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Is Doug Jones toast in Alabama? While it’s too early to answer that question affirmatively, it isn’t too early to say that Donald Trump’s statements about Jones didn’t help Jones’ campaign. Specifically, President Trump said “We don’t need a liberal person in there, a Democrat, Jones. I’ve looked at his record. It’s terrible on crime. It’s terrible on the border. It’s terrible on military. I can tell you for a fact we do not need somebody who’s going to be bad on crime, bad on borders, bad for the military, bad for the Second Amendment.”

That’s a pretty good signal to Alabama Republicans to stop thinking about staying home or voting for Doug Jones. That’s a good start but it isn’t enough by itself to defeat Jones. What this represents, though, is a turning point. Moore has to focus his campaign on bread-and-butter conservative issues like the Second Amendment, being pro-life and cutting taxes.

Jones has done better-than-expected thus far because it’s been a personality-driven race. It hasn’t been about Jones’ support for partial-birth abortion and gun control. Jones peddled the notion that he’s a moderate. Appearing on Outnumbered today, Guy Benson blew that storyline to smithereens:

If Moore can convince enough Alabama Republicans to turn out, he’ll defeat Jones. I’ve thought from the start that Jones’ support was more about trying to convince Moore to drop out than it was about supporting Jones. It’ll be interesting to see how Alabama voters react to Trump’s criticism of Jones.
Guy wasn’t finished beating up the Democrats:

Here’s his exchange with Zac Petkanas:

GB: I understand why you’d be on a high horse, morally, about this because sometimes there are very bright distinctions when it comes to politics. But I would challenge you — maybe not directly, but a lot of Democrats — if Bill Clinton were up for election again…let’s say he ran for president and were the nominee in 2020. He was credibly accused of forcible rape. Would they vote for him over a Ted Cruz? I think history shows the answer is ‘yes.’
ZP: Look, I was 15 years old when Bill Clinton left office. That’s the age when Roy Moore goes after most of his girls…
GB: That’s a fair shot…
ZP: So I can’t speak to that, however I…
GB: Would you vote for Bill Clinton if he ran again?
ZP: I think that all of these women need to be believed, and that we need to hold everybody accountable, whether it’s Al Franken or whether it’s John Conyers, or whether it’s Bill Clinton, or whether it’s Donald Trump.
GB: So you wouldn’t vote for Bill Clinton for president against Ted Cruz?
ZP: Would you vote for Donald Trump?
GB: I didn’t. Your question. Back to you.

As you saw in the video, Guy’s final reply all but officially finished that debate.

According to this article, Sen. Dan Schoen and Rep. Tony Cornish will resign soon, with Sen. Schoen resigning Wednesday and Rep. Cornish leaving ” on or before Dec. 1.”

According to the article “House Speaker Kurt Daudt and Majority Leader Joyce Peppin say they asked Cornish to resign.” It then added a statement, saying “We asked Representative Tony Cornish to offer his resignation from the Minnesota House of Representatives. Over the last week, it has become increasingly clear his resignation is the most appropriate course of action for him, his constituents, and our institution. As House leaders, we will continue to take concrete steps to combat misconduct at the legislature and ensure a safe and respectful work environment for legislators, staff, lobbyists, and the public.”

Cornish released his own statement, saying “As a proud former peace officer and longtime champion for public safety, I am forced to face the reality that I have made some at the Capitol feel uncomfortable, and disrespected. To those individuals and specifically the unnamed lobbyist , I sincerely apologize for my unwelcome behavior. “I would also like to apologize to God, my family, my constituents, and friends for the mistakes I have made. After having conferred with family members, friends and advisors, it is with deep regret tonight that I am announcing my intention to resign from the Minnesota House of Representatives. I do so after reaching an agreement in principle with the unnamed lobbyist that has been mentioned. The agreement is basically that I offer the enclosed apology, and resign from my office, on or before December, 1st 2017 and that we both provide each other with a mutual release of any claims against each other now and in the future.”

Recently, I’ve written a few times that MnSCU (now renamed Minnesota State) hasn’t earned taxpayers’ trust. I don’t see a reason why I should change that opinion. Steve Rosenstone, the man who led MnSCU from 2011-2017, was an abject failure. This article chronicles some of Rosenstone’s failings.

For instance, during “his first five years, he’s clashed with faculty unions and faced scrutiny over a lack of transparency.” Also, Rosenstone’s “signature project, Charting the Future”, was hampered by “a secretive $2 million consulting contract with McKinsey & Co. undermined the effort when both faculty unions in 2014 stopped participating for four months.” As a result, faculty “groups at all seven state universities that year voted ‘no confidence’ in Rosenstone.”

The most damning incident in Chancellor Rosenstone’s history was how he signed his contract extension:

Rosenstone’s current employment contract also was approved in relative secrecy. Only the board chairman signed it in 2013, and some trustees didn’t know about it until the Pioneer Press reported on the contract eight months later.

Trust me when I say that didn’t go over well with the faculty. Why trust people that specialize in secrecy? Isn’t it impossible to trust secretive people?

The fact that each of the faculty associations voted a vote of ‘No Confidence’ in Chancellor Rosenstone is disturbing. Equally disturbing is the fact that several student senates voted a vote of no confidence, too. In those votes, it was cited that Rosenstone treated the students dismissively. It’s one thing to disagree with someone’s point of view. It’s another to treat them like their opinions didn’t matter.

There’s an interim chancellor running Minnesota State. Before he was the interim chancellor of the whole system, he was the interim president of Metropolitan State University. Prior to that, he was the failed provost at St. Cloud State. While he was provost, he tried hiding a transcript scandal from the faculty. It’s impossible to trust people who try hiding things like that from the faculty.

Frankly, it’s time to throw the interim chancellor under the proverbial bus. The trustees should scrap the search committee for the next president at St. Cloud State, too. The people of St. Cloud would do a much better job than that search committee will do. St. Cloud State must do better than getting another cookie-cutter president that’s as incompetent as the last president. This video explains why St. Cloud residents shouldn’t trust MnSCU’s pick as St. Cloud State’s next president:

Diversity is a positive thing but it shouldn’t be the primary focus. Excellence should be. Further, MnSCU spent $2,000,000 on a consultant who told them to rebrand the system and to change their system name to Minnesota State. No offense to Craig T. Nelson but that won’t inspire anyone to attend one of MnSCU’s universities.

The St. Cloud Times just published my LTE about St. Cloud State. I still firmly believe that the leader that the University needs to turn things around lives in St. Cloud right now.

Also, I’m 100% confident that what’s needed most is leadership. St. Cloud State doesn’t need another do-nothing executive picked by a team of cronies. As I said in my LTE, MnSCU hasn’t earned the benefit of any doubt. What’s needed is a person with a plan and an understanding of where the political traps are set. Rest assured, too, that there are more than a few traps set on campus.

I’ve written extensively about St. Cloud State the past 2+ weeks and the last 5+ years. Check out the LTE to read my recommendations. There’s a lot in there that would help the University get turned around.

After the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in Gov. Dayton’s favor, he tried spinning the situation as best he could, saying “It is time for us all to agree that this dispute has been concluded and resume working together for the best interests of Minnesota.” The legislature quickly said, essentially, ‘Thanks but no thanks.’ They said that because Gov. Dayton negotiated a budget settlement in bad faith. Gov. Dayton pushed this lawsuit in his attempt to intimidate the legislature into caving on tax relief. Thankfully, the legislature didn’t relent. Here’s something worth considering, Gov. Dayton. The legislature worked in the best interest of their constituents. They did their best to enact much-needed tax relief while reforming teacher licensure.

The first thing that the legislature will do when the next session convenes on Feb. 20, 2018 is pass a budget restoring their budget. It will sail through the House and pass the Senate. That’s when things get interesting. Will Gov. Dayton veto that funding, setting up a high-stakes showdown on an override vote? That’s a lose-lose situation for Gov. Dayton. If he vetoes the funding, it’s likely that he’ll get overridden.

That’s because I don’t think it’s likely that outstate DFL legislators will vote to end their political careers to sustain Gov. Dayton’s veto. If the DFL legislators vote to sustain Gov. Dayton’s veto, they can kiss their political careers goodbye. Republicans should portray each DFL legislator as representing Gov. Dayton first, their special interest allies second and their constituents somewhere down their list of priorities.

If Gov. Dayton signs the appropriation, he will have won a victory in court but lost the PR war. Pyrrhic victories don’t make for great legacies. Either way, Gov. Dayton’s victory will be short-lived.

Top legislative leaders are refusing to make key payments on a new Senate office building, an action that could hurt the state’s credit rating, and they won’t allow the executive branch to use nonpartisan staff to draft proposals. “I am not willing to bail the governor out,” Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt said Thursday. “He needs to own that.”

This video perfectly explains what Gov. Dayton has done with his line-item veto:

Republicans need to not let Gov. Dayton off the hook. Gov. Dayton is a lame duck governor who must be thinking about what his legacy will be. At this point, a significant portion of his legacy will be shutting down government once and calling special sessions to finish the budget. Will he want to preside over a downgrading of Minnesota’s credit rating, too? That will be on him if he vetoes February’s appropriation funding the legislature.

Each time Republicans have stood up to him over the budget, Gov. Dayton has lost stature while losing the fight. There’s no reason to think he won’t lose this fight, too.

Finally, the Supreme Court disgraced themselves yesterday. They didn’t rule on whether Gov. Dayton’s line-item veto achieved an unconstitutional result, which is the central question. They didn’t rule on that question while pretending to exercise judicial restraint. They exercised judicial cowardice, not judicial restraint. They did that because they didn’t want to hand Gov. Dayton a political defeat.

That’s pathetic. Whatever it is, it isn’t justice.

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Thursday will be D-Day for Gov. Dayton and the Minnesota Supreme Court. According to Brian Bakst’s reporting, the “Minnesota Supreme Court is expected to deliver its long-awaited decision Thursday in a court case between the governor and Legislature. A notice from the clerk of courts to parties in the case said a decision has been made in the lawsuit regarding Gov. Mark Dayton’s vetoes.”

Bakst continued, saying “If [the] high court invalidates the line-item vetoes, it would cause funding to spring back. If [the] justices uphold the vetoes, it will push the Legislature toward a financial crisis.” That’s true but more than that, if the Supreme Court sides with Gov. Dayton, it will have reversed itself.

In this post, I highlighted the fact that the Supreme Court ruled that Gov. Dayton, like previous governors, has line-item veto authority. I also highlighted the fact that the Supreme Court said that a constitutional provision (the line-item veto) can’t “be used to achieve an unconstitutional result.” In the Supreme Court’s ruling, they also said that Minnesotans have a “constitutional right to three independent branches of government.”

The Minnesota Supreme Court, whether it realizes it or not, is on trial here. If they rule that the legislature must spend down the money appropriated to the Legislative Coordinating Commission, aka the LCC, they will be violating multiple Minnesota statutes. First, part of the money appropriated to the LCC pays for the operations of the Office of Legislative Auditor, aka OLA. In this post, I wrote “Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles has already expressed concerns about certain functions of his office being suspended – specifically the certification of state financial reports that support the state’s credit rating and the receipt of federal funds.” It’s inconceivable to me that the Supreme Court would rule against funding the OLA simply for those reasons.

I don’t doubt that the DFL operatives in black robes want to justify siding with Gov. Dayton. It’s just that I can’t imagine them saying in their preliminary ruling that you can’t use part of the state constitution to achieve an unconstitutional result. Saying that a governor has the right to temporarily disable the part of the government that represents the people is incomprehensible.

Check in with LFR Thursday for the Supreme Court’s final ruling in this important case.

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One of the little-talked-about storylines about Gov. Dayton’s line-item veto controversy is that Gov. Dayton wants the legislature to spend the money appropriated for the Office of Legislative Auditor. According to the OLA’s website, the OLA’s mission is to promote accountability, strengthen legislative oversight, support good management and enhance program effectiveness. Part of the OLA’s statutory authority gives “the Legislative Auditor broad authority to audit state agencies, evaluate public programs, and investigate alleged misuse of public money.”

What is Gov. Dayton hiding? What doesn’t he want audited? Is Gov. Dayton trying to make sure there isn’t enough money left for the OLA to “investigate alleged misuse of public money”? These aren’t trivial matters. Accountability is important.

Gov. Dayton hasn’t made a convincing argument for why the judicial and executive branches have the constitutional authority to tell the legislative branch how to spend money that’s been properly appropriated. I’m confident that that’s because the judicial and executive branches don’t have that authority thanks to something known as the Separation of Powers contained within the Constitution. The legislative branch doesn’t have the authority to rule of the constitutionality of laws. The executive branch doesn’t have the constitutional authority to pass laws. The judicial branch doesn’t have the constitutional authority to tell sign bills into law.

Gov. Dayton is upset that Republicans called him out for attempting to bully the legislature. He insisted that the legislature renegotiate a bill he’d already signed into law. The legislature said no so Gov. Dayton, in another of his hissy fits, acted like the spoiled rich brat that he is.

It isn’t a secret that Gov. Dayton hates cutting taxes. He didn’t hesitate in raising taxes in 2013, too. I think Gov. Dayton’s legacy will be that of a tax raiser and anti-mining environmentalist. That’s a good thing if you’re a Metrocrat but a bad thing if you don’t fit that description. Finally, we know that he didn’t push too hard to clean up corruption when Jeffrey Hayden got caught with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar. We know that April Todd-Malmlov didn’t get punished for her corruption. Ted Mondale and Michelle Kelm-Helgen certainly weren’t punished for their participation in the US Bank Stadium Suite ‘promotion’ scandal.

If there was a part of the government that Gov. Dayton would target other than the legislature, it would’ve been the OLA.

Last week, I reported that Ashish Vaidya, St. Cloud State’s interim president, had accepted the president’s position at Northern Kentucky University. At the time, I wrote that “First, it’s impossible for me to believe that this was a difficult decision. The University’s CFO is leaving. Programs are being reduced in size. Enrollment is down. Further, the deficits keep ‘arriving’ annually. Additionally, President Vaidya hasn’t been at the University very long. What part of that sounds like a dream job scenario?”

Today, I got word that SCSU’s CFO, who already was leaving at the end of the fiscal year, has accelerated that decision. This afternoon, a loyal reader of LFR sent me a forwarded email from Ashish K. Vaidya, soon to be the former interim president at St. Cloud State. According to the forwarded email, “In early October, I informed campus that Tammy McGee, Vice President for Finance and Administration, was resigning from her position at St. Cloud State University at the end of the academic year. Vice President McGee recently informed me that other professional opportunities will require an earlier departure. I have accepted her resignation effective Jan. 5, 2018. This week, she will finalize various projects to support the transition and beginning Nov. 17, she will be on vacation until her resignation date. Effective today, the division of Finance and Administration will report directly to the Office of the President to make sure the university maintains consistent leadership as we continue our efforts to enhance our financial stability. The search for a permanent replacement will begin shortly and Vice President Wanda Overland will serve as chair. AGB Search, the same firm conducting the national search for the next president, will conduct the search. I will update the campus community on the search process as more details are available.”

Let’s be blunt. The chances of someone of stature applying for the St. Cloud State president’s position aren’t great. Pretending to conduct a routine nationwide search is foolish. This isn’t a routine situation. The next CFO will get hit with an impossible situation. The next president will face annual multi-million dollar deficits and declining enrollment. The odds of attracting someone experienced to either position are slim.

What I find appalling is President Vaidya saying that “the division of Finance and Administration will report directly to the Office of the President to make sure the university maintains consistent leadership as we continue our efforts to enhance our financial stability.” What financial stability? Seriously? What leadership should St. Cloud State expect from the president who’s got 1 foot out the door and the other on a banana peel? I understand why President Vaidya wants to project positivity but who’s he kidding?

It’s understatement to say that St. Cloud State can’t survive long with this much instability. What’s needed is a local search, not a nationwide search. The person needs to a) have a plan and b) know the terrain both from a management standpoint and from a community relations standpoint. Finally, the person needs to be a leader. We haven’t had a leader at St. Cloud State in years.

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Forgive me for being cynical at this point but I’m not optimistic that the MnSCU nationwide search committee will hire the right person for the job. I won’t be surprised if the next president of St. Cloud State is a social justice hire. I can picture MnSCU hiring a minority female with little or no executive experience, much less executive success.

What’s required is a no-frills leader with a comprehensive plan to rebuild, not rebrand, St. Cloud State. The biggest change St. Cloud State has made in the last decade is that they’ve tried changing the University’s identity. It wasn’t that long ago that St. Cloud State was known as having great programs like accounting, aviation, criminal justice and education. These days, those programs aren’t featured. In the case of aviation, it was sneered at, then eliminated.

That was stupid on multiple levels. First, the program was growing at the time it was cancelled. Next, those students were taking lots of science classes, which increased the health of the science department. Third, the cost of the department to the University was minimal. Programs that are growing, healthy and inexpensive should be programs that should be prioritized, not eliminated. This was a case of campus politics defeated common sense. As taxpayers, we have the right to demand intelligent use of our taxes. We have the right to demand that campus politics be kept to a minimum, too.

By re-establishing St. Cloud State as a serious academic institution, the University gives students a reason for attending St. Cloud State. You give parents a reason for sending their kids to St. Cloud State. In a recent St. Cloud Times spin piece on enrollment, they talked about how enrollment had declined again but the ‘silver lining’ was that diversity was better. What student or parent thinks of diversity as a major selling point to a university? Seriously, any administrator that’s using that as a talking point should be fired ASAP.

Another thing that must change at St. Cloud State is that the new administration must require professors to actually teach classes. A new president likely won’t notice that Mark Jaede is essentially paid to be a union representative and political activist. That dead weight must end immediately.

The next president must also be at a stage in their career where they can do what’s best for the University without worrying about the impact their decisions will have on their career.

In summarization, St. Cloud State’s next president must have a plan to immediately turn the University around. That president must have the leadership skills to execute their plan, too. The next president can’t hesitate in refocusing the University’s resources on what’s most important. To modify a phrase used by the Clinton team in 1992, ‘it’s the academics, stupid.’ Finally, it’s about creating a university that’s pumping out tons of well-educated graduates that fit right into a vibrant economy.

If the next president of St. Cloud State doesn’t have those traits, then the University has short-changed itself.

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This article confirms my worst fear for St. Cloud State going forward. It’s disturbing because it reports that “Minnesota State’s Interim Chancellor Devinder Malhotra says they are beginning a national search immediately. They are working with a professional firm, AGB Search, and the Chancellor will name a search chair by the end of the week. He says it’s his intention to kick off the search prior to the Thanksgiving holiday.”

A new president who doesn’t know the terrain will require on-the-job training. With St. Cloud State experiencing a financial crisis, the University can’t afford someone whose first steps will be to get to know the communities he or she will serve. As I said in this post, I said “We need a president that will instantly connect with area principals. What’s needed is someone who will sell the University’s programs. It’s imperative to immediately create a positive buzz about the University. There isn’t time for a search committee. What’s needed is someone who’s already familiar with SCSU and someone who’s a no-nonsense person.”

Frankly, MnSCU has screwed up so many appointments that they shouldn’t get the benefit of any doubts. Until they start making smart decisions on the biggest decisions, they should be kept on the sidelines. At minimum, MnSCU should consult with community leaders heavily before making a decision. Further, it’s imperative that our legislative leaders and community leaders be listened to.

We don’t need another pointy-headed academic with a vision for what he wants. Altogether too often, St. Cloud State hasn’t done what the community needs it to do. What’s needed is someone who will rebuild St. Cloud State, not rebrand it. St. Cloud State hasn’t put a priority on rebuilding the University. Fairly or unfairly, people think that they’ve put a higher priority on building new buildings than they’ve put on maintaining great academic programs.

St. Cloud State needs to be responsive and accountable to the city. St. Cloud has been a blue collar city. St. Cloud State hasn’t been a blue collar university. It was predictable that the Wedum project would fail. Then we found out that the administration signed a terrible contract with the Foundation. Building upscale apartments for college students is as foolish as building a condo unit across from a bar.

At what point will the city say ‘Stop making stupid decisions with the taxpayers’ money?’ This is infuriating. What’s more infuriating is the fact that there’s a highly qualified candidate right here in town. This candidate knows the area. Most importantly, he’s got a plan to rebuild St. Cloud State.

Hiring him would help St. Cloud State and MnSCU avoid making another foolish mistake.