Archive for April, 2009

Unwanted Publicity for Attorney General Lori Swanson

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

First, the WCCO I-Team. Then the Legislative Auditor. Then the I-Team again. That $6,000 carpet and those $15,000 oak doors in the Attorney General’s office are causing the AG Lori Swanson a lot of unwanted publicity.

The I-Team reported on March 31st that sound-proof oak doors (that the Governor across the hall at the Capitol does not have) were installed in the AG’s office, presumably as a result of a security recommendations. A specially-made carped with the Minnesota Seal stitched in was also installed as part of hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on renovations in the AG’s office in the last few years. To be fair, it sounds like Lori Swanson is not completely responsible for ordering these renovations. It began at the end of former AG Mike Hatch’s term. Hatch is Swanson’s immediate predecessor and mentor.

At the request of State Sen. David Hann (R – Eden Prairie), a regularly scheduled audit of the AG;s office by the Legislative Auditor will include and investigation of these expenditures (confirmed by a letter to Sen. Hann from Legislative Auditor James Nobles). This caused the I-Team to follow up with another report on April 20th on more discontent by former employees in the AG’s office.

Beginning early in Swanson’s term, employees and former employees have expressed their discontent regarding the way the office is run. Going back to Hatch’s tenure in the office, employees have said that cases were prioritized on how much positive publicity they would bring to the office rather than their merits or representing the people of Minnesota or bringing justice to a situation. (The old joke is that AG stands for Aspiring Governor.)

One of the incicents that came ot light early in Swanson’s term was her alleged actions to squelch efforts among employees to unionize. Imagine that, a high profile Democrat acting in an anti-union way. I love it when unions and DFL politicians are at odds.

Anyway back to the $15,000 sound-proof doors and $6,000 custom made carpet that were ordered, likely at a time when Swanson knew about a looming budget deficit. It’s not much money in the grand scheme of things. But the bigger issue is the apparent attitude that public money is there for the taking. This, and the politicization of the AG’s office has been standard operating procedure for quite some time. This office has been run by Democrats since the 1960’s. Republicans aren’t immune from corruption, but it looks like a changing of the guard in the AG’s office is long overdue.

This post is also posted at East Central Taxpayers.

The Closing of Reddog Billy’s and Why it Matters Politically

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

A few weeks ago, a sizable family-owned restaurant in Pine City closed its doors. This article in the Pine City Pioneer tells the story, but in short, Reddog Billy’s owner Jeff Flaherty said the economy did him in. According to the Pioneer story, Flaherty cited four specific reasons that contributed to the closing of his restaurant:

  • the lower .08 percent blood alcohol content threshold for DUI offenses
  • the higher minimum wage
  • higher food and liquor taxes in Minnesota compared to Wisconsin
  • the implementation of Minnesota’s indoor smoking ban.

Now, I’ve only met Mr. Flaherty a couple times, and I can’t say that I know him personally, so I don’t know whether he has strong political leanings. I do know, however, that he is an experienced business person. He did not go into the restaurant business in Pine City green. He knows how to run a business, and as I read the article, it appears that he is speaking from the standpoint of his own experience and his own business expertise.

Mr. Flaherty did not appear to have a personal axe to grind or to play the victim as portrayed in the Pioneer article. He even went so far as to say that the opening of the new sports bar in town, Chubby’s, did not negatively impact his own business. He stated that the more choices a town has, more people will come to town.

While the lower blood alcohol content was not necessarily a partisan issue when it passed the Minnesota Legislature, it’s safe to say that Democrats in the legislature are mostly responsible for the other policies that forced the closing of Reddog Billy’s. These policies that liberal Democrats push with their heads in the sand, not thinking, or not caring, about the consequences are in fact forcing employers to close their doors and/or move to other states.

Reddog Billy’s at its peak employed 43 people. That is 43 people who are now either in the unemployment lines, driving farther to go to work, or having to work for less money.

To make matters worse, some local House members voted Monday to deny bar owners the option of having a “smoking room” where patrons could go to have a smoke. This amendment would have allowed employees the option of not entering the “smoking room”. Democrats voting to deny business owners this option were Rep. Tim Faust (Hinckley), Rep. Bill Hilty (Finlayson) and Rep. Gail Kulik-Jackson (Milaca). You would think Rep. Faust would especially know better, since the closing of Reddog’s should be fresh in his mind. Additionally, the temporary closing of the Sportsman’s Cafe in Mora was also blamed on the smoking ban by its manager.

Do you think Rep. Faust’s vote was influenced by the fact that one of his key campaign donors is a medical doctor and one of the most vociferous advocates of the smoking ban in the area? Just food for thought.

When liberals told us that businesses can absorb a higher minimum wage, that people will flock to restaurants when the smoking ban is implemented, and that employers don’t actually leave the state when we raise their taxes, real world experitnce tells us something different.

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 endorsed in any way by any legislative caucus, political party, candidate or candidate’s committee. Opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of any entity but the administrator of the East Central Truth Detector Blog.

Conservatives vs. Liberals: Who Cares (and Gives) More?

Monday, April 27th, 2009

This information has been around a while, but since it hasn’t received a great deal of publicity, and since it fits in with what this blog is about, I thought it would be good fodder for one of my first posts.

Most people think of liberals as people who care more about the less fortunate, and as more giving people in general. However, this New York Times op-ed column is about a gentleman who made the same assumptions until his own research proved otherwise. Nicholas D. Kristof, in his column points out some of the findings of Arthur Brooks, author of the book, “Who Really Cares”.

Mr. Brooks found that households headed by conservatives give 30 percent more to charity than households headed by liberals. Some of his other findings from a number of sources include:

  • Average annual contributions to charity reported by conservatives are nearly double the amount reported by liberals.
  • People in “red states” are more likely to give to non-profits, while people in the northeastern “blue states” are least likely to do so.
  • Internationally, Europeans provide a safety net for the poor and give to foreign humanitarian efforts (via government), but as individuals, they are far less charitable than Americans.
  • If all donations to religious causes are excluded, liberals give slightly more than conservatives. However, as a percentage of income, conservatives are more generous, even to secular causes.
  • Conservatives are also more generous in non-financial ways, such as volunteering time and giving blood.

So if you haven’t arrived at the message, one that I’ve known for a long time, here it is. The liberal’s definition of charity and generosity and compassion is when government does it with someone else’s money. Conservatives quietly give of their own money (and time, and yes even blood), without seeking recognition. Yet conservatives are the ones who get labeled as uncompassionate because they believe charity begins at home and government by its nature cannot really care about people.

So think about that the next time you hear a liberal who is “happy to pay more for a better Minnesota.” If he hasn’t opened up his own checkbook yet, it’s not his own money he’s after.