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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Gonna Sit Right Down and Write those #@$%$#'s A Letter

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 05/11/05 18:26

Writing a letter can be good for the soul and a letter to the editor can be even more satisfying. mnpACT! members have written many letters to the editor and every little bit helps to counter the constant "spin" out there. Letters are the cheapest form of political persuasion and as Yoda would put it, 'persuade we must!" A few samples of letters written and published recently by mnpACT! members follow; if it helps to give you ideas, then get out your pen! Sometimes it takes a few tries before you get one in -- the important thing is don't give up!

You may notice Paul Bartlett's name popping up quite a bit. He is our current Yoda master of the letter and proof positive that the "pen is mightier than the sword!" If you want some advice or help on letter writing, contact us and we will get someone to help. Here we go:

Thank You, Mr President Netlets.. Star Tribune (April 18, 2005)

The stock market had its worst day in two years last Friday, with the DOW tumbling nearly 200 points. I sure wish that I was retired and living off of my personal account.
Heck with a guaranteed annuity (you know, the security portion of Social Security), my retirement could be free of material distractions.
Thank you, Mr. President. With your vision and clear thinking, my grandkids won't need to fight about splitting up the old man's estate; there wouldn't be one.
Paul Bartlett, Eagan.

Pick One (Star Tribune -- April 26, 2005)
Now, this is an interesting bit of hypocrisy. The Minnesota Realtors Association spends $500,000 on anti-tax ads, encouraging the governor and the Legislature to "grow and spend." But no new taxes -- no new investments, really -- essentially means that our already stressed public schools will continue to be nickel and dimed almost to the breaking point. This will eventually show up in lower test scores and lower student achievement. Yet a quick scan of the Sunday classified ads shows dozens of Realtors touting the quality of public schools as a selling point -- "beautiful four bedroom in excellent 196 schools." Those excellent schools are making thousands of additional dollars in commissions for Minnesota Realtors. I guess the skill of talking out of both sides of your mouth isn't limited only to politicians
.Charlene Briner, Rosemount

Tax loans (Star Tribune -- April 26, 2005)

Sen. Norm Coleman observed tax filing day by very publicly condemning tax preparers and their banks for offering clients "Refund Anticipation Loans" at high interest rates. A refund anticipation loan is a loan that is secured by a taxpayer's income tax refund. The term of the loan typically is no more than three weeks. As a seasonal tax preparer, I have had clients who needed their loan to pay for car repairs so they could get to their jobs, to pay rent, or for medical or dental work. This season I had a client whose wallet had been stolen and who needed the money for food for his family. Coleman condemns these loans while at the same time defending his vote for a bankruptcy law that will effectively keep poor and middle-class Americans under the thumb of a lot more banks and credit card companies. It is a law written by the banks and credit card companies for the benefit of the banks and credit card companies, with Coleman's support and his vote.
Michael Romanov, Northfield

Pawlenty sleep? (Pioneer Press, March 24, 2005)

While this governor insists that public workers in general and school employees in particular just suck it up, his financial future looks bright. The Legislative Compensation Council would like to bump his pay by $17,566 to $137,869. His wife, a district court judge, would receive a 6 percent raise through 2006, bumping her salary up to $125,336. That's more than $250,000, plus a mansion, a car and driver, a jet, and much more.
Yet the funding well is dry for MinnesotaCare, education, social services, local government aid, transportation, etc. And, if a locality needs to increase its levy to fill a Pawlenty-created shortfall, he wants to give local malcontents the ability to obstruct a necessary levy increase.
Whether at his home in Eagan or surrounded by the warmth and comfort of his mansion, it's a mystery to me how this governor can sleep at night.

Social services a wise investment (Eagan ThisWeek 4/1/2005)

The work of a juvenile drug court was reported in Thisweek March 26. Involvement with social services have helped many young people attain sobriety, a laudable accomplishment. The success and social stability of a young person and their family are also furthered by early childhood and family education and success in the school system itself.
This ounce of prevention is renowned as the best investment we can make in our society, according to researchers at the Minneapolis Federal Reserve.

Other up-front investments, including transportation, job and business development, and access to health care are catalysts for the orderly operation of an excellent state.
We can hope more conservative elected officials in St. Paul will see the wisdom of this investment, rather than ascribing to harmful, radical positions that prevent our government from doing its job.


Writer considers funding source change
(Rosemount Sun Current.. 5/5/2005)

A letter in the Sun-Current April 28 applauded Republican legislators and the governor for being responsible for a $465 million increase in K-12 education in the state during the current biennium. The letter-writer doesnt mention that increases in state funding in these recent years are due mainly to the state takeover of general education. They represent a change in how we pay for public schools; they dont represent new dollars for education.
The writer further claims the governor proposes to increase state spending for education during the next two years also. He doesnt mention that what the governor proposes does not keep pace with inflation. In other words, school revenue will continue to decline in real dollars per pupil.
These incumbent Republicans did vote for the first real cuts to education in Minnesota history; $185 million last year. They would like to avoid discussing their role in the decline of education funding.
Judy Finger
Apple Valley

School funding (Star Tribune South -- April 6, 2005)
I remember the campaign promises of Republican candidates (Reps. Lloyd Cybart, Dennis Ozment, Tim Wilkin, Lynn Wardlow) in Burnsville, Apple Valley, Eagan and Rosemount. All of them said at every opportunity that, if elected, they would make education a priority. But on March 29, the real test of those promises came due and our south-metro representatives all flunked ("A narrow win for the GOP budget," Star Tribune, March 30). They voted against an amendment that would have allowed for necessary public school funding increases, and they guaranteed us more and deeper cuts in our children's schools, along with unavoidable escalation in the property tax increases we are already experiencing. Minnesota used to be a model for education excellence. We used to expand curriculum, not cut back to mandatory requirements. An invested dollar in education has always brought back a several-fold return. Is education a priority or not? Apparently, with our legislators, what they say isn't always what they mean.
David Mindeman, Apple Valley

Budget cuts hurt education (AV ThisWeek 3/18/2005)

Trips abroad by school chorale members, reported in Thisweek March 12, are obviously things which cannot be paid for out of school funds. Voluntary donations for less luxurious items like paper, pens and pencils are also sought by some teachers in the metro area to compensate for state education budget cuts.
Meanwhile at the Minnesota Legislature the discipline of the Republican majority party in the House of Representatives does not permit individual members to break ranks and support the raising of taxes to restore some of the budget reductions. That kind of rote obedience may be an admirable structure for fighting a war, but this is about educating our kids!
Its also about our own future success and prosperity, however long we live. Claims by some majority folks about their work for programs to help our kids become successful, must be balanced against their votes for cuts to our education budget and the resulting greater numbers of kids in each classroom.


Westover and Strom, Peas in a NeoCon Pod
(Pioneer Press May 5, 2005)

Craig Westover's May 4 column was a feeble attempt to polish David Strom's tainted image. Westover and Strom reside in the same neocon camp where truth-twisting is standard operating procedure. Westover's real purpose: Clean up the messenger and maybe the message won't have quite the stink.
The neocons have been very successful at redefining our language. Westover deceitfully described Strom as a "populist." Strom may be a lot of things, but he is certainly not a populist. In fact, Strom represents the very privileged elite that the populists and progressives have opposed over the years. Populists and progressives support more and better public services; Strom's group would love to privatize and eliminate what's left of our public sector.
Language is important. Just because a demagogue can draw a crowd, that does not make him a populist. History is replete with windbags, and while I will avoid unseemly but accurate comparisons, I suggest that the Pioneer Press assign a top-notch editor to keep an eye on Westover. This is not an issue of opinion, it's simple truth-telling. My parakeet says thanks for another Westover column to read while he's doing his business.

Now that is stupid (Star Tribune May 9, 2005)

We are going to throw 30,000 Minnesotans off health care so that we can protect the taxes of the wealthiest 42,000 Minnesotans from going up (Star Tribune, May 6).
Gov. Tim Pawlenty and the House Republicans are telling us that protecting William W. McGuire, the CEO of United Health Care, and his $124.5 million salary package is more important than the health coverage of working class Minnesotans making $35 to $40,000 a year.
Explain "profoundly stupid" to me again.
David Mindeman, Apple Valley.

School vouchers (Star Tribune South -- March 22, 2005)

I was interested to read Rep. Mark Buesgens' defense of education access grants ("All parents deserve school choice," Star Tribune South, March 9). This hopeful sounding name is just the latest attempt by critics of public schools to divert tax dollars to private and religious schools. He claims they will offer increased options to low-income families, but a closer look reveals more questions than answers. Families earning $47,100 or less per year would be eligible to receive $4,601, the amount a public school gets for one student, to pay tuition at a private school.
So what is the mechanism to notify and enroll eligible families? When a family's income exceeds the limit, would they have withdraw their child from the school they have chosen? Unlike public schools that must report test scores, private schools will not have to report results. So there is no mechanism to determine whether this program will even address the underlying achievement problems.
We're not answering the real questions -- how can we fully fund public schools and how can we maximize performance in those schools? Minnesota already leads the nation in public school choice with open enrollment, charter schools and post-secondary options in high school. Until the state reaffirms its commitment to full, equitable and sustainable funding for public schools, any talk of vouchers, tax credits or any other program that diverts funds from public schools is premature at best and irresponsible at worst.
Charlene Briner, Rosemount

Where is Sen. McGinn on NWA job issues?
(Rosemount Sun Current 5/5/2005 10:02:54 AM)

Reduced services at Metro Transit were the topic of hearings in Burnsville April 20 (Sun-Current, April 28). Reductions in public services seem to be matched in job reductions in the metropolitan area.
In the south-metro area there are many resident families whose breadwinners are employed at Northwest Airlines. There has been a great deal of controversy and concern over layoffs of mechanics at NWA.
Those concerns were the focus of two recent meetings of the state Senate Transportation Committee where Northwest CEO Doug Steenland called the outsourcing of jobs at NWA, a tried and true practice.
As senators engaged Steenland on this and other concerns about jobs and plans to tear down maintenance hangars, Sen. Mike McGinn of Eagan-Burnsville was not present at the meeting. In fact, when the Senate Transportation Committee voted 12 to 1 a week earlier to subpoena Steenland, Sen. McGinn didn't vote.
While we may be able to debate whether what NWA is doing is the right thing, we all need to ask; where is Sen. McGinn on this issue and why isn't he voting? A lot of families, employees of NWA and voters deserve to know where McGinn stands on this issue and why he isn't representing their concerns.
Paul Hoffinger

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So Simple, Yet So Wrong

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 05/07/05 09:56

By Jay H. Steele

I am on my way to the Mother's Day Walk for Peace in Minneapolis this morning, so I don't have time to post much on this, but check out businessman Ward Eames piece in this morning's Star Tribune. He takes on Pawlenty's latest cheap shot at public schools: the 65% solution. Eames says Pawlenty is totally wrong about school funding. The article is here.
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Prime Minister Brown

Posted: 05/06/05 15:14, Edited: 05/26/13 11:25

by Dave Mindeman

Tony Blair may have won an unprecedented 3rd term as Prime Minister but his ability to effectively govern was the loser on Thursday. Blair's Labour Party lost approximately 100 seats and now have a majority of just over 60 seats (down from 160). While his spin concentrates on the new term as prime minister, Blair will have a host of obstacles to overcome.

Blair was essentially running against himself in this election. The main issue that divides the country is the Iraq War. The Conservative Party, led by Michael Howard, offered no real alternative because they essentially were in lock step agreement with Blair's Iraq policy. They still gained 30 seats in this election, but Mr. Howard will probably step down, as his party has shown disappointment that he offered no competing vision. The main opponents of the war came from the Liberal Democrats -- a smaller, minority party who still are a political force holding about 60 seats in parliament. They cannot be ignored.

Blair's real problem comes from within his own Labour government. The Iraq War has divided his own party and even his own cabinet. The strength of the nation's economy which has continued the deficit reduction policies that fueled the American economy in the '90s, is the only reason Tony Blair is still prime minister. Labourites are reluctant to make wholesale changes in a very successful and popular economic model. The main beneficiary of this adulation has been Treasury chief Gordon Brown. He is widely regarded as Blair's successor. He has been walking a fine line as a loyal cabinet minister in the Blair government, who wants to become the Labour leader and thus Prime Minister.

Blair's "special relationship" with the Bush administration will now be an albatross around his neck. Labour looks at Blair as a lame duck and he will get no allowances for any more foreign entanglements. As one British commentator put it, "The key factor in the campaign was that this time Tony Blair was not an electoral asset. He was becoming a liability".

Sooner or later, it will be Prime Minister Brown
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