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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

DFL MN Governor's Endorsement Race

Category: 2018
Posted: 05/24/18 03:52

by Dave Mindeman

The DFL convention is coming up in about 10 days - so let's see where we stand.

In the race for Governor, we still have three candidates. Rep. Erin Murphy, State Auditor Rebecca Otto, and Cong. Tim Walz.

General consensus says that Walz has a lead in delegates but it is not a commanding lead. Murphy seems to hold a within striking distance 2nd place and Rebecca Otto follows very closely behind Murphy.

In other words, this is still anyone's ball game.

Walz claims to have broader state wide appeal - and I can go along with that. He comes out of the first district and although not considered a "progressive" candidate, he says a lot of the right things....even denouncing his NRA support from the past. Walz paired with Peggy Flanagan as Lt. Gov. early on. She is very popular with the progressive wing of the party. We shall see if that pays dividends at the convention.

Erin Murphy has garnered a lot of endorsements. More than I would have expected. Labor has been coalescing around her and she already had the Nurses Association on board. She has worked very hard on outstate visibility and it looks like she has made some inroads. Murphy chose to hold off on a running mate to keep options open during the convention.

Rebecca Otto stands with the Environmental community and has solid credentials in that regard. She offers a bold agenda. Her Lt. Governor selection was very interesting - Zarina Baber has been in IT for many years and could speak authoritatively on the MN IT problems.

All three have clear strengths - but there are weaknesses as well.

Walz will battle his perceptions on guns and his previous NRA affiliation will be brought up more than once. His progressive "conversion" will be something he will have to prove to make for broader appeal.

Murphy has made progress, but her statewide name recognition still has some holes. Coming from deep in the metro, her rural appeal will be questioned; although she has already come a long way in that regard. She did not "retire" from the legislature, so some may question her full commitment to the executive office.

Otto has the boldest agenda of the three and it is a very progressive one. Single Payer health care, environment legislation, $15 minimum wage, and more. It is ambitious and probably impossible without a full Democratic legislature, but give her credit for the boldness.

This endorsement will probably need several ballots. There is even the possibility of coming out with a no endorsement finale - which means a big primary contest. Walz may even go that route if he doesn't get the endorsement anyway.

We will try to keep you updated. I'll be at the convention.
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NFL And The Trump Flag

Category: Donald Trump
Posted: 05/24/18 03:16

by Dave Mindeman

The NFL capitulated to Trump. Yes, they prostrated themselves in front of the orange one and followed the will of the President.

And the First Amendment is the victim.

NFL players are not disrespecting the flag. They aren't stomping on it. They aren't burning it. Although those acts would be justified under the first amendment as well.

But they are kneeling. With their hand over their heart. The flag is no worse off then it has ever been. But one person has decided that this is a sign of disrespect, and he is forcing others to accept his opinion.

There is no question that black Americans are being treated differently in many avenues of daily life. The NFL players were trying to draw particular attention to police treatment of the black community. They did it quietly. They did it non-violently. They did it respectfully....yes, respectfully.

The First Amendment has been protected for good reasons. Soldiers have fought and died for it's authority in our speech. But it cannot be respected when we allow particular points of view to be negated by authoritarian interventions.

Several years ago, Nazi's decided to hold a march and rally in Skokie, IL. A predominantly Jewish community. Skokie officials wanted it blocked, for good reasons. They feared violence and retaliation. It went to the courts and the courts sided with the Nazi marchers because the First Amendment has no favorites regarding what people can lawfully say and do.

They marched with city protection in place and heavy security. But it did not destroy the community. It provided some intense dialogue, but no one got hurt and the community soon got back to normal.

A triumph of reasonableness under the First Amendment.

But the NFL, under pressure from Trump, has mocked First Amendment rights. They are desecrating the flag themselves because they do not seem to believe in what it really stands for.

Liberty and freedom are not just for you and what you think. It is also for those that disagree with you and vocalize that disagreement. Yes, we are talking about liberty and freedom - the real liberty and freedom which sets us apart from every country on earth.

If the NFL insists on this dubious policy, then I hope the NFL Players challenge it - on the field and in the courts.

And they will be right and they will be patriots.
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MNLARS and the Blame Game

Category: Mark Dayton
Posted: 05/22/18 14:43

by Dave Mindeman

I get frustrated with how information gets put out there. There are the facts, the perception of the facts, and the Republican Party use of perception. So be prepared for the long explanation.

In the Pioneer Press, today, there is an article about the MNLARS controversy. The headline is completely misleading...

Minnesota's DMV mess could get even messier. It's now in Dayton's hands.

Of course the MN GOP seized on the title to put out another attack on the governor. But if you read the article, the explanation is much different.

Let's go back to the beginning.

Gov. Dayton has been monitoring a problem at DVS.

Ever since it was launched over the summer to replace a crotchety 1980s-era mainframe system, the $93 million system had big problems. They affected almost every category of person who needed it to work, including regular folks looking to transfer personalized plates, auto dealers, insurance companies, and deputy registrars who operate the license centers where we got to get our legally required paperwork done. Lawmakers heard MNLARS horror stories.

First, this is obviously not a new problem - but the executive branch has the responsibility for making it work. Dayton has assumed the responsibility and has told everyone it is a serious problem and he wants to address it directly. But in order to actually make any progress, there needs to be an appropriation of budgetary money. Here is how that went...

Despite rancorous wrangling, lawmakers and Dayton reached an accord in March to give MN.IT $10 million in "emergency" funding to start its plans to make MNLARS fully functional. Republicans angered Dayton by barring any of that money from being spent on call centers, which were so overwhelmed that most callers got a busy signal. But to really follow through on plans to fix MNLARS, MN.IT said it needed an additional $33 million.

By the way, staffing the overwhelmed call centers so that the problems could be directly addressed, at least for now, was the most important part of the emergency funding. But, of course, the MN GOP wanted to make that as difficult as possible.

In order to make the most of political points, the Legislative Republicans have refused to appropriate the full amount of money while they search for real answers to the problem. The "search" involves public denouncements of the executive branch.

This dragged on through the entire session....then the House Republicans found another point of leverage. The local registrars. Because of the MNLARS problem these local businesses are losing money. It is a serious problem, but the House Republicans have focused on reimbursing them for their losses and ignoring the real problem - fixing MNLARS.

Once again, the MN GOP would rather HAVE the problem to exploit then work cooperatively to fix the problem.

Now we come to the end of session. Still no fix - but the Legislature goes with a band-aid bill meant strictly for the registrars.

Meanwhile, deputy registrars kept losing money -- both because of the system's failing and because of the fundamental way the system was designed: MNLARS required the license bureau workers to do more work, but for the same payment rates as before. They told lawmakers they needed $25 million to $30 million and a change to way they're paid. Lawmakers approved $10 million for them.

This came to Dayton's desk as a stand alone bill. An inadequate amount of money with no fix to the system or the way they are paid. Band-aid.

Dayton decided to make the strategic decision to veto this band-aid bill with the hope that this would spur emergency action for a more comprehensive bill. The legislature responded...

That huge Republican bill also includes some funding for MN.IT to fix MNLARS: $13 million over the next two years. It was unclear Monday if that would be enough for MN.IT to fix MNLARS within its original timetable; a Dayton spokesman said advisers were still studying the bill. But again, Dayton has already said he plans to veto it. One more thing in that bill: a provision requiring that 3.5 percent of all IT spending be dedicated toward cybersecurity -- an area where many experts agree Minnesota is vulnerable. It's unclear if that provision, should it become law, would affect MN.IT's finances.

OK - the MN GOP Legislature folded this into Omnibus Prime - the huge 990 page tax bill. All or nothing. Dayton is expected to veto it and of course, the MN GOP will blame Dayton for all the things not funded because of that veto.

Note also, that even with this paltry $13 million (over 2 years), they made sure to earmark some of it for cybersecurity - another thing they did not fund and which Sec of State Steve Simon has been begging for to protect our election system. Folding some of this into the MNLARS appropriation, as an earmark, would probably open up another avenue of needed revenue for cybersecurity problems which won't be met.

Are you confused yet?

So here's why the headline is misleading. Whether or not Dayton signs the bill, the MNLARS system will be messier either way. The MN GOP has guaranteed more mess, because they want it that way. They think they have no responsibility (wrong) for the MNLARS problem and they continued hanging this around Dayton's neck for the entire session. The immediate appropriation of the $33 million requested near the start of the session would have been the best attempt at fixing it. No guarantees, but they could have at least gotten started.

The MN GOP Legislature refuses to address this situation directly. They have used it for leverage in a number of legislative issues. And, of course, added it to the "OmnibusPrime" monster to make it impossible for Dayton to compromise. On anything.

If Dayton vetoes the tax bill, as expected, we are back to square one and the MNLARS problem continues and registrars continue to lose money.

MN GOP would rather talk about blame than fix it. They want an election year attack, instead of doing their job.

I have said it before, but it is worth repeating, the GOP cannot govern.
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