Archive for the ‘Corruption’ Category
Last night, I noticed several tweets from the DFL side from Susie Merthans. After the session ended, a loyal reader of LFR sent me the link to ABM’s statement. According to the statement, Merthans is identified as “the Communications Director at Alliance for a Better Minnesota.”
That’s an attention-grabber because Ms. Merthans’ Twitter profile says “Communications Director for @ABetterMN by way of @mnhouseDFL.” Taxpayers shouldn’t pay the salary of someone who draws a salary as the communications director for the DFL’s campaign messaging unit. That’s what ABM is. If I had a $10 bill for each time I wrote about ABM’s role in DFL campaigns, I’d be living the life of luxury.
The DFL is a different operation. Their campaign communications are run through ABM’s offices. The DFL hasn’t been involved in campaign communications in years. ABM is as dishonest as they are corrupt. Check this paragraph from ABM’s statement out:
Republicans will be eager to start campaigning in their districts on the merits of this session. However, their record shows that they prioritized a Trump-like agenda that focused on tax giveaways to corporations and the wealthy, restricting women’s healthcare access, and denying that issues like climate change are a concern for Minnesota’s future.
First, as a proud member of the #NeverTrump resistance, I can’t figure out what Trump’s agenda will be beyond building a wall on the Tex-Mex border and stopping refugee resettlement programs from Muslim nations. I’m certain that the House GOP didn’t try enacting legislation making those thing the law in Minnesota.
Second and more importantly, the GOP fought for middle class tax cuts. If it was left to the DFL, they didn’t want to pass tax cuts. They wanted the money spent on broadband and on programs aimed at reducing racial disparities. Here’s Greg Davids’ statement on the GOP tax cuts:
“Over the past two years, I’ve continued to say ‘don’t stop believing,’ and today I’m proud that we can deliver significant tax relief for Minnesota families,” said Davids. “From a farmer in southern Minnesota, to a family in the suburbs, to a small business owner on the Iron Range, to a recent graduate at the U of M, this plan provides targeted relief to the middle class throughout the state.”
In the next three years, the plan provides tax relief in the amounts as follows:
- $90.6 million in agriculture property tax relief for Minnesota farmers
- $110 million in tax relief for college graduates paying off student loans through a refundable tax credit up to $1,000, the first of its kind in the country.
- $49 million in tax relief for families who contribute to 529 Plans to save for their children’s college costs.
- $146 million in property tax relief for every small business in the state by exempting the first $100,000 of commercial-industrial property.
- $13 million in tax relief for veterans by raising the income eligibility threshold, and increasing the total credit from $750 to $1,000.
- $150 million in tax relief for working families by expanding the working family tax credit
- $32 million to reduce the cost of childcare; by expanding the childcare tax credit, families could earn a tax credit up to $960.
Those aren’t “tax giveaways to corporations and the wealthy.” They’re middle class tax cuts. The DFL spinmeisters at ABM aren’t interested in the truth. They’re interested in savaging Republicans at all costs. If they have to make things up, that’s what the DFL will do. ABM isn’t there to tell the truth, as I’ve pointed out multiple times. ABM is there to be the DFL’s hatchet against Republicans. If the DFL and ABM need to lie about Republicans, then that’s what ABM will do because that’s what the DFL wants them to do.
That’s hardball politics. What I have a complaint with is when the DFL expects the taxpayers to pay part of their communications director’s salary. There should be a constitutional amendment prohibiting people like Susie Merthans from ever working for as a legislative staffer. There should be a bright line between campaign shills and taxpayer-funded positions.
I knew that the DFL and ABM would start spinning things after they created a mess but this is ridiculous. While the legislature was still in session, Susie Merthans started spinning things. She quoted Paul Thissen as saying “Modest victories are due to Gov Dayton & DFL Senate dragging GOP kicking and screaming across the finish line.” Then, as though that wasn’t enough, she added “Paul Thissen: GOP beholden to corporate special interests, it’s time for a change.”
First, it’s frightening that Ms. Merthans admits in her profile that she’s the “Communications Director for @ABetterMN by way of @mnhouseDFL.” Why should ABM’s communications director get paid by Minnesota taxpayers? That’s the definition of corruption. ABM doesn’t change when the session ends. It’s the same dishonest messaging as they used during the legislative session. The only difference is that ABM will spend more money on mailers and ads during the campaign. The dishonest themes remain pretty much intact.
That’s before talking about the dishonesty of Thissen’s statements. The DFL is the party that does whatever the environmentalists tell them to do. Actually, they don’t do what the environmental activists tell them not to do. Think about the DFL’s opposition to the Sandpiper Pipeline project. Think about the DFL’s opposition to a resolution at their State Convention in 2014 that said the DFL supported mining. At the DFL’s State Convention in Duluth in 2014, that timid resolution was pulled by Ken Martin said it was too controversial. Seriously.
Another example is how the DFL rammed through forced unionization on in-home child care providers at the end of the 2013 session. Despite a massive lobbying effort organized by in-home child care providers, the DFL ignored the in-home child care providers and sided with public employee unions. Again, the DFL didn’t care about the people. The DFL sided with their special interest allies. It isn’t surprising. That’s their habit.
Technorati: Alliance for a Better Minnesota, Susie Merthan, Communications Director, House DFL Caucus, Ken Martin, Special Interests, Environmental Activists, Unions, Sandpiper Pipeline Project, In-Home Child Care Providers, Mining, DFL State Convention, Paul Thissen, Mark Dayton, DFL
Saying that Laura Ingraham isn’t honest isn’t easy for me to say. Still, it’s what I must do after reading her latest pro-Trump spin piece. It isn’t that I disagree with everything in her article. I’d be lying if I said she’s constantly dishonest. Still, I can’t sit silent after she said “I, too, would have preferred an ideal candidate who would unite us and cruise to an easy win over Hillary. Unfortunately, the conservative movement failed to field such a candidate. Much of this is due to the fact that many so-called conservatives, and their enablers in the donor class, wasted their time and money promoting the candidacies of Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, two men who were, and are, utterly unacceptable to almost all actual voters in the Republican Party.”
While there’s no disputing the fact that large parts of the GOP rejected Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, it’s equally true that they were significantly more qualified, and more honest, than the GOP’s presumptive nominee. Further, Trump has been rejected by a large percentage of “actual voters in the Republican Party.” He just wasn’t rejected by as many people as Bush or Rubio.
This paragraph can’t go unquestioned:
First, some NeverTrumpers (like the Bush family) violently disagree with Trump on issues relating to immigration, trade, and foreign policy. In each of these key issues, however, Trump represents the traditional views of conservatives like Ronald Reagan, while the supporters of Bushism are locked into an extremist ideology that makes no sense in theory, and has been a disaster in practice.
That’s breathtakingly dishonest. The only other explanation is that Ms. Ingraham is just stupid. Since she once clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas, it’s a safe bet that she isn’t stupid.
Saying that Trump’s foreign policy is identical to Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy is like saying that an arsonist’s goals are essentially the same as the firefighters’ goals. First, when did President Reagan ask President Gorbachev to squash America’s enemies? When did President Reagan think it was wise to give the Soviet Union free run in the Middle East? When did President Reagan insist that we were getting screwed by other countries? When did President Reagan insist that America couldn’t compete with the world if our taxes were low and our regulations were reasonable?
The answer to these questions is simple: never.
Further, saying that Trump’s foreign policy is virtually identical to President Reagan’s is saying that Trump has carefully thought through what he’d do. How does that square with Trump telling a rally that he’d “bomb the s—” out of ISIS, then telling a national audience during a debate that he’d get President Putin to take ISIS out?
The reality is that Ms. Ingraham isn’t being honest with her readers or with us. That’s a sad thing because she used to be a person of integrity. I wish that woman hadn’t disappeared.
Walter Hudson’s Facebook post is a brilliant call-to-arms for principled conservatives and Republicans. At a time when the thoughtful center-right are despondent, Walter’s battle cry is inspiring. I can’t recommend Walter’s post enough. If you aren’t a Trump cultist, it’s today’s must reading.
Walter’s post starts with him laying out the stakes, saying “Civil war has broken out within the Republican Party. Long-standing divisions have led us to this point.” While that paragraph defines what’s at stake, what follows is a brilliant battle plan. For instance, Walter rightly said that “In war, the rules which govern in peacetime go out the window. In war, the object is the destruction of the enemy and the preservation of our way of life. These are the metaphorical stakes we face now. That is why the traditional expectation that Republican officers and delegates fall in line behind Trump will not be met. We will not cede our party to a leftist authoritarian pretender. We’ve worked too hard to build it. We’ve fostered too many relationships. We’ve created too much value to let it all disintegrate on account of one man.”
Let’s be clear about something. Trump’s supporters made it exceptionally clear that their primary goal is to blow the GOP up and rebuild it in Trump’s own warped image. Constitutionalists and principled conservatives like Walter Hudson and, to a lesser extent, me have gotten accused of being part of the GOP establishment. That isn’t a joke. That’s proof of the Trumpians’ own intellectual dishonesty.
Trump has already abandoned conservatism from a policy standpoint. He’s backing away from his own tax plan. This week, he’s come out in favor of raising the minimum wage. He’s always opposed entitlement reform. In all the talk about party unity, activists have never been told what they’d be uniting behind. Uniting behind a left-leaning vulgar authoritarian isn’t appealing to me. Based on the fact that Trump still has only garnered 40% of the primary vote, uniting behind Trump isn’t appealing to a huge part of the GOP.
It’s often argued that the American murder rate is high because guns are more available here than in other countries. After a tragedy like the massacre at Columbine High School, anyone could feel that it is too easy for Americans to get their hands on weapons. But nobody has a good solution. This is another issue where you see the extremes of the two existing major parties. Democrats want to confiscate all guns, which is a dumb idea because only the law-abiding citizens would turn in their guns and the bad guys would be the only ones left armed. The Republicans walk the NRA line and refuse even limited restrictions. I generally oppose gun control, but I support the ban on assault weapons and I also support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun. With today’s Internet technology we should be able to tell within seventy-two hours if a potential gun owner has a record.
Trump, Coking and the casino authority pounded away at one another in court. Then, one day in the summer of 1998, the Superior Court of New Jersey put an end to the conflict. The court ruled that the casino authority and Trump were wrong. The government couldn’t take Coking’s house and let Trump have it.
The widow had won.
She lived there for about another decade, happy to boast about her triumph over a man she despised. From across a parking lot, she saw Trump’s casino fizzle. Last year, Trump Plaza closed its doors, another in a long line of casualties in the precipitous decay of a once-sizzling casino strip.
In addition to supporting eminent domain abuse, Trump’s fight with Vera Coking highlighted another thing conservatives should run from. Trump’s casino went bankrupt. It’s virtually impossible to bankrupt a casino but Trump ‘accomplished’ it.
These cries for party unity ring hollow in light of the fact that Trump’s flip-flops happen at a faster rate than Mitt Romney’s happened. Trump’s supporters don’t care because, apparently, a significant portion of them want to blow the Republican Party up. Thanks to principled conservatives like Walter Hudson, the Branch Trumpidians will have to fight to win that battle.
What’s happening in Prior Lake-Savage school district needs to be highlighted to the rest of Minnesota. This article asks 3 important questions, each of which deserve answers. The first question in Hannah Jones’ article asks “Is the district trying to influence students to vote ‘yes’ by giving referendum presentations during the school day?”
What’s appalling is that the answer is “During the senior meeting, much of the time was devoted to issues like prom safety and graduation ceremony preparation, but during the last six minutes or so of the program, Superintendent Teri Staloch introduced herself to the students, congratulated them on their impending graduation and showed them the district’s four-minute video presentation on the upcoming election. She also asked how many students in the audience were 18 and old enough to vote. It may not be typical for the school to show informational material on a referendum election during a student meeting, but that, Lund said, is because it’s not typical to have a referendum question on the ballot during springtime.”
Then there’s this tasty tidbit:
If they happen to meet during a fall election season, Lund said, he will encourage students to vote.
This sounds like the school district’s attempt to railroad high school students into voting for the bonding referendum. The bond is for $129,000,000. If that sounds like it’ll lead to a huge property tax increase, that’s because it’ll lead to a huge property tax increase. Here’s an additional question that the school district hasn’t answered: has the district looked into whether this could be done less expensively? Here’s another question: Has the district just accepted Nexus Solutions’ influence into this project? They’ve got an interest in this, a very big interest in this:
Nexus Solutions will be compensated at 2.25 percent of the total cost of program management, 7.95 percent of the cost of architectural services, 8.95 percent of the cost of engineering services, 2.5 percent of the cost of commissioning services and 5.75 percent of construction management services.
The reason why this question is important is because of how the school board reacted when their contract with Nexus was questioned:
When “Prior Lake-Savage Area School Board, Member Melissa Enger asked to re-examine the Nexus contracts,” the board “tensely shut down the conversation by taking a quorum on the subject. A majority voted to go with the day’s agenda rather than getting into the contract.”
Prior Lake-Savage voters should reject the referendum just on the basis that their school board is attempting to hide important details from making their way into the discussion. Why else would they shut this line of questioning down that quickly?
Another reason to reject this referendum is highlighted by this question in Hannah Jones’ article: Why is the referendum in May? The spin from Superintendent Staloch is insulting:
Spring is a less expected time to hold an election, which some residents have questioned. Staloch said district officials chose May 24 for the date to expedite the construction process, given that the referendum passes.
“Due to the current and projected rise in student enrollment, coupled with the fact that building construction for a new elementary school would take two years, the school board made the decision to place the referendum question before voters as early as possible,” she said. “If voters approve the referendum, a new elementary school would open for the 2018-2019 school year. If we waited until November to place the question before voters, we would not be able to open the new school until 2019-2020.”
Simply put, that’s rubbish. The reason the school board opted for a May 24th vote is to keep turnout as low as possible. They don’t want the vote to happen in November because that means they’d have to deal with lots more voters. They’d prefer keeping turnout low so that those in the ‘education industry’ will outnumber citizens.
Every 4 years, the same people argue that we have to unite around the GOP presidential standard bearer. They’re doing it again this year. In the past, I’ve been guilty of uniting around the GOP standard bearer. I won’t be guilty of that this time.
Mitch Berg wrote this thoughtful piece explaining why he will support Trump. I’ve known Mitch to be a thoughtful, principled conservative with a strong libertarian streak in him for over a decade. That’s why this discussion deserves to be done in a respectful, point-counterpoint fashion.
I can relate to Mitch when he started with saying “I’m sick of holding my nose and voting for the lesser of two evils.” We’ve all heard that too often lately. We’ve been there, done that, especially in 2008. Mitch made a legitimate point when he self-replied “And I’m sick of people wishing things would get better on their own. They don’t. They won’t. They never will. Sack up. This is life. The best thing that happens is the conservative ‘movement’ will grow up and realize that it can’t win by speaking to the echo chamber any more than the Paulbots could.”
Honestly, I’m not into talking only to the echochamber. While I write posts for LFR, LFR isn’t the only tool I use to influence people. I write articles for Examiner. I frequently write LTEs and op-eds for the St. Cloud Times, the Duluth News Tribune and the Mesabi Daily News. Further, I don’t just pontificate on the latest political happenings. I write about important reports that highlight the things that happen when progressive/socialist policies are implemented.
Most importantly, I won’t vote for Trump because he’s a pathological liar who’s questioned John McCain’s patriotism, who’s accused Ted Cruz’s father of being part of the team that assassinated JFK and who’s bragged that a convicted rapist (Mike Tyson) had endorsed him. I won’t vote for someone that’s quite possibly the most immoral presidential candidate in my lifetime. And remember, I followed Nixon’s fall in Watergate and I watched Bill Clinton try explaining away a stained blue dress.
The difference between a leader and a bully is about the same as the difference between a bank robber and a police officer. They both carry guns but that’s where the similarities end. Trump’s bullying of the press is frightening for any First Amendment- and Constitution-loving person. Overlooking a person’s squishiness is one thing. Ignoring a tyrant’s actions are unforgivable. It’s the line I won’t cross. Period.
I’m not interested in being a loyal Republican if all I get from it is aggravation. If the GOP machine isn’t interested in my ideas, then it doesn’t get my vote or activism, either. As for the bad things that will happen if Hillary’s elected, I’ll simply say that that’s what needs to happen. An addict doesn’t turn their life around if they don’t hit rock bottom. A call to unity is a call to not let the GOP hit rock bottom.
Finally, Trump has bought into more conspiracy theories than Ron Paul. Remember that Dr. Paul once said during a debate that he didn’t want a wall built on the Tex-Mex border because he was afraid it would be used to keep people in the United States. Based on the things that Trump has said about Sen. Cruz’s father, Dr. Paul looks virtually sane compared with Trump.
What won’t change is that I’ll work hard to keep Republicans in control of the Minnesota House, the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate. I’ll work tirelessly to flip the Minnesota Senate, too.
As for my presidential vote, I’m wholeheartedly opposed to Hillary and Trump. It’s that simple. They can both go to hell.
Most people don’t know what Joe Davis does or what he believes. Let’s start filling in the multitude of blanks about Davis by telling people that he’s the chief propagandist Executive Director of ABM. The Alliance for a Better Minnesota, aka ABM, is the chief propaganda unit of the DFL. The morning after Donald Trump’s hostile takeover of the Republican Party, Davis issued a statement, saying “Republican legislators have been avoiding saying whether or not they’ll support Donald Trump if he’s the GOP nominee for president. Now, the path towards the nomination is clear for him, and Minnesotans deserve to know whether or not their elected officials will support Trump. Minnesota Republicans have showcased their shared priorities with Trump by focusing on things like defunding Planned Parenthood and cutting taxes for corporations and the wealthy. These extreme priorities have become the hallmark of today’s Republican party, both at the national level and in our state, but Minnesotans just aren’t that extreme.”
In Joe Davis’s Minnesota, every Republican wants to cut taxes for “millionaires and billionaires” and evil “big corporations.” It’s important to highlight the fact that Joe Davis’s Minnesota, at least the one he talks about in public, doesn’t exist. Joe Davis’s Minnesota is just as imaginary as Joe Soucheray’s mythical empire of Gumption County and Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon. The key difference, though, between Gumption County, Lake Wobegon and Joe Davis’s Minnesota is that Davis won’t admit that his wild statements about Minnesota Republicans are a myth.
Forgive me. I said that Joe Davis’s Minnesota was a myth. That isn’t true. Joe Davis’s Minnesota is an intentional fabrication. Saying that Minnesota Republicans prefer “cutting taxes for corporations and the wealthy” is verifiably false. It isn’t even close to the truth. This isn’t accidental, either. Whether you’re listening to Gov. Dayton, Rep. Thissen or Joe Davis, they’re repeating the line that Republicans love “cutting taxes for corporations and the wealthy.”
I wrote this article last May. Back then, Gov. Dayton criticized Republicans, saying “They are saving that money for tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, and property tax relief for large corporations.” When I contacted Rep. Greg Davids about his tax plan, he replied “My bill does not do that. Eighty percent goes to individuals. Tax relief is for the middle class…. My tax bill is tax relief for the poor and middle class.”
It’s time to run Davis and his dishonest quislings out of Minnesota.
This post is proof that progressives aren’t interested in having an honest conversation about policy. First, Sen. Stumpf saying that “we have a responsibility in the state of Minnesota to take care of property, the things that the public owns, to make our economy keep moving along” is intellectually dishonest.
It isn’t that Republicans don’t think that government shouldn’t maintain essential infrastructure. It’s that Republicans think that projects, like bridges, are multi-generational and shouldn’t be paid for with tax increases that are paid for by this generation. Republicans think bonding makes sense because multiple generations pay for a multi-generational piece of infrastructure.
Ms. Bierschbach wasn’t being honest when she said that “But that’s not how House Republicans see things. Many of them consider borrowing for infrastructure just more government spending, akin to credit card debt.” That’s false. The best way to illustrate the absurdity of that statement is by applying certain principles from home life. It’s one thing for a couple with a good credit rating and money in the bank to take out a mortgage to buy a home. It’s quite another to make frequent use of a high-interest credit card to pay for day-to-day things.
State bonding for things like museums, civic centers and hockey arenas isn’t wise. State bonding for things like highways and other critical infrastructure should be prioritized. It’s that simple.
Further, it doesn’t make sense to raise taxes to pay for building multi-generational pieces of infrastructure. Similarly, taking on long-term debt to pay for things like civic centers, museums, etc. is foolish, too.
Finally, it’s time to rethink the criteria we use for bonding projects.
It’s long been known that Sartell residents would be asked to approve a bonding referendum that would increase school capacity. This was known since before ISD 742 voters rejected their referendum last November. This morning’s St. Cloud Times Our View Editorial has some important information in it that Sartell residents should discuss.
Specifically, the Times editorial says that Sartell-St. Stephen school district residents “will be asked May 24 to cast ballots on a $105.8 million bond referendum” and that “enrollment is projected to grow 8 percent between now and 2026.” There’s little doubt that Sartell’s population is growing and that that population growth will necessitate increasing school capacity. What isn’t known is whether they need to spend $105,800,000 on the initiative.
After the ISD 742 bonding referendum was defeated, Kevin Allenspach wrote this article, which I quoted from in this post. The important information from Allenspach’s article came when Sarah Murphy and Claire VanderEyk, who are both Tech graduates and architects, said that Tech could be renovated for less than $20,000,000. At the time, the school board said repairing the building would cost $85,000,000 to fix the building up for a decade.
Something tells me that Sartell’s $105,800,000 price tag is inflated.
If I was advising Steven Rosenstone, the ‘retiring’ MnSCU chancellor, about communications, I’d quickly teach him the first rule of holes. The first rule of holes is simple. If you’re in one, stop digging. I’d add that, if you ignore the first rule of holes, the second rule is similar but more urgent. The second rule of holes is that if you’re in one and you’ve refused to stop digging, stop digging ASAP.
While explaining why MnSCU has spent $617,000 on rebranding MnSCU, Chancellor Rosenstone recently said that “brand research has found the MnSCU name to be confusing. He said the system must be able to communicate the benefits of attending one of its schools.”
This is consultant-driven thinking. Another term for consultant-driven thinking is stupidity. If MnSCU stopped spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on consultants, administrators and rebranding efforts, they could direct more money towards great professors. That, in turn, would trigger better student outcomes and higher placement rates after graduation.
Academic reputation and high placement rates after graduation is more effective in turning MnSCU around. Students and parents don’t spend much time sitting at the kitchen table wondering whether the student will be able to transfer from Metropolitan State to Moorhead. They spend their time figuring out which university will give them the skills they need to get a high-paying job. Brandon Johnson and Gloria Kaul-Kennedy have figured it out. They’re both students. Here’s what Johnson said:
It cost $272,000 for someone to come up with a name they got from a ‘Coach’ rerun?
Here’s what Ms. Kaul-Kennedy said:
The money could be well spent on many other things. The name change will mean nothing to 99.99 percent of the people. Don’t the administrators have other things to spend their expensive time on?
Ms. Kaul-Kennedy’s statement and question instantly put a smile on my face because she’s figured out what’s a priority to her and what’s foolishness. Here’s hoping that the consultants and administrators don’t negatively influence her thinking.