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Saturday, November 26, 2005

Peak Oil Politics

Peak Oil is a subject that will likely play a larger role in Minnesota politics in the near and distant future.

Minnesota consumes a lot of petroleum products. Petroleum is a resource we don't produce in this state. As the worldwide supply of oil (and natural gas) is depleted, we're going to see a lot of changes in Minnesota.

When the discovery and production of a finite resource like petroleum begins to level off, the analysts say that resource has "peaked". The U.S. production of petroleum peaked in the 1970's. Some analysts say that the world production of petroleum has peaked or will peak very soon.

There's still a lot of oil in the ground, but the problems that arise with oil depletion don't begin to occur when the last drop of oil is pumped... they begin where the rising curve of increased petroleum use intersects with the flattening curve of oil production. The first sign of a tight supply of oil is rising prices at the gas pump.

While petroleum is used in the manufacture of a wide variety of products, gasoline is a petroleum product that Minnesotans have come to depend on since the middle of the last century particularly for transportation. Public officials will have to begin to dismantle the policies that favor a petroleum dependent transportation system and begin creating a transportation system that is less dependent of petroleum.

What can we expect from our politicians? Some will deny reality and support the petroleum-dependent status quo. Others will respond by offering alternatives. Some politicians are already talking about investing more in LRT, BRT, hybrid cars, ethanol, creating walkable and bike-able communities.

I will be keeping an eye on this and other transportation matters over at the Twin Cities Daily Planet Transportation page.

Friday, November 25, 2005

More Ethics

Two articles on the front page of the New York Times were very disturbing. One has to do with an Iraqi detainee set free because a Sargeant failed to notice a small notation in his case file (that called) for the Iraqi to be held indefintely. Small notation? Why wasn't the notation larger? Was the intention that it not be seen? Was the sargeant demoted or at least reprimanded? Should he have been? or should someone suffer consequces who didn't make the notation larger?

And how about that little mention of "indefintely".

The other article was about the stem cell researcher who lied about the sources of the eggs used when a human embryo was cloned
and stem cells extracted. He resigned in public.

Both are lapses in ethical judgement. We have no statements from the American Military and so have no idea of what was really going on, or what if anything happened to those involved in this debacle. Were consequeces suffered because ethics were not adhered to? Were they even an issue? Do we have enough information to know the answers to any of these questions?

The researcher was too "focused on scientific development and may not have seen the ethical issues related to my research". What? He resigned anyway, and appeared to do so because he breached a code of ethics.

Egg on their faces

I love the Republican spin on the District 43 Special Election.
It downplayed it, and acting as though a reduction of Republican members in the MN Senate were nothing, and noted that it was a swing district that went for Kerry in 2004. So? Shouldn't the effort be made to get it back? According to Mark Drake, speaking for the Minnesota Republican party: "this was a very low voter turnout, about 20%. (And it was) in an off year. It's hard to magnify that and say there's a trend going on". He's only right in one sense: it is unscientific to extrapolate from one instance. Wonder what he will say after the 2006 elections.

The truth is that all Special Elections are won or lost regardless of a low voter turnout. In fact, it is said, that the low voter turnout helps Republicans.

Being a Republican I cannot hope for a DFL sweep in 2006; however I can and do, hope for a rational sweep in 2006 regardless of the political label. That is all I ask for. Maybe the pendulum is starting to stop in the middle - where it belongs.

PRT and the 2005 Election - Down the Minnesota Media Memory Hole

At the beginning of his campaign Dean Zimmermann stated that he wanted to make "changing the transportation system" his campaign theme.

During Zimmermann's term as 6th Ward Councilman. Dean was a tireless promoter of PRT. He had given many PowerPoint presentations for PRT in Minneapolis and elsewhere. He even designed his own PRT system for Minneapolis.

Zimmermann's PRT promotion resulted in several favorable articles being written about his PRT "vision" for Minneapolis. This article in the Southwest Journal is typical of the "Gee whiz" coverage Zimmermann and PRT got in the Twin Cities media.

Early in the campaign, Barbara Lickness sent a letter that asked the Southwest Journal to investigate Zimmermann's PRT claims. I also asked the SWJ and several publications to do an investigative article on PRT so that voters would have facts to determine where the candidates stood on transportation.

Nothing happened.

Most of the articles about the 6th Ward stressed how similar the candidates were. Even when Zimmermann spoke in favor of PRT and Lilligren rejected PRT in the debates, there was no coverage of the issue. When Zimmermann's house was raided by the FBI, he received a boost from well-meaning lefties who felt he was being persecuted. The election was decided by 64 votes.

Even after the election, there was no mention in the media of Zimmermann's promotion of PRT.

As we look forward to the 2006 elections, will PRT again disappear down the MInneapolis Media Memory Hole? Will the Strib forget that Senator Michele Bachmann and Representative Mark Olson also promoted the bogus PRT boondoggle?

Learn more about PRT at the PRT is a Joke web site.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Wizard Marks on "Mau-Mauing"

There's a post on the Minneapolis Issues List titled "[Mpls] mau-mauing was >>Ken Avidor on Krause" that takes issue with this Lloydletta post.

The author, Wizard Mark's use of the term "mau-mauing" is a little strange since Kenya's Mau-Mau Uprising is viewed today by historians as a struggle for independence against a British colonial rule... like the American Revolution.. anyways, in her post, Wizard Marks says the following:

"There has been a long stream of accusations and innuendo flung at Smith Parker (now Smith Partners) by Ms. Young, Mr. Avidor, and other STRIDE members and fellow travelers, implying that there is something nefarious in Smith Partners' relationship to Hennepin County, the 35W Access Project, the Lake Street Repaving Project, and other adventures in transit and road building. Conflict of interest is one of the accusations, though nothing like proof has been proffered."

I'm not sure what sort of proof Wizard Marks requires, but the STRIDE website has a list of 5 conflicts of interest for the law firm formerly known as Smith Parker.

I suspect that Wizard Marks was really ticked off by the fact that so many supporters of the Excess Project and the Lake Street demi-freeway were defeated at the polls this year... Scott Persons, Marie Hauser, Paula Gilbertson, Peter McLaughlin and even the "ambivalent" Dean Zimmermann.

I don't think that the election was a referendum on the Excess Project. Instead, I think the voters rejected a bunch of unpleasant, unattractive candidates who hitched their political careers to a bunch of discredited notions, one being that highway expansion brings "economic development" to "depressed" urban areas.

Wizard Marks needs to read some Jane Jacobs:.

"Well, you notice how the roads and streets look the same everywhere? Well, they are done to regulations in some cases and recommendations in more cases of traffic engineers. And presumably most of us assume when we hear of some professional, like traffic engineers, that they know what they are doing from real life experience. I used to suppose that too. But its not so."

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A bad night for suburban Theocrats.....

The Minnesota Senate GOP caucus lost a seat to the DFL tonight. With 31 of 32 precincts reporting, Terri Bonoff holds a winning 9 point advantage over Republican Judy Johnson in SD 43, replacing Pawlenty co-hort David Gaither, who has joined the governor's staff.

In SD 19, hard line Theocrat Amy Koch won a solid victory over challengers from the DFL and IP. She replaces Mark Ourada, another conservative Republican.

Majority Leader Dean Johnson and state DFL party chair Brian Melendez should be very happy tonight. The best the GOP could hope for was to break even, and they lost one of the two seats.

Plymouth mayor Judy Johnson was well qualified to serve in the Senate, but her social conservative stances did not help her in this case.

Senator Day and Senator Bachmann should be squirming too, as the candidates in SD 43 staked out very clear positions on an anti-family marriage amendment. The anti-Bachmann candidate won.

Moderate Republicans - come out, come out, wherever you are!

Lloydletta's Nooz Calls SD 43 for Terri Bonoff

Results here. Bonoff is ahead. 4 Plymouth precincts out, 6 Minnetonka precincts out. Obviously there was moderate republican cross over for Bonoff. Judy Johnson won't be able to make that up. Judy blew the question on Intelligent Design creationism at the chamber of commerce, and chose to support the Bachmann amendment.

Creationist Minnetonka School Board member, Dave Eaton is toast the next time he faces the voters.

Republican Amy Koch handily won district 19.

MDE Trolling for Contributions to a Legal Defense Fund


According to Michael Brodkorb the blog Inside Minnesota Politics is suing him for copyright infringement. Brodkorb removed the sourced Inside Minnesota Politics Photo from his site and thought the situation over. It seems that now he's been contacted again by his domains by proxy service, and so is looking into starting a legal defense fund. He is trolling for contributions to this from his readers.

When the copyright issue first got discussed over at MDE, I contacted Inside Minnesota Politics for comment, and got no response.

Developing. . .

Steve Sviggum Flogs Bachmann Amendment at Poorly Attended Fundraiser

Hat tip: Michael Brodkorb.

Sviggum was the keynote speaker Tuesday night at a Beltrami County Republican fund-raiser at Bemidji State University's David Park House, where about 35 people heard stump speeches from six candidates for various offices.
Source: Bemidji Pioneer, November 22, 2005

35 people is a pretty poor turnout for a fundraiser featuring the house speaker. He bashes the urban areas and brings up gay marriage.....

The Bemidji area missed $33 million in bonding projects in 2004 because the Senate didn't pass a bonding bill, while House Republicans faced re-election that fall, he said. And this year, DFLers forced a special session and government shutdown just to embarrass GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty, he said.
Source: Bemidji Pioneer, November 22, 2005

He can thank Republican Senator Michele Bachmann for that one.

"Bills were deliberately not taken up because of the marriage issue," Bachmann noted in a letter to supporters posted on a local website. "We had lost the battle, but encouraged one another that our God would be victorious in the end."

Source: G.R. Anderson Jr. Michele Bachmann heads an all-star cast of GOP Christian flat-earthers in the Sixth District. Somebody Say Oh Lord! City Pages, February 23, 2005

And they've got a new name for the Bachmann amendment:

Important to Myers is the Marriage and Family Act, "which defines marriage as one man and one woman. If you send me to St. Paul, I will work very hard … to try to bring that before the voters."

Moe will not support the act because state law already bars it, Myers said. "He's not going to come out and say that he's for gay rights, because Frank is a middle-of-the-road kind of guy. But I'm not a middle-of-the-road kind of guy … it was the law of the land in Massachusetts.

New name for the amendment, same old gay baiting. Doesn't state sponsored gambling pose a threat to marriages and families? Where is Minnesotans for Marriage on that one?

From Michael Brodkorb/MDE comments:


StPaul_DFLer said...

35 people were all they could attract? Many years ago, I remember a photo of 60 showing up to protest Norm Coleman. The local GOP ridiculed that 60 for being a very vocal but tiny minority.

So, what does that say for the Speaker of the House when he can only gather 35 people in a 70,000 voter senate district on a university campus of 5000? out of that 35, how many were campaign supporters of the people present?

35 is a joke. He's got more staffers in the caucus than that.
2:10 PM
Sean said...

The Republicans message for all the storm and bluster seems to be failing to draw much of a crowd these days. In the 6th there was a forum with about 55 people (Mike McIntee and a few Democrats were there as well) and that forum included all of the announced candidates who wanted to take Screech's seat, so you've got to figure Michelle Bachman's strangely effete husband and her brood were there as well as other campaign staffers, leaving an actual crowd of oh... 3 or 4.

Sean Broom

I went to that 6th Congressional District Forum and reported on it for Dump Michele Bachmann. There were about 70 people in the room excluding the candidates. I counted.

Governor Candidate Steve Kelley on MyDD

You can check it out here. You can register for the site and ask questions.

Monday, November 21, 2005

SD 43: Bonoff and Johnson Answer Wayzata Schools Legislative Action Commission Questions

Matt Abe at North Star Liberty posts the questionaire.

Former Hennepin County Commissioner, Mary Tambornino, in a post on Lloydletta's Nooz earlier today, endorsed Terri Bonoff for this seat.

Election day is tomorrow. If you live in Plymouth, Minnetonka or Buffalo - please vote.

And so it starts

I just read something that says that those who dare to suggest that they have a different idea about the war in Iraq, such as bring the troops home, will feel the full weight of the White House attempting to discredit them. Talk about Security: no talking; no disagreeing, no free exchange of ideas, etc.,etc.

Sounds like my Grandmother!

A Republican for Bonoff

Terri Bonoff may be too liberal for my taste; but she does stand for things I think are more than okay. First and foremost for me she would make sure that I retained the ability to make my own decisions. Pro abortion: I dont think she is, and I am certainly not. But I get to decide I am not, and nobody else does.

She would also not try to pass a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. From everything I have read about her, she would try to capture the commitment in both gay and straight marriages for the betterment of society. This alone would take the wind out of the sails of those who say marriage is only between a man and a woman, and is sacred. They forget history: marriage, or betrothals often between infants and children, was very much a stratgy to assure continuation of heritage. And more than often it worked. But let's not re-write history about marriage; there is too much of that is going on about other subjects.

As for those that question why a Republican would think like this. They too forget history. In the not so distant past (20-25 years ago) the platform of the Republican party contained nothing about abortion or gay marriage. It was only when the fundamentalists, that I think were disenchanted with the Democrats, took over the party that these topics became the litmus test against which everything else was measured.

But, I digress. I will vote for Terri Bonoff in the Special Election in District 43; I want her in the State Senate to protect me from those that would help me out of everything I own.

Bill Cooper's TCF Bank Loves LRT (In Denver)

In spite of the overwhelming success of the Hiawatha LRT, a lot of Republicans in Minnesota still oppose LRT and Northstar.

It's ironic that Bill Cooper's TCF Financial is quoted in this article as supporting the growing LRT system in Denver.

The latest financial institution to jump in, according to the article, is Minnesota's TCF Financial Corp., which up till recently "has largely limited its presence in Colorado to the Denver suburbs and Colorado Springs...."That limit doesn't apply anymore ? TCF is opening a new branch "on the busy corner of 16th and California streets. "

"It is about convenience" said Wayne Marty, president of TCF Bank in Colorado. "You place a retail outlet where the people are."

And how are all these people getting there? Apparently, Denver's light rail transit (LRT) system and other public transport are a major factor."

Does this mean that Bill Cooper will split with Minnesota Republican anti-LRT forces like the Taxpayers League and the Center for the American Experiment?

Kandiyohi: Conflict of Interest?

There are two articles in the latest issue of the Southwest Journal by Scott Russell that folks in South Minneapolis need to take a close look at. The two articles, "Power to the People" and "Thinking Green Locally" could really be one article about a burgeoning new market in alternative energy and the city's plans to encourage this new market. Councilwoman Lisa Goodman is quoted talking about a "municipal utility"

"Southwest City Councilmembers Scott Benson (11th Ward) and Lisa Goodman (7th Ward) are kicking around ways to put renewable energy higher on the city's priority list in their new four-year term."

The second article is about a new "for-profit consulting business that would work with developers and cities to promote alternative energy and green buildings."

The Kandiyohi Development Corporation is headed by former Executive Director of the Green Institute, Michael Krause. According to the article, Michael Krause has very close ties to Councilwoman Lisa Goodman:

"Most of the company's officials have close ties to City Councilmember Lisa Goodman (7th Ward), who also has an interest in promoting alternative energy sources.

"Havey and Goodman are friends and live in condos in the same building; Wilson has worked as an intern in Goodman's office for the past three summers, focusing on such issues as Downtown greening, the new stormwater utility fee and green roof policies.

"Krause and Goodman jointly own a farm in Kandiyohi County - the source of the company's name. “It's the ground that grounds me,” Krause said."

Goodman is the chair of the Community Development Committee on the Council and Krause is still a member of the Planning Commission.

"As Krause becomes more involved in local developments, he said he would eventually have to step down from the Planning Commission. “There will be too many conflicts,” he said."

The article mentions another member of the Kandiyohi team, Evan Reminick. Neither the SWJ article or the Kandiyohi website bio of Reminick mentions that he works for Smith Partners. Smith Partners is a new law firm that survived the recent break-up of Smith Parker. Smith Parker was the law firm promoting the 35W Access Project and the Lake Street Reconstruction that many people in South Minneapolis felt was entangled in conflicts of interest.

According to its website, Kandiyohi Corporation has a pretty ambitious plan to get involved with...

"...projects as varied as neighborhood-level redevelopment and statewide initiatives. Furthermore, no other firm in the Twin Cities market is as well positioned to work across sectors and align its project focus with emerging policy at the federal, state and local levels."

It will be interesting to see how Goodman and Krause will be able to pursue their respective goals stated in the SWJ articles and avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest on development and energy projects in Minneapolis.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Overturn Roe v Wade? Eagerness can produce Destruction

Rep Thomas Davis (R. Va) Chair of the Government Reform Committee,warned in a speech last week, that "overturn(ing) Roe v Wade could produce a political backlash and a sea change in suburban voting patterns". Think of all those Soccer Moms that were so carefully courted, and who actually believed that the clock would not be turned back to the 1960's.

Did anybody really think that overturning Roe v Wade would be a positive for the Republicans, or fundamentalists (as I like to call them). Even though nominee Alito thinks there is no right to abortion (there isn't), there is a right to privacy ( the Constitution would not be viable without it). Actually, our way of life is based on personal decision making or privacy. We have all agreed, that we get to make decisions for ourselves, and that those with whom we consult are those whom we trust. To my way of thinking, in this day and age, this seldom means the government. But that is another discussion.

This discussion is about turning back the clock. It is bad enough to chip away at the law and say that the right to privacy is limited and does not include abortion. So then, what else doen't it include? Nobody has asked that question. But, it should be asked and answered.

Do not mistake. I am not pro-abortion. I do not know anyone who is. But I am pro-decision making. I am certain I make better decisions for me than anyone else does.

More Interesting Analysis on SD 43 and SD 19 Races

Check out First Ringer here. I know that some of the base is concerned about Johnson's lack of fiscal conservatism. First Ringer gives this some voice.

With the district leaning blue and Bonoff's past of teaching Republicans education policy from the school of hard knocks, the Johnson/Bonoff brouhaha has the potential for being a competitive campaign. While special elections generally favor Republicans, conservative support for Johnson’s candidacy has been soft, or to take the diplomacy out of it, nonexistent. Prominent near-by office holders, some even Johnson’s potential future Republican colleagues, have expressed doubt at Johnson’s commitment to the party line and are already whispering that the Plymouth mayor is another Sheila Kiscaden or Martha Robertson waiting to happen: i.e. a caucus rebel and future caucus jumper. Conservative interest in the seat wasn’t powerful enough however to lure a name into the contest, with the closet attempt being a mention of lobbyist and stadium advocate Bruce Lambrecht who ultimately didn’t run. Minor effects to recruit former City Council member Dick Allendorf (who lost in 2003 and is running for Council again) and former 2002 GOP endorsed candidate for Hennepin County Commissioner John Knight equally stalled on the runway.

I called John Knight when Gaither resigned and urged him to run for the seat. Knight is known for his strong advocacy in opposition to the Stadium Tax. Knight told me at that time that he was urging Judy Johnson to run, and mentioned that Bruce Lambrecht was another possibility. Lambrecht pulled out. His candidacy had severe problems because he stands to make a big profit on his real estate should the Twins Stadium tax get imposed. He also lobbied for Twinsville.

GOP Wingman commented:

Judy is in no way a RINO. Not only does she attend her own party caucus meetings, but she visits nearby caucus meetings as well. She drives an SUV with a Bush-Cheney bumpersticker. She's very conservative. The advantage she'll have in the Special Election is her name ID. Her ridiculous signs throughout Plymouth in 2002 made her name a household commodity.
# posted by GOPWingman : 3:37 PM

The Strib endorsed Terri Bonoff for Senate District 43 and Independence Party candidate Del Haag for District 19.

District 19: Del Haag

Superior preparation makes Buffalo City Council Member Del Haag a standout in the three-way race that will fill the seat left vacant by the resignation of Republican Sen. Mark Ourada. A career in state and local government, 17 years on the City Council and leadership posts in both the state and national League of Cities have schooled him well.

Haag, 58, would be an instant expert in the Senate on the intricacies of the state-local relationship and a knowledgeable proponent of greater government efficiency. He would also be a needed advocate for vocational retraining for adults, an expert voice on water quality and a dependable vote for balanced investment in both roads and transit.

After long service in nonpartisan posts, Haag found the Independence Party a better fit than either the DFL or the GOP. We hope the IP's waning fortunes don't deny his candidacy a serious look.

Both the GOP candidate, Amy Koch, and the DFLer, John Dietering, are making their first bids for elective office. Dietering, 60, a former small-business owner and tax specialist, has a good head for public policy and commendable commitment to improving the lot of working people. Koch, 34, who works in her family's business, is a social conservative who seems less prepared to take on weightier matters like education and transportation funding. Neither seems likely to quickly become a leading voice in the Senate. Haag does.

District 43: Terri Bonoff

A more difficult choice awaits voters in the Plymouth-Minnetonka district vacated by Sen. David Gaither, who resigned to become Pawlenty's chief of staff. Two able, energetic women -- both clearly legislative material -- are vying for the seat.

Narrowly, we prefer DFLer Terri Bonoff, a former business executive and Minnetonka civic activist, over Plymouth Mayor Judy Johnson, the Republican candidate.

Bonoff, 48, has staked out clear positions we admire on early childhood education, the expansion of light-rail transit, a new Twins stadium, abortion and gay marriage. Johnson, 43, is either noncommittal or at odds with this newspaper on each of those fronts.

That said, we admire the pragmatism and consensus-building ability Johnson has exhibited as president of the League of Minnesota Cities. To her credit, she has bucked her party's leadership at the Capitol to lobby for a gas tax increase and more aid to cities.

But Bonoff also has proven leadership skill. Her experience as vice president of a large software company would bring a needed sensitivity to business to the Senate's majority caucus, and her knowledge of school finance and experience on the Minnetonka Planning Commission would serve her district well.

Bonoff's pro-stadium tax position (without a referendum) probably endeared her to the Strib as well.

Planned Parenthood of Minnesota Action has endorsed Terri Bonoff.

Hatch's campaign Losing Support

Michael Brodkorb aka Minnesota Democrats Exposed has the screenshot of State Senator Saxhaug being listed as a Hatch supporter.

Rep. Rukavina is upset that some Iron Range Legislators are supporting Kelly Doran. From the Mesabi Daily News, November 19, 2005

"I have no idea where Tom Bakk is coming from," said state Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, regarding the DFL Cook state senator’s support of Twin Cities businessman and developer Doarn for the party’s gubernatorial endorsement. "What's so disappointing ... so disheartening is that no one in the (Iron Range) delegation has used the attorney general's office more on issues than Tom Bakk."


"Saxhaug had told Hatch he was supporting him and then he shows up at that kick-off," Rukavina said.

The Mesabi Daily News gives more background:

Some of the reasons

Bakk, who could not be at last Sunday's event, said in a telephone interview on Saturday that he believes the public is looking for a "fresh face who can get things done" and break through what he called "political gridlock."

Bakk also said it's Doran, not Hatch, who is most electable, in large part because Hatch is a career politician.

"Kelly doesn't bring all the baggage to the campaign that Hatch does. To win, we will need some support from the business community and I think with Hatch that would be tough. He's taken plenty of businesses on and so support for him will be problematic," the Cook senator said regarding Hatch’s litigation against several companies, especially in health care.

The problem isn't taking businesses on who deserve investigation. The problem is that Hatch has overreached with what an Attorney General is supposed to do. It's problematic when he tries to tell a business who should be on their board of directors. That's not his role.

Kelly Doran has shown that he can spend lots of his own money. John Wodele signed on early and will make big money on the media end. The question is whether Doran will be able to motivate volunteers.

Hatch has other political baggage. It speaks volumes that he threated to run in the primary if the DFL failed to endorse a man during the 2002 race. He deserves some hard hitting questions on his reasoning for that move.