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Saturday, February 25, 2006

Blogs on Upper St Clair IB Program

The IB controversy in Upper St Clair, PA gets covered by Oliver Willis, one of the big name liberal blogs. Willis links to a number of other blogs covering this, including some live journals by some of the students affected. This is from Queenbahookie.

The IB kids at school are v. passionate right now. We're staging a silent protest by wearing black armbands every day this week, leading up to the school board meeting next Monday.

The disgusting comments found in the article don't even begin to indicate the kinds of things that were said at the meeting. I mean, I wasn't there, but a lot of my friends were. Comments about IB detracting from "Judeo-Christian/American values," comments about how IB sounds like Marxism, that it is making us anti-American, downplaying Pearl Harbor and 9/11, oh, and vague mutterings about homosexuals in IB. The meeting will be broadcasted on Channel 19 until Thursday.

There's going to be a rally outside the USC municipal building on Monday. All the homosexual communists will be there, you know.

Accalia Rue, an Upper St Clair Alum writes:

Current mood: disappointed

International Baccalaureate Program
I am sad to announce that after nearly four hours of passionate speakers and debate, in a crowded auditorium of over 1,000 students, parents, alumni, and citizens, the school board voted 5-4 to eliminate the IB program. The five members of the school board who voted to cut the program have only been on the school board for two months, and either a) don't have children in the schools or b) don't have children in the IB program.

A week earlier, members of the school boad voiced concerns that the program was "anti-American" and "anti-Christian," and that the program had its roots in Marxism. At this meeting, however, they said that they were cutting the program because it was their duty to "remain fiscally responsible" to the school district, despite the fact that they did not even bother to really look into the financial records of our school district before deciding to cut the program.

The ib program costs around $80,000 dollars, and our school board has a budget of 50 million. Not to mention the fact that all of our teachers are provided with their own personal laptops, and the high school's football team recently just replaced their astroturf, and gets carted around on coach buses.

It is sad because the members of the school board who voted to kill the program clearly came into the meeting with the intentions of doing just that, despite the outcry of the community.

This has been the second controversial case since hte new members of the school baord were elected two months ago, the first having been dropped after the ACLU came in and threatened legal action because the school board wanted to ban any political talk/activity during school hours.

They're currently looking into legal action over this matter, and as a concerned alumni, I can only say that I hope we slap 'em with a big, hefty lawsuite.

Froth Slosh B'Gosh talks of Wingnuts in the Backyard.

The bruhaha over in the Upper St. Clair school district is yet another example of what happens when stealth candidates run under the radar, and start implementing wingnuttery against the wishes of the very people who elected them, and who were unaware of their concealed agendas.

Yes wingnuttery is alive and well on the Upper St. Clair School Board. The code phrases are there for all to see.

Newly elected wingnut Daniel Iracki had this to say about the program, (The United States was founded on) "Judeo-Christian values, and we have to be careful about what kind of values our children are being taught."

From the P-G: Dr. Iracki and other newly elected members of the board expressed opposition to the program on the grounds that it is Marxist, anti-Christian, un-American and too costly.

Edwatch is encouraging their followers to bring anti-IB resolutions to the March 7 precinct caucuses.

Pittsburgh Channel 4 Investigative Report on Edwatch and the Quists

It's a touching story about Allen and Julie Quist, and Edwatch, the tax-exempt arm of Michele Bachmann's campaign.

Letters Come In Response to Florida GOP Giving 150K to Anti-gay Activists

Senator Lee:

Last year I contacted your office to congratulate you on your opposition to specific legislation to prolong the life of Terri Schiavo. I had just purchased a home in Apollo Beach and was heartened to have a representative who appreciated the limits to which the government should go to when interfering in the life of individuals in our society. Unfortunately it seems my initial impression of you seems to be unwarranted.

I am a lifelong Republican and am a past Executive Director of the Nevada Republican Party (1995 to 1999). I am a resident of Florida despite owning homes in both Florida and Nevada. I have not yet registered to vote in Florida but plan on doing so on Monday because of statements attributed to you in the February 24, 2006 Saint Petersburg Times. The article, "State GOP sinks $150,000 more into antigay marriage initiative," quotes you as saying "I supported it because I know it's an important issue to Republicans."

I will be registering as a Republican and I assure you I will not be supporting you in your primary, if you have one, for Chief Financial Officer. In fact I will not support you for any office you may run for this cycle or in the future.

Whether someone is a supporter or an opponent of Gay Marriage there is no arguing the fact that Gay Marriage is illegal in Florida. No matter your stance on this issue a Constitutional Amendment is waste of time and money. There is no chance the State of Florida will approve Gay Marriage in the foreseeable future. The only way Gay Marriage will be legal in Florida is if the US Supreme Court rules that Florida must recognize such a marriage preformed in another State.

If the US Supreme Court makes such a ruling it will not matter whether Florida outlaws Gay Marriage in their Statutes or in their Constitution. This ploy by the Florida Republican Party is nothing more then pandering to a certain segment of the population for partisan gain. Your support of the Party’s donation to this cause is also pure political pandering on your part. I am sure this is a ploy by you to repair your image after your stance on the Terri Schiavo issue. Rest assured this has backfired as far as I am concerned.

I am not a political neophyte. I have been actively involved in politics since 1988. That election cycle I started a practice I intend to continue in Florida. Every Primary and General Election I send a postcard to every registered voter in my precinct. In that postcard I endorse certain candidates, rest assured your name will not be on the list. Although I am not known in Florida a postcard from a neighbor is just as effective as the endorsements you will receive. A personal message from a neighbor is a powerful and effective message.

Since I did not hear from you or you office when I contacted you last year and voiced support and I do not expect to hear from you on this issue.


Dan Burdish
Apollo Beach, FL

See also: They Don't Call it the Stupid Party for Nothing

Entenza a Problem in North Country

Schoolsout, a frequent critic of my criticisms of "rural dems" seems to know a lot about the legislature. Now the democrats I was criticizing at the time were Elwyn Tinklenberg, Al Juhnke, Mike Hatch and Collin "no gays live in my district" Peterson. Schoolsout characterized this as "attacking rural dems", even though Tinklenberg and Hatch are not rural dems. He seems to agree with me on minority leader Matt Entenza.

Here's his latest comment:

Entenza is extremely abusive with employees and even some of his colleagues in the House.....this is well documented with stories in the Strib, etc.

He is a power-at-all-costs Dem and it will ultimately eat him alive. Remember, this is the same guy who hired a private investigator to dig up dirt on Mike Hatch last year. He was hoping to derail Hatch's gubanatorial bid and clear the way for Mr. Power Hungry to run for Guv rather than AG.

In fact, it is also well know by Democrat insiders that Entenza is considered to be the 'weak link' in a statewide ticket. There is real worry among these insiders that once he is 'out on the trail' in earnest, he will be big trouble for the ticket. He is especially berated on the Iron Range. Rep. Rukavina, Sertich, Anderson, and Dill have no time for him and will NOT campaign for him. Add Sen. Bakk and Tommassoni to the list of the 'anyone-but-Matt' list and you can understand the trouble he is having within the DFL powerbases in this state. Couple that with a name like "johnson" in the race on the GOP ticket, and this could be the beginning of the end for Entenza.

Maybe that is a good thing!


There seems to be a Draft Mike Hatch movement to get Hatch to run for Attorney General.

Other Lloydletta posts on Entenza:

Entenza Leaves Dean Johnson Hanging Out to Dry on Bachmann Amendment

Entenza's Record: Poor Treatment of House Staff

Profiles Profiles in Cowardice: Matt Entenza and Rebecca Otto

Irv Anderson, Al Juhnke and Matt Entenza - Oh My!

Will Entenza Be Dumped from House Leadership?

Rebecca Otto, Matt Entenza and Mike Hatch - Oh My!

I'm all ears on the private eye thing. It sounds like a plausable story to me. The mainstream media never picked up on that story - and I'd assume that if there was something to it, there would have been coverage in some mainstream media.

Tips on this are always welcome at

Wisconsin Gay Equality Group has Blog Opposing the WI Bachmann Amendment

There's no way to stop this thing from going on the ballot in Wisconsin unfortunately. This looks like a good blog.

Mark Kennedy Gets Moderate Primary Challenge

This is great news.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Yecke Science in Broward County Florida

Why is Holt Reinhart and Winston listening to the Discovery Institute when writing their Biology textbook?

As PZ Myers said, we're sorry Florida.

By Chris Kahn
South Florida Sun-Sentinel Education Writer
Posted February 24 2006

High school biology students in Broward County will use a textbook next year that watered-down passages about Charles Darwin and evolution theory.

Science teachers picked Florida Holt Biology this month in a countywide vote, favoring it over another book that discussed the controversial idea of intelligent design.

The Holt textbook stays away from intelligent design, the idea that a god or other guiding force caused the development of life on Earth. Mainstream scientists have discredited the theory as a repackaged form of old-school creationism.

But publisher Holt, Rinehart and Winston did edit several sections at the request of the Discovery Institute, a Seattle think tank that has peddled intelligent design around the country for years.

The changes were "kind of a merging of philosophies to get something that everyone was satisfied with," said Broward science curriculum supervisor J.P. Keener.

"What came out in the book was scientifically correct," Keener said. "That's the bottom line."

A review by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel found that on one edited page, Holt agreed to give Darwin less credit for shaping modern biology. In another section it inserted descriptions that conservative Christians believe challenge evolution theory.

Previous editions of the textbook said Darwin's theory "is the essence of biology."

In the Broward edition, students will read instead that Darwin's theory "provides a consistent explanation for life's diversity."

The county plans to spend $1.2 million for 20,000 copies of the book. It will be required reading in Biology I classes until 2013.

"We're very pleased," said Rick Blake, spokesman in Chicago for Holt, Rinehart and Winston. "Science is a very strong area for Holt."

Broward has largely avoided the debate over intelligent design, which has embroiled other districts. Broward Superintendent Frank Till said he'd rather leave intelligent design decisions to the state, which will begin revising its science standards in 2007 or 2008.

But the issue has crossed into the district, because publishers like Holt have changed textbooks over the years while under pressure from such groups as the Discovery Institute.

The Minneapolis School District should stay away from these textbooks.

Rural Dem Blog Pollytick Challenges Entenza's Lack of Leadership on Bachmann Amendment


As the 2006 legislative session draws ever closer (begins March 1), the fundamentalist right wingers in this state are all worked up over the Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment bill sitting quietly in a state Senate committee. Fingers are routinely pointed at Sen. Dean Johnson (D-Willmar) by these homophoebes as the roadblock to the bill's passage.

But, what about the House Leader, Rep. Matt Entenza (D-St. Paul)? What should be his role in all of this?

Speaker Steve Sviggum (R-Kenyon)has hinted that he may bring the bill up for yet another vote in the State House in order to apply pressure on the Senate Democrats. While everyone knows that this type of move would be seen as 'pure political crap,' the House Dems still need to be prepared.

The question is, why isn't Entenza taking some of the heat off of Johnson on this issue? If there is a vote, will he lead his caucus against the bill?

Consider this for a moment...if all 66 Democrats in the MN House voted no to the bill, it is unlikely that it would pass. Moderate Republicans like Ron Erhardt (R-Edina) and Ron Abrams (R-Minnetonka) are unlikely to vote with the rest of their caucus and the bill would be dead. Will Entenza insist this happens?

A second notion would be for the House Dems to filibuster the bill to death (as we saw Rep. Karen Clark try to do a couple of years ago) or move a number of procedural motions until the bill was pulled from consideration. Will Entenza lead in this direction?

Either way, with strong leadership, the House DFL could send a signal to Minnesota citizens that this type of hate filled legislation will not take the forefront in the upcoming session.

But alas, Matt Entenza has been surprisingly silent on this issue. Sure, he talks about his 'personal' views and how he is against the bill. However, as the House leader he needs to go much further. He needs to be out front in the media (as Dean Johnson has been) and explain over and over the reason this is not needed. He also needs to lead his House troops in the right direction.

Or, has his ambition for higher office clouded his ability to lead on this and other issues?

Time will tell.

Excellent point. Why has OutFront Minnesota never sent out an alert asking people to contact Entenza? What about Stonewall DFL? Have they leaned on Entenza to do the right thing?

A commenter adds:

Entenza's ambition has clouded his ability to lead on everything for the past several years since he has lusted after the governor's office and AG's office. The only leadership he's ever been interested in is whatever leads Matt Entenza to a higher office. That the House DFL picked up 13 seats in 2004 was dumb luck and due to the quality of DFL candidates vs. GOP candidates. It had nothing to do with Entenza.

Entenza has admitted to letting his caucus "vote their district" on this issue rather than their conscience or DFL core principles. Look where it got Rebecca Otto. That's not leadership--that's political pandering to a vocal minority.

If Matt Entenza is the future of the DFL, the DFL is in serious trouble. Entenza is the best reason for supporting "Anybody But Hatch" for governor--to keep Hatch in the AG office and squeeze Entenza out of that race AND be rid of him as House minority "leader."

Email Matt Entenza at Demand that he take some of the heat off of Dean Johnson on this issue.

Empire State Pride Sends Hillary Pac-king

Good for them. Malcontent has the story.

Empire State Pride Pitch Perfect on Hillary

Evita With another Clinton election on the horizon, gay support for the architects of the Defense of Marriage Act seemed a fait accompli, but lo and behold, the head of one New York State gay organization is having none of it.

The head of a leading gay rights advocacy group in New York has begun criticizing Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's position on same-sex marriage and encouraging gays and lesbians to stop giving money to her re-election campaign. [. . .]

In his memo, which was reported on Tuesday on the Politicker Web site of The New York Observer, Mr. Van Capelle said that he refused to "lend my name and sell tickets" to any fund-raiser sponsored by a gay group for Mrs. Clinton's re-election campaign. He said supporting such fund-raisers for Mrs. Clinton would "actually hurt" the gay and lesbian community.

"It will send a message to other elected officials that you can be working against us during this critical time and not suffer a negative pushback from the gay community," he said. "We have become a community that throws money at politicians, and we demand nothing in return. And that's what we get: nothing. It's the wrong message to send."

Mr. Van Capelle notes he will still vote for Clinton, but in his capacity as the head of a gay rights organization, he is not justified in signing on to fundraisers for a candidate working against the group's expressed interests.

Perfect. Hopefully certain others will follow suit.

Good for Mr. Van Capelle. Rick Stafford, chair of the DNC GLBT Caucus should take note.

UPDATE: Wonkette piles on.

Fred Phelps Gang Pickets Military Funeral

The wacky Fred Phelps gang of God Hate Fags and God Hates America traveled to Minnesota again. Strib coverage here.

The DFL's Brian Melendez connects the dots to the Bachmann-Severson Amendment:

Calls on Republican leadership to abandon divisive, fearful agenda

ST. PAUL (2/24/06)—"I was deeply saddened to see the outrageous expression of hate directed toward the family and friends of Cpl. Andrew Kemple, of Anoka, at the fallen soldier’s funeral yesterday.

"It was heartening to hear Governor Tim Pawlenty’s denunciation of that divisive behavior. Unfortunately, the Minnesota Republican Party continues fostering ideas and policies that drive a wedge through our state and, taken to their extreme, can lead to the hate, fear and prejudice we saw yesterday.

"The Minnesota Republican Party, Governor Pawlenty, Representative Mark Kennedy, Speaker Steve Sviggum, State Senator Michele Bachmann and State Representative Dan Severson are leading this agenda in our state. Surely, yesterday's events in Anoka show us that such an agenda is best left out of the public realm."

The Drama Queen howls:

But Governor Pawlenty and State Representative Dan Severson both condemed yesterday's protest:

"Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who said he was 'disgusted' by confrontational anti-gay picketers at a soldier's funeral in Anoka, on Friday said he'd support a bill to limit protests at such events.

'I was appalled by the behavior and message and insensitivity of the protesters,' Pawlenty said at a news conference. He also expressed his anger during his weekly Friday morning radio show." Source: Star Tribune, February 24, 2006


"Several Minnesota lawmakers have introduced bills here in advance of the legislative session, which starts Wednesday. One, proposed by Rep. Dan Severson, R-Sauk Rapids, would require that protesters at all funerals be required to stay at least 300 feet away from mourners.

'People have a right to demonstrate, but they don't have a right to infringe on the rights of a family trying to mourn the loss of a loved one,' Severson said. 'That too is a fundamental right.'" Source: Star Tribune, February 24, 2006

It was interesting that the Drama Queen did nothing to defend Michele Bachmann.

Governor Pawlenty and Dan Severson spoke at a rally at the capitol with signs like these:

Governor Pawlenty spoke at this 2004 Bachmann amendment rally, as did Rep. Dan Severson. Governor Pawlenty, Speaker Sviggum and Dan Severson never publicly condemned these signs. Does anyone know whether Congressman Mark Kennedy attended the 2004 Bachmann amendment rally?

They Don't Call it the Stupid Party for Nothing

Andy Eddy from Broward County Log Cabin sent out this action alert:

FLA State GOP DUMPS Another $150,000 into Anti-Gay Prohibition Amendment

The St. Pete Times is reporting that The Republican Party of Florida has made a second donation of $150,000 to the Florida4Marriage organization.

This follows an October $150,000 donation to the failed amendment initiative drive.

Voters need to let Party officers know that the GOP needs to focus on the issues that are important to everyone in Florida like homeland security, hurricane prepardness, a strong economy, education, property ownership protection, education, transportation and healthcare.

Let the RPOF know you don't support this kind of wasteful spending. Contact the RPOF here or by phone at 850.222.7920.

Contact your local Republicans groups by locating them at the RPOF link.

Upper St Clair Parents Suing the School Board Over IB Cut

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

A group of about 350 Upper St. Clair residents says it plans to take legal action against the school board to force the district to reinstate the International Baccalaureate program.

The group formed a watchdog group that will consist of several committees who will monitor the school board and educational issues.

The Pittsburgh chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union will file a lawsuit on behalf of the community members as early as next week against the school district.

The school board voted 5-4 Monday night to eliminate the IB program, which enrolls more than 700 students in elementary, middle and high school grades.

About 1,000 angry residents showed up at Monday's meeting pleading with the board to keep the program. But the directors who voted to eliminate it had earlier said they opposed it on the grounds that it is Marxist, anti-Christian, un-American and too costly.

"What we have here [last night] is an entire political spectrum responding to an immense groundswell for simply having a fair process," said parent Graham Hatfull, who has a son in the IB program.

The crowd rose to its feet and applauded when Witold Walczak, legal director for the ACLU in Pennsylvania, told the crowd that he had assembled a pro bono legal team to challenge the school board.

"Even school board members cannot act with impunity," said Mr. Walczak, who lives in Upper St. Clair and has a child in the program.

Mr. Walczak said he could not elaborate on the details of the lawsuit.

The Upper St Clair Republican committee endorsed the nincompoops.

Republicans are writing this committee. Here's one letter that was posted to the Kee IP google group:

I vote in the third ward, district one.

I am embarrassed to have followed republican party recommendations concerning school board voting in the last elections in light of a precipitous vote to cancel the ib program at our schools. The committee has endorsed religious and xenophobic ideologs who are undermining the education of our children as well as bringing ridicule and humiliation to our township on an international scale. We should be ashamed of ourselves.

In the interest of our children, our citizens, our township, and our party, I urge the committee to publicly repudiate these endorsements and encourage a complete and open-minded discussion of solutions to the educational crisis facing this community.

Some on the committee tried to save the Republican committee from themselves.

As I have said in previous e-mails, I was the Rep. Comm. member who was assigned to go to the school board meetings and report back. I did this. When it came time for the endorsements, I recommended endorsing Billerback, etc., but I was outvoted. Keep in mind that the interviews and voting took place during Spring Break, when Vicki, Amy, and I were all out of town. Because I refused to support the endorsed slate and continued to actively work for the other slate, I had to resign from the committee. It is my understanding that a decision was made at the meeting Monday night to write a letter to the 4 endorsed candidates and show their displeasure at what is going on. I will believe it when I see it. And FYI, the vote to write the letter was not unanimous. I would encourage you all to write letters to your reps. They are listed on the township website.

This situation illustrates why it is critically important to pay close attention to school board races.

There is also going to be an effort to get a bill that allows communities to recall school board members through the legislature. It will be interesting to see how that goes. These nutball school board members have terms until 2009. They can do lots of damage in that time.

Stadium Boondoggle Redux

I stopped over to Fishstick's pad and commented.

What torks me off is that legislators who don't represent Hennepin County are voting to stick it to the Hennepin County taxpayer on this one.

If people want to call the Governor to give him an earful, call 651-296-3391.

In my opinion, if they want to do the stadium deal, then make this a state-wide sales tax rather than having non-Hennepin County legislators sticking it to Hennepin County.
Eva Young

J Ewing who is a frequent sparring partner on the gay marriage issue over at Fishsticks agrees on this:

I keep arguing this same point in Republican circles and it is difficult to do. Most legislators say that if they can "keep the Twins" and not put any of /their/ constituents' tax dollars into it, why shouldn't they? It's a "free vote" for legislators to say "No vote" for Hennepin County taxpayers. I have been saying that you either have the principle of "no taxpayer money for stadiums" or you don't. Your point is good, too, that either we have a law requiring a referendum or we don't.

My bigger arguments are two sides of the same coin: First, if you are so certain you cannot convince voters this is a good idea, then why do you want to impose it on them?

Secondly, if the stadium were a good idea-- a money-making proposition-- why aren't banks and investors lining up in droves to buy a piece of it?
J. Ewing

Ok, Governor, Speaker Sviggum, Majority Leader Dean Johnson - step up to the plate and save the twins by making this stadium tax statewide. Quit sticking it to Hennepin County Taxpayers!

Limited Government Conservatives Upset with President Bush

It appears that David Strom has had it.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

IB-Gate at Upper St Clair Pennsylvania

Dr. Daniel Iracki from the Upper St Clair School Board said this at last week's school board meeting:

The impetus for this in-depth look at the IB program occured with the election of the new school board in November 2005, when my candidacy and the three other members of our slate were opposed by IB students principally because of my statement at the candidates forum that our country was founded on Judeo-Christian values, and we have to be careful about what kind of values our children are being taught.

Video here.

The parents - and students - have a good case. Good for these Upper St Clair Students for speaking out.

Sviggum and Pawlenty Play Both Ways on Stadium Boondoggle

Pawlenty should remember that one quarter of the states population lives in Hennepin County. From the Pioneer Press:

Pawlenty on Tuesday reiterated a position he staked out previously: He would prefer Hennepin County voters get the opportunity to accept or reject a ballpark sales tax in a referendum, but he will not insist on it.

"It's not a deal-breaker if the Legislature puts the bill on my desk without it," he said of a ballot issue.

Ballpark supporters, however, question whether Pawlenty will lobby hard for passage. They believe he doesn't want to be far out front on the issue, because that could place him at risk with his Republican base of tax opponents and with independent voters who find ethical problems with subsidizing pro sports.

The referendum is undeniably the sticking point for passage of the bill. The Twins and the Hennepin County Board — the team's partner in the $508-million project — seek to skirt a ballot issue on the 0.15 percent county sales tax (3 cents on a $20 purchase) that would pay for three-quarters of the stadium in the Warehouse District of Minneapolis.

State law calls for a referendum on new local sales, but it allows exclusions, which have been obtained in the past by St. Paul and Minneapolis for city projects. Ballpark supporters want the exclusion because they contend a ballot issue would create delays and greater expense, while opponents say supporters' real fear is that residents would vote it down.

Fishsticks comments:

Second, Kahn reports that House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, has 41 Republican votes in favor of a stadium, but he wants the balance of the required 68 votes for passage to come from Democrats. Mr. Speaker, if a Twins stadium is good for Minnesota, urge every Republican to vote for it. If it’s not good for Minnesota urge every Republican to oppose it. You and your fellow Republicans were elected to do what's best for the state, not dance an election-year two-step with the DFL.

Precinct caucus resolutions opposing this boondoggle are going to be important in Swing Districts in both parties. Rural Legislators who are promoting sticking it to Hennepin County taxpayers - as Rep. Brad Finstad (R) is, should get some mail and calls. Hennepin County taxpayers might also take a look for proposed pork projects in Finstad's district, and write their senator or rep to oppose that project.

Drinking Liberally

Captain Fishsticks after getting his talking points to Parrot from his buddy Karl Rove, the one who knows all and tells only some.

It was a fairly packed crowd this time. Kevin from Insomnia Report stopped by for the first time. I stopped by Kevin's blog tonight, and will make that a regular visit.

I also had the opportunity to meet Tracy from the Anti-Strib. Jon Tevlin was there to report on the event from the Strib. Their meeting was rather anti-climactic. There was no epic struggle between good and evil. Aw well.

Captain Fishsticks was there, fully prepped with his talking points. When interviewed by Tevlin, he told him he'd talked to his buddy Karl Rove prior to coming to the event to make sure he got the talking points right.

I had a good talk with Tracy from Anti-Strib and told him the cautionary tale about Lloydletta's Nooz getting booted from the Minnesota Organization of Bloggers. For those unfamiliar with this soap opera, last year about this time, I wrote the MOB contact requesting admission to the MOB. I told them about two blogs - Lloydletta's Nooz and Dump Michele Bachmann. Lloydletta was admitted, and Dump Bachmann was not. Swiftee had a cow. I got notified by email from one of the Frater's boys that Lloydletta's Nooz was booted from the MOB. I also told Tracy about how Blogger Berg's Whine in the Dark frequently features comments attributed to me that are not written by me.

Tracy must have aluded to this in his writeup describing the event. It was removed after some howling by the usual suspects. We'll see how long my comment lasts.

It was nice to get a chance to catch up with Spotty from the Cucking Stool, aka the feral pup. I think Spot must have hit a nerve. Name calling usually isn't part of the Captain's Schtick. Their meeting, like the meeting between the Strib and Anti-strib was a fizzle. Aw well.

Rew and Smartie both seemed in better health than they have been for the last few Drinking Liberally events.

Response to My Public Records Request to Hennepin County

Dear Ms. Young:

This is in response to your request for information that was sent to me on February 13 and your follow-up request that was sent to Ms. Vargas February 15.

For clarity, the responses follow the questions in the text below.

Best Regards,

Dan Kenney

Eva Young
02/15/2006 04:52 PM TO: CC:,
judy Johnson,
Linda Koblick,,,,
Philip Krinkie, Subject Public Records Request

Dear Ms Vargas:

Commissioner Koblick suggested I send this request to you. A few days ago, I sent an email to Dan Kenney, in Mike Opat's office requesting this information. I have received no response. I have also sent you a fax with a similar request for information.

How much is the county spending on lobbying for the stadium - in 2005, and what is budgeted for 2006?

On May 3, 2005, the Hennepin County Board adopted 05-5-220R1, directing staff to draft a legislative proposal seeking tax levy authority to fund construction of a new Twins ballpark in downtown Minneapolis.

As you can see in the first resolving clause, the Board authorized (and the County spent) $25,000 for lobbying the ballpark proposal in 2005. It is an open question whether there will be another ballpark proposal, so at this point, there is no budget for lobbying this issue in 2006.

Also, what percentage of staff time in Commissioner Opat's office, both by commissioner Opat, and his staff member Dan Kenney, as well as other county commissioner staff, is being spent on the stadium issue?

This information is not tracked and is not required to be tracked.

Perhaps you are unfamiliar with Hennepin County's governance structure. County Board Members do not report to the County Administrator. The Administrator reports to the Board.

Personally, I work on a broad variety of County issues, including the ballpark, as directed by Commissioner Opat.

Given Commissioner Opat's role in negotiating the ballpark agreement, our office probably handles more inquiries than others, and it does take time to respond. In addition, because of my background as a former staff member on the Minneapolis City Council, the County's former representative on the Minneapolis Planning Commission, and as a current member of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, it is not unusual for other County Board Members to seek my input in responding to questions about the ballpark site, the design, or how the financing proposal is structured.

How long has Dan Kenney and Mike Opat been spending this amount of time on the stadium issue?

See above.

Is there any problem with putting some language into the twins stadium proposal that would preclude County Commissioners who vote in favor of the stadium from later benefiting from getting on the stadium commission?

This is a matter to be decided by the Minnesota Legislature. In my view, the notion that you would exclude any individual from a potential role in protecting the public's interests on a future Ballpark Authority would be both short-sighted and ill-advised. But whatever our differences of opinion, policy-makers will determine how a new proposal is structured.

Please respond by March 15, 2006. If this information isn't available, please explain the problems are with providing the information.

Thank you very much for your attention.

As you know, the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners has voted 3 times over the last 4 years to submit ballpark proposals to the Minnesota Legislature. While I respect your right to oppose public participation in a new ballpark, I hope going forward you spend more of your time selling the merits of your position, rather than questioning the motives and making unfounded accusations about the people on the other side of the issue.

Kenney points to this Lloydletta post about a Strib article on Stenglein's conflict of interest.

Kenney continues:

I understand elected officials and public employees are easy targets, but that doesn't make it right. And it doesn't help make your case.

He sure is condescending. Linda Koblick - a commissioner, suggested I direct the public records request to the County Administrator. I was just requesting some information that should be available to a member of the public.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Upper St Clair PA School Board Discontinues International Baccalaureate Program

Upper St Clair is a suburb of Pittsburgh, just next door to Mount Lebanon where a number of my mothers relatives live.


During this lull in the fight I want to thank you. If you have a moment please check out the headline of today's Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Your friend Julie Quist gets a quote. We are moving on. There is a meeting Thursday night to organize our efforts. My husband will be speaking on Edwatch and friends. So if you have anything else please let me know. The board meeting was a highly entertaining farce. There were over 1,000 people there. Many people spoke (I would guess about 60) Only one spoke against the program. She just happens to be the somewhat elderly head of our Republican National commitee. She has gone on record as suggesting that George Bush is not conservative enough. She would have preferred Pat Buchanan. ( I must remember to invite her to lunch!) Nothing would sway these people. We had leaders from every segment of the population speak out for the program. It fell completely on deaf ears. As usual in this type of situation it was the arrogance and egotistical behavior that made me seethe. Our Spanish language in the elementary years program is the next on the chopping block.

Sorry to take up more of your time.

Thank You!

I was very pleased to get a heads up on how this went.

Here's the Pittsburgh Post Gazette coverage of the board killing the IB program 5-4.

It's raising the question - Will Upper St Clair be the next Dover, Pennsylvania? From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial opposing this nonsense:

The world is flat, asserted New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman metaphorically but wisely in his best-seller of the same name -- and American children better be prepared to live in it. It is not a stretch to say that without international awareness and cultural sensitivity, the United States will lose the economic challenge and is doomed in the war on terror.

But some on the school board in Upper St. Clair would have students live in splendid isolation -- splendid, that is, only to those who fear the world. As it stands, nearly 700 students in the district are enrolled in the acclaimed International Baccalaureate program, which is followed by some of the best schools on the planet, 1,772 of them in 122 countries.

The existence of the program in Upper St. Clair is clearly a source of pride to many in the district, which isn't surprising. This is a well-regarded district that is full of smart and well-educated parents who know a good thing when they see it. Unbelievably, their vision is not shared by some members of the school board.

One has said that the baccalaureate program could be considered anti-American and is associated with groups that support Marxism. That's odd, because the Web site of the organization says this: "We encourage international-mindedness in IB students. To do this, we believe that students must first develop an understanding of their own cultural and national identity."

Another board member fears that it goes against traditional Judeo-Christian values -- a surprise to the folks over at Vincentian Academy, the respected Catholic school in the North Hills that also uses the program.

These critical sentiments have the breath of ignorance about them. Suddenly, we are no longer in Upper St, Clair but some place like rural Alabama, Kansas or Dover, Pa., where school board members may not know much about education but are certainly acquainted with their own small-minded agendas.

Those who would end this program for such reasons have it exactly wrong: The most anti-American thing is hostility to ideas. Those who think that the program can be cut for fiscal prudence sake ought to rethink their position, too. The program represents the sort of investment that is vital to America's success in a changed world.

This is the second dispute involving the school board in recent weeks; previously the district backed down on an attempt to restrict political activity for employees and students. It's encouraging to see that the good people of Upper St. Clair have been aroused. Some 300 parents and several dozen students showed up Thursday night at Upper St. Clair High School for a meeting.

A similar throng should attend tonight's school board meeting to make the point that know-nothings who would tarnish Upper St. Clair's reputation are not appreciated.

It sounds like the know-nothings won election. IB supporters are fighting back.

Parents in the Upper St. Clair School District are mobilizing for what could be an extended battle.

They've engaged lawyers and are forming committees and organizing protests to fight a decision Monday night by the school board to discontinue the district's International Baccalaureate program.

A planning meeting for parents is scheduled for 7 to 9 p.m. tomorrow in the high school cafeteria.

On Monday night, the board voted 5-4 to stop the program, though students who are juniors and seniors now will be allowed to finish out the Diploma Program, which allows them to earn college credit. Students in the earlier years -- it runs from elementary through high school -- will not be permitted to continue.

There are 17 juniors scheduled to finish the program next year, said Dr. James D. Lombardo, Upper St. Clair's superintendent.

"We're just starting to work out the details," he said.

A letter will be sent home to parents of students in the International Baccalaureate program in the next few days explaining the process, Dr. Lombardo said.

Before Monday's meeting and vote, several members of the board majority spoke publicly against the program. Dr. Daniel Iracki, a medical doctor who specializes in pulmonary care and internal medicine, questioned if it conflicted with Judeo-Christian values. Another, Dr. Mark G. Trombetta, a radiation oncologist, had said it was associated with Marxism.

Dr. William Sulkowski, a dentist, said he believes the money spent each year on the program could be better used, and that he ran for school board pledging to be fiscally responsible.

Linda Ambroso doesn't accept any of those arguments. Her son is one of those who will not get to continue. He is in ninth grade and would have one more year to finish out the Middle Years Program.

"To 'grandfather in' just the juniors is unacceptable to a lot of people," Mrs. Ambroso said.

That's why many of the parents of the more than 700 students in the district who take International Baccalaureate classes are seeking legal advice.

"There's such a groundswell of anger of how the process was perverted in this case," Mrs. Ambroso said. "When people are angry, they don't talk, they go to lawyers."

Some are considering legal action -- Mrs. Ambroso said parents are wondering if canceling the program could be considered a breach of contract.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania also is organizing a legal team to figure out its next steps, said Witold Walczak, the legal director.

"We're looking at litigation options," said Mr. Walczak, who has a child in the program.

Parents are organizing a campaign to fight the decision. A list of grass-roots activities has been passed from parent to parent through e-mail in recent days.

Some of the ideas include taking a bus to Harrisburg to push for a law that would allow the recall of school board members; holding protests; and writing letters to the editor and letters to congressmen.

Reader comments are here.

Here's one:

Feb. 22

We live in a democracy. I can understand why the parents of the Upper St. Clair School District are distraught over the school board's decision to eliminate the International Baccalariate Programs in their schools. My husband and I would be right in there with those fighting to reverse the decision. However, I have some unpleasant and tough words for those affected. Where were you before last night's school board decision?

Across the country, school board members who came to the job with one agenda or another have gotten themselves elected and are in the process of realizing their ideological goals. The problem is that the students, parents, and tax payers of the district haven't been paying attention. I'm sorry to break it to them, but we live in a democracy. The freedoms that we cherish don't come for free. They require participation. They require an informed electorate. This is true for school board elections and national elections alike. Every day we see the sad and upsetting results of a dumbed-down public too busy and too absorbed in their own daily tasks to meet their fundamental responsibilities as citizens. (Ask the parents of Derry, Pa.)

Perhaps the people of Upper St. Clair are fortunate. They, at least, have now gotten the necessary wake-up call. Their ambivalence and lack of attention to the agendas of those running for the school board in recent elections has reaped a disastrous decision for their children and their community. I doubt that future school board candidates there will escape probing questions about their agendas and their views of current school standards and practices. In this regard Upper St. Clair will have learned their lesson long before most of us emerge from our complacency.

For nearly 40 years the well-educated, middle-to-upper class citizens of the United States have been shrouded in the "political correctness" methods of public discourse. This was effective as long as they were talking about race, class and gender issues. After all, to a great degree it was about "others". Unfortunately, they must now come full face with the fact that this same modus operandi will get them into a heap of trouble, close to home, when it comes to dealing with the ultra right Christian movement. The destructive force of these well-intentioned, but extraordinarily misguided, souls must not be underestimated. They have the capacity to bring us down. A quick historical review of the societal impact of ultra-conservative religious movements is in order.

Many of us are feeling a little panicked when we read about the decline in American education relative to other countries. We'd better be careful. Inside our own country are forces that, if unchecked, will accelerate the downward spiral, not in the inner cities, but in the prosperous suburban communities of our nation.

Diane Law, Churchill

That's why it's important to pay attention to school board races.

Stadium Boondoggle Supporters Worried

"Twinskid" from here.

"Spycake, Drop you Plan - Organize this Group!
With all due respect spycake, I submit that you are wasting our time and yours by offering a new alternative stadium plan. If, as you suggest, there are three groups on the ballpark issue, then it really does not matter what the "plan" turns out to be.

For what it is worth the current Hennepin County plan is the plan. Unless you are a Hennepin County Commission or a member of the legislature I doubt if anyone is seriously going to take your advice at this late date.

The stadium issue will swing on political support. In order to get a positive vote our elected officials need to know that they have political support for their decision. They will not stick their necks out for the Twins without political cover.

Mike Opat of Hennepin County is providing the political cover for the legislature. The problem is that the Minneapolis Mayor, City Council and Minneapolis legislators appear to be dead set against having a stadium in downtown Minneapolis. Why they would not support the construction of a $400 to $500 million construction project in Minneapolis is beyond my understanding.

I believe if just a few Minneapolis "public servants" were to get on board with the stadium it would be much easier to get the legislature and Governor on board.

Respectfully, I suggest that forget proposing your plan and work on getting us organized on affecting the outcome of the debate with special focus on Minneapolis politicians.

Good Luck!

by TwinsKid on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 02:10:06 PM EST

Take a look at the area around the current Dome. The Dome didn't improve the livability of the area. Now the Minneapolis downtown has lots of residents, and they might not see the stadium as adding to the livability of their area.

I'll be posting this one on the Minneapolis Issues list. Minneapolis City Council Members should get called. I'll be calling Don Samuels tomorrow.

But they sure are pushing the Stadium Boondoggle in greater Minnesota.... For example, legislators talk about the agenda at the capitol in Willmar.

Stadiums discussion

In other business, The Minnesota Twins appear positioned to snap a long losing streak at the Capitol, with the Legislature’s leaders suggesting that a ballpark bill would fare well in the upcoming session.

Approval for a new Gophers stadium on the University of Minnesota campus is even more likely, but a third stadium proposal ­ a plan by the Minnesota Vikings to build a new stadium in Anoka County ­ will have to wait at least another year, they said.

"Three stadiums is too big a bite," said House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon.

When it comes to the Twins, the stakes are high: Earlier this month, a Hennepin County judge ruled that the Twins don't have to play in the Metrodome beyond the 2006 season, and failure to set a new stadium into motion this year would likely revive talk of a sale or move by the team.

The latest proposal is a venture between the Twins and Hennepin County on an outdoor ballpark in the downtown Minneapolis warehouse district. It was slated to cost $478 million last year, but that's since climbed by at least $30 million. None of the principals have publicly said how they’d fill the new gap.

The biggest funding source, $353 million, would come from a 0.15 percent sales tax in Hennepin County. The current plan calls for the tax to be imposed without voter approval, the biggest point of contention among critics.

Still, both Sviggum and Senate Deputy Minority Leader Tom Neuville, R-Northfield, said that at least half their caucuses would vote for the plan without a Hennepin County referendum. The Democratic leaders of the Senate and House weren't as unequivocal ­ both have more members from Hennepin County in their caucuses ­ but both said the votes were probably there.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, said he takes seriously the prospect that legislative inaction could lead to a loss of the team.

"I sincerely believe that after a 2006 that saw no action, that Major League Baseball will do something with the Twins ­ like let them be bought and moved to a new home. Johnson said.

I encourage Johnson - and Governor Pawlenty, Speaker Sviggum and Tom Neuville to step up to the plate and support a statewide sales tax increase for the stadium rather than sticking this to Minneapolis.

On another topic, Johnson caused the state party to have a hissy fit over this.

Johnson blamed Republicans for targeting him personally on the gay marriage issue, although he said that as a minister he never would marry a gay couple.

"The governor of this state and the speaker of the House have their cannons set on Willmar, Minnesota," he said about his home.

Gay marriage opponents recently conducted a rally in Willmar, where several speakers targeted Johnson, including Sviggum. Pawlenty sent a video message to the rally.

Referring to a tense scene two years ago in which armed police escorted him out of the Capitol past gay marriage opponents, Johnson said: "I do not wish to have this state Capitol become downtown Baghdad on the gay marriage issue."

Seems like Dean Johnson scored a home run. The usual suspects are howling like stuck pigs.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Bachmann Amendment Loses DFL Sponsors

Regular commenter and frequent critic, Schoolsout pointed out something interesting. The Bachmann amendment introduced in the 2005-2006 session in the house has all republican authors.

Severson; Holberg; Johnson, J.; Gazelka; Erickson; Soderstrom; Garofalo; Westerberg; Buesgens; Wilkin; Davids; DeLaForest; Bradley; Knoblach; Powell; Vandeveer; Peppin; Anderson, B.; Olson; Cybart

In 2004 when the bill was introduced, Otremba was an original co-sponsor and the only democrat co-sponsor. Otremba spoke at the Alexandria Bachmann amendment rally, but isn't a co-sponsor.

Here are the 2004 sponsors:

Holberg; Buesgens; Lipman; Sviggum; Otremba; Blaine; Anderson, B.; Wardlow; DeLaForest; Westerberg; Westrom; Wilkin; Erickson; Davids; Powell; Olson, M.; Soderstrom; Penas; Severson; Newman; Heidgerken; Krinkie; Beard; Koenen; Eastlund; Adolphson; Cornish; Knoblach; Finstad; Harder; Gerlach; Vandeveer

Tim Wilkin who is an author of this, frequently authors idiotic bills. He's got a Terri Schiavo bill in the hopper. He also was chief author of a bill to ban all funding to the University of Minnesota because the University conducts privately funded stem cell research.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Illustrating and Fisking AP's Coverage of the Willmar Bachmann Amendment Rally

Over at Dump Bachmann here.

Dean Johnson and Don Betzold are showing more leadership than Rep. Matt Entenza who has done nothing to encourage house members to vote against this amendment. Contrast Dean Johnson's courage with Rebecca Otto's Profile in Cowardice.

I rarely agree with Kennedy v the Machine, but in this case I do, if they are accurately describing Sarah Janacek's position.

Surprisingly, Janacek called one of local AFSCME president Appleby’s assertions "damning", namely when Appleby asserted that Klobuchar "presents herself as a servant acutely concerned with the public's safety when her only dedication is to her own self-promotion." She went so far as to say the quote would make a powerful :30 spot. Even Brian Lambert conceded that when the Hennepin County Attorney’s name comes up in private conversation, the discussion often turns to her unsavory management style.

Then, in the same segment, Janacek said that Klobuchar could deflect the charge because of her gender and that she had some built-in immunity because she was a female boss.


This is the second time in nearly as many weeks where the self-styled "Republican insider" has hypothesized that a female DFL candidate should not be held to the same standards as a male candidate. Observers will recall that in her floundering e-newsletter, Politics in Minnesota, the ostensibly Republican commentator wrote that politicians who break their pledges should be excused if they have XX chromosomes. Really. Feminists I know have a word for such notions: sexism.

I agree with this analysis. I disagree that it's a big deal that Wetterling changed her mind about running for the house. I don't think gender issues should be brought into this.

I didn't hear the Lambert and Janacek show where this was discussed, so I'm going by Gary Miller's description of the show.

If these allegations about Klobuchar are true, she's following in the footsteps of such notable DFLers as Matt Entenza and Mike Hatch. Mike Hatch is known for being verbally abusive to subordinates.

Entenza's Record: Poor Treatment of House Staff

By a former House DFL Staffer:

Shortly after Matt Entenza was elected House Minority Leader in 2002, he fired about a dozen House DFL Caucus employees, some of them with 20-plus years service. He said the positions were being eliminated by Speaker of the House Steve Sviggum and budget cuts. This was not true, as my job and others' were posted three days later. Instead, it appeared to some of us that age discrimination by Entenza was to blame.

Matt Entenza lied about the reasons for my termination and others'. Our positions were never eliminated due to GOP leadership and budget cuts, as Entenza claimed at our termination. Rather, our positions were publicly posted three days later and filled approximately a month later. None of those terminated was given the opportunity to even interview for their old positions.

In my department and other caucus departments, older, more senior employees were terminated by Entenza, while younger employees with less seniority were retained. One of those younger, less-senior employees retained was also a major campaign contributor to Entenza's short-lived attorney general campaign fund earlier that year. I was replaced by an individual at least 20 years younger than me and with about 20 years less experience than I have.

Other caucus members on the personnel committee were not aware of Entenza's firings, so they can be laid at Entenza's doorstep alone.

Because we were legislative employees, we were "unclassified," meaning we have no\ civil service protection. That makes it easy for legislators like Matt Entenza to abuse staff without fear of union reprisals, and employ the political spoils system when it suits their needs. Politicians like Entenza love to tout their union endorsements. But the very tactics Entenza used to terminate caucus employees and install younger, less senior employees, should outrage any labor union.

At least two of us filed complaints with the state Human Rights Department and federal EEOC. None were upheld, thanks to Entenza's continued lying in his response to our complaints. Several others consulted with lawyers about a lawsuit but none was undertaken.

The DFL should be ashamed to be associated with this type of abhorent behavior, particularly from one of their leaders who now wants to be attorney general.

This is in response to the person who wanted more details about the record of the way Entenza treats house staff.

Poor Fact Checking by Lavender Magazine

Michael Krause's column in Lavender Magazine, the Gay Agenda, Feb 2, 2006 described the reason Stonewall DFL initially failed to give DFL candidate Kelly Doran an acceptable rating:

"State Senator Sheila Kiscaden, a candidate for Lieutenant Governor, appeared on behalf of her running mate for Governor, candidate Kelly Doran. Despite her strong history of support for the GLBT community, the ticket did not recieve an "acceptable" rating. Doran was criticized for his past contributions to Republican candidates including antigay leader Senator Michele Bachmann."

I contacted Kelly Doran's campaign to ask about this. Kelly personally returned my phone call and told me this was not the case. I checked the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board website, and found no contributions to Michele Bachmann from Kelly Doran. Actually there were no contributions by anyone named Doran.

Michael Krause and Lavender owe Kelly Doran an appology unless they have proof of this. Krause should know that unsubstantiated rumors are passed around at Stonewall screenings all the time, and should have taken the time to verify this one.

Krause's column was old news on the Stonewall Screenings by the time it came out. Lloydletta contributor, Mark Hanson attended and reported on the Stonewall Screenings the day they occurred.

What did Stonewall do about Mike Hatch?

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Students for Family Values Whining Again

Recall the KKK Rule?

From BJ Hokanson's link blog:

"Students for Family Values" hilariously threatens to sue because they didn't get their way in the student services fees process. Maybe next time they should try actually doing something during the year besides writing crap newspaper columns. ...I shouldn't have gotten up so early - morning must be when all the wankers come out.

Brian's right, Alex Neuman has the same old, same old whining in a Minnesota Daily column here.

Translating Bob Bruininks to English

It sounds like some university students are not happy with President Bruininks. Brian Hokanson translates his Minnesota Daily column. Hokanson points out that the Gophers stadium has higher fundraising priority than student scholarships.

Stupidity Virus Hits the Star Tribune

They are promoting the Twins Stadium Boondoggle again.

In the case of a ballpark, a localized referendum would disenfranchise all Minnesotans with an interest in baseball (and other attractions) who reside outside Hennepin County but who still pay sales taxes when they visit. That's a lot of people to disenfranchise.

Huh? If this stadium is there to benefit all Minnesotans with an interest in baseball, then let all Minnesotans with an interest in baseball help pay for it. Why should Hennepin County taxpayers be singled out for a tax increase for this?

This was a 4-3 vote on the Hennepin County Board in favor of this plan. Mark Stenglein, one of the commissioners voting in favor of the plan has a conflict of interest that has been well documented by the City Pages and the Strib. Stenglein failed to disclose his conflict of interest to the public prior to the vote.

A few weeks after Stenglein voted to approve a sales tax earmarked for a new $478 million Twins stadium--on land where Lambrecht's investment company is the managing entity--the Star Tribune reported that Lambrecht had hosted a fundraiser and played an influential role in Stenglein's unsuccessful 2001 campaign for mayor. The paper also revealed that a Stenglein aide took a three-month leave of absence from his county job to work as a lobbyist for Lambrecht. (Source: City Pages, Heavy Hitter, Britt Robson, Sept 14, 2005

Stenglein told an overflow crowd that he was "proud to support" the proposal, and that "big thinkers did big projects." What he did not tell them, although he had discussed it privately with his County Board colleagues before the 4-3 vote, was that he has a close personal and political connection to Bruce Lambrecht, a central figure in the limited partnership that owns the proposed stadium property.

When Stenglein ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Minneapolis in 2001, Lambrecht was an influential member of his campaign -- holding a fundraiser for Stenglein at Lambrecht's home and leasing office space to the Stenglein campaign. Lambrecht, according to Hennepin County Commissioner Penny Steele, an opponent of the stadium plan, helped recruit Stenglein to run for mayor and was "probably one of his best friends." Stenglein's campaign manager during that race, Brian McClung, later worked as a lobbyist for Twinsville Inc., a company used by Lambrecht to help promote the stadium and a redevelopment plan for the surrounding area. McClung now serves as Gov. Tim Pawlenty's spokesman.

And last year, a Stenglein aide took a leave of absence from his county job to work as a lobbyist for Lambrecht and Twinsville Inc. The aide, Mike Sable, said he was approached by Lambrecht and others for the job, and said he cleared the three-month leave with Stenglein.

In recent interviews, Stenglein downplayed his relationship with Lambrecht and said that because they have no private financial dealings, there is no conflict of interest. Stenglein said he does not plan to abstain on any future votes on the project at the county, where his vote is seen as critical. The withdrawal of his support could scuttle the stadium proposal, which is currently awaiting legislative action. (Source: Stadium Vote Puts Friendship in Focus, Mike Kaszuba, Star Tribune
May 29, 2005, cache here.

Will the Stadium boondoggle overshadow the real work the legislature needs to do? Stay tuned.