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Friday, December 30, 2005

DFL Blog on Zimmermann Mentions "Personal Rapid Transit" (PRT).

DFL Blog rings in the new year with this thought:

"One wonderful thing about 2006 is that Dean Zimmermann will no longer be on the Minneapolis City Council...."

The DFL blog post mentions Zimmermann's promotion of PRT and also mentions Michele Bachmann's support for PRT.

Does this signal a change in DFL policy on Personal Rapid Transit?

DFLers at the state and local levels have voted for PRT. The progressive think tank, Institute for Local Reliance (ILSR) and its head David Morris still promotes PRT and opposes rail transit. David Morris is a regular on the local Air America talk radio station.

PRT, like other gadgetbahn schemes is a stalking horse for right-wing and libertarian anti-transit groups here and in other cities. There are ties between groups like Seattle's CETA (Coalition for Effective Transportation) and Twin Cities PRT proponents. PRT is more about stopping light rail and commuter rail projects. Some of these anti-transit gadgetbahn groups receive funding from the auto, highway and oil industries who have an interest in stopping transit initiatives.

The recent special elections in Saint Cloud have demonstrated that Northstar is very popular in the northern metro. The DFL has a good chance to win in 16b next year. DFL-endorsed Jim Huhtala is a strong supporter of Northstar and LRT. Representative Mark Olson, like his pod-partner Dean Zimmermann has been a tireless promoter of PRT and an opponent of LRT and Northstar for years.

DFLers needs to listen to responsible transit groups like Transit for Livable Communities that has a resolution opposing public funding of PRT projects. The DFL leadership should make sure that DFL legislators never again lend their names to PRT bills like Senator Mee Moua and Senator Yvonne Prettner-Solon did the last couple of years.

If the DFL is smart, they will hang the PRT/gadgetbahn albatross around the necks of Representative Mark Olson, Senator Michele Bachmann and other right-wing Republicans foolish enough to continue supporting it.


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

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Rebecca Otto's Record on the Bachmann Amendment

I got this in email from a reader:

You indicated that, "As a legislator, Otto was the only House Democrat to vote in favor of putting the proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage on the ballot." I checked with her, and found that this is not true. What gives?


This was referring to this post, where I talked about Politics in Minnesota (PIM) picking up on a post here and on Dump Bachmann here, discussing Rick Stafford - Chair of the DNC LGBT Caucus - endorsing Rebecca Otto. I was quoting from Politics in Minnesota (generally I indent material when I'm quoting from someone else here.) Before I quoted Politics in Minnesota, I said: "From this week's Politics in Minnesota".

After I quoted PIM, I added my two cents (so I'm quoting from an earlier Lloydletta post here):

Otto was the only house democrat to lose. She was joined by many other house democrats in her vote on the Bachmann amendment, including Al Juhnke, Mary Jane Otremba, Bev Scalze and Denise Dieterich. None of the house democrats who voted against the Bachmann amendment lost. Even though Al Juhnke voted FOR the Bachmann amendment, the Minnesota Citizens in Defense of Marriage still used billboard ads to attack Al Juhnke as supporting gay marriage.


I should have made the point that Otto was the only Minnesota house democrat to lose in 2004. Otherwise, I stand by what I wrote above.

It will be interesting to see if DFL congressional candidate Elwyn Tinklenberg pays attention to the recent win in St Cloud. Both Tarryl Clark and Larry Hawes were on record as opposed to the Bachmann amendment. Their opponents tried to make the Bachmann amendment a campaign issue and it didn't work for them. Tinklenberg made a point of saying that he supported the Federal Marriage Amendment at his campaign announcement speech.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

52% Votes Reported, Tarryl Clark Has Comfortable Lead Over Dan Ochsner

Focusing on abortion and gay marriage aren't enough of a strategy to get a win. Results here. Tarryl is leading by over 900 votes at this time.

Matt Abe isn't too happy about the Eck Wreck.

It seems that the only things that will get Minnesota Republicans, from the party leadership at the state and BPOUs to the grassroots, serious about winning elections is a Democrat governor and a DFL-controlled House and Senate.

Read Ramsey County Judge George T. Stephenson's "Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law" from last Friday, posted on the mn-politics-discuss Yahoo! Group. Judge Stephenson's ruling is clear and correct. The entire endorsement process suffered a system-wide failure.

The Pioneer Press quoted House Speaker Steve Sviggum (R-Kenyon), "I feel real bad for the citizens of St. Cloud. They will not have a choice now. The write-in option now might be the only way to go." Who will be held accountable for this train wreck? The DFL had nothing to do with it; all they had to do was stand back and smile. Of course, this sort of thing happens in both parties, it's just the Republicans' turn.


Matt also suggested that donors are going to close their checkbooks. My personal opinion is Ron Carey should take some responsibility - but it looks like he passes the buck of blame to the Senate and House caucus.

UPDATE: According to AP, Ox has conceded. The results of this special election are being trumpeted by the "Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee". I've never heard of that group.

Results - with one precinct remaining:

Becker: 792
Ox: 4267
Clark: 6320
Writeins: 45

From the AP:

"Whenever you have a write-in situation, it's virtually unheard-of that a write-in candidate will win," said Mark Drake, spokesman for the state Republican party. "It's the political equivalent of a 'Hail Mary' pass, that race."

The election fills the seat vacated by DFL Rep. Joe Opatz, who left to become interim president of Central Lakes College in Brainerd.

The House district covers the core of St. Cloud, including St. Cloud State University, whose students are currently on break.

Drake said the turmoil in the House race cost the GOP the Senate race.

"The Ek situation clearly created confusion among the voters and drowned out our message (in the Senate race) that Tarryl Clark is a liberal who is out of touch with the district," Drake said.


That's self-serving. The Ek situation hurt, but Dan Ochsner's campaign also had a number of self-inflicted wounds. It was notable that the St Cloud Chamber of Commerce took a pass on endorsing in this race. This was a big loss for the MCCL which was Ochsner's one big endorsement - and this was a loss for the MCCL in an area where they have strength.

But Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, said it's only the Republicans' fault for picking a House candidate who didn't live in the district. He said Clark won her Senate race because she focused on issues that matter to voters.

"I do believe it sent a strong message again that folks in Minnesota care about education, health care, transportation and the environment, and the divisive issues that Republicans have been using come in second," Johnson said. "It's the core issues that continue to win DFL seats with us."

Clark had already run for the seat twice, losing by just 496 votes in 2002.

Republican Sen. Dave Kleis won a race for St. Cloud mayor in November, prompting him to resign from the Senate seat he'd held since 1994.

The district takes in St. Cloud as well as a mostly suburban area to the west and south.

The special election won't change the balance of power in the closely divided state House or Senate. The DFL majority in the Senate improved to 38-29, including Sen. Sheila Kiscaden, IP-Rochester, who caucuses with the Democrats, while the House GOP maintained its one-seat advantage.


This pretty much means the marriage amendment in Minnesota is dead.

Governor Pushing Stadium Tax Increase Again

Strib here.

Call Governor Pawlenty at 651-296-3391.... Tell him to just say no to a stadium tax increase.

Strib on St Cloud Special Elections


Here
.

Ox also defends the doctored photo on his campaign piece.

Another brochure -- with a photo of a Bush rally last year that Ochsner emceed, but with the Bush-Cheney signs changed to ones for "Ox" -- also drew attention in the Senate race.

Critics say it disproves Ochsner's claim to be "Central Minnesota's voice of integrity."

Ochsner defended the digital imaging switch as a necessary shortcut in a brief campaign. "We had to get things going quick," he said.

"Nobody thought there was anything wrong with it. There's no legal problems with it."


In my opinion, Ox ran a campaign that was too stupid to win. Most of the time, DFLers tend to run campaigns in that way.

Also Pawlenty has said that he thinks Clark will win:

Now Haws, a three-term Stearns County commissioner, is an odds-on favorite to beat Kay Ek, a newcomer to electoral politics who entered the House race only last week as an 11th-hour write-in candidate. The Senate race is thought to be closer, but even as loyal a Republican as Pawlenty suggested last week that DFLer Clark, who lost to Kleis in both 2000 and 2002, will probably win this time.

"Tarryl has run twice before," said Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar. "She's a known commodity in the St. Cloud area. We're cautiously optimistic."

Although central Minnesota is known as a hotbed of religious conservatism, Johnson suggested that "social issues are not carrying the day" as they did in the past. "Core issues" such as education, transportation, health care and the environment are gaining more attention from voters, he said.

Ochsner, Ek and the IP's Becker are touting their opposition to abortion, support for a constitutional ban on gay marriage and fiscal conservatism. Besides the "core issues," Clark and Haws stress positive efforts to reduce abortion instead of new restrictions -- "The Ten Commandments didn't end sin," Haws says -- and note that a 1997 state statute outlawing gay marriage has not been challenged.


This will be interesting. A Republican friend of mine - who has a gay son, will be voting for Clark - he said his choice was between high taxes and his son - and he'd rather vote for someone who would raise his taxes than someone who would attack his son.