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Recently, I’ve written about a corrupt government agency that’s titled the IRRRB, aka the Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation Board. In this post, I wrote about something that the IRRRB funded:

It was a company with direct ties and allegiance to the Democratic Party. After Republican President Richard Nixon’s resignation over the Watergate scandal the business created an “innovative small donor fundraising program called the Dollars for Democrats program,” according to the Meyer Teleservices website.

This afternoon, I wrote this post to talk about how the IRRRB resurrected that program with a little twist:

EVELETH, Minn.— Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) Commissioner Tony Sertich today announced that New Partners Consultants, Inc. will operate a call center for its customers at Progress Park in Eveleth. The company is finalizing plans to lease the space that formerly housed Meyer Associates, Inc. New Partners will utilize some equipment from the Meyer operation, which is currently under IRRRB’s ownership.

The Minnesota offices of Dollars for Democrats went bankrupt a few weeks ago, leaving Minnesota taxpayers on the hook for $650,000 in unpaid loans from the IRRRB. What’s disgusting beyond the stupidity of making $650,000 worth of loans to a company on the verge of bankruptcy is that taxpayers were paying for a political operation.

That shouldn’t happen. Ever. Still, it’s happened twice in the past couple months. Government, whether it’s state or federal government, shouldn’t make loans or give grants to political operations. Period. If a political party wants to open a call center or coordination center, they should do it with their own money. Taxpayers shouldn’t finance political operations.

Here’s the IRRRB’s mission statement:

Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) is a State of Minnesota development agency located in Eveleth, Minnesota. IRRRB’s mission is to promote and invest in business, community and workforce development for the betterment of northeastern Minnesota.

IRRRB provides vital funding, including low or no interest loans, grants and loan guarantees for businesses relocating or expanding in the region. Additionally, a variety of grants are available to local units of government, education institutions, and nonprofits that promote workforce development and sustainable communities.

How can the IRRRB or New Partners say that getting equipment from a bankrupt company is investing businesses, communities or workforce development?

Another thing that’s disgusting is New Partners is an operation for national Democrats. Here’s part of New Partners’ leadership team:

Paul Tewes
In 2007, Paul began the Obama for America campaign as State Director for the Iowa caucuses. For nearly a year, Paul and his team built the largest grassroots organization in caucus history. The year culminated with an Obama win in January 2008, a win that launched his historical campaign. Paul was also instrumental in putting together the blueprint for President Obama’s organizational efforts in the General Election.

Tom McMahon
From 2005-2009, McMahon served as Executive Director of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). There he was one of the principal architects of the ground-breaking “50 state strategy” that transformed and modernized the Democratic Party resulting in historic electoral gains in both 2006 and 2008 at the state, local and federal levels and laying the groundwork for President Obama’s historic win in 2008.

Cara Morris Stern
From 2000-2004, Cara served as a spokesperson for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. During her tenure at the DSCC, Cara worked with national political reporters to help frame the nation’s most visible and competitive Senate campaigns as well as develop message for donor communications.

The IRRRB, led by former DFL House Majority Leader Tony Sertich, just provided seed money and equipment to a political organization whose goal is to elect Democrats. Minnesota taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for any political operation from any political party. Period.

That’s before talking about whether the business model makes sense. (It doesn’t.) This is what politically motivated crony capitalism looks like. Inevitably, crony capitalism is corrupt, which this operation certainly is.

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The Iron Range branch office of the DFL, aka the IRRRB, just announced that it’s spending taxpayers’ money on a bankrupt business venture:

EVELETH, Minn.— Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) Commissioner Tony Sertich today announced that New Partners Consultants, Inc. will operate a call center for its customers at Progress Park in Eveleth. The company is finalizing plans to lease the space that formerly housed Meyer Associates, Inc. New Partners will utilize some equipment from the Meyer operation, which is currently under IRRRB’s ownership. Staffing will begin as soon as all agreements are in place, possibly as early as next week.

“We are pleased to have played a role in facilitating the reopening of the center,” said Sertich. “This project will result in new job opportunities, particularly for those displaced by the Meyer closing.”

Sertich recognized Gilbert native Jerry Samargia of New Partners, stating, “I am thankful to Jerry for investing in the center and the people of the Iron Range.”

He also praised Virginia Eveleth Economic Development Authority representatives and Gary Owen, former owner of Meyer, for putting a deal together in such a short time.

New Partners isn’t well-known. I think it’s time it got some notoriety. Here’s what New Partners is in their own words:

New Partners is more than just a new firm with new people and new ideas. We also represent a new way of doing business. Whether the goal is to win an election, affect reputation, organize an advocacy campaign, raise money, or build a movement, our extensive expertise and groundbreaking strategies will get results.

We are all operating in a new environment based on a fundamental shift in how we organize, how we communicate and how we advocate. From the campaign that defeated President Bush’s plan to privatize Social Security, and implementing Governor Howard Dean’s landmark 50 State Strategy, to spearheading an innovative and successful development effort for the One Campaign, and the unprecedented Iowa caucus campaign that led to President Obama’s breakthrough victory, the team at New Partners has been at the epicenter of that shift.

What we have learned from our experience is that no two issues, organizations or campaigns are the same. Each requires a unique approach based on new ideas and new strategies that will lead to new results.

That means that the IRRRB is spending taxpayers’ money on a company committed to electing Democrats. The list of New Partners’ leadership reads like a who’s who from the Obama campaign.

If the Democratic Party want to put an organization together, that’s their right. It’s just that this type of operation shouldn’t be paid for by taxpayers. And there’s no question it’s being funded by taxpayers. That’s the IRRRB’s way. The IRRRB hasn’t met a project benefitting the Democratic Party that they didn’t like.

The DNC should finance this operation. Minnesota taxpayers shouldn’t finance it. Having taxpayers finance the DNC’s operations is the definition of crony capitalism meeting single party government. That’s the definition of corruption.

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After I wrote this post about how the IRRRB, which is essentially run by the DFL, granted 2 loans to Meyer Teleservices, I started thinking things through about the corporation. First, let’s review what this company did:

The company was founded in St. Cloud in 1977; opened its Little Falls office in 1999; and then launched on the Range in Eveleth in 2007.

It was a company with direct ties and allegiance to the Democratic Party. After Republican President Richard Nixon’s resignation over the Watergate scandal the business created an “… innovative small donor fundraising program called the Dollars for Democrats program,” according to the Meyer Teleservices website.

At this point, taxpayers are footing the bill for a company that received taxpayer-subsidized loans to run a fundraising operation for Democrats. It’s more than that, though. Here’s more:

The St. Cloud-based company also leaves behind a debt of about $250,000 to the Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation Board, which had issued two loans totaling $650,000 to the business for its Eveleth facility.

I’d ask which idiots were stupid enough to make a second loan to the company but we know which idiots made the second loan. I even think we know why they made that second loan. The IRRRB, aka DFL North, made that second loan to keep the fundraising operation going through the last election.

Wasn’t it clear that the company was failing? The taxpayers are on the hook for $250,000 in debt that Meyer Teleservices hasn’t repaid. Surely, somebody should’ve noticed that when Meyer applied for the second loan. Certainly, this information should’ve sent red flags into the air into the air if the IRRRB was paying attention:

Fundraising through telemarketing was its major service and revenue source. But the business model proved too outdated in recent years for today’s mobile phone society.

“Land lines are decreasing eight to twelve percent per year. And because of court rulings we can’t, we can’t consciously dial cell phone numbers. And a lot of politicians are now using the Internet to raise funds,” Owen said.

The owner said, “We did everything we could to stay open. I went all in. I basically lost all my retirement and took out mortgages on two houses. And the former owner put in $380,000 last year to try to keep us afloat. He’s out that now, too.”

Notice that Owens’ and Meyer’s money went to prop up a business destined for failure. It didn’t go to pay off the debt. That’s because fundraising for Democrats was more important to Meyer, Owens and the IRRRB. Taxpayers shouldn’t get shafted because the IRRRB, which is the DFL’s office on the Range, didn’t care about taxpayers. These 2 sentences should’ve been the brightest red flags imaginable to the IRRRB:

But the business model proved too outdated in recent years for today’s mobile phone society. Land lines are decreasing eight to twelve percent per year.

The first question that I have is simple. It’s impossible to think that the IRRRB cared about taxpayers if they knew this information. And it’s impossible to think they didn’t know this information. They aren’t that ignorant.

Legally, the DFL doesn’t owe Minnesota’s taxpayers a penny for this. Morally, they’re guilty of shafting Minnesota’s taxpayers out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Additionally, Mssrs. Meyer and Owens should’ve paid back the loan rather than keeping the fundraising operation afloat.

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Stories like this prove that the DFL is built on cronyism and taxpayers’ money. Here’s a little background first:

EVELETH — Meyer Teleservices in Progress Park has closed its doors on the Iron Range, leaving 104 people unemployed.

The St. Cloud-based company also leaves behind a debt of about $250,000 to the Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation Board, which had issued two loans totaling $650,000 to the business for its Eveleth facility.

“It was a pretty tough day (Monday),” said Gary Owen, company owner and CFO, in a telephone interview Tuesday afternoon. “I went up there and talked with the good people working for us. They are good employees with warm hearts. Some of them even said they were more concerned about me.”

Meyer Teleservices also on Monday shuttered its other Minnesota offices in St. Cloud and Little Falls.

According to Kevin Allenspach’s article, Meyer Teleservices was started in 1976 by Larry Meyer. I haven’t confirmed that the Larry Meyer mentioned in this article is former St. Cloud Mayor Larry Meyer but I’m betting it is. After all, there can’t be many St. Cloud businessmen named Larry Meyer, much less that are capable of this:

Owen bought the company from employee ownership last October and said he subsequently lost all of his retirement savings and took out two property mortgages in an effort to keep the business going. Meyer also infused the business with $380,000 last year, to no avail.

“Larry was very gracious and you can only go to the well so many times,” said Owen, who worked for Meyer Teleservices for 25 years. “We just weren’t able to turn a profit.”

Here’s where the cronyism comes in:

The equipment is collateral for the IRRRB loans, but Commissioner Tony Sertich said in a telephone interview Tuesday evening that he is right now more concerned with the workers who lost their jobs.

“We’ll sort that out in the coming weeks,” he said about the financial situation and where the agency will line up regarding the money it is owed. “It’s always hard to see job losses. This week it’s about empathizing with families who lost their jobs.”

The company was founded in St. Cloud in 1977; opened its Little Falls office in 1999; and then launched on the Range in Eveleth in 2007.

It was a company with direct ties and allegiance to the Democratic Party. After Republican President Richard Nixon’s resignation over the Watergate scandal the business created an “… innovative small donor fundraising program called the Dollars for Democrats program,” according to the Meyer Teleservices website.

The IRRRB gets tons of cash in taxpayer appropriations each biennium. Here’s the IRRRB’s alleged mission:

Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) is a State of Minnesota development agency located in Eveleth, Minnesota. IRRRB’s mission is to promote and invest in business, community and workforce development for the betterment of northeastern Minnesota.

IRRRB provides vital funding, including low or no interest loans, grants and loan guarantees for businesses relocating or expanding in the region. Additionally, a variety of grants are available to local units of government, education institutions, and nonprofits that promote workforce development and sustainable communities.

How does lending money to a DFL phone bank “promote workforce development and sustainable communities”? How does lending money to a DFL fundraising operation provide for “the betterment of northeastern Minnesota”? How many other DfL operations has the IRRRB loaned to other companies? How many pro-DFL operations have received “a variety of grants” available to “education institutions and nonprofits”?

The loan to Meyer Teleservices was approved in 2007, which means that David Dill and Tom Bakk almost certainly voted to approve this ‘loan.’ Aside from the cronyism, it’s worth noting that the IRRRB ‘invested’ taxpayer money in an outdated system that was designed to benefit the DFL. It’s also worth noting that this venture in pro-DFL cronyism lost the taxpayers money before going bankrupt.

Is this the type of Minnesota you want to live in? Are these the type of people we want running state government? I’d passionately argue that Mssrs. Sertich, Bakk and Dill are the last people who should have their hands on the levers of state and local government.

This is a taxpayer rip-off that specifically benefited the DFL. That type of cronyism/corruption must end ASAP.

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These days, the environmentalist wing of the DFL, aka the elitist Metrocrats, seem determined to shaft miners. This time, it’s Speaker Thissen that’s giving the Iron Range the shaft:

The Minnesota House speaker will not allow any legislation to pass this year setting an amount PolyMet Mining Corp. should set aside to fix environmental damage done by its proposed copper-nickel mine.

“We are not taking up any legislation related to mining, one way or the other,” House Speaker Paul Thissen, D-Minneapolis, told Forum News Service on Friday. “The best thing is to let the process work its way out.”

One of Thissen’s committees held a 5½-hour meeting this week dealing with how much money the state should require PolyMet to pay up front to clean up any environment issues once the mine closes. PolyMet itself has said perhaps $200 million should be available at mine closure, with a few million more a year for some time afterward.

When Yvonne Prettner-Solon announced that she’d gotten tired of being ignored by Gov. Dayton, she created an opening on the Dayton ticket. Rather than picking Tony Sertich, Gov. Dayton picked Tina Smith, creating an all-Minneapolis ticket.

This time, Speaker Thissen is saying he won’t lift a finger to help out the Iron Range. It’s worth noting that Thissen is the quintessential Minneapolis Metrocrat. He’s danced the environmentalists’ tune every time they’ve demanded it of him.

At some point, the blue collar workers of the Iron Range will have to ask whether Gov. Dayton, Speaker Thissen and Alida Messinger care about them after they’ve cast their votes for the DFL. Thus far, the Metrocrats have proven that they’re interested in the Iron Range’s support at the polls. What’s worse is that the Metrocrats have shown that they’re totally disinterested in supporting the Iron Range’s pro-mining agenda.

FOOTNOTE: During Friday night’s political roundtable, SEIU Local 26 President Javier Morillo-Alicea said that this isn’t a big deal, that “voters don’t think in terms of geographical balance.” Andy Brehm pounced on that, saying “Spoken like someone from Minneapolis.”

It’s true voters don’t walk into a voting booth and say “I can’t vote for this ticket because it isn’t geographically balanced. That said, there’s tons of reasons for Iron Rangers to abandon the DFL, starting with the indisputable fact that Alida Messinger, the biggest funder of the DFL, hates mining.

Funding the DFL isn’t the only activism Ms. Messinger has engaged in. According to Conservation Minnesota’s website, Ms. Messinger is the Vice-Chair of CM’s Board of Directors. CM is one of the biggest supporters of MiningTruth.org:

Our goal is to provide a resource for Minnesotans to get the facts about sulfide mining and its impacts. Today, there is little awareness and even less understanding about proposed sulfide mining projects in northern Minnesota.

Our state has important choices to make that impact every Minnesotan. The more people who participate in these decisions, the better the outcome. Learn more about sulfide mining.

Founding partners of Mining Truth are Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Conservation Minnesota. See the full list of supporters.

Apparently, Thissen doesn’t want his DFL House caucus voting on anything controversial:

However, Thissen said the DNR should proceed with its studies, adding that he is confident the process will provide enough information that those in charge “can make the right decisions.”

“We do have this process in place,” the speaker said. “It feels like the information is getting out there. I feel this is going to be an extensive process.” Thissen said fellow House Democrats, who hold a majority of the votes, do not appear to be leaning “one way or the other” on the PolyMet issue.

That’s pure BS. The Twin Cities DFL want to kill the PolyMet and Twin Metals projects. The Iron Range DFL want those project built ASAP.

Politics is definitely a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately proposition. Lately Metro DFL legislators have given the Iron Range the shaft. They just didn’t give them the mine to go with it.

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Based on what’s in this editorial and what’s in this editorial, the DFL’s divisions might soon be front and center. Let’s start with the ‘PolyMet’ editorial:

While Duluth and other media speculated that opponents and supporters were evenly split at the five-hour public hearing that included a two-hour open house session and a three-hour comment period, the numbers just don’t add up that way.

They reported that attendance was 1,300 to 1,500. But of that number, a caravan of seven buses and a passenger van journeyed from the Range with at least 500 supporters and another 100 or more arrived in advance by cars.

Simply put, there are lots of Iron Rangers who badly want PolyMet to happen. They might not have sophisticated presentations but what they lack in sophistication, they more than make up for in passion and verifiable information.

The unified message of business and labor all across the Iron Range to Duluth and the Twin Cities delivered in a fact-based and civil manner was outstanding.

That paragraph indicates that Iron Rangers are tired of being told by elitist metro Democrats, aka Metrocrats, that they don’t have the right to earn a living. This has the potential of turning the relatively conservative, pro-Second Amendment, Range Democrats against the anti-mining Metrocrats. This indicates the hostility isn’t that far below the proverbial surface:

Yes, some opponents and preservation groups will continue their misinformation campaigns which are part of an excessive rhetoric fear campaign of damage to the environment.

The facts, however, will win out in the EIS and then permitting processes. And the preservationist fear mongers do not hold those cards.

The “preservationist fear mongers” that the editorial cites have this in common: they’re almost exclusively elitist Metrocrats. That’s a stark contrast with the blue collar Iron Rangers who supported Gov. Dayton in 2010. The ‘Lt. Gov. editorial’ offers a different perspective of the same potential problem:

The list of four is heavily female-metrocentric-weighted. The governor’s chief of staff, Tina Smith, state Sen. Katie Sieben and Kelliher, all of the Twin Cities area, are strongly suggested.

The other person that’s supposedly on Gov. Dayton’s short list is IRRRB Commissioner Tony Sertich. I haven’t confirmed whether Sertich is actually on Gov. Dayton’s short of if he’s more of a ‘wishful thinking’ candidate. Still, the risks are high for Gov. Dayton. If he picks a Metrocrat, he risks alienating Iron Rangers. If Gov. Dayton picks Sertich, he’s essentially snubbing the check-writing, anti-mining Metrocrats from the Twin Cities.

The other name I’ve heard floated is former Sen. Tarryl Clark, aka Taxin’ Tarryl Clark. With Gov. Dayton’s tax increases likely to be a major campaign issue, Taxin’ Tarryl would just add fuel to that fire. That’s before talking about her responsibilities with the Blue-Green Alliance. ‘Carpetbagger’ Tarryl didn’t win many friends when she ran for the Eighth District endorsement. DFL activists rejected her, in part because she was a carpetbagger, partially because she’s as anti-mining as the Metrocrats on that short list.

The simple truth is that Gov. Dayton will have to choose. Either Gov. Dayton sides with the elitist Metrocrats and alienates Iron Range Democrats or he sides with the more conservative Iron Democrats and alienates elitist, anti-mining Metrocrats.

There’s an old, ancient really, joke about giving a chameleon a nervous breakdown. The way to give a chameleon a nervous breakdown is to put it against a plaid background. In this situation, I’d argue that Gov. Dayton is the chameleon and the DFL is the plaid background.

Good luck with that.

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The first thought that leaps to mind when I read this article is that Silicon Energy’s business model isn’t built on anything solid:

Silicon Energy, a Washington-based solar panel company, missed its first two loan payments.

So, the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRB) restructured the deal and the new payments do not start until October 2013.

Silicon Energy opened its solar panel manufacturing plant in 2011 just outside Virginia, Minn. on the Iron Range.

The company received a $1.5 million loan from the IRRB and the IRRB also gave the Mountain Iron Economic Development Authority $3.6 million to loan Silicon Energy to help build its new plant.

Silicon Energy also owes an initial payment of $75,000 on the $3.6 million loan in October as well.

The head of the IRRB says the company’s business model had to be redone after the tsunami in Japan hurt the company’s timeline for opening up and selling its solar panels.

IRRB Commissioner, Tony Sertich, also says the company did not get into a rebate program offered by Xcel Energy, but should be able to get into that program soon, which should help Silicon Energy sell more solar panels to homeowners and businesses.

First, the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board is the IRRRB, not the IRRB. Second, the plethora of excuses for Silicon Energy’s failure to make its payments are rationalizations. They aren’t legitimate excuses. Blaming Silicon Energy’s failuter to make their payments on the Japanese tsunami sounds wimpy (Think President Obama blaming the economy’s poor performance on ATMs). Third, a company that needs subsidies, aka rebates, to make a profit isn’t a legitimate business model.

Most importantly, the reality is that the IRRRB’s existence is tied to their dispensing massive amounts of pork to hide the DFL’s unwillingness to let the Iron Range develop a real economy based on mining rather than scraps of pork from the IRRRB.

That isn’t the way to build a real economy. The way to build a healthy, prospering economy is by letting companies create things of value. Do thoughtful people think that a company that fails without massive government subsidies adds anything of value to the Iron Range economy? If it isn’t adding anything to the Iron Range economy, it isn’t adding anything to Minnesota’s economy.

The DFL keeps insisting that solar and wind power are the future. Where’s their proof of that? The only thing on the record thus far are their allegations that wind and solar are the future. That’s anything but proof that they’re the future.

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MNGOP Chairman Tony Sutton has called on Hibbing County Clerk Pat Garrity to recuse himself because of his open support for Carly Melin, the DFL-endorsed candidate for the seat formerly held by Tony Sertich:

St. Paul- Republican Party of Minnesota Chairman Tony Sutton today called on Hibbing City Clerk Pat Garrity to recuse himself from his official duties in the February 15, 2011 House District 5B special election due to his political support for Democrat Carly Melin.

“Given Hibbing City Clerk Pat Garrity’s vocal political support for Democrat Carly Melin, I believe it is only appropriate that he recuse himself from administering the February 15th special election. To avoid any appearance of impropriety and to ensure election integrity, it is essential that this Melin supporter step aside as city clerk for Tuesday’s election in favor of a non-partisan city official. The voters of House District 5B deserve no less.”

Hibbing City Clerk Pat Garrity’s Conflict Of Interest

“The Clerk’s Office In City Hall Coordinates The Elections For All City, County, State And Federal Elections That Are Held In Hibbing.” (City of Hibbing Website, Accessed February 10, 2011)

Pat Garrity Is The Hibbing City Clerk And Is Openly Supporting Democrat Carly Melin In Tuesday’s Special Election In House District 5B. “It is important to have someone who understands how law affects our communities. …That is why I decided to join the Melin for Representative Campaign Committee. I have served Hibbing for 29 years as City Clerk and know she’d make a great contribution to our communities.” (Carly Melin for State Representative Website, Accessed February 10, 2011)

First things first. Carly voted in the August 10th DFL primary in St. Paul. How would Mr. Garrity know whether she’d “make a great contribution” to the district? Is that opinion solely based on the fact that she’s got a D behind her name?

Mr. Garrity’s enthusiastic endorsement of Melin calls into question whether he’d be an unbiased election official in this special election.

Still, that’s only part of the story. A faithful reader of this blog attended the debate last night. This faithful reader called me and said that Aaron Brown of Minnesota Brown introduced the moderator of the event. This reader said that there were supposed to be 8 questions for the event.

At the end of the event, Brown was able to get a ninth question to the moderator. My contact didn’t say that it was a softball but I suspect it was. Brown certainly wouldn’t rush a difficult question to the moderator to make his candidate look bad.

This special election has all the feel of a fair fight as defined by Richard Daley machine politics rules.

We aren’t sure that Melin is qualified as a resident. The city clerk, who supervises elections in Hibbing, has endorsed the DFL candidate even though she hasn’t lived in Hibbing in years. Now we find out that the agreed-to format was altered by the event moderator.

Thank goodness there’s no hint of corruption in this special election.

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After Friday’s joint Senate hearing at Hibbing Junior College, the next question is whether this will motivate senators to reform the permitting process, including litigation reform.

Without reforming the litigation system, all the administrative reforms won’t have much impact. Organizations like MCEA will still be able to tie important projects up in courts for years.

Gov. Dayton’s PR stunt last Monday wasn’t a serious proposal because of what wasn’t in his EO.

One of the issues talked on by several of the speakers was the need to speed up the permitting process in the state of Minnesota.

“If we have an organization that wants to hire people and they’re waiting five years for answers; that is too long. We need to find a way to shorten that. That doesn’t mean we always say yes; that means let’s get the answers that we can on a more consistent basis,” said Vice Chair of the Jobs and Economic Growth Committee, Ted Lillie.

Polymet has been in the environmental review process for their proposed open pit mine for several years now.

Once open it looks to bring several hundred jobs to the range area.

“We don’t just have a budget deficit, we have a jobs deficit so we need to get this part of Minnesota thriving and growing again; this could be a great economic engine,” said Michel.

Environmental groups are determined to prevent job creation anywhere they deem pristine. They’re famous for making wild claims about the destruction that surely will happen if projects are approved.

To be certain, many of their claims are valid. The unfortunate part is weeding through the tons of wild allegations contained in their lawsuits. It’s much like the story of the kid who cried wolf 2,859 times too often. After awhile, you just tune those cries out.

The bad part is that families are hurt while environmental organizations like MCEA file lawsuit after lawsuit. MCEA has tacitly admitted that their lawsuits are frivolous:

We kept losing, but a funny thing happened. With each passing year, it became clearer that we were right. In 2007, two of the Minnesota utilities dropped out, citing some of the same points we had been making. The remaining utilities had to go through the process again with a scaled-down 580-megawatt plant.

Even though MCEA kept losing, their attrition litigation kept hundreds of construction workers unemployed. Had MCEA not kept filing frivolous lawsuits, Big Stone II would’ve provided a year’s worth of work for construction workers. It also would’ve created a couple hundred high paying permanent jobs for people running the plant. Those jobs, which MCEA prevented through its attrition litigation, would’ve stabilized Minnesota’s economy.

Because Paul Aasen spearheaded MCEA’s attrition litigation agenda, he’s personally responsible for killing hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs. Mr. Aasen hasn’t shown any concern for jobs, nor has MCEA. The good news is that Rangers, like Tony Sertich, are fighting for jobs:

As the hearing began, former state Rep. Tony Sertich, now commissioner of Iron Range Resources, asked those in the room to raise their hands if they, their spouses, parents or grandparents worked in the mines. Nearly everyone in the audience had an arm raised.

“This is our life up here,” Sertich said, as he thanked the legislators for moving the hearing north for the day. “We’re a resource-based economy.”

Saying that their economy is “a resource-based economy” lays things out for MCEA. They’re either sympathetic to the plight of Iron Rangers or they’re more inclined to damage the Range’s economy. It doesn’t help that Aasen hasn’t publicly disagreed with his former organization.

Should senators who have the responsibility of either confirming or rejecting his nomination take that to mean that he won’t be a neutral arbiter of Minnesota environmental law? We haven’t seen proof that he isn’t still a strong-willed environmental activist.

That likely means he won’t faithfully fulfill his responsibilities as commissioner of the MPCA.

If Gov. Dayton wants to be a jobs governor, then he must get everyone moving quickly in the right direction. Mr. Aasen doesn’t fit that mold. In his position, he can thwart all the great work these legislators might accomplish. That isn’t acceptable.

The Red Wing Republican-Eagle knows what’s at stake:

The goal is to speed up a business’s ability to expand or build a new facility. Dayton rightly states: “Time is money.”

And that’s not just money for businesses. Ask around in any community, especially border cities like ours, and you’ll hear stories about lost opportunities and therefore lost jobs because a manufacturer or business found expansion easier and quicker elsewhere.

Gov. Dayton has said a number of things about creating jobs. Now let’s see if he lives up to what he’s said. The jury is still out on that, just like it’s still out on a possible Commissioner Aasen.

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I’ve had a conversation with a loyal reader of this blog over whether the MNGOP can flip the seat that Tony Sertich just retired from. From what I’m told, flipping Sertich’s seat is a distinct possibility.

Consider this:

Paul Jacobson, the candidate this past fall against Sertich, already has lit pieces ready to go, signs ready to be put up and already qualifies for public subsidy. That’s a huge boost in what’s essentially a month-long race.

It’s important to note that the bench isn’t particularly deep in the district. In November, voters were voting for the possible next Speaker of the House. This time, they’ll be voting for a freshman in the minority. I’m betting that the enthusiasm won’t be deep for Sertich’s replacement.

Another factor that shouldn’t be overlooked is that, prior to this election, Jim Oberstar didn’t have to work at re-election. He’d run a few ads, remind people that he’s running again, walk in a parade or two, then cruise to victory.

This fall, all that changed. During Chip’s race, the CD-8 GOP activists got fired up, did the work and got major re-inforcements from the unions. I won’t predict that Mr. Jacobson will get the union support that Chip got but I’ll bet that he’ll have alot of fired up volunteers working hard for him.

I’m told that Al Franken got 3,700 more votes in HD-5B than Oberstar and Sertich got this year. While it must be noted that there’s an expected difference between a presidential election and a midterm, that’s still bigger than the usual difference.

Unless I miss my guess, I’d bet that apathy is the DFL’s biggest foe in this special election.

Let’s remember that Loren Solberg, the chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee during the 2009-2010 session was defeated by Carolyn McElfatrick in HD-3B.

Combined, these aren’t encouraging indicators for the DFL. Rather, I’d say they suggest that this seat will flip on Feb. 15.

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