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Saturday, May 19, 2007

60 Minutes: Science of Sexual Orientation

You can watch the clips here.

Write to your Hennepin County Commissioner

Complain about Stanek/Ortman scam.

Here's what I sent to Commissioner Peter McLaughlin.

I thought all of the hottest, most most profitable patronage jobs offered by Hennepin County were somehow tied to the 30 year Twins Stadium Swindle, but boy, that assumption changed when I read Saturday's Star Tribune story about Sen. Julianne Ortman occupying two spaces at the public trough.

Here is my favorite paragraph from the story:

An initial set of timesheets provided to the Star Tribune by Hennepin County reflected four additional occasions when Ortman was working for the county and on legislative business at the same time. But after turning over the timesheets, Hennepin County amended Ortman's schedule for seven days and provided a new set of timesheets to the newspaper. In explaining the change, the Sheriff's Office said that Ortman had not been trained on the department's time recording software at the time, and another employee had recorded her hours incorrectly.

It begs the question - for whom do Hennepin County employees fill out timesheets? Is it to facilitate accurate and complete payroll and benefit tracking? Or is it for the benefit of the media? Which version of the timesheets was correct?

The whole thing is shameful, and I'm furious that I'm paying twice for an attorney to work as a financial manager. What will the County Board do to address what appears to be patronage, collusion, and flat-out double dipping at the taxpayer's expense?

I work as an accountant for a large non-profit. Unlike Sen. Ortman, I do have a Bachelor's degree in accounting, and have passed the CPA exam..... Part of my job responsibility is internal audit, and this whole story would not pass the smell test with my employer. I would have a difficult time assigning the correct labels, but let me try:

1. Conflict of interest (Juliane votes on public safety and LGA bills)
2. Ethical violations (Okay - lying)
3. Patronage
4. Lack of internal controls (apparently, its possible to file inaccurate timesheets at Hennepin County).

Hennepin County Taxpayers Get Swindled Again

This time by Sen. Julianne Ortmann.

It's been a busy and prosperous spring for Sen. Julianne Ortman.

For the past six weeks, Ortman has been working full time in her new $91,000-a-year job as chief financial manager for the office of Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek, a political ally. At the same time, she has been collecting her $31,149-a-year legislative salary and a $96 daily expense allowance while missing some committee hearings and Senate floor sessions.

The dual roles of the Republican from Chanhassen, an assistant leader of the minority caucus, were evident May 11. Ortman was paid by Hennepin County as working on county business from 8 until 10 a.m., while state records show her answering a roll call for the start of the day's Senate session in St. Paul at 9:20 a.m.

A review of county payroll records and Senate documents from April and early May show that Ortman often bounced between her two jobs, at times starting one job just minutes after officially punching out from the other.

In two instances, she missed Senate committee meetings while working for the county, according to the records. Meanwhile, many of her county payroll records show her working long hours, evenings and weekends on days when the Senate was in session.

On one day, April 19, Ortman worked a 15-hour day for Hennepin County and missed a Senate floor session but still received her $96 daily expense allowance from the Senate.

In a written response to questions Friday, Ortman said a legislator holding two jobs is not uncommon in Minnesota.

"We have a citizen's Legislature where our work is not intended to be full-time employment. I have always had other employment," said Ortman. She listed other former legislators who held other jobs while serving at the State Capitol -- including Stanek, who was a Minneapolis police officer while serving in the House.

"I am proud to now be a Hennepin County Sheriff's Office employee and enjoy my work as the director of finance," Ortman added. "I am working very hard and strive to do both jobs well."

This is excellent shoe leather reporting by Mark Brunswick and Mike Kazuba at the Strib. This is the type of thing we need more of.

Ortman could not be reached Friday for a response concerning the apparent conflict May 11 when she was working for the county and on the Senate floor simultaneously.

Senate records show that Ortman took a $96 daily expense allowance (per diem) for every day in April, including Saturdays and Sundays, for a total of $2,880. Under Senate rules, a senator must specifically request to not collect per diem or a salary during the legislative session, and Ortman did not make such a request.

An initial set of timesheets provided to the Star Tribune by Hennepin County reflected four additional occasions when Ortman was working for the county and on legislative business at the same time. But after turning over the timesheets, Hennepin County amended Ortman's schedule for seven days and provided a new set of timesheets to the newspaper. In explaining the change, the Sheriff's Office said that Ortman had not been trained on the department's time recording software at the time, and another employee had recorded her hours incorrectly.

Go read the whole thing.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Dobson Will Not Back Giuliani

Dobson having a cow over Giuliani:

True to form, liberal pundits loved Rudy's Houston speech. Some praised him for being "brave" and "historic." In what sense, pray tell? I see nothing courageous about trying to have it both ways in the name of political ambition. He told the crowd he is "firmly committed" to marriage remaining legally defined as the union of one man and one woman. However, he opposed the Marriage Protection Amendment when it was being considered by Congress. Giuliani must have known then, and surely understands now, that the courts have taken dead aim at the institution of marriage, and that the only way to secure it is with a federal constitutional amendment. But the tap dancing continues.

This self-styled defender of marriage says he is "proud" of having submitted, as New York's mayor, a bill creating "domestic partnerships" for homosexual couples. Admittedly, many liberal Americans will agree with the social positions espoused by Giuliani. However, I don't believe conservative voters whose support he seeks will be impressed. Presidential elections are won or lost by slim margins. Rudy has an uphill slog ahead of him, even though he is the darling of the media.

There are other moral concerns about Giuliani's candidacy that conservatives should find troubling. He has been married three times, and his second wife was forced to go to court to keep his mistress out of the mayoral mansion while the Giuliani family still lived there. Talk about tap dancing. Also during that time, the mayor used public funds to provide security services for his girlfriend. The second Mrs. Giuliani finally had enough of his philandering and, as the story goes, forced him to move out. He lived with friends for a while and then married his mistress. Unlike some other Republican presidential candidates, Giuliani appears not to have remorse for cheating on his wife.

Harry Truman asked, "How can I trust a man if his wife can't?" It is a very good question. Here's another one: Is Rudy Giuliani presidential timber? I think not. Can we really trust a chief executive who waffles and feigns support for policies that run contrary to his alleged beliefs? Of greater concern is how he would function in office. Will we learn after it is too late just what the former mayor really thinks? What we know about him already is troubling enough.

One more question: Shouldn't the American people be able to expect a certain decorum and dignity from the man who occupies the White House? On this measure, as well, Giuliani fails miserably. Much has been written in the blogosphere about his three public appearances in drag. In each instance, he tried to be funny by dressing like a woman. Can you imagine Ronald Reagan, who loved a good joke, doing something so ignoble in pursuit of a cheap guffaw? Not on your life.

My conclusion from this closer look at the current GOP front-runner comes down to this: Speaking as a private citizen and not on behalf of any organization or party, I cannot, and will not, vote for Rudy Giuliani in 2008. It is an irrevocable decision. If given a Hobson's – Dobson's? – choice between him and Sens. Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, I will either cast my ballot for an also-ran – or if worse comes to worst – not vote in a presidential election for the first time in my adult life. My conscience and my moral convictions will allow me to do nothing else.

Dobson's going to have problems with quite a few in the GOP field, if he's concerned about multiple marriages.

CNN Coverage of Falwell's Death

Via Americablog.

1 week before his death, Falwell reiterated that he blamed gays and feminists for the 9/11 attacks.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Another Sick Pointless Al Franken Joke

I don't get the vapors over these things the way the Drama Queen does.

"I noticed that neither of the Bush twins had done this….(unintelligible) blastocysts. All I could figure is that they didn't want to be pregnant so they could volunteer for Iraq." Source: Al Franken, May 13, 2007

If you listen to the whole clip, he was scoring some excellent points on Norm Coleman about Norm's stance on stem cell research. Then he blows it.

Chris Truscott (who is a Democrat) comments:

# Chris Truscott Says:
May 16th, 2007 at 10:24 am

Will Franken just go away…

And why the hell was he in Wisconsin?

Franken makes one of the most endangered Republican senators seem as safe as a Ted Kennedy…

He Feels Pretty

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Fellow Republicans Attack Paul Koering

Brainerd Dispatch (registration required):

Koering criticized by Walz
County GOP board faults voting record
Associate Editor
Crow Wing County Republican Chairman Dale Walz, writing on behalf of his executive board, expressed "disappointment and disapproval" of Sen. Paul Koering's voting record in an April 19 letter to the Republican lawmaker, it was learned Monday.

A copy of the letter also was sent to Ron Carey, Minnesota Republican Party chairman.

Koering fended off a 2006 primary challenge after winning GOP endorsement in his successful bid for a second term in the state Senate but has faced persistent criticism from within his party since announcing he was gay in 2005.

In his correspondence, Walz said the county's Republican executive committee approved the message.

"I guess I'm a little surprised by the letter," Koering said from the state Capitol Monday. "You know, I'm voting my district and I'm voting for nursing home funding and voting for the needs of my district and I guess some people in the Republican Party want me to come down here and vote no on everything."

In his letter, Walz said the executive board met to discuss legislation that had been authored by and certain votes that been cast by Koering. The bills included Senate File 0002 - Universal Health Care, S.F. 1369 - Domestic Partner Health Benefits, S.F.
1398 - Giving Domestic Partners Next of Kin Designation and various legislation "all dealing with expanding and/or additional appropriations for government-run health care programs."

Walz's letter continued, "The executive board believes co-authorship of these DFL bills and/or favorable votes on these DFL bills are in direct contradiction to key elements of the Republican Party of Minnesota platform.

The Republican platform also opposed sticking Hennepin County Taxpayers with the bill for the stadium boondoggle, but they never went after Rep Paul Gazelka for voting for that one. Why not?

"The purpose of this letter is to express our disappointment and disapproval of these actions. The executive board approved this letter."

Neither Walz, Deputy Crow Wing County Chair Tenlee Lund nor Carey returned messages Monday.

Koering, who said the criticism comes from only a handful of Republicans, said he would not be an obstructionist and would continue to work with other legislators.

"I need to get things done for my district," he said.

He said he was endorsed by 60 percent of the Republicans at the 2006 endorsing convention, a margin he characterized as a landslide in politics. He said he was only two votes shy of winning endorsement on the first ballot and never lost ground
in any of the seven ballots that were conducted.

"My question is every time I sway off the path and vote the wrong way, am I going to be denounced?" he asked. "I think if you look at my record over the past five years, I think I've done a pretty good job. It makes it difficult when you don't have your team on your side."

Koering said he believed some of the legislation his critics cited was part of the Health and Human Services bill he voted for this session. That bill was vetoed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Koering was one of four Republicans to support the bill.

The Republican senator was praised for his work on the Health and Human Services budget conference report in Sunday's letter to the editor by Sen. Linda Berglin, DFL-Minneapolis. Berglin is the co-chair of that committee. She said his efforts helped fund nursing homes above the governor's request and also increased money for food shelves.

Walz, a former District 12A Republican representative, was elected to the Legislature in 2000. In May of 2004 he announced he wouldn't run for another term. He was elected county chair last month. Also elected to party posts at that time were Lund, Dolly Zitur, secretary; and Alvina Kennedy, treasurer.

Koering said he'd continue to represent all of the district, Democratic, independent and Republican.

"I'm trying to look out for the best interests of all the people," he said.

So the saga continues..... It's interesting that Walz didn't want to comment on this, and that party chair Ron Carey wasn't interested in commenting either.


Looks like the Tax Committee deep sixed a dumb idea. If you haven't already, write your representative about this matter.

Fox News Moderates Interesting GOP Candidate Debate

I enjoyed watching the Republican candidate debate, and thought the questions asked generated some interesting exchanges between the candidates.


Triple A is huffing and puffing over Minnesota Monitor's new comment policy.

I’ve heard from another blogger who has left comments on Mini Money in the past, and they have been removed as well.

I think this should thoroughly put to bed any idea that these hacks are running a journalistic endeavor.

The comment policy actually just says comments have to be civil. Many of Swiftee's comments attack people who disagree and are not civil.

I find this rather interesting that Triple A is upset, since he's blocked me from commenting on his blog.

This is just taking a break before going on another rant criticizing party chair Ron Carey for not publicly criticizing Republican legislators.

As many as 10 Republicans voted for this bill in the first place, and this bill has a possibility to be overridden by some of these very RINOs thus making Pawlenty’s veto worthless.

For crying out loud, stop carrying the Governor’s water and focus a little on our goll darn platform and the dire need the conservative movement has, lack of leadership.

Here, let me help:

“I’m thrilled Governor Pawlenty made the right call and vetoed this bill, (insert fluffy stuff here)

But it saddens me deeply that some Republicans voted for this bill in the first place, and are threatening to vote to override the Governor. Republicans oppose tax increases. These legislators could learn a lot from Governor Pawlenty and principled Republican leaders in Minnesota who know this bill is bad for Minnesota.

We’ve sent out an action alert to the thousands and thousands of Republican party members urging them to call these Legislators and remind them what party they are in.”

Or something like that, but well, I guess I am not surprised that we got the version we did.

Nothing like making the Republican party smaller and smaller.

Rep. Tom Emmer's Stammering on You Tube Video Goes Viral

PZ Myers mentioned the video of Rep Tom Emmer stammering about the age of the Earth on Pharyngula yesterday and over 1700 people have viewed the video since then. Other blogs have also linked to the Emmer video.

Beyond Sound Bites and Headlines blog has this to say:

Emmer can't give a straight answer on if he thinks the earth is thousands of years old or billions of years old. As of today 1700 people have seen it on U tube.

Here's the You Tube stats on the Emmer video:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The BSBH blog also has an excellent post on Rep. Mark Olson's obsession with PRT.

The only thing I can tell you for sure is that Olson will continue to push this boondoggle for has long as he’s in office. It is his type of Government program. One that will never be built. He can say he’s doing something but even he must know that this is a fraud and a scam. Let’s hope that his time ends very soon.

Here's a video of Olson introducing, then withdrawing his PRT amendment last Friday:

Monday, May 14, 2007

Welcome Pharyngula Readers

Avidor's video of Rep Tom Emmer stammering over a question from colleague Kate Knuth over whether the earth was billions or thousands of years old made Pharyngula.

Avidor has a video of an exchange between a defender of science (DFL) and creationist coward (R). It's amusing. Kate Knuth (DFL) asks a simple question—whether Tom Emmer (R) believes the earth is thousands of years old, or billions of years old—and Emmer runs away from the question. First he babbles about how he has a different science than she does, and then he justs asks her whether she's an evolutionist.

It's just weird. They know enough to realize that they sound awfully silly when they claim the earth is ten thousand years old, but they don't know enough to think that maybe they're wrong.

Commenters reacted:


I guess an "evolutionist" is supposed to mean somebody who is not a young earth creationist. But, for example, Behe and Dembski aren't young earth creationists and yet nobody ever calls them "evolutionists." Uhhh, Behe and Dembski aren't young earth creationists, right? Riiiiiiiighhhhhhtttt?? (I'll bet they are.)

Posted by: 386sx | May 14, 2007 07:00 PM

I could be wrong, but I think people like this Tom Emmer guy don't actually believe the earth is only thousands of years old but they can't say that in public or else their fundamentalist supporters will cut him off.

Regardless of how he answers, he's screwed. If he says the earth is only thousands of years old he pleases the religious nuts but looks like an idiot to everyone else. If he says he doesn't believe the earth is only thousands of years old he pisses of the base . His goal is to never answer.

The lesson here is this question should be asked repeatedly of all our elected officials. Put them on the spot and get them on record.

Posted by: gonzoknife | May 14, 2007 07:09 PM

Emmer starts "Ngah. Ngah. Ahhh ..." like a drunk clown doing a broad comedic impression of someone choking, and then ends with not answering the very simple question.

He looks stupid. AND gutless. No matter what the larger context, I can't believe you could be absolutely blindsided by that question.

I'm glad he's not in MY state legislature (although I'm sure NY has its share of 'em). The guy appears to have some issues.

On the other hand, it kinda looked like even Knuth was overdelicate about her belief in evolution. Maybe it was the company she was in.

Posted by: Hank Fox | May 14, 2007 06:05 PM


He didn't answer (and thus looked gutless and stupid) because he was running his mental spin engine trying to come up with the most strategically worded answer to the question. Upon being asked the question again, he has nothing, so he uses the "evolutionist" term in a connotative fashion to push the heat back at the person doing the questioning.

It's republican debate tactics 101 material. How they consistently get away with speaking nothing and/or falsehoods punctuated by their own verbal insults is a question that people really should ask more often.

Posted by: BlueIndependent | May 14, 2007 07:36 PM

Evolution vs Creationism in the Minnesosta Legislature

From last Friday's debate on the energy bill (House Video Archives).

In this video, Rep. Kate Knuth (DFL) 50B asks Deputy Minority Leader Tom Emmer (R) 19B if he believes the Earth is thousands of years old or if it is billions of years old.

Rep. Tom Emmer stammers and other legislators laugh at Emmer:

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Brad Biers on Andy Aplikowksi

I reached Brad Biers who is a delegate in Andy Aplikowski's district. Brad said when asked about Andy Aplikowski's racist interview that Andy "says he was joking" and that Brad doesn't "have any comment about it."