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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Kiffmeyer: You're On the List!

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 01/18/06 18:39

by Dave Mindeman

Like Stephen Colbert of the "Colbert Report", I have my "On Notice" and "Dead to Me" lists that I keep careful track of. After the past few weeks, Mary Kiffmeyer has managed to make it to the top of both lists.

Let me start at the beginning. Toward the end of last year, I set out to accomplish two things. I wanted to get the current voter list for my district and I wanted to get caucus flyers for education and distribution. Reasonable goal.... at least I thought so.

My first foray into the voter list acquistion happened late last year, and to make sure I was asking the right questions, I went right down to the Secretary of State's office. But as I walked up the steps of the State Office Building I came upon my first contact with our State Secretary.... a large, taped on the door sign, that said, "The Secretary of State's offices have moved -- for directions please take a map". As I read the sign, I noticed the arrow that was to point out where the maps were, was only pointing to an empty file folder pocket.

Undaunted, I went inside and asked directions to 60 Empire Drive --the new home of the SOS. I waited patiently in a line of people asking confusing questions about a variety of forms...I had to take a number to get a place at the table. When I finally got to a human form, they proceeded to give me directions. It became clear that Empire Drive was not going to be a simple drive thru. Anyone navigating St. Paul streets is well aware that the best of directions doesn't always get you to the right place (even MapQuest has led me astray more than once). I would place Empire Drive in the category of "obscure".

But, I trudged on and followed the maze of arrows the clerk drew out for me and managed to finally find the building -- which incidently, has no outside notice that it houses one of the busiest administrative offices in state government. When I walked in, the board pointed me to the end of the hall. I walked into a brand new office and observed yet, another group of people with confusing questions about lengthy forms. And again, I took a number.

When my turn came, I asked the procedure for obtaining a voter list and the clerk explained that, (of course), I needed to fill out a form. When I asked how to obtain such form, she replied, "Why, it is right on the website"; ..."OK", I said. But having navigated the SOS site, I was not confident that it would be that easy...so, seeing she had a computer screen in front of her, I asked, "Could you show me where it is?" She said, "sure" and started clicking with a lot of rapid wrist movements... and I watched her smile disappear and a furrowed brow develop. After several more clicks and mutterings like "I thought it was right in front"... she said, "excuse me" and went for help. The person she talked to, gave her a phone number to "call upstairs" and after some frustration (which I felt confident would have been my own had I not asked), she finally tracked down the place to click. She then told me to print out the form, fill it out, and mail it in. "How long will it take to get it ready?", I asked. The reply was, "I don't know."

Several days later, I decided to venture into my second quest -- to obtain Caucus Information Flyers. This time I called the office to determine what I needed to do. I was pretty sure this wouldn't be complicated... we had obtained flyers before without too much difficulty...however...

Me: "I'd like to get some caucus flyers to distribute".

SOS: "How many would you like."

Me: "I'd like to start with 5,000."

SOS: ...silence...

Me: "Is 5,000 OK?"

SOS: "Well, we don't have very many on hand right now. They are still at the printers."

Me: "When will you have some?"

SOS: "I don't know."

Me: "Could you call me when they are in?"

SOS: "I guess I could put you on a list."

Me: "OK, let's do that."

My wife does some caucus training and thought she had better request some, too, if they are going to be in short supply. When she called, they refused to even put her on the list. Apparently, the explanation was one person on the list per phone number. Yikes!

Interestingly enough, about 4 days later, a box of caucus flyers was delivered to our house via UPS. It had 2500 flyers in it...... you have to wonder what they are paying to ship boxes like that -- they could have called and told me. I could have picked it up.... I still had to get my disk.

Which reminds me... about 1 week after that the SOS office called and told me my disks were ready. Hallelujah! So I went trucking up to St. Paul again, took my little number to get in line, and waited 45 minutes to pick up something that was ready to go. But as long as I was there, I thought I might as well see if the caucus flyers were in. So I asked...

SOS: "Oh, we don't have caucus flyers here... you have to get those at the old office location."

Me: "You now occupy both offices?"

SOS: "Oh, yes, this is just the office for business transactions."

Me: "But, this is the right place for the registered voter lists?"

SOS: "Yep."

Me: "OK, so voter information is over here at the business office while caucus information is back at the old office...right?"

SOS: "That's correct."

Me: "Mind if I ask why those two things wouldn't be at the same place?"

SOS: "Oh, that's because the office that puts the voter lists together is upstairs."

Apparently, she considered that to be a sufficient explanation and called out the next number.

So, now I figured that as long as I was in the area, I decided to trek back to the old office location and make another attempt at the caucus flyers. When I got over there, the office was empty and 2 clerks were behind the counter chatting. I asked if I could pick up some caucus flyers. The two of them looked at each other, a little puzzled and said....

SOS: "How many do you want?"

Me: "I'd like to get 5,000 if possible."

SOS: "Oh gosh, we don't have any where near that many. They are still at the printers."

Me: "Do you have any I could get?"

SOS: "Well, I guess I could spare a few. We have to make sure we have enough for Secretary's Kiffmeyer personal use."

She handed me a stack of about 100 flyers, while I stared at her trying to picture what personal use Secretary Kiffmeyer had for caucus flyers....

Me: "When will you have more?"

SOS: "I don't know."

So, I left... thinking that caucuses are only 6 weeks away...maybe the flyers would be available by summer...

Well, at least I had my voter list disk. There it was, bright and shiny..labeled neatly with my district's number and the date it was updated. I popped it into the computer, fidgeted with the fields a little to get things in place.

As I scrolled, I noticed something. Something didn't seem quite right... I moved over to the district field and .... oh no! They gave me the list for the district south of us...it's all wrong!


Kiffmeyer, you are "dead to me"!
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Time for Krinkie to Shut Up

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 01/16/06 10:01

by Dave Mindeman

The North Star Commuter Line will cost an additional $24 million to build according to transit planners. And immediately Rep. Phil Krinkie jumped on this revelation to state that it will make it more difficult to pass.

I don't know why it comes as a surprise that inflation will raise the price of a major project. Of course, our Governor assumes inflation doesn't exist in budgetary considerations. But any "responsible" official will still take it into account.

Northstar should have been built long ago. Republicans have successfully blocked mass transit for years but now that the Hiawatha Line has proved that light rail can exceed expectations, it is time to end the charade and embrace mass transit fully. The real money being wasted is in the continued delays. Every year that the current legislature waits, we pay in inflationary costs and in potential federal contributing dollars lost.

I can't fathom why the St. Cloud area thinks that Phil Krinkie is serving their best interests. And if he continues to "rail" against the Northstar Line, I think his bid for Congress will soon be "off track".
comments (3) permalink

Collateral Damage

Posted: 01/14/06 11:12, Edited: 05/26/13 11:25

by Dave Mindeman

Collateral damage. Kind of a beige way of saying innocent people got killed. Our latest version was yesterday in Pakistan. Did you see the headlines? US may have killed Al-Qaeda #2 Al-Zawahiri in air strike. Headlines today... 18 Dead in Airstrike --Al-Zahwahiri Not Among Them.

Hmmmm. You know we still have 18 dead people. We are responsible. Oh, yea, Pakistan will file their protest.... the US will send its regrets... but we still have 18 dead people.

This isn't much of a war you know. It is more of a series of "hit squads". We keep seeking individual members of Al-Qaeda, as if killing certain people will stop a philosophy. Al-Qaeda isn't just Osama or Al-Zahwahiri. It is the anger of millions of people at injustice and the exploitation of resources by the wealthy and powerful. You can't fix that with a missile strike in the mountains of Pakistan. You don't fix it with war and occupation. And you can't even fix it with democracy.

These people seek solace in their religion and their religion, unfortunately, has taught them to seek redress by vengance. They see the United States as a symbol of everything they will never have or hope to have. We are now the cause of their poverty, their oppression, and their despair.

America lost nearly 3,000 people at the World Trade Center and have lost 2,200 soldiers in Iraq but we haven't paid much attention to the thousands of Afghans that died when we fought the Taliban. And we accept as normal the culture of death we have set ablaze in Iraq. Oh, we killed some bad people alright....we still call it war. But those precision air strikes aren't as precise as we were led to believe.

Yes, we attempted to kill an Al-Qaeda leader yesterday. He wasn't there. We still have 18 dead people. And the "war" goes on.
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