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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Minnesota Transportation Forum Video from Apple Valley

Category: I-35 Bridge
Posted: 10/06/07 01:11

by Dave Mindeman

Transportation in Minnesota is becoming a contentious issue. The problems keep growing and we can't seem to come to any agreement on solutions. On October 4th, Transit for Livable Communities hosted a forum about this very subject -- I talked a little bit about it in a previous post.

But I captured some video from the event that shows some of the emotions that surround this issue. In the first link you see how Republican State Senator Chris Gerlach of Apple Valley views this problem and he outlines his analysis of where this is going. He seems to indicate a bit of a shift in his thinking about transit.. stating he is "in the middle on this".

Senator Chris Gerlach Policy Video

In the second video link you see more of the emotion of the moment. Senator Gerlach is contronted by a constituent about current policy and the bridge. You also see a rather emotional follow up by Representative Shelley Madore of Apple Valley.

Transportation Emotions Video
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Transportation Forum: Problem Gets Bigger --Still No Answers

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 10/05/07 11:23

by Dave Mindeman

Transit for Livable Communities held a public forum on transportation last night in Apple Valley. There were about 75 to 80 people there including... 9 legislators (2 of them Republican), 1 mayor, 3 County Commissioners, and at least 1 DFL House challenger. The TVC gave a sobering presentation about resources needed vs. resources available. Their assessment states that the transportation bill that Governor Pawlenty vetoed last session, even if it had become law, would still not have met even half of the needed funds to keep up with required infrastructure.

Many people gave their opinions and a lot of good points were made. Some of them:

--MnDot continues to "borrow" money from the counties to get projects under way.

--Dakota County has no projects on the MnDOT calendar until 2030.

--54% of Dakota County residents commute to jobs outside the county.

--Minnesota residents use 43 hours of their lives each year, sitting in congested traffic.

--16% of current property tax levies in Dakota County goes to transportation needs.... and a Wheelage Tax has also been implemented.

-- When the Bridge went down, the Missouri legislature passed a state gas tax increase within a week, telling their state that what happened in Minnesota will never happen here.

It is incredible to watch Minnesota's transportation debacle get farther and farther behind in its investments. Pawlenty is not telling us the truth about transportation. He keeps pushing the big "fixes" into the future -- it will be somebody else's problem (no, make that somebody else's crisis).

I assumed that a bridge falling down and 13 people dead in the Mississippi would be a wake up call to this state.... but it wasn't. The slow budgetary strangulation continues and the administration continues to misinform, obfuscate, and delay... to the detriment of this state.

DFL legislators voiced their concerns and sometimes their anger about the situation -- after all they have supported bipartisan bills that have passed, only to see the veto pen wipe out all the hard work. The two Republican legislators sympathized with the transportation plight, but offered no real support and no alternatives to fix the problem.

Where is this going? It is very discouraging. "Roadblock" Pawlenty continues to be this state's biggest traffic problem.
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Sarvi: Another Blue Dog Democrat?

Category: John Kline
Posted: 10/04/07 18:41

by Dave Mindeman

It looks like we have someone willing to run against John Kline. Steve Sarvi has filed the papers and is beginning the long slog to November 2008.

I haven't formulated much of an opinion on this candidacy yet; I really don't know much about him. However, what I have seen so far raises a few questions.

My guess is that Sarvi is going to run a centrist to right of center campaign. Several months ago he made some comments on this blog... they were great comments, but when I tried to start up a dialogue, it was resisted. I heard he was interested in running for the seat in the 2nd and I sent him a questionnaire to get some basic thoughts on positions. I got the same response I always get from Kline's office -- no response at all.

Now Sarvi was still stationed in Iraq at the time and I imagine he certainly had to be careful about what and how he responds... so I will give him the benefit of the doubt about that.

But he has given an interview to Minnesota Monitor and one of his responses was a little troubling.

While Sarvi calls for a change in policy, he does not call for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. In an interview with Minnesota Monitor, Sarvi said, "I don't advocate 'cut and run.'"

I don't expect Sarvi to advocate for an immediate pullout... I wouldn't expect that to fly in a Second District campaign; but I find it troubling that he would use the phrase "cut and run" -- a Republican talking point, in his response. Nobody advocates "cut and run", Republicans or Democrats.... but Republicans like to use the term anyway as a means to denigrate any Democratic position. It is troubling to hear a potential Democratic candidate use that phrase on his own.

I don't know what Sarvi's overall positions are.... and they don't have to be solidly progressive; I understand the pragmatism necessary to run a campaign in a reasonably conservative district. But after watching Tim Walz and Amy Klobuchar say one thing and produce something else, I will tend to be more cautious in the future.

I understand that Sarvi would be an improvement over Kline. I also understand that he may have to run a less than progressive campaign to win. I understand all of that.

But my enthusiasm about another Blue Dog Democrat in the House is also less than stellar. If that is what it takes to defeat John Kline, I will accept it..... but I don't have to lead any cheerleading campaigns either.

In a district where progressive politics can often take a beating, maybe Steve Sarvi will be happier to keep progressives at arms length anyway. Maybe.... I don't know.

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