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Hello Dave, this is Steve Sviggum....

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 04/22/05 16:13, Edited: 04/23/05 12:39

by Dave Mindeman

I answered my work phone and there he was, ready to tell me all the errors of my ways. I was a little surprised that he had taken time from his busy schedule... you know, working out a way to kill the minimum wage bill or guest speaking at the latest gay bashing rally.

You see, I had called his office earlier in the day. I talked to his receptionist and asked if "the speaker was really going to send the minimum wage bill back to committee over a $119,000 'fiscal note' I had read about". His receptionist fell silent for a minute and so I asked, "Do you know what I am referring to?". She said, "Well no, but would you like the speaker to call you back?". Assuming this would be the usual dodge, I said, "that would be fine.. I just want to know why he would take a bill off the floor for a $119,000 fiscal note. Thanks." I left my number and hung up assuming that would be the end of that.

But later that afternoon, to my surprise, there was that tell-tale "folksy" voice ready to answer all my questions....

(SS) "Hello, Dave, this is Steve Sviggum, what can I do for you?"

(Me) "uh..hello, Mr. Speaker, I was just calling to see if you are really going to send the minimum wage bill back to committee over that fiscal note."

(SS)"Why, yes, Dave, yes I am."

(Me)"But I am assuming that will kill the bill..."

(SS)"Oh, not necessarily, Dave, it will get a fair hearing."

(Me)"But the session is nearing an end and.."

(SS)"But, Dave, those are the rules. You want me to follow the rules don't you?"

(Me)"I know there are rules, but.. $119,000.. that isn't a lot of money in the scheme of things..."

(SS)"No, Dave, no, it's not. But a fiscal note was requested and it came back with a monetary figure that I am not allowed to ignore."

(Me)"You mean that bills always have fiscal note requests on them?"

(SS)"No, not always."

(Me)"So, some bills with extra expenses still get through?"

(SS)"Yes, Dave, yes they do; I take it, Dave, that your concern indicates you are a supporter of an increase in the minimum wage?"

(Me)"I sure am, Mr. Speaker, nobody can live on $5.15 an hour and it has been 7 years...."

(SS)"But, Dave, you know that 1/4 of those jobs are basically summer employment, another 1/4 are jobs with piece work, and then there's waitresses -- we both know that with tips, they make more than than minimum wage.... and besides if we raise $5 jobs to $7, then the $7 jobs will want 9, and the $9 ones will want still more. You know that's going to happen and pretty soon the low end jobs are just gone."

(I was speechless. I had heard that argument too many times, but the way he casually ticked off the list.... well it just sounded like he would just as soon write those people off.)

(Me)"Excuse me, but your fiscal note indicates some of the extra costs would come from employment at DNR."

(SS)"That's right, but again it is mostly summer employees-- you know students getting a little extra spending money."

(That attitude -- as though those jobs were totally irrelevant.)

He went on..(SS)"c'mon, Dave, you work at a (grocery chain), you know those clerks make more than minimum wage already."

(Me)"Yes, sir, they do, but that is more because we have a union here."

(SS)"Union!!, ha, ha. Guess I had better find another grocery store... ha, ha!"

(Me)"But really, sir, some of your own caucus have said they will support the bill, doesn't that say anything?"

(SS)"Sure, some of our own caucus are supporting it. We have an open caucus with diverse opinions..."
(I am trying very hard not to laugh)

(SS)"we aren't like the Democrats, who only vote how Big Labor tells them to."

(My thoughts went to MCCL, Chamber of Commerce, Taxpayers League, etc., but it looked pointless...)

(Me)"I know we are going to disagree on this, but let me ask one more question. How many of your caucus would support the bill?"

(SS)"Oh, I am pretty sure there would be about 6 votes in favor."

(Me)"So, in other words if the bill had a vote on the floor, it would pass."

(SS)"Oh, yes, Dave, I am sure it would."

(Me)"Would you guarantee that the bill will get out of committee and back on the floor?"

(SS)"(ha, ha!) Dave, Dave, unless you are a more important person than I think you are, you know I can't make any guarantees...(ha, ha...)"

I didn't try to figure out exactly what that meant...

(Me)"Well, I won't take any more of your time, Mr. Speaker, thank you for calling me back."

(SS)"Anytime, Dave, anytime."

comments (4) permalink
04/23/05 13:38
The arrogance of power knows no political boundaries. Dems are as susceptible as Reps. But it is a particalarly bad Republican disease right now, both at the national and state level. They really believe that they have the "truth" and don't need to listen to anyone who has a difference of opinion. I have had a couple of conversations wth Gerlach in the last couple of months and he reeks of smugness and arrogance. Swiggum sounds the same; as does Pawlenty. They will over-reach and come crashing down. And they are so sure of themselves that they won't even see it coming.
04/23/05 12:45
I lived in Kenyon for a few VERY LONG years, and got to know Sviggum a bit through my nuclear and transmission lobbying too. I wish I'd kept better notes, but I'll testify that this snippet is scarily like what I heard. And then there's the Pie threats and the "Talkin' Trash" press conference in the dump. I wouldn't be surprised if he's attending Rove School of Business as Usual for his Ph.D. Thanks for posting this! Keep calling him!
04/23/05 12:41
Very insightful Dave. Thanks for posting this. Now the whole nation knows what a real jerk Steve Sviggum is. He doesn't even try to cover up his disdain for those who make minimum wage. Now we know for sure that the term "compassionate conservative" is a true oxymoron.

04/23/05 11:44
With the cost of higher education having increased 50% as a direct effect of Mr. Pawlenty's no new tax pledge, those summer jobs for 'kids' have now become the cornerstone of paying for school. Nobody deserves this kind of disrespect and especially not from an elected offical that holds a leadership positon...There'll be a special place for Mr. Sviggum to go when he dies...but even there I'm sure he'll get paid minimum wage to shovel hot coals all day long.


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