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Dan Burns

Both sides on the legislative pay amendment

by Dan Burns on October 27, 2016 · 0 comments

minnesota_state_capitolI looked around, and I’m presenting cogent arguments that I found for both “yes” and “no.” Here’s information on the amendment itself.

For nearly two decades, the Legislature has done the politically expeditious thing. It has not raised its own pay since 1997. Compensation for legislators has been stuck at a lean $31,140 a year, though legislators are also eligible for per-diem payments of up to $86 for senators and $66 for House members, and lodging reimbursement of up to $1,200 a month for those who must move to St. Paul during sessions.
That salary is not sufficient to attract the caliber of candidates this state’s government needs to fill a job that is billed as part time, but in reality is full time during sessions and part time for the rest of the year. Low compensation is complicating candidate recruitment, operatives in both parties confide. Over time, it risks populating the Legislature with people of independent means and/or those young enough — or desperate enough — to settle for a low-income job.
(Star Tribune)



Minnesota-State-CapitolFirst thing today, I need to shout out nothing but love for all of our DFL candidates, especially those that are working very hard in long-shot districts.
Rep. Tim Kelly (R-Red Wing) is leaving House 21A after a sex scandal. Our candidate is Lisa Bayley. The district goes D+1.

Invest in Education: A mother of two, Lisa knows a first class education is key to making Minnesota a place of innovation. She’ll fight to increase funding for early and K-12 education and supports plans to allow students to refinance college loans and reduce debt.
Work for our Seniors: As an attorney with a family law practice, Lisa sees the lack of care our seniors are receiving and the need to increase housing and assisted living choices. In St. Paul, she’ll cut through the red tape and work to ensure seniors have secure, affordable options in retirement, right here in our community.

The Republican candidate is Barb Haley. Her website’s issues page is terse, very non-specific boilerplate. In doing these posts I’ve noticed that that’s quite a popular approach among GOPers in competitive districts, this year.

Our candidate in 36A, in the NW metro, which goes R+2, is Kevin Parker.


MN-08: Hooting at that KSTP poll

by Dan Burns on October 24, 2016 · 2 comments

stewartjobHey, it’s possible that it’s right. Part of scientific thinking is that technically anything is “possible.” But when you’ve been following elections and polling for quite a while now, it’s OK to apply some experience-based common sense to the proceedings. That’s what I’m looking to do, here.
The polling was actually done by Survey USA, commissioned by KSTP. KSTP’s news is the closest local approximation to what Fox “News” is nationally, and the brand is owned by the extremely conservative and also extremely wealthy Stanley Hubbard.

In a rematch of one of the closest congressional races in the country two years ago, Republican Stewart Mills leads Democratic incumbent Rick Nolan by four points in Minnesota’s 8th District, 45 percent to 41 percent, in our exclusive KSTP/SurveyUSA poll…
However, even a superior get-out-the-vote operation might be more difficult in 2016 because the top of the Democratic ticket, Hillary Clinton, appears to be very unpopular in the 8th District. Our poll shows Republican Donald Trump with a 12-point lead over Clinton, 47 percent to 35 percent.

The Lake Superior-sized red flag is immediately apparent. President Obama won this district in 2012 by 5.5%, and we’re supposed to believe that this time it’s going to go for Trump by 12, at a time when Donald could well be looking at a double-digit landslide loss, nationally. While for all I know such a four-year swing in a congressional district anywhere would not be unprecedented, it is certainly extremely rare and would require extraordinary circumstances.
A far more likely explanation is that you get a number like that by massively overpolling Trump’s base of conservative old people. Which if you look at the polling internals you will see is exactly what they did.


Minneapolis school board election 2016

by Dan Burns on October 23, 2016 · 0 comments

minneapolis_skyline__heroMinneapolis has been, and remains, far and away the biggest pro-public schools vs. deformers stage in the state. This excellent article from Southwest Journal has candidate profiles and links to websites.

Four of the nine seats on the Minneapolis Public Schools Board of Education are up for general election on November 8, 2016. Incumbent Kim Ellison is running for the at-large seat, leaving her District 2 seat open for a newcomer. She faces challenger Doug Mann. The race for the open District 2 seat features candidates Kimberly Caprini and Kerry Jo Felder. In District 4, incumbent Josh Reimnitz is running against challenger Bob Walser. In her bid for re-election in District 6, incumbent Tracine Asberry faces challenger Ira Jourdain. In addition to choosing which candidates to add to the board, citizens of the district will vote on an operating referendum.

If you click that Ballotpedia link and scroll down some, you will also see information on the operating referendum question.
Ellison, Felder, Walser, and Jourdain are endorsed by the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers, and the DFL. According to the SW Journal article, they “see eye-to-eye on the issues and are running as a team.”
All that I can tell you for sure is that Reimnitz is a deformer. I don’t know who all may be getting deformer “dark” money in this election; I couldn’t find a convenient source for that, and I have neither the time nor the expertise to pore through individual campaign reports. Anyone who knows more is more than welcome to comment here or on our Facebook page. From their website it appears that Minnesota Comeback, the new face of the deformer movement in this state, hasn’t endorsed anybody. They just might realize that doing so could well be an electoral liability for any “favored” candidate(s).


Using the courts to screw working people

by Dan Burns on October 21, 2016 · 0 comments

greed2It’s long been a favored right-wing tactic, and it’s successful all too often. Though I’m reasonably confident that neither of these will be backed by the Minnesota Supreme Court, when they get that far.

Minneapolis small business owners are speaking out against a Minnesota Chamber of Commerce lawsuit challenging the city’s new earned sick and safe time ordinance.
“The ordinance that was passed represents a compromise that was negotiated and supported by a vast majority of our community, including small businesses like us,” said Andy Pappacosta, events coordinator at Gandhi Mahal and Main Street Alliance of Minnesota member. “This lawsuit is being led by a select number of businesses, and does not represent many small business owners who have deep roots in our community.”
On Friday, the Chamber announced it had filed suit in Hennepin County District Court to challenge the ordinance on the grounds it conflicts with state law.
In May, the Minneapolis City Council made history by passing the state’s first ordinance requiring employers to provide earned sick and safe time.
(Workday Minnesota)

A yearslong battle over unionization of personal care attendants continued Wednesday as a handful of them sued three state agencies, asserting state government has illegally withheld information they need in their drive to decertify the union that represents them.
The attendants trying to decertify the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) must produce thousands of signatures by December to force a vote on decertification. In their lawsuit, they claim that state agencies have refused to hand over the most recent and accurate lists of workers. Without it, they have been unable to find PCAs who might sign their petition to break up the union…
Myron Frans, Minnesota Management and Budget commissioner, said state officials are not allowed to turn over the data.
(Star Tribune)

Lest anyone think that second one is really just a few regular folks, without corporate backing and manipulation (from the same article):

Doug Seaton, an attorney who represents employers and has litigated against PCA unionization for several years, is representing the plaintiffs. The news conference on their behalf was organized by the Center of the American Experiment, a conservative think tank.


mn_capitolWes Volkenant is running in 35B, in the north metro. It’s R+9, but certainly doable this year.

If elected, Wes Volkenant will work to strengthen the public employee union process in Minnesota, fight for a stronger PERA and TRA, and vigorously oppose any Republican efforts to diminish teacher rights in the classroom and through the seniority process.

I wrote about this one late last year, when Volkenant declared. You can click to find out more about why Bachmannite Rep. Peggy Scott (R-Andover) doesn’t belong in political office. Click on this one, from Developers are Crabgrass, also.

Also in the north metro, Rep. Jerry Newton (DFL-Coon Rapids) is running for the open Senate seat in district 37, which goes D+1. This is not actually a “pickup opportunity,” as the race is to replace retiring Sen. Alice Johnson (DFL-Spring Lake Park), but I’m noting it anyway.

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Why I think the rural/urban divide is drivel

by Dan Burns on October 19, 2016 · 0 comments

farmhouseOK, not entirely “drivel.” It must be acknowledged that on the whole city and country residents have tended to vote differently. (It’s been that way for a long time, though one could well get the impression from establishment punditry that the “divide” has only become really fundamental to Minnesota politics pretty recently, just as things are really starting to look demographically bleak for conservatism. Coincidence, no doubt.) But the phrase “rural/urban divide” is primarily a misleading construct being used politically, especially by corporate media, to help continue to con people into voting for conservatives.
(It actually should be “rural/metro divide.” The idea is to keep outstate residents angry at the Twin Cities metro, which supposedly gets all of the political attention and goodies, and not at places like St. Cloud and Red Wing. But since “rural/urban” has been established as the standard, albeit a (probably deliberately) misleading one, it’s what I’m using here.)
My parents grew up on farms, which stayed in the families and where close relatives still live. I’ve sometimes lived in densely populated settings, but mostly in small-town ones. I suppose that this background helps fuel my take (which, as always, is just my take, not some pretense to complete, final, and absolute truth). Which is that when you get right down to it, people – people with families in particular – pretty much have the same problems and concerns, wherever they live. And they share the same kinds of frustrations when those are not being addressed. It’s not just inner-city public school infrastructure that needs a big upgrade. And plenty of metro streets and roads also drive like something out of Wagon Train. And everyone wants good jobs, wherever they live. And so on.


MN lege: Big DFL opportunities in the SE metro

by Dan Burns on October 17, 2016 · 0 comments

mn_capitolHouse 57A is the open seat vacated by Tara Mack. It’s the Apple Valley area, and goes D+1. Our candidate is Erin Maye Quade.

While there are a lot of promising things happening in Minnesota, our state has the worst racial disparities in the nation, and systemic inequalities are making it harder for some Minnesotans to get ahead. Our community is committed to the idea that no Minnesotan should face unjust barriers to achieving the Minnesotan dream of prosperity and opportunity. Erin will represent those values in the legislature; by ensuring that we have Equity Impact Statements on every piece of legislation, Erin will fight to make sure that the bills we pass lift up all Minnesotans.

The Republican candidate, Ali Jimenez-Hopper, has already indulged in some disgraceful baiting and blaming, which didn’t go over well.

John Huot is the DFLer running in 57B, which is R+1.


Minnesota-State-CapitolHouse 56B goes R+1. Our outstanding candidate is Lindsey Port.

I believe that if we work together, we can achieve common goals that strengthen our families and communities. I want to make critical investments and ensure workers have good jobs, paid family leave and sick time. That means fighting for better roads, universal pre-K and supporting new entrepreneurs.

One-term Rep. Roz Peterson (R-Lakeville) was the only Republican to flip a metro area seat in 2014, despite how that election went overall. That’s a fact that threw plenty of establishment pundits in the state for a loop, but as far as what’s important here and now – that is, what kind of representative she’s been, and would continue to be – here’s a little summary. (Peterson’s name came up as a possible replacement for Rep. John Kline in MN-02, is the context here.)

It is hard to imagine Peterson in Congress. Especially when she runs from any controversial vote that comes up. For instance, during the legislative debate on gun silencers that passed during the last session, an amendment came up that wanted to add background checks to private gun sales. Democrats wanted to make sure everyone was on the record with a vote on this. However when the call went out to retrieve the absent members to the floor, Rep. Roz Peterson had been excused for the day.
I doubt that anyone believed that Peterson was actually going to vote in the affirmative on the amendment, but this way she is not on the record and can keep her NRA rating intact, while telling her district that she has “never” voted against background checks.
Sure. That’s the type of person we want representing us in Congress.

In 50B, Andrew Carlson lost a very low turnout special election for this D+7 Bloomington seat. It’s time to set things right.


MN lege: DFL pickup opportunities in St. Cloud

by Dan Burns on October 12, 2016 · 0 comments

mn_capitolTo be precise, St. Cloud and its environs. In SD14, Sen. John Pederson is leaving, and Dan Wolgamott is our candidate for the open seat.

Since announcing he planned to run for state Senate more than a year ago, Dan Wolgamott has knocked on a lot of doors and had conversations with a lot of voters — about 3,000, at his last count.
The St. Cloud real estate agent known for his outgoing personality and booming voice believes his hard work will pay off in his quest to be the next District 14 senator, despite the district’s Republican leanings.
“People are just tired and cynical of the good ol’ boys’ club,” the DFL candidate said. “They want somebody that’s going to bring a fresh perspective, bring some energy, bring some accountability and work together to get things done for us.”

This seat goes D+1. The right-wing Republican candidate is Jerry Relph. Some sources also reference a libertarian candidate named Steven Zilberg, but I don’t know whether he’s really on the ballot or not.
In 14A we have Zach Dorholt. He’s served in the House before. At D+4 this seat is begging – begging, I tell you – to be flipped.