Archive for August, 2016

When Hillary criticized Donald Trump for visiting Mexico, she said “You don’t build a coalition by insulting our friends or acting like a loose cannon. You do it by putting in the slow, hard work of building relationships. Getting countries working together was my job every day as your Secretary of State. It’s more than a photo op. It takes consistency and reliability. Actually, it’s just like building personal relationships. People have got to know that they can count on you – that you won’t say one thing one day and something totally different the next.”

I’m sick of Hillary flapping her gums while pretending to have been a competent secretary of state. She wasn’t competent. HRC said that people “have got to know that they can count on you”, something that Christopher Stevens found out he couldn’t do. HRC wasn’t someone he could count on. He died while counting on HRC.

Next, Hillary said that diplomacy is about “putting in the slow, hard work of building relationships.” Is she talking about the slow, hard work of building a relationship with Iran’s mullahs? Or building the relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt during the Arab Spring? Perhaps, she meant capitulating and appeasing Vladimir Putin in Russia? Which of those instances would HRC pick as shining examples of her competence?

Here’s hoping Donald Trump hits back at HRC with questions about her incompetence as Secretary of State.

Saying that the questions asked at the St. Cloud Area Joint Cities Forum had a leftward tilt to them is understatement. For instance, the first question was “While the legislature accomplished its most basic responsibility of passing a state budget, the last biennium, it does seem that the last 2 years are marked with significant disappointment, including the failure to pass a Tax Bill, no major bonding bill, and continued impasse over transportation. What do you think needs to happen at the legislature to make sure that these other important pieces of legislation get passed?”

If that question sounded like it was written by Rep. Thissen or Gov. Dayton, raise your hands. If you think that question was written by Rep. Thissen, you earned bonus points. He’s specialized in criticizing everything that Speaker Daudt did the past 2 years. That’s because he didn’t like getting cut out of the budget negotiations in 2015. He didn’t like it that Speaker Daudt and Sen. Bakk put the budget together in an afternoon.

The truth is that the past 2 years produced a bipartisan budget that should’ve gotten signed during the regular session. The only reason why the Tax Bill didn’t get signed into law was because our spoiled rich brat governor vetoed the bill in his attempt to get funding for a SWLRT project that has no chance of happening before the end of the first term of Minnesota’s next governor. The problem with the Tax Bill wasn’t with the legislature. That fault is exclusively with Gov. Dayton, aka Gov. Temper Tantrum.

Here’s another question:

Q3: Local government aid continues to be an important program for restraining property taxes and providing services to residents and businesses at a reasonable cost. For 2017, the LGA formula distributes approximately 66% of all LGA funds to greater Minnesota vs. 34% to the metro area. The LGA appropriations to cities across the state is still $45.5 million less than it was in 2002. Do you support the current LGA formula and would you support an increase in LGA to get back to the 2002 level?

I reject the premise that LGA is “an important program for restraining property taxes.” There’s no proof of that. Why should I accept that premise? The truth is that it’s more likely to increase spending on foolish projects in the Twin Cities than it is to stabilize property taxes.

The truth is that property taxes have increased significantly since the DFL legislature increased LGA and Gov. Dayton signed those increases into law. Here are all 8 questions from the forum:

Saying that WCCO’s reporting on the SWLRT project is based on DFL talking points and outright fantasy is understatement. The SWLRT project won’t happen for at least 3-5 years. That’s the reality thanks to the route that the Met Council picked for the SWLRT project.

WCCO is reporting that “Hennepin County officials announced Tuesday that the county will put in another $20.5 million in funding for a total financial commitment of $185 million – which is 10 percent of the project’s total cost,” adding that “The county’s increased commitment, along with that of the Metropolitan Council and the Counties Transit Improvement Board, will make up for the $144.5 million that was supposed to be paid for by the state.”

My reaction to this is simple: “So what”? The FTA (Federal Transportation Administration) has said they won’t fund the SWLRT until the Tunheim lawsuit is settled. I reported in this post that the Tunheim trial won’t start until Sept. 17, 2017. There won’t be a ruling in that lawsuit until the start of 2018. The thought that the SWLRT project will get started without federal money is preposterous. The latest projection for the total cost of the project is $1.9 billion ($1,900,000,000).

The DFL has been on the offensive about the project. Now Republicans are fighting back. Republicans have the stronger arguments in this fight. Jeff Johnson’s video provides some of those strong arguments:

The simple point is that SWLRT won’t get built for years even if the legislature voted to fund the project tomorrow. SWLRT is fraught with legal difficulties. The lawsuits will tie the SWLRT project up like lawsuits tied up the Big Stone II project. Once a project gets tied up in the courts, it takes on a life of its own. It’s beyond the politicians’ control. That’s where it’s at right now.

Based on this article, it sounds like Angie Craig isn’t an honest businessperson. The article says “The company in 2012 paid $3.65 million as part of a settlement with the Department of Justice over the allegation. The settlement resolved allegations by two whistleblowers that the company violated the False Claims Act that it had inflated the cost of replacement pacemakers and defibrillators purchased by the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.”

The issue had subsided until this week when “St. Jude came under renewed scrutiny last week when Carson Block, a prominent short seller, issued a memo to investors warning that the company’s devices could be fatally hacked. “The nightmare scenario is somebody is able to launch a mass attack and cause these devices that are implanted to malfunction,” Block said in an interview with Bloomberg.

At the time of this settlement, Ms. Craig “ran media relations” for St. Jude Medical. Now, Ms. Craig is running an ad touting her as the veterans’ hero:

That’s downright shameful. Ms. Craig’s company ripped off veterans and exposed them to hackers that might kill these veterans. Putting veterans at risk of getting killed isn’t the way to be a veterans’ hero. That’s like saying the administrators at the Phoenix VA Hospital are heroes. They’re nothing of the sort. Ms. Craig isn’t the veterans’ hero, either.

Gov. Dayton and Rep. Thissen would have us believe that Republicans are being pig-headed in their opposition to funding the SWLRT project. Actually, what’s becoming clear is that the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce isn’t thinking clearly while supporting the construction of the Southwest Light Rail Transit project. What clear-thinking organization supports a project that can’t be built before Sept. 17, 2017?

If that date doesn’t mean anything to you, that’s because the DFL and the Twin Cities Media haven’t reported that that’s the starting date for the trial of whether the Met Council went too far. That’s likely the least of SWLRT’s problems. The law firm of Felhaber and Larson was retained by the Calhoun-Isles Condominium Association because the “current plan for the construction of the Southwest Light Rail Transit Line provides for the construction of a shallow tunnel which will be located literally within two feet of the exterior walls of the Association’s high-rise structure, as close as six inches to the foundation of the Association’s parking ramp and within 43 feet of a row of single-family townhomes.”

What part of that description sounds like the SWLRT is anything close to being built? Seriously, that sounds like a start-over point. That’s like the Met Council is saying that they don’t care that the Calhoun-Isles Condominium Association’s buildings are in jeopardy. It’s like the Met Council is flipping the Association the proverbial finger. Would any private property owner sit idly by while this happened to their property? The odds of a private property owner signing off on this project are worse than the odds I’ll get hit with lightning while holding tonight’s winning lottery ticket.

It isn’t because my odds of getting hit with lightning are that high or that my odds of winning tonight’s lottery are high, either. It’s that the odds of a private property owner signing off on this project without massive monetary compensation is exactly nonexistent.

This project needs to be totally rerouted. There’s no chance the Environmental Impact Study for this part of the project will be approved. Couple the Calhoun-Isles Condominium Association’ potential lawsuit with the existing lawsuit. Factor in the FTA’s reluctance to fund SWLRT until the lawsuits are settled. Throw these things together and it’s easy to question Gov. Dayton’s prioritization of the SWLRT project.

Speaker Daudt is right that the Met Council’s legal tactics have pretty much failed whenever they’ve been tried. The potential lawsuit by the Calhoun-Isles Condominium Association by itself could demolish the SWLRT project. This isn’t just about public negotiations. It’s also about the details of these potential lawsuits.

Let’s remember that some of these lawsuits are being brought by staunch DFL activists. These aren’t litigation-foolish people. These activists are skilled at dragging out litigation for years. It isn’t unreasonable to think that these lawsuits won’t be settled before we elect Gov. Dayton’s successor in 2018.

The DFL has insisted from the start of this election cycle that Angie Craig was competitive in CD-2, especially once John Kline announced his retirement. When the first fundraising report came out, the DFL’s cries got louder that Angie Craig would flip that seat.

I’ve been skeptical of the DFL’s claims from the start because Angie Craig, like Tarryl Clark in CD-6 in 2010, isn’t a good fit for CD-2. A loyal reader of LFR said that there are lots of entrepreneurs in CD-2. While Craig can appeal to those voters to a certain extent, she might have difficulty appealing to them because Bernie Sanders’ policies are definitely anti-small business. Sen. Sanders wants tons of regulations and higher top tax rates. Those definitely aren’t small business friendly policies.

The reason I mention Bernie Sanders is because an organization called Our Revolution has endorsed Angie Craig, Rick Nolan and Keith Ellison for congress from Minnesota. Here’s a little information on that organization:

Our Revolution will revitalize American democracy by unifying the millions of people who got involved over the course of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign in support of progressive causes.

Let’s rewrite that sentence to make it accurate. It would say “Our Revolution will revitalize American democracy by unifying the millions of people who got involved over the course of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign in support of socialist causes.” Small business entrepreneurship and socialism fit together like oil and water. In other words, they don’t fit together.

There’s nothing in Angie Craig’s history that suggests she’s truly pro-small business. These endorsements indicate that she’s a Sanders lefty:

Lori Swanson and Sandy Pappas are definitely 2 of the more far left lefties in Minnesota, with bigtime climate change credentials. The League of Conservation Voters is definitely anti-development and anti-small business.

So much for Angie Craig being pro-small business.

If you want to help get Jason Lewis elected, please consider contributing to his campaign. Also, if you want to get the word out on the real Angie Craig, please consider contributing to LFR by clicking on the “Donate” button in the top right corner of the page. You know that the MSM won’t tell Craig’s story. I will.

One thing that the Twin Cities press hasn’t covered, at least in the context of the special session negotiations, is that there’s a lawsuit that’s tying up the Southwest Light Rail Transit (SWLRT) project. In fact, Judge John Tunheim’s ruling contains an admonition to the Met Council. FYI- Judge Tunheim is the “Chief Judge” of the “United States District Court.”

Near the end of his ruling, Judge Tunheim wrote “This opinion concludes that the LPA has not shown it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on the record before the Court. It does not, however, end the case. This action involves complex legal issues and an evolving factual record. The theme underlying these complexities, though, and underlying the cause of action recognized in this Court’s prior Order, in Limehouse, and in environmental regulations like Section 1506.1, is that full and thorough environmental review of a major government project is vitally important. The LPA may not have met its summary judgment burden at this point, but the record – specifically the negotiation process and agreements between the Met Council and various cities and other public entities, and public statements regarding those agreements – shows that, throughout much of this process, the Met Council has had a clear favorite route for the SWLRT.”

Then there’s this:

Indeed, by signing an agreement with St. Louis Park that all but guarantees freight rail will stay in the Kenilworth Corridor, the Met Council has come dangerously close to impermissibly prejudicing the ongoing environmental review process.

This is why the Met Council needs to be overhauled entirely. Presently, the Met Council essentially represents Gov. Dayton and the DFL’s far left agenda. They don’t represent the people of the Twin Cities. Further, they’re more worried about getting Gov. Dayton upset than they’re worried about getting the citizens upset.

We’re supposed to be governed by the principles of one person, one vote and “with the consent of the governed.” The Met Council operates essentially on the principle of ‘thousands of people, no votes.” At no point does the Met Council operate “with the consent of the governed.” It essentially bullies elected governments, commissions, panels, etc. when it wants to achieve its goals.

Coming “impermissibly prejudicing the ongoing environmental review process” is legalese for saying that the Met Council is treading on thin legal ice. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, though. Check back with LFR for more later today.

If you look at Dan Wolgamott’s issues page, it’s pretty clear that he’s a big government liberal attempting to sound like a centrist. It’s clear that Mr. Wolgamott wants to paint himself as a centrist by saying that he’d “work across party lines to move our state forward.” If Mr. Wolgamott is that interested in working across party lines to move the state forward, why didn’t he fight for the $800,000,000 middle class tax relief plan? I know he didn’t have a vote on the matter but speaking out in favor of it would’ve put pressure on Gov. Dayton and the Metro DFL to push for a special session to re-pass the Tax Bill.

Mr. Wolgamott’s association with corrupt far left lefty organizations like TakeAction Minnesota indicates that he isn’t the centrist he’s portraying himself as during this campaign. This morning, I got an email from TakeAction Minnesota warning me that the Koch Brothers want to steal legislative elections here in Minnesota. The email said “the Koch funded organization – Americans for Prosperity – is pouring money into our State Legislative races, launching a mail campaign this week with much more to follow. We want to create a Minnesota where our government and economy is working for us and by us. Our elections work reflects this belief – we are invested in the leadership development of our volunteers and we’re intentionally engaging neighborhoods that are too often overlooked during the election cycle. The work of our endorsed progressive champions reflects this – Ilhan Omar, Erin Maye Quade, Alberder Gillespie, Zach Dorholt, Dan Wolgamott, Lindsey Port, and others.”

TakeAction Minnesota is part of the ProgressNow-Alliance for a Better Minnesota coalition. Wolgamott can’t run as who he is. He can’t run as a Dorholt-like lefty. That’s because Wolgamott lives in St. Cloud, not in the Fourth or Fifth districts or Duluth. If he lived there, then he’d be able to run as the far left lefty that he is. In St. Cloud, he has to pretty much run as a centrist. That’s what Tarryl did in 2005 and 2006. She couldn’t run as a moderate in 2010 because she’d acquired a voting record that exposed her as a tax-raising lefty.

During the DFL’s bad faith negotiations for a special session, Gov. Dayton and the DFL insisted that the GOP fund the Southwest Light Rail Transit, aka SWLRT, project. Speaker wisely refused. Now we know why it was wise to refuse. On Wednesday, January 13, 2016, Adam Duininck wrote an email to Gov. Dayton and Lt. Gov. Tina Flint-Smith about a variety of topics.

In the 4th paragraph of the second page of the email, Commissioner Duininck said “On the schedule we had been pushing the FTA for a number of weeks to sign off on an aggressive schedule that called for a full funding grant agreement by the end of this year, while President Obama is in office. They have resisted that goal and have said the grant agreement is likelier to come in the middle of 2017.” Later in the email, Commissioner Duininck explains why the FTA is hesitating on signing off.

According to Commissioner Duininck, the FTA is hesitating on signing off because “the reason the FTA refused to move the schedule up is that they are concerned that the litigation risk is still there until Judge Tunheim rules on the Lakes and Park Alliance case.”

Connecting the dots

Judge Tunheim’s dismissal of summary judgement against the Met Council is dated August 4, 2015. Judge Tunheim noted that “The LPA may not have met its summary judgment burden at this point, but the record, specifically the negotiation process and agreements between the Met Council and various cities and other public entities, and public statements regarding those agreements, shows that, throughout much of this process, the Met Council has had a clear favorite route for the SWLRT.”

Judge Tunheim also noted that the case is complex because environmental reviews still need to be approved. That hadn’t happened when he ruled on this motion for summary judgment.

Gov. Dayton and the DFL likely didn’t include SWLRT funding in their bonding bill because of the Tunheim lawsuit. Further, the Kenilworth Preservation Group, through Stuart Chazin, insists that “the Met Council has not made the legally required good faith effort to consider alternatives to the Kenilworth route, and has had secret communication between Sen. Latz and the Met Council that will prove the point.”

There’s no doubt but that this is a tangled legal mess that’ll take time to untangle in the courts. With the outcome still in doubt, funding SWLRT at this point is foolish. That’s likely why the DFL Senate didn’t include SWLRT funding in their $1,800,000,000 bonding bill. Further, it isn’t a stretch to think that the DFL is attempting to paint Republicans as reckless when the truth is that the DFL is trying their best to pander to their urbanist special interest organizations. Finally, it isn’t a stretch to think that Gov. Dayton and politicians like Rep. Thissen are grasping at anything in their attempt to win back the majority in the House.

Today’s DFL are a nasty lot, fully prepared to side with brick-throwing thugs like BlackLivesMatter and the anarchists who attacked Republicans in Minneapolis last weekend. They won’t think twice about sabotaging any project or legislation if they think it’ll help them gain power. That’s who today’s DFL is.

I wrote this post last week to highlight the documented fact that Gov. Dayton and DFL legislators knew that the federal government wouldn’t fund the federal portion of the SWLRT project until a series of lawsuits were settled. That’s why the DFL Senate didn’t include the $135,000,000 funding for SWLRT in their $1,800,000,000 bonding bill. That bonding bill would’ve been the biggest bonding bill in state history by almost $750,000,000.

One lawsuit that’s on the docket is scheduled to start on Sept. 17, 2017. That isn’t a misprint. The trial won’t start until Sept. 17, 2017. There’s another potential lawsuit waiting in the wings. That lawsuit, if it was brought, would be filed by the Calhoun-Isles Condominium Association. This Strib article highlights why the Calhoun-Isles Condominium Association would file that lawsuit.

According to the article, “Condominium residents along the planned Southwest Corridor light-rail route in Minneapolis want assurances that a transit tunnel won’t hurt their buildings. The residents of 143 units along the future light-rail route south of Cedar Lake Parkway say the trains will run through a tunnel on rails 12 feet from the foundations of their condos and parking structure.”

They added that “We have received no assurance that operation of 200 trains per day … will not materially undermine their integrity and safety,” read a letter this week from a lawyer for the Calhoun-Isles Condominium Association to Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and the City Council. “No one knows what all of the effects will be, but it is certain that they will be significant and harmful.”

The Dayton-DFL SWLRT funding push is a political scam. They know that the project won’t get federal funding for at least 2 years and possibly longer. That means local funding is irrelevant for the near future because local funding only accounts for 10%-15% of the funding.

Quite literally, SWLRT is going nowhere fast. Thanks to Gov. Dayton’s stubbornness and the DFL’s unwillingness to challenge Gov. Dayton, hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans are being deprived of meaningful tax relief. Farmers and small businesses won’t get their property tax relief. Veterans won’t get their tax relief. Students and parents will find college expensive because Gov. Dayton vetoed the Tax Bill.

BTW, the DFL failed to fight for the tax relief they voted for. That’s rather telling, isn’t it? That might be enough to tip votes in a close rural election.