Briana Bierschbach of Politics in Minnesota examines again Gov. Dayton’s tardiness in going to the public and putting a hurt on the GOP: “The DFL governor should have been out on the road immediately after the government shutdown to take full advantage of the bully pulpit that comes along with the power of the governorship, many observers say. ‘In 2005 [former Gov. Tim] Pawlenty had the radio show, and he had the ability and willingness to campaign around the state,’ said Larry Jacobs, a political science professor at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. ‘It put the hurt on Democrats who were willing to hold out against him; from John Hottinger to Margaret Anderson Kelliher, they felt there was a cost to defying the governor. It’s not a matter of coming out tomorrow and giving a press conference or a speech. He has to barnstorm the state to put the political hurt on the Republicans holding out against him. … Today Republicans seem to feel impunity and are OK to wait on the sidelines for a better deal because there is no cost to defying him,’ Jacobs added. ‘They are sitting pretty, in fact. Why would a Republican compromise? The governor is making concession after concession, and it pays to wait him out.’ ”
An editorial in the Rochester Post-Bulletin says: “A deal on Minnesota’s budget will be reached shortly after Congress and President Obama reach an agreement that raises the nation’s debt ceiling and reduces the federal deficit by anywhere from $2 trillion to $4 trillion. … So how will this play out in Minnesota? If the Republicans in Congress can claim a ‘clean’ victory on the debt ceiling, with no closure of tax loopholes or exemptions for corporations and America’s richest citizens, then the Minnesota GOP will be empowered to hold a hard line against any and all tax-increase proposals from Dayton and the DFL. But if Obama manages to push through a package of spending cuts and revenue increases that includes anything that can be construed as a tax increase on the rich, then the scales will tip in Dayton’s favor.” Hmmm … but that also means Speaker John Boehner has to be able to deliver votes to start the mudslide … “sludding” … as Dizzy Dean used to say.
Another day, another national story discovering T-Paw’s record in Minnesota: Trip Gabriel of the New York Times writes: “Pawlenty pushed back aggressively on the suggestion that he bore any responsibility for the current crisis, in which his Democratic successor, Gov. Mark Dayton, is deadlocked with Republican majorities in the Legislature. ‘Everybody is responsible for the budgets on their watch,’ Mr. Pawlenty said in an interview. ‘I’ve been gone for six months, and the last budget on my watch is in the black.’ ” Looking at the ‘05 shutdown, Gabriel writes: “Largely a dispute over health care costs, the nine-day shutdown ended when Democrats abandoned a plan to tax the wealthy and accepted Mr. Pawlenty’s proposal to add 75 cents to a pack of cigarettes. The governor labeled it a ’health improvement fee,’ but he was blasted by antitax activists, who said it was a tax increase. ‘There is no way to put lipstick on that tax-increase pig,’ Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, an influential anti-tax group, said at the time. ‘No. You cannot do that. This will not fly.’ Mr. Pawlenty never again agreed to increase state revenues in a way that could be interpreted as adding taxes. This included vetoing a transportation bill financed by a gasoline tax that even the pro-business Minnesota Chamber of Commerce favored.”
Score another one for corporations trying to avoid getting ID’d as direct contributors to candidates. James Walsh’s Strib story says: “The U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday vacated an earlier ruling by a three-judge panel affirming that Minnesota can require corporations to disclose when they make such ‘independent expenditures.’ Instead, the Court of Appeals agreed to have the full court hear the case on Sept. 21 in St. Louis. The ruling not only keeps the question alive about whether corporations can give — unfettered — to support a candidate, said an attorney representing Minnesota business interests. It means Minnesota’s law barring direct corporate contributions to candidates could be in jeopardy as well. ‘It’s one of the claims we made, that corporations can donate to candidates directly,’ said James Bopp Jr., who represents Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL), the Taxpayers League of Minnesota and Coastal Travel Enterprises. The organizations argue that Minnesota’s law hampers their right to free speech by improperly limiting corporate support for candidates and causes.”
Meanwhile, the St. Cloud Times isn’t much impressed with Dayton’s road show: “Then again, we can’t really blame Dayton because the people he needs to talk with — Republican legislative leaders — are clearly not willing to do anything remotely constructive to end this shutdown.Don’t think so? Consider these factors.
Republican leaders have not put forth any substantial counteroffers to Dayton’s three — yes, three — different ideas to strike a budget deal since the shutdown began July 1, not to mention compromises he made during the regular session. Instead, they robotically regurgitate their anti-tax pledge — something that rings extremely hollow when they have supported a Vikings stadium and previous budget ideas, both of which pass the buck on tax decisions to other elected officials.
When it comes to actually eliminating the $1.4 billion budget gap between them and the governor, they use vague, undefined phrases instead of specific examples. Look no farther than Monday’s response from GOP Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch to Dayton’s proposal to examine taxes other than a top-tier income plan. She talked of ‘reining in spending and reforming the way we are spending.’ So what does that equate to in state programs and services?” Jeez Louise, do you think these people would have got elected if they said what they were going to cut?
In Duluth, a battered women’s shelter has had to close because of The Shutdown. Lisa Baumann of the News Tribune writes: “With 75 percent of their funds coming from the state, the Safe Haven Shelter scaled back its capacity last week from 39 to 26 beds. But with no end to the shutdown in sight, and no word yet on whether their services would be considered essential, the shelter started closing down on Tuesday. ‘It was a very, very hard decision to make,’ said Executive Director Susan Utech. ‘Our payrolls are considerable and we can’t have payrolls that we’re not going to get paid back.’ Everyone who had been at the shelter has been placed in safe housing, Utech said.”
No doubt you’ve seen a time-lapse of the Metrodome roof puffing back up. MPR’s Nikki Tundel and Tim Nelson write, “The inflation took 45 minutes and went off without a problem. [Metropolitan Sports Facilities’ Steve] Maki initially expected it to take up to three hours.The $23 million project started in March and took about 15 weeks. All but about $25,000 is covered by insurance.The new roof isn’t just a replacement. It has a new generation of fiberglass and teflon fabric, and the center sections have been reconfigured: they have extra gussets that make them stronger, Maki said. They also have a lower, flatter profile that will make them less susceptible to wind and help keep snow from piling in drifts along the seams between roof panels. It’s unclear, however, when pro sports will return to the stadium. The NFL has locked out its players in a labor dispute that could postpone or even scuttle the 2011 season.” But we’re ready for the next Monster Truck rally.
The honor system? For people who chronicly lie about the size of the fish they caught? Tom Robertson at MPR says: “The Department of Natural Resources, which has been unable to process fishing licenses during the shutdown, had warned that people who fish without one would be breaking the law and that they would be cited by conservation officers. But Crow Wing County officials say their local DNR conservation officer told them people could fish without a license, as long as they bought one later when the government shutdown ends. County leaders said so publicly earlier this week, and that created confusion as other counties and chambers of commerce picked up the information. But Wednesday afternoon the department issued a statement that said that wasn’t true. Anglers without a license are breaking the law and could be cited for it, department officials said.” Oh … that’s better.
Well worth reading … Karl Bremer, of the Ripple in Stillwater blog, offers the second part … of his story of the decade-long pursuit of a presidential pardon by Tom Petters associate Frank Vennes. The man dropped some serious money on local (presidentially ambitious) politicians. A sample: “After receiving a total of $38,000 in campaign contributions from the Vennes family and Frank’s lawyer’s family over the previous 24 months, Bachmann wrote a glowing letter of recommendation for Vennes’ pardon on December 10, 2007. Vennes was not then and never had been a constituent of Bachmann’s. That was the same month that Vennes suspected that Petters was running a fraudulent operation, according to information obtained by federal investigators through secretly recorded conversations in 2008. ‘As a U.S. Representative, I am confident of Mr. Vennes’ successful rehabilitation and that a pardon will be good for the neediest of society,’ Bachmann wrote to the Office of Pardon Attorney. ‘Mr. Vennes is seeking a pardon so that he may be further used to help others. As I know from personal experience, Mr. Vennes has used his business position and success to fund hundreds of nonprofit organizations dedicated to helping the neediest in our society.’ ”