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HD10B clarity sits next to incoherency

by Eric Ferguson on October 30, 2014 · 1 comment

That headline might sound more cryptic than it really is. Incumbent DFL State Rep. Joe Radinovich sat next to MNGOP challenger Dale Lueck during their recent debate. One question for the candidates was about a proposal to replace our current method of electing judges with retention elections, and that’s the incoherency part. If you can understand Lueck’s answer, you’re a step ahead of the candidate (starting at 14:30):
 

 
Leuck seems to be saying he opposes changing to retention elections, but then goes on about all the problems with current system, says we can’t change it because of the constitution, and finishes by saying “we just gotta own up, and get busy on that.” He can’t be entirely unaware of the issue, because he later said Iowa has retention elections, which is correct, and no judge can ever be removed that way, which is remarkably wrong. In 2010, Iowa voters removed three state supreme court justices for overturning Iowa’s same-sex marriage ban. If you’re going to pick a state for an example, wow, bad choice.
 

Advance the video to 31:42 for the clarity part, when Radinovich gets his turn at answering a question about MNSure and gets to rebut Lueck’s answer. DFL candidates struggling with that should feel free to copy. Radinovich explained the delay the MNSure faced because the Republican majority in the legislature had chosen to delay. He then went on to explain the benefits that have already accrued to the public, like less reliance on emergency rooms, no more denial of insurance for pre-existing conditions, and the large drop in the number of Minnesotans who are uninsured. Lueck had a response that was, well, it was more coherent that his judicial retention answer.
 

And one little gem later on: Lueck said the issue over transgender kids in high school sports was caused by gay marriage. So there’s your choice 10B. As a general rule, you’re better off with the smart candidate.

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Hey, idiots, MNsure WORKS

by Dan Burns on October 30, 2014 · 1 comment

hospitalBecause if you’re like me, you’ve only been hearing otherwise, from most purportedly legitimate sources. (That’s who I’m calling “idiots.”) That is absolute BS.

 

MNsure (on August 21) announced that 300,085 Minnesotans have enrolled in comprehensive, affordable health insurance coverage through the state health insurance marketplace…
 
To date, 180,566 are enrolled in Medical Assistance, 65,749 in MinnesotaCare and 53,770 in a Qualified Health Plan. Between September 30, 2013, and May 1, 2014, the number of uninsured Minnesotans fell by 40.6% to a record low. Open enrollment for 2015 coverage begins November 15, 2014.

In fact, while the entire Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is still just a first step to government-run universal single-payer, it has been a far bigger success than many, including me, expected. Also remarkable is its effect on Medicare costs.

 

It’s not about right-wing pols attacking MNsure, and Obamacare in general. That’s expected; I don’t exactly go out of my way to present “both sides” when typing up my polite, respectful remarks about conservative candidacies, either.
 
And it’s not like there’s any indication that all of the MNsure bashing is seriously hurting Democratic pols in the state. Relatively few Minnesotans are directly affected, and for the vast majority of those who are participating (especially regarding the Medicaid expansion), it’s been positive.
 
It’s that corporate media has been so flagrantly, atrociously one-sided on this from the start, essentially acting as nothing but an amplifier for right-wing attacks. (For example, type something like “Star Tribune MNsure“ into your search engine of choice, and scan what the first few pages look like.) Just, stop paying attention to that crap. There are better alternatives. Like the facts.
 

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kline3Pretty damn bad. I’m passing along this great article. Rep. John Kline (R-MN) is running for reelection, and his Democratic opponent is Mike Obermueller.

 

Behind schedule or not, Kline’s stiff-arm comes as no shock. He’s played behind the scenes for most of his career, preferring to quietly legislate away from cameras and microphones.
 
Besides, it’s just a reporter approaching him, not someone allied with the for-profit college industry. If the latter were the case, Kline would not just have time for lunch. He’d most likely block out the rest of his day to bond over tumblers of moderately priced scotch.
 
As Kline disappears behind the elevator doors, so goes the biggest obstruction to reforming for-profit colleges in America, an industry grown fat and sweaty on the taxpayers’ dime, while leaving students paralyzed in debt and working part-time at CVS.
(City Pages)

Education and health care are the worst possible places for incompetent greedhead for-profits and “competition.” Anyone who doesn’t get that by now could well be intellectually beyond help, at least on public policy.
 
Update: Obermueller has announced that if elected he will make dealing with this a priority.
 

Second district congressional candidate Mike Obermueller announced his proposal to crackdown on the predatory for-profit college industry today. The proposed legislation is geared to ensure schools are as invested in their students’ education as their own bottom line.
 
“It’s been made clear that the for-profit industry is simply not doing an acceptable job of producing a high quality education,” said Obermueller. “Worse, these schools have been abusively targeting prospective students, using various lies and distortions of the truth to recruit them.”
 
“To these bad actors, veterans are walking dollar signs,” said Obermueller. “It’s disgusting to think that these schools have been targeting our veterans’ tuition benefits without any intention of providing them with a real education. But unfortunately, current regulation is set up in a way that incentivizes these schools to go after veterans. This is an easy thing to change, and I would expect to find broad bipartisan support for this measure.”

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In praise of Minnesota House DFL longshots

by Dan Burns on October 29, 2014 · 1 comment

mncapitolDuring the past weeks I’ve blogged a lot about what I’ve considered to be at least somewhat realistic pickup opportunities, in elections for the Minnesota House of Representatives. Loosely, that’s meant races with Republican incumbents in districts with hPVIs of R+7 or less. We have a lot of candidates out there who are running in much more Republican districts. I suggest that they are awesome for doing so, and deserve our admiration.
 

OK, I admit that I’m not exactly the definitive embodiment of what you’d call a “people person.” But even if I was, to get out there night after night, doorknocking, hitting the events, because you know how important it is that somebody does…that takes something special. That goes for their staffers (if they have any) and volunteers, too.
 
And there is no such thing as an impossible district. It‘s no secret that the electorate is moving left – too slowly and fitfully, alas!, but moving nonetheless. People in general are progressive on most issues; their voting habits (including whether they vote at all) just all too often haven’t caught up. And there’s ample indication that Minnesota is moving faster than most. (I don’t necessarily buy that Minnesota is the “second most liberal state,” but we are in the progressive vanguard, and nothing that happens or doesn’t happen next Tuesday is going to change that in the longer run. And on the whole, next Tuesday isn‘t looking bad, here.) It’s a long haul, but there’s gold – a better state – at the end. And all of our candidates are a big part of it.
 
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Minnesota DFL Beats Expectations

by Grace Kelly on October 28, 2014 · 0 comments

According to a Yougov/CBS poll The DFL in Minnesota should not be doing as well electorally as it is doing. Note that we are listed in the chart below behind Wisconsin and Michigan in scoring on progressive issues. I think the explanation must be that the DFL does better campaigning. When I personally crunched the numbers given in the spreadsheet to compare Minnesota to an average of all the states, Minnesota did not stand out that much.

 

Yougov Poll Results

 

The good news in the governors race first:

 

Voting:

 

Mark Dayton 47%
Jeff Johnson 39%

 

Favorables:

 

Mark Dayton 46%
Jeff Johnson 31%

 

Only 33% indicated that they could change their mind in this race. Of course, this race may be closer because getting Democrats to actually vote is always an issue. In my personal doorknocking experience, Dayton is seen favorably because the Minnesota/Wisconsin comparison is hitting home.

 

The good news in the senators race next:

 

Voting:

 

Al Franken 47%
Mike McFadden 39%

 

Favorables:

 

Al Franken 49%
Mike McFadden 34%

 

According to the polling, the ads are favoring Al Franken. I especially like the ad where the the guy says look at the place behind me with no jobs. McFadden is getting stuck with being an outsourcing Republican.

 

More likely to vote for Al Franken 34%
More likely to vote for Mike McFadden 29%
No difference 37%

 

Strangely even though the Democrats lead, the generic preference is slightly Republican.

 

19. Which party would you like to see control Congress after the election?

 

Democrats 43%
Republicans 45%
Don’t care 12%

 

Issues are also queried in this poll. Only 13% of respondents believe in never having abortions which is good news. People believe that our state economy is better. 41% people oppose the Tea Party compared to the 19% who support them. 61% of people believe that economic system favors the wealthy. 49% want to kick out illegal immigrants. 49% of the people still just want to cut taxes while the rest while 40% most favor a mixture of raising taxes and cutting spending. 52% favor gay marriage.

 

This poll is weighted toward likely voters and does have more 3% more men that I would expect, so therefore any work that the DFL has done to encourage new voters may not be reflected in the results. This year 15% of voters expect to early vote or absentee vote which should help DFL results. This is the GOTV battleground year.

 

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“I love to sue insurance companies…”

by TwoPuttTommy on October 28, 2014 · 1 comment

That line, Ladies and Gentlemen, was from the opening remarks of candidate Amy Dawson at a judicial candidate forum last Friday (October 24th) in south Minneapolis. And it was followed up with, as best I can recollect, “…and I’ll probably have to recuse myself from some cases if I’m elected.”
 

Now, I’m not an attorney, but even the ol’ TwoPutter knows a no-no when he hears one. The election of judges, and Amy Dawson is a candidate for the Hennepin County Bench Seat 61, is supposed to be about judicial philosophy, NOT political ideology. That comment, “I love to sue insurance companies” goes straight to judicial philosophy: it’s ok to have blatant biases and sit on a seat where citizens should be able to expect judgess with open minds and impartial attitudes.
 

After the forum was over, I went to the nearest attorney I could find and said: “I cannot believe I just heard a candidate just say she loved to sue insurance companies and would probably have to recuse cases if elected.” “Yeah, it’s like 70 percent of the civil cases filed that involve insurance companies.” I asked Ms. Dawson’s staffer/volunteer about the comment; the reply was “So? She’s said it before.”
 

Apparently, Ms. Dawson doesn’t see a problem with being blatant about a bias towards an industry that makes up a big percentage of cases she’s likely to hear, should she be elected. I wondered if others did.
 

First call? My insurance agent. “Say, what would you think about a new judge being elected that says she loves to sue you?” After relaying the particulars, it’s pretty safe that conversation was passed up and on.
 

I made many calls to mostly attorneys; attorneys on both sides of the political aisle. Only one explained that he wished candidates for the bench were more forthcoming on what their biases are. The rest? Responses ran from “problematic” “unfortunate” “troublesome” to “You’ve got to be (bad word, deleted)in’ (bad word, deleted)in’ me!!!”
 

No, gentle readers, I am not. One follow up email read: “No credible judicial candidate would ever boast about loving to sue insurance companies and that they would need to recuse themselves from cases. Any candidate making such a statement would face serious questions about whether they had the judicial temperament to serve on the bench.” Another sent this: “Look at Rule 4.1 (11). Her comments may not have been “pledges, promises, or commitments” but they’re close. Admitting she would have to recuse herself over them is an admission of that. Her website is a wink and a nod about judicial independence.”
 

Almost universal was agreement that if elected, Ms. Dawson would indeed be recusing herself from cases involving insurance companies; one speculated that were Ms. Dawson not to, any insurance company would surely file a motion to recuse immediately upon finding their case had been assigned to Ms. Dawson.
 

I can assure you, Ladies and Gents, that if I were to find myself in Hennepin County Court, should she win her election Ms Dawson would not be hearing my case – a motion to recuse would be filed. You see, I prefer my judges fair and impartial. Hennepin County deserves a judge ready and able to sit on 100% of the civil cases brought before the bench. Ms. Dawson cannot be that judge with her “I love to sue insurance companies” comment.
 

(Photo, above, by TPT at Turtle Bread in south Minneapolis, 24 October 2014)

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Minneapolis at-large school board candidate Iris Altamirano issued this statement about recent negative campaigning:
 

A recent negative mailing and negative campaign calls we’ve seen and heard about, in the past week are more examples of what I’ve been saying throughout our campaign: We need a new conversation about education in Minneapolis because the situation for our kids is too urgent. Negative campaigning does not move us in that direction. Our campaign has been focused on bringing people together and building a collective vision for all Minneapolis kids to have opportunities to succeed. I will continue to campaign with integrity, respect for all perspectives, and with the deep belief that we must move beyond the polarized framework of this debate and put children at the forefront of this conversation.

An independent group, Minneapolis Progressive Education Fund, has been supporting Altamirano and Don Samuels, and running a negative campaign against Rebecca Gagnon. Pardon me going through basics again, but I was reminded while doorknocking this weekend that there are voters who respond to questions about local elections with something like, “We have local elections this year?” I think that’s a hint. I’ve also been informed that “at-large” is a bit jargon-like. So, “at-large” means citywide, as opposed to districts. If you didn’t know, just pretend. No one will know. Non-Minneapolitans, hang on through this hyper-local stuff, because I’ll shortly mention something that might interest any politics geek.
 
Minneapolis has three at-large seats and six districts, elected for four-year staggered terms in even numbered years. So three districts and one at-large member are elected in presidential years, and the other three districts and two at-large seats are elected in midterms.
 

For the two at-large seats, the top four candidates in the primary go to the general election. The top four were Ira Jordain, Iris Altamirano, Rebecca Gagnon, and Don Samuels. All four self-identify as DFLers. Gagnon finished first in the primary, with Samuels a close second and Altamirano a close third, clustered in the 20’s range. Jordain came in a bit under 6%. Gagnon and Altamirano are the DFL endorsees. Regarding RCV, we don’t use that in even numbered years, just odd numbered years when the whole ballot is local races.
 
One interesting thing about this particular race is that even though Republicans might top out at 25% of the vote in Minneapolis, that still means one voter in four is Republican. When I’m at their door clipboard in hand, I don’t waste time trying to persuade them on partisan races, figuring I’m not going to win them over anyway, but in the school board race, they’re having to pick the most acceptable DFLers. That means it’s still worth finding out what they care about, and looking for a way to win their vote. So when I realize I won’t win them over to Franken or Dayton, I switch to school board. It’s a very different dynamic than the partisan races. It’s also a common problem for Republicans in local races in Minneapolis. We had a Republican mayoral candidate last year, but some city council races were all DFL.

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Joe Murphy, a Smart Practical City Council Person

by Grace Kelly on October 27, 2014 · 0 comments

Joe Murphy 2Joe Murphy is running for Vadnais Heights city council as an incumbent. I worked with Joe Murphy when he was a assistant at Ramsey County. I found him to be smart and practical, with sound financial sense. He is one of those people that I always hope that we have in political office. Here are Murphy’s answers to our standard questions:

 

1) What is your background?

 

I grew up in Shoreview, graduated from Totino Grace High School in 1988 and then graduated from Bethel University with a Bachelor’s degree in political Science in 1993. After graduation, I went to work in the financial services business where I am presently a senior representative with Comprehensive Financial Resources. I married my wife Sarah in 2000 and we have lived in Vadnais Heights since 1999 with our yellow lab Lily. I worked as the Principle Assistant to Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett from 1997 until 2012 and I have been a member of the Vadnais Heights City Council since being elected in 2006. I am currently the senior council member, member of the finance committee, and acting mayor. In my free time I am a volunteer on two local non-profit boards in our area. I am a Trustee on the Merrick Inc. Board of Trustees where we help developmental disabled adults find meaningful work in our community. I am also a board member on the Northeast Youth and Family Services board which helps provide teenagers and young adults with metal health counseling services in the White Bear Lake, Roseville, and Mounds View school districts.

 
2) What are the three main issues or values that are key to your campaign?

 

The three biggest issues before our city are:

 

• continuing to develop and redevelop our city in a thoughtful way that brings new residents into Vadnais Heights

 

• continuing to hire competent, qualified, highly educated professionals that work with the city council

 

• ensuring policies and procedures that treat all of our residents equally regardless of how long a resident has lived in town or whom they know

 

Also, we must continue to add senior housing facilities into our mix of housing options. I have been a strong advocate for our first ever senior housing project the Gable Pines that is currently being constructed on Co Rd. E. and will open in August of 2015.

 

3) Who is your political hero and what qualities would you strive to emulate?

 

My political hero is my former boss Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett. Tony is a good and decent person that always treated people fairly and with respect. He was the best example I know as a true public servant to his community.

 

4) Since the politics involves negotiation of competing interests, please give an example where you successfully negotiated a difficult problem among multiple parties.

 

My best example of an issue where we had to bring multiple parties together to get something done our the Gable Pines senior housing project. We had opposition from the adjoining neighborhood as well as the neighboring community and it also included working with multiple businesses on a land swap to get the best location for the project.

 

5) Please provide an example where you stood up for people or for rights against a powerful organization.

 

I was part of a team of residents that stood up to the corrupt Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher by publically supporting Matt Bostrom for Ramsey County Sheriff. As anyone who knows Ramsey County politics, knows that Bob Fletcher is the biggest bully and we beat him 58% to 42%.

 

6) Please tell us why your campaign is better choice (i.e. more organized, works harder, works smarter) with specifics?

 

I am running for re-election because I like to help people get things done. My opponent is now former Ramsey County sheriff Bob Fletcher who is only running as he has said many times to elected officials, labor leaders, and residents so the Mr. Murphy loses. He is a vindictive person who does not like to be challenged. Over the years as Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett’s assistant I challenged him at a staff level and very publicly as a council person in Sheriff Bostrom in election in 2010. I have over 200 signs up, and by election day I will have either mailed, insert into the local paper, and or drop 20,000 pieces of positive campaign literature, and I will have also knocked on more doors that all of the three other candidates combined.

 

7) Please tell us how you as an elected official or your campaign would help other DFL endorsed candidates get into office?

 

I have been endorsed by Congresswomen Betty McCollum, Ramsey County Sheriff Matt Bostrom, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi, State Representative Jason Isaacson and White Bear Lake School Board member Don Mullin. I have worked closely with all of these elected officials and continue to do so during this re-election cycle. I have been also endorsed by each of the trades and labor professions, along with the public employee unions.

 

8) How would you keep your constituents informed about issues and what you are doing?

 

As a council member I am the most active member of the Vadnais Heights City Council attending most if not all of our public meetings and civic events throughout the year. I regularly write informational articles in the Vadnais Heights press to our residents and have been featured many times in our city newsletter communicating city policy to the residents. I like to keep in touch with our residents. I believe strongly that it is a big part of being a council member.

 

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MN-06: Perske gets St Cloud Times endorsement

by Dan Burns on October 27, 2014 · 1 comment

67833_1410329809214435_1844121466_nI’m not suggesting that endorsements of any kind swing a race, which is why I very rarely blog about them. I find this one significant because of the pretty pointed language used, especially the direct comparison of Tom Emmer with outgoing Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN). The St. Cloud Times is far from “liberal;” on the right sidebar there’s a link to endorsements for conservative GOP incumbents for the Minnesota House of Representatives who should in fact be replaced by their strong DFL opponents.
 

The reality is the 6th District has been marginalized with eight years of uncompromising, divisive and at times embarrassing representation from Rep. Michele Bachmann. Voters need to elect the person who can begin to restore district credibility while improving the return district residents get on the tax dollars they send to Washington.
 
The soft-spoken, blue-collar-leaning Perske is a better choice than Republican Tom Emmer. While Emmer is the likely favorite because of the district’s conservative demographics, voters need to seriously consider whether his political persona will help the district. He’s similarly conservative to Bachmann and he is known as a political bully, which makes his House strategy is “building relationships” a tough sell.
(St. Cloud Times)

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The Courage of Still Being Hopeful

by Grace Kelly on October 26, 2014 · 1 comment

Many of you know that I had frequently styled myself as the Curmudgeon. A friend of mine challenged me on this referring to the definition of curmudgeon as “ill tempered”. It is bad branding. Sadly I do agree. But I am going to miss that title. When no one wanted to listen to my voice, the branding of Curmudgeon allowed me to speak. A curmudgeon is not shushed, is not scared off and does not just go away. But yes, there is that “ill tempered” branding. And yes, people who have met me are surprised that I am a nice person.

 

More over I think in taking on the branding of curmudgeon, it allowed me to give up hope. If everything is all bad anyway, then one can give up hope and just make snarky comments. All that the bad guys need to win, if the good guys to give up hope and stop trying. Staying in for the long haul is the discipline that wins in politics. And I am always going to be doing something to make a difference.

 

Yet I must admit that my friend calling me on the name of curmudgeon, was a case of application of

 

How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?

 

All this time, I had complained of the greens and peacemakers who simply have meetings among themselves making snarky comments about others, especially Democrats. See if one believes there is no hope then one is relieved of the burden of being politically active. While I am certainly politically active, I must admit the hope is running on empty. Climate change is my challenge to hope. It takes more discipline to believe and hope in times of adversity.

 

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