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The DFL, especially Rep. Thissen, has been whining about how dysfunctional the House GOP is. The DFL’s criticism is based on a myth but that doesn’t mean they won’t keep lying to regain complete control of Minnesota state government. In fact, the only thing that the DFL cares about is raw political power. Another myth is that the DFL cares about ‘the little guy.’ That’s BS. I’ll let Harold Hamilton explain why it’s BS.

This morning, Hamilton wrote “Tell your friends, neighbors, family and co-workers the truth about the tax bill that was vetoed. That bill was a conference report, jointly authored and unanimously passed by a House-Senate conference committee.” Later, Hamilton noted that the conference committee was comprised of “Sen. Rod Skoe (DFL – Clearbrook) – Senate Tax Committee Chairman, Sen. Paul Gazelka (R – Nisswa),
Sen. Ann Rest (DFL – New Hope), Sen. Lyle Koenen (DFL – Clara City), Sen. Kari Dziedzic (DFL – Minneapolis), Rep. Greg Davids (R – Preston) – House Tax Committee Chairman, Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R – Mazeppa), Rep. Bob Barrett (R – Lindstrom), Rep. Chris Swedzinski (R – Ghent) and Rep. Gene Pelowski (DFL – Winona).”

Hamilton then noted that “the conferees assembled a bill that passed the full House by a vote of 123-10.”

House Minority Leader Paul Thissen has been leading the chorus against the bill, now that it has been vetoed.

Let the record reflect that the following DFL members of the House voted for the conference report: Allen, Anzelc, Applebaum, Atkins, Bernardy, Bly, Carlson, Clark, Considine, Davnie, Dehn, Ecklund, Erhardt, Fischer, Flanagan, Halverson, Hausman, Hilstrom, Hortman, Isaacson, Johnson C., Kahn, Laine, Lein, Lillie, Loeffler, Mahoney, Mariani, Marquart, Masin, Melin, Metsa, Moran, Mullery, Murphy M., Nelson, Newton, Norton, Pelowski, Persell, Poppe, Rosenthal, Schoen, Schultz, Wagenius, Ward, Yarusso, Yuakim.

In fact, only 9 House Democrats voted “no.”

Let’s dispel this myth that Republicans are hard-headed ideologues. The Tax Bill passed 123-10 in the House and 55-12 in the Senate. That’s 178 legislators voting for the supposedly deeply flawed bill vs. 22 legislators voting against the deeply flawed bill.

Gov. Dayton insists that the GOP must make more bipartisan gestures. With all due respect, Gov. Dayton, that’s BS. Any bill that was put together by a conference committee composed of equal numbers of DFL legislators and GOP legislators is necessarily bipartisan. Additionally, any bill that passes with 89% of legislators is necessarily bipartisan.

Next, let’s examine the Capital Improvement Bill that passed the House. It passed 91-39. It passed with 70% of the vote:

Democrats who voted in favor of the bill:

Anzelc, Bly, Carlson, Clark, Dehn, Ecklund, Erhardt, Fischer, Frieberg, Hausman, Isaacson, Johnson C., Johnson S., Kahn, Lien, Lillie, Mahoney, Mariani, Marquart, Masin, Melin, Metsa, Moran, Murphy M., Newton, Pelowski, Pinto, Poppe, Rosenthal, Sundin, Yarusso.

It’s too much to think that the DFL will relent. That isn’t happening. They’ll continue their lies through Election Day. The next best remedy to the DFL’s dishonesty is to continually call them out as dishonest power-mongers.

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Wednesday afternoon, I got into a discussion on Twitter with Rep. Kim Norton. Rep. Norton brought up the fact that there’s a language error in the tax bill that needs to be corrected. The bill’s language will cause a $100,000,000 in revenues. That point isn’t in dispute. In fact, Speaker Daudt has said that fixing the drafting mistake will be the first order of business the minute a special session is called.

What’s interesting is that William Morris’ article highlights how DFL legislators aren’t on board with Gov. Dayton’s agenda. Sen. Vicki Jensen said “It’s very unreasonable, that whole list of demands he has. I’m hoping they don’t add a bunch in, and we don’t have to have a huge conversation.”

It’s time to fix the tax bill so that people like Ryan Visher can get the property tax relief he needs to get his business back up and running. The only thing standing in the way of a short special session is Gov. Dayton’s insistence on funding for the SWLRT and his insistence on $423,000,000 of additional new spending.

Last year, Gov. Dayton torpedoed the bipartisan budget agreement. Last year, he insisted on funding universal pre-K. After a long standoff, Gov. Dayton caved and called a special session. It took a full day but business got done.

It’s important to remember that Gov. Dayton shut down the government in 2011 and tried shutting it down in 2015. Now, Gov. Dayton is standing in the way of property tax relief for small businesses and farmers. He’s standing in the way of fixing dangerous roads like Highway 12, the deadliest stretch of highway in Minnesota.

It’s time for Minnesotans to write or call Gov. Dayton and tell him to stop acting like a little child throwing a temper tantrum and put Minnesotans like Ryan Visher first for a change.

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The person that wrote this St. Cloud Times editorial didn’t do their homework. If they’d done their research, they wouldn’t have written “As stated in a plea last week to Dayton not to convene one, except for political gains for incumbents in both parties, there really is no compelling reason for a special session.”

Had they read this article, they’d know that there’s a compelling reason for a special session. Had the Times read that article, they would’ve learned that Gov. Dayton’s veto of the tax bill will likely have a dramatic effect on the economy of Madelia, MN. Had Gov. Dayton paid attention to Speaker Daudt’s press conference, he would’ve heard about the needs of shopkeepers like Ryan Visher in Madelia.

Visher and several other shopkeepers had their stores ravaged by fire. According to Visher, the insurance check will pay for the rebuilding of the buildings lost in the fire. That isn’t the problem. Mr. Visher explained the problem:

The problem, though, with that is that the insurance money will build the building but now we’re gonna have a building that’s going to be valued at 5 times, 6 times than what it was originally and we probably can’t pay the taxes on that. We’d have a great building that isn’t viable for us and so they came up with a plan to give us some tax relief and so both parties and both houses supported that and it got to the Governor’s desk. And the Governor was down here and he said that he would help us and he hasn’t yet…

Whatever happened prior to Gov. Dayton’s veto of the tax bill is irrelevant. Gov. Dayton could’ve signed the bill and called a special session immediately to fix the bill. Instead, Gov. Dayton used Mr. Visher as a bargaining chip. Gov. Dayton wanted to use these people’s lives as leverage to win an additional $423,000,000 worth of spending on the DFL’s special interest allies. That’s after the legislature approved $183,000,000 in spending in this year’s supplemental spending bill.

Gov. Dayton, Ryan Visher isn’t a bargaining chip. He’s a shopkeeper whose business was devastated by fire. He’s planning on rebuilding his shop so he can earn a living while providing people with jobs. What Gov. Dayton is doing is totally un-Minnesotan. He should be ashamed of himself using hurting people for political purposes.

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Let’s be blunt about this. The DFL isn’t sad that Gov. Dayton vetoed the Tax Bill. Instead, a defiant DFL defended Gov. Dayton. For instance, said Rep. Tina Liebling said “The tax bill was put together very hastily and brought to the floor very hastily and had very little debate. It’s not too surprising to me that it had a $100 million error in it, and I think (the governor) was absolutely right to let it expire.”

Rep. Liebling is defending the indefensible. Thanks to Gov. Dayton’s stubbornness, small businesses ravaged by fire in Madelia, MN, won’t get the property tax relief they were waiting on. Shop owner Ryan Visher explained why the Tax Bill Gov. Dayton vetoed was so important, saying “And so we looked to Sen. Rosen and to Rep. Cornish and Rep. Gunther and asked what can help us do this because no developer is going to come into our town to develop that area so it came up to us, all 4 of us land owners, to redevelop that, to use our insurance proceeds and make it whole. The problem, though, with that is that the insurance money will build the building but now we’re gonna have a building that’s going to be valued at 5 times, 6 times than what it was originally and we probably can’t pay the taxes on that.”

Visher then explained his disappointment:

We’d have a great building that isn’t viable for us and so they came up with a plan to give us some tax relief and so both parties and both houses supported that and it got to the Governor’s desk. And the Governor was down here and he said that he would help us and he hasn’t yet and it’s unfortunate that being in outstate Minnesota, we’re being held hostage to some things that will only affect Metro.

Sen. Bakk said that setting up a special session should be easy. Sen. Hann’s response was as firm as it was swift:

The part that sticks out comes when Sen. Hann says “We agree with Gov. Dayton on the tax relief bill, and we should pass the bipartisan compromise transportation and infrastructure bill that was agreed to on the last day of session. We are not going to rehash the entire session by repeating negotiations on half a billion dollars of new spending demands.”

Gov. Dayton promised to help these shopkeepers in Madelia, MN. That’s what Minnesotans of all political persuasions have done throughout the years. This time, Gov. Dayton reneged on his promise to help the Madelia shopkeepers when he vetoed the Tax Bill. That isn’t a Minnesota tradition.

Gov. Dayton, prove that you just had a momentary lapse of judgment. Gov. Dayton, call a special session that passes the bonding bill before SWLRT funding was shoved down Minnesotans’ throats. Call that special session so that Mr. Visher and the other shopkeepers can get their lives restored rather than be held hostage in the name of political gamesmanship.

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On Monday, I wrote this post to highlight Paul Thissen’s hypocrisy on a tax bill that got strong overwhelming bipartisan support in the Minnesota legislature. Monday night, Matt Swenson confirmed that Gov. Dayton won’t sign this year’s tax relief bill, saying Dayton “will not sign a tax bill that includes a $101 million error.”

That’s BS. Gov. Dayton signed a tax bill in 2013 that contained far more than $101,000,000 in errors. Then, there was a DFL governor and DFL majorities in the Minnesota House and Minnesota Senate. That year’s tax bill included $90,000,000 for Sen. Bakk’s Senate Office Building. The DFL Tax Bill of 2013 applied, for the first time in Minnesota history, Minnesota’s sales tax to farm equipment repair, telecommunications equipment and warehousing operations. Those taxes were passed over the strenuous objections of the business community. According to this article, “Dayton’s plan would dramatically alter the state’s revenue streams. Over time, the state’s system has tilted toward the property tax, which supplies 40 percent of the state’s revenue. Income taxes provide 33 percent and 27 percent come from sales taxes. The overhaul would ensure that each of the three sources provided roughly a third of state revenue.”

If that’s accurate, then one-third of the Dayton-DFL tax increase came from the sales tax increase. That year’s tax increase was projected to be $2,250,000,000. When the DFL legislature went home after the 2013 session, they found out that the B2B sales tax increases were wildly unpopular. By August, the DFL had essentially admitted that those B2B sales tax increases were a mistake. The DFL didn’t issue a statement admitting it in those words. Rather, they admitted it by initially considering the repeal of the B2B sales taxes during that summer’s special session.

The repeal of those sales taxes didn’t happen during that summer’s special session. Instead, they were repealed in the regular 2014 session. Either way, the repeal of those sales taxes represented a mistake of over $350,000,000. Couple that with the $90,000,000 Senate Office Building and you’re talking well north of this year’s drafting error of $101,000,000.

It’s worth noting that the DFL’s tax mistake was a major policy mistake. They made a $400,000,000+ mistake by not understanding how counterproductive those tax increases were. In the case of the GOP Tax Bill’s mistake, it was simply a drafting mistake, something that happens multiple times each year. It’s an easy fix.

Gov. Dayton’s threat is now a reality.

Gov. Dayton isn’t being honest with Minnesotans. Here’s what Gov. Dayton demanded during negotiations for a special session:

The demands essentially call for about $423 million in additional spending, on top of the $183 million in additional spending this session, on top of the additional spending added last year when the state crafted its new two-year budget.

That means Gov. Dayton vetoed a bill that would’ve a) helped students pay off their student loan debt, b) helped parents save money for their kids’ college education and provided property tax relief to farmers and small businesses. Further, it’s been confirmed that Speaker Daudt suggested a meeting between the governor, Senator Bakk and himself and that Gov. Dayton refused to meet.

Gov. Dayton ignored Minnesotans’ needs. Gov. Dayton didn’t pay attention to the “farmers, parents and veterans” that Republicans brought to St. Paul to lobby Dayton. Instead, Gov. Dayton vetoed a tax bill that would’ve helped these Minnesotans because Republicans didn’t say yes to Gov. Dayton’s spending demands. Gov. Dayton said no to providing tax relief to thousands of Minnesotans because Republicans didn’t spend half of the surplus on Gov. Dayton’s and the DFL’s wish list.

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Rep. Thissen just posted this tweet in an attempt to criticize Republicans to distract attention away from Gov. Dayton vetoing a series of middle class tax cuts. In his tweet, he said “I bet those Republican House members wish they’d voted w/ us for 24 hrs. to review bills. That’s how you avoid $100 million mistakes.”

Rep. Thissen is a man living in a glass house who throws stones recklessly. In 2013, Rep. Thissen joined with Sen. Bakk and Gov. Dayton to pass a tax bill that raised taxes on farmers, warehouse operators and telecommunications equipment. In 2014, Rep. Thissen joined with Sen. Bakk and Gov. Dayton in admitting that Republicans were right in voting against those sales tax increases. They didn’t admit it in a press release. They admitted it by repealing those sales taxes.

Rep. Thissen, Sen. Bakk and Gov. Dayton reached agreement on these tax increases a week before the end of the 2013 session. They passed these sales tax increases the last day of the session, which meant the DFL had tons of time to read through the Tax Bill.

Those sales tax increases weren’t the only mistakes made by Rep. Thissen, Sen. Bakk and Gov. Dayton in that 2013 Tax Bill. That year, Rep. Thissen, Sen. Bakk and Gov. Dayton and the DFL included $90,000,000 to build Bakk’s Senate Palace. To be fair, though, Rep. Thissen, Sen. Bakk and Gov. Dayton haven’t admitted that was a mistake. Minnesotans admitted it, though, when they threw out Rep. Thissen as Speaker of the House. In 2014, it wasn’t coincidence that the DFL returned to being the minority party in the House.

Between the sales tax increases that were later repealed and $90,000,000 spent on Bakk’s Palace, it isn’t a stretch to think that Rep. Thissen’s mistakes added up to much more than $100,000,000. It’s more likely that the DFL’s mistakes made in 2013 and admitted in 2014 topped $300,000,000. Though I don’t have the spreadsheet in front of me, the article I linked to earlier talks about “a $443 million tax reduction bill.” Add $90,000,000 for the Senate Office Building to the $443,000,000 and you’re easily over $500,000,000.

Rep. Thissen shouldn’t shoot his mouth off about $100,000,000 mistakes after he joined Sen. Bakk and Gov. Dayton and the DFL majorities in the Minnesota House and Senate in making a series of far bigger mistakes in 2013 and 2014.

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Patrick Condon’s article reads like it was written by Paul Thissen. It opens by saying “Minnesota Republicans, who seized control of the House two years ago on promises to cut taxes and boost road and bridge spending across the state, now could go zero for two on those priorities because of bad blood with DFL Gov. Mark Dayton.”

Let’s correct that to tell what’s really happened. Gov. Dayton and Rep. Thissen have tried pushing a metrocentric agenda down Minnesota’s throats. Thanks to Speaker Daudt and House Republicans, we’ve actually had real solutions proposed that would’ve fixed Minnesota’s roads and bridges while providing tax relief to small businesses, college students and farmers.

The metrocentric DFL has fought against road and bridge repair by insisting that Minnesota’s gas tax be increased. When that failed, they insisted that the bonding bill include funding for the SWLRT project, something that’s been controversial for a decade. Speaker Daudt should tell Gov. Dayton that Republicans are prepared to take the message of DFL obstructionism to the voters and let them decide if they want DFL legislators interfering with the Republicans’ positive, solutions-oriented agenda.

It isn’t the Republicans’ fault that Rep. Thissen and Gov. Dayton hate outstate Minnesota. It isn’t the Republicans’ fault that Gov. Dayton is willing to veto a bill that would provide tax relief to tens of thousands of Minnesotans. If Gov. Dayton wants to veto a bill because it has a technical error that Republicans have agreed to fix in a special session, then it’s Gov. Dayton, not Republicans, who is standing in the way of helping Minnesotans.

Thus far, Gov. Dayton has publicly stated that he’s willing to stand in the way of fixing the most dangerous stretch of highway in Minnesota. He’s also threatened to veto a tax bill that would provide tax relief to tens of thousands of Minnesotans. If Gov. Dayton wants the DFL to get the reputation of being the obstructionist party in Minnesota, that’s his decision. If Gov. Dayton wants the DFL to get the reputation of insisting on raising Minnesotans’ taxes each year, that’s Gov. Dayton’s and the DFL’s decision.

If Gov. Dayton wants the Republicans to get the reputation of fixing problems like eliminating student loan debt and helping parents save for their kids’ college education, that’s Gov. Dayton’s choice. That isn’t to say that Republicans don’t wish that they could do a couple of things differently in terms of bringing bills to the House floor. It just means that their policies are superior to the DFL’s ideas.

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The latest scuttlebutt from St. Paul is that Gov. Dayton will veto the bipartisan tax bill by not signing it into law. Technically, he will use a provision known as a pocket veto. In the real world, it’ll be another example of Gov. Dayton overplaying his hand. When Gov. Dayton vetoes the bipartisan tax bill, he will argue that there’s a wording error in the bill’s language. Technically, that’s true. It’s also a dodge.

As this article says, this happens all the time. The article says “Those type of language errors happen all the time and are most often fixed by the Office of Revisor of Statutes, rather than requiring legislative action” before saying “Governor, this has all happened before — with DFLers and Republicans — on other issues. And there is no disagreement on the need for change in the language. … Governor, let the hostage bill go.”

Let’s be clear about this. Gov. Dayton plans on vetoing a bill with tons of middle class tax cuts in it, property tax relief for small businesses and farmers and that some tax incentives that will diversify the Iron Range’s economy. He’s threatening to veto the bill if House Republicans don’t agree to include funding for the Southwest Light Rail in the bonding bill, something that they’ve opposed for years.

Gov. Dayton initially said that he wouldn’t hold the tax bill hostage to get leverage on a bonding bill. Now he’s reneged on that promise. While I’m upset from a policy perspective that Gov. Dayton plans on vetoing the tax cuts, I’m thankful he’s doing it from a political standpoint. Let me explain.

Gov. Dayton has undoubtedly read the articles saying he has the most leverage over a special session. While that’s true in the sense that he’s the only person who can call a session, it isn’t true in the sense that the GOP put together some very appealing legislation. The tax bill is a perfect example. That passed with overwhelming support in the House and Senate. It passed in the House 123-10. It passed in the Senate 55-12.

Further, on the bonding bill, Gov. Dayton and the DFL are essentially saying that funding for the SWLRT is more important than fixing Highway 12, the most dangerous stretch of highway in Minnesota. Does the DFL really want mailers showing up telling stories about traffic deaths that they voted against. See here, here and here for stories about fatalities on Highway 12.

Those mailers will be especially effective against DFL senators because they voted to stop funding for fixing Highway 12. Picture a mailer showing up in Terri Bonoff’s open seat in Plymouth that highlights her support for SWLRT at the expense of fixing Highway 12. Imagine that mailer showing up in Chris Eaton’s Brooklyn Park/Brooklyn Center district. I can’t imagine this playing well in John Hoffman’s district or in Alice Johnson’s district, either.

If Gov. Dayton wants to bet that funding SWLRT is more popular than middle class tax cuts or fixing Highway 12, it’s my advice that Speaker Daudt and Sen. Hann should call his bluff. I’m betting that DFL legislators in swing districts won’t like Gov. Dayton playing hardball with those issues.

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Gov. Dayton’s letter to the caucus leaders in the House and Senate is a negotiating document. As such, it should be seen for what it really is — a campaign document — and for what it isn’t — a serious policy document.

In the section of his letter titled transportation, Gov. Dayton said “Before I call a Special Session, I believe it is essential for the Senate and House to first revise and reconcile the transportation sections of the bonding bills, which previously passed their respective bodies.” That’s code for saying that he won’t call a session unless House Republicans agree to fund the SWLRT project. Again, this is a poison pill. It isn’t a priority. It’s a project that’s been argued over for at least 8 years and probably longer. SWLRT is a non-starter with Republicans and Dayton knows it.

Then Gov. Dayton includes some misinformation about the need for SWLRT, saying “The additional 750,000 people, who are expected to inhabit this region in the next twenty-five years, will be forced onto impossibly congested highways, if sufficient bus, bus rapid transit, and light-rail alternatives are not developed.”

When I wrote this article about Minnesota losing the brain drain border battle, I highlighted how many young people are leaving Minnesota for Wisconsin and the Dakotas. When I wrote about redistricting in 2011-12, I wrote about how people left Minneapolis and St. Paul. That’s when I coined the phrase that people “were voting with their mortgages.”

CD-6 and CD-2 were over their target of 662,991 people per CD in Minnesota by 96,457 people and 69,204 people respectively. At the time, those districts were represented by Michele Bachmann and John Kline, respectively. By comparison, CD-4 and CD-5, the heart of downtown St. Paul and Minneapolis respectively, were down over 40,000 people per CD.

That’s before factoring in Peter Nelson’s study about how many people are leaving Minnesota:

Between 2013 and 2014, Minnesota lost nearly $1 billion in net household income to other states. Minnesota’s 2014 net loss of $948 million represented a sharp increase over prior years. Just three years ago, the state’s net loss of adjusted gross income was $490 million.

While it isn’t impossible to believe that another 750,000 people might move into “the region”, the truth is that it’s most likely that most of those people will choose to live in the outer ring suburbs and exurbs where light rail is least effective.

More concerning is the precedent that these earmarks of State Highway projects set for future legislatures. Picking winners and losers according to the discretion of a handful of legislators behind closed doors, instead of basing those decisions on established priorities, is not responsible.

The DFL is the party that loves picking winners and losers. Further, while I generally hate earmarks, I don’t reflexively disagree with all earmarks. In fact, earmarking funds for specific transportation projects is exactly the right thing to do.

In 2008, the DFL promised Rod Hamilton that they’d finish the Highway 14 project if he voted to override Gov. Pawlenty’s veto of the transportation bill. After Rep. Hamilton voted to override Gov. Dayton’s veto, the DFL didn’t keep their promise.

Highway 12 is the most dangerous stretch of highway in Minnesota. Why isn’t it proper for the legislature to insist that fixing it be part of the bonding bill?

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The St. Cloud Times is on a roll editorial-wise. Last week, they published this hate-filled editorial that ended with a church getting vandalized, thanks in large part, I suspect, to the Times editorial, which did everything except call the church a host for bigotry. A week later and the Times Editorial Board is at it again, this time telling Gov. Dayton to play politics rather than correcting the DFL’s sabotaging of a bonding bill that would’ve fixed the most dangerous stretch of highway in Minnesota.

Apparently, the St. Cloud Times doesn’t care that motorists will be put at risk because DFL senators put a higher priority of funding the Southwest Light Rail project than they put on fixing the 38-mile stretch of Highway 12 between Wayzata and Cokato. What a heartless bunch the Times Editorial Board is. Of course, they don’t put it that way. Instead, they insist that they’re recommending no special session because politicians need to be taught a lesson for not getting their work done on time.

There is no budget shortfall. The operation of state government programming and services is not contingent on legislation being drafted and approved. And there certainly is no natural disaster, no unemployment benefits nor even war bonuses for veterans (see Korea, 1958) that require legislators to reconvene in St. Paul this year.

So don’t convene a special session. Make the best decisions you can about the legislation sent to your desk and be done with it.

Technically, the Times is accurate. Still, the Times is blind as a bat. There is an emergency that the DFL didn’t address. The DFL Senate insisted that the House approve funding for the controversial Southwest Light Rail project be included in the bonding bill. By doing that with minutes left in the session, the DFL Senate killed the bonding bill and, with it, funding to fix Highway 12.

To the Times editors, I’ll just say this: your editorial is shameful. You didn’t think things through. Either that or you just don’t care about public safety. Either that or you just aren’t that bright to begin with.

Finally, before publishing your next editorial, think these things through. It’s embarrassing to read an editorial that’s this filled with depravity.