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Mike Rothman has announced his immediate resignation as commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Commerce. In a separate statement, Rothman announced that he will run for the job of Minnesota Attorney General.

MPR’s Tim Pugmire is reporting “Mike Rothman is stepping down as commissioner of the Minnesota Department Commerce and plans to run for state attorney general. Rothman announced his intentions Friday in a resignation letter to Gov. Mark Dayton.”

In his statement, Rothman said “Thank you for the incredible opportunity to serve the people of Minnesota. You placed great trust in me – and every day, I dedicated myself to fulfilling that trust by doing my very best to improve the lives of Minnesotans. I am very proud of what we have been able to accomplish together.”

Frankly, Rothman was a failure because he was anti-commerce and because he did his utmost to kill the Line 3 Pipeline replacement project. Simply put, he’s an environmental activist. Imagine the destruction he could cause as Minnesota’s Attorney General. That’s a frightening thought.

In his statement, Gov. Dayton said “For nearly seven years, Mike Rothman has devoted himself to protecting consumers, improving the lives of Minnesotans, and ensuring fair regulatory environments for Minnesota’s businesses.” Rep. Kelly Fenton wasn’t that kind, saying “Commissioner Rothman’s tenure was stained by his failure to protect Minnesota consumers and tax dollars. His poor judgment is well documented.”

This KSTP article contains information that Pugmire’s article doesn’t have:

The news comes as the Office of the Legislative Auditor confirmed it had been asked to investigate actions taken by various DOC officials in connection to an investigation into an auto glass company a federal judge ruled was ‘unjustified.’ “As you may know, the case has involved considerable litigation that continues in process,” legislative auditor James Nobles wrote in an email to KSTP. “The case is very complex, and we are reviewing all of the documents related to the legal proceedings at both the state and federal levels.

“In sum, we are at a preliminary stage, and our review will undoubtedly take us into next year. So, yes, we are investigating what happened in the Commerce/Safelight case.” In that case, federal judge Susan Nelson ruled the DOC carried out an “unjustified” investigation into Safelite Auto Glass for its billing practices with insurance companies.

Nelson also said the DOC “initiated a baseless investigation against Safelite based on financially-motivated complaints from competitors.” Further, Nelson said there was testimony from a DOC employees stating “an assistant commissioner made a ‘deal’ to provide information on Safelite in order to ‘get Safelite out of Minnesota.'”

The last thing Minnesota needs is a crooked AG. That being said, Rothman wouldn’t be the first crooked Minnesota AG. Mike Hatch blazed that trail long ago.

Gov. Dayton’s statement is predictable. It’s also BS. Here’s why:

In December 2011, Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman and Community Action of Minneapolis CEO Bill Davis stood side-by-side at a press conference to plead for more federal money to help low-income people pay their heating bills. As the pair made their case in front of the cameras, however, staffers inside the Commerce Department were struggling to figure out how Davis’ nonprofit had already misspent more than $1 million in energy funds.

Commerce analysts had grown increasingly alarmed that money meant to aid the poor was going to people who were not eligible to receive it. Those staffers, who requested anonymity because they aren’t authorized to speak, say the red flags raised in 2011 were the first alerting Rothman that Davis, his DFL political ally, was mismanaging money from the energy assistance fund run by Commerce. The warnings, they say, were repeated over the years but went nowhere. Rothman would not sever ties with Community Action. Several in the department say they were told the contracts would continue because “the political ramifications are greater than staff would understand,” a characterization Rothman does not dispute.

Gov. Dayton, how can you say that Commissioner Rothman protected consumers or improved Minnesotans’ lives while ignoring Community Action of Minneapolis’ outright corruption? These DFL thieves stole money meant to pay poor people’s heating bills.

Instead of paying poor people’s heating bills, Community Action paid for a trip to New York City for State Sen. Jeffrey Hayden and his wife. They’ve since repaid the money.

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Before getting into this post, let me state without hesitation or equivocation that I won’t defend Roy Moore’s disgusting behavior. Further, I find these women’s stories credible. Finally, I find Judge Moore’s replies to the reporters’ questions to be shifting, defensive and filled with platitudes.

John Kass’s column starts by saying “There is a cost to defending Moore. Don’t kid yourselves that there is no cost to it.” Kass continues, saying “But as long as he fights this, even as more women come out with their accounts of what happened years ago and reports surface about how Moore, in his 30s, trolled shopping malls for teen-age girls, there is the temptation for some in the GOP to defend him.”

Don’t count me as one of Moore’s defenders. I won’t defend the indefensible. Based on the steady stream of credible reports of Moore’s behavior, it isn’t difficult to believe that he’s a pervert attempting to hide behind his faith. It’s a disgusting sight for me, especially as a person of faith.

To his credit, Sean Hannity has issued an ultimatum to Judge Moore. I join with Sean Hannity in this ultimatum:

It’s being charitable to say that Judge Moore’s answers have been inconsistent. Frankly, I think he’s been outright dishonest. Meanwhile, Steve Bannon has defended Judge Moore, hinting that the MSM is trying to destroy a conservative. First, let’s admit that Judge Moore isn’t the first conservative that the MSM has attempted to destroy. Let’s also admit that it’s possible that they have a natural anti-conservative bias and still be honest.

When Judge Moore denied ever knowing the then-16-year-old who accused him of rape, I was skeptical, mostly because she was represented by Gloria Allred. That skepticism was erased, though, when the woman produced a yearbook with Judge Moore’s signature attached to it.

He calls all this a lie, threatens to sue The Washington Post and says he’s the victim of the Democrats and the establishment Republicans. His answers seem incomplete and remarkably thin. He signed his name in a girl’s yearbook? He can’t remember the name of the restaurant where he met one of them, where an alleged assault took place?

If Steve Bannon continues defending the indefensible, that’s his right. It’s also stupid. By defending the indefensible, he’s destroying his credibility and the candidates he’s supporting. In the end, that might be Mr. Bannon’s only gift to Republicans during the 2018 campaign cycle.

Republicans have done the right thing in distancing themselves from Moore. Even if they lose that seat to a Democrat, they’ve still done the right thing. This is one of those times when political considerations just aren’t the most important considerations in a person’s life.

It’s time for Moore and Bannon to exit the stage. That’s because they’re both disgusting people who are indefensible.

One of the little-talked-about storylines about Gov. Dayton’s line-item veto controversy is that Gov. Dayton wants the legislature to spend the money appropriated for the Office of Legislative Auditor. According to the OLA’s website, the OLA’s mission is to promote accountability, strengthen legislative oversight, support good management and enhance program effectiveness. Part of the OLA’s statutory authority gives “the Legislative Auditor broad authority to audit state agencies, evaluate public programs, and investigate alleged misuse of public money.”

What is Gov. Dayton hiding? What doesn’t he want audited? Is Gov. Dayton trying to make sure there isn’t enough money left for the OLA to “investigate alleged misuse of public money”? These aren’t trivial matters. Accountability is important.

Gov. Dayton hasn’t made a convincing argument for why the judicial and executive branches have the constitutional authority to tell the legislative branch how to spend money that’s been properly appropriated. I’m confident that that’s because the judicial and executive branches don’t have that authority thanks to something known as the Separation of Powers contained within the Constitution. The legislative branch doesn’t have the authority to rule of the constitutionality of laws. The executive branch doesn’t have the constitutional authority to pass laws. The judicial branch doesn’t have the constitutional authority to tell sign bills into law.

Gov. Dayton is upset that Republicans called him out for attempting to bully the legislature. He insisted that the legislature renegotiate a bill he’d already signed into law. The legislature said no so Gov. Dayton, in another of his hissy fits, acted like the spoiled rich brat that he is.

It isn’t a secret that Gov. Dayton hates cutting taxes. He didn’t hesitate in raising taxes in 2013, too. I think Gov. Dayton’s legacy will be that of a tax raiser and anti-mining environmentalist. That’s a good thing if you’re a Metrocrat but a bad thing if you don’t fit that description. Finally, we know that he didn’t push too hard to clean up corruption when Jeffrey Hayden got caught with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar. We know that April Todd-Malmlov didn’t get punished for her corruption. Ted Mondale and Michelle Kelm-Helgen certainly weren’t punished for their participation in the US Bank Stadium Suite ‘promotion’ scandal.

If there was a part of the government that Gov. Dayton would target other than the legislature, it would’ve been the OLA.

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.