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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

On Transportation: Rep. Anna Wills Votes In The Negative

Category: DFL 2014
Posted: 10/30/14 23:56

by Dave Mindeman

The Chamber of Commerce Leadership Fund PAC publishes a questionnaire about issues concerning business. Rep. Anna Wills, District 57B took part in answering this questionnaire -- and I thought I'd share her answers in the transportation section....

How should Minnesota address its unmet transportation needs in the near future?

Minnesota should address its transportation needs with existing revenues by focusing on improving efficiencies.

Do you support an increase in the fuel tax for expansion and maintenance of roads and bridges?


Do you support raising the metro area sales tax to fund metro transit projects?


(by the way, her DFL opponent is Denise Packard)

Now the answers given by Rep. Anna Wills may look pretty straight forward and concise, but what does it really tell us?

First, she will not increase taxes regarding transportation for anything or any reason. NO is not a compromise position or an answer that seems very forward thinking. Just NO no matter what.

But the first question is even more problemsome. The question is about "unmet" transportation needs. The Chamber says it, MNDOT says it, the Met Council says it, and a lot of Minnesotans say it as well --we are behind in transportation funding. That's what unmet refers to - WE ARE BEHIND.

And it is not the distant future - the Chamber question recognizes that it is a problem of the "near future".

So what does Rep. Anna Wills suggest? Use "existing revenues" and "focus on improving efficiencies."

If existing revenues were enough - why is there such concern about "unmet" needs? And we have been trying to get by with "efficiencies" for several years now. We have wrung out the efficiency sponge. It is dry. It is in trouble. And the only efficiency involved now, is to just not do needed projects. The projects stop because we don't have the money.

Frankly, when it comes to transportation problems, Rep. Anna Wills is just extra baggage in the legislature. No ideas. No discussion. She says NO to our transportation future.

When it comes to transportation, Rep. Anna Wills will not be part of the discussion. She has nothing to offer but a NO vote.

To be perfectly frank, those answers disqualify her transportation input. And her district will suffer for it.

Vote for Denise Packard in 57B - a person who is open to solutions and will utilize BOTH the Red and Green button options on her desk.
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A Conversation With Kyle Lewis - Former IP Officer

Category: Independence Party
Posted: 10/30/14 20:07

by Dave Mindeman

I had a very pleasant face to face, sit down conversation with former Independence Party Vice Chair Kyle Lewis today. We went through a range of topics but mostly we talked about the IP. Where it is and how it got there.

Here are some of the tidbits....

The Independence Party entered this election season totally unprepared. Recruitment of candidates was meager to non-existent. Since a vacuum like that begs to be filled, members of the Ron Paul/Libertarian faction swooped in. The slate filled up with them. In the beginning, the Senate endorsement was the only real contest. Kyle noted that eventual endorsee Kevin Terrell was a good, solid candidate, but in the beginning Hannah Nicollet was set to challenge him.

Which led to a rather strange scenario.

Hannah Nicollet was an almost invisible candidate. She didn't talk to many delegates...had few events. And at the endorsing convention, she was 3 hours late. And when she did arrive she sat in the back of the room and talked to none of the delegates. (It should be noted that for a major Minnesota political party, the state convention consisted of 50 people. That tells you a lot right there.)

Kyle said they went through the Constitutional offices without incident. As the Governor endorsement was about to be on the docket,...with no names coming forward to compete for it, Kyle got word that Hannah Nicollet wanted to speak to him. When Kyle met with her away from the others, she indicated that she had changed her mind and wanted to seek the endorsement for Governor, rather than the Senate.

Kyle has been in politics for a long time. He was an involved Republican before he joined the IP and he is becoming very active in that GOP capacity again, now that he has left. But Kyle knows that running for Governor and running for Senate are two different animals. Hannah had announced her intent on the Senate endorsement a while ago - now, to turn on a dime and go for a completely different state centric office? Well, let's just say that Kyle was skeptical.

Still, he had to try and make this work. He brought together a quick emergency meeting of the executive committee, and vet Hannah Nicollet for Governor - all the while the convention was in a 20 minute recess with endorsement for Governor next on the agenda. None of the executive committee knew much about her, but given the circumstances, they waved her through and she was endorsed as the IP candidate for governor.

Kevin Terrell was then endorsed for Senate - and the "Independents" were born. (Although Terrell never made it to the commercial because he was defeated in a low turnout primary by a guy named Carlson -yikes...which the Independence Party does not support).

Kyle and I talked about the future of the IP. We were in agreement that the IP has never built any infrastructure. They have little activity at the local level and don't seem to generate any urgency about elections until they are nearly in full swing.

Personally, I have always felt that the Independence Party can serve an important function. A third party alternative keeps the partisan negativity down. Currently, negative ads thrive with two parties because there is nowhere else for the voter to go. Having a viable (key word) third party alternative puts that strategy into question. And makes the IP candidates relevant, even if they don't win the contests.

Local legislative races are the key. If the IP could concentrate resources into a few legislative races and develop a small third caucus in the legislature, it would allow for alternatives and compromises to gain traction.

Kyle and I agreed that it looks like at least one of the statewide candidates should poll that 5%. As he put it, the IP has an actual base of only about 2 to 3 %, but there is an additional 2 to 3% that just want someplace else to cast their ballot -protest votes. He thinks that the Party wrongly believes that they have that 5% floor, while he insists that 2 to 3% is the real floor....and if they don't build some structure, they will soon fade away completely.

Having major party status is a gift for the IP. It could open more doors if they would just build a base infrastructure. They have never been willing to do the grunt work of making those connections that build that base. The celebrity candidate strategy needs to end.

The Independence Party is in a pretty chaotic state right now. Someone needs to rein in the the disparate parts and build some cohesion.

If they survive this election, still holding that major party label, they need to do some serious soul searching - and roll up their sleeves for some hard work.
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Randy Gilbert - Super Auditor! Who Needs Legislators?

Category: DFL 2014
Posted: 10/30/14 09:59

by Dave Mindeman

The Minnesota State Auditor position doesn't get a lot of attention. And when you have an election for that office, the low attention can be a challenge for candidates.

And when you are an unknown candidate for this low profile office and you have a sex scandal as most of your publicity, then, as you might expect, your problems get bigger.

But that doesn't stop GOP candidate for Auditor, Randy Gilbert.

Gilbert has offered a lot of "ideas". Ideas which, if we elect Gilbert, could probably do away with the legislature.

Somewhere in the recesses of Gilbert's mind, he seems to believe that the office of State Auditor can be elevated to superpower status.

In the past few weeks, Gilbert has told us that, as auditor, he can protect and secure our private data. And, apparently, Gilbert can fix MNSure by rooting out the problem at the city and county levels.

And now, as State Auditor, Randy Gilbert will solve the problem of pension liabilities.

Who needs legislators? I guess nobody realized that all we needed was super auditor!

We have not been told how Gilbert arrived at all these new abilities and powers. The legal status of such things is a bit on the sketchy side.

But never fear - Super Auditor is here.
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