Archive for the ‘DFL’ Category

Town hall meetings on health care reform seem to be the hottest ticket in town these days for the media, activists, and constituents on all sides of the issue. Representative Tim Walz from Minnesota’s 1st congressional district held a town meeting on August 2oth in Mankato at the Mankato East High School. Concerned citizens from across the district traveled to Mankato from Worthington to take part as did I and two of my union brothers. Unfortunately for us, our 90 plus mile trip was marked by unavoidable delays in getting started and detours on Highway 60. We arrived  a few minutes after the doors opened but the place quickly filled to capacity. Many of the people that came to participate left but there was still a crowd of people from both sides of the issue that stayed to show support or protest. Initially, there was anger  and demands to be let into the building from the anti-reform folks but they soon realized that was not going to happen.

Teamsters Local 120 had a  good contingent of people there on the outside with signs in support of reform and of course they drew the ire of the opposition. Although they were called “union thugs” and accused of unfairly loading up the auditorium they remained calm, even engaging some of the opponents in lively but peaceful discussions. I noticed other people doing the same, each side trying to convince the other that they were right. I doubt if there were any serious conversions amongst the outside crowd.

There was one tense moment before we left when a man came walking over carrying a sign that can only be described as despicable. It was met with cheers from many of the right wing crowd and boos and groans from the supporters of health care reform. Several people confronted him and it wasn’t long before one man got very angry and emotional. Fortunately the Mankato police department had several officers on the scene and one of them walked over to observe. He did not let it escalate and escorted the man away from the crowd to calm him down. We left about 15 minutes after that but I did have an opportunity to take a number of random pictures which I have put together as a video below.

Bluestem Prairie editor, Sally Jo Sorensen, was inside at the town hall meeting and has her observations and a summary of news accounts in, CD-1: Post health care town hall meeting media roundup and CD-1: Post health care town hall meeting media roundup, part #2. She also gently nudged me to write  my observations in her post, Outside the Walz town hall: LaRouche “Obama as Hitler” sign stirs passions.




Peace & solidarity,




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The Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled that Al Franken is indeed the winner. Read the opinion here.  Governor Pawlenty needs to do his job now and sign the election certificate. The sooner he does that the sooner he can get back to running for president.

I have updated my side bar to reflect Senator Al Franken’s new status.

Peace & solidarity,



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After a day of  zipping around the packing house on my forklift, moving pork to its intended destination, I like to come home and relax and then see what Ollie Ox has to say at A Bluestem Prairie. Today I was a little shocked and saddened to read that Bluestem Prairie will be on hiatus until June 1. In a short post Sally Jo Sorensen announced:


“After posting at this blog for 2 years, 8 months, we’re feeling the need to spruce up the joint. Bluestem will be shuttered after today until June 1, when the blog will return as a venue for nonfiction essays…”

I and many others across the 1st District will miss her vigilant updates on  Congressman Tim Walz and her extensive recaps of the political news in the district. Sally also has kept an eye on the MSM and was not hesitant to remind them to get the facts straight.

This fall I had the privilege to meet the one and only Ollie OX at the annual Turkey Day celebration in Worthington and was honored to be her ‘union goon’ for the day. Although the vultures were circling overhead, we did manage to have some good discussion about blogging and politics.

We look forward to reading her new stuff on June 1 and hope she still has time for birding and gardening.

Cheap Trick says it all…

Peace & solidarity,


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Election Day is bearing down on us quickly and many people and organizations are working hard to elect their candidates. One such group is the Minnesota AFL-CIO  which has gathered over 500 delegates in Duluth this week to listen to candidates, pass resolutions, and get fired up for the remainder of this election cycle. Monday, September 15, delegates will take part in “Turn Around America” and will doorknock the city of Duluth, talking to union families about the issues and labor-endorsed candidates. WorkdayMinnesota has coverage of the convention.

I am reminded of an old Doobie Brothers tune, ‘Takin it to the streets’.

You don’t know me but I’m your brother
I was raised here in this living hell
You don’t know my kind in your world
Fairly soon the time will tell
You, telling me the things you’re gonna do for me
I aint blind and I don’t like what I think I see

Take this message to my brother
You will find him everywhere
Wherever people live together
Tied in poverty’s despair
You, telling me the things you’re gonna do for me
I aint blind and I don’t like what I think I see

Here is an excellent live version of the Doobie Brothers preforming performing, ‘Takin’ It To The Streets’, that I would like to dedicate to the brothers and sisters in Duluth.


Peace & solidarity,





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death trap alley

“Pray for me, I drive Highway 60”.

That is the slogan of the Southwest Minnesota Highway 60 Action Corporation that was organized in 1960. The groups purpose back then, as it is today, was to promote the improvement of Minnesota TH 60. They are still praying and waiting 48 years later. Last Thursday, July 24, 380 people gathered in Windom to share their experiences about traveling on Highway 60 and to urge Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT) officials to complete the 4-lane expansion.

MNDOT Commissioner Thomas K. Sorel got an earful as about 25 of the 380 in attendance were able to speak over the course of the two and a half hour meeting. Worthington Daily Globe reporter Julie Buntjer covered the event and led her story with this:

One by one they walked to the microphone, sat down and shared their death-defying experiences on a stretch of Minnesota 60 that not once, not twice, but three times changes from two-lane to four-lane traffic between Windom and St. James.  

From an aunt, friend and cousin who shared their stories of 28-year-old Jamie Torkelson, killed in a head-on collision on the highway on May 6, 2005, to retired school bus drivers, business people, truck drivers and city and county leaders — they pleaded with newly-appointed transportation commissioner Thomas Sorel and MnDOT officials to find the money to complete the four-lane expansion.

The Cottonwood County Citizen also covered the event: Highway 60 meeting attracts 380 to Windom Community Center.

Two area lawmakers and state transportation commissioner Thomas Sorel left Windom with a stronger sense of Highway 60’s flaws and the public’s resolve after last night’s meeting at the Windom Community Center.More than 380 people were on hand, several of them were there specifically to provide testimony on the dangers of the controversial highway. One after another, residents testified about cases where motorists became confused by the highway’s mixture of two-lane and four-lane stretches. Most stories ended with someone in the wrong lane and a “near miss,” injuries, or a fatality.


The room fell dead silent following two different stories regarding close calls involving school buses full of students.


Lawmakers, such as Sen. Jim Vickerman and Rep. Rod Hamilton expressed frustration that MnDOT leaders have failed to comply with a bill the state’s lawmakers approved this past spring - a bill that requires all of Highway 60 to be completed. Read the rest here.  



Rahn Larson, editor of the Cottonwood County Citizen, questions the power and decision making of the officials at MNDOT in his editorial: MnDot vs. lawmakers?  Larson asks:

Can a state agency simply refuse to enact an order passed by the Minnesota Legislature?

He then goes on to list a number of facts that proves the intent of the legislature to finish Highway 60 and then has this to say:

OK, so the bill was approved and the legislative intent was confirmed and even stressed to MnDOT leaders at least twice. So the real question is this: “Who is calling the shots for Minnesota - the legislature, or department heads for the various departments?


State Senator Jim Vickerman (DFL) and Representative Rod Hamilton (GOP) were both at this meeting in Windom but missing in action was Representative Doug Magnus (GOP). Of course it was probably a wise decision on his part to stay away from such a large gathering since he supported Governor Tim Pawlenty’s veto of the transportation legislation. Fortunately the legislature was able to overide that veto.

In the coming week we will probably find out if Governor Pawlenty will be chosen as McCain’s running mate. He will probably bring along his veto pen. We will also remember the collapse of the I35W bridge. Our infrasturcture needs our obvious and urgent and we could use some real leadership on this issue. Unfortunately we have not received that from the Governor or Representative Magnus.

The Worthington Daily Globe has this compelling audio of Hillary Mathis speaking of her cousin’s tragic death on Highway 60.

(click the arrow)



Peace & solidarity,




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With the passage of the 162 billion Iraq war funding bill last week it appears that the 21st Century GI Bill will become law. The Senate still needs to act on it but the White House has indicated it would sign the legislation. The GI Bill was included in the war funding along with a 13 week extension of unemployment benefits, disaster relief in the amount of $2.65 billion for the Midwest affected by the recent tornadoes and floods, additional money for the construction of military hospitals and some important Iraq policy provisions as noted by Minnesota Central in the comments section.

Senator Jim Webb, co-sponsor of the GI BIll, expressed his gratitude to supporters:

“I would like to again express my appreciation to the veterans’ service organizations, many of whom communicated their support of this bill directly to a skeptical White House, and to the 58 Senate and 302 House cosponsors of this landmark legislation. This bipartisan coalition consistently rejected the allegations of this Administration, and of Senators McCain, Burr and Graham, among others, who claimed that the bill was too generous to our veterans, too difficult to administer and would hurt retention.

“It has now been nearly seven years since 9/11 — seven years since those who have been serving in our military began earning the right for a proper wartime GI Bill. I am looking forward to the President living up to his word, and signing this legislation at his earliest opportunity.”  Read the entire statement here.

DFL Representative Collin Peterson, from the 7th district, which is just a tad more than 60 miles from my corner of the state was a supporter and his comments are covered by the Bemidji Pioneer.

A Bluestem Prairie covers 1st District Congressman’s statement on the passage of the new GI Bill and also comments about the process of getting the legislation passed:

“Like the final passage of the increase in the federal minimum wage, final approval of the New G. I. Bill came–eventually–at the cost of continuing to fund the war in Iraq. Those who feel that Congress should quit funding the war and pull out immediately will be disappointed with Walz’s vote for another amendment to the bill that continued money for the war in Iraq.”
It has been said that making laws is a lot like making sausage. Well, I work in the meat industry and I would consider that an insult. It is tragic that the continued occupation of Iraq was the price to pay. Just about everybody (416-12) in the House of Representatives will be able to pat themselves on the back for supporting the GI Bill. How many more GI’s will they be making eligible for the benefits?
Peace & solidarity,


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    That’s what they used to do.

Now it is ‘time out’. Minnesota 1st District Congressman Tim Walz (D) announced that he is co-authoring legislation (H.R. 6239) with Republican Congressman Sam Graves called the “NCLB Recess Until Reauthorization Act”. This proposed legislation will in effect suspend sanctions against schools that are struggling to meet the requirements of the underfunded NCLB act until the legislation can be fixed. Representative Walz released the following statement:

Statement on HR 6239

Walz-Graves “NCLB Recess Until Reauthorization Act”

By Congressman Tim Walz

June 21, 2008


Today, I’m here to announce that I’ve introduced legislation with my Republican colleague, Sam Graves of Missouri, that will give schools and teachers a ‘time out’ from ill-conceived sanctions imposed by the No Child Left Behind law. 

I’m disappointed that this bill is even necessary, because Congress was supposed to take time this year to work with the President to fully fund No Child Left Behind and to fix what isn’t working with the law. 

Unfortunately, Congress didn’t do its job this year.  And as a result, children, parents, teachers and schools all across the country must continue to operate under a law that nearly everyone agrees should be fixed. 

Well, if Congress and the President can’t or won’t take action this year, then I will work across party lines to protect students and schools from being penalized by bad policy for yet another year.  I believe that it’s time that Members of Congress hold themselves as accountable as we hold our students and schools.

Many of you remember when No Child Left Behind became law in 2002.  Since that time, much has changed for educators and students in America. 

Teachers have provided more information than ever before to parents about the educational progress of our children and students are working harder than ever before to master new skills.

The intent of this law was to make schools accountable for providing a first class education to our children, but the unfunded, cumbersome mandates of the law have resulted in frustration and diverted attention away from the best practices that we know are beneficial to our children. 

As a longtime public school teacher, let me state clearly that I fully support accountability in education and I know that most teachers share my desire to do whatever it takes to see our kids succeed.  But the same law that triggered these positive changes also penalizes schools that, while making progress, don’t meet an arbitrary bar set by the Bush Administration. 

Everywhere I go in southern Minnesota, I hear from constituents like those here with me today about the problems with No Child Left Behind.  As the only teacher in Congress with experience teaching under the unfunded mandates of No Child Left Behind, I believe I have a unique perspective on this law – I celebrate its achievements, but I cannot sit idly by and allow our children to be penalized while we wait for a new President to work with the Congress to fix what is broken.

This bill freezes in place the penalties imposed by NCLB.  That means that schools who are about to be sanctioned for not reaching the arbitrary benchmark will have another year to improve their scores, while schools  already being sanctioned will not receive additional penalties. However, schools that are already taking corrective action to improve their performance will continue with that plan – students will still receive extra tutoring, teachers will still receive extra professional training and other efforts to improve schools in American will not cease. 

My bill simply puts a hold on additional penalties until Congress and the new President can fix and fund NCLB, or until the conclusion of the 2008-2009 school year.

Congress should have fixed NCLB this year, but this President stands in the way of real reform.  But just because it didn’t get done doesn’t mean that our kids and our schools should have to suffer through more bad federal education policy for another year.  That’s why it is only fair to take a time-out from these penalties until Congress can provide parents, teachers and students a better plan to improve America’s schools – a plan that truly sets high expectations for all students and rewards results in the classroom.


This is one more example of Congressman Walz working for the people of the 1st District and educators and students nationwide. Our current president likes to talk about reform but falls short when providing the funding to get the job done.

And now a fine tune from Crosby, Stills & Nash:



Vodpod videos no longer available.

Peace & solidarity,





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