Tag Archives: Senate District 36

Pat Garofalo’s School Payback Bill is Gambling to Win in 2012

I realize the Farmington Independent probably know what they are doing, but I hate that they edit my letters to the editor.

The following letter was printed in the April 13, 2012 edition of the Farmington Indpendent, however, the edition below is not edited:

Garofalo’s School Payback Bill is Gambling to Win in 2012

Representative Pat Garofalo must love to gamble.  He has used Twitter to tweet about gambling a lot in the past, and even tweeted on January 22, 2012 “…Thank you so much Lord for not allowing me access to sports gambling in Minnesota…” Apparently he can barely control himself when it comes to gambling.

We have evidence of his gambling at the legislature.  He was gambling when he proposed what he called a “payback to schools.” That “payback” is in truth just a balance transfer of debt, a gamble with our state’s financial future.  He is gambling that this little act of so called financial responsibility, in the face of another looming budget crisis, will be just enough whitewash to protect Republicans in the November elections after they borrowed 2 billion dollars from our students and school districts, rather than balance the budget responsibly.  In reality, Garofalo’s “payback” bill is the same as someone with credit card debt using another credit card to transfer balances to stave off the repo man for a few more months.

Garofalo and the Republicans in the Legislature are trying to hold on to the power they have to prevent Democrats from taking back the Legislature and solving the budget problem by eliminating corporate tax loopholes  for large corporate overseas operations and making Minnesota’s millionaires temporarily pay a little more tax.  Garofalo is a gambler.  He is gambling that Minnesotans will forget he took the money from schools in the first place to protect corporate profits and super-rich Minnesotans, and will remember that he proposed a bill to transfer money from one credit card to another – I mean payback the schools.

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By the way, there is a good introductory article on Jim Arlt, Pat’s opponent in 2012 in the Hasting Star-Gazette today.

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.

Dave Thompson Town Hall Meeting 9/24/11 10-11:30 Lakeville South High School

Senate District 36 Republican state Senator and Republican Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dave Thompson is holding a town hall meeting at Lakeville South High School on Saturday, September 24, from 10:00am – 11:30am.

Of course just like his last meeting, he scheduled it on a day that many of the local progressives are already participating in another event. The Lakeville Friends of the Environment Peddle in the Park is scheduled from 9:00-Noon on the same day.  Curious.

If you plan to attend the meeting is at:

Lakeville South – Lecture Hall
21135 Jacquard Avenue
Lakeville, MN 55044

If you attend, please consider posting a summary of the meeting here.

Garofalo is not stealing taxpayer money, BUT THOMPSON AND HOLBERG ARE!

I came across a list of Minnesota legislators who refused their July 1 salary payments.  I was not surprised to see 36B Representative Pat Garofalo on the list.  He came out right from the beginning and said it would not be right to accept a paycheck during a government shutdown.

But what surprised me was that pro-shrink the government representative from 36A Mary Liz Holberg and outspoken Tea Partyish District 36 state Senator Dave Thompson were not on the list.  I just assumed that they would be a couple of legislators who were really willing to prove just how fiscally responsible they are to Minnesota taxpayers.

Dave Thompson and Mary Liz Holberg supporting Tom Emmer

Rep. Mary Liz Holberg is in a unique situation.  She can win elections by doing very little campaigning and by spending a small amount of money.  She has name recognition in the area.  She was a past local beauty queen and has served so many terms in the state House now that it is habitual for people to vote for her.  She can take her pay without it being much of a negative if she continues to run.

Sen. Dave Thompson is another story.  Sure he has the name recognition from his years as an extremist Republican radio show host on KSTP1500, and gets a lot of recognition because he is a great speaker, so he is always out front.  But he probably needs to get that taxpayer’s check.  I’m sure his degree to become a lawyer was expensive and he’s got to think about retirement because in “Dave Thompson’s perfect world” social security and Medicare will not exist.  Plus, he’s got two kids who need college paid for soon and grants are going away and tuition is going up thank to him and his Republican buddies.  Oh, and he has that big shiny maroon Mercedes-Benz that needs gas and car washes.  Yep, he needs that money.  Anyway, he has to deal with liberals, so it is not only need, it is deserved money from the taxpayers even if other state workers who are not as important as him don’t deserve paychecks.

Link to the list of legislators not taking pay: http://blogs.citypages.com/blotter/2011/07/minnesota_house_legislators_not_accepting_salary.php