Recent Posts

Invited Guest Commentary

John-Marty-2016by Senator John Marty. DFL – Roseville

As a consistent critic of corporate subsidies, I had a mixed reaction to Amazon’s request for bids to attract their proposed second headquarters.

 

The promise of up to 50,000 high paying jobs is incredible; something no state would ignore. But nobody knows whether those jobs will actually materialize. Businesses often promise the moon to gain handouts from taxpayers as is evident in Wisconsin’s massive subsidy to Foxconn.

 

Even if Amazon does come to Minnesota, along with the jobs and economic boost there would also be serious negative impacts from the project. For example, an already tight housing market in the Twin Cities would get much worse. Low income workers at other businesses would not receive significant pay increases because of Amazon’s arrival, so many would be priced out of the rental market, creating more homelessness. Low income workers usually see more costs because of these subsidies, but few benefits.

 

Another major concern is that the competition between states ends up with a bidding war to see who will promise the biggest taxpayer subsidy. I share Governor Dayton’s desire that Minnesota’s bid be “restrained” in offering financial incentives. Such economic subsidies to one business come at the expense of other businesses and individual taxpayers.

 

Having said that, there is a way in which Minnesota could offer a bid that would be attractive to Amazon and everyone else in Minnesota.

 

Amazon, like every other American business, is being choked by the high cost of health care for employees. A 2010 survey of Minnesota employers found that the expense of health coverage was the most significant obstacle to business expansion.

 

As a result, I reached out to the people pulling together Minnesota’s Amazon bid to encourage them to include, front and center, a commitment to adopt a universal health care system, such as our proposed Minnesota Health Plan.

 

The Minnesota Health Plan would ensure that all Amazon employees would have comprehensive cradle-to-grave care, including dental care. It would give every Amazon employee the ability to select their doctors and hospitals, without network limitations. Amazon employees would not face co-pays or deductibles and could get care without worrying about whether they could afford it.

 

And, every Minnesotan would receive the same benefit!

 

Amazon’s headquarters would be freed from the waste of time and resources negotiating new insurance plans every year, and the subsequent need to educate their employees on what is covered, what their co-pays and deductibles are, and who is in- or out-of-network. Again, this benefit would apply to every Minnesota business.

 

Because Amazon employees would have access to the care they need when they need it, Amazon could count on a healthier, more productive workforce. So could every other Minnesota business.

 

Equally important, although it may appear counterintuitive, it is significantly less expensive to provide health care for everyone than to continue our dysfunctional health insurance system. These lower costs are clear from both economic studies in the United States and real-world evidence from international comparisons. Amazon would have to pay its fair share, as would everyone else, but they would pay much less than under the current system.

 

This could be a game-changing bid. Because health care costs are far higher for business than corporate taxes are, providing universal health care may save Amazon more than the corporate tax breaks likely to be offered by other states. Amazon would save significant money from the start and the savings grow over time.

 

Amazon stated in their Request for Proposal that they seek “communities that think big and creatively.” Minnesota’s bid to Amazon would be wise to take this bold approach rather than offering corporate subsidies.

 

Should Amazon end up going elsewhere, Minnesota families and businesses would still gain the incredible benefit of a less expensive health care system that delivers comprehensive care to all. We need to address the health economics crisis soon. Amazon’s bid makes this a good a time to start.

 

Copyright © 2017 John Marty www.applie-pie.org

{ 0 comments }

Strib pimps its beloved Tea-Paw for governor

by Dan Burns on October 15, 2017 · 0 comments

AMES, IA - AUGUST 11:  Republican presidential candidates (L-R) former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty take the stage for a debate in the Stephens Auditorium at Iowa State University August 11, 2011 in Ames, Iowa. This is the first Republican presidential debate in the state ahead of Saturday's all important Iowa Straw Poll.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)From the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Sunday morning, in an openly, shamelessly fawning front-page article. The Strib has always loved TBag with great, powerful love.
 

Like a singer trying so very hard to persuade an adoring crowd that there are no more encores, the former governor’s efforts to hush all the talk about a return to politics seems a little less than completely sincere to both fans and foes. While perhaps genuinely undecided, Pawlenty has had private discussions about the prospect with donors and political supporters.
 
Meanwhile, talk of another run by the two-term Republican has preoccupied the state’s political insiders for months.
(Star Tribune)

That second paragraph is gross exaggeration. But, whatever.
 
Here is the reality of what went on in Minnesota when Tim Pawlenty was governor. The full report, accessible from the linked page, is conclusive and damning. The worst governor in the state’s history, hands down.
 

– Minnesota’s performance relative to the national average in terms of unemployment rates and employment growth (since 2001) has deteriorated.
 
– Somewhat smaller-but still significant-deterioration was observed on the three income and pay measures.
 
– On all three education indicators-pupil-teacher ratio, students at or above “basic” level in math and reading, and per capita state and local spending on education-Minnesota’s performance declined relative to other states.
 
– Minnesota’s position in terms of road miles in poor or mediocre condition fell sharply relative to the rest of the nation; the miles of roads in poor or mediocre condition in Minnesota more than doubled from 2002 to 2007.
 
– On the other four factors examined in this report (homeownership rates, health insurance coverage, bridge deficiency percentage, and poverty rates) there was no evidence of a statistically significant decline in Minnesota’s performance relative to other states. Nor was there evidence of improvement.
(MN 2020)

Actually, the one interesting thing in the Strib article, and I don’t know how it got past the editors, is the all-but-open admission that Minnesota’s existing crop of declared GOP gubernatorial candidates is a feeble, even miserable, bunch. It’s about a third of the way down.
 
If you’re late to the game here, Pawlenty, the worst kind of self-serving political hack, sometimes tried to act like some sort of conciliating “moderate” during part of his governorship. But when the Tea Party came along he sucked up to it with the worst of them. That’s where the nicknames used above come from.
 
Pawlenty has a gargantuan ego, one that outweighs his very mediocre intellect and abilities by an even greater ratio than is the norm for right-wing politicians. Undoubtedly he’s never gotten over the humiliating end to his presidential effort, when he got his tail kicked by Michele Bachmann – yes, Crazy Michele Bachmann – in the Iowa straw poll in 2011, which made him a national laughingstock. It wouldn’t surprise me a bit if he tries to erase the memory of that, next year, with a winning gubernatorial run.
 

Donald Trump is in the White House. Politically, any awful thing is possible, these days, no matter how unlikely it might seem out of the gate. It’s important to accept the reality of that, and deal with it accordingly. Don’t let claims that this a**hole was anything other than an atrociously wretched, failed governor go unchallenged, anywhere, if you want any advice from me.
 

{ 0 comments }

school2We’ll see whether the author of this is right, but it’s important as an awareness-raiser.
 

In other words, this should be fertile territory for Democrats. But the coming decimation of public sector unions also means that the Democrats will be more dependent than ever on corporate money, especially from the financial sector. Accept the growing influence of the party’s biggest donors, comprised of Wall Streeters, hedge funders and Silicon Valley elites, and you also get their cramped and narrow vision of what is possible. And the moneyed influencers within the Democratic Party share a vision of education—personalized, privatized, union free—that’s increasingly difficult to distinguish from the one DeVos espouses.
(AlterNet)

On September 28, the U.S. Department of Education announced that it would give a handful of states, including Minnesota, an “additional $253 million in grants to expand charter schools,” in order to spur on school choice–an education reform strategy long embraced by Democrats, Republicans and wealthy financiers…
 
Such announcements are often accompanied by cheerful talk of innovation and choice. The new federal funding is all about “seeing how we can continue to work with states to help ensure more students can learn in an environment that works for them,” according to DeVos. But this new funding will also support Minnesota’s increasingly segregated public and charter school landscape, as well as an exodus of money and students from union-staffed districts. (Charter school teachers and staff are mostly non-unionized, in Minnesota and beyond.)
(Bright Light Small City)

{ 0 comments }

trump17I would specify this as the go-to article on the Trump/GOP Congress tax plan, out of the many that I’ve read.
 

Donald Trump says his tax plan is “a revolutionary change, and the biggest winners will be the everyday American workers as jobs start pouring into our country, as companies start competing for American labor and as wages start going up at levels that you haven’t seen in many years.”
 
No, it’s not.
 
It’s just another con job from the most successful con artist in history.
 
Below are nine examples of how this is a plan of the super-rich, by the super-rich and for the super-rich. And unless you are super-rich, this plan will badly hurt you.
(DCReport.org)

{ 0 comments }

minneapolis_skyline__heroWith seven (I’m pretty sure) new faces on the 13-member council elected in 2013, that would certainly qualify as a “change” election. But there hasn’t been much change in how the city is run. The extent to which that will affect this year’s elections will be interesting. On the whole Minneapolis may be regarded as a relatively thriving place, these days, but not everyone is sharing in said “thriving.” To say the least. Here is the candidates page from the city elections website. Here is a website with ward maps and other info.
 

Ward 8: The incumbent, Elizabeth Glidden, is leaving. Andrea Jenkins is a member of her staff. Terry White and Dave Holsinger are also running.
 

Ward 9: Alondra Cano is the first-term incumbent. Gary Schiff represented this ward from 2002-2014; he left to run for mayor, and is now running again for his old job. Ronald Peterson and Mohamed Farah round out the field.

 

Ward 10: Lisa Bender is the first-term incumbent. David Schorn, Bruce Lundeen, and Saralyn Romanishan are challenging.

 

Ward 11: John Quincy is the incumbent. Jeremy Schroeder and Erica Mauter are also running.
 

Ward 12: Andrew Johnson is the first-term incumbent. Will Jaeger and Harrison Bullard are challenging.
 

Ward 13: Linea Palmisano is the first-term incumbent. Bob Reuer is also running.

 

{ 0 comments }

ryanCorporate media, which has supposedly begun “holding Trump accountable” after its dismal performance before the election, certainly hasn’t had much to say about this that I’ve seen.
 

Senate Republicans may have moved on from trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but they’re still trying to cut Medicaid and Medicare funding by more than $1 trillion over the next decade, according to a new report prepared by the Senate Budget Committee minority staff led by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
 
The budget would cut $1 trillion from Medicaid and $473 billion from Medicare over the next decade, HuffPost reporter Jennifer Bendery tweeted Tuesday, which she said she confirmed with Democratic leadership. Politico published the report from budget committee minority staff Wednesday morning.
(Think Progress)

I don’t know how even the most avid Trump diehards, dwindling gaggle of the truly delusional though they are, can deny the reality of this:
 

 

{ 0 comments }

Growing up as “riff raff.”

by JeffStrate on October 6, 2017 · 0 comments

 

Maria Nhambu was raised in a remote, strict, Catholic orphanage in colonial Tanganyika run by German Nuns but became a noted aerobics video innovator and educator in America. Miss Nhambu, a mixed-blood African who attended St. Catherine College in Saint Paul, shares perspectives on racism in East Africa and Minnesota, on Catholic education and on the merits of multi-cultural music and dance.
 
Nhambu officially launched America’s Daughter, the second book of a trilogy about her life, on Thursday October 5th at The Marsh, a fitness and conference center in Minnetonka.   Nhambu’s first book, Africa’s Child, was selected earlier this year for on-going discussion by The Peace and Social Justice Writers Group at The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis.  As a member of the writers group I met the 74 year old Nhambu in late July.
 
During these times when the White House and Republicans marginalize and threaten immigrants and when the sole challenger to incumbent Hopkins Mayor Molly Cummings opposes SWLRT because, he claims, light rail will bring “trash” and “riff raff” to Hopkins,*  Maria Nhambu is a day brightener.   As a child and young woman in East Africa she was relegated to “riff raff” status.  In Minnesota, she was immediately categorized as a “black” even though she was Tanzanian with only a risky command of English as spoken by educators in Surrey and London.  We talk about this on what has quickly become the most popular edition of Democratic Visions in years.    Here also is the link to its home on our YouTube Channel.

 
*Where was this gent when transit junkies got street car tracks out to what was then West Minneapolis and the #12 Metro Transit bus route out to Hopkins as we know and love it today?   The City Pages report on this is here.
 

ON SELECT CABLE SYSTEMS
 
In Bloomington, Democratic Visions airs on BCAT Channel 16 Saturdays at 5:30 a.m. Mondays at 6 a.m. and Fridays at 7:30 p.m.
 
In Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Hopkins, Richfield and Edina:   Saturdays at 2 p.m.; Sundays at 9 p.m.; Mondays at 10 p.m. and Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. on Comast Channel 15 and Centurylink Prism Channel 8111.
 
Minneapolis – MTN Channel 16 — Sundays at 8:30 p.m., Mondays 3:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. Program is lived streamed during airings – http://www.mtn.org/
 
Champlin, Anoka, Ramsey, Andover – QCTV Community Channel 15 Fridays at 1 p.m., Saturdays 10:30 a.m. Sundays at 11:30 p.m., Mondays at 10:30 a.m., Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m., Thursdays at 1 p.m.
 
Democratics Visions is a community access, cable TV series handcrafted by un-paid volunteers at the Bloominton Community Access Television studio by arrangement with Southwest Community Television.
 

{ 0 comments }

stopwaronworkersA**holes. Hypocritical a**holes. Plain and simple.
 

Members of Minnesota’s two big public employee unions suffered a setback Thursday when a legislative panel voted down their tentative contract agreements.
 
The Subcommittee on Employee Relations rejected the tentative deals by a 6-4 party-line vote. Republicans opposed the contracts covering more than 30,000 state workers. Democrats supported the pacts…
 
Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, argued that the raises were too big and exceeded economic growth measures.
 
“I’m concerned that what we have here is increasing the payrolls of people who happen to work for government at the expense of people who don’t work for government,” Drazkowski said.
 
Other Republicans on the House-Senate panel, including its chair Rep. Marion O’Neill, R-Maple Lake, raised concerns about the impact of the pay raises on state agency budgets.
 
“We need to be fiscally responsible,” O’Neill said.
(MPR)

Assuming no improvement or further deterioration relative to February forecast projections and factoring in the eventual need to include funding for the state legislature, the $1.651 billion general fund surplus anticipated early in the year could become a $104 million deficit. The budgetary balance situation will become clearer when updated revenue collection information from MMB is released later this month…
 
A major contributor to the massive deterioration of the state general fund surplus is the large tax cuts enacted during the 2017 special legislative session. While relatively modest to begin with, the most rapidly increasing of these tax breaks and—over time—likely the largest is the freeze of the state business property tax. The biennial loss of revenue from the state business property tax freeze is projected to grow to over $400 million by FY 2026-27. Over the course of next decade, state revenues are projected to decline by approximately $1 billion as a result of the freeze.
(North Star Policy Institute)

{ 0 comments }

trump4“Pitiful” isn’t a word I use much. People don’t need my pity, and I don’t need theirs. But your own staff, calling you crap like this where people can hear, really is a pitiful thing. Displays a total absence of even the most basic leadership qualities.
 

President Trump was so enraged by an NBC News report that Secretary of State Tillerson had called him a “moron” and considered resigning that Chief of Staff John Kelly skipped Trump’s Las Vegas trip to “contain his boss’s fury and manage the fallout,” NBC reports. Per the report, Kelly “summoned” Tillerson and Defense Secretary Mattis to the White House to “discuss a path forward.”
(Axios)

{ 0 comments }

minneapolis_skyline__heroWith seven (I’m pretty sure) new faces on the 13-member council elected in 2013, that would certainly qualify as a “change” election. But there hasn’t been much change in how the city is run. The extent to which that will affect this year’s elections will be interesting. On the whole Minneapolis may be regarded as a relatively thriving place, these days, but not everyone is sharing in said “thriving.” To say the least. Here is the candidates page from the city elections website. Here is a website with ward maps and other info.
 

Ward 1: Kevin Reich is the incumbent. Others in the running are John Hayden and Jillia Pessenda.
 

Ward 2: The incumbent, Cam Gordon , is unopposed.

 
Ward 3: The one-term incumbent, Jacob Frey, is running for mayor. Candidates for the open seat include Samantha Pree-Stinson, Ginger Jentzen, Tim Bildsoe, and Steve Fletcher.

 
Ward 4: The incumbent, Barb Johnson, is council president. Despite the electoral outcome in 2013, that didn’t change, and she has been on the whole resistant to substantive revisions in city policies and priorities. If progressives really want to make a difference, this election is the most direct means of accomplishing that. But it’s going to be tough. Her opponents include Phillipe Cunningham, Stephanie Gasca, and Dana Hansen.

 
Ward 5: Blong Yang is the first-term incumbent. Challengers include Raeisha Williams, Cathy Spann, and Jeremiah Ellison.

 
Ward 6: Abdi Warsame is the first-term incumbent. Mohamud Noor and Fadumo Yusuf are also running.

 
Ward 7: Lisa Goodman is the incumbent. Joe Kovacs, Janne Flisrand, and Teqen Zea-Aida are challenging.
 

{ 0 comments }