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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Dennis Ozment's Legacy Won't Be Honored

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 05/29/08 05:58

by Dave Mindeman

Dennis Ozment has been a Republican representative for District 37B (comprising Apple Valley and Rosemount) for over 2 decades. He is one of the few legislators who could bridge the partisan chasm that has developed in the legislature.

This year was his last. He is retiring.

The local newspaper characterized his farewell speech in this manner:

Ozment, whose name is a watchword of bipartisanship, in his farewell speech, (he) spoke of the need for vigorous floor debate, but cautioned lawmakers to be careful about what they say. Harsh words that would have haunted a House members for days are now routinely and unflinchingly uttered, warned Ozment.
?We?re all the same team,? he advised the House.


The moderate and bipartisan legacy of Rep. Ozment was tossed aside by the local GOP. They endorsed Judy Lindsay as their choice to succeed him.

Lindsay embraces "harsh words". She relishes division. She is the voice of intolerance. Ozment did not endorse her candidacy. In fact, he warned local officials that endorsing her would be a problem for the party.

But despite his cautionary warnings, Lindsay moves into the fall election cycle, ready to destroy 2 decades of accomplishment and respect.

"Harsh words" will be the hallmark of Judy Lindsay. Her legacy as a District 196 school board member clearly shows that the tradition of Dennis Ozment will not be carried forward....at least not by the standard bearer of his own party.

District 37B has thanked Rep. Ozment for his service. He represented the area well and with honor. It is too bad his own party's choice to succeed him would be, if elected, the very thing he warned his colleagues against.

comments (2) permalink

Central Corridor... The Longest 11 Miles

Category: Transportation
Posted: 05/28/08 02:36, Edited: 05/28/08 02:37

by Dave Mindeman

We are talking about 11 miles of track! Central Corridor...that's all it is.. 11 miles. Officials have been talking about it for what seems like forever, but all it has gotten us, is yet another impasse.

What gives?

One obstacle after another gets tossed on the tracks. Funding arguments, location disagreements, traffic issues.....on and on it goes. And while the soap opera continues, the money clock is ticking....Federal funding awaits an agreement and $45 million of yearly inflation gets tacked on with more delays.

Whose at fault?

Depends on who you ask. We have two massive egos at work here... Peter Bell of the Met Council and University President Bob Bruininks. Both men are used to being right....but one of the immovable objects has to budge. And Pawlenty keeps adding to the mix by raising questions and pushing for budget restrictions.

What happens now?

More talk. I would guess that the Met Council will have the final say with their vote, but the University has a lot of infrastructure at stake and needs to be on board. Somebody needs to look at the big picture and find a way to make this work.

Bottom line?

This is a key component for the future of light rail. This needs to get done but it also needs to be done right. If extra funding is needed to do this the right way, then find the money. Fixing problems later will be a budgetary and logistical nightmare. We don't have the luxury of playing guessing games.

We have to get this right.





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comments (1) permalink

Pawlenty Meddles in Local Control

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 05/27/08 01:55

by Dave Mindeman

Woodbury Mayor Bill Hargis was quoted at MPR's NewsCut blog with this dead on assessment of the the property tax cap:

"I don't know if our tax levy was going to be up 3.9 percent, but it is now," he said. "It might've only been increasing by 2 percent but now we have to raise it 3.9 percent so that we don't hurt ourselves. It becomes a target more than a cap."

Local officials seem to understand the need to plan ahead... much more than the Governor and Legislature do. As the Woodbury Mayor indicates, the cap becomes a target this year. If they don't raise property taxes to the cap limit this year, then they have lost potentially needed revenue for the following year.

Governor Pawlenty makes the assumption that local officials are simply tax and spend addicts. He contends that the heavily increased property taxes over the past few years, (that, incidently, coincide with his administration), are simply local officials out of control.

But County Boards and City Councils get the most direct feedback from their constituents. They live and work in the neighborhoods and shop at the local stores. They don't raise taxes unless they have to and when State Government takes away the local government aid that has been a long standing part of their budget, what exactly are they supposed to do?

Unlike the State, local units are always careful to eliminate spending before they resort to taxes. Admittedly, some of the larger municipalities are less likely to do so, but the vast majority of them are sensitive to local needs and local budgets.

Governor Pawlenty wants to meddle. He wants to control the spending side and he wants to control the taxation side of local decision making.

It is unfortunate that the Governor lays the blame for budget problems at the feet of the only units of government that actually fully understand the concept of taxation through direct representation.
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