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After the Metro DFL’s attempt to rewrite the mining permitting process, Iron Range politicians banded together to fire back at the anti-mining DFL politicians, even producing this factsheet to refute the Metro DFL’s lies.

John Marty, the crusading DFL legislator who never misses an opportunity to control other people’s lives, insists that PolyMet’s permits should be pulled because PolyMet’s parent company had a problem in South America. What Sen. Marty and other DFL legislators are attempting to do is rewrite permitting laws without going through the legislative process. These DFL politicians hope that they can talk Gov. Walz into ignoring existing state laws. But I digress. Onto the Iron Range factsheet:

The claims by metro legislators and anti-mining groups about PolyMet Mining are downright fabrications. It is very disappointing that people don’t know or don’t care what our strong rules and regulations require, and that the media continues to perpetuate the misinformation. The people of the Iron Range deserve better. The people of the state of Minnesota deserve better. There is no scandal. The agencies have done their jobs. The letter of the law was followed to a “T”. Enough of the fake news already. Here are the facts:

Fact: Our DNR required PolyMet Mining to post bankruptcy proof of financial assurance (only accessible by the DNR) before they even issued PolyMet’s permit to mine. It doesn’t matter who or what the ownership looks like the resources needed to close the mine if the company went bankrupt are currently in place and only the state can release the funds.

The Metro DFL is trying to relitigate this issue without the courts. If he had a spine, Gov. Walz would tell these busybody activists to take flying leap off a tall building. Thus far, Gov. Walz has shown he doesn’t have a spine. He’s got a spine of jello.

Fact: PolyMet has undergone the most thorough and transparent environmental review and permitting process more than any other project ever in our state. Extra-long public review periods, with thousands of public comments, all of which were responded to, and extra meetings were held around the state including the Twin Cities. When was the last time a project in the Twin Cities was required to hold public meetings on the Iron Range?

The Metro DFL doesn’t care about the Iron Range. They don’t care about Minnesota’s economy, either. Based on their actions, they only care about obstructing commerce.

The thing that the Twin Cities media doesn’t cover is that the Metro DFL doesn’t just care about regulating mining. They want to turn Minnesota into a regulation state. Here are the legislators who signed onto the factsheet:

One of the things that businesses should count on is that they shouldn’t have their projects shelved if they follow the rules. Apparently, that isn’t good enough for the anti-mining DFL. According to this Strib article, far outside-the-mainstream DFL politicians want PolyMet’s permits stopped:

Democratic lawmakers are calling for Gov. Tim Walz to suspend all state permits for PolyMet’s proposed copper-nickel mine in northern Minnesota, saying the state needs assurances “that the permits were not rigged.”

It’s the first move by lawmakers following recent disclosures about how state and federal regulators handled a crucial wastewater permit for PolyMet, which would be the state’s first hard-rock mine. Three inquiries into that episode are underway. Sen. John Marty, the Roseville Democrat leading the effort, said lawmakers were also motivated by Glencore’s recent purchase of PolyMet Mining Corp. and the catastrophic failure earlier in the year of an iron ore mine tailings dam in Brazil, a facility with a similar design to the tailings dam PolyMet would use.

Democrats have fought against PolyMet permitting since it started. This is just their latest attempt to halt the PolyMet project. It’s also the DFL’s latest attempt to keep Iron Rangers poor.

It’s apparent that the DFL doesn’t care whether those living on the Iron Range live in poverty. If the DFL cared about people living in poverty, they would’ve helped get PolyMet permitted years ago.

House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, called the letter an “ideological attack.” “It’s disappointing that Metro Democrats are spreading misleading and false information about the environmental review process in an effort to derail this project and its tremendous benefits for Minnesota jobs and Minnesota’s economy,” Daudt said in a statement. “PolyMet is the most thoroughly reviewed industrial project in Minnesota history and has been going through the environmental review process for 14 years.”

When companies follow the state’s laws and the permits are issued, companies should be able to rely on that as a matter of good faith. Sen. Marty’s attempt to throw extra-legal steps into the process would make him an authoritarian. If Sen. Marty wants a stiffer set of regulations, then he should be required to follow the regular legislative procedure. If the rules can get changed by politicians without legislation or without a hearing, then there isn’t a true rule of law.

Then again, if Sen. Marty and the DFL is willing to ignore state law in their attempt to kill a properly permitted project, there’s no reason to think that they’ll follow routine procedures. This is Metrocrat machine politics at its worst.

Perhaps, it’s more fitting to title this article “The Swamp lives in Minnesota. After writing about the IRRRB’s corruption in this post a month ago, I can’t say that I’m surprised by this information:

This week, it was revealed that the [IRRRB] paid a long-time staffer $166,000 to retire early and then hired him back as a consultant just one month later for up to $43,000 per year. The retirement payoff consisted in $66,000 in unused vacation and sick days as well as nearly $100,000 in cash!

If I didn’t know better, I’d think that the DFL, starting with Tom Bakk and Tim Walz, have turned a blind eye to the IRRRB’s corruption. How can anyone watch what’s happening there think that the DFL is interested in good governance? Further, what type of law permits a government employee to retire early, cash a huge check ($166,000 is a big chunk of money), then allow the ‘retired’ employee to get rehired as a ‘consultant’? That’s stupidity and then some.

If an employee wants to retire early, they should be forced to sign an agreement that forbids them from being hired as a consultant anywhere. At minimum, if the ‘retired’ employee is rehired as a consultant, then their pension should be immediately stopped and they should be penalized.

That shouldn’t apply just to IRRRB employees, either. That should apply to all government employees, whether they’re school board employees, municipal employees or all the way up through state employees. In fact, the cleanest way to deal with this is to prohibit people from retiring early. If a person wants to retire at age 55, let them foot the bill for their retirement until they get to age 62.

The IRRRB needs a major overhaul. It’s been corrupt essentially since its creation.

This article highlights a DFL ‘tradition’ of taking credit for cleaning up a mess that they created. When DFL Gov. Walz started filling out his cabinet, he picked Mark Phillips to be the Commissioner of the Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation. Then Phillips hired Joe Radinovich, the DFL congressional candidate for CD-8 in 2018, to a cushy political patronage job on the IRRRB that would’ve paid Radinovich a $100,000 annual salary.

Enter our fearless hero, Gov. Walz, to deliver a tongue-lashing for the ages. Gov. Walz said “I expect you to model openness, transparency, inclusivity and servant leadership. In this situation, you fell far short of my expectations.”

Gov. Walz, you fell far short of our expectations. How dare you appoint a commissioner that’s that corrupt. How dare you not do your due diligence before picking a commissioner to lead a board known for its corruption. This article highlights one instance of IRRRB corruption:

It’s an issue we’ve raised before, as recently as last year. The principle of the separation of powers that guides our government at both the state and federal levels, would appear to prohibit the structure now in place at the IRRRB, where a board comprised primarily of sitting legislators has authority over an executive branch agency. The legislative auditor, in his report this past week, agreed that the current makeup of the board leaves the agency vulnerable to a court challenge on constitutional grounds.

But the makeup of the current board raises other concerns beyond a simple legal dispute. By giving local legislators control of the purse strings for millions of dollars in funding for community and economic development projects within the Taconite Relief Area, the IRRRB helps to cement the status quo rather than encourage new ideas and leadership at a time when alternative visions are definitely needed. As we’ve noted before, giving Iron Range legislators outsized political clout tends to stifle dissenting voices from other elected officials in our region for fear that projects in their communities will be denied funds. There are reasons why the political class on the Iron Range marches in virtual lockstep to the agenda of the region’s legislators, and their control over IRRRB funds is certainly one of the most powerful.

This ‘arrangement’ put legislators in charge of both the appropriations process in the legislature and the handing out of loans from the IRRRB. It’s unconstitutional to be a member of the executive branch and the legislative branch.

Had Gov. Walz paid attention to details like that, we wouldn’t have had these problems. Gov. Walz, this is as much your fault for not paying attention to the people you hired as it is Commissioner Phillips’ fault for not prioritizing integrity in the hiring process.

Saying that the IRRRB is corrupt is understatement. Thanks to this investigation, that corruption has gotten exposed.

The article starts by saying “For more than 20 years, Sandy Layman, of Grand Rapids, has worked to convince lawmakers in St. Paul that the Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation is more than a revolving door of political patronage for Iron Range DFLers. Layman, now a Republican House member, first served on the IRRR board in the 1990s and later became commissioner of the agency under Gov. Tim Pawlenty. ‘One of my goals has always been to depoliticize the agency,’ said Layman during a recent interview with the Timberjay. ‘It has a highly partisan reputation in St. Paul.'”

It goes further:

Which is why Layman says she is so frustrated with the agency’s recent hiring of Joe Radinovich, the unsuccessful 2018 DFL candidate for the U.S. House in Minnesota’s Eighth District. Radinovich was hired in early March to a highly-paid, permanent position that IRRR officials appear to have created specifically for him. While political appointments are not unusual in state government, and are typically temporary, the kind of job created for Radinovich, known as a “permanent classified” position, is supposed to be nonpolitical and is subject to state hiring guidelines designed to ensure a fair and competitive process in which state workers are hired on merit rather than politics.

Yet an investigation by the Timberjay found substantial evidence that the IRRR’s process, in this instance, fell short of that goal, and that top agency officials sought from the beginning to offer Radinovich a plum new position, with a salary of $100,000 per year in addition to the state’s handsome benefits package. In so doing, the agency sought exemption to sharply limit the posting of the position and appeared to pass over a female candidate for the position with far more relevant experience and education than Radinovich brings to the job.

Radinovich’s hiring comes on the heels of the appointment of Jason Metsa as the agency’s deputy commissioner, which is considered a political appointment and was not subject to the typical state hiring process. Metsa is an Iron Range DFLer who ran unsuccessfully for his party’s nomination for the Eighth District seat.

If that sounds like it’s on the up-and-up, then you’re likely from Chicago. This definitely doesn’t sound like everything was on the up-and-up:

IRRR Commissioner Mark Phillips acknowledges that he sought early on to hire Radinovich at his agency and initially considered hiring the Crosby native as deputy commissioner. “It really was down to Jason or Joe to be deputy,” he said. When the job went to Metsa, Phillips began exploring options to offer Radinovich a different position.

Gov. Walz, what’s your reaction to this? Will you fire Commissioner Phillips? Will you excoriate Rep. Radinovich for being that corrupt? As a former DFL state legislator, Rep. Radinovich knew civil service laws and the IRRRB. Hell, he was a member of the IRRRB board as a member of the Iron Range legislative delegation.

Politically speaking, Radinovich is damaged goods now that he’s identified as gaming the system. He’s bounced around from being a DFL legislator to being the chief of staff for one of the Twin Cities mayors to running Rick Nolan’s congressional campaigns to running for Nolan’s seat before losing to Pete Stauber.

When Karin Housley visited St. Cloud Thursday, she brought a bold prediction with her.

During a visit to the Whitney Senior Center, Housley predicted “This is the year Minnesota’s turning red.” She then explained, saying that she “expects two U.S. House districts to flip in the state with incumbent DFLers Rep. Rick Nolan and Rep. Tim Walz retiring from Congress and running in gubernatorial races.”

I agree with both predictions. President Trump’s visit to Duluth to rally for Pete Stauber filled the arena with people. The ramp wasn’t just filled with cars. It was filled with people too. With a 4-way DFL primary set to determine who will face Stauber, expect that primary to beat each other up. I’m not sure if the DFL will be able to unite after that fight. I’d rate that race as leans GOP. As for Minnesota’s First District, the DFL doesn’t have a bench. Tim Walz was it. There’s a primary on the GOP side in MN-01 but there’s no signs of it getting bloody.

As for Sen. Housley, momentum keeps building, much of it due to the booming Trump/GOP economy. Liz Peek’s article highlights this beautifully:

President Trump wants you to quit your job! Well, not really; but the White House’s tax cuts and rollback of onerous regulations have encouraged millions of Americans to do just that. The economy is booming, opportunities are opening up all over the place, and workers are responding, by quitting in record numbers.

This may be bad news for Democrats hoping to take over Congress in November. They have no economic agenda that can compete with a buoyant jobs market that is making the American Dream come true.

Then comes the dagger:

But it is great news for American workers.

Tina Smith’s message is obstruction, resistance and socialism:

“The political revolution that Keith and I and others have talked about is not just a progressive agenda that speaks to the needs of working families, it is the need to create a national grassroots movement where ordinary people stand up to the billionaire class and take back this country,” Sanders said. “By electing Keith, and reelecting Tina and Amy [Klobuchar], you guys can help lead this country in that direction.”

Tina Smith’s socialist smile will turn upside-down when it’s revealed that she’s just another socialist who will do whatever Chuck Schumer wants her to do. Tina Smith wants to pretend to be a moderate. She isn’t:

Tina Smith rallied with Bernie Sanders and Keith Ellison this week. If that’s her definition of moderation, I’m betting most Minnesotans will reject that definition. By rallying with Sanders and Ellison, Smith proved that she’s trying to appeal to everyone. Normally, that’s ok. This isn’t normally, though. She rallied with radicals from the #Resistance.

Meanwhile, Karin Housley can claim that she’d fight for Iron Rangers, the elderly and economic growth. Housley is smart, reasonable and has an overabundance of energy. She’s exactly the type of candidate that can defeat a check off the boxes candidate like Tina Smith.

The polls don’t show it yet but what’s likely going to help Republicans like Karin Housley and Pete Stauber are the Republicans’ closing arguments. The DFL doesn’t have a closing argument. All they have is #Resist and #AbolishICE.

This LTE highlights what I think is a Range war. It starts by saying “I got a big chuckle out of comments by Governor Mark Dayton (MDN 5/13) ‘Everyone on the Range should know: the state government is on your side.’ In fact, I still can’t stop laughing! His comments remind me of the old adage ‘The Three Biggest Lies: the check is in the mail, of course I’ll still respect you in the morning and I’m from the government…I’m here to help you.'”

One thing comes through clearly in that opening: Rangers don’t trust Gov. Dayton. That should frighten whoever becomes the DFL gubernatorial candidate. Tim Walz’s Lt. Gov. pick is a wild-eyed environmentalist. That’s before considering the fact that Walz was a longtime NRA member who just threw that record overboard to win the endorsement. While she was part of the Executive Council, Rebecca Otto voted against approving a series of exploratory mining leases, then sent out a fundraising letter bragging that she’d stood up to big mining corporations. Finally, Erin Murphy is an unknown quantity in terms of mining policy but who is the most progressive of the 3 DFL finalists. Why would a Ranger trust her on mining issues?

Mark Dayton is a poor little rich kid from Minneapolis whose fortune is invested in trust in South Dakota to escape Minnesota taxes. He is personally and ideologically aligned with the environmental wacko movement and his heart and soul is not with us on the Range.

Dayton will do what he thinks the Range needs, not what the Range knows it needs.

The DFL has literally run the Range into the ground for decades. That isn’t hyperbole. When confronted with the Range’s high unemployment years ago, IRRRB Chairman Tony Sertich said (sorry, I’m paraphrasing here) that that’s been that way for years. The statistics verify that.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The Republican Party is the new home for construction workers, farmers and miners. The DFL doesn’t understand blue collar workers any more. The DFL has fought and is fighting against new pipeline construction (Sandpiper) or old pipeline (Line 3) replacement.

The DFL has shut its doors to blue collar workers. Their policies haven’t helped the Range in decades. Literally.

Pete Stauber heads into today’s CD-8 Republican convention as the only candidate in the race on the GOP side. Perhaps that’s because he’s an impressive candidate with a strong organization. Perhaps, it’s because his list of endorsements reads like a Who’s Who of Iron Range mayors:

“Enthusiasm is very, very high,” Stauber said. “It’s an inspiration for me as a candidate.” But it’s not the delegate numbers that are most telling at this stage in the race, some seven months away from Election Day. It’s the names Larry Cuffe Jr. of Virginia, Shari Swanson of Buhl, Robert Vlaisavljevich of Eveleth and Andrea Zupancich of Babbitt, the four Range mayors who have endorsed Stauber despite being from a region traditionally known as a stronghold for the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.

This is still a tough fight for Republicans but it’s worth noting that Eighth District Republicans have flipped a bunch of legislative seats since 2010.

After today’s convention makes him the officially endorsed candidate, Stauber can start his general election campaign. Meanwhile, on the DFL side, a handful of candidates will have to fight things out amongst themselves for the next 3 months.

This must put a smile on Stauber’s face:

But it’s not just Stauber’s position on mining that is winning over some people on the Range, said Cuffe, who admitted to being raised Democrat and voting Democrat most of his life. “I believe in his qualities and values,” Cuffe said of Stauber. “Mining is just a small reason why I support him.”

The Twin Cities DFL is nuts. It’s composed of trust fund babies and environmentalists. Rudy Perpich’s DFL exists only in the history books.

Swanson added she’s less likely to listen to local DFLers even if they are full-tilt for mining. The party, she said, has been co-opted by Twin Cities’ metropolitan values. “It just seems like more and more the power is coming out of the Twin Cities in the DFL Party,” she said. “It’s getting stronger on their side and it’s less friendly with what we do up here.”

This is a fight Stauber can win. If he wins and, as I suspect, Republicans flip Tim Walz’s seat, it could make for a very good night for the Republican Party of Minnesota.

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Let’s recount the DFL’s Eighth District Convention last Saturday. According to multiple tweets, Leah Phifer got the most votes in each of the 10 rounds of balloting. Still, she didn’t reach the 60% threshold needed to win the DFL’s official endorsement to run for the US House of Representatives. It was considered a fait accompli that Ms. Phifer would run in the August DFL primary. Why wouldn’t she? She was the frontrunner in each of the 10 rounds of balloting.

Late Wednesday night, though, Ms. Phifer dropped a bombshell, announcing that she wouldn’t run in the DFL primary.

In her official statement, Ms. Phifer said “My goal, since first declaring my candidacy in October 2017, has always been to win the DFL endorsement, bring new voices to the table and strengthen the party. A divisive primary season would only serve to weaken the party and distract from the issues affecting the people of the 8th District.”

This doesn’t make any sense. Phifer was the only environmental activist of the 4 candidates that were either considering running in the DFL primary or who had announced that they were running. Further, CD-8 was the only district where Rebecca Otto defeated Tim Walz. Clearly, environmental activists were activated in the Eighth. In a 4-way race, there’s no reason to think that she couldn’t have defeated her opponents.

Considering the fact that DFL Chairman Ken Martin said that a divided DFL that didn’t endorse a candidate couldn’t defeat Pete Stauber and considering the fact that the DFL was a divided shambles Saturday night after they failed to endorse a candidate, isn’t it interesting that they suddenly have 3 pro-mining candidates running in the DFL primary? What are the odds that the frontrunner, the candidate who stood between DFL unity and DFL division, unexpectedly dropped out?

It’s difficult to believe that someone who looked that energized in that picture voluntarily dropped out of the race. I think the more likely question is more nefarious. Which of Ken Martin’s inner circle forced Leah Phifer from the race?

Finally, let’s recall a little history within the CD-8 DFL. Chairman Martin and Congressman Nolan have fought to prevent a fight between the pro-mining faction within the DFL and the pro-environment faction. In fact, they fought that fight for years. Why wouldn’t they fight to prevent it one last time?

The DFL’s CD-8 food fight, aka CD-8 DFL Primary, is starting to take shape. The latest news is that “State Rep. Jason Metsa is not done yet in his bid to replace Rep. Rick Nolan in Congress. On Sunday, Metsa said he will continue his campaign, targeting the 8th Congressional District DFL primary election in August.” Sunday morning, Metsa said “With no result from the DFL endorsement process, I have chosen to continue my campaign to be the DFL nominee for Congress in #MN08. The best way to identify the strongest candidate to win in November is through a primary campaign,” Metsa said in his statement. “I look forward to running a robust grassroots campaign focused on our shared values of fairness and responsibility.”

According to the Duluth Tribune, “Metsa joins Phifer, Radinovich and Michelle Lee as candidates vying for the primary.”

Thus far, each of the candidates is staking out their territory:

“We need to make sure that equal access to healthcare, education, the right to put food on your table and a roof over your head is something that all Americans can achieve, not just those who can afford it,” Phifer said.
Radinovich emphasized the importance of education.

“I got myself elected to state legislature where I got myself on the Education Finance Committee and I passed legislation to make sure that there was no gaps between the richest and poorest schools in our state,” Radinovich said.

Phifer said she would fight for sensible gun control, climate change, DACA, protecting treaty rights as the supreme law of the land, and raising minimum wage. “The DFL is the party that fights for our safety and wellbeing. We are the party that believes in economic justice. In congress I will lead the fight for $15 an hour minimum wage,” Phifer said.

Metsa hadn’t jumped into the race at the time of the WDIO article, which was written on Saturday.

Thus far, this is the field for the CD-8 DFL Primary:

Let the food fight begin.