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Apparently, the MPCA, combined with the DFL, want to shut the Iron Range down permanently. According to the article, the “Minnesota Pollution Control Agency in August released a sulfate water standard to protect wild rice. This standard could be as low as 1mglL. In comparison, drinking water should be less than 250mglL. So what does this mean? The Iron Range businesses and city wastewater treatment plants will have to spend over $1 billion dollars to get into compliance.”

John Arbogast with the United Steelworkers union at Minntac, the area’s largest mine, said “This isn’t the Twin Cities. This is all we have, and they’re good-paying jobs, and these are hard-working people. They love living here, they love the fishing, the hunting, everything that comes with living on the Iron Range.” Arbogast questioned the MPCA “at a RAMS/Iron Ore Alliance meeting with the MPCA a few months ago,” asking “If the businesses and communities have to spend a billion dollars to meet this new standard, will the wild rice grow better?’ The answer from the MPCA was ‘we don’t know.'”

Talk about stupidity. The MPCA just admitted that they’re requiring $1,000,000,000 (that’s one-billion dollars) worth of infrastructure improvements in small town Minnesota, then admitting that they don’t know if this investment will improve water quality or help rice grow better.

Unfortunately, that isn’t the worst part. Doug Ellis runs a a sporting goods store in Virginia. (Full disclosure: I’ve bought things from Doug’s store. It’s a great sporting goods store with a great atmosphere. But I digress.) According to this article, Ellis is quoted as saying “My business is built on mining money. It’s what drives all these towns. So really what happens is, when the mines catch a cold, we all catch pneumonia.”

Let’s summarize briefly. The MPCA, which is part of a DFL administration, “released a sulfate water standard to protect wild rice” that they aren’t sure will protect wild rice. What’s known is that this rule will hurt mining, possibly killing several mines. What’s known, too, is that many of these cities are already suffering. What’s known, too, is that the DFL wants to inflict a major tax increase on these hard-working people at a time when they can’t afford the basics.

That’s immoral. How can the DFL and the MPCA justify this new rule and the major tax increase that’s accompanying the rule with no guarantee that it will have any positive effects? That’s like putting a gun to the Iron Range’s head and telling them that they have to commit economic suicide just so some environmental activists can feel good about requiring a new anti-mining rule.

Let’s be clear about something. The DFL has repeatedly proven that they hate miners and the supporting businesses on the Range. It’s time to defeat the DFL in 2018 and elect a pro-Iron Range GOP governor so we can restore the prosperity that the Range knew a generation ago. If Republicans don’t win this gubernatorial election, the DFL will destroy what’s left of the Iron Range.

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In the first 4 parts of this series (found here, here, here and here), I focused on different facets of the inadequacies of the Dayton-Rothman Commerce Department. I categorized each of the shortcomings and culprits. Most importantly, I identified the opportunities that the Dayton-Rothman Commerce Department missed and why.

This article will pull everything together so we can put together a less hostile, more business-friendly set of policies that doesn’t sacrifice the environment. First, we’ll need to streamline the regulatory review process so hostile environmental activists don’t have multiple opportunities to throttle key infrastructure projects. Whether we’re talking about killing the Sandpiper Pipeline project, the constant attempts by the Sierra Club, Conservation Minnesota and Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness to kill both the Twin Metals and the PolyMet projects or the Public Utilities Commission and the Dayton-Rothman Commerce Department, it’s clear that the DFL is openly hostile to major infrastructure projects.

It’s long past time to get the PUC out of the public safety/transportation business. Similarly, it’s time to get the Commerce Department out of the environmental regulatory industry. Public safety and transportation belong in MnDOT’s purview, not the PUC’s. Environmental regulations need to be significantly streamlined, then shipped over to the DNR. There should be a period for fact-finding and public comment. There should be the submitting and approval/disapproval of an Environmental Impact Statement and the submitting and approval/disapproval of an Economic Impact Statement.

Further, laws should be changed so that there’s no longer a requirement to submit an application for a “certificate of need.” In effect, that’s a bureaucratic regulatory veto of major infrastructure projects. That isn’t acceptable. There should be a time limit placed on the bureaucrats, too. They should have to accept or reject applications within a reasonable period of time. That’s because regulators have sometimes used delaying tactics to throttle projects without leaving a paper trail. It’s also been used to deny companies the right to appeal rulings. (If there isn’t a ruling, there isn’t an appeal.)

Third, streamlining the review process limits the opportunities for environmental activists to kill projects like those mentioned above. There’s a reason why it’s called the Commerce Department, not the Department of Endless Delays and Excessive Costs, which is what it’s become. Eliminating the PUC’s oversight responsibilities, especially in terms of approving certificates of need, will eliminate the impact that environmental activists serving on that Board can have in killing or at least delaying major infrastructure projects.

Fourth, it’s important that we bring clarity and consistency to this state’s regulatory regime. The system Minnesota has now breeds uncertainty. That steals jobs from Minnesota because companies attempt to avoid Minnesota entirely whenever possible. While we want to preserve our lakes, rivers and streams, we want to preserve our middle class, too. The environment shouldn’t be put on a pedestal while communities die thanks to a dying middle class.

I’ve seen too often how once-proud parts of Minnesota that have a heavy regulatory burden have seen their middle class essentially disappear. Cities like Virginia and Eveleth come to mind. It’s immoral to give a Twin Cities agency the authority to kill Iron Range communities. That’s literally what’s happening right now.

For the last 7 years, Gov. Dayton has run an administration that’s of, by and for the environmental activist wing of the DFL. If you work in a construction union, you haven’t had a great run. That isn’t right. People who work hard and play by the rules should be able to put a roof over their family’s head, set money aside for their kids’ college education and save for their retirement. For far too many people, that hasn’t happened recently.

The next Republican governor should implement these changes ASAP. It’s time to destroy the Dayton ‘Hostile to business’ sign and replace it with an ‘Open for business’ sign. It’s time to get Minnesota government working for everyone once again.

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For years, the DFL has put together a regulatory scheme that hinders industry in the name of environmental safety. Each year, it’s more apparent that environmentalists control these regulatory agencies. This article illustrates the point.

According to the article, “Enbridge Energy Limited Partnership has applied for a certificate of need and a route permit from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to construct and operate the proposed Line 3 pipeline replacement project. At the direction of the Public Utilities Commission, the Minnesota Commerce Department is preparing an environmental impact statement (EIS) in cooperation with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. ‘The proposed Line 3 project presents significant issues,’ state Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman said in a news release. ‘Additional time allows the department to prepare a thorough draft environmental impact statement that provides effective, meaningful public review and comment. The Public Utilities Commission has an important decision to make for Minnesota, and the Commerce Department is committed to providing the best information possible for them to use in the decision-making process.’ Rothman said the time will be used for consultation with tribal governments, additional information gathering, coordination with stakeholders and technical analysis and review.”

It’s important to remember that this isn’t a new pipeline. It’s replacing an existing pipeline that’s been in place for almost half a century. The PUC and Gov. Dayton’s Commerce Department know this. Consultation “with tribal governments shouldn’t take much time since this pipeline project is replacing an existing project. Simply put, Gov. Dayton’s Commerce Department is intentionally dragging their feet on this project. This PUC document is infuriating.

In the opening paragraph of the document, it says “Enbridge Energy, Limited Partnership has applied to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission for a certificate of need and a pipeline routing permit for its Line 3 Pipeline Replacement Project.” The government shouldn’t be in the business of telling the private sector what’s needed and what isn’t. Determining what’s needed is a subjective process. What’s worse is that it’s especially subject to the lobbying efforts of the environmental activists.

What the PUC, the Commerce Department and the environmental activists haven’t talked about is the fact that transporting oil by pipeline is significantly safer than transporting it by oil train or semis. Why haven’t the PUC, Gov. Dayton’s Commerce Department or the environmentalists talked about public safety? The Minnesota Environmental Partnership spent lots of time trying to convince people that the pipeline wasn’t needed. That isn’t their call to make.

Gov. Dayton and the DFL have stressed the importance of public input. What Gov. Dayton and the DFL haven’t proposed is a balance between giving people time to comment and the importance of ruling on the merits of the project. It’s fair to give people time to comment. It’s also imperative to not force companies to wait endlessly for final approval. Dragging out the permitting process is the ultimate proof that Gov. Dayton and the DFL are openly hostile towards construction unions and fossil fuels.

It isn’t like the DFL is hiding their contempt for these companies or for construction unions. It’s there for the world to see.

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It isn’t just Gov. Dayton’s Commerce Department that’s anti-commerce. Apparently, Gov. Dayton is anti-commerce, too. This statement from Rep. Deb Kiel and Rep. Dan Fabian provides documented proof that Gov. Dayton is anti-commerce. In their statement, Kiel and Fabian mention that “Governor Dayton and the PUC need to allow the Line 3 Replacement project to move forward and stop drawing out the regulatory permitting process. This important project will have a positive impact on our economy here in Northwest Minnesota, including the creation of more good-paying jobs and tax revenue for our communities.”

If Gov. Dayton was pro-commerce, the permitting process would have gotten finished by now. In a letter signed by 45 representatives, it states “There is simply no disputing the fact the L3R will improve safety and environmental protection by replacing the current aging pipeline infrastructure. Delay would not offer any environmental benefit. Instead, it would do the opposite by keeping crude oil in aging pipeline infrastructure that has been identified as in need of replacement for integrity reasons. Economic security and environmental safety should not be held hostage by a proxy war against petroleum us, which is not directly relevant to this project. L3R in no way hinders the use or development of alternative fuels. It simply facilitates the safe transportation of the petroleum our economy currently needs.”

Here’s page 1 of the letter:

Page 2:

Page 3:

It’s obvious that the Minnesota Department of Commerce is run by environmental activists who don’t have rural Minnesotans’ best interests at heart. This project, like the Sandpiper Pipeline would have provided a major economic boost. Instead, environmental activists destroyed the Sandpiper Pipeline project. That company opted instead to transport that oil through the Dakota Access Pipeline, aka DAPL. Minnesotans lost out on all those jobs because the DFL is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Twin Cities environmental activists.

Rather than growing Minnesota’s economy, Gov. Dayton and the DFL opted to raise tax rates. Gov. Dayton and the DFL could’ve opted for letting Minnesota’s economy grow. Instead, Gov. Dayton and the DFL let it idle. It isn’t that Minnesota’s economy is tanking. It’s that Gov. Dayton and the DFL are satisfied even though Minnesota’s economy could help fuel a robust US economic recovery.

Thanks to environmental activist special interests, our economy isn’t operating at peak efficiency. Mediocre economic growth is Gov. Dayton’s true legacy. He isn’t the great leader that the Twin Cities media have portrayed him to be.

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When the Minnesota Department of Commerce testified that Enbridge hadn’t shown a need for replacing their Line 3 Pipeline, people scratched their heads. That project is a $7,500,000,000 infrastructure project. It’s difficult to picture a pro-commerce Commerce Department rejecting that type of project. There’s an old saying that I learned during the Watergate investigation. It’s called ‘follow the money’.

According to Mike Rothman’s official bio, “Rothman’s top priorities include consumer protection, a clean energy future, and strong financial and energy sectors for Minnesota’s economy.” In an interview with the Clean Energy Resource Team, Rothman made clear that he wasn’t a disinterested bystander in terms of the government financing clean energy projects. CERT started the interview by asking Rothman “Have the tax credits been important for getting Minnesota to where we are today with wind and solar?” Commissioner Rothman replied “From the vantage point of the Commerce Department, we believe these tax credits have really been central pillars supporting wind and solar development in our state. The ITC enabled solar manufacturers to produce at scale and dramatically cut the costs of modules and other components. It also encouraged a growing base of Minnesota solar installation companies to invest in training and certification while expanding their businesses and creating new jobs.”

In other words, without crony capitalism, wind and solar wouldn’t offer competitive prices. The question I’d ask Commissioner Rothman is whether his prioritizing clean energy had anything to do with his department’s heavy-handed testimony against Enbridge. It isn’t a stretch to think that a person that supports tax credits for wind and solar certainly might support eliminating fossil fuels, too.

This is part of the Commerce Department’s website:

Solar Industry Resources

The state of Minnesota is interested in helping Minnesota-based solar businesses expand and attracting new solar businesses to the state.

From solar manufacturers and system developers and installers to the agencies that help finance solar projects, the Minnesota Department of Commerce is here to help build a strong clean energy economy. The solar industry is booming in Minnesota, and it is positioned for continued growth. With solar policies such as the solar electricity standard and programs like the $15 million a year Made in Minnesota Solar incentive Program, Minnesota is committed to the solar industry.

Based on the Commerce Department’s pro-clean energy statements and their hostility towards fossil fuels, I think it’s entirely reasonable to think that Gov. Dayton’s Commerce Department isn’t a neutral arbiter in this fight.

In Part I of this series, I quoted Kate O’Connell, manager of the Energy Regulation and Planning Unit of the Department of Commerce, as saying “In light of the serious risks and effects on the natural and socioeconomic environments of the existing Line 3 and the limited benefit that the existing Line 3 provides to Minnesota refineries, it is reasonable to conclude that Minnesota would be better off if Enbridge proposed to cease operations of the existing Line 3, without any new pipeline being built,’ the agency wrote in testimony submitted to the Public Utilities Commission on Monday, Sept. 11.”

It isn’t a stretch to think that environmental activists had a special place in Gov. Dayton’s Commerce Department. The Department’s testimony to the PUC was tilted. The Commerce Department’s personnel indicate a strong pro-clean energy preference. Thanks to the Commerce Department’s anti-pipeline bias, Minnesota is missing out on a major infrastructure project.

Shouldn’t we insist that these types of infrastructure projects get a higher priority? This project would’ve created thousands of jobs. The negative economic impact this rejection will have is disgusting. Stop back Tuesday for more on that aspect of the pipeline.

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Saying that MEP, aka Minnesota Environmental Partnership, is dishonest and biased when it comes to fossil fuels is understatement. In their statement about the Dayton Department of Commerce testimony to the Public Utilities Commission, Steve Morse, MEP’s Executive Director, admitted that MEP hates fossil fuels.

He admitted it when he said “The age of growth in fossil fuel demand is over. We don’t need increased fossil fuel capacity. Instead, We need to get about the business of abandoning and cleaning up the existing Line 3.” That’s a pretty stunning statement, especially considering the fact that natural gas will be needed for at least three-fourths of this century to replace coal-fired power plants for baseline energy generation.

In MEP’s official statement, Morse also said “We commend the Department of Commerce for taking a hard look at the data and carefully considering the criteria that are in law for this type of project. The Department found that this pipeline is not needed for Minnesota, that it does not benefit Minnesota, and is not good for Minnesota.”

That’s a narrow-minded view of things. First, legislators from northwest Minnesota have criticized the Minnesota Department of Commerce for their narrow-minded perspective:

“Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration is ‘siding with environmental extremism instead of common sense.’ ‘Shutting down this pipeline will have a substantial impact on rural Minnesota’, Fabian said in the statement. ‘Our local counties, school districts and townships will lose critical property tax revenue, and what’s more, jobs will be affected and there will be fewer workers patronizing local businesses like our grocery stores and motels. Plain and simple, bureaucrats in St. Paul are advancing policies that hurt Greater Minnesota.’”

Friday night on Almanac, Steve Morse debated Cam Winton on the merits of the pipeline. The arguments made by Steve Morse weren’t totally without merit. They weren’t the least bit persuasive, either. I’ve been watching environmentalists for 40+ years. In that time, their statistics and ‘facts’ have been consistently inaccurate. The notion that we’re starting to use less fossil fuels is preposterous. Yes, we’re driving more fuel efficient cars. Yes, car manufacturers are manufacturing more hybrids. No, society isn’t reducing the amount of gasoline we’re using. Watch the video of the interview, which starts approximately 5 minutes in:

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This article provides some interesting insights into the Minnesota Supreme Court’s line-item ruling. It’s worth reading just for the plethora of quotes from lawmakers. One of the more interesting quotes was from former Speaker and former House Minority Leader Paul Thissen.

Rep. Thissen’s habit of never missing an opportunity to miss a golden opportunity is fun to watch. According to the article, “Echoing that point, former House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, called for transparent mediation. ‘We work for Minnesotans, and they deserve a process that is open to the public,’ Thissen said. ‘They deserve to know who is in the room, and they have the right to know what is being said.'”

Let’s dissect that quote. First, Rep. Thissen is right that the legislature works for the people. Rep. Thissen didn’t do that. In 2013, in payback to their public employee union special interests, the DFL passed a bill that Gov. Dayton signed that gave SEIU and AFSCME the right to organize in-home child care providers. The thing is that those in-home child care providers, led by Hollee Saville, showed up en masse at the Capitol that day. They lobbied against the bill. They told DFL legislators that they didn’t want to be part of a union. The DFL ignored them.

As I said, the bill passed. Then it was signed into law. When the organizing vote happened, the people that the DFL supposedly work for rejected the union by a vote of 1,014-392. Over 72% of voters rejected unionization. This wasn’t a nail-biter. It was more like Reagan vs. Mondale in 1984, Nixon vs. McGovern in 1972 or LBJ vs. Goldwater in 1964.

Q: Why didn’t then-Speaker Thissen listen to the people instead of the special interests?

Another part of the quote has Rep. Thissen saying “They deserve to know who is in the room, and they have the right to know what is being said.” I don’t remember then-Speaker Thissen insisting that negotiations between him, Sen. Bakk and Gov. Dayton be transparent. In fact, what we got from the DFL leadership was a statement saying that they’d agreed to raise taxes after negotiations had theoretically concluded. They we found out that one of those DFL leaders didn’t like the tax bill. That led to further negotiations and another statement.

At no point in 2013 did then-Speaker Thissen insist on transparent negotiations.

Watch this speech from Rep. Thissen:

In the speech, Rep. Thissen accuses Republicans of raising property taxes. That’s a lie. Republicans don’t propose raising taxes. That’s what the DFL did in 2013-14. During those years, property taxes in Princeton and St. Cloud skyrocketed.

Rep. Thissen talks a great game. Rep. Thissen’s problem is that his actions don’t match his statements. That’s why he’s one of the least-liked legislators in Minnesota. (If you don’t believe me, ask the GOP staffers Thissen attacked.)

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Jazz Shaw’s post about Big Labor’s latest fundraising effort raises questions about their integrity and their intentions. Jazz quotes from this article, which talks about the “Texas Organizing Project Education Fund, a labor-affiliated group looking to make inroads in right-to-work Texas, launched the Hurricane Harvey Community Relief Fund in the wake of the flooding that has devastated the Houston area.”

What caught Jazz’s attention is when the article said the “donation page says the fund will ‘move the material aid the most vulnerable hit by Harvey’ but that ‘material’ goes beyond standard humanitarian aid. Donations, the page says, will help the SEIU-funded group organize workers.” The article is filled with one weasel word after another. For instance, the union’s website says “Your donation is vital to ensuring that we have the resources we need to organize and fight for Texans devastated by Hurricane Harvey.” In another place, it says “100 percent of the money raised into this fund will be spent directly on ensuring low income and people of color are not forgotten in the relief, recovery and reconstruction efforts.”

Let’s go through this step-by-step. The union’s website didn’t mention was materials they’d be buying and distributing. They didn’t elaborate on what percentage of the money raised would go towards union organizing and what percentage of that money would go towards actual relief for victims. Furthermore, what do they mean when they say that “100 percent of the money raised into this fund will be spent directly on ensuring low income and people of color are not forgotten in the relief”? Is the website insinuating that the Salvation Army, the Red Cross and Samaritans Purse won’t distribute relief in a just and fair manner?

If that’s what they’re saying, what’s their proof? If that isn’t what they mean, then they’d better explain what they meant. The further you read into the article, the more red flags appear. Like this one:

The group has yet to decide on exactly how the fund will be distributed, but said the fund’s expenditures “will range from personal hygiene items to legal aid and advocacy.” The exact budgetary strategy will not become apparent “until after the floods recede” and pledged the group would be transparent with its expenditures.

There are tons of loopholes in those statements. First, the Hurricane Harvey Community Relief Fund didn’t articulate why they’d be providing “legal aid and advocacy” funding. Further, they didn’t explain how that fits into the vital mission of providing food and shelter for those displaced by Harvey’s flooding. Finally, with so much immediate need, why did they say that they’ll wait “until after the floods recede” before distributing this aid? Is this what they mean by advocacy?

If that’s what they mean, how is that vital to helping victims of flooding and displacement? At this point, I’d recommend that LFR readers avoid this fund. Getting money into the hands of Samaritans Purse or other reputable organizations is the best way to help.

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During Congress’s August recess, congresscritters and senators take the time to catch up with what’s happening with their constituents. In this month’s email newsletter, Sen. Franken wrote about his travels through “Northern Minnesota and the Iron Range.” He talked about stopping at Tobies’ Restaurant in Hinckley for a caramel roll. He talked with Native Americans in Grand Portage and small business owners in Grand Marais, too.

The part that I found interesting is when he wrote “I also met with Iron Range steelworkers in Eveleth during my trip to the Northland. These are the men and women who helped build this country and bring us into the 21st century, and I’m fighting to protect their jobs and keep their local economies vibrant.” With all due respect to Sen. Franken, Iron Range economies aren’t vibrant. They haven’t been in a generation. That’s just the myth that Sen. Franken and the DFL continue peddling.

According to the latest census data, Virginia, aka the heart of the Iron Range, families have a median household income of $34,075. A staggering 23.7% of the people live below the Federal Poverty Level, aka FPL. That’s compared with the statewide averages of $61,492 for median household income and 10.2% living below the FPL.

It’s impossible for thoughtful, honest people to say that people making $27,500 less than the average Minnesota family lives where the economy is vibrant? How can a U.S. senator say that people live where the economy is vibrant when one-fourth of them live in poverty?

Either Sen. Franken is exceptionally dishonest or he’s exceptionally out of touch. Another possibility exists but it won’t flatter Sen. Franken. Perhaps he’s satisfied with that information. Perhaps, he isn’t upset when one-fourth of the people of Virginia live in poverty.

Later in his newsletter, Sen. Franken wrote this:

I want to make sure our unions stay strong and that we’re cracking down on the foreign trade cheats that suppress our domestic steel production and steal jobs in Iron Range communities.

Here’s a question for Sen. Franken: why do you crack down on “foreign trade cheats that suppress … domestic steel production and steal jobs in Iron Range communities” but you haven’t criticized members of your own party for filing one lawsuit after another with the goal of preventing the creation of hundreds of high-paying middle class jobs? If high-paying middle class jobs are the goal, who cares who’s standing in the way of creating those jobs? Shouldn’t those jobs and those people come first?

Sen. Franken, why won’t you fight for those people?

It isn’t often that Drudge Report links to a sports article. Drudge linked to this article because there’s a long-simmering feud that’s threatening to boil over. It started when the Detroit Tigers’ Ian Kinsler finally had had enough with the umpiring. Specifically, Kinsler criticized umpire Angel Hernandez, saying “It has to do with changing the game. He’s changing the game. He needs to find another job, he really does.”

According to the Detroit Free Press article, the animosity towards Hernandez is widespread. The article said “One American League executive who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about umpires performances said about Kinsler’s comments, ‘He said what 90% of every other player thinks.'” Later in the article, it said “In a 2010 players survey conducted by ESPN, 22% of those polled counted Hernandez as baseball’s worst umpire.”

The umpires have a major problem on their hands. This weekend, Hernandez is part of the umpiring crew working the Minnesota Twins-Arizona Diamondbacks intra-league series. Earlier in the day, MLB announced that Kinsler would pay a fine but that he wouldn’t be suspended. Prior to the game, umpires said that they’d wear a white wristband in a supposed show of unity with Hernandez. When the game began, only 2 umpires of the 4-man umpiring crew working the Twins-Diamondbacks game wore the white wristband.

The problem Major League Baseball has isn’t just that Hernandez is a bad ump. It’s that too many umpires think that the game revolves around them. Too many umpires have tried upstaging the players after making bad calls. MLB implemented instant replay reviews because umpires made the wrong call too often. In my opinion, there’s a significant drop in the level of professionalism amongst umpires.

The late Steve Palermo, the gold standard for umpires, was disappointed with himself if he missed 5 balls-and-strikes call a month. Umpires like Hernandez frequently miss more than that per game. Let’s look at some epic Hernandez fails, starting with this one:

Then there’s this one:

This isn’t a bad call on a baseball play. This is Hernandez throwing a fan out because he’s thin-skinned:

At some point, MLB needs to address these umpires’ lack of professionalism. Angel Hernandez is a symptom, not the disease.