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Questioning Sheriff Stanek High Travel Expenses

by Grace Kelly on October 25, 2014 · 2 comments

Previously, I reported that Sheriff Stanek’s projected 2014 budget is $92 million, which is $43 million larger than Ramsey County’s projected 2014 budget of $49 million. Hennepin is way above every other urban county.

 

At the same time, Stanek has the smallest population of any urban Sheriff in Minnesota to directly police. Hennepin County is unique in that it is comprised of cities that all have their own police forces. Less than 1% of the population is directly policed by the Hennepin Sheriff Rich Stanek. The other urban counties have more population being directly policed by the Sheriff.

 

This graph shows the glaring the differences between Hennepin and other urban counties in 2012 numbers. In comparing urban county Sheriff Budgets, one would expect that the budget is high when the amount of direct policing and reported crimes is high. Hennepin county is the opposite. Given the numbers on direct policing, one could easily make a case that Hennepin’s budget should below Ramsey County’s budget.

 

Kelly Sheriff Budget Comparison

 

So if Sheriff Stanek money is not being spent on policing, where is the money being spent? Today Eddie Frizell, the Minneapolis Deputy Chief running against Stanek gave us all a clue. Frizell’s press release said:

 

Reports show that within the past 2 years, Sheriff Stanek has traveled extensively while neglecting the communities that matter in Hennepin County. “Just in the past 3 years of his term, the Sheriff has charged over $54,000 in tax payer money to his county issued credit card for over 40 flights and 30 hotels for numerous conferences and out of town meetings,” stated Frizell. “Between the money spent on travel and his administrative costs being doubled, this is money that could spent in other areas of the organization. To me, this doesn’t justify “sound and principled stewardship of taxpayers’ resources”. Hennepin County is best served by electing a community Sheriff that leads from right here at home and November 4th is the voters chance to make a difference,” added Frizell.

 

A brief look at the list of travel charges leads one to start asking questions:
 
1) On 01/23/2012, $2,244.20 was spent at “MARRIOTT 33769″ in Washington DC, for the purpose of “JW DC NSA Conf Hotel – Stanek.” A online website lookup of this hotel says that the daily room changes range from $229 to $429. So it appears that Stanek took the most expensive room for 5 days. Is it the policy to take the most expensive room?
 

2) The number of Sheriff conferences seems high. Why did Stanek go to the WESTERN sheriffs conference?
 
3) On 03/22/2012, $1,327.20 was spent at Delta Air on a flight for and “Flight to DC and PHX”. Aren’t DC and Phoenix in the opposite directions from Minneapolis? Currently Delta Air round trips delta flights from Minneapolis to Washington are $559 first class. So was this charge for two round trip first class tickets?

 
4) On 08/14/2012, $183.98 was spent on a “Dinner with Fed Partners” at Sunsets Wayzata. An expensive meal at Wayzata’s Sunset restaurant would be $30. So did Staneck buy meals for 6 “Fed Partners”? Why didn’t “Fed Partners” use their own expense account?
 
And those questions are only from the first half page, the list goes on.
 
Stanek is Republican, so we shouldn’t be surprised that he spends other people’s money lavishly.
 
Comments below fold.
 
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I could be wrong. If I’m right, then I have to admire the cleverness of a certain group of Don Samuels’ supporters, even if, as the title implies, there’s something coldblooded about it.

 

A new organization has sprung up for this election season, the Minneapolis Progressive Education Fund. They put out a mailer promoting the candidacies of Don Samuels and Iris Altamirano for the Minneapolis at-large school board seats. Altamirano is one of the candidates endorsed by the DFL. Samuels is not. The other DFL endorsee is Rebecca Gagnon. Voters might be fooled by the effort MPED is making to hook together Altamirano and Samuels. The images below are a mailer MPED sent Minneapolis voters (click to enlarge). Some voters have received a robocall supporting Samuels and Altamirano while bashing Gagnon. I didn’t receive one myself and don’t know of anyone who caught who made the calls, but the content sounds roughly the same as the MPED web site. The mailer is positive about the supported candidates, but the robocall and web site are pretty negative. The web site tries to tie Gagnon to the unproven rumors about State Sens. Bobby Joe Champion and Jeff Hayden. Pretty nonsensical rumors unless someone believes the senators are politically suicidal (denying funding to the Minneapolis public schools? Remember that saying about extraordinary claims…), but MPED says, “The Star Tribune and MinnPost also have reported on claims…” and yes, someone made claims, those outlets reported that someone made claims, so true as far as it goes. Other than that attack on Gagnon, it’s all generic “every child can learn” sort of stuff said by all school board candidates everywhere.
 

MPED mailer image 1   MPED mailer image 2

 
So what’s the strategy? It’s more than knowing the word “progressive” plays well in Minneapolis. The trick is Samuels doesn’t need to beat both endorsees. Since there are two positions, he just needs to beat one. Apparently the strategy is to hook him to one endorsee, giving the impression he’s the other endorsee, while simultaneously hitting the other endorsee with a negative campaign. That may explain why Samuels didn’t seek the DFL endorsement, which he never would have gotten for any public office, but instead attempted the same sort of ambush campaign Matt Entenza tried in the auditor primary: keep quiet until filing so opponents aren’t expecting anything, and then hit hard with a well-funded negative campaign. The brilliance of this strategy is it would have worked equally well whichever candidate MPED chose to support or attack. Whether there was a reason or a coin flip, MPED chose to make it appear Samuels is running with Altamirano, even though they’re not similar candidates, and I’ve yet to hear anyone in Altamirano’s campaign have a good word to say about him.
 
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Attack Ads, Madison High and Jim Meffert

by JeffStrate on October 25, 2014 · 2 comments

Earlier today Dan Burns emerged from exploring the effluent of anti-Nolan ads in Congressional District 8 with an advisory that one of the operatives behind them was the owner of our favorite sh*t eating grin of dental veneers, former St. Paul Mayor and U.S, Senate recount wrestler/litigator Norm Coleman.

 

Coleman attended James Madison High School in Brooklyn. During my road running days I jogged past his alma mater a few times when training for my mid-pack goals in 10 K and marathon races. That part of Brooklyn can produce scrappy weasels as well as top shelf, pragmatic visionaries. “America’s Senator,” Bernie Sanders (VT), Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Senator Chuck Schumer (NY), former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop and 4 Nobel Prize recipients graduated from Madison High in Brooklyn.

 

You are not worthy Denfield, Eden Prairie, Roosevelt, Saint Paul Central and Centennial Highs. But in terms of the Franken-Coleman re-count results, Blake School in Hopkins, Al’s alma mater, has parity with Madison High.

 

But I wander. Dan Burns sheds light on the darkness in CD 8 and considers something I haven’t thought much about: The Ventura Effect –  “Whoa! Beer Bong Guy for Congress?” Cool! I’m gonna VOTE!!”

 

Jim Meffert making a point on Democratic Visions in 2010

Jim Meffert making a point on Democratic Visions in 2010

Now back to negative attack ads.  Former DFL Congressional District 3 candidate Jim Meffert anticipates that attack ads will increase in frequency until November 4.   Meffert tells Eric Black at MinnPost that the negative ads are actually targeted at iffy voters to discourage them from voting for the likes of, say,  Rick Nolan. I don’t recall many if any negative ads during Meffert’s 2010 challenge to then frosh Congressman Eric Paulsen. Meffert had real appeal to we suburban voters but did not garner the big bucks to be competitive. There was little need for the right wing to negatively attack Mr. Meffert at a level now being seen in the CD 8 race.

 

The Junk Yard Democrats are always game to toss a dark, musical spitball at Mr. Paulsen.  Like Eric, Tommy, Norb and Doug live in Eden Prairie.  Here again is your link to view “He Talks the Line.”   This time around, the Junkers are supporting Sharon Sund.  So am I.

Comments below fold.

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MN-08: Coleman’s anti-Nolan ad is mostly false

by Dan Burns on October 24, 2014 · 1 comment

millspartying2A new TV ad that you’ve probably had to endure is the work of a dark money group headed by a former U.S. Senator from Minnesota, Norm Coleman, a true weasel who seems to have indeed found his proper, if odious, place in society. The ad’s a piece of crap.
 

Last year, Nolan voted against a funding bill for the Department of Veterans Affairs, which is typically a solidly bipartisan piece of legislation.
 
But that wasn’t because Nolan doesn’t want to fund veterans’ care. It’s because he thought the bill didn’t put enough money into health care services for vets. Further, Nolan has since voted for other bills that increased funding for veteran care.
(MPR Poligraph)

I don’t see that there’s any doubt that between pushing for more earned benefits for veterans, or more tax cut welfare for the pampered and privileged like himself, where Stewart Mills III’s priorities in Congress would lie.
 
It has long since been the case that most of the Mills-backing mailers I’ve been getting say “Vote against Rick Nolan,” not “Vote for Stewart Mills.” Even Republicans sense that they’re not going to get anywhere by emphasizing the alleged strengths of their own wretched candidate, because there aren’t any. Except, apparently, his fine-looking mug and well-toned musculature. Because that’s what matters, right?
 

There’s a possibility that Mills is picking up some electoral assistance from an unlikely source; I’ll call it the “Ventura effect.” When the latter was elected governor, he undoubtedly got some help from normally apolitical rednecks, mostly male and mostly in their twenties, who were like “Whoa! Jesse the Body for governor?! Cool! I’m gonna VOTE!!” This time, we may be seeing “Whoa! Beer Bong Guy for Congress?! Cool! I’m gonna VOTE!!” Probably not enough to be a big factor in the race, though.
 

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Laurie Warner for Minnesota House 32B

by Dan Burns on October 23, 2014 · 1 comment

warnerHere’s her Facebook.

 

I will fight to strengthen our economy further and create jobs for Minnesota workers by ending tax loopholes for corporations, providing tax cuts to small businesses, investing in a clean-energy economy like Geronimo Solar Energy, and putting our district to work rebuilding our infrastructure…
 
People need to have good-paying jobs, but not at the expense of our environment. There is strong growth potential for jobs in fields relating to clean energy and environmental protection. I will work to bring those businesses to Chisago County.
 
I support the right for workers to join labor unions.
(Laurie Warner for Minnesota House)

Rep. Bob Barrett (R-Lindstrom) has been in the House for two terms. With the outlook for Minnesota being that conservatism will become increasingly irrelevant at the state level in general – younger voters everywhere just plain know better – there’s no reason to keep him there. His website shows him trying very hard to take credit for DFL accomplishments. Also:

 

On February 5th of 2013, Representative Barrett was fined $1000 for disseminating campaign literature that misrepresented the record of his opponent in the previous election. The Administrative Law Judge Panel concluded that the false information “likely had some impact on voters” in Barrett’s 51%/49% victory.
(Wikipedia)

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Audit of BP claims facility results in $64 million in additional payments – from the New Orleans Tribune http://www.tribunetalk.com/?p=3343

The ever-corrupt Tom Coburn, who lives his life amid the lint of the deep pockets of big oil, big pharm and other big money spent on PAID-triots. It’s no secret who buys members of the House and Senate to do their bidding.

 

And it’s no secret that Coburn, leaving this year due to ill health, has NEVER really been against waste. He’s just a hatchet man for his buyers, a long term buy-to-lie guy.

 

 

On his way out the door, he’s done his donor’s bidding one last time, this time via the right wing propaganda machine over at Fox (not really)News. It’s good to use Fox to lie to the gullible conservatives; neither Fox, nor the Conservatives who consume their drivel, will ever fact check anything. They tend to be science illiterates on both sides of the television – the sending and the receiving, and they are consistently wilfully ignorant.

Let’s look at the recent Fox dishonest headline:

$10G to watch grass grow: Coburn report details worst examples of gov’t waste

As American taxpayers worried about the terror threat from the Islamic State, the crisis at the border and the economy, the U.S. government spent their money to give rabbits massages, to teach sea monkeys to synchronize swim and to literally watch grass grow.

These and other examples of wasteful government spending were detailed by Republican Sen. Tom Coburn in his annual “Wastebook,” his final edition since he is retiring early next year.

…Other examples vary from the serious, to the aggravating, to just plain bizarre. One that takes the cake is the $10,000 the government spent to watch grass grow — seriously.

That project is the brainchild of the Department of Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is paying for the growth of the smooth cordgrass to be observed on a Florida reserve. The money covers “the cost to monitor grasses, restore two acres as a demonstration and publish a guide on best practices for cultivating the cordgrass, known formally as Spartina alterniflora.”

So…….IS the government wasting money on Spartina alterniflora, just ‘watching grass grow’? OR is there a connection to Coburn trying to discourage funding something useful on behalf of big oil, again?

Guess.

Here is the actual study, INCLUDING the actual purpose, which is completely and totally different from the description of the research in Coburn’s ‘wastebook’. The biggest waste here is the wastebook itself.

Here is the link to the study and the information about this very special kind of grass, with some excerpts below of the pertinent parts:

Smooth cordgrass provides cover for waterfowl, wading birds, shorebirds,
and muskrats; and habitat for commercially important fish and shellfish.
VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES :
Smooth cordgrass was direct-seeded successfully on damaged marshes found
on dredge spoils from Connecticut to Virginia. Lower littoral zones
were seeded in locations where heavy wave action caused by storms did
not erode away the often top-heavy plants before their root systems
developed sufficiently. Smooth cordgrass seeds and seedlings were also
planted successfully on dredge spoils produced in the maintenance of
navigational channels within sounds and estuaries

Smooth cordgrass is an important component of Gulf Coast salt marshes
which stabilize shorelines against erosion and filter heavy metals and
toxic materials from the water column [13].

The presence of smooth cordgrass indicates sites with high salinity,
which can be managed for shrimp ponds [20].

OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS :
Gulf Coast marshes, because they provide soil stabilization and enhance
water quality, receive the highest priority for protection in
comprehensive oil spill response plans for coastal areas [13]. Effects
of oil spills on salt marshes vary depending on oil type, plant
coverage, season, and marsh elevation [24]. Flushing with seas water is
the most effective clean-up method for oil-contaminated salt marshes at
present. However, once oil penetrates the sediment, not even flushing
will remove it. Flushing is also ineffective at reducing damage to
cordgrass and enhancing long-term plant recovery. If natural tidal
flushing occurs, no other clean-up measures are recommended because
impacts on the community cause more harm than good. Overall, clean-up
responses have limited effectiveness; therefore, primary emphasis should
be placed on contingency planning and protection of salt marsh habitat
from oil spills.

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gadflyI ran across this cool website with this cool article, which is a must click and read if you’re interested in education policy at all. (There are four candidates for two-at-large seats: Rebecca Gagnon, Ira Jourdain, Don Samuels, and Iris Altamirano. Gagnon is an incumbent; she and Altamirano are DFL-endorsed. Samuels is very much preferred by the corporate “education deformer” movement.)
 

Now, a distinction must be drawn between this rigorously documented “hard money”, which campaigns raise and spend directly, and the “soft money” independent expenditures made by outside groups that have no limits or reporting requirements. How’s this working out for (Samuels)? Pretty nicely. I’ve written before about the influx of ideologically-driven, out-of-state money into our (formerly local) school board race; this is the post-Citizens United crap that we have to put up with, and it’s troubling that it doesn’t meet Samuels’ definition of “corrupt money”…
 
No one can be sure exactly how much money these plutocrats are spending in their bid to buy our local election, but Samuels seems to be saying he needs it because of all the money being spent on Altamirano’s behalf. There’s a big difference, though: while Samuels boosters are billionaires and their foundations who evidently view our city as a little terrarium for them to experiment on, Altamirano’s “soft” expenditures are coming from, well, us.
(Don’t Samuels!)

A lot of progressive bloggers, including some whose work I downright admire, tend to repeat the claim that there is no difference between the overall performance of traditional public schools and charters. They don’t seem to be doing their homework on that. For example, a new study shows that charters are substantially worse than public schools in Chicago. Another study has the same general result for the Twin Cities.
 
Comments below fold.
 
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MN-06: A little Tom Emmer history

by Dan Burns on October 21, 2014 · 1 comment

emmer2So this is what too many MN-06 voters may well have decided is fit to represent them in the United States Congress. The candidacy of Tom Emmer is really just another boulder on the gargantuan pile of evidence that conservatism has long since disintegrated into nothing but a massive con.
 

When I ran for State Representative in 2006 and again in 2008, my opponent was Tom Emmer. During that time several people approached me to tell me how he used his position as an attorney to sue them or bully them out of holding him accountable for paying debts incurred by him and members of his family. As the first major report was coming from a neighbor who happened to be a die-hard Republican, I could not dismiss the information as politically motivated. Whether it was paying for landscaping ordered by his wife, or trees planted on his property, or issues of fairness and equity in dealing with a business partner, the people wanted me to know what they experienced with Emmer.
(Chris Brazelton/Twin Cities Daily Planet)

You may recall that Emmer was a loud and proud opponent of anti-bullying legislation. It’s pretty obvious that that was at least partly personal; as a big, dumb, obnoxious blowhard, he fits the profile of a school bully (and a leader of right-wing conservatives), himself, and it’s not unlikely that he was one. And he’s not the type who would ever change, or even question, his repugnant ways of doing things.
 
Our candidate is Joe Perske.
 

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Unlike the poor citizens struggling under a Republican Governor and a Republican majority in their legislature, we have honest and well-run elections, without right wing voter suppression and racism ruining the foundational premise of a free nation — honest and open elections by citizens.

 

As Ruth Bader Ginsburg blisters Voter ID in her recent dissenting opinion on the Jim Crow-like legislation of backward and benighted Texas, it is worth a review not only of her comments, which are widely reviewed elsewhere, but also a couple of studies that directly reflect on this American tragedy of racist Voter ID/ Voter Suppression.

 

One of the more interesting academic studies that got the WI Voter ID tossed by the courts was this one:

Employment and Training Institute banner

Research Update

Voter Photo ID Law Court Cases Utilize ETI Research
A research report by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Employment and Training Institute on The Driver License Status of the Voting Age Population in Wisconsin has received renewed attention as public officials and the courts assess disparate impacts of state and local laws requiring photo IDs as a condition for voting and the Supreme Court examines challenges to the photo ID voter law.

In May 2014 federal Judge Lynn Adelman found Wisconsin’s state photo ID law unconstitutional given its adverse impact on many Wisconsin citizens. The 90-page decision is posted online. In it, in note 32 Adelman cites the ETI research that only 47% of black adults and 43% of Hispanic adults compared to 73% of white adults in Milwaukee County hold valid driver’s licenses as do 85% of white adults in the rest of Wisconsin compared to 53% of black adults and 52% of Hispanic adults. In October 2014 a three-judge federal appeals court panel found the law constitutional based on the Supreme Court Indiana decision. Here, in the court’s decision Judge Frank Easterbrook referenced the 2005 ETI data but suggested that it was evidence that fewer nonwhites without licenses have registered to vote (putting aside the “felon-disenfranchisement” issue). Subsequently, the full 10-member panel deadlocked 5-5 on rehearing the case. On October 9, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 6-3 to block the law’s implementation for the immediate Wisconsin elections scheduled in November.

The Employment and Training Institute study was the first research available that measured driver’s license disparities by race and age. The ETI was able to measure possession of driver’s licenses for subpopulations in Wisconsin, having reviewed the state license files for employment-related research, and particularly for lack of licenses among working age African Americans and Latinos in Milwaukee County.

And the quite excellent and exhaustive report goes on for many more pages of similar information.

Now of course, Conservatives BRISTLE with anger whenever they are called out on right wing racism, and they bitterly protest concerns about honest elections, and at most inadvertently insist that their restrictive voter laws, not just Voter ID, but reducing voting hours and polling places, and cutting early voting, are perhaps PARTISAN, but NO! NO! NEVER EVER Racist!

 

Bullpuckey!

 
Take a look at the ethnicity and racial make up of those who are disenfranchised under Wisconsin law.  Wisconsin law is pretty consistent with other right wing voter legislation (thank ALEC for that ‘coincidence’, since the right lets ALEC special interests write the legislation they sponsor), including the Texas law addressed by Justice Ginsburg, in which she specifically and in detail calls it racist.

NOW, take a look at this study from the University of Delaware, a study published shortly before the LAST election:
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Lynn Schoen for Minnesota House 21A

by Dan Burns on October 21, 2014 · 1 comment

schoenThis is practically a toss-up district. Here’s Schoen’s website. What stands out immediately is that she is taking a righteous, gutsy, activist stand on a key environmental/economic issue.
 

As a city of Wabasha Councilmember I am very concerned about the negative impact the frac sand industry will have on my community.
 
This type of large scale intensive strip mining and the truck traffic and transportation issues that come with it are entirely new to Southeast Minnesota. So far this issue has been left primarily to local governments to deal with and towns like Wabasha are struggling. It is critical that our state Legislature act this year to establish some regional standards for this industry to protect the area’s water, air, roads and quality of life.
(Winona Daily News)

As for Rep. Tim Kelly’s position on this issue, it’s exactly as you’d expect.
 

How far in the bag for the Minnesota Industrial Sand Council is Representative Tim Kelly (R-Red Wing)?
 
Pretty far, judging by the contrast between the bill he’s introduced in the Minnesota House with the reality of a snarl of environmental review woes facing projects across Southern Minnesota.
(Bluestem Prairie)

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