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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Harassment - Buried Facts and No Action

Category: 2018
Posted: 03/10/18 16:00

by Dave Mindeman

The House report on harassment policy after the Cornish cases, finally came out and only a small portion was made public. Once again, the House internalizes its dirty laundry and expects the public to be satisfied.

Remember when Erin Maye Quade, Lindsey Port, and Jamie Becker Finn called for an outside task force to study this situation? Well, maybe you don't because like everything else in Kurt Daudt's House, it got tabled, indefinitely, forever.

We need an outside group with some authority. The Cornish look see was assigned by Daudt, released to Daudt, and locked up by Daudt.

At least the general findings were released....

1) Some elected representatives don't appreciate or choose to disregard the power imbalance between them and staff, lobbyists and others who work in and around the Capitol.

2) No Legislature-wide policy or formal agreements on sexual harassment exist. Instead, the House, Senate and the Legislative Coordinating Commission each have separate policies.

3) When witnesses or potential interviewees in investigations are lobbyists, non-legislative state employees, or other third parties, the House has no power to compel them to take part in an investigation.

4) The House has not sufficiently publicized policies for third parties, including members of the public and lobbyists to make reports of discrimination or harassment.

5) A perception that House members will not be disciplined for violations of the House Policy may chill reports regarding members.

All of that is troubling, but with number two, it is obvious that the MN House does not take any of this seriously. And with number 5, why would there be any incentive to change it?

When these problems first surfaced, there was this sense that finally something would move on this. That the House would have to do something. But because the House continues to block public access to what it knows and keeps internalizing and hiding every bad actor - this subject gets buried with impunity.

We need some sunlight on everything the legislature does. How can we possibly evaluate policy when we are only allowed to see what Kurt Daudt wants us to see?

Change this; change the House; throw the bums out.
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Milking MNLARS

Category: 2018
Posted: 03/08/18 11:24

by Dave Mindeman

The MNLARS system has been a disaster. Trying to fix it with this legislature is an even bigger disaster.

When MN has a problem that needs addressing, we can never get it resolved because the Republican dominated legislature would rather milk the controversy than fix the issue.

This happened with the individual insurance market over a year ago. The premiums were out of control and a cash infusion was necessary to at least temporarily give some relief.

But Kurt Daudt and the House Republicans wanted to make sure that Dayton and Democrats got the proper amount of blame first. They let the problem drag out through the year (creating uncertainty for MN families about their health insurance) just so they could make maximum use of the issue for the election cycle.

And so it is with MNLARS. The Republicans want Gov. Dayton to grovel about it. To make sure there is public acknowledgement that his administration was to blame for the problem. But the MN GOP legislators are not satisfied with that. They want more and more public condemnation. They withhold money which is necessary to pay those working on the problem.

On Tuesday, Minnesota National Guard Brig. Gen. Johanna Clyborne -- the newly appointed commissioner for the state's IT department, said delays by the Republican-led Legislature are prohibiting her from doing what she was hired to do: fix Minnesota's beleaguered computer system for vehicle registration and titles.

She was requesting $10 million to keep repairs going - otherwise the entire endeavor would have to be halted.

But Republicans want to attach some strings.....

1) Requiring commissioners to testify -- "under penalty of perjury" -- whether the project is moving ahead properly based on a number of prescribed milestones.

2) Establishing milestones ranging from the obvious -- "reduction in the backlog of vehicle titles" -- to the fuzzy: "deputy registrar satisfaction."

3) And forcing Dayton to take $10 million away from other departments.

Those "strings" amount to pettiness, pure and simple. They add nothing to the ability to fix this situation.

The legislature has a lot on its plate. This repair must occur, so delaying it by withholding funds is a disservice to the citizens of Minnesota.

But with Republicans, doing their job is secondary to partisan political points.

So, they want more discussion....

State Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Vernon Center, has introduced a bill that would "abolish" MNIT. The plan would make other departments at least consider contracting outside of state government for major computer projects in an effort to increase accountability. The plan would fold IT services under the direction of the Department of Administration, which currently oversees work ranging from purchasing to building maintenance.

One has to wonder if the "cheapskates" in the legislature really want to do this. Contracting outside vendors will be costly - and getting GOOD outside vendors will be even more costly.

The House Republicans are milking this. It is a dairy farm level of milking this.

At some point, MNLARS has to be fixed....and it would be if we had a responsible legislature.

We don't.
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Engage And Make It So

Category: 2018
Posted: 03/06/18 16:04

by Dave Mindeman

Democrats are out in force at these conventions. Record numbers in just about every category are rising to the surface. We actually have endorsement contests for House seats - which happens on rare occasions in the past, but this year is almost the norm.

How do we translate that into action? There are a number of ways and many of them are already happening.

1) Navigating the system. My wife and an assembled team of tech and action savvy people, have been spending several months prior to the caucuses setting up educational vehicles to explain the mazes of the DFL and how to engage productively. This group also produced some explanatory videos which offer the same educational background. Many people have taken advantage of this - with a number of new people heading for Congressional and State conventions as delegates. Too often in the past, what people learned was just enough to help a particular candidate. They did not know enough to continue activity in the party beyond that. This has definitely changed. This aspect of educated action is being discussed as a state wide program.

2) Outreach to activist groups. They are already out there. They are working well on their own. They have shared goals with the Party. But the DFL should reach out and connect with all of them whenever they can. Encourage their membership. Engage them to work within the party when possible. Merge our core goals. But also remember that these groups probably want to keep their autonomy and that remains important. Only open access to the party structure should be our responsibility. Make it easy. Make it optional.

3) Manage the differences. In a group of strong willed individuals, there will be strong disagreements. The key to keeping that a positive rather than a negative is to allow direct and open communication. It is frustrating to watch people take their toys and go home because things did not go their way. The key to longevity is to keep moving forward. To keep up your advocacy. Find another avenue. Work it. Yes, things will get heated at times, but DO NOT LET IT LINGER. Once something has been decided, that should be the end of that encounter. If it comes up again later, so be it. You owe it to yourself, to your candidate, and to your cause to not just give up. Politics is not easy or pretty. Remember that.

4) Stay the course. There has been this mistaken idea that the parties are the same. That no matter who wins, the same corporate influence wins out. But that is the case because we do not maintain the challenge to that type of authority. Corporations often win because they clear the field. Eliminate the challenges. Operate from a position of seemingly impossible strength. But since 2016 proved that party differences are real and that we are going to have join the fight in a much bigger way, the opportunity is there to build something. To forge a united front on a variety of issues - and to learn about and be active in electoral politics. We can't just watch the tube and expect things to change. This is a call for action. Real action on every political level. It does not end after you cast your ballot and does not just happen every 4 years. To make change, we need to change what we do.


It might be that the worst possible outcome in the 2016 election could be the catalyst that causes the real revolution everyone talks about. That from 2018 forward, the United States will find itself once again. That it will reject the politics of greed and embrace the politics of community. It will take every one of us doing what we do best.

Conventions and picking candidates is our task right now. After that, we take back the country.
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