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When the Minnesota Department of Commerce testified that Enbridge hadn’t shown a need for replacing their Line 3 Pipeline, people scratched their heads. That project is a $7,500,000,000 infrastructure project. It’s difficult to picture a pro-commerce Commerce Department rejecting that type of project. There’s an old saying that I learned during the Watergate investigation. It’s called ‘follow the money’.

According to Mike Rothman’s official bio, “Rothman’s top priorities include consumer protection, a clean energy future, and strong financial and energy sectors for Minnesota’s economy.” In an interview with the Clean Energy Resource Team, Rothman made clear that he wasn’t a disinterested bystander in terms of the government financing clean energy projects. CERT started the interview by asking Rothman “Have the tax credits been important for getting Minnesota to where we are today with wind and solar?” Commissioner Rothman replied “From the vantage point of the Commerce Department, we believe these tax credits have really been central pillars supporting wind and solar development in our state. The ITC enabled solar manufacturers to produce at scale and dramatically cut the costs of modules and other components. It also encouraged a growing base of Minnesota solar installation companies to invest in training and certification while expanding their businesses and creating new jobs.”

In other words, without crony capitalism, wind and solar wouldn’t offer competitive prices. The question I’d ask Commissioner Rothman is whether his prioritizing clean energy had anything to do with his department’s heavy-handed testimony against Enbridge. It isn’t a stretch to think that a person that supports tax credits for wind and solar certainly might support eliminating fossil fuels, too.

This is part of the Commerce Department’s website:

Solar Industry Resources

The state of Minnesota is interested in helping Minnesota-based solar businesses expand and attracting new solar businesses to the state.

From solar manufacturers and system developers and installers to the agencies that help finance solar projects, the Minnesota Department of Commerce is here to help build a strong clean energy economy. The solar industry is booming in Minnesota, and it is positioned for continued growth. With solar policies such as the solar electricity standard and programs like the $15 million a year Made in Minnesota Solar incentive Program, Minnesota is committed to the solar industry.

Based on the Commerce Department’s pro-clean energy statements and their hostility towards fossil fuels, I think it’s entirely reasonable to think that Gov. Dayton’s Commerce Department isn’t a neutral arbiter in this fight.

In Part I of this series, I quoted Kate O’Connell, manager of the Energy Regulation and Planning Unit of the Department of Commerce, as saying “In light of the serious risks and effects on the natural and socioeconomic environments of the existing Line 3 and the limited benefit that the existing Line 3 provides to Minnesota refineries, it is reasonable to conclude that Minnesota would be better off if Enbridge proposed to cease operations of the existing Line 3, without any new pipeline being built,’ the agency wrote in testimony submitted to the Public Utilities Commission on Monday, Sept. 11.”

It isn’t a stretch to think that environmental activists had a special place in Gov. Dayton’s Commerce Department. The Department’s testimony to the PUC was tilted. The Commerce Department’s personnel indicate a strong pro-clean energy preference. Thanks to the Commerce Department’s anti-pipeline bias, Minnesota is missing out on a major infrastructure project.

Shouldn’t we insist that these types of infrastructure projects get a higher priority? This project would’ve created thousands of jobs. The negative economic impact this rejection will have is disgusting. Stop back Tuesday for more on that aspect of the pipeline.

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When I read this story, I was stunned. According to the story, the “Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) awarded Minnesota Halal Meat & Grocery, 205 East St. Germain Street, $15,308.72 through the Good Food Access Program (GFAP). The store’s owner, Badal Aden Ali, says the store plans to install a dairy cooler, walk-in freezer, produce display case, and shelving. Ali says the grant funds will help address the needs of many of St. Cloud’s refugees and immigrants.”

Later in the article, we’re told that a “total of $150,000 in grant funds has been awarded to projects to purchase equipment and make physical improvements, increasing access to affordable, nutritious, and culturally appropriate foods in underserved and low- and moderate-income communities.”

What I’d like to know is how many similar programs exist within the Human Services and Minnesota Department of Agriculture budgets? How much taxpayer money gets spent each biennium to buy votes? This “store” is less than a mile away from my house. It’s a little hell-hole. It’s been that way since I was in grade school. (I started high school in 1970.)

Before anyone accuses me of being biased against refugees, my position is that I’m opposed to each of these grants.

I’m told that the theory behind these grants exist because the businesses can’t afford the loan to buy the equipment they’ll purchase with this grant money. If these businesses are on that shaky of ground, they should be allowed to fail.

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After writing this post about a proposal to increase affordable housing in the Greater St. Cloud area, I got a call from a loyal reader of LFR. This person highlighted the fact that St. Cloud’s economy used to be built around manufacturers like Franklin and big corporations like Fingerhut. This reader then mentioned the fact that St. Cloud’s economy today is focused on the hospitality and retail industries.

In the past, St. Cloud has made terrible choices for its economy. The Chamber of Commerce shouldn’t get off lightly, either, since they’ve frequently advocated for tourism industry bonding projects. In the end, those things changed St. Cloud from being a blue collar manufacturing town into a tourism mecca. That’s foolish because there are thousands of different tourism meccas in Minnesota.

In Jenny Berg’s article, she wrote that “Hontos said he wants a joint resolution to show interest from other cities.” He might get that resolution passed by the St. Cloud City Council but it’ll die the minute it gets to the Sartell and Sauk Rapids city councils.

Since this affordable housing project started getting publicity, talk has started about voting on a moratorium that would postpone the building of bike trails and city parks until St. Cloud attracts 5 new manufacturing companies to St. Cloud.

The liberal policies that’ve caused St. Cloud’s neighborhoods to deteriorate have led to rising crime rates, too. Mind you, many of these crimes haven’t gotten recorded but they’ve still happened. They’ve been reported. They just haven’t been recorded. We’re left with a city whose economy is like icing on a cake but without a main meal. Economies built around retailers and restaurants are like meals consisting of cake and ice cream but no meat, potatoes or gravy.

Other citizens have told me that getting things approved for construction has gotten more difficult. The City has the right official policies. They just aren’t enforced. The reason I mention this is simple. Why would a major company move to St. Cloud when crime is rising, there’s a shortage of the type of laborers that companies will need and the local economy is built around the hospitality and retail industries?

Dave Kleis has been one of the biggest cheerleaders for these policies. He’s also the chief cheerleader for the airport. He could’ve killed 2 birds with 1 stone by proposing an industrial park built right by a new regional airport. That would have a chance of gaining traction and changing the trajectory of St. Cloud’s economy. That proposal hasn’t been rejected. It’s been ignored instead.

Frankly, it’s time for new leadership in St. Cloud. St. Cloud needs someone who a) isn’t a de facto cheerleader for the Chamber of Commerce, b) doesn’t believe in crony capitalism and c) has a vision to restore St. Cloud’s identity as a blue collar All American city. I’d clean out most of the members of the City Council. I’d pretty much fire the School Board. Finally, I’d fire the SCSU president, too. It’s clear he doesn’t have a plan to turn SCSU around.

Mayor Kleis talks about reviving St. Cloud’s core neighborhoods. Those don’t get built or maintained by restaurant owners.

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Each time there’s a big project in St. Cloud, the usual suspects tell us that they support the project, then encourage the citizenry to follow suit. That type of thinking has led to one disastrous decision after another. Most recently, the usual suspects (St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce, the Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation, aka GSDC, Mayor Kleis all DFL legislative candidates and the ISD 742 School Board) insisted that building a new Tech HS wasn’t just the best option. They insisted it was the only viable option for the citizenry. The truth is that the Board’s option was the worst option. Even though it was the most expensive option for taxpayers, that didn’t matter to the usual suspects.

The usual suspects often act like spoiled brats. They want what they want when they want it. Anyone getting in their way gets steamrolled. As for Tech, the best option might’ve been refurbishing and expanding Apollo. Enrollment in ISD 742’s grade schools is shrinking. Enrollment in Tech and Apollo combined was approximately 2,500 students in the last statistics we had. The point is we didn’t need a Taj Mahal-class building for Tech. Simply put, spending $105,000,000 on a school that’d hold 1,800 students is a major waste of money.

Further, it’s insulting to think that we need to spend $19,000,000 on refurbishing Eastman Hall on the SCSU campus. The state already spent lots of money on the ISELF Building, remodeling the Brooks Hockey Center and building the Coborn’s Plaza apartments. Each time these major projects were proposed, the usual suspects voiced their support for these projects.

Another high priority with the usual suspects supposedly is air service from St. Cloud to Chicago. The usual suspects support the latest study that they hope will cause the county commissioners to sign onto a regional airport authority. One of the Stearns County commissioners is quoted as saying this is the first he’s heard of the latest study. Nonetheless, the usual suspects unconditionally support the latest efforts even though they don’t have a plan going forward.

Rarely do these players listen to the people. Instead, they spend their time telling people how great their latest big project is. The truth is that St. Cloud isn’t the growing city it once was. That’s because the usual suspects haven’t set the right priorities. They’ve endorsed crony capitalist projects that are in their self interests, not the public’s interests.

Building an apartment complex for the Wedum Foundation hasn’t benefitted SCSU. Building an expensive high school won’t shrink the achievement gap. Conducting another study of the airport won’t bring back daily regional air service. Meanwhile, the citizens’ property taxes continue to rise while more cost-effective options are ignored.

Thank the usual suspects the next time you pay your property taxes.

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Sally Yates decided Monday night was the perfect time to not do her job. The good news is that President Trump decided that national security trumped putting up with corrupt lawyers. What triggered Ms. Yates’ termination was the fact that she was frustrated “with a President who seems to be running roughshod over American policy, Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, an Obama appointee, announced she would not defend the order. Yates said she would refuse to put the power of the Department of Justice behind this measure in the courts. Human rights, civil rights, and civil liberties supporters were bolstered by her defiance.”

It isn’t Yates’ responsibility to agree or disagree with the policy. Yates’ responsibility is to uphold the law. She said that she wouldn’t defend President Trump’s executive order on vetting. Whether that fits the legal definition of insubordination is something others can debate. What’s indisputable is whether it fits the dictionary definition of insubordination. That definition is “the quality or condition of being insubordinate, or of being disobedient to authority”. Dana Boente, the new acting head of the Justice Department, said that he’ll enforce and defend the laws of this land.

Of course, Sen. Schumer isn’t impressed:

“The firing of Sally Yates underscores how important it is to have an Attorney General who will stand up to the White House when they are violating the law,” said Schumer, who has choked up while discussing the impact of Trump’s travel ban. “Many people have doubts about whether Jeff Sessions can be that person.”

Speaking of speaking truth to power, why was Sen. Schumer silent so often when the Obama administration’s decisions got people killed? This article highlights Sen. Schumer’s insincerity:

When an American facility was under attack in Libya and the president, secretary of state, and others did not lift a finger to save the Americans, I did not see any protests, outrage, or empathy from the media, Hollywood, or Democrats – nor when Obama, Hillary, and others concocted alternative facts instead of telling the truth. Instead of the media calling the president and Hillary the liars they were, they went after Republicans for trying to get to the truth. I did not see Schumer shed a tear for the families of those who died.

Sen. Schumer, spare me the theatrics. You aren’t a man of integrity. You’re a man of poorly scripted theatrics.

This video shows how the legal merits of President Trump’s EO should be debated:

Finally, isn’t it time Democrats allowed a vote for Jeff Sessions to become the next US Attorney General?

This article by Katherine Kersten is another outstanding article from her on the subject of how the Met Council intends to govern cities.

Kersten starts by informing readers that the “council’s vision to transform how the people of the Twin Cities region live and get around has two prongs. First, the Thrive plan will promote compact, high-density housing and ‘transit-oriented development’ (TOD).”

Prior to that, Ms. Kersten explained that mission “creep has been escalating for some time, but under Dayton, the overreach has reached a crisis point. The Thrive plan is a power grab that will impose intrusive, top-down controls on 186 municipalities, neutering the power of local elected officials. The plan, wrapped in vague and noble-sounding goals, imposes a host of new, ideologically driven criteria for municipal development that will give the council the raw power, unchecked by elected representatives, to dramatically remake our region.”

That’s a fancy way of talking about top-down, unelected government dictating the terms of how urban life will work under their vision. The DFL, BTW, is all in on this anti-democratic form of governing. Apparently, the DFL supports any type of government that silences dissent and We The People.

People shouldn’t trust appointed politicians. That’s why Minnesota needs to dramatically overhaul the Met Council. Unaccountable people who weren’t elected (they’re appointed) with the ability to raise taxes, which the Met Council has the authority to do, are anti-democratic. They shouldn’t be respected or tolerated.

Finally, in a just world, they shouldn’t exist.

UPDATE: A loyal reader of LFR sent this video to me:

It’s a great (and frightening) picture of the Met Council’s mission creep and its misguided ‘mission’.

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When the Strib first reported that the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Authority, aka MSFA, had used 2 suites at the Vikings new stadium to entertain family members and DFL political allies, Minnesotans were rightfully outraged. According to this article, that outrage hasn’t diminished much, if at all.

I’m sure, though, that Minnesotans will sleep easier knowing that the MSFA has a new policy towards those suites. Michele Kelm-Helgen announced that “I clearly heard and understand that people did not support having friends and family in suites. We now have a new suite policy.”

Ms. Kelm-Helgen isn’t stupid. She had to know that this wasn’t right. It’s more likely that she’s arrogant or that she felt entitled. Initially, the MSFA said that they used the suites “to host potential clients”, which I wrote about in this post. Back then, the Pioneer Press wrote “Kelm-Helgen and Mondale said they and the four MSFA commissioners use the suites to host potential clients who are looking to rent all or portions of the stadium, which opened in August. But they also acknowledge they regularly invite friends and family to the suites. The two say they can’t reveal the identities of their guests because that would hinder their marketing efforts. However, they did release the identities of 12 current and former public officials who reimbursed the authority $200 for their tickets to the suite.”

This time, Ms. Kelm-Helgen was more forthright:

The chairwoman of the government authority that manages U.S. Bank Stadium defended the use of two luxury suites for officials’ friends and family before a panel of state lawmakers Wednesday, saying it’s been common practice for years.

Here’s a picture of one of the suites controlled by the MSFA:

Democrats will always do the right thing … when it’s the only option left.

Salena Zito’s article turns the spotlight on the MSM, aka the Agenda Media, to highlight why the media got this election badly wrong. Early in the article, Salena wrote about the NY Times, saying “Take The New York Times’ public editor’s laudable call for more diversity in the newsroom. ‘The executive editor, Dean Baquet, is African-American,’ Liz Spayd wrote. ‘The other editors on his masthead are white. The staff with the most diversity? The news assistants, who mostly do administrative jobs and get paid the least.'”

Then she made the important recommendation (I’d argue it’s essential) that reporters “need more people who come from a blue-collar background, who perhaps didn’t go to Brown and can be found in a pew on Sunday on a fairly regular basis.”

Yesterday, I wrote this post to highlight the absurdity of E.J. Dionne’s column. He’s totally certain that a Trump administration will be a disaster with a silver lining for Democrats. Last night, on the Kelly File, Nomiki Konst ‘debated’ Marc Thiessen and Guy Benson about whether Democrats were learning the lesson of this election. Konst insisted that it was all drive about the economy.

While there’s no doubt lots of people voted for Donald Trump because they think a billionaire might know a thing or 2 about reviving this pathetic recovery, it’s more than that. Mr. Trump promises to clean up the VA scandal, build a wall on the US-Mexican border, simplify the federal tax system and rein in the out-of-control EPA. In other words, he promised to make their lives better.

Voters didn’t just reject Mrs. Clinton’s message. In battleground state after battleground state, they essentially said ‘are you out of your flipping mind? We’ve suffered through 8 years of this crap and we’re tired of it.’ But I digress.

Benson and Thiessen both talked about how the Democratic Party is incapable of talking to people of faith or blue collar workers. It’s clear that they haven’t learned their lesson because the people who are the 2 ‘finalists’ for DNC chair, Keith Ellison and Thomas Perez, are incapable of connecting with those voters.

Paul Krugman thinks the Trump economic policies will tank. Thomas Friedman thinks that the Obama administration is the best friend Israel has ever had. Other inside-the-Beltway columnists missed the fact that miners and farmers are fed up with the EPA’s regulatory overreach.

It isn’t surprising why some of the biggest punchlines in Mr. Trump’s stump speeches were criticisms of the corrupt media. That was a galvanizing message. It’s what tied the blue collar workers together with the millionaires who built their companies from the ground up.

The journalist who didn’t miss what was happening this election was Salena Zito. This video illustrates why Salena got it right:

This weekend, I spoke with Ed Morrissey. Admittedly, neither of us predicted Trump winning. We both, however, gave Trump a shot at winning going into Election Night. When I told Ed that the common denominator for both of us is that we both listened to Salena Zito, he quickly agreed. We didn’t know that he’d win Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin but we knew that Trump’s message resonated with those economically disenfranchised voters.

If newsrooms don’t start sending their reporters out into the real world, if they don’t put a high priority on building a newsroom with cultural diversity, they’ll continue missing the big stories.

Finally, it’s time to thank Salena for her fantastic reporting. If she doesn’t win a slew of awards for her political reporting, it’ll prove that political editors are clueless.

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Richard Trumka’s misguided hissy fit should be seen for what it is: the actions of a desperate man who’s losing control of the people who pay his exorbitant salary.

When Trumka wrote “publicity stunts and Twitter rants are no substitute for a comprehensive, coherent economic strategy that invests in America and lifts up the voices and the power of working people”, what he’s really saying is that he’s hoping union workers wouldn’t listen to Republicans. He’s also saying he wants union workers to support the party of elitists, aka the Democratic Party, because he’s thankful for being part of the Party’s ‘royalty’.

Mr. Trumka hasn’t been in touch with the unions’ rank-and-file for decades. He’s blindly supported the Democratic Party’s anti-worker agenda, then tried telling workers that the table scraps that Democrats shovel them is like eating like a king.

Mr. Trumka is wrong when he said the “share of income going to the middle class has fallen in almost perfect correlation with the declining percentage of people working in jobs where they enjoy a union.” The share of income going to the middle class started falling when union fat-cats (like Trumka) paid more attention to lining their own pockets than they paid to fighting environmental activists who crushed their blue collar jobs.

Mr. Trumka was nowhere to be found when President Obama, Mrs. Clinton and Secretary Kerry killed the Keystone XL Pipeline project. That’s because he’d been bought off in the name of Democratic Party unity. The next time that Mr. Trumka speaks before the rank-and-file, the dues-paying members should pepper him with questions for why he isn’t representing them.

Let’s remember that Mr. Trumka sold out workers by supporting Obamacare, which essentially killed the unions’ Cadillac care health plans. That hurt blue collar workers immensely. It’s time for private sector unions to ask if people like Mr. Trumka has their best interests at heart.

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Prior to this op-ed, I thought that the Democrats most prone to delusion lived in fever swamps with Keith Ellison, Nancy Pelosi and Babs Boxer as neighbors. Thanks to Stan Greenberg’s op-ed, I have to consider the possibility that the entire Democratic Party is nuts.

Greenberg’s op-ed starts by saying “President Obama will be remembered as a thoughtful and dignified president who led a scrupulously honest administration that achieved major changes.” I’d use lots of terms to describe the Obama administration but scrupulously honest isn’t one of them. Fast and Furious was the personification of dishonesty. Weaponizing the IRS to harass TEA Party organizations isn’t the picture of scrupulously honest, either. Unanimously getting shot down 13 straight times by the Supreme Court for his attempts at executive supremacy doesn’t say scrupulously honest. It says President Obama didn’t respect the rule of law.

Later, Greenberg said that President Obama “rescued an economy in crisis and passed the recovery program, pulled America back from its military overreach, passed the Affordable Care Act and committed the nation to addressing climate change.”

First, President Obama didn’t rescue “an economy in crisis.” TARP, passed during President Bush’s term, started the stabilization. The Federal Reserve’s Quantitative Easing, not President Obama’s stimulus, injected life into the economy. Pulling “America back from its military overreach” created ISIS, which is expanding its lethality each day.

The American people aren’t stupid. They tried telling President Obama that they didn’t want Obamacare. He didn’t care. Ideology demanded that it be passed so the Democrats lied about it, then passed it. The next election, the American people threw a beat-down on the Democrats’ agenda. Still, President Obama wouldn’t listen. Eventually, he said he’d get things done with a pen and a phone.

President Obama’s outright disrespect for the Constitution and the rule of law got people upset with Democrats. That’s why they’re on the outside looking in. Half of the states have a Republican governor and Republican legislatures. In DC, there’s a Republican waiting to be sworn in as the next president and Republican majorities in the House and Senate.

That type of repudiation doesn’t happen to “thoughtful and dignified presidents.” It happens to despots who ignore the Constitution and the American people. That’s President Obama’s identity.

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