Search
Archives

You are currently browsing the blog archives for October, 2017.

Categories

Archive for October, 2017

Last week, this St. Cloud Times editorial said “The St. Cloud City Council did the right thing Monday night when it voted 5-1 to adopt a resolution declaring the city a just and welcoming community.” They’re entitled to their opinion, though they aren’t entitled to their own facts. The truth is that the Council didn’t vote on Councilman Goerger’s resolution, at least during the regularly scheduled meeting. They voted on whether to end discussion on Jeff Goerger’s resolution.

Instead of rehashing what happened last Monday, let’s play a game called ‘What if’? For the sake of this post, let’s imagine that the City Council had 5 people who opposed refugee resettlement and just one that wanted the federal government to send more refugees to St. Cloud. Next, let’s assume that the resolution wasn’t published until minutes before discussion started on the resolution. Next, let’s assume that the majority attempted to end discussion after just 5 minutes. Finally, picture this happening while the audience screamed ‘Out of order’ when they weren’t booing the lone councilmember who supported unlimited refugee resettlement.

Given the different outcome, would the St. Cloud Times write that the City Council had done the right thing? Would the Times say that hiding such a resolution was a good thing? Or would they criticize the angry mob for hiding the resolution from the people? Would they praise the City Council for their lack of transparency? Or would they criticize them for ambushing an unsuspecting city councilmember?

If you attended the meeting 2 weeks ago or watched it livestreamed, you don’t have to imagine anything. You watched it play out that way, just with the roles reversed.

The point of this thought exercise is to highlight the importance of a few things, starting with the necessity of playing fair. Without consistent enforcement of the rules, chaos runs rampant. Without enforcing the rules of the City Council, people might get ambushed, which is what happened on Oct. 23.

Another thing that hasn’t been emphasized enough is the fact that Councilman Goerger’s resolution, which called for a just and welcoming city, wasn’t discussed with respect towards those who didn’t agree with them. The meeting was the definition of chaotic:

This ambush was the City Council at its worst. It didn’t discuss the issue thoroughly or respectfully. The Council didn’t listen to the people before shutting down debate. Worst, the Council wasn’t interested in having a debate. Those that sided with Jeff Goerger were interested in winning. They cared more about mob rule than they cared about principled, respectful governance.

This article is just what the Trump administration wanted to hear. I’d have to think that the Trump administration started smiling when they read “Consumers were even more optimistic in October than economists polled by Reuters expected. Consumer confidence rose to 125.9 in October, according to the Conference Board. The index ‘increased to its highest level in almost 17 years,’ Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board, said in a statement. That was in December 2000, when the index hit 128.6.” Franco added the “high level of confidence suggests the economy will continue to expand ‘at a solid pace’ for the rest of 2017.”

This article is sure to add to the Trump administration’s positive attitude. According to the article, “President Donald Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers on Friday released the second in a series of reports on how proposed changes to the tax code could influence economic growth. The CEA predicted that corporate tax cuts alone would produce GDP growth of between 3 and 5 percent in as little as three years. The cuts are part of the tax reform package currently being finalized in Congress and expected to be unveiled as a bill next week.”

Here in Minnesota, though, Gov. Dayton sounded like Mr. Pessimism:

“One of the most offensive proposals would eliminate the deductibility of Minnesota’s state income and sales taxes and local property taxes from our citizens’ federal tax liabilities,” Dayton said. “It would completely remove these important tax deductions which total over $12.3 billion per year for 900,000 Minnesota families.”

The good news is that a Republican governor, working with Republican majorities in the House and Senate, will fix Minnesota’s anti-growth tax and regulatory system. Why the DFL hasn’t figured out that people really want to keep the money they’ve earned is baffling. The good news is that the next Republican governor will get things straightened out.

Rick Santelli is back and he’s excited:

If we know anything about Gov. Dayton, it’s that he’s a political opportunist. This article insists that Gov. Dayton has “shrewd political instincts”, too. J. Patrick Coolican’s article is nothing more than another Strib pro-Dayton puff piece.

It opens by saying “Since Gov. Mark Dayton came out in favor of a controversial proposal by PolyMet to mine copper, nickel and other precious metals in northeastern Minnesota, he and his allies have said that his support is guided by sound environmental and economic policy, not politics. But Dayton’s decision and its timing showed the shrewd political instincts, as well as the loyalty to the DFL Party, that have helped him win statewide office four times. By giving his public support to PolyMet he offered an olive branch to the Iron Range, knowing that he could take the political hit from environmentalists since he’s not running for re-election next year, and at the same time forge a temporary peace in the ongoing conflict.”

Actually, it’s guided by politics. Gov. Dayton hasn’t changed into a consistent supporter of the Range. He’s still opposed to the Twin Metals project. He’s still vehemently opposed to the Line 3 Pipeline project that would create approximately 3 times as many jobs as a typical end-of-session bonding bill would create.

This quote is telling:

“It diminishes PolyMet as an issue going forward. It’s one less flash point. That’s what a responsible steward of his party would do,” said Joe Radinovich, a former DFL state legislator who was U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan’s 2016 campaign manager.

It hasn’t had that effect whatsoever. It’s telling that Coolican said that Gov. Dayton “could take the political hit from environmentalists since he’s not running for re-election next year.” Doesn’t that mean that the candidates running to replace him can’t afford to get on the environmental activists’ bad side? Further, a page will get turned when the DFL picks their gubernatorial candidate. From that point forward, the Range will make their decision based on that candidate.

This paragraph is telling, too:

For some, it came too late. Dayton’s DFL has taken heavy losses in legislative districts in greater Minnesota, as Republicans have successfully tied them to Twin Cities environmentalists and other progressives at the expense of economic development in struggling communities.

Do the people in this video sound like they’re pro-mining?

Further, Coolican is right. Republicans have flipped rural Minnesota. The DFL have repeatedly proven that they’re anti-farmer, anti-labor. You can’t be anti-mining and pro-labor. You can’t ignore the farmers’ agenda and stay on the farmers’ good side.

This isn’t just about PolyMet. The Range wants to vote for someone who’ll always have their backs. The DFL is still the divided party, with a heavy anti-mining slant:

The DFL factions hit a breaking point recently when Reid Carron, well-known environmentalist in Ely, made disparaging remarks about miners in a Sunday New York Times Magazine story. “They want somebody to just give them a job so they can all drink beer with their buddies and go four-wheeling and snowmobiling with their buddies, not have to think about anything except punching a clock,” he said, before later apologizing.

It didn’t take long for Gov. Dayton suddenly react to the article:

So Dayton stepped on the fire. Just eight days after publication of the explosive story in the Times, the governor announced in an interview that he favors the PolyMet project if it meets permitting requirements and financial assurances that would protect Minnesota taxpayers in the event of a fiscal or environmental catastrophe.

What a coincidence! Immediately after environmental activists show their true colors, Gov. Dayton made his pro-mining announcement. If he was truly pro-mining, why hasn’t Gov. Dayton done anything to make the permitting process fair and transparent? If he’s truly pro-mining, why didn’t Gov. Dayton take on the environmental activists?

Perhaps, it’s because he’s a political opportunist who isn’t really pro-mining.

Last week, Gov. Dayton announced that he’s finally supporting the PolyMet precious metals project. In this post, I wrote “Why should Rangers tolerate a regulatory system that’s this convoluted? How many studies are enough? How many hearings need to be held? Chip Cravaack tried getting this pushed through when he was in office. He was elected in 2010, the same election that gave us Gov. Dayton. It’s clear that Gov. Dayton hasn’t jettisoned the environmentalists. He’s still siding with the environmentalists on Twin Metals and the Line 3 Pipeline project.”

Speaking of the Line 3 Pipeline project, Rep. Matt Grossell, Rep. Sandy Layman, Rep. Matt Bliss, Rep. Dale Lueck, Rep. Debra Kiel, Sen. Justin Eichorn and Sen. Paul Utke wrote a letter to Gov. Dayton. Their letter’s opening paragraph says “The proposed Line 3 Replacement Project (L3R) is a vital energy infrastructure project for Minnesota and the region that will generate more than $3 billion in private investment. It will create thousands of good-paying construction jobs and provide millions in much-needed tax revenue to local governments in our districts and our region.” Follow this link to read the entire letter.

It isn’t likely that Gov. Dayton will back off. His Commerce Department testified that (a) the L3R isn’t required and (b) the existing pipeline should be shut down. That’s the public part of Gov. Dayton’s policy. That doesn’t mean, though, that he doesn’t see the political difficulties and complexities this might cause the DFL.

Yesterday on @Issue with Tom Hauser, former DFL Chair Brian Melendez said that Gov. Dayton allegedly told environmentalists ‘Good luck with the Republican governor in 2019′, implying that the environmental activists’ demands will hurt the DFL in 2018.

This video is part of the reason why Gov. Dayton won’t abandon environmental activists:

The truth is that Gov. Dayton and the DFL aren’t consistent with their beliefs. First, they’re constantly talking about the importance of infrastructure projects. When this infrastructure project was proposed, though, they ran from it like it was toxic waste. Finally, the DFL is constantly pushing bonding bills as their annual “jobs bill”. This pipeline project is the size of three bonding bills.

Technorati: , , , , , , , , , ,

It isn’t surprising that Nancy Pelosi is calling for an independent investigation to prevent Russian meddling in US elections.

In her statement, Ms. Pelosi said “Even with an accelerating Special Counsel investigation inside the Justice Department, and investigations inside the Republican Congress, we still need an outside, fully independent investigation to expose Russia’s meddling in our election and the involvement of Trump officials,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement Monday. “Defending the integrity of our democracy demands that Congress look forward to counter Russian aggression and prevent future meddling with our elections.”

This seems like stupid messaging. This morning, it was announced that Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates had been indicted. According to the indictment, some of the alleged illegal activity happened before Barack announced his candidacy for president.

Ms. Pelosi decision to call for this independent investigation steps all over the message that Manafort has been indicted. When there’s bad news coming out about your political adversary, exit the stage and let them endure the spotlight. Ms. Pelosi apparently didn’t figure it out that she should leave the stage.

Erick Erickson’s op-ed on the Manafort indictment is worth reading. In his op-ed, Erickson wrote “The Mueller team looked into the campaign, went down various rabbit holes, and wound up in Manafort’s tax returns circa 2012, well before Trump considered running for office. Therefore, they can claim, there is nothing there with the campaign.”

Judge Napolitano’s explanation might help shed light on the importance of the Manafort indictment:

At this point, there’s nothing found thus far that hints the Trump campaign worked with Putin’s administration to win the election. The thought that Putin tried meddling with the election is something that the overwhelming majority of Americans have already accepted. In terms of momentum, this isn’t a game-changer.

This isn’t surprising from the standpoint of people didn’t see this indictment coming. It’s now official. Paul Manafort has been indicted by a grand jury. (To read the indictment, follow this link). Following this summer’s early morning raid of Manafort’s home, this was expected to be the first indictment. That early morning raid told everyone that Manafort was in Special Counsel Mueller’s crosshairs.

Several things are noteworthy. On the first page of the indictment, it says “Defendants Paul J. Manafort, Jr. and Richard W. Gates III served for years as political consultants and lobbyists. Between at least 2006 and 2015, Manafort and Gates acted as unregistered agents of the government of the Ukraine… Manafort and Gates generated millions of dollars of income as a result of their Ukraine work. In order to hide Ukraine payments from United States authorities, from approximately 2006 through at least 2016, Manafort and Gates laundered the money through scores of United States and foreign corporations, partnerships and bank accounts.”

This article says “Manafort laundered more than $18 million, which the indictment says he concealed from the federal government. From 2008 to 2014, Manafort wired $12 million to be sent to vendors for personal items, including $5.4 million on home improvements in the Hamptons, $934,350 to an antique rug store in Virginia, $520,440 to a clothing store in Beverley Hills and $655,500 for landscaping in New York, according to the indictment.”

The long and short of it is that this doesn’t connect Manafort’s dealings with the Ukraine to the Trump-Russia collusion story. Ed Morrissey highlights the fact that “Manafort only served as the Trump campaign chair for two months (and for three months prior ran his delegate liaison effort), and that his scope of knowledge on the 2016 election is likely to be less than comprehensive. Two days after a security briefing to Trump in August 2016, Manafort left the campaign, leaving Kellyanne Conway and Steve Bannon in charge. Manafort might have some knowledge, but if so, Mueller should have been able to get it from other people without having to cut a deal with Manafort.”

Then there’s this:

Based on this indictment, there’s no question that Manafort and Gates are accused of committing some serious crimes. That being said, I predict that the word leverage will quickly become the hyperventilating media’s favorite new word by week’s end.

Based on this indictment, Mueller is no closer to proving Trump-Russia collusion than he was the day he was named special counsel. That being said, the hyperventilating media will do their best to make it sound like Mueller is closing in on President Trump. The other thing that liberal blowhards have already started doing is speculating on whether President Trump will fire Mueller. (He won’t.)

Finally, it’s important to note that an indictment is just the prosecution’s side of the story. It doesn’t include the defense’s cross-examination of the prosecution’s witnesses or the presenting of their case.

This St. Cloud Times Our View editorial is proof that the Times has drank the resettlement Kool-Aid. It started by saying “The St. Cloud City Council did the right thing Monday night when it voted 5-1 to adopt a resolution declaring the city a just and welcoming community.” Actually, that’s a point of disagreement. If the Times thinks that ambushing the citizens and a city councilmember with a last minute resolution that people hadn’t seen before is doing the right thing, then they need to rethink their ethical principles.

Transparency isn’t a nicety. It’s what ethical people do reflexively. It’s done out of respect for others. What happened Monday night was disrespectful and mean-spirited. When supposed civic leaders treat the citizenry with that type of disrespect, the citizenry is entitled to not trust their civic leaders.

Later in the editorial, it said “The intent of these forums is simply to foster respectful, public dialogue aimed at answering questions based on facts, not fear.” When I first read that, I questioned whether this was written by the Onion or if they were serious. Apparently, they intended it to be serious. They failed if that was their intent.

The unmistakable message sent from Monday night’s ambush was that the City Council wasn’t interested in respectful public dialogue. They were interested in hiding the facts about the program to the point that they denied the fact that they’re breaking federal law.

This article highlights information that triggers new questions:

About 70 percent of those residents, for example, are participating in the workforce — a rate that compares to the overall workforce participation of native-born Americans in the region. “They’re filling important roles in the St. Cloud economy,” Goldenrod said. “Minnesota is increasingly relying on immigrant workers to fill critical roles in our workforce.”

Question: Of the 30% of refugees that aren’t participating in the workforce, how many of these refugees qualify for subsidized health care or rental assistance? What other government benefits do they qualify for?

This isn’t helpful:

For all that, though, Ali said he wasn’t surprised that an elected official proposed a plan to ban refugee resettlement in St. Cloud, drawing parallels between Johnson’s resolution and President Donald Trump’s travel ban, which restricts refugees from several predominately Muslim countries from entering the U.S.

I’ve had it up to here with this Muslim ban BS. Jeff Johnson isn’t proposing a ban on refugee resettlement. That’s an intentional incendiary term. Councilman Johnson is proposing a moratorium. The definition of moratorium is “an authorized period of delay or waiting.” The definition of ban is “the act of prohibiting by law; interdiction.”

Words mean things. Councilman Johnson’s resolution wouldn’t have the force of law by itself. Therefore, the word ban is entirely inappropriate. However, a moratorium is entirely appropriate because that’s an authorized wait period.

Up until this point, Councilman Johnson has been portrayed as unreasonable. That’s insulting, considering the fact that he’s the person who published his resolution 2 weeks prior to debating it. It’s insulting, especially considering the fact that he wasn’t the person who tried portraying those that didn’t agree with him as uncaring or un-American.

The people who supported Councilman Goerger’s resolution acted like hooligans. They tried shutting down debate. They tried shouting down those that disagreed with them. They were the people who weren’t interested in having a lengthy debate.

Technorati: , , , , , , , , ,

The editors at the Mesabi Daily News are being respectful of Gov. Dayton, though they aren’t letting him off the hook either. In this Our View Editorial, they simply ask what Gov. Dayton meant when he said he supports PolyMet.

It’s clear that the Mesabi Daily News welcomed the headline when they stated “Dayton’s support is more than welcome around the Iron Range, which has been through the ups and downs and review process with the project for more than a decade. Having the top DFLer in Minnesota give it the thumbs up cannot be understated.” Still, they aren’t excited about Gov. Dayton’s statement because they then wrote “But what does Dayton’s support mean to the project in real terms?”

The reason why they don’t trust him is stated clearly when they wrote “Every time PolyMet celebrates a new achievement on its way to breaking ground, a new lawsuit swoops in to try and delay it. Will Dayton help call off the dogs as the project’s bigger milestones enter the horizon?” That’s a totally fair question. It’s easy to say you support mining if you know that environmental activists will file another lawsuit that adds another delay to the project.

There’s a bigger point that’s important to make, too. Why should Rangers tolerate a regulatory system that’s this convoluted? How many studies are enough? How many hearings need to be held? Chip Cravaack tried getting this pushed through when he was in office. He was elected in 2010, the same election that gave us Gov. Dayton.

It’s clear that Gov. Dayton hasn’t jettisoned the environmentalists. He’s still siding with the environmentalists on Twin Metals and the Line 3 Pipeline project. While the lawsuits fly, PolyMet sits in limbo:

If they get through the permitting and the lawsuits, this will be part of PolyMet’s processing plant. So much for preserving pristine waters.

State Sen. David Tomassoni’s op-ed expresses his disgust with Becky Rom and her husband Reid Carron with a sense of humor. This fight started with this article, which includes quotes from Rom and Carron that got under miners’ skin.

Specifically, the quote from Rom that’s bothering Tomassoni and the miners is “Danny Forsman drives to the mine in his truck, comes home and watches TV, and he doesn’t know this world exists.” The quote from Carron that’s got miners upset is “Resentment is the primary driver of the pro-mining crowd here; they are resentful that other people have come here and been successful while they were sitting around waiting for a big mining company. They want somebody to just give them a job so they can all drink beer with their buddies and go four-wheeling and snowmobiling with their buddies, not have to think about anything except punching a clock.”

Sen. Tomassoni’s tongue-in-cheek reply starts with “It came to me as I was sitting on my deck drinking a beer (metal chair, a byproduct of mining; wooden deck, from logging; beer, from hops and grains from farming). I thought, now what’s wrong with sitting on my deck and drinking a beer. Then I thought, I wonder if the anti-mining people have metal chairs on their decks? Maybe they don’t. Maybe they have plastic chairs (that came from drilling oil).”

Tomassoni’s needling continued:

Getting hungry, I came into the house for a BLT. I fried some bacon on a metal stove in a copper lined pan. (Copper pans don’t stick and they clean up in a breeze). The bacon was in my metal refrigerator, which has a cooling element going through copper pipes.

Of course, none of that copper was mined on the Iron Range and anti-mining forces seem content to get their copper from another country that has no environmental, safety laws nor child labor laws. I thought, what’s wrong with this picture?

Great environmental laws, child labor laws and safety regulations are good things. Shouldn’t we be doing the mining where all are enforced?

Sen. Tomassoni finishes Rom and Carron off, saying:

That’s why I’m always puzzled when mining opponents say they will support projects: “If the science proves it safe.”

Well, let’s see:

We have been mining for 135 years in virtually the same area that PolyMet will mine. PolyMet will use a former iron ore mining site to process the ore.
The Minnesota Environmental Quality Board recently published an environmental report card on Minnesota’s statewide water quality. Guess where you’ll find the only area that has really good water? Yup. Right here in Northeastern Minnesota. The heart of mining country IS the Land of Sky Blue Waters. Pretty good science if you ask me.

Rom and Carron aren’t trustworthy people. Rom is especially willing to mislead.

Our history proves we helped America become a global economic powerhouse. We need minerals, paper, lumber and food from our own backyards and we can provide them in a safe and reliable manner.

So, back on my deck with my beer and BLT, I couldn’t help but think that the environmentalists must drink beer too. Maybe even one of those craft beers made in those great big copper vats. But hey, at least we have something in common. Or maybe we have a lot in common as we all need mining and mining jobs.

Apology accepted. Now show me it’s sincere.

Last Monday, the St. Cloud City Council went off the deep end. On Ox in the Afternoon’s Friday program, it was said that the City Council “flipped us the bird.” This was planned. Most disgustingly, it was a surprise ambush. Jeff Goerger put forward a resolution for the Council’s consideration. In putting forward the resolution, Goerger ignored the rules that the City Council revised this past August.

Apart from the tactics used, and infinitely more important, the City Council didn’t listen to the people. There have been a large group of people clamoring for an independent audit that tells St. Cloud residents how much of their taxes are being spent on subsidized housing, education, public safety, health and other things. That’s what was the driving force behind Councilman Johnson’s moratorium. City Council President Lewis, Councilman Laraway, Councilman Libert, Councilman Goerger and Councilman Masters voted against accountability and transparency.

They, along with Mayor Kleis, sang from the same discredited ‘hymnal’ that this is a federal issue that doesn’t intersect with the city’s budget. If they want to continue singing that discredited refrain, that’s their right. It’s also St. Cloud’s right to defeat each of these councilmembers the next time they’re up for re-election.

Goerger, Masters, Laraway, Lewis and Libert exposed themselves as unworthy of being called leaders. They did what Kleis wanted them to do. That makes them sheep, not leaders. Further, Goerger, Masters, Laraway, Lewis and Libert attempted to quiet the city with this resolution. They did the opposite. Rather than having a rational discussion with their constituents, the City Council essentially told the people to shut up, that they knew what’s best.

Goerger’s condescension was showing when he introduced his resolution, which was titled “in support of a just and welcoming community.” The implication wasn’t lost on St. Cloud. It’s apparent that Goerger thinks that those that disagree with him aren’t just. His introductory speech made that clear, saying “This one guy bringing forward a resolution is not the voice of the City Council”:

What is the City Council afraid of? It’s clear that they thought that they had to control the debate. It’s clear that the Council felt they had to repudiate Councilman Johnson. It’s clear that there’s a sizable and growing group of people who simply want to know that their taxes aren’t getting spent foolishly.

The other unmistakable message sent by the City Council was that they have no intention of being transparent with the people of St. Cloud. The unmistakable message sent by Councilman Goerger is that he’s a liberal who isn’t that bright. In his resolution, he stated that “the city of St. Cloud has the capacity to provide municipal services to the aforementioned prospective new residents without an impact on the city budget or quality of life.”

Anyone that thinks that refugees don’t have an impact on the city budget is delusional. I wrote in this post that this was a crystallizing event. Further, it’s clear from watching the video of the meeting that there were essentially as many citizens opposing Goerger’s resolution as supporting. Why, then, was the vote lopsided in favoring Goerger’s resolution?

Further, people are saying that the Goerger resolution passed. It didn’t. The only vote taken was on whether to call the question. No votes were taken on whether to approve Goerger’s resolution. This video clearly shows that:

That’s shown approximately 1:20:00 into the video. Within seconds of the vote to call the question, Council President Lewis adjourned the meeting.

Finally, it’s clear that the anti-transparency activists weren’t there to listen people with a different opinion. They were there to shout down people who disagreed with them. Think about that. The people supporting the resolution titled “in support of a just and welcoming community” shouted down the people who wanted a full, respectful discussion. These anti-transparency activists who demand St. Cloud be a welcoming community were openly hostile to Councilman Johnson.

That’s both ironic and pathetic.