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Saturday, August 04, 2007

Is Minnesota Monitor Just Democratic Shills?

In a comment to Min Mon, Britt Robson poses the question:

Klobuchar's "Help" In Making Illegal Wiretapping Legal
This will be a good litmus test to see if you folks are more than just Democratic Party shills. Amy Klobuchar was one of 16 Democratic Senators today who caved in to President Bush's demand that Congress rewrite and expand FISA to broaden his power of surveillance. This comes in the wake of revelations showing that Bush disobeyed the constitution by illegally spying on citizens for years, and other revelations showing that these activities (or perhaps a similar program; Bush has refused to release the documents so we don't know) prompted nearly all of the top officials in the Justice Department, Bush's own Republican appointees, to threaten to resign.

Now, if the House goes along with Klobuchar and her crew, Bush's unconstitutional encroachment on our civil liberties will be given the imprimatur of law and bipartisan support. Wiretaps without court orders, which couldn't pass the Senate without some Democratic support, just happened. Unbelievable.


Good question. It will be interesting to see if it gets answered.

Will Road Warriors and PRTstas Try to Derail Transit in Special Session?

In response to the 35W bridge disaster, Governor Pawlenty renounced his pledge to not raise taxes and suggested he may order a special session to pass a gas tax.

If history is any guide, the folks who "don't want no choo-choo trains" will use the occasion to suggest that funding should be transferred from LRT and commuter rail projects such as Northstar and the Central Corridor to fixing automobile infrastructure.

Drew Emmer posts this letter at Wright County Republican:

Mr. President,

Your words of encouragement and prayers are appreciated, but going forward I hope in providing federal funding for rebuilding efforts you make clear that any and all federal funding is to be used for bridges and roads here in Minnesota.

As you may know leaders in Minnesota have of late been pre-occupied with diverting massive amounts of funding to the liberal, Utopian, pipe dream, boondoggle that is light rail. I would urge the feds to cancel any and all funding to Minnesota earmarked for light rail mass transit, and re-appropriate any such funding for bridges and roads. It is my understanding that during one of the last inspections this bridge scored 50 points out of a possible 120........that's a failing grade no matter how you look at it.

Please make clear to liberal, feel good leadership here in Minnesota, that wasting federal funding on costly light rail projects; as bridges, roads, and infrastructures receive failing inspection scores, is irresponsible, and a dereliction of duties.

Thank you;

Mark W.
Watertown, MN. 55388


Anti- transit sentiment isn't limited to the "no-choo-choo-train" right-wing Republicans.

When someone posted a Pioneer Press story on the E-Democracy Saint Paul forum about improvements needed to make the Washington Avenue bridge strong enough to support the Central Corridor LRT line, Green Party PRTista David Shove chimed in with this post a day after the 35W bridge collapse:

PRT pods weigh MUCH less (1500 lbs I recall) and so would require NO bridge upgrade.

LRT - the more it costs, the more the contractors and building trades love it. It's all about taking the money and running.

PRT, not LRT!

David Shove is also the editor of the Progressive Calendar and an outspoken supporter of convicted felon, Dean Zimmermann.

No doubt, rail transit will be bashed incessantly by right-wing, bible-hurling, gadgetbahning Rep. Mark Olson who Drew Emmer describes as an "honorable man".

Rail transit in the Twin Cities has survived the best efforts of such "honorable" men:

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Friday, August 03, 2007

Taxpayer League Statement on 35W Collapse

From the Taxpayer's League E News:

2. Statement from Phil Krinkie regarding the I-35W bridge collapse.
“We mourn the loss of life and the injuries. Now is a time for all Minnesotans to join together to comfort the victims and their families.
“Over the coming months there will be an investigation and a proper, informed debate about the causes and appropriate response to the bridge collapse. Until all the facts are known, it is not the time to assign blame or engage in political gamesmanship.
“Elected officials from both sides of the political aisle, charitable organizations, first responders, and all Minnesotans have banded together to heal this deep wound to our community. It would be disappointing indeed to see any irresponsible people attempt to use this tragedy for political or partisan purposes.”


I wonder how they will respond to Governor Pawlenty's call for a gas tax increase?

Gov. Tim Pawlenty said tonight he is willing to reverse his longstanding opposition to a state gas tax increase in the wake of the Minneapolis bridge collapse.

The state's gas tax has been at 20 cents per gallon since 1988. Pawlenty had vetoed bills to raise it in 2005 and earlier this year.

"Everything is on the table," Pawlenty said this evening on the "Almanac" news program. "I will be moving to consider and put on the table a gas tax increase."

Pawlenty said he hoped in exchange, legislators would accept some of his ideas for funding roads and bridges.

After meeting today with the Republican governor, Minnesota's legislative leaders began putting lawmakers on standby for a post-Labor Day special session. Pawlenty said in an interview earlier Friday that he would likely summon lawmakers to St. Paul to respond to the bridge disaster.

No date has been set and the details of emergency legislation still have to be worked out.

The gas-tax shift is a huge political concession for Pawlenty, who has stood firmly against any state tax increases during his 4 ¼ years in office. In light of the bridge tragedy, "We've got to come together and we've got to move forward," he said.

Pawlenty's second-in-command, Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau, scoffed at the idea of a gas tax increase at a press conference Friday. Molnau doubles as the state transportation commissioner.

"If you think raising the gas tax will take care of the problems - because that's how we've always paid for our infrastructure - it can't keep up any longer," Molnau said. "We do need to look for resources that we can count on long term. But I will tell you, we would have to raise the gas tax 34, 35 cents a gallon to do what you're asking us to do. And I don't think the motoring public nor the commerce in this state could sustain that."

Pointing Fingers and Moving Forward... A Rational Approach

By: David Joseph DeGrio


Over the last two days I haven’t known if I should cry or scream as I watch the news coverage, listen to the press conferences, read the news papers and blogs regarding the collapse of the 35W Bridge and see all of them littered with political trash talk. Even those people who attempt to claim the highroad and say blame ought not to be placed at this point, are just as guilty of making this a political issue by criticizing when others are engaging in partisan bashing.

I will NOT blame Republicans.

I will NOT blame Democrats.

I will NOT blame Independents.

I will NOT blame Greens.

I WILL blame we the voter.

I WILL blame each and every one of you.

I WILL blame myself.

I will blame us for not only accepting, but embracing the mediocrity that has become our political establishment. Too often people have allowed our government to arrive at a stalemate over raising taxes v cutting taxes. Half of us will allow infrastructure to suffer at the expense increased spending on social services. The other half will allow infrastructure to suffer at the expense of cutting taxes. Look at the manifestation of our ideological divide. At a time we should be united in the recovery effort and the consolation of those who have been hurt and the families of those who have dies, we choose to start a school-yard game of ‘he-did-it, she-did-it’. That is why I cry, but it is why I scream even louder. The government is not an entity separate from the people, the government IS the people. Government is an abstract concept, leaders are not. Right now we don’t have leaders in office, we have fools in charge on all sides of the aisle.

Should there be accountability? Absolutely. However, let us wait and see what the experts say about the cause of the collapse. Perhaps the expected lifespan of a bridge isn’t what engineers thought it to be. As a scientist I readily accept that we are fallible; however, it must be acknowledged that scientists and engineers are in the best position to make the determination as to the safety and integrity of products and infrastructure. If there was undue political influence upon engineers to deem the structure safe, heads should roll. If it truly was an honest miscalculation by scientists and engineers we must accept that and move on.

There comes a time where good women and men can no longer be silent and they must revolt against those who are in charge. I have reached that point and rather than screaming or resorting to a forceful revolt, I offer a plan to move forward.

  1. We neither raise nor cut taxes and fees in the State of Minnesota.
  2. We take the necessary funds from the Central Corridor fund and the Metro Stadium tax fund immediately to redesign and rebuild the 35W Bridge such that commerce does not suffer. If we allow this to impact our economic vitality any longer than necessary we will suffer for a long time.
  3. Once the federal government releases money for the reconstruction effort we use that money to inspect and repair all transportation infrastructures in the State within the next 5 to 10 years and return the money we allocated away from the Central Corrido.
  4. We establish an Infrastructure Management Superfund that can be used only for inspection and repair and can not be raided by the greedy hands of government. This can be funded by amending the 2006 Transportation Amendment to require that 25% of the collected funds be put into this fund.
  5. We should also pass a law stating that no bridge or road, in this state, should be allowed to retain “Structurally Deficient” status two years in a row.

Is this an overreaction? No, I don’t think so. The first and foremost duty of society is to protect the citizenry, provide for the infrastructure to allow safe passage throughout the state and between the states. In too many instances, we have failed. We failed on August 1st, 2007 in Minneapolis as much as we failed on September 11th, 2001 in other parts of the country. What will be the next failure? If we do things correctly, we won’t ever be able to answer that question. So today I extend my hand to Democrats and Republicans, to conservatives and liberals and to all women and men in my city and my state and I say let this not divide us, but allow us to join hands and move forward together.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Welcome Star Tribune - Roadguy Readers

Ken Avidor's post about how the 35W collapse is affecting bicyclists and pedestrians has gotten lots of attention. Please stop back and feel free to comment.

There's some good live blogging of the Press Conference this afternoon over at Metroblogging Minneapolis.

Michael Brodkorb the Drama Queen Gets Vapors Again

Those Democrats are at it again - politicizing tragedy... have you ever?

The crusading Democrat Exposer Michael Brodkorb quotes the lefty MinMon blogger the MOBsters love to hate, Jeff Fecke:

"It's tempting to attack the Republicans for this, and indeed, I will; the GOP in my state, led by Tim Pawlenty, has cheerfully put off funding roads and transit in order to avoid having to raise taxes. And obviously we've poured a ton of money into Iraq with little to show for it."


The full quote says:

It’s tempting to attack the Republicans for this, and indeed, I will; the GOP in my state, led by Tim Pawlenty, has cheerfully put off funding roads and transit in order to avoid having to raise taxes. And obviously we’ve poured a ton of money into Iraq with little to show for it. But the truth is that the Democrats haven’t been much better; they’ve been far too willing to meekly agree that taxes are always inherently evil, and to avoid fully-funding our nation’s infrastructure because…well, I mean, who notices if a bridge is a little bit old?


This took Fecke's statement out of context to say the least.

The Drama Queen also has the vapors over Michael McIntee's diary on Daily Kos.

Will anyone get the smelling salts? Please!

Bicyclists and Pedestrians Inconvenienced by 35W Bridge Disaster

My daughter goes to school over that bridge every day. I had to bike over the river today. These are a few pictures I took near the scene of the collapse:

From a pedestrian bridge looking west:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

From the same pedestrian bridge looking east:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

A press conference near the Stone Arch Bridge:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

... a closer view of the elected officials:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The Stone Arch Bridge and two other bridges used by bicyclists and pedestrians were closed by police. One officer told me they closed the bridges to prevent access to "gawkers" . This is the Stone Arch Bridge:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

There wasn't much gawkers could see from the Stone Arch bridge except this:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

News media parked their vehicles on bike lanes:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

...a few yards away; Matt Lauer:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

UPDATE: Chief Dolan says "perimeter security' will be maintained 3 days or longer.

Footage of the Collapse



Michelle Malkin linked to Noah Kunin's account of the collapse. That should give the Drama Queen the vapors.

The opportunity of a lifetime....

Sam Brownback's campaign is looking for missionaries to help him spread the word.

Brownback for President

Fall 2007 Internship is Announced-- APPLY TODAY!

What summer interns say about the program:

"The Brownback internship has been most rewarding summer of my life. Not only have I made new friendships with like-minded pro-life conservative students from across the country, but I have gained invaluable political experience and have been able to work side-by-side with an honest, principled, hard-working man from Kansas , Senator Sam Brownback."

Bethany, a junior at Grove City College from Maryland , works Christian Outreach on the campaign.

"When I completed my spring semester in May, I had just been elected student body president for this upcoming year. I then headed out to Iowa to work on the Brownback for President Campaign in Iowa , never thinking that I would give up being student body president in order to keep working for a man that I have grown to respect and love: Senator Sam Brownback. The people, the experience, and going to sleep every night knowing that I am making history is truly amazing."

Terry, a junior at Franciscan University of Steubenville from Illinois , is the Iowa Youth Outreach Director on the campaign.

"The best memory of the campaign so far has been organizing a 4-day, 27-stop bus tour across Iowa . It was a ton of work, but was an incredible experience that I will never forget. Watching my work directly contribute to the success of a presidential campaign is rewarding."

Jordan, a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina from Kansas , works on the Advance Team.

What?

This summer, 47 interns from across the nation - from Florida to Maine , Virginia to California - have been working in Iowa , New Hampshire and South Carolina in an aggressive grassroots campaign. The Brownback for President Campaign is looking for applicants to participate in a highly selective internship program starting approximately September 1st that will run through approximately December 15th. Applicants will be selected based upon their strength of application, personal recommendations, and interview results.

The personal and professional strengths of each applicant are evaluated and appropriate positions are determined. Examples are grassroots coalition teams; media; voter identification and outreach; and administrative work.

The Brownback campaign will deploy selected applicants to critical battleground states to help run Senator Brownback's campaign in that state. During the internship, all necessary living expenses will be paid for by the campaign.

By giving us your fall and working for Senator Brownback, you will gain invaluable knowledge and experience in grassroots organizing for a top tier presidential campaign. In addition, by supporting Senator Brownback you will be on the front lines of assuring that our next President will be one who will respect human life, defend traditional marriage, and uphold our conservative values.

Who?

We are looking for applicants who are highly motivated, hard-working, self-starters, and committed to helping elect Sam Brownback as President in 2008. Specifically, program requirements are:

Applicants must be 18-25 years old (must be at least 18 years of age by September 1, 2007);
Presently attending college or recently graduated from college;
Prior campaign or volunteer experience is preferred but not mandatory;
The strongest qualification for all applicants is the ability to work hard, take direction, and be a team player.

Why?

This is a very simple yet fair question. Why should I participate? The answer to this question is found in asking yourself a few other questions, namely:

Will America honor and celebrate the right to life in the future?
Will our nation's most fundamental institution--marriage--by redefined downward thus threatening the whole foundation of society?
Will our nation stand strong and unapologetically against the jihadist terrorist threat that is spreading across the globe?
Will higher taxes and runaway government spending threaten our future prosperity?
Will our nation's judiciary continue to legislate from the bench and continue to create 'constitutional rights' such as abortion-on-demand and homosexual marriage?

All of these questions are still unanswered, but will be determined by the choices WE make. That is why we need you to stand with Senator Brownback and his presidential campaign this fall!

If you pledge your fall months to the Senator, he makes his pledge to you that he will not waver in presenting a clear, conservative message to the American people about the proper direction that our nation needs to take. It will take the work of all who care about restoring our nation's moral compass to help make Senator Brownback successful in his quest for presidency. Such a profound opportunity like this to affect the direction of our nation arises very rarely.



And it goes on and on (and on)

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

AP Has It Wrong On Which Bridge Went Down

AP:

The entire span of a four-lane interstate bridge over the Mississippi River collapsed during evening rush hour Wednesday, sending vehicles, tons of concrete and twisted metal crashing into the water.

The Interstate 35W bridge, which spans between Minneapolis and St. Paul, was under construction when it broke into several huge sections. Dozens of vehicles were scattered and stacked on top of each other amid the rumble.


This bridge doesn't span between Minneapolis and St Paul. It's on an arteriole to the northern suburbs. CNN made the same mistake.

Keith Ellison Speaks on the 35W/University Bridge Collapse

35W /University Bridge Collapse

The photos look like the Oakland Superhighway that collapsed after a big earthquake in the late 80s.



Congressman Oberstar released this statement:

A bridge on Interstate 35-W near the University of Minnesota collapsed just two hours ago, dropping at least 8 cars and a truck in the water. A school bus that just barely missed crashing into the water was damaged; students on board were bloodied and injured. The crumpled wreckage of the bridge is on the east bank and in the water; the concrete roadway is in the river gorge. It's a 40 year old bridge. This is a tragic occurrence and I make that observation in the midst of this consideration of the technical corrections [of SAFE-TEA-LU] as an indication of how important it is for us to continue our vigilance on the integrity and condition of the nation's traveled roadways.


Hat tip Minnesota Monitor.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

HRC Announces Journalists Who Will Be Moderating the HRC/Logo Forum

Washington Blade:

Moderators announced for HRC's gay forum

Logo and the Human Rights Campaign have announced the moderators for the gay presidential forum on Aug. 9. The forum, now officially called 'The Visible Vote '08,' will include journalists Margaret Carlson and Jonathan Capehart, who will join Joe Solmonese, president of HRC, and lesbian rocker Melissa Etheridge on the panel.

Margaret Carlson was the managing editor of the New Republic before she began working for Time magazine, where she eventually became the first woman columnist in Time's history in 1994. She is now a columnist for the Bloomberg News and a contributor for the Huffington Post. As a political commentator, her coverage of gay-related issues includes the pieces: 'McCain and his gaydar,' 'Daughters book reveals little about Cheney,' 'Praying away the gay' and 'Bush dismays party base on gay marriage ban.' Carlson was also managing editor at The New Republic, Washington bureau chief for Esquire magazine and a member of the panel on CNN's The Capitol Gang.

Capehart is a gay Washington Post editorial page writer and a Pulitzer Prize winner. He and members of the New York Daily News editorial board won the award in 1999 for a series of articles about Harlem's Apollo Theatre. Capehart also wrote for the Bloomberg News from 2000-01. He is a member of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association.


HRC only decided to get some real journalists after a number of gay bloggers gave them lots of grief of having Melissa Etheridge and Joe Salmonese as the moderators.

Interview with Bob Hill - Running for DFL Endorsement Against Michele Bachmann in MN 06

I interviewed Bob Hill last week. We talked on the phone after the Democratic Youtube debates. I interviewed him about legislation before the house that especially affects the gay community. Others have interviewed him about the war.

Here are Hill's positions:

Federal Marriage Amendment - he opposes this amendment. I asked him whether he would also support repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act that was in statute. He was not aware of the distinction between DOMA and the FMA, so I explained it. He also said he supports full equality in the way gay relationships are treated and believes gays should be able to be included in the civil institution of marriage.

Openly serving in the military. Hill says he would sign on to the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, which would repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and allow gays to serve openly.

Immigration Issues for Gay Partners. Hill says he would support the Permanent Partner Immigration Act, that would allow a gay citizen to sponsor their partner as an immigrant.

Cross posted at Dump Michele Bachmann.

Monday, July 30, 2007

More Nastyness in the 28B Race

MN Publius

But one thing is noticeably absent. No one seems to be talking about Steve Drazkowski her opponent.

Now, why could that be? Could it be that Drazkowski has a checkered past where he avoided trying to pay child support, insulted the party leadership, and even sued Republican party employees? Could be.

In 2005 Drazkowski was arrested for assaulting his daughter during a domestic dispute; in 2006 he ran for the Republican endorsement in the District 28 State Senate race. Meg Walch was Sen. Dick Day’s personal choice in the race and several employees of the Senate Republican Caucus volunteered for Walch’s campaign, they produced a flier and distributed it to the Republican endorsing convention attendees. They labeled a post from our good friend Northern Debater’s blog “Senate Candidate Abuses Daughter, Still Running” as having actually come from Winona Daily News (the flier can be found here, in the judgment from the complaint– which I’m getting to).


This race got nasty before the 2006 primary too. Read the comments on Northern Debater.

"Walking, That's What We Do!"

Years ago, I saw this British public service announcement at a Pro-Walk/Pro-Bike conference. A friend uploaded it to You Tube.

Enjoy: