Archive for the ‘Eliot Seide’ Category

This weekend, I wrote about Esme Murphy’s interview of Sen. Dave Thompson, Rep. Deb. Hilstrom and AFSCME Council 5 president Eliot Seide. She pushed Sen. Thompson but sat like a potted plant when Rep. Hilstrom, then Seide recited DFL talking points like they’d eaten the DFL script.
Lord knows that Esme Murphy isn’t the only journalist who frequently ignores pertinent information. Scott Johnson’s post highlights how many pertinent facts the Strib’s Rachel Stassen-Berger has omitted:

Here let me pause to note that Rachel Stassen-Berger et al. at the Minneapolis Star Tribune have failed to get this right despite the fact that the documents have been made available to them and that Senator Koch herself explained them to Stassen-Berger this past Saturday. The Star Tribune threw four reporters, including Stassen-Berger, into reporting the breakdown of negotiations and still couldn’t get it right. According to the Star Tribune: “The GOP proposed delaying another $700 million in payments owed to schools, which would add to the more than $1 billion the state already owes K-12 schools.” On the contrary, however, the idea came from Governor Dayton.

RSB can’t claim that she didn’t know about Gov. Dayton’s offer; Sen. Koch spoke directly to her, highlighting the final offer exchange between Gov. Dayton, Sen. Koch and Speaker Zellers.

During the Faceoff segment on @Issue With Tom Hauser, DFL strategist Cathie Hartnett said that Gov. Dayton went from wanting to “raise taxes on the wealthiest 2% to .3. He compromised all along this way.” Hartnett is refering to Gov. Dayton’s final offer to raise taxes on those people making $1,000,000 a year. That represents the top .3% of Minnesota wage-earners.

Ms. Hartnett skips the part about Gov. Dayton taking his tax increases off the table. She rightly highlights the fact that Gov. Dayton had held fast to his tax-the-richest-2% policy. She’s right that Gov. Dayton’s final offer prior to the shutdown was a surcharge on income above $1,000,000.

In fact, I can state categorically that I haven’t heard any of this past weekend’s DFL guests talk about Gov. Dayton taking his tax increases off the table. I can state categorically, too, that none of the talk show hosts raised that issue either.

People will say it’s unfair to compare Cathie Hartnett with Rachel Stassen-Berger and Esme Murphy because she isn’t a reporter. I’d argue that neither are Rachel Stassen-Berger and Esme Murphy.

For far too long, the Twin Cities media, with some notable exceptions, have acted like potted plants rather than challenging Gov. Dayton, DFL legislators or the DFL’s special interest allies. As a result, Minnesotans aren’t getting the information they need to consistently make informed decisions.

I suspect that that’s the DFL’s plan.

Thanks to Scott Johnson’s and John Hinderaker’s work at Powerline, Mitch Berg’s work at Shot in the Dark, as well as at other websites (like LFR, Sheila Kihne’s The Activist Next Door and Erin Haust’s work at, the media’s corruption is getting exposed. More importantly, people are getting the information they need.

Thanks to speeches at TEA Party rallies, people are realizing that the Twin Cities media isn’t a reliable source of information. They’re also finding out that they can be their own source for information by checking state and city government websites.

The upside is that people no longer have to rely on the potted plant Twin Cities media.

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After reading AFSCME’s latest propaganda sheet, I’m wondering if Twin Cityites and suburbanites are willing to stage a counterprotest to AFSCME’s astroturfed protest. Here’s some of the propaganda in the AFSCME newsletter:

Instead of creating jobs, Republicans are creating unemployment. They’re ready to shut down the state and cause the biggest lay off in Minnesota history. If you’re angry about losing your job and your public services, join us Wednesday, July 6, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. on the state Capitol steps.

We’ll set up “Downeyville,” spotlighting the policies of the state representative from Edina (and his allies) that would wipe out the jobs of 5,000 state workers. But that’s just the beginning: If Legislative Republicans get their way, their “cuts only” budget will eliminate 30,000 public- and private-sector jobs, permanently.

People won’t lose their jobs if Keith Downey’s reforms are enacted. This is a DFL scare tactic. They even got political operative Jim Showalter to create fictional fiscal notes ‘showing’ people that the House GOP budget would cut each department’s spending by 9%. Showalter’s fiscal note said that the Senate GOP budget only cut each department’s spending by 8%.

This despite Rep. Downey’s testimony that the vast majority of workforce reductions would be caused by not hiring to replace retirees. The expectation is that 6% of the PEU workforce will retire each of the next 3 years.

That isn’t the only propaganda in AFSCME’s version of Pravda. Here’s more:

The Republicans’ budget also eliminates jobs in other ways:

  • Their proposed cuts in aid to cities and counties will make it harder for communities to provide the public safety and basic amenities businesses rely on.
  • Their proposed cuts to public transit will make it more expensive, and, in some cases, impossible, for workers to get to their jobs.
  • Their refusal to even consider the governor’s bonding bill means continued unemployment for tens of thousands of construction workers.

If you applied truth-in-advertising laws to this statement:

Cuts in aid to cities and counties will make it harder for communities to provide the public safety.

Actually, communities could still provide public safety services if communities didn’t spend money on less-than-essential thing like $50,000/ea. artistic drinking fountains. Public safety should be the first priority of every city, county, township and state. PERIOD. Saying that you’re cutting spending on public safety means that you’re using money on non-essential services. Any mayor that isn’t putting public safety first as a budget matter is the picture of irresponsibility.

If the Republicans force a government shutdown [ed. note: they didn’t] and refuse to meet Gov. Dayton halfway on a budget deal, up to 23,000 state workers could be laid off. It will be the biggest layoff in Minnesota history, at a time when 196,000 Minnesotans already are unemployed.

Republicans didn’t force a government shutdown. They wanted to keep negotiating. Numerous temporary spending bills had been written that would’ve temporarily funded government while the final negotiations continued. Gov. Dayton said that accepting that option was worse than shutting down government. I’m betting that AFSCME or MAPE employees disagree with that statement. If the CRs or other activists put together a counterprotest, feel free to email me any pictures from your counterprotest or from the union’s protest and I’ll post them on this blog.

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Mitch has a great post up reminding us of famous DFL quotes. One of his golden oldies was initially reported in this post:

Cy Thao said “When you win, you get to keep your money. When we win, we take your money.”

Mitch then added this quote from Larry Pogemiller:

“I think it’s silly to assume people can spend their own money better than government can.”

It’s time to add another quote to the DFL Taxpayers Hall of Shame. It’s something I wrote about here. Eliot Seide made this assinine comment:

This is not necessary. We have a revenue problem, not a spending problem.

Mitch thinks we need to make a T-shirt out of those quotes. I heartily concur with that opinion. I’ll get things started by suggesting that the T-shirt should have Thao’s quote on the front, Seide’ quote on the back. What’s your opinion? Vote in the comments section. Feel free to make your own suggestions too. At LFR, we’re all about empowering people.

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I know that, for the most part, the media is in the tank for the DFL. I don’t need to look further than the potted plant performance put on by Esme Murphy Sunday. As in-the-tank as Esme Murphy was, this Fergus Falls Daily Journal editorial is its equal. Here’s a sampling of the FFDJ’s bias:

The Republican majority in the Minnesota Legislature can blame Gov. Mark Dayton all they want, and talk about how a tax on the richest Minnesotans will kill jobs.

But the bottom line is, it appears that if the state shutdown, which began Friday, will end, the Republicans are going to have to allow the tax increase.

If I didn’t know who wrote this, I would’ve bet it was Rep. Ryan Winkler:

Rep. Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley) has said he believes that if courts refuse to fund “core services” during a shutdown, this would force Gov. Mark Dayton and GOP leaders to reach a budget agreement.

“The GOP will cave. Only question is if they do it [before] they cause shutdown,” Winkler Tweeted last Wednesday.

The inevitability argument isn’t a strong argument for Gov. Dayton and the DFL. Yesterday, Eliot Seide admitted that AFSCME Council 5 employees would be hurt badly by a protracted shutdown. During his interview with Esme Murphy, he said that the average salary for AFSCME Council 5 employees is $38,000 a year.

He then said that, if it lasts a full year, AFSCME Council 5 employees would collect approximately $14,000 in unemployment benefits during that year.

If Seide’s information is right, something that’s far from guaranteed, it’s difficult seeing a way that AFSCME Council 5 employees hold out 2-3 months. Personal budget matters will affect them fairly quickly.

Here’s another part of the editorial that shows their pro-DFL bias:

It’s clear that Dayton believes that, no matter where the cuts come from, increasing taxes is a more palatable option than cutting additional spending. It’s also clear that, for Dayton, who left the U.S. Senate after only one term, re-election is not a priority.

For the 2nd Sunday in a row, the Pi-Press ripped Gov. Dayton. Here’s what they wrote in their first op-ed:

Rather than work out differences and sign off on large portions of the budget on which agreement is within reach, Dayton has as of this writing refused to get deals done and preserve operations in those parts of government. This is not compromise. This is hostage taking.

The governor is threatening to unnecessarily shut down portions of government to have his way on other, more contentious budget matters. We understand his desire to bring the greatest possible pressure to bear on the Legislature in support of his promise to raise taxes on higher incomes. Politics ain’t beanbag. But the unnecessary infliction of pain is not consistent with an attitude of compromise.

Here’s what the Pi-Press Editorial Board said in this Sunday’s editorial:

What we have here is a failure to compromise. Much of the state budget could have been passed, but the governor chose not to get those parts of the deal done. At midnight the lights went out unnecessarily on lots of state workers and government functions tied to parts of the budget that could have been passed. At the 11th hour legislators proposed a lights-on measure that would have kept the government running for a few more days. The governor dismissed it as a gimmick.

In other words, bring on the pain – an unnecessary infliction of pain. But, as they say, sometimes you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet. The DFL governor is apparently thinking he can inflict enough pain on the state to force the Republican Legislature to its knees.

Let’s be clear. The Legislature passed a complete budget and sent it to the governor. He vetoed it. Meanwhile, the governor has yet to put forward a full budget himself. Instead, he put forward a set of numbers without the details to back them up.

Gov. Dayton and the DFL were counting on the Pi-Press, the Strib and other Twin Cities media to excoriate GOP legislators. DFL strategists would be wise to admit that their strategy isn’t working. In fact, it’s failing miserably.

These editorials have dramatically changed the shutdown’s dynamics. First, GOP legislators certainly are bouyed by the Pi-Press’s criticism of Gov. Dayton and the DFL. Most importantly, it isn’t a stretch to think that AFSCME Council 5 employees, along with other PEU employees, are questioning their leadership’s tactics.

Lord knows that they’ll probably start questioning leadership’s strategy the minute the money starts getting tighter. Anyone thinking that that won’t become a major consideration is kidding themselves.

What this means is that rank-and-file government employees will soon start publicly questioning their leadership and the legislators who support the unions’ agenda. In a year when the headwinds will be blowing against the DFL again, how many DFL legislators will twist in those headwinds indefinitely?

I’m betting it won’t take long before swing-district DFL legislators start looking out for their re-election. It’s important to factor in the fact that all 201 state legislators are up for re-election in 2012 thanks to redistricting. That means lots of exurban DFL legislators in the House and Senate will face the voters, often in relatively new districts.

If Gov. Dayton stays stubborn into December, another factor starts creeping in, one that doesn’t work in the DFL’s favor: the start of the 2012 regular session. Once that starts getting closer, Gov. Dayton and the DFL are behind a bigger 8-ball. At that point, Gov. Dayton will have lost his leverage.

What’s worse is that people will still be resentful that he needlessly shut government down and put alot of people through alot of pain. Does anyone seriously think that DFL legislators won’t turn on him the first chance they’d get to override his veto in a regular session?

Gov. Dayton, Eliot Seide, Javier Morillo-Alicea and Denise Cardinal are playing a dangerous game, a game that might find them without alot of support in 2012.

Does that really sound like a can’t-win situation for the GOP legislature?

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There was a mismatch this morning on Esme Murphy’s program this morning. First, let’s start with the most outrageous thing Rep. Hilstrom said:

REP. HILSTROM: Yes, in 2005, I did have some booing prior to the shutdown. This time, that was not the case. I believe that the people of Minnesota understand what’s at stake here in Minnesota and we’re talking about whether or not we will balance the budget in a short-term way or a long-term way.

Rep. Hilstrom obviously doesn’t remember what Cathie Hartnett told Tom Hauser and Phil Krinkie:

HAUSER: No matter how this budget is resolved this year, can you guarantee that in 2 years that there won’t be another request for another tax increase, maybe on these same wealthy taxpayers?
HARTNETT: It could happen and it depends on what services we need.
HAUSER: At what point does this spiral end?

So much for raising taxes being the longterm solution. Let’s remember that State Demographer Tom Gillaspy said that raising taxes this year still wouldn’t prevent an oversized deficit in 2013.

Try as Rep. Hillstrom might, there’s no arguing the fact that raising taxes doesn’t solve Minnesota’s chronic deficit problem.

Next, I’d like to highlight Eliot Seide’s sad verbatim recitation of the DFL’s talking points. Here’s Seide’s recitation:

SEIDE: Well, the Republicans have failed to compromise with Gov. Dayton, who’s compromised repeatedly since this process began. And now we have the biggest layoff in state history; 23,000 state employees have been shut down and laid off.

If only the rich would pay just a little bit more, we could end this shutdown and prevent risky cuts to vital public services but people like Sen. Thompson, who you had on here earlier, said that there can’t be any new revenue, putting their ideology ahead of a practical outcomes for all Minnesotans.

What’s practical about raising taxes knowing that AFSCME, Gov. Dayton and the DFL will return 2 years from now for another bite at the ‘Tax-the-Rich’ apple?

Later, Seide puts his foot in it:

SEIDE: We see people like Sen. Thompson, who are saying there has to be an all-cuts budget. An all-cuts budget that the Republicans have produced will lay off or eliminate 30,000 public and private sector jobs. It’ll kick 140,000 people off health care. It makes the deepest cuts in Higher Education in the history of the state. It raises property taxes by $1,000,000,000. This is not necessary. We have a revenue problem, not a spending problem.

I pray, pray, pray, pray pray that Eliot Seide makes his beliefs known far and wide. According to this KSTP-SUSA Poll, Minnesotans disagree with him by a gigantic margin:

Going forward, should Minnesota’s government increase spending? Decrease spending? Or continue to spend about the same amount as it has been?

8% Increase
60% Decrease
27% About The Same
5% Not Sure

You read that right; 87% of those polled said that spending should either be cut or kept the same. That’s 7 of 8 voters. If the DFL wants to stick with that position, that’s their right. It’s also a surefire way to get your political heads handed to you in 2012.

While Seide was reciting one DFL talking point after another, Esme Murphy sat there like a potted plant. She didn’t question anything Seide said. That’s particularly disturbing considering the fact that Sen. Thompson refuted most of the things Seide said. Here’s a transcript of some exchanges between Murphy and Sen. Thompson:

MURPHY: People are waking up to headlines like this one in the Star Tribune that spells out the additional costs of the shutdown, millions and millions of dollars a day on top of the economic and budget crisis we already have. What is the reaction in your district in Dakota County? I mean, what kind of feedback are you getting?
SEN. THOMPSON: Well, first of all, yes, there are costs associated with being shut down but there are obviously savings attached to the shutdown as well. We don’t know how all the numbers will work out.

The response that I’m getting, Esme, is that…obviously, we all have different districts with different demographic groups within our district but the sense is that most people believe that spending the same amount going forward as we spent the last biennium that just ended last Thursday is a reasonable number. So the feedback I’m getting is ‘We’ve gotta stop this spiraling cost of government so hang tough’ is the feeling I got.

Here’s another exchange:

MURPHY: Alright, in terms of a possible compromise, what kinds of additional revenue streams would you personally support?
SEN. THOMPSON: I am not supportive of additional revenue.
MURPHY: At all?
SEN. THOMPSON: Here’s my perspective. There’s two sides to this. There’s the revenue side and there’s the spending side. The reason we are where we are is we have put in place a system that structurally is to spiral the costs in a way that virtually everybody thinks is unsustainable. You’re seeing that internationally in Greece. You’re seeing it nationally in Washington, DC with the debt ceiling. You’re seeing it in California, Massachusetts, Illinois. So that’s why, at some point, I’m an irresponsible legislator if I support a system that I know will end up bankrupting my kids and grandkids. And that’s where we’re headed so that’s why I can’t sign up for that.

What’s interesting viewing the video is that Murphy was leaning towards Sen. Thompson. Her hand gestures were highly expressive, with her hands, at one point, almost in ‘prayer formation’. The signal it sent was that she wanted very badly to win Sen. Thompson over.

Fortunately, Sen. Thompson didn’t respond to the emotion but instead focused on whether legislators should agree with the DFL on increasing spending irresponsibly or whether they should do what’s right and sustainable.

What’s telling, too, is that Seide accused Sen. Thompson of being a blind ideologue for not agreeing to raise taxes. Based on Sen. Thompson’s detailed reply about what’s happening in Greece, in Washington, DC and in California, Massachusetts and Illinois, I’d argue that Sen. Thompson’s opinion is anchored in the horrifying facts that out of control spending is destroying countries and crippling big states.

That isn’t ideology-driven policymaking. That’s responding to the root cause of our current fiscal crisis. With Sen. Thompson, it’s about the trends and the numbers and figuring out what not to do.

Seide is the blind ideologue. His pleas for additional revenue are shallow enough. Still, they pale in comparison with his statement that “we have a revenue problem, not a spending problem.” That’s a stunning statement. He even talked about “if the rich would only pay the same share of revenue as they did under Gov. Carlson,” we wouldn’t have this mess.

For the better part of 20 years, government got into the habit of increasing spending by 15% per biennium. It’s painfully obvious that that isn’t sustainable.

I wrote earlier that Cathie Hartnett admitted that raising taxes on “the rich” this year didn’t mean that the DFL wouldn’t return for another bite of that tax apple in 2013.

That means that the DFL’s budget is only sustainable with repeated tax increases.

That isn’t responsible budgeting. It’s like doing something reckless, then hoping for a positive outcome. That isn’t smart. It’s rather foolish.

What’s particularly insulting is Seide’s implicit claim that the money that’s currently being spent is money that’s being spent wisely. Frankly, that’s insulting in the extreme.

If Seide actually thinks that’s the case, he’s unfit for any leadership position in any organization. If he doesn’t think that, he doesn’t have the integrity to hold a leadership position in anything other than a corrupt organization.

The DFL’s arguments are being exposed. They aren’t playing well. 87% of poll respondents saying that spending should be frozen or cut isn’t what the DFL expected to hear.

Seide admitted that his stubbornness, along with Gov. Dayton’s, in holding out for a tax increase is hurting AFSCME workers badly. That isn’t doing what’s right for his workers. It’s doing what he and Gov. Dayton want.

Shame on Seide’s blind ideology. Shame on Rep. Hilstrom for mindlessly reciting the DFL’s talking points. Most importantly, shame on Esme Murphy for challenging Sen. Thompson, then acting like a potted plant while Eliot Seide recited other DFL talking points.

Thankfully, Sen. Thompson was a consummate professional. He was the only person who understood what the people of Minnesota wanted. He’s the only person who stood with Minnesotans in this fight.

He’s the one that said no to new spending rather than playing the ‘St. Paul game.’ His feet and his opinions stayed anchored in the real world.

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If I got paid $5 each time a DFL legislator, a public union official or Gov. Dayton complained that Republicans hate unions, I’d be extremely rich. This article is essentially more of the same:

“This is, simply put, an attack on public workers to divert attention from the Republican plan to make sure that the richest Minnesotans don’t pay their fair share of taxes,” said Eliot Seide, AFSCME Council 5 executive director. “It’s outrageous, it’s unnecessary and it needs to stop immediately.”

Gov. Dayton, the worst governor an ex-wife can buy, chimed in, too:

“I’ve never seen an onslaught, and I’ve never seen an assault against good Minnesotans as I’ve seen in this legislative process so far,” Dayton told Education Minnesota members at their convention in early March. “The basic right of collective bargaining will not be taken away (while) I’m governor of Minnesota.”

Onslaught. Assault. Attack. Those are pretty incendiary statements. The DFL and their special interest allies want to portray Republicans as hating unions.

My perspective is significantly different. Private sector taxpayers have been hit hard by this recession. Some have lost their jobs and still haven’t found new employment. Unemployment is still high. Gas prices are still skyrocketing. They’re paying more for their groceries, too.

What gives Elliot Seide the notion that his union has the right to impose a substantial burden on the taxpayers’ wallets while the taxpayers are struggling? PEU spokespeople have said that they stand with the middle class yet they continue to resist the opportunity to accept a pay freeze. They also resist being partners with Rep. Downey in reforming state government. To hear Seide talk about it, you’d swear that Rep. Downey’s legislation would quickly lead to the destruction of Western civilization.

In reality, most of what Rep. Downey wants to accomplish with his legislation to reduce the state workforce by 15 percent before 2015 will be taken care of by retirements. In some instances, the state will offer incentives for early retirement.

This is being done mostly because the orientation towards government is changing. For too long, agency heads and department commissioners haven’t always wanted to lose employees because it represented, in their minds, a loss of power and prestige.

As I wrote in this post, the GOP attitude towards government is shifting more towards serving Minnesotans rather that focusing on whether union employees are held harmless. That said, their attitude isn’t one of hostility towards public employee unions. It’s just that they’re putting a higher priority on making government efficient in doing the things it’s tasked to do and serving Minnesotans.

If the DFL and their union allies want to characterize Republicans as hostile to unions, that’s their right. Then again, it’s the Republicans’ right to question whether the unions are being hostile towards the private sector people who pay their wages.

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