Archive for April, 2013

When President Potter met with SCSU Aviation students, he said “I just have this to say about the aviation program being closed, the decision has been made, the chancellor signed off on that decision…” He’s absolutely right. The decision was made. Chancellor Steve Rosenstone signed off on the decision. It’s also true that the things he said are totally irrelevant.

In his installation speech, Chancellor Rosenstone made this statement:

For more than 150 years, our colleges and universities have prepared Minnesota’s workforce. We have supplied skilled workers and professionals to lead new and growing companies, and we have educated the Minnesotans who knit together the fabric of our communities, from teachers and social workers to police officers and nurses.

If it’s determined that it’s important for MnSCU to continue supplying “skilled workers and professionals to lead new and growing companies”, then it’s time to put action to those words. The famous economist John Maynard Keynes was once questioned why he had changed his mind. Here’s Keynes’ reply:

“When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”

When President Potter announced the closing of SCSU’s Aviation program, it’s possible he didn’t know about the looming pilot shortage. It’s possible that he ignored the information. It’s possible that President Potter doesn’t think supplying “skilled workers” to “growing companies” is an important priority.

There are some indisputable things that must be considered:

  • There’s a pilot shortage that’s waiting for a solution.
  • That shortage threatens grounding planes, giving business travellers fewer options when they have to travel.
  • St. Cloud State has the opportunity to help be part of the solution to that problem.
  • There’s a shortage of airplane maintenance workers.
  • St. Cloud Technical and Community College has the opportunity to be part of the solution to that problem.
  • The City of St. Cloud wants to bring a regional air carrier to the St. Cloud Regional Airport.
  • Having St. Cloud State be the major supplier of pilots to the pilot pipeline might be the final piece of the puzzle to bringing regional air service to St. Cloud.

Considering these things, why wouldn’t St. Cloud State keep the program open? A visionary leader would jump at the opportunity to be a solution provider, especially if it’s a solution that would positively and powerfully impact the city he lives in.

Earlier in this post, I referenced John Maynard Keynes’ quote. I did that to highlight the fact that it’s ok to change directions if it’s for the right reasons. I’d argue that it isn’t just ok to change your mind for the right principles. I’d argue that it’s imperative.

If President Potter wants to be part of these solutions, he must change his mind. If he rejects that opportunity, then he’ll be credited with making a bad decision on an important issue.

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In March of 2011, Sen. Bakk hinted that Republicans didn’t have the sufficient experience to run the Senate. Yesterday, the DFL-controlled Senate laid the biggest egg in Minnesota legislative history:

There were a few hiccups along the way but the Minnesota Senate voted for a tax bill that raises income taxes on top earners, increases tobacco taxes and expands the sales tax to clothing and other services.

The bill’s final passage came after the Senate initially defeated the measure. Senate Democrats quickly met in private and then voted to reconsider the initial vote.

Two Democrats switched their votes. Sen. Greg Clausen, DFL- Apple Valley, says he switched his vote from no to yes because he was worried the Senate would not be able to commit to spending priorities if the tax bill failed. “For me, what it came down to quite honestly is that we made a lot of gains in education,” Clausen said. “I ran on an education platform and I wasn’t willing to put those education investments at risk by not having this tax bill.”

DFL Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk says several DFL members were confused when a few Republicans signaled they would support the bill but eventually switched to a no vote. “There were people that voted no because they thought there were plenty of votes up to pass it,” Bakk said. “I think people didn’t realize that people were going to play a little trick when the roll was closed and switch their vote back. I think there would have easily been the same number of votes had the Republicans had been honest and put up their red vote when the roll was called.”

Bakk said he didn’t twist arms to convince Clausen or Sen. John Hoffman, DFL-Champlin, to switch their votes. Sen. Ann Rest, DFL-New Hope, also voted for the bill after not voting the first time.

Mr. Scheck was spinning the Senate’s vote on the Tax Bill when he said “there were a few hiccups along the way” to passing the Senate Tax Bill. Having a big majority in the legislature means that you pass the bills you prioritize. Getting the DFL’s highest priority bill defeated might be proof of outright sloppiness on Sen. Bakk’s behalf. Either that or Sen. Clausen and Sen. Hoffman got lectured for thinking they were elected to represent their district’s wishes.

When Sen. Bakk lectured Republicans about the need for experienced leadership, little did anyone think that they’d see Sen. Bakk look the part of inept freshman legislator in his first week in St. Paul. Monday, that’s precisely what Sen. Bakk looked like.

It’s bad enough that the DFL got the policies wrong. It’s worse that they got the policies wrong, then had to vote a second time to pass tax policies that will a) raise taxes on the middle class, b) hurt Minnesota’s economy, c) drive companies from Minnesota and d) hurt Minnesota’s retailers.

When Minnesotans elected a DFL majority to the Senate, I’m certain they didn’t think they were voting for middle class tax increases and Sen. Bakk’s inept leadership. Unfortunately, that’s what we’re stuck with for the next 3 years.

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This statement on Workday Minnesota’s website is spin. Take this statement:

MAPE, the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees, and AFSCME Council 5 denounced the corporate-backed “United for Jobs” initiative as a misleading and deceptive paid advertising campaign. The ads target Governor Mark Dayton’s proposal to raise more revenue for public services by raising taxes on the wealthiest Minnesotans.

“While the TV and radio ads are designed to make the audience believe that ‘United for Jobs’ wants to safeguard Minnesota families and small businesses, in reality, ‘United for Jobs’ is funded by corporate advocacy groups that want to protect the pocket books of their multi-millionaire members,” the unions said.

Here’s the TV ad that’s been running for about a week:

Here’s the transcript of the ad:

NARRATOR: Minnesotans pay some of the highest taxes in America. Now some Minnesota politicians want you to pay even more. They’d raise the income tax to be the second highest in the country to fuel a nearly $2 billion spending increase. There’s a more responsible way. Go line-by-line. Cut the waste. Do your jobs. Make government more efficient and effective. Be accountable for every taxpayer dollar you spend. Tell Gov. Dayton and DFL legislators they don’t need more of your money. They need to spend it better.

While it’s true that the ad highlights the DFL’s proposed income tax increase, it’s misleading and deceptive to say that the ad “targets Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposal to raise more revenue for public services by raising taxes on the wealthiest Minnesotans.”

First, the ad highlights the need for politicians to “go line-by-line” through the budget and to “cut the waste” from the budget. In that context, the focus is on the legislature to do its job of spending the taxpayers’ money wisely.

Second, the ad points the spotlight at “Gov. Dayton and DFL legislators,” not just Gov. Dayton. That’s perfectly appropriate because it highlights the fact that Gov. Dayton, Sen. Bakk and Speaker Thissen are threatening to raise the rates on regressive taxes as well as raising the top income tax rate. Then there’s this statement:

The unions said the ads also mislead the audience into believing that the Governor’s tax proposal for the wealthiest 2 percent of Minnesotans will raise taxes on “hard-working Minnesotans” – insinuating that all Minnesotans will get a tax increase. This is not true. The Governor’s proposal is a targeted tax increase to have the wealthiest pay their fair share, the unions said.

The unions’ statements are intentionally misleading. Their leadership knows that the DFL’s tax bills propose raising the tax on cigarettes by $1.60 per pack and the liquor excise tax from $4.60 a barrel on beer to $27.75 per barrel.

Sin taxes are necessarily regressive. They hit people who aren’t “the wealthiest Minnesotans” because they’re paid by everyone regardless of income. I’d love hearing Eliot Seide explain how AFSCME’s statement is accurate. In fact, I’d sell tickets to that event. I’d sell popcorn at that event, too. It’d be fun watching Seide slip and slither, twist and turn while doing his best to not answer my questions.

Seide, Gov. Dayton, Speaker Thissen, Sen. Bakk and their allies know this ad hits them hard. That’s why they’re responding with this dishonest counterattack.

Seide and company better be prepared to spend tons of money on their advertising campaign because the DFL has given these pro-business groups tons upon tons of ammunition with their tax bills. They’d better pack a lunch for this fight because AFSCME and MAPE will be fighting this fight for quite awhile.

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After announcing that SCSU was shutting the Aviation program, 5 students met with President Potter to find out why he made that decision. Tonight, Logan Vold, one of the students in the meeting, sent me the email he sent to the student faculty. Here’s the text of that email:

Hi Redacted Name,

My name is Logan Vold and I’m a senior aviation student at SCSU. I wanted to mention to you that I was one of 5 students/graduates who met with President Potter personally regarding the aviation program closure.

5 students, including myself, took a meeting with President Potter back in August (second week of school). I wanted to let you know how that meeting went.

I never felt so embarrassed knowing we have a university president who acts like this. As soon as we sat down in the conference room (his office) we were told that and I quote, “I just have this to say about the aviation program being closed, the decision has been made, the chancellor signed off on that decision, and Dr. Johnson has been reluctant to accept that decision and I have held back from filing insubordination charges, because I find his actions to be insubordinate…”

My question to you, Samantha, is what faculty member, especially a president of a university, will mention faculty members names to students in this context? I find this to be a violation of university code of conduct/ethics, especially privacy issues.

Furthermore, later, as the meeting progressed, President Potter yelled at myself, as well as another student. He raised his voice at me and mentioned, “do not take that tone with me…” while he leaned over the table with both hands on the table. At this point, I literally shut down as the other 4 individuals resumed the meeting. He also yelled at another student with the same tone and words.

I don’t know what can be done, but my point is that I find it grossly violating university code of conduct policies of what was between us and President Potter. The reason I’m emailing you so late is because we came together to collect a list of what was said at the meeting that we all can stand by and life got busy.

After witnessing President Potter’s actions at this meeting and seeing what the media is portraying about the closing of the aviation program, I find it all political and I encourage you to read the following articles that I’m including the links to.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me.

Logan Vold

Simply put, President Potter’s actions were totally undignified and unhinged, especially in the context of him talking with students about their professor.

Another thing that’s highly questionable is President Potter’s talking personnel issues in public. When he terminated Mahmoud Saffari, people questioned him about why Saffari was terminated:

According to an earlier statement from one of the protesters, Saffari was led by security off the campus, relieved of his keys, and was not allowed access to his office or staff. In response, a speaker stated that the president will not release any information because of confidentiality agreements.

President Potter cited the need for confidentiality on personnel matters when it suited him but didn’t think confidentiality on personnel matters was important when lashing out at a professor who questioned President Potter’s decisions.

This email is proof that President Potter didn’t think twice about undercutting a professor in front of the professor’s students.

At the Fall Convocation in 2012, President Potter urged those gathered for a new era of civility:

With much work behind us and an increased capacity to deal with the many challenges that we face we now focus on the priorities for the coming year. They include three defined by Chancellor Rosenstone:

•Offering our students an extraordinary education
•Being the partner of choice for Minnesota’s employers
•Maintaining access, affordability and opportunity for all students

To these three priorities we add a fourth that is perhaps peculiar to St. Cloud State University…the development of a culture that is characterized by the ability to deal with difficult issues with respect in an atmosphere of civility.

Apparently, dealing “with difficult issues with respect in an atmosphere of civility” is important to President Potter on a selective basis. It’s obvious it isn’t consistently a priority with President Potter. Put differently, President Potter believes in a policy of civility from thee but not from me.

University presidents’ behavior should be held to the highest standards. President Potter’s behavior in this matter doesn’t come close to meeting that standard. What’s most demoralizing is that this isn’t the only time when President Potter’s behavior has been this unhinged.

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It anything comes through in this statement, it’s the DFL’s stated intention to spend the taxpayers’ money recklessly. Here’s an example:

Aiming for a course correction after a decade of disinvestment, the House and Senate are likely to take up historic education bills next week at the State Capitol. Some the features of those bills include:

  • Investing in what works – early learning: New investments to fund early education and all-day kindergarten, helping Minnesota students get on the right track early.
  • Strategic funding for K-12 schools: Increasing per pupil funding for Minnesota schools throughout the state.
  • Reducing college tuition and debt: Making the first investment in higher education in a decade to ease the burden of skyrocketing tuition and student debt.
  • Dr. John Kern debunked the all-day Pre-K myth:

    Primary Findings
    The consensus I found is that: 1) socioeconomic conditions are the single largest determinant of success in school and life, 2) benefits of intervention accrue primarily to children in dire socioeconomic circumstances, and 3) benefits to the general population are minimal, fading by third grade, presumably because they are getting what they need in their home environments.

    Dr. Kern later noted:

    I reviewed Dr. Rolnick’s calculations and indeed, the benefits for 123 pre-school children studied in Ypsilanti Michigan, were giant—50% reduced incarceration rates. However, in their policy discussions, Rolnick and Grunewald downplay the nominal 50% incarceration rate in this community. Yes, the return on investment supporting now famous claims of 17-dollar ROI…are based almost entirely on money saved by reducing incarceration rates from 50% to 25%.

    In spite of the highly unusual nature of the circumstances surrounding these children’s lives, proponents of these programs regularly extrapolate a 17 to 1 ROI to every dollar spent on virtually any early childhood program. It is extremely cynical or delusional that Rolnick and Grunewald fail to emphasize the critical caveats to these estimates based on just 123 subjects from one pre-school in desperate need of help.

    In other words, all-day Pre-K is just spin to spend tons of money on the Education Minnesota wish list. It doesn’t help kids. It helps the unions while raiding taxpayers’ wallets.

    It’s insulting to hear Thissen talk about “reducing college tuition and debt” without hearing Thissen talk about reducing the cost of higher ed. Furthermore, why isn’t Thissen talking about how MnSCU is helping SCSU administrators cover up the deleting of hundreds of grades from students’ transcripts?

    “The other piece of it is that it’s difficult to do some things like helping with student success, some things like doing accurate assessment if people disappear from our records and we don’t have that information in our records anymore or if we learn for example that, and this is kind of an odd example I suppose, you don’t know that a student has taken a course three times because there is no record of it and the student is in there for the fourth time and you’re trying to figure out a way to help that student be successful and yet you’re blindsided by this lack of information.

    Having a student’s transcript omit the fact that he/she has taken and failed a class 3 times isn’t a minor clerical mistake. It’s the Potter administration’s deletion of transcript information. Might some of these deleted grades be in classes that the student got federal or state grants?

    Is that the type of disgusting behavior taxpayers should be subsidizing? I think not.

    Why aren’t Speaker Thissen, Sen. Bakk, Sen. Bonoff and Rep. Pelowski talking about the U of M spending money on an event aimed at helping undergraduate women achieve more and better orgasms? Here’s what the event description includes:

    The university’s official online description of the event entitled, ‘The Female Orgasm,’ describes it as open to both male and female students. ‘Orgasm aficionados and beginners of all genders are welcome to come learn about everything from multiple orgasms to that mysterious G-spot,’ reads the description posted on the school’s official events calendar. ‘Whether you want to learn how to have your first orgasm, how to have better ones, or how to help you girlfriend, Kate and Marshall cover it all…’ it adds. ‘Are you coming?’ it asks.

    I don’t know how this event is paid for. If it’s being paid for with the taxpayers’ money or through student fees, then it’s wrong. If people want to pay for something like this with their money, that’s their business. If they want to pay for it with the taxpayers’ money, that isn’t acceptable.

    Speaker Thissen talks about historic investments in education. What he didn’t talk about is the tons of money that’s recklessly misspent. It’s noteworthy that Speaker Thissen won’t talk about the SCSU transcript scandal, either. Apparently, it’s ok with Thissen if administrators are changing student transcripts without the professors’ signing off on the changes.

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  • One pattern that’s emerged about Vikings GM Rick Spielman is that he’s fearless when it comes to trading up or down in the NFL draft.

    For instance, last year, Spielman figured out a way to Cleveland into trading up a spot to get Trent Richardson. Then Spielman got Matt Kalil, the player he’d planned on taking all along with Cleveland’s pick. Then he paired one of the picks he got from Cleveland with the Vikings’ second round pick to take Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith. Kalil played in the Pro Bowl after his first season. Smith played great all season, pulling the secondary together all season.

    This past year, Percy Harvin wore out his welcome in Minnesota by telling the world that he couldn’t work with Leslie Frazier. Frazier’s reputation is that of being a player’s coach with tons of integrity. It wasn’t surprising to hear that Spielman traded Harvin as soon as he was able to. What was surprising was that he got Seattle’s first round pick this year and third round pick in 2014 in exchange for Harvin.

    Thursday night, the Vikings used their pick, the 23rd overall, to pick Florida DT Sharrif Floyd. Of all the mock drafts I went through, none had Floyd dropping past the Titans with the 10th pick. (Frankly, Ed, I was stunned that Pittsburgh passed on Floyd to take Georgia LB Jarvis Jones.) Most mocks I read had Floyd going to the Raiders with the third overall pick. Most scouts had him rated the top DT in the draft.

    With the 25th pick overal, the pick they got from Seattle, the Vikings picked FSU CB Xavier Rhodes. Rhodes is a great fit for the Vikings because of who’s in the NFC North. The Vikings will face Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall twice per season for the forseeable future. Having a 6’2″ CB with 4.4 speed to match up against Johnson and Marshall is a big plus.

    The shock for the Vikings came while Spielman was conducting an interview after what was supposed to be the Vikings’ final pick of the first round. While doing the interview, the Patriots called, asking if Minnesota was interested in trading back into the first round.

    After Spielman and Belicheck worked out the details, the Vikings used the Patriots’ pick, 29th overall, to pick Tennessee WR Cordarrelle Patterson. While Patterson is a raw talent that will need some coaching both from Vikings WR Coach George Stewart and WR Greg Jennings, there’s no question about Patterson’s talent.

    In my opinion, the Vikings are the perfect fit for Patterson. First, let’s talk about what he brings to the Vikings’ offense. He’s big (6’2″, 217 lbs.), fast (4.39 in the forty) and dynamic in run after the catch situations. Next, he’ll be coached by George Stewart, the guy who coached up Jerry Rice and John Taylor. Rice thinks that Stewart is one of the best WR coaches in the league. That’s good enough for me.

    Finally, Greg Jennings is a consummate professional. He’ll teach Patterson the importance of putting time in studying film of his opponents. He’ll teach him how to hone his skills, especially his route-running and catching abilities. As a rookie, Patterson’s biggest contributions might be returning kickoffs and lifting the lid off of defenses.

    In 2010 and 2012, defenses tried stacking 8 and 9 men in the box to stop Adrian Peterson, daring the Vikings to beat them with their wideouts. With Patterson running past defenders, stacking the box to stop Adrian will come with a steep, steep price.

    The price for getting Patterson is steep but worth it. The Vikings gave up their picks in the 2nd, third, their first pick in the fourth and their last pick in the 7th round. Still, it’s definitely worth it. From Spielman’s perspective, he replaced Harvin with Jennings, then got the top DT in the draft, the second best CB in this draft and an explosive WR/KR with what essentially are the equivalent of a first round pick, a second round pick and a third round pick.

    Simply put, Rick Spielman swung for the fences Thursday night. While he didn’t hit a grand slam, he certainly hit one off the base of the fence in deep right-center.

    Rep. Pat Garofalo ripped the DFL as out of control during this speech during the DFL tax increase debate:

    There were 2 highlights during the speech. Both related to the silica sand tax included in the House DFL tax increase bill.

    Here’s what Rep. Garofalo said about that tax:

    You’re gonna actually tax an industry out of existence with a tax on silica mining. I actually had a liberal activist say to me they thought that by raising taxes on silica mining, they would somehow impact the fracking in North Dakota. (Laughter in background) Spoiler alert. They’re gonna get the sand from other states. Doesn’t matter. It’s gonna have no impact whatsoever on other states’ ability to do fracking of natural gas and oil but it will kill jobs here. And it’s not business groups saying that. It’s not small businesses saying it.

    We’ve heard from the local 49ers. We’ve heard from the local unions. In fact, members, this is how totally delusional this tax increase is: Mark Dayton actually labeled the House DFL silica sand tax “ridiculous.” So when a tax increase is so high that Gov. Dayton labels it ridiculous, you know you’re checked out for lunch.

    That’s stunning. A DFL activist thinks that killing jobs in Minnesota will shut down the Bakken. That isn’t stupid. That’s beyond frightening. And that isn’t the most frightening part of this.

    The truly frightening part of this is that Gov. Dayton, the man whose every thought is to raise taxes, thinks the silica sand tax is “ridiculous.” When a taxaholic like Gov. Dayton thinks that a tax increase goes too far, red flags should go off immediately.

    I wrote here about the differing DFL tax bills, characterizing them as disastrous and counterproductive. Little did I know just how disastrous and counterproductive the DFL tax bills were. This is downright frightening.

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    True to their waste-aholic history, the DFL legislature voted against government accountability:

    A commission designed to judge whether state agencies, councils or boards have outlived their usefulness may itself cease to exist.

    The Democratic-controlled House and Senate have voted to abolish the Sunset Advisory Commission, a 12-member commission championed by Republicans as offering greater accountability and efficiency in state government.

    “I think they’re (Democrats) scared,” Rep. Joyce Peppin, R-Rogers, said of taking tough votes on the commission.

    A product of 2011 legislation, the Sunset Advisory Commission is patterned after a 30-year-old commission in Texas, one billed as having saved the Lone Star State almost $1 billion at a cost of about $33 million.

    Minnesota’s Sunset Commission reviews state agencies and recommends whether a given agency should continue to exist.

    Rep. Peppin is right. DFL legislators don’t want to vote on wasteful spending. DFL legislators don’t want to admit that their pet agencies, councils and panels are actually patronage positions.

    The DFL is spinning their vote:

    The idea of duplication was voiced by another commission member, Rep. Michael Nelson, DFL-Brooklyn Park. “One of the tasks of the sunset commission is to get rid of duplicative government functions,” he said. There’s already the Office of the Legislative Auditor.

    Why have both? Nelson asks.

    Rep. Nelson, we need both because it’s apparent that there’s a ton of bloat in state government, things that the OLA hasn’t discussed.

    As for Rep. Nelson’s assertion of duplication, I’d love hearing his explanation on what it’s duplicating. I’d love hearing him cite the times when the OLA has recommended the sunsetting of a commission, panel or council.

    Sen. Bonoff’s statement needs ridiculing:

    Bonoff, like other Democrats, argues the commission is itself duplicative. “If committee chairs are doing their jobs, they should be doing this kind of detailed oversight,” she said.

    There’s a simple explanation for Sen. Bonoff: the chairs have never gotten into this type of detailed oversight. The Sunset Advisory Commission would’ve been a great tool that forced the legislature to deal with commissions, councils and panels that outlived their usefulness.

    Furthermore, does any thinking person think that the DFL would investigate the importance or relevance of these hideouts for their political cronies? Let’s get serious. When Keith Downey proposed reducing the state workforce by 15% by not replacing retiring workers, Eliot Seide accused him of waging war “against working families.” What DFL legislator will vote for sunsetting these commissions, councils or panels knowing that they’ll get primaried by an AFSCME-endorsed candidate?

    That’s why the Commission is essential.

    Finally, this DFL legislature has repeatedly proven that they oppose accountability. The GOP legislature passed a bill that required teachers to pass a basic skills test, which Gov. Dayton signed. The DFL wants to repeal that law. The GOP legislature passed the Sunset Advisory Commission, which Gov. Dayton signed. The DFL legislature just voted to repeal that essential accountability legislation. Will Gov. Dayton reverse himself & say no to government accountability? If he does, he should prepare for getting labeled as a) a hypocrite, b) a cheap politician who does what’s popular, not what’s right and c) the unions’ puppet, not the public’s servant leader.

    This week, the DFL legislature voted for higher pay for themselves, higher taxes on the middle class and less accountability within government. I don’t think that’s the bumper sticker they’ll want to deal with in 2014.

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    While it’s true that the Super Bowl and the start of the regular season get intensely promoted, no NFL attracts a better NFL fanatic than the NFL Entry Draft. Held each year in New York City, the league rolls out the red carpet for top-ranked draft prospects, ESPN and NFL Network draft analysts and personalities and a hefty contingent of Jets, Giants and Eagles fans.

    Never before will there be this big of Twitter followers following the NFL. Every draft show on ESPN and the NFL Network features Twitter poll questions and the popular “You’ve got Mel & McShay” segments.

    There’s never been a bigger contingent of Adam Shefter wannabes for any NFL draft. Never before has there been a higher ratio of fanatics to casual fans than tomorrow’s draft.

    And what a draft it will be. Football fanatics, repeat after me (We know the mantra for this draft): What this draft lacks in star power, it makes up for with depth. Now that we’ve gotten that out of our system, it’s time for important questions to be asked and answered.

    For instance, if I got $10 for each time I’ve heard a fan ask whether Vikings GM Rick Spielman would draft Notre Dame middle linebacker Manti Te’o, I could afford a nice Hawaiian vacation. If I got another $10 bill for each time I heard an NFL analyst talk about how much Spielman likes Golden Domers, I could afford to live a year in Hawaii.

    In other words, I’m a typical NFL fanatic who can’ wait for this all to get started and for the teams to start making their picks.

    Before the draft starts, though, make sure to check out Scott Wright’s final mock draft.

    At the start of this session, I said that the DFL would sail through because Alida Messinger would give them their marching orders. When Gov. Dayton introduced his bill, businesses far and wide criticized it for imposing a sales tax on transactions between businesses and lawyers, accountants and other service providers. When the House DFL introduced their tax bill, it was criticized for imposing a gigantic, disastrous income tax increase, raising the top income tax rate from 7.85% to 12.49%. It’s difficult to imagine how the Senate DFL’s tax bill could be worse.

    Difficult but no longer impossible:

    Democrats in the state Senate released a plan today that increases income taxes on wealthiest 6 percent of Minnesotans, raises the sales tax on clothing and services, and increases the cigarette tax.

    Republicans don’t like it and even some Democrats in competitive districts are uneasy about the taxes and spending. But DFL leaders say the $1.8 billion dollar tax increase is needed to erase the state’s budget deficit and increase spending for schools and property tax relief.

    It’s incredible that the Senate DFL took the worst part of Gov. Dayton’s tax proposal, the sales tax increase on services, watered down the worst part of the House DFL’s tax increase, then added their own terrible wrinkle by raising income taxes on the middle class.

    While Senate DFL leaders praise the bill as good tax policy, some of their rank-and-file members remain apprehensive about it.

    “This is going to be a hard one for me to support,” said first-term DFL Sen. Melisa Franzen. Franzen, who represents the swing district of Edina, Minnetonka and Bloomington, worries the bill could harm the state’s business climate.

    “If the cost of doing business in Minnesota is going to rise and small business is going to be impacted, that is something that I have to take into account,” Franzen said.

    Sen. Greg Clausen, DFL-Apple Valley, worries about the income tax portion of the bill, but said he thinks many of his constituents could live with it since the bulk of the extra spending is dedicated to education.

    “There certainly are people out there that say ‘no new taxes.’ Whenever they see a tax they don’t support that,” Clausen said. “But I think there is also a group of people who recognize that there are needs in our state.”

    First, Sen. Rest is wrong that the Senate bill is “good tax policy.” It isn’t good tax policy raising the cigarette tax because it’ll significantly hurt convenience stores while cutting cigarette tax revenues without reducing smoking.

    Hurting retailers and Minnesota’s general fund while doing nothing to tamp down smoking is a nasty negative trifecta of tax policy.

    Second, there’s no way the cost of doing business in Minnesota doesn’t increase. Businesses will get hit with higher income taxes & higher business costs thanks to the sales taxes on services. That’s before talking about how the cigarette tax increase will hurt convenience store sales.

    If the DFL doesn’t pull its act together quickly, they’ll find lots of complaints on the campaign trail next year.

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