Former State Senator Seeking 1st Congressional Seat

Former Sen. Vicki Jensen (DFL-Owatonna) is preparing her bid to succeed current Congressman Tim Walz (DFL-01MN) and head to Washington DC. During her last election, she had the luxury of support from both the labor unions and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.

We expect Jensen will be a formidable candidate and after a loss in the era of Trump, she have plenty of ammunition to use in this forthcoming election.

Governor Dayton Fails to Deliver

The frustration Governor Mark Dayton (DFL) expressed about the legislation he faced, the and exasperation he felt, is feckless, because he didn’t do anything to reflect his sentiments. The vetoing of legislative salaries is an ineffective and veritably useless response. The use of a pocket veto, is a cowardly act, political in nature because it allows legislation to go into effect without an executive signature. It is directly opposite what it appears to be, a veto.

If the Governor sought to accomplish anything it was only through vetoing the tax bill. If the Department of Revenue was defunded, then he needed to veto all the spending bills and force the Republicans back to the table. The major problems he highlights are not responded to in any way, he just kvetches about them.

Here are Dayton’s biggest gripes:

  • Cancellation of the Estate Tax
  • Removal of the automatic inflater on the Tobacco Tax
  • Reduction in Commercial and Industrial Property Tax
  • Prevention of the Commissioner of Public Safety from allowing driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants
  • An alternative teacher’s licensing procedure

When we discussed the stamina of Dayton as an X factor, we may have hit the mark. Yes, it is a tiring exercise to respond the innovative approaches Republicans to governance. It is not new information to realize Republicans are anti-government. To faint false surprise that the GOP has a drastically different view of the world should come as no surprise at all.

When the governor stands at the podium, wrings his hands at the mess that has been wrought, he might as well be playing with a fidget spinner, because he effectively does nothing, and he fails the citizens of the state.

Sure, Republicans held back legislation from public view until the last minute, because their tactic is to hide the ball, for as long as possible, bring items up in the dark of night and place rotten Easter Eggs in the legislation that appears after, all is said and done.

The final budget signed into law leaves Dayton with a haunting legacy and proves the ineffectiveness of his office to recognize the political reality of Republican control. Thanks for nothing Governor Dayton.

Dayton’s Veto Gives Republicans Political Cover on Salary Increase

As the debate over legislative salaries continues, Governor Mark Dayton (DFL) in a futile attempt, to try and respond to the Republican budget, he may have provided political cover for Republican legislators by letting the courts force the issue. Constitutionally, the first item funded is the legislative branch, and legislative salaries are included in the funding.

Through his veto, Dayton has set the stage for a court battle which Republicans can win by fighting for the independence of the legislative branch and the financial means to maintain said independence. As we have already heard from Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-13, Nisswa) the issue is a separation of powers. We had expected the legislature would ultimately win this through the courts and be forced to accept their pay increase, and House Republicans could faint their opposition to more money while cashing their checks. Instead, Dayton serves it up on a silver platter.

St Paul City DFL Rules Committee Creates Rules for No Endorsement

We attended last night’s meeting of the Rules Committee of the St Paul City DFL and can conclude the proposed rules are merely the result of collusion between the Dai Thao campaign and the Pat Harris campaign structured to forgo an endorsement at the city convention on June 17th. As we have said before the existence of Ranked Choice Voting in November Devalues the DFL Endorsement and the campaigns have responded in turn.

There were four specific maneuvers which impinge the endorsement. 1) a limit of the balloting to four ballots, 2) a casual drop rule applied after the 2nd ballot of 10%, 3) a 5:00 pm deadline for the convention to end, and 4) a movement of the school board endorsement ahead of the mayoral endorsement.

In the committee, the three campaigns of Thao, Harris and Melvin Carter III were about equally represented, but the Thao and Harris campaigns had a shared mutual interest in there being No Endorsement and voted on the proposed provisions as such. One glaring reality is to see upgraded alternate Darren Tolbolt, the former St Paul City DFL Chair, now a Harris supporter, voting in favor of these rules. By his acts alone, he undermined the DFL endorsement process, one which his former position is charged to defend.

Each of these rules hampers the endorsement from occurring. The ballot limit is a tried and true way to prevent an endorsement because it is often through sheer will the endorsement occurs and when the process allows fatigue and the upgrading of alternates, more movement can occur, but a restriction of ballot prevents this natural progression. Secondly, because of the number used it provides an opportunity for three candidates to be on the 4th ballot. This means no candidate walks away with a loss. The 5:00 PM deadline, appears to be an appeal to cultural sensitivity, which is something the convention organizers failed to do because the date falls on Ramadan, and members of the Somali Community seek a reasonable endpoint to the proceedings to be able to break their fast. Finally, the one way to hold people at a convention is by holding the biggest contest first. This is clearly an endorsement focused on the mayor’s race.

We did hear one novel idea, which was to use Instant Runoff Voting as a drop rule and means to use one ballot to winnow the field down to two candidates, prior to a head-to-head contest. We understand this will be included in a minority report to the convention.

We congratulate the Thao and Harris campaigns for their blatant maneuvers to assure if they don’t get the endorsement no one will. The rules passed on an 8-6 vote.

How Dayton Can Save the 2017-18 Session

Earlier in the legislative session, in an article entitled: Legislative X Factor: Dayton’s Stamina, we discussed Governor Mark Dayton’s (DFL) role akin to his time in college as a goalie, and said, “you can never win the game, but you can prevent your team from losing,” but it appears we may be wrong. At this moment, at this time, Dayton can actually win triumphantly.

The legislation passed by both Republican controlled houses has sent to Dayton, a series of legislation, which limits the spending in state government in nearly all areas. This continues the spending restrictions, base level funding cuts, and slow growth tactics employed by the GOP. By starving government on the vine, they create a self-fulfilling prophecy, that government doesn’t work.

In response, Dayton now has all the tools at his disposal, especially the veto pen. He has nine spending bills, the tax bill, the bonding bill and the preemption bill. He stated early on he would veto the preemption bill; HF004 Labor standards, pensions, local government, and other employment provisions modified, and money appropriated, authored by Rep Pat Garofalo (R-58B, Farmington), because of its restrictions on local control on wages and labor rules. This is ironic for Republicans, who often tout local control as their mantra, to effectively, assert the will of the state creating state control. Last, we knew that was considered Communism.

If Dayton were to also veto the tax bill he could hamstring the effectiveness of the Republicans and protect the state from pending federal tax cuts, fostered by Republicans in control in Washington, DC. This will allow the state to continue to collect revenues based on current tax policy, meaning our state should continue to have surpluses.

Some may believe this is in violation of the agreement on the Special Session, which was extended by a handshake, but as we understand it, that was only on the spending provisions, and just as was the case in 2011, a veto of the tax bill, keeps the ship of state afloat.

If Dayton signs the other spending bills, then the state will avoid the need for another Special Session, because the government is fully funded. Of course, there is one other possibility to send a message to the Republicans and show who has the final say, and that is in the bonding bill. Since Dayton had to renegotiate the buffer strips in the Ag bill, he should line item bonding projects in Republican districts, which are not associated with clean water, water treatment facilities or other environmental projects. Which will reduce the cost of the 2017 bonding bill, and allows the 2018 bonding bill to grow accordingly.

We understand Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk (DFL-03, Cook) is in favor of a veto of the transportation bill because it is reliant on too much upfront spending taken from the current surplus and the general fund, but that would trigger the need for a Special Session.

So, the basic point is veto preemption, the tax bill, and portions of the bonding bill.

If Legislators Play Politics on FGM Young Women Die, No Time for Politics

Last night, we attended a forum with members of the Somali community at the Grandview Restaurant and Wedding Hall in South Minneapolis. The topic was Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), which is sometimes called incorrectly called female circumcision, because the procedure isn’t done for any preemptive, or positive health reasons, as is male circumcision, but rather to remove a woman’s sexual organs that provide pleasure. This is the epitome of a patriarchy and oppression of women by the male segment of a society. In western eyes, the act is nothing short of barbaric and it is banned in most of the world’s civilized nations.

This clash of cultures recently came to light when two, young Somali girls were taken from Minnesota to Michigan where the procedure was conducted. In Minnesota, it is a crime for a person to perform the procedure, but there is no consequence for the family members who allow it to be done. This is where the public outcry and the conflict between old world ways and the new world of America come front and center.

The principal organizers were: Farhio Khalif, A Voice of East African Women, Fadumo Abdinur, Tasho Community, Omar Jamal, Osman Omar, Waris Mohamud, Hareda Sidow, Deqa Hussen, Camila Abdidoon, and Imam Roble. The most notable absence was freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar (DFL-60B, Minneapolis), the only Somali state legislator.

The guise used to justify FGM is religion, and the battle occurs both inside the family as well as outside in the greater society. The question is will the Somali Community submit to the social standard of their new home or retain the archaic practices of the past.

The person at the forefront of this issue is an unexpected advocate Rep. Mary Franson (R-08B, Alexandria). She made headlines when she compared people on food assistance to wild animals. Her bill is HF2621, and she attended last night’s forum, the companion is SF2355, authored by Sen. Karin Housley (R-39, St Mary’s Point), who did not attend. An alternative position is being advanced in the senate and hampered by Sen. Jim Abeler (R-35, Anoka). He appears to be siding with other members of the Somali community expressing saying the state of Minnesota will take away the children of parents who have allowed this procedure to be performed on their daughters.

He also did not attend the forum and merely phoned it in. Literally, he called during the event and one of the organizers Omar Jamal had his phone turned toward the speaker and informed the Senator many Somali women would be marching on the Capitol and coming to his office to put the issue right.

As these two sides square off it should be explained the biggest issue front and center should not be about the culture clash between old and new it should be the welfare of the children at risk. The procedure is not medically sound, has major, long-term medical consequences and is perpetuated because of ignorance and oppression.

A way to put this issue in another light, we think people should see similarities between this issue and sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Since FGM is perpetrated under the auspices of religion and remains in the shadows it is akin to the tacit support expressed by the Roman Catholic Church as it shuttled offending clergy around the nation to other parishes when they were found to have abused children.

When it is the institution people turn to in times of solace, the place where the seek comfort in hours of need that authorizes or even administers the horrendous act, the pain felt is even greater. If there are no safe harbors for girls in this new land, then the horrors of the place their parents left enter into their lives for no valid reason.

Why Are Republicans So Mean Spirited?

What is it that constitutes the Republican anti-government fervor? Is it a commitment to a higher-minded purpose, no. Is it a moral construct, maybe? Most likely it is a dogmatic dedication to disdain, an outright rejection of the concept of a collective, societal purpose. The need for others to help make one whole. The realization of the fact, everyone needs something more than they already have.

If a Republican reads this, they will reject it out-of-hand. They will not be able to relate to the notion because it is foreign.

When Hillary Clinton (D) wrote her book, It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us, she embodied an idea, which was wholly objectionable to a Republican, because extended the concept of who matters in the raising of a child out to those people who might not play a day-to-day role in that child’s rearing. Those people who exemplify the surroundings built to establish the community in which the child is born into are as important as the central family.

In American, 3-5% of the population have sociopathic personalities. We would be willing to bet most if not all vote Republican. If these figures are applied to the MN House it means between 4-6 of the members in this body may be sociopaths and 2-3 members in the Senate. It also begs the question which ones could they be?

As the budget negotiations continue could this idea be a factor in the discussion?

Right now, Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-31A, Crown) is quicker to point fingers after each negotiating session. It may be because he is balancing all his decisions against his gubernatorial bid. We expect a portion of the issue is Daudt has more experience negotiating with Governor Mark Dayton (DFL). Unlike, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-09, Nisswa).

We still hold to our belief we had at the start of the session, there will be a special session and mainly because the House is more strident, may contain more sociopaths and is up for election in 2018.