Saturday, March 31, 2012

Knuth steps down, Bernardy steps up

Rep. Connie Bernardy and Rep. Kate Knuth

Saturday, former DFL State Rep. Connie Bernardy won endorsement over current Rep. Tom Tillberry for the 41A House seat at the SD41 DFL Convention. It was a surprisingly quick first ballot victory (63%-37%) for Bernardy, who served in the House from 2000 - 2006.

After the endorsement vote, outgoing Representative Kate Knuth (DFL - New Brighton) was honored for her service by the delegates. And while Kate Knuth didn't publicly endorse either candidate, her presence was felt heavily in the race. The final speaker introducing Bernardy was Rep. Knuth's mother, Joane, who wore Knuth's trademark orange.

(L-R) Goodwin, Rep. Carolyn Laine, Knuth, Tillberry, Bernardy
The matchup between Bernardy and Tillberry came about through redistricting. Knuth and Tillberry were drawn into the same House district during reapportionment, and Knuth decided to not run for reelection. Bernardy originally explored running for the Senate seat currently held by Barb Goodwin, but ran instead against Tillberry when Goodwin decided to run for re-election. Goodwin won her seat in 2010 after defeating incumbent Sen. Satveer Chaudhary in a primary.

Knuth was a rarity in modern politics, a working scientist-legislator. In a heartfelt speech to the delegates, she talked of her love for Minnesota and her quietly determined approach to public service. Only thirty years old, she has a bright future ahead of her. Knuth said she planned to work with the University of Minnesota to develop advocacy skills in the sciences and also to finish her Ph.D. She'll be sorely missed at the Capitol.

UPDATE: Politics in Minnesota is reporting that "Tillberry says he has not ruled out running in a DFL primary and will consider his options." This is certainly news to the folks who attended the convention. Both candidates were asked the following question: "Will you abide by the endorsement of this convention, and not run against the DFL endorsed candidate for this office?" Tillberry and Bernardy both answered with only one word, "yes."

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Friday, March 30, 2012

Sorry, guys; I just hate you!

It's that simple!

MinnPost photo - Terry Gydesen (c) 2012
This photo is from this year's reprise of a meeting last spring between Rep. Keith Downey and constituents, including some Edina High School students. That prompted a letter to the Edina Sun Current, which is excerpted here:
Downey was argumentative and brought up opinions and points of view that reflected ignorance of science and facts. He displayed his personal (religious?) beliefs in a way that conveyed insulting disrespect for our group including four Edina High School students. It was painful for me to witness the behavior of an elected leader causing all the youth in our group to leave in tears.
 In addition to being a supporter of the marriage discrimination amendment, Downey has been foresquare in his efforts to keep GLBT students from being a protected class against school bullying statewide.

He was confronted about that at a legislative hearing before the current session started by some of the same students referred to in the quoted letter and which resulted in a post here called Keith the Liar.

And thanks again to Terry Gydesen for permission to use her photo.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Hoodie night at Drinking Liberally

Get your favorite hoodie out and wear it to Drinking Liberally tonight. Six to nine PM at the 331 Club, just as the sign says. We'll do a video "thank you" to Governor Dayton for his veto of the poisonous "Shoot First" bill in Minnesota.

Or, you might go to the Northrup Commons at the University of Minnesota for a "Million Hoodie March" event from six to eight this evening. Then come to Drinking Liberally.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

He said; he dead

The practical consequences of Shoot First

Sen. Ortman described the
"practical effect" of Shoot First
ALEC and the NRA's Shoot First's poisonous legacy is spreading throughout the country, including recently, as most of you know, in Florida. Trayvon Martin was shot dead for the crime of walking while black and armed with Skittles. Well, he was wearing a hoodie.

Many states have adopted Shoot First -- I don't have a count as I write this -- and we had a brush with it here in Minnesota this spring. The iteration of Shoot First passed by the 2012 Minnesota Legislature, HF 1467, was vetoed by Govenor Dayton.

Shoot First was described -- misleadingly by it proponents and perhaps merely sloppily by the media -- as an extension of the "castle doctrine." That is the legal doctrine that says you can protect yourself in your home with deadly force and that you have no duty to retreat from a threat encountered there. Sensible enough.

But Shoot First says that the world -- or the states where it exists, anyway -- is your castle. If you thought the world was your oyster, this is better, no?

George Zimmerman didn't have to retreat under Florida law when he saw a person he considered threatening, nor did he have to obey the 911 dispatcher's instructions to stay in his vehicle.

No, he went stalking the teenager that he described to the dispatcher as a "f***ing coon."

We know what happend. What's left is to sort out the consequences. And that's where we come to the remarks of the Minnesota Senate's Repple Depple Deputy, Julianne Ortman, pictured above, wearing her own hair, not a hoodie, although it rather looks like she is, doesn't it?

At the time of the passage of Shoot First by the Legislature, and at a press "availability," Deputy Ortman said that she didn't think that Shoot First would affect the way people behaved, but that it would affect the consequences.

The case of George Zimmerman is Exhibit A.

First, getting out of his vehicle to confront the "f***ing coon" -- especially after being told not to -- might well preclude a claim of self defense by Zimmerman in Minnesota; he obviously had the ability to retreat or at least not escalate the situation.

Second, here's what the vetoed HF 1467 says about the burden of proof in a criminal trial where deadly force was used and self-defense is claimed:
Justifiable use of force; burden of proof. In a criminal trial, when there is any evidence of justifiable use of force under this section or section 609.06, the state has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant's actions were not justifiable.
George Zimmerman says, "Yes, I stalked the 'f***ing coon' in my vehicle, got out and followed on foot contrary to instructions from the 911 dispatcher, and when I confronted him, I felt threatened and so I shot him dead on the spot."

That's some evidence of self defense, isn't it? So let's call Trayvon Martin as a witness to get his side of the story; oh right, we can't; he's dead.

So it seems that the the Repple Depple Deputy is right. Shoot First would help you get off if you set out to kill someone, especially those f***ing coons.

The title is the post is taken from a Stephen Colbert monologue that you can see at The Shannon Files.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

If these are his champions

Then God help the Deputy

Most of you know that Geoff Michel -- Spot's beloved Deputy -- found himself on the business end of an ethics charge over his handling of the denunciation of Amy Koch. The treatment of the ethics complaint has provided some of the best theater all session.

An acrimonious hearing on the charge by the Senate Ethics Committee last week was continued so that the committee members could vote on voter photo ID (wouldn't want to miss that -- heaven forefend!) on the Senate floor, and when the committee was scheduled to reconvene, the Republican members, the above-pictured and whiskey-voiced Michelle Fischbach and the rural "shoot 'em on the curtilage" lawman Bill Ingrebritson were AWOL

Of course, reporters were curious.

Here's the Strib on follow up to the no shows today:
[  ] Fischbach was hustled away from reporters waiting for further clarity. 
"I'm meeting with a constituent for a few minutes and I won't be making any comment," she said as she left the Senate floor. 
Sen. Mike Parry, R-Waseca, then took her by the arm and began walking away from the reporters. 
A reporter asked Parry if he was pulling her away from the reporters. Parry responded that he had a question for her. He then hustled her into an office and worked to close the door as reporters tried to follow. A reporter told Parry it was a public office and he relented, then he, Fischbach and a constituent went into a back office. 
Fischbach was heard asking Parry if he "had a real question" and then the door closed so that reporters could hear no more. A few minutes later she had left.
Parry would not doubt have thrown down his cloak had he been given a moment to think about it.

The reason this is especially curious -- to me, anyway -- is that there is a rumor about that the Deputy has had second thoughts about his decision to retire from the heavy burden of public office, and that he is orchestrating a "Draft Michel" grass roots movement. Perhaps his family, filled with dread at the prospect of having to spend more time with him, urged his to reconsider.

At all events, the GOP convention in the new SD49 was postponed from last Saturday because no one had stepped forward to fill the Deputy's clown shoes.

Is it helpful or hurtful to the Deputy to put off or even bury the ethics charge?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

On mandatory motherhood

Spotty was bugging me last week about the fact that I haven't said much over the last months of crazy that is politics in this election year. "I would think you’d have a lot to say about these things," he said. (Or at least that's what I think he said. There was Two Gingers whiskey involved.)

I tried to explain to him the difficulty of sorting through what the past months of gender politics in this country has felt like to me. I am of an age where I can recall vividly the women of my mother’s generation facing unwanted pregnancy with resignation because that was all they could do. Their health be damned, their financial stability be damned – there was no choice. I'm also of an age where my daughters never have faced a world where they didn’t have the power to control their destiny.

I also tried to explain what it was like to watch five clerics – yes, that's what those men who testified at Darryl Issa’s committee are – insist that to allow women their freedoms is to somehow infringe on the freedom of male clerics.

But words have failed me when trying to explain that this isn't about simply a right to privacy found in the penumbra of a part of the Constitution or the hallowed relationship between a doctor and a patient. It's far more than that.

That is, until I ran across JoAnn Wypijewski's article in The Nation, "Reproductive Rights and the Long Hand of Slave Breeding," which connects the coercive nature of slave breeding directly to what women are seeing in state legislatures across the country. Recalling a conversation with Professor Pamela Bridgewater, Wypijewski remarks on the fundamental fact of coercive breeding:
Bridgewater argues that because slavery depended on the slaveholder’s right to control the bodies and reproductive capacities of enslaved women, coerced reproduction was as basic to the institution as forced labor. At the very least it qualifies among those badges and incidents, certainly as much as the inability to make contracts. Therefore, sexual and reproductive freedom is not simply a matter of privacy; it is fundamental to our and the law’s understanding of human autonomy and liberty. And so constraints on that freedom are not simply unconstitutional; they effectively reinstitute slavery.
"They effectively reinstitute slavery." That is what this spring is about. Nothing more and nothing less.

Photo added by Spot; I think it's from CNN.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

It's Franzen in four ballots!

Franzen and Ellison at Argyle Sweater Day in Edina in February
Melisa Lopez Franzen's impressive campaign organization was on full display at the SD49 DFL convention today. She won the endorsement for the state senate seat in four ballots, defeating Ann Swenson, a member of the Edina city council, and Cynthia Abrams, a Bloomington resident who is a former member of the school board there and a political activist.

The photo is actually from the gathering in Edina convened by Congressman Ellison after the redistricting maps were released and it was learned that the Fifth District would include the northeast corner of Edina. He spoke at today's convention, too.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Merrily the meter runs!

Cal hums to himself as sits at his desk

Strib photo - Michael Brodkorb
Merrily the meter runs,
Meter runs, meter runs,
Merrily the meter runs,
Will Mikey go away?

Has Cal been sharing the extent of the meter running with anybody? The majority? The minority? Anybody?

Hey Bradlee! Lookit this!

But it says in the Bible . . .

In the video, the speaker, a young gay man, Matthew Vines, discusses the Biblical references to homosexuality. And what to think about them. It's very well researched and presented.

Do you know how many there are? How many in the New Testament? How many attributed to Jesus?

I think it speaks pretty eloquently to the nationwide Catholic-sponsored Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally being held, including in downtown Minneapolis, today.

What about Matthew's religious freedom?

Get thee behind me, Rosenberg

Here's the opening graf of a post from Jeff:
It’s time for a tactical retreat. While regular readers of this blog know that I am vehemently opposed to voter [photo] ID, I don’t believe our time and money will be well-spent trying to defeat it. Instead, the near-certain passage of voter ID makes it more important than ever for the DFL to win back the legislature.
Then why spend time and money on the gay marriage ban amendment? Every state that has had one up on the ballot has passed it. Do we want a tactical retreat here, too?

Jeff's discouragement on the issue is understandable, but his approach is absolutely counterproductive, not only to defeating a voter photo ID amendment, but to winning back the legislature, which he says should be our goal instead.

Why? Because it is not an either or proposition. Here's a presser you can watch at The Uptake a little later this morning:
11:30AM - How will "voter suppression amendment" also known as voter photo ID consitutional amendment affect Minnesota communities of color? Speaking will be Sen. Torres Ray, DFL-Minneapolis, Rep. Moran, DFL-St. Paul and Sen. Hayden, DFL-Minneapolis.
Working to educate our communities of color, students, and the elderly about the effects of voter photo ID will help increase turnout, which will help not only defeat the amendment but to elect DFLers, too.

Likewise, we have to turn out voters in great number for Obama, Klobuchar, Ellison, and McCollum (although probably all of them will win in a walk in Minnesota), because it will help DFLers statewide and on the amendments, too.

As is usually the case, the turnout will be the key.

And a lot can happen between now and November.

So buck it up my friends. To the ramparts!

N.B. A tough title, admittedly, but I wanted to catch people's attention; I think Jeff's thinking on this IS completely wrong headed.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Trusting the BWCA to the bridge-fail engineers? Think twice

Image credit: Flickr user thenip73
In today's Star Tribune - "35W bridge collapse lawyer: Think twice about hiring URS Corp.":
Chris Messerly, an attorney for many of the victims of the 2007 tragedy, made his comments in response to a report that the Metropolitan Council is considering giving URS a major contract for the proposed Southwest Corridor light rail line in the Twin Cities. “You kind of have to think twice as to why the state would hire them yet again given their track record in our state,” he said.  
“We uncovered a lot of issues that were extremely troubling to us” regarding the 35W bridge collapse. “This wasn’t in our view just a negligent actor. It was someone who deliberately disregarded the public safety,” said Messerly. “Maybe they’ve remedied all those problems – I don’t know,” he added. “But, certainly, if someone’s going to hire them they better look to see if URS has fixed their problems that led to the I-35W bridge collapsing.” 
From an October 2011 press release from Twin Metals, which seeks to develop a sulfide mine just outside of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness:
"We are pleased to have URS, one of the most highly rated and respected environmental and engineering companies retained to lead Twin Metals' environmental permitting efforts," stated Christopher Dundas, Chairman and CEO of Duluth Metals. "Twin Metals' commitment to northern Minnesota and environmental stewardship requires the reputation and experience of a company such as URS for this world class deposit."
Is it any wonder that Minnesotans don't trust the environmental promises of the multinational corporations that want to mine copper on the doorstep of the Boundary Waters?

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Dave Senjem's rear view mirror

The one he said he wasn't going to look in at the beginning of the session

Strib photo and Avidor photoshop

You can see more here and here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Photo ID and Republican values

The more I think about it, the more that the photo voter ID amendment seems like a profoundly un-Republican idea. At its heart, the photo ID amendment is an extension of a surveillance state that Republicans profess to abhor.

You see, I can't reconcile Republican themes of "get government out of the way," "we need common sense in government," and "let local government decide" with this amendment. It is a big government policy that defies common sense while destroying local control.

Photo ID is a big government policy

The Republican Party's recent superficial rediscovery of libertarianism was an attempt to wash the Bush stink out of their hair after 2008. All that talk of "freedom" and "liberty" was heady, but the nationwide push for photo ID reveals a continual push toward a surveillance state. But there is a significant part of the Republican electorate that is skeptical or strongly opposed to a national ID card, and the push for government-issue ID requirements for voting is a stepping stone along that path.

Opposition to a national ID card has long been a feature of the libertarian and evangelical right in America. This opposition frustrated implementation of the 2005 REAL ID act that sought to standardize state-issued driver's licenses. Evangelicals have railed against national identification as the "mark of the beast," based on a prophesy in the book of Revelations. Libertarians have long criticized the ever expanding powers of surveillance. In many ways, the rhetoric of Republican sponsors of photo ID is acquiescence to the surveillance state. "You have to show an ID to buy cigarettes, cash a check, etc."

Is it a Republican value to continue the push toward a Big Brother surveillance state where your ID is used for everything?

Photo ID is a bureaucratic policy that defies common sense

Photo ID will result in situations where a person who is personally known to everybody in a polling place is denied the ability to vote. Imagine a voter from a small town, a tight-knit neighborhood or a precinct in a nursing home. Even if everybody in the precinct knows who the voter is and knows where they live, this amendment says that they need an ID to vote. "I'm sorry John, I've known you my whole life and everyone else here knows you too, but the law says you can't vote because your driver's license is expired." Seriously? I mean, how ridiculous is that?

This is exactly what Republicans complain about all the time, a bunch of bureaucrats making a decision on the basis of policy even when it defies common sense. This situation isn't a crazy hypothetical either. Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer made that clear in the floor debate last night. When asked about nursing home residents who have expired ID cards because they no longer drive, Kiffmeyer was emphatic - "they would have to make that ID valid."

Is it a Republican value to create a new bureaucratic dictate that requires election judges to cast aside their common sense? To tell their next door neighbor that they can't vote because their driver's license expired last week, and therefore they can't be sure who they are?

Photo ID destroys local control

There are thousands of precincts in Minnesota and they are not all alike. Many voters in rural Minnesota vote by mail, which saves local governments money and saves voters a long trip to the polls. Minnesota residents who are overseas because they are serving their country cannot return to cast a ballot at their home precinct. Voting needs to be fairly uniform, but election laws allow voting by mail so that rural residents and voters who cannot vote on the day of the election are not disenfranchised.

Despite Rep. Kiffmeyer and Sen. Newman's assurances that the phrase "substantially equivalent" would allow for mail voting to continue, but there is no way for these voters to show their photo ID at the polls. We don't know what the courts would decide is "substantially equivalent," and we'll have to wait until next year to find out what the Legislature will do with the amendment if it passes. Despite Rep. Kiffmeyer's assurances last night, I believe what Senator Newman has said repeatedly, "it depends on what the Legislature does."

Is it a Republican value to impose a uniform system on counties and townships that have adopted common sense procedures that make sense for their communities?

Photo ID polls well, and Republicans appear united in favor of it. But I'm not quite as quick as some to concede that it will pass, nor do I think that Republicans will universally support it. Many of the themes that Republican voters value can be turned against Photo ID.

Follow me on Twitter @aaronklemz

Not Almanac 3-21-2012

The next episode of Not Almanac is ready for your listening pleasure! This week Tony and I talk about the Michael Brodkorb situation, as it were, and all of its various and sundry tentacles. Also, the probable, if not real, death of the Vikings stadium bill.

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You can also download this episode or subscribe via iTunes at this link.

Update (from Steve): Early on, the guys were talking about "secret grand jury proceedings." What they meant was the possibility of discovery in a civil suit being conducted under a protective order. Grand jury are convened to consider indictments; nobody has accused anybody of a crime here. At least not yet, although come to think of it, Cal did call Brodkorb a blackmailer.

Follow us on Twitter @TonyAngelo, @aaronklemz and @stevetimmer

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The dark karma named "Brodkorb"

Bringing a "Motion to Squash"

Beth Hawkins has a very good article published at MinnPost called Brodkorb vs. Lawmakers: Depositions 101. I recommend it highly. I will add just a couple of comments.

MPR photograph
Here's what Hawkins says about the subpoena of witnesses by Brodkorb's lawyers:
In this case [of being subpoenaed], anyone summoned is likely to go straight to the judge, where their first argument is either they know nothing, making their statement irrelevant, or the subpoena is an improper attempt to harass and intimidate. 
To counter this, Brodkorb will have to convince the judge that he has good reason to think the interview will yield evidence and is not a fishing expedition.
Subpoenas are absurdly easy for a lawyer to get; no judge or clerk goes through a "Captain May I" exercise with the lawyer in order to issue one in the first instance. As Hawkins points out, it requires a motion to a judge, a motion to quash -- or a Motion to Squash, as Adrianna Huffington might, well did, say once -- to prevent the required appearance by the witness.

It's a lot of work, not to mention expensive, to bring a motion to quash. You make a public record when you do that. It's a lot easier for a third party witness to just show up for a deposition. And maybe spill the beans on a little coercion that's been eating at you for years.

Cal Ludeman has said that he intends to "protect" present and former staffers, but it isn't clear exactly how much Uncle Cal will be able to do -- at additional Senate expense, naturally -- if they are subpoenaed. A party to litigation (the Minnesota Senate here) can try to squash -- er, quash -- a subpoena on grounds that the interrogation of the witness will lead to the disclosure of privileged (think attorney-client or doctor-patient privilege) or trade secret information: neither is apposite here.
Your Honor, we ask that the subpoena for Ms. Foofniak's deposition be squashed. 
Why, Mr. Ludeman? Does she possess information that is privileged or trade secret to the State of Minnesota? 
Well, um, no. 
Do you represent Ms. Fooniak? 
What are grounds for quashing the subpoena? 
It might make us look bad? Yeah, that's it: it'll make us look bad. 
You'll have to take your chances on that one, Mr. Ludeman! Motion denied.
What are the chances that Brodkorb doesn't have the goods on people? I mean, really?

You know that he does. He probably has photographs.

It is not likely at all the Brodkorb's lawyers are going to need to "go fishing." But even if they are, they are entitled to fish a little: that's why it's called "discovery," not "what you know already." As a judge, you might be reversed if you don't allow requested discovery and the requesting party loses at trial and appeals; you won't be reversed for permitting too much discovery.

Here is the standard rule formulation of the scope of what may be sought in discovery: [I]nformation need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Both the federal and state court rules in Minnesota contain this statement.

I don't know about you, but the idea of MDE with the subpoena power turned loose on the Republicans is an interesting and potentially illuminating prospect to me.

Republicans continue war on water in bonding bill

Monday, Republicans in the Minnesota House released a $280 million bonding bill, about one-third the size of Governor Dayton's $775 million proposal. It's easy to fixate on some of the big projects that the House Republicans omitted from their bill (such as civic centers in Rochester and Mankato, higher education buildings, and a Saint Paul ballpark.) But buried in the bill is one line that grabbed my attention. The Republican bonding proposal effectively cuts $100 million from a fund that stops raw sewage from flowing into Minnesota's lakes and rivers. That's right - Republicans want you to drink from, swim in, and eat fish from waters contaminated by human waste.

MPR photo of "straight pipe" in southeastern Minnesota
Governor Dayton's bill includes $17.1 million in Clean and Drinking Water Matching Funds, which activates a five to one match (over $85 million) from the federal government. The Republicans cut the $17.1 million, which in turn would chop $102 million from proposed wastewater treatment and drinking water facilities projects. The $102 million goes to a revolving loan fund that helps municipalities pay for these essential and expensive projects.

There's a lot of demand on this loan fund. Over $1.5 billion in requested projects are competing for funds, and the 2011 Intended Use Plan for the Clean Water Revolving Fund identifies over $300 million in fundable projects that meet the scoring requirements of the program. If approved, governments are eligible for long term, low interest loans to allow them to do work that most could not do without assistance.

Some of the most immediate concerns involve "straight pipe" sewage systems that directly dump raw, untreated sewage into lakes, rivers, and streams. A 2004 House Research report estimated that 6.75 million gallons of raw sewage per day went directly into Minnesota waters. Since then, progress has been made through this loan fund, but much work remains to be done. Consider a few of the projects awaiting funding that might be chopped because of the Republican bonding bill:
In Silver Creek Township, 109 homes and 2 businesses directly discharge untreated sewage into the Stewart River and then into Lake Superior. They need a $3.4 million loan to fund a treatment facility and are #123 on the priority list. Do you like to stop at Betty's Pies on the north shore? They're right on the Stewart River. 
In Biscay, 46 homes and 2 businesses send untreated sewage directly into the South Fork of the Crow River. Building a treatment facility will cost $650,000 and this project is #20 on the priority list.  
On the shore of Lake of the Woods, Wheeler's Point has over a hundred homes and several businesses with inadequate sewage treatment that will require a $7 million treatment facility. It is #65 on the priority list.
All told, the projects that House Republicans cut from their bonding bill would stop hundreds of thousands of gallons of raw sewage from flowing into Minnesota lakes and streams every day. Other GOP proposals would allow the sale of Minnesota's waters to other states and end of conservation pricing of drinking water. Why is there a Republican war on water in Minnesota?

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Monday, March 19, 2012

Geoff, never send for whom the bell tolls

Blowing his nose in the tissue of lies

The fallout from L'Affaire Brokdorb continues to, um, fall. This afternoon the Senate DFL caucus blew the whistle on the former Deputy and Interim Majority Leader's (from where Michel could no doubt almost taste the top leadership spot as a permanent gig) prevarications about what he knew and when he knew it in the events leading up to the denunciation of Amy Koch and the summary employment execution of Michael Brodkorb.

Here's a press conference with Sens. Sandy Pappas and Tom Bakk in Bakk's office (notice the strategic placement of the Vikings' autographed football) from The Uptake.

You can find a copy of the ethics complaint in a City Pages article here.

City Pages also reports part of Michel's response:
This is about politics and payback and has nothing to do with ethics. The DFL wants a few more headlines. The conflict of interest has been resolved. The workplace environment has improved. And, we did this while protecting whistleblowers and staff.
One thing that Michel did not say -- to his credit, really -- was that the facts alleged in the complaint were untrue. That would be difficult, of course, since they all came out of his own mouth.

As Sens. Pappas and Bakk note, the complaint requires no witnesses, unless Michel decides to dispute the accounts of a phalanx of reporters.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

I'm just going to say it

Is anybody else concerned about the weather?

Like nearly every Minnesotan, I love spring. Golfing, grilling, and comfortably wearing short pants and sandals? Or even better, throwing open the windows at night? You can't beat it, after a long, grueling Minnesota winter! Only the winter wasn't that long, there was hardly any snow, and it was over fifty degrees in January.

This incredibly odd weather is messing with my head. The temperature says it is June, but the calendar says it is March 18th. It is astronomical winter, but it feels like early summer. The number of records broken by this March heat wave are incredible - thousands of daily records for high temperatures and dewpoints have been set. In the Twin Cities, we've set daily record temperatures for seven of the last nine days. We're not done yet. The forecast is for above average temperatures for the next week.

Obviously, climate change is a bunch of crap cooked up by socialists to control the economy and destroy our freedom.

Please don't misinterpret me. I am not arguing that one abnormal spring proves that global warming is true or that human activity is the definitive cause of it. I am arguing that our climate in Minnesota is changing rapidly, and that the science of climate change is pretty damn clear at this point.

Here's a chart of average spring (March - May) temperatures for east central Minnesota:

Just for your reference, we're currently averaging 42.1 degrees during the first (coldest) seventeen days of March, above average for the whole 90 day period. But more than the fact we've been above average, look at the dramatic swings from year to year. We are seeing far more volatile swings in spring temperatures, consistent with predictions of climate change.

In related news, Australian atmospheric scientists reported that we set another record this spring, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In addition, they documented that sea levels are rising, at the high end of the predictions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Ominously, their data also show that we are on track to exceed 400 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere within five years. 400 ppm is significantly over the level we need to preserve the climate that has sustained human civilization on the Earth, about 350 ppm. And if you think we'll just invent magic carbon vacuums, you might be right, but consider this. If we can invent effective carbon sequestration technology, it will cost upwards of $10 trillion to reduce global CO2 concentrations by 50 ppm.

I've been told it's the height of arrogance to assume that human beings could do anything that might affect the climate. Not true; the real arrogance come from assuming we can continue pump carbon into the atmosphere and nothing will change.

Enjoy the weather, but the climate is something to worry about.

Follow me on Twitter @aaronklemz

T minus six days and counting

SD 49 conventions on March 24th

"s/v Field Trip"
Next Saturday, both the Republican and the DFL parties will hold their conventions for the new Senate and House districts encompassing Edina and parts of Bloomington, Minnetonka, and Eden Prairie.

Three Republican hold the seats in the old SD41, which makes up most of the new district: Sen. Geoff Michel, the "Deputy," Rep. Pat Mazorol, 41B, and Rep. Keith Downey, 41A. Only Downey is running for re-election; Michel and Mazorol have thrown in the towel.

The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, which spent a boat load of money in negative advertising against Paul Rosenthal to help Mazorol (a freshman) unseat him, must be kicking itself for the poor investment.

But the best part is that as of this writing, no one has declared a candidacy for endorsement in the MNGOP for either the Senate or House District 49B.

There was a rumor that Michael Brodkorb's acolyte Luke Hellier was going to give the Senate slot a go -- somebody reserved; that could be Angela Berger, of course -- but no announcement so far.

I'd also heard that Lee McGrath is or was thinking about the Senate, too. "That would be spooky fun," a friend observed. Indeed.

Onward, Christian Pharmacists!

Sung to the tune, of course, of Onward, Christian Soldiers.

Onward, Christian Pharmacists, wrapped in piety,
Foisting their morality onto you and me.
Who needs modern chemistry, when they had a vision?
Everyone using birth control should land themselves in prison.

Onward, Christian Pharmacists, wrapped in piety,
Foisting their morality onto you and me.

Keep the torches burning, let not sunlight in,
Let the white hot torches burn out all sin.
Stand behind their counters, dressed in pious white,
Anyone who wants the Pill, they will surely smite!

Onward, Christian Pharmacists, wrapped in piety,
Foisting their morality onto you and me.

They believe the Ancients, not Academie,
Their belief is not in science but rather alchemy.
Rapists should be daddies too; to hell with womens’ needs!
Too bad if we harm a few; got to save those seeds!

Onward, Christian Pharmacists, wrapped in piety,
Foisting their morality onto you and me.

Once the kid is born, they no longer care,
Just be sure the little tyke's not society’s to bear!
Now the druggist’s job is done, and his conscience clear,
Rest in peace apothecary, angels hover near.

Onward, Christian Pharmacists, wrapped in piety,
Foisting their morality onto you and me.

This is the reprint of a poem that originally appeared here. The re-publication seems somehow appropriate.

Be sure also to check out the Christian Pharmacists Fellowship International and its global footprint.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Sorry; gotta go. My ride is here!

Here's Mary Franson today:

Parody of a campaign photo on Franson's website.


That tweet was Exhibit A. Exhibit B is a commentary piece by Franson in this morning's (3/18/12) Strib, calling for more Franson-style courage and political leadership. I will pick out just a few paragraphs.
Recently, I have been the subject of numerous local and national media stories concerning my attempts to reform Minnesota's bloated and dependency-enabling welfare system. 
One video I made had my critics claiming I compared food-stamp recipients to animals. No fair viewing of that video could support such nonsense.
Oh? Then, Mary, why did you take it down and apologize for it? (That is, issue the standard Republican non-apology for it?) Or why did Jon Tevlin feel moved to go over you with a wire brush over the comments in the video?

Franson's Republican colleagues must have rushed over to give her comfort and succcor after being ill treated so badly. Apparently not.
What is needed is the courage to speak up -- even if you are viciously attacked and not one of your colleagues comes to your defense.
Perhaps, Mary, that's because not even your Republican colleagues are as politically tone deaf as you.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Then what the heck was Dave Senjem doing there?

Did they just run into him in the men's room on the way to the presser?

In the Strib article reporting on the presser yesterday by Michael Brodkorb's lawyers, there's this:
Brodkorb is holding out the possibility that he could separately sue Republican Sens. Geoff Michel, David Hann and Chris Gerlach, as well as former Senate chief of staff Cullen Sheehan and Senate committee administrator Aaron Cocking. All were said to have knowledge of Brodkorb's relationship with Koch or were involved in the events surrounding his dismissal.
Many of you recall this photograph from the press conference where Amy Koch was awarded her Scarlet Letter:

MPR photo
Gerlach? Here. Michel? Here. Hann? Here.

Senjem? . . . Senjem? . . . Senjem?

Why was he there? And why is he so conspicuously absent from the lawyers' list of miscreants?

Could it be perhaps because he's the Majority Leader now and might help craft a settlement if Brodkorb doesn't alienate him?

It's a question worth asking, no?

Update: And without agreeing with the sentiment expressed by the "tweeter," it's clear this is something that Senjem doan wanna talk about, no way, no how.

Julie and Lester's big day!

Aaron Klemz photo
From Aaron's post a couple of days ago:
One key deadline looms. The legislature's rules state that a bill must be passed by a committee by March 16th in order to get a vote this session. These rules can be suspended. Indeed, in a subsequent press conference, Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem (R - Rochester) indicated he might support waiving the committee deadline if needed. But an even bigger stumbling block has become apparent - it may not have the votes or support to pass either house in the Minnesota Legislature or the Minneapolis City Council.
Holy Smoke! That's today!

Update: According to Speaker Zellers, the stadium bills lingers in the manner of Generalissimo Francisco Franco. Not dead, yet not quite alive.

Zellers also said, in an act of remarkable clairvoyance, that the bill was inadequate; clairvoyant since he hasn't read it all yet.

The Friday deadline will not, at all events, be met.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Cal, how many kidneys do you have to sell

To raise a half a million dollars?

Just kidding! Sort of. As of this morning, though, it looks more likely that Cal & Co. will be on the business end of a lawsuit by Michael Brodkorb. The irony of the attack dog turning on its master is not lost on anyone, certainly not Nick Coleman.

Among Cal's problems (and there are more) is the fact that the Senate has already been driven into penury by the Republican caucus.

Photo credit: unknown
Remember, no less an authority than Thomas A. Bottern, Esq., counsel to the Rules Committee and Cal's consigliere, has opined that the the defense and settlement of Brodkorb's claim is up to Cal Ludeman, Secretary of the Senate. That's Cal on the right. That is Bottern's opinion, notwithstanding the fact that it was the Republican caucus who hired Brodkorb to be Amy Koch's faithful [chortle] retainer, and it was the caucus and Cal that decided to summarily fire him. (But the money comes out of the Senate.)

We have the evidence.

But in all the general hilarity over the situation -- and who doesn't enjoy a good belly laugh? -- one thing seems to be overlooked.

Let's start with a hypothetical. Say you have an employee who screws something up so monumentally, so royally, so titanically -- and maybe so carelessly or intentionally -- that it winds up costing you a lot of money. Say that this person is your HR director. Let's also say that the matter that got screwed up was the dismissal of another employee. Can you sue your employee for his utter malfeasance? Why, of course you can.

You see where this is going, don't you?

Ludeman has a huge conflict of interest here. He's playing with house (well, actually the Senate's and by extension the taxpayers') money to hire a lawyer to protect the Senate Republican caucus and himself.

In spite of Bottern's opinion, Cal Ludeman ought to be the last person in charge of this litigation.

And a lawyer truly representing the Senate would be thinking about the question: are there parties other than the institution of the Minnesota Senate who are really responsible here? And should I be thinking about third-party claims against them?

Update: Cal this afternoon:

Lotsa luck with that, Cal.

I'll make it easy for you, Draz

Catherine Ritchert has a well-researched article about the influence of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) on Minnesota Republican legislators on the Minnesota Public Radio website this morning. You should go and read the whole thing. But one snippet jumped out at me:
But Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, who is sponsoring an identical bill in the House, says he's been a member of ALEC for four years.  
Rep. Steve Drazkowski
"I am a member of ALEC as I am a member of a good number of organizations that align with the type of legislative outlook that I have and that match the values of the folks in my district," Drazkowski explained. Nevertheless, Drazkowski said he's never introduced ALEC bills, and said he didn't get language for his "right-to-work" bill from the group. 
Never? Well, Rep. Drazkowski might have found his "right to work" bill from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (a regressive right wing think tank) but how does he explain this one? HF 1563, calling for a constitutional convention to allow state legislatures to repeal federal law is a word-for-word copy of model ALEC legislation. Well, almost word-for-word. Drazkowski's version replaces "[insert state]" with "Minnesota," so he's got that going for him.

It's as clumsy as an undergraduate plagiarist whose paper was block copied from a website but the plagiarist forgot to remove the hyperlinks.

Never introduced ALEC bills? Someone should ask Rep. Drazkowski about this blatant lie.

Follow me on Twitter @aaronklemz

"Lester sure has a big briefcase"

"But Ted handles it so well"

Aaron Klemz photo

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

False start for the Vikings stadium bill

Sen. Julie Rosen and Lester Bagley testify
After two hours of testimony on Wednesday afternoon, the Senate Local Government Operations Committee did not vote on the Vikings stadium bill and tabled the bill for later. While not the end of the road for the Vikings stadium, it was a significant blow to the prospects of the legislature passing a bill by the end of session.

One key deadline looms. The legislature's rules state that a bill must be passed by a committee by March 16th in order to get a vote this session. These rules can be suspended. Indeed, in a subsequent press conference, Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem (R - Rochester) indicated he might support waiving the committee deadline if needed. But an even bigger stumbling block has become apparent - it may not have the votes or support to pass either house in the Minnesota Legislature or the Minneapolis City Council.

Legislators and staffers huddle before the hearing
Republican Speaker of the House Kurt Zellers (R - Maple Grove) has been continually noncommittal on the stadium, including today. He hadn't had time to look over the bill, "it's too early." It's been too early for Zellers all session, and one has to wonder when he'll finally be ready to state his position. Without Zellers's support, the bill is all but dead.

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and Minneapolis Council President Barbara Johnson were questioned whether they had the support of council members. Both demurred, using the same reasoning as Zellers. They just got the bill, and haven't been able to parse it yet. Johnson's response was telling, "we have a fair amount, a substantial amount of support [on the council.]" Unless and until they can find seven votes on the council, legislators won't take the leap on a stadium bill. So far, Rybak and Johnson are at least two votes short.

Mayor Rybak and Council President Johnson confer
Even this single Senate committee may not have the needed votes. The rumor in the hallway before the hearing was that the committee was tied. If there were any vocal supporters on the committee, they didn't show it during the hearing. Skeptical questions abounded, enthusiasm was completely absent. Tabling the bill demonstrates that it would have failed today if a vote had been taken.

It's the two minute warning for the Vikings stadium bill, and things look grim for stadium advocates.

Follow me on Twitter @aaronklemz

Candidate spotting at the Capitol: "right to work" edition

The Monday morning hearing on the "right to work" amendment brought more than 1,000 labor supporters to the Capitol, but it also attracted a number of candidates who oppose it. All three DFL candidates for Congress in the 8th District were there (Jeff Anderson, Tarryl Clark, and Rick Nolan) talking to folks. There were also a number of candidates for state legislative seats there as well. Here are three that I spotted. I'm sure there were many others that I missed.

Jason Isaacson - candidate for District 42B Representative

Isaacson is running for an open seat vacated by Rep. Bev Scalze, who is running for the open District 42 Senate seat. He's an Education Minnesota member, and teaches communication classes at Century College in White Bear Lake. A veteran of several campaigns over the last twelve years, Isaacson said “I am running for this seat because I am concerned about the future of education in our state. I believe education is a solution and a resource to solve many of the problems our state is facing. For this reason we need to be investing in it, not stealing from it to create “fake” budget surpluses. I’m vying for the DFL endorsement at the Senate District convention on March 31st in hopes of contributing to the DFL’s efforts to win back the state house.” Isaacson faces off against DFL House staffer Peter Strohmeier and Roseville City Council member Tammy Pust for the endorsement at the District 42 convention at the end of March.

Jesse Berglund - candidate for District 11A Representative

Berglund is also running for an open seat in 11A, which encompasses northern Pine, Carlton, and part of southern St. Louis County. A native of Cloquet, Berglund works as an attorney and is a Judge Advocate (JAG) attorney in the U.S. Army Reserves. He has served overseas in Kuwait and South Korea, and Afghanistan. A press release from his campaign says he "intends to continue providing a strong voice for the area on middle-class issues at the Legislature in the traditions of the district’s current senator, Tony Lourey, and former representatives for the district, Mary Murphy of Hermantown and Bill Hilty of Finlayson." Berglund faces labor organizer Mike Sundin for the endorsement.

Jim Carlson - DFL candidate for District 51 Senator

Carlson is running to reclaim the Eagan area seat that he held from 2006 to 2010. Endorsed by Sen. Al Franken and Rep. Keith Ellison, Carlson also received the endorsement of Education Minnesota, AFSCME, Take Action Minnesota, and a number of other organizations in his 2010 race for Senate. He faces Eagan Mayor Mike Maguire in a tough battle for the endorsement.

Follow me on Twitter @aaronklemz

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Regrettably, the coyote hazing program

The coyotes do not seem to be "hazed"

The coyotes are not, apparently, being scared out of Edina. The spectre of suburban matrons chasing coyotes with wiener dogs in their teeth is just not getting the job done. According to Twitter, the City of Edina has canceled some coyote hazing training.

This is notwithstanding the fact that the City has even posted a video, with the compelling title Go Away Coyote, on its website.

Word is that the City of Edina will be initiating a new replacement program soon, called the "Coyote Shaming Project." This program will offer a video on how to hurl insults at coyotes, such as:
Lookit the gut on that coyote. 
Hey, coyote, your ears stick out funny. 
Coyote, your mother wears combat boots.
Much better results are expected. Stay tuned.

She has a curious resume

For somebody who wants the DFL endorsement for Senate in SD49, that is

Cynthia Abrams, candidate for the DFL endorsement in the new SD 49. For whatever other qualities she offers, here's a genuine clunker:

She contributed $650 to Tom Horner for governor in October, 2010.

Okay, people convert from Republicanism, I understand that. I applaud it. But this is the political equivalent of yesterday.

Tom Horner is perhaps the chief flack for hospitals; he's anti-nurses and anti-labor in general. Cynthia works for Fairview. Do the math.

Update: It is ostensible DFLers like Cynthia who damn near got Tom Emmer elected governor. Think about that one for a moment. Moreover, it is not as though Cynthia was just spreading her money around and contributed to everyone, either, you know, just for access. Horner was the only contribution in 2010. The other candidate that Cynthia supported for governor was Tim Penny in his 2002 Independence Party run for governor.

A Wisconsin reprise

I thought it was time to rerun this video and remember that Minnesota is a reprise of what happened in Wisconsin last year. This is from a rally at the Minnesota Capitol on February 26, 2011.

Monday, March 12, 2012

To Google, Google, Google him

Is to know, know, know him

Avidor cartoon
According to Bob Collins, anyway:
People who get into trouble by having Minneapolis preacher Bradlee Dean at their functions usually have something in common: They've never Googled Bradlee Dean.
Almost a year ago, Republicans in the Minnesota House apologized after Dean, who runs a ministry called "You Can Run But You Can't Hide," gave an invocation just prior to debate over a same-sex marriage constitution amendment. 
Last week, his band -- Junkyard Prophet -- performed at Dunkerton High School, near Cedar Rapids in Iowa. The band was supposed to deliver an anti-drug, anti-bullying message. But, according to, it ended up being vintage Dean[.]
But this canker on the butt cheek of humanity was well known to, inter alia, the MNGOP, long before the most recent dust up in Dunkerton, Iowa or even Bradlee's prayer in the Minnesota House that Collins refers to.

One of the great chroniclers of Bradlee Dean -- perhaps the best one extant -- Ken Avidor, sets forth in a comment to Collins' post a list, and although the list is long, it is incomplete, of all the politicians who have stood cheek to cheek (butt or otherwise) with Bradlee Dean or his peeps, prayed breathlessly -- and breathily -- for Dean's "ministry," attended fundraisers for YCH, or groveled before Dean and his sidekick Jakey on the radio for Bradlee's summary boot-kicking out of the House.

Update: And lest we let Bob Collins and the rest of the MSM off the hook for the fact that you have to Google the aforesaid canker on the butt check of humanity to find out anything about him or YCR, remember that our man of the synthetic-cloth (literally) got one MSM mention for stinking up the House last spring, but that's about it. Even though Dean & Co. have been around spilling their special brand of bile for a long time, long enough that an outfit in Atlanta, Georgia recognizes YCR for what it is.

"Right to work" dances around Jobs

GOP Sens. Ingebrigtsen and Miller both oppose the amendment
Late Thursday, the Senate held a vote open for nearly 10 minutes to get the 34 votes needed to transfer the so-called "right to work" constitutional amendment (SF 1705) from the Jobs Committee to the Judiciary Committee. Monday morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee scraped together a 7-6 majority to send the "right to work" amendment on to the Rules Committee. For the second time in four days, the amendment was on life support, only to be revived by a parliamentary maneuver and a bare majority vote. Now SF 1705 is only one stop from the Senate floor.

Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen (R - Alexandria) voted with 5 DFL Senators to reject the amendment. Another Republican, Sen. Michael Jungbauer (R - East Bethel) previously stated he wouldn't vote for it, but ultimately joined the other 6 Republicans in approving the amendment and sending it the Rules Committee.

During the hearing, Jungbauer expressed his desire to see it referred back to the Jobs Committee, and said he didn't understand why it had skipped the Jobs Committee. He must have a very short memory. On Thursday he voted on the Senate floor to allow the amendment to skip the Jobs Committee. Jungbauer then voted to skip the Jobs Committee again today. Jungbauer may be feeling some pressure to support "right to work" from the right wing of his party, considering he faces a looming endorsement battle with Sen. Michelle Benson (R - Ham Lake) who is a co-author of another "right to work" bill.

Sen. Dave Thompson (R - Lakeville) has successfully engineered the friendliest and shortest path for this amendment to reach a vote of the full Senate. The real question is whether the Rules Committee will schedule SF 1705 for a vote, since the 7-4 GOP majority appears to be likely to approve it. According to Senate rules, proposed constitutional amendments must be approved by the Rules Committee before heading to the Senate floor.

Labor packed the hallways around the hearing
I'd estimate that 800 to 1,000 people packed the ground floor of the Capitol, and I didn't see a single person in favor of the amendment. Chants of "kill the bill," "just vote no," and "this is what democracy looks like!" resonated through the building from 7:30 to noon as protestors made their opinion well known to the committee. Unfortunately, their voices did not sway the Senate on this day. But House members take heed; labor will be out in force if you choose to take it up.

Follow me on Twitter @aaronklemz

Not Almanac: March 12, 2012

(c) C. Stellmacher 2012
This week we talk about the death and subsequent resurrection of the Right to Work Amendment, a former UofM regent, and the ongoing Vikings stadium debate. Also, Glencoe’s Gruesome Glenn Gruenhagen.

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Follow us on Twitter: @aaronklemz, @TonyAngelo the Not Almanac editor), @stevetimmer

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Your Saturday night quiz

Which of these three things does not belong with the other two:
Mary Franson tweets a shout out to Mary Lahammer for her excellent reporting on Wild Animalgate. And Lahammer retweets it. 
Craig Westover pens a screed about "limited government." 
Larry Jacobs and Tony "Cookie Jar" Sutton team up to write an op-ed about the Republican party at the crossroads.

Electronic pull tabs are green!

Smart? That's another question.