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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.

Minnesota came close to having unified Republican government in 2010, when Republicans swept into control of the State House and Senate while losing the governor’s race in a recount. With Republicans controlling the Senate and not up for election in 2018, Republicans can focus on strengthening their majority in the Minnesota House and electing a Republican governor. The DFL is in real trouble in the legislature. According to the article, “the Democratic National Committee announced in May it would give a $100,000 grant to the Minnesota Democratic Farmer Labor party for outreach to rural voters.”

That’s pretty laughable. The DFL has been well-funded for years, with DFL trust fund babies (Think Alita Messenger) writing big checks to the DFL. The DFL shouldn’t need outside help to connect with rural voters. I can save the DNC that $100,000. The problem isn’t that the DFL hasn’t reached out to rural Minnesota. It’s that those DFLers are attached to a cancer originating from Minneapolis and St. Paul. The DFL won’t like hearing this but it’s the truth: The Republican Party of Minnesota is the new home to farmers, miners and construction workers.

Skipping the convention is a sign Pawlenty has trouble with the modern GOP, said David Turner, spokesman for the Democratic Governors Association, who compared the Minnesota contest to the 2017 Virginia governor’s race—which was expected to be close but turned into a big victory for centrist Democrat Ralph Northam over moderate Republican Ed Gillespie.

“What we’ve seen in 2017 and 2018 is a high level of enthusiasm among Democratic voters,” Turner told Fox News. “Pawlenty is eerily similar to Ed Gillespie in Virginia. Both had harshly criticized President Trump in the past and lobbied for Wall Street. Now, Pawlenty is coming back to Minnesota and—like Gillespie—doesn’t know how to deal with the current Trump Republican party.”

The chance to elect, for the first time in Minnesota history, a unified Republican Party government is all the motivation Republicans will need this fall. The opportunity to fix the problems Dayton created but didn’t fix is great motivation. The opportunity to trash Minnesota’s socialist economic policies will be a great motivator, too.

I’d be in denial if I said that there aren’t some people who question Pawlenty. They definitely exist. That being said, he’s a reliable chief executive who is light years more trustworthy than Gov. Bobblehead, aka Gov. Dayton. A Pawlenty-Daudt-Gazelka trio of leaders would be able to get lots of good things done.

As for the DFL gubernatorial candidates, each have serious flaws. The first test for a candidate is picking a running mate. Rebecca Otto failed that test by making an identity politics choice. The first thing a running mate has to be is capable of running the state if, God forbid, something happens to the governor.

Here’s the opening sentence in the article:

DFL gubernatorial candidate Rebecca Otto has chosen Zarina Baber as her running mate, creating the possibility that if elected, Baber would be the first Muslim woman to hold statewide office in the United States.

Picking a nobody with no government experience is foolish. It’s impossible to take this pick as serious. This is purely an identity politics pick.

As for Tim Walz, his biggest flaws are that he’s got the worst of both worlds. He really isn’t a Twin Cities kind of guy but he doesn’t fit well with rural Minnesota, either. He once represented rural Minnesota but he lost that by playing politics with the NRA. When he pandered after Parkland, people saw that his values are ‘flexible’. That won’t fly during the age of Trump.

Erin Murphy’s biggest flaw is her being a true believer. She’s a single-payer advocate:

I am a supporter of single-payer and a co-author on John Marty’s Minnesota Health Plan. A full single-payer solution isn’t possible without federal participation, but we can build the infrastructure here in Minnesota and lead the nation.

Single-payer health care will never be the law of the land. This is totally foolish. If she wants to play to her base to win the endorsement, that’s fine. She’d better know, though, that it’ll cost her bigtime in the general election.

As for the Republicans’ majority in the House, the DFL can forget about flipping it. They voted for creating the hated buffer strips that are costing farmers tons of money. The DFL sat silent about the rebuild of the Line 3 Pipeline, which would’ve helped stabilize, if not decrease farmers’ property taxes. The DFL voted against the Republicans’ tax cuts in 2017, which has limited farmers’ property taxes.

It isn’t a matter of outreach. It’s a matter of voting for terrible policies. No amount of outreach will make amends for terrible policies.

Ed Morrissey’s post illustrates the strength of Tim Pawlenty’s position, both going into the August primary and potentially the general election. First, Ed cites this article:

“The 1,300 delegates, or so, that you need to get endorsed may already be pledged to other candidates,” Pawlenty said on WCCO Sunday Morning. “If that is the case, the cake may already be baked, but either way our campaign is not stopping with the endorsing convention. You get on the ballot in Minnesota by running and winning a primary, and that is what we intend to do.”

Ed then highlights the DFL’s difficulties:

Walz has other worries than just fundraising. It’s taken him more than a year to get to $1.6 million, which means that Pawlenty may soon surpass him. Meanwhile, his nearest two Democratic opponents (Erin Murphy and Rebecca Otto) have raised almost a million dollars between them. Furthermore, the fight in the DFL has burned through much of that fundraising; Walz has spent just over a million dollars from his coffers, while Murphy and Otto have run through most of their funds (Murphy appears to be $30,000 or so in the hole). Otto, whose campaign will challenge Walz from his left, also pledges to run in the primary, which will force Walz to either move in a more progressive direction or lose ground in the Twin Cities.

Ed’s observations are certainly accurate but they don’t tell the entire story. It’s my contention that Tim Walz sold his soul while pandering to the anti-gun left. I think that Rep. Walz did that because he needs to win tons of votes in the Twin Cities.

I don’t think Rep. Walz will like that trade-off. First, I don’t think that Walz will be that competitive against Otto in the Twin Cities. Next, by pandering to the anti-gun left, Rep. Walz likely undercut his support in rural Minnesota and Southern Minnesota. If I’m right, that foolish pandering has left Walz as a candidate without a sturdy base of support.

Outstate Minnesotans won’t like Walz’s pandering. It isn’t likely that they’ll appreciate his flip-flop on the Second Amendment, either, though the pandering is the bigger sticking point.

The other problem facing whoever the DFL candidate is in the general election is that they’re all virtual unknowns. That means the DFL’s candidate will need to spend tons of cash. Apparently, they’re already doing that:

Meanwhile, how much of Pawlenty’s funds have gotten spent? Er … $40,000 as of last Tuesday, a mere 4% of his revenue, which means that Pawlenty already has an advantage of nearly $400,000 over Walz. Compare that burn rate to Johnson (~50%), Walz (62%), Otto (74%), and Murphy (105%), and it’s not looking bad for Pawlenty in either the primary or general election.

With or without a DFL primary, the DFL candidate faces a steep uphill fight to raise enough money to compete. While Pawlenty an Johnson duke it out in the GOP primary, the DFL candidate will need to spend tons of money just to gain name recognition. Considering the amount of money that the DFL candidates have spent, they’ll need to raise literally millions of dollars for the general election.

Whether you agree or disagree with Tim Pawlenty, he’s a good debater:

Here’s something worth thinking about. Pawlenty is prepared to defend his record and tout his accomplishments. The DFL candidate, whoever it is, won’t have many accomplishments to highlight. Jeff Johnson is kinda stuck in the same situation as Walz. The activists know him but he isn’t well-known beyond that. His fundraising hasn’t inspired much confidence either.

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Yesterday, I wrote that the Minnesota Supreme Court unanimously ruled against Rebecca Otto, Minnesota’s State Auditor. Otto filed a lawsuit that was doomed from the start. That was obvious from the start. That’s why the Supreme Court ruled unanimously against her. Now we’re finding out more about the lawsuit.

In writing the majority opinion for the Court, “Chief Justice Lorie Gildea said that the state Constitution does not lay out the state auditor’s duties. Rather, she wrote, the Constitution specifically leaves it up to the Legislature to define duties of constitutional offices such as the auditor. Thus, the 2015 bill did not violate the Constitution. The ruling also explains that another state office, which no longer exists, originally audited county finances.” Further, “50 counties notified Otto’s office they would not sign contracts with her office for it to conduct audits” after the 2015 law passed.

That had to sting Otto. That’s because in 2016, “the auditor’s office charged $84,000 for an annual audit, while Becker County paid just $31,000 in 2012 for an audit done by Hoffman Dale and Swenson Governmental Audit Services of Thief River Falls.” That’s more than $2,500,000 in lost revenues for Otto per year.

Back in January, 2018, she said “Fighting for this constitutional office is the right thing to do. But as you witnessed today, it’s complex.” Actually, Mrs. Otto, the justices thought it was pretty straightforward. (I’m not a legal scholar but I’m betting that justices rarely rule unanimously on complex lawsuits.)

Rep. Jim Nash, R-Waconia, might have the best understanding of what’s happened:

“It seems to me,” Nash said, “that [Otto] is using the taxpayer dollars to create an issue for her to campaign with for governor.”

If that’s what was happening, her strategy failed. Furthermore, if that was her strategy, she should be politically crucified. If that’s true, then a ton of the taxpayers’ money was wasted for that mission. If this was her Hail Mary attempt at winning the DFL endorsement, then Mrs. Otto made a major miscalculation.

What’s amazing is Otto’s misunderstanding of Minnesota’s Constitution. Mrs. Otto either doesn’t understand Minnesota’s Constitution or she, like other DFL politicians, was willing to throw Minnesota’s Constitution under the proverbial bus for political gain.

My question in the aftermath is this: are there any patriots left in the DFL whose respect for the Constitution is steadfast? I haven’t found any lately.

Becky Otto’s “capricious” lawsuit suffered a final defeat today when the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled against her. In their ruling, the Court wrote that “The Constitution … ‘does not expressly detail the duties of the constitutional executive officers’ of state government and are instead ‘prescribed by law.'”

If that sounds familiar, you’ve been reading what I’ve written on the subject. In February, 2016, I wroteArticle V of Minnesota’s Constitution talks about the executive branch of state government. Specifically, it says ‘The executive department consists of a governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, auditor, and attorney general, who shall be chosen by the electors of the state. The governor and lieutenant governor shall be chosen jointly by a single vote applying to both offices in a manner prescribed by law.’ Nowhere in Article V, Section 1 does it outline the duties of the State Auditor. That’s properly left up to the legislature and governor to determine through state statutes.

Had Ms. Otto listened to me then, she would’ve saved Minnesota taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees. Sarah Anderson, the chairwoman of the State Government Finance Committee, said she was not surprised by the court’s unanimous ruling.

Rather than conceding defeat, Otto issued a non sequitur statement, saying “The Supreme Court has now made clear that the State Auditor has authority and responsibility over county finances, including the authority to conduct additional examinations of a county following a private CPA firm audit, and that the counties are responsible for the costs.” It’s an odd statement considering the fact that nobody questioned whether the OSA had the authority to audit counties.

The fact that it was a unanimous ruling against Mrs. Otto says that it’s quite the public spanking for her. This should get every taxpayer upset:

Republican lawmakers have criticized Otto’s use of taxpayer money to fight the law. A tally last year showed her legal bills at over $250,000.

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Jeff Johnson and Tim Walz won their party’s non-binding straw polls at Tuesday night’s precinct caucuses. Unfortunately for both men, that won’t get nearly as much publicity as the breaking news from earlier in the day. The other noteworthy news from Tuesday night’s straw polls is that Keith Downey underperformed, losing to Commissioner Johnson by a 45.4% – 14.6% margin. Perhaps, more embarrassing for Downey is the fact that he lost to “Undecided” by a 15.6% – 14.6% margin.

After such a lackluster performance in the straw poll, the Downey campaign must ask themselves if there’s a legitimate pathway to the endorsement. At this point, nothing seems to suggest that there is a path to the endorsement.

Full disclosure: I’m still undecided so I don’t have a dog in this fight at this point. At some point, I’m sure that will change. It’s just that it hasn’t changed yet.

On the DFL side, it appears as though Paul Thissen, Tina Liebling and Chris Coleman have difficult paths to the DFL endorsement, with Walz, Rebecca Otto and Erin Murphy having the strongest finishes:

Here’s the unofficial results of the GOP straw poll:

Turnout at Republican precinct caucuses were significantly smaller than at DFL, which can’t please Republicans. Still, tonight was the night when initial assessments were made. This isn’t the night when final decisions are made.

If Walz is the DFL-endorsed candidate, it isn’t likely that he’ll have much of an enthusiasm gap in his favor. The Bernie Sanders wing of the DFL is dominant. That’s where the enthusiasm comes from. That isn’t where Tim Walz is from. Further, like I said earlier this week, Walz alienated NRA voters and the Iron Range. OF the 3 DFL finalists, all have difficult paths to the governor’s mansion. Erin Murphy is little known outside the Twin Cities. Further, she’s hated in rural Minnesota. Rebecca Otto is hated on the Range, especially after fundraising off of her decision to vote against approving mining exploration leases.

Earlier this week, Rebecca Otto was endorsed by the DFL Environmental Caucus. Veda Kanitz, the chairwoman of the DFL Environmental Caucus, said “Rebecca Otto is a powerful voice for the environment and for a better Minnesota economy. We wholeheartedly endorse her candidacy for governor of Minnesota.”

According to the article, “The caucus is made up of about 400 members from across the state who are trying to promote an environmental protection agenda among the state’s Democrats.” Further, “The caucus, which has been around about four years, made headlines in 2016 during the state Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party convention when it succeeded in advancing an anti-copper mining item in the party platform.” That platform plank was removed but the division between the environmental activists and the miners still exists.

This isn’t new. Otto has fought against mining for years. In Oct., 2013, Otto voted against approving 31 mining leases:

The council’s lone “no” vote, State Auditor Rebecca Otto, stated that she had had “a revelation” early the morning of the meeting that informed her vote. “We have not done copper sulfide mining in this state yet,” said Otto. She expressed concerns about potential fiscal burdens associated with copper sulfide mining that might be placed on future generations.

Let’s be clear about something. Otto is the most anti-mining gubernatorial candidate in the race on either side. By far. The chances of her winning the Iron Range vote are microscopic if not non-existent.

If Otto is the gubernatorial candidate and Tina Smith is the Senate candidate, expect a huge anti-DFL turnout in CD-8. This is personal to them. Shortly after her anti-mining vote, “Dump Otto” signs popped up virtually overnight. Rangers view Otto as a carpetbagger. Saying they don’t like her is understatement.

Ms. Otto has a history of not representing her constituents. She’s filed a lawsuit to get a signed law declared unconstitutional. The law gives counties the option of hiring a private auditing firm instead of having her office audit the county. Otto’s office often doesn’t meet the deadline for these audits. Further, the OSA’s audits are more expensive than audits by private auditing firms.

In summation, Ms. Otto is anti-mining and wastes the taxpayers’ money to finish her sole responsibility (auditing) late. God help us if that’s the type of ineptitude we pick as our next governor.

This LTE has a helpless feel to it that’s sad to see. When the writer says “A quick google search yields a third: Between 20 and 25 percent of mall will close within five years and Credit Suisse estimates that a record 8,600 stores will close this year, according to Money.com. Larson closes by noting ‘ … both will likely yield to something as yet unimagined within our lifetime.’ Allow me to imagine that some of these shuttered malls should be repurposed to house the homeless — ‘The fastest-growing segment of the homeless population is families with children. About two-fifths (41 percent) of the homeless population is made up of families,’ according to the Huffington Post.”

What a blithering idiot. No, let’s not transition these malls into homeless shelters. Let’s fix the problem that President Obama created. Let’s fix the economy so people, families especially, can find good-paying jobs that support families. For eight years, Democrats have whined about income inequality and raising the minimum wage. That’s Bernie Sanders’ economic message. Since then, it’s been co-opted by Elizabeth Warren nationally and Rebecca Otto here in Minnesota.

It’s a recipe for disaster but have Republicans said enough to highlight the fact that Sanders’ message is one of short- and long-term economic disaster? What’s unfortunately happened is that there are too many crony capitalists in the GOP. We need unabashed, full-throated Jack Kemp-Ronald Reagan capitalists.

President Trump is on the right track. He’s already outperforming President Obama by leaps and bounds. Economic growth is returning. Jobs are being created. Consumer confidence is surging. Why isn’t that the Republicans’ message? It’s just a hunch but I’m betting that the GOPe doesn’t want to give up power. I’m betting they’d rather Trump fail than give up their positions of power. (Vin Weber and Paul Manafort fit into that category.)

First, it’s time to stand up to the Weber-Manafort wing of the GOPe. After that, it’s time to obliterate the Sanders-Warren-Otto wing of the Democratic Party. The sooner it happens, the sooner we’ll be able to stop thinking about treating economic symptoms and start fixing economic problems.

That can’t happen fast enough.

A trip to the Walz-Flanagan campaign website exposes the DFL’s lack of an economic message. Their campaign website doesn’t have an issues page, which is telling. On its homepage, it has a tiny portion of the page dedicated to explain why they’re running. That portion of the page says “running for Governor and Lieutenant Governor to make our vision of One Minnesota a reality. We are united in this vision: A Minnesota where every child has the opportunity to succeed and hope for the future, a Minnesota where the people whose lives are most impacted by public policy choices have a seat at the table, a Minnesota with fair wages, fully funded public schools, and affordable healthcare as a right, not a privilege and a Minnesota where we protect our environment, invest in renewable energy and jobs, and maintain our roads, bridges, and transit across the state. We want to bring this vision to the governor’s office and support the Minnesota we know and love.”

In other words, they’re running for Gov. Dayton’s third term. They’re running without explaining what economic goals they’ll fight for.

A quick view of Paul Thissen’s website doesn’t lay out a vision for Minnesota’s economy, either. It talks about how the Supreme Court should protect labor unions. It talks briefly how we should implement single-payer health care statewide. Thissen talks about legalizing marijuana, too. There isn’t anything in that pile of words that sounds like he has a clue about capitalism. Then again, his legislative record hasn’t shown him to have a clue about creating high-paying middle class jobs so we shouldn’t be surprised.

Erin Murphy’s campaign website has a ‘Why I’m Running‘ page but it doesn’t have an issues page, much less an explanation of what economic policies she’d implement.

Of the 4 DFL gubernatorial candidates’ websites that I visited, only Rebecca Otto talked about the economy. Even then, she only spoke about raising the minimum wage:

Across her statewide listening tour Rebecca met hard-working people who are under-compensated, making it hard to make ends meet. This is hurting our families, our communities, and our way of life. Rebecca Otto supports increasing the minimum wage and indexing it to inflation. She will also be releasing an economic plan that will help increase wages across the state.

There’s nothing on any of these candidates’ websites that talks about infrastructure, especially pipelines. Why is that? Is it because the DFL’s special interest masters won’t let them support legitimate projects that create middle class wages? Is it because the DFL doesn’t think that fossil fuels will play an important part in our economy?

Finally, it’s apparent that the DFL doesn’t understand capitalism whatsoever. This morning on At Issue with Tom Hauser, Katharine Tinucci said that cutting the corporate tax rate won’t create jobs because “the rich” won’t invest the money. What an idiot. What wealthy people want most is more money. The best way to get wealthier is by investing that money.

Isn’t it apparent that the DFL doesn’t understand human nature?

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The unmistakable commonality running through this article is that most of the DFL gubernatorial candidates are distancing themselves from Gov. Dayton while singing Gov. Dayton’s praises.

For instance, Rebecca Otto said “Every leader is different. Every leader brings strengths and every leader has challenges.” Tina Liebling replied “I’m certainly not running to be a clone of Gov. Dayton, although I think he’s done a lot of good things. My campaign is not one of, let’s just continue on the road we’re on, because I think we need to make some change.” Paul Thissen isn’t running from Gov. Dayton, saying “I don’t think it would be bad to have another four years of Mark Dayton. Mark Dayton has been authentic and he’s been true to his word and I think he’s been a very good governor.”

What’s apparent is that they’re all distancing themselves from Gov. Dayton, which isn’t surprising. It’s understatement to say that Minnesota is changing and not in the DFL’s direction. The biggest problem with the DFL’s candidates is that they’re moving in the opposite direction of the state.

Minnesota is getting more red each cycle. The DFL is heading further left each cycle. It isn’t surprising that each of these DFL candidates is working hard to win over Bernie Sanders’ delegates. The DFL candidates are fighting for the ‘true believer’ vote.

The candidate that wins most of the Sanders delegates likely will win the DFL endorsement. Which one of these candidates accomplishes that is anyone’s guess:

If this election cycle is like the 2016 election, then this will be a change election. It’s my opinion that leftward change isn’t the type of change Minnesotans are looking for.

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