Monday, December 7, 2009


There was another DFL gubernatorial debate tonight. This one took place at the Weyerhaeuser Chapel at Macalester College. I didn't want to go home first after work because I probably would have fallen asleep. I went directly to the campus, found a place to park and then investigated the shops on Grand Avenue. There was one shop I particularly liked. It had such unique items that I'd never seen before. By the time I came out and walked a couple of blocks I was freezing. Guess I'd better start dressing for winter. I saw a restaurant that looked promising so I went in for dinner. They had lamb on the menu. I love lamb. Matt Entenza came in for his dinner, as well. I later heard that he's a frequent patron and that the owner is a big supporter of his.

By the time I got to the chapel my teeth were chattering. I warmed up quickly once inside. It wasn't a very large venue. It would not have come close to holding the 700+ DFLers who had attended the debate in Hopkins. Yet it was cozy. I recognized many new friends, especially those on various campaign staffs.

Brian Menlendez, the DFL Party Chair, was the moderator for the debate. It was his job to ask the various questions and to make sure the candidates sat down when their time was up. Tom Rukavina didn't want to again. Paul Thissen kept going overtime too.  All the candidates were in attendance except for R. T. Rybak. Someone said he was going to be late because of a City Council meeting. Well, gosh, he is still the mayor of Minneapolis. He better not start missing meetings like Timmy Boy does.

So here we go again. I'll do it in chronological order again just like it was at the debate.

Opening Statements:

Matt Entenza - He represented his district for 12 years. He got married at Weyerhaueser Chapel. His mantra is still a clean energy economy. He also wants health care for everyone. This is something all the DFL candidates agree on. Matt presents himself in a very Minnesota nice manner. He's soft spoken. The people in the row behind me were supporters of his. They said that he actually listened to them. They also said that Rukavina had listened to them about a particular issue, too, and even passed legislation about it. People seem to be amazed when a legislator actually listens to them and takes action.

Susan Gaertner - She didn't go to Macalester College but her mother did. Susan, however, had a first date at the chapel. That was an interesting little personal story. Gaertner wants to give Minnesota a fresh start. She can get the job done.

Paul Thissen - He was the chair of the Health and Human Services Committee. He quoted, "You can either play to win or play not to lose." He says the Democrats have been playing not to lose for way too long. Now it's time to play to win. His mantra is to move forward into the future. He will take on all issues. Unlike Entenza, who only seems to have one goal in mind, which is the clean energy economy.

Steve Kelley - He lives in Hopkins. He spent 14 years in the legislature. His grandfather worked at the Hopkins post office. He gave a family history. Ho hum. He lost the audience about then.He wants every Minnesotan to have the same opportunities as his grandparents and parents did.

Ole Savior - He's a Vikings fan. He wants a new stadium. He wants the State Fair to be open year round. He wants to turn it into a Disneyland.

Tom Rukavina - He said he wants to go to Disneyland. Tom is so funny. He has been a Representative from the Iron Range for 23 years. He's into education for all and common sense. He's refreshingly honest, too. He wants to lower the drinking age in Minnesota so those youth who fight in wars can come home and legally drink. I have to disagree with that. The liver hates alcohol. That's a topic for another blog post. Liver disease. Transplant. More medical costs.

Mark Dayton - Minnesota is going in a profoundly wrong direction. He wants a progressive tax system to pay for things we want and need, like education and health care for everyone. Mark was at his best tonight. He excelled with excellent speaking skills and with passion in his voice for these issues that he cares so much about. He connected with the audience, too. I always keep my eyes and ears on the audience as well as my note taking and the candidates. No wonder my eyes are sore.  Dayton could very well be the best governor that this state has ever had. I'm not biased, either; that's just the impression that he gives. I've heard others say the same thing.

Tom Bakk - He insinuates that he understands the budget mess better than anyone else. He was a carpenter his whole life and carpenters solve problems. If they didn't, they'd never get a building completed.  He thinks we all need to work together to get the job done of making Minnesota right again. He wants to pull together and work together.

Margaret Anderson Kelliher - She gets Brownie points because she came up to me after the debate and thanked me for coming and said she noticed me furiously writing. In her opening statement she talked about her dairy farm background. She must know how to milk cows. What can she bring from that experience to the governorship? Hard work, she says. And maybe pulling on something to squeeze out some nourishment. She'll really have to squeeze hard at the next legislative session.

John Marty - He's been fighting from day one for justice and equality. He doesn't just give lip service. What's with all the lip analogies? We get to read Dayton's lips and get service from Marty's lips. There must be some profound metaphor here that I'm missing.

Question #1:  Regarding job issues. What will you do to put Minnesota back to work?

Susan Gaertner - She will do whatever needs to be done and she can get it done. She wants bonding and wants to subsidize jobs. She'll focus on small businesses.

Paul Thissen - He will use bonding dollars to get people back to work. He wants to work together with private companies on this. He states that banks are not lending money effectively.

Steve Kelley - He's against laying people off, especially firemen, policemen, teachers, public works employees, etc. He wants to invest in an infrastructure.

Ole Savior - He'll reverse everything that Pawlenty did. He's against new taxes and wants Minnesotans to keep their money. He'll bring money in from out of state. He wants to sue oil companies. He seems to be big on law suits. Ole is the perpetual candidate.

Tom Rukavina - He says the Iron Range already has converted some power plants from coal burning to wood burning. They've also been putting up wind mills. He wants to see these things being done all over the state.

Mark Dayton - He's the only candidate who seems to know how to fix every issue and not just one or two of them. This no doubt comes from his 34 years of government experience. He wants to increase state bonding, especially for highway construction and mass transit. He'll develop new energy sources and invest in education. He speaks not only from the heart but also from all those years of experience.

Tom Bakk - He says that the most urgent need Minnesota has is jobs. He has adopted the Jobs Jobs Jobs mantra which he purloined from Rudy Perpich. That should belong to Dayton, who was a Commissioner under Perpich. Bakk says that our budget deficit is just a symptom of a bigger problem.

Margaret Anderson Kelliher - She's a perfect speaker. Any Toastmaster would have an exceedingly hard time finding anything for her to improve on. Except...hmmm...I know there's an except in there somewhere. I still can't figure out what it is. It was almost the end of her allotted time when she said that we need a proven leader, then her time was up but before it was called she referred to Dayton. Then she had to sit down, leaving the audience with the impression that she meant that Dayton was that proven leader. Well, this is certainly true, although I'm sure she didn't mean us to think so. I thought she handed that leadership over to him very nicely, though.

John Marty - He wants to get people working right away. He's advocating a big Jobs Program. He agrees with the bonding bill idea. He's against a new stadium because of our huge budget deficit. Won't a new stadium bring MN lots of new money? Or so my son thinks.

Matt Entenza - He claims that a governor cannot do five or ten different things. (Dayton can. Maybe Gaertner can too.) So Entenza's big thing will be clean energy. Wait a minute. He only has one issue on his platform? This is very weak. He can't get elected with only one item. Also, as I've said before, his clean energy economy idea will take years to get off the ground. Minnesota needs help as soon as possible. We don't have time to wait around. A clean energy economy is a great idea, but he needs something else that will tide us over. If that's all he has, then I have to recommend that we don't elect Matt Entenza for our next governor. He just doesn't have enough good ideas.

Question #2:  The Health Care Issue

Paul Thissen - He states that the health care issue is the make or break issue for our state. He is fully supportive of health care for everyone. He wants to have nurses reach out to people to keep them healthy. No wonder he got the endorsement of the Nurse's Association.  It looks like Paul might be a big contender after all instead of having to wait to acquire more experience. The more I hear from him, the more impressed I am.

Steve Kelley - He would work with passing the health care reform bill for Minnesota. He's a big MnCare supporter so would work with that program. (Having worked at MnCare for five years before I came to MDH, I can say that MnCare definitely has problems.) He also wants MDH to work on lowering health care costs. I don't think Kelley understands the work that MDH is already doing. They've done a lot to get costs lowered and continue their very effective work on it. They've implemented many ways to lower costs and some have already passed into law. I didn't appreicate Kelley saying negative things about MDH.

Ole Savior - He stated that one pill can cost more than gold. He sure likes lawsuits. He obviously doesn't understand the costs of making drugs and the time it takes to get a new drug through the FDA approval process, even if the drug is on fast track. Case in point: the many new drugs that are in the pipeline for hepatitis C. HCV is the biggest cause of liver transplant in this country. While treatment has improved greatly from 20% to 50% or slightly more for non genotype one patients, that still leaves millions of patients who failed treatment. The next drug to be approved will be a protease inhibitor that is having good results in stage three clinical trials. The problem with it is a particularly bad side effect. About 30% of patients in the clinical trials end up in the hospital with a very nasty rash. Ole needs to educate himself with facts that he researches and not just spout off about things he knows nothing about. While it's true that drugs in America are overpriced, we're never going to get them for pennies because the pharmaceutical companies are not going to work for free. We can, however, negoitiate lower prices if we buy in mass.

Tom Rukavina - He stated that no one should go bankrupt because they got sick. I'm glad people are finally realizing that. He wants to put everyone in Minnesota on the same health care that legislators have. State employees have been saying that for years.

Mark Dayton - Mark did a great job with this question. He wants to take profiteering out of health care. He wants to get rid of health insurance and get health care. Great idea! Why do we need big health insurance companies anyway? In my grandparents day (everyone else talks about family; I may as well too), you could barter with your doctor. Give him a cow or a pig in return for his home visits when you're sick. Or do some carpentry work for him. Realistically, of course, those days are long gone. It's obvious that Dayton has thoroughly researched the heath care question and is on board with single payer.

Tom Bakk - He informed us that Minnesota is a leader in heath care. We knew that. We won't be much longer, though, if state agency budgets keep being cut. Bakk is one of the authors of Marty's Bill.

Margaret Anderson Kelliher - She gave a canned speech on health care. At least I think it was canned. I could be wrong. On the other hand, I'm sure all the candidates must practice their responses to expected questions diligently. She has thoroughly studied the health care question, she claims, and is in full support of Marty's Bill.

John Marty - He was pleased to hear that so many of the other candidates are in favor of his bill. He has wanted health care for everyone for a very long time. He's very passionate about this. He doesn't think we should have to prove to the insurance companies that our illnesses are not a result of preexisting conditions, and even if they are, it shouldn't matter. No one should be denied health care. He's running for governor because he's willing to go toe to toe with insurance companies. He doesn't accept special interest money.

Matt Entenza - He went into a spiel again about his poor pathetic childhood. Actually, he was 15 when his father left the family. Why does he play on this part of his life so much? I don't think he had it that bad. I know a great many people who had it a lot worse. And they don't have enormous wealth from the insurance industry to help them get over their childhood woes. Of course Entenza never did get over it or he wouldn't be throwing it at his audiences every chance he gets. Entenza needs a lot of new material. His current monologue is getting very stale.

Susan Gaertner - She told us that over a million dollars a day are spent in Washington on lobbyists. This is money that the insurance companies could put into health care.

Question #3:  Emerald Ash Borer Infestation and Pollution Issues. This is a question the candidates have never had before. It gives us an opportunity to see how well they can think on their feet. (Toastmasters has ample training opportunities in this with the Table Topics portion of its meetings.)

Steve Kelley - He would turn to the excellent science advisor that he would appoint and then follow their advice.

Ole Savior - He would give money to the University of Minnesota for research. He will go out of state to get the money. People are just lining up to give him lots of money, you know.

Tom Rukavina - He says we can't stop ships from coming into port, so it's hard to stop infestations of pests from other countries. He would appropriate lottery money for University of Minnesota research. Maybe he would cut down on imports.

Mark Dayton - He talked about what he calls the Minnesota Pollution Cooperating Agency, which got some laughs from the audience. They love it when Dayton tells it like it is. He wants to change the name of that agency to the Minnesota Pollution Reduction Agency. He will appoint commissioners who have expertise and who won't take money from the polluters.

Tom Bakk - He will consider a moratorium on boat launches in Minnesota to stop invasive species. He will find the money to take care of this issue through Legacy funding.

Margaret Anderson Kelliher - She wants to create jobs by putting in new trees. (?)

John Marty - He wants more diversity in agriculture. He also wants sustainable agriculture.  He also wants to dump ballast water before it enters the Great Lakes. (Does his audience know what ballast water is? He should expound on that. No time at the debate, though.)

Matt Entenza - He told us that the biggest invasive species is Republicanism. We knew that. He asks if we really want the Flat Earth Society to run Minnesota. No, Matt, we don't. That's why the next governor will be DFL.

Susan Gaertner -  She heard the answer to this tree problem, but she forgot what it is. She'll ask her husband again, who knows all about trees. Whatever is needed to control the problem, she can get it done. Maybe she'll prosecute those nasty little pests. I really like her style. She stated that diversity has to happen both in communities and in trees. Personally, I have friends in the oak tree, birch tree, and apple tree communities. An oak tree to hug, a birch tree to admire and an apple tree for nourishment. Hey, I grew up on a farm too, and ours had an apple orchard.

Paul Thissen - This is a managing issue. It's also about property taxes. He's very glad for Legacy dollars.

Question #4:  Minnesota has a 5.4 billion dollar deficit. How will you resolve it?

Ole Savior - He doesn't want to raise taxes. He wants us to keep our money in our pockets. He won't blame Pawlenty for everything. He then said some things about the other DFL candidates that were untrue and unfounded.

Tom Rukavina - He says the budget deficit will actually be more like eight billion dollars. We must raise taxes. All the candidates agree with this except Ole. Tom says that we must have a fair income tax.  The moderator then told him his time was up and he replied, "No, my time is not up." Too funny.

Mark Dayton - People were leaning forward in their seats to catch every word that Dayton said. He told us that it's a budget crisis now and no long just a budget challenge. He invites us to read his lips again about taxing the wealthy. He says that he knows that the wealthy can afford to pay their fair share of taxes and it's unfair that they don't. I wonder what Entenza thinks about this. I'm all for it. This is one of the reasons that Dayton got the AFSCME endorsement. They've been saying for years that the wealthy need to pay their fair share. Dayton always does what he says he's going to do. It's like in those old cowboy movies where a man is only as good as his word. Dayton is good to go. Straight to the governor's office. Get out of the way, T-Paw.

Tom Bakk - He wants to have an honest conversation about taxes. Pawlenty keeps saying he didn't raise taxes, but cut them instead. His income tax cuts only served to raise property taxes, so there is no way that Pawlenty can say that he didn't raise taxes. Bakk says that we can't raise taxes enough to pay off our deficit. It's a start, though. We also have to rely on creating new jobs.

Margaret Anderson Kelliher - She likes to crow about her perceived excellent work in the legislature. She is the person who will actually be able to get things done in the twelve weeks between the time of her perceived election to the governorship and the time of the budget period's ending. I thought that was Susan Gaertner who could get things done. Too many candidates have the same platform. How will we ever choose who to vote for? (Well, I don't have that problem...) I've heard some people say that maybe we should just have a governing board and include all the candidates, who can then run Minnesota together. Ten heads are better than one?

John Marty - He agrees with the progressive taxes idea. He says that Pawlenty shouldn't have cut taxes in the first place. Marty voted against it. He thinks that tax money should be used mainly to fund education.

Matt Entenza - Stated his dismay with Pawlenty for taking away so much money from necessary services.

Susan Gaertner - She painted us a picture with words about a stampede with hooves in the distance. We're about to get trampled by the results of Republican policies. She says it's been going downhill since at least 2002.

Paul Thissen - He knows what to do about the budget issue: get serious about health care costs. Does he know that MDH Division of Health Policy has been serious about it for quite some time now?

Steve Kelley - He again tells the humorous story of how he wanted to invite Tim Pawlenty to take his budget class at the Humphrey Institute, but Pawlenty doesn't have the necessary prerequisites. He always gets a laugh from the audience on this one except from those of us who have heard it so many times. He says we need a governor who will think about Minnesota on a long term basis and not just think about himself. Kelley indicated that he's in favor of a carbon tax.

Question #5:  Tim Pawlenty has done some terrible things as governor. How will you restore public trust in Minnesota government?

Tom Rukavina - He will appoint the best people as commissioners. He also used humor in his answer and had the audience laughing again. I still say that he'd be one of the best stand-up comedians ever. I wonder if he's ever gone to a Comedy Club amateur night. He'd be great!

Mark Dayton - He tells it like it is in no uncertain terms. He says we should unallot half of Pawlenty's salary because he's only in Minnesota half the time. The rest of the time is spent catering to his own presidential ambitions. He also says that the Republicans tell how government is bad and then they do everything possible to prove themselves right. Good point. The audience absolutely loved his answers on this question. I saw nods of approval and heard murmurs of agreement.

Tom Bakk - Told about underhandedness at MDH and about the Commissioner of Health's having to leave her job because of a cover-up that happened on the Iron Range. I take exception to him including all of MDH. This is an agency that has some very dedicated employees who go out of their way to do extra for the health of the people of Minnesota. Also, he should have made it clear that our current Commissioner of Health is excellent. Dr. Sanne Magnan is well liked by MDH employees because she puts the health of Minnesota above anything else. She is first and foremost an excellent doctor. The mission statement of MDH is "Protecting, maintaining and improving the health of all Minnesotans." The vision is "Keeping ALL Minnesotans Healthy." See the MDH website for the value statements. I think that Bakk should appreciate the work that MDH does.

Margaret Anderson Kelliher - She states that there are currently no cabinet meetings or performance reviews for commissioners. She will change that. Kelliher knows that it will take a lot of hard work for the next governor to be successful in fixing Minnesota. She knows all about hard work. After all, she grew up on a farm.

John Marty - He says we can't rely on whistle blowers. We need good commissioners.

Matt Entenza - He says that state administration must be a culture about serving, not a culture about being served. He was a white collar crime prosecutor in Hennepin County. He knows all about white collar crime and will put a stop to it in state agencies. Another attempted bad rap for state employees. I wish someone would comment on what a good job most state employees do and how well they serve the people of Minnesota. No wonder AFSCME endorsed Dayton. He knows that that are a lot of excellent state employees. He's worked with them. I've heard him say so.

Susan Gaertner - She told us that all the messes in Ramsey County always end up on her desk as Ramsey County Attorney. She works with accountability for a living. She can get the job done.

Paul Thissen - He wants to let local people make decisions for their communities. It's hard for state administrators to get direct information from the people who are actually doing the work. Paul keeps going over his time limit. I think Brian was getting annoyed, although he appeared very patient. Paul has a lot of excellent ideas and needs more time to expound on all of them.

Steve Kelley - The biggest failing of Minnesota government is that Tim Pawlenty sets the wrong tone. He's cutting down on state employees. Kelley lapsed into a tirade (a protracted speech usually marked by intemperate, vituperative, or harshly censorious language) about how MDH should make Minnesotans healthier. Hey Steve, I've got news for you. That's exactly what MDH is already doing. How come you don't know that? Paul Thissen knows it.

Ole Savior - He says the legislators sitting behind him (he's standing and speaking in front of them) didn't do anything. He's surprised they would dare to run for governor. Look at the pot calling the kettle black. What audacity. There's a software program called Audacity that edits sound clips. Let's edit out both Pawlenty and Savior. (I just love being a Blogonian and making all these asides. And the amazing thing is that so many people are actually reading my blogs posts.)

Question #6:  Schools and Education Issues

Mark Dayton - He pointed out that when he was a United States Senator, he opposed No Child Left Behind. He still opposes it, and for good reason. He explains that it's based on testing and it blames teachers for the failing educational system. He's in favor of individual testing where each and every child gets diagnostic testing at the beginning of the school year. Then help should be given each child in the areas needed. What a great idea! I wonder why that isn't already being done. I just wish we had the great educational system that we had back when I was in school. Mark Dayton can and will make that happen.

Tom Bakk - He says that Pawlenty sets the tone that MN schools are failing. Bakk says this is not true. He points out that MN has some of the highest ACT and SAT scores in the nation.

Margaret Anderson Kelliher - The biggest challenge of schools is the lack of funding. She would change things by putting into effect a New Minnesota Miracle. She wants every child to be equally valued. That would indeed be wonderful. Get rid of all the educational disparities.

John Marty - He knows that investing in schools will cost money, but we have to make it a top priority.

Matt Entenza - He pointed out that Pawlenty's budget cuts and unallotments in education eliminates language classes in many schools. Therefore students can't get into the University of Minnesota and other colleges and universities because of the language requirements of these higher learning institutions. Good point. He says that his clean energy economy will grow the economy and provide money for education funding. When will this happen, exactly, Matt? Four years? Eight? Twenty? We need to hear your time schedule.

Susan Gaertner - She states that we heap everything onto the schools and then expect teachers to be able to do their job. We must focus on the achievement gap. Every child deserves a good education.

Paul Thissen - He also wants to focus on the achievement gap. He promotes longer school days. He will partner with community businesses to promote education. These partners could include local businesses, the YMCA, etc.

Steve Kelley - He wants every single child in Minnesota to graduate from some form of post-secondary educational institute. He was the chair of the Minnesota Senate's education committee. He states that poverty is one of the main causes of the achievement gap.

Ole Savior - He says he is proud of Minnesota's educational system. Then he began talking about dollars. He tells the audience that he can bring money in by turning the state fair into another Disneyland, by having a new stadium, and by sueing oil companies and other big conglomerates.

Tom Rukavina - He thinks we need to look at the old Minnesota Miracle as well as the new Minnesota Miracle Bill. He says that 68% of his county is publicly owned. He also reminded us that a large portion of his district is inhabited by wildlife.

Question #7:  Gay Rights and Marriage Equality

Tom Bakk - He's for equal rights. He's the co-author of legislation for GLBT issues. He wants to have equal rights for hospital visitations, wills, funerals, etc. He believes in the Golden Rule. (Me too. Both the building I work in and the Toastmasters club I started there. And the Golden Rule itself, of course.)

Margaret Anderson Kelliher - She also believes in the Golden Rule and is thus for equal rights as well as equal opportunities. She promotes marriage equality and all human rights. She feels very strongly about it, as do most of the DFL candidates.

John Marty - He has supported equal rights for the GLBT community from the very beginning.

Matt Entenza - He quoted a comedian from Comedy Central in saying that gay marriage should not be mandatory. I didn't get his point. I'm still not sure where Matt inwardly stands on this issue. Could he be more specific?

Susan Gaertner - She told another poignant personal story. She had two best friends and one of them died from AIDS. She feels that if there had been equal rights at that time, her male friend might not have engaged in behaviors that led to his getting HIV. She stated that everyone is entitled to the dignity of marriage. (Maybe she should rephrase that. I don't think all marriages are dignified. Some are the pits, especially those that are abusive.)

Paul Thissen - He knows that GLBT rights concern basic fairness. He stood up to the Republicans on this issue. Paul seems like a very fair person. He would also make a good governor.

Steve Kelley - He will sign the gay marriage bill if he is governor. He has been married for 34 years (hey, that's the exact number of years that Dayton has been involved in government service; what a coincidence...). Kelley and his wife have never once thought that their marriage was threatened by the idea of gay marriage. He told us that his brother is gay so it's a family issue for him. He wants to see his brother able to legally marry the person he loves.

Ole Savior - I'm never quite sure what Savior is talking about. His mind works differently than the other candidates. He was muttering about civil unions vs gay marriage. He mentioned that he's in favor of constitutional rights for everyone.

Tom Rukavina - He says that he consistently supports GLBT legislation. He asks, "Isn't there enough hate in this world?" He promotes loving relationships. Rukavina seems like a person with a lot of love for others inside of him. Let it out, Tom. The world needs it.

Mark Dayton - He's on record as being in favor of gay rights. He truly believes that all men and women are created equal. He wasn't afraid to stand up in the United States Senate and say so, either. Watch the video. This is Dayton at one of his most passionate moments about an issue.

Question #8:  Property Taxes

Margaret Anderson Kelliher - We need to rebuild the relationship between local government and state government.

John Marty -  Education and human services should be funded by income taxes, not property taxes. We can have a fair tax system in this state. We need to address income disparities.

Matt Entenza - Taxes are taxes, so shifting the focus from income taxes to property taxes doesn't mean that we have actual tax cuts, no matter what Pawlenty says.

Susan Gaertner - She supports local government. She hasn't seen any mandates and she's frustrated. She can get it done, though.

Paul Thissen - We must restore trust between local government and state government. We need to have the counties sit at the table and have input into state policy making.

Steve Kelley - He advocates solving problems together.

Ole Savior - He's back to making his points about turning the State Fair into Disneyland.

Tom Rukavina - Tom will go to Disneyland. (I would like to go to Disney World.) Rukavina said that he likes the idea of Robin Hood but not the Sheriff of Nottingham. The idea here is that the new governor should be a Robin Hood but not anything like Pawlenty, who is the symbolic evil Sheriff. That's good stuff, Tom. I like it. If you look back several posts on this blog, you'll see where I have Dayton coming in as the Lone Ranger to rid the world of evil. He's on a white steed and the William Tell Overture is playing in the background. I love it! Rukavina is all for going back to a fair tax system.

Mark Dayton - He wants to raise taxes on the top 10% of the wealthiest Minnesotans. Read his lips. Tax the rich. The audience loves it every time he says this. It evokes certain visual images. Mark has a lot to say about taxes. Watch this video about his stand on taxes. He reiterated some of this to answer this question, but of course didn't have time in one minute to go into the details like he did on the video.

Tom Bakk - He informed us that Pawlenty said that public safety is the most important issue. Yet Pawlenty, points out Bakk, is the one who cut the budgets of public safety services.

Question #9:  Public Works, Bridge Collapse, Lafayette Bridge, Restoring Safety

John Marty - He wants Minnesota to invest in our state's infrastructures.

Matt Entenza - Twenty years ago he was told to start planning for the Central Corridor, but it still isn't a reality. He says it's all about a clean energy economy. I think I've heard him say this before. We should have home grown energy and not keep paying money to the Middle East. We should be paying ourselves instead.

Susan Gaertner - Transportation is a basic responsibility of government. Don't rely on the gas tax. Encourage people to drive less.

Paul Thissen - We need a good source of transit funding.

Steve Kelley - We need to invest in our infrastructures. We need a governor who knows how all the issues connect. You're right, Steve, we do. That's why Mark Dayton should be governor.

Ole Savior - We should get help from the Feds. We should also sue the big oil companies. Ok, Ole, enough with the law suits. Please don't let the door slam on your way out.

Tom Rukavina - Northern Minnesota is different from the metro area, especially in transportation. Some people drive over sixty miles each way just to get to work.

Mark Dayton - The bridge collapse was a sign of Republican failure to take care of things that need taking care of. He favors highway construction bonds.

Tom Bakk - Pawlenty thinks the economy can grow by cutting taxes. He's so wrong. Cutting taxes has only made it worse.

Margaret Anderson Kelliher - She has built coalitions. She believes in working together. She is name dropping. She wants equity in transportation. Apparently, besides all the other disparities, there are also transportation disparities.

Closing Statements:

John Marty - He has an excellent record of passing good legislation. Or is that a good record of passing excellent legislation? I forget. He reminds us that he has the courage of his convictions. I believe that he is right about that.

Margaret Anderson Kelliher - The 2010 election will be about the future of Minnesota. She stated that she is a leader who has been effective. (Really? I've heard from several sources that she wasn't all that effective in the last two legislative sessions. I ought to research this to see what the truth of it is.) She brings people around the table in a positive way so that they can work together.

Tom Bakk - He started out by saying "Us Democrats." Tom, that should be "We Democrats," not "Us Democrats."  Bakk states that he will abide by the DFL endorsement. Is that because he doesn't have enough campaign funds to go it alone? The DFL endorsement used to mean a lot more than it does these days. If I don't agree with the DFL endorsement, I won't support their candidate until the final general election. In other words, if there is more than one DFL candidate on the primary ballot, I will vote for the one I think will be the best governor. Almost everyone in my networking arena feels the same way. Bakk says this election is pivotal for Minnesota. I think we all agree with that. Bakk's mantra is Jobs Jobs Jobs. Again, it's a purloined mantra. He gets the scarlet letter "P."

Mark Dayton - He's running a strong issues-oriented campaign. He doesn't want to leave this state in worse condition than it was when we inherited it from those who went before us. He wants it to be a great state for our children and grandchildren and on down through the generations. Dayton is very electable and has won state-wide elections in the past. His popularity in the state is very high.

Tom Rukavina - His mantra is Education, Education, Education. He didn't purloin that from anyone. He reiterated that someone said he's the love child between Jesse Ventura and Paul Wellstone. I have to agree with whoever wrote "shudder" on a blog. The audience laughed at this again, but for those of us who attend so many debates and forums, I wish the candidates would come up with some new humor. Rukavina says that this election is all about raising people's hopes. That's what he wants to do. Raise our hopes.

Ole Savior - He told the audience that he forgot his belt and that's why he had to keep holding up his pants with his hand. TMI. He also told how he was on the bridge a couple of times that day before it collapsed. Ok, I'm going to be a good girl now.

Steve Kelley - He said what we all know. The Democrats must win this election. He states that we must include all parts of Minnesota in this election. He knows we focus on the big cities and the rural areas. He's concerned about remembering the suburbs. That's who he represented.

Paul Thissen - He says that Minnesotans are looking for a leader who is not hiding behind focus groups and that Minnesotans are very concerned about the future. By the way, kudos to Paul for always greeting me warmly at these events. Brownie points for him, too. Hey, I'm not high maintenance by any means, but I do require a pat on the back every now and then. This non-paying job takes a lot of effort and hard work. Good thing I'm enjoying it.

Susan Gaertner - No one expected her to win the election for Ramsey County Attorney, but she won by talking straight to people. She will win this election the same way (?).

Matt Entenza - Entenza is Norwegian for governor. Would someone please look that up in a Norwegian to English dictionary and let me know the truth of it? I could have sworn he told the Latina Caucus audience that it was Spanish for governor. I wonder what he would tell an Irish or Scottish Caucus? Or does he tell the Stonewall Caucus that it is gay for governor? Some of the candidates seem to have a knack for telling audiences what they think the audience wants to hear instead of being open, honest and truthful.

So that sums it up. Maybe I should give my take on some of the issues. After all, I have to keep listening to all the candidates. Maybe it's their turn to listen to me.

1.  Fix the bridges! Seriously. You're going to be short one Blogonian if the Cayuga bridge collapses during rush hour. I'm on that bridge, on an express bus, twice a day almost every day. That bridge is in terrible shape, as is the Lafayette Bridge and the Rice Street Bridge that crosses Highway 36. There is absolutely no excuse for bad bridgework. Fix them!

2.  Pass Marty's Bill. We need health care. We don't need health insurance. We as patients need to feel that we matter. We don't need to be told our bills aren't covered because our conditions are pre-existing. Pretty soon nothing will be covered because they'll decide that everything's genetic and that would be pre-existing. It's appalling that the United States doesn't have health care as a basic right for all citizens. That is not acceptable.

3.  More money for medical research, please. Including stem cell research or whatever new research modalities are coming into the limelight. Medical nanotechnology is a big one. I heard there's something new in the works that will eliminate the need for transplants. This is great news, as that will in turn eliminate the need for a handful of anti-rejection drugs several times a day.

4.  Do something for the 4,000+ homeless veterans. Really. Even if you don't get to be governor, you're still in a position to help them. Many of these veterans risked their lives for their country and came home with physical, mental and emotional disabilities.  And many have found themselves rejected by the very people they served. Shame on us! Do something for homeless non-veterans, too. No one in Minnesota should be homeless. No one should have to involuntarily sleep outside, espeically during a Minnesota winter. What on earth are we thinking, to allow this to happen? Speaking of lips, let's not just give lip service to helping the homeless. Let's actually do something about it. When's the last time you invited a homeless person out for dinner? Or to your home?

Okay, I'm done. Let me know if any of you need to hire a researcher. I'm pretty good at it.

Good news of the day:  all three of my sons will be home for Christmas. I'm so pleased!

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