UCARE in the Crosshairs Over Their False Claims of Somali Interpreter Fraud

Minnesota Report

On Wednesday 50 Somali Interpreters and their supporters will stage a protest outside the UCARE Corporate Offices on Stinson Blvd, Minneapolis. They will not be there to get on the multi-seat bicycle, but rather to decry the companies misrepresentation of their work, their suspension and challenging the allegations UCARE advanced to the State Attorney General’s Office of multiple billing and fraud.

In response Attorney General Keith Ellison’s Office (DFL) has sent letters to the alleged, who seek to clear their names and has said they see no signs of inaccurate billing or fraud. The actions by UCARE open them up to suit for defamation, libel and damages.

In preparation Omar Jamal is organizing the effort and the group will create press availability and state their case later int he day.

 

Will Minnesota Save the Sail?

Minnesota Report

The US Navy saw fit to name only one of its 33 Los Angeles-class submarines after two cities when commissioning the USS Minneapolis-St Paul (SSN-708). Submarines get attention. This one is a unique symbol and should be saved. But “The Mighty MSP” is headed for the almighty scrap heap—next year—unless a local group called the Minnesota Submarine League is able to build support and bring declassified structures of the historic vessel here to Minnesota.
Minnesota’s Submarine League was just informed last week that the former Minneapolis-Saint Paul is now in the recycling process and next up in the demolition queue. Meaning, the asset will be scrapped in 2021. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the state to own a cultural icon of economic value to the future will be lost.
The group anticipated they would have more time to build support and raise funds for a futuristic sea-services center, showcasing Minnesota’s creativity and benefitting all maritime veterans and occupations: Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, and the Merchant Marines. The expo will feature “the sail,” i.e. the submarine’s bridge and conning tower, and rudder in a bow wave pool as if underway. The best part of the plan: The Navy will hand over the asset for the weighty sum of $1.00.
The USS New Jersey battleship is now in Camden, New Jersey. The USS Iowa is represented as a 1/4-scale model in the Iowa State Capitol in an award-winning exhibit for tour. With a little bit of work, this Minnesota namesake can be available to the public somewhere close to the borders of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Why not at the Minnesota State Fair? Or in the World’s Fair Expo 2027 bid? One high-tech design challenge turns a new state icon into an immersive virtual-reality experience for everyone, all year round.

Those who remember Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea will appreciate the idea.

Minneapolis/St Paul Wikipedia

Here is a concept animation

 

St Paul Delegation Welcome Back Legislators Reception

Minnesota Report

On Wednesday February 26th, from 5-7:30 pm the St Paul Legislative delegation is hosting a reception in the Stadium Club at Allianz Field for the rest of the legislature and the political community. This is one of the premier social events during the legislative session. Previously it has been held at the Ordway, but now elected officials from across the state can see what a top-line soccer facility looks like.

Only the Two Women Leaders Have Home Field Contests on Super Tuesday

National and Minnesota Report

When the 14 states hold their presidential primaries, only Minnesota and Massachusetts will have a favorite daughter in the mix. US Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) will be under dual scrutiny both nationally and locally because of their in state primaries. The pending question will be whether or not they achieve or surpass expectations at home and away.

The difference between the North Star State and the Bay State is MN is an open primary, with ballot registration versus MA is a semi-closed primary, meaning unaffiliated voters can participate.

In Minnesota

We again contend, because the Minnesota Republican Party did not allow any other candidate’s name on the ballot other than Donald J Trump (R) the likelihood of party crossover is far greater. Mainly, due to the simplicity of a ballot request a Republican can shape the result and attempt to influence the candidate they want as Trump’s opponent, but it will be for the DFL Party to determine if any untoward affect occurs.

The DFL as does the DNC (Democratic National Committee), have access to the VAN (Voter Action Network). This is a comprehensive voter file shared with local political party organizations, political candidates and Democratically favorable groups like labor unions and information is shared about the political preferences registered voters in the state.

If we set the following backdrop, we can better ascertain whether any crossover occurs after the fact. In 2016, both the DFL and Republican Parties held Presidential Preference Polls and then reported the results to the Secretary of State who in turn published them. https://electionresults.sos.state.mn.us/20160301

The DFL had 205,438 people cast their vote and 61.15% supported US Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D-NY) with 38.12%. While on the Republican side 114,245 voted, with US Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) carrying the state with 36.24% and Donald J Trump (R-NY) coming in 3rd with 21.42%, collectively only 319,683 people attended the caucuses. Now, there was not a 2016 statewide primary, but when looking at 2018, in the Governor’s primary 583735 or 17.92% of the 3,258,293 registered voters chose a DFL candidate and 320914 or 9.85% registered voters selected a Republican candidate.

This means an overall participation rate of registered voters exceeding 30% will be a good thing for democracy but a questionable event in general. If the percentages are heavily weighed on the DFL side this will not be a surprise, since recent history shows nearly a 2-to-1 participation rate, but a deeper dive into heavily-controlled Republican districts will show this nature of occurrence.

Again, when the names of the voters are compared to the names in the VAN the DFL can make a determination if any political gamesmanship transpired.

If any is proven then the allocation of DNC delegates could be a bone of contention. With favorite daughter Klobuchar in the race we expected the support for Sanders to differ significantly from 2016, mainly because he isn’t running against Clinton. As we have heard repeatedly from Amy on the stump and on the debate stage she has won statewide in red counties and with high percentages. In 2012, she carried the state with 65.23% over businessman Kurt Bills (R-MN) and in 2018, with 60.13% over State Rep. Jim Newberger (R-MN).

The primary process belongs to the political parties and not the general public and internal party fights are largely closer and defined by more dramatic political gradients. The strength of Sanders in Minnesota on Mar 3rd will be worth a great deal of scrutiny if he shows any sizable strength.

Surveying the Bloomberg Campaign Post the Nevada Debate

Minnesota and National Report

In spite of not being a candidate for consideration in tomorrow’s caucuses in Nevada Michael Bloomberg (D-NY) attended the debate moderated by NBC Nightly News and Dateline NBC anchor Lester HoltMeet the Press moderator and NBC News political director Chuck Todd, NBC News chief White House correspondent and MSNBC Live host Hallie Jackson, Noticias Telemundo senior correspondent Vanessa Hauc and The Nevada Independent’s Jon Ralston on Wednesday evening.

Yesterday, we interviewed Bloomberg’s Minnesota State Director Mike Schultz about the state of affairs for their campaign efforts in the home state of one of Blomberg’s opponent’s on March 3rd, Super Tuesday, US Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). The well-financed nationwide campaign appears to be taking nothing for granted and hence the Minnesota presence.

We entered the 1st Avenue campaign location to see a flurry of activity, at the end of training session for 40-or so local organizers.  We inquired into Schultz’ political background and learned he grew up in Alexandria, MN and comes to this campaign from the fundraising side of the political system with experience in both statewide and regional state and federal offices. He worked for Klobuchar’s Presidential Campaign early in 2019, but left for medical reasons. Afterwards, he expressed, his need to get off the bench to prevent the election of Donald J Trump (R) at all costs.

We opened our conversation asking what the campaign line was following Bloomberg’s less than stellar performance and the targeted attacks he experienced from his field of opponents. To which Schultz said, “As the campaign manager (Kevin Sheekey) said, Mike needs to get his sea legs. It was his first debate, as we have seen there were some strong points he was much better in the second half than the first half. We have seen throughout 2019, candidates improve throughout the process and we expect Mike will be no different. ”

As to numerical positioning in this state he declined to offer any numbers but did provide this positive reference point, “There’s no doubt that, Amy is the dominant political figure in Minnesota, and she has worked and earned her right to that. We are as in so many other places fighting for delegates in Minnesota and will continue to do that.”

In an attempt to glean some additional information about other campaigns asked whether Klobuchar will meet or surpass expectations. To that point Schultz offered little, other than to say, “It’s very clear that Amy has exceeded expectations throughout this race, and nobody should be surprised if she exceeds expectations moving forward.”

We inquired about the activities surrounding the precinct caucuses in light of the presidential primary which is a process more impacted by a well-financed campaign. He said, “The caucus process is really important here in Minnesota. It’s a process unique to Minnesota and yes, we are lucky to have a large team of organizers who will be attending various caucus sites in their specific districts.” He conveyed, constantly expanding support moving forward until Tuesday caucuses, but did not commit to blanket coverage of the state in all areas.

He also affirmed the statement made by the candidate generally, that the organizers are being paid through November, which means Bloomberg’s presence in Minnesota will be constant, this election.

We asked about the based contact information for voters and learned they have access to the VAN (Voter Action Network).

When asked about the state of affairs of the campaign he made an analogy of both, “Building and flying a plane at the same time.” When we queried into his role, he said, “Air Traffic Controller.”

Klobuchar Already Defeated Trump Cronies

 National Report

In 1994, when Amy Klobuchar (DFL) ran for Hennepin County Attorney against Sheryl Ramstad Hvass (R) for Hennepin County Attorney she came up against the likes of Roger Stone and Paul Manafort who were consultants for the sister of Congressman Jim Ramstad (R-MN).

Klobuchar defeated Ramstad Hvass by 3740 votes and in her reelection bid she was unopposed.

It seems like a worthy argument to make to the US Presidential electorate, here’s a good tagline “I have already taken on Trump cronies, like Roger Stone and Paul Manafort and I beat them, next I will beat the biggest crony of them all, Donald J Trump.”

Need for Light Rail Conductors

Minnesota Report

The call for Ambassadors on the Light Rail lines seems weak and a term that conveys niceties rather than someone in charge. We suggest implementing Conductors rather than glad-handing Ambassadors. A Conductor is defined as “a person in charge of a train, streetcar, or other public conveyance, who collects fares and sells tickets.” Seems like they can collect fares from scofflaws and the fine should be imposed immediately otherwise the person is given a citation.

Last March, we wrote the following piece The Best Way to Eliminate Smoking on the LRT and believe much more needs to be done to excise the problems occurring in mass transit system. The convenience of the service comes with additional obligations and the frequency of people sleeping on the trains due to homelessness and instances of drug use and smoking without regard to the other passengers is emblematic of people with a lack of care for society which shows little care for them.

This issue appears to be shaping up as a wedge between Greater Minnesota and the Metropolitan area.  We expect more of these will be building as we get closer to the election.

Significant Staff Changes in the MN Legislature

Minnesota Report

The return of John Pollard to the DFL Senate as the Minority Chief of Staff is not to only change in staffing throughout the legislature, there are numerous staff changes in both bodies and on both sides of the aisle. An update to contact lists and finding better means for tracking these changes appears in order.

The movement of legislative assistants to committee administrators and new legislative assistants is sizable in number. This seems quite numerous occurring in the 2nd year of a biennium, but it is a reality.

Administration Joins the PolyMet Appeal Call

Minnesota Report Yesterday, the DNR put out the following press release DNR seeks review of Court of Appeals decision on PolyMet permits Today the Department of Natural Resources submitted a petition to the Minnesota Supreme Court seeking review of the Minnesota Court of Appeals’ Jan. 13, 2020 decision regarding three DNR-issued permits for PolyMet’s NorthMet…

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Klobuchar Gets Third Ticket Out of New Hampshire

National Report

US Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) finished a strong third with 19.8% of the vote, last night in the New Hampshire Primary coming 17,361 votes behind first place finisher US Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT).  He surge is attributed to her performance in last Friday night’s debate at Emerson College.

This showing should breathe more life into the Klobuchar Campaign, but in order to maintain the momentum another surpassing of expectations will need to occur in Nevada February 22 or South Carolina February 29th, prior to Super Tuesday on March 3rd.

Klobuchar finish was significant compared to another New Englander US Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and former Vice-President Joe Biden (D) who both only had single digit results, 9.3% and 8.4% respectively.

The Coming of the Four Horsemen

If you want to be memorable in Minnesota State Capitol politics it is good if you are referred to as something other than your name. It is often helpful when a term or a phrase can be applied to your, group, issue or initiative. If you want to be known as something...

NPR Censors Opposition Comments on RCV

The NPR show 1A ran a program on Ranked Choice Voting today, and Checks & Balances Publisher Shawn Towle sought a spot on the panel. When called back by producer Andi McDaniel he was informed the panel was full but could submit a comment through the voicemail...

96 Days and Counting Until the Iowa Caucuses

National Report The Iowa Caucuses are scheduled for February 3, 2020, and with less than 100 days to go much is underway. If anyone wants to take a trip to Iowa and watch any of the political event first hand they should contact the Amy for America campaign the...

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Omar Shows No Loyalty for a Fellow Minnesotan

Minnesota Report Rep Ilhan Omar (DFL-MN05) has shown little attachment to Minnesota at any time since her election to state office. As a state legislator, she made a number of trips nationally to promote her election as the first Somali state legislator. Her election...

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The Murphy Challenge

Minnesota Report Yesterday, former Representative and unsuccessful Gubernatorial candidate Erin Murphy (DFL-64, St Paul) announced her intention to challenge 30-year incumbent Dick Cohen ((DFL-64, St Paul). This is after Murphy had announced her formation of a new...

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Ward 6 Interviews (Bourne)

Minnesota Report Since Ward 6 is the only open seat in the St Paul municipal elections we thought it would be significant to sit down with the various candidates we feel who actually have a chance at winning the seat. As anyone who reads Checks & Balances knows we...

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