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During the DFL’s bad faith negotiations for a special session, Gov. Dayton and the DFL insisted that the GOP fund the Southwest Light Rail Transit, aka SWLRT, project. Speaker wisely refused. Now we know why it was wise to refuse. On Wednesday, January 13, 2016, Adam Duininck wrote an email to Gov. Dayton and Lt. Gov. Tina Flint-Smith about a variety of topics.

In the 4th paragraph of the second page of the email, Commissioner Duininck said “On the schedule we had been pushing the FTA for a number of weeks to sign off on an aggressive schedule that called for a full funding grant agreement by the end of this year, while President Obama is in office. They have resisted that goal and have said the grant agreement is likelier to come in the middle of 2017.” Later in the email, Commissioner Duininck explains why the FTA is hesitating on signing off.

According to Commissioner Duininck, the FTA is hesitating on signing off because “the reason the FTA refused to move the schedule up is that they are concerned that the litigation risk is still there until Judge Tunheim rules on the Lakes and Park Alliance case.”

Connecting the dots

Judge Tunheim’s dismissal of summary judgement against the Met Council is dated August 4, 2015. Judge Tunheim noted that “The LPA may not have met its summary judgment burden at this point, but the record, specifically the negotiation process and agreements between the Met Council and various cities and other public entities, and public statements regarding those agreements, shows that, throughout much of this process, the Met Council has had a clear favorite route for the SWLRT.”

Judge Tunheim also noted that the case is complex because environmental reviews still need to be approved. That hadn’t happened when he ruled on this motion for summary judgment.

Gov. Dayton and the DFL likely didn’t include SWLRT funding in their bonding bill because of the Tunheim lawsuit. Further, the Kenilworth Preservation Group, through Stuart Chazin, insists that “the Met Council has not made the legally required good faith effort to consider alternatives to the Kenilworth route, and has had secret communication between Sen. Latz and the Met Council that will prove the point.”

There’s no doubt but that this is a tangled legal mess that’ll take time to untangle in the courts. With the outcome still in doubt, funding SWLRT at this point is foolish. That’s likely why the DFL Senate didn’t include SWLRT funding in their $1,800,000,000 bonding bill. Further, it isn’t a stretch to think that the DFL is attempting to paint Republicans as reckless when the truth is that the DFL is trying their best to pander to their urbanist special interest organizations. Finally, it isn’t a stretch to think that Gov. Dayton and politicians like Rep. Thissen are grasping at anything in their attempt to win back the majority in the House.

Today’s DFL are a nasty lot, fully prepared to side with brick-throwing thugs like BlackLivesMatter and the anarchists who attacked Republicans in Minneapolis last weekend. They won’t think twice about sabotaging any project or legislation if they think it’ll help them gain power. That’s who today’s DFL is.

I wrote this post last week to highlight the documented fact that Gov. Dayton and DFL legislators knew that the federal government wouldn’t fund the federal portion of the SWLRT project until a series of lawsuits were settled. That’s why the DFL Senate didn’t include the $135,000,000 funding for SWLRT in their $1,800,000,000 bonding bill. That bonding bill would’ve been the biggest bonding bill in state history by almost $750,000,000.

One lawsuit that’s on the docket is scheduled to start on Sept. 17, 2017. That isn’t a misprint. The trial won’t start until Sept. 17, 2017. There’s another potential lawsuit waiting in the wings. That lawsuit, if it was brought, would be filed by the Calhoun-Isles Condominium Association. This Strib article highlights why the Calhoun-Isles Condominium Association would file that lawsuit.

According to the article, “Condominium residents along the planned Southwest Corridor light-rail route in Minneapolis want assurances that a transit tunnel won’t hurt their buildings. The residents of 143 units along the future light-rail route south of Cedar Lake Parkway say the trains will run through a tunnel on rails 12 feet from the foundations of their condos and parking structure.”

They added that “We have received no assurance that operation of 200 trains per day … will not materially undermine their integrity and safety,” read a letter this week from a lawyer for the Calhoun-Isles Condominium Association to Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and the City Council. “No one knows what all of the effects will be, but it is certain that they will be significant and harmful.”

The Dayton-DFL SWLRT funding push is a political scam. They know that the project won’t get federal funding for at least 2 years and possibly longer. That means local funding is irrelevant for the near future because local funding only accounts for 10%-15% of the funding.

Quite literally, SWLRT is going nowhere fast. Thanks to Gov. Dayton’s stubbornness and the DFL’s unwillingness to challenge Gov. Dayton, hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans are being deprived of meaningful tax relief. Farmers and small businesses won’t get their property tax relief. Veterans won’t get their tax relief. Students and parents will find college expensive because Gov. Dayton vetoed the Tax Bill.

BTW, the DFL failed to fight for the tax relief they voted for. That’s rather telling, isn’t it? That might be enough to tip votes in a close rural election.

Just like Speaker Daudt predicted, the Met Council has announced that they’ll “come up with the final piece of the state and local funding” for the SWLRT project. That’s the mini-bombshell about the SWLRT project.

The major bombshell this week happened “when House Speaker Kurt Daudt revealed the existence of an email from Met Council Chairman Adam Duininck to Governor Dayton stating that the federal government has no plans to execute a funding agreement until sometime in 2017 because of ongoing litigation regarding the project. He’s (Dayton) hid that from the public and from the Legislature and from the press since January of this year. We know the federal government is not going to fund it for a year and a half. There is no deadline. There is no reason that we have to take action now on Southwest light rail,” said Daudt.”

It’s connect-the-dots time. First, the Senate DFL bonding bill that was defeated was the biggest bonding bill proposed in state history by orders of magnitude. It was for $1,800,000,000. Next, every DFL senator voted for that bill. Third, that $1,800,000,000 bonding bill didn’t contain a penny of funding for SWLRT. The state’s share would have been $135,000,000. In a pork-filled bill of almost $2,000,000,000, the DFL didn’t include $135,000,000 on a project that they insist today is Minnesota’s highest bonding priority? What idiot DFL senator omitted that funding from a monster bill like that?

Fourth, Gov. Dayton vetoed a major tax relief bill, then insisted that he wouldn’t call a special session unless Republicans added funding for a project that the DFL refused to fund in a $2,000,000,000 bonding bill.

Connecting these dots tells this indisputable story: Hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans won’t receive tax relief because the DFL refused to fund SWLRT initially, then insisted on funding it as a condition of holding a special session.

It’s time to throw these DFL legislators out of office. It can’t happen soon enough. What type of person would omit funding for a project, then deny farmers, veterans, students with student loan debt and small businesses tax relief? The DFL’s position is that it’ll fight for funding a light rail project but it won’t fight for tax relief for students, veterans and farmers.

Minnesota, you’ll have a choice this November. Will you vote for politicians that won’t fight for students, parents, farmers, veterans and small businesses? Shouldn’t you vote for the party that’s fought the good fight for students, farmers and veterans? The choice is clear. The DFL needs to get run out of St. Paul ASAP.

They deserve it because they’ve fought for the special interests, not the people. That’s grounds for immediate dismissal.

After reading this article, the first thing I thought was ‘can we get that in writing’? Specifically, I’m referring to this statement, which reads “About 20 rail transit projects in development across the country are in a queue for Federal Transit Administration grants through the agency’s New Starts program, and a delay in securing local funding commitments could cause SWLRT to lose its place in line, the Met Council has repeatedly warned.”

Starting from scratch on SWLRT would be a dream come true. It’s a project whose time will never come, at least not in Minnesota. What can SWLRT do that multiple bus lines can’t do better? Bus lines can adapt to changing transportation needs. Bus lines aren’t expensive, either. Installing new bus lines wouldn’t require settling ongoing litigation that SWLRT is tied up with, either. Then there’s the overall cost of SWLRT, which is orders of magnitude more expensive than buses.

Why does the DFL think this project is such a high priority? Is it because it’ll improve the lives of the masses? Not likely. Is it because it’ll play well with the special interests and big government types? BINGO! We’ve got a winner.

The statement noted about 45 staffers would be laid-off if the project office shut down. The project office runs out of cash to continue operations Sept. 30, and the cost of delays beyond that date is estimated at $1 million per week.

If the project is scrapped, I don’t care if costs pile up. The government shouldn’t have made such a foolish decision. Further, I don’t care if companies lose money because they trusted crooked politicians. That’s their fault. Let them pay the price for their decision-making. Nobody put a gun to their head and said ‘build the SWLRT.’

Capitalism isn’t about guaranteeing profits. Capitalism is about guaranteeing opportunities to make profits. Guaranteeing profits has a different name — public-private partnerships, aka socialism, aka crony capitalism.

This op-ed, co-written by Sen. Gary Dahms and Sen. Bill Weber, should be published throughout Minnesota. It should be published throughout Minnesota because it exposes the DFL’s plan for victory this November.

This isn’t surprising. The DFL is led by Gov. Dayton, who frequently acts like a spoiled rich brat, and Rep. Thissen, who consistently acts like the world stops a mile beyond the Twin Cities city limits. For instance, every rural voter should know that “when the DFL majority presented their first bonding and cash bill in the State Senate in early May with a combined expenditure of $1.8 billion, not a single dollar was included for light rail — yet every DFL Senator voted for the bill” and that “they add a light rail amendment to the compromise bonding bill just before deadline. Every DFL senator voted for that and now don’t want a bonding bill without it, effectively derailing the whole bonding bill.”

What’s clear is that the DFL isn’t interested in governing. It’s clear that the DFL prefers the campaign talking point over doing what’s right for Minnesotans. How can you vote for a $1.8 billion bonding bill that doesn’t mention SWLRT, then insist that they won’t agree to a special session because funding SWLRT is a high priority — which they forgot about in a bill almost twice the size of the bonding bill they sabotaged. And, yes, sabotaged is the right word, especially in light of this information:

With lawsuits still going on over routing of Southwest Light Rail etc., there was no immediate rush to fund this. The feds have indicated they want the lawsuits settled before funding is committed.

In other words, Gov. Stomp-His-Feet-And-Hold-His-Breath sabotaged the bonding bill and the Tax Relief Bill over a provision that was, at best, an afterthought to the DFL in their bonding bill.

This is good advice:

We ask all voters in Greater Minnesota to keep this in mind in the 2016 elections.

I’ll go a step further. All voters should ask themselves if they want to turn power over to a bunch of morally bankrupt politicians whose allegiances are to an endless parade of special interest organizations and to the goal of doing whatever it takes to regain the levers of power. If that doesn’t sound like a bunch of trustworthy politicians, it’s because they aren’t trustworthy politicians.

It’s time to vote for politicians that will do what’s best for your families, not do what the special interests tell them to do. If you aspire to voting for citizen representatives who care what’s best for you, then you can’t vote DFL this cycle. This cycle, the DFL are nothing but dishonest politicians who have an ideological agenda that’s counterproductive to what Minnesotans want.

Now that it’s settled that we won’t have a special session, it’s time to state clearly what happened. What happened is that Gov. Dayton, Sen. Bakk and Rep. Thissen negotiated in bad faith. It’s one thing to have a goal of funding SWLRT. As foolish as funding that is, it’s still a legitimate goal for the DFL, especially considering who their constituents are.

What Gov. Dayton did, though, was insist that funding for SWLRT be included in a special session agreement. We know this because Speaker Daudt told MPR that Gov. Dayton insisted on it. The direct quote reads “I did ask him in the meeting if he would consider doing a special session, set aside the things we can’t agree on and let’s be Minnesotan. Let’s be Minnesota nice and focus on the things we can agree on. Let’s get a session and just work on the things we can agree on. The governor flat out said ‘no, we’re not going to work on those things without Southwest Light Rail.'”

That’s where Gov. Dayton essentially told Minnesotans that he and the DFL only care about the Metro. Don Davis summarized things perfectly in his opening paragraph, saying “Farmers can forget about tax breaks to lighten their burden in funding new schools. Drivers on some of Minnesota’s most dangerous highways will not see immediate safety improvements. New state aid cities expected is not coming.”

That’s how Gov. Dayton and the DFL told outstate Minnesota that they weren’t important enough. That’s how Gov. Dayton and the DFL said that safe highways weren’t a priority for them, that SWLRT funding was their highest priority.

Rural Minnesota voters should send an unmistakable and clear message to Gov. Dayton and the DFL this November. They should defeat every DFL legislator who voted for tax relief but wouldn’t fight for that tax relief. That’s simple enough because the list of DFL legislators that voted for tax relief and the list of DFL legislators that wouldn’t fight for that tax relief are identical.

These DFL politicians showed their true colors. The best way to determine what’s important to them isn’t by looking at their votes. The best way to determine what’s important to them is in seeing what they vote for but won’t fight for. That’s how you determine their loyalties.

In this instance, the DFL showed their loyalty was with the Twin Cities and with Gov. Dayton, not with their constituents.

The upshot of this article is that the DFL has finally admitted what I’ve said from the start. The DFL is finally admitting that they don’t care about veterans, students with student loan debt, parents trying to save for their kids’ college education or farmers.

By insisting that Republicans agree to funding SWLRT, the DFL is insisting that the GOP fund a low-priority item. It ain’t happening. Light rail is a terrible investment. It doesn’t take hundreds of cars off the street, as the Met Council insists. It doesn’t increase flexibility for people. It’s extremely expensive. Bus lines are much more efficient and flexible.

Essentially, the DFL wants SWLRT funding because they want their pork.

Gov. Dayton admitted he doesn’t give a shit about the middle class when he said “I’ve concluded … I am not going to call a special session.” What a shock. The spoiled rich brat threw another hissy fit because he didn’t get everything he wanted. While he threw that hissy fit, he vetoed $800,000,000 worth of middle class tax relief. Gov. Dayton did that after promising that he wouldn’t use the tax cuts as leverage for getting everything he wanted in the bonding bill. Specifically, Gov. Dayton said no to $800,000,000 of tax relief for farmers and other blue collar workers because the GOP wouldn’t cave on hundreds of millions of dollars worth of spending on a light rail system that shouldn’t be a priority to anyone.

The DFL apparently doesn’t want these tax cuts either. If they did, they’d stand up to the spoiled rich brat in St. Paul, something that they haven’t done. Rep. Thissen and Sen. Bakk haven’t challenged Gov. Dayton on this. Locally, Dan Wolgamott and Zach Dorholt haven’t insisted that Gov. Dayton call a special session. Neither has fought for middle class tax relief. Wolgamott’s about Dan page says this:

Dan understand how to build relationships to pass tough legislation to support students, fix our roads and bridges, and reform state government.

That’s BS. Wolgamott hasn’t lifted a finger for any of these things. He’s sided with Gov. Dayton 100% of the time. This is BS, too:

Dan is innovative and forward-thinking and will create opportunities to grow an economy that works for everyone that works for everyone by supporting policies that help our local businesses, workers, students, and families.

Wolgamott has done nothing to show he’s anything except a cookie-cutter career politician. He’s done what he’s been told to do. He hasn’t been innovative. He hasn’t been forward-thinking. He’s done what the DFL told him to do.

That’s what puppets do.

Bakk’s puppet

This editorial isn’t worth the bandwidth it’s printed on. If it was printed on paper, it would be best suited for outhouses of 50-75 years ago. But I digress. Let’s dissect this worthless collection of words and determine their value to improving life in Minnesota.

Let’s start where the editorialist (s?) insist that “Every time a three-car light rail train is loaded, 600 cars are taken off the highways, according to the Metropolitan Council research.” Let’s question the veracity of that statement. Let’s question it because I don’t know the seating capacity of a “three-car light rail train.” Let’s question it because it isn’t known how many of these trains are filled to capacity.

This is a red herring argument anyway. If you build a light rail line, it’s fixed in place no matter what developments happen a mile or two from the rail. That LRT line simply isn’t flexible. It’s good at staying right where it was built. Bus lines, however, can move and adjust to emerging traffic patterns. This paragraph is telling:

Even the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, a longtime supporter of GOP ideas, has said there needs to be a transit solution in the metro area, whether that be light rail or more fast track buses.

First, the thought that the Minnesota CoC is a staunch supporter of Republicans is BS. They’re an equal opportunity political body. It’s fair to say that they support some GOP initiatives but it’s equally true that they support DFL initiatives, too. Further, it’s irrelevant whether this or that group supports an initiative. What’s important is whether that initiative will make life better for the people it’s supposed to support. If it doesn’t meet that criteria, then it’s worth scrapping.

Most important, though, is the part where the Minnesota Chamber supports transit, including “fast track buses.” Question: isn’t it important that our transportation system have the greatest combination of flexibility and capacity? What good is capacity if it isn’t where the people want it to go?

We urge Speaker Daudt to drop his party’s objections to the metro funding of the southwest light rail line and get on to providing tax relief and bonding and road funding to the rest of Minnesota that his party represents.

I urge Gov. Dayton to stop insisting on getting everything he wants before calling a special session. It’s time to provide tax relief to Minnesotans, tax relief Gov. Dayton vetoed. Gov. Dayton’s temper tantrums are fun copy but they’re counterproductive.

This weekend, I wrote that I was skeptical of reports that a special session would be called this August. After reading Don Davis’ article, I’m hoping that a special session only happens if Republicans stand steadfast against SWLRT.

In the article, Sen. Bakk thinks that, with regards to SWLRT, “there appear to be some alternatives available.” Here’s hoping that Speaker Daudt shoots that down immediately and harshly. Anything that gets SWLRT built is unacceptable. Any Bakk-favored alternative should be shown the door in as hostile a manner as possible.

LRT projects are a disaster. If communities want to build them, let them build them with their tax revenues. Then let them subsidize their operations with their property taxes or their sales taxes. Talk that the business community wants them isn’t justification for building SWLRT. If businesses think LRT is so fantastic, let them pay for building them.

The dirty little secret is that LRT isn’t worthwhile except if taxpayers build it and subsidize its operations. Even then, these projects benefit the few while hurting others. Ask the displaced businesses in St. Paul if they’re fans of LRT. Hint: when asking that question, wear a bullet-proof vest.

There is some good news in the negotiations:

Dayton said he is more optimistic than ever that there will be a special session. “Where there is a will, there is a way.” The governor said he gave up all spending he earlier wanted to come up in a special session other than work needed on sex offender facilities and at the state hospital in St. Peter.

That’s the benefit of steadfastly saying no to unreasonable spending demands. Give Speaker Daudt and Sen. Hann and their caucuses credit for that. It wouldn’t have been possible if members of their caucus had left their reservation.

That’s why Speaker Daudt needs to return to that position and why Sen. Hann needs to be given the title of majority leader. Conservatives would applaud them shutting down Gov. Dayton’s reckless spending demands. Minnesota’s economy would improve by not having the legislature and the governor pile tons of new regulation on small businesses, too.

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According to this article, Sen. Bakk, Speaker Daudt and Gov. Dayton are close to an agreement on a special session. I question the accuracy of that statement.

The article opens by saying “A special Minnesota legislative session to approve tax cuts, transportation projects and public works construction could happen in a month, but the governor and key legislators are not quite ready to promise that.” Notice the hint that all is not well? Saying that “the governor and key legislators are not quite ready to promise that” set off red flags with me. Several paragraphs later, my suspicions were vindicated.

The vindication came when the article said a “major unresolved issue continues to be whether to approve a light rail line from downtown Minneapolis to the southwestern suburbs.” That’s indisputable. That’s the line Republicans shouldn’t cross under any circumstances. It’s the Minnesota equivalent to the infamous Bridge to Nowhere.

Speaker Daudt needs to realize that he’s sitting in the power position. I’m betting that DFL candidates aren’t popular because Gov. Dayton vetoed a major tax cut bill. Bakk and Dayton aren’t striking a more conciliatory tone because they’re altruistic. They’re striking a more conciliatory tone because they aren’t getting the response they’d hoped for.

Speaker Daudt, Sen. Hann and all Republicans should stand steadfast against the SWLRT project. If metro DFL legislators object, fine. Republicans don’t need to flip urban seats to flip the Senate. They need to flip seats in rural Minnesota. That’s where the tax cut bill is popular. If DFL candidates and incumbents want to defend Gov. Dayton’s veto of the Tax Bill, Republicans should rejoice that the DFL is giving them that gift.

Further, I’d encourage Republican House and Senate candidates to highlight the fact that the DFL put broadband and SWLRT at the top of their priority list and that Republicans put gutting taxes on farmers, the middle class, the military and small businesses at the top of their priority list.

Let’s fight that fight on our side of the battlefield. Let’s see if the DFL is capable of fighting that fight. I’m betting they’ll lose that fight by a significant margin.

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