Archive for the ‘Pork’ Category
The next time that the budget is being put together, I hope Republicans will tell airheaded liberals like Betsy Hodges and Chris Coleman to stick it where the sun doesn’t shine when they ask for their LGA increases. I wrote this post to highlight the fact that Chris Coleman was upset that he’d have to cut firefighters or police officers because evil Republicans didn’t give him an additional $3,000,000 in LGA. Because Coleman spent money he wasn’t owed and didn’t have, St. Paul suddenly had a $3,000,000 deficit.
As stupid as that sounds, Coleman’s in the minor leagues compared with Betsy Hodges. Betsy Hodges wants to spend $11,000,000 “beautifying the Convention Center plaza.” She wants to do that because, in Hodges’ estimation, the Minneapolis Convention Center plaza’s “lush grass, huge, funky animal sculptures, and fine trees” aren’t good enough. She wants to “plant more trees, level its tilted slope, and install electricity hookups and tent anchors so NFL VIPS might hob-knob inside party tents when Super Bowl LII comes to town in 2018.”
This is classic DFL spin:
Hodges’ spokesperson David Prestwood says it’s needed to “maximize the space.” And it “makes sense to do it now” because the city is slated to also host the X Games and the 2019 Final Four.
That sounds good but it isn’t wise when you consider this:
The job of the 33-member, citizen-led Capital Long-Range Improvement Committee is to review spending requests. Most recently, it scrutinized 97 projects, the plaza among them. The others included construction of a new fire station and sidewalk and intersection improvements so that kids can safely walk and bicycle to school.
The panel graded the proposals on various criteria such as level of need, cost, and public benefit. They were competing for a funding pool totaling about $150 million.
After all that, the citizens committee essentially flunked the Convention Center project:
But the committee ranked the plaza 95th out of 97.
Let’s get serious for a moment. This isn’t the exception for Minneapolis. It’s worth checking this post out:
We’ve been staking out the four fabled city-financed artistic drinking fountains in Minneapolis recently. We wanted to see what the nearly $50,000 per fountain from our property taxes and water fees buys. You can judge for yourself from the photos.
That’s right. Minneapolis spent $200,000 on “artistic drinking fountains.” Comparing R.T. Rybak with Betsy Hodges in terms of foolish spending is foolish. Rybak is a conservative compared with Hodges. Here’s the bad news:
Thus, the only ones standing between spending $11 million on lights, grading, and trees at the convention center plaza is the Minneapolis City Council.
It isn’t surprising that people are leaving Minneapolis as fast as their feet will fly.
This post is proof that progressives aren’t interested in having an honest conversation about policy. First, Sen. Stumpf saying that “we have a responsibility in the state of Minnesota to take care of property, the things that the public owns, to make our economy keep moving along” is intellectually dishonest.
It isn’t that Republicans don’t think that government shouldn’t maintain essential infrastructure. It’s that Republicans think that projects, like bridges, are multi-generational and shouldn’t be paid for with tax increases that are paid for by this generation. Republicans think bonding makes sense because multiple generations pay for a multi-generational piece of infrastructure.
Ms. Bierschbach wasn’t being honest when she said that “But that’s not how House Republicans see things. Many of them consider borrowing for infrastructure just more government spending, akin to credit card debt.” That’s false. The best way to illustrate the absurdity of that statement is by applying certain principles from home life. It’s one thing for a couple with a good credit rating and money in the bank to take out a mortgage to buy a home. It’s quite another to make frequent use of a high-interest credit card to pay for day-to-day things.
State bonding for things like museums, civic centers and hockey arenas isn’t wise. State bonding for things like highways and other critical infrastructure should be prioritized. It’s that simple.
Further, it doesn’t make sense to raise taxes to pay for building multi-generational pieces of infrastructure. Similarly, taking on long-term debt to pay for things like civic centers, museums, etc. is foolish, too.
Finally, it’s time to rethink the criteria we use for bonding projects.
The St. Cloud Times published House DFL Leader Paul Thissen’s op-ed this weekend. Suffice it to say that it would’ve been about 22 words if you omitted the DFL’s dishonest chanting points. Let’s debunk the most disgusting of Thissen’s dishonesties, starting with this:
Students at the St. Cloud State University recently learned they will receive a tuition hike next year. Raising tuition is essentially a tax increase because you’re taking money out of the pockets of students, many who simply can’t afford it. Now, thanks to these misplaced priorities, the cost of tuition, room and board for 2015-16 in St. Cloud will be almost $17,000.
This tuition hike wasn’t caused by the GOP legislature. It’s been caused by 5 years of mismanagement by President Potter. He insisted that enrollment was fine while it was dropping by 20+ % in a 5 year period. He insisted that we needed to build an upscale apartment complex even though there wasn’t a demand for it. That project has cost SCSU $7.7 million in 5 years. He paid EMG $417,000 to rebrand SCSU. Potter spent another $50,000 to find out that the professors think he plays office politics and that he doesn’t mean what he says.
SCSU’s scholastic reputation has taken a significant hit. SCSU’s financial standing has taken a significant hit, too, because FY2015’s deficit was more than $9,500,000. That’s before the news that there’s a good chance SCSU’s deficit for FY2016 will be in the millions of dollars, too.
Rep. Thissen wants to blame the GOP legislature for the SCSU tuition increase when President Potter is the one to blame. Rep. Thissen’s never let important things like facts get in the way of a dishonest diatribe, though.
Making college affordable should be a higher priority for our Legislature, as it was over the past two years. In 2013, Gov. Dayton and our DFL-led Legislature froze tuition for all Minnesota students for two years, despite a $627 million deficit.
It’s disgusting that Rep. Thissen thinks that the tuition problem is caused by the legislature not spending enough. Why hasn’t Rep. Thissen looked at the possibility that DFL legislators have let the MnSCU Central Office and university presidents spend like drunken sailors?
Chancellor Rosenstone paid McKinsey & Co. $2,000,000 for a couple months of work that college professors could’ve done. Why isn’t Rep. Thissen complaining about wasting money on Charting the Future? Is it because he doesn’t care about how much gets spent as long as he gets to play Santa Claus with the taxpayers’ money?
If Rep. Thissen’s attitude is that he isn’t interested in spending money wisely, then he’s part of the problem. He definitely isn’t part of the solution.
The Duluth News Tribune’s Our View editorial highlights Gov. Dayton’s attempt at slick advertising:
The governor’s bonding bill — er, sorry, Dayton and his staff even came up with a far-more-fetching name: “jobs bill” — has little to no chance of going anywhere. And that makes all the effort to get it ready and proposed, as well as the ballyhooed rollout, all that more curious. Anyone with even a hint of cynicism may have smelled politics at play.
The proposal has little to no chance of passage because such a bill has to originate in the House, and the House this year is led by Republicans who not only aren’t DFLers like Dayton, they’ve made it quite clear they have no plans for such a proposal right now.
Among other reasons for pause, it’s just not the right year. Bonding bills, or jobs bills, if you wish, typically are the products of even-numbered years’ sessions. This session has to be all about passing a budget, which the law requires, and passing a transportation bill, which our crumbling, too-long-overlooked highways and bridges demand. Republicans and DFLers, including Dayton, are far apart on those priorities and others and can spend the remaining weeks of the session compromising and working together with the good of all Minnesotans and their pocketbooks first and foremost in their minds.
That’s insulting on multiple fronts. When Republicans unveiled their Transportation Bill, one of the first complaints that the DFL made was that the GOP plan borrowed money while running up the credit card bill to pay for future road and bridge projects. I said then that putting a multigenerational bridge repair project on Minnesota’s credit card was totally justified because multiple generations will be using the bridge that’s getting repaired.
The DFL, led by Rep. Paul Thissen, criticized that approach. That’s frightening considering the fact that Thissen’s voted for bonding bills that paid for ‘important’ infrastructure projects like repairing gorilla cages at Como Park Zoo or a sheet music museum in southern Minnesota.
Based on the DFL’s actions, it’s apparent that the DFL thinks it’s fiscally irresponsible to pay for transportation infrastructure projects with the state’s credit card but it’s prudent to pay for frivolous projects like museum and zoo repair projects with the state’s credit card.
Bonding bills aren’t “jobs bills.” That’s just Gov. Dayton’s and the DFL’s slick advertising name for them. A high percentage of the projects in the average bonding bill pay off special interest constituencies. If you want to give these types of bills an honest name, let’s call them “the special interests’ appeasement bill.” Either that or let’s call them the “special interests’ pay-off bills”.
This year, let’s give them this name: dead on arrival.
Jim Knoblach didn’t waste time correcting the St. Cloud Times’ misstatements about him. Here’s what Jim said:
I was puzzled by one line in the recent St. Cloud Times endorsement editorial. It said I sometimes provided “minimal support for measures that directly benefited his district.”
During my time in the Legislature, I successfully authored more than $100 million in bonding projects for the St. Cloud area. This is far more than any representative in local history. St. Cloud State University and St. Cloud Technical & Community College each received tens of millions of dollars from my efforts. Other projects like Quarry Park, the Beaver Islands Trail and various transportation projects also benefited.
Unlike past years, the Times Editorial Board never gave me the courtesy of an interview before announcing its endorsement. I was thus unable to respond to whatever concerns it had on this subject. Many other local candidates were granted interviews.
I hope in the future the Times gives the courtesy of an interview to all local candidates for endorsements.
Jim Knoblach is a House 14B candidate from St. Cloud.
Jim Knoblach is running for the state legislature, though you wouldn’t know it based on the Times’ reporting. The average citizen wouldn’t have known that Jim Knoblach wasn’t even asked if he’d like to be interviewed for the Times endorsement. I wrote here that the Times decided that they were endorsing Jim’s opponent long before they conducted a single candidate interview.
This year’s Times endorsements were utterly unprofessional. The Times endorsed Joe Perske to replace Michele Bachmann in Congress. Fortunately, he’ll get beaten like a drum next Tuesday. Here’s one of the Times’ rationalizations for endorsing him:
Voters need to elect the person who can begin to restore district credibility while improving the return district residents get on the tax dollars they send to Washington.
While Emmer is the likely favorite because of the district’s conservative demographics, voters need to seriously consider whether his political persona will help the district. He’s similarly conservative to Bachmann and he is known as a political bully, which makes his House strategy is “building relationships” a tough sell.
Summarizing, the Times endorsed Joe Perske because they think he’d bring home the pork the district is losing out on and because Tom Emmer is a political bully.
At this point, it’s difficult picturing the Times Editorial Board as anything more than gossip columnists. They aren’t professional. They didn’t do their due diligence. They didn’t even treat one of the major party candidates with respect. That isn’t just shameful. It’s disgusting.
Catherine Richert’s Poligraph article needs to be factchecked. This statement is especially egregious:
During the three-way gubernatorial debate between Dayton, GOP candidate Jeff Johnson and Independence Party candidate Hannah Nicollet, Johnson repeatedly said that Dayton’s administration hasn’t given enough money and attention to greater Minnesota.
That statement isn’t accurate. Here’s what Jeff Johnson said:
“Greater Minnesota in many ways has become an afterthought in this state, whether you’re looking at where we spend our transportation dollars, whether you are looking at K-12 funding formulas, whether you’re looking at some of the regulations that are killing our farmers, our miners and our loggers in this state,” said Johnson, a Hennepin County commissioner.
Gov. Dayton’s reply (Richert called it pushback) was a non sequitur:
Gov. Mark Dayton: “The facts don’t support what Commissioner Johnson alleges. The bonding bill last year, 38 percent went to greater Minnesota, 28 percent to the Metro. The rest was statewide projects.”
Jeff Johnson didn’t mention the Bonding Bill in his statement. Johnson talked specifically about transportation spending, the K-12 funding formula favoring the metro over outstate Minnesota and how the Dayton administration’s regulatory overreach that’s hurting loggers and miners in northern Minnesota and farmers throughout Minnesota. Here’s Richert’s verdict:
Dayton’s claim is accurate.
It’s the most accurate non sequitur answer I’ve heard in a debate. The important point to take from Gov. Dayton’s statement is that he didn’t deny that the K-12 funding formula is weighted in the Twin Cities’ favor. Gov. Dayton didn’t deny that overregulation is hurting farmers, miners and loggers. Gov. Dayton didn’t deny that there’s a disparity in transportation funding between the Metro and outstate Minnesota.
Gov. Dayton’s defense of this egregious disparity was that the DFL threw some crumbs to outstate Minnesota in the Bonding Bill. Finally, Gov. Dayton didn’t offer proof that the economy in outstate Minnesota was strong.
Building a civic center or arena in a small agriculture town won’t help farmers make money. Commissioner Johnson is right that the outstate economy isn’t strong because it’s getting hurt by regulations on the major industries in outstate Minnesota.
I rate this Poligraph article misleading.
Jeff Johnson’s campaign is highlighting what’s been happening with the Community Action Partnership of Minneapolis fiasco. This time, the Johnson campaign highlights Gov. Dayton’s past statements about the Community Action Partnership of Minneapolis:
Johnson has proposed performance and fiscal audits of all state programs, beginning with human services programs, to determine which ones work and which ones are a waste of taxpayers dollars. In a September 14 Star Tribune story on Johnson’s audit proposal, Mark Dayton said: “The decades-old accusation that Minnesota government recklessly wastes money on people who are poor, sick, or elderly is unfair and unfounded.”
Actually, Gov. Dayton, Commissioner Johnson’s statement is accurate. Since Gov. Dayton made that ill-advised statement, he’s changed his perspective:
“It’s incredibly ironic that, after criticizing my plan to audit all state programs—beginning with human services programs—this egregious waste of taxpayer dollars has surfaced,” Johnson added. “My audit plan is clearly needed, and Mark Dayton is clearly out-of-touch.”
Actually, Dayton’s statements aren’t as much out-of-touch as they are a predictable defense of liberalism. The most important principle behind liberalism and budgeting is that every penny ever appropriated is forever justified. In fact, in 2007, the DFL legislature fought to have inflation calculated into the budget:
That’s bad enough but Democrats pushing to install “an automatic inflator put into the calculation of the state budget forecast” ain’t gonna fly. This is something that should be rejected before it’s ever proposed. There should be a public outcry against this type of reckless spending. We should recognize this scheme for what it is: an attempt to codify into law liberalism’s dream of ever-increasing taxing and spending.
The thought that government was spending money foolishly was the farthest thing from the DFL’s mind. I had multiple arguments with liberal commenters about that at the time. Gov. Dayton certainly would’ve agreed with the principles behind baseline budgeting, which is based on the thought that budgets must increase each year.
That’s the principle behind not spotting the mismanagement seen in the Community Action Partnership of Minneapolis fiasco. The DFL thinks that budgets should increase each year. Therefore, in the DFL’s thinking, auditing special interest organizations that get government grant money isn’t needed.
“I’m very troubled by and tired of Mark Dayton’s continuous pattern of creating or contributing to problems and then trying to claim credit for fixing them after the damage is done,” Johnson said. “Today, for the second time this week, Dayton’s DHS has employed its ‘arsonist with a fire hose’ strategy. Dayton’s ties to the leaders of Community Action Partnership of Minneapolis are numerous, and if he and his DHS commissioner were competent and aware of what’s happening, they would have discovered these issues long ago, without a tip from a whistleblower.”
It’s one thing for Gov. Dayton and the DFL to propose spending more money. It’s quite different, though, for Gov. Dayton and the DFL to initially pretend that money is being spent wisely, then expressing outrage once it’s proven that the money is getting spent foolishly.
It’s unacceptable that the all-DFL government didn’t care about Community Action Partnership of Minneapolis until it became a political liability. It’s better to be proactive in preventing these fiascos than to clean up the mess after the fact.
Jeff Johnson’s audit plan will identify organizations and agencies that are spending money foolishly. There’s no question that Jeff Johnson will implement proactive policies to prevent these things from happening. There’s no doubt that Gov. Dayton has operated government with a clean-up-the-mess-after-the-fact attitude.
It’s time Minnesota took a proactive approach to protecting the taxpayers. Only Jeff Johnson will bring that approach to governing. Gov. Dayton certainly hasn’t.
Tom Hauser’s Truth Test of Gov. Dayton’s ad might’ve gotten an A in accuracy if he hadn’t tried marketing himself as a tax cutter:
NARRATOR: Cut taxes while increasing our rainy day fund and investing in education.
HAUSER: It’s true that Gov. Dayton increased the rainy day fund and invested more in education but it’s false to say that Dayton cut taxes, so false that it nearly overwhelms everything else that’s true in this ad. In fact, Dayton and the DFL legislature raised taxes by $2,000,000,000 in the 2013 session. In 2014, they cut taxes $508,000,000, partially by repealing taxes that they’d increased the year before. So over those 2 years, there’s a net tax increase of $1,500,000,000.
Later in the segment, Hauser said that “He admits it. He ran for governor by promising he’d raise taxes.” I’ll repeat what I’ve said previously. Repealing taxes that you just raised and/or created isn’t a tax cut. It’s a reduction in the size of the tax increase.
Gov. Dayton’s first instinct, which is shared by House and Senate DFL leadership, is to propose raising taxes first, then submitting a mulligan budget later when political pressure mounts:
In 2011, Gov. Dayton proposed massive tax increases, including a top income tax bracket of 10.95% and a 3% surcharge for people making $1,000,000 or more. When the deficit forecast was revised down from $6,200,000,000 to $5,030,000,000, Gov. Dayton immediately dropped the income tax surcharge. Eventually, the GOP majority forced him to drop his tax increases.
Raising taxes won’t be Jeff Johnson’s first instinct. He’ll ride herd on bureaucrats that don’t have the taxpayers’ best interests at heart because that’s who he is:
The difference between Jeff Johnson and Gov. Dayton is stunning. Gov. Dayton starts with the assumption that every state agency should have its budget increased. Jeff Johnson doesn’t start with the assumption that agencies’ budgets should be automatically increased.
Jeff Johnson has a lengthy history as Hennepin County Commissioner of highlighting government spending money foolishly. He’ll continue that habit as governor.
Minnesota families don’t need a governor who raises taxes first, spends money foolishly second, then tells them that he’s cut taxes on the campaign trail. Minnesota families deserve a governor who’s proven that he’ll be the taxpayers’ watchdog.
Jeff Johnson is the only gubernatorial candidate who fits that last description.
This Star Tribune article isn’t stunning from the perspective that people generally don’t worry how they spend other people’s money. It’s startling from the perspective that Gov. Dayton didn’t have a clue about this. First, here’s what the Star Tribune is reporting:
Leaders of a Minneapolis nonprofit that serves low-income residents used taxpayer money to pay for a celebrity cruise and trips to Palm Beach and the Bahamas, according to a recently completed state audit.
Along with the trips, the audit by the state Department of Human Services found that the nonprofit’s leaders spent public money on bonuses, golf, spa treatments, furniture, alcohol and even a personal car loan.
The audit concluded that the organization’s longtime chief executive, Bill Davis, misspent hundreds of thousands of dollars from 2011 to 2013.
I’m not a prosecutor but I’ve got to think that it’s illegal to use taxpayer money to make payments on a personal car loan. It isn’t that I think that the other things listed are good governance. It’s just that I think there might be a semi-plausible explanation for some of the things listed. This part jumps off the page at me:
Davis said his group, Community Action of Minneapolis, sent the state 112 pages of information in early September challenging some of the audit’s findings. He said in an interview that information has been “totally ignored” in the final report.
“I’ve been here for 24 years,” Davis said. “I’m well aware of my responsibilities. I wouldn’t be elected to national boards if I was doing things I shouldn’t be doing.”
Let’s look at that last statement about being “elected to national boards” if he was doing things he shouldn’t have been doing. Of course he would. That wouldn’t matter to people swimming in the same cesspool. They’re cronies who think that they’re entitled to the perks. In this instance, Mr. Davis went too far.
This part is jaw-dropping stunning:
Auditors blamed Community Action’s board, which includes several well-known politicians and community leaders, for a lack of oversight and for personally benefiting from $34,892 worth of activities that “do not appear to serve a business purpose, and are considered waste and abuse as defined in state policy.”
Those activities included two weekend trips, between 2011 and 2013, to Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria, where board members and senior management spent $9,000 for lodging, $3,200 for food and $900 for spas.
Davis defended the trips as a “small gesture on our part to offer them a moment of relaxation or entertainment. It’s not like we do this every single week of the year.”
Spending $13,100 isn’t a “small gesture on our part.” That’s spending lavishly and/or extravagantly. Other than identifying that fact, I’d like to know what Community Action of Minneapolis’s employees did to justify this lavish spending.
Our taxes are paying for a significant portion of Community Action’s budget:
Community Action had an $11 million budget in fiscal year 2011, with over half of its revenue coming from government grants. The audit’s findings put Community Action at risk of losing at least $2.8 million in aid.
Initially, Mark Dayton responded to Jeff Johnson’s call for an extensive audit of NPOs by saying “The decades-old accusation that Minnesota government recklessly wastes money on people who are poor, sick, or elderly is unfair and unfounded.” Now that the facts are out, Gov. Dayton is singing a different tune:
Gov. Mark Dayton on Monday said that a Star Tribune report of a nonprofit using state funds to subsidize cruises, a director’s car lease and spa treatments was very concerning and alarming. “I was personally really appalled,” Dayton said. “I take it very seriously.”
Now that it’s been proven that Community Action of Minneapolis spent taxpayers’ money foolishly, Gov. Dayton is backtracking. Fast. We don’t need a governor who takes things seriously after the fact. What’s needed is someone who takes steps to prevent it from happening in the first place.
Technorati: Bill Davis, Community Action of Minneapolis, Non-profit Organization, Mark Dayton, Personal Car Loan, Spa Treatments, Arrowwood Lodge, Audit, DFL, Jeff Johnson, Taxpayers’ Watchdog, MNGOP, Election 2014
The highlight of Bill Hanna’s article about his interview with DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin is this quote:
“I think we’re in a good position to close out the election. But we can’t be too cocky. That’s how we lose.”
Here’s a hint for Martin. The DFL doesn’t lose when it’s too cocky. It’s always too cocky. The DFL loses when it pays too much attention to its special interest allies and ignores the people. It loses when it goes hard ideological. That’s what happened in 2009-2010. That’s when the DFL legislature insisted on passing a budget filled with tax increases that paid for its payoffs to its special interests.
Tom Bakk, the Senate Majority Leader, has said that Minnesotans “don’t mind paying a little more in taxes” because they get their money’s worth from those taxes. That’s the DFL’s Achille’s Heal this year.
- Minnesotans aren’t getting their money’s worth from those increased taxes when DFL plutocrats take $90,000,000 to pay for an office building for part-time politicians instead of paying to fix Minnesota’s pothole-riddled streets.
- Minnesotans definitely aren’t getting their money’s worth from those increased taxes to pay for the utter incompetence at MNsure.
- The DFL can’t claim that Minnesota’s entrepreneurs were helped by raising their taxes. Job creation has virtually stopped since the Dayton-DFL tax increases hit these small businesses.
The only thing that’s helping the DFL right now is that the Twin Cities media’s coverage has changed since early summer. Back then, they actually talked about the negative effects the DFL’s policies were having, especially on the Iron Range. Now they’ve returned to talking only about the race to the finish.
DFL pundits, from Larry Jacobs to Ember Reichgott-Junge to Mindy Greiling, praise the strength of the Dayton-DFL economy because Minnesota’s unemployment rate is artificially low. They don’t talk about things like how many people have quit looking for work or how many “Starbucks MBAs” are employed in jobs that they’re vastly overqualified for.
The DFL promised jobs during their campaigns. They didn’t promise careers, with the exception of a career as a government bureaucrat. During the past 12 months, the Dayton-DFL economy has created 21,523 public sector jobs. That’s compared with the Dayton-DFL economy creating 2,900 total jobs in the last 7 months.
Chairman Martin’s job is to elect as many Democrats as possible, regardless of how much that’d hurt Minnesota. With outstate Minnesota’s unemployment rate high, it’s safe to say that the Dayton-DFL economic policies are hurting Minnesotans.
That’s especially true for the Range, where the region-wide unemployment rate is 8.02% compared with a statewide unemployment rate of 4.88%. Doing nothing while a major region of the state stagnates isn’t doing what’s best for the state. That’s the result of the DFL telling the Range that they’ll pay attention to the environmental activist-elitist wing of the DFL while ignoring the blue collar wing of the DFL represented by the Range.
It’s time for the Range to wake up and realize that the DFL is playing them for fools. It’s time they realized that Ken Martin’s DFL isn’t the Iron Range’s friend. It’s its enemy.
If the Iron Range realizes that, it’ll result in a happy ending for the Range because it’ll mean an end to DFL reign in St. Paul.
Technorati: Ken Martin, Iron Range, Blue Collar Workers, Twin Cities Elitists, Environmental Activists, Media Bias, Twin Cities Media, Larry Jacobs, Mindy Greiling, Ember Reichgott-Junge, DFL, Election 2014