counter statistics

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Bus Strike Blues

Originally posted to Mpls Issues, TC Metro and St Paul Issues.

Hi Folks:

A good blog on the subject of the strike - by a striking transit worker.

Some numbers to call:
Gov. Tim Pawlenty
651-296-3391
1-800-657-3717
FAX: 651-296-2089
tim.pawlenty at state.mn.us

Metropolitan Council, attn, Peter Bell
651-602-1453
peter.bell at metc.state.mn.us

Steve while health benefits are a sticking point in negotiations - and frequently are in union negotiations, they aren't the real underlying cause of this strike.

The Star Tribune today called on the Governor to take leadership on this strike, I agree wholeheartedly. He should follow the example set by Governor Arne Carlson who faced a similar strike when he was governor.

In my opinion, the Governor and some Republican ideologs wanted this strike - because it would delay implementation of the light rail line - and the ideologs who attend Republican caucuses - who "don't want no choo choo trains" (yup direct quote) want the light rail project to fail. It was a gift for the governor to be able to help make the light rail project fail - and to blame transit workers for this. Machiavelian - sure - but that's politics - and it's nothing new.

I am a Republican and want this strike settled.

Why the Taxpayer's League is commenting on this situation is beyond me. In my opinion, they should be focusing on preventing my Hennepin County sales tax being used to fund professional sports stadiums - rather than getting into the press saying we need to get rid of our bus system and give jalopy vouchers for the poor. Public transit is a livability issue - and affects tourism. While I drive to work - I would be in a real pickle if my car broke down. I would have to work from home on those days - and I'm lucky I have that option. I like having the bus as an option to get home from the airport. I have used this option in the past - and it saves me big time on taxi fares - and is convenient. When I visit other cities, I use their public transit systems. I visited London last summer, and loved the convenience of the tube - and wished we had something like that here - and believe we will never get their here as long as the "We don't like choo choo trains" crowd is the predominant group who attend Republican caucuses and conventions.

I work for the University of Minnesota - and our wages were frozen last year. The University negotiated a settlement with the clerical workers when they went on strike - they didn't do the negotiate through the media nonsense that Peter Bell is doing as chair of the met council. I am tired of seeing Peter Bell on Television. I want to see him at the negotiating table - and taking leadership to negotiate a settlement. The City of Minneapolis did this recently with their employees. So did the University of Minnesota. A strike never settles if both sides don't negotiate in good faith. Peter Bell - and the Governor - have the obligation to negotiate in good faith. They are not doing that now.

I am especially disappointed with Peter Bell. I worked on his campaign 4 years ago when he ran for County commissioner. I posted regularly on the Minneapolis Issues list to promote his campaign. In my opinion this bus strike was pushed - from the Governor and Bell - to placate the "We don't want no choo choo trains" light rail hating idiotlogs who populate Republican caucuses. I have been very disappointed in the way Bell has been handling this strike. My way or the highway is not good faith negotiation. Bell is better than that in my opinion. He needs to stand up to some of the goofier ideologs on the Met Council - especially Annette (let's abolish the Met Council) Meeks - who represents the North side on the Met Council (appalling in my opinion).

I just called Peter Bell, Governor Pawlenty and Steve Murphy and left loooong voice mail messages. I'd encourage people to leave long voice mail messages. All the numbers posted will take voice mails - so fill up the voice mail boxes - if you have a "how annoying it is not to have the buses" story - make sure these people hear it - preferably on voice mail - after hours. Also Pawlenty's fax number is: 651-296-2089. Keep that fax machine cranking.

I am a moderate Republican and believe that transit is a vital part of transportation solutions in an urban area, and don't want to see any more properties and neighborhoods destroyed in order to build more highways in
the city of Minneapolis. In my opinion both 35 and 94 were mistakes - and neighborhoods near those mistakes have yet to recover from the destruction to the area. Building more highways in the core cities in Minneapolis
increases property taxes by removing more taxable property from the property tax rolls. This is bad public policy.

In places like Washington DC, Atlanta, San Francisco, Boston and Chicago - and many other cities, there are good train transit systems. We don't have trains here because of the head in the sand "We don't want no choo choo train" nonsense. This needs to stop. The bus strike has gone on long enough. Governor Pawlenty step up to the plate and show leadership.

Rhea County Resident Urges Rhea County Commissioners to Resign

When the Rhea County commission made their now famous motion to the state of TN to allow them to ban gays from living in the county, local folks in Rhea County were shocked and outraged.

I have lived in Rhea County for over 20 years, I work here, and I have investments here, and am raising my family here. Up until a few days ago, I absolutely loved this community. Now, thanks to the ill-conceived actions of 8 elected officials of the county, the entire world thinks of Rhea County as the epitome of ignorance and hatred.

When I first heard of the vote that these 8 made, I simply could not believe it. I rushed to my favorite Internet sites and sure enough, Rhea County was in the news. The news was all negative, and the consequences are still coming down on this beloved community.

People that live and work here have invested much of their lives into making this a better place. Investments in businesses and commerce, investments in charity and investments in the lives of our children have been marginalized by the actions of this commission.

It is time for the county commissioners to do the honorable thing. The county commissioners clearly do not represent the majority of Rhea County people. They have made a huge mistake and it has consequences that go far beyond the importance of their positions. It is not enough to simply express remorse (although most haven?t even done that). Resignation is the only honorable thing to do. If the commissioners resign, perhaps the rest of the world can see that this county does not tolerate such incompetence and/or ignorance from our County Commissioners.

Musgrave gets a primary challenge

Marilyn Musgrave - author of the anti-gay Federal Marriage Amendment now has a primary challenger.

Republican nomination
Faust to challenge Musgrave

Bob Faust has officially announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for Colorado's 4th Congressional District.

Faust, who said his approach to resolving issues is grounded in equality, impartiality, integrity and fiscal responsibility, has identified four primary issues he is determined to address at the national level:

National health care for all Americans, national college programs eliminating in- and out-of- state tuition rates, equal rights and redefining the rights of those between the ages of 18 and 20.

Faust has until June 1 to file enough signatures to place his name on the primary ballot and to challenge incumbent Rep. Marilyn Musgrave for the nomination.

Republican nomination
Faust to challenge Musgrave

Bob Faust has officially announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for Colorado's 4th Congressional District.

Faust, who said his approach to resolving issues is grounded in equality, impartiality, integrity and fiscal responsibility, has identified four primary issues he is determined to address at the national level:

National health care for all Americans, national college programs eliminating in- and out-of- state tuition rates, equal rights and redefining the rights of those between the ages of 18 and 20.

Faust has until June 1 to file enough signatures to place his name on the primary ballot and to challenge incumbent Rep. Marilyn Musgrave for the nomination.

*************snip*********************

As a proponent for equal rights, Faust supports legislation and constitutional interpretation which provides equal rights for every American, regardless of age, sex, race, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

EY: For more, see Faust's website.

DFLers Karen Clark, Neva Walker, Keith Ellison, Margaret Kelliher, Biernat and others support state bonding funds for anti-gay organization

Rhodes; Walker; Clark; Anderson, J.; Anderson, B.; Soderstrom; Ellison; Kelliher; Jaros; Seagren; Sykora; Mariani; Biernat; Mahoney; Nornes; Penas and Abrams introduced:

H. F. 2553, A bill for an act relating to capital improvements; authorizing the issuance of state bonds; appropriating money for the Colin Powell Youth Center in Hennepin County; providing for construction of the Colin Powell Youth Center.

The bill was read for the first time and referred to the Committee on Jobs and Economic Development Finance.

It's rather surprising that some of these legislators would support this center. This reminds me of when Rep. Clark supported the anti-gay Alfred Babington Johnson for Minneapolis School Board. Clark later withdrew her endorsement of Babington Johnson after he clearly stated his anti-gay views at a forum Peter McLaughlin organized for gay voters in South Minneapolis.

I encourage people to contact their legislators and tell them to vote NO on HF 2553.

EY: The Colin Powell Youth Center will be run by Urban Ventures - a group with an anti-gay history. Urban Ventures is unpopular among many residents in the area UV operates - the Central and Phillips neighborhoods in Minneapolis. In fact many in the area refer to them as "Urban Vultures."

When Central Neighborhood resident, Walt Gutzmer was the designated "Gay Representative" on an NRP committee in the Central Neighborhood, Urban Ventures sent out the meeting notes to committee members. Included in Gutzmer's board packets, was the copy of an article included in an Urban Ventures newsletter. This article called on gays to repent and to change to being straight. Other steering committee members did not get a copy of this article.

I'm curious whether the City or State would consider funding an organization that promotes a biblical view that says there can't be interracial marriage (kind of like Bob Jones University).

Urban Ventures also has a history of undermining Jewish parents. As Liz Greenbaum reports on the Minneapolis Issues list describing Jewish parents who sent their kids to Urban Ventures for soccer practice - responding to a flyer that was sent home with the Minneapolis Public Schools children:

When parents are signing their children up for classes - soccer, swimming, art classes, dance, music lessons - no one should have to "check out" an organization to see if they have a hidden agenda. They are exactly what is expected - soccer, swimming, art etc. and nothing more. If Urban Ventures were on the up and up about this, they wouldn't have taken the kids to the far corner of the field away from parents' ears to do this. They intentionally hid what they were doing, and believe me, had no intention of cluing the adults into their subversive agenda. If you want to know how it went I can get you in touch with the parent who experienced this - they tried to stop her from going over to see what her daughter was talking about. Personally, I find this extremely disturbing that a parent would be blamed for not checking it out thoroughly enough.

EY: From an Urban Ventures grant application to the Partner's In Possibilities fund:

"The goal of Leadership Development is to develop students who by
their senior year in high school are so committed to Jesus Christ that they can survive and thrive in any environment."

The area and children the Colin Powell Youth Center will serve come from diverse religious perspectives. Will Urban Ventures respect the Muslim, Jewish and other non-fundementalist Christian parents who send their kids to this program? Shouldn't Government programs that serve the area's youth have a history of respecting the religions of all the youth - and their parents?

A resolution opposing funding for the Colin Powell Youth Center passed at the Senate District 58 Republican convention (a convention in North Minneapolis). This passed even though people at the convention were fully aware this was part of Governor Pawlenty's bonding proposal.

Why doesn't the Minneapolis Delegation say they won't fund the Colin Powell Youth Center boondoggle - and say they want to put the 4.2 million proposed for that project into the Planetarium - a project that will serve ALL children - not just those children who are being brought up by fundementalist Christian parents?

It's good that Minneapolis legislators publically opposed the Bachmann Holberg Hate Amendment. It's disturbing that they would support public bonding funds for an organization with Urban Ventures anti-gay history.

Contact your legislator - tell them you want to vote NO to state funding to an anti-gay organization which has a history of undermining parents who are not Christian fundementalists.

Jesse Ventura wisely vetoed funding for the Colin Powell Youth Center two years ago. This pork barrel boondoggle ought to get sent back to Gov Pawlenty without the votes of the Minneapolis Delegation.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Separate But Equal in Massachusetts

MTV interviews John Kerry on his position on gay marriage:

"What is distinct is the institutional name," Kerry explained. "Whatever people look at as the sacrament within a church or within a synagogue or within a mosque as a religious institution, there is a distinction. The civil state really just adopted that. It's the rights that are important, not the name of the institution."

Steve Miller of Culture Watch comments:

But here's John Kerry justifying why he supports lesser civil unions for gays but favors amending state constitutions to ban gay marriage, from his interview with MTV:

"What is distinct is the institutional name or whatever people look at as the sacrament within a church, or within a synagogue or within a mosque as a religious institution. There is a distinction. And the civil state really just adopted that."

So, where are the Democratic voices rising up in anger over Kerry's adopting the position that religious sacraments shoud be dispensed by the state, at the expense of legal equality for gays? Don't hold your breath. Even this MTV story leads with an assertion of Kerry's support for granting gays "equal rights under the law," then buries his remarks about sacraments being an exception.


If you read the MTV story, it's Kerry explaining his position on civil unions, rather than explaining why he supports a Massachusetts amendment.

I'm not clear on whether Kerry will support the Massachusetts constitutional amendment as written or not. It meets with his criteria - but I've not yet read anything stating he supports this amendment. Kerry would be wise to stay out of this.

The Anti-Gay Activists at the Family Research Council are furious about the amendment passed by the Massachusetts Legislature. That amendment is a poison pill for the religious right. To keep marriage between a man and a woman in Massachusetts, they need to vote for civil unions for gays.

Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain

Chris Johnson answered my question about who is pulling the strings at the Taxpayer's League. From his post to Minneapolis Issues.

Wigley is Michael R. Wigley, age 50, of Orono, who I believe is the head guy behind the Taxpayer's League -- he is at least a board member. He's also a member of the Freedom Club, if my information is correct.
According to the Sontra Medical Corporation web site (www.sontra.com):
"Michael R. Wigley, M.B.A.
/Director/
Mr. Wigley joined the Sontra board in June 2002 upon the merger of ChoiceTel Communications with Sontra. Since 1989 Mr. Wigley has been President and Chief Executive Officer of Great Plains Companies, Inc. a diversified holding company. Mr. Wigley has B.S. and B.C.E. degrees from the University of Minnesota and holds a M.S. degree from Stanford University and a M.B.A. degree from Harvard Business School. Mr. Wigley serves on the boards of several private and non-profit organizations and is a regent of Luther College."


ChoiceTel Communications, then of Plymouth and now of Wayzata, sold its pay phone business to Access Anywhere of Minneapolis in December, 1999. Access Anywhere is the company that paid Tim Pawlenty $4,500 a month for 13 months while he campaigned for governor. Access Anywhere's CEO is Elam Baer.

Here's an interesting blog entry from somebody who knows Wigley personally:

"Minnesota Republican Governor-elect Tim Pawlenty has named a 16-person transition team full of friends of ours. The St. Paul Pioneer Press account is particularly astute: "Pawlenty fills transition team with moderate, conservative Republicans."The article notes the connections of several of the transition team members to Minneapolis's conservative think tank, the Center of the Amerian Experiment. Rocket Man is the immediate past chairman of the Center; both he and I are current members of its board. Mike Wigley, a member of the transition team who is a Center board member with us and who is also a member of the board of the Minnesota Taxpayers League, is simply a ferocious, take-no-prisoners conservative stalwart and advocate of limited government. He is only one of the sixteen, but on average, and despite the tenor of the Pioneer Press account, this is a very conservative transition team. May it be an omen!"

Chris Johnson
Fulton

Taxpayer League Missing in Action on Massive Tax Increase for Hennepin County Taxpayers

This was originally posted on TC Metro and MN Politics Discuss. It also went to the entire legislature.

I've cced the Taxpayer's League staff on this one - and I encourage others to do likewise. To email the Taxpayer's League Staff write:

dstrom@taxpayersleague.org, lrunbeck@taxpayersleague.org

Eva Young writes:

While at the [SD 58 Republican District] convention I met David Strom from the Taxpayer's
League. I asked Strom where the Taxpayer League was with opposing Stadium Taxes. Strom told me he thought the DFL if they were smart would make the republicans get the votes to support the stadium and the Northstar corridor without Democratic help. While I agree with this, it didn't answer my question about where the Taxpayer League was on this issue.

Rick Mons wrote:
Actually he did. He won't take a position until Wigley et. al. tell him what to do. Wigley, in turn, will coordinate strategy with the Republican leadership and Pawlenty's office. Your party and the
Taxpayers League are joined at the hip on all major issues.

Rick Mons
Tanglewood neighborhood of Shoreview

Reasonable question. My Hennepin County Sales Taxes are in imminent danger of getting raised 1/2 percent without a referendum for the Twin Stadium? Where is the Taxpayer's League? Who is Wigley?

The Taxpayer's League has been all over the media saying our bus system isn't missed because of the strike. Meanwhile there's been nary a peep about the Stadium Taxes.

It seems like Phil Krinkie, R Shoreview is fighting the fight for the taxpayer on his own. Where are the other Republicans?

I'm a taxpayer in Minneapolis. I don't mind paying for a transit system. I don't want ever increasing freeway capacity going through the city of Minneapolis (taking more taxable land out of circulation in the process - and increasing property taxes for the rest of us).

I'd love the deal that is being proposed for the Twins and the Vikings - that is - well gee if I weren't living here, the city and county wouldn't be getting my property taxes - so why can't my property taxes go to pay off my mortgage?

When will we see a "taxpayer's league alert" on the radio talking about the Stadium Boondoggle?

Kudos to Phil Krinkie for standing up for the taxpayer on this one - but he needs help from the Taxpayer's League.

Why is my county commissioner Mark Stenglein advocating the picking of the Hennepin County taxpayers on this stadium. He told me that the county needs to get some state funding for the HCMC. So why is he on Face to Face blathering about the stadium? What type of misplaced priorities are those?

My local branch library has no Saturday hours. That's a quality of life issue for me. Having professional sports in the city is not.

And gee - it seems that the Twins want Time Warner Cable to raise my cable rates to pay for a station that I never watch. Let the sports fans pay to watch the twins. I'd rather spend my money going to a Lynx or Gopher Women's Sports game.

Come on, Taxpayer's League - this taxpayer would like your help with keeping her taxes from being increased to pay for a pro-sports stadium - especially without a referendum. Or is Rick Mons correct - is the Taxpayer's League just a pawn of Pawlenty's? Say it isn't so.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Open Letter to Governor Pawlenty

Dear Governor,

I write this letter with a heavy heart. My name is Dennis Sanders and I live in North Minneapolis. I'm an ordained minister involved with various Republican organizations and I'm gay.

On Monday, I saw you address a rally of supporters of an amendment that would ban any attempt for me and many of my friends to enter into a marriage with someone of the same sex. I was stunned to see you at this rally and I also felt a sense of anger after having met you.

You see, I'm the secretary of the state chapter of Log Cabin Republicans, a national organization that is working for a more tolerant GOP. In 2002, I met with you along with chapter president Eva Young and treasurer Bob Ball at a restaurant in downtown Minneapolis. You were still a candidate for governor at the time. We spent and hour over lunch talking to you and giving you the opportunity to get to know us. You talked about trying to make the party more inclusive to moderate voices. We all thought this was a productive meeting and thought we had someone who would at the very least not try to harm the gay community. So, seeing you at that rally on Monday was sense of betrayal. It seemed like you had forgotten that you had met with three individuals who were just like in you in many ways; we pay taxes, we vote, we have regular jobs. You forgot this learning moment as it were to see that gays and lesbians are everyday folk. Instead, you chose to lend support to people who are nothing more than bigots. They use religion to hide their hatred of gay and lesbian people.

Governor, you should know that the people who gathered at that rally are not simply concerned about "defending" marriage. These people want to limit the hard won rights gays and lesbians have fought for. They not only want us to not marry, but they also want to deny us housing, domestic partner benefits, they want to allow employers to fire us because we are gay. In the end, these people want us back in the closet where we have to hide our trueselves. In my book, these people are no different than the segregationists who kept African-Americans down and treated as second-class citizens 50 years ago.

I know that many of the people at the rally on Monday profess a religious faith. I know that you are a man of faith as well. Well, as an ordained minister, I know that the God I serve is a God of grace and love. When God came to earth in the form of Jesus, he made friends with the poor and outcast. Many people talked about God at that rally, but don't think they were talking about the God I know.

As an African American, I have dealt with discrimination. I have had people call me racial slurs. I have a father who grew up in the Jim Crow South who was refused places to dine or sleep when traveling and turned away for jobs. This attempt to ban a certain group from getting married is no different. It is discrimination, Governor.

In your campaign, you used to make fun of former Governor Jesse Ventura for some of his antics believing he was an embarrassment. However, appearing at a rally of people who want to limit my rights is more embarrassing than anything the former Governor has done. You make it appear that you support bigotry and discrimination. I hope that is not the case, but it does look that way.

Governor, I urge you to talk to some gay people, especially gay couples. Get to know their lives. Maybe you can then see we are not the monsters we are made out to be, but just normal people wanting to be treated equally. You are always free to talk to me. I would be willing to show you that my friends and I are not a threat to society, but good people who just want some fairness.

I thank you for your time. Please, don't support people who hate others simply because they are different. I have to believe you are better than this. Godspeed.

Rev. Dennis Sanders
North Minneapolis