Tag Archives: Farmington MN

The Illogical Rep. Pat Garofalo

On social media today, Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) posted this simple message:


I guess that seems logical.  Of course it is only really logical if you also say to “take money” when there is a deficit.  You know, like the many years of deficits we had under Gov. Tim Pawlenty and the Republican led state House?  That statement could be considered completely logical if he would have agreed to raise taxes a small fraction to cover our spending.

I pointed that logic out to Rep. Garofalo, but he was unable to agree with me, saying:

“the [surplus] money belongs to taxpayers”


“the deficit wasn’t by a lack of tax revenue, it was caused by excessive spending.”

Maybe it was excessive spending, but spending on the roads shrank, and state buildings were falling apart, but maybe he is right.  Regardless of whether it was excessive spending or not, the bills were passed by the legislature and signed by the governor, the expenses were encumbered, and we taxpayers became responsible for covering those debts.

If I were to follow Rep. Garofalo’s logic on excessive spending, I could only say that we have a surplus today, so we didn’t spend enough? That doesn’t seem quite right.  Finance is not always black and white, nor is there only one solution.  Representative Garofalo is one of the least logical representatives.  He seems to speak without thinking often.  Let me rephrase that, he hits the “post” button without thinking.  And if he is thinking, his statements can only be an illogical need for reassurance from people who think like him, or a desire to insult others.  It is time for legislators like Pat, and many others, to start being more diplomatic, and to think outside their party box.  It is time for them to stop fanning the flames of partisanship.

2012 Farmington ISD 192 School Board Forum Review

The Farmington School Board Forum is available on YouTube:

Candidates present were current School Board member Julie Singewald, the only incumbent, and challengers Rob Carpentier, Eric Bartosh, Jake Cordes, John Guist, and Laura Beem. One candidate Anthony MacDonald, has dropped out of the race, but his name will still appear on the ballot.

I watched the forum and there are two obvious top choices in my mind in Laura Beem and Rob Carpentier. Before the forum, I was leaning toward voting for Julie Singewald, Laura Beem and picking between Jake Cordes or one of the teachers, Rob Carpentier or Eric Bartosh. My reasoning was that I think Julie Singewald has done a decent job, and I thought she deserved another chance. Laura Beem has been a strong parent leader, and then I really like Jake Cordes because I like young candidates, despite our different political views, and a teacher would be a good pick in my mind.

But the forum made me realize that Laura Beem and Rob Carpentier are far above the other candidates in terms of knowledge and ability to lead. I still like Jake, but I will let him do a little more work in his Republican Party activities to gain experience, and I am going to pass on Julie Singewald. I’m planning to vote for both teachers. Although I was initially turned off to Rob Carpentier’s self-description of “more of a Libertarian,” I think he is an easy choice, and both he and Eric Bartosh mentioned the importance of pre-k education, physical fitness and athletics, and Rob commented on the arts, all things I think we need concentrate on to maintain a foundation for great academics.

You might be asking, what about John Guist? You didn’t say anything about him… Why would John Guist say “I likes love guns” in his opening statement? I like outdoor activities too, but to include “I like love guns” at the beginning makes me think there may be something logically missing there.

This is not an endorsement of any of them, simply my opinion. I would be confident in the future of the board with these three. I hope you spend the 58 minutes to watch for yourself and make your own decision.  Do you have a different opinion?  Let me know what you think.

Does The Church Have A Future?

A couple months ago, I received an invitation to join my church’s executive council.  I felt bad about it, but after considering it for over a week, I said ‘no.’ I had received warnings about being on church councils, and unlike my decision to be involved in politics, I heeded my father-in-law’s advice this time.

Still, it was hard to say no.  I felt like I could have been a valuable member on the council.  Our church is having some issues, we have been without a senior pastor for years and the church’s finances have been worrisome.  But I didn’t refuse because of those problems.  I refused because I was afraid I would be frustrated.

A pastor and finances could be frustrating, but I think in one sense, most of our church’s financial problems will be solved once we have a stabile lead pastor to give members faith in committing their hard earned dollars.  The church seems to be very similar to what I have seen in political organizations and candidacies I’ve been involved with.  If there is doubt that a candidate is viable, or doubt that there is a commitment to a similar position, people are hesitant to really invest financially.  If the church gets a young and energetic pastor who will grow with the congregation, then I think the current financial problems will be solved.

I think frustration would result from what I would call the church’s unwillingness to go out on a limb.  By that I mean an unwillingness to change music styles, worship styles, who leads worship, what we confess, how we interact with the community, what our plans are, who we invite to worship, etc., mainly out of fear of offending current members or maybe more specifically, big donor members.

There will be a future, and organization evolution is part of being in that future.  I sat in our Grandma’s church and looked at the congregation filled with aging and aged members and wondered what will happen to this building in 10 years when these people are gone.  Obviously that isn’t a problem in my church now, we are a growing church, with a young congregation, in rapidly growing community.  But, why shouldn’t we be progressing toward the future anyway.

I have been very lucky to have been a part of an exciting and growing seed church in the Prior Lake area.  The emphasis isn’t on a building or a tradition that modern churches have always done.  It is a mission based church that works really hard to impact the community.  The goal isn’t to have 4000 members as much as it is to impact 4000 people.  I think that the little seed church in Prior Lake consistently has more people regularly involved in community mission work than my official membership church does that might have 15 to 20 times the number of members.

I attended a youth ministry conference a couple months back and was introduced to the term “conveyor belt church.”  Grandma’s church was an example of it, and without change, my church will be too.  If churches don’t respond to changes in the community or society, eventually members start falling of the conveyor belt until the church has to decide what to do with the empty building.

I love this video.  This short 6 minute video is a great way to start a conversation about the future of our churches, and about how we plan to respond.  At my church we are relying on a financial “leap of faith” to get us through 2012.  But praying and hoping alone is not a good solution for a sustainable and impactful future.  Action needs to be an integral part of the church’s being.  The thoughts in this video or meeting some of the attendees or the pastor at River of Joy Lutheran Church in Prior Lake can lead to a big impact on how you view church, at least in my mind.

Why don’t Dave Thompson and the GOP understand the conflict of interest?

Tom Scheck and Catharine Richert of MPR published an article titled “Chairman’s spending decisions on insiders helped lead to GOP debt.”  The article features my own State Senator, and the candidate who defeated me, Stat Senator Dave Thompson of Lakeville.

Scheck and Richert document the unethical and nepotistic spending frenzy carried out by Tony Sutton and the GOP that helped lead to the Republican Party’s current $2,000,000 debt.  Yes, that is two million dollars in irresponsible debt owed by the party that claims the mantra of fiscally responsibility.  And do not get me started on what happened in 2001 when the Republicans rented out an amusement park for 500 people with a pyrotechnics show, paid $9K, and refused to pay $22K because the amount was not properly approved… Like I said do not get me started.

The entire story by Scheck and Richert is very interesting, but the section titled “PARTY INSIDERS AND CANDIDATES ON THE PAYROLL” was the most interesting to me.

First of all, my name is in that section of the article, so somebody brought it to my attention.  But my name is not what makes it interesting.  The interesting part is that the section discusses the unethical employment practice, unethical at least in the eyes of many, including the DFL which has a policy preventing it, of the Party hiring candidates running for office to fill party jobs, including candidate Dave Thompson.

State Senator Dave Thompson was paid $70,000 for “communications consulting.”  While we were running against each other, I knew he was working for Lee Byberg who was running for Congress up in the 7th district, but I knew nothing of his work for the Republican Party that he was being handsomely paid for.  No wonder he drives a Mercedes.

Obviously his work did not affect me, or my run, but how did it affect his run?  He defeated Farmington City Councilmember Christy Jo Fogerty, and Lakeville School Board Member Bob Erickson.  Did he get any extra Party help because he was being paid by the Republican Party?  Was there anything else unethical in how the voting was conducted?  Did Sutton and the Republican machine arrange his win?

Do I believe any of that?  No, but the most important thing when it comes to this sort of thing, outside of basic ethics and morals, is not to allow anything that could create a shadow of a doubt to outsiders.

Dave Thompson who was being paid by the Republican Party told the MPR reports: “I guess I never saw that as being any kind of conflict, and still don’t to this day.”  Not a conflict?  Hello… 

It is entirely a conflict.  State law forbids a candidate from paying himself for work for a reason.  Just because state law does not prohibit political parties from hiring candidates doesn’t mean it is ethical.  And it does not mean it shouldn’t be against the law.  The MPR story quoted Mike Dean of Common Cause Minnesota who said:

“…he believes the Republican Party of Minnesota is circumventing that law. ‘This practice doesn’t meet a smell test in terms of what is ethical,’ Dean said. ‘There should be a clear bright line that says candidates for office should not be paid by other candidates for office or political parties.’”

The big concern is that the party, or other candidates in conjunction with the party, could work to provide the candidate a means of livelihood while they campaign.  When I ran against Sen. Thompson, I worked until 5, drove home to Farmington in traffic, got home around 6, ate dinner with my family, then went out and door knocked for a couple hours, maybe visiting 10-20 houses before it got too late or too dark.  If I could have door knocked areas during the day because I was being paid by Lee Byberg, the Republican Party, or even another candidate with a surplus of funds for “contracted services,” maybe a few more votes could be had.

If the DFL thinks it is unethical, and if other groups think it is unethical, but the Republican Party doesn’t think it is unethical, or Dave Thompson doesn’t think it is a conflict, what is wrong with them?

The party of fiscal responsibility?  What a hypocritical group of jokers.  If anything has come out of recent elections, The Republican Party is the party of special interests and conflicts of interests.  The next thing you know they will try nominating for President a former Speaker of the House who wanted to prosecute a President for having an affair, while that Speaker of the House was having an affair…

Caucus 101 – A how to guide to participate in the 2012 DFL caucus

Tuesday February 7, is caucus night.  To get you prepared, I’ve updated a post I made before the 2010 caucuses.  I’ll be at Farmington High School convening the Farmington caucuses, I hope to see you there. 

I wrote the following guide to what happens at the DFL caucuses after writing a post about people being scared away from the caucuses because of their 2008 experience. Plus, I think a lot of people are more comfortable if they know what is going to happen at an event, I know it makes me more comfortable. But I also think the year we had the most attendees at the DFL caucuses in 2008, is not representative of how caucuses usually run, so people should not think they will be as hectic, or as unorganized as 2008.  Here is a little how to caucus guide. If you are like me and need a little reassurance to be comfortable, maybe you will show up this year…

Caucus 101 – A how to guide to participate in the 2012 DFL caucus

The 2012 DFL precinct caucuses are meetings organized by the DFL to begin the process of selecting candidates for the 2012 elections. In 2012, elections will be held for President, U.S. Senate, U.S. Congress, State Senator, State House of Representative and other local officials. The DFL caucuses are also the first step in shaping the DFL platform and policy positions that the DFL will push for the next two years.

Step 1: Find out what house district and precinct you are in.
Caucuses are usually organized by precinct within senate or county districts. The names of those districts will be changing to “organizing units” this year, so keep that in mind.  The Minnesota Secretary of State website has a polling place finder, which should provide you with information about the political districts you reside in. Follow the steps by entering your zip code, followed by your address, to find out your district information. Besides telling you where you vote, it also tells you your congressional district, Minnesota senate district, house district and precinct, along with a few other districts. Your precinct is often a combination of your town with the letter “P” and a number or for smaller towns, the name of the town. Example: Farmington P-4 is precinct 4 in Farmington.

Step 2: Find your caucus location.
After you know your house district and precinct, you can find out where your precinct caucus is. Since caucuses are organized by local DFL parties, the Secretary of State is dependent on receiving the location information from local party officials. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie’s office just launched an online caucus finder, but if it is not available, you can find your caucus location by contacting your local DFL Senate District official. For instance Senate District 36 (SD36) is planning the caucuses in the SD36 area. The local leaders or the website in SD36 will provide you the information for your meeting location.

Step 3: Show up.
Once you know where to go, it is as simple as showing up. Arrive a little early to sign in. Registration begins at 6:30 p.m., and the caucus is convened at 7:00. At many caucuses, multiple precincts meet in one location. Generally, you go directly to your precinct to sign in, but people or signs should direct you. There is generally a fair amount of literature to review. There is always DFL party literature, and often candidate literature. It is not uncommon for local officials or candidates to make an appearance too.

Step 4: Engage with others in your precinct as you wait to begin.
The caucus is a great place to meet neighbors who share your political view. But caucuses also are the first step in developing resolutions to be included in the DFL platform. Talk about ideas and engage others. The caucus is the first step to offer a resolution on an issue important to you. Before the close of the caucus, attendees in your precinct will vote on the issue, and if the resolution is passed, will forward the resolution on to the next level of discussion. The Resolution Form is on page 34 of the “2012-2013 Offical Call,” the DFL’s booklet that includes, among other things, rules for DFL meetings, including the caucuses. Click here and go to page 34 to open the resolution form.

Step 5: The caucus begins.
The caucus begins with a few introductions and a couple required announcements. To begin the process, the caucus attendees elect a caucus chair, a secretary to record notes and tellers to count ballots. These positions are occasionally opened up to volunteers, then consented to by the body with a vote. Caucuses are run using parliamentary procedures to nominate and elect officials. Do not be embarrassed to ask questions if you are unfamiliar with how to phrase something — others, including the conveners and even the chair are often in the same boat.

Step 6: Elect precinct officers.
Caucus attendees elect officers who will be responsible for organizing political activities within the precinct. Each precinct elects a precinct chair and two precinct associate chairs. Within the DFL, at least one male and one female must be elected. For example, if a woman is elected chair, at least one associate chair should be a man, and vice versa. Precinct chair responsibilities can be very different from district to district. A key responsibility is to attend local DFL committee meetings and to help organize and increase the presence of the party through voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts. Additionally, in some districts, the precinct chair is expected to raise a certain amount of money in a district. In others, it might be as simple as calling people in the precinct to remind them of a meeting or an election. Literature describing the duties will be at your precinct location.

Step 7: Elect senate district delegates.
Each precinct has a predetermined number of delegates to elect to the county or senate district convention. The caucus attendees will elect representatives to be delegates. In many districts, there are often more delegate and alternate openings than there are people willing or able to attend the convention. You don’t need to launch a massive campaign to be elected to the next level. It is important to make sure your precinct chair checks the “delegate” box on the attendance forms to ensure you are included in the rolls for the convention. Keep something in mind. After the caucuses a list of the convention attendees is often acquired by candidates. Expect calls from candidates.

Step 8: Vote in straw polls.
Depending on the elections, attendees of the caucus may be given a straw poll ballot to indicate their preference among various candidates. I’m not sure we will have any reason for a straw poll, but if there is one for President for example, cast your vote before 8:00.

Step 9: Finish up.
If there are pending resolutions, finish considering the resolutions. The chair will announce the results of straw polls and finish up with any closing announcements.

Step 10: Adjourn.
Finally, the caucus chair will ask for a motion to adjourn the caucus.
After the caucus there are tasks that need to be completed. Cleaning up the area is the simplest duty to help with. Reporting results and entering attendance data into the DFL database is also an important task.

Step 11: The Convention.
Usually about a month after the caucuses, each Organizing Unit holds a convention.  It is at that convention that we elect delegates to the state convention in Rochester, elect local DFL organizing unit leaders, and endorse local candidates.  If you are lucky enough to be elected to attend the Organizing Unit Convention, please make every effort to attend, get involved with committees, be active, and take charge.  It is very rewarding.

Note: While many of these steps fit caucuses statewide, I did write this specifically with experience in the south metro. Feel free to forward this or repost it. Please credit MNDem.com if you do.