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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Anderson Voted Out For Reasons Unclear

Category: GOP Politics
Posted: 01/31/12 10:44

by Dave Mindeman

Revenge is a dish best served cold....

And the votes are in. PUC Chairwoman Ellen Anderson is out and the utilities rates are now safe again and will never go up.

At least I think that is why the Republicans in the Senate voted to not confirm her.

Senator Joe Gimse put it this way...

?It?s not a payback. I resent that implication,? Gimse said. ?It?s purely about rate payers in Minnesota and job creation. It had nothing to do with Ellen Anderson personally.?

Anderson has only been chairwoman since last March. There have been no controversial decisions. Most votes have been unanimous. Gimse seems to be telling us that Anderson was voted out over what SHE MIGHT DO. When Molnau and Yecke were rejected in confirmation votes, we had some very troubling records and a host of controversies to point to. Not so with Anderson.

But that is how the Senate has been operating. They do not care about the state itself, only about their agenda.

The Senate Majority is really setting a nice tone..aren't they? They start off with a scandal, a cut to DFL budgets, and a rejection of the Governor's choice for PUC Chairperson.

Not a bit of partisanship there.

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Dist 37B: Jeff Wilfahrt, the Reluctant Candidate

Posted: 01/28/12 14:58, Edited: 04/24/13 15:28

by Dave Mindeman

I sat down with 37B DFL candidate Jeff Wilfahrt and his campaign manager, Phil Sterner, last week to get introduced and see how things are starting out. Jeff is an impressive individual.

A loose translation of Jeff's German last name is "the Journey" and that is precisely what he is embarking on. More than once he dubbed himself a "reluctant candidate" and a first impression is that Jeff would rather be working for a candidate than being one.

But he doesn't shrink from a challenge either. And he is going to take this opportunity to define this race in a real progressive sense. No shrinking violet here.

For those of you who may not know, Jeff's son, Andrew, was killed last February in Kandahar. Andrew was a gay soldier who died in service to his country. And Jeff is seeking simple fairness.

As the anniversary of his son's death looms, you can see the pain behind the eyes. There is a sadness there that won't soon go away and you can't help but feel it with him.

There is a simple sense of fairness that permeates Jeff Wilfahrt and the cause has been intensified by the Minnesota GOP Legislature's determination to put discrimination in the Minnesota Constitution. A slap in the face to his son's memory....and a discriminatory chain placed on some of his son's friends and colleagues.

I mentioned to Jeff that I was afraid he would be labeled a one issue candidate because of his outspoken defense of gay marriage. He realized that but it doesn't take more than a few minutes of conversation to realize that Jeff is much, much more than that.

He has few real DFL ties from his past, but he stated quite clearly that he doubts the DFL and him will part ways on many issues. He has a passion for Labor. It's clear and its intense. And he believes strongly in pro-choice rights. But he also understands how to represent his district. Rosemount will do well to send this man to St. Paul.

But his passion belongs to the LGBT community. Oh, he, and the community, have some minor differences in how to reach their goals, but his passion is absolute. He has a perspective on the Marriage Discrimination Amendment which I think is worth sharing. His response is below, in his own words.....

On the marriage amendment issue, two points of argument.

Circa 1947 then President Truman issued orders to integrate the armed forces. It took nearly two decades until the civil rights movement in this country forced the society guarded by the military to catch up.

On September 20th, 2011, the policy known as Don?t Ask Don?t Tell, DADT, was finally and permanently put out of the military lexicon. Will the society now wait two decades for civil unrest to erupt to follow the military?s lead and settle the problems presented by the Defense Of Marriage Act? The military needs answers on issues of benefits, both for the living and the lost, answers which are impeded by the existence of DOMA.

In the general society is the additional question DOMA presents in the form of state laws.

Marriage is legal construct. It is imbued with legal rights provided in over 1500 state and federal statutes. All these rights are available for about $110 in licensing fee here in MN. Testimony to marriage as a legal construct is the fact that it ultimately takes a court to dissolve a marriage and grant a divorce. Furthermore DOMA itself is testimony to the fact that marriage as a legal construct can be regulated.

In all areas of law related to two parties involving CitizenA and CitizenB there is no condition of sex proscription excepting this one legal construct known as marriage.

It seems only fair to allow the legal contest of DOMA. It is hard to imagine how or why any American would advocate the denial of legal redress, especially by an act of constitutional amendment. Those citizens affected by the effects of DOMA have a basic American right to contest that law in the courts. They are by the existing understanding of our constitution guaranteed access to the courts to test whether those constitutional fundamentals are being transgressed. We have courts in this country for reason. The ?activist judge? argument rings hollow simply because law is what binds us as a society.

Let us be prudent with time. Let us not wait two decades to follow the lead of our military and implement social justice in a like kind to the repeal of DADT. Let us learn from history. Let us allow the opportunity for any and all citizens to seek legal redress. There is no minority group who should be forced to stand on two legs of government while the majority solely enjoys a third, namely the judiciary.

That is a strong, intellectual argument. And he can take that argument into this year's campaign....and I think it is a stance that is worthy of broad support.

District 37B isn't an easy district to run in. He will meet plenty of obstacles, but his campaign is a victory unto itself.

This is a journey well worth taking.
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Legislating By Amendment Is NOT A Constitutional Principle

Category: Legislation
Posted: 01/28/12 12:24

by Dave Mindeman

There is a reason we have representative democracy.

Republicans always talk with reverance about the Founding Fathers as if they are infallible and their words are gospel. Yet, the framers of the Constitution did not trust the voting ability of the general electorate. They refused to allow direct election of the President and it wasn't until 1913 that we started voting directly for our Senators.

Changes to the Federal Constitution were meant to be difficult. The laborious process that allows for an amendment virtually guarantees a broad consensus before it passes. And even then, mistakes can happen -- Prohibition to name one.

In Minnesota, the GOP legislature seems to be embarking on a dangerous path of legislation by Constitutional amendment. The mantra is "let the people decide".....but the reality is that the people have elected their legislators to gather the proper information and make those decisions for them.

Certainly there are matters of great import that require a consultation with the electorate, but those have generally been reserved for needed issues that absolutely require a Constitutional change. I don't contend that all of the past MN Constitutional amendments have met that criteria, but certainly most have been a case of necessity, not choice.

The current legislature, unwilling to find a consensus with a Governor of the opposite party, has decided to circumvent the normal path for the legislative process. An end around, if you will. Once in a great while this might seem prudent, but multiple issues are hard to fathom as necessary.

When Governor Pawlenty was our chief executive, the Democratic controlled legislature seldom accessed this method. They had far greater differences on policy than the current combatants seem to have, but the remedies were argued at the Captiol...not changing the Constitution.

The current GOP legislature has tossed aside the process they were elected to do. Issues that they refuse to settle via consultation and compromise with the Governor will be taken to the November ballot and left to the devices of the money interests.

Even the idea of these measures seem to lack even their own standards. The Marriage Discrimination Amendment has already been adjudicated in law. The state already has a DOMA law and this amendment can only carry that forward to the Constitution and force future generations to acquiesce to the current one.

The idea of Voter ID can be legislated. Bills have made it to the Governor's desk in both Pawlenty and Dayton administrations. Compromise would seem to be available, yet, this legislature refuses.

The 60% majority on tax bills is probably the only amendment that is worthy of Constitutional remedy, but where is the clamor in the electorate for this? Where is the legislative debate? Why should one side of an issue be allowed to take this course?

In an era of hyper-partisanship, this type of action is sure to make things worse. A legislature that is, in theory, focused on jobs, should make these cases in the legislative halls....not let the division spill into the streets.

The only amendment that we really need is a Constitutional change that requires 60% majorities to take things to a remedy by the general election ballot.

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