Archive for the ‘Corruption’ Category

Last night, Donald Trump got into a Twitter fight with Carly Fiorina, which was chronicled in this CNN article. Mrs. Fiorina got under Mr. Trump’s thin skin by saying “Donald, sorry, I’ve got to interrupt again. You would know something about pathological,” Fiorina said in a Facebook post. “How was that meeting with Putin?” It didn’t take long for Trump to say “I only said I was on @60Minutes four weeks ago with Putin—never said I was in Green Room. Separate pieces—great ratings!”

According to the transcript from the Fox Business GOP Debate, Trump isn’t telling the whole truth about what he said. The transcript clearly shows that Mr. Trump said “I got to know him very well because we were both on 60 Minutes, we were stable mates, and we did very well that night.”

That’s an interesting way of talking about things. Charlie Rose flew to Moscow earlier in the week to interview Putin. It’d be interesting to hear Mr. Trump explain how he got to know Mr. Putin without meeting him. Better yet, I’d love hearing Mr. Trump explain how he and Mr. Putin were stable mates while Putin was being interviewed in Moscow and Trump was sitting in Trump Towers.

To be fair, Trump is right that they both did well that night in terms of TV ratings. In fact, I’ll stipulate that that fact is indisputable.

Yesterday, the ISD School Board put its best happy face on during their interviews. Whether they believed that they were going to win or whether they knew a defeat was in the cards, the indisputable truth from Tuesday night was that taxpayers rejected the School Board’s proposal by a pretty significant margin.

Tuesday afternoon, School Board Chairman Dennis Whipple told KNSI’s Dan Ochsner that most referenda and special elections attract approximately 4,000-6,000 voters in St. Cloud. When all the ballots were counted, ISD742 residents cast 15,853 votes; 7,393 (46.6%) were yes votes while 8,460 (53.4%) were no votes.

It’s one thing to lose a tight race. It’s another to lose by 1,000+ votes.

Tuesday afternoon, I told Dan Ochsner that we would look at the Times’ Our View Editorial as the turning point if this bonding referendum lost. At the time, I wrote in this post that it’s “foolish to think that this group of “experienced leaders” is running an under-the-radar campaign because this is a terrific deal for St. Cloud. If this deal was that important and that well thought out, these “experienced leaders” would’ve canvassed St. Cloud at least 3-4 times.”

The fact that only 3 mailers were sent out and that few Vote Yes signs were put up around town indicates that the School Board didn’t put much effort into this campaign. In hindsight, I never saw anyone from EdMinn dropping lit or knocking on doors.

Whipple said that the School Board would “return to” listening to the people. Hint for Chairman Whipple: it’s time for the School Board to start listening rather than talking amongst the education community, then telling the taxpayers what their bill will be for the School Board’s plans.

Here in St. Cloud, the ISD742 School Board is attempting to lift money from taxpayers’ wallets by writing a bonding proposal so that the taxpayers either accept a massive tax increase or they reject school renovations. I thought that the ISD742 School Board was corrupt. (I still do, actually.) That was until I heard about the outright theft and vandalism campaign being conducted by the Vote Yes people in the north metro. Mitch Berg’s post highlights the DFL’s depravity, including this link to the Washington County Watchdog’s Facebook page. You’ll want to check out the screen grab of a Vote Yes activist (thief?)admitting (actually, bragging is more accurate) that she stole Vote No lawn signs. Mitch further quoted that the “Watchdog confirmed that one of the women is affiliated with/employed by the “Vote Yes” campaign.” Actually, that person was uninhibited enough to say that she “might make a day” of stealing the Vote No signs.

What’s particularly disturbing is Nicole _____’s total disinterest in obeying the law. At one point, she said “Logan and I may go to jail today but at least we have coffee!” Check this screen grab out:

The woman who admitted that she’s stolen Vote No lawn signs isn’t a Republican or an independent. She’s a hardline progressive who thinks whatever she does is justified because it’s done to achieve her goal of raising people’s taxes to pay for a huge bonding referendum.

Theft is a crime. Because she’s already admitted to committing the crime on Facebook, the police should arrest her ASAP. She should then be prosecuted at the earliest possible time without violating any of this activist’s constitutional rights. Then she should be given the maximum sentence/fine allowed by law. It shouldn’t matter if she’s never been arrested before. It shouldn’t matter if she’s been nominated for any civic award.

Clearly, this woman cheerfully violated other people’s constitutional rights (the First Amendment, specifically) without hesitation. She did it to prevent people with whom she disagrees from exercising the same rights the Vote Yes campaign is using.

Further, the legislature should write a law that makes the theft or vandalism of lawn signs a felony. This punishment should be 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Keeping this a misdemeanor with a slap-on-the-wrist fine keeps in place the plan that gives the Nicoles and Logans an incentive to continue vandalizing campaigns. It has to stop ASAP.

I haven’t hidden the fact that I thought from the outset that the ISD742 School Board was corrupt. (I first wrote about it in this post.) This LTE provides proof that either their math skills are deficient or that they’re liars, corrupt to the core. I don’t think that their math skills are deficient, which means that they’re probably deceitful and corrupt.

The part of Colleen Donovan’s LTE that caught my attention is “The Dec. 19 Times report “St. Cloud schools hike tax levy 14.75%” reported the district stating an owner of a home valued at $150,000 — if their home value did not increase — would pay an $49 more in taxes due to the 2015 levy increase. My 2015 tax statement showed that levy increased my taxes by 54.5 percent, or an increase of $79.59. And my house is valued under $100,000. This is far from the $49 on a $150,000 the district reported in December. The district did not need voter approval to do this.”

I wrote about that property tax increase in this post. I quoted Mark Sommerhauser’s article where he wrote “St. Cloud school district has imposed its largest tax levy increase in six years for 2015. The district’s property-tax levy will increase by $3.3 million, or 14.75 percent, to nearly $26 million. The school board voted unanimously Thursday night to approve the 2015 levy.”

Let’s do some quick math on this. Ms. Donovan’s property tax increase was $49 on a property valued at less than $100,000. That’s on a tax increase of $3,300,000. This bonding referendum is for $167,000,000.

The mailers that the School Board sent out said that they’re asking for permission to issue $167,000,000 to pay for renovating Apollo High School ($46,500,000), a new Tech High School ($113,800,000), technology ($4,200,000) and security ($2,500,000). The ballot question just asks for bonding authority for $167,000,000 without describing where the money will go. The ballot question is the only thing that’s legally binding.

The School Board might or might not keep their promise. The School Board might or might not have published an accurate estimate of how much property taxes will increase, though I’d bet the proverbial ranch that they didn’t.

The ISD742 School Board has proven that they’re corrupt. They wanted to keep the referendum low profile. That goal died when I wrote my first post about this referendum. They worded the ballot question so that people had to approve the entire $167,000,000 or reject the entire $167,000,000 intentionally.

It’s time to vote no on this bonding referendum. Then it’s time to vote out the corrupt school board members the next time they’re up for re-election. This school board is comprised of mostly hardline progressive machine DFL politicians. They need to go ASAP before they bankrupt us.

It isn’t often that I find sanity on the St. Cloud Times Opinion Page. This LTE from Loren Weinberg fits the criteria for sanity.

One of the points Mr. Weinberg makes is that the sample ballot and the flyers sent out by the St. Cloud School Board are significantly different. According to Mr. Weinberg, “the ballot … only mentions the final amount, $167 million.” Meanwhile, the flyer sent out by the School Board tells voters “exactly how much will be spent on each of the four projects.”

That’s an important difference. Information in a flyer might or might not be accurate. It certainly isn’t legally binding. If a majority of voters vote to approve the bonding request, the School Board won’t be obligated to spend the $167,000,000 on the things their flyer said they’ll spend the money on.

Voting no on this referendum is the only responsible thing to do. First, school district residents don’t have any guarantees that the money will be spent on the projects the School Board says they’ll be spent on. Second, school district residents haven’t seen blueprints of what the Apollo renovation or the new Tech High School look like. Third, school district residents didn’t have input on the front end as to what the district’s needs are. Supposedly, the plan is for both high schools to hold 1,800 students each.

John Palmer, now a retired professor from St. Cloud State, worded things this way:

The fundamental problem I have is, if you were going to be buying something as an individual, the first thing you would do is identify the need — not the want. I can see no evidence of what specifically the need is. The capacity of the two new buildings, if this should pass, would be 1,800 (each). Enrollment right now is about 2,800 (total between Tech and Apollo). I don’t know if that capacity would be high, low or in between because I don’t believe there has been any work done on determining what it will be in the future.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve known John since 2005 and consider him a friend. The points that John makes aren’t just legitimate. They’re the heart of the matter.

There’s nothing I’ve heard that suggests that high school enrollment will increase by 30% over the next 20 years. The recent trend, in fact, is heading in the opposite direction. If that’s the case, why should school district residents build schools that are significantly bigger than what’s needed?

It isn’t difficult to argue that the School Board wants us to essentially write them a blank check, then trust them. However, it’s difficult for thoughtful people to trust this school board considering how secretive and deceptive they’ve been.

Voting no is the only right way to vote.

Donald Trump’s love of eminent domain abuse isn’t sitting well with constitutional conservatives. Recently, Carly Fiorina explained why Mr. Trump’s love of eminent domain abuse runs contrary to limited government conservatism when she said “I think Donald Trump, among others, has engaged in crony capitalism in its most raw and abusive form. When commercial interests get together with government to take away private property for their own commercial interests, that’s a big problem. And I think I join so many conservatives in saying that eminent domain has been abused. And it has been abused by the collusion between governments eager for revenue and businesses eager for competitive advantage. So I find the Kelo case—if ever there was a case for judicial engagement instead of judicial restraint, it’s this set of issues.”

There’s nothing pro-limited government about developers who don’t respect private property rights buying off city officials in their effort to steal land from a private property owner. That’s the definition of crony capitalism:

Crony capitalism is a term describing an economy in which success in business depends on close relationships between business people and government officials. It may be exhibited by favoritism in the distribution of legal permits, government grants, special tax breaks, or other forms of state interventionism.[1][2] Crony capitalism is believed to arise when business cronyism and related self-serving behavior by businesses or businesspeople spills over into politics and government,[3] or when self-serving friendships and family ties between businessmen and the government influence the economy and society to the extent that it corrupts public-serving economic and political ideals.

Donald Trump isn’t a constitutionalist. He definitely isn’t a limited government conservative. Finally, it’s apparent that he thinks that he should get anything he wants even if that something is owned by someone else.

That’s the definition of evil. If we want an evil president, we can just keep the corrupt SOB that’s currently in the White House or elect a corrupt career politician that’s running as a Democrat. The day that the Republicans nominate another corrupt politician is the day I leave the GOP.

When Bret Baier asked Donald Trump about his opinion of eminent domain, Mr. Trump said that “eminent domain is a wonderful thing” before saying that eminent domain should be used to get “holdouts” to sell their property.

Now Mr. Trump is dramatically changing his answer to sound less like a big government liberal.

During his interview with Bret Baier, Mr. Trump described a situation where the developer had purchased “11 or 12 parcels” but one “holdout” wouldn’t sell. Mr. Trump argued that the developer, who wants to create a big factory employing thousands of people, should be able to use eminent domain to boot the private property owner out of their home. Now that he’s at the center of a conservative firestorm, Trump’s retreating, saying that “You can’t build a road without eminent domain. In order to survive as a country, how you can not have roads?”

That’s classic liberal backtracking. It’s no different than Hillary Clinton saying that she doesn’t support the TPP that she negotiated. Mr. Trump knows that nobody in the conservative movement objects to the use of eminent domain to build roads or other pieces of infrastructure. That isn’t controversial.

The right to be secure in your property is a fundamental right guaranteed by our Constitution. It’s the foundation of our capitalist system. Mr. Trump thinks that taking a person’s property isn’t a big deal if it’s for the greater good, as long as he’s the determiner of what the greater good is.

That’s just a different way of saying that the ends justify the means. Either way, this proves that Trump isn’t the man (or woman) of integrity we need in the White House. Having a president who would appoint justices that reinforce Kelo v. New London ruling

According to Bruce Mohs’ editorial, the St. Cloud School District will host 2 informational meetings to inform citizens what their property tax increases will pay for. Unfortunately, these informational meetings won’t give citizens the opportunity to provide input into what their property tax increases will pay for.

According to Mohs’ editorial, this is informational only. Given how much effort has been put into keeping this vote secret and given how much effort has gone into limiting taxpayers’ options, it isn’t surprising that citizen participation is being limited.

According to Mohs’ editorial, “The first forum will be from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Oct. 5 at Whitney Senior Center. This session will be facilitated by Jay Caldwell from WJON-AM and will include a formal presentation from Neighbors For School Excellence, breakout group discussions, and a question-and-answer period.”

Notice that it doesn’t say that taxpayers will have the opportunity to explore other, less costly, options that would cost less than this Taj Mahal of a project. Mohs and other school board members apparently think that this project is too important to their legacy to give citizens the opportunity to have a real say in the matter.

Here’s a hint to Mohs and his cohorts. School board members don’t have legacies. Presidents and secretaries of state have legacies. School board members, if they’re lucky, are footnotes in history. Unfortunately, taxpayers foot the bill for these people’s egos.

The MPCA’s Special Interests’ Citizens Board held its final meeting Tuesday. It was a bittersweet day, depending on your political persuasion. For environmental activists, it was a bitter ending. For people that believe in holding government accountable, it was a beautiful sight. First, let’s listen to the special interests’ whining:

“Dissolving the Citizens’ Board is bad for rural and metro Minnesota,” said Kathy DeBuhr at a protest before the board’s final meeting Tuesday morning. “This legislature has taken away the voice of the common person. The little guy.”

DeBuhr was among those who protested a proposed 9,000-cow “mega-dairy feedlot” in western Minnesota in 2014. In a controversial move, the Citizens’ Board ordered the dairy operation to seek an expensive and time-consuming environmental impact statement even though MPCA staff had not ordered one. The dairy ultimately decided not to go forward with the project.

Ms. DeBuhr’s whining is annoying at best. This wasn’t a panel of ordinary citizens. It was an activist board. The fact that they ran off a major dairy operation after the operation had gotten its permits from the MPCA speaks to their activism.

Further, what type of citizens panel reserves a spot for a union member? The Board had a member of Duluth’s Transit Authority and an “agriculture representative”, too. I still haven’t heard anyone explain why there’s a need for a citizens panel. Isn’t the MPCA doing its job properly? If it isn’t, shouldn’t the MPCA be overhauled or outright abolished?

The Citizens’ Board was established to guard against undue political influence of the agency and to create a public and transparent decision making process on controversial issues. Supporters of the board say its abolishment will remove the final public process for environmental review and permitting actions for industry and factory farms.

The notion that the Citizens Board was impartial is absurd. It wasn’t. It was filled with activists. As for the statement that this removes “the final public process for environmental review and permitting,” that’s a bit melodramatic. Why is it necessary for limitless environmental reviews?

When Jeb Bush surprisingly announced his candidacy for president, pundits of all political stripes said it was a political masterstroke because it caught his rivals off-guard. Fast forward to today. Those pundits are singing a different tune:

“We’ve learned that the prospect of a big financial advantage is not going to keep people out of the race and that the notion of a new face is stronger than we might have thought,” Vin Weber, an outside Bush adviser, said in an interview. “That requires modest adjustments in strategy, not wholesale changes.” After weeks of bad press, “donors were getting a little edgy,” Weber said. “No one is ready to jump ship. Nobody has lost heart. But they have watched other candidates rise in the polls.”

At first, pundits said that Jeb’s team was seasoned. The reality is that Jeb’s team is all but fossilized. Vin Weber is to GOP politics what Bob Shrum is to Democratic politics. He’s got a great reputation and a lengthy losing streak. Jeb’s problem is that he hired guys with great reputations rather than picking the best and the brightest.

Washington’s pundits didn’t think things through. They thought that hiring people with lengthy resumes equated to hiring the best people. They’re seeing now that that isn’t the truth. The bad news is that that’s the least of Team Jeb’s worries:

On the stump, Bush has stuck to his pledge not to shift to the right to win the nomination, but his middle-of-the-road positions on immigration and education have come off more as out of step with the base of his party than shrewdly pragmatic. His wonky question-and-answer exchanges with voters sometimes resemble college lectures rather than a disarming appeal for votes.

Jeb’s biggest problem is Jeb. He’s robotic. He’s interested in antagonizing conservatives. There isn’t a mindset of ‘let’s win this together’. It’s mostly about Jeb.

That’s harmed other parts of Jeb’s campaign:

His operation’s ability to rake in large checks also fueled inflated expectations. Supporters acknowledged this week that an allied super PAC was likely to fall short — perhaps substantially — of predictions that it would bring in $100 million in the first half of the year.

If Jeb isn’t able to carpet-bomb the rest of the GOP field into submission, he won’t win the nomination. He simply isn’t a top tier candidate otherwise. Otherwise, he’s just another legacy candidate living off past headlines.

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