This video clip has been making the rounds among people interested in the crow issue downtown.
This video clip has been making the rounds among people interested in the crow issue downtown.
For the record, here are some emails that either I or the Answer Man have received, regarding his Jan. 19 column. A few letters to the editor have been published as well.
Here's what that column said, first of all:
Dear Answer Man, I was at the Post-Bulletin Dialogues event Wednesday night, partly because I was hoping you'd be there. Since I don't know what you look like, I don't know why I bothered. But some people tried to get Sen. Senjem and the other legislators to sign a pledge of some kind. What was that pledge?
I was at the Rochester library last night, conducting research, and my boss appreciates it when I stop by the Dialogues events, but I can't confirm that I attended.
The "pledge" that a few people wanted Sen. Dave Senjem and the other legislators to sign was from Occupy Rochester MN, the local cadre of left-wing activists. The "Pledge for a Democratic Minnesota," which the moderator didn't allow them to present to the legislators during the event, calls for the signee to "work with particular focus to prevent corporations from directly or indirectly expending money to influence any election in the state of Minnesota. I will work to limit private contributions to provide similar access for all Americans to the political process."
In my humble opinion, that doesn't sound like a "democratic Minnesota." That sounds like a political process in which people who own or operate businesses can't be involved. Most people would say there need to be laws and limits, but to say corporations can't "directly or indirectly" have a political influence is nuts — again, in my humble opinion.
That didn't go down so well with Occupy fans:
The remarks from Answer Man in Thursday’s Post Bulletin about the Occupy movement and the issue of corporate money in politics were shocking. It is telling that a newspaper that has avoided speaking out on the increasing threats to our democracy for the last ten years would use the ‘anonymous’ vehicle of Answer Man to dismiss the Occupy Rochester group (that is open to all) as ‘left-wing activists.’ Not only does it reflect the newspaper’s bias, but it gravely underestimates the role of the national Occupy movement as a voice for the people in the future direction of this country. Even those who do not at present appreciate the value to our democracy of the Occupy movement agree that corporate money is at the core of what is destroying our country and the planet. Readers should ponder the significance of the facilitator’s refusal at the Post-Bulletin Dialogues to allow the reading of a pledge asking legislators to work to get corporate money out of politics.
In response to your recent column with the question about a pledge at the Dialogues event:
You identified Occupy Rochester MN as a “local cadre of left-wing activists”. Like most other clear thinking individuals, I personally have beliefs and opinions that could be considered left-wing, right wing, liberal, conservative, and outlandish. Our local Occupy group, like most others worldwide, has individuals with beliefs and goals all over the political and social spectrum.
Commenting on the pledge being discussed, you stated “...that doesn't sound like a 'democratic Minnesota.' That sounds like a political process in which people who own or operate businesses can't be involved.” The pledge in question says nothing about business owners. A business owner can vote and / or donate money just the same as any other Minnesotan, and the pledge does not propose to differentiate a business owner from a non business owner.
In your column, you stated “... to say corporations can't 'directly or indirectly' have a political influence is nuts...”. While this may or may not be true, it is an inaccurate statement in regards to the pledge being discussed, as it only proposes to limit “corporations from directly, or indirectly, expending money to influence any election in the state of Minnesota.” A business owner could still make personal donations, and be active in the political process in many other ways. A corporation can also have political 'pull' without spending money on the electoral or legislative process.
If you in fact believe that preventing corporations from directly, or indirectly expending money to influence any election is still nuts, check out the recent decision by the Montana Supreme Court regarding corporate money in politics. It mentions the relatively small population of the state, (like our state) and not wanting outside influences to spend money to influnce ideas that are not in the best interest of the voters of the state. Those Montana Supreme Court justices sure are nutty.
Dear Answer Man: Your January 19 column was not up to your usual high
standard. You referred to the "pledge" which was read at the PB Dialogues
event at the Rochester Public Library the night before. You felt obligated
to explain the pledge but did not mention that the moderator interrupted the
person reading the pledge so that I who was there and I presume others, did
not get the entire gist -thus needing your explanation. You called the
people bringing the pledge "left wing activists" which I take is not meant
as a compliment. You also called their idea of "preventing corporations from
directly or indirectly expending money to influence any election in
Minnesota" as "nuts". On a national level, corporations give huge amounts of
money to influence elections and lobby for their special interest. This
undercuts our democracy. So in my humble opinion you could "eat crow" on
this one. Instead maybe the moderator for the evening should eat crow for
interrupting the speaker reading the pledge.
Rich Van Dellen
Here's the Answer Man's response to that one:
Thanks for the note, Rich, and I'll either use in a column or post on a blog. My understanding is that Jay Furst asked for questions to be quick and concise toward the end of the program, and the Occupy person began to read from a lengthy petition, she went on for about a minute, another person was coming forward to the table to give copies to the legislators and he said "we're not going to do this" -- it was quite disruptive. To their credit, they didn't press it and went back to their seats. They did give the petitions at the end of the meeting.
Regarding the pledge, I said twice, "my opinion" regarding a total ban on corporate contributions to politics, but there's never been a total ban and never will be, for constitutional reasons. I'm all for campaign finance reform -- extreme limits on corporate spending, etc., and I think anyone who reads my column knows where I come from politically -- but I do think it's nuts to suggest that corporate contributions be entirely banned.
Thanks again for the note,
After the post on Saturday about the Post-Bulletin Dialogues, you called the pledge people “Occupy Rochester MN, the local cadre of left-wing activists” Well, Your true colors come out.. Why do you self-righteous elitist call people who protest for their beliefs left wing activists. And you call yourself the answer man. You are part of the problem with this country.
Again, an A-Man response to Dave:
Hi, Dave -- I don't think many people would disagree with that description of the Occupy movement, any more than the Tea Party is fairly described as a cadre of "right-wing activists"...my point regarding the petition was that it's absurd to call for a total ban on "direct or indirect" corporate spending on politics...never gonna happen, as a constitutional matter...as I said twice in the column, just my opinion.
And his response:
Why is it absurd to call for a ban on corporate spending?… Last I read it was “We The People” not We The People and Corporations” They cannot vote, they cannot serve in the military, and if convicted of a crime they will not serve time in prisons. They should keep their money out of politics period…. Then maybe they could lower the prices of all the goods we pay for.. So in a sense they are taking money from you and I for their own political goals. How is that fair.? Look at all the money spent so far in this election. (and the last Mid-Term) after the USoASC said corporations are people. If that money was put to a more productive use (schools, roads)…… But I digress to get back to the protesters I keep thinking of the phrase my teacher used to say “If you’re not part of the solution then you are part of the problem.”
A couple of points:
Yes, the Answer Man comments on events -- no surprise there.
He said -- twice -- that it's his opinion that the petition calling for a total ban on corporate contributions to political campaigns is "nuts." He didn't say it's a fact; he said it's his opinion -- twice.
And I don't think many people would disagree with the shorthand description of the Occupy movement as "left-wing activists." There may be a very wide range of political interests among Occupy activists, but if the overriding issue is the 1 percent vs. 99 percent economic justice issue, I don't think it's at all inaccurate to say that's from the playbook of the political left, not the political right.
Is it OK to wear your pajamas when you're out shopping? What happened to the shoe shine stand in the Rochester underground? Plus a list of just about all the notable watering holes in the city from the '50s through the '90s, and a joke about crows, for no extra charge.
Reporter Jeff Pieters has more today on the dispute involving the proposed new sports bar downtown, called Legends.
He quotes Rochester City Council President Dennis Hanson as saying that he thinks the business owners have been unfairly sportlighted, especially in terms of the city's request for more financial information. "We don't do that for any other business that comes to Rochester and wants to open their doors," he said. "Quite frankly, I find that somewhat invasive."
In my humble opinion, that makes no sense. Few businesses have to go through the licensing procedure (for a precious few licenses available) that bars go through. That's the point. Bars are places of potential mayhem by their very nature. Whether Rochester's procedure is too invasive is a matter of opinion, but seriously -- a bar isn't "any other business" that wants to open its doors.
Quam: He wants to "see the whole budget bill" before taking a firm position, but "right now, if there's a bunch of civic center (projects) in there," he would vote against it. "If Rochester was (alone) in there, as an economic development project, then I probably could" support it.
Benson: "The city is beginning to make a case for it," but otherwise his line was similar to Quam's.
Liebling: Has supported the project for years, doesn't understand why the standard for local support from Republicans is that it has "appeal across the state...I certainly wouldn't say no to ours" because legislators in other areas don't...isn't that the reason we have local legislators, to advance local interests, she said.
Norton: Ditto on supporting it, said the city "needs to make the case" but that should be easily done, in terms of the economic impact on hospitality industry -- said hotel business locally is in tough shape (maybe just weekend traffic?) and fully supports the project.
Senjem: "There's something to be said" for the civic center project, but "I wish we had a little more guidance from the community." He also mentioned Zip Rail and whether that's just as worthy a local/area project.
Maves' comment on the civic center was basically, why make it bigger when we can't afford the upkeep now? Liebling responded that "a lot of business leaders are concerned" about the condition and functionality of the civic center. "We are a world-class city and we can't have a falling-apart civic center."
Regarding Sen. Carla Nelson's proposal to add a $1 cigarette tax to help deal with the school funding shift, Senjem said he's a "no" on that one, at this point. "I think there are other ways to do that than just adding taxes to tobacco."
Norton: "I'm very concerned about the school shift" and said the public health impact of such a tax would be worth it. "When you raise the price of cigarettes, people stop smoking."
Liebling agreed with that but noted that the tax would be "regressive...mostly paid by people with less income...I'd like to see it in the context of overall tax reform."
Benson said he'd take "a hard look at it...it's clear that taxes do drive down the number of youth who are addicted to nicotine...if it relieves taxes in another area," he could support it.
Quam said the proposal is "well-intended" but would "need some work...I'm open to it."
The P-B Dialogues event at the public library Wednesday was an informative affair, I think most would say. Five lawmakers joined us -- the new Senate majority leader, Dave Senjem, plus Reps. Kim Norton, Tina Liebling, Mike Benson and Duane Quam.
About 70-80 people attended and had plenty of questions, more than we could get to in one thin hour. Before I crank out some notes from the meeting, I'll respond to a comment from a few people:
Jay, why in the world did you allow Cindy Maves TWO questions?
Cindy is a leader of the Rochester Tea Party Patriots, so you can see where this is coming from.
I can see why some might think she got two questions -- I didn't score it that way. At the outset, I asked the legislators an emailed question from a reader regarding the Mayo Civic Center bonding proposal. They responded. I asked the audience if they had any reaction or question related to this before we moved on. Maves was one of those who did...I believe one other person also commented/questioned.
I didn't consider that her question -- I considered it my question, and hers was mainly a comment (negative) on the project.
She raised her hand throughout the program thereafter to ask her own question, and toward the end I entertained it. That didn't strike me as double-dipping, but c'est la vie. No favoritism intended.
OK, to my notes. First, I asked the lawmakers to hit their key points of interest as they head into the 2012 session:
Quam: The bonding bill and Vikings stadium get a lot of attention but "there are a lot of small things that matter to people" and he returned to that theme again later -- "a lot of little things" related to government reform.
Benson: Also hit the talking point of "continued reform" and smaller-bore items that have "immediate impact" on people.
Liebling: Said the bonding bill and projects such as the civic center would "have a ripple effect on our whole economy"..."the area economy is not as robust" as advertised.
Norton: Hit the same points, asked "how long will we defer intrastructure" projects, also mentioned health care and human services. The notion of "shrinking government" generally means "shrinking services," such as the Salvation Army dental clinic, etc.
Senjem: Priorities will include "reforming government to the extent that we can." Said there'll be a bonding bill, "whether it's $775 million or $500 million" or some other number. Regarding Vikings stadium, "I'm not sure we're going to get it done...we'll see if we can't get a vote" but that might be it. Regarding the school funding shift, "we'll never be able to pay it all back" but the issue will be on the agenda.
More to come...
I especially like the headline:
An FYI to what's going on the NEW YORK MILLS, MINNESOTA this weekend.
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