Counting All of the DFL Convention Delegates

The activities in St Paul over the weekend focused on the delegate selection in Wards 1,2 and 5. This weekend the remaining Wards 3, 4, 6, and 7 will fill out their respective elected delegations to the St Paul City Convention, with the grand total being 500 in number. There is another block of delegates to consider called Auto-Delegates and these are elected officials who have received the DFL endorsement, live in and represent a portion of the St Paul city limits, or are party officers.

The list of 50 includes Governor Mark Dayton (DFL-MN) a resident of Summit Avenue, but we doubt he is likely to attend, but Mayoral Candidate Melvin Carter (DFL), a former Council Member, is an advisor to the Administration, and we know Dayton values loyalty. State Rep. Dave Pinto (DFL-64B, St Paul) has already said he will not be attending due to a scheduling conflict.

The counts of the elected DFL delegates show Carter with a slightly better two-to-one lead, but only 14.20% of the available elected delegates have declared for him. When we combine the Auto-delegates to the elected his numbers improve to 15.82%. As do the numbers for former Ward 3 City Council Member Pat Harris (DFL), who climbs up two points to 9,27%.  Current City Council Member Dai Thao (DFL) shifts a bit downward, and Uncommitted/Other hovers at 12.73%.

Our list included announced endorsements and direct conversations with the individual persons in question.

There is one important factor to point out. Elected Officials tend to not want to be boxed in, and will either not be clearly forthcoming, or will not bother to attend. The Uncommitted/Other in the Auto-Delegates may also remain uncounted.

Candidate Elected Delegates

(500)

% of the 500 Elected Delegates Auto-Delegates (50) % Overall
Carter 156 31.20% 17 31.45%
Thao 107 21.40% 5 20.36%
Harris 93 18.60% 13 19.45%
Goldstein 14 3.20% 0 2.73%
Uncomm/Other
130 25.60% 15 26.00%

*Note* These numbers will change significantly over the course of the weekend, and we will be updating this story each time we receive confirmation of a person’s position. We will have people at each of the Ward conventions gathering our intel.

We suggest you return often to see the specific changes.

No LGA for St Paul, Then PILT Seems a Worthy Response

We attended the St Paul Strong Forum on Wednesday at the St Paul Neighborhood Network. All 6 declared candidates were in attendance: Ward 1 Council Member Dai Thao (DFL), Tim Holden (R), former Ward 3 City Council Member Pat Harris (DFL), former School Board Member Tom Goldstein (DFL), Elizabeth Dickinson (Gr), and former Ward 1 City Council Member Melvin Carter III.

The debate was lively and there wasn’t much interaction between candidates, and the breadth of the issues covered was limited, mainly due to the number of the people on the stage. When each person was limited to a 90-second response it required nearly 9 minutes for each question to be fully answered and depending on the length of the question sometimes even longer.

The most interesting idea we heard from the debate which was support for PILT (Payment In Lieu of Taxes) supported by Carter, Dickinson, and Goldstein. Each supporter called it PILOT, but we have learned the correct term used in the legislative tax committees is PILT. This means a voluntary annual payment of the amount a normal tax assessment an entity would receive from the city. St Paul is a community that is property tax poor when all the non-tax paying entities are adequately assessed.

The State of Minnesota, which dispenses Local Government Aid (LGA) is a prime factor. The number of state buildings sit off of the property tax rolls are staggering, including the State Capitol itself. Not to mention, the State Senate Office Building, the State Office Building, the State Supreme Court Building, the Administration Building and so on.

If the City of St Paul were to place a price tag on the lost revenue for each entity its budget would likely have a multi-fold surplus. Especially, if PILT were extended to schools both public and private, higher education institutions, and churches.

Since everyone who lives and works in the city directly receives amenities it about time the benefactors start acknowledging the benefit financially.

The Legislative X Factor: Dayton’s Stamina

In college, Mark Dayton (DFL) was a goalie and he should have learned you can never win a game, but you can prevent your team from losing. Right now he is the only person between the direction Republicans want to take our state and where we are at this moment. It’s showdown time.

DFL legislators are forestalled and disheartened every time the Governor talks to reporters when he undermines negotiations with the Republican-controlled legislature. A perfect example is his most recent statement about accepting the Republican Transportation plan to use one-time money to pay for a portion of the projects. This is like playing poker and showing your opponent your hands while they hold theirs to the breast. Or a better analogy is playing Russian Roulette and you are the only one who holds the gun to your own head.

The call by House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-31A, Crown) for Dayton and his commissioners to be at the table while the House and Senate Republicans negotiate between each other is a tactical maneuver. It forces Dayton into a position where he is partially culpable for these proposed cuts. Dayton should hold the line and remain outside of the negotiations until the two Republican sides have agreed. The transportation issues can simply be resolved through a Bonding Bill and if Dayton stands firm then Republicans will come to him, because of internal pressures felt in their caucuses.

The reality is, people need to feel pain for them to seek resolution from their elected leadership. The only way Republicans will move is when the voices of their constituents become too loud to ignore.

Dayton’s legacy is in play he can leave office with a poor 2017-18 Budget and that will be what he is remembered for, or he can stand and fight. He needs to give no quarter, prove his resolve, and draw lines he will not cross. He needs to have staff far more active and visible and they need to speak with one voice. No, that is not acceptable to our Governor. Then he needs to call Republicans out when the mischaracterize, distort, and misguide the public.

Also, if Dayton wants to prove he is looking out for Minnesota’s interests when and if a Special Session ensues, he needs to ignore AFSCME and let state employees experience pain too. Many jobs in Greater Minnesota exist because of government and Republicans need to be reminded of that fact.

Governor Dayton, play like Minnesota Wild, your back is up against the wall, and if you lose one play you lose the game, the series, your playoff hopes and hearts and minds of your supporters.

Devaluing the DFL Endorsement

We contend the institution of Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) in municipal elections, is having a detrimental effect on the value of the DFL endorsement. This election we are expecting the races for mayor in both Minneapolis and St Paul will move forward sans endorsement. The reality of this threat first came into existence prior to the institution of (RCV), with the blocking of the endorsement of the endorsement for Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton (DFL) by R. T. Rybak (DFL) in 2001. Of course, as is often the case, once elected, the incumbent officeholder (Rybak) sought and received the DFL endorsement in 2005.

The desire for change is a strong motivator, though not always thoughtful, because of the unintended consequences of any action. The impetus for change from a single voting, majority rule system was precipitated mainly in Minneapolis as local politicians were contending with Green Party challenges. These misguided liberals/progressive DFLers thought, since we have a common bond over environmental issues, if a system could be created that placated the “Greens” then they can ultimately vote for us, the DFL. Wrong. They are another political party. The Greens want power, pure and simple, and not to be the red-headed stepchild of the DFL Party.

The current malaise of RCV, fosters a system of mediocrity, under the guise of benevolence, where there is less political acrimony and more conformity. It facilitates a false sense of success through its aspirational claims of higher turnout, less conflict, and lower costs, while the opposites are true. Turnout remains flat, third party groups have picked up the conflictual club, due to Citizen’s United, and mount attack campaigns instead of the candidates themselves, and the systemic costs are greater while providing less true clarity one the qualities of the candidates.

 

Minneapolis

In the Mill City, we expect incumbent Mayor Betsy Hodges (DFL) will not receive the DFL endorsement and neither will several the Minneapolis City Council members. The main reason being everyone is in the boat in November due to RCV, and there is no clear incentive why anyone should withdraw, prior. To date the field of candidates seeking the DFL endorsement for the “weak” mayoral post consists of: incumbent Mayor Hodges (DFL), Ward 3 City Council Member Jacob Frey (DFL), State Rep. Raymond Dehn (DFL- 59B, Minneapolis), Al Flowers, Aswar Rahman, and Captain Jack Sparrow. Sparrow, who ran in 2013 as Count All Rankings, caucused DFL this go-round.

The field will likely be smaller this election, because the filing fee for mayor was raised to from $50 to $500, and will likely reduce the number of pretender contenders. As we have heard former NAACP President Nekima Levy-Pounds is not seeking the DFL endorsement, if elected without another declaration, Levy-Pounds is the Black Lives Matter candidate.

In 2013, Hodges blocked her opponent Mark Andrew from receiving the endorsement, same as Rybak¸ a Hodges supporter, did in 2001. We expect the tables to be turned, and this go round, Hodges, a truly unpopular mayor, may face the Rybak effect. We find it incredibly interesting when seeing women in office when challenged by men as not being good enough especially from progressives. One would thought that a woman being in office is progressive at the onset.

St Paul

In the Capitol city, the precinct caucuses are this weekend and next, held on both Saturday and Sunday. The listing of the dates and times are found on the St Paul City DFL website.

The contest for mayor currently, consists of six declared candidates four DFLers: current Council Member Dai Thao, former City Council members Melvin Carter III, Pat Harris, and former School Board member Tom Goldstein, who is the clear longshot on the DFL side. Green Party candidate Elizabeth Dickinson and Independent candidate Tom Holden join the field.

Traditionally, St Paul is a DFL town, although more conservative that its westerly twin, Minneapolis. This election being the first open mayoral contest under RCV will provide voters with clear choices, but less resolution. Again, as the debate between candidates occurs few differences between the principles emerge. Since everyone is on the November ballot and seeking the support of the other candidates’ voters second choice, they fail to differentiate themselves for fear of alienating voters.

With the start of the St Paul Precinct caucuses we will begin to see how the campaigns are taking shape and from the declared sub-caucuses see if a front-runner emerges. We are doubtful.

IRV at the DFL Convention

A conversation is starting about applying the system of Instant Run-Off Voting in the DFL mayoral endorsement. The principal advocate for this idea is C&B Publisher, and Executive Director of the St Paul Votes Smarter campaign Shawn Towle. When asked why apply IRV to the DFL Towle said, “If St Paul voters are expected to choose their mayor by a Ranked Voting system, advocated by the DFL Party, then the St Paul DFL would be hypocritical not to use it for their own selection method.” He continued, “Testing this system in a smaller situation with significant consequences, will provide an opportunity for supporters to experience the full impact of this social experiment.”

Minnesota’s Moral Hazard

If Republicans want to grow their party beyond fascistic angry white men and gray-haired people, they had better change their course regarding higher education. Our state has witnessed a dramatic shift in state support of public colleges, a shift in financial aid for public college students versus private college students, and when the true costs of higher education are measured, including inflation, it means the burden is shared far more broadly, while the state benefits economically from a more educated workforce.

Minnesota’s Moral Hazard is the increase in structural debt for a vulnerable segment of the population which is placing an expectation on its own ability to meet the financial obligation through higher wages facilitated by a higher educational level. The state’s failure to meet its prior obligation and this burden shift have created a situation likely to face imminent failure.

These inequities in higher education started with the removal of the higher education cap on the state scholarship and grants program back in the late 1990’s. This meant that private college students were no longer bound by the level of financial cost of the highest state sponsored institution, the University of Minnesota, but rather the entire cost of education at private institutions was considered for financial aid purposes. This meant all private college students, who were financially eligible for aid, had a high need. This, in turn, meant the program which had funded public college students with 60% of the awards and private college students 40%, after the removal of the cap, the percentages inverted and now the gap between them continues to grow larger.

Additionally, the state moved to a high tuition/high financial aid model which held one essential flaw, the state never fulfilled its portion of the commitment. This meant students in public colleges had to pick-up the difference and this resulted in unnecessary increases in student loans and thereby student debt.

These structural changes were not all that occurred. Under Governor Tim Pawlenty’s (R-MN) Administration and even great injustice transpired. The state changed the law from 135A.031 Appropriations “The direct appropriation to each board for instructional services shall equal 67 percent of the estimated total cost of instruction for the University of Minnesota, the state universities, and the community colleges, and, for technical colleges, at least 67 percent of the estimated total cost of instruction.”

To: 135A.031 Subdivision 1. Determination of appropriation. The appropriations for the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities are determined by considering the biennial budget documents submitted under section 135A.034, performance in advancing the objectives under section 135A.011, available resources according to the state budget forecast, the relative balance between state support for students and public postsecondary institutions, and other factors the legislature considers important in determining the level of state appropriations for public postsecondary education.

Subd. 2.[Repealed, 2007 c 144 art 2 s 52]

Subd. 3.[Repealed, 2007 c 144 art 2 s 52]

Subd. 4.[Repealed, 2007 c 144 art 2 s 52]

Subd. 5.[Repealed, 2007 c 144 art 2 s 52]

Subd. 6.[Repealed, 2007 c 144 art 2 s 52]

Effectively, these changes in the language from “shall” to “may” and took all the teeth out of the law.

Click on the following links to see how dramatic the shifts have been over the course of the last decade.

University of Minnesota Appropriation and Tuition Split (002)

MN State _Tuition Revenue and Appropriations Chart (002)

One major problem that also occurs is the systems no longer are required to present the cost of instruction in each institution. Since the law changed neither the University of MN or the State University and College system has had to provide these breakdowns. So effectively, the only conversation we are having now is the impact of tuition on the operating expenses of the institutions, including administrative costs.

Minnesota’s Tax Burden is Not a Deterrent to Growth, Failing to Fund Higher Education Is.

The Minnesota tax burden conversation is a specious argument. The state priorities are set by the collective mindset of its political leadership and a surplus in revenue is a reflection of a number of realities. One, our economic system is successful and more robust that estimated. This is a good thing. The old adage is you fix the roof when the sun is shining. Our state has numerous areas which are under-funded and areas of deferred maintenance and recognizing these first, prior to seeking a reduction in state revenue is far more responsible. Second, if our state is to thrive in future years we must prepare for the inevitable economic downturn. This idea is not as far away as some may think. The current uncertainty in Washington DC, the loss of federal funding is a looming issue and failure to reflect this problem in the budgeting process is just plain foolish. Federal funding accounts for a sizable portion of our state budget and the same amount should be retained to offset any loss in funding. This is responsible budgeting. Third, denial of inflationary figures in budgeting is a gimmick to force imaginary budget pressures downward, because arguments can be made against additional funding as an attempt to hold the line on spending. Fourth, Republicans as the anti-government party seek to create systemic failure of government in order to prove its ineffectiveness. Fifth, using one-time money for any expenditure without long-term benefit is shameful, and paying for transportation this way is ludicrous, because those costs can be borne over a loinger period through bonding.

Governor Mark Dayton (DFL) must face the reality every debate with the Republican-controlled legislature is a difference in philosophy and their’s is a direct attack on his fundamental belief system. Every proposition is intent on either starving the grape on the vine, sowing seeds of discontent by increasing bureaucratic response times due to fewer governmental employees and provision of fewer services to people in need.

Call for a Realignment of Priorities

Statutorily, Minnesota is required to disburse its surplus revenues in the following fashion: Shore up the cash account, apply one-third of the amount to the Budget Reserve, and funded unmet liabilities in K-12 education. We suggest a fourth priority be applied and that is the allocation of the remaining money to offset, reestablish the state’s unfunded mandate, the cost of instruction in higher education.

A reduction in the economic burden on the next generation will reap significant long-term benefits. It will position people entering the economy far better because their first mortgage will not need to be for their education, but empower them to actually mortgage their first home, become property tax payers and become more invested in the local community.

 

We think it is time for Minnesota to return to being the brain power state, envisioned by Governor Rudy Perpich (DFL). In our state priorities for addressing budget surpluses, Higher Education warrants a placement as a state priority. After the allocation to the cash flow account, the budget reserve, and Education, Higher Education should be the next place for replenishment.

Under Republican leadership, combined with DFL complacency, we are causing undue financial burdens on the next generations, just because the budget needed to be balanced after deep Republican tax cuts. Listening to Republican leadership it sounds like the same, tired arguments.

We offer the following quotes from Edmund Burke for your consideration;

“Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.”

“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.”