Finally, A City Wise Enough to Reject Ranked Choice Voting

Our publisher Shawn Towle, was born in Duluth, and he was watching last night’s election results in the Zenith City will great interest. Mainly, because he hoped for Ranked Choice Voting to finally fail in a municipal election. Additionally, he was also watching the Duluth Mayoral race, because he had squared off against Independent Candidate Chuck Horton, back in his pugilist years. We did expect Horton to be vanquished.

We read with great interest former Vice-President Walter Mondale’s (D) Op/Ed in Sunday’s Duluth News Tribune, calling on the citizen’s of the Zenith City to reject Ranked Choice Voting. This article was reminiscent of one penned by Towle in 2011, just prior to the first usage in the Capitol City.

We are ebullient to see that finally one major city in Minnesota is able to see through the heaps of BS constantly trotted out to extol the virtues of an unnecessary system. The most powerful point remains, this is a solution in search of a problem.

The reason the more progressive voters think this specious idea has merit is because they want to forgo any plurality elections and prevent another Green Party candidate from succeeding in mucking up the election results as Ralph Nader did in 2002.  Minneapolis can keep their problems for themselves and hopefully smarter people will prevail in the future. We hear there is an effort to correct this in St Paul next election, and the advocates can count on Checks & Balances to support the idea.

In Duluth, the initiative failed on a nearly 3-1 margin.

 YES 5271 25.30%
 NO 15564 74.70%

Congratulations to the more intelligent community on the shores of Lake Superior.

The DNC Descends in the Mill City

There will be Democrats far and wide in Minneapolis this weekend for the Democratic National Committee Summer meeting. We will not be surprised if some wander over to the Great Minnesota Get-Together in St Paul.

The candidates for the Democratic Presidential nomination will address the party faithful at the tomorrow at the Minneapolis Hilton Hotel . Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and former US Senator Lincoln Chaffee (D-RI) will address the DNC delegates at 10:00 AM. With former Governor Martin O’Malley (D-MD), and US Senator Bernie Sanders (I-IL) will do the same at 1:00 PM.

Today, Vance Operman is hosting an event for Hillary Clinton at his offices and various receptions are being held about town.  There is a welcoming reception at the Hilton.

Hey Commissioner It’s Free Money

On July 1, 2015, the Minnesota State Supreme Court ruled on case Webb Golden Valley, LLC v. State which found on behalf of the State of Minnesota. The matter in dispute was over three parcels of land the State had obtained through eminent domain in the city of Golden Valley, which were originally thought to be necessary for use with the redevelopment of Highway 394.

Afterwards, the Department of Transportation decided the parcels were unneeded and decided to gift them to the city of Golden Valley, to which Webb sought suit having already owned an adjoining property with the right-of-way to these other parcels. Though Webb’s case was dismissed this sets up a scenario where Commissioner Charles Zelle may continue with the gift to Golden Valley while passing up on money readily available to the state of Minnesota.

As we dug into this issue, we learned Webb wanted to purchase the parcels for $2.6 million to establish a mixed use retail property. This means by the state not gifting away, but selling the parcels in a public auction we, the citizen’s of Minnesota will receive the money from the sale. Additionally, because of the type of development the state (us) will continue to receive sales and property taxes from said sale.

So we ask the question. Commissioner Charles Zelle, are you going to give away over 2.5 million of dollars for nothing?

Here is the case for your reference.

Why Not Minnesota for the 2024 Summer Olympics?

When the news broke on Monday, that Boston Martin J. Walsh (D) ended his city’s bid with his unwillingness  to sign a contract for a guarantee from the host community; we thought, why not Minnesota.  We already have many of the facilities necessary for use in 2024. Then the Vikings Stadium will be eight years old; the University of Minnesota Stadium will be ready for a facelift and the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center at the will be in line for refurbishment.

Minnesota already holds the USA International Cup (Soccer) at the National Sports Center in Blaine, Twin Cities Marathon route can be utilized for an Olympic marathon and there are opportunities to use the local colleges and Universities facilities, which are largely unused in the summer. We are making a suggested list of venues, already in place that could be used, and many are already internationally recognized in their respective sports.

We just through together a suggested list of the Olympic event and existing facilities and locations throughout the state, which can accommodate. So let’s start the hashtag #WhynotMN #MNOlympics2024.

The various events listed for the 2016 Olympics are:

Aquatics-Diving Swimming Synchronized Swimming Water Polo/U of MN Aquatics Center

Archery/Theodore Worth Park

Badminton/Eagan Senior High School

Basketball/Target Center

Boxing/Xcel Energy Center

Canoe Slalom Sprint/ Any Minneapolis Lake

BMX Cycling/Ham Lake Road Cycling/Stillwater Track Cycling/National Sports Center Blaine/ Mountain Bike/St Paul River Bottoms/Crosby Farm Park

Equestrian Dressage Eventing Jumping/Western Hennepin County

Fencing/Hamline University

Football/National Sports Center Blaine


Gymnastics/U of MN

Gymnastics Artistic Gymnastics Rhythmic Trampoline/University of St Thomas

Handball/St Paul Parks & Rec

Hockey/St Paul Parks & Rec

Judo/St Catherine’s College

Modern pentathlon/Bethel College

Rowing/St Paul Mississippi River

Rugby/Fort Snelling Polo Fields

Sailing/Duluth, Lake Superior/Lake Minnetonka

Shooting/Oakdale Gun Club/Metro Gun Club/South St Paul Rod & Gun Club

Table tennis/St Paul Central High Scool

Taekwondo/Minneapolis South High School

Tennis/U of MN

Triathlon/Shoreview Turtleman Course

Beach Volleyball/Lake Calhoun

Women’s Volleyball/U of MN

Women’s Volleyball/Concordia College

Weightlifting/St Paul RiverCentre

Wrestling/U of MN

Greco-Roman Freestyle/ Augsburg College

If you have other suggestions let us know, none of this is locked in stone.

MN VS WI Redux

ICYMI: We are re-posting our story we first ran in January regarding Governor Scott Walker’s (R-WI) then potential, now official, Presidential bid. Coincidentally, President Barack Obama (D) made some of these same points when he was in Lacrosse, WI.

Originally, published January 29,2015.


Hashtag This. #MNvsWI

With Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) as a potential candidate for President in 2016 a comparison between Minnesota (MN) and Wisconsin (WI) is well warranted.Walker’s approach to government and Governor Mark Dayton (DFL) can not be more diametrically opposed.

Walker has stood against the state’s labor unions, while Dayton has embrace his.Walker has cut taxes in his state while Dayton pledged to raised them on high income earners in his campaign and did when elected to office. WI is experiencing a budget deficit while MN is experiencing its 2nd surplus and Walker is proposing significant cuts to the University of WI and even saying faculty should teach an additional class.

On paper, the two states look like cousins. In spite of WI being older by ten years the two have traveled quite different paths. Currently, MN has a slightly smaller population, but simlar small levels of diversity. MN household income is $7,423 better, the Unemployment rate is 2.5% lower and part of this might be the fact MN has 5.8% more college graduates.

Wisconsin looks like MN did 10 years ago under Governor Tim Pawlenty (R), who shares a similar philosophy to Walker.  Then MN’s statisics looked similar to WI today, when the MN Unemployment rate was floating arount 4.5%.

Because of his close association with Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R-NY) the two served in the U.S. Senate together and she has attended fundraisers forDayton.  Dayton would make a quintesential surrogate if Walker is the GOP nominee.

Trump is a Chicken Hawk

We watched the political shows on Sunday, and heard the dust-up over the comments by Presidential candidate Donald Trump (R) regarding the military service of former Republican Presidential candidate US Senator John McCain (R-AZ). With his comments Trump is stalking tenuous political territory, given the fact he had received college and medical deferments which aided his avoidance of being drafted for service in Vietnam.

Whenever we hear about such gall, we think of former Vice-President Dick Cheney (R), who was 4F, and ineligible for the Vietnam draft, but a continual hawk. Both Trump and Cheney embody the term chicken hawk.

To that end we create an image which shows our true feelings on this matter. We also created the hashtag #trumpisachickenhawk


Pot Calling the Kettle Hypocrite

We find it just amazing to hear Sen. David Hann (R-42, Eden Prairie) being critical of a fellow legislator over a conflict of interest.  The reason being, in 2012 Hann did nearly the same thing in which Rep. Dan Schoen (DFL- 54A, Cottage Grove) is now being accused, which is benefiting from legislation he authored and passed into law. The difference is Hann opposed and prevented legislation from passing while  Schoen supported it and found employment after passage.

We wonder how Hann can keep a straight face when he talks about issues like this, when Republicans criticized President Bill Clinton (D) during the Monica Lewinski Affair, there were t-shirts calling him the Lying King. We learn later this is compartmentalization. In Hann’s case it is just selective memory, or now that he is not the Chair of a key committee, he is no longer of value to the interested party.

Being feckless has its downside.

Here are the original stories which we published October 2012.

Story 1.

Somewhat Conflicted

Since the passage of the Affordable Health Care Act (Obama Care), Republicans have been steadfast in their opposition to the law. At every turn, they have worked to undermine it, impede it or even ignore it. Here in Minnesota two of the most aggressive opponents are Sen. David Hann (R-42, Eden Prairie) Chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and Rep. Steve Gottwalt (R-15B, St Cloud) Chair of the House Health and Human Services Reform Committee.

The first time we heard the legislators proposing changes in law came during a joint press conference on March 5, 2012.

Since each chaired a committee involved is discussion of the topic. their respective interests could have played a factor in the debate on the legislation.

Each legislator has made public comments criticizing Governor Mark Dayton’s (DFL) decisions to work with the federal government to establish Health Care Exchange Network. Their aggressive stance is not a surprise since each fashion himself as a conservative, but what is a surprise, both will benefit financially from private insurance system.

Hann’s occupation is listed in the Official Directory of the Minnesota Legislature is as Business process consultant, but on June 28, 2012 he reactivated his licenses to sell Life, Accident and Health Insurance. His filing with the State of Minnesota of Economic Interest lists nothing in Sources of Compensation, but he lists self-employed under employer. We have learned, he recently became  an associate with a firm called Boys and Tyler Financial Services, Inc, which provides a range of services including Medical, Health Care Savings Accounts and Dental.

It is likely Hann is an independent consultant and as we understand he has worked with a family company Deli Express for years, but it is easy to question whether the sale of insurance policies falls under the title of Business process consultant.

Like him, Gottwalt’s occupation is listed as business in the Official Directory of the Minnesota Legislature and his Economic Interest statement lists his Sources of Compensation as: State of Minnesota and Steve Gottwalt Consulting LLC.

Story 2

Is Hann on the Ropes?

 Our story on Sen. David Hann (R-42, Eden Prairie) helped generate the Fox 9 story on questions about his actual job. As Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, we felt his new role working with Boys and Tyler Financial Services Company, LLC, warranted some attention, especially since this company provides services which may be in lower demand with the implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act.

Since these stories ran Hann has seen fit to change his job description on his campaign website from Business Process Consultant to partnering agent with Boys and Tyler Financial Group Inc. after spending 25 years with Eden Prairie based E.A. Sween Company. This is far more information than disclosed previously. Also he scrubbed references to advising insurance companies. This change is quite significant when viewed in the light of the statement he released on the matter:

“I have not pursued all the requirements necessary by Minnesota law to become an insurance salesman. I cannot sell any insurance products. Therefore, no conflict exists and no disclosure is necessary. It would be misleading to suggest otherwise. This is a baseless political attack by my liberal DFL opponents.”

The attention Hann is generating is not favorable because he looks like he has been hiding something. He is not forthcoming until after the fact and now his integrity and credibility are in question.

The other person named in the issue is Rep. Steve Gottwalt (R-15B, St. Cloud) and he has not been willing to be interviewed, but sent us the following responses in email:

First email:

It’s not an insurance company. No conflict.

Steve Gottwalt

Sent from my smartphone

Second Email:

So, this what happens to anyone who questions Obamacare?
Steve Gottwalt
Sent from my smartphone

Third Email:


I have no record of any message from you prior to your publishing (very bad form).  Given the busy-ness of this season, it is customary to leave some sort of message.  But you were too eager for a “gotcha” to get your facts straight first.  As a former journalist, I know the rules.

It’s not an insurance company.  There is no conflict.  Sounds like a poor attempt at an “October Surprise” smear.

I will continue to challenge the Dayton administration to tell Minnesotans exactly what it is doing to them. They owe Minnesotans some straight answers to the legitimate and serious questions raised:  Specifically, what will their unilateral implementation of Obamacare do to Minnesotans?  What is the end goal of their $73 million in federal grant expenditures?  We are mere months away from implementation, yet they are unable or unwilling to tell us how this will impact Minnesota jobs, job creators, individuals, families, people in need, the state budget, economy, health care providers, nursing homes, etc., etc. — nothing.  Maybe you could spend a little time digging into that.

Fourth Email:

When I was in journalism school, we didn’t report on “potential.”  We learned to check our facts and attributions, and strive for accuracy, balance and fairness.  We took it as a personal responsibility, because we knew what we reported could do great good or great harm — so we’d better get it right.

In the interest of balance and fairness, perhaps you should check the “potential” conflicts among all lawmakers and challengers.  As I told Tom Lyden, you don’t have enough time in a dozen newscasts to cover all those “potential” conflicts.

Fifth Email:

Call Rep. Paul Thissen (an attorney) and ask him how many times he’s voted against tort reforms.  Call Rep. Erin Murphy (a nurse, and director of the MN Nurses Association) and ask her how many bills she has carried or voted on that directly benefit nurses or union members. Call Rep. Carlos Marianni (a public school teacher) and ask him how many K-12 budgets he has helped craft and voted on.  That’s just a few off the top of my head.  I could go on and on and on. Do they also stand accused of “potential conflicts of interest”? Get my point?  Don’t bother calling.

We will make the opportunity for Hann or Gottwalt to clear the air anytime they like. In fact we will go even one better former Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe  (DFL) always was a consultant for companies involved in legislation on a broad range of topics, he regularly consulted and took monies from companies based in and out of Minnesota, but here is the key difference he would never work on issues regarding the Minnesota legislature.

After this story ran, we began hearing of past and current contracts with existing legislators and some Minnesota HMO’s. If this is true then we believe there is a true conflict of interest out there yet to be reported. Discussions of the reimbursement rates for HMO’s or even the amount of monies in their reserve funds will be something we will be looking into.