Tag Archives: Kurt Zellers

Looking for a Republican suburban woman and other thoughts

MinnPost ran a story last week on prospective GOP candidates for Governor.  Of note in that story was a quote from prominent Republican operative Ben Golnik lamenting the fact that “the ideal candidate — a female from the suburbs” wasn’t out there.  As such, I found it interesting that the name of State Senator Julianne Ortman didn’t come up.  Ortman’s resume — in the Senate over a decade, former Deputy Majority Leader, a caucus leader on tax and legal issues — stacks up comparably against many of the other named contenders.  And she’s one of the Senate GOP’s better communicators, as evidenced by her continuing high profile despite not holding a formal leadership position anymore.

I have no idea if Ortman is interested in higher office — perhaps she’s signaled she’s not, which is why she didn’t make this piece.  But it seems that for many, the list of women available for statewide runs in the Minnesota Republican Party ends with Laura Brod now that Amy Koch is out of the Senate.

Given that the current list of prospective candidates all have significant question marks as it relates to their ability to either earn the Republican endorsement or win a general election — Sen. Dave Thompson might be too conservative for a statewide election, Rep. Kurt Zellers was widely criticized for his leadership (or lack thereof) last session as Speaker of the House, Sen. David Hann was an also-ran in the 2010 race for Governor, Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek has perhaps spent too much time on gun issues for the base’s liking, and Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson has already lost one statewide race (Attorney General in 2006) — it seems maybe the list of usual suspects should be expanded.  But, of course, I doubt the Republicans are looking to me for advice.

Here are some other things happening in the community:

  • In case you haven’t already heard, two new restaurants opened in Chaska in the last week or so:  BullChicks in Chaska Commons, and Egg & Pie Diner in downtown.  I’m hearing positive word-of-mouth on both.
  • The two facility taskforces convened by the Eastern Carver County School District continue to make progress.  The High School taskforce is wrestling with the question of balancing programming and demographics between Chaska and Chanhassen High Schools.  Meanwhile, the Early Childhood through Middle School task force is working on finding the best way to deal with overcrowded schools on the west side of the District as well as finding a permanent home for the La Academia Spanish immersion program.  I am a member of the Early Childhood through Middle School task force  and I can attest to the difficult challenges that lie ahead here.  Over the next few months, there will be opportunities for public input on potential changes — I encourage you to keep your eyes open and attend those sessions when they occur.

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!

Updates to the Ernie Leidiger story

Some updates on the various issues surrounding State Rep. Ernie Leidiger:

  • House Minority Leader Paul Thissen has called Rep. Leidiger to explain the unpaid taxes, and failing that, for Speaker of the House Kurt Zellers to comment on behalf of the Republican caucus.  Press release available here.
  • I was on the LeftMN Radio Hour this weekend to Leidiger’s problems. Listen to the audio here.
  • Republican Carver County Commissioner candidates have taken up Leidiger’s cause against the League of Women Voters by dropping out of a scheduled candidate forum on October 13.  Candidates participating in the boycott include former State Rep. Tom Workman, Jim Walter, Vince Beaudette, and Frank Long.  An open letter to the league signed by all four candidates is available on the Chaska Herald website.  Telling is the close where the candidates will only deign to appear with organizations they deem as “centrist” or conservative.  Since when do political candidates only get to interact with those who agree with them?  When you have such a regressive mindset, that’s how you get to the problems we currently have in St. Paul and Washington.

[UPDATE]:  The StarTribune’s Rachel Stassen-Berger has a short post on the Leidiger situation this morning, noting that he has not returned any requests for comment since this story broke.

Zellers tosses in the towel [UPDATED]

Well, that was faster than expected.  Today, legislative Republicans gave up on their last-minute, no-chance plan to fund a portion of a new Minnesota Vikings stadium and scheduled a vote on the existing stadium proposal in the Minnesota House on Monday.

But even more than the horribly flawed new GOP plan died today.  The curtain was pulled back all the way — finally — on the failed leadership of House Speaker Kurt Zellers.  Zellers revealed — finally — that he was opposed to the Vikings stadium and wouldn’t lift a finger to support the package.  After months of bland platitudes and evasion, Zellers finally has revealed his true intentions.   More than that, though, Zellers revealed his complete unwillingess to work within the parameters of his own job as the leader of the House majority.

“We have difference of opinions & priorities. Voters picked a DFL Governor and a GOP legislature. Voters got what they asked for.”  — Speaker of the House Kurt Zellers

Minnesota has had divided government since 1990.  No one party has controlled the governor’s mansion and both houses of the Legislature since Rudy Perpich was Governor.  Never has the level of dysfunction in St. Paul been so high.  Yes, both parties share blame for this situation, it is incumbent on the key leaders — Zellers, Republican Senate Majority Leader David Senjem, and Governor Mark Dayton to do what it takes to make the state government function on behalf of its citizens (and all of them at times have failed in that role).  By obfuscating, playing political games, and then tossing in the towel when the situation got too hot to handle, Zellers has proven himself to be uniquely overmatched for his job as Speaker.

If the stadium vote fails Monday, Zellers will have rightfully earned his place as the primary goat in this fiasco.  More than that, he will have provided Exhibit A in the DFL case to retake the Legislature.

[UPDATE]:  Give Zellers credit for having the guts to go on KFAN with Dan Barreiro this afternoon.  Don’t give him credit for what he’s saying, though.  What a mess, including this gem:  “I want to see it pass. I won’t vote for it, but I want it to pass.”  More to come later.

[UPDATE #2]:  You can listen to the Barreiro-Zellers interview here.

The big takeaway, other than often frequent incoherence of what Zellers was saying as best demonstrated by the quote above, was the reality that the next phase of “kill the bill without looking like we’re killing it” strategy is to demand that Gov. Dayton sign the legislative tax bill in order garner the necessary Republican votes for the stadium.  Zellers did his best to hide this element of the strategy, but the gig was up at the end of the interview when Barreiro finally got him to admit that the one thing Dayton could do to earn GOP votes would be to sign the tax bill.  That’s why the vote on the stadium isn’t until Monday — to allow more time for negotiating and application of political pressure.

Killing it softly: Republicans and the Vikings stadium

Legislative Republicans, including State Senator Julianne Ortman, rolled out their latest strategy to kill the new proposed Minnesota Vikings stadium today.  What’s that, you say?  A new funding proposal can’t possibly be a strategy to kill the bill?  Not true at all.  The flurry of proposals you’ve seen Republicans lately are actually designed to kill the stadium deal while giving a reasonable out for stadium opponents to say that they supported some kind of package for a new stadium.  Because while many legislators don’t want to vote for a stadium, they also don’t want to get tagged with the blame if (when) the team leaves town.

What’s the primary piece of evidence supporting the hypothesis that today’s proposal is just political cover?  None of the other critical parties in the stadium discussion — the team, Governor Mark Dayton, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, or even the Republican sponsors of the current proposed stadium legislation — were involved in the crafting of the new proposal.  The Vikings, Dayton, and Rybak all find the new proposal unacceptable, while legislative sponsors State Sen. Julie Rosen and State Rep. Morrie Lanning were lukewarm at best.

The press conference where the outlines of this new proposal were sketched out was not confidence-inspiring, either.  At time, 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.

Today’s proposal just continues the string of such dog-and-pony acts perpetuated during the committee process, from the insertion of the racino proposal at one point in the Senate Finance Committee, to attempt to change the funding mechanism to user taxes or mandating a referendum in the city of Minneapolis.

It’s time to put an end to the cover-yer-butt politics pervading the Capitol today.  There’s a stadium bill that has made it through committee.  It has earned a floor vote, and it’s time for our legislators to put their vote where their mouth is. Vote Yes.  Vote No.  But just vote already.

MNGOP rolls out Reform 2.0 agenda with some good ideas

Today, Minnesota Republican legislative leaders rolled out their “Reform 2.0” agenda.  While I wouldn’t go as far as House Majority Leader Matt Dean who claims “These are noncontroversial, common sense reforms that will move Minnesota in the right direction for a growing economy supported by an efficient and effective government,” there are some good things in this agenda.

Here’s the entire document:

Some of the good ideas include:

  • Enhance Angel Investment Tax Credit
  • Create an ombudsman as a primary contact in state government for new and expanding businesses
  • Combine health care purchasing under single agency to reduce duplication and costs by increasing efficiency and buying power
  • Allow elderly Minnesotans to convert life insurance death benefit into long-term care insurance benefit
  • Require city and county governments to present budget and spending information in any easy-to-understand format designed to educate taxpayers and engage citizens in local government spending decisions
  • Consolidate back office functions; streamline and reduce fleet management and evaluate real estate leases
  • Work with local governments to provide requested mandate relief by ending prescriptive, redundant and outdated mandates
  • Fix problems encountered during the government shutdown:
    • Grant licensing and inspection authority to independent contractors or local governments
    • Allowing Canterbury Park, Minnesota Racing Commission, Minnesota State Lottery, and Minnesota Zoo and others to operate during a government shutdown
    • Let people buy beer

There are also some bad ideas in the package, and many proposals where the devil will be in the details.  We’ll focus on those at a later date.

(Reform 2.0 logo via MN House Republican Caucus)

Bluestem Prairie on Ernie Leidiger’s spending flip-flops and the future

Sally Jo Sorensen at Bluestem Prairie beats me to the punch and points out some telling quotes from Ernie Leidiger in the Chaska Herald/Chanhassen Villager’s recap of the legislative session.

The particular quote that raises eyebrows:

In the aftermath, Leidiger claimed in an e-mail to the newspaper that he and 15 other conservative GOP House members indeed planned to vote against the budget bills until Republican leaders promised them a conservative slant on next session’s agenda.

“The conservatives stayed together and were assured conservative policies would prevail in the future,” he said.

One wonders what Speaker Kurt Zellers and Leidiger have in mind that would be more conservative than the agenda Republicans pursued this session.


Republicans wanted complete capitulation on divisive social agenda to balance budget

In the last post, we talked about the debt-laden revenue offers from Republican leaders.  Now, we find out what Republicans wanted in return for those revenues — the entire laundry list of Republican social policy.  You can read the entire list at the link, but here’s a few of the more notable provisions:

  • Collective bargaining “reform” in public schools
  • Stem cell research restrictions
  • Ban of abortions after 20 weeks
  • No state funding of abortion
  • Voter ID
  • “15 by 15” bill
  • Prevailing wage reform
  • Tort reform
  • Acceptance of the Republican redistricting plan

Republicans just can’t help themselves, it seems.  They talk about being concerned about the budget and spending, but when push comes to shove, it’s always about their divisive social agenda.  When faced with the prospect of a potential government shutdown, Republicans put these issues ahead of the serious financial issues we face as a state.

Let me get this straight, Speaker Zellers

Speaker of the House Kurt Zellers on why they couldn’t accept Gov. Mark Dayton’s last offer:

We will not saddle our children and grandchildren with mounds of debts, with promises for funding levels that will not be there in the future.  This is debt that they can’t afford. It’s debt that we can’t afford right now.

Let’s look at what the last Republican budget compromise offer consisted of:

  • An additional K-12 education funding shift ($700 million)
  • Issuing bonds against future tobacco settlement payments (estimated at about $300 million)

Both of these compromises are debt-based solutions to the budget problem. 

Say what you will about Gov. Dayton’s desire for more spending versus Republican proposals, he at least provides a revenue stream to support it.  The Republican plan would tack on additional debt to future budget cycles, and continue the Pawlentyesque tradition of kicking the can down the road with gimmicks and one-time changes.


Barring something unforseen at this point, Minnesota’s state government is heading for a shutdown tomorrow.  While politicians in St. Paul point fingers, Minnesotans are going to pay the price.  Let’s talk about three reasons we are in this position.

1.  Politics ain’t beanbag.  But it shouldn’t be a game of chicken, either.  Let’s fact it:  both Governor Dayton and the Republican legislative majorities started with budget proposals that they knew were completely unacceptable to the other side.  There’s nothing wrong with that, in and of itself.  That’s all part of the political dance that is ultimately required to get to a conclusion here.  The problem has been the lack of movement (more so on one side than the other) since then. 

The Republican legislative majorities — despite their claims of compromise — haven’t moved their spending targets in total since their first budget proposal in March.  Yes, they’ve shuffled dollars from one department to another, but haven’t offered any sort of compromise on the revenue issue. After passing their first round of budget bills in April, they dithered for over a month reconciling minor differences in conference committee before passing their final budget in the last week of the session.  What did they use that month for?  Distractions like voter ID and the gay marriage amendment.

Gov. Dayton has substantially altered his plan — tilting his fix from two-thirds tax increases to two-thirds spending cuts — but did not detail the spending side of his most recent $35.8 billion proposal.  Additionally, although he has signalled openness to other revenue options other than his income tax increase on the top 2% of earners, he has not publically specified the sorts of proposals he would be willing to entertain as alternatives.

Collectively, we’ve seen the positions of the two sides publicly harden the closer we’ve gotten to the shutdown when it should be moving the other way (although, privately, there are some signs of progress). 

2.  Newbie alert.  Gov. Dayton and legislative leaders Sen. Amy Koch and Rep. Kurt Zellers are all new in their positions.  The Republican legislative majorities are filled with freshmen who ran on their version of “fiscal responsibility”.  All want to put a “win” on the board early in their terms, and that limits their willingness to come to a reasonable compromise.

3.  Somebody doesn’t know how to count.  Compounding the problems the two sides have had from a purely ideological basis has been the inability of the two sides to agree on the base numbers.  From the Republican insistence early on to use their own numbers instead of the usual fiscal notes to the continual usage of incorrect base spending numbers for the 2010-11 biennium, it’s been a remarkable display of trying to force facts to fit into a political box.  If you can’t agree on basic underlying data, it’s going to be hard to agree on the decisions you make based on that data.

Let’s hope that both sides can finally begin to work together and give Minnesota the moderate compromise that voters demand and deserve.  GOP leaders need to accept some forms of new revenue, and Gov. Dayton will likely have to take on some additional budget cuts.  A budget in the $35 billion range is achieveable and would represent a good-faith compromise.

The collateral damage of a shutdown — from laid-off employees to closed state parks — shouldn’t be inflicted on the people because the political class has failed us.

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