Tag Archives: Carver County GOP

House passes marriage equality; Carver County Reps vote no

The marriage equality bill passed the Minnesota State House of Representatives today 75-59.  Four Republican Representatives voted in favor of the bill:  Jenifer Loon (Eden Prairie), Andrea Kieffer (Woodbury), Pat Garofalo (Farmington), and David FitzSimmons (Albertville), while two DFL Representatives voted against it:  Patti Fritz (Faribault) and Mary Sawatzky (Willmar).

Carver County Representatives Joe Hoppe (R-Chaska), Ernie Leidiger (R-Mayer), and Cindy Pugh (R-Chanhassen) all voted no, even after FitzSimmons’s amendment to rename all references to “marriage” in Minnesota statute as “civil marriage”, thereby providing additional reassurance that religious institutions would not be impacted by approval of marriage equality.

As previously noted, voters in both Hoppe and Pugh’s districts voted against the marriage amendment last November  so they are swimming upstream in this regard.  Pugh’s vote is a distinct contrast from her district, as 33B voted against the marriage amendment by 17 points – -the third largest margin of the 21 House Republican districts that voted against the amendment.

[Picture of the voting board above courtesy of Leanne Kunze’s Twitter stream.]

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To the Woodshed We Go

 

Sometimes, it’s not just the weather that makes you cranky.  Sometimes, it’s the politicians that drive you nuts.  Let’s take some folks out to the woodshed for some well-deserved constructive criticism.

Legislative Republicans:  For Digging the Hole Even Deeper

A few days ago, we talked about how Legislative Republicans were engaging in some rather remarkable rhetoric about the state budget — and that their promises were unlikely to add up unless they introduced substantial cuts to all areas of the budget outside of K-12 education and health and human services.  Well, yesterday, it got worse.  House DFLers introduced their K-12 education bill, and Republicans (Rep. Kelby Woodard again) added to their audacious promises.  Already faced with the prospect of coming up with nearly $1.5 billion in cuts, Woodard signed the GOP up for a 2% increase in the basic formula ($300 million) and fixing the special education funding gap (another $475 million on top of the DFL proposal).  Doing all of what Woodard and the GOP claim can be done with “existing resources” would now take over $2 billion in cuts to other areas of the budget, or nearly a 20% across-the-board cut.  Again, remember these numbers the next time a Republican legislator bloviates about how everything can be done with “existing resources” without offering any details of how they would make it happen.

Governor Mark Dayton and House DFLers:  For Bonding Bills That Need Some Changes

This week, Governor Mark Dayton and the House DFL caucus released their proposals for odd-year bonding packages.  Such requests are somewhat uncommon, as bonding is usually done in even years only, although additional bonding has become a frequent point of negotiation during budget stalemates in recent years.  While I agree with DFL logic that we should take advantage of low interest rates to invest in infrastructure, an odd-year bonding package should imply that we’re doing some special things here.  Too much of both proposals is taken up with the same old local projects (many of which have been already rejected in previous cycles), which can easily wait for inclusion in the usual even-year bonding package.  The House bill has some stronger elements to it — particularly its increased emphasis on transportation and higher education projects.

It’s also inconceivable to me that you can have two $800 million bonding bills, none of which make any commitment to the Mayo Clinic “Destination Medical Center” proposal.  As a state, we have an opportunity to support nearly $6 billion in private investment in the state with a maximum of $585 million in infrastructure improvements.  We should be jumping at this opportunity to help create thousands of long-term, good-paying jobs in Southern Minnesota by including a substantial investment towards this project (between $75 and $150 million as called for in the stand-alone legislation).

I’d like to see a more focused bonding bill that focuses on transportation, higher education, State Capitol renovation, and the Mayo project — less expensive and more appropriate for an odd-year bonding package.

While we’re at it, let’s also deliver a kick-in-the-pants to the Democratic majorities in the Legislature for the leisurely pace of their budget bills so far.  Last session, the Republican majorities had already passed through the first version of all the budget proposals by this point (to be fair, they then languished for a long time in conference committee before coming back for final approval).  It’s time to shift the budget process into a higher gear, folks.

Minnesota Vikings Stadium Supporters:  For Not Facing Reality

Here’s another issue where on the merits, Governor Mark Dayton and other Minnesota Vikings stadium supporters are right.  In the whole scheme of things, the shortfall in e-pulltab revenues is a problem, but not a crisis.  And stadium opponents are indeed grandstanding (here’s looking at you, Sen. Sean Nienow).  But, guess what?  This problem was foreseeable at the start — maybe not to this extent — but it was hardly a secret that there were serious concerns over the revenue projections.  If you want to shut Nienow and the like up, the answer is simple:  fix the bill and put in place a better backup plan.  Trying to wait this thing out in the hopes the revenue situation will improve is only going to make this issue grow and grow and grow.

It would also help matters if the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Sports Facilities, which will have oversight of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority budget was more balanced from an ideological perspective.  Of the 12 members, 10 voted for the stadium bill, one voted against (Rep. Jim Davnie) and one is a freshman (Sen. Karin Housley).  Having some legislators with a more skeptical eye would be useful to the process.

Carver County GOP:  For Wallowing in Sleaze and Extremism

Our good friends over at the Carver County GOP have taken to the Twitter.  So far, they’ve managed to find links to just about every cheap and baseless conspiracy theory out there.  Here are a few examples:

One would have thought that official Republican party bodies would have given up birtherism and bogus voter fraud nonsense by now, but I guess not.  But if tinfoil hats are your thing, you should follow them.

Hoppe hears it from Carver County GOP Executive Committee

This week’s Chaska Herald features a letter to the editor by Carver County GOP Chair Vince Beaudette on behalf of the group’s Executive Committee.  The letter, titled “An open letter to Rep. Joe Hoppe (R-Chaska)”, calls out Hoppe for his support of H.F. 1083, which would institute judicial retention elections.

Scan of letter from March 28, 2013 edition of the Chaska Herald

Scan of letter from March 28, 2013 edition of the Chaska Herald

While I agree with Beaudette and the GOP Executive Committee on the merits of the judicial retention elections issue, this is a somewhat unusual step.  It’s not as if Hoppe has a long history of straying from party principles, although his vote in favor the the Vikings stadium did result in a poorly-organized challenge to his endorsement last year.  Perhaps it was prompted by supporters of State Sen. Julianne Ortman alleging something of a double standard regarding treatment of local legislators when they back bills seen as insufficiently conservative.

Either way, it’s an interesting side note to what has been a relatively quiet session thus far for Carver County’s House delegation.

More Than Just Ernie: The Best of Brick City Blog in 2012

It’s been another great year here at Brick City Blog.  Readership continues to grow, up 2.5x over 2011 and we tripled the number of e-mail subscribers.  As we prepare to flip the calendar to 2013, let’s look back at some of the best posts on the blog this year.

This year, the blog received a lot of traffic reading about the travails of State Representative Ernie Leidiger.

In February, we broke the story about Leidiger paying for a speeding ticket using campaign donations.  This was the most-read post on the site all year, was picked up by the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press, and spawned complaints that led to $800 in fines from the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board and the Office of Administrative Hearings.  Read it here:

Did Ernie Leidiger use campaign funds to pay off his speeding ticket?

But that wasn’t the only rough patch that Rep. Leidiger hit during the year.  Leidiger’s business activities came under significant scrutiny, first for a series of lawsuits his companies had lost and failed to pay the settlements for.

Meanwhile, Brothers Office Furniture lost a lawsuit and was ordered to pay $7,500 in damages in April 2011 and still hasn’t paid up (Case 27-CV-11-11245).  Per state law, such judgments are supposed to paid within 30 days.  The plaintiff in this case has had to go to court to get a writ of execution in an attempt to collect from Leidiger’s company — as of yet, unsuccessfully, as the judgment is still listed as active in the state court system.

And, that’s not the only lawsuit the Leidiger businesses have endured recently.  Judgments against Brothers Recycling & Liquidation ($32,389,90 from May 2011, also resulting in a writ of execution, Case 73-CV-11-4601) and Brothers Office Furniture & Liquidation ($1,415.28 from November 2011, Case 27-CV-12-3581) are also unpaid at this time.  Total it up and you’ve got over $40,000 in unpaid legal judgments against the Brothers family of businesses.

From: Hypocrisy, eviction, lawsuits and porn: what does the business career of Rep. Ernie Leidiger mean?

Later, it was discovered that Leidiger had $144,000 in unpaid taxes here in Minnesota and a long history of unpaid taxes when he was a California resident.  Finally, we were able to confirm that Leidiger had defaulted on his government-backed Small Business Administration loan.

Under the terms of the Patriot Express loan program that Leidiger took advantage of, the federal government guaranteed up to $450,000 of the loan.  The final amount that the government ended up paying related to this default was redacted by the SBA.

What is surprising is how quickly Jelco Parts went into default after receiving the loan.  SBA documents show that Jelco Parts, Inc. was considered in default by its lender, Crow River Bank, by July 25, 2010.  That’s only 11 months after the loan was finalized (August 26, 2009).  Typically, loan payments have to be delinquent for at least nine months in order for a loan to be considered in default (closing the business can also trigger a default, and documents from the lender in March 2011 requesting that the SBA pay off the remaining loan amount indicate the business was considered closed at that time.

From: Leidiger defaults on SBA loan; taxpayers left holding the bill

And that still wasn’t all.  In August, Leidiger made headlines for “getting loud” at a League of Women Voters voter ID forum at a senior living facility in Waconia.  Leidiger’s conflict with the LWV was the catalyst for another significant controversy in the County this election cycle — the refusal of many Republican candidates to appear at LWV forums.  This was a move we did not endorse.

What these four candidates are doing is demonstrating yet again that they’re not ready for the offices they seek.  Apparently, the forces in power at the Carver County GOP are immune to the lessons of history.  Just two years ago, they formally endorsed two challengers (and had a third refuse endorsement) to incumbent commissioners, saying that the Board wasn’t conservative enough.  Those three challengers all lost, by an average of 10 points.

Just last month, the same group of folks that spawned these four Commissioner candidates backed one of 2010′s losers, Bruce Schwichtenberg, in a primary challenge against the Senate Deputy Majority Leader and Tax Committee Chair, Sen. Julianne Ortman.  When the votes were tallied, Schwichtenberg lost by nearly 17 points.

The lesson to be learned here is that running further and further to the right — even in a conservative area like Carver County — is self-defeating.  It’s hard to get elected and it’s even harder to govern if you’re only willing to preach to a smaller and smaller choir of true believers.

From: Carver County GOP Commissioner candidates: talking to themselves

And we tested the claims of those GOP candidates — that the LWV forums were biased — and proved them to be utterly without merit.  Fortunately, the good folks of Carver County largely saw through these charades.

Here are the six questions that were asked (not including the opening and closing statements):

  1. Considering the decrease in aid from the State, what are your priorities for Carver County?
  2. Carver has been a rural county.  How do we maintain the rural/urban balance?
  3. The Carver County Community Development Agency (CDA) is responsible for community and economic development in the County.  Please assess the CDA’s record and suggest ways that it could change its operations.
  4. Do you feel that the decision to underwrite $10.8 million in bonds for the Oak Grove City Center project in Norwood-Young America was the correct one given the current economic conditions and the significant opposition of residents?
  5. Are you in favor of keeping the Public Health, Land, and Water Services Department in Chaska or moving them outside of Chaska and why?
  6. The 2011 County budget includes a 1.5% pay raise for county employees.  How do you justify this given the current economic environment?

These questions don’t seem “decidedly leftist” to me, nor do they assume a leftist world view.  In fact, two of the questions directly challenge spending decisions made by the then-current County Board.  All six questions allowed Republican candidates to talk about their vision of government and to advocate for the spending cuts they desired.

So what we’re seeing here from Messrs. Workman, Long, Beaudette, and Walter isn’t a legitimate gripe about the League putting its thumb on the scale.  It’s an attempt to duck real debate and to only have to talk to those within the conservative bubble.

From: Feckless and gutless

The two constitutional amendments that appeared on the November ballot were a hot topic of discussion.  We looked at Voter ID in September, and found it wanting.

A quick review of the numbers is in order.  Since 2008, there have been about 150 convictions for illegal voting in Minnesota.  That’s less than 0.01% of all votes cast in that time.  Practically all of these convictions have been felons voting before their rights have been restored.   Both the amendment and S.F. 509 are silent on this issue.  As one’s criminal record status is not any of the valid ID cards, passing this amendment would do nothing to address these problems. …

Meanwhile, the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office estimates that as many as 215,000 registered voters don’t have ID that would qualify under the requirements of the amendment and proposed enabling legislation.  That’s over 10% of the number of voters in 2010, over 7% of the voters in 2008.

We should not risk disenfranchising tens of thousands of citizens to prevent fraud that is almost non-existent.

From: How the Voter ID amendment could change voting in this state

In October we ran a guest post from Leanne Pouliot Kunze discussing her faith as a Catholic woman and why she felt it was imperative from that perspective to Vote No.

When I hear our young adults talk about this marriage amendment, it gives me hope.  Many compare it to historical accounts of various civil rights movements such as slavery and voting rights.   I truly hope its our generation of faithful Christians who courageously vote no and defeat this hurtful and discriminatory amendment, but if not, I trust it will not be long for the next generation to correct it and be on the right side of history.

It took courageous white men and women to extend human rights to blacks.

It took courageous Catholics to extend the Sacrament of Matrimony to inter-faith couples.

It took courageous Catholics to extend the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony to inter-racial couples.

It took courageous men to extend human rights to women.

And it continues to take courageous citizens, straight or otherwise, to stand up for the civil rights of everyone!

It is time for courageous Catholics and others to stand up and fight for the rights and freedom for ALL citizens to enter into a civil contract regardless of their sexual orientation. Our religious belief regarding homosexual acts should not interfere with our religious belief of justice, dignity of human life and Free Will of every individual.

From: Guest Post: Another Catholic Voting No

Another important topic was the protracted process of approving state funding for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium.  Our most-read post from that debate tossed the yellow flag in the direction of a half-baked, last-minute funding plan by the legislative Republican leadership.

The press conference where the outlines of this new proposal were sketched out was not confidence-inspiring, either.  At times, the legislators contradicted themselves, and to say the details of what could or could not be counted as “infrastructure” as part of the deal were fuzzy would be an understatement.  Team officials have been working for a decade to get a new stadium, and it’s only now — one day after legislative leaders State Sen. David Senjem and State Rep. Kurt Zellers said the session would be adjourned — that the “silver bullet” legislation comes out of the woodwork?

Zellers, in particular, continues to be a profile in political timidity on the stadium issue. After saying that he would let the legislative process play out and demanding that DFLers deliver one-half of the required votes — 34 votes — in the House, he’s gone back on his word.  The bill moved through House committees as Zellers demanded, and Minority Leader State Rep. Paul Thissen indicated he had the required 34 votes in his caucus for the bill, meaning that Zellers only needed to provide 34 of his party’s 72 members to get the bill passed.  Yet, he won’t move the bill to the floor.

From: Killing it softly: Republicans and the Vikings stadium

Finally, another of our most popular posts of the year touched on the intersection of popular culture and politics.

The constant theme of the Nolan Batman trilogy, in fact, is about how all people need to act nobly, look beyond themselves, and take their society back.  Wayne has an unfailing belief in the people of Gotham City and Batman is a symbol meant to inspire Gothamites to do the right thing.

In Batman Begins, Wayne as Batman — along with policeman James Gordon and assistant district attorney Rachel Dawes — challenge the corrupt Gotham City establishment.  In The Dark Knight, Wayne/Batman hopes that newly elected District Attorney Harvey Dent can be the symbol that helps push Gotham into a new era, by putting honest and worthy people into the existing social structures and positions of power.  We also see in TDK that the two boatloads of Gotham citizens don’t succumb to their fear and blow each other up as the Joker intended.  Finally, in TDKR, we see this notion brought forward again as the entire GCPD — once racked by corruption — comes together to try and stop Bane.  Multiple characters, most notably Selina Kyle and Deputy Police Commissioner Foley, turn away from their narrow self-interest and instead fight for all of Gotham.

From: The politics of The Dark Knight Rises: more complex and less ideological than you might think

Thanks to all of my readers, and the growing cadre of regular commentators who have made this a lively little corner of the internet.  I look forward to continuing the work here in 2013 and beyond!

Chaska Area Election Results and Quick Analysis

State Senate District 47:  Julianne Ortman (63.8%) def. Jim Weygand (36.0%)

State House District 47A:  Ernie Leidiger (62.5%) def. Keith Pickering (37.3%)

The two challenged legislative incumbents cruise to victories with margins somewhat smaller than 2010.  Probably the biggest change for Ortman, Leidiger, and Joe Hoppe (who was unopposed in House District 47B) is that they will be working again from the legislative minorities, as the DFL flipped the script on the GOP and retook both houses of the Legislature.  In fact, with the current results showing the DFL having a 39-28 lead in the Senate and 73-61 in the House, the DFL is poised to have larger majorities the next two years than the Republicans did in the previous two.

This will mean a significant loss in power for Ortman and Hoppe, who chaired committees when in the majority, but both will still be well-positioned to work on a bipartisan basis on critical issues.  Although Ortman and the DFL majorities are out of step on many tax issues, fulfilling the promise of fundamental tax reform will require hard work from both parties to craft the best solution.  Hoppe has worked well with many DFLers in the past, including Rep. Joe Atkins, who may very well end up taking the gavel on the Commerce Committee.

This will also be a challenge for Leidiger.  His first term was rather unproductive (only one bill signed into law, placing him in the bottom quarter of the GOP freshmen), and that was with a Republican majority.  Is Leidiger only interested in being a lightning rod backbencher, or is he capable of more?  If he is capable of more, now is the time to show it.

Carver County Commissioner District 1:  Gayle Degler (60.6%) def. John Siegfried (38.7%)

Carver County Commissioner District 2:  Tom Workman (58.1%) def. Cheryl Ayotte (41.5%)

Carver County Commissioner District 3:  Randy Maluchnik (67.0%) def. Vince Beaudette (32.3%)

Carver County Commissioner District 4:  Tim Lynch (63.4%) def. Frank Long (36.2%)

Carver County Commissioner District 5:  Jim Ische (53.3%) def. Jim Walter (46.3%)

The five incumbents all win re-election.  The notable thing here is that for the second cycle in a row, the Republican-endorsed challengers all lost.  As I’ve said before, this is a losing strategy for the local Republican Party.  County issues are not partisan issues, and voters don’t appreciate partisan warfare being brought where it doesn’t belong.

Eastern Carver County School Board:  Heather Nelson (25.0%), Amy Logue (24.0%) and Jeff Ross (19.2%) def. Jim Leone (17.8%) and Larry Doran (13.4%).

The housecleaning is complete with this vote, as Jim Leone is the last long-term incumbent on the Board is swept out of office.  Highly qualified newcomers Logue and Ross join Nelson (who won election to reduced term in 2010) on the Board.

Chaska Mayor:  Mark Windschitl (67.8%) def. Richard Swanson (31.1%)

This was a clear show of support for the current city leadership.  Windschitl has grown greatly on the job the last three years, and Swanson’s failure to provide a clear case for change and his tax issues didn’t help his cause.

More analysis to come, including looking at the statewide races and constitutional amendments.

 

Let’s Go To The Tape, Round 2

It’s time for another episode of Carver County’s new favorite game show, Let’s Go To The Tape.  In our first episode, we checked the claims of the Carver County Commissioner candidates who said that the League of Women Voters were conducting biased forums.  Believe it or not, we found those claims to be utterly without merit.

In today’s episode, we look at the mini-kerfuffle that has broken out within the Carver County GOP over some live-tweeting by Waconia City Council member Jim Sanborn and Waconia Mayor Jim Nash at last week’s candidate forum in Waconia.  If you go to the comments on the linked post as well as on the Carver County Current site, you see that there’s been some questioning of the accuracy of the tweets, and apparently Nash and Sanborn have been taking some heat for their quoting of Rep. Leidiger at the event.  The video of this event has been posted (you can watch it all at the bottom of this post).

So, Let’s Go To The Tape:

Leidiger’s answer to this question begins at the 23:45 mark in the video.  At 24:15 he says, “In terms of education, certainly, once again, the Republican-controlled House and Senate passed a bill that increased education spending by 8 percent over the last biennium.”

As was noted previously, this answer is not fully the truth.  Yes, the Legislature passed an increase to the basic per-pupil funding formula of $50 in each of the two years and chipped in some one-time money.  However, the school shift that Leidiger voted for resulted in most districts seeing a net decrease in state revenues for the biennium.  Leidiger ignores the impact of the shift in his comment.

And, yes, at 24:38, Leidiger does say “The problem is that under the current system with the union controls, we don’t get the ingenuity that we should in the system.”  That certainly qualifies as criticism of the union.  This Tweet is accurate.

At 30:54, Leidiger says “Well yes, we want our elected officials to really be held to a higher standard.”  You can review how Leidiger has performed here, and see if he meets the standard he sets up for himself.  These Tweets are accurate.

It’s also interesting to note Leidiger’s answer to the previous question regarding the role of government in promoting small business (starting at 27:20).  In that answer, Leidiger not only dodges his own history with small business loans, but criticizes the actions of the Carver County Board saying (at 28:00) “they don’t live by their own regulations”.  This coming from the guy with $144,000 in tax liens?  Pot, meet kettle.

At the 49:00 mark, Leidiger says “I’ve never gotten a job from a poor person, it’s always been from a rich person.”, and at 50:34, he says “There should be an environment where everyone has 2 or 3 jobs that they can go to.”  Yet again, the Tweet in question here is accurate.

At 50:50, Leidiger says “So thank you very much for having us here. I think this has been a great audience and I think its very important that we do these kinds of forums far more than what we have in the past.”  I suppose one could argue over what “these kinds of forums” refer to, but Sanborn and Nash’s inference here (and implicit criticism of Leidiger for skipping the LWV forum) is certainly reasonable.

Seems to me that Sanborn and Nash accurately reported what Leidiger said.  Maybe folks in the Carver County GOP who don’t like it should consider how what Leidiger says matches up with his actions instead of shooting the messenger.

BONUS FACT-CHECK

Both Leidiger and State Senator Julianne Ortman refer to the fact that the top 10% of income earners in the state pay over 50% of the income taxes in the state.  This is used to buttress support for reducing taxes on upper-income people.  This is true, but it leaves out some additional context.   According the Department of Revenue’s 2011 Tax Incidence Study, the top 10% earn 42.1% of the state’s income.  They pay 56% of the state’s individual income tax.  However, the individual income tax is less than 50% of the state’s tax base.  When you take into account all state taxes, the top 10% only pay 41.6% of all state taxes.  If you factor local taxes into the mix (because local budgets are highly influenced by state taxes), the top 10% only pay 37.8% of all state and local taxes.  So, in reality, those high-income folks are well-protected in our existing tax code.

Whenever you hear a politician talk about tax burdens but only give you statistics that reference one kind of tax, watch out because it’s very likely they’re trying to avoid telling you the whole story.

Here’s the entire video of the event:

Ernie Leidiger uncorks some whoppers at the Waconia candidate forum

The only candidate forum in the State House 47A race occurred this morning.  I wasn’t able to attend due to a work commitment, but fortunately we have the Twitter streams of two local Republicans — Jim Sanborn (Waconia City Council member and campaign manager for State Sen. Julianne Ortman) and Jim Nash (Waconia Mayor) — to recap the event.  And, to no one’s great surprise, Rep. Ernie Leidiger said some things that defy explanation.

Like this:

Yes, that’s right.  Ernie Leidiger is calling for elected officials to be held to a higher standard.  This coming from the tax avoiding, government loan defaulting, campaign finance law violating, lawsuit losing guy.  It would be funny if Leidiger didn’t still stand a very good chance of being re-elected.  That just makes it sad.

But it doesn’t stop there:

Yes, that’s right.  Ernie Leidiger — the guy who started this regrettable trend of brawling with the League of Women Voters by acting the fool at a Voter ID forum — now wishes there would be more candidate forums.  He could have acted like an elected official is supposed to act and shown up at the LWV candidate forum last week.  Instead, he petulantly stayed home.  How much more contempt for voters does Leidiger need to demonstrate before he gets shown the door?

There’s still more:

The Legislature did increase the per-pupil formula by $50 per student and provide some additional one-time dollars in the most recent budget.  However, these funds were not sufficient to overcome the impact of the school funding shift that was also passed as part of that budget (and Leidiger voted for).  The impact in the Eastern Carver County School District alone for this biennium was a reduction in state funding of $3.6 million.  Leidiger’s statement is only correct if you ignore the impact of the shift.  As local school boards don’t have the luxury of ignoring the shift, we shouldn’t give Leidiger the ability to ignore it either.

And it goes on:

Leidiger is correct, I suppose, in pointing out that he’s never received a job from a poor person.  Pretty much everything he’s ever accomplished has been on the government dime.  The notion that a tax avoidinggovernment loan defaultingcampaign finance law violating, lawsuit losing guy like Leidiger is a source of wisdom on business issues is absurd on its face.

Every time he opens his mouth, Ernie Leidiger demonstrates why he shouldn’t be representing Carver County in the State Legislature.  It’s time to make a change.

Brick City Blog Endorsements: Randy Maluchnik and Cheryl Ayotte for Carver County Commissioner

Today, we’re happy to make endorsements in two of the Carver County Commissioner races — Cheryl Ayotte in District 2 and Randy Maluchnik in District 3.

Let’s start with Randy Maluchnik.  Maluchnik has raised the hackles of some by calling himself a “Common Sense Conservative” in his campaign ads.  The description, though, fits perfectly.  Maluchnik is an Army veteran, a former staffer for Blue Dog U.S. Rep. David Minge, and has been a reliable force for the kind of moderate leadership that has helped Carver County grow so fast in recent years.  Maluchnik and the rest of the County Board have kept the lid on taxes, while encouraging the sorts of prudent infrastructure investments that help the private sector grow and flourish.

As President of the Association of Minnesota Counties, Maluchnik has been at the forefront of helping county and local governments redesign their organizations and processes to maximize taxpayer value and has been a powerful advocate for holding the Legislature accountable for its promises to stop meddling in the affairs of local governments.

There is a sharp contrast between Maluchnik and his opponent, Vince Beaudette.  Beaudette is one of the Republican-endorsed Commissioner candidates who has chosen to participate in the ill-conceived boycott of the League of Women Voters candidate forums.  Beaudette’s campaign seems just as much focused on national and state issues as county ones, and he’s long been a fountain of misinformation on such topics.

Randy Maluchnik is the clear choice for District 3 residents.

In District 2, Cheryl Ayotte has run a textbook campaign.  Prospective Carver County candidates should take a note of how she has approached the daunting task of challenging a long-time incumbent.  The planning and execution she has brought to the table here indicates she would be a strong Commissioner.  Let’s look at what she has done.

First, she’s presented a positive message, explaining the key things she wants to focus on and the personal qualities she brings to the table.  Second, she’s presented a clear message explaining why her opponent’s record should cause voters to seek to replace an incumbent.  Finally, she’s tied those two pieces together to create a compelling story as to why she would be a better Commissioner than Tom Workman.  Here’s an example of a lit piece she produced that ties it all together.

Ayotte is a solid conservative, but she understands that she serves all Carver County residents — something that Workman seems to have forgotten.  Her agenda is decidedly nonpartisan — as it should be!  County issues aren’t Democratic vs. Republican issues — they are issues of common sense and making sure that we’re maximizing value for residents.

Workman, who is also one of the candidates ducking the LWV forums, has a long history of partisan divisiveness.  It’s time for him to go.

I encourage residents of District 2 to vote for Cheryl Ayotte and residents of District 3 to vote for Randy Maluchnik on November 6.

As for the other races:

District 1 voters are fortunate to have two strong candidates in Gayle Degler and John Siegfried.  Both have spent a decade providing good service to Carver County residents as a Commissioner   Degler, as the incumbent, can point to a solid record of managing the county’s tax burden in a time of growth.  Siegfried, though, raises some interesting questions about the declining fund balances.  Thursday’s League of Women Voters forum should be useful for District 1 voters to help them decide.

In District 4 and 5, challengers Frank Long and Jim Walter have chosen to travel down the same regrettable path as Workman and Beaudette with regards to the LWV forums.  I cannot recommend voting for candidates who treat citizens with such disdain.

Carver County GOP Commissioner candidates: talking to themselves

Having been frightened away by the scary “leftists” at the Eastern Carver County League of Women Voters (even failing to follow through on their tough talk about how they would stand up to the LWV’s “lies” at last week’s Chanhassen Voter ID forum), four Carver County GOP candidates for County Commissioner have regrouped with a plan that only the brain trust responsible for this and this could come up with.

A member of the Carver County GOP Executive Committee has posted on the Chanhassen Villager’s website that of course voters will have access to see these candidates in action — at events sponsored by the party itself (an open house next week and a to-be-scheduled forum)!  We can see what Messrs Workman, Long, Beaudette, and Walter really meant by their letter — that in fact they only are willing to face questions from approving supporters.

In fact, it seems unlikely that we will see an all-hands-on-deck candidate forum like the LWV forums of previous cycles, where voters will get to see both candidates for the same office answer the same questions back-to-back.  That’s a huge loss to Carver County voters.

None of the four candidates have yet to identify any problem with any of the six questions asked of the Commissioner candidates by the LWV in 2010.  And they won’t either, because there wasn’t anything wrong with them.

What these four candidates are doing is demonstrating yet again that they’re not ready for the offices they seek.  Apparently, the forces in power at the Carver County GOP are immune to the lessons of history.  Just two years ago, they formally endorsed two challengers (and had a third refuse endorsement) to incumbent commissioners, saying that the Board wasn’t conservative enough.  Those three challengers all lost, by an average of 10 points.

Just last month, the same group of folks that spawned these four Commissioner candidates backed one of 2010’s losers, Bruce Schwichtenberg, in a primary challenge against the Senate Deputy Majority Leader and Tax Committee Chair, Sen. Julianne Ortman.  When the votes were tallied, Schwichtenberg lost by nearly 17 points.

The lesson to be learned here is that running further and further to the right — even in a conservative area like Carver County — is self-defeating.  It’s hard to get elected and it’s even harder to govern if you’re only willing to preach to a smaller and smaller choir of true believers.  (As an aside:  the notion that someone like Ortman wasn’t conservative enough was laughable on its face, as shown by Schwichtenberg’s absurd nit-picking over the record of someone who had spent a decade in the Senate.)

Not to mention the fact that the increased partisanship in these local races is proving detrimental in other ways.  Many of these candidates are running on issues that aren’t applicable to the County Board, like light rail or voter ID.  Some local conservatives get it.  If only the rest of them did, too.

And while local conservatives may think they’re immune from competitive electoral pressure, choosing to operate in an insular way does have risks, even in presumably safe seats.  Backing bad candidates who feel no shame regardless of their shenanigans and have no interest in representing all of Carver County’s citizens will someday catch up with them.

Feckless and gutless

As noted in an earlier post today, four Republican Carver County Commissioner candidates have withdrawn from the League of Women Voters Candidate Forum on October 2, citing the League’s “decidedly leftist” views on policy issues and claim that the questions in past LWV forums “presumes an agreement with your world view”.

Well, let’s put that to the test, shall we?  I went back to the video of the 2010 League of Women Voters County Commissioner Forum and took a look at the questions they were asked.  (The Commissioner video starts at about the 45:00 mark).

Here are the six questions that were asked (not including the opening and closing statements):

  1. Considering the decrease in aid from the State, what are your priorities for Carver County?
  2. Carver has been a rural county.  How do we maintain the rural/urban balance?
  3. The Carver County Community Development Agency (CDA) is responsible for community and economic development in the County.  Please assess the CDA’s record and suggest ways that it could change its operations.
  4. Do you feel that the decision to underwrite $10.8 million in bonds for the Oak Grove City Center project in Norwood-Young America was the correct one given the current economic conditions and the significant opposition of residents?
  5. Are you in favor of keeping the Public Health, Land, and Water Services Department in Chaska or moving them outside of Chaska and why?
  6. The 2011 County budget includes a 1.5% pay raise for county employees.  How do you justify this given the current economic environment?

These questions don’t seem “decidedly leftist” to me, nor do they assume a leftist world view.  In fact, two of the questions directly challenge spending decisions made by the then-current County Board.  All six questions allowed Republican candidates to talk about their vision of government and to advocate for the spending cuts they desired.

So what we’re seeing here from Messrs. Workman, Long, Beaudette, and Walter isn’t a legitimate gripe about the League putting its thumb on the scale.  It’s an attempt to duck real debate and to only have to talk to those within the conservative bubble.  The whole world, I’m afraid, doesn’t live there.  Sometimes, you have to talk to and even answer questions from people who don’t approvingly swallow everything you tell them.

It’s telling, of course, to note that the folks who the four candidates cite approvingly (the SW Metro Tea Party and Voices of Conservative Women) do endorse candidates and one of them has a PAC that spends on behalf of candidates.  We’re to believe that these organizations are more inclined to give a neutral platform?  Delusional is the word that come to mind.

The tough-talking fellas of the Carver County GOP need to grow up and show that they understand what it means to be an elected official.  If the ladies of LWV can make them cower and run away, they don’t stand much of a chance of actually solving the problems they claim exist in county government.

[UPDATE]:  The date of the forum was listed incorrectly above.  It has been corrected.

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