agencies. You even went so far as to suggest that we would try to mislead. To suggest that KSTP-TV would ever deliberately distort any fact in any story is totally out of line. We have never done so and we never will do so.

Thanks to Mr. Hubbard’s response, the SPJ has exposed itself as a leading voice of the Agenda Media:

Perhaps most disappointing of all is the fact that most, if not all, serious news organizations that addressed our coverage, including the board of the Minnesota SPJ, simply “followed the herd” and tracked the trend on Twitter in their derision of our coverage. Rather than responsibly questioning law enforcement’s motivation in bringing this story forward, and digging deep into whether it truly represented a public safety issue, they instead chose to simply ignore that which was reported, and go with the much easier and much more popular “silly gesture” angle.

Twittersphere journalism isn’t journalism. It’s shortcut journalism, which isn’t real journalism. The question that SPJ hasn’t answered is the question that SPJ won’t answer. Why didn’t SPJ’s news organizations do the research that KSTP did? Why didn’t SPJ member organizations check into law enforcement’s claims that Mayor Hodges’ actions presented a public safety issue?

Clearly it is disturbing to many that otherwise playful gestures presumably innocently made by a public official can have a totally unintended meaning in a different context. Nonetheless, that is exactly what our reporters were told by numerous law enforcement sources. Namely, that while a “gun” gesture may be funny and innocent in many contexts, it is neither funny nor innocent in a neighborhood plagued by gun violence and a “foothold of area gangs.” The recent announcement by federal officials that the indictment of 11 high profile individuals from two warring gangs, allegedly involved in the North Minneapolis drug and weapon trade, underscores the seriousness of the current gang situation.

Why isn’t SPJ interested in this? Is it because they aren’t interested in the seriousness of the issue? Or is it that this information doesn’t fit their script? Whatever the reason for their disdain, their willingness to ignore the seriousness of gun and gang violence is disturbing at minimum. This is something that’s troubling, too:

Public records reflect that Mr. Gordon had been arrested for aggravated armed robbery on August 2, 2014, two months before the picture in question was taken.

That’s disturbing on steroids. Why would Mayor Hodges campaign with a thug facing charges for aggravated armed robbery? Further, why is the DFL reaching out to criminals in their campaigns? Why aren’t SPJ organizations interested in this story angle? Finally, why didn’t SPJ admit that a mayor campaigning with a thug who’s been arrested on aggravated armed robbery charges is a big deal?

Simply put, the SPJ’s disinterest in these substantive angles verifies the fact that the SPJ isn’t that interested in substantive reporting. It verifies that they’re more interested in pushing the progressives’ agenda.

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This Our View editorial in the St. Cloud Times proves how intellectually dishonest the Times’ editorial page is. Here’s exhibit A:

Even if the bill had passed, President Obama doesn’t support the bill. He prefers to have the State Department work through the approval process for the project.

It isn’t that President Obama prefers having “the State Department work through the approval process.” It’s that he’s using the State Department to delay the project because he’s a true believer in climate change. This isn’t about process. It’s about President Obama’s ideology.

Further, President Obama has consistently and repeatedly sided with environmental activists rather than occasionally siding with construction unions. Thus far, President Obama hasn’t shown an interest in helping farmers or siding with the unions.

That isn’t the only spin in the Times’ editorial. Here’s another part:

Closer to home, Gov. Mark Dayton said he thinks the best way to untangle the glut of oil trains on Minnesota rail lines is to transport more oil by pipeline. The large increase in the number of trains carrying oil from North Dakota to Midwest refineries has caused delays for grain, propane and coal shipments by rail.

Gov. Dayton is as enthusiastic about building pipelines as President Obama. Gov. Dayton’s appointees to the Public Utilities Commission voted to delay the building of the Sandpiper Pipeline by asking “for a review of six alternative routes proposed by opponents of the project.”

The net effect of that is to effectively delay construction of the Sandpiper Pipeline project until after he leaves office. It’s possible the Sandpiper Pipeline will eventually get built but it isn’t likely to happen with Gov. Dayton’s time in office.

Mary Lahammer interviewed Ryan Winkler for last night’s Almanac. During that brief interview, Rep. Winkler gave us the DFL’s mantra for the next 2 years:

REP. WINKLER: Divided government and gridlock and the type of divisiveness that we’re already starting to see is not the way we move ahead and they’re going to send Democrats back in to get things done.

That’s stunning. The new legislature hasn’t even been sworn in and Rep. Winkler thinks he’s Carnac. Before the first bill is submitted, Rep. Winkler thinks that Republicans are being divisive and sowing the seeds of gridlock. That’s world class chutzpah.

A couple themes are developing already. First, Paul Thissen is questioning whether Republicans will stand up to their big corporate special interests:

Will Republicans be willing to stand up to their big Twin Cities corporate donors and make sure to continue DFL investments in education that are closing the funding gap between rural and suburban school districts rather than handing out corporate tax breaks?

As I wrote here, that’s what chutzpah looks like. First, Republicans didn’t propose any tax breaks for corporations. Thissen knows that. Thissen doesn’t care because the DFL’s communications aren’t based in honesty. The DFL specializes in repeating outright lies. Second, Thissen and the DFL didn’t fight for Main Street.

When it was time to fight for miners on the Iron Range, the DFL didn’t.
When it was time to fight for women operating in-home child care businesses, Thissen & the DFL sided with AFSCME instead.
When it was time to fight for small businesses in outstate Minnesota, Thissen and the DFL raised their taxes instead.

Rep. Winkler, I’ve had enough of your dishonesty and chutzpah. I’m especially disgusted with your reckless assumptions. It’s reckless and dishonest to accuse Republicans of being divisive a month before the 2015 legislative session has even started. Further, it’s dishonest to say that Republicans having honest policy disagreements with the DFL is automatically considered gridlock.

That’s a clever Alinskyite tactic but it’s deceitful. Before the DFL started employing Alinskyite tactics, expressing honest policy disagreements on the House floor or in committee were what’s known as debates.

Further, it’s dishonest and deceitful to think that all DFL ideas are great solutions to Minnesota’s problems or that Republicans’ ideas are automatically doomed to failure. If Rep. Winkler honestly thinks that, then he’s a narcissist who thinks of himself as intellectually superior.

Considering the fact that he once called a black man an “Uncle Thomas”, then insisted that he didn’t know that that was a pejorative term, there’s reason to think that he’s just a lefty bomb thrower who’s prone to shooting his mouth off.

During the 2013 session, the DFL voted to hurt some small businesses with major tax increases and hurt other small businesses with forced unionization. Repeatedly, the DFL showed their hostility with small businesses. Many of the businesses hurt with the DFL’s tax increases were in outstate Minnesota.

Despite those indisputable facts, the DFL is insisting that disagreeing with them leads to gridlock that hurts Minnesotans. The DFL’s policies are what hurt Minnesotans. No catchy, dishonest mantra will change that truth.

Paul Thissen’s op-ed, which was also published in the Rochester Post-Bulletin, had so spin that I couldn’t fit it into one post. Here’s more of Thissen’s spin:

They voted against the Homestead Credit Refund that provided $120 million in direct property tax relief to 450,000 homeowners, helping reduce statewide property taxes for the first time in 12 years.

Bill Salisbury’s article quickly discredits Thissen’s spin:

Overall, cities have proposed a 4.6 percent property-tax levy increase, counties’ levies would go up 3 percent, townships would levy an additional 2 percent and special taxing districts proposed a 3 percent boost.

Thissen and the DFL initially raised taxes and fees by $2,500,000,000. After getting blasted for raising taxes on B2B transactions, Thissen and the DFL returned to St. Paul a repentant bunch. They quickly repealed the tax increases they’d passed just months earlier. Thissen and the DFL frequently justified that gigantic tax increase by promising property tax relief to the middle class. Apparently, the DFL failed. Property taxes didn’t drop. They’re still going up.

They failed to support our farmers, voting against grants to help family farms start up and expand, against livestock disease research and against the new Farm-to-Foodshelf program.

Republicans voted against the DFL’s attempt to use taxpayers’ money to buy votes with massive spending increases directed at their special interest allies. The Dayton-Thissen-DFL budget wasn’t a budget as it was the DFL checking off as many of the items on the DFL special interests’ wish list as possible.

The DFL’s tax bill didn’t reform the tax code to make Minnesota competitive with its neighboring states. It’s amazing that the DFL’s hostility to businesses didn’t result in them losing more seats.

More importantly, I hope to hear the Republicans move on to governing and discuss how the entire state can prosper together as one.

That’s a clever trick on Thissen’s part. You’d almost think that there was a Republican governor setting the agenda. It’s the governor that proposes. The legislature’s role is to debate Gov. Dayton’s budget, then offer amendments to the things he got wrong. Unfortunately for Minnesota businesses, there’s be so much uncertainty caused by Gov. Dayton’s budgets that businesses didn’t create as many jobs as they could have.

Will Thissen and the DFL support opening PolyMet? Will they support building the Sandpiper Pipeline project? Will they insist on a silica sand-mining moratorium? Those projects alone would spread prosperity throughout more of Minnesota.

When Gov. Dayton, Sen. Bakk and Rep. Thissen attended the DFL State Convention, their devotion to Iron Range jobs was so tepid they wouldn’t even permit a debate on whether the DFL’s platform should include a simple statement saying that they support mining.

I’d love hearing Speaker Thissen explain how stifling debate on a major economic development issue helps “the entire state can prosper together as one.” That explanation would likely be more twisted than a pretzel.

Then again, I could say that about most DFL economic policies.

Paul Thissen’s op-ed in Friday night’s St. Cloud Times is breathtakingly dishonest. Here’s a prime example of Thissen’s dishonesty:

On the campaign trail, Republicans like Daudt attacked these accomplishments as inadequate, attacks ironically financed by enormous contributions from big Twin Cities corporate special interests. So it seems fair to ask:

Will Republicans be willing to stand up to their big Twin Cities corporate donors and make sure to continue DFL investments in education that are closing the funding gap between rural and suburban school districts rather than handing out corporate tax breaks?

I frequently wrote about the Democrats’ dishonest claims that Republicans supported “handing out corporate tax breaks.” To be fair, most of those claims were made against Torrey Westrom’s and Stewart Mills’ congressional campaigns but Thissen’s claims are dishonest just the same. One of the DCCC’s ads accused Torrey Westrom of shutting down the government “to give tax breaks to his wealthy friends.”

First, Republicans haven’t written any legislation that would “hand out corporate tax breaks. Thissen knows that’s verifiable fact but he doesn’t care because he’s utterly dishonest. Soon-to-be Minority Leader Thissen can clear this all up by citing which legislation the Republicans authored would’ve given corporations tax breaks.

Most importantly, though, let’s focus on who funded the DFL’s legislative campaign. In St. Cloud, the DFL paid for most of the campaign mailers. I don’t recall getting any mailers from Dorholt’s campaign proper. I also got mailers from a pro-union group called Working America Minnesota Political Fund. This is one of their mailers:

Will Minority Leader Thissen “be willing to stand up to [his] big Twin Cities” special interest allies in the next legislative session? Will he stand up to the environmental activist wing of the DFL? Will he tell Alida Messinger that he’ll steadfastly support mining on the Iron Range?

History shows he won’t. When AFSCME and SEIU insisted that the DFL impose forced unionization on small businesses, then-Speaker Thissen didn’t think twice. Rather than siding with the hard-working ladies who run in-home child care facilities, Thissen and the DFL voted with Eliot Seide and Javier Morillo-Alicea instead.

When convenience stores told him not to raise the cigarette tax because that’d hurt their businesses, Thissen didn’t just ignore them. He raised the cigarette tax $1.50 a pack. Thanks to Thissen and the DFL, convenience stores in Greater Minnesota got hurt.

Will a Republican legislature respond to the unique economic challenges that have made it harder for our economic recovery to be felt from border-to-border?

Unlike the DFL of the last 2 years, the GOP House will respond to Greater Minnesota’s economic needs. The GOP didn’t ignore small businesses’ calls to not start applying the sales tax on business-to-business transactions. In the House, the DFL voted for raising those taxes. After they got an earful from businesses after the session, the DFL knew that they’d overreached.

Sensing that their majority status in the House was in jeopardy, the DFL quickly moved to repeal the B2B sales taxes that they’d passed just months before.

Paul Thissen wasn’t the only DFL legislator who displayed hostility to businesses. That’s why he’ll soon be the House Minority Leader rather than getting another term as Speaker.

It’s hard to believe but today marks the 10 year blogiversary for LFR. It’s been an incredible experience. The first subject that I sunk my teeth into was the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine. These days, there isn’t much in the way of good news coming from across the ocean thanks to our incredibly inept president.

Back when I started, I did lots of writing about world events. After the 2006 election disaster, I started paying attention to state government. In March, 2007, I broke my first news story thanks to a great tip from then-Rep. Steve Gottwalt. It’s still one of my favorite posts:

I just got off the phone with Steve Gottwalt, who had some shocking news from the Capitol. Today, at a committee hearing, Cy Thao told Steve “When you guys win, you get to keep your money. When we win, we take your money.” This was Thao’s explanation as to how the DFL plans on paying for all the spending increases they promised their special interest friends.

The DFL still has the same mindset today as they did in March, 2007.

Bit by bit, I started doing original reporting thanks in large part to frustrated state legislators who were being ignored by the Star Tribune and the St. Cloud Times. In 2008, I started covering the candidate forums. They were quite memorable. I still remember Rob Jacobs telling 2 major groups that he wasn’t an expert on their issues (transportation that Monday, health care the next day) but that he was a good listener. Despite telling everyone covering the events that he was totally unqualified for the job, the St. Cloud Times endorsed him over Rep. Dan Severson. The good news from that fiasco was that the Times had egg on their face when Rep. Severson beat Jacobs by 10 points.

The last 3 years, I’ve spent lots of time being the taxpayers’ watchdog. I’ve scooped the Times so many times that I’ve lost track of how many times it’s happened. Hopefully, I’ll be around when the mismanagement comes to an end. Hopefully, it’ll happen soon.

If you appreciate the reporting I’ve done, feel free to drop a few coins in the tip jar. Thanks for being incredibly loyal followers to LFR.

According to this article, Rick Nolan is upset with outside groups’ smear campaign against Stewart Mills:

But the ads were also strongly disliked by Nolan, who was frustrated that he didn’t have the authority to pull third-party ads, or even talk about them with the group sponsoring them.

That’s total BS. It’s an outright lie. It’s true that Congressman Nolan can’t coordinate anything with independent expenditure organizations, from ad buys to GOTV operations. There’s nothing illegal if Congressman Nolan had issued a statement criticizing Nancy Pelosi’s PAC for running ads that bordered on slander. It wouldn’t have been smart for him to do that, though, because his ads were exceptionally similar to the ads run by Pelosi’s PAC.

WASHINGTON — The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee decided it would fund a lot of hit ads against 8th District Republican challenger Stewart Mills. So the Washington-based group recorded television ads and sent out mailers that mocked U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan’s opponent for his shoulder-length hair and his wealth obtained through a successful; and hard-working family business, Mills Fleet Farm.

Now that this election is in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to say some things that I didn’t say prior to the election. First, Nolan’s statements about there being too much money in politics is typical DFL boilerplate. It isn’t that there’s too many ads on TV.

It’s that there are too many spineless DFL politicians who won’t criticize their supporters for funding smear campaigns.

If Nolan was a man of integrity, which he isn’t, he could’ve criticized House Majority PAC, the DCCC and AFSCME’s PAC for running a smear campaign. Apparently, Nolan didn’t learn that the First Amendment protects people who criticize political campaign machines.

The ads were viewed by political friends of Mills as ridiculous, offensive and personally nasty. “They’re just so absolutely not grounded in any sense of reality. They’re going after a person’s appearance and also success … and isn’t success the American Dream,” Mills said during an interview during the campaign.

Stewart Mills highlights beautifully that Rick Nolan didn’t stand up for people trying to achieve the American Dream. That’s because Nolan spent the campaign criticizing achievement. Stewart Mills spent his entire campaign showing how the company he runs has done more to help the middle class than the entire Democratic Caucus has done in the last 10 years.

It’s time for Iron Range voters to decide whether they want someone representing them who tells them he supports them until election day, then ignores them the next 22 months. They made a mistake this time. They should’ve voted for Stewart Mills because he would’ve went to Washington to get PolyMet opened.

Now that the election is behind him, Rick Nolan will likely ignore the PolyMet issue for the next 22 months. That’s how Iron Range voters will know whether Nolan supports them or if he’s just committed to paying PolyMet lip service.

This article is mostly about how the Range delegation will get along with the incoming GOP majority in the House. Still, there’s a paragraph that’s highlight worthy:

Dill said he believes the House Republican majority will be pro-mining. And he said metro-centric DFLers, including some who were defeated, have never asked him about going fishing, snowmobiling and ATVing. “They don’t understand us and our lifestyle,” Dill said.

I’m certain that Rep. Dill didn’t think that statement through but he’s right. The metro-centric part of the DFL doesn’t understand the Range’s people or lifestyle. I’d add that that’s because they only care about metro issues with one exception. The environmental activist wing of the DFL is steadfastly anti-mining. They’re unmistakably the dominant wing in the DFL. That fact isn’t likely to change anytime soon.

The DFL is the ‘Party of the Highest Bidder’. When it comes to their agenda, they’ll side with the faction that will contribute the most to their re-election campaigns. If there are competing special interests, like miners and environmental activists, they’ll attempt the political equivalent of a high wire act. That’s what they did this year.

Rangers should take note of the other thing Rep. Dill said:

Dill said he believes the House Republican majority will be pro-mining.

I’ll guarantee that the House GOP will be pro-mining. Since 2009, Republicans have been firmly pro-mining. That’s been the best kept political secret of the past 4 years.

State Rep. Jason Metsa, DFL-Virginia, took a positive view of the House change in leadership. “Rangers will be able to work with Speaker Daudt. It will be a new experience, but I am looking forward to learning how to navigate in the minority,” he said in an email.

Republicans, I’m certain, will do everything to make Rep. Metsa’s time in the minority a pleasant and, hopefully, long-lasting experience.

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If there’s anything that’s clear about the Eighth District race, it’s that Eighth District voters voted for a congressman who will be utterly irrelevant:

Candidates for 8th District Congress from the Brainerd Area received 254,004 votes on Tuesday, with Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan polling a mere 3,636 more ballots than Republican Stewart Mills. The result: A narrow re-election victory for Nolan in a race that drew national media attention and more than $12 million in independent groups for advertising — mostly television.

A final count gives Nolan 128,820 to 125,184 for Mills, a 48.5 percent to 47.1 percent margin. Nolan and Mills volleyed the lead for about two hours until the congressman opened about a 2 percent lead at 10 p.m., which he maintained with only slight slippage until Wednesday morning when his lead was too much to overcome.

The Eighth District just voted for a man who will be utterly irrelevant when the next Congress is sworn in. Nancy Pelosi’s caucus will have their smallest caucus since 1929. Seriously, that’s how irrelevant they’ll be.

More important, the Iron Range voted against its own self interest. They voted for a life-long environmentalist who won’t lift a finger to open PolyMet. The DFL is dominated by environmental elitists from the Twin Cities. That won’t change anytime soon because the environmental elitists write big checks to the DFL. The Range’s legislators are subjected to the Metrocrats’ agenda and always will be until the Range breaks away from the DFL.

Republicans were accused of playing the PolyMet issue for political advantage. Rangers said they’d forget about PolyMet the day after the election. To be fair, Republicans haven’t always had the Range’s best interests at heart so a certain amount of distrust is justifiable.

What Rangers are about to find out, though, is that PolyMet wasn’t just a political position taken by Republicans for the 2014 election. Rangers will see the Republicans’ commitment to PolyMet and other similar projects. The Range will find out that Republicans want people prospering wherever they live in Minnesota.

Finally, Rangers will find out that this isn’t their daddies’ DFL. This DFL is run by Alida Messinger, the woman who writes big checks to environmental organizations and to the DFL in her effort to prevent PolyMet from getting built. If Rangers keep voting for the DFL, they’ll continue to have the same shitty economy they’ve had for the last 15-20 years.

Einstein once said that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. I disagree. Voting for the DFL again and again, then expecting the FL and Alida Messinger to change is either stupidity or political suicide. The DFL won’t change. It’s time the Range finally admitted that.

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