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John Marty

The convention hall as seen from visitor and alternate seating.

The convention hall as seen from visitor and alternate seating.

I’m writing this prior to the August 14th primary, and you might wonder why I’m writing this now, in the heat of the primary campaign when DFLer-on-DFLer campaigning is at it’s thickest (though just how negative depends a great deal on which specific race is the subject). There are two answers: one, passions about whether the endorsements made this cycle and regarding the process actually spikes right after the primary; two, this is in my mind because of recent conversations with DFLers in the last week or two with a couple connected points: the DFL has not had an endorsed non-incumbent win the gubernatorial election since Wendell Anderson, and a consensus is forming that Erin Murphy is toast. That latter opinion is based on a couple polls that are at least two weeks old by now and have other issues — not to go into a tangent, but I refer for example to the huge number of undecideds and the polling of registered voters instead of likely voters — so that opinion is premature. Not wrong, but premature, and many Murphy supporters seem in denial about the big trouble the Murphy campaign is in. By no means all, but plenty haven’t come to terms with Murphy’s situation yet.

Erin Murphy is the DFL endorsee, and if she doesn’t pull it out, we’re going to have our usual, and usually heated, discussions/arguments about how we endorse and who we endorse and whether to endorse. So I suppose I’m getting a jump on that.


When our non-incumbent gubernatorial endorsees keep losing, that begs several questions:


Video of block party for marriage equality

by Eric Ferguson on August 31, 2012 · 1 comment

This is video of the speakers at the SD63 Block Party for Marriage Equality on August 30th, which was a combination pro-marriage block party, fundraiser to help us help defeat the constitutional amendments, and wedding anniversary for our State Senator Patricia Torres Ray and her husband Jack. Speakers included elected officials Patricia Torres Ray, Jean Wagenius, Jim Davnie, Scott Dibble, Carla Bates, Carol Becker, Alberto Montserrate,  Chris Eaton, Phyllis Kahn, Diane Loeffler, Linda Higgins, John Marty, Betsy Hodges, and James Llanas. It was attended by a roughly estimated 200 people.

Sorry about the shakiness. A cell phone and a bum shoulder are not the best combination.

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The Republicans introduced their budget plan today.  Except it’s not really complete.  SF60 doesn’t actually deal with the full $6.2 billion deficit we face.  Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk asserts that “their plan would solve about one-sixth” of the problem.  They propose cuts that only total $800 million according Rep. Ryan Winkler.

“Despite their rhetoric about ‘no new taxes’, these are very real tax increases,” stated Sen. John Marty (DFL-Roseville).  “And, unfortunately, they will hit lower and middle income families disproportionately harder than the wealthy.”

Expect your property taxes to skyrocket once again because this plan slashes local government aid (LGA).  Cities and counties will need to jack up your taxes to pay for basic services like police and fire.

“The Senate Republicans’ proposal is a one-legged stool of cuts only, with no new reform and no new revenue,” complains Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak in his press release. “We’ve seen this movie before: they would simply continue a deeply misguided policy that passes the State’s fiscal problems onto communities, is directly responsible for driving property taxes higher statewide and has hampered our ability to keep people safe.”

The Republican proposal is misguided and short-sighted.  The poor, elderly and mentally ill will suffer disproportionally.  Furthermore, starve the engines of the state, i.e., the metro cities, and the economy suffers.

Here’s more about their misguided priorities.  The very first bill they introduced was a tax cut bill for corporations some of whom aren’t even in this state, according to Sen. Marty.

Just one week ago, the Republicans introduced their top priority, Senate File 1, which contained as much as $200 million in tax cuts for corporations, including corporations based in other states and countries.  Remember that many corporations are currently seeing historic profit margins.

I question the Republicans’ logic, and the fairness, of cutting taxes for corporations while raising taxes on homeowners and renters who are struggling to make ends meet.”
(Marty press release)

Sen. Linda Berglin is also concerned about this budget.  She feels it is dangerous and their language is misleading:

“Earlier today, House and Senate GOP leaders unveiled a budget cut bill that included over $70 million in cuts to some of Minnesota’s most critical health care safety net programs.  I was disappointed to hear them say that the cuts in the bill were simple extensions of one-time cuts made by the Governor and legislature last session.  This is extremely misleading to Minnesotans.

In the last budget cycle, Minnesota and local counties received a one-time budgetary cushion in the form of federal stimulus dollars.  As we wrestled with the state’s budget deficit late last session, we were able to use this one-time infusion of cash to backfill many of the cuts made to critical safety net programs, both at the state and local levels.  Now that those federal dollars are gone, continuing these cuts will have a real impact on the ability of counties to meet the needs of families with children, and will result in real cuts to services for vulnerable Minnesotans.

In addition, the Republican proposal includes additional new cuts to both General Assistance Medical Care and Medical Assistance.  These programs serve the sickest and poorest in our state, and have already been cut dramatically in recent years.  Again, these additional proposed cuts would have a real impact on Minnesotans, and would result in real service cuts to those in need.

Given the size of the budget challenge before us, we know we’re going to have to make significant cuts in state spending.  That doesn’t mean we should ignore the consequences of these actions, or mislead Minnesotans into thinking this will be a painless process.  Today’s proposal from the GOP majorities will further erode the state’s already-weakened safety net programs.  We need to have an open and honest discussion on whether this is the best direction for our state.”
(Berglin press release email)

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In politics, as in much of life, it is common to have to decide between what is right and what is easy.  Usually the just and morally preferable option is also the difficult and expensive one, and the unjust and damaging option is cheap and easy.  This of course leads to heavy wrangling, fretting, compromise, and confusion when attempting to pass legislation, as lawmakers have to deal with conflicting factors in trying to do what is right for people and trying to remain sensible with budgeting, particularly during hard economic times when people are especially vulnerable to harm from unjust policies while at the same time less able to fund better ones.

Thankfully, there are occasionally exceptions to that pattern.  Once in a while, an issue will crop up where the righteous course of action is also serendipitously the easy and affordable one.  In these cases, the usual worrying and bickering shouldn’t be necessary, as all needs are already met.  Such a situation exists today, and thankfully a handful of legislators recognize it.
Yesterday, a bill was introduced in the Minnesota House and Senate to address the state’s looming budget deficit.  A bill was introduced to give kids an equal footing and make sure they are healthy and able to learn when they go to school.  A bill was introduced to allow small businesses to more easily create jobs and help our economy recover.  A bill was introduced to give employees the freedom to choose their employer based on a full range of merits, not being unable to leave their current job.  A bill was introduced to bring Minnesotans’ quality of life, life expectancy, and infant mortality metrics on par with the rest of the developed world.  A bill was introduced to improve oversight of how taxpayer dollars are spent and make sure that spending is efficient and responsible.  A bill was introduced to ensure that loss of a job no longer results in destruction of people and families, but remains only the loss of a job.  A bill was introduced to allow personal health care decisions to be made between a patient and their doctor, without outside interference.  A bill was introduced to ensure that no Minnesota is allowed to die needlessly of preventable causes.  A bill was introduced to dramatically reduce personal bankruptcies.  A bill was introduced to declare that in Minnesota, it will no longer be acceptable to care for 95%, 98%, or even 99% of our citizens, but that we will care for all of the people in the state.

These were all the same bill.

Senators Marty, Torres Ray, Lourey, Scheid, and Bakk, and Representatives Hayden, Greiling, Scalze, Murphy (M), Laine, Paymar, Ward, Hausman, Murphy (E), Liebling, Moran, and Greene introduced a bill to establish the Minnesota Health Plan, a single, statewide health insurance plan that would cover all Minnesotans for all of their medical needs, as Senate File 8 and House File 51, respectively.  The plan would work by providing a single-payer style system to cover all medical costs for all Minnesota residents, drastically reducing the expenses associated with health care by simplifying administration, expanding consumer choice by separating doctors and hospitals from insurance plans, such that nobody has to worry about who is in their “network”, and detaching medical coverage from employment.  The bill is simple – a mere eighteen pages.  Compare that to the over two thousand pages of the recent health care reform passed by Congress that still does not cover everybody.  You can (and should) read the entire thing in a few minutes.  You will find the Senate version at… and the House version at… .  More about the Plan can be found on .

On the one hand there is the moral component to this bill.  As the country with the largest economy in the world (and in the top ten by per-capita terms), home to vast amounts of scientific and medical research and advancement, self-proclaimed example to the world in equality and opportunity, and one of the most religious nations of the Western democracies, it is downright shameful that we still allow people to live with and die from treatable illnesses simply because they can not afford care.  As the home to multiple companies at the forefront of medical device research and production such as Medtronic, St. Jude Medical, Boston Scientific, and 3M, and leaders in world-class care such as the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic, the irony is particularly strong here in Minnesota.  Over sixty years ago while working to address the social problems that led to and were exposed by the Second World War, the world declared that everyone has a right to health care, in Section 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Sadly, the United States chose to use a sort of line-item veto to ignore that particular section while signing the rest of the document.  A few years later, a Baptist minister led the charge for universal health care in Canada while another Baptist minister worked on other civil rights on our side of the border.  The latter, Martin Luther King Jr., said of the former issue, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”  Now, over forty years after King’s death and the nationwide adoption of universal health care in Canada, Canadians have voted Tommy Douglas, the father of their single-payer health care system, as the “Greatest Canadian” of all time, while here in the United States we continue to have the shocking and inhumane conditions decried by King.  Clearly a change is long overdue.

On the other hand is the economic component.  The state of Minnesota currently faces a $6.2 billion budget deficit which needs to be addressed by the legislature this year.  With that kind of a shortfall, any sort of cost savings should come as a most welcome revelation.  While Douglas primarily pursued his health care plan due to personal and moral drive, in the five decades since it was first implemented on a provincial level we have discovered that it brings tremendous cost savings as well, while providing higher quality of care.  Even the most bitter opponents of such a plan in Minnesota acknowledge this fact, with a study run by UnitedHealth in Colorado finding the single-payer option to be the cheapest while providing the most comprehensive coverage of all the types of plans the government asked them to evaluate.  In fact, if you consider the difference between what is spent per-capita on health care here in the United States each year ($5,711) and per-capita spending in Canada ($2,998), multiplied by the recent census figures putting the population of Minnesota at 5,303,925, thats a potential cost savings of $14,389,548,525.  Yes, you read that right – $14.3 billion dollars per year.  That’s not just a few extra dollars.  That’s enough to single-handedly fix the state budget deficit, with plenty of money to spare.  Twice.  While in the case of the Congressional health reform bill the question was “Can we afford it?”, the question here is “How can we afford not to?”.  The answer is clear – we can’t.  We can’t continue to spend twice as much as other countries on health care.  We need to put that money back in people’s pockets, back into small businesses to create jobs, back into our infrastructure to prevent further disasters, back into technology to make us competitive and sustainable in years to come.

In Canada, universal health care was implemented as the result of efforts of all three major federal political parties.  Tommy Douglas of the NDP first deployed it provincially in his home province of Saskatchewan.  John Diefenbaker, Prime Minister from the Progressive Conservative party, appointed a commission on health services that led to a recommendation of nationwide adoption of Saskatchewan’s model.  Soon afterwards control of Parliament changed hands, and Lester Pearson’s Liberal government implemented that recommendation.  If even so much as half of the newly sworn-in legislators in St. Paul care a third as much about reducing the deficit, creating jobs, and restoring our economy as they claim to, we should see easy bipartisan passage of the bill in this session.  Whether that is actually the case is of course debatable, but we can not afford the status quo.  If your legislators are not yet on board supporting the Minnesota Health Plan, please contact them today to explain why we need them to.  Our state’s people can not afford to have this put off any longer.  Our state’s budget can not afford to have this delayed another session.  We have for once a golden opportunity to do both what is right and what is financially advantageous in the same motion – let us finally take it.


Pawlenty fails Minnesota again

by The Big E on August 19, 2010 · 1 comment

Minnesotans will experience higher health insurance costs because our lame duck Governor, Tim Pawlenty, is running for President.  Pawlenty could have signed an application for a $1 million grant to help reduce health insurance premiums, but he chose not to.  Pawlenty opposes health insurance reform because he needs to appeal to the Republican teabagger base who will decide who becomes the 2012 Republican nominee.

The grant, which was part of the federal health care legislation, was available to states to crack down on excessive health insurance premium increases. In response to questioning by Senator John Marty (DFL – Roseville), John Gross of the Department of Commerce said that department staff completed the grant paperwork, but that Governor Pawlenty had refused to sign the letter of application.

Senator Marty said, “If the governor signed the letter and submitted the already completed paperwork, the state would have been virtually guaranteed to receive the grant funding. Every state that applied received the money. It was a grant available simply for the asking.”

Forty five states — including most of the 21 states that are suing the federal government over health care reform — took the money, Marty pointed out. “The money was to be used to protect consumers and the state from health insurers overcharging. The only people who might object to the state getting this money are insurance companies that don’t want adequate oversight.”

“This isn’t a matter of whether one agrees with the federal reform or not; this was a matter of getting our share of federal dollars,” Marty said. “It’s not as if Minnesota has a surplus of money. Rather than sign a letter, Governor Pawlenty gave up a million dollars. That is inexcusable.”
(From email statement from John Marty)

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Marriage “Defenders” Stir Up St. Paul

by Curmudgeon on July 30, 2010 · 0 comments

The 19 state tour of the National Organization for Marriage visited St. Paul, yesterday, July 28. Various LGBT groups circled in quiet protest. As the intensity rose from the marriage defenders, the counter protestors adjourned to the Capital rotunda, a much cooler space, for a rally supported by a host of religious groups. Senator John Marty, who had been identified by the NOM group as a threat to marriage, briefly addressed the group promising favorable legislative action next session. Video:…
The defenders were a serious bunch comparing themselves to the original civil rights advocates. A priest on the Defender platform launched into such an explicit description of homosexual sex acts that I was blushing and mothers were covering kid’s ears – well maybe the weren’t covering them but they should have.
Defender organizers seemed disappointed that no violent physical acts were directed against them so they tried to make up a few so they could be outraged.
Many participants credited the Catholic Archdiocese bulletin for their attendance.


There’s a superb interview with John Marty by Craig Stellmacher on the Uptake: http://the-uptake.groups.theup…
John doesn’t believe the governor has all the cards, that he can just say stuff it and go fishing. He proposes a rational doable course of action that will probably be ignored. What a statesman!

Far too many of our legislative leaders are just wringing their hands and giving Pawlenty everything he wants. They are terrified to deal with the revenue issue.

I believe this is an opportunity for MAK to show real leadership and stand up to our boy emperor. So far, no sign. She met with the Fair Tax Ralliers led by TakeAction Minn Thursday, May 13 in the capitol. She thanked them and exuded confidence about a solution but no mention of the rally signs which said, “Fair Taxes, Invest in Minnesota, Override.”
Video: http://the-uptake.groups.theup…


How does one say “ouch” gracefully?

by Grace Kelly on April 27, 2010 · 17 comments

We humans seem to be hardwired to better compete than cooperate. And in the last efforts when really we should give up, we trash all of our social connections. Even in a winning campaign, we walk away with huge gaping emotional wounds. OK, we are competitive creatures. However, I would like to suggest that we start a little healing here. Let’s all say something nice about a campaign we did not vote/support, especially in the governor’s race. Considering that you all know how mean I can be, I will start….
I will say something nice about all of the campaigns:

  • Dayton’s campaign is ever gracious, ever ethical. This campaign even pays its interns well.
  • Entenza’s campaign has always loyal supporters that still manage to have hope in tough endorsement odds.
  • Rukavina’s campaign had the sense of fun that seems to emulate through every volunteer and when they have you laughing, then they ask for your vote.
  • Thissen’s campaign still has me in awe of the amount of effort and hard work that this campaign puts forth.
  • Marty’s campaign shines because John Marty is always a hero in my eyes. He spoke eloquently for the causes I believe in.
  • Rybak’s campaign had the best energy and heart. Rybak spoke with an appeal that reached out to many people. This campaign had the least time in actual campaign mode and still almost won.
  • MAK’s campaign clearly had the best organization, with the best strategy, hopefully that carries to a win in November.
  • Now find something, anything, nice to say! Really it does help with the hurting and then everyone feels better. It is normal when in pain, to go totally negative. Me, too! So just try the exercise of writing something good. It reminds us that the pain will end. If you are not ready for this, then just comment “ow” or “ouch”.


    2010 DFL State Convention photojournal

    by The Big E on April 26, 2010 · 0 comments

    The 2010 DFL State Convention is over now.  We’ve all slept it off and driven home … some farther than others.  Margaret Anderson-Kelliher came away with the endorsement and faces Mark Dayton, Matt Entenza and Susan Gaertner in an August 10th DFL primary.

    Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to blog in the convention center as the wifi was spotty on Friday and completely down on Saturday.  Some of you were able to folow me on twitter.

    Instead, here’s my photo journal of the convention.

    The view out my hotel window.

    State Auditor Rebecca Otto addressing the convention.  She was endorsed via acclamation.

    Rebecca Otto’s son played keyboards and his band rocked the DECC.

    Rep. Jeremy Kalin (North Branch) introduced MN Secretary of State Mark Ritchie.  Mark was also endorsed via acclamation.

    Rep. Bobby Joe Champion and Rep. Jeff Hayden at the Latino Caucus and African-American Caucus’ party at Pizza Luce.

    Joe Bodell and I were strolling toward the Friday night parties at the Holiday Inn when he remarked snarkily about this sign.  Being from Boston, he doesn’t understand the scandinavian sauna customs.  Actually, I’m part Swedish and I don’t understand sweating hard in a incredibly hot, steamy room and then running and jumping in a lake.

    Thomasin Franken vamping.  All we asked for was a picture with her.  This is what we got.  How awesome is this?

    How many opportunities do you get to have your picture taken with your US Senator.  And how cool is it to have Al Franken as your Senator?

    We saw RT Rybak at the reNEW.MN Friday night party.  The room was really dimly lit.  This was the only pic that turned out even reasonably decent.

    This is the floor demonstration for the Margaret Anderson-Kelliher nomination.

    Peggy Flanagan introduces RT Rybak for his nomination speech.

    RT Rybak giving his nomination speech.

    Was Ole Savior threatening to hit people with his hammer?  I wasn’t entirely sure.  Also, what’s with the Randy Moss jersey?

    Paul Thissen accepts his nomination.

    Rep. Jeff Hayden introduces Margaret Anderson-Kelliher.

    MAK addresses the convention.

    More MAK.

    Let the Q & A session begin!!!

    Some Team Thissen folks evaluating some delegate data they’d compiled.

    Out-take from the belated, special live convention edition of Fridays with Franni.

    The turning point of the convention.  Tom Rukavina concedes.

    reNEW MN delegates get together to consider consolidating behind one candidate.

    DJ Danielson.  Working hard or hardly working?  Hmmm … since I saw him working at entry all day, I’ll choose working hard.

    Floor demonstrations.

    RT concedes.

    MAK accepts the DFL endorsement.

    Left is a very happy, relieved and exhausted MAK Campaign Manager Jaime Tincher.  On the right is Kristin Sosanie, DFL Communications.


    The Big E’s 2010 DFL Convention X-factors

    by The Big E on April 24, 2010 · 1 comment

    Today is the kind of day we political nerds live for.  Everything in play and no idea how what the end result will be.  While I have no idea how this is going to finish today, there are some factors to keep an eye on as the day progresses.

    Joe Bodell has been telling everyone who’ll listen that Margaret Anderson-Kelliher will take an initial lead with 24% and RT Rybak will be a close second with 22%.  This is all based upon our delegate tracking.  Paul Thissen will be third on the first ballot.

    But what happens after that?
    This is when all the various X-factors come into play.

    reNEW.MN have a bloc of about 150 delegates, their very own campaign room and they’re treating this as a campaign.  How many of their delegates will vote as a bloc.  Legitimately, I think they have a bloc of 50, maybe 75.  

    They’ll be testing their bloc after the third ballot.  All reNEW delegates are going to head to their HQ to see how well they can stay organized for voting to do something as a bloc and moving as a bloc during later ballots.

    I agree with Joe that Matt Entenza and Tom Rukavina will be the first to drop.  The question is will they keep control of their delegates?

    Heck, will any stealth Mark Dayton delegates vote for no endorsement throughout the convention?

    I think that RT and MAK have some stealth delegates among the uncommitteds and reNEW blocs. Their campaigns will show get these delegates to commit in the first three or four ballots in an attempt to show momentum.

    If either campaign can show some real momentum and take a substantial lead, I think they will peel away soft supporters from other candidates.  This is the scenario in which I see reNEW delegates voting to move as a bloc.

    This is also the scenario which could keep us balloting well into Sunday.

    Then there is always the possibility that dropping candidate throws their support to either MAK or RT.  

    However, there is also the scenario in which MAK and RT are around 35-40%, neither finding any momentum to pull away with 20-30% remaining firm for their candidate.  This is also the scenario where the reNEW delegates have no reason to do anything as a bloc.

    This is the scenario in which we leave without an endorsed candidate.

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