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Sandy_Hook_Gun_Tragedy_Tim_Walz_NRA_CandidateWhat is the difference between a dozen dead second graders and a dozen dead high school students?
 
The high school students’ best friends will be able to vote next year.
 
And no, I will not apologize for the strong words and horrifying imagery. It is time for strong words and horrifying imagery.
 
I am facing a number of different poltical choices this year. Some of them come in two weeks at the Minnesota DFL (Democratic Party) Convention in Rochester. I’m a delegate, and I will be casting my vote to endorse two US Senate candidates, the State Auditor, the State Attorney General, the Secretary of State, and the Governor. Recently, I was engaged in the endorsement decision for my US House District, and my local state House Representative is up for election.
 
Filtering out races that are fait accompli, there are three people running that I am firmly committed to NOT vote for, and to work against in any way possible, because of their contribution to America’s gun-hungry, gun-happy, gun-crazy culture.
 
They are, in order of geographical zone covered by their potential purview as an elected official:
 
Tim Walz, currently in the US House representing Minnesota’s first district, now running for the endorsement for Governor of Minnesota; Erik Paulsen, running for re-election to the US House, and Sarah Anderson, running for re-election to the Minnesota House.
 
I can not vote in early June for Tim Walz’s endorsement because for the last 12 years he maintained an A rating form the NRA, took their money, voted mostly as they told him to vote, and made numerous public statements in support of this gun culture.
 
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enbridgeHere’s some wonderful, uplifting corporate citizenship.
 

The state of Minnesota has repeatedly overvalued Enbridge Energy’s oil pipeline system, a state Tax Court judge ruled Tuesday, possibly leaving several counties on the hook to pay tens of millions of dollars in tax refunds…
 
Enbridge’s pipelines traverse 13 northern Minnesota counties, and some of them count on Enbridge for a large portion of their tax base. At least two counties — Clearwater and Red Lake — could end up refunding more money than they raise annually from all of their taxpayers.
(Star Tribune)

Enbridge reported a 2017 pre-tax profit of $10,317 million.
 
My suggestion, and I’m sure I’m not the only one making it, is that we do all we can to turn this into a PR nightmare for Enbridge. They deserve it.
 

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319484_10150274658633247_1013005_nPlease, please stick to your guns on this.
 

Gov. Mark Dayton issued an ultimatum Monday as the Legislature’s session entered its final week: Without emergency funding for schools he won’t cut a tax deal. Republicans said they wouldn’t meet his demand…
 
“My position is that I will not engage in any negotiations on a tax bill or sign any tax bill until we have an agreement to provide emergency school aid,” Dayton said, stressing that his proposal is needed to stop schools from shedding staff or ditching programs.
(MPR)

Update: As of Thursday morning, Governor Dayton is indeed sticking to his guns. Which is a great thing, for all Minnesotans, even if too many haven’t the sense to realize that.
 
A reality check on Minnesota school funding, and other remarks, below the fold.
 
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The Uptake’s Mike McIntee and political and media consultant Jack Rice weigh in on international politics, Iran, Korea, the current president, the Republican Party, Democrats and Minnesota politicians Tina Smith, Richard Painter and Tim Pawlenty.  Their discussion provides smart advisories for former Governor Pawlenty, Senator Smith and Painter, DFLers and GOPers. McIntee (AM950 Radio- weekdays at 4 pm) is arguably the most alert, informed and best interviewer working electronic media; Rice is at the top of his game as an informed, perceptive and articulate analyst. The May edition of Democratic Visions is the first of our high def offerings.

 

Democratic Visions on cableTV

Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Edina, Hopkins, Richfield, Comcast Channel 15 — Sundays at 9 p.m., Mondays at 10:00 p.m., Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 2 p.m.

 

Bloomington – BCAT Channel 16 — Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m.; Fridays at 9:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. & 2:30 p.m.

 

Minneapolis – MTN Channel 16 — Sundays at 8:30 p.m., Mondays 3:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. Programs are streamed during airings.

 

Champlin, Anoka, Ramsey, Andover – QCTV Community Channel 15 Fridays at 1 p.m., Saturdays 10:30 a.m. Sundays at 11:30 p.m., Mondays at 10:30 a.m., Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m., Thursdays at 1 p.m.

About Democratic Visions

Democratic Visions is hand made by Edina, Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Hopkins and Bloomington lefties. Our program is not financially supported or endorsed by any political party, political action committee or special interest group.  We operate through Southwest Community Television and produce the studio portions of our series at the Bloomington Community Access Television facility.

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MN lege: GOP gun bills are a feeble ploy

by Dan Burns on May 8, 2018 · 0 comments

minnesota_state_capitolSome Republicans in Minnesota are trying to cover their electoral behinds. Indications so far are that suburban GOPers will be at particular risk, nationwide, in November.
 

Two Republican lawmakers from Minneapolis suburbs proposed bills Wednesday that encourage private gun sales to go through background checks and would tighten gun access for people convicted of domestic assault.
 
Rep. Sarah Anderson of Plymouth and Rep. Jenifer Loon of Eden Prairie are co-sponsoring the bills, which they say are an effort to keep guns out of the hands of ineligible and potentially dangerous people. One bill would shield private sellers from criminal liabilities if they sell a gun later used in a crime.
 
The other involves several small tweaks to how guns can be taken from people after a court order, including requirements for sheriff’s offices to follow up with the court. Courts would also be required to hold hearings for people who have their guns taken and also are guaranteed a hearing within three days under the proposal…
 
Rep. Dave Pinto, a Democrat from St. Paul, said the recent proposals were “mildly encouraging.” But he said they fall short in addressing gun violence compared to requiring background checks and creating legal paths to temporarily remove guns from dangerous or mentally unstable people that he and other lawmakers have pushed for.
(Pioneer Press)

Also note:
 

A work requirement for many people receiving Minnesota’s version of Medicaid: To the surprise of some, Republicans left their proposal out of the budget bills that passed off the House and Senate floors.
(MPR)

 
There are plenty of assertions out there that Minnesota will somehow be the big exception to the blue wave. Many seem to be based on a poll back in January showing Trump job approval barely underwater in the state. Anyone at all familiar with the history of Mason-Dixon polling for the Star Tribune knows about how seriously to take that.
 
That being said, Trump in the White House is a vile, obscene indicator of just how degraded and corrupt our politics (and the corporate media that “cover” them) have become, and I won’t be truly confident of a blue wave until I see it. But based on the above, Minnesota Republican legislators don’t seem to share that view.
 

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cornChances are that it will be voted on in a couple of weeks, give or take. I’m just blockquoting two of the strikes, of the six listed in the article.
 

1. The Rich Get Richer – The House farm bill creates new loopholes that further tilt farm subsidies toward the largest, most successful farm businesses and away from small family farmers. The bill would allow cousins, nieces and nephews of farmers to receive subsidies even if they don’t live or work on the farm. A recent report by the Department of Agriculture found that the share of subsidies claimed by the biggest farms has tripled since 1991, and H.R. 2 would make this problem worse.
 
2. The Poor Get Poorer – The same bill that enriches the largest and most successful farmers will also cause more than 1 million low-income households – more than 2 million people, including working families with children – to lose their food-assistance benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or have them reduced. The bill includes unworkable job training requirements that will place new burdens on states and leave many poor Americans without food assistance.
(AgMag)

Sixty votes are required in the Senate, so some of the really atrocious stuff about, for example, food stamps and work requirements probably will have to be dropped to get it through, there. Probably.
 
Related material:
 

Dairy farmers in the United States are paid by the hundredweight—that’s 100 pounds of milk, about 12 gallons. Milk prices, after peaking in 2014, have plummeted to roughly $15 per hundredweight, forcing many dairy farmers to operate in the red. Tina Carlin, executive director of Farm Women United and a Pennsylvania farmer herself, says the cost of production ranges from $22 to $25 per hundredweight. “We wouldn’t need the suicide hotline, we wouldn’t need the mental health services, if dairy farmers were getting paid what they deserve to be paid,” Carlin says. She and her husband quit dairy farming in 2012, switching to beef and vegetable crops.
 
As president of Farm Women United, Cochran is lobbying Congress alongside Carlin to institute a $20 emergency floor price on every hundredweight of milk. The women have also advocated public hearings, but with little progress so far.
(Mother Jones)

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Ramsey County: Keep Your Friends Close …

by Invenium Viam on May 1, 2018 · 0 comments

Ramsey County Sheriff Badge

 

“Don’t it always seem to go,
That you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone?”

                    Big Yellow Taxi, Joni Mitchell

 

There is enormous power in political activism, although that power is not always readily apparent. Next Sunday, a handful of activists will decide what the future of policing in the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office will look like for at least the next four years.

 

On May 6, at the Ramsey County DFL Convention, delegates will decide who to endorse for the county sheriff’s race. It promises to be a lively affair. Because St. Paul is so heavily Democratic, whoever wins the endorsement is a good bet to win the election, provided no ‘unknown-unknowns’ come to light in the meantime.

 

This is one of those occasions when the power of political activism is readily apparent. It is, simply put, the power to shape the future, the power to choose one embodiment of the future over another.

 

Will it look like the department built by Sheriff Matt Bostrom, a department that instituted character-based hiring, community-based policing, and other benevolent policies that, in a few short years, have earned it a similar kind of reverence and beloved status – though not yet similar in degree – to that which the St. Paul Police have enjoyed for decades? Will that foundation of trust and goodwill be carried forward to greater achievements by Sheriff Bostrom’s protege and former second-in-command, Sheriff Jack Serier? Will the moral courage and sense of mission that comes from benevolent vs. militaristic policing that emboldened Sheriff Serier to offer police services to Falcon Heights after the tragic Philando Castile shooting (when no other local police department would) continue unabated and allowed to grow into an even greater, ever-more-valuable asset of the community?

 

Or will the residents of Ramsey County and the City of St. Paul be subjected to all the Sturm und Drang of their sister city across the river including brutality, civil rights and wrongful death lawsuits; inter-departmental and inter-agency lawsuits, frequent oustings of Chiefs of Police, and multi-million dollar payouts to litigants? After all, the City of Minneapolis has been trying – mostly unsuccessfully – to change the internal culture of its police force since Chief Tony Bouza was recruited from the NYPD for that very purpose w-a-a-a-y back in 1980.

 
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The fine mess that Enbridge Line 3 has become

by Dan Burns on April 30, 2018 · 1 comment

enbridge2The saga of the highly controversial Enbridge Line 3 replacement/rerouting proposal took another turn last week.
 

Administrative law judge Ann O’Reilly issued a non-binding recommendation on (April 23) that Minnesota regulators should approve the pipeline, but only if it runs along the current route and not Enbridge Energy’s preferred new path.
(MPR)

 
– Also from that article, Gov. Mark Dayton says that is not feasible. (Dayton is not opposed to the project. Though he has, bless his heart, said he’ll veto a bill from the GOP-controlled Minnesota legislature that would allow Enbridge to basically bypass the rest of the review process and start whenever they want to.)
 

– The ruling would likely strengthen the positions of affected Native Americans.

 
– Enbridge very much wants to stick with its plan.

 
So we’ll see.
 
Comment below fold.
 
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Maybe we should just let Trump take credit for Korea

by Eric Ferguson on April 28, 2018 · 1 comment

Screen grab from the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) shows Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in shaking hands at  Panmunjom.

Screen grab from the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) shows Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in shaking hands at Panmunjom.

Sure, it’s annoying when Trump claims credit for something he didn’t do, much like when Trump incoherently claimed credit for the Pyeongchang Olympics, and, it should be predictable if you’re paying any attention, Trump now wants to claim credit for North and South Korea talking peace.

 

Sure, here in the reality-based community, it’s hard to forget it was just last Winter that the offer by the North to talk peace with the South was supposed to be just an attempt to “drive a wedge” between South Korea and the US. If this is what driving a wedge looks like, drive away! Korea has been one of places World War III is most likely to break out ever since the country was divided after World War II. If they’re going to talk about formally ending the war and demilitarizing the border, the best thing we could hope for is Trump shuts up and gets out of the way.
 

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abanschoolTwo items.
 

“I thought this just happened to me.”
 
That’s the refrain from dozens of teachers who reached out to NPR — via email and social media — in response to our investigative story about serious problems with a federal grant program that, they say, have left them unfairly saddled with thousands of dollars of debts they shouldn’t have to pay.
(MPR)

Surprising results from a new survey of teachers reveal the depth of “financial strain” classroom professionals face. These include high levels of college debt, stagnation of already subpar pay, increasing housing and childcare costs, rising health insurance premiums and prescription costs, and escalating out-of-pocket expenses for their own classroom supplies.
 
More than half of the respondents resorted to second jobs to try to close the gap between what their teaching jobs paid versus their actual cost of living.
 
The revelation teachers are financially struggling wasn’t what was surprising about the survey. Recent news of teacher “red-state rebellions” in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Arizona have brought great depths of attention to the economic plight of teachers who are walking off the job in Republican dominated states because of years of education funding cuts. No, what was surprising about this survey was the teachers weren’t in a red state at all; they were in true-blue Vermont.
 
The sad truth is financial austerity that has driven governments at all levels to skimp on education has had plenty of compliance, if not downright support, from centrist Democrats who’ve spent most of their political capital on pressing an agenda of “school reform” and “choice” rather than pressing for increased funding and support that schools and teachers need.
(Jeff Bryant/OurFuture.org)

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