There’s surely much weeping and gnashing of teeth in the DFL caucus today. Gov. Pawlenty has unilaterally started the flow of emergency relief to flood victims:

With agreement on a special legislative session still elusive, Gov. Tim Pawlenty has unilaterally opened the state’s coffers to aid flood recovery in southeastern Minnesota, one of the emergencies a session would likely deal with.

With that action and his announcement that his staff has set up a new one-stop flood recovery website, Pawlenty continued to announce initiatives that suggest progress is underway, special session or no. And DFLers continued blasting him for not yet calling one.

The DFL should look itself in the mirror sometime. Their pattern of overreaching has been consistent since the start of the legislative session opened in January. Gov. Pawlenty’s initial statements after the bridge collapse more than met the DFL halfway. That wasn’t good enough for the DFL.

In fact, the DFL’s actions remind me of an old saying about Middle East politics, which reads “The Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” The DFL had a perfectly opportunity to look moderate and reasonable. They didn’t take that opportunity, which is leading them to whine about Gov. Pawlenty. Minnesotans are smart enough to know that they should ignore the DFL’s whining.

In a letter delivered to Pawlenty on Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller and House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher indicated they want to revisit the tax bill that Pawlenty vetoed earlier this year and the broad transportation bill he also vetoed.

Gov. Pawlenty won’t call a special session just so the DFL can refight the battles it lost last session. That won’t change even if Pogemiller and Kelliher hold their breath till they turn every color in the rainbow.

In their letter, Pogemiller and Kelliher told Pawlenty they “are getting a mixed message; on the one hand, you tell us you cannot call a special session until we have agreement on the bills, and on the other hand, your staff only give us broad, generalized ideas about your proposed agenda.” Headway toward a special session, they wrote, “is slow.”

As a public service, I’ll explain Gov. Pawlenty’s actions to Kelliher, Pogemiller and the DFL leadership. Governors set the parameters of a debate. They do that because they’re the leaders in times of crisis. Obviously, the DFL wants a freewheeling special session which would be nothing more than a do over of the last session. At the end of the day, that won’t fly. That limits the DFL’s options. Either they agree to Gov. Pawlenty’s terms or they can whine about Gov. Pawlenty, in which case there won’t be a special session.

In an e-mail, party chair Brian Melendez decried Pawlenty’s “dithering” and “stubbornness [that] is blocking our constitutional processes from working for the public good.” A few hours later, Pawlenty’s office announced the creation of www.minnesotarecovers.org, a website in which homeowners, farmers and business owners can obtain information from local, state and federal government on assistance, cleanup and other flood-related topics.

Don’t look now but Gov. Pawlenty just demolished Mr. Melendez’ arguments. The Governor’s staff creating a website that lets flood victims apply for local, state and federal assistance doesn’t just give Gov. Pawlenty a nice bargaining chip. It totally undercuts the DFL. I’d bet the proverbial ranch that flood victims won’t give a tinker’s damn whether Gov. Pawlenty blocked the “constitutional processes from working for the public good” as long as they’re able to get the help they need.

A quick examination of the DFL website gives us a great insight into the DFL’s intellectual bankruptcy:

“The governor has exclusive constitutional powers at the front end and the back end of a special session, to call it and sign or veto legislation. But during the session, the governor isn’t the only player, the people’s elected legislators also have a constitutional duty to pass the laws that the people’s interests require,” said Minnesota DFL Chair Brian Melendez. “Minnesota is a constitutional democracy, not a dictatorship, but Governor Pawlenty’s stubbornness is blocking our constitutional processes from working for the public good.”

“DFL legislative leaders have clearly said that they are united and ready to get to work with the governor,” Melendez continued. “But even while they agree with the governor’s clear principles for a special session, Pawlenty continues to sit on his hands, and now even suggests that a special session might not be necessary.”

This sentence in Melendez’ statement is laughable on its face:

“But even while they agree with the governor’s clear principles for a special session, Pawlenty continues to sit on his hands, and now even suggests that a special session might not be necessary.”

Considering the joint statement that Sen. Pogemiller and Speaker Kelliher put out saying that they want to revisit the Transportation Bill and the Tax Bill, how can Brian Melendez say with a straight face that the DFL leadership agrees “with the governor’s clear principles for a special session”? That’s an absurd statement that can’t be substantiated.

Considering the fact that he’s a lawyer, it’s impossible to believe that Mr. Melendez didn’t know about Gov. Pawlenty’s constitutional authority during emergencies. The legislature only has a constitutional responsibility in disaster recoveries if a special session is called. The DFL’s statement contains some misleading headlines, like this one:

Molnau Questioned the Need for a Special Session.

Here’s what they wrote to ‘prove’ their accusation:

“Molnau says she doesn’t want to rush into a special session without having a complete sense of the region’s needs…‘If there is opportunity for us to help, you don’t want to miss something significant and needs to be addressed. You don’t know that until a full assessment is done,’ she said.”

Where in Lt. Gov. Molnau’s statement does she say that a special session isn’t needed? Simply put, the DFL’s accusations can’t be substantiated. They also accused Gov. Pawlenty of dithering:

But Governor Continued to Dither.

According to Dictionary.com, here’s the definition of dither:

to act irresolutely; vacillate.

Based on the consistency of Gov. Pawlenty’s statements on what a special session would involve, it’s impossible for the DFL to truthfully say that Gov. Pawlenty hasn’t been resolute in his positions on the special session.

An important question must be asked here, though. In the opening paragraph of the DFL statement, they talk about the need to “call a special session of the Legislature on this “extraordinary occasion.” This certainly gives the impression that a special session should be called so that the recovery can start. While that’s the DFL’s official position, Sen. Pogemiller and Speaker Kelliher are quoted as saying that they’d revisit the Tax Bill and the Transportation Bill during that special session.

Why does the legislature have to revisit the vetoed Transportation and Tax bills if the session’s objective is about starting the recovery from the bridge collapse and the flooding? The simple answer is that the two things don’t go together.

That’s why Gov. Pawlenty is right in not having already called a special session.

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