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This Duluth News Tribune editorial endorses Tim Pawlenty as the Republicans’ best shot at retaking the governorship. Normally, endorsements don’t mean that much but I think this one matters. It isn’t because I think the endorsement itself is that impactful. I think it’s impactful because Tim Pawlenty was given the time and space to explain why he’s running. In my estimation, he made the most of that opportunity.

In the editorial, Gov. Pawlenty said “People criticize me for, ‘You held the line on this’ or, ‘You cut that.’ You bet I did. When you’re in a near depression and government’s budgets have contracted, the answer isn’t to go out to the taxpayers and say, ‘We need to raise your taxes.’ We had to tighten the government’s belt, just like every family did, just like every house did.”

In my estimation, that response was what you’d expect from the adult in the room. It didn’t stop there, though. After that, Gov. Pawlenty stated “I’m 57 years old, I have no other political ambitions. I’m not running for any national office. I’m coming back to try to run for governor not because I need the title; I already have it. And I don’t need to go to sit in the office; I’ve already done that for eight years,” said Pawlenty, governor from 2003 to 2011 and a Republican presidential candidate in 2012. “I’m coming back for one reason, which is to get things done for my state and for the state that I love. And I think that at this point we need somebody who is strong enough and experienced enough and, frankly, willing to embrace enough risk to bridge the (political) divides. I am in the best position in this race to do that.”

The difference between Gov. Pawlenty then and the conditions he’d walk into now are dramatic. When he first won the office, he inherited a $4.2 billion projected deficit from Jesse Ventura and a terrible economy. This time around, he’ll walk in at a time when the US economy is hitting on all cylinders. Thanks to that robust economy, Gov. Pawlenty will have the chance to reform the tax system that Gov. Dayton created.

What does Pawlenty want to do if elected again? He wants to slow down health insurance premium increases and maybe even reduce them. He wants to provide tax relief to middle- and modest-income Minnesotans, including by getting rid of Minnesota’s rare tax on Social Security benefits. And he wants to modernize and improve Minnesota schools and the state’s educational system to finally close the achievement gap and to help meet growing workforce needs.

Tim Pawlenty is the best choice to lead the Republican Party of Minnesota. He’s got universal name recognition. He’s got the funding network that’ll be needed to fight off the DFL candidate. Most importantly, he’s got a reform-minded substantive agenda that conservatives can rally around.

Jeff Johnson is touting the issues he wants to run on. That’s admirable. He’d be a fine governor if he got elected. The thing is, though, that he’d have a difficult time getting elected. You can’t govern if you don’t get elected.

Republicans have a fantastic opportunity to reform Minnesota’s economy. To do that, though, we need unified Republican control of St. Paul. We can’t get there with Jeff Johnson. He’s already lost 2 statewide races. I’m not willing to bet that the third time is the charm. There’s too much at stake to entrust to a 2-time loser.

Tim Pawlenty wants to focus on accomplishing sensible things. That’s been out of style the past 8 years in St. Paul. Here’s what I’m talking about:

Tim Pawlenty has started running an ad that takes a shot at Gov. Dayton’s incompetence in administering government assistance programs. Before we watch the ad, though, it’s important to note that Pawlenty has listed this issue as a high priority on his campaign’s issues page.

He wrote “Whether it is a driver’s license renewal system that doesn’t work, broken healthcare websites, or childcare providers allegedly defrauding the state of a massive amount of money and sending some of that money to terrorists overseas, state government needs to be held more accountable. Too often, state government is not held accountable and taxpayers are left to pay the price. As just one example, a recent audit from the Office of the Legislative Auditor found the state is paying hundreds of millions in benefits to people not even eligible because state government fails to verify income eligibility. We will properly verify eligibility and use the hundreds of millions currently being wasted to lower health care costs and provide better care to Minnesotans in need. It’s time to hold state government more accountable and put hardworking Minnesotans first.”

Here’s Pawlenty’s ad:

Rating this ad

I consider this ad to be effective. First, Pawlenty ‘narrates’ the ad, in essence telling people what he thinks is important while highlighting what’s wrong with government. Next, he closes by saying that he’d use those savings to lower health care costs for Minnesotans who work hard and obey the law.

Next up is Karin Housley’s first ad:

Rating this ad

I rate this ad effective, too. First, Sen. Housley speaks for herself, which is always the most effective way of getting the message across. Next, she explains her governing philosophy. Simply put, she wants to ‘drain the swamp’ and get government out of the average citizen’s way. She wants government “working for you, not against you.” Finally, she tells voters that she understands “that the best place for your hard-earned money is in your pocket.”

In both cases, the ads were short, concise and about things that Minnesotans care about.

UPDATE: I saw Jeff Johnson’s first ad tonight:

Rating this ad

Johnson’s ad definitely goes after Tim Pawlenty, which is what I’d expect since Johnson first has to win the primary. I thought it was gratuitous for Johnson to say that Gov. Pawlenty “gave us higher spending.” When Gov. Pawlenty started in office, Jim Knoblach chaired the House Ways and Means Committee. It’s foolish to think that there was a massive spending increase at that time because Gov. Pawlenty inherited a $4.2 billion projected deficit from Jesse Ventura. Pawlenty and Knoblach eliminated that deficit without raising taxes. It’s fair, however, to mention the fee increases.

The ad is a bit misleading in that Pawlenty had to battle DFL supermajorities in the 2007 and 2009 budget sessions. That’s when Republicans relied on Gov. Pawlenty to be our goalie.

Overall, the ad is somewhat effective because it’s somewhat misleading.

Deep inside this article are 2 paragraphs that makes me wonder about Commissioner Jeff Johnson.

In them, he says “Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, also running for the Republican nomination for governor in the Aug. 14 primary, said Pawlenty’s immigration emphasis is a poll-tested play for the GOP electorate. ‘If [Pawlenty] is talking about it, that means it’s polling well,’ Johnson said, citing $96,000 the Pawlenty campaign spent on polls in recent months, according to state campaign filings. Johnson said in a news conference last week that one of his first actions as governor would be to fly to Washington to tell the Trump administration that Minnesota is no longer accepting refugees.”

One of the first official communications, if not the first, from the Pawlenty campaign was a criticism of Tim Walz, who wants to turn Minnesota into a sanctuary state. This statement was published on May 2. It’s difficult to think that Gov. Pawlenty is simply pandering to primary voters.

I don’t make much of Commissioner Johnson finally addressing the issue until 2 months later. I don’t think Johnson is weak on immigration. What I think is that Johnson is employing a double standard. Apparently, when Jeff Johnson talks about refugee resettlement or immigration, it’s done for the purest of reasons. Apparently, he thinks that when Tim Pawlenty talks about immigration, it’s because it’s polling well, nothing more.

This might be news to Commissioner Johnson:

But in response to e-mailed questions from the Star Tribune, Pawlenty said it’s not a new issue for him. “I have traveled around Minnesota and addressed many issues and immigration is one of those issues,” wrote Pawlenty, who declined an interview request for this story. “This is not a change in focus. In fact, cracking down on illegal immigration was a key priority when I ran in 2002, 2006 and during my time as governor. Illegal immigration is a big problem and it needs to be strongly addressed.”

I don’t recall immigration being a top priority while Pawlenty was governor but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a priority for him. Whatever the case, it’s clearly a problem this time. One thing that’s always been true of Gov. Pawlenty is that he’s a pragmatic, problem-solving politician.

It’s apparent that he’s recognized immigration/refugee resettlement as top issues this cycle. There’s little doubt that he’ll address those issues. Of course, Gov. Pawlenty’s enemies are critical:

DFL critics say Pawlenty’s focus on immigration, then and now, are attempts to distract voters from his record on issues like education, health care and the $6 billion budget deficit that existed when he left office. “This is the Pawlenty playbook,” said Javier Morillo, the president of Service Employees International Union Local 26. Morillo supports U.S. Rep. Tim Walz in the DFL race for governor. “Whenever his poll numbers would go down, he would come up with something divisive,” Morillo said. In the Trump era, Morillo said, Pawlenty is using the same approach “on steroids.”

One thing about Javier is that you’ll never hear him say that a Republican has done anything right, except if it’s to make another Republican look terrible. It’s part of his playbook. With the DFL as with the SEIU, enforcing the law is a divisive topic. (This is also the case with Keith Ellison, who is now running to be Minnesota’s top law enforcement officer.)

At the end of the day, Jeff Johnson’s complaining comes across as whining. It diminishes him. That’s a shame because he’s actually a pretty good guy.

Pawlenty tweaks Johnson

The Republican nomination race for Minnesota governor took a contentious turn Thursday with a hard-hitting TV ad from former Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

After months of Pawlenty ignoring his primary rival, he unloaded on Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson as part of a six-figure ad campaign, the first commercials he has run during the race. Johnson responded with his own swipes but probably won’t be able to match Pawlenty’s reach, given the relative cash positions of their campaigns.

Johnson is the tiresome gnat in the race. He tried firing back but this is the best he could do:

Johnson took the sudden attention as a sign “that the race is close. It was a good day in the campaign. I said the day that he attacks is a day he knows he might lose. Obviously, we got there earlier than I thought we would,” he said.

This race isn’t close. The Outstate.US poll shows Pawlenty leading by 34 points. Even if the margin of error was high, Johnson would still be miles behind.

The Pawlenty campaign replied:

Pawlenty’s campaign said Johnson threw the first punches months ago and they’re ready to respond in kind. “The Pawlenty campaign is not going to take anything for granted, and we want to ensure that Republican primary voters know exactly where Jeff Johnson has been on these important issues,” said Pawlenty adviser Brian McClung.

It isn’t that Johnson is being competitive. It’s more likely that Pawlenty has decided it’s time to all-but-officially end the primary.

Housley’s impressive fundraising quarter

Karin Housley’s campaign just reported “In Minnesota’s special election for U.S. Senate, the campaign of Republican-endorsed candidate Karin Housley announced a fundraising total of just over $1 million during the second quarter of 2018. Of the 6,209 total campaign donors to date, nearly 73 percent gave donations of $50 or less.” While it’s likely that Tina Smith has raised more, that’s irrelevant because Tina’s message is essentially Obstruct and Resist. Meanwhile, Karin’s message is “Minnesotans want a senator who will fight for them – but Tina Smith has shown us again and again that her marching orders come from the radical left, not the people she represents. Over the next four months, we’re going to work as hard as we can traveling the state, hearing Minnesotans’ stories, and making a case for why I’ll be a new voice in the U.S. Senate for the people of our state. Minnesotans want a senator who will fight for them – but Tina Smith has shown us again and again that her marching orders come from the radical left, not the people she represents. Over the next four months, we’re going to work as hard as we can traveling the state, hearing Minnesotans’ stories, and making a case for why I’ll be a new voice in the U.S. Senate for the people of our state.”

At this press conference, Sen. Smith sounded like a past president of Planned Parenthood, which she is:

The difference between Tina Smith and Karin Housley is that Tina Smith serves the special interests. Karin Housley serves people. Sen. Housley proved that by vigorously attempting to fix the elder abuse scandal in Minnesota. Rather than just hold a press conference, Sen. Housley put together legislation that would’ve fixed many of the problems. Unfortunately, Gov. Dayton, who Tina Smith served with for 3+ years, vetoed the bill.

After reading this article, I’m certain that the DFL doesn’t have any visionaries running for governor. In fact, I’ll say one more thing. It’s clear to me that the DFL candidates aren’t top tier candidates.

I started wondering if the DFL had any top tier candidates when I read “Erin Murphy, who’s represented her St. Paul state House district since 2007, said she grew up around politics “that were about improving people’s lives” and said she wants to return to that if elected. ‘We should be doing all that we can to make sure that we’re building a future for the people of Minnesota,’ she said. But lately, ‘I see us moving in a direction more toward a Washington, D.C.-style of politics where we’re thinking too much about how to beat the other side, how to get to the next election and the things we need to do together are falling behind.'”

This was confirmed when I read this:

Walz too talked about changing political culture. And just as Murphy often references her nursing profession, Walz often cites his time as a social studies teacher. “We believe in education and we do it in that classroom because it doesn’t have to be a pejorative to talk about government,” said the six-term member of Congress from Mankato. “It’s us. It’s the people who make decisions in communities. But we have to make sure those most impacted by decisions are at the table.

“The behind-closed-doors thing is undermining our basic faith…we’re a very polarized nation and that is holding us back,” he said.

Perhaps Walz is complaining about what happens behind closed doors because he’s never been invited to closed-door negotiations. That’s because he’s never been a committee chairman. That’s because, for 12 years, he’s been a nobody in Congress.

Quick rule of thumb: Nobodies in Congress aren’t visionaries.

Thankfully, there was a visionary at the debate:

Johnson complained of “arrogance” in state agencies and said he seeks to change “the very culture in St. Paul. I got into this race almost 14 months ago and I got in for a very simple reason: to give people more control over their own money and over their own businesses and over their own kids’ education and over their own health care and, frankly, over their own lives,” Johnson said.

With Johnson, at least you know there’s something substantive that he wants to accomplish. There’s no question that he has a number of goals in mind.

This video is worth watching:

It’s worth watching even though they don’t poll the match-up between Erin Murphy and Tim Pawlenty, which is the likely match-up this November. Murphy is the DFL favorite because, in my opinion, she’ll dominate the Twin Cities vote while Lori Swanson and Tim Walz split the rural vote.

The poll shows that Tim Pawlenty leading Jeff Johnson 54%-20%. That isn’t a position Johnson is likely to rebound from.

Jenny Berg’s article about Dr. John Palmer’s decision to run for the St. Cloud City Council highlights something important. It is best highlighted when Dr. Palmer is quoted as saying “I’ve chosen consciously to talk about ‘we the people’ because I really think the current council and the person I’m running against has forgotten that they are servants to the people. In our republican form of government, it’s the people who are in charge.”

What Dr. Palmer implied, I’ll state explicitly. The men who represent the citizens of Wards 1, 2 and 3 don’t listen to the people of their wards. Jeff Johnson, who isn’t seeking re-election, is the only member of the City Council that consistently listens to his constituents and who sees what’s happening in this city.

Of the candidates running for the City Council, I’m confident that Dr. Palmer, Liz Baklaich, Paul Brandmire and Mike Conway will listen to the people. I’m confident of that because I know each of them and I’ve seen how good of listeners they are. It’s possible that the other candidates are decent listeners. I just can’t vouch for their listening skills.

Nobody should like the direction that St. Cloud is heading. The Chamber of Commerce, Mayor Kleis and the incumbents have told us that the city is heading in the right direction. Unemployment is low but Electrolux is moving. Herbergers is closing. Our airport is on life support. What part of that sounds like we’re heading in the right direction?

Palmer said his goals, if elected, are to grow the economy of St. Cloud and ensure citizens’ voices are heard. “We can no longer rely on simply increasing fees and sales taxes, increasing hotel and motel taxes and increasing property taxes. What we need to do is grow the economy in able to have sufficient revenue,” he said. “What you want more of, you certainly don’t tax.”

Palmer said the council needs to be open to differing opinions. “My main goal is to reform the council in such a way that the primary orientation is to listen to the people and to conduct the affairs of the council in such a way so that the people’s voice is not stifled,” he said.

“Let me give a concrete example — by having a public hearing two weeks before they are going to have a vote, and by excluding the public from participating in the debate at the time they are going to vote, you stifle public input. You stifle the quality of the debate.”

That’s what principled leadership sounds like.

In her speech during the open forum portion of the City Council meeting, Liz Baklaich said that the Council is irreparably damaged and couldn’t be fixed. In my opinion, she’s right. Dave Masters, Steve Laraway and John Libert aren’t suddenly going to start listening to the people. That isn’t who they are. I don’t often agree with Vice President Biden but he once said something that’s inescapably true. He said “A leader without followers is just a man out for a walk.” Masters, Laraway and Libert are just people out for a walk.

Frankly, Masters is a disgrace. When Dr. Palmer tried making a point at last Monday’s meeting, the Council President told Dr. Palmer to sit down. When he refused to sit because sitting would’ve violated a Minnesota Supreme Court ruling, Masters said “Personally, I take offense with Dr. Palmer not following the rules and standing before the Council after being asked numerous times to sit down please. You have your time when you can speak during the Open Forum.”

I have a problem when elected officials ignore state Supreme Court rulings:

I feel like justice was finally served,” said Robin Hensel, whose refusal to move her chair at a 2013 Little Falls City Council meeting was at the heart of the court’s decision. Hensel, a grandmother and peace activist who frequently protests at Camp Ripley, said she never thought she would actually get charged when she moved a folding chair to the open space between the public galley and the City Council’s dais.

In its ruling Wednesday, the Supreme Court sided with Hensel, saying: “The statute is broad and ambiguous, prohibiting any conduct or speech that ‘disturbs an assembly or meeting,’ whether expressive or not. An individual could violate the statute by, for example, wearing an offensive t-shirt, using harsh words in addressing another person, or even raising one’s voice in a speech.”

Masters is part of the problem. In my opinion, Dr. Palmer is part of the solution because he’s a principled leader.

The thing that’s getting more play at the DFL convention than expected is that Erin Murphy’s momentum is real and that she might win the DFL endorsement. Tonight, Murphy announced that she’d been endorsed by OutfrontAction via this tweet:


A quick glimpse at OutFrontAction’s about us webpage identifies which identity group OutfrontAction represents:

OutFront Minnesota’s mission is to create a state where lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people are free to be who they are, love who they love, and live without fear of violence, harassment or discrimination. We envision a state where LGBTQ individuals have equal opportunities, protection and rights. We are working toward the day when all Minnesotans have the freedom, power and confidence to make the best choices for their own lives.

There’s little question whether this is an important endorsement the night before the DFL endorses a gubernatorial candidate. That isn’t the same as saying this is a winning issue in a general election. It isn’t. Compare that with the top contenders’ issue pages. Check out how substantive Jeff Johnson’s issues page is. Then compare the DFL candidates’ pages with Tim Pawlenty’s issues page.

The difference between the Republicans’ issues pages and the DFL candidates’ issues pages isn’t a fair fight. Murphy doesn’t have an issues page. Instead, she calls her page her Vision page. On that page, she talks about single-payer “health care, equity & justice, economic justice, reproductive justice, immigration and mining.”

On immigration, Murphy says this:

Minnesota must be a state where all of our neighbors are treated with respect and dignity. It’s also critical for our future; we need the hard work and bright ideas of people all over the world to build our economy. That’s why, as a state, we must unite against efforts by the federal government to attack immigrants living in Minnesota. Our communities must be strong, safe, and welcoming.

  • I support drivers licenses for all, an initiative that keeps our roads safe while ensuring that people are able to get to work or take their child to the doctor and school.
  • Our state and law enforcement must not serve as an extension of ICE, nor should Minnesota prisons be used as detention centers.

In other words, Murphy supports Minnesota becoming a sanctuary state. In terms of mining, here’s part of what Murphy says:

I’ll protect our state from corporate interests that seek to weaken our permitting process for their financial gain. We see these efforts both at the state and federal level. I’ve voted against them repeatedly, and would continue to oppose them if the science is not sound.

Although we often focus on mining, in Minnesota, we are hard on our water – with agriculture, with overdevelopment, with road salt, and with manufacturing. So it’s imperative we invest in the research already taking place at the Natural Resources and Research Institute at UMD around advanced filtration, reverse osmosis, and other ways to clean impaired waters. As governor I would ensure that we invest in that research more heavily to protect and repair water, regardless of the project.

In short, Murphy will be a friend of environmental activists. This has long-reaching effects. It affects farmers, miners, construction workers and cities building wastewater treatment plants. It isn’t a stretch to say that environmental activists would have too much influence in our lives if Murphy was elected.

Dave Kleis’s argument in this article is particularly flimsy. First, let’s start with what started the fight. It starts in the opening paragraph by saying a “group of St. Cloud residents is gathering signatures for a petition that would put a refugee resettlement resolution on the November ballot. But some city officials say that would be illegal.”

Later, the article states “Furthermore, the resolution itself troubles Kleis because it’s similar to a resolution proposed by City Council member Jeff Johnson last fall to pause refugee resettlement here until a study determined the costs associated with it. Last fall, Kleis said immigration and refugee resettlement are not city issues. He shared the same sentiment Wednesday.”

Actually, this initiative is the direct result of the city council’s mishandling of Councilman Johnson’s resolution and the disrespect shown to the people by Councilman Goerger. The night that Councilman Goerger presented his resolution, the City Council intended to ambush Councilman Johnson and the people. Councilman Goerger’s resolution was given to the Council literally minutes before the vote. Discussion was limited at best. Later, Councilman Laraway called the question in an attempt to stop debate. The vote was taken on whether to end debate.

In her confusion, Council President Lewis adjourned the meeting without voting on the resolution. Councilman Johnson’s resolution wasn’t seriously debated. Further, people supporting Councilman Johnson’s resolution never got the chance to testify.

It was the most disgusting, chaotic City Council meeting I’ve ever watched. Council President Lewis looked as confused as Speaker Kelliher did on the final night of the 2007 legislative session. That night, Kelliher looked dazed and confused. But I digress.

Finally, Kleis’s argument is flimsy. Here’s what he said:

“To me, the U.S. Constitution is very clear. It gives only Congress that authority. It’s not the state. It’s certainly not the county or the city,” he said.

What Mayor Kleis is ignoring is 8 U.S. Code 1522(b), which states quite clearly that “The director shall develop and implement in consultation with representatives of voluntary agencies and state and local governments policies and strategies for the placement and resettlement of refugees within the United States.”

Without question, the Constitution gives Congress the authority to work with local units of government. In fact, without that ability, it’d be impossible to smoothly administer the laws Congress enacts. Mayor Kleis knows this.

Then there’s this:

Furthermore, the resolution itself troubles Kleis because it’s similar to a resolution proposed by City Council member Jeff Johnson last fall to pause refugee resettlement here until a study determined the costs associated with it. Last fall, Kleis said immigration and refugee resettlement are not city issues. He shared the same sentiment Wednesday.

What a pile of BS. Shame on Mayor Kleis for making that flimsy argument. First, I won’t dispute the fact that immigration and refugee resettlement policy is set by the federal government. What I’ll passionately dispute is Mayor Kleis’s statement that this isn’t a city issue. It’s costing city taxpayers money. If Mayor Kleis wants to argue that there isn’t a cost to the city budget, I’ll passionately dispute that, too. Does he really want to argue that there isn’t a cost to the City for health inspections of refugee-owned restaurants? Will he argue that there aren’t any law enforcement costs related to refugees?

Just because there isn’t a line item that’s titled ‘Health Inspections — Refugees’ doesn’t mean there isn’t a cost associated with it.

Further, saying that there isn’t a cost with educating refugees, while not officially on the City’s operating budget, is foolish. How much property taxes do city residents pay to ISD 742 to pay for translators and English learning for refugees?

Mayor Kleis, why shouldn’t citizens have a say in such matters? It isn’t like you’re opposed to taking federal money for other things. Why are you opposed to telling the federal government that it has to pay for the people it dumps in our laps? It’s that or they reform the law so that it requires Volags to pick up the entire cost associated with resettled refugees.

If taxpayers pay taxes that support refugees, then we damn well better have the right to air our grievances. In fact, the Constitution gives us that exact right. It’s called the First Amendment, which says “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.”

Mayor Kleis, you should ask one of your legal eagles whether it’s legal to restrict the people’s ability to address the city government in terms of their grievances. If they’re honest with you, they’ll tell you that restricting the petition process to only ordinances is unenforceable because it violates the First Amendment.

We The People retain that right. That right isn’t given to us by the government. It’s given to us by “Nature’s God.”

This evening, I received this email from Councilman Jeff Johnson:

I’m sure some of the city council members will enjoy not having to deal with Jeff Johnson. Unfortunately, the city of St. Cloud lost a true leader and a man of impeccable integrity. In the interest of full disclosure, Jeff has been my friend for 12+ years. I doubt that that’s a surprise to those who’ve read LFR throughout the years.

The thing Councilman Johnson’s supporters, myself included, appreciated most about him was his willingness to listen to opposing points of view. If you were his constituent (and sometimes if you weren’t), he made time to listen. That’s something that most of the council doesn’t do.

Another thing that people appreciated about Councilman Johnson was his insistence on following City Council rules consistently. That’s another thing that isn’t a priority for Council President Carol Lewis and councilmembers like Steve Laraway, John Libert, Dave Masters and Jeff Goerger.

The St. Cloud Times has written some unfair things about Councilman Jeff Johnson, especially in their Our View editorials. This article, written by Jenny Berg, at least gives Johnson’s side of the story.

It isn’t overstating things to say that Councilman Johnson has been vilified by the others on the City Council. In this article, they’re still vilifying him. In some instances, they’re lying about him. John Libert is a perfect example of this. According to Ms. Berg’s article, Councilman Libert said “Johnson is surrounding himself by a reasonably small group of people, the anti-immigration people, so that’s all he’s listening to. He’s not listening to the public.”

First of all, I don’t think a man who just silenced a citizen who wanted to speak should be taken seriously. This past Monday, that’s what Libert did when he objected to Johnson recognizing John Palmer to speak. That’s something a tyrant does. There’s few things more disgusting in a constitutional republic than having a member of government silence a citizen. That’s what Libert did. But I digress.

Libert continued:

The people that are pushing this thing are anti-immigration people,” he said. “They want numbers, they want something to show them that we shouldn’t have immigrants here.” Libert said he is also disappointed Johnson used his title as City Council member at the Washington, D.C., panel, because Libert said it “gave the impression that the city council is supporting his actions, which we aren’t.”

I know many of the people that Libert is referring to. He couldn’t be more wrong than when he calls them “anti-immigration people.” The people that disagree with Libert just believe strongly that Gasp! the laws on the books should enforced.

Right now, the federal government isn’t enforcing its laws. What’s worse is that the city that’s getting trampled by this unfunded mandate won’t push the federal government to live up to its obligations. When the Refugee Act of 1980 was first passed, the federal government paid the cities and school boards enough money to cover the refugees’ expenses. A short 38 years later, the federal government pays a Volag $1,000 per person to find that family a home, then essentially tells the city and the school board ‘from this point forward, you’re on your own.’

Masters and Goerger both said they stand by the “welcoming” resolution. “The support I got from that resolution that I brought forward outweighed the negative comments probably 10 to one,” Goerger said. “I’m still confident I did the right thing there. As far as where we are today, well there is still that opposition,” Goerger added. “They show up at our council meetings every Monday night. They do come. It’s generally the same four or five people. They wait patiently until the end of the meeting and then they spew their hate.”

Jeff Goerger is a spit-for-brains lefty. What’s worse is that he doesn’t like listening to people he disagrees with. That’s something he has in common with Libert and Lewis. This line is telling:

Libert agreed Johnson’s proposed refugee moratorium has fostered an “atmosphere of hate and bigotry” that works against the city. “I think as a council member our job is to promote St. Cloud as a very viable, living, healthy community. If you Google St. Cloud and all that comes up is immigrants and hate and bigotry, it’s not good,” he said.

Here’s a bit of advice for Mr. Libert. The job of city council members is to put in place smart policies to make the community attractive and to put in place a budget that funds public safety, transportation and other important core functions.

St. Cloud is heading in the wrong direction. Businesspeople know this. They won’t admit it in public but they know it’s heading in the wrong direction. Businesses are shutting down or leaving. Unemployment is solid but wealth keeps leaving. Crime is rising.

Mr. Libert, how can you promote a city with those problems festering? If you’re saying ‘things are wonderful’ while these other things are falling apart, people will eventually conclude that you aren’t honest. That’s the point at which they tune you out, then vote you out.

Councilman Johnson doesn’t sweep St. Cloud’s problems under the rug. He tries solving them. I can’t say that about Goerger, Masters, Laraway, Lewis or Libert. As problem solvers, they’re next-to-worthless. Finally, this statement is telling:

Laraway, who is a member of the CentraCare Health Board of Directors, said the company has more than 700 open positions and that he’s worried the negativity surrounding immigration issues could hamper attempts for companies such as CentraCare to attract workers.

Hint to Laraway: pretending that everything is fine won’t fix the refugee problem. People aren’t moving to St. Cloud because they don’t picture it as a nice place to live. If you continue burying your head in the sand on these issues, CentraCare’s problem will only get worse. If you won’t fix these problems, step aside and let someone who’s serious be part of the solution.