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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

2015 Session:Lost Opportunities for Dems Thanks To Sen. Bakk

Category: Mark Dayton
Posted: 06/09/15 20:22, Edited: 06/09/15 20:24

by Dave Mindeman

Governor Dayton decided to end his holdout on the State Auditor language and press ahead on some other issues prior to a special session.

I expected this would happen. Although I admire the Governor's intentions and motives, he was sitting out on a limb without the key support he needed.

And when I say support, I mean Majority Leader Tom Bakk.

Time after time in this legislative session, Tom Bakk has undermined DFL positions. When the Democrats should have had the higher degree of influence, Senator Bakk was dealing with the other side for a different agenda.

The Commissioner salary issue was only the beginning. In nearly every instance in regards to policy, Governor Dayton and the House Democrats were on their own.

Senator Bakk advocates for his region. And that, by itself, is fine - in fact, admirable. But he is supposed to be in a more general leadership position. He has a responsibility to work with the House minority and the Governor. But way to often he was at odds with one or the other or both.

His "deal" making with Daudt gave the House Republicans a much more persuasive argument about bipartisan stances and the wrong type of united front in confronting the Governor on end of session positions.

The Governor stood alone. The House minority gamely tried to give Dayton support, but, as we well know, a House minority has little opportunity to have an impact on final negotiations.

Which brings us back to Bakk once more. If he had stood with the House, their ideas would have had more influence and merit. And if Bakk had even tried to stand with the Governor's positions, better compromises would have been possible.

The session was disappointing and a large step backward from the progress that was made inn 2014.

Bakk has not been very visible during these last days - probably because he would have to be continuously explaining why he gave tacit approval to the House GOP's agenda.

Democrats need to remember this. I hope the rank and file Senators in the DFL caucus are not damaged by this ridiculous personal power play by a man who uses power for personal politics.

Democrats could have gone into 2016 with a renewed opportunity to take back control of the reins of government. But thanks to Bakk, we now have to hope we can hold on to what we still have.

Democrats deserved better than this. Governor Dayton deserved better than this.

As for Bakk, let's consider this a lesson learned that this man cannot be trusted.

Now we have to try to move ahead with damage control.
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To Speaker Daudt: Leadership Is A Two Way Street

Category: Mark Dayton
Posted: 06/08/15 13:36

by Dave Mindeman

Speaker Kurt Daudt thinks that Dayton should "come to his senses"...

"My guess is that the governor is going to come to his senses and say, 'You know what, it is time for us to do what's best for the 94,000 Minnesotans that don't have certainty on their jobs, the farmers in Minnesota that don't have certainty on avian flu relief, the steel worker on the Iron Range that don't have unemployment benefits and for the communities waiting for flood relief...I think the governor is going to say I'm going to be a leader."

Apparently, Speaker Daudt has forgotton that this "leader" thing is a two way street.

Dayton wants the Auditor change for valid reasons. Yes, he signed the overall bill because he was concerned about the number of government layoffs another veto would increase. But the auditor provision was rammed through on questionable grounds. Yes, it had Senate leadership on board, but the rest of the caucus is not so solidly on board. Some voted for the ball and then called for a veto. But the bottom line is that the legislative branch is dictating terms to the executive branch regarding an executive office.

If this stays it will have to be challenged in court.

So everything that Daudt says about Dayton being a leader applies to Daudt as well.

Does he want to push the issue to the brink and hold up state government to maintain a couple of lines in a bill that has questionable Constitutional validity? That is a valid leadership question as well.

Frankly, the Governor has agreed to many issues - he has compromised on a variety of policy points. But he has drawn a line in regards to the auditor language....and he signed the bill with an expectation that he would be respected in regards to a policy discussion on this one point.

I guess that was wishful thinking. Speaker Daudt doesn't feel the need to respect the Governor. His party controls one House of one branch of government and yet he thinks he can dictate the terms.

Daudt, himself, talks as if it shouldn't be a big deal for Dayton to accept the situation as is. Not worth noting. Certainly not worth holding up the government.

So that thought process can't be turned around? Dayton can't be expected to get any compromise from the House GOP? The GOP is willing to hold the government hostage over a single provision?

Is the Speaker thinking of those Minnesotans affected as well?

Leadership is a two way street.
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Majority Leader Bakk Throws Another Monkey Wrench Into The Mix

Category: Mark Dayton
Posted: 02/12/15 19:13

by Dave Mindeman

Anybody who has followed this blog knows that I am not a fan of Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk. Today, another case in point of why that is, hassurfaced.

This time the tense relationship between Bakk and Governor Dayton exploded into the meda....

"Now I know how President Obama feels. I'm confronted with hostile legislative leaders," Dayton told reporters hours after the state Senate voted overwhelmingly to put the brakes on the big salary increases to commissioners that Dayton had ordered.

"I'm not going to meet with Sen. Bakk anymore without others present because I don't trust his word," Dayton said, adding that he believes the Senate leader from Cook "connives behind my back."

Bakk has been undermining the MN Democratic legislative agenda from its promising beginning in 2012 when full Democratic control was achieved. The Majority Leader pushed his own preferences on the Democratic MN House and now has opposed his own sitting Governor publicly.

All Bakk is doing is adding token (and foolish) legitimacy to the House Republicans ridiculous assertions about the Commissioner pay raises. It is hard to understand a comparison of Dayton's proposal of $800,000 in governmental department head pay raises not being supported by Bakk....while Dayton backed Bakk's $77 million office building - during an election year no less.

Dayton is not coming to some new revelation about Sen. Bakk. This has been brewing for some time and Dayton has tried diligently to be supportive of his legislative leaders. But with Rep. Thissen now in the House minority and Sen. Bakk taking on some incredible notion of being the leader for Democrats statewide - with a DFL Governor in power, no less, Bakk has made the Democrats position much weaker and is stretching unity to its outermost boundary.

The House Republican whining about Commissioner salaries has no real effect on the budget. It is just another of their ridiculous talking points. To push a Senate vote on "delaying" these salary increases is an embarrassment for the Governor and will extend the GOP talking points for weeks, if not through the end of session. Which, in turn, will make the final negotiations that much more difficult.

When Senator Bakk made his run for Governor in 2010, he made a weak attempt at promoting "progressive credentials". It failed miserably and he has made no attempt since to even pretend he will support progressive ideals in policy. He has a personal agenda which takes precedence over good public policy. And he has no qualms about pulling his support from Democratic policy when it suits his purpose.

This session has the makings of being a rocky one....and the blame falls squarely on the Senator from Cook.
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