Archive for the ‘cynical politics’ Category

Pogemiller: “We never cut off debate here.”

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Really. He said it.

Monday night. February 22, 2010. When the Senate was waiting for the House to send the conference committee report on Minnesota’s version of the debt-laden porkulus bill over, Republican Leader David Senjem wondered aloud that if the Senate breaks for recess while waiting for the bill, would there be opportunity for debate when the Senate is called back to order.

In response, Senate majority leader Larry Pogemiller (DFL – Minneapolis) stated emphatically, “We never cut off debate here.” Laugher erupted, which even included a chuckle from Senate President James Metzen (DFL – St. Paul). The look on Pogemiller’s face was priceless.

Of course, the Truth Detector has to give Sen. Pogemiller a “pure bull” for his statement. One only has to go back to the last day of the 2009 session when Senate Democrats jammed through an enormous tax increase bill at the last minute, knowing it would meet its demise with Governor Tim Pawlenty’s veto pen. Because the clock was ticking toward the constitutional deadline, the Senate Democrats cut off debate and forced a vote under the vocal objections by Senate Republicans.

There was also 2004, when, rather than allow then-Sen. Michele Bachmann offer a constitutional amendment preserving traditional marriage, the Democrat majority shut off the lights and the microphones.

Pure bull, Sen. Pogemiller, and the people know better.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am an employee of the Minnesota House of Representatives with the Republican Caucus. This website is not paid for nor operated by any legislator, legislative caucus, candidate or political party. Opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the website administrator, and not necessarily those of any legislator, legislative caucus, candidate or political party.

It’s Only Racist if a Republican Says it

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

It seems one couldn’t turn on the TV or radio, or search the Internet in the last few days without accusations of racism over comments that one politician or another uttered. Most notable, of course, is the quote attributed to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D – NV). According to the soon-to-be released book Game Change by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. Reid said during the 2008 campaign that then candidate Barack H. Obama that he is a “light skinned” African American had has “no Negro dialect unless he wanted to have one.”

Once the authors’ revelations came to light, Reid quickly apologized and Obama quickly accepted his apology. Must move on. Too much work to be done to get hung up over a silly little statement like that. Of course, Reid’s chief responsibility is to shepard Obama’s chief agenda item, government takeover of health care through the Senate, while holding together his fragile 60-vote supermajority.

But it was a different story back in 2002 when Sen. Trent Lott (R – MS) inferred at the 100th birthday party of Sen Strom Thurmond (R – SC) that had Thurmond been elected president when he ran back in the 1940s “we wouldn’t have had all these problems” over the years. What problems? Well you see Thurmond was Democrat and a noted segregationist when he and other Southern Democrats walked out of their national convention in protest over northerners’ integration agenda.  Thurmond then took his segregationist issues and ran for president on a new “Dixiecrat” ticket. (Thurmond later denounced his old segregationist views and became a Republican.) It was read into Lott’s comments that Lott believed racial integration had caused many problems for the nation over the years. Lott was forced to resign his position under the firestrom (yes, I spelled that correctly, firestrom) in the aftermath of his comments.

The double standard and the hypocrisy from the left rears its ugly head again.

Then there was Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele who took some heat over uttering the phrase “honest Injun”, and former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich who, in the wake of the revelation of Reid’s comments, claimed that he, Blagogevich is “blacker than Barack Obama.”

The White House’s response to Blago? “Refuse to comment” was the word from on high. Alghough Blago is a Democrat, he was put out to pasture last year for attempting to sell the Senate seat in Illinois formerly occupied by Obama to the highest bidder. It’s noteworthy here that Democrats were comfortable in putting Blago out to pasture because Illinois is a heavy Democratic state, and it was assumed that there was little danger of Democrats losing hold on the Governor’s seat or the U. S. Senate seat. But this is 2010, and Republicans now have a chance in the most Democrat states – more commentary coming on the special election for U. S. Senate in Massachusetts. But anyway, back to the point. The White House had no need to forgive Blago as it did Harry Reid, because Blago is in no position to do anything for the White House.

Think of how much outrage there would be from the left if Reid’s comments had instead been uttered by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnel (R – KY). When it gets down to it, it’s only racist if a Republican says it.

The media, the left and the party of “tolerance and diversity” need to either 1) lighten up, or 2) apply the same standard to everyone regardless of party affiliation or position of power.

Real Experts Invited, or Just Another Dog & Pony Show?

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

In an effort to get Democrats back in the headlines, and give the impression that they are doing something about the economy, Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher recently announced a “leadership summit” and a “jobs task force.” Mary Lahammer wrote about the leadership summit. The stated intention is to hear from experts in economic development and state fiscal health. The list of people who have been invited include former Governors and Minnesota House Speakers. If there were any private sector leaders who have experience in job creation invited their names weren’t mentioned. It leads me to believe that the emphasis is on bringing policy wonks together to talk about how there isn’t enough (tax) revenue for state and local governments to operate. Especially given the fact that most former Governors and Speakers from both parties have drunk the kool-aid of tax increases to balance the budget.

Lahammer quoted House GOP PR guy kwatt as saying, “”I find it ironic that the same people who dropped the ball last session are now calling for a ‘leadership summit’.” Great point. In a personal conversation with kwatt, he suggested to me that they invite Governor Pawlenty to speak and turn the leadership summit into leadership training.

Speaker Kelliher also announced in this press release the formation of a jobs task force. She mentiones in the press release how “capital inventment” (read: building government projects on the state’s credit card) creates jobs, and how the people need to know that state government is working for them. Again, no mention of any involvement by successful private sector employers.

Nothing will likely come out of either of these dog & pony shows, but with Governor Pawlenty grabbing the positive attention in Minnesota and national Democrats losing favor with the public, Kelliher got the press she is desperately looking for.

MN House Meltdown IV – The Final Minutes of Session

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

The final minutes of the 2009 Legislative session in many ways were a repeat of the end of the 2007 session. The Democrat majority had all session to balance the budget in a way that would be acceptable to the Governor. Governor Tim Pawlenty had been very clear all along that he would veto tax increases. However, that didn’t stop Democrats from trying to jam through a huge tax increase bill in the waning minutes before the constitutional deadline for adjournment.

The difference that this year brings compared to previous years? As Rep. Tom Emmer (R – Delano) stated during the debate referring to the 33-page mega tax increase bill, “I’ll give you credit for one thing – you managed to do, in much fewer pages, a lot more damage than you did with a lot more pages the last time!”

And that was the only difference. Billions of dollars of tax increases in a complicated tax bill plopped on legislators’ desks literally minutes prior to the constitutional deadline for adjournment. Democrat leadership didn’t want the public to know, and it could be argued, they didn’t want members of their own caucus to know what was in the bill. Just vote yes.

This led to the procedural meltdown that was nearly a replay of the 2007 session. Majority Leader Tony Sertich (DFL – Chisholm) making a motion to end debate, Republicans, trying to stop the bill by asking questions and demanding standing votes and roll call votes, and ultimately, a clearly rattled Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher cutting everyone off and getting the bill to a vote ahead of the midnight deadline in spite of the fact several Republican members were seeking recognition to be recognized and speak.

It was an ugly scene for anyone to watch.

The bill passed the House 82-47. Republican Reps. Buesgens, Emmer, Hackbarth and Holberg did not vote on the bill. DFL Reps Kath, Obermueller, Otremba, Pelowski and Poppe joined 42 Republicans in voting against this tas increase. The bill was then rushed to the Senate where a similar scene took place. In that chamber, all Republicans refused to vote. The bill passed 35-1 with Sen. Sparks (DFL – Austin) casting the lone “no” vote. 

In the end, the Bill was vetoed by Gov. Pawlenty, which was expected.

So why did the Democrat leadership play that game? Simply so they could say they sent the Governor a balanced budget. Yes, Democrats needed to jam through a colossal tax increase to cover all the spending they sent the Governor during the previous month.

The Governor will not call the legislature into special sessoin. He will use his unallotment authority to unilaterally make spending reductions. DFL legislative leaders recently sent the Governor a letter saying they would not help him with unallotment. No surprise there. They’ve been no help with the budget all session. Why would they start now?

In the interest of full disclosure, I am an employee of the Minnesota House of Representatives in the Republican Caucus. Tihs blog is not paid for or sponsored in any way by any legislative caucus, political party, candidate or candidate’s committee. Opinions expressed herein are those of the website administrator and not necessarily those of any legislative caucus, political party, candidate or candidate’s committee.

Faust Flip-Flop Keeps Marijuana Bill From Going Up in Smoke

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

(Yes I’m still catching up on posts from 2009 Legislative session action.)

Rep. Tim Faust (DFL - No Man's Land)

Rep. Tim Faust (DFL - No Man's Land)

On May 11th, the House Ways and Means Committee heard Senate File 97, the “medical marijuana” bill authored by Rep. Tom Rukavina (DFL – Virginia).

First a little background. Since this is the East Central Truth Detector, I will say up front that I really don’t think the average voter cares whether someone who is dying of a terminal disease smokes a little pot if it eases some of their pain. This is not even a partisan issue, as there are prominent proponents and opponents to “medical” use of marijuana in both parties. The larger issue is whether core supporters of  “medical marijuana” are using potential legalization of the “gateway drug” for medical use as a gateway for broader legal use down the road. The other issue, which I will get to in a bit, is whether  a representative of a district that has had a high number of meth labs in recent years should treat the issue of “medical” marijuana as cavalierly as he did on May 11th in the Ways and Means Committee.

A little more background. The Ways and Means Committee is the last major committee stop for all bills with fiscal impact before they are debated on the House Floor. On May 11th, Ways & Means Committee Chairman Rep. Loren Solberg (DFL – Grand Rapids) was absent, leaving Vice Chair Rep. Tim Faust (DFL – No Man’s Land) in charge.

After debating the bill for about 20 minutes, a roll call was taken of the committee members present. All members cast their votes audibly,  aye or nay, and Faust, being the last to vote voted nay. After a short pause (and realizing the bill would have died in committee on a 9-9 vote), Faust asked, “Can I change my vote?” After another short pause, Faust stated, “I’ll change by vote to yes . . . the motion passes 10-8.”

While his change of heart in a matter of seconds is not documented in the committee minutes, the audio archive clearly records the Faust flip flop. Go to the House Ways and Means audio and video archives, scrol down to Monday, May 11,2009 and click on “listen now”. Faust’s “no” vote occurs at about 31:43. Faust’s “Can I change my vote?” question occurs at about 32:02 (turn volume up) and his “yes” vote occurs at about 32:06.

The bill eventually passed the House Floor, but was vetoed by Governor Tim Pawlenty.

A couple of observations. First, if he didn’t want to be the one to sink Rep. Rukavina’s bill, he simply could have not voted, then the bill would have passed out of the committee, 9-8 (several other committee members were absent, so this was a non-issue). But doing quick math as people are voting is probably not Faust’s strength. Second, one would think the vice chair of arguably the most powerful committee in the House would know whether he can change his vote. But Faust had to ask anyway.

But the most important observation is, given the propensity of the number of meth labs that cropped up in Pine County and Kanabec County in recent history, the representative of District 8B should not have used his vote as a tool to help out his political cronies.

When former Rep. Judy Soderstrom and her supporters played up the fact that Rep. Soderstrom was a co-author of the bill that essentially put an end to the meth labs in our area, it was poo-pooed by Faust and the local DFL activists. Now Faust’s vote and the way he handled himself when the “medical marijuana” bill was before him makes one question whether he really cares about this issue, or if for him, it is all politics.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am an employee of the Minnesota House of Representatives in the Republican Caucus. This blog is not is not endorsed by or supported in any way by any legislative caucus, political party, candidate or candidate’s committee. Opinions expressed herein are those of the administrator of this blog and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any legislative caucus, political party, candidate or candidate’s committee.

Faust Rails on Governor’s Health Plan, then Votes to Move it Forward

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009
Rep. Tim Faust (DFL - No Man's Land)

Rep. Tim Faust (DFL - No Man's Land)

In his commentary in the Pine City Pioneer, State Representative Tim Faust (DFL – No Man’s Land) railed on Governor Pawlenty’s health plan and budget. Rep. Faust wrote about how nursing homes and hospitals would be cut if the Governor’s plan were to be enacted.  

Amazingly enough, on the very day the paper came out with his commentary in it, Rep. Faust actually voted to move the Governor’s plan one step closer to passage.

Here’s how it went down. Committee passage of a two-page bill related to county human services was reported to the House Floor. In a purely cynical political move, Rep. Tom Huntley (DFL – Duluth) offered the Governor’s Health and Human Services plan (several hundred pages long) as a “minority report”, in other words as an alternative to the committee action on the two-page bill. A Democrat supports the Governor’s plan, you ask? Pay attention here – remember, I said “political” and “cynical”. Rep. Huntley’s plan was to get an overwhelming bipartisan vote against the Governor’s bill. However, sometimes, when something sounds like a good idea at the time, it may backfire. And that’s exactly what happened.

Rep. Seifert raised a point of order that the minority report offered by Huntley was not germane to the underlying bill.  Obviously, a bill hundreds of pages long offered as an alternative to a two-page bill  “greatly expands the scope of the bill” as is often argued on germaneness points of order. Apparently, Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher agreed, since she deferred ruling on the point of order and let the full House rule on the Seifert point of order.

In a victory for the Republicans Rep. Seifert’s point of order prevailed overwhelmingly on a bipartisan 75-56 vote. (This in itself is noteworthy because the minority rarely prevails on procedural motions.) Nearly two dozen Democrats joined Republicans in repudiating cynical politics and upholding the House rules. But not the local Democrats from East Central Minnesota. Joining Rep. Faust in participating in cynical partisan politics were Rep. Bill Hilty, (Finlayson), Rep. Gail Kulik Jackson (Milaca) and Rep. Jeremy Kalin (North Branch).  

In short, a vote against the Seifert point of order was actually a vote to move the Governor’s Health and Human Services bill one step closer to passage. Rep. Faust apparently didn’t remember what he had just written about the Governor’s plan before he voted. Or maybe he just thinks his constituents aren’t paying attention.

 In the interest of full disclosure, I am an employee of the Minnesota House of Representatives in the Republican Caucus. This blog is not paid for or sponsored in any way by any legislative caucus, political party, candidate or candidate’s committee. Opinions expressed herein are those of the administrator of this website and not necessarily that of any legislative caucus, political party, candidate or candidate’s committee.