Archive for the ‘Pawlenty’ Category


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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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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The recent passage of the transportation bill by the Minnesota House and Senate and the subsequent veto by Governor Tim Pawlenty has created an atmosphere of speculation on the possibility of an override of the veto, and consternation amongst the GOP base over those six Republican House members who voted with the DFL majority.

Rep. Doug Magnus (R), 22A, from my corner of the state, voted against the transportation bill and explained his reasons in an email update and on his official House website. It is standard GOP talking points.

Rep. Rod Hamilton (R), 22B, who represents the other half of our Senate district, voted for the transportation bill. In Hamilton’s email update to constituents he explains why he voted for the bill and also mentions that it may cost him politically. Here are a few excerpts:

I supported the proposal because I am tired of rural Minnesota being
left behind, particularly on transportation, so I decided to do
something about it.  By working with all interests and all parties on
this issue, my constituents will actually see the results if this
transportation bill becomes law… an improved Highway 60.

and this:

Here’s the deal, I am here to work for my constituents.  I’m not
here to carry the Governor’s water or toe the party line.
Politically, I’m getting beat up by members of my party over this.
But one of the top concerns I hear constantly from folks in District 22B
is that our roads and bridges are in need of repair, and we have done
nothing on this issue for years.

and this:

I will likely pay a political price over this decision.  But that’s
OK, because by holding the Highway 60 project over the heads of our
Democratic leadership, we are finally moving that project closer to
completion.  Doing nothing once again for transportation did not seem
like a reasonable option.

Read the entire email here rodhamiltontransportationltr22feb.doc 

The conservative Republican base has threatened to withhold endorsing candidates who voted for the bill and have already carried that threat out in one case. Rep. Kathy Tinglestad (R), 49B has become the first victim as the 49B endorsing convention decided to table the endorsement. The vote to override is expected as soon as Monday so we will see what effect this has on Rep. Hamilton’s vote. Completion of highway 60 has been a priority for as long as I can remember and it is about time to get something done. That will not happen until we decide to get serious about investing in our transportation infrastructure. Apparently Rep. Hamilton feels the same way and believes he should serve the people who elected him. I often disagree with the positions that Rep. Hamilton takes but believe he has made the right choice in this case. I expect that Rep. Magnus will vote to sustain the veto and be standing cheek to cheek with Rep. Marty Seifert.

Dave Mindeman over at mnpACT has a suggestion for the Republicans: Minnesota GOP House: You Represent People NOT Ideology

Peace & solidarity,


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Health care has been one of the major issues of this current presidential campaign. Minnesota Central, a frequent visitor to Corner House comments, has left a comment about one of my previous posts which mentioned this issue and H. R. 676. Introduced by Representative John Conyers (D), of Michigan, HR 676 would institute a single payer health care system in the U.S. by expanding a greatly improved Medicare system to every resident.

A recent email from Unions for a Single Payer described H. R. 676 as this:
HR 676 would cover every person in the U. S. for all necessary medical
care including prescription drugs, hospital, surgical, outpatient
services, primary and preventive care, emergency services, dental, mental
health, home health, physical therapy, rehabilitation (including for
substance abuse), vision care, chiropractic and long term care.  HR 676
ends deductibles and co-payments.  HR 676 would save billions annually by
eliminating the high overhead and profits of the private health insurance
industry and HMOs.

HR 676 currently has 88 co-sponsors in addition to Conyers. Currently, the only member of the Minnesota congressional delegation that I am aware of to sign on as a co-sponsor is Rep. Keith Ellison, (DFL) from the 5th CD.

HR 676 has been endorsed by 367 union organizations in 48 states including
95 Central Labor Councils and Area Labor Federations and 32 state
MN, ME, AR, MD-DC, TX, IA, AZ, TN, OR, GA, OK, KS, CO, IN, AL & CA). The Minnesota AFL-CIO is one of the state federations that has passed a resolution of support.

UPDATE: 02/10/2008: additional endorsers of HR676 in Minnesota include: Duluth Central Labor Body/AFL-CIO, Minnesota Association of Professional Employees (MAPE), Southern Dakota County Labor Council/ AFL-CIO, Apple Valley, MN, Minnesota State Council of Machinists, IAMAW, Vandais Heights, MN, Council 5, AFSCME, St. Paul, MN,  and United Steelworkers (USW) Region 10 (which includes Minnesota).

Jason over at IDHA takes a look at the issue and the recent recommendations from the Minnesota’s task force appointed by Governor Tim Pawlenty.

It is always good to have thoughtful dialogue about the issues but I think we have about maxed out on dialogue, task forces, and commissions. The health care system is not a crisis, it is a disaster! Conyers’s H. R. 676 is ready to act on whenever our political leaders decide to stop talking and start passing legislation.

Contact your representatives and tell them to support H. R. 676, the United States National Health Insurance Act.

Peace & solidarity,


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More water woes!

GW released his 2009 budget today and one of the casualties was the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System. News reports from KELOTV and the Sioux Falls Argus Leader state that the LCRWS will receive nothing, nada, zilch in the Bush 2009 budget. When completed, Lewis & Clark will provide safe, reliable drinking water to over 300,000 people in the tri-state area. Members in southwest Minnesota include Luverne, Worthington, Rock County Rural Water, and Linclon-Pipestone Rural Water. The project has been backed by 1st CD Rep. Tim Walz, Senator Amy Klobuchar and Senator Norm Coleman and Governor Tim Pawlenty.

I am waiting to see what the reaction from our elected officials in Minnesota will be.

For more budget info go to A Bluestem Prairie for some informative links on other casualties of the Bush budget.

Peace & solidarity


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The Rock County Star-Herald ran a story Thursday, December 27 about one of the bridges that I often cross. It appears that the bridge built by the WPA in 1931 that crosses the Rock River is ranked fourth in the state. Normally for Luverne and Rock County to be recognized would be a good thing but this ranking is for fourth worst bridge in the state!

The Worthington Daily Globe also ran a story about its neighbor to the west and the trouble with the bridge. It seems we have a total of 47 bridges that are rated structurally deficient in Rock County. County Engineer Mark Sehr doesn’t seem to be excited about it and seems pleased about the progress they have made on bridge replacement. The suspect bridge (no. 5050) is scheduled to be replaced in 2008.

Nobles County engineer Stephen Schnieder has no immediate concerns for his county bridges but is worried about the future and has a couple of bridges that will need to be replaced soon.

Here is a quote from Schnieder from the Daily Globe article

“Right now, there is no bridge money,” he said. “The last bonding bill was in 2006, and the next one is in 2008 for bridges. If they don’t provide us with any money or not enough, we may end up waiting until 2010 or later to replace these two bridges.”

The New Year is fast approaching and soon after the Minnesota State Legislature will convene. Hopefully they will address our transportation and other important infrastructure needs.

Peace & Solidarity,


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According to a news report by MPR, Minnesota Health Commissioner Dianne Mandernach has notified her staff and Governor Pawlenty of her intent to resign effective October 2. Her last day will be September 20th. The Governor’s office is expected to make a statement Wednesday, August 22.

The Health Department’s credibility has been suspect since it became known that she withheld data on cancer deaths on the Iron Range and the possible link between taconite and mesothelioma for over a year. Read CHC related posts here and here.

Who will Governor Pawlenty appoint to fill the spot? Hopefully he wil choose an advocate for the people of Minnesota and the Department of Health instead of a morale buster like MNDOT Commissioner Molnau.

Peace & solidarity,


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