Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year from RM

"With hurricanes and terrorists,
it's been hard to just get by.
Here's hopin' the year 2-0-6
turns out better than 2-0-5."

2005 in review: Pawlenty, the future of the party

"These are times that try men's souls." - Thomas Payne, The Crisis, December 17, 1776

Gov. Pawlenty had quite a year. As I have highlighted in a few posts this week, Gov. Pawlenty has shown to be a conservative reformer by taking on education spending, proposed tax increases, legislative performance and illegal immigration just to name a few.


Education

In 2005, Gov. Pawlenty took on one of the DFL's biggest issues: Education. Ever since he named Dr. Yecke to be his education secretary, Pawlenty has shown himself to be an education reformer. His first action on education was Q Comp, paying effective teachers what they deserve to be paid.

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The Q-Comp initiative, championed by Pawlenty, requires participating districts to come up with criteria for assessing teacher performance, using student achievement as one measurement. At least 60 percent of their raises would be tied to merit, a departure from the current practice of awarding pay increases on seniority and college credits earned.

(Source: “For schools, qualified relief over money increase,” Star Tribune, July 13, 2005)

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We all know that teaching is one of the most underpaid professions. Gov. Pawlenty's proposal, which is now a reality, pays teachers based on preformance, not union tenure.

This past session, Pawlenty's budget included one of the largest, if not the largest ever, increases in public education spending.

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More important politically, [Pawlenty] and the Legislature passed the largest school-aid bill in years. (Source: Pioneer Press, July 17, 2005)
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His actions on education will show to have a great benefit to Minnesota, also making Pawlenty hard to beat in this issue in 2006.

Budgeting, Tax Increases and the HIF

Of course I couldn't do a 2005 review without talking about the Health Impact Fee (HIF) and Pawlenty's veto of a gas tax hike.

Personally, I find it odd that Republicans got so upset with the Healh Impact Fee since it was not a tax increase, and yet did not care about a number of Republican legisators support of a gas tax increase. Gov. Pawlenty gladly vetoed this bill.

As I said in my first-ever post:

The best part about the cigarette fee is that it is actually a fee. All the money goes into a fund to pay for state subsidized health care, and roughly covers the cost of smoking related medical costs incurred by the state. And if that doesn’t work for you, here’s some advice from classic rocker Stephen Stills:

And if you can't be, with the pledge you love,
Love the fee you're with. (Link)

Months after the HIF went into effect, Pawlenty's press secretary put it best:

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Since being elected, McClung said, Pawlenty has taken on "Big Pharma," through his relentless push for importation of cheaper Canadian drugs; "Big Oil," through his biodiesel and ethanol initiatives, and "Big Tobacco," by boosting cigarette prices to a level that lowers smoking rates.

"Most governors would be reluctant to take on one of those cartels, let alone all three," McClung said. "He's a maverick. This is a governor who doesn't shy away from a big battle with powerful opponents when he's doing something he thinks is right." (Source: Star Tribune, Dec. 25, 2005)
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Illegal Immigration

The last big initiative Pawlenty is pushing this year is illegal immigration. He began talking about illegal immigration a few weeks back in Worthington, MN.

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Pawlenty called the current immigration system "chaotic," and he criticized the federal government for failing to curb illegal immigration.

"Up until recently, at the federal level, these issues have been allowed to get out of hand," the governor said. "As a nation in general, we've been looking the other way when it comes to illegal immigration. I feel our federal policy-makers have been lax." (Source: AP, Nov. 30, 2005)
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Some days later, the Pawlenty's office released a report on the cost of illegal immigration on the state of Minnesota. The report shows that the state pays $175 million a year in services to its 80,000-85,000 illegal immigrants.

Some fo the costs are as follows:

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- Illegal immigrants cost Minnesota health care assistance programs about $35 million a year, with the federal government paying about half that figure.

- The state pays about $14 million a year to imprison illegal immigrants convicted of crimes in Minnesota. (Source: Pioneer Press, Dec. 9, 2005)
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2005 was a great year for Gov. Pawlenty and many other Minnesota Republicans. 2006 will prove to be an even better year.

A must see film

I just saw a great love story that also teaches its viewers about accepting people who they really are.

No I,m not talking about Brokeback Mountain. I'm talking about The Ringer. I have never laughed that hard about a movie before.

Just to remind those who may think this film is meant to offend the developmentally challenged, The Ringer was endorsed by the Special Olympics and it shows one man's transformation as he learns to accept his fellow athletes.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Slate picks up on RM

I was surprised this morning to find that my post yesterday on Jack Abramoff made it into an article on Slate yesterday.

2005 in review: Democrats force state government shutdown

2005 was the first time every that there was a temporary shutdown of the state government in Minnesota. As the clock ticked away on the budget for the next biennium, DFL legislators lead by Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson refused to negotiate with Gov. Pawlenty and Republican legislators. Realizing the DFL couldn't the tax increases it so desperately wanted, Johnson adjourned the senate hours before the deadline, ending all hope of averting the shutdown.

Just what did the DFL want so bad that they were willing to shutdown the state's government?

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Republicans stopped the Democrats from passing a huge income-tax increase that would have given Minnesota the distinction of having the highest tax rate in the country -- higher than even Massachusetts. This session the DFL showed its true colors by proposing job-killing tax increases on individuals and businesses, ignoring the negative impact these increases have on our economy. (Source: Star Tribune, June 25, 2005)

Click here for the entire article

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The DFL's plan would have most certainly not gotten us to the nearly $1 billion surplus we have now.

The shutdown did, as many things in life do, have a bit of humor to it. The House GOP staged a camp-out outside of Dean Johnson's office, in case he changed his mind about negotiating. The members even set up a blog chronically their 24 hour-a-day watch for Johnson. (If anyone has the link to it, please let me know, I couldn't find it)

By forcing the shutdown, Dean Johnson watched as his dreams of being governor vanish before his eyes. Eventually Johnson apologized for shutting down the government.

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"“It wasn't pretty and I apologize to anyone who may have been harmed by the shutdown but the product we ended with will be good for all Minnesotans,"” said Johnson on a tour of his district Friday morning after a difficult special budgeting session in St. Paul. (Source: "“Sen. Johnson apologizes for shutdown,"” Sauk Centre Herald, July 19, 2005)
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Following the shutdown, Gov. Pawlenty introduced his plan for performance pay for politicians, meaning that if the legislators don' get the job done, they don't get paid. Pawlenty's proposal included the Governor as well as legislators.

Johnson was the first to come out against the plan, as well as chastised Pawlenty for calling an immediate special session.

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Johnson, a Willmar Democrat calls the Republican governor's proposal a publicity stunt designed to distance Pawlenty from the state's first government shutdown.

Johnson criticized Pawlenty for immediately calling lawmakers back into special session when they failed to pass a budget by the May 23rd deadline. The budget was passed after a nearly two-month special session and an eight-day government shutdown. (Source: AP, Aug. 5, 2005)
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Now party affiliation aside, why wouldn't Gov. Pawlenty call an immediate special session? In the real world, outside of Johnson's fantasy land, when people miss a deadline they usually work until they have completed their work, not take a few day break to Kentucky hiding from their problems.

No. 5: Meth
No 4: Eibensteiner Aqcutial
No. 3: Medica
No. 2: Democrats force state government shutdown

Thursday, December 29, 2005

2005 in review: Medica

Mike Hatch's embarrassing loss in his personal pursuit against his own Medica board of directors is RM's #3 political story of 2005.

This was a memorable story this year because of everything it involved. It happened right when speculation really got going about Hatch's 2006 plans. Hatch promised Minnesotans he would not run again for governor, then his daughters were miraculously acquitted in Chicago. In August he faced the Medica suit.

Many thought a loss with the Medica would end Hatch's obsessive dream of becoming governor. Despite of all these setbacks, Hatch has still chosen to run for governor.

His loss was really an embarrassment to Hatch personally. The judge in the case said that Hatch had "overstepped his bounds." Furthermore, this case showed the people of Minnesota how Mike Hatch thinks when he called a female attorney bleep bleep. Hatch also threaten this woman about taking away business from the firm by which she was employed.

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"The outsiders assigned to reorganize Medica into a cost-effective, consumer-responsive health maintenance organization are not doing their jobs, argues Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch. Worse, he says they have engineered a 'hostile takeover' of Minnesota's largest HMO. That's pretty heavy criticism considering they were appointed mostly on Hatch's recommendation. The appointments followed his office's extensive audit of Allina, completed two years ago, that revealed a host of problems including wasteful spending." (Jim McCartney, 'Hatch Pans Own Medica Delegates,' St. Paul Pioneer Press, May 8, 2003)

In a victory for non-profits, a Hennepin County judge has ruled Attorney General Mike Hatch overstepped his bounds and wrongly accused Medica's board of wrongdoing. The ruling stems from Hatch's attempt to install a new Medica board of directors for the second time in four years.

In a sharply worded opinion, Judge Lloyd Zimmerman said the battle for control over Medica is over. He said the expensive, time-consuming suit against Medica and its board was only supported by overheated rhetoric and accusations of self-dealing. He said Hatch wrongly accused the new Medica's board of directors of wrongdoing. Zimmerman said Hatch's claims obscured the fact that - when the attorney general intervened at Medica in 2001 - it was government at its best protecting the public from waste and corruption. But the judge also said the results show the new board took a company from a national scandal four years ago to the number one non-profit health plan in the country. (Source: MPR Online, August 18, 2005)

In a written ruling, Judge Lloyd Zimmerman called it "unfortunate" that Medica board members were "unfairly accused" and that the historic government-private partnership in cleaning up financial abuses at Medica had descended into "overheated rhetoric and accusations of self-dealing, deception and hijacking." (Source: Star Tribune, August 18, 2005)

Animosity surfaced near the end of Hatch's testimony when [Marianne] Short recounted a conversation Hatch had with one of her partners at the law firm of Dorsey & Whitney. Short asked Hatch if he described her with two expletives to her partner and threatened to take state business away from the firm.

Hatch denied using the phrase or making the threat. He said he was only upset that his pretrial deposition could not be conducted at the Capitol where he could be close to his office at a time when state government was shutting down in June. (Source: “Sparks fly as Hatch takes stand in HMO trial,” Star Tribune, July 29, 2005)
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I can't help but wonder if this loss encouraged Kelly Doran to get in the governor's race instead of the senate race. Even if it didn't, the Medica trial will be back to haunt Hatch in 2006.

No. 5: Meth

No 4: Eibensteiner Aqcutial
No. 3: Medica

Pawlenty's national profile

The dream, contrary to what David Strom would have you believe, is not dead.

This morning John J. Miller set out a list of likely candidates in 2008. Although Pawlenty ranked bottom on the list, its safe to say that some on the list will certainly be off by 2007.

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TIM PAWLENTY (5/N.A.): The darkest of dark horses, the governor of Minnesota might have been wise to hold out for a better budget agreement than the one he got last summer, after Democrats forced a temporary government shutdown. Aggressive tax cuts should be the next item on his agenda. He could become an attractive running mate. (Source: National Review Online, Dec. 29, 2005)
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This is just one more reason the DFL will try their hardest to take down
Pawlenty in 2006.

Below I had provided my analysis of the entire list.

Allen: He could easily get the nomination, being a former governor helps. However he is currently a member of the Senate, and we all know the track record of senators being elected president. Also, his views on the confederate flag may no fly in the rest of the country. Its also not a good idea to classify the NAACP as an extremist group.

McCain: He'll have a hard time getting the nomination, but he would do well in the general election. Moderates win, plain and simple.

Romny: Is America is ready for a Mormon president?

Giuliani: I don't expect social conservatives to be fooled by his support of Alito and Roberts, nor should the NR guys expect to forget how Giuliani flaunted his mistress in the press.

Frist: His SEC investigation may hurt both his nomination and general election chances. Plus the guy has a personality that leaves a lot to be desired.

Barbour: A southern republican; evil in eyes of media.

Rice: How do you beat Hillary? With an African-American female Republican...but I agree that Governor of California is good place to start.

Pataki: Is the field big enough for two New Yorkers? No.

Newt: His chances for the nomination look real good, but Clinton, with the help of Dick Morris, made Newt to look like a fool to the general electorate.

Hagel: We thank him for his service, but he is a no-talent-ass-clown who wants to be McCain...I think this guy needs help.

Jeb: Bush = Katrina. Sorry Jeb. I also don't think American will go for a three-Bush presidency.

Hukabee: The guy wrote a book on losing weight and then he raised taxes. Not exactly what Republicans like to see on their nominees resumes. Then there is that southern republican thing with him too.

Brownback: Kansas?! We can do better than that.

Sanford: Who?! Oh...another southern Republican...

Santorum: To quote Bill Cooper, Santorum is "dead and doesn't even know it." He is going to lose. And lose big.

Pawlenty: Huckabee raises taxes and gets a better rating than Pawlenty? Maybe Pawlenty should get fat, lose the weight, write a book, raise taxes to get the respect he deserves. Seriously, Pawlenty could be our party's strongest vice-presidential candidate in ages, if he doesn't get the number one spot.

Special election fallout

Since the loss in SD 43 in November, some GOPers have been questioning Chairman Carey's leadership. Now, with the recent setbacks in St. Cloud, that resentment is continuing to grow. However, I think it is wrong to blame the party first, as some are doing.

The losses in St. Cloud rest in the hands of the candidates, not the party.

When the Supreme Court ruled that Sue Ek could not be on the ballot, both races became endangered. Without a name on the ballot in 15B, many Republicans who would have otherwise voted may have seen it as pointless, driving down GOP turnout in 15B. Realizing that turnout in 15B would be down, it would be hard to turn out 15A folks for the senate seat election. That, compounded with Ochsner's doctored photos, made GOP voters up there wonder what the point of voting would be.

In reality, the party did all it could to help out the candidates. The College Republicans recruited volunteers, who were on school break, to go up and help with the St. Cloud GOTV effort. I'm sure many party staffers spent a sizable part of their long holiday weekend in St. Cloud when they could have just as easily been with family and friends.

It was the candidates who sunk our chances for victory in St. Cloud. Chairman Carey and the party staff tried their damnedest to win the elections, despite the setbacks.

In order for us to win big again in 2006, we need to stand together as one party. The social conservatives and the fiscal conservatives, the moderates and purists, the Eibensteiner and Carey supporters. Pointing fingers will not help.

Let's not forget the words of the first Republican president.

"A
house divided against itself cannot stand" - Abraham Lincoln, Jun 1858

Gov. Pawlenty may drop the fee

From the Star Tribune:

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Pawlenty spokesman Brian McClung said Wednesday that if the appeal doesn't succeed, "the governor is inclined to simply drop the fee" and forgo the $401 million it would have provided the state during the next two years. Source: Star Tribune, Dec. 29, 2005
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How can Minnesota afford to forgo the millions of dollars?

Simple. Gov. Pawlenty's leadership through the first three years of his term have allowed the state to run a surplus. Within three years, Gov. Pawlenty's leadership has brought Minnesota from a $4.5 billion deficit to a $700 million to $1 billion surplus.

Take me to your most pathetic leader of the late 20th century

I'm sure the guys at Nihilst will love this one:

"I've never believed that it came from Mars, but I saw an object one night." - Jimmy Carter, the former president, explaining that he once saw a UFO as he prepared to speak to a Lions Club (Source: US News and World Report, Dec. 29, 2005)


First killer rabbits and now UFOs?

Abramoff

Today's Washington Post highlights Jack Abramoff, scum of the earth.

This guy is the most unethical person in Washington D.C. and has harmed the GOP cause all in the name of success.
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He was a man of contradictions. He presented himself as deeply religious, yet his e-mails show that he blatantly deceived Indian tribes and did business with people linked to the underworld. He had genuine inside connections but also puffed himself up with phony claims about his access. ...

Abramoff also worked on behalf of the apartheid South African government, which secretly paid $1.5 million a year to the International Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit group that Abramoff operated out of a townhouse in the 1980s, according to sworn testimony to the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

At the same time, Abramoff dabbled as a Hollywood producer, shepherding an anticommunist movie, "Red Scorpion," starring Dolph Lundgren, filmed in Namibia, which was then ruled by South Africa. Actors in the film said they saw South African soldiers on the set. When the film was released in 1989, anti-apartheid groups demonstrated at the theaters. The movie ran into financial difficulty during and after production, but Abramoff produced a sequel, "Red Scorpion 2."

(Source: Washington Post, Dec. 29, 2005)

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I suggest you read the entire article, even though it is on the long side.

MDE has hit the nail on its head

MDE has upset Blois Olson, the director of New School Communications.

Judging by Olson's response to the article, MDE was right on target.

Olson tried to deny the story in an e-mail to MDE yesterday, claiming that New School Communications does not do campaign work. Yet, as MDE points out, their clients include progressive grassroots groups and the group does campaign management.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Has Nick Coleman gone senile?

Nick Coleman's rant today was written about a focus group that may or may not have taken place by some unknown group back in February.

Coleman also claims the debate over illegal immigration is "sudden."

That's funny because illegal immigration/border security had been in the realm of public debate since well before it became viewed as a security issue following 9/11.

Has Nick Coleman gone senile?


**UPDATE**

I was watching CNN and noticed a story on illegal immigration.

Once again, this is not a new issue Nick.

2005 in review: Eibensteiner acquittal

RM's #4 political story of 2005 is the acquittal of former Republican Party of Minnesota Chairman Ron Eibensteiner.

This story began in 2003 and concluded in 2005, only a hand full of weeks ago.

As many people have observed, including Mike Hatch's former friend, this was clearly an attempt by Hatch to score some cheap hits on the then-Republican Party of Minnesota Chairman Ron Eibenstiener. This case was Hatch's second biggest loss of the year.

Here are some clips from the coverage on the case.

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"This thing should have never been brought to trial in the first place," Jerich said. "There's no doubt in my mind that Hatch perpetrated this whole thing to get at the Republicans." (Source: Star Tribune, November 16, 2005)

Both Eibensteiner and the state Republican Party said the case was a political smear campaign and singled out Attorney General Mike Hatch, a Democrat who's running for governor next year, as the perpetrator. (Source: AP, Nov. 15, 2005)

These charges against Eibensteiner were a McCarthy-like attempt by Attorney General Mike Hatch to persecute, not prosecute, Eibensteiner for his political activities on behalf of Gov. Tim Pawlenty and the Republican Party. Hatch used the vast power and resources of his office to punish a political enemy, Eibensteiner, on trumped-up charges. (Source:
Pioneer Press, Nov. 29, 2005)

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Below I have provided a few links regarding the story.

Eibensteiner Strikes Back - At Issue appearance

Connecting the dots: How Hatch's campaign secretary fits into this

Pearlstein and Bell: Eibensteiner was the victim



2005 in review:
No. 5: Meth
No. 4: Eibensteiner acquittal

St. Paul council member continues to discriminate

Now I know $25 isn't a lot in the long run for higher education, but this is just plain dumb.

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As if the rising cost of tuition weren't enough, parents who send their children to college in St. Paul could feel an extra little pinch in their pocketbooks.

The city is exploring the idea of a $25 fee that would be added to a student's tuition bill, a move that would raise hundreds of thousands of dollars if it goes through.

"We're going to study it," said City Council Member Jay Benanav, who first proposed the idea as a way to cover the cost of city services associated with the 10 colleges and universities within city limits.

Benanav said the fee is modest when compared with the annual costs of education, which can run into the tens of thousands of dollars a year. "I don't want to say it's nothing, but it gets lost in the shuffle," Benanav said. (Source: Pioneer Press, Dec. 28, 2005)

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Those familiar with Jay Benanav know that he takes any chance he gets to discriminate against college students.

I don't think Benanav realizes how much tax revenue college students bring in. There's pizza, beer, text books, beer, fast food, beer, taxis home from the bar, all of which get taxed.

This fee is discrimination against college students, plain and simple.

Maybe St. Paul should put a $25 fee on any council member with proposals meant to discriminate against any certain group of citizens.

Pawlenty the Maverick: Policy innovator

There was a great article in the Star News today on the benefits of politicians working together, specificity on education issues.

Much of the article focused on Gov. Pawlenty's education initiatives, including Q-Comp and changing how schools operate. The bottom line of the article was was throwing money at the problems in education doesn't always work. Sometimes we need people to stand up for change against the establishment.

Gov. Pawlenty has taken on the teachers' union with his Q-Comp proposal which rewards teachers for their performance in the classroom, not for the amount of time they've been in the union.

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Q-COMP entered public school language this year. More than $80 million was allocated. Some funds will be used for teacher training, some to reward teachers, either individually or at the building level, when students show academic progress.

For many years, we have made merit pay for teachers' but the only forms of merit rewarded were becoming older, and earning advanced degrees.

...

Part of Minnesota'’s educational success has come from a willingness to try new ideas. And part has come from a willingness to cooperate across party and philosophical lines. After several years of strife, 2005 was a year of compromise and progress.

(Source: Star News, Dec. 28, 2005)

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Don't shoot the messenger

In relation to my first post this morning, I found an op/ed that counters Nick Coleman's rant.

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Article attacked messenger

Instead, Minnesotans ought to be discussing the impact of illegal immigrants on our schools, our health care and our criminal justice system.


The Star Tribune and other supporters of illegal immigration resorted to a classic attack last week: If you don't like the message, attack the messenger. And what a weak attack it was.

Reporters David Peterson and Dan Browning raised questions about the validity of a Pawlenty administration study on the number and cost of illegal immigrants in our state ("Validity of immigrant report is questioned / State demographer is worried about a Pawlenty-released report on undocumented workers," Dec. 22). As it turns out, the people questioning the report were the Star Tribune reporters and editors. Rather than reporting news, they appear to have sought out viewpoints that met their worldview and wove a story around it.

The truth is that the number of illegal immigrants cited in the report was in the article: The well-regarded, nonpartisan national immigration expert said once again that his "best estimate" is 85,000. Of course, that fact was buried deep in the story.

While people may quibble about the exact number of illegal immigrants in Minnesota, numbers that deserve attention reflect the recent explosive growth of illegals in our state. That number increased from 13,000 in 1990 to at least 80,000 in 2004, a 515 percent jump. This includes a 33.3 percent increase since 2000. These numbers come from the federal government.

Instead of attacking the messenger, we should commit to having a broad conversation about the impact illegal immigration is having on our schools, health care and criminal justice systems. Gov. Tim Pawlenty will continue to lead in this area, working to reform and improve a chaotic system into one that is orderly, fair and legal.

Perhaps the Star Tribune's next article will delve into the validity of another immigration report, cited by columnist Nick Coleman and others, that claims illegal immigrants contribute $300 million to the Minnesota economy each year. The state's leading economists criticized that report for overstating the impact of illegal immigrants in Minnesota, but I won't hold my breath waiting for that news to appear on page A1.

Brian McClung is director of communications for Gov. Tim Pawlenty. (Source: Star Tribune, Dec. 28, 2005)

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Once again Nick Coleman gets it wrong, shows his ignorance

In his latest tirade about illegal immigration, the blogshere's favorite punching bag tries to make it sound as if those who oppose illegal immigration do so because they are against immigration in general.

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Also in denial mode was the office of Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who recently poured gasoline on the immigrant issue with the release of a crudely overstated report designed to inflame opinion and make immigration into a wedge issue.

That last bit was opinion. But this is fact: Anti-immigration forces are working hard to raise resentment and to exploit immigration for political gain, cozying up to politicians who will help them fence the borders. (Source: Star Tribune, Dec. 28, 2005)

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Come on Nick. You know as well as I do that it is the anti-immigration people you're speaking of are in reality anti-illegal immigration, not all immigration.

This great nation was built by immigrants, most of them coming here legally. To make the claim that there is a large anti-immigrant conspiracy in our state is ridiculous.

Coleman goes on to say that Gov. Pawlenty is trying to make this a wedge issue. In reality, Gov. Pawlenty is doing what any responsible governor would do, examine the costs and effects of illegal behavior. It's Coleman who's trying to make this a wedge issue.

Although I must give credit where credit is due. I was happy to see that Coleman could write an entire column on immigration and not use the term "undocumented citizens."

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Abortions and South Dakota

Did you know that not a single doctor in South Dakota will perform abortions for fear of a bad reputation?

The doctors who perform abortions in South Dakota get flown in from none other than The Land of 10,000 Lakes.

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The day changes depending on the schedules of four doctors from Minnesota who fly here on a rotating basis to perform abortions, something no doctor in South Dakota will do. (Source: Washington Post, Dec. 27, 2005)
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NARAL uses this factoid as a chance to rip apart Alito.

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"Samuel Alito wrote the blueprint 20 years ago on how to dismantle and eventually overturn Roe," said Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, referring to a memo Alito wrote in 1985 in which he mentioned passing restrictions on abortion as a way to mitigate the effects of Roe v. Wade . "If he is confirmed, Alito could cast the decisive vote that allows additional attacks on women's reproductive freedom from the states to stand." (Source: Washington Post, Dec. 27, 2005)
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2005 in review: Meth

Although it may not seem to be one of the big issues of the year to many of my readers, I rank the meth problem (and the GOP lead fight against it) as my #5 story of the year.

Meth has destroyed many communities and families and it will be a big issue in the 2006 elections, especially in Greater Minnesota.

I have selected a few clips from my posts on the subject of meth legislation and the fight against meth.

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It was Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, who spearheaded the push to restrict the sale of pseudophedrine and call for tougher penalties for those who sell or manufacture meth. (Source: Star Tribune, July 25, 2005)
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An anti-meth provision for which
Gov. Pawlenty fought hard helps to decrease meth production

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A new law designed to make methamphetamine ingredients harder to obtain is cutting into production of the illegal drug in the state, a state expert said Tuesday. (Source: KSTP, Nov. 2, 2005)
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Rep. Kennedy has taken up the charge against meth at the federal level.
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Some in Congress say that the U.S. needs to put pressure on Mexico to put a dent in meth production. "We need to have the same energy going after shutting down the importing of meth from Mexico and other countries as we have going after the cold pills," said Rep. Mark Kennedy (R-Minn). "In fact, we have to have greater energy because it's a greater source of supply." (Source: Join Together)
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And
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The U.S. House of Representatives today passed two bi-partisan amendments sponsored by Congressman Mark Kennedy, to penalize countries that don't fully cooperate with our efforts to stop high volumes of "superlab" material into or out of the United States. The Kennedy/ Hooley/ Osborne/ Souder Amendment passed by a vote of 423 to 2. The Hooley/ Souder/ Kennedy Amendment passed by a vote 424 to 1.

"Meth is one of the most serious problems facing our communities," said Congressman Kennedy. "In Minnesota, as in other states, law enforcement spends roughly 80 percent of its time fighting 20 percent of the meth, in small meth labs. But they lack the resources they need to reach the other 80 percent- international superlabs."

"That's why I'm pleased that the House agreed to my amendments today," said Congressman Kennedy. "It's important to identify those who don't help us stop dangerous meth-making material from flowing into or out of the United States, and strip them of foreign assistance as a consequence."
(Source: Mark Kennedy Press Release, July 19, 2005)
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Republican Minnesota: Year in review

Today, and for the next five days, I'll be posting RM's Top 5 political stories of 2005.

#5 will be posted at 2:00.

St. Cloud readers: Vote today

I hope all of RM's 15th district readers get out and vote in today's special elections.

Hatch flip-flop of the week #6

Flip-Flop of the Week

Volume 1, Issue 6: Mike Hatch Flip-Flops On His Own Medica Appointees

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Hatch Accused Own Medica Appointees Of “Hostile Takeover.”

“The outsiders assigned to reorganize Medica into a cost-effective, consumer-responsive health maintenance organization are not doing their jobs, argues Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch. Worse, he says they have engineered a ‘hostile takeover’ of Minnesota’s largest HMO. That’s pretty heavy criticism considering they were appointed mostly on Hatch’s recommendation. The appointments followed his office’s extensive audit of Allina, completed two years ago, that revealed a host of problems including wasteful spending.” (Jim McCartney, “Hatch Pans Own Medica Delegates,” St. Paul Pioneer Press, May 8, 2003)
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Just how liberal is Coleen Rowley?

See for yourself.

The two most recent Rowley fundraisers were in Minneapolis.

Either she's having trouble getting funds from her own district or she's campaigning in the wrong district again.

French riots

I saw this via Drudge Report today.

Its an article looking back at the race riots in France two months back.

The journalist who wrote this alluded to the political structure as the cause for the high levels of unemployment. Although I don't know enough about the current political-economic situation in France, I know that's not the reason for one French youth cited in the article.

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"The rage in the suburbs is only asleep," said Balastik, a French youth of Mauritanian origin who has been jobless since dropping out of school seven years ago and is dreaming of a career as a rapper with his band, Styladone. "It wouldn't take much to wake it up again." (Source: International Herald Tribune, Dec. 26, 2005)
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I'm just going to take a guess and say his decision to drop out of high school to become a rapper is the cause of his unemployment.

Why would anyone want to become a French rapper anyways?

Rowley on conservatives

Last week, the Pioneer Press turned to conservative expert Coleen Rowley to highlight her view of where conservatives are right now.

I have taken the liberty to sum it up for you in a few sentences, LearnedFoot style.

Blah blah blah, George Orwell, blah blah blah, 1984, blah blah blah, Bush bad, blah blah blah blah blah blah, global warming, blah blah blah, more Orwell, blah blah blah blah blah blah, radical Republicans, blah blah blah, 2+2=5.

Click here for the full length piece.

Every time I read something Rowley writes I have to wonder if Democrats anywhere think she can actually beat John Kline.

Blogging in 2006

Yesterday, KvM gave us a tease of The Hotline's take on blogging and the 2006 elections.

Today the Pioneer Press gives its readers a Minnesotan take on the story. Many of the blogs I ready daily are mentioned. To all those who got the free press (even IMP), congratulations.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Pawlenty, the maverick

I read this in yesterday's Star Tribune.

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Since being elected, McClung said, Pawlenty has taken on "Big Pharma," through his relentless push for importation of cheaper Canadian drugs; "Big Oil," through his biodiesel and ethanol initiatives, and "Big Tobacco," by boosting cigarette prices to a level that lowers smoking rates.

"Most governors would be reluctant to take on one of those cartels, let alone all three," McClung said. "He's a maverick. This is a governor who doesn't shy away from a big battle with powerful opponents when he's doing something he thinks is right." (Source: Star Tribune, Dec. 25, 2005)
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Daunte Culpepper seeks pity

So I guess we're all supposed to feel sorry for Daunte Culpepper, right?

He began this season with a 1-3 start, was named (and later charged) in the Lake Minnetonka sex boat party in October and now is recovering from knee surgery. To top if off, Culpepper just lost an $8 million deal with FedEx.

What I find hilarious about all this, aside from Brad Johnson turning the team around, is Daunte Culpepper's pick for a defense attorney: Earl Gray (the person, not the tea).

For those of you who didn't catch MDE's take on this a few days back, Earl Gray is one of the attorneys who got unsuccessfully sent after Ron Eibensteiner in the Mower County proceedings.

Gray's choice of a defense strategy is quite ironic. You see, Gray has decided to claim there is a double standard being applied in this case.

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Culpepper has the highest profile of the four Vikings charged this month with misdemeanors of indecent conduct, disorderly conduct, and lewd and lascivious conduct. Culpepper, offensive lineman Bryant McKinnie, cornerback Fred Smoot and running back Moe Williams all are expected to plead not guilty at a court hearing early next month.

Culpepper's lawyer, Earl Gray, says he is confident his client will be acquitted. On Thursday, in a sign of the aggressive defense he's planning, Gray accused Hennepin County prosecutors of having a double standard in the case because they have not charged a crew member on the boat who admitted he engaged in sexual activity with a woman on board. (Source: Star Tribune, Dec. 25, 2005)

##


The irony here is that Gray is the king of the double standard.

In the Eibensteiner case, which never should have gone to court in the first place, a double standard was applied. Instead of going after Eibensteiner and Mike Erlandson, Gray and his fellow prosecuting attorney Flanagan chose to only go after the then-Republican state chair, and not the DFL's as well.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas from RM


I have added one of my favorite versions of a classic Christmas carol. Click here.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Happy Hanukkah from RM

Friday, December 23, 2005

DFL continues to spread lies

Are we surprised?

In an e-newsletter sent out recently, the DFL claims that Kay Ek, mother of Sue Ek, cannot run for the House 15B seat.

What's the truth, you ask?

The truth is Kay Ek's name won't appear on the ballot. She is waging a write-in campaign, which she is allowed to do.

The DFL should stop spreading its partisan lies.

Property crime rise in Minneapolis

As I posted twice already this week (here and here), the FBI released its crime data for the first half of 2005. The data tracked by the FBI is for Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Of all the categories tracked by the FBI, property crimes had the highest jump in Minneapolis in the first six months of 2005: 92.65%

Ironically, Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar pats herself on the back on both her campaign and official websites for her dedication to prosecuting property crimes.

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In 1999, Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar established a special Property Crimes Team to devote resources to ensure the appropriate prosecution of property crimes. (Source: Hennepin County Attorney - Property Crimes)
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As County Attorney, Amy established a Property Crimes Team dedicated to prosecuting auto thefts, burglaries, check forgery, credit card fraud and felony-level vandalism. (Source: Amy Klobuchar for United States Senate -- Amy's Record)
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I think a 90% rise in property crimes is nothing to brag about Ms. Klobuchar.

Historical indicators

I'm sure most of us have heard the different historical indicators for election outcomes. Some examples include:

The last time a senator became president was JFK.
The taller presidential candidate usually wins.
A "war president" can't be beat.
Others

I came across an interesting post over at lefty blog Broken Nails this morning. Someone left a comment about the history of Minnesota county attorneys running for statewide office.

According to the post, the last time a county attorney was elected to a statewide office was in 1930 when Floyd B. Olson was elected governor of Minnesota.

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While Klobuchar might have a lead in endorsements, a number of factors stand firmly in the way of her winning..first and foremost is that no county attorney has won statewide office since the 1930's when Floyd B Olson was governor. (Source: Broken Nails, Dec. 22, 2005)
##

The comment left on Broken Nails also talks about how Klobuchar has racked up the endorsements early and how little that can mean.

Let's not forget DNC Chair Howard Dean, who racked up the endorsements in 2004, only to lose to John Kerry.

I highly recommend this reading. Sounds like the queen making just isn't working too well for Ms. Amy Klobuchar.


And for all my GOP friends, when was the last time a congressman was elected to a statewide office in Minnesota?

It was Rod Grams in 1994.

Another Minneapolis shooting

Amy Klobuchar has chosen to run on her record as a crime fighter in Hennepin County. Unfortunately for her, things aren't going to well.

There was a shooting last night in Minneapolis at a Wendy's restaurant.

Earlier this week, I posted on the 50% rise in murders in Minneapolis for the first half of 2005.

Here and here.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Why Kool-Aid Report is the most well written blog

If any of you needed more convincing why Kool-Aid Report is the most well written blog ever, I'd check out if I were you.

Learned Foot takes on Code Pink's Holiday message.

And to the guys at NGIP, you guys run a close second with your Top 11 lists.

More on "undocumented citizens"

State Demographer Tom Gillaspy has expressed concern for the number of illegal immigrants (NOT undocumented citizens for the last time) is not as high as a recent report says.

First off, the number was an estimate, not an exact figure.

Secondly, its hard to get an exact count because they are, as the politically correct term says, undocumented.

Thirdly, a group which tracks this sort of stuff has estimated Minnesota's illegal immigrant population to be somewhere in the higher end of its study, which is 85,000 as their report suggests. (The DOA report suggests a figure between 80,000 and 85,000)

Cities' money fears

Ok. I'm just a bit confused.

Why are the cities increasing propery taxes if their in good shape?

State Auditor Pat Anderson's office released its annual report of Minnesota cities. The data released yesterday is from 2004.

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“Citizens in cities with fund balances that are either too low or too high should press their local officials to explain why,” said Anderson. “A low fund balance could be the first symptom of fiscal trouble for the city. A high fund balance could mean the city is collecting more in taxes then it needs...

“The numbers show there is no indication that overall cities were forced to raise property taxes due to reductions in local government aid,” stated Anderson. “While the core cities raised taxes and cut expenditures to deal with the cuts, the rest of the cities seemed to have adjusted simply by slowing the growth of current expenditures."

Anderson went on the say, “It is very interesting to note that they are slowing the rate of growth in current expenditures while at the same time growing their fund balances. It appears that cities, when taken as a group, prefer to slow down spending instead of drawing down their reserves.” (Office of the State Auditor Press Release, Dec. 21, 2005)
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So there you have it.

For a good laugh...

There's almost nothing I love more than a good dumb-criminal story.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

More on 100.3 KTLK

Last week I posted information on the coming changes in AM1500's lineup with the launching on 100.3 KTLK on Jan. 2, 2006.

To recap what I posted last week:

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*Current morning host Bob Davis will broadcast 9 a.m.-noon, bumping Ron Rosenbaum and Mark O'Connell to the noon-2 p.m. slot. There, they will go head to head with Limbaugh's syndicated show, which will be carried live on Clear Channel's new talk station, KTLK (100.3 FM), also launching Jan. 2.
•*Joe Soucheray's program will air slightly earlier in the day, 2-5:30 p.m.
*Chris Krok will move to a slightly earlier slot, 7:30-10 p.m, followed by Hannity, who will also move to KTLK in August. (Source:
Star Tribune, Dec. 14, 2005)

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Other changes include Tom Mischke being moved to 5:30-7:30 p.m. and Willie Clark, from Iowa, will be taking over the morning show. Rush will be leaving to KTLK, as will Hannity down the road.

I was sent an e-mail this afternoon saying that Sarah Janecek of Politics in Minnesota will be hosting a daily radio show with Brian Lampert. If that name rings a bell, that's because Lampert is a former media critic for the Pioneer Press and Mark Dayton's past Communications Director. Thier shwillwil air from 5-7 p.m.

Pat Kessler will also have a show, from 9-11 a.m.

I'll have more as the changes for both AM1500 and KTLK come available.

Albert Lea Tribune applauds Gov. Pawlenty's Veteran Plan

In an editorial yesterday, the Albert Lea Tribune applauded Gov. Pawlenty's $12 million veteran plan.

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Gov. Pawlenty couldn't have given war veterans and current military troops any nicer a Christmas present than he did Monday with his proposed initiatives and “Support Our Troops” license plates...

It's never too late to show our support for men and women who have sacrificed living, working and playing in the land of the free, and in far too many cases, sacrificed their life. We applaud the governor's proposal.
(Source: Albert Lea Tribune, Dec. 20, 2005)
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I couldn't agree more. Gov. Pawlenty's plan gives veterans state-tax exempt military retirement pay, different forms of tuition breaks, college credit for qualified military training, etc.

Support Our Troops License Plates

Doran and the ghost of elections past

MDE has a digital copy of the ad Kelly Doran paid for back in 2000.

Notice the disclaimer in the bottom right hand corner?

Is Ford Bell against funding our troops?

That is the question that has been on my mind ever since I saw the following statement issued by the Kennedy campaign.

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"I congratulate Ford Bell for his honesty. Finally, a Democrat Senate candidate levels with Minnesotans about where he stands on a key issue. However, Mr. Bell demonstrates that he is on the extreme left of American politics. 308 members of Congress, including more than half of House Democrats (106), among them Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Colin Peterson, stepped up and voted to fund our troops.

"Mr. Bell would have voted against defense funding for body armor, Humvees
and technology to counter improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Bell would have also voted against funding for Avian Flu preparedness, disaster relief for victims of Hurricane Katrina, and additional funds for low-income families to help heat their homes this winter.

"I hope that soon Amy Klobuchar and Patty Wetterling will be as straight
forward with Minnesotans as Ford Bell and tell us whether or not they agree with him." (Source: Mark Kennedy '06 Press Release, Dec. 21, 2005)
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Ford Bell is way too out of touch on this, as is the DFL.

When the DFL attacked Kennedy on this, they also attacked their own, including Rep. Colin Peterson.

Maybe Wetterling has competition after all in the race to the left.

NY: Pirro to get out

It looks like Westchester County district attorney Jeanine Pirro is going to pull a Kelly Doran and run for NY State Attorney instead of running for U.S. Senate.

AP Wire.


Hamline students: Transfer now!

Attention all Hamline University students: Transfer now while you still have the chance.

Why?

A professor at Hamline doesn't know how the legal system works.

In a today's Star Tribune article on the HIF, a Hamline professor says the case over the HIF is essentially "over." (Source: Star Tribune, Dec. 21, 2005)

What about the Court of Appeals?

Triple-A provides friendly fire on Republicans

Clearly Triple A enjoys his name in lights. I mean what else would be his reason for helping Democrats and hurting Republicans?

First, he posts an e-mail sent out to MNGOP leaders and surprise surprise, it turns up on MNGOP Watch moments later. Now its turned into a story in City Pages. He even points out that his name is mentioned in bold face type.

Secondly, he claims to have a person who wants to challenge Pawlenty as an independent, but he refuses to name the person. I think this is bogus because he refuses to name the person. This rumor even appeared in Sunday's Star Tribune.

Residual Forces is most likely the top read blog by the DFL next to MDE, followed by MNGOP Watch and MNPublius.

More on the Pawlenty Challenger rumor

Looks like well still have to wait on this.

I still believe this is bogus.

More on approval ratings

Yesterday I posted Gov. Pawlenty's latest approval rating from SurveyUSA. Pawlenty is up 9 points over last month at 59%.

The poll shows some bad news for Pawlenty's Democratic challengers since Pawlenty's approval is on the up. Also, nearly 40% of Democrats gave Pawlenty a positive approval. The "middle of the road" classifications, "moderate" for ideology and "independent" for party affiliation, gave Pawlenty a near 60% approval. The poll notes that almost half of the respondents are self-classified as "independents."
Republican Party of Minnesota Chairman Ron Carey had this to say:

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"Governor Pawlenty's optimistic agenda of accountability and reform has produced great results for our state. We have gone from a $4.5 billion deficit to a $1 billion surplus. Governor Pawlenty's strong leadership clearly has our state on the right track." ”(Source: MNGOP Press release, Dec. 20, 2005)
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This bump in the polls for Gov. Pawlenty comes the same week as the rebound in Pres. Bush's numbers.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Gov. Pawlenty's approval rating

SurveyUSA released its full list of governor's approval ratings.

Gov. Pawlenty scored a 59% approval rating, with 35% disapproving.

This will come as bad news to the DFL candidates who were hoping Pawlenty's approval would be much lower.

Gov. Pawlenty was given a 50% approval rating by SurveyUSA last month, which gives him a gain of 9 points.

Hatch flip-flop of the week #5

This is a good one. Why, you ask? Because the flip flop happened in the same week.

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Flip Flop of the Week Volume 1, Issue 5: Mike Hatch Flip Flops On Illegal Immigration … In The Same Week!

December 2005: Hatch Argued, “The Governor Has Nothing To Do With Illegal Immigrants.”

“And while Pawlenty has recently drawn attention on illegal immigration, holding a public hearing in Worthington, it’s basically a federal issue. ‘The governor has nothing to do with illegal immigrants,’ [Hatch] said. ‘He can kick it all around he wants, but it’s a national policy.’” (“Hatch Brings Campaign For Governor To Bemidji,” Bemidji Pioneer, December 11, 2005)

December 2005: Hatch Attacked Governor Pawlenty For Making Illegal Immigration Problem Worse. “Attorney General Mike Hatch, a DFL candidate for governor, charged that the Pawlenty administration has exacerbated the illegal immigration problem. He said he has received repeated complaints that the Department of Labor and Industry has failed to enforce labor, occupational health and safety and workers' compensation laws at businesses that hire illegal immigrants. He also has heard complaints that the Revenue Department isn't investigating allegations that those employers are failing to pay payroll taxes.” (Bill Salisbury, “Pawlenty Immigration Report Ignites Firestorm,” Pioneer Press, December 16, 2005)
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Vikings' holiday party

A friend sent this to me this morning.

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Dec. 20. 2 p.m. - 4 p.m. VIKINGS HOLIDAY PARTY _ About 300 families and individuals in need participate in the Minnesota Vikings annual holiday party. Coach Mike Tice, players and cheerleaders will participate.

Location: Winter Park Training Facility Fieldhouse, 9520 Viking Drive, Eden Prairie

(Source: AP Newstracker, Dec. 20, 2005)

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With Lake Minnetonka frozen over and the players' families attending, the Vikings have decided to forgo the strippers, lap dances and sex parties. No word yet if Anaya Angel or her friends from Atlanta will be attending.

More on Minneapolis crime stats

Here are the rest of the Jan. - June 2005 Minneapolis Crime Stats

% Change Violent Crime: 34.72%
% Change Murder: 50%
% Change Forcible Rape: -5.76%
% Change Robbery: 33.81%
% Change Aggravated Assault: 44.34%
% Change Property Crime: 92.65%
% Change Burglary: 15.34%
% Change Larceny-theft: 23.91%
% Change Motor Vehicle Theft: 2.53%
% Change Arson: -26.5%

(Source: FBI, Dec. 19, 2005)

MOB Member


After six months of blogging, I can proudly say that Republican Minnesota is now a member of the MOB.

Monday, December 19, 2005

FBI murder stats: 50% rise in Mlps

Data provided by the FBI today show a 50% rise in crime from January-June 2005 over the same time period last year for Minneapolis.

2004: 20

2005: 30

% Change: 50%

(Source: FBI, Dec. 19, 2005)

Click Here to get the interactive map.

Then click on the Minneapolis/St. Paul area which will begin an Excel file download containing the information.

I wonder how Klobuchar's campaign will spin this.

Support Our Troops Plates Released Today

Gov. Pawlenty today unveiled Minnesota's newest license plate: "Support Our Troops"

The proceeds from the sale of these plates goes to assist the family members of those currently serving in the military as well as veterans.

Gov. Pawlenty commented on the new plates at a press conference today.

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"We would not have the country we have without the tremendous courage and dedication and patriotism and support of the men and women who are serving in the United States military now and in the past," he said. "They are in the end the final line of defense between us and a lot of bad things happening." (Source: Pioneer Press, Dec. 19, 2005)
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The proceeds for the new plates will go to:

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State tax exemptions for military retirement pay. When phased in over four years, these tax breaks would save approximately 15,000 veterans $15.4 million a year.

Increased funding for the State Soldiers Assistance Program. He will request an additional $3 million a year to provide veterans and their families with such services as family therapy and temporary financial aid for new veterans who experience problems in getting Veterans Administration benefits.

A one-stop Web site where veterans can get information on all the state, federal and local government programs and private, non-profit services available to them.

$3 million in training grants for county Veterans Service Officers.

Creating on-campus veterans' assistance offices at all public colleges and universities.

Requiring all public colleges and universities to grant credit for military training and experience that meets the standards of the American Council on Education.

Allowing non-resident soldiers and veterans to attend Minnesota public colleges and universities at in-state tuition rates. Currently, some Minnesota soldiers who are based outside the state have to pay out-of-state tuition when they return to a Minnesota college.

Delaying the due date of tuition payments for veterans until they receive their federal GI Bill grants
(Source: Pioneer Press, Dec. 19, 2005)
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Kelly Doran: Cry Baby

Do you remember the fun snowball fights we all used to have as kids?

They were harmless until someone threw the dreaded iceball. Some kids took it in stride and kept playing. Others would either go home crying or tell the teacher. Either way the fun was over.

Kelly Doran is that kid and it seems that his cry baby steak has continued well into adulthood.

Recently, Doran has been attacked by his fellow DFL gubernatorial candidates for his past contributions to a Republican candidate and his overall lack of contributions to Democratic organizations and candidates. Thinking this is unfair, Doran went crying to DFL Chair Brian Melendez in a letter about these attacks.

Doran's cry baby tendencies can also be seen in his professional life.

When competition to one of his shopping centers moved in, Doran cried foul, saying that this new development by Opus, which would be very close to his own, would disrupt traffic patterns, negatively impacting his business. Doran went as far as to sue the city of Woodbury over this new shopping center.

In his suit, Doran alleged traffic disruption and environmental impacts.

The reality is that Doran was mad that the Opus project attracted many of the tenants he wanted for his project. And, like a cry baby, he went with tears in his eyes over to the court and cried foul.

Below is the text of the article (anything bolded is my emphasis).

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FIRM SUING CITY OVER MALL DEVELOPER CITES HARM FROM WOODBURY LAKES

Megan Boldt

A development company that has built up most of Woodbury's retail shops is suing the city, claiming Woodbury officials approved a new high-end retail development without adequately studying the environmental and traffic impacts.

Robert Muir Co. filed the lawsuit Thursday in Washington County District Court. Muir officials claim their Tamarack Village, a shopping center on Radio Drive, will be harmed by congestion if the new Woodbury Lakes project goes ahead as-is at its Hudson Road location. The company is asking a judge to void all city approvals on the project and order a more extensive environmental study. Opus Northwest is developing the 393,000-square-foot mall, which it describes as the east metro's first "lifestyle" center. The trendy, open-air malls with specialty retailers are popping up across the nation.

Kelly Doran, an executive with Muir, said Woodbury's studies of the Woodbury Lakes project failed to mention potential traffic backups on Radio Drive that could significantly affect access to Tamarack Village.

"We sincerely believe that there are unresolved adverse traffic impacts to our property at Tamarack Village," Doran said. "And we feel the process ... was deliberately constructed to avoid studying those impacts and resolving those problems. It's unbelievable how corrupt this process has been."

Doran remains adamant that Muir's lawsuit against the city's decision on Woodbury Lakes has nothing to do with its failure to get the right tenants to turn its Oakdale Village project -- just across Interstate 94 on Inwood Road -- into a lifestyle center.

He said the bottom line is that the Woodbury Lakes project was hammered out behind closed doors and studies were altered in Opus' favor without public knowledge. As a result, property owners near the site will be harmed.

City officials have said the approximately $10 million in road improvements they have planned will accommodate Woodbury Lakes and future development. Opus is paying about $6 million of that expense.

Hudson Road will expand from two to four lanes between Radio and Woodbury drives, with turn lanes and traffic lights to be added where necessary. Radio Drive also will need improvements. But Muir claims it would cost about $30 million to meet traffic needs.

If Muir prevails and an environmental impact study is required, the Woodbury Lakes project could be delayed by approximately six months. Opus planned to break ground on the project in August, with Woodbury Lakes opening in September 2005.

Tim Murnane, vice president of real estate for Opus, said the city has been reviewing the project for 18 months.

"We anticipated (the lawsuit), but again we thought the city did a thorough job," Murnane said. "We view it as a competing developer trying to stop our project through the court system."

Mayor William Hargis said Woodbury plans to defend itself vigorously.

"Personally, I'm very disappointed that they chose to go this route," he said of Muir. "We feel they were given ample opportunity to respond. They've been a good corporate citizen in Woodbury ... so this is disheartening."

Hargis said the taxpayers are the ones who ultimately will pay.

"They're really suing their customers," Hargis said of Muir officials.
(Source: Pioneer Press, July 23, 2004, page B5)
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MDE has a great post on Doran as well today.