Thursday, April 30, 2009

Rally's for Tax Cuts

This weekend there will be a gathering of some friends of mine at the State Capitol in Saint Paul.

We have been meeting for many years now. I started having these little regular get togethers after the first billion dollar bonding bill well over a decade ago.

It was just a small group of us then. Myself, Colin my brother and Charles Test; then Chair of the Libertarian Party of Minnesota.

I reserved the steps at the Capitol, built the "lug-a-lectern" and the "port-a-podium".
We hauled them up the stairs, set up the works (with a sound system provided by C. Test), weighed it down with sandbags and cranked up the tunes.

I did the M.C. work for most of them.

Over time others who were there include then State Representative Phil Krinkie, Tom Workman, Todd Van Dellum, Kevin Knight, and State Senator Linda Runbeck and Carol Molnau, just to name a few.

There were lots of people you never heard of. Many helped in many little ways. Some fed me, some bought me gasoline or lunch. Ken Iverson gave me an old car of his when mine died.

These get togethers came to be called rallys.

Some were titled such as the "Give it Back", "Give it all Back" and "Tax cuts Now!" rallys.
Eric Escola of CBS came to refer to us as the "Give It All Back" crowd on "Almanac" and elsewhere.

Jesse Ventura spoke at one of our "Give it Back" rallys prior to his election as Governor. The pictures are funny in that I built the podium to fit me, at five feet seven inches. Needless to say Jesse Ventura is quite taller than that.

At least a year before that, house Speaker Steve Sviggum spoke. He had a great prop I helped him display, a very large pink porciline pig.

The crowd loved it and the photos are great.

Now these rallys are known as the annual "Jason Lewis" tax cut rallys.
You saw me lead the Pledge of Allegeance at last years "Tax Cut Rally".

(I and some others had a complaint sustained by the MN News Council from last years coverage by WCCO. Read my complaint here at; "Complaint to MN News Council")

I delivered the Pledge of Allegiance at the "Tea Party" on the 15th of April.

I am very happy with the momentum and support gained over these many years.

What started with three is now easily thirteen thousand strong, and growing.

I may not get the opportunity to lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance this year, but I don't mind at all.

It is nice to watch and not have to worry about making cues, setting lecturns and all the other incidentals I have done for all these years.

It is good to sit down and look back with satisfaction at the movements growth.

Hopefully we shall see our efforts bear fruit.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The End of a Cycle

I have been using the comparison of the Minnesota Legislature to that of a four cycle engine. You can read here the article "The Engine that is Minnesota"

We are entering the end of the compression cycle, approaching the power cycle.

The heat and temperature in the cylinder is increasing as the piston rises towards the engine head with a fuel and air mixture that is very rich.

The DFL members think its lean and are attempting to dump even more fuel into the gaping, tax guzzling, carburetor before reaching top-dead-center; and that hard end on May 18.

The way they drive the vehicle, and with all those odd attachments, and then tow everyone's stuff around; well there's no wonder why they cannot pass a tax station.

We used to have a budget year then a bonding year. [Before that, we meet every other year.]

These too seem to be combined, ending with a bonding every year now.

The engine that is Minnesota is overloaded, and many seem to think making a four cycle engine perform like a two cycle engine, with twice as many power cycles, is the way to go.

I think they are going to blow a head gasket and the engine is going to seize.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Minnesota Minning and Manufacturing No More

In 1902 in the little north shore town of Two Harbors Minnesota, five businessmen began what they thought was a venture to mine a local mineral deposit to be an abrasive on grinding-wheels. However the mineral deposit was found to be of little value (not corundum) and they moved to Duluth were they focused on producing sandpaper products.

This company was called Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing. Since then this little risky venture has blossomed into a multinational powerhouse with manufacturing, distribution and research facilities located worldwide.

Its headquarters once located in Saint Paul, is now in Maplewood Minnesota. I drive by the old large multi-building complex at least twice a month. It is still held in high esteem to work there.

Its been there my whole lifetime, so far.
They too have had some difficult times.

Sales of many of 3M's products have slowed during the last quarter, and its profits are reflecting that.

In France a company executive was held by striking workers at a factory expected to be closed.

Here in Minnesota we have been forcing them to chase phantom menaces on land used generations ago.

The executives have made clear the difficulty working in Minnesota with its high tax burden on the company and its employees.

3M announced some time back they would not be building on their aging Saint Paul campus.

And long before that they stopped referring to 3M as "Minnesota Minning and Manufacturing".

THE STATE is not friendly to anything having to do with "companies" or "minning" or "manufacturing". Today unlike times gone by, Minnesota is not "industry" friendly.

Nope, now its just 3M, period. Sad.

3M is selling its Saint Paul Campus to the Saint Paul Port Authority. It was the old headquarters before the move to Maplewood in the 60's. It will be leveled and the Port Authority will set it up for light industry and office space.

They, like other companies (and 3M is not just another company), are announcing layoffs and early retirements and buyouts for employees.

This will ripple throughout Minnesota. 3M is generous and always has been. They've built public buildings, symphonies, theaters, educations, hospitals.... the list of positives is very long.

3M has been a pillar of our society for over a hundred years.

However to me it seem that the McKnight Principle;

"As our business grows, it becomes increasingly necessary to delegate responsibility and to encourage men and women to exercise their initiative. This requires considerable tolerance. Those men and women, to whom we delegate authority and responsibility, if they are good people, are going to want to do their jobs in their own way.
"Mistakes will be made. But if a person is essentially right, the mistakes he or she makes are not as serious in the long run as the mistakes management will make if it undertakes to tell those in authority exactly how they must do their jobs.
"Management that is destructively critical when mistakes are made kills initiative. And it's essential that we have many people with initiative if we are to continue to grow."

....does not mesh well with THE STATES principle of centralized command and control.

3M appears to be leaving my beloved State of Minnesota.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Tornados, Paper Puppets and Public Broadcasting

This is Severe Weather Awareness Week.

Today the sirens will sound throughout Minnesota at 1:45 pm and 6:55 pm for tornado drills.

Last year about 5 miles south of my home in Forest Lake a violent tornado tore through the town of Hugo, about 5:00 pm on May 25, 2008.

I watched the storm approaching from the window on the second floor looking south. The sky was dark and menacing around 4:45 and my roommate with her three year old daughter were on the road just east of Hugo, attempting to drive home.

The wind was very strong and gusting, the clouds became a dark green, indicating hail, and I was very concerned for their well being.

I knew that I could get more detailed information from the public broadcasting system channel 17 Doppler radar display.

This is part of their "public service" on the "public airways".

I turned on the television. Boy was I wrong.

Instead of the crucial and timely information I was expecting to receive, I was frustrated to see what was being displayed was not the radar that the channel was established to provide the public, but a children's program called "Donna's Day".

Apparently the creation of paper bag puppets and "children friendly" broadcasting had eventually became the more important function of this Public Broadcasting Channel than the original reason given for the establishment of this additional TPT Channel. (Twin Cities Public Television... not Toilet Paper Television)

I called my roommate on her cell phone. She said she had stopped driving and was parked under a tree, seeking some shielding from the hail.

I could here the baseball sized hail hitting her station wagon and I could hear the child screaming in the background.

I was very frustrated in that I did not know the details of the storm and its track... Then the sirens started.

The private news stations were broadcasting information but I wanted more detailed, real time radar over some time to see the drift and trend of the storm. They showed the radar, but also more general storm related reports from throughout the region.

I told her to sit it out, if I knew more I would have told her to drive East.

Her windows were smashed, she barely made it home two hours later.

That tornado, an EF-3 with winds of 136 to 165 miles an hour tore into a Hugo housing development, destroyed dozens of homes and killed one young child.

The public broadcasting folks seem to think these channels are their own little broadcasting system. Useful to air their "green" programs, child "friendly" programing (that they say is unavailable on private TV stations), political reporting, and their behavior and thought modifying "educational" programs.

Once again the arguments made in the Legislature to justify these DFL projects are just, as the late Democrat Senator Daniel PatrickMoynihan called it, "Boob Bait For The Bubbas".

Rhetoric to placate the normal Minnesotan, that can be ignored later once the project is established.

Then they can do what they really intended, as normal folks don't have the time or inclination to follow up on such things.

The Radar Channel should be broadcasting the Radar data, if we wanted Laurence Welk we would borrow grandmas phonograph thank you very much.

TPT used to run with the phrase "If we don't do it, who will?"

I can get "Donna's Day" at the movie rental, thank you.

If you tell me and my fellow Minnesotans you need this channel and broadcasting equipment to provide radar data for public safety, then that is what we should be receiving.

Especially in the middle of a Tornado.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Norm Coleman, Being The Best Senator He Can Be.

The continuing saga that is the Minnesota Senate election is an interesting study in and of itself.

The recent ruling from the Judicial Branch of the State of Minnesota has brought us to the end of the latest scene in the drama.

The question raised by Norm Coleman is the non uniform way in which ballots (absentee) were treated by the eighty seven individual counties, and THE STATE.

He is appealing the ruling to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Some years back, I had the opportunity to help a friend run for a State Senate seat vacated by the untimely death of the seated Senator north of the twin cities metro area .

I learned a lot about our elections and the agencies that "manage" these elections here in Minnesota.

No, we did not win and the results were totally of our own doing. No grudges anywhere and lots of new friends.

However, what I experienced from a customer/professional/business standpoint was the same as seen in most any other paper-shuffling government agency.

Very often overly-polite, officious and sometimes a little patronizing, the Government Desk-Set can be quite taxing in more ways than one.

They also love their job, and would like to keep it.

That alone supplies a great motivation to each individual that trends to an over-all "listing" away from anything that might possibly jeopardize their job, and obviously by extension, their agency.

Minnesota has very often led the nation in business, education, power, and politics.

I think we are leading the way again.

It is time for a total overhaul and restructuring of the Election process in the State of Minnesota and also on a Federal level.

I do not like the proposals put forth by Al Franken. I also find little to like from Norm Colman.

I do not like the fear-mongering environmental rhetoric and resulting policies coming from either of the two.

If you remember after the Wellstone tragedy, the DFL asked Governor Ventura to keep the seat empty until the election, out of respect.

He did too.

Then he attended the infamous Wellstone Memorial in the Hubert H. Humphy metro-dome. He walked out when his wife started crying due to the rude and insensitive way the DFL used it like a political club.

Democrats seem to have very little respect, considering how much they demand.

Then he appointed Dean Barkley to fill the Wellstone seat. (He has many odd notions too.)

The DFL seem to be a real classless bunch.

I am happy with the situation as it is now.

The longer we have a vacant seat, the more we prove Minnesota a truly national leader, rejecting the false choices offered by a failing system.

We can do better.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Carving Counties in Minnesota

Sartell is a happy little village straddling the Mississippi River about 75 miles upstream of Minneapolis. It has a dam and a paper mill that grew up with and alongside it.

It is named after Joseph B. Sartell who first opened a flour mill on Watab creek that flows in from the west, then opened Sartell Bros. Lumber Company.

Sartell grew up on what the French voyageur called, the "third rapids" up from St. Anthony falls.

It incorporated in 1907 and almost always had a Sartell on the city council till 1973. Ripley or "Rip" was Mayor when we moved into town in 1970.

My friends and I used to bike a distance downstream to "Rips" store and buy penny candy. I can still smell the place and hear the wood floor creak. It is gone now, the site is where the Riverboat bar and grill is now.

The old metal truss bridge is still right there just down stream of the dam, but it is not open for the public. The new bridge is downstream of that a couple of blocks.

Sartell on the Mississippi, is on the eastern border of Stearns county. It has also grown up on the east side of the river and therefore, on the west border of Benton county.

We lived on the west side of the river, in Stearns county.

Beautiful and bountiful, with rolling hills, lakes and trees, Stearns County Minnesota has been an agricultural powerhouse with dairy and grain leading a broad spectrum of husbandry. It is historic in many ways, from Holdingford 13 to Saint Johns College.

We lived in Collegeville for a short while. It's a tiny one road hamlet, upstream on Watab creek, lined by about 8 farms and 10 homes, just down the road from the 100+ year old University in the pines.

There was a world class artisan wood carver in town who made the most fantastic wooden doors.

We also had a railroad that ran right through town. Every once in a while a little yellow inspectors rail car would come down the line, and if you were lucky enough to be there when he did, he would stop and give you candy. A genuine nice railroad man.

This is also where I first heard Garison Keillor on the Radio broadcasting on KSJN from Saint Johns University.

Saint Cloud is about seven miles downstream of Sartell on the Mississippi River. It also has a hydroelectric dam, it generates 9 megawatts of electricity.

It owes a lot of its success to the tornado of April 14, 1886 that flattened the up and coming town of Sauk Rapids on the other side of the river, a real setback the town has never really recovered from.

Saint Cloud was named after the town in France and is the county seat of Stearns County.

It was a way station for the ox carts on the Red River Trail that ran between Saint Paul and the oldest town in the Dakotas; Pembina, on the other side of the Red River near Canada.

They would cross the Mississippi River in Saint Cloud or in Sauk Rapids.

Stearns County is the 14th largest county in Minnesota with almost 1400 square miles, it runs about 54 miles east to west and 36 north to south.

Cold Spring has one of the best bakeries in Minnesota, and one of the best granite quarries in the world. It had one of the best breweries.

Saint Cloud, the largest city in Stearns County, also straddles the Mississippi River. And also like the City of Sartell, and many others, it is in more than one county.

Three in fact. Stearns, Benton and Sherburne.

There are 87 counties in Minnesota and they exist at the discretion of THE STATE. One long time sitting Legislator has suggested doing away with counties altogether, concentrating power in Saint Paul.

Because of the size of Saint Cloud and the difficulties of dealing with three county seats for the city, some at the Minnesota Legislature are suggesting redrawing the county lines.

The opening suggestion is to draw a new boundary for a new county, to be centered on the City of Saint Cloud. The neighboring counties would adjust accordingly.

Wobegone County is the suggested name for this new addition to the Minnesota landscape.

This is not sitting so well with many.

In each of the counties the effect could be dramatic and the county commissions are pondering the impact of such a proposal on jurisdictions, voting districts, and tax revenue.

It is interesting to compare this to the issue with the City of Washington, District of Colombia.

The Nations Capitol City was carved out of three States and isolated politicaly to prevent undue influence.

Some now see what they think is a better way; Statehood for Washington, D.C.
I do not think that is a better way.

Saint Cloud and the three Counties may yearn for the old headaches if they trade them in for new headaches.

Sometimes the wiser way is not the way those in power would have you go.

Farmers Found Not Guilty of all Charges.

The Red River Drainage Basin is saturated and has just received another load of snow.

Over two feet in a wide swath, with ten inches of snow surrounding that bullseye and a large ring of six to eight around that one.

The tributary streams are iced, but melting.
Another blast of moisture is heading our way now.

The first crest on the Red River of the North has passed downstream, north of Fargo, however another crest is expected.

With this new input of water and the melting rivers it may exceed the last.

Unfortunately, it seems many here in Minnesota also feel that they should not let "a crises go to waste", and are spinning the situation to push there agenda.

While people have been sandbagging and are now struggling to clean up, the subsidized eco-lobby is pushing the notion that the floods on the Red River are due to farmers use of drain tile in the fields.

O- yes, and of course, Global Warming.

They also said that about the wind throw of July 4, 1999 that downed millions of mature trees over an area the size of Massachusetts in north Minnesota. That from "scientists" at the University of Minnesota.

This from the bunch that says we need good science and not politics directing our legislation. I could not agree more, I wish they would be more open minded to evidence and scientists that offer a different conclusion to these natural events.

Many of these skeptical scientists can be found at the Global Warming Petition Project.
(If you look you will also find a meteorologist here in Minnesota that replaced one who is a Carbonophobe.)

Keep in mind that drain tiles are only two to four feet deep on average, only drain the soil above them, and eventually degrade. The ditches they lead to are very flat also, and many are maintained by THE STATE.

Get the government out of the crop subsidy, ethanol and ditch maintenance business and many an acre would not see the plow. We should at the same time stop telling the farmer how to manage his property.

Many a pothole would be full of water. (how that prevents flooding I don't know, but it seems to be the belief of the eco-freaks.)

Drain tiles also have very little affect when the ground is frozen as very little water penetrates the frost and just pools up, eventually sprawling out as it meets other pools on this table-top landscape.

No, it is not the farmer or Global Warming to blame for the flooding of this north flowing stream on the flat bed of an extinct lake bed.

This is natural and not too unexpected over the long view.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Fools in April

It is April and the Minnesota Legislature has entered the compression phase of the session. (see previous post, "The Engine that is Minnesota")

Three of five months and still no budget deal, and the budget deficit of 5 to 7 billion is still unresolved as mandated by the Minnesota Constitution.

The DFL is pushing to increase taxes in numerous ways.

And in Washington D.C. the Democrats are pushing their tax and spend agenda. (There is no requirement to balance the Federal budget.)

Maybe it is time for an amendment to the U.S Constitution to require a balanced budget.