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Archive for the ‘Jeff Johnson’ Category

According to quotes from this article, the St. Cloud City Council doesn’t like the First Amendment. This isn’t an opinion. That sentiment comes through loud and clear when Jenny Berg quoted Carol Lewis as saying “People were extremely angry with me for limiting time and number (of speakers). Now what if I limited topic? My point is we would have had a riot on our hands.”

The City Council already limits what citizens can talk about during open forum. According to the article, the “council’s rules of order state residents can speak at open forums for two minutes on topics not on the agenda. Refugee resettlement became a topic on the agendas when council members Jeff Goerger and Jeff Johnson asked to discuss resolutions during the discussion portion of the meeting.” Having watched the Oct. 23 and Nov. 6 meetings, I can state with certainty that Council President Lewis indeed limited the citizens’ speeches to subjects not on the agenda.

That’s a violation of the First Amendment, which states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” It’s well-established fact that the Constitution is a limiting document written to restrict the federal government. There’s nothing in the Constitution that permits the government, whether it’s a city council or the US Senate or anything in between, to tell its citizens what subjects it will permit. The First Amendment says that people have “the right to peaceably assemble” and “to petition the government” about its grievances.

The government is prohibited by the First Amendment from telling its citizens what they can’t talk about. This is telling, too:

Council member Dave Masters said he is in favor of the open forum, but wants a civil discussion. “Some of the speakers we’ve had recently I felt went over that line,” Masters said, saying some speakers attacked the City Council or specific members. He said he has an issue with people “grandstanding” in front of the camera.

A politician who has a problem with citizens grandstanding. Seriously? That’s rich. It’d be nice if we lived in a society where all issues were solved through civil discussion. That isn’t the society we’re living in. Further, the government can’t limit speech, even if it’s grandstanding speech. Then there’s this:

City Administrator Matt Staehling suggested the council consider moving the open forum to the end of the meeting so residents can talk about whatever topic they want, even if it was on the agenda. “It might be easier to manage,” he said. Staehling said some other cities allow people to register to speak at the open forum ahead of time with the city clerk; those people then have priority at the meeting.

Again, the First Amendment already gives people the right to “talk about whatever topic they want.” That’s addressed by the clause stating that citizens have the right “to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” The definition of grievances is “a wrong considered as grounds for complaint, or something believed to cause distress.” The definition of redress is “the setting right of what is wrong.”

The government can’t tell citizens that they can’t address something that’s causing them distress or worry. Government might state its preferences but it can’t enforce their preferences if their preferences don’t agree with the Constitution.

This is troubling:

Johnson said he had concerns with the council not following its rules of order for the past month, and was frustrated with how Goerger’s resolution “in support of a just and welcoming community” was presented to the City Council at the beginning of the Oct. 23 meeting and then voted on that night.

The Council didn’t follow its rules that night. The City Clerk admitted that Councilman Goerger’s resolution wasn’t included in Councilman Johnson’s packet of information for the Oct. 23 meeting even though it was received on the Thursday before the Oct. 23 meeting. That means Councilman Goerger’s resolution was intentionally hidden from Councilman Johnson.

BTW, that’s a violation of City Council Rule # 6, which states “All items of business before the Council for the first time shall be listed as new business or on the Consent Agenda with a notation indicating the item is new business. Official action may not be taken if any Council Person objects to action being taken on the item.” Councilman Johnson certainly objected to voting on Councilman Goerger’s resolution because he said he hadn’t had time to read it.

The rules don’t mean anything with Council President Lewis or to most of the members of the Council. Most of the City Council members just care about winning. If they have to break the rules to win, they’re ok with that.

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Displaying incredible elitism, DFL gubernatorial candidate Tim Walz criticized farmers. Walz said “You see those maps. Red and blue and there’s all that red across there. And Democrats go into a depression over it. It’s mostly rocks and cows that are in that red area.”

Coming from a guy who represents tons of farmer in Washington, DC, that’s a pretty elitist-sounding statement. Jeff Johnson and Matt Dean quickly pounced on Walz’s statement. Dean quickly posted a statement on Facebook, saying in part “Rocks & Cows? I’d say Cows Rock! Dairy is an important industry in greater MN. Tim Walz should get out of DC and visit a dairy farm. We’ve had seven years of greater Minnesota being treated like lesser Minnesota. Things are going to change and we make a greater Minnesota for everyone.”

Later in the statement, Dean said “My windshield time is best spent talking to people I’m going to meet along the way. Many of those conversations are polite but short because of the unbelievable amount of harvest work that needs to be done. I’ve learned so much in such a very short time because you do need to meet people where they are when they are that busy. I thought my door-knocking days were winding down, but I’ve surprised many folks at home or on the farm. How gracious they are.”

This is pitch perfect:

Mr. Walz should do 87in87. Heck, he should just visit his own constituents. The First district has awesome farmers. They aren’t red or blue. They are hardworking people. They are getting their teeth kicked in by Healthcare costs and low prices for their crops. The corn prices are so low they can’t afford the healthcare they had last year. Now the crops are so wet, they can’t get the money or the propane to dry them out! And snow is already here.

Commissioner Johnson replied in this Facebook post “Once again, a DFLer slips up and tells us what he really thinks about Greater MN. Tim Walz says much of rural Minnesota is just ‘rocks and cows.’ As someone whose roots, family and values are all in Northwestern Minnesota, I find that statement both arrogant and ignorant. Yes, there are lots of rocks and lots of cows in parts of Greater MN, but more importantly there are lots of decent, hard-working, patriotic Americans. Let’s focus on them for a change rather than dismissing them as irrelevant or unimportant. Minnesotans deserve better than what the DFL is giving us.”

Here’s the video of Walz acting like a jackass:

That’s frighteningly insensitive. Years ago, Mike Kinsley said that “a gaffe is when you accidentally tell the truth.” This fits into that category. It’s apparent that Walz is pandering to the metro DFL activists. Don’t forget that Walz already renounced the NRA:

Walz recanted his prior support for the NRA and announced that he would donate money given to him by the pro-Second Amendment group to a charity helping veterans and their families. ‘The politics is secondary,’ Walz told Murphy on Sunday. ‘I have got friends who have been, had gun violence in their family and like so many responsible gun owners, it’s what I grew up on.’”

Criticizing farmers and gun owners is political suicide in the general election. It might help him get the DFL endorsement but it’s a killer for the big election.

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Just 2 weeks ago, the St. Cloud City Council tried silencing Councilman Jeff Johnson. They improperly approved a resolution that wasn’t allowed by the Council’s own rules. For an item to get discussed during the meeting, the council is supposed to receive notice that it will be discussed, with the theory being that the council should have the opportunity to read and think through proposals. Instead, Councilman Goerger ambushed Councilman Johnson with his ‘welcoming’ resolution.

During last night’s discussion of Johnson’s resolution, Councilman Hontos scolded the Council for mistreating Johnson. Hontos highlighted something that the Council rejected when Jeff Johnson proposed it but accepted it when Mayor Kleis proposed it. Let’s be clear about something. This Council, as currently configured, isn’t welcoming if you don’t march in lockstep with them. Frankly, several members don’t apply the rules that they voted on in August. They’ve done everything they can to discourage Jeff Johnson’s quest for information about how much refugee resettlement costs taxpayers.

The good news is that Councilman Johnson isn’t easily discouraged. The more these politicians and bureaucrats try hiding this information, the more Johnson insists on getting the information. BTW, each time the Council tries keeping that information from the public, Johnson’s group of supporters gets bigger. This isn’t disappearing. It isn’t going away. These citizens are determined. Politicians who’ve attempted to ignore this issue will get hurt the next time they run for re-election.

About 4 hours and 10 minutes into the meeting Councilman Johnson talked about the provision that allows states to opt out of the program. Specifically, Councilman Johnson said “What absolutely frustrates me is when members of the legislature tell me that there’s nothing the state can do. That’s absolute bullroar because it says right here in 45 Code of regulations dash 301, giving states the ability to opt out of the Refugee Resettlement Program.” Then Councilman Johnson highlights the procedure for opting out of the resettlement program. It isn’t impossible. It just requires a spine. Councilman Johnson is the only person on the City Council who has one. He’s also the only person who actually listens to the people, not the special interests.

The truth is that the people who voted for Councilman Goerger’s resolution aren’t welcoming people. They’re welcoming only if people agree with them. They ambushed Councilman Johnson because he stood up to them. That isn’t the definition of welcoming. That’s the definition of fickle.

This LTE, written by Maureen Warren, Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, is pure CYA. In the LTE, Warren states “As part of our work, we are required to hold quarterly meetings with stakeholders that are involved in the process of helping to resettle refugees. These stakeholders include officials from local government, county personnel in human services, and representatives from public health, public safety, housing community, public education, social services, businesses and other service providers.”

There’s ample proof that county officials have gotten briefed on the programs. After all, they administer most of these programs. However, there’s no proof whatsoever that city officials have attended these meetings. Mayor Kleis has repeatedly said that the city doesn’t have anything to do with refugee resettlement. He’s also said “We don’t have any funding that goes to refugee resettlement.”

That’s pretty slippery wording. Notice that Mayor Kleis didn’t say that the city budget doesn’t spend money on refugees who’ve already settled here. Further, citizens who support Councilman Johnson’s moratorium haven’t talked about city budgets:

Since July 10, 22 people have spoken about refugee resettlement. Many of the speakers said they are concerned about the taxpayer cost of refugees.

Once the refugees have been here 90 days, federal funding disappears. At that point, the taxpayers get hit with the costs of supporting refugees. The same taxpayers that pay property taxes to the city get hit with property tax increases from the school district to pay for programs that help refugees learn the English language. That’s why St. Cloud’s education rating is awful. By comparison, Sartell, which doesn’t have to deal with refugees, earns a higher rating for education and for crime.

Our focus is to increase communication and seek solutions to meet the needs of refugee populations. This is a working group. Quarterly meetings were never intended to be an open public forum.

Thus far, it’s apparent that LSS’s focus is on keeping these proceedings secret.

We know there is community interest in learning more about refugee resettlement. To create greater understanding about this work, we are opening our December quarterly consultation meeting to interested public observers.

How quaint. LSS is opening up a meeting one time so LSS can say that they’ve been transparent.

Resettling refugees is humanitarian work. We’ve been involved in refugee resettlement for nearly 10 years in St. Cloud, and many decades in Minnesota. Our role is to help refugees get off to a good start and become productive members of the community as quickly as possible.

Actually, it’s a racket. Businesses that hire refugees who’ve been unemployed more than 6 months qualify for a tax credit of up to $9,600. Businesses hiring refugees aren’t hiring them for middle management positions. They’re hiring them for unskilled positions. In other words, businesses get cheap labor and a huge tax credit for hiring cheap labor.

Meanwhile, LSS gets paid $1,000 for each refugee it finds a home for. This year, LSS will get $225,000 to resettle refugees. That doesn’t sound like humanitarian work. That’s what a lucrative racket sounds like. This letter from Ron Branstner lays things out beautifully:

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Much has been written about the controversial finish to the Oct. 23 St. Cloud City Council meeting. One thing that’s been the topic of discussion is that the Goerger resolution felt like an ambush. That’s certainly the position most of Councilman Johnson’s supporters have. After Councilman Goerger’s introduction of his resolution and after it was seconded, Councilman Johnson rightfully complained that he’d had less than 2 minutes to read Goerger’s resolution before voting on it. Noticeably silent was Councilman Masters.

That’s odd because of what happened at the Oct. 9 City Council meeting. Near the end of that meeting, Councilman Johnson told the Council that he would be introducing a resolution at a future City Council meeting. At that point, City Councilman Masters said to Councilman Johnson “If you would please provide both the Council and to the administration this proposal so we could look at it ahead of time and have diligent time to look it over and so forth.” Councilman Johnson quickly replied that he’d get his proposed resolution at least a week in advance of the Oct. 23 meeting. You can see the exchange between Johnson and Masters approximately 1:18:00 into this video:

About a week in advance, Councilman Johnson announced that he wouldn’t bring forth his resolution until the Nov. 6 meeting, most likely because Councilman Hontos was out of town for the Oct. 23 meeting.

When Councilman Goerger brought up his resolution, Councilman Johnson complained about having insufficient time to read through the resolution and to do proper diligence on it. At the first opening after Councilman Johnson spoke, Masters made a motion to end discussion on the motion. The question I’d ask Councilman Masters is straightforward. It’s obvious that he wanted to do his diligence with Councilman Johnson’s resolution. Why didn’t he want to take the same amount of time to do his due diligence with Councilman Goerger’s resolution? Was it because he’d already read the resolution prior to the Oct. 23 meeting? But I digress.

My question for Councilman Masters is this: Why didn’t he make a motion to table discussion on Goerger’s resolution rather than making his motion to shut down discussion? Doing the proper due diligence is certainly appropriate. Why didn’t he apply the same seriousness to both resolutions?

Last week, this St. Cloud Times editorial said “The St. Cloud City Council did the right thing Monday night when it voted 5-1 to adopt a resolution declaring the city a just and welcoming community.” They’re entitled to their opinion, though they aren’t entitled to their own facts. The truth is that the Council didn’t vote on Councilman Goerger’s resolution, at least during the regularly scheduled meeting. They voted on whether to end discussion on Jeff Goerger’s resolution.

Instead of rehashing what happened last Monday, let’s play a game called ‘What if’? For the sake of this post, let’s imagine that the City Council had 5 people who opposed refugee resettlement and just one that wanted the federal government to send more refugees to St. Cloud. Next, let’s assume that the resolution wasn’t published until minutes before discussion started on the resolution. Next, let’s assume that the majority attempted to end discussion after just 5 minutes. Finally, picture this happening while the audience screamed ‘Out of order’ when they weren’t booing the lone councilmember who supported unlimited refugee resettlement.

Given the different outcome, would the St. Cloud Times write that the City Council had done the right thing? Would the Times say that hiding such a resolution was a good thing? Or would they criticize the angry mob for hiding the resolution from the people? Would they praise the City Council for their lack of transparency? Or would they criticize them for ambushing an unsuspecting city councilmember?

If you attended the meeting 2 weeks ago or watched it livestreamed, you don’t have to imagine anything. You watched it play out that way, just with the roles reversed.

The point of this thought exercise is to highlight the importance of a few things, starting with the necessity of playing fair. Without consistent enforcement of the rules, chaos runs rampant. Without enforcing the rules of the City Council, people might get ambushed, which is what happened on Oct. 23.

Another thing that hasn’t been emphasized enough is the fact that Councilman Goerger’s resolution, which called for a just and welcoming city, wasn’t discussed with respect towards those who didn’t agree with them. The meeting was the definition of chaotic:

This ambush was the City Council at its worst. It didn’t discuss the issue thoroughly or respectfully. The Council didn’t listen to the people before shutting down debate. Worst, the Council wasn’t interested in having a debate. Those that sided with Jeff Goerger were interested in winning. They cared more about mob rule than they cared about principled, respectful governance.

This St. Cloud Times Our View editorial is proof that the Times has drank the resettlement Kool-Aid. It started by saying “The St. Cloud City Council did the right thing Monday night when it voted 5-1 to adopt a resolution declaring the city a just and welcoming community.” Actually, that’s a point of disagreement. If the Times thinks that ambushing the citizens and a city councilmember with a last minute resolution that people hadn’t seen before is doing the right thing, then they need to rethink their ethical principles.

Transparency isn’t a nicety. It’s what ethical people do reflexively. It’s done out of respect for others. What happened Monday night was disrespectful and mean-spirited. When supposed civic leaders treat the citizenry with that type of disrespect, the citizenry is entitled to not trust their civic leaders.

Later in the editorial, it said “The intent of these forums is simply to foster respectful, public dialogue aimed at answering questions based on facts, not fear.” When I first read that, I questioned whether this was written by the Onion or if they were serious. Apparently, they intended it to be serious. They failed if that was their intent.

The unmistakable message sent from Monday night’s ambush was that the City Council wasn’t interested in respectful public dialogue. They were interested in hiding the facts about the program to the point that they denied the fact that they’re breaking federal law.

This article highlights information that triggers new questions:

About 70 percent of those residents, for example, are participating in the workforce — a rate that compares to the overall workforce participation of native-born Americans in the region. “They’re filling important roles in the St. Cloud economy,” Goldenrod said. “Minnesota is increasingly relying on immigrant workers to fill critical roles in our workforce.”

Question: Of the 30% of refugees that aren’t participating in the workforce, how many of these refugees qualify for subsidized health care or rental assistance? What other government benefits do they qualify for?

This isn’t helpful:

For all that, though, Ali said he wasn’t surprised that an elected official proposed a plan to ban refugee resettlement in St. Cloud, drawing parallels between Johnson’s resolution and President Donald Trump’s travel ban, which restricts refugees from several predominately Muslim countries from entering the U.S.

I’ve had it up to here with this Muslim ban BS. Jeff Johnson isn’t proposing a ban on refugee resettlement. That’s an intentional incendiary term. Councilman Johnson is proposing a moratorium. The definition of moratorium is “an authorized period of delay or waiting.” The definition of ban is “the act of prohibiting by law; interdiction.”

Words mean things. Councilman Johnson’s resolution wouldn’t have the force of law by itself. Therefore, the word ban is entirely inappropriate. However, a moratorium is entirely appropriate because that’s an authorized wait period.

Up until this point, Councilman Johnson has been portrayed as unreasonable. That’s insulting, considering the fact that he’s the person who published his resolution 2 weeks prior to debating it. It’s insulting, especially considering the fact that he wasn’t the person who tried portraying those that didn’t agree with him as uncaring or un-American.

The people who supported Councilman Goerger’s resolution acted like hooligans. They tried shutting down debate. They tried shouting down those that disagreed with them. They were the people who weren’t interested in having a lengthy debate.

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Leo Hohmann’s article exposes Jeff Goerger as either a dishonest person in public office or as too stupid to understand what he said during his grandstanding speech Monday night. Though it’s just opinion, I’m fairly certain Councilman Goerger isn’t stupid, though I’m willing to listen if anyone has proof to the contrary. It’s my opinion that Councilman Goerger is both dishonest and patronizing.

Consider Councilman Goerger’s comment that “the city of St. Cloud has the capacity to provide municipal services to the aforementioned prospective new residents without an impact on the city budget or quality of life.” I hope that Councilman Goerger isn’t attempting to tell his constituents that these refugees don’t consume city services and don’t impact the city budget whatsoever. If that’s what Councilman Goerger attempted selling, then he’s one of the most patronizing people in public service.

When Councilman Goerger said “I think it’s important to show people this one guy bringing forth a resolution is not the voice of the city council or the voice of the people in our community,” he announced that he wouldn’t listen to his constituents that didn’t think like him. That isn’t the definition of a public servant. That’s what I’d expect from an insulated career politician. This video is slanted but it gave Councilman Johnson the opportunity to state his case, albeit on a limited basis:

The prevailing ‘wisdom’ is that Councilman Goerger’s resolution is the end of the discussion on refugee resettlement. Having talked with many pro-moratorium activists, I’m positive that Monday night’s fiasco was the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end of conversation on this topic. To City Councilmembers who think they’ll fade into the woodwork, think again.

Monday night was the equivalent of waving a red flag in front of a bull. This was a crystallizing moment. It wasn’t a victory for Natalie Ringsmuth and the liberal idiots serving on the City Council.

These activists have a set of legitimate questions. Thus far, only Jeff Johnson has listened to their questions. The others, including Mayor Kleis and especially Jeff Goerger, have essentially said that these Christians are, at best, second-class citizens. Don’t think that these citizens will forget what their at-large councilmembers did when they’re up for re-election next year. The Council Chamber Goerger skirmish is over but the city-wide battle is just starting.

People will insist that I’m being overly dramatic about refugee resettlement. That’s fine. Some members of St. Cloud’s City Council have already suggested that people who’ve asked for information on the economic impact of the State Department’s refugee resettlement program are racists. The St. Cloud Times has accused people who have simply asked for information of being bigots or Islamophobes. While visiting St. Cloud in October, 2015, Gov. Dayton told lifelong residents that they should leave Minnesota if they didn’t accept Somali refugees. Our congressman, Tom Emmer, is disinterested in the subject.

According to this KNSI article, “St. Cloud residents voiced their concerns about refugee resettlement at Monday’s city council meeting. A group of five people addressed the council asking for refugee population statistics and economic data, saying they haven’t been able to get any answers on the issue.” After they spoke, Councilman George Hontos made a “motion for a study session on refugee resettlement.” Hontos’ motion failed on a 4-3 vote.

The cowardly councilmembers who voted against even talking about the issue were Steve Laraway, Carol Lewis, John Libert and Jeff Goerger. City Council President Lewis attempted to defend her vote by saying that it’s “a federal issue, it may have some state implications, but we really have nothing we can say.”

Lewis is right in the sense that the refugee resettlement program is a federal program run through the U.S. State Department. It’s also a cowardly answer in the sense that refugees use local resources like schools, hospitals and other resources. Those things are definitely within the City Council’s purview.

It’s important to note that this motion wasn’t on a resolution condemning the program. It was a motion to spend a study session studying the impact the program has on St. Cloud’s transportation system, schools and hospitals. Goerger, Laraway, Lewis and Libert were too cowardly to even agree to that.

When those councilmembers are up for re-election, I hope St. Cloud residents remember that these councilmembers voted against transparency and accountability. In my opinion, those politicians are a disgrace. Here’s the video of Gov. Dayton telling lifelong Minnesota residents they should leave:

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In the St. Cloud Times’ endorsement article where they endorsed Mark Dayton, they made some sloppy statements that simply aren’t factual. Here’s one of the Times’ sloppy statements:

Republican challenger Jeff Johnson’s strongest arguments seem rooted more in attacking Dayton than detailing exactly what government programs and priorities he would change and cut.

The Times apparently didn’t interview Commissioner Johnson. In fact, it isn’t clear that they even visited Commissioner Johnson’s campaign website. If they had, they would’ve gotten this important insight into Commissioner Johnson’s agenda:

I will initiate a top-to-bottom audit of the programs that Minnesota taxpayers fund. We will celebrate those that can prove they produce the results we claim to want; we will end those that cannot. From the first day I am in office to the day I leave, I will work to put government back into its place as a servant of the citizens, not their master.

Apparently, the Times hasn’t figured it out that you can’t list programs and departments that will be dramatically changed until you’ve initiated “a top-to-bottom audit” of state government programs and departments. Finding out which programs and departments are working and important is the essential first step. Apparently, the Times didn’t grasp the importance of that first step. Either that or they just weren’t interested because they’d already decided that they were endorsing Gov. Dayton. This statement is laughable:

Yet those details are important amid his broad push for lower taxes and less regulations.

Actually, those details aren’t important at this point. It’s only important to tell voters that government won’t waste their money like the Dayton administration has. It’s only important to highlight the ways that the Dayton administration has spent money foolishly. This statement is driven either by total ignorance or blind partisanship:

Plus, unlike Dayton, it’s hard to see compromise emerging from his rhetoric and record.

At last week’s debate, the candidates were asked by Don Davis how they could work with the other party. Gov. Dayton’s answer was highlighted in several articles as essentially being ‘I can work with the other side as long as I have a DFL legislature.’ During his answer, Gov. Dayton launched into a lengthy diatribe about how Republicans’ ideas were unreasonable, which forced him to work only with the DFL.

How is that proof that Gov. Dayton will work out compromises with the GOP? In fact, we have proof that he won’t work with Republicans. Gov. Dayton intentionally shut state government down while rejecting Republicans’ lights-on bills that would’ve kept government open. Gov. Dayton wouldn’t even keep transportation projects going even though those projects have little or nothing to do with general fund revenues.

Check back later today for Part II.

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