Posted: 12/31/11 05:30
by Dave Mindeman
Over the course of the past 5 years, mnpACT has ended the year with a Keith Olbermann like Top 10 Worst Persons list. It has become kind of a tradition -- so I have to do it now, your objections are overruled. The last 5 lists have had a pretty consistent cast of characters.....
2006 - 4. Mary Kiffmeyer, 3. Local Media, 2. Norm Coleman, 1. Michael Brodkorb
2007 - 4. Tim Pawlenty, 3. Michael Brodkorb, T-1. Carol Molnau, T-1. Michele Bachmann
2008 - 4. Norm Coleman, 3. Michael Brodkorb, 2. Tim Pawlenty, 1. Michele Bachmann
2009 - 4. Katherin Kersten, 3. John Kline, 2. Tim Pawlenty, 1. Michele Bachmann
2010 - 4. Tony Sutton, 3. MN Chamber, 2. Tim Pawlenty, 1. Michele Bachmann
Notice a pattern? Well, not to spoil anything, but Bachmann does not get to #1 this year, and I'll explain later. Tim Pawlenty's short lived presidential bid kept him out of Minnesota so much that he doesn't even make the list at all (besides why add insult to injury?). Even perennial contender Michael Brodkorb is no longer Top 10 material. His fall from grace is a good story, but most of the damage was kind of self inflicted No need to dwell on it -- all will be revealed in due time.
So, let's get to the substance of this sordid array. Here is the Top 10 Worst Political Persons in Minnesota.
10. Sen. Geoff Michel. I have to agree with Sen. Bakk on this one. We need some answers and those answers start with Michel. What was the process that ultimately led to Amy Koch's resignation as Majority Leadaer? Since Michel was the first informed...by Cullen Sheehan, what was the thought process? and why did it take 3 months to get to finality? Was the rest of the caucus really kept in the dark? Why did Sen. Senjem replace Sen. Robling at the press conference? Why "mislead" about the timeline rather than just not comment? New Majority Leader Senjem may say he wants to "move on", but seriously -- there are just too many unanswered questions.
9. State Sen. & 1st District Congressional Candidate Mike Parry. Parry thinks of himself as some rising star in the GOP. He has bullied his way to the front of the line in a lot of ways. Hard to believe that he began his career in the legislature less than 2 years ago in a special election. Yet, he chairs a committee and now fancies himself as a Congressional candidate to take on Tim Walz. Parry is fresh off a less than collegial exchange with Governor Dayton.. (At least it got him a breakfast). He is a hard core partisan and I doubt the First District appreciates that sort of thing.
8. Zygi Wilf. I know you have to wonder why a pro football owner would be on a political worst persons list. And my answer is, he shouldn't be. He shouldn't be anywhere near a political list of any kind. But he pushed and forced and demanded his way in. Determined to add to his billions by extorting the State of Minnesota to partially finance his stadium, Zygi has become as much a fixture at the Capitol as the legislators themselves. He threatens to pick up his football toys and move to California if he doesn't get his way....and all of this goes on while the State of Minnesota deals with enormous debt and budget issues. God forbid we should ever think about raising his taxes.
7. Dan McGrath and MN Majority. On the Minnesota Majority website, the banner slogan is "Standing Together for Traditional Values". Apparently, MN Majority has decided that traditional values includes pushing for Voter ID legislation. A big headline they have pushed in the past says, "MN Leads the Nation in Voter Fraud Convictions".... yet when you dig deeper you find the actual number of convictions in the entire state is 113. And that number represents exhaustive legal expense for district and county attorneys, pushed by MN Majority via their own expensive investigation into every aspect of Minnesota's elections after the Franken-Coleman 2008 election. All that money. All that court time. It all equals 113 convictions. Pretty much all of them from felons voting. And all of this hoopla is being used to push an agenda to make it more difficult for actual bona fide legal voters to vote. How many hundreds, perhaps thousands of Minnesotans will be turned away in future elections because Dan McGrath and MN Majority think the biggest problem in Minnesota is "voter fraud". Students, seniors, and the poor are the targets. Yet, in the Iowa caucuses, the GOP will not ask for ID. And in Minnesota, think there will be elaborate restrictions on proof of residence for our own caucuses? Yet another GOP solution in frantic search of a problem.
6. Michele Bachmann (Iowa Presidential Candidate). Bachmann is not first on this Minnesota list because she is now the country's problem. At least for the time being. This ego driven Presidential campaign has been imploding recently. Bachmann is having just as much trouble holding onto staff people in her campaign as she did in her Congressional office. All the distorted facts. All the media driven statements. All the evangelical pandering. It's all still there. But it is almost all done outside of Minnesota's borders. Heck she doesn't even cast Minnesota votes on the House floor anymore. She's never in Minnesota. She's never in Washington. Really, she has pretty much wrecked any Presidential possiblity. She is out of money. She is out of credibility. She has even lost those social conservatives that she has pandered to for years. Michele Bachmann may still come back to Minnesota, but she will be limping her way back. The question is rapidly becoming....Does anybody want her back at all?
5. Minnesota for Marriage Coalition. This coalition of groups supports the Marriage Discrimination Amendment. We know religious organizations like the Minnesota Family Council and the Minnesota Catholic Conference are involved. These groups have badgered the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board about donor disclosure rules and the Finance Board has adjusted with an extraordinarily complex set of rules that will allow loopholes a mile wide. All of this maneuvering is meant to keep donor names secret and free them from taking any responsibility for their stance against gay marriage. The coalition plays a coy expectation game...saying they will be heavily outspent by GLBT groups. But the reality is that during the previous 5 years up to the legislature's vote to put the amendment on the ballot, the pro-amendment coalition members were the ones funnelling the big money at the legislature. Via PAC donations, the supporters of this blight on the Constitution of Minnesota outspent the GLBT community 3 to 1.
Marriage should not be a complicated issue. It is about a commitment between two people, pure and simple. It is not about religion; it is not about tradition; it is not about values. It is about individual rights.... and no one should have the right to mold and embed the Constitution to reflect one individual's rights over another.
4. Tony Sutton. Rather than face the music, Tony Sutton ran away. He resigned his position as Chair of the MN Republican Party. In his wake is a flat out mess. The IOU's are still being counted as we speak. Lawyers will argue with other lawyers and some day we may actually get a picture of how the party of fiscal responsibility actually did the books. Sutton was quick with the one-liners. Always confident. Always dismissive. Yet, underneath that facade was the heart of a genuine con man. The Republican Party kept entrusting their financial stability to this man. A man with FEC fines in his background and constant editing of party financial statements. Under his watch, the GOP won control of the legislature.....but it looks like they did it with "funny money". Sutton is gone and somebody else is left to deal with the mess. Thank heavens he wasn't a legislator on the Finance Committee.
3. Rep. Pat Garofalo (Chair of Education Committee). Garofalo likes to give us the impression that he is always helping education. He will be glad to tell you that education got an increase in funding this year. Except his increases are like advances on a credit card. The cash is visible...the costs are not. Garofalo is at war with teachers. He has criticized Education Minnesota President Tom Dooher from the floor of the House. He wants to break teacher tenure. He wants the urban schools to take cuts and redistribute the money. To him, integration funding is a scam. Minnesota education is struggling to maintain its excellence, but apparently Pat Garofalo wants us to be satisfied with "good enough". His stranglehold on education funding in the legislature hasn't satisfied him either -- Rep. Garofalo decided to render his opinion on local levies as well, telling them when funds weren't needed. Funding for education is always a struggle, but in recent years with school shifts and crumbling infrastucture, as well as adapting to an information age, districts are left strapped for cash and cutting back opportunities. Our kids deserve better than this. Education has to be our solution - not another item on the chopping block.
2. Cong. John Kline. John Kline doesn't give a lot of red meat speeches. He sticks to talking points when doing interviews. But John Kline is probably doing more damage to Minnesota than the all the people on this list combined. He gives lip service to changing NCLB (No Child Left Behind), yet does nothing of substance about it and criticizes and blocks anything the Obama administration tries. As Chairman on Education and the Workforce Committee, Kline has a broad reach. He deals with health care or at least what he can do to damage programs. He has become a public enemy for unions and continues to dismantle the work of the National Labor Relations Board. But above all, he has done nothing for the 2nd District of Minnesota. He works on nothing, contributes nothing, and almost ignores his constituents. He uses appearances in the 2nd as photo-ops for his national policy initiatives....or just plain try to embarrass any government agency that happens to cross paths with him. Kline used to rail against Washington power, but now relishes the idea that he is now part of it all. Kline can do all of this without reservation. He is safe in his district. Democrats are hesitant to challenge him or don't have the resources to produce a viable campaign. It is really time for that to seriously change.
1. Sen. Amy Koch/ Rep. Kurt Zellers and the Entire GOP Legislative Caucus. I realize this is a little unorthodox but I just couldn't leave out anybody. Senator Koch is included, not because of any sexual impropriety, but because she led a GOP Senate caucus through the worst legislative agenda we have seen in a long time. Kurt Zellers let his freshmen push the House as far right as possible and what was supposed to be...and promised to be...a jobs, jobs, jobs legislature, turned into an anything and everything else legislature. Insisting on a draconian all cuts budget, they led us into government shutdown territory and when they finally decided to work a compromise (so to speak), the leadership team saddled the State of Minnesota with IOUs and debt. IOUs in education shifts and debt in the form of tobacco bonding. Methods that will only cost Minnesota more in the future. Adding insult to injury, we were subjected to a potential travesty and blight upon our most sacred governing document - the Minnesota Constitution. The legislature wants the voters of Minnesota to ingrain discrimination into that founding keystone for this generation and for future, potentially unpersuaded, generations. And yet, they pat themselves on the back, because they believe that the projected surplus is their reward. A credit card reward at best, that was propelled by newly acquired Federal budget funds and reductions in health and human services. They still believe that they protected what was, and is, most important to them. No new revenue in the form of taxes for the wealthy. To maintain that foolish covenant, the legislative GOP delivered lost wages for government employees during the shutdown. They took education funding to new IOU levels and forced districts to borrow money for current budgeting. They reduced the numbers on state health services. They were willing to add debt to the next generation's budget burden. And they were willing to break an implied contract with Minnesota's property tax payers that their homestead would get a priority tax break. More taxes for property owners. More cutbacks at schools. Less money for cities. Less policeman. Less firefighters. All of this....all of it, to maintain the profits and disposable income of those who have profited most during the worst recession in 4 generations. They did all of this together. All for one and one for all. The worst of politics in Minnesota for 2011.