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Dan Burns

BACKPACKING5-251006-162122This just truly sucks.

In July, Montanans celebrated the addition of 8,200 acres, known as Tenderfoot Creek, to the Lewis and Clark National Forest. Most of the $10.7 million cost was paid for by the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which uses oil and gas royalties for conservation and recreation projects.
But (October 1), the 50-year-old fund, widely viewed as one of the nation’s most popular and most successful land conservation programs, was allowed to expire completely. Despite broad bipartisan support, and despite a deadline that was no surprise to anyone, Congress failed to take action to reauthorize it. That means that offshore oil and gas producers will no longer be paying into the chest that funds the program — and now that the funding connection has been broken, reinstating it will be very difficult, especially given the tone of this Congress. Instead, lawmakers will be dickering over how to divvy up former LWCF appropriations, which will now be going into the general treasury…
(High Country News)

Here’s an interactive map showing some of what the LWCF funds, or did.
This is really just one manifestation of a much bigger problem. Here’s another one, of which most people are not really aware.


miningDue to depressed and likely to stay that way global markets for industrial metals. The final Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed PolyMet sulfide mining project in northern Minnesota is expected in November. Subsequently, Gov. Mark Dayton will have a big decision to make. Presumably he will take matters like this into account.

You see, PolyMet recently released its second quarter financials, and it made just as much money in the last quarter as it has every quarter of its existence, going back to 1981.
None. Zero. Zip. Zilch. That’s thirty-six years of solid financial performance. That’s because PolyMet has never been a miner and has never operated a mine. All hat and no cattle, except without the hat…
That just leaves prominent underworld figure Glen Core to loan shark PolyMet out of the jam. After all, he’d done so several times in the past. But dealing with Glen Core always has a price: loss of equity by other shareholders, including Sen. Housley, because Glen always gets an equity spiff.
Glen Core is, of course, Glencore PLC. Glencore is the largest shareholder in PolyMet, and it is PolyMet’s Sugar Daddy, too. It has PolyMet tied up six ways till Sunday; it has loaned PolyMet millions and has a first lien position on everything that PolyMet owns.
But sadly, even the Sugar Daddy has fallen on hard times. The Business Insider reports that Glencore’s stock is on a skid, too, and that its credit rating is imperiled. Glencore stock is way off for the last year:

We may as well be ready for efforts during the next legislative session to hit up Minnesota taxpayers in general for subsidies to keep PolyMet going. Though they’ll presumably try the Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) first.


Boehner leaving and the TPP

by Dan Burns on September 30, 2015 · 0 comments

tpp2Regarding the following, I’m not that optimistic that we’ll now totally crush the horror that is the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership “trade” agreement. But it’s good news, in context.

We have heard so little about the Trans-Pacific Partnership over the past couple of months that you’d be forgiven for thinking that the Obama administration simply abandoned it. But (today), representatives from the 12 TPP nations assemble in Atlanta for a two-day meeting designed to produce a final agreement.
Previous “final” talks in Maui revealed multiple hurdles, from dairy markets to auto parts manufacturing to the length of prescription drug patents. But this Atlanta meeting was abruptly put together, suggesting progress on the sidelines. While nobody thought TPP could conclude before Canada’s parliamentary campaign ends Oct. 19, the New Zealand prime minister said Canada is “negotiating as if there’s no election.”
But even if negotiators work out a tentative agreement this week, the biggest announcement on TPP may have already happened. That would be last Friday’s resignation of House Speaker John Boehner.
Trade promotion authority, which allows the president to negotiate trade agreements and bring them to Congress for an expedited vote, barely passed the House earlier this year. Fifty-four Republicans voted against it, among them practically all the ringleaders of the campaign against Boehner – like Mark Meadows, R-N.C., who took the leadership role in ousting him; David Brat, the man who upset Eric Cantor and took his House seat; Jim Jordan, chairman of the anti-Boehner House Freedom Caucus; and 23 members of that caucus in all.

A recent World Trade Organization ruling against India’s push for solar energy is regarded as just a preview of the sort of corporate greedhead vileness that would become epidemic under the TPP.


nemn(Update: Rob Ecklund won.)
It’s for the seat left vacant in 3A by the recent passing of Rep. David Dill. I wrote about the DFL candidates here. The general election will be on Dec. 8.

MN Progressive Project does not, as an organization, endorse DFL candidates against one another. Individual contributors can do so on the blog, as long as we’re explicit that we’re typing only for ourselves. On that basis, I hereby note that Bill Hansen is a strong progressive, and the only DFL primary candidate who opposes sulfide mining, and if I lived in HD 3A I would crawl to the polling place on my hands and knees, if necessary, to vote for him today.

When the vote tally page shows up on the MN Secretary of State website, probably later this morning, I’ll link it here. Here’s the results page. Of course there won’t be numbers on it until after the polls close at 8PM. I would guess/hope that we’ll know who won by 10:30 or so, if not sooner. In the past results from up north have been known to really come slowly, but I think that’s been less of an issue the past couple of years. No guarantees, though.


Minnesota SD 35: Sen. Petersen leaving early

by Dan Burns on September 27, 2015 · 0 comments

petersen.brandonSen. Branden Petersen (R-Andover) is that rare elected Republican, these days, who shows that not every last one is a completely hopeless lost cause, intellectually and psychologically. Whether that will continue to be the case, for MN Senate representation from that district, is very much an open question.

A Republican sped up his planned exit from the state Senate, announcing Thursday he’ll resign this fall from the seat he had already opted not to again run for in 2016.
Sen. Branden Petersen said he’s been checked out of his legislative service for months and feels the district deserves a replacement who can serve the district better in time for the 2016 legislative session. The 29-year-old had been torn between foregoing re-election and resigning outright before announcing this summer he wouldn’t run for a second term — a decision, he said, rooted in a desire to focus on his young family and earn a better income…
Gov. Mark Dayton will call a special election for the seat. Four GOP candidates had already launched bids for a 2016 contest, including former Rep. Jim Abeler, who represented part of the area for eight terms in the House. Petersen said he wouldn’t make an endorsement.
(CBS Minnesota)

The district is red, but not impossible for a DFLer. Developers Are Crabgrass has informed commentary about possible-to-likely Republicans. I have not been able to find that there are any declared DFL candidates, yet, and I’m not going to speculate at this point.


stewartPresumably Mills and his backers believe that if he just avoids some of his past missteps he’ll get it done, this time. He already got his hair cut, though it doesn’t make him look any more, well, “congressional,” (cf. the image I used, here). And even by about September of 2014 somebody had apparently got through to him about the need to stop going off-script in public, so that he’d stop saying really foolish things. But I for one, and I do have plenty of company, don’t see him putting up much of a fight in a presidential year.

Some will probably be startled that he will blow more of his own money after whatever his failed run cost him in 2014. I don’t know how much he actually did spend, but I’m pretty sure that, entirely due to the circumstances of his birth, his (mostly unearned) income since has far exceeded it.
He may be thinking that even if he fails again here, he’s keeping his name out there for a possible gubernatorial run (or for U.S. Senate, if Amy Klobuchar retires) in 2018. But as far as governor goes, the MN GOP is beyond desperate, and I strongly suspect that the poobahs want the decks kept clear for House Speaker (until January 2017, probably) Rep. Kurt Daudt (R-Crown).
Stewart Mills III is Minnesota’s George W. (or, for that matter, Jeb) Bush. Both intellectually and psychologically an ultimate product of pampered privilege, he has absolutely no comprehension of what existence in this world is really like for the vast, vast majority of its human inhabitants. And therefore he couldn’t be more wrong for elective office.


MN-02: The John Kline replacement sweepstakes

by Dan Burns on September 24, 2015 · 2 comments

gopWhen Rep. John Kline (R-MN) announced his retirement, and many names were being thrown around by observers as potential replacements, I figured that I’d hold off for a while on blogging about it, and hopefully save myself considerable time and effort. Was I ever right, for a change.
To get the DFL side out of the way, first, Angie Craig and Mary Lawrence obviously have big head starts. Rep. Rick Hansen (DFL-St. Paul) expressed interest, but subsequently declined.

As far as Republicans go, this article is from yesterday:

Two Republicans are now competing to replace John Kline in Congress.
Former state Sen. John Howe on Tuesday joined David Gerson in seeking the Republican endorsement to run for Congress in the 2nd District next year…
At a recent tea party event in Red Wing, Gerson gave about two dozen people an update on his campaign. Dressed in a blue button-down shirt, jeans and a handgun on his hip, Gerson told the tea partyers that he wants Congress to defund Planned Parenthood and that he hopes to reduce the size and scope of the federal government…
Former state Sen. Ted Daley, former state Rep. Pam Myrha, state Rep. Tony Albright and Savage-based businessman Chris Andryski are other Republicans thinking about jumping into the race.

Those who I saw had their names thrown out there, and in at least most cases expressed interest at some point, but who have all now explicitly said no, include former Minnesota district judge and First Lady Mary Pawlenty, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty press secretary Brian McClung, State Reps. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa), Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington), and Roz Peterson (R-Lakeville), State Sens. Dave Thompson (R-Lakeville) and Eric Pratt (R-Prior Lake), U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s utterly hapless 2012 opponent Kurt Bills, and Sen. Al Franken’s 2014 opponent Mike McFadden. Nearly all of the preceding have lengthy records of utterances and actions that would have provided ample attack material for opponents. I thought that Pawlenty would have been a pretty strong candidate, though there could have been suspicion that she was just running on her last name working against her. I’ve also seen talk about state Sen. Julie Rosen (R-Fairmont), but no indication as to whether she is really considering it or not.

We’ll see what more shakes out in the next couple of weeks.
Image: Randy Molton.
Comment below fold.


St Paul School Board elections 2015

by Dan Burns on September 22, 2015 · 0 comments

Saint_paul_mnMy information, for who is running for the four at-large seats, is from here. There are nine candidates on the ballot. You can vote for up to four. Traditional voting, not RCV.

This article from the St. Paul Pioneer Press describes how the teachers union won big in DFL endorsements. Incumbents Anne Carroll, Keith Hardy, and Mary Doran were not endorsed. Zuki Ellis, Steve Marchese, Jon Schumacher, and Mary Vanderwert were.
– Aaron Benner attracted considerable attention for his criticisms of the district’s, in his opinion, inadequate disciplinary procedures. He has dropped out of the race, but too late to get his name off the ballot.
– Greg Copeland has run before. He’s a right-wing Republican.
– Here is Zuki Ellis’s campaign website, where she lays out her views clearly on a number of issues. Here’s a Facebook page.

– Linda Freeman is a teacher. Here’s a Facebook page.

– Keith Hardy is the incumbent vice-chair. Website here, Facebook here.

– Here are Steve Marchese’s website and Facebook.

– Scott Raskiewicz has run for other offices, including Minnesota governor. I couldn’t find an online presence for this campaign.
– Jon Schumacher’s website is here, and his Facebook is here.

– Ditto for Mary Vanderwert, here and here.

– Rashad Turner, a Black Lives Matter spokesman, has been endorsed by the Green Party as a write-in candidate.


canadaWell, we know that Americans can, and do, far too often. (OK, even once is far too often.) But in Canada, where in recent years conservatives have been winning national elections, there are grounds for hope. This article is from September 8; current data (from Canada’s version, kind of, of 538) shows the same situation.


After a month of campaigning, the three-way race for Canada’s Oct. 19 election has narrowed as warning signs emerge for Prime Minister Stephen Harper in his bid for a fourth consecutive term.
The incumbent Conservative has endured an explosive court case, talk of a recession and a refugee crisis that have eroded his traditional core platform planks: accountability and economic stewardship. Tom Mulcair of the leftist New Democratic Party and Justin Trudeau of the centrist Liberals, meanwhile, are each working to position themselves as the best alternative to Harper.
Polls have shown the three parties essentially tied — though one, published Monday night by Nanos Research, suggests Harper has sunk to third place. The deadlock may break as Canada emerges from an end-of-summer long weekend, with students returning to classrooms and workers settling back into routine.

A thriving Canada is good for the U.S. (especially bordering states like Minnesota), and vice versa. The likelihood of “thriving” in both countries substantially increases based on the degree to which governance is progressive. And that likelihood plummets when conservatives are in power.


spillGood deal, though there presumably will be an appeal. Background here.

An environmental impact statement must be completed for the controversial Sandpiper oil pipeline before Minnesota authorities can approve the project, the Minnesota Appeals Court ruled Monday.
The ruling (.pdf) overturned a June decision by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to grant the pipeline a so-called “certificate of need” that would have let Canadian pipeline company Enbridge move forward on the line…
Neither the company nor the PUC said whether it plans to appeal the court’s decision. Both say they plan to evaluate their options for next steps.

Comments below fold.