Archive for the ‘GOP’ Category

11/09/09 UPDATE: Harmon Park is safe. According to members of the Save Harmon Park group the Pipestone city council met in closed session again tonight (11/09/09) and when they came out they announced that they had taken a vote and had declined Coborn’s offer for Harmon Park.

“Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead


If you happen to be a Facebook user then you will know that you often get all kinds of unsolicited invitations to become a fan of someone or something or to join a cause. It is easy to do with a couple of clicks and you can then beat your chest and say, “I support the ____ CAUSE.”  Recently I received a suggestion from a FB friend that I have known for a long time. She suggested that I join the Save Harmon Park cause. My curiosity got to me so I signed up and discovered that the city of Pipestone was considering selling part of their premier city park so that it could be developed  into a Coborn’s Superstore which would include a car wash and a gas station/convenience store. Coborn’s, Inc. is a Minnesota grown corporation founded in 1921 based in St Cloud with locations in the midwest, primarily Minnesota, North Dakota and Iowa.

The Pipestone County Star carried the first story, Coborn’s Superstore on the drawing board, about this development on October 7, 2009 and it was soon after that the opposition formed their group.

The Save Harmon Park group has been busy. They now have 276 members in the FB group and are using this social media tool for discussion, communication and organizing. They have contacted news organizations to get their story out, organized a petition drive which garnered 400 signatures to present to the city council, generated numerous letters to the editor and had over 100 people at a recent city council meeting to speak against the sale.

The city of Pipestione has had a rough year. Bayliner shut down its operations and Suzlon announced significant layoffs. The stagnant economy and unallotment by the Governor have also contributed to the tough situations faced by the city council. While the influx of cash from the sale of the park and future property tax collections may seem attractive now the Save Harmon Park group believes that it is short-sighted and I sympathise with them. I think it is a bit arrogant for Coborn’s to believe that the citizens of Pipestone would give up their park without question. I wonder what they were thinking when they were picking their ideal spot for a new store.

Did the conversation go like this?

 “Here is a great location” !

 “But wait, isn’t there a city park there”?

 “So what, our green will trump their green”.

For me, another reason to dislike this idea is Coborn’s political stance on health care reform and the Employee Free Choice Act. They have opposed both and urged their employees to do the same in an internal memo. In a Minnesota Public Radio report, Coborn’s director of communications, Steve Gottwalt says, ” the company frequently shares information with its employees about factors affecting its business”. Steve Gottwalt also happens to have another job as a  Minnesota state representative in district 15A and  is a member of the Republican caucus.

Visit the Pipestone County Star website to keep abreast of the situation and to read the letters to the editor. Here is just one example. If you are on Facebook search Save Harmon Park.

I can’t help but think of this song.

Peace & solidarity,



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The Marshall Independent is reporting that former Minnesota House minority leader Rep. Marty Seifert, R-Marshall will formally announce his bid for governor on July 7.  His plans include a campaign tour throughout the state, starting with the Twin Cities and with visits to Duluth, Rochester and Mankato.

Oh, by the way, he also mentions that voters have until Tuesday to take advantage of the campaign political refund program that his best bud, Governor Pawlenty, has decided to eliminate. I wonder how that is working out for you Marty?

Peace & solidarity,


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Minnesota’s 6th congressional district Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann has garnered a lot of attention this last week for comments she made to talk show host Chris Baker of radio station KLTK.  Needless to say, her remarks were totally off the wall and were devoid of facts. OllieOx at  Bluestem Prairie notes that NPR’s  Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me featured her, “we are running out of rich people”, comment on their latest broadcast. Minnesota Independent has an interesting piece  as well as the MN Progressive Project, and of course Dump Michelle Bachmann has all the coverage.

If you would like to weigh in on her latest comments please take the poll below.

Comments are welcome.

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If you say so John. I guess I am one of the American workers that McCain is talking about. Does that make me a Fundamentalist?? 

Anyway, here is a short video essay I put together.




Peace & solidarity,


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This video comes from the site worsethanbush.org where you can also take a fun quiz called,  Who Said It?

I have also added some videos to CornerHouseTheater. Check them out.


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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“Eighteen months ago, we began with the simple concept that those who have been serving since 9/11 should have the same opportunity for a first class educational future as those who served during World War II. Today, we have accomplished that goal.”

Senator Jim Webb of Virginia spoke those words on June 26th after the Senate passed the 21st Century GI Bill that was part of the 162 billion war supplemental spending measure. The legislation passed 92-6 with 2 not voting. Today President Bush signed the measure into law and in a press release from the White House the President spins all the positives and thanks numerous people for their work. One line from the press release did raise my blood pressure.

“And I want to thank members who worked hard for the GI Bill expansion — especially Senators Webb and Warner, Graham, Burr, and McCain.”

Graham, Burr, and McCain? This is the same trio that opposed the 21st Century GI Bill and introduced legislation in an effort to sabotage Senator Webb’s bill. GOP presumptive nominee John McCain is now jumping on the bandwagon and trying to take credit despite the fact he was a vocal opponent and didn’t even bother to show up for both of the votes on this bill. McCain has proved that he is consistent in one way-having it both ways!

Ollie Ox at Bluestem Prairie has the press release from 1st District Congressman Tim Walz who has been consistent, vocal and hard working on veterans issues. In the statement he notes that over 20,000 men and women from Minnesota have been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. The Congressman also offers up the assistance of his Rochester, MN office (507-206-0643) for veterans that are experiencing difficulties with their 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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Dana Yost reports in the Marshall Independent that Minnesota House of Representatives Minority Leader Marty Seifert, R-Marshall will have a challenger for the 21A seat in November. Al Kruse of Marshall made his announcement Friday that he woul been running against 12 year incumbent Marty Seifert.

From the paper:

Al Kruse of Marshall said Friday he is running against Seifert.

“We’re definitely an underdog,” Kruse said of his campaign, acknowledging Seifert’s 12 years of experience in the Legislature, and current status as House minority leader.

“He’s been in place for 12 years, but he ran on term limits. I don’t know what those term limits are, but I guess he hasn’t reached them.”

Read the rest of the story here.

Peace & solidarity,


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UPDATE: 05/01/2008 #1 son points out in the comments that now 7 of 8 of Minnesota’s congressional delegation have signed on to this legislation. The only holdout is Michelle Bachman. As of this date 261 members of the House of Representatives have signed on as cosponsors. END UPDATE

As hundreds of thousands of men and women return from serving their country in the military they are finding that the current G.I. Bill is woefully inadequate. Senators Jim Webb(D) and Chuck Hagel(R), hope to change that with the “Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act” (S.22/H.R. 5740). The current list of cosponsors include 58 in the Senate and 250 members of the House. Both of Minnesota’s senators have signed on to the bill. Six of Minnesota’s eight representatives in the House have signed on, including my congressman, Tim Walz. This legislation has bipartisan support and has been endorsed by the following veterans and educational groups:   

The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act has been endorsed by the Veterans of Foreign Wars(VFW), Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), The American Legion, the Military Officers’Association of America (MOAA), Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), AMVETS, the Air Force Sergeants Association (AFSA), the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States (EANGUS), the Student Veterans of America (SVA), the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges (NASULGC) and the Partnership for Veterans’ Education, a consortium of military, veterans, and higher education associations such as the American Council on Education (ACE) and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU).

Democratic presidential hopefuls Clinton and Obama are cosponsors. Republican presidential candidate John McCain has introduced alternative legislation which is a slap in the face to our veterans and especially to our national guard and reservists. VoteVets.org issued a press release last week in which they repudiated the McCain-Graham-Burr bill. Here is and excerpt from the press release:

The veterans stated that the McCain-Graham-Burr bill falls flat in its key differences from the Webb-Hagel Bill, which has the support of 57 members of the Senate, from both sides of the aisle.

1) The McCain-Graham-Burr legislation creates a flat education benefit, not taking into account the cost of state colleges where veterans live. This would mean veterans in states where the cost of education is higher than the benefit would have go to into debt to get an education, or uproot themselves and their families to move to a place where the benefit would cover college. The Webb-Hagel Bill determines the education benefit based on the highest state college tuition in a veterans’ home state, allowing veterans to come home and attend college, without upheaval in their lives.

2) The McCain-Graham-Burr legislation creates second-class veterans, by offering those who serve in the military for 12 years the chance to transfer their education benefits to their children. This says to a veteran who serves for two years and loses both of his legs in combat that his service isn’t as valuable as someone who has served for longer.

3) The McCain-Graham-Burr legislation leaves the National Guard and Reserve out in the cold. In the current conflicts, the National Guard and Reserve have served faithfully alongside their active duty compatriots, and deserve equal benefits. Yet, the McCain bill does nothing to reward our Guard and Reservists for their cumulative service. Under the McCain bill, over 160,000 members of the Guard and Reserves who have done more than one tour in Iraq or Afghanistan would get no credit towards an education for their additional sacrifice. 

If this is an example of John McCain’s leadership and support for the troops, then we don’t need him. He is proving once again that he is out of touch with reality.  If we are going to go to war then we must consider all costs, and that includes education.

A fact sheet on S. 22 is available here.

Watch the video from VoteVets.org. 

Peace & solidarity,



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