Archive for the ‘Activism’ Category
The Times owes the citizens of this community, especially Granite City Baptist Church, an apology for their vile, hate-filled editorial. Throughout their editorial, the Times used words that agitated. It started in the opening paragraph of their editorial when they said “And so it continues — this tour of anti-Islam, anti-immigrant, fear-mongering speakers who parachute in to St. Cloud, spread their messages of hate and misinformation and then (convenient only for them) leave.” It continued, saying that Usama Dakdok’s presentation has “become well-known for his evil schtick about how Islam is a “savage cult” and that Muslims will soon dominate this country.”
The Times instructed people to listen “to local faith leaders, not Dakdok.”
The Times covered the Friday night presentation relatively fairly in their news section. I wrote this article to highlight the vandalism visited upon Granite City Baptist Church prior to Friday night’s presentation. What’s missing is the Times’ editorial telling people to stand with Granite City Baptist Church in denouncing this vandalism.
Perhaps, that’s because the Times’ editorial included this:
Based on news reports, it’s a classic example of Dakdok’s strategy: Pick smaller cities and rural communities where Muslims are new and few (if any) in number and deliver his toxic message. Plus, of course, collect the obligatory free-will offering. Then pack up and leave — quick, before the waves of hate he’s fostered can crest across the community. (And before people can research for themselves his message.)
Faced with such a despicable dump-and-run tactic, this board urges faith leaders across St. Cloud and all of Central Minnesota to speak up again. Use their influential voices, their powerful sermons, their compassionate followers and even the Times Opinion section to refute Dakdok’s divisive message.
The Times spent a bunch of bandwidth talking about Dakdok’s hateful schtick. Now that the protesters have committed an act of vandalism, it’s possible that the Times might want to get this episode behind them. This isn’t a proud moment for the St. Cloud Times or for Mark Jaede. Jaede issued this press release through the SCSU Announce listserv:
The next day, the Times published its hate-filled editorial.
What a surprise.
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:
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.
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.
Technorati: Alliance for a Better Minnesota, Susie Merthan, Communications Director, House DFL Caucus, Ken Martin, Special Interests, Environmental Activists, Unions, Sandpiper Pipeline Project, In-Home Child Care Providers, Mining, DFL State Convention, Paul Thissen, Mark Dayton, DFL
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.
This article from AFSCME Minnesota’s website highlights how spoiled their workers are. For instance, Roberta Suski said “We had to have a lot of hard conversations about whether we could afford for me to be out the entire 12 weeks, knowing six weeks would be unpaid. We are barely scraping by right now.”
When I worked at Fingerhut, they were known for having one of the best benefit packages in Minnesota. FYI- I worked there until April, 1997. Parents of newborn children or parents who adopted children were given 6 weeks off. Their time off wasn’t paid. In the 20 years I worked there, nobody complained about not getting paid time off for having children.
Fast forward to today. Specifically focus on the tax increases envisioned in this article. Envision a “payroll tax of $1.70 per week on both employers and employees would fund the leave benefit.”
Politicians complain all the time about unfunded mandates handed down by the federal government. I’ve never heard a politician whine about passing legislation that essentially passes an unfunded mandate onto businesses. The argument that ‘everyone benefits’ is BS. What AFSCME doesn’t want to admit is that businesses don’t benefit from being forced into paying employees not to work for extended periods of time.
If they were being honest, what AFSCME would admit is that ‘everyone that matters to us benefits’. The truth is that the DFL is attempting to put another stifling burden on business. The truth is that the DFL and AFSCME, if they got their way, wouldn’t improve people’s lives. They’d just chase more businesses from Minnesota.
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.
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There’s no question that people are resistant to change. They appreciate the familiar, which is why it’s difficult, if not impossible, to change things that are broken. Sometimes, though, a dramatic shake-up is exactly what’s needed. The colonists knew that in the 1770s. There are lots of angry activists in the 21st Century who wonder if it isn’t time for another revolution.
This op-ed, which I linked to in this post, highlights the fact that the “council has broad authority, including the ability to levy taxes” but that the governor is their primary constituent. In the colonists’ times, they started a revolution. One of their chief rallying cries was “No taxation without representation.”
According to Dictionary.com, the definition for No taxation without representation “became an anti-British slogan before the American Revolution; in full, “Taxation without representation is tyranny.” I can’t disagree with that last sentence. Taxation without representation is tyranny.
This paragraph especially stands out:
The mayors in their commentary suggested that elected city and county officials could not handle the workload or think “regionally” while representing both their municipality and a Met Council district.
There’s a simple explanation for these mayors’ preference. They want their initiatives to get rubberstamped and put into place ASAP. What politician enjoys the mess that’s created when making sausage? The Met Council is a mayor’s dream. They get their wish list enacted without having to cut deals with uppity peasants.
This nation’s Founding Fathers understood the appeal of mob rule. That’s why they designed a system filled with checks and balances. They wanted to thwart entities like the Met Council. They wanted the system to be messy because efficient governments are usually out-of-control governments that don’t pay attention to the citizenry, aka the uppity peasants.
Here’s the lengthy list of elected officials that signed onto this op-ed:
Scott Schulte is an Anoka County commissioner. Chris Gerlach is a Dakota County commissioner. Jeff Lunde is mayor of Brooklyn Park. This commentary was also submitted on behalf of the following local government officials. County commissioners: Rhonda Sivarajah, Matt Look, Julie Braastad and Robyn West, Anoka County; Tom Workman and Randy Maluchnik, Carver County; Liz Workman and Nancy Shouweiler, Dakota County; Jon Ulrich, Scott County, and Jeff Johnson, Hennepin County. Mayors: Mark Korin, Oak Grove; Kelli Slavik, Plymouth; Jim Adams, Crystal; Jeff Reinert, Lino Lakes, and Dave Povolny, Columbus. City Council members: Jim Goodrich, Andover; John Jordan, Brooklyn Park; Jeff Kolb, Olga Parsons and Elizabeth Dahl, Crystal; Dave Clark and Jason King, Blaine; Brian Kirkham, Bethel, and Bill Krebs, Columbus.
The time for a dramatic reform of the Met Council is at least a decade overdue. Further, there’s never a good time to give government the authority to raise taxes without giving people the authority to boot the bums out of office.
Technorati: Met Council, Mark Dayton, Taxation Without Representation is Tyranny, Activists, American Revolution, No Taxation Without Representation, Checks and Balances, Founding Fathers, Accountability, We The People
Dan Wolgamott’s op-ed in tomorrow’s St. Cloud Times isn’t a portrait in honesty. Then again, that isn’t my expectation from Wolgamott.
It isn’t that Wolgamott told some outright whoppers. It’s that he omitted the most important details from his op-ed. Wolgamott started by criticizing retiring Sen. John Pederson. In the interest of full disclosure, John represents me in the Minnesota Senate. I consider him to be a friend, too. But I digress.
The opening paragraph of Wolgamott’s op-ed says “Once again, Republican Sen. John Pederson has turned his back on our community. He cast the tie-breaking vote last week to defeat the Senate bonding bill, which would’ve created 39,000 jobs across the state and invested more than $24 million locally in job creation, veterans and making our area safer.”
Wolgamott’s missing integrity is exposed by the fact that Wolgamott didn’t mention the fact that the bonding bill that Sen. Pederson voted against was the biggest in Minnesota history at $1,800,000,000. That’s more than $750,000,000 bigger than the biggest bonding bill in state history. It’s bad enough to pass the biggest bonding bill in state history if it’s bigger by $100,000,000. It’s quite another to attempt to pass a bonding bill that’s almost twice the size of the biggest bonding bill in state history.
Then there’s this cheap shot:
Unfortunately, Pederson chose partisanship over progress and voted against $19 million for needed upgrades and safety measures for the St. Cloud correctional facility. He voted against $1.5 million in economic development money for Friedrich Regional Park in St. Cloud. He even said no to veterans, $3.5 million for the St. Cloud Armory.
Let’s turn the tables on Wolgamott. Is he saying that he wouldn’t have hesitated in voting for a bill that’s that big? Would he hesitate in voting for a bill that would tax the ‘state credit card’ to the max?
Those are examples of deception by omission. This is an example of outright BS:
As your next state senator, I will be a tireless advocate for our community, and the priorities we share, over partisan games and gridlock.
Last year, I wrote this post to highlight Wolgamott’s willingness to spend recklessly:
It’s time for us to invest in our roads and bridges, which is why St. Cloud needs better leadership than State Sen. John Pederson. As made clear in two recent articles in the St. Cloud Times, Pederson has some thoughts on the state’s transportation network. As the Republican lead on the Senate Transportation and Public Safety Committee, he could play a vital role in providing St. Cloud the comprehensive transportation investment we need.
Instead, Sen. Pederson backs a plan that not only shifts money away from our schools and services for our most vulnerable residents, but relies heavily on borrowing for our roads and bridges, putting the costs on the state’s credit card. This plan depends on action to be taken by future legislatures. However, there is no guarantee future legislatures will make those decisions. Instead of stability, this is another example of politicians promising something in the future to justify ducking their responsibilities now.
Back then, Wolgamott advocated for a middle class tax increase to pay for fixing Minnesota’s roads and bridges. That’s besides Wolgamott’s advocating for additional middle class tax increases to pay for transit projects.
To summarize Wolgamott’s limited history, he’s advocated for middle class tax increases to pay for fixing Minnesota’s roads and bridges. Wolgamott has advocated putting nearly $2,000,000,000 on Minnesota’s credit card rather than fixing Minnesota’s economic fundamentals. Those aren’t solutions. They’re gimmicks.
Finally, does Wolgamott really think that Sen. Pederson wouldn’t have voted for a responsible bonding bill that included fixing the St. Cloud Armory and the St. Cloud prison? If Mr. Wolgamott is peddling that BS, then he isn’t honest enough to represent St. Cloud in the State Senate.
Last night, #UniteCloud sent an email to St. Cloud City Councilman Jeff Johnson. It said “Shame on you. You were voted into office to represent all of Saint Cloud. Not just the ones who look like you. I will call you out every time I see you in the future. I will also be ready to inform all not to vote for you or your ignorance. I want my city to be nice and you are not helping at all. Shame on you. Sincerely,”
Apparently, #UniteCloud didn’t like the fact that Councilman Johnson testified in support of the resolution to direct the Office of Legislative Auditor, aka OLA, to audit the multitude of programs that support the refugee resettlement program. Councilman Johnson was quoted in the St. Cloud Times as saying the “taxpayers have a right to have a good and fair audit.” Johnson also said that he’s been concerned about the lack of transparency with the refugee resettlement program.
It’s stunning that any civic organization would criticize transparency in government but that’s what #UniteCloud apparently supports. Councilman Johnson replied to the email, saying “Call me out on what? Asking for an audit as to how much money is being spent on refugee resettlement? The taxpayers are paying for this program and we have a right to full transparency.”
Telling the #UniteCloud person that he supports transparency didn’t sit well with #UniteCloud:
Wasting time where you could do some good for all and spreading hatred and ignorance. This email will be shared. SHAME ON YOU!
To his credit, Councilman Johnson didn’t reciprocate. He didn’t start calling the #UniteCloud person derogatory names. Instead, he finished the email exchange with this:
I don’t see how asking for an audit of a taxpayer funded program and spreading hated and ignorance is connected. Yes, you are free to send this email to whom ever you like.
It’s baffling how #UniteCloud can equate conducting an audit with “spreading hatred and ignorance.” According to this blog post, there’s an “Anti-Refugee Bill in MN House and Senate.” I’d love hearing Natalie Ringsmuth’s explanation for that. Rep. Steve Drazkowski’s legislation (HF3034) would direct the Legislative Auditor to “conduct financial audits of spending related to refugee resettlement costs, and money transferred.”
Here’s the text of Rep. Drazkowski’s bill:
Section 1. DIRECTION TO LEGISLATIVE AUDITOR; REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT COSTS.
(a) The legislative auditor shall conduct or contract with vendors to conduct independent third-party financial audits of federal, state, local, and nonprofit spending related to refugee resettlement costs and other services provided to refugees in Minnesota. The audits by the vendors shall be conducted as vendor resources permit and in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards issued by the United States Government Accountability Office.
(b) For purposes of this section, “independent third-party” means a vendor that is independent in accordance with government auditing standards issued by the United States Government Accountability Office.
(c) The legislative auditor shall report the results of the financial audits required under paragraph (a) to the chairs and ranking minority members of the legislative committees and divisions with jurisdiction over health and human services finance and policy by February 1, 2017.
(d) The commissioner of human services shall, in fiscal year 2017, transfer to the Office of the Legislative Auditor the amount necessary to conduct the financial audits under paragraph (a). The central office appropriation under Laws 2015, chapter 71, article 14, section 2, subdivision 3, is reduced accordingly.
#UniteCloud’s misleading headlines calls into question what their mission is. If their goal is to unite St. Cloud, then they’re failing. That’s because they’ve accused people who support transparency of “spreading hatred and ignorance.”
UPDATE: I was just contacted by Councilman Johnson. He said that he doesn’t know whether it was #UniteCloud that emailed him. Consider this a retraction of my statement that #UniteCloud threatened Councilman Johnson. That being said, whoever it was that sent the email used the same tone as was used in many of #UniteCloud’s public statements. There’s no need to retract my statement that #UniteCloud’s statement about “anti-refugee” legislation. #UniteCloud’s statement is highly deceptive, if not outright dishonest.
Further, I stand by my statement that #UniteCloud isn’t uniting St. Cloud behind their agenda. If anything, Natalie Ringsmuth’s statement have united St. Cloud against their agenda.
Last week, Senate Minority Leader David Hann wrote Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk a letter requesting that Sen. Bakk release the content of a threatening email Sen. Bakk sent to Cook County businessman Dennis Rysdahl. Predictably, Sen. Bakk refused to release that email, saying “You just can’t do that.”
After hearing Mr. Rysdahl’s testimony and reading his quote in the DNT’s article, I’d argue that it’s imperative that Sen. Bakk’s email be made public. Rysdahl testified at Cook County’s County Commissioners meeting, saying “I got an email from Tom Bakk yesterday, and he’s very concerned. He’s already hearing, again, what’s he’s heard many times before that Cook County doesn’t really belong in the Taconite Relief District, and if they’re going to take an action like this, they don’t deserve to continue to be involved.”
After reading that quote, it’s insulting that we read this opening paragraph of the Mesabi Daily News article:
Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk of Cook will not acquiesce to a Republican request to make public a personal email sent to a Cook County businessman regarding the Twin Metals lease issue.
That’s BS. First, I’d demand to know which email address Sen. Bakk used. If he used his legislative email address or his IRRRB email address, that ends Sen. Bakk’s argument that it’s a personal email. Saying that you’re using a government account to send personal emails is a nonstarter.
Further, I’d argue that any email that talked about potential action by an executive branch agency isn’t personal. Based on Mr. Rysdahl’s testimony, it sounds like the email relates directly to Sen. Bakk’s responsibilities as a member of the IRRRB executive board. This paragraph indicates that the email was official:
But in Cook County, there is also an undercurrent of an Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation Board issue — should Cook County continue as part of the Taconite Relief Area and receive agency funding.
I can’t wait to hear Sen. Bakk explain how threatening the Cook County commissioners with cutting off funding is “personal.” As I said earlier, I don’t doubt that Sen. Bakk wanted to keep his threatening email private.
I hope that Sen. Hann has another plan to force Sen. Bakk into producing that email. Private citizens shouldn’t have to deal with threats from public officials. That’s what Sen. Bakk did to Mr. Rysdahl and to the Cook County commissioners.