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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Blogging and the Law

Spotty at the The Cucking Stool has an excellent post today about how the law applies to "blogs with "Exposed" or "Dumped" in their names".

Friday, March 16, 2007

Tom Prichard Waxes Eloquent on His Favorite Topic

Minnesota Family Council Blog:

By Tom Prichard

Normally, you would think society would discourage people from engaging in destructive behavior. Take alcoholism for example. Although influenced by genetics, it’s fundamentally a behavior. Alcoholism is associated with a reduced life expectancy of 5 to 10 years, chronic and sometimes fatal liver cancer, pneumonia, higher rates of suicide, and mental disabilities. Costly treatment usually helps only 30% of those seeking it. Naturally, society does whatever it can to discourage people from abusing alcohol and falling into alcoholism.

There’s another behavioral condition that reduces one’s life expectancy by up to 25 years, is associated with chronic and sometimes fatal liver cancer, fatal immune system disease, fatal rectal cancer and higher rates of suicide. Yet treatment usually results in a 50% success rate. The difference is that society often applauds and encourages this behavior. What am I talking about? It’s called homosexuality.

Dr. Jeffrey Satinover wrote this striking comparison of alcoholism and homosexuality in his book, Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth. The comparison shows that homosexual behavior is more dangerous than alcoholism. What’s so sad is that alcoholism is discouraged and frowned upon while homosexuality is applauded and even celebrated by many in society.

True concern for homosexuals involves confronting - not endorsing homosexual behavior. While this might not be popular, it’s the right and loving thing to do.

A while back Karl Bremer interviewed Tom Prichard about Sodomy Laws. The interview was posted on the mn-politics list.

I'm really confused.

This morning I heard Aaron Frederickson from the MN Family Council on MPR saying that the MFC absolutely opposes the medicinal use of marijuana for even sick and dying cancer and AIDS patients, even if that's the only medicine that relieves their pain and suffering.

But yesterday I spent nearly an hour on the phone talking anal and oral sex with MFC President Tom Prichard and he insisted that the Number One reason his group opposes repealing the sodomy and fornication statues are the public health consequences resulting from those activities. In fact, I got the impression that Prichard and his followers were more concerned with torn rectal linings of anal sex practitioners than they were about the morality of anal sex. Of course, that could be a ruse in order to make his case more palatable than the usual bible-thumping Sodom-and-Gomorrah rantings, but he sure did seem to know a lot about rectal linings.

Prichard is so concerned about the public health consequences of the anal sex, in fact, that he thinks it is even a more serious threat to the Republic than smoking. "I don't think there's any comparison of the health consequences between smoking and anal sex," Prichard told me (yes, I informed him that this was on the record for publication). "It's probably greater in the area of anal sex because of the inherent unhealthiness...I would make the case of it (anal sex) being more of a health risk than smoking."

When reminded that sodomy included oral sex, Prichard said that, like anal sex, AIDS can be transmitted via oral sex and so should be banned. When reminded that good ol' heterosexual vaginal sex also posed a risk of AIDS, Prichard said that's not true if in a married, monogomous situation, and raised the spectre of a brand new virus that is tranmitted by oral sex. But when asked which posed the greater risk--an HIV-negative gay couple in an monogomous relationship practicing oral sex or an HIV-negative heterosexual couple in a monogomous relationship practicing vaginal sex, he insisted it was the heterosexual couple that posed the lesser risk even though he had nothing to back that up.

What public health risk does oral sex between two lesbians--also sodomy under the law--present, I asked Prichard. While it might not represent the public health risk that anal sex does, Prichard says, it would have to be banned as well "from an equal protection standpoint." Whatever.

Prichard clearly is more bothered by anal sex than oral sex, and readily admitted that "I haven't studied oral sex from a medical standpoint as much." Perhaps he had an unfortunate childhood experience involving anal sex that he's trying to suppress through the oppression of those who would practice it today, but that would just be speculating. Anyway, Prichard seemed to indicate a willingness to look at exemptions for, say, married couples to practice oral sex. Of course, since same-sex marriages aren't allowed in Minnesota--and the MFC vigorously opposes them--that would preclude gay couples from enjoying the same sexual "privileges" under the law as heterosexual citizens.

In other words, the only sexual activities practiced by gays and lesbians are the ones that should be banned, but if married couples want to practice them we might be able to carve out an exemption for them. Do I sense a slight undercurrent of homophobia here? Prichard steered way clear of any morality jabs at gays, other than to say "there's kind of a social standard thing involved in banning sodomy. Evidently it's impolitic to gay-bash these days, at least when you're not wearing your sheet over your head, so he toes the public health line about why sodomy laws are needed.

But if public health is the big concern of the MFC, where have they been in the fights against smoking? And why aren't they calling for banning that public health risk? Oh, I forgot, because anal sex is the big threat to society. And based on the MFC's comments this morning, cancer and AIDS patients toking on a reefer to relieve their pain are an equally big threat

No, the MFC's agenda has nothing at all to do wth public health. Prichard talks a good line, but his homophobia is clearly evident. I'm not kidding, this guy sounds like he lives in mortal fear of big leather-clad gays lurking behind every lamppost waiting to tear his rectal lining to shreds. He insists the MFC has no plans for Sodomy Patrols roaming the streets peering into bedroom windows--meaning properly married couples need not fear his prying eyes. Keeping the sodomy laws on the books "sends a message" that society deems that activity inappropriate, says Prichard. "Just because a law isn't universally enforced" doesn't mean it isn't needed. "It's reasonable and legitimate to sanction certain behavior," he added, lumping sodomy in with incest, pornography, bestaility, prostitution and illegal drug.

He also says it allows police to arrest people engaging in sodomy "in shopping mall and public rest rooms," even though he acknowledged that public lewdness-type laws already allow for that. But the sodomy law just gives them one more tool.

So as I said, I'm confused, especially after an hour's worth of phone sex with Tom Prichard.

Confused as to how the Minnesota Family Council can claim to be concerned about the public health consequences of anal sex, but not be concerned about the pain and suffering of terminally ill patients? And confused as to how the police are going to find the time to arrest all the dying pot-smoking patients when they're busy arresting all the sodomites.

If anyone out there can help clarify these matters for me, please feel free to follow up. Perhaps you can call the Minnesota Family Council yourself: 612-789-8811.

Karl Bremer

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Evangelicals Declare Independence from Dobson, Perkins and the Rest


MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (CNN) -- A sharp difference of opinion over which issues ought to top the political agenda of Christian conservatives spilled out into the open at this week's meeting of the National Association of Evangelicals.

The group rebuffed complaints from some of the religious right's leading lights about the organization's newfound focus on global warming.

The group, which represents 45,000 churches and more than 60 evangelical denominations, took no action on a letter sent by 25 conservative Christian leaders demanding that the organization restrain its Washington policy director, the Rev. Richard Cizik, from putting forward his views on global warming. (Watch how issues divide evangelical group Video)

"We have observed that Cizik and others are using the global warming controversy to shift the emphasis away from the great moral issues of our time, notably the sanctity of human life, the integrity of marriage and the teaching of sexual abstinence and morality to our children," said the letter, which was signed by prominent religious conservatives such as James Dobson, Don Wildmon, Paul Weyrich and Gary Bauer.

Cizik has been outspoken on the global warming issue, saying in a recent documentary that "to harm this world by environmental degradation is an offense against God."

But Dobson and the other signatories of the letter to the National Association of Evangelicals board said evidence supporting global warming was not conclusive and that the organization "lacks the expertise to settle the controversy."

"The issue should be addressed scientifically and not theologically," they said, calling on the group's board to either rein in Cizik or encourage him to resign.

One of the men who signed the letter, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, said global warming was part of a leftist agenda that threatened evangelical unity.

"We're not going to allow third parties to divide evangelicals, and I think that is what is happening in part with the global warming issue," Perkins said.

However, the association board not only stood behind Cizik, but also further broadened the group's agenda with a statement condemning torture, which charged that in pursuing the war on terror, the United States had crossed "boundaries of what is legally and morally permissible."

But one of the board members, the Rev. Paul de Vries, said, "It ought to be God's agenda, not the Republican Party's agenda, that drives us.

"We're actually tired of being represented by people with a very narrow focus," he said. "We want to have a focus as big as God's focus."

Video of this story is available here.

Go watch the video. It's lots of fun watching Tony Perkins have a cow.

Senator, I didn't 'misunderstand' you the first time

Appearing on Bloomberg News, Sen. Hillary Clinton:

"Well I've heard from a number of my friends and I've certainly clarified with them any misunderstanding that anyone had, because I disagree with General Pace completely. I do not think homosexuality is immoral. But the point I was trying to make is that this policy of Don't Ask, Don't Tell is not working. I have been against it for many years because I think it does a grave injustice to patriotic Americans who want to serve their country. And so I have called for its repeal and I'd like to follow the lead of our allies like, Great Britain and Israel and let people who wish to serve their country be able to join and do so. And then let the uniform code of military justice determine if conduct is inappropriate or unbecoming. That's fine. That's what we do with everybody. But let's not be eliminating people because of who they are or who they love."

How fricking stupid do you think we are? The first time you were asked the about the 'immorality' question, you weren't able to say you disagreed with General Pace.

I guess living with Bill Clinton and trying to sort out his dissembling for so many years could confuse a person.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Let me point out some serious immorality

From the NY Times 'The Caucus' Blog

March 14, 2007, 6:40 pm
Clinton Ducks Answer on Whether Homosexualty is ‘Immoral’

By Patrick Healy

Asked if she believed homosexuality was immoral, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton declined to answer the question in a television interview this morning and said it was for “others to conclude.”

General Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a recent interview that he personally believed homosexuality was immoral and that this view was a factor in his opposition to gays serving openly in the military.

Mrs. Clinton, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, supports allowing gays to serve, which would amount to a change in her husband’s “don’t ask don’t tell” policy. She has also been aggressively courting gay voters and groups in recent weeks. Some gay groups have been critical of Mrs. Clinton’s refusal to support gay marriage, however, though she does support civil unions.

Asked on ABC News today if she agreed with General Pace’s view that homosexuality was immoral, Mrs. Clinton said: “Well I’m going to leave that to others to conclude.” She added, “I’m very proud of the gays and lesbians I know who perform work that is essential to our country, who want to serve their country and I want make sure they can.”

Senator Clinton, it is immoral for you to not answer a simple question about whether you agree with General Pace, while you cultivate gay votes and dollars.

Shame on you. Until you can answer that question, stop soliciting HRC donations.

I am (already) so weary of her poll-driven, word-smithed campaign.

Eva adds - the comments are interesting:

March 14th,
7:00 pm

The more I see Hillary, the less I like her. Not that I liked her much. But her blatant political over-calculations are getting tiresome.

— Posted by Thomas
March 14th,
7:06 pm

Just once to be nice to gays and lesbians…what can we say…it's one of those things we'll never know…

— Posted by David Modeny
March 14th,
7:12 pm

HRC's answer to Pace's idiotic slur is so utterly predictable. HRC is such a human salamander. She should be renamed the "Zelig" candidate. Next she'll be seen growing a long beard & sporting a yarmulke in Jerusalem.

— Posted by Sandman
March 14th,
7:14 pm

Now I'm beginning to wonder if it isn't possible that Pace's comments weren't set up by Karl Rove.

Something tells me Hillary's position of not taking a side on whether homosexuality is moral or not, there's no way it's going to wash, and it actually provides further ammunition for those who have already been making the case that she can't take a courageous stand on anything.

— Posted by Erik W.65

Clinton has now clarified, and Obama steps in it.

They asked Joe Solmonese from the Human Rights Campaign for comment:

Joe Solmonese, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights organization, said he was concerned about the initial responses of both Democratic senators, and compared their comments unfavorably to the rebuke by a Republican senator, John Warner of Virginia, who said he "respectfully but strongly" disagreed that homosexuality was immoral.

"It is a problem, and we’re going to reach out to both of those campaigns Thursday and ask them to clarify their answer," Mr. Solmonese said.

Earth to Joe Solmonese, by having HRC allowing candidates treat gays as ATMS means we'll get lots more of these comments from candidates in the mainstream media. Sure they'll say different things at the HRC black tie fundraisers. That's not where most gays are going to be getting their news.

The let's just work with Democrats and ignore the Republicans strategy is working so well, isn't it Joe?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

More Hats in the Ring for Tim Walz's Seat

Rochester Post Bulletin:

State Rep. Randy Demmer announced Saturday that he is running for Congress in Minnesota's 1st District, bringing to three the number of Republicans seeking their party's endorsement for the opportunity to run against U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, a Democrat.

Demmer, a Republican from Hayfield, made his announcement at the Olmsted County Republican Convention at the Ramada Hotel and Conference Center in Rochester. He joins state Sen. Dick Day of Owatonna and Lake Crystal-Welcome school board member Mark Meyer as declared candidates.

"The district fits me very well. It's really a mirror of the district that I represent in the Minnesota House. It's small towns, it's agriculture, and it's communities like Rochester, regional centers," Demmer said in an interview after his announcement.

Even as the roster of declared Republican candidates grew, one person whose possible candidacy has been the subject of much speculation appeared to take himself out of the running.

John Wade, president of the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce, said he was not considering himself a candidate for office, despite receiving numerous calls of encouragement to run.

"I think it would probably be best for our family that I continue to do what I like to do," Wade said.

The bidding for the Republican endorsement is expected to be particularly feverish this year. The seat was held for 12 years by Republican Gil Gutknecht until his upset defeat by Walz in November.

Saturday's convention was the first opportunity for candidates to pitch their candidacies to delegates who will decide who gets the Republican endorsement.

"I plan on winning back the First District for Republicans," Day said in a speech before about 70 county Republicans that stressed his conservative credentials and his record of winning elections.

A 16-year state senator who held the post of GOP House Minority Leader for nearly a decade, Day touted himself as among the most conservative members at the Legislature.

"There's never been a waver on any type of gay marriage, abortion, prayer in schools. You name it. I've either led the charge or I voted that way, so I think you'll find that I have very strong conservative credentials," Day said.

Day also stressed his Rochester roots. He was born on a farm four miles outside of Rochester and later, when his family moved to town, he lived just blocks from Mayo Clinic. His brother, Dewey, was mayor of Rochester from 1969 to 1973.

Meyer, the Crystal Lake-Welcome school board member, portrayed himself as a "professional problem-solver." Fixing Social Security and reforming health care would be among his priorities if elected to Congress, he said.

"Universal health care is not socialized medicine, and it's not a single-payer system, and it is in play," Meyer said. "I think it's too important of an issue to leave to the Democrats."

There were also declarations of noncandidacy at the convention. Carla Nelson, a one-term state representative from Rochester who unsuccessfully tried to regain her seat in the past two elections, said she would not be a candidate in 2008.

"Your past support, your friendship has been more than any elected official could ask for. And there are many ways to serve. And rest assured, I will stay close to the action," Nelson said.

A straw poll taken at the convention showed Day as a the top vote-getter with 35 percent of the vote, followed by Demmer (34 percent) and Kenric Scheevel (14 percent). Wade and Dr. Scott Wright both received write-in votes.

This should be interesting. It's good that the Rochester Paper attends these conventions. I've tried to convince Twin Cities reporters to attend early DFL and Republican conventions.

MN Publius gives some DFL slanted horse race analysis.

Minnesota GOP Insider Triple A Whines About the GOP Presidential Field

Seems like he is supporting None of the Above.

House Republicans Introduce Marriage Amendment Bill

Severson, Hamilton, Gottwalt, Dettmer and Westrom introduced:

H. F. No. 1845, A bill for an act relating to the Minnesota Constitution by adding a section to article XIII; recognizing as marriage only a union between one man and one woman.

The bill was read for the first time and referred to the Committee on Public Safety and Civil Justice.

Sviggum, Gottwalt, Dettmer and Westrom introduced:

H. F. No. 1846, A bill for an act proposing an amendment to the Minnesota Constitution by adding a section to article XIII; recognizing as marriage or its legal equivalent only a union between one man and one woman.

The bill was read for the first time and referred to the Committee on Public Safety and Civil Justice.

Journal of the House - 26th Day - Thursday, March 8, 2007 - Top of Page 901

Emmer introduced:

H. F. No. 1847, A bill for an act proposing an amendment to the Minnesota Constitution by adding a section to article XIII; recognizing as marriage or its legal equivalent only a union between one man and one woman.

The bill was read for the first time and referred to the Committee on Public Safety and Civil Justice.

There's been no news about house committee hearings on the various Domestic Partner bills. Will these marriage amendments scare Speaker Margaret Kelliher?

13 House DFLers voted for the Bachmann amendment when it went through the House in 2005. Will these DFLers be willing to do something different on the Domestic Partner benefit bills?

Shields and Cragan: "...Integrity is Intact."

Yesterday, I wrote to the website that had the Shields and Cragan report that claimed Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak was investigated by the DOJ and letting them know that the Mayor's office denies that he was investigated. I told them that I have not read or heard of an investigation of the Mayor. I asked that Shields and Cragan reveal their sources for that claim.

I received this response:

We received a response back late evening, I am reproducing it herein, if you have further questions, do not hesitate to contact us. Being that this is ongoing research, any errors are corrected as encountered. Also note that was posted on our site as an Op-Ed piece and non-juried.

This is Shields and Cragan's response:

Here is the url for the original press report, a statement from Mayor Rybak:

"Mayor Rybak's Statement on Federal Investigation

Minneapolis (March 14, 2002) Mayor R.T.Rybak issued the following statement this morning in response to a Star Tribune news report in this morning's paper about a grand jury investigation involving plumbing unions in the city.

We have no information from the U.S. Attorney's office about the purpose or the scope of the investigation. We will fully cooperate with the U.S. Attorney's office if they request our assistance."

Thus, the original date was 3/14/2002; that investigation was re-mentioned in the Zimmerman press story in 09/09/05.

Hope this helps; please send to everyone who is referenced in the statement below. The fact that there were leaks of a grand jury investigation and then nothing happened to the mayor is a major thrust of the harms of political profiling by these Bush U.S. Attorneys.

Trust this helps. Thanks for the alert and tell all the checkers that there integrity is intact.


Donald Shields for me and John Cragan

Looks to me like the professors are trying to say the corruption investigations in Minneapolis conducted by the DOJ were politically motivated and therefore have some relevance to the current flap over the Bush administration's firing of US Attorneys.

As far as I know, the DOJ never said they were investigating Rybak. I don't recall Grand Jury leaks about Mayor Rybak either. The DOJ issued a press release that said the Zimmerman investigation was the result of an ongoing investigation. But, that doesn't mean that they were investigating Rybak or any other city official:

"The case is the result of an ongoing investigation by Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney John Docherty."

It looks to me like the professors are trying to inflate their figures by saying Rybak was investigated based on news reports that quoted Rybak's office saying they were "cooperating" with the investigation (I read that lots of officials at City Hall were asked to cooperate with the FBI back then... big deal).

I hope that Professor Cragan and Professor Shields are aware that claiming Mayor Rybak was investigated damages the Mayor's reputation. If they are throwing the Mayor's reputation under the bus to make a point that the DOJ's investigations were politically motivated, that's wrong.

If the corruption investigations were purely political persecutions, the investigations would have resulted in nothing... but the DOJ got Brian Herron and G. Dean Zimmerman on tape taking bribes. I saw the tapes of Zimmermann at his trial asking for and receiving large amounts of cash. The tapes also reveal a cynical and sleazy side to the ex-councilman that belies his reputation as a progressive.

I think we should be grateful to the FBI and the DOJ for going after official corruption. I don't care about the party affiliation of public officials who take bribes.. bribery is unethical and a serious felony.

I hope the DOJ will release the Zimmermann tapes soon so all the conspiracy nonsense about the FBI framing Zimmermann would go away.

Monday, March 12, 2007

From the NY Times.......

Senator Hagel, are you listening?

Minneapolis' City Council Has Solved Everything

Now they have time to debate circus animals

Circus animals: Entertaining or inhumane?
Circus animals won't be performing in Minneapolis any more if a proposed ban passes the City Council.

By John Reinan, Star Tribune

Lions and tigers and bears -- no way. And no elephants, either, if Minneapolis joins about two dozen cities nationwide in banning wild circus animals. City Council members Ralph Remington and Cam Gordon say they hope to amend city laws to bar circuses from bringing elephants, tigers and other exotic critters into Minneapolis.

"It's adapting to the times and trying to be more humane in our treatment of wild animals," said Remington, who represents the 10th Ward. The proposed ban could be introduced later this month, said Remington.

He added that he believes he has the seven votes necessary to pass the measure.

The idea, part of a movement to get animals out of the Big Top, drew a roar from the circus business.

"I think it's one of the most un-American things I've ever heard of," said Rodney Huey, a spokesman for the Outdoor Amusement Business Association, which represents about 2,500 circuses, carnivals and other entertainment companies.

"If you are against animals working in a circus, then don't support it," Huey said. "But to keep a legitimate, traditional American business from coming to your town is ridiculous. You're denying thousands of children the right to see an elephant or a tiger in person."

Bans in other cities

Bans on circus animals have been enacted in a number of North American cities, including Stamford, Conn.; Boulder, Colo., and Burlington, Vt. But proposed bans have failed in several larger cities, including Seattle, Denver, Winnipeg and Edmonton, Alberta.

The circus industry has mounted an informational campaign to head off bans. Feld Entertainment, owner of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, has an extensive website with information on animal care. The site also includes an open letter to animal rights groups, accusing them of targeting well-cared-for circus animals while ignoring wild animals that are "starving, ill, overpopulating, and dying in habitats that can no longer support them."

Gordon said the proposed ban in Minneapolis is the result of a long-term lobbying effort by animal rights activists.

"It's arisen organically," said Gordon, who represents the Second Ward. "It is an issue coming from some active constituents and some people in my ward. But it's not a groundswell of people who are impatiently pounding on doors."

Among the circuses potentially affected would be the Minneapolis Shrine Circus, which is scheduled for the Target Center in mid-October. About 59,000 people attended the circus last year, said Don Wurden, potentate of the Zuhrah Shriners. Wurden declined to comment on the proposed ban.

It's unthinkable to have a circus without wild animals, said Tom Albert, a spokesman for Feld Entertainment.

"The fact is, people who come to the circus make it clear that the animals are the single biggest attraction," Albert said. "There may be activist groups, but our constituency is the millions of people who attend our circus and other circuses."

Those millions are watching tigers, elephants and other animals that have suffered inhumane treatment, said Nick Coughlin of Circus Reform Yes, a Minneapolis group that has pushed for the ban.

"You've got animals that are used to traveling 25 miles a day in the wild. Now they're tethered to chains 22 hours a day and forced to perform unnatural acts," Coughlin said.

"The tools of the trade tell the story. They use bullhooks, which are long, sharp rods with metal hooks. You've got hotshots -- electric prods -- whips and chains," Coughlin said. "These are the tools they use to train these animals to do these tricks."

Albert said modern training methods stress positive reinforcement.

"You don't get a reliable, predictable animal through mistreatment," he said. "We have every reason to take the best care of our animals. Our trainers live with the animals 24 hours a day."

If you don't like circuses (and I do not), don't buy a ticket (I do not).

Until the City Council can assure me that every pot hole is filled, that every street is safe and well lit, that nobody is sleeping on the streets, etc., this type of stuff doesn't belong on their radar screen.

Or maybe we need a part-time council, like St. Paul.

OutFront Press Release

Monica Meyer, Public Policy Director, 612-822-0127 ext. 115
C. Scott Cooper, Legislative Lobbyist, 651-260-9950
Jo Marsicano, Communications Director, 612-822-0127 ext. 106
March 12th, 2007
Two Bills Promoting Fairness for GLBT people Move Ahead in the Senate
(St. Paul) Two bills promoting fairness and common sense for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community are gaining momentum at the Minnesota legislature.

Today, two senate committees passed bills that would open the door for domestic partner benefits at the local government level, and re-instate domestic partner benefits for state employees. Senators voted with clear majorities in both cases.

Local Government Health Benefits Bill

The Senate Committee on State and Local Government Operations voted to pass the Local Government Health Benefits Bill by a majority in a voice vote, and included bipartisan support. Testifying in favor of the bill were St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and Minneapolis City Council Member Scott Benson who told the committee this was an issue of competitiveness and local control. Said Mayor Coleman, "We believe…this is a decision that should be left up to cities, counties, and other local governments…who feel it’s important to offer these benefits." City of Minneapolis employee Jan Fondell testified that because she cannot receive family benefits through her employer, her family pays several thousand dollars a year in premiums and copays for themselves and their children. Fondell also testified that her partner receives medical coverage through Medicare, which she says is more costly to taxpayers than if the family were to receive health benefits through Fondell's employer – the city of Minneapolis.

Currently local governments cannot offer domestic partner benefits due to a 1995 Minnesota Court of Appeals ruling preventing it, due to its interpretation of state law.

The Local Government Health Benefits bill now goes to the full Senate for a vote.

Now the question is what house speaker Margaret Kelliher is going to do for the house version. When I talked to her, she was non-commital, saying the bill would be heard in committee.

This piece is interesting:

State Employee Domestic Partner Benefits Bill

Also today, the Senate Government Budget Division voted to add the State Employee Domestic Partner Benefits bill into the omnibus budget bill by a 6-3 vote. This legislation would re-instate domestic partner benefits to state employees, a benefit withdrawn by the legislature in 2003. Chief Senate Author Sandy Pappas testified that the initiative would have a small budgetary impact – noting that in the years 2001-2003, the only time the benefits were offered, the cost to the state was approximately $200,000. OutFront Minnesota Legislative Lobbyist C. Scott Cooper testified, in response to one senator's question about promoting a "back door to marriage," that "We're not asking for marriage. Marriage is not part of this." Cooper says state domestic partner benefits are common sense, simple to implement, and good business, noting the more than 200 Minnesota businesses and thousands nationwide that already offer domestic partner benefits.

The State Employee Domestic Partner Benefits bill now becomes part of the Senate Omnibus Budget Bill.

OutFront Minnesota is working at the legislature to promote bills that would address current inequities in law which adversely affect the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community. A 2006 poll showed that 70% of Minnesotans believed that "gays and lesbians should have the same rights and responsibilities as everyone else," and just short of 80% thought "government shouldn't treat people differently because of their sexual orientation."

OutFront Minnesota is an advocacy, direct services, and public policy organization for the GLBT and allied community.

Leading Minnesota Toward GLBT Equality. Celebrating Our 20th Year.

Now can Pawlenty line item veto this piece of the omnibus budget bill?

Mayor's Office: "Mayor Rybak has never been investigated by the Dept. of Justice"

I wrote to Jeremy Hanson about the report that says Rybak was investigated by the Feds. I just received this reply:


You recently posted on your blog that, according to a report from two emeritus communications professors, Mayor Rybak was investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice. However, to the best of our knowledge, Mayor Rybak has never been investigated by the Dept. of Justice. In fact, if you look more closely at this report, the authors base their research on news stories not actual DOJ investigation documents. On the column of their chart labeled “Date of Story” 9-09-05 likely refers to a story in the Star Tribune from that day, where Mayor Rybak said that the City would cooperate with the U.S. Attorney’s office on the Zimmerman investigation. The “Date” does not refer to DOJ investigation documents. Mayor Rybak is requesting that the professors remove his name from their chart because it is creating the impression that he was investigated when he was not. We would appreciate it if you would please correct this inaccuracy on your blog so that your readers know that the Mayor was not investigated. Thanks!

Since this report was quoted in a Paul Krugman NYT editorial, I assumed the two professors were somewhat credible.

I just asked if it was true, now we know it isn't. I think Donald Shields and John Cragan should apologize to the Mayor and any other public figures who were mistakenly listed as having been investigated.

Senator Hagel Decides Not to Decide

March 12, 2007
Hagel Puts Off Decision on 2008 Bid
Filed at 11:26 a.m. ET

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- Sen. Chuck Hagel, the loudest Republican voice in opposition to the Iraq war, on Monday put off a decision about a possible presidential bid.

In an odd twist, the Nebraska senator called a news conference to say he would decide about his political future later this year.

''I want to keep my focus on helping find a responsible way out of this tragedy,'' Hagel said of the Iraq war.

The Republican presidential field is crowded with 10 candidates, a number that could grow as Newt Gingrich and Fred Thompson weigh possible bids. Hagel's planned announcement touched off speculation that he would join the 2008 White House race or announce plans to seek re-election to a third Senate term.

Instead, he told reporters at a nationally televised news conference: ''I am here today to announce that my family and I will make a decision on my political future later this year.''

Hagel, 60, is probably best known to voters as a high-profile critic of the Bush administration dating to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. That criticism evolved into heated discordance in January when the Nebraska Republican called President Bush's plan to send an addition 21,500 U.S. troops to Iraq ''the most dangerous foreign policy blunder carried out since Vietnam.''

Here's the text of Monday's speech:

America stands at an historic crossroads in its history. It is against this backdrop that I find myself at my own crossroads on my political future. Burdened by two wars, faced with dangerous new threats and global uncertainty, beset by serious long-term domestic problems and divided by raw political partisanship—America now reaches for a national consensus of purpose. America’s response to the challenges and opportunities that confront us today will define our future. Finding solutions to these challenges and capitalizing on these opportunities will not wait until the next election.

I have worked hard over the last ten years on foreign policy and national security issues, climate change and energy, education, entitlement reform, especially Social Security reform, health care, veterans benefits, GSE reform, and immigration reform. This year will be an important year for these critical issues– and I intend to offer new initiatives on each of them. I want to give these and other subjects my full attention over the next few months. I believe it is in the interests of my Nebraska constituents and this country that I continue to work full time on these challenges.

America is facing its most divisive and difficult issue since Vietnam—the war in Iraq, an issue that I have been deeply involved in. I want to keep my focus on helping find a responsible way out of this tragedy, and not divert my energy, efforts and judgment with competing political considerations.

I am here today to announce that my family and I will make a decision on my political future later this year.

In making this announcement, I believe there will still be political options open to me at a later date. But that will depend on the people of Nebraska and this country. I cannot control that and I do not worry about it. I will continue to participate in events across this country, raising money for my Political Action Committee to assist Republican candidates, and raising funds for a Senate re-election campaign.

In conclusion, I would first like to commend my colleagues who are currently seeking their Party’s presidential nomination. I admire each of them for their willingness to put themselves on the line and pursue their strong beliefs and ideals.

I believe the political currents in America are more unpredictable today than at any time in modern history. We are experiencing a political re-orientation, a redefining and moving toward a new political center of gravity. This movement is bigger than both parties. The need to solve problems and meet challenges is overtaking the ideological debates of the last three decades—as it should. America is demanding honest, competent and accountable governance.

A global political readjustment is also in play today...and will respond to America’s leadership. What is at stake for the future of America is larger than just American politics. Politics is simply the mechanism democracies use to affect responsible change. The world is not static, it is dynamic.

At the beginning of my remarks I said that America is reaching for a national consensus of purpose. We will find it because Americans expect it and will demand it. I do not believe America’s greatness is lost to the 20th Century. There are chapters of America’s greatness yet to be written. I intend to continue being part of America’s story.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Citizen Journalists Wanted

An MPR employee posted the following to mn-politics-discuss:

Hi, my name is Michael Caputo and I work at Minnesota Public Radio.
I'm with a kind of experiment in bringing more people into our news coverage. It's called the Public Insight Network - an effort to get many more people invovled in helping to inform the news.

The idea is to reach out to folks who might have some insight on an issue or a topic. Once in a while I'll go outside of the network to solicit other people who might have some kind of insight.

So let me try this one story idea out on you. We're interested in finding people who are actively behind a state legislative bill that doesn't get a lot of media attention.

Some bills in the Minnesota State Legislature get plenty of media play. A smoking ban. A sales tax increase.

But the great majority of them sneak through the legislative halls unheralded. Like spending money for railroad crossing improvements in Grand Rapids or increasing fees for a notary public services.

These "small bills" are often the product of people with specific, compelling experiences that change them into energized citizens.

Does this sound like you? Are you, or someone you know, backing or tracking obscure legislative bills?

MPR News would like to find out about more of these bills... and the people behind them. Click the link below and fill out a brief survey to give us your story.

If you have any questions about MPR's Public Insight Network give me a call at (651) 290-1081 or email me at

I encourage Lloydletta readers to contact MPR if they are working on bills that aren't getting media attention. This is a good step that MPR is doing this.