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Star Tribune editorials give Pawlenty a pass on unallotment

In the four days since Gov. Pawlenty announced he would unilaterally slice $3.2 billion of state spending rather than agree to DFL tax hikes, one word has not appeared in a Star Tribune editorial:


In the legislative session’s final days, the Strib editorial board has avoided the subject. Instead, it scrambled for safer ground, urging Minnesotans to buy pork and curb teen drinking. Never mind that policies the board has long upheld — aid to Minnesota cities, health care for the 30,000 of Minnesota’s poorest — will suffer unprecedented hits.

Maybe Chris Harte’s rejiggered editorial board is fine with TPaw’s nuclear option — though I kind of doubt it judging from individual edit board members’ tweets. But if the editorial board is OK with the governor’s ultimate solution, make the case and spur discussion.

Although some say newspaper editorials don’t matter any more, newspapers must think they do or they wouldn’t do them — would they? To remain institutionally silent day after day at this critical juncture is disheartening, and confirms every fear that Harte wanted toothlessness when he rejiggered the board’s leadership in late 2007.

As MPR’s Bob Collins noted, Monday’s opinion pages featured nothing — not even a letter — on the unallotment debate as we head into the final, crucial day. Is the editorial board now operating under the newsroom’s principle that opinionators should holster their guns in a campaign’s final days?

Look, I know things move fast at the end of session, and ace edit-board Capitol chronicler Lori Sturdevant has been on the case online. But there’s a reason newspapers place their institutional voice in the upper left corner of the page — it’s supposedly the biggest stick. One the Strib apparently fears to use either way, again signalling that politicians have less to fear from them.

Meanwhile, the PiPress — which admittedly, can hold editorial board meetings in a phone booth, if there are still any of those around — uttered the u-word Sunday, calling unallotment a “bad solution.” The editorial ultimately wimped its way out, calling for a negotiated deal. Would that it were so. The public needed to know what was off limits, and whether Pawlenty and veto-backing Republicans should be rebuked, or excused, if they pressed the nuclear button.

Should anyone lose their jobs over this major policy shift? Maybe one of the dailies will tell us tomorrow, once the chance to influence this year’s debate has passed.

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Comments (9)

  1. Submitted by Wilford Wicklund on 05/18/2009 - 10:41 am.

    Can’t say I’ve read every word on the closing days of the session, but there is nothing of substance I’ve seen about the House DFLers blocking a measure from coming up that could have raised multiples of the money they’re so concerned about getting cut from GAMC. I campaign donations are thicker than blood.

  2. Submitted by Wilford Wicklund on 05/18/2009 - 10:47 am.

    That comment should have read:
    …blocking a GAMING measure…

  3. Submitted by Burton'Jon Blackwell on 05/18/2009 - 11:27 am.

    Impeach Pawlenty! He’s still practicing Bushism in our Obamanistic state. Like Norm Coleman, Pawlenty no longer has a place in Minnesota politics. They guard the racketeer and unethical prctices of businesses like K-Designers, Custom Remodelers, and Integrity Plus. They have ignored many complaints made against these three birds of their very same feather. They believe…”when it comes making a buck, all is fair”. “Consumer’s with money were meant to be had by any means”. Let’s drive these crooks out of business and get rid of their political allies…Pawlenty and Coleman! Let’s be the first state in the union to have a clean and ethical business world and clean and ethical political representation.


  4. Submitted by Mark Gisleson on 05/18/2009 - 12:25 pm.

    Years ago I was a huge fan of legalizing gambling and over the years that’s been the prevailing philosophy as more and more forms of gambling have been legalized in more and more states. I regret my early support as the results have shown that legal gambling further degrades the quality of life for many lower and middle class families. Study the numbers: legalized gambling, like the lottery, is a regressive tax on the poor and poorly educated.

    Minnesota needs a dog track like we need more lakes. This is predatory taxation that preys on those who don’t understand that the only winner is the house, or in this case the government.

    From each according to his ability to pay. Enough of this sticking it to the stupid and gullible. Progressive income taxes are fairer than anything else on the table.

  5. Submitted by Eric Ferguson on 05/18/2009 - 04:15 pm.

    David hit the nail on the head, “The public needed to know what was off limits, and whether Pawlenty and veto-backing Republicans should be rebuked, or excused, if they pressed the nuclear button.”

    The DFL moved a lot from their opening positions. Pawlenty’s idea of compromise was to have a little less selling of annuities and more accounting tricks. The unavoidable fact is the DFL agreed to painful cuts, but Republicans wouldn’t budge on taxes to their wealthy base.

  6. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 05/18/2009 - 10:37 pm.

    Maybe they thought that the legislature would actually get something done before the session ended.

  7. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/19/2009 - 09:06 am.

    Well you know, you can’t be critical, you might jeopardize your “access”. God forbid Plawenty stops calling on you at news conferences so can ask your softball questions.

  8. Submitted by William Pappas on 05/19/2009 - 09:41 pm.

    I agree with Britt. The Strib editorial positions have backtracked from traditional suport for Minnesota Care and progressive taxation. They have completely capitulated to the economics of corporate exploitation. One editorial after another buys into Marty Seifert’s “Goose that laid the golden egg” philosophy and decries any tax increase on the wealthy and supports the abolishment of the corporate income tax. They also support just about every regressive tax starting with extending sales taxes and ending with more sin taxes.
    The Strib’s take on the last night of the legislature was typically antagonistic toward DFL’ers and seemed to defer to Pawlenty’s new found power in unallotments. I too would expect them to support Pawlenty’s strategy of line item vetoes and unallotments.

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