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Senjem

Last February, the Republican caucus in the State Senate got this seemingly terrific deal on printing their campaign material for the precinct caucuses:

State Senate GOP caucus spokesman Steve Sviggum apologized for printing partisan materials at public expense. He was referring to materials distributed at GOP precinct caucuses, thanking attendees for attending GOP caucuses. “In my mind that was a constituent piece and they are constituents,” said majority leader David Senjem, R-Rochester. Well, I don’t want to be ungracious (until a later paragraph). Apologizing is better than not apologizing. Apologizing after giving such a phony excuse is better than not apologizing after giving such a phony excuse. Apologizing after claiming it was cleared by the Senate counsel is better than not apologizing after claiming it was cleared by the Senate counsel.

One thing apparently not worthy of an apology however was telling us the printing was only $50: “In all, 4,725 flyers were printed at a cost of less than $50 to taxpayers,” as reported by MPR. Let’s pull out our calculators and just have a look (OK, now is when I get ungracious). $50 divided by 4725 is $.0106, rounded off. A bit over a penny apiece. Wow. Can I use that print shop? I can’t get basic black and white photocopies for less than maybe 10¢. Sweet deal the Senate GOP got! Well, it would have been sweet if they were paying for it.

Yesterday, the Office of Administrative Hearings said a complaint that the Republicans used public money for campaign pamphlets can go forward. The Senate GOP was asking for summary disposition, and the complaint against one senator was dismissed, but the rest can go forward. The dispute is over materials printed for precinct caucuses at public expense. Republicans claim their just constituent information. The DFL complains the constituent information apparently includes the address of GOP campaign web sites. Despite the apology I ridiculed last February, the GOP senators are sticking by their claim these are legitimate constituent materials.

Are there potential fines I’m unaware of? I can’t fathom why they just don’t say someone screwed up, but now they know better, and the caucus will reimburse the full cost. Even if they got very expensive pamphlets, without the discount of bulk orders and in-house printing, how much could this have cost, several thousand dollars? Isn’t paying that easier than making up some convoluted claim?

I wonder if the administrative judge will ask if she can get the same wonderful deal on printing costs for copies of the decision, or if she’ll just point out that such a bizarre claim doesn’t help the defendants’ case.

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“…and the Mn GOP is finally – FINALLY – getting around to the stadium issue.”

When the Twins needed a new stadium, the Vikings and Gopher football teams were told, in essence: “be patient; your turn will come” – and the Twins stadium got the necessary votes in the legislature.

When the Vikings and Gopher football teams needed a new stadium, the Vikings were told, in essence: “be patient; your turn will come” – and the Gophers stadium got the necessary votes in the legislature.

Now it’s the Vikings turn to have the votes held for the stadium they were told would be voted on, would they only be patient.

The GOP is in control of both the state House and Senate.  Have been, for two years.

Now it’s coming down to the proverbial “4th quarter, less than two minutes to play” in this session – and there’s no lease on the Dome; nothing keeping the Vikings in Minnesota.

Why wait until the very end of this session, to take the vote everyone knew – KNEW – the Vikings were promised?

Simple, IMNSHO:  The GOP couldn’t take the votes in the legislature before their senate district endorsing conventions were held, and the incumbent GOPers got their local endorsment.

Put their Viking stadium vote on the record, BEFORE endorsement?

Today’s tea-party crazies in today’s GOP would more than likely challenge incumbent GOPers voting for a stadium.  And likely endorse a fellow Tea Party Faithful.

That’s my take: the GOP Legislatures delayed a vote for the Vikings to save their thin political skins.

After all, from an incumbent GOPer’s perspective, isn’t it better to be endorsed and then face a primary challenge, than try to primary an endorsed tea bagger?

The biggest problem with what looks like the GOP’s shallow, self-serving protect their political @rses strategy, is it puts them in a horrible position, negotiation wise:  it’s fourth down, with less than two minutes to play…

…and Ziggy and the NFL Bigwigs are in town, and they have the ball.

Biggest losers?  Citizens of the great State of Minnesota.  Thanks, Senjem; thanks, Zellers!

NOT.

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MNGOP senators get terrific rate on printing

by Eric Ferguson on February 16, 2012 · 2 comments

State Senate GOP caucus spokesman Steve Sviggum apologized for printing partisan materials at public expense. He was referring to materials distributed at GOP precinct caucuses, thanking attendees for attending GOP caucuses. “In my mind that was a constituent piece and they are constituents,” said majority leader David Senjem, R-Rochester. Well, I don’t want to be ungracious (until a later paragraph). Apologizing is better than not apologizing. Apologizing after giving such a phony excuse is better than not apologizing after giving such a phony excuse. Apologizing after claiming it was cleared by the Senate counsel is better than not apologizing after claiming it was cleared by the Senate counsel.

One thing apparently not worthy of an apology however was telling us the printing was only $50: “In all, 4,725 flyers were printed at a cost of less than $50 to taxpayers,” as reported by MPR. Let’s pull out our calculators and just have a look (OK, now is when I get ungracious). $50 divided by 4725 is $.0106, rounded off. A bit over a penny apiece. Wow. Can I use that print shop? I can’t get basic black and white photocopies for less than maybe 10¢. Sweet deal the Senate GOP got! Well, it would have been sweet if they were paying for it.

Wait though. Be fair. Maybe they just got lousy copies at a dinky size. Index card size maybe? Postage stamp size? With extra lines and smeared ink? Alternatively, MPR did say, “…less than $50 to taxpayers” so maybe we didn’t pay the whole cost — we just chipped in! Is that it? The GOP ran $50 short and we lent it to them! Borrowing without asking isn’t nice, but better than the last alternative, — and I feel terrible for suspecting this — but, maybe claiming the printing cost only $50 is not entirely true? Partly true certainly, since I assume the real figure likewise includes a dollar sign. Beyond that though…

One more thing. About the Senate counsel that supposedly approved printing at public expense:
Doesn’t the fact you need to consult a lawyer before a routine print job suggest maybe you’re doing something you shouldn’t? And how could the counsel sign-off on claiming as non-partisan material something that says something like “Thanks for attending the GOP caucus!”. Maybe it toed the legal line by saying something like, “This is a non-partisan thank you from your Republican senator for attending these non-partisan GOP caucuses where we hope you will work to non-partisanly elect Republicans who will be as completely non-partisan as this non-partisan Republican lit piece and no, we haven’t sent these to other parties’ caucuses because they’re a bunch of partisan doody-heads, which we mean in the most non-partisan way. Of course.”

That’s assuming the “thanks for being a Republican” bits were indeed on what was shown to the Senate counsel. Hard to think anyone in that position would get fooled into approving something like what actually got printed. Or maybe the counsel himself is a wee bit partisan? Or paid to be? Maybe it’s an application of the old saying, “It’s hard to make a man understand something when his salary depends on him not understanding it.”

OK. So I guess saying “sorry” and giving $50 to the public print shop makes this go away. Anyway, at least majority leader Senjem himself had the sense to stay out of this and not make it look like he’s clueless about how … oops:

LEGISLATOR

Al DeKruif, Madison Lake
Michelle Fischbach, Paynesville
Chris Gerlach, Apple Valley
Joe Gimse, Willmar
Gretchen Hoffman, Vergas
Ben Kruse, Brooklyn Park
Ted Lillie, Lake Elmo
Doug Magnus, Slayton
Geoff Michel, Edina
Carla Nelson, Rochester
John Pederson, St. Cloud
Claire Robling, Jordan
Dave Senjem, Rochester[bolding mine]
Ray Vandeveer, Forest Lake
Pam Wolf, Spring Lake Park
Source: Senate Republican Caucus

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UPDATE: Dayton’s statement. Apparently she does have some record as commissioner, and it undercuts the GOP claims.

UPDATE 2

PUC commissioner Ellen AndersonI just witnessed an act of partisan venality and political cowardice. This was science denial not even masquerading, but entirely skulking out of sight as best it could manage.

The State Senate just voted — along party lines, as if that wasn’t predictable — to remove Ellen Anderson as commissioner of the Public Utilities Commission. If you’re wondering what she must have done with her office to get Republicans so upset, the answer is nothing. They cited literally nothing in removing her. She has only just taken office and hasn’t yet built a record to be judged.

Readers must be wondering what reason the Republicans gave. Keep wondering. The only Republican to speak to the subject was Julie Rosen, who got stuck with reading the motion, which someone had to do, and it was clear from her demeanor she did this with dread. She read her speech, not daring to lift her face lest she catch her colleagues in the eye. She wouldn’t cite anything specific Anderson had done to be removed from office, but merely indicated that Anderson had failed to be strongly enough for fossil fuels. At a time when global warming is our worst environmental threat, maybe the worst issue we face overall, and while serving as a state senator for a state with no fossil fuels, Anderson dared to support other forms of energy. For this, the heretic must be punished. Rosen feebly tried to make Anderson the hypocrite, by citing votes Anderson had made against prior commissioners. Was there good reason to remove those commissioners? Apparently  that was immaterial, which suggests it would also be inconvenient to the Republican case, absent as it was.

What did other Republicans say? Nothing to the substance. When Sandy Pappas cited Rosen and new majority leader David Senjem for their hypocrisy based on their past actions and statements, Senjem objected to senators being mentioned by name. When Terri Bonhoff connected the impending action to the cutting of DFL staff while Republicans went untouched, one Republican objected this was off-topic. Senjem raised the objection to using names when John Marty tried to ask a question of Julie Ortman, who Marty wanted to ask about her quote calling Anderson controversial without explaining why. Marty asked if he should ask his question of, this is close to a quote but not exact, “that lady sitting next to that guy over there?” When Ortman, now unable to avoid answering, made an answer, did she say what she meant? No. Did she cite something Anderson had done? No. She said she was concerned utility rates might go up. Did she say how Anderson would be the cause of this? Of course not.
DFLer after DFLer did speak, defending Anderson, though against what charges they weren’t told, by citing her long record on energy issues and record of creating consensus across party lines. Barbara Goodwin pointed out that Anderson was sought nationally to address energy issues.

The Senate’s power to reject commissioners has been used only in rare circumstances, after the commissioners have built up a record on the job that calls for removal. Bonhoff and minority leader Tom Bakk brought up the two rejections of Pawlenty commissioners for a contrast. Education Commissioner Cheri Yecke, though easily Tim Pawlenty’s most controversial appointment, was given a year to show herself unsuited to the job, at which time she was rejected not for who she was before taking office, but for what she did in office. Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau, who doubled as transportation commissioner, was removed after five years and a terrible record on the job. Anderson, however, was removed before she had a chance to have a record on the job.

Yes, I was live tweeting the debate, saying things I assume Republicans won’t like “No MNGOPer would defend their action. Useless cowards”. However, I’m not on the Senate staff, unlike some GOP tweeters. When the debate ended, Scott Dibble said that in the last year and a half, Senate tradition had been thrown out, and the Senate turned into a “playground”, specifying that during the debate there were Republican staff sending tweets attacking Anderson. Great collegiality guys. These — people — can’t figure out they serve the state, not the conservative movement. They’re job is supposed to be more than just attacking Democrats. If majority leader Senjem meant the rhetoric about the Senate being a family, maybe it’s time he tell his children to stop throwing things at their cousins.

Note: I’ll update when/if I can find the tweets Dibble was referring to, and when/if I find video of the debate.

UPDATE: Gov. Dayton excoriates Senate Republicans in his statement on Anderson. Apparently Anderson had some record as commissioner. Why didn’t the Republicans bring it up? Because it completely undermines a charge of being extreme, supports the DFL senators’ claims she builds consensus:

You would think after their leadership scandals, which caused them to replace all of their leaders last month, they would behave themselves for at least a little while.  However, they seem incapable of doing so.  After it was disclosed that they had ignored a $2.6 million reduction in their own operating budget during the past six months, the Republican Caucus hired a new Communications Director at a salary $10,000 above his predecessor.  And they picked someone, a decent man, who now has a very serious conflict of interest as a University of Minnesota Regent, which he won’t acknowledge and they won’t deal with – thus sullying the good reputation of our great university.

Last week, their very first week back in session, the Senate Republican leaders addressed their deficit by cutting DFL Senators’ share of the budget almost half-a-million dollars, while cutting theirs…zero.  Zero.  They did it after their new Leader said the Senate was “like family.”  Some family.

Now, to begin their second week, they have smeared and rejected an outstanding public official.  They claim PUC Chair Anderson is “too extreme.”  Her record proves them wrong.  Since she joined the PUC, there have been 221 votes among the five commissioners, the other four of whom were all appointed by Governor Pawlenty.  Three of them are Republicans.

204 of those 221 votes were unanimous.  Of the 17 divided votes, only six times did Chair Anderson vote in the minority.  That’s less than 3% of all votes taken.  It also means that she voted with the majority on 215 of 221 votes, or 97% of the time.  How is that extreme?

UPDATE 2: Two things: first, The Uptake posted a couple clips.

Second, regarding my characterization of how short Anderson’s record as commissioner has been, I was mistakenly thinking she took office just a few months ago. She took office last March, so that’s nine months in office. It’s arguable if that’s long enough to evaluate her performance, but her performance, as Dayton’s statement explained it, shows GOP charges of being extreme or controversial to be bogus. I can’t see inside their heads, so maybe this was long-harbored resentment and payback for Yecke and Molnau, but based on what they said, I think this was just science denial and ideology. I take Rosen’s accusation that Anderson wasn’t supportive enough of “traditional” fuel sources to be the telling part.

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Stonewall DFL Congratulates Senator Dave Senjem the new Minnesota Senate Majority Leader

The leadership of Stonewall DFL, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and friends caucus of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party would like to congratulate and welcome Senator Dave Senjem as the new majority leader of the Minnesota Senate.  
“While we haven’t always seen eye-to-eye, Senator Senjem has a proven history of willingness to sit down at the table with leaders of the LGBT community to discuss how legislation affects the families of same-gender households,” said David DeGrio, Chair of Stonewall DFL.  DeGrio continued, “I recall visiting with Senator Senjem at a Log Cabin Republican luncheon in September 2008 during the Republican National Convention when LCR announced their endorsement of US Senator John McCain for the GOP Presidential nomination. Productive conversations were had that day on issues important to LGBT people and our families.  It is unfortunate that Senator Senjem was not elected to this leadership position before the 2011 legislative session.  Had the caucus had the foresight to elect such a leader from the start, I am certain we wouldn’t be facing the divisive constitutional amendment that directly attacks same-gender households.”  

“In comparison to outgoing leadership, we are happy to see that the new Senate GOP leader has had an historical approval rating between 25% – 67% from LGBT rights groups such as OutFront Minnesota, labor groups such as MAPE and AFSCME Council 5, and reproductive rights groups such as NARAL Pro-choice Minnesota.  We can only hope that this is evidence that the Minnesota GOP is returning to a sensible centrist position of governance,” commented Cathy Harrison, Associate Chair of Stonewall DFL. “The leadership of Stonewall DFL looks forward to continued work with our allies at Log Cabin Republicans and the Senate GOP leadership to pass common-sense legislation protecting LGBT households across the state,” concluded Harrison.

Stonewall DFL, with more than 4,000 members state-wide, is a political organization that works for a safe and equitable Minnesota by working to elect LGBT and allied leaders to office in Minnesota and within the DFL Party. Stonewall DFL offers advice to candidates and campaigns about LGBT outreach and endorses candidates for local, state and federal DFL candidates.

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