Posted: 06/10/15 22:06
by Dave Mindeman
I don't usually respond to specific comments directed at me, even when they are particularly nasty. I accept that as par for the course.
But I do think it is worth responding to this twitter reply from Rep. Pat Garofalo.....mnpact;@newtbuster
#mnleg 2015 Session: Never has so little, been done by so few, with such a weak window of transparency.
Rep Pat Garofalo;@PatGarofalo
.@newtbuster - Your hatred for rural DFLers (specifically Iron Rangers) is getting tedious. Develop a new narrative.
Apparently Garofalo has been reading my commentary on Sen. Bakk because otherwise that reply would make no sense in response to the tweet that it answers to.....so maybe he will be reading this as well.
But let's talk about this a bit.
First of all - I don't hate "rural DFLers (specifically Iron Rangers)". As I recall, Governor Dayton made a comment that "some Republicans hate public education"....which sent them into a public snit and a demand for an apology.
I won't ask for an apology because the GOP uses this type of "hate" rhetoric all the time - they only object to it when it refers to them from the other side.
So let's move on.
It is interesting to see House GOPers defending the Senate DFL leadership in regards to this session. It is obvious that they agree with my point that Leader Bakk and his inner circle helped the House GOP in moving their agenda. Garofalo defends them as "allies".
And that has been my point all along. It is not an attack on rural DFL legislators. It is not an attack on Iron Rangers. It is an acknowledgement that the Senate leadership was not backing its own governor and embarked on a personal agenda that did not serve the interests of the Party as a whole.
As for the regional issues of the Iron Range, I only disagree with them on one issue. Mining. But that one issue has been a hard one to navigate. I fully understand that they want to help an economically depressed area, but why does it have to be only about mining?
I believe that the real natural resource in that area is the Boundary Waters. A pristine natural area that has so much potential for tourism, habitat, and water supply. I may be wrong, but I don't think the notion of adding 350 jobs coupled with a risk of chemical runoff into that water table is a fair trade off.
If Polymet can find an eco-friendly way to do it, then I happily join them in their quest. But they have shown this state that they prefer a legislative work around rather than the hard work of finding the environmentally sound approach.
And therein lies one of my problems with Senator Bakk. He uses his position for regional gain, rather than working the Democratic Party as a whole.
But that is not my only beef with Senator Bakk (and again, this is not some vendetta against rural DFLers or Iron Rangers in particular). Senator Bakk holds a position that can serve Democratic progress. If he had stood with the Governor during the session....if he had not circumvented his own caucus in making deals.....if he had not wasted political capital on an ambush of the Auditor's office...if he had not, in the dark of night, patched that sulfide waste amendment into the environment bill....maybe, just maybe, we could have accepted some of his dealings.
But he just went too far.
I appreciate rural issues. I grew up on a farm. I understand Greater MN's need for broadband. I understand how the MNSure rules actually benefited farmers unable to get insurance at group rates. I understand how the buffers that Gov. Dayton has requested need to have a lot of farmer input to be acceptable. I understand how rural hospitals and rural nursing homes are in need of more than the average state help. And I understand how roads and bridges and transit are just as important in rural areas as they are in the metro.
But I never saw very many of those rural needs addressed by the House GOP that pledged to do so....promised to do so.
I also appreciate Iron Rangers. The Iron Range is a Democratic base. My environmental beef with the Iron Range is with the mining companies - not the workers....not the region. I don't have a problem with their need to protect hunting and fishing rights. To find a means to grow their economy. To increase the transportation funding for a sprawling, mostly rural area that needs state help in that regard.
And the needs in the metro match the needs of Duluth. The educational needs of UMD match the needs of UMN-Twin Cities (UMD is going to hold a particular place in my heart because my recently graduated son is going to attend the Swenson College of Engineering at UMD this fall.)
I do not "hate" rural issues or Iron Range issues. I support finding solutions that satisfy all concerned.
But I cannot accept the back room deals and the ambush of Democratic office holders that have marked the tenure of Senator Bakk.
The House lost a number of rural seats in the last election. But few, if any, were in the Iron Range. Yes, we need to address rural issues, but frankly, I think Democrats have always addressed those issues better than what the House did in their current "pledge to help" session.
I understand the need for Garofalo and his cohorts to make this a rural vs metro division. They only understand politics that divide people.
I want leadership that works for the entire state. That engages in political negotiation out in the open. That encourages input from all sides. That meets state needs head on and in the present, rather than kicking it down the road on borrowed money.
That is what my narrative has been....and I'm sticking to it.