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Grace Kelly

Minnesota winter1I wrote this for DailyKOS, where you can also comment and recommend it. I write this because I really do think we in Minnesota have come up with better campaign strategies.


If you look at Yougov survey of state rankings, then you will see that Minnesota is ranked 18th in scoring on progressive issues. Minnesota was behind Wisconsin and Michigan. Yet Minnesota is doing better in elections. Why? While even Minnesota can improve what we do, I do think that we have significant differences from national trends in campaigning.

Proud to be a Democrat, Proud of Democratic Leadership and Proud of Democratic Policies


When Democrats are proud to be Democrats and proud of Democratic policies, then we win. Minnesota did lose significant house seats in rural house districts where there is less spoken in that strong kind of pride. Minnesota was especially strong on comparing itself favorably to Wisconsin, where Minnesota’s choice of Democratic policy and leadership has really helped the Minnesota economy. Duh, Obama is one of our greatest speakers. How did we ever get talked into not using him? On every poll, Democratic policies score higher, why wouldn’t one run on winning numbers?


People Power vs Money Power


Doorknocking is the key to success. Whenever possible the Minnesota Democrats hit every door in highly-Democratic, high-turnover districts. Minnesota held key seats in areas where that strategy was used. In rural areas, getting to every door is not easily done, so this strategy cannot be used there. The money power is getting scary high with state races now going to a million dollars with outsider money. Yet 20 dedicated people doorknocking every weekend can hold against the money. We say thank you to our dedicated people often, they are the heroes of our party.

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the stanek waySheriff Stanek is taking credit for the 36% drop in violent crime rate, which is NOT a credible claim. Stanek twitted that “Violent crime is down 36% in Hennepin County since I was first elected Sheriff.” with a campaign video saying the same. Sheriff Stanek’s office direct polices less than 1% of the population. Sheriff Stanek’s office only did 676 arrests of the 45,000 arrests done in Hennepin county in the year 2013. Indeed the challenger Eddie Frizell has more of a claim as an assistant chief in the Minneapolis Police force. The Minneapolis police made about 21,000 arrests of the 45,000 arrests done in Hennepin county. Indeed the crime rate has been falling everywhere in the past 20 years: homicides dropped 51 percent, property thefts dropped 64 percent. Sheriff Stanek could just as credibly claim responsibility for bringing down the crime rate everywhere, not just Hennepin county.


Sheriff Stanek taking credit for other people’s work is not new. Stanek tried to take all the credit for the handling of 35W bridge collapse which involved many agencies. Yet he spent $30,000 on a video to showcase his role. Actually Minneapolis Deputy Chief Rob Allen was the unified incident commander at the site.


Maybe Sherif Stanek should just take credit for what his office actually reports out as Key Results in Hennepin County 2014 Budget Document:


Number of police/fire/medical calls dispatched: 647,679
Number of jail bookings: 35,910 Number of court security escorts : 33,552
Number of crime scene responses: 2,964
Number of mortgage foreclosure sales: 2,596


One can see that the Sheriff’s office is providing support services to policing. The real question is does the contributions that Sheriff Stanek’s office makes – dispatching a phone call, holding someone in jail, escorting a person to court, responding in a crime scene or foreclosing on a mortgage allow Sheriff Stanek to take credit for 36% drop in violent crime rate? This is a contribution, but I think taking the full credit is going too far. It is just like taking all the credit for 35W bridge collapse.


We could look at what Sheriff Stanek has claimed in news coverage for big improvements that his office made in local policing.


On April 23, 2013, the Sun Post reported the purchase of a $400,000 super-armored vehicle. Military-grade armor covered 360 degrees of the vehicle. Do you believe the use of this heavily armored vehicle going through the streets of Hennepin county was a significant contribution to the 36% drop in violent crime rate?


On September 18, 2013, in Star Tribune, Sheriff Stanek claimed that “I have seen firsthand in Hennepin County that there is a direct connection between marijuana and violent crime.” Do you believe that Staneks tough policy on the prosecution of marijuana cases was a significant contribution to the 36% drop in violent crime rate?


Indeed one can question Stanek leadership. when the Hennepin County deputies endorsed Rich Stanek’s opponent, Eddie Frizell, by nearly 8-to-1 margin. Indeed instead of armored car theatrics and being featured on opinion pages, Eddie Frizell offers a working-on-the-streets kind of leadership.


Frizell says “Our County desperately needs leadership that will work in close partnership with local agencies and community leaders. We must have a boots on the ground, community Sheriff that spends time working in the jails, riding in squad cars, patrolling with deputies on our waters, and sitting with 911 dispatchers. Solving the morale crises that Sheriff Stanek has neglected over the past 8 years is the only way we will build the type of organization that attracts the best in law enforcement and continues to reduce crime.”


Two pictures emerge: Stanek’s armored car patrolling streets or Frizell sitting next to a 911 dispatcher.


I believe that a Sheriff that manages people better would be a better choice than a Sheriff who likes to buy expensive toys.


What do you think?
Comments below fold.


Minnesota DFL Beats Expectations

by Grace Kelly on October 28, 2014 · 0 comments

According to a Yougov/CBS poll The DFL in Minnesota should not be doing as well electorally as it is doing. Note that we are listed in the chart below behind Wisconsin and Michigan in scoring on progressive issues. I think the explanation must be that the DFL does better campaigning. When I personally crunched the numbers given in the spreadsheet to compare Minnesota to an average of all the states, Minnesota did not stand out that much.


Yougov Poll Results


The good news in the governors race first:




Mark Dayton 47%
Jeff Johnson 39%




Mark Dayton 46%
Jeff Johnson 31%


Only 33% indicated that they could change their mind in this race. Of course, this race may be closer because getting Democrats to actually vote is always an issue. In my personal doorknocking experience, Dayton is seen favorably because the Minnesota/Wisconsin comparison is hitting home.


The good news in the senators race next:




Al Franken 47%
Mike McFadden 39%




Al Franken 49%
Mike McFadden 34%


According to the polling, the ads are favoring Al Franken. I especially like the ad where the the guy says look at the place behind me with no jobs. McFadden is getting stuck with being an outsourcing Republican.


More likely to vote for Al Franken 34%
More likely to vote for Mike McFadden 29%
No difference 37%


Strangely even though the Democrats lead, the generic preference is slightly Republican.


19. Which party would you like to see control Congress after the election?


Democrats 43%
Republicans 45%
Don’t care 12%


Issues are also queried in this poll. Only 13% of respondents believe in never having abortions which is good news. People believe that our state economy is better. 41% people oppose the Tea Party compared to the 19% who support them. 61% of people believe that economic system favors the wealthy. 49% want to kick out illegal immigrants. 49% of the people still just want to cut taxes while the rest while 40% most favor a mixture of raising taxes and cutting spending. 52% favor gay marriage.


This poll is weighted toward likely voters and does have more 3% more men that I would expect, so therefore any work that the DFL has done to encourage new voters may not be reflected in the results. This year 15% of voters expect to early vote or absentee vote which should help DFL results. This is the GOTV battleground year.



Joe Murphy, a Smart Practical City Council Person

by Grace Kelly on October 27, 2014 · 0 comments

Joe Murphy 2Joe Murphy is running for Vadnais Heights city council as an incumbent. I worked with Joe Murphy when he was a assistant at Ramsey County. I found him to be smart and practical, with sound financial sense. He is one of those people that I always hope that we have in political office. Here are Murphy’s answers to our standard questions:


1) What is your background?


I grew up in Shoreview, graduated from Totino Grace High School in 1988 and then graduated from Bethel University with a Bachelor’s degree in political Science in 1993. After graduation, I went to work in the financial services business where I am presently a senior representative with Comprehensive Financial Resources. I married my wife Sarah in 2000 and we have lived in Vadnais Heights since 1999 with our yellow lab Lily. I worked as the Principle Assistant to Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett from 1997 until 2012 and I have been a member of the Vadnais Heights City Council since being elected in 2006. I am currently the senior council member, member of the finance committee, and acting mayor. In my free time I am a volunteer on two local non-profit boards in our area. I am a Trustee on the Merrick Inc. Board of Trustees where we help developmental disabled adults find meaningful work in our community. I am also a board member on the Northeast Youth and Family Services board which helps provide teenagers and young adults with metal health counseling services in the White Bear Lake, Roseville, and Mounds View school districts.

2) What are the three main issues or values that are key to your campaign?


The three biggest issues before our city are:


• continuing to develop and redevelop our city in a thoughtful way that brings new residents into Vadnais Heights


• continuing to hire competent, qualified, highly educated professionals that work with the city council


• ensuring policies and procedures that treat all of our residents equally regardless of how long a resident has lived in town or whom they know


Also, we must continue to add senior housing facilities into our mix of housing options. I have been a strong advocate for our first ever senior housing project the Gable Pines that is currently being constructed on Co Rd. E. and will open in August of 2015.


3) Who is your political hero and what qualities would you strive to emulate?


My political hero is my former boss Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett. Tony is a good and decent person that always treated people fairly and with respect. He was the best example I know as a true public servant to his community.


4) Since the politics involves negotiation of competing interests, please give an example where you successfully negotiated a difficult problem among multiple parties.


My best example of an issue where we had to bring multiple parties together to get something done our the Gable Pines senior housing project. We had opposition from the adjoining neighborhood as well as the neighboring community and it also included working with multiple businesses on a land swap to get the best location for the project.


5) Please provide an example where you stood up for people or for rights against a powerful organization.


I was part of a team of residents that stood up to the corrupt Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher by publically supporting Matt Bostrom for Ramsey County Sheriff. As anyone who knows Ramsey County politics, knows that Bob Fletcher is the biggest bully and we beat him 58% to 42%.


6) Please tell us why your campaign is better choice (i.e. more organized, works harder, works smarter) with specifics?


I am running for re-election because I like to help people get things done. My opponent is now former Ramsey County sheriff Bob Fletcher who is only running as he has said many times to elected officials, labor leaders, and residents so the Mr. Murphy loses. He is a vindictive person who does not like to be challenged. Over the years as Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett’s assistant I challenged him at a staff level and very publicly as a council person in Sheriff Bostrom in election in 2010. I have over 200 signs up, and by election day I will have either mailed, insert into the local paper, and or drop 20,000 pieces of positive campaign literature, and I will have also knocked on more doors that all of the three other candidates combined.


7) Please tell us how you as an elected official or your campaign would help other DFL endorsed candidates get into office?


I have been endorsed by Congresswomen Betty McCollum, Ramsey County Sheriff Matt Bostrom, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi, State Representative Jason Isaacson and White Bear Lake School Board member Don Mullin. I have worked closely with all of these elected officials and continue to do so during this re-election cycle. I have been also endorsed by each of the trades and labor professions, along with the public employee unions.


8) How would you keep your constituents informed about issues and what you are doing?


As a council member I am the most active member of the Vadnais Heights City Council attending most if not all of our public meetings and civic events throughout the year. I regularly write informational articles in the Vadnais Heights press to our residents and have been featured many times in our city newsletter communicating city policy to the residents. I like to keep in touch with our residents. I believe strongly that it is a big part of being a council member.



The Courage of Still Being Hopeful

by Grace Kelly on October 26, 2014 · 1 comment

Many of you know that I had frequently styled myself as the Curmudgeon. A friend of mine challenged me on this referring to the definition of curmudgeon as “ill tempered”. It is bad branding. Sadly I do agree. But I am going to miss that title. When no one wanted to listen to my voice, the branding of Curmudgeon allowed me to speak. A curmudgeon is not shushed, is not scared off and does not just go away. But yes, there is that “ill tempered” branding. And yes, people who have met me are surprised that I am a nice person.


More over I think in taking on the branding of curmudgeon, it allowed me to give up hope. If everything is all bad anyway, then one can give up hope and just make snarky comments. All that the bad guys need to win, if the good guys to give up hope and stop trying. Staying in for the long haul is the discipline that wins in politics. And I am always going to be doing something to make a difference.


Yet I must admit that my friend calling me on the name of curmudgeon, was a case of application of


How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?


All this time, I had complained of the greens and peacemakers who simply have meetings among themselves making snarky comments about others, especially Democrats. See if one believes there is no hope then one is relieved of the burden of being politically active. While I am certainly politically active, I must admit the hope is running on empty. Climate change is my challenge to hope. It takes more discipline to believe and hope in times of adversity.


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Questioning Sheriff Stanek High Travel Expenses

by Grace Kelly on October 25, 2014 · 6 comments

Previously, I reported that Sheriff Stanek’s projected 2014 budget is $92 million, which is $43 million larger than Ramsey County’s projected 2014 budget of $49 million. Hennepin is way above every other urban county.


At the same time, Stanek has the smallest population of any urban Sheriff in Minnesota to directly police. Hennepin County is unique in that it is comprised of cities that all have their own police forces. Less than 1% of the population is directly policed by the Hennepin Sheriff Rich Stanek. The other urban counties have more population being directly policed by the Sheriff.


This graph shows the glaring the differences between Hennepin and other urban counties in 2012 numbers. In comparing urban county Sheriff Budgets, one would expect that the budget is high when the amount of direct policing and reported crimes is high. Hennepin county is the opposite. Given the numbers on direct policing, one could easily make a case that Hennepin’s budget should below Ramsey County’s budget.


Kelly Sheriff Budget Comparison


So if Sheriff Stanek money is not being spent on policing, where is the money being spent? Today Eddie Frizell, the Minneapolis Deputy Chief running against Stanek gave us all a clue. Frizell’s press release said:


Reports show that within the past 2 years, Sheriff Stanek has traveled extensively while neglecting the communities that matter in Hennepin County. “Just in the past 3 years of his term, the Sheriff has charged over $54,000 in tax payer money to his county issued credit card for over 40 flights and 30 hotels for numerous conferences and out of town meetings,” stated Frizell. “Between the money spent on travel and his administrative costs being doubled, this is money that could spent in other areas of the organization. To me, this doesn’t justify “sound and principled stewardship of taxpayers’ resources”. Hennepin County is best served by electing a community Sheriff that leads from right here at home and November 4th is the voters chance to make a difference,” added Frizell.


A brief look at the list of travel charges leads one to start asking questions:
1) On 01/23/2012, $2,244.20 was spent at “MARRIOTT 33769” in Washington DC, for the purpose of “JW DC NSA Conf Hotel – Stanek.” A online website lookup of this hotel says that the daily room changes range from $229 to $429. So it appears that Stanek took the most expensive room for 5 days. Is it the policy to take the most expensive room?

2) The number of Sheriff conferences seems high. Why did Stanek go to the WESTERN sheriffs conference?
3) On 03/22/2012, $1,327.20 was spent at Delta Air on a flight for and “Flight to DC and PHX”. Aren’t DC and Phoenix in the opposite directions from Minneapolis? Currently Delta Air round trips delta flights from Minneapolis to Washington are $559 first class. So was this charge for two round trip first class tickets?

4) On 08/14/2012, $183.98 was spent on a “Dinner with Fed Partners” at Sunsets Wayzata. An expensive meal at Wayzata’s Sunset restaurant would be $30. So did Staneck buy meals for 6 “Fed Partners”? Why didn’t “Fed Partners” use their own expense account?
And those questions are only from the first half page, the list goes on.
Stanek is Republican, so we shouldn’t be surprised that he spends other people’s money lavishly.
Comments below fold.


holding accountable magnifying glassBoth Minneapolis Mayor Hodges and Chief Harteau are committed to changing the culture of the Minneapolis police into more of community police force. The police abuse has violated community trust. Chief Harteau even called in the federal Justice Department to put on more pressure to change. The Star Tribune describes the conclusions:


A year ago, the chief asked the federal Justice Department to conduct an independent assessment of the department’s officer oversight and discipline process. The yearlong study, conducted by the Office of Justice Programs Diagnostic Center, pointed to a need to revamp its “Early Intervention System” and take a more data-driven approach to helping supervisors identify problem cops and provide them with additional training.


While the St Paul force does better, it still had a large settlement for alleged police misconduct by three officers, Diskerud, Sullivan and Whitney. The start of the incident was merely the stop of suspicious vehicle near University and Avon avenue, not a crime in progress. When the person that they wanted to question fled, the officers used their fists, feet and a flashlight to hospitalize that person for several weeks. Apparently the officers forgot they had tazers. Once a police target is down, every extra blow looks suspiciously like police abuse. This incident had many extra blows.


St Paul police force has 600 officers, where 99% act in a way that has built community trust over many years. Indeed when a St Paul police officer shot the wrong person years ago, the community was unhappy but there were no riots or even protests. Over years, many actions by many officers built that kind of trust. Yet there are still problem officers like Diskerud, Sullivan and Whitney that bring down the reputation of the whole St Paul Police department.



DSCN6270In the Hennepin County Sheriff’s race, the most telling endorsement is that the deputies DO NOT want the current Sheriff Stanek. Given the risk on that endorsement, I am glad that a labor union, AFSCME Council 5,  has stepped up to also back Eddie Frizell for Sheriff. Sheriff Stanek’s impressive list of endorsements dwindle to no importance when most of them were collected when there was only a single candidate in the race. Research on my part found little excitement from current Stanek endorsements.


What is really strange is that Republican blogs like True North are complaining about the DFL endorsement. They say things about the Hennepin DFL central committee not being large enough, so I wonder just how large and well attended the GOP meetings are. I say that tongue-in-cheek because I know they are not well attended. For years, GOP has done an endorsement of Stanek in a non-partisan race. Now finally the DFL has stepped up to endorse in the Sheriff’s race.


I am so glad the GOP is claiming Staneck because they can now also claim his spendthrift overspending ways. No other Sheriff spends so much for so little.



Carrie W1The Ramsey Conservation District (RCD) is commonly called the water board. The board protects the quality of lakes and drinking water from storm runoff. Controlling water runoff also conserves our good top soil. The board encourages people to have rain gardens that trap rain and redirect back into building back up our water table. Since water is our most critical resource, the people who serve on this board are unnoticed heroes.


Carrie Wasley is running for re-election. She received the Public Service Award from Friends of the Parks and Trails of St. Paul and Ramsey County! Here are her answers to our standard questions:


1) What is your background? How does this background make you the better choice for the office you are running for?


I have done extensive non-profit and government board work and work well with others on an individual board’s agenda. The Ramsey Conservation District (RCD) Board of Supervisors have established a team approach to our responsibilities. Over the last four years we have regained financial stability and we are now recognized as a knowledgeable and effective county asset. The RCD staff are dedicated technicians and policy experts. Together the Supervisors and staff work well back and forth on critical issues.


2) What are the three main issues or values that are key to your campaign?


The three main values or issues that are key to my campaign are accessibility, teamwork and energy.


Accessibility – The mission statement of the RCD is to be the bridge between conservation agencies and Ramsey County citizens and local governments to sustain our natural resources through partnerships, technical services and education. It is inherent for the RCD’s purpose to be accessible.


Teamwork – It is critically important that citizens and other conservation staff people feel that they are treated with respect, without doubletalk and effectively. This has not always been the case with the RCD but starting about four years ago the Supervisors decided to think first about the citizens and what we were trying to give them in education and effective programs instead of obfuscation and condescension. The past four years have seen a turn-around in teamwork and outreach into the community.


Energy – Each year the RCD grows larger and larger with dedicated staff promulgated on successful grant funding. This is because there is an energy both technically but also in interacting with professional people across the county. This energy is a critical factor in the success of the RCD over the past four years.


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The Mimics Who Live Off the Real

by Grace Kelly on September 21, 2014 · 0 comments


In nature, defense is hard word. One type of snake develops venom, it is effective but it is also a great investment in resources. So the snake develops a color pattern, a distinctive brand to save all the effort of actually having to use the venom. The mimic snake develops the same color pattern as the original snake, essentially being protected by the hard work of the venomous snakes. In very hard times, the mimic snake will live because it does not have the extra hard work of producing the venom. Mimics are cheats and freeloaders. Mimics also force the original snakes to have to use their venom more often because the mimics are teaching the world threat of the color pattern is not a real threat.


In business, we constantly have good quality services and goods being mimicked by cheap knock offs. That is why branding is protected. It so much cheaper to pretend to be something than to really be that something. Marketing became the science of lying. The consumer is constantly sifting through the real and unreal. Indeed business has a hard time rewarding the true value of work.


In the world of ideas, there is real original content and the mimicry which is noise. Remember when journalism was a reporter writing about first hand experiences. Then the AP service came along, where newspaper basically became repeaters of information. The more that noise enters a process, the more the original content providers lose. Original blogs were high content. When content became good enough, newspapers mimicked blogging. Then sales sites mimicked blogging. It became difficult to find the original content and original blogs are dying. Facebook is going through the same evolution from useful to clogged with the useless. “Monetize” is a way of turning real content to noise.