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Get ready to hear a lot more about the urban-rural divide from Minnesota politicians

Get ready to hear a lot more about the urban-rural divide from Minnesota pols
Republican state Sen. Dave Osmek, a candidate for governor: “We need a fighter in St. Paul for Minnesota values. Not Minneapolis values, not St. Paul values, but Minnesota values.”

In the field of Republicans running to be Minnesota’s next governor, one candidate’s top issue is abolishing the Metropolitan Council, the regional planning agency for the Twin Cities. Another candidate promises to put a moratorium on funding for urban light rail projects, while yet another wants to defund so-called sanctuary cities like Minneapolis.

Going after Minnesota’s urban core is not an unfamiliar pitch from Republicans, who swept into control of the Legislature in 2016 by dominating in rural areas throughout Greater Minnesota. During the 2017 session, GOP lawmakers spent no small amount of effort trying to pass a slew of proposals that aimed directly at the state’s two largest cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul: everything from cutting back on their funding to blocking them from passing their own minimum wage and labor standards.

“Why am I running for governor?” Republican state Sen. Dave Osmek, a candidate for governor, said at a recent forum. “Because we need a fighter in St. Paul for Minnesota values. Not Minneapolis values, not St. Paul values, but Minnesota values.”

Such talk has also become increasingly common. As the wide-open 2018 race for the governor’s office heats up, the rhetoric about an urban-rural divide has become a main talking point for Republican candidates as they seek to woo the hard-line activists who decide the party’s endorsement, and it will also likely be a theme in any Republican general election campaign. When it comes to the 2018 campaign, in other words, the urban-rural divide is still alive and well.

Trains, Met Council and sanctuary cities

It’s not surprising that Osmek would be talking about these kinds of regional issues on the campaign trail: The second-term senator from Mound has made them a centerpiece of his efforts in the Legislature.

Osmek championed a bill last session to abolish the Metropolitan Council, the 17-member board appointed by the governor that has regional housing and transportation planning authority that can supersede local governments. Osmek believes the council should be eliminated and the powers redistributed to local officials, who are elected and can be voted down by citizens.

He’s now talking about his plan at candidate forums across the state as he pivots to run for governor, and he’s said he’s been surprised at how many people are familiar with the issue. If they’re not, he’s found that eliminating the organization is an easy sell.

“They are definitely tuned into that issue, regardless of whether they are in Litchfield, Owatonna or Two Harbors,” he said. “They are looking at the rural issues, but also what affects the metropolitan area, because they are all connected in one way or another. For the ones who don’t understand it, once you explain it to them, they are appalled at what the Met Council has been doing and how they’ve been running roughshod over the counties.”

Osmek also led an effort last session to petition the federal government to block funding for the Southwest Light Rail Line, the controversial $1.86 billion transit project that has struggled to get lawmakers to fund the state’s portion of the cost. He said it’s an issue that resonates statewide.

“It’s just not the fact that they are trying to ram this light rail down our throats,” Osmek said. “People in Greater Minnesota know that one way or another they are paying for this boondoggle. They come into the metro and they see that their roads not being built. It impacts them directly.”

There are 11 total Republican candidates running for governor, including state Rep. Matt Dean, former county official Lance Johnson and a handful of activists. And Osmek is not the only candidate talking up urban-rural issues on the campaign trail. Jeff Johnson, a Hennepin County Commissioner who ran for governor in 2014, has also said he would scrap the Metropolitan Council and put a moratorium on funding for light rail projects while he’s governor, and has instead advocated for more funding for bus lines.

Meanwhile, another gubernatorial candidate, former Republican Party Chairman Keith Downey, said cities like Minneapolis, which limit their cooperation with the federal government on some immigration laws, shouldn’t get state funding. “Public safety is the first duty of government,” he said. “To promote law and order and protect our communities, including our immigrants, we will enforce the law, de-fund sanctuary cities and respect and support those who enforce the law.”

Long simmering political divide

The debate about and between urban and rural areas in Minnesota isn’t exactly a new phenomenon. The urban-rural divide has been around in some form or another for decades, often materializing as the ongoing fight over Local Government Aid (aka LGA) — the funds the state provides directly to cities to help them pay for things like police, firefighters and street repair. At the Legislature, there’s often a push to cut back or redirect aid that goes to cities like Minneapolis, St. Paul or Duluth in order to send it to smaller cities and towns across the state.

But the urban-rural dynamic — or at least the way politicians talk about it — has grown more acute over the years, partially due to the state’s changing demographics. As the state’s cities swell with younger, more diverse voters who tend to lean left, large swaths of rural Minnesota have come to be dominated by older voters who tend to vote Republican.

The effects have mostly played out in Minnesota’s last two elections, with Republicans picking up nearly a dozen House and six Senate seats from rural areas. They did so with a message that often attacked things like funding for light rail lines or other Twin Cities-specific projects, or hitting on the theme that certain parts of the state were being “left behind.”

The message worked particularly well for Republicans in Minnesota last fall. Though Democrat Hillary Clinton carried the state in the presidential election, it was a narrow victory, and the GOP picked up enough seats to take full control of the state Legislature. In the session that followed, Democratic legislators were regularly at odds with Republicans over provisions to pre-empt Minneapolis and St. Paul from passing their own minimum-wage and paid sick-leave laws. Republicans also proposed cutting Minneapolis and St. Paul’s LGA funding and Minneapolis’ pension programs. There was also a major debate over how much funding to grant metro-area bus lines and light rail projects.

Many of those proposals fizzled due to the actions of Republicans’ most powerful opponent: DFL Gov. Mark Dayton. He pushed for more funding for transit projects, and late in session, he promised to veto any bill that included a pre-emption proposal for Minneapolis and St. Paul. In the end, only one pre-emption proposal made it through: Blocking cities from passing ordinances to ban plastic bags in grocery stores.

Urban-rural economic disparities

Dayton’s lonely defense against Republicans’ targeting of cities has Democratic groups worried. At a time when state and federal politics are more paralyzed than ever, cities have largely taken the lead when it comes to promoting and implementing progressive policy goals like increasing the minimum wage or changing workplace labor rules.

But proposals to pre-empt cities from doing so have cropped up in states across the nation. In Iowa, after several counties passed and changed ordinances to raise the minimum wage, legislators reversed those increases and froze the minimum wage at the federal level of $7.25 per hour. In 2015, the City of St. Louis passed an ordinance establishing a minimum wage that was higher than Missouri’s. Legislators reversed that increase during the 2017 session.

“This issue, which has been kind of a technical issues of local government powers in the past, it really is bubbling up now as a key fault line,” said Paul Sonn, general counsel for National Employment Law Project, which does research and supports progressive labor laws across the country. “It will be interesting to see how it plays in the 2018 election. One of the clearest places is likely Minnesota, because there was this high stakes battle last spring. Who wins the governor’s race will decide how things go in the future.”

There are six Democrats running for governor, including St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, DFL Reps. Tina Liebling, Paul Thissen and Erin Murphy, U.S. Rep. Tim Walz and state auditor Rebecca Otto. Many have pushed back on the idea that there’s a deep divide between urban and rural voters; they aren’t necessarily talking about pre-emption and the Metropolitan Council on the campaign trail — and they’re not hearing much about it from voters either.

“It’s a very cynical attempt to divide us as Minnesotans for political advantage. It’s the worst of what politics are about,” said Coleman. “No one is bringing up the Met Council. That hasn't come up in one conversation that I have had. What people are worried about is that there is economic vitality in cities across the state.”

Yet Thissen, who represents Minneapolis in the House, said some regional divides do exist, even if Democrats haven’t always been good at talking about them. “[In the campaign] we are having a very healthy discussion, one that gets beyond what has been a problem on the Democratic side, which is to paper over that these issues exist,” he said. “One thing we haven’t acknowledged enough is that where you live does shape how you live. There are huge economic disparities around the state.”

It was a major criticism of Democrats in the election last fall: They didn’t communicate clearly how they would improve the lives of families struggling to get by in rural parts of the state. Recognizing disparities in economic opportunity in between urban and rural areas — and having a good message to fix the problem — will be key for Democrats to talk about in the 2018 governor’s race, he said.

“It’s around economic opportunity,” Thissen said. “In every part of our state the economy is doing better, but remoteness comes with a cost, and we ought to be willing more to support people and institutions to live in remote areas.”

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Comments (23)

Dead man walking

Acknowledgment of the problem of an urban/rural divide in Minnesota seems to me a reliable way to begin to address it. I don't doubt that an urban/rural divide exists in Minnesota. What continues to puzzle me is the relationship between demographic reality and ballot-box outcomes. Aside from proving that Thomas Jefferson’s Agrarian Myth continues to hold sway with some people, the Republican Party’s stance, or at least that of Mr. Osmek, ought to be a recipe for political suicide personally, and statewide catastrophe economically.

A significant majority of Minnesota’s population is urban, and if that’s the case, my rhetorical question to minds more flexible and vigorous than mine is this: How can a Republican Party that demonizes the areas (and thus, the people who live in them) of the state that are urban in character hope for any success? I note that Mr. Osmek, at least in the quote, fails to delineate “Minnesota” values **or** “Minneapolis” values. If there are differences between the two, and he seems to think there are, what are the differences that he deems important?

Meanwhile, in a state with a predominantly urban population, running against operations and services that urban residents obviously feel are important to their quality of life, mass transit being merely the shiny object in the spotlight at the moment, seems to me to be a genuinely losing proposition unless urban dwellers, to stereotype, are as adept at voting against their own interests as rural dwellers have recently proved themselves to be.

Modern industrial economies rely on interdependence and regional cooperation. The myopic focus on the rural and local that Mr. Osmek appears to have embraced is a recipe for moving Minnesota back into the 19th century. Personally, I don’t want to go there.

To drive the point of interdependence and regional cooperation

...home, Osmek could divide the state into urban/rural regions and insist that all revenues stay within the regions from which they are collected. Rural counties would certainly miss the huge subsidies they get from urban counties. But hey, they wouldn't have to "pay" for light rail!

Why Being Anti-Urban Works in an Urban State

Rural living plays a big role in the American mythos, especially in Minnesota, where most of our residents are only a generation or two removed from rural living and outdoor activities are such a tradition in our culture. As our state urbanized it did so at a time that our core cities were declining because of suburbanization. Suburban living appealed to that rural ideal while still offering the benefits of urban areas. Of course, the government policies that made suburbanization possible came at the expense of our cities and minority communities.

During the last half century our cities declined as people and jobs fled to the suburbs. Crime rose as opportunity went elsewhere. Minority communities were the most affected by this because they were the ones trapped in declining cities by bigoted housing policies. There are generations of people who basically only know cities as declining places full of minorities. Politicians started using dog whistles decades ago to demonize these areas for political gain. Dog whistles like, "war on drugs" or "welfare queen", have made "urban" become synonymous with "area with poor minorities, drugs, and people living off government”.

Despite our state being mostly urban most people in suburban areas certainly don't consider themselves to be living in an urban area because there is such a stigma around urban areas in our culture. Just look at that mayoral candidate from Hopkins for an example of this. Hopkins is about as urban as it gets, for suburban Minnesota, but the idea of public transit going to his suburb frightens him because to him public transit means poor minorities. Look at the discussions around new multifamily housing in suburbs and you will see panic around their suburb becoming too “urban”. Our urban areas are so segregated into smaller cities that’s its easy for people to think they live some small town and forget they live in an urban area that has millions of people. It's easy to demonize the cities when most people don’t consider themselves to live in a urban area and there is no one to defend cities.

I do think there is a strong romanticism to rural living that plays a role in that resentment towards cities, but I also think that romanticism is reinforced by dog whistles that play up negative stereotypes around cities. Hopefully this changes some day.

Rural pays the fewer taxes and smallest population

Rural pays the fewer taxes and has the smallest population so why should they dictate to a larger population that pays more taxes?
Why?
Because dividing works, but sadly being honest does not work for today’s repubs...just manipulating the facts in a very dishonest manner and it’s horribly disappointing that our media does not call them out on this deceitful.

Who should call out Republicans

The Democrats should be tougher and call the Republicans out more often. The Democrats need to stop letting the Republicans run all over them. Don’t worry about offending them they have been doing it for years to Democrats.

The frustrating thing is...

"It was a major criticism of Democrats in the election last fall: They didn’t communicate clearly how they would improve the lives of families struggling to get by in rural parts of the state."

The GOP isn't communicating this either. How does blocking metro transit projects, disbanding the Met Council, and preempting metro laws will improve the lives of families struggling to get by in rural parts of the state?

The "urban/rural divide" isn't about making people's lives better in Greater Minnesota, it's about stoking petty resentments in different parts of the state for electoral gain. .

Since when is Mound in a rural area?

Unless I've missed the memo, Mound is in the Minneapolis-St Paul Statistical area. Senator Osmek needs to realize that many "rural" folks enjoy riding light rail to downtown areas. Many of us would ride rail to/from the metro if it was available.

Need a geopgrahy lesson

Since when is Mound or Edina a rural area of MN? They are suburbs of Mpls.
Of course there is a cultural divide between Mpls and St. Paul,goes back centuries.
Met council, light rail are not the hot issues for a governor race.
How about the issue of a blanced budget, good affordable healthcare and education for all our residents regardless of your zip code.
These are Minnesota values and core issues to discuss.

Mound?

An out stater from Mound? What are suburban values exactly? Keep my taxes down? Keep my schools white? Make my commute to my job in the big bad city easier? Don't force me to learn to parallel park? The Marlboro Man doesn't live in Mound. Sorry.

To paraphrase a famous southern Democrat

Placebaiting now, placebaiting tomorrow and placebaiting forever.

Sticking it to the Twin Cities

During Arne Carlson's administration (1991-1998), James Denn was MnDOT Commissioner. I recall a workshop at which he explained that "For many folks in rural Minnesota, a successful future means not having to travel to the Twin Cities to visit your kids", which suggests that rural legislators would win points by doing whatever they could to make the Twin Cities less attractive. Problem is that the kids are going to go wherever they see opportunity. A friend of mine has six cousins who all grew up on farms near the Minnesota-South Dakota border. Today, two live in Washington DC, one in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, one in St. Louis, Missouri, one in the Twin Cities and one remained on the family farm. In today's world, a successful future means only having to travel to the Twin Cities to visit your kids.

Good point

They should be focused on developing the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area as an attractive place to live or they'll lose the young population to another state entirely.

The idea of "Minneapolis" values not being "Minnesota" values is a dog whistle. It is always great to hear the hypocrites complain about Minneapolis dictating what gets done in rural areas while simultaneously wanting to sabotage light rail projects that don't affect rural areas at all.

Everyone here seems to have forgotten one thing

...that both parties should be able to agree on, and it is extremely important to both city dwellers & smaller community members.

How about border-to-border broadband service, reasonable in both cost and performance.
?? It's a key factor for rural economic development.

The Republicans made some noise about this in the last election cycle, and so far as I know, little has been done.

I blame both parties for this failure, as they should have joined together on this one. Yet they seem too busy pouring their energy and hot air into issues in dispute, leaving little to invest in areas where they could readily work together for a broad public benefit.

Blame

Both parties agree it’s important. Both parties do not agree that it’s important enough to fund adequately. The DFL and Governor Dayton has tried to get it funded. The Republicans have opposed all but nominal funding.

It only works if Democrats fail again

For some reason, I have my suspicions but no proof... Democrats completely failed to campaign statewide in a coherent and effective manor. Despite having delivered more attention and resources to rural Minnesota than had been delivered in years, I kept waiting in vain to see a Democratic response to facile Republican charges. Dayton and the Democrats ended almost a decade of Republican manufactured budget crises and deficits, thereby generating enough funding to push out into greater MN, yet they almost refused to campaign on that success.

So Republicans won, and then failed to deliver much in the way of rural prosperity or much else. And Democrats should have no difficulty running on their own record of being more fiscally responsible and responsive to rural needs, but we'll see what happens.

Of course Republicans will exaggerate whatever rural-urban divide may exist because all they know is politics of division. But since Americans and Minnesotans are and have been disgusted and frustrated by division Democrats should be able to convert the Republican strategy into a liability.

What is will come down to is whether or not the MNDFL is ready to be liberal again, since the liberal agenda is the one that delivers the most equity and attracts the most popularity. Dayton won statewide on liberal agendas while out state DFLers lost trying to run more like moderate Republicans.

You could not be more wrong

Have you ever worked on an outstate campaign? It’s very different from urban ones. The people are not secretly liberal and just waiting for a progressive candidate. Rural democrats figured out a long time ago they have to take more conservative positions - even to the point of looking like moderate Republicans - in order to win.

Uh huh

If the wisdom of the Democrats had led them to victory instead of defeat you'd have a point. However I'm looking at the House and the Senate, and the prospects for the next Governor, and I'm just not seeing a big Democratic win materializing. The problem with your mentality is that you forget we already have a Republican Party, and voters tend to vote for Republicans if they want to elect Republicans, they don't vote for Democrats pretending to be Republicans.

2013, 2014 (in particular)

First off -- and when it comes to the discussion of the difference between "liberal" and "progressive," let alone the DFL and GOP or conservatives -- it should be pointed out and remembered that the centerpiece of Mark Dayton's 2010 campaign was his up-front, no bones about it, clear assertion that he would increase the tax rates of MN's wealthiest (to bring them into line with the rates everyone else in the state had been paying for years).

If there was ever a "progressive stance," that's one of them . . . and it should be a clear, real world illustration that people actually CAN get elected saying things like that . . . and, given what happened as a result of Mark Dayton winning, it should be a nearly as clear example of what can happen when candidates have the courage to go in that direction.

When Democrats (finally!) controlled the House, Senate and Governor's office the results were so different, so positive and so beneficial for so many people in the state that I have to agree totally with what Paul is saying about Democrat's being way too "shy" or "humble" in their approach to the 2014 (and 2016) election. The Big Mistake was/has been simply NOT putting together a (long) list of their beneficial accomplishments ("for all") and enthusiastically telling voters about them and, instead, "being humble" (or whatever it is) and letting Republicans get away with "framing the debate" in their standard weaslish and always dishonest way . . . (Too much "Minnesota nice" or the kind of thing Garrison Keiller always talks about when he's talking about the "Lutheran mindset" in Lake Woebegone.)

-- $6.2 billion budget deficit transformed to a $1.9 billion surplus

-- School's IOUs paid back (about another $2 billion, I believe)

-- Sound fiscal management practices restored

-- Tax cuts for the middle-class ($500 million)

-- LGA restored

-- Year-on-year, often double-digit (Republican) property tax increases stopped

-- Pawlenty/Republican-driven skyrocketing U of M tuition costs ($5,000/yr to $12,000/yr in 10 years!) stopped

-- The expansion of (more affordable) access to health care for Minnesotans

-- Marriage equality (the long overdue freedom for people to be with whomever they love without being legally harassed, discriminated against, penalized, "socially" OR economically)

-- The Women's Economic Security Act

-- Legalization of medical marijuana (see: partial but effective alternative to the pharmaceutical opioid epidemic)

-- Strongest economic growth in decades

-- Business expansion

-- Falling unemployment rates

-- Better paying jobs

-- Increased median incomes

-- Increased state revenue (that facilitated most of the above)

"And," as they say, "there's MORE!"

In other words, ALL THOSE THINGS Republicans always promise but never (ever) deliver.

But when it comes to Democrats not campaigning on their relatively remarkable success (on behalf of ALL Minnesotans) in 2014 and 2016, those are some of the things I don't remember hearing ANY Democrat (except Mark Dayton, every now and then) talking much about or campaigning on.

And that allowed Republicans to weasel their way back into the House with their cheap and "shameless" Divide (the state) and Conquer strategy so Kurt Daudt and company could get enough of a toehold to start gumming up the works and, through their usual and endless string of "untruths" and mindless approach to governing, begin their quest to get back to what they gave us from 2002 to 2012.

Why it is that Minnesotans have such short memories (or political amnesia) is way beyond me. A person would think every conscious person in the state -- whether they live in the heart of St. Paul or Minneapolis, or just outside Black Duck, Flum, Two Harbors or somewhere along the Iowa or South Dakota border -- could MAYbe remember what things were like when Pawlenty and Republicans ran things.

That amnesia is unfortunate (to say the least) but Democrats NOT reminding Minnesotans of what things were like when Republicans had control and NOT letting them know what things were like when THEY were in control by NOT telling them about the genuinely beneficial things they've accomplished doesn't do much to help snap people out of whatever Republibabble spell they seem to have been under lately.

In case it's not obvious, my recommendation would be to:

A) THINK ABOUT IT (or check the actual recent-historical records);

B) MAKE THAT SIMPLE LIST (of statewide beneficial accomplishments);

C) Get together and figure out how to talk about it (it's probably not as easy as it may seem -- Democrats don't seem to like to brag in anywhere near the way Republicans have no qualms or volume control when it comes to "distorting the truth"); and

D) "Get out there!" with the most dynamic but simple, easy to understand message possible and let (or help) Minnesotans know.

And one other thing that may be as important and effective as putting together an honest and compelling message based on that stuff is the ultra-simple idea of getting "every" DFL supporter in the state to do something along the lines of taking (an invisible) Grover Norquist-like "pledge" to make it to the voting booth in 2018.

"Okay . . . OKAY! . . . I promise I'll vote in the next election . . . Now . . . Will you PLEASE just get off my back about that?!"

If everyone whose values line up more closely with the DFL's -- or those willing to "take another chance on Democrats" -- would just do that, the DFL would probably have a real good year which would be a real good thing for (all of) Minnesota.

Much (much) better than the alternative.

You know

When ever I read articles like this, it makes me wonder: How does this person/persons/group etc. connect the dots from the preamble to their political shtick?

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence,[note 1] promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

We opine on many things but have trouble with focus on the goal, and how our opinion aids to achieving or distracting from the goal. Or, is someone going to opine, that the preamble is really not the goal of America?

Dependancy breeds resentment

Its no big secret, rural Minnesota is economically dependent on the ethnically diverse hard working tax payers in Minneapolis/St. Paul to fund their rural lifestyle. A lifestyle that survives on seasonal work with unemployment, Social Security disability and welfare checks, paid for by the full time ethnically diverse workers in the city, funding their off time. Deep down they understand this and it creates a certain resentment. Republicans are experts in finding new ways to divide and exploit voters, its the only way they can survive given the changing demographics in this country. Just like a pig finds a truffle, Republican have recognized this minor resentment and are working hard to exploit it for political purposes. Too bad they don't work as hard as hard at building up as they do at tearing down, but sadly, they are who they are.

Trump's Playbook

It would appear that the MN GOP is following Trump's playbook. They appeal to the discontentment of rural voters, and those voters don't really care that the R's they elect won't actually do anything FOR them. It's more about what those R's will DO to people they don't like. They eat up Trump's bombastic tweets about greedy ungrateful black professional athletes, and Hillary's e-mails and how she colluded with Putin, and those darn Muslims (dontcha know they have Sharia law in MPLS), and there is no reason to think that it won't work in MN next year. As was pointed out in Politico today, Trumpsters haven't moved the goal posts, they've dismantled them. Whatever Trump doesn't accomplish is not his fault, it's the fault of Hillary, or Obama, or lame stream GOP leaders, or Muslims.

It doesn't help that the D's utterly failed to come up with a coherent message for out state. It can't be that hard to talk about what road and bridge projects could be done, or to find a few businesses that could thrive with broad band. Selling that in rural MN is not the same as selling gay marriage.

Which brings me to what may be an elephant in the room. Progressive folks would be loathe to even discuss it, but there may be a lingering bad taste in the mouths of rural voters over passing the gay marriage bill. Is it possible that had gay marriage supporters just waited for SCOTUS to rule that the same win could have been had without a loss in control of the legislature? As it stands, in January of 2019 we could be hurtling toward the politics of Wisconsin. And if there is a GOP trifecta they will slam as much through as possible as soon as possible, and it will take decades to get back to where we are now. "You jammed gay marriage down my throat? No light rail for you!" Even if my bridge doesn't get fixed.

One thing Mr Schoch did not mention this time but has mentioned in the past is the math thing. Given that the majority of the state is in the metro area, how can rural voters control the legislature? It's not like the US Senate; all House and Senate districts are of very equal population owing to the one man one vote SCOTUS ruling.

And what about the "business community"? We're told that business wants infrastructure and transportation projects done, yet they continue to wed themselves to a party that is not at all interested in spending money on anything in the metro. Apparently the ALEC agenda trumps everything. Erratic delivery times owing to traffic snarls are worth it if MPLS can't raise the minimum wage

it bears repeating, Mr. Osmek's assertion is false

“It’s just not the fact that they are trying to ram this light rail down our throats,” Osmek said. “People in Greater Minnesota know that one way or another they are paying for this boondoggle. They come into the metro and they see that their roads not being built. It impacts them directly.”

Not according to the StarTribune, March 20,1 2017 article written by J. Patrick Coolican and MaryJo Webster where they reported that out-state counties contribute 48% of transportation revenue, but receive 68% of the transportation funding.

Facts matter. Mr. Osmek seems to be twisting those facts into an unrecognizable pretzel.

Yeah, republicans lie about this stuff.

The local funding for the SWLRT is now coming almost entirely from Henn Co. Republicans tried to block it on the state level, so the County and suburban cities stepped up and picked up the tab. Meanwhile, we in the Twin Cities region ARE paying for rural infrastructure so Osmek's claim is simply false... and I'm sure he knows it. The entire rural-urban "divide" is just another imaginary feature of the Republican alternate universe. But again, the question why the Democrats can't figure out how to take advantage of this kind blatant dishonesty over and over and over again from one election cycle to the next?