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Last night, the Democrat politicians in St. Louis Park voted to restore the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance before City Council meetings. In so doing, the Council officially recognized that reciting the Pledge was patriotic and inclusive.

Actually, that isn’t what they said. “At-Large Council Member Thom Miller, who introduced the amendment, said…the harassment from nonresidents was too much. “To be perfectly clear, I fully support the change we made in June to eliminate the Pledge of Allegiance from our standard meeting agenda.” Nonetheless, he voted to restore the reciting of the Pledge. Did he just say that he’s just another spineless politician? I think so.

What needs to be remembered is how this got started. This started with a terribly flawed process. No notice was given that this rule change was going to be voted on. In fact, citizens weren’t allowed to testify on the issue. That being said, the process was intentional. The City Council intended for citizens to not be able to testify. The last thing they wanted was for a bunch of uppity peasants to raise a ruckus. Like Rep. Omar, the St. Louis Park City Council thinks that they’re the citizens’ betters.

They aren’t the citizens’ betters. They’re just a bunch of arrogant politicians. Rep. Ryan Winkler, the House Majority Leader, is a total lightweight and a charlatan. He’s from Golden Valley. In the summer of 2017, Rep. Winkler criticized the Supreme Court for its opinion on the Voting Rights Act, saying “VRA majority is four accomplices to race discrimination and one Uncle Thomas.” When he was called on his usage of a nasty racist term, Winkler insisted that he didn’t know that Uncle Thomas was a racist term. At the time, I did a little digging into Winkler’s educational background. It turns out that Winkler graduated with a degree in History from Harvard. But I digress. Back to St. Louis Park.

The mayor, Jake Spano, missed the vote but issued a statement on the vote. He said that he wouldn’t have supported the rule change. That’s easy after the fact. Others were less diplomatic:

Ward 1 Council Member Margaret Rog echoed Miller’s sentiments, stating the feedback she’d gotten from residents had been “thoughtful and respectful” but that the same could not be said for those not from the city. “We don’t need to be at the epicenter of a manufactured standoff of what it means to be a good American,” she said, directing her message to St. Louis Park residents. “This circus needs to end.”

Stop making major decisions without asking for the citizens’ input next time. Had the City Council invited testimony before they voted, it’s likely they wouldn’t have made this mistake. Anne Mavity spoke out, too:

Anne Mavity, the councilwoman who proposed the original measure, remained defiant — even as she reversed her vote — and addressed the council’s critics. “I’m not sure that if you say the pledge three times a month instead of this two, you’re more patriotic,” Mavity said. “Or if you say it one time a month you’re less patriotic. That makes no sense.”

Defiant is exactly the right word. Mavity doesn’t care about the uppity peasants. That’s why she doesn’t understand them.

This is a fight over retaining one of the richest institutions of the United States. What other pledge states as a national goal “liberty and justice for all“? In Somalia, Ilhan Omar’s nation of origin, I’m betting that they’d be satisfied with liberty and justice once in awhile. By stating that each person is committed to liberty and justice for all, people are stating emphatically that our national goal soars high above our nation.

That’s why people want to come here. Yes, they enjoy the economic mobility, too, but most people fleeing their nations are fleeing nations where the laws are determined by dictators on a minute-by-minute basis.

That’s why it’s beyond odd that people want to eliminate the Pledge.

When it comes to the Constitution, lawyers should be relatively well-informed. John Ellenbecker is a long-time attorney in the St. Cloud area. In the interest of full disclosure, Ellenbecker and I were part of the same graduating class at Cathedral High School.

Ellenbecker’s constitutional ignorance was once again on display in this LTE’s comments when he said of Councilman Brandmire “In his Dec. 1, 2018 column in the Times Brandmire stated that he favors prohibiting additional Muslim settlement in St. Cloud (he described it as “I support the idea of closing the seemingly wide-open spigot of refugees coming here until we can assimilate those who are already here”) – which is contrary to his comment here. Closing the spigot is not a statement that you support a welcoming community. Closing the spigot is a violation of the constitutional rights of those he seeks to exclude from St. Cloud. Brandmire needs to clearly and unequivocally reverse his course and denounce efforts aimed at ‘closing the seemingly wide-open spigot of refugees coming here.'”

Having talked with Councilman Brandmire, I know that he understands that the City Council has an advisory role in the process, thanks to the Refugee Act of 1980. Saying that you support something isn’t the same as saying you’d overstep your authority. It simply means that he’d agree with that policy if that’s what the Trump administration settled on.

If Ellenbecker can’t figure out the difference between supporting something and writing an ordinance prohibiting refugees from getting settled here, then he went to the wrong law school. How is supporting a policy a violation of a refugee’s constitutional rights?

As for the statement that Councilman Brandmire’s statement isn’t “a statement that you support a welcoming community”, my questioning is ‘So what’? According to this website, the term welcoming community is kinda loaded:

The Standard will outline the policies, programs, and practices that local governments need to have in place —such as supporting new American civic participation; making services accessible; and engaging all residents, including both receiving communities and new Americans.

Apparently, conformity is required. If cities don’t conform, they don’t get certified. It’s impossible to hide the fact that WelcomingAmerica.com is about top-down, cookie-cutter government.

What part of that sounds anything like wisdom? The whole idea behind local government is to individualize policies to the greatest extent possible. WelcomingAmerica.com sounds like they operate from a federal government standpoint.

I strongly suggest that everyone read Councilman Brandmire’s op-ed. He doesn’t mince words nor does he sound unreasonable. It’s possible for people to disagree with him but it’s impossible to call him unreasonable.

As for Ellenbecker, he sounds like a Democrat who’s reading from DFL talking points. Whenever a Democrat talks about the Constitution, bet that it’s because it’s focus-group approved.

By now, the entire industrialized world knows that the St. Louis Park City Council voted unanimously to discontinue to recite the Pledge of Allegiance before their meetings. That isn’t news so I won’t beat that horse. It’s already dead. What hasn’t been discussed is whether there’s a bigger story that hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves. In my opinion, there’s another story that needs covering that’s just as important.

Mayor Jake Spano got it right when he said “It feels to me like we may have missed a step there and if we had that conversation, we might have been able to hear from our community about how they felt about this action.” First, let’s dispense with the “may have.” The City Council intentionally skipped that step. This was an ambush, pure and simple.

This isn’t a new tactic. The DFL ‘nonpartisans’ in other cities have used the “inclusive and welcoming” argument before to push through unpopular resolutions and rule changes. When St. Cloud wanted to ambush Councilman Jeff Johnson with a resolution on refugee resettlement, the put the resolution on the agenda at the last minute, then arranged for special interests, including CAIR-MN, to speak when the microphones opened up. They made sure average citizens didn’t have the chance for input.

When St. Louis Park voted to drop the Pledge, the public didn’t have the opportunity to testify. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? When I led the Vote No campaign to sink the bonding referendum, I tirelessly told LFR readers that the ISD 742 School Board was trying to keep the referendum as low profile as possible. Stealth was its chief tactic. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Are you sensing a pattern yet?

The DFL locally and Democrats nationally don’t win arguments anymore. They don’t bother trying, in fact. They call people who oppose them bigots or racists, instead. Once upon a time, Democrats consistently insisted on openness and fairness. Now, they insist on those things only when it helps them. There’s nothing consistent about it anymore.

During this past Monday night’s study session, the St. Louis Park City Council hoped to not to take public testimony:

According to WCCO news, the session was meant to re-address the council’s unanimous decision to drop the Pledge of Allegiance from council meetings. The session was not meant to include public input, but that did not stop community members from interrupting.

People were already pissed with the Council’s decision. They held this study session to plot a path forward. Their intention was to restrict or eliminate input from their constituents. What part of that sounds like a plan to resolve this outcry?

Passing this rules change without public input is what got the Council in trouble. Did they think that plotting political strategy without public input would help fix this problem? Only people who are totally out of touch would think that would fix things.

This looks like white gas getting poured on a raging fire:

The pattern that’s emerged is for Democrats to restrict public testimony and/or to accuse people who oppose them of being racists. Fortunately, the DFL hasn’t called these patriots racists — yet.

One thing that I didn’t mention when I wrote this post is the importance of constitutional republics. Without that system of government, what you’d really have is mob rule.

Let’s refresh your memory on what happened Monday night at the St. Cloud City Council meeting. BTW, why is so much happening at city council meetings this week? We’ll return to that later. At Monday night’s St. Cloud City Council meeting, members of various DFL front groups showed up with an anti-election agenda. Some of the DFL partisans asked for Paul Brandmire and Mike Conway to resign from their council positions. Others from these DFL front groups petitioned the Council to kick Mssrs. Brandmire and Conway off the Council.

The reason for those actions wasn’t specifically stated but it’s pretty clear why these DFL front groups want Brandmire and Conway gone. Both of these gentlemen have done their job by asking questions about the refugee resettlement program.

The crowd included members from the East Central Area Labor Council, TakeAction Minnesota and #UniteCloud, according to Jane Conrad, field representative for East Central Labor Council. Conrad called out council members Brandmire, who was quoted in the New York Times story, and Conway for being publicly sympathetic to the C-Cubed group that she calls “anti-refugee and anti-Muslim.”

It’s worth noting that C-Cubed isn’t funded by special interests. It isn’t an AstroTurf organization. It’s a legitimate grass roots organization. By comparison, TakeAction Minnesota, #UniteCloud and the East Central Area Labor Council are DFL front groups.

It’s worth noting that Jane Conrad is a longtime DFL activist/operative.

Owen Saucedo, a St. Cloud resident, spoke on behalf of the labor council. He asked both Brandmire and Conway to resign and if not, for the city council to censure them to show “it rejects bigotry in all its forms.”

That’s pretty drastic. There’s nothing bigoted about Brandmire or Conway. I’ve known both men a fair amount of time. I wouldn’t hesitate a split-second to state under oath that these men are men of integrity and not men with hostile animus.

Conrad and Saucedo both talked of Islamophobia and racism. How shameful. That’s the language of desperate people. It’s unsubstantiated. Worst of all, it’s the language of people who aren’t interested in winning a debate. Conrad especially just wants to win fights.

Winning a debate requires the ability to listen, persuasive logic and an understanding of what principles are most essential for the health of a society. Winning a fight just means being the biggest, baddest bad-ass in the fight. Right now, these DFL front groups aren’t equipped to win debates. They’re built to win fights. Winning fights is for juveniles. Winning debates is for adults.

In the meantime, I’ll just thank our Founding Fathers for giving us a constitutional republic, not mob rule.

Something that I missed in this post was something that Anne Mavity said in explaining why she submitted a rules change that would stop the St. Louis Park City Council from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance before City Council meetings.

The article said “Council member Anne Mavity, who sponsored the rules change, told KARE 11 that she didn’t feel saying the pledge was necessary, especially for non-citizens.” That’s bassackwards thinking. Do we want refugees to assimilate or do we want them clinging to their society’s norms? Newt Gingrich had it right when he stated that we aren’t a multi-cultural nation, that we’re instead a multi-ethnic nation.

It’s apparent that Mavity is utterly clueless. According to this article, Mavity said “As a proud American, I’m appalled that our little suburban community’s meeting protocols have sparked this polarizing conversation.” Would a “proud American” think that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance is “polarizing”? Those things don’t mesh together whatsoever.

If you’re a proud American, affirming your loyalty to the greatest nation in the history of mankind is a privilege. It isn’t polarizing. Further, if parts of the population find American ideals distasteful or polarizing, perhaps it’s those people that need to re-examine their loyalties. This video is disturbing:

KARE11’s Jon Lauritsen reported that “Public input was not supposed to be part of Monday night’s study session.” It’s worth noting that the main topic for Monday night’s study session was the rule change eliminating the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance at City Council meetings. People were furious because the rules change was passed unanimously without public input.

Conservatives push for local control of issues. That being said, they also push for accountability and listening to constituents. The whole idea behind local control is so We The People have maximum input.

Finally, Mavity’s depravity is frightening because, according to her public statements, she doesn’t understand why a simple little rule change should be controversial. What a dipstick. This isn’t about making a simple rule change. It’s about why the St. Louis Park City Council thinks that pledging allegiance to this great nation is controversial. What a dipstick!

A coalition of DFL activists, a significant portion of whom are paid activists, organized a resist movement event at Monday night’s St. Cloud City Council Meeting. Included in the coalition of DFL activists were “the East Central Area Labor Council, TakeAction Minnesota and #UniteCloud, according to Jane Conrad, field representative for East Central Labor Council.” TakeAction Minnesota is one of the most hardline progressive organizations in Minnesota.

I wrote about TakeAction Minnesota’s depravity in this post because they went out to then-Congressman Jason Lewis’ home to spread their fear and hatred to Lewis’s family and neighbors by trespassing on Lewis’s property. What’s ridiculous is that Monday night’s activists carried signs that read “We are greater than hate”:

TakeAction Minnesota is among the greatest fear-mongers in the state. TAM is one of the weapons that the DFL uses to stifle debate. They aren’t about civic pride. They’re about shutting down debate. They’re about intimidation. If TAM didn’t have fear and intimidation, they wouldn’t be activists.

As for #UniteCloud, that organization specializes in preventing transparency and accountability. Whenever someone asks for information on how much the refugee resettlement program costs, #UniteCloud reflexively accuses that person of being Islamophobic and racist. This DFL hate group isn’t interested in having a discussion about the program itself. It’s about overthrowing an election of 2 conservatives. (The rest of the City Council are either progressives or Chamber of Commerce Republicans, aka crony capitalists.) The last thing the DFL’s shadow organizations want is to deal with people who know how to articulate a principled message.

Loyal readers of LFR have reported that ISAIAH/GRIP was out in force Monday night, too. These organizations portray themselves as religious organizations. That’s fiction. They’re another DFL front organization. In 2010, ISAIAH/GRIP published “three ‘Shining the Light’ reports, co-authored by the Kirwan Institute for Race and Ethnicity.” The Kirwan Institute identifies themselves as dealing with implicit bias. In their own words, implicit bias “affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. These biases, which encompass both favorable and unfavorable assessments, are activated involuntarily and without an individual’s awareness or intentional control. Residing deep in the subconscious, these biases are different from known biases that individuals may choose to conceal for the purposes of social and/or political correctness. Rather, implicit biases are not accessible through introspection.”

In other words, one of the organizations attacking Paul Brandmire and Mike Conway think that people possess biases that they’re unaware of and that they can’t control. But I digress.

Conway said Brandmire, by agreeing to be interviewed for the story, was “trying to have an open discussion. All he did was he noticed. You bring in 20,000 people, I don’t care where they are from, you bring them in from anywhere in a short period of time, you are going have people say, ‘Oh, that’s different,'” Conway said. “Paul is not a racist. I’m not a racist. We’re not bigoted. We just are the ones who are saying, ‘Hey, there are some differences going on. We need to find out how to make those things work.'”

The message that ISAIAH/GRIP, TakeAction Minnesota and #UniteCloud want to put out there is that Republicans are racists. The truth is irrelevant to them, which is disgusting. These DFL front organizations aren’t about having a conversation. They’re about shutting down debate.

UPDATE: This is the speaker who called for the resignations:

This is the speaker representing the labor unions:

Let’s be clear about this. The DFL was behind this artificial uprising. This wasn’t happenstance. The DFL doesn’t like Republicans serving anywhere. That’s why this happened.

John Ellenbecker, St. Cloud’s former mayor, is the worst kind of bigot. Like too many leftists, he’s heard things that’ve never gotten said. He’s certain of things that he doesn’t have proof for. This LTE caused lots of comments, including this comment from Mr. Ellenbecker:

the proposed moratorium WAS/IS about excluding people from St. Cloud. The desire to exclude people from St Cloud is based upon bigotry – that is a simple fact. You can delude yourself if you like – but bigotry is bigotry – and it is alive and well and living in those who proposed the moratorium. Bigots aren’t bigots because they disagree with me. Bigots are bigots because of what is in their heart and soul. Rather than arguing with me why not examine why you don’t want Somali Americans residing next to you.

This is simple fact? Forgive me if I’m not persuaded by Mr. Ellenbecker’s allegations. What’s his proof? FYI- Mr. Ellenbecker went to law school. I don’t know if he’s still a lawyer because I’ve heard that he’s had some ethical difficulties. He should be familiar with the concept of presenting verifiable evidence. Apparently, the law school he attended taught him that allegations are verifiable proof.

Here’s how Robert Ahles responded to Mr. Ellenbecker:

You keep making things up. No one mentioned Somali Americans or them residing next to me, next to Dave Bechtold, or next to many community member concerned about the additional taxpayer costs. I’m guessing I’d probably rather live next to a Somali American than next to a John Ellenbecker.

Well played, Mr. Ahles. Stick in the proverbial dagger, then give it a sharp twist or 2.

This isn’t surprising when you think about it. Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee insisted that then-Judge Kavanaugh shouldn’t be afforded the presumption of innocence. The Obama administration’s Department of Education sent out a guidance letter instructing universities not to give people who were accused of sexual assault the right to an attorney, the right to cross-examine his accuser or any other due process rights.

Is it any wonder why lots of people don’t think that Democrats care about the Constitution or the Bill of Rights?

After reading Councilman-elect Paul Brandmire’s editorial, it’s clear that a significant portion of our community isn’t interested in listening. It’s apparent, too, that another significant portion of our community doesn’t understand the US Constitution.

In his LTE, Councilman-elect Brandmire wrote “when thousands of people from a very different background are transplanted into the middle of that region in a very short period of time without the population having any say in that decision, it’s going to cause friction and take some time to adjust.”

Later, Brandmire said this:

That is why I support the idea of closing the seemingly wide-open spigot of refugees coming here until we can assimilate those who are already here.

One of the commenters replied “Brandmire’s side has been listened to, extensively, but as Don points out above, that side has pushed for an unworkable and un-Constitutional solution.” Actually, “Brandmire’s side” wasn’t tolerated. They were ambushed. They were called haters and Islamophobes. They were treated like they weren’t welcome in their own city:

There’s nothing unconstitutional about letting the federal government know we can’t absorb all of the refugees they’d been sending us. There’s nothing improper about telling the federal government that there’s a limit to how many refugees St. Cloud can support. Finally, there’s nothing unconstitutional to passing a resolution stating these things.

FYI- Monday night, I’ll be addressing the St. Cloud City Council. I hope to highlight the fact that several of the councilmembers haven’t listened to the people worth a damn. My councilmember, Steve Laraway, thinks that St. Cloud is a great place to live even though one-fourth St. Cloud’s population lives below the poverty level. Dave Masters, who represents St. Cloud’s First Ward, was offended by hats that said “Make St. Cloud Great Again” because, according to him, St. Cloud already is great. Masters thinks that despite the fact that St. Cloud’s violent crime was almost double the rate of Minnesota’s rate per 100,000 people.

In this Strib article, Strib reporter Kelly Smith quotes St. Cloud City Councilman Dave Masters as saying “This one group [C-Cubed] doesn’t speak for all residents. I think we need to come together to work together to make St. Cloud a better place.”

This is the same Dave Masters who was offended when citizens showed up to a September City Council meeting wearing red caps that said “Make St. Cloud Great Again.” At the time, Masters insisted that St. Cloud was already great. (That sounds like Steve Laraway, doesn’t it?) How can a city with one-fourth of its people living below the poverty level be great?

A regular reader of LFR sent me some crime statistics comparing St. Cloud’s crime rates with Sartell’s crime rates. Here’s that graphic:

According to these statistics, violent crime per 100,000 people is about double in St. Cloud what it is nationally. With a high violent crime rate and exceptionally high poverty rate, how can Mssrs. Laraway and Masters tell people that St. Cloud is a great place to live?

Frankly, we need to fire all of these delusional politicians and replace them with people who don’t buy rose-colored glasses in bulk. I’d keep George Hontos and the 2 newly-elected city councilmembers and fire the rest — including Mayor Kleis. This isn’t a situation where a little tinkering around the edges will suffice. It’s a situation where real leadership and time-tested policies are required.

Carol Lewis, Jeff Goerger and Kleis must go. Ditto with Laraway and Masters. Eliminate any of these politicians’ supporters, too. We don’t need more of the same failed policies. If you’re interested in rebuilding St. Cloud and turning it into a prosperous city once again, it’s time to step forward. If you think that things are just fine as they are, I’d suggest that you consider spending more time with your family.

There’s no question that my councilman, Steve Laraway, wears rose-colored glasses. At least, there isn’t any question about that after reading Mr. Laraway’s recent LTE.

In his LTE, Mr. Laraway sneered down his nose at his constituents, saying “We have just gone through an election season that once again focused on division and negatives about the candidates, their voting record, how they might vote or how poorly they represent their constituents. In the campaign for St. Cloud City Council, we consistently heard how bad things were in St. Cloud. Quite honestly, I love living in St. Cloud. I put together a list of 10 things I love about St. Cloud. This list is not all-encompassing, but are my thoughts. The list includes:”

  1. Munsinger and Clemens Gardens and all the other parks and trails in St. Cloud — top tourist attractions right here;
  2. Entertainment venues such as The Paramount and Pioneer Place;
  3. Our proximity to the Mississippi River, the river brings history and beauty every day;
  4. Outdoor gatherings such as Summertime by George, Fifth Avenue Live and the Cathedral Block Party;
  5. The beautiful and diverse neighborhoods;
  6. The Stearns History Museum and the Great River Regional Library: Both allow us to learn from our past;
  7. The YMCA and Whitney Senior Center;
  8. The St. Cloud Hospital and CentraCare;
  9. World-class music options: We can listen to music as varied as the Fabulous Armadillos or the St. John’s Boys’ Choir; and
  10. Higher education: We have access to top-notch higher education opportunities.

First, it isn’t surprising that Mr. Laraway praised CentraCare since he sits on their board. Next, people must wonder what solar system Mr. Laraway is from if he thinks that “we have access to top-notch higher education opportunities.” What Mr. Laraway didn’t mention is that St. Cloud’s economic metrics are terrible.

According to the Census Bureau’s website, the median household income for the state of Minnesota is $63,217 in 2016 dollars. The percent of people in Minnesota living below the Federal Poverty Level, aka FPL, was 9.5%. By comparison, Hibbing’s median household income was $42,004 while 18.2% of its residents lived below the FPL. Sartell, St. Cloud’s neighbor to the north, has a median household income of $71,959 while 4% of its residents live below the FPL.

Sit down before you read this set of statistics. The median household income for St. Cloud was $45,223. An astronomical (and frankly immoral) 23.2% of St. Cloud residents live below the FPL! How dare Mr. Laraway suggest that St. Cloud is a great place to live when one-fourth of its population is living below the Federal Poverty Level. For that matter, Dave Masters should be ashamed of himself for saying that St. Cloud already was a great place to live.

Masters and Laraway are delusional or dishonest. At this point, it’s possible they’re both.