Sunday, January 31, 2010


People under age 50 should also vote for Mark Dayton. This blog will show why he's the best choice for seniors. Later I'll do other blogs that show why he's the best choice for middle aged people, for young people, for minorities and for the disabled.

Here are the questions that the Senior Caucus asked the DFL gubernatorial candidates. After each question is Mark Dayton's answer. You can find the answers from all the candidates at the Senior Caucus website.

Question #1: During your years of public service, what have you done to ease or improve the lives of Minnesota seniors?

Mark Dayton: As U. S. Senator, he led the Minnesota Senior Federation (MSF) drug buses (RX Express) to Canada; he championed seniors in U. S. Senate; he tried for no donut hole in Medicare Part D; he consistently listened to senior concerns; he donated his entire U. S. Senate salary to MSF.

Question #2: What makes you a more politically attractive candidate for Governor to seniors than the other candidates?

Mark Dayton: He is a long-term public servant; he is the only senior in the race; he would use his Lieutenant Governor as champion and ombudsman for senior services; while serving in the U. S. Senate, he set up a health care hotline; he is proposing MN Dept of Aging; he believes in state services offered by professional help.

Question #3: How would you approach the challenge of putting Minnesotans back to work including those seniors who must or want to work?

Mark Dayton: He knows it's a huge challenge with 22,000 unemployed in state; he learned about economic issues and how to solve them when he was Commissioner of Economic Development under Rudy Perpich; he will take a proactive role; he will employ jobs programs; he will provide state bonds for businesses as well as revolving loan programs; he will renovate state buildings for energy savings because that would address the construction unemployment at 50%; he will support cities and locality programs; he will put seniors in administrative positions and boards; he will establish paid internship and mentor programs in schools without penalty for other income for seniors; he will create a Minnesota board for work; he will make Minnesota a beacon for the nation. 

Question #4: The current budget crisis is putting many programs that seniors count on at risk. What would you do to address the structural problems in state funding that have led to the budget crisis?

Mark Dayton: He believes it's a revenue crisis, not a budget crisis; believes that the current tax structure is steeply regressive; wants to tax the 10% wealthies so that they pay the same share as the middle class (the rich currently only paying 3/4 of what the middle class pays relative to income); he doesn't just say these things; he means what he says.

Question #5: Would you and how would you as Governor actively support and sign the Minnesota Health Plan (MHP) or an equivalent plan leading to a single payer health care system?

Mark Dayton: He supports MHP and has been its proponent; He voted for single payer in the U. S. Senate; he believes that this country needs health care not insurance; he feels ashamed that United Health Care has made $1 billion in profits per quarter from health insurance.

Question #6: Medicare Balance Billing, which has been proposed in the Minnesota legislature, is of concern to seniors since it would greatly increase out-of-pocket medical expenses. Yet Minnesota physicians are threatening to reject Medicare patients unless balance billing is permitted. How would you resolve this quandary? (Note: balance billing might double out-of-pocket medical expenses for some seniors even under the proposed Federal health care reform.)

Mark Dayton: He doesn't know all the aspects of this issue (but will learn more); he would not support more out-of-pocket expenses for seniors; he believes that Medicare reimbursement is outdated from 1974 measures; he believes Medicare limits payment without regard to patient outcomes; he believes that a national single payer health care system would solve many problems; he will work with other states to address reimbursement.

Question # 7: Abuse of seniors in both domestic and institutional settings is rising. Seniors are attacked physically as well as financially. Seniors are often unnecessarily restrained to cut nursing costs. Financial offerings like long-term care insurance have turned out for many seniors to be an abuse. What would you do to address this abuse?

Mark Dayton: He would use single payer health care to address the issue; he believes that the insurance system is perverse; he will solve the underpayment of workers; he views this problem as a moral issue; He will combine the Department of Commerce with other state agencies which have overlapping responsibilities; he will support local governments; he will apply regulations; he will force insurance companies to pay out more; he will provide for our vulnerable citizens.

Question #8: The recent cuts to General Assistance Medical Care are particularly disturbing since low income adults including seniors ages 50 - 64 depend on GAMC for health care expenses. How could you restore this service as soon as possible?

Mark Dayton: He hopes that the legislature will restore it; he will produce seamless support services without categories; he will raise public awareness; he believes that the current Governor is treating the vulnerable in a criminal fashion.

Question #9: Seniors want to live in their homes, but many factors - taxes, security, upkeep, living expenses, health needs - are driving them out of their homes. Seniors live significantly longer when living in their own homes. What would you do to help seniors stay in their homes?

Mark Dayton: Provide property tax credits as Pawlenty rasied taxes on those least able to pay; expand support services like Meals on Wheels; improve financial affordability for those staying in homes; make Minnesotans aware; raise taxes on those who can easily afford it; provide tax credits for home repairs leading to energy efficiency.

Followup question to #9: What senior support programs would you fund?

Mark Dayton:  Establish community action programs and grants to service providers within communities; conservation programs are best; will consider alternative energy programs.

Concluding statement from Mark Dayton: As governor he would provide guidance for legislature and society.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Today I felt puffy, lethargic, frumpy and icky. I happened to notice a flyer on my desk with a special deal for Lifetime Fitness. I grabbed my towel and swimsuit and drove down Highway 61 and up Highway 96 to White Bear Parkway. Turn right and there you are. Hey, that used to be White Bear Swim and Raquet. Apparently Lifetime bought them out. Gee, I can even afford it now. Well, I really can't. At all. They had a deal, though, so I didn't have to pay the sign-up fee. Since you can't put a price tag on your health and you can't put a price tag on your life, I went in, took the tour and heard the spiel.

Todd Amundson was my member advisor. Is that what they're calling the sales reps these days? Very nice man, but I noticed he wasn't looking at me like I was a likely sale. I came as I was: old sweats, tacky pullover, no makeup. He obviously thought I was wasting his time. He was polite, though. I have a talent for sensing how people are really feeling.

He showed me around the club. Very nice. Swimming pool, whirlpool, jacuzzi, lots of exercise equipment, a healthy cafe, racquetball court, inside tennis courts, outside pool (closed today for some reason) and wi-fi for someday when I have a laptop.

When we sat down to talk business, he noticed my political pin. If I were taller, he probably would have noticed it earlier. (I better watch what I say because in the end, I gave him my blog url.) So he asked me if I were a Mark Dayton supporter. That is why I was wearing the political pin. He's a big supporter too. He told me about The Marsh. I asked what that club has that this one doesn't. He said it's huge and they even have physical therapy. He's in awe of Dayton because he practically owns The Marsh. He was so impressed that Dayton started up a fitness club. I had an extra Dayton pin in my coat pocket so I gave it to him along with my blog address written on the back of my Toastmasters business card. It's pretty exciting to put a plug in for both Dayton and Toastmasters in the same encounter. In return he said that if I ever wanted to go visit The Marsh, he would have his friend Tim, who works there, get me in. Todd knows a lot of people in the business because he used to sell exercise equipment before he went to work for Lifetime Fitness. I wouldn't mind seeing what The Marsh is like, but Minnetonka is a long, long way from White Bear Lake. Where's the light rail transit system when you need it?

After signing away the meager bit of my life savings I had left (if you will recall, Rybak won most of it in a bet), I grabbed my bag and  headed downstairs. I haven't been swimming in a couple of years. It's like riding a bicycle; you don't forget how. The jacuzzi sure felt good. Next time I come in I get to have a personal trainer. Can I have a pool boy, too?

If I get my weight down to where it used to be not all that long ago, MNGastro said that I can try treatment again. Oh joy. Treatment for hepatitis C is a gruelling 48 weeks, if you last that long. Many people can't tolerate it that long and have to go off. I tolerated it fairly well for the 12 weeks I was on it last time. It did wreck up my thyroid for about a year afterwards. It's ok now, but won't be if I go on the protocol again. 

By the time I finished all that exercise, including running around the indoor track ten times, I was hot and sweaty. Where's that Fresh Start that Susan Gaertner gave Rob Hahn? 

I'll go back again tomorrow, either before or after the annual TakeAction Minnesota meeting. Gotta get my money's worth.   

Friday, January 29, 2010


                                    Mark Dayton

Harrison Ford Plays the Role of Mark Dayton

How's that for a good match? Harrison Ford would be great playing Mark Dayton. Think Air Force One. He showed courage and went beyond the call of duty. Or Witness, in which he stood up against an oppressive and evil police department and helped a minority community. Don't forget The Fugitive, in which he lives dangerously to clear his name. Let's not forget Sabrina, when he decides that money is not the most important thing after all. Then there's The Devil's Own, in which he seeks to understand another race (the Irish).  These are all some of my favorite movies. Another is Six Days, Seven Nights. Can he go out in the woods with nothing but a box of matches and build a shopping mall? Another great one is Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which portrays someone who likes to solve the mysteries of life.

Harrison Ford's new movie, currently in pre-production, is called Governor Dayton. Watch for it coming soon to a theatre near you.


                                       R. T. Rybak

          Johnny Depp Plays the Role of R. T. Rybak

Oh, yeah! Depp always makes a good show. What a great casting to portray Rybak. He can clean up the town in Public Enemies. Or turn Minneapolis (and Minnesota?) into Neverland. Will he have a mentor like Donnie Brasco did? An older guy who knows the ropes? Dayton, perhaps. After all, in that movie Depp had Pacino. Perhaps there will be a Secret Window for the media to press their noses up against.


                  John Marty

Richard Thomas Plays the Role of John Marty

Remember Richard Thomas? He played John-Boy Walton on The Waltons. He had a great character. He had the courage of his convictions. He was morally upright. Who else could possibly play John Marty as well? His campaign is Glory! Glory!  And John Marty goes after evil things like Richard Thomas did in It. Everything John Marty does will be In the Name of the People.


                               Tom Rukavina

Peter Falk Plays the Role of Tom Rukavina

"Just one more thing," said Lt. Colombo. Does that remind you of anyone? With Pawlenty, Minnesota is like A Town Without Christmas, but Rukavina will be an Undisputed relief.  It's certain that he's had his Wilder Days; yet when he's in St. Paul for the legislative session it's Like Angels Come to Town. Will Rukavina come riding into the Governor's Mansion like A Storm in Summer or will he lose All the Marbles to Dayton?


                                       Paul Thissen

   Brad Pitt Plays the Role of Paul Thissen

Instead of Troy: From Ruins to Reality, Pitt will play Thissen in a new movie called Minnesota: From Ruin to Riches. Thissen can overcome Pawlenty's legacy of Legends of the Fall and make his own legacy of The Tree of Life. Thissen is on his way with a special journey called The Odyssey. What a Cool World this will be if Thissen is governor.


                        Matt Entenza

Nicolas Cage Plays the Role of Matt Entenza

If the stars and planets line up, will Entenza be Moonstruck by fame and glory in the city of St. Paul? Will voters consider him too Wild at Heart to get the governorship? Many will tell him It Could Happen To You. Entenza may give Pawlenty the Kiss of Death. Be careful what you wish for, though, because you may become Trapped in Paradise. What Minnesotans really want is to get Pawlenty Snake Eyes out of office. Matt Entenza may become Minnesota's National Treasure. 


Thursday, January 28, 2010


Mark Dayton Videos

First 2010 Major Party Gubernatorial Debate, January 27, 2010

I'm getting into a standard routine for these events. Brush teeth, put on face, leave work, remember where I parked my car, get in and hope I don't have to scrape ice off the windshield, figure out which cd to listen to. Tonight would it be Eric Clapton, Jelly's Last Jam or Asleep at the Wheel? Clapton won. Crossroads, Sunshine of My Love, I Shot the Sheriff, and other greatest hits. Now try to decide the best way to go. Shepherd Road to Hwy 5 to I494 sounds good. I should go that way more often. It's quick and direct. Not the safest way to go in my car, but oh well.

The first person I met up with was Orrie. Great to see him again so soon. He asked me so sadly what happened to the Rukavina button he gave me. He noticed I had the Dayton button attached to my purse again. What could I say? He looked so downtrodden about it. Sorry, Orrie. I just couldn't help it.

Holly was there. She sought me out right away. I like to hang with her at these events. I don't think she liked my hat, though.

Tonight I met TwoPutt Tommy. Live and in person. What a cool guy! What did we have in common? We were both wearing a hat. I love hats.

I made it into the reception after all and didn't even have to pay the $25. Ole Savior came to the rescue with some extra passes. Thanks, Ole!

Craig from TheUptake was there again, too. And another guy from TheUptake. Gosh, what was his name? Darn brain fog!

After hanging out for an hour, Holly and I made our way into the ballroom. It was time for the debate. Who were all those people sitting up on the platform? Those are all candidates? Good grief, there sure are a lot of them. Just think, only one is going to win. But each one thinks that it will be him or her. Each of them is convinced of it. Some of them don't have a chance in hell. Others have a high probability of being the One.

There were so many candidates tonight that each person did not get to answer each question. Five candidates answered one question, then five different candidates answered another question. And on it went.

Judy Stuthman from the League of Women Voters laid the ground rules and gave some background information. Later I introduced myself to her as a member of the Captain John Holmes chapter of DAR. I liked Judy and thought she did a great job with her role.

The host and producer of the evening was Gary Eichten. He did an excellent job. Some of the candidates didn't make it easy for him when they went over their time limit and wouldn't quit speaking.

There were nineteen candidates. Count them! Why would anyone want to be governor anyway? Whoever wins will sure have a big mess to clean up. There were a couple of candidates who didn't come. Matt Entenza wasn't there again tonight.

Because of the word limit on this blog, I'll try to keep the answers of each candidate short. That means mega paraphrase. If you want to know more about each candidate and his or her stand on the issues, go to their website.

I'll take each question separately along with each candidate's response. I'll add my own comments, too, because I can't help putting in my two cents worth. Well, with inflation, maybe 25 cents.

Question #1: Budget Deficit

David Hann (GOP) - Trim government costs. We don't need increased revenue. Priority is education.

Tom Horner (IP) - Define what goals MN has. Economic reform. Retain businesses through social and physical infrastructure. Increase sales tax and tobacco tax.

Tom Bakk (DFL) - It's a myth that taxes have not gone up. Property taxes have risen. Believes in progressive taxes. He's got his talk down perfectly for every event. Raising taxes alone won't be enough, he emphatically states.

Steve Kelley (DFL) - Balanced approach. Education is highest priority. Favors carbon tax. Cannot raise taxes enough to balance budget.

Mark Dayton (DFL) - Raise taxes on MN's wealthiest 10%. Source: MN Dept of Revenue. Fair taxes. Long term economic growth is essential. Put people back to work.

Question #2: Rising Property Taxes

Paul Thissen (DFL) - Rely on fair state taxes to fund education instead of property taxes.

John Uldrich (IP) - Commonweal (common good). Need new taxes as well as tax cuts. Recited a tax poem. (What's with all the tax poems? Are all the candidates going to write one?)

Tom Rukavina (DFL) - Fair farming. He's the Farmer Labor part of DFL. He's good on agriculture. I've heard him before. He knows what he's talking about.

Phil Herwig (GOP) - Everyone but him is out of their minds.

Marty Seifert (GOP) - He's a rural guy. (I did not know that.) He wants to move government at all levels into the 21st century. LGS is equalizer. Not a hammock.

Question #3: Compromise Between Gov & Legislators

Bill Haas (GOP) - He wouldn't call a special session until there is a solution. Legislators want to go home. What a whiner! (Yes, he's a whiner, not a winner.)

Tom Emmer (GOP) - All I have in my notes is "mulch for dogs." I was busy grinning at Holly and gazing at Dayton and wondering why I have to go to work tomorrow for someone else instead of for myself. I think Emmer was making some kind of analogy. He should work on that.

Margaret Anderson Kelliher (DFL) - Governor and all legislators must respect each other. She has a track record of assurance in working across party lines. One thing she focuses on is the Legacy Amendment.

Rob Hahn (IP) - He sees a lot of anger between the DFL and GOP; that's why 3rd party is needed.

R. T. Rybak (DFL) - Too much bickering. We need to get to work like he did in Minneapolis. Need to make government more efficient. Is he the One?

Question #4: Governor Perpich wanted to make education important and make MN the brainpower state. Do you share Perpich's vision?

John Marty (DFL) - We have to make MN the brainpower state. We need k-12 and higher education investments. Likes the New Minnesota Miracle.

Susan Gaertner (DFL) - Drive by shootings = drive by news media. I don't think she likes the media's questions. Education is her top priority.

Ole Savior (DFL) - Still wants to bring in money from other countries. He doesn't want to raise our taxes. He wants us to keep our money in our pockets.

Leslie Davis (GOP) - There are brilliant people in Minnesota. We have good resources. So why are we broke? His Money Plan will solve all our problems. Go Leslie! (He did remember my name.)

Question #5: Our Aging Population

Tom Horner (IP) - He started out as a journalist. He learned to ask good questions and then listen to the answers. (And?)

Tom Bakk (DFL) - There is a bubble of people who are retiring. He wants to make use of a concept called spending silos. ("Bubble of people" is an interesting phrase.)

Steve Kelley (DFL) - We have the opportunity to come together as a state. He doesn't consider the aging population to be a problem. He sees it as a challenge and an opportunity.

Mark Dayton (DFL) - He told the story of a nurse he knows who is overworked and exhausted. Dayton always has a good anecdote to make his point. He wants to put people first. For example, health care dollars should go to health care, not for huge profits to the insurance companies.

David Hann (GOP) - The current tax system to support longterm care won't work anymore.

Question #6: Higher Education

John Uldrich (IP) - He's opposed to saying there will be X number of college graduates by X date.

Tom Rukavina (DFL) - Doesn't know if it's an obtainable goal at 50%. He set up scholarships at U of M. Says we must make education affordable.

Phil Herwig (GOP) - Too much money goes to U of M executives. He wants to disband the welfare system. Speech evaluation of Herwig: too loud and angry sounding. Too many double starts.

Marty Seifert (GOP) - It's not the job of the governor or the legislature to dictate whether kids should graduate from college. He does, however, want higher education to be affordable.

Paul Thissen - He doesn't want us to forget about nontraditional students. He'd like to see a tax credit for graduating students if they stay in Minnesota. Go Paul!

Question #7: Foreclosures/Affordable Housing

Tom Emmer (GOP) - Not my favorite candidate. Needs to work on his presentation skills. He thinks we have too much government. I think not.

Margaret Anderson Kelliher (DFL) - She says we have a jobs problem. She has an economic development plan. It came to me tonight that Kelliher enunciates her words too clearly. I never thought that was possible.

Rob Hahn (IP) - He wants government to work with businesses of all sizes to see what they need in order to hire more people. He wants to reduce capital gains taxes.

R. T. Rybak (DFL) - He can handle all the issues. After all, he's done it in Minneapolis. Two of his main issues to focus on are jobs and health care. He's astonished by Tom Emmer's remarks. He told us exactly why. Ooooh, Rybak's getting feisty. Loved it!

Bill Haas (GOP) - He works with business owners all the time. They tell him they're about to move their businesses out of Minnesota. He maintains that we need to decrease government spending.

Question #8: Should state government decrease unemployment, and if so, how?

Susan Gaertner (DFL) - By providing physical infrastructure and thus creating jobs. By more and better education. By fixing the holes in the budget.

Ole Savior (DFL) - With a new Vikings stadium. With a State Fair that lasts all year. With $5 billion that we'll get from oil companies by suing them like we did the tobacco companies.

Leslie Davis (GOP) - His Money Plan will save the day. Says you can't buy debt with debt to get out of debt. Why does that make sense? I really should read his Money Plan and blog about it. That should at least be entertaining. On the other hand, I probably wouldn't understand it. Finance is not my forte. My talents lie elsewhere.

Rahn Workcuff (IP) - I never heard of him before so know nothing about him. He came with a young lady who was his spokesperson. He wants more low income housing. He knows what it's like to be poor and struggling.

John Marty (DFL) - We need a good health care system. How about the Minnesota Health Plan? I'm all for that. Maybe another WPA like they had during the Depression. I grew up on a farm in Vadnais Heights. Our neighbor across the street had a huge stone retaining wall that was made by the WPA. Marty also advocates for rebuilding what we have, such as old houses and other buildings.

Question #9: What is the best way to raise state taxes?

Tom Bakk (DFL) - The economy was humming along so Pawlenty decreased taxes. Now we need consumption taxes. He wants to get the public to buy into increased taxes. (He's got good phrases tonight. I like "humming along.")

Steve Kelley (DFL) - Property taxes are regressive. They also cause disparities. He wants an energy efficient economy. He wants Minnesota to be energy-independent.

Mark Dayton (DFL) - Says our current tax system is ridiculously unfair. Wants to raise taxes on the wealthiest 10 percent of Minnesotans. They can afford it. He won't raise taxes on those who can't afford it. He always gets lots of cheers for this one at other forums. Tonight the audience was more prim and proper than at other events I've been to. Remember this about Dayton: he's good with money. He used to be the president of an investment company.

David Hann (GOP) - He won't raise taxes at all. He will reduce them further. He wants tax reform. He's for a flat tax. He wants to stop tax withholding and just have everyone pay their taxes on election day.

Tom Horner (IP) - He wants us to look at what kind of state we want to live in. Say, listen, Tom, have you ever heard of reNEW Minnesota? Look at their website: Take a peek and see what kind of state we want to live in.

Question #10: Cleaning up the Lakes

Tom Rukavina (DFL) - Minnesota lakes are our jewels. (Good metaphor.) He thinks that some of the Legacy Amendment funds could be used to clean up our environment.

Phil Herwig (GOP) - He says he's not an expert on everything. (Mark Dayton is; maybe you could get advice from him.) Herwig says he knows where he can get answers, though. (From Dayton?) Claims that when he signed up to run for governor, he didn't know he would be asked questions like this. Oh, quit whining! We'll have to call you Mogen David, too.

Marty Seifert (GOP) - He will veto any legislation that tries to use Legacy Amendment funds for anything other than the environment. He had a good phrase that caught my attention: "When everything is a priority, nothing is a priority." I guess that if I had to choose a GOP candidate for some utterly strange and unfathomable reason, I'd have to go with Seifert over any of the other candidates in his party. Gosh, what an awful thought, to have to vote GOP. Now is that a backhanded compliment for Seifert or what? I have to make it clear, though, that I have never in my entire life voted Republican and I never will. My Granny taught me that from a very early age.

Paul Thissen (DFL) - He says we need to have a conversation about the environment. Ok. Wanna have it over tea and scones?

John Uldrich (IP) - He instructed us not to forget Lake Superior. He asks what effect global warming is having on our lakes. (Doesn't he know that the current proper name for it is climate change?)

Question #11: Public Policy Innovation

Margaret Anderson Kelliher (DFL) - Too much that is done in the legislature is based on emotion. We need a big database system with evidence-based date. Say, Margaret, I just happen to know the database queen. She currently works in DHP at MDH. She's the expert you need.

Rob Hahn (IP) - He says the same sex marriage issue is not a religous issue but a human rights issue. He also wants to see joint custody of children worked out in divorce cases. That's a nice idea but not in all cases, such as when one of the parents is abusive or has a drug addiction. Talk to Susan Gaertner about it. She's more than likely got a good take on it.

R. T. Rybak (DFL) - Wants a New Food Economy. He wants to quit importing so much food. He's into grass fed beef. He likes Minnesota apples, too.

Bill Haas (GOP) - Let's reform government. Let's make the governor and the legislature work together to get the budget done. Then let's go to a legislature that is only in session every other year. He thinks we need to change the fundamental way that government serves the people.

Tom Emmer (GOP) - He slammed Rybak. Therefore Emmer is icky. He was also name dropping.

Question #12: What separates you from the other candidates?

Ole Savior (DFL) - As soon as the moderator asked this question of Ole, the audience all laughed for awhile. Not at him, but with him. No one is really sure why he runs for everything all the time. Is it for publicity for his art? I don't even know what kind of art he does, but I would be glad to take a look at it. My oldest son majored in studio art. He has a BFA from the University of Minnesota. Now he owns his own business. Roll Music Systems. It's a Minneapolis based business, but he takes it to Germany with him when he's there. Ole says that he's pro-life, anti-gay marriage, but all for gay rights. Just not gay marriage.

Leslie Davis (GOP) - He wants to be the GOP chiropractor in that he will move GOP in a better direction (by manipulating them into shape?). He claims to be a Compassionate Republican.

Rahn Workcuff (IP) - He keeps everything organized and he knows what it's like to struggle.

John Marty (DFL) - He stood up to powerful interest groups. He stood up for marriage equality. He's the author of the Minnesota Health Plan. He has the courage of his convictions. He's one of the DFL's most progressive candidates. The other two would be Mark Dayton and Tom Rukavina.

Susan Gaertner (DFL) - A Fresh Start. Fresh Start sounds like a morning deodorant. Could you please pass that over to Rob Hahn?

Question #13: Corn Based Fuel/Ethanol

Steve Kelley (DFL) - Talked about algae that can grow on sewage waste. Algae oil can be used for energy. Turn corn into plastics.

Mark Dayton (DFL) - We need to feed our own people as well as help with global starving. For energy he likes wind, geothermal and solar. Will improve energy conservation.

David Hann (GOP) - Agriculture is a big deal in Minnesota. The government should not be the one to decide. I guess he wants energy to be made and controlled in the private sector.

Rob Hahn (IP) - We can't just cut spending without looking at subsidies. Promote new crops and technology.

Tom Bakk (DFL) - He said, "Everything that sustains life comes from the ground." (That's profoundly and fundamentally awesome when you think about it.) He has always been a supporter of ethanol, but there must be a better way to energy than depending on food for fuel, i.e. corn turned into ethanol.

Question #14: Health Care - Is it the state's responsibility to provide it for the poor?

Phil Herwig (GOP) - He thinks we should get government out of our health care. He asks why government should make insurance companies pay for treatment for drug and alcohol addiction? Phil. Try. To. Think. It's called compassion. I'll quote the late great Senator Paul Wellstone for you: "We all do better when we all do better." I urge you to go immediately to the reNEW Minnesota website ( ) and see what kind of Minnesota people with a heart want to live in. Your kind of mentality, Mr. Herwig, is exactly why the next governor will be DFL. People are so sick of having a governor who just doesn't care. You don't get it, though, do you? And that's why you don't have one single chance of winning this election.

Marty Seifert (GOP) - He thinks that the majority of ER visits are not made by ER patients. Most of these visits, he says, are made by people with colds or flu or scraped knees. Hey Marty, where did you get the statistics? I agree that it's a problem, but I'm not so sure that it's the majority of patients. Seifert wants to send these patients to urgent care or primary clinics instead. Ummm...Marty...did you know that the reason so many people use the ER is because they don't have any insurance? The ER has to take them. Also, if a baby starts screaming in the middle of the night and is in obvious pain, where are you going to find a primary care clinic or urgent care that is open at 3:00 a.m.? Sheesh!

Paul Thissen (DFL) - Stated that many people are too sick to get health insurance. Either they are too sick to work and therefore can't afford it or the insurance companies turn them down for preexisting conditions. Paul is on the Health Care Committee at the Minnesota House of Representatives. Listen to him. He's very, very smart. He knows whereof he speaks. So does John Marty.

John Uldrich (IP) - It's the commonweal again. At least he agrees that we must take care of those who are not able to take care of themselves. He agrees that it's a moral issue. He does say, however, that it's a major challenge to address.

Tom Rukavina (DFL) - He stated that the market based approach doesn't work. He also informed the audience that Governor Pawlenty just announced that people will have to pay for their own anesthesia before they get their teeth pulled. What??? Does Pawlenty spend his sleepless nights thinking up new ways to torment Minnesotans?

Question #15: Transportation Infrastructure

Rob Hahn (IP) - Light rail is important to him. He'd also like to see passenger rail from here to Duluth with a stop in Hinckley. Let the casino pay part of the bill. Yes! A train to Duluth! I would take it as often as possible. Can we get one to Lutsen, Grand Marais and Thunder Bay, too? Thunder Bay would connect with the Canadian rail system.

R. T. Rybak (DFL) - He's already working on getting passenger rail to Duluth. He also insisted on having transit capabilities on the new 35W bridge. See, Rybak looks to the future. Go RT!

Bill Haas (GOP) - Fix the metro roads first and fill up the pot holes. Then do the rural areas. We have to have priorities.

Tom Emmer (GOP) - We must set prioriites. He claims that the state subsidizes 80% of the North Star line. He doesn't want more rail. Too bad. We're going to have it whether you like it or not. Go DFL!

Margaret Anderson Kelliher (DFL) - Told the audience that MNDOT says that Minnesota is billions of dollars behind in transportation infrastructure. We need to catch up.

Question #16: How should Minnesota increase productivity as Baby Boomers retire?

Leslie Davis (GOP) - We have no money for all this stuff that we want. We need his money plan. The Davis Money Plan.

Rahn Workcuff (IP) - He passed on this question.

John Marty (DFL) - He wants to make sure that everyone has what they need in order to be productive. People need health care. Minnesotans need the Minnesota Health Plan. They also need sick leave.

Susan Gaertner (DFL) - She noted that Miss America contestants are given more time to respond to a question on world peace. (So why did she just take up half of her time to tell us that instead of using the time to answer the question?)

Ole Savior (DFL) - He apologized for not saying this sooner: the poor and elderly and children do come first with him. Ole seems like a nice guy. He knows he's not going to be the next governor. I think he has a good heart, though.

That was the end of the questions that required longer answers. The next set of questions was the "lightning round" and only required a yes or no answer. Some of the candidates had a problem with that, but most were pretty good about it.

That was the end of the debate. After that people, mostly media and bloggers, went to the Spin Room to talk to individual candidates. I mingled awhile before I left. This was a good event, although not as high energy as the Macalester forum on Monday night.

I seem to have misplaced my glasses again. So I drove home without them. No problem. I heard a voice saying "Use the Force." Must have worked. I got home safely.

One last thing: I have a few awards to give out.

Best Ties: David Hann, Tom Horner, Steve Kelley and Rob Hahn.

Best Presentations: Mark Dayton, Rob Hahn, John Marty, Tom Rukavina, R. T. Rybak, Marty Seifert and Paul Thissen. This was based on public speaking skills, thinking on feet and good ideas. Also on who was nicest to this blogger this time around.

I can't believe I stayed up all night to write this. It's almost time to go to work. I'm just going to lie down and close my eyes for a few seconds...

First Ever Minnesota Governor's Race Candidate Forum on Transportation, Land Use & the Environment

This event was at Macalester College on Monday night. It was sponsored by TLC (Transit for Liveable Communities), as well as by MPTA, Isaiah, Sierra Club, MPIRG, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Fresh Energy, Alliance for Metropolitan Stability and 1000 Friends of Minnesota.

This forum had the highest energy level of any event that I have been to yet. Everyone was there. Well, Matt Entenza wasn't there, or Tom Bakk, or Steve Kelley, or Paul Thissen, or even Ole. It was high energy without them, though. I missed Thissen because he always has something new and refreshing to say and because he always makes sure to say hi to me, not for Brownie points, but because he's interested in what I have to say. I hear he's really, really smart...

This forum was a bit different than the others I've been attending because there were several Independent Party candidates. Rob Hahn, Tom Horner and John Uldrich all took part. On the Republican side, there was Leslie Davis. Davis brought copies of his book to give away. He autographed a copy for me. He said he won't forget my name. Honey, none of the candidates will forget my name. I told him I wrote a book, too. He said he would read it. I told him it's a romance novel. He said he'd read it anyway. I wonder if Dayton read his copy yet? I forced it on him for a Christmas present. With an inscription in the front that said, "because all guys ought to read at least one or two romance novels in their life." Right, ladies? Ok, now I sense Tom Rukavina rushing out to buy one.

I felt good tonight at this forum. I felt really crappy all day at work. With hepatitis C there are flareups. The viral load fluctuates. When it flares up, the immune system kicks in along with the flu-like symptoms that accompany it. There was so much energy in the room tonight, though, that I felt great. Gosh, I think I'll quit my job and join somebody's campaign. I haven't felt this energized since my hippie days on the West Bank when I was protesting the Viet Nam War. Or when I was a member of the Twin City Federal Drum & Bugle Corps/Color Guard. We took first place in all the parades for our Headchopper routine. We had a guy who arranged all the Henry Mancini songs to fit our special parade march step. Pink Panther, Peter Gunn, Baby Elephant Walk. Sigh. What great memories.

This event was chaired by Dan Hoxworth. The moderator was Steve Berg. Orrie was there, of course, and the table next to Rukavina's was Dayton's. Brian (not Klaas) was staffing it tonight. What an enjoyable young man, full of energy and enthusiasm and good cheer. There were friends from reNEW Minnesota and TakeAction Minnesota, as well. And I can't forget to mention Craig Stellmacher from The Uptake. I just love him even if he does talk your ear off.

First, each candidate was given time to give a brief introduction. Mark Dayton was the only one who stood up. He'd make such a great Toastmaster. He's already got the techniques down. The other candidates remained seated. They didn't say anything I haven't heard before or won't hear again. The introduction formality was mostly for first-time forum attendees.

After that we got right into the questions and answers. I'll state the questions one at a time and then give each candidate's response.

Question #1: What will you do as governor to expand our transportation infrastructure?

Rob Hahn - He likes the idea of the Central Corridor and wants to expand it into the suburbs as well as outstate to cities such as Rochester.

Tom Horner - He thinks the new governor will need to invest more in transportation and understand the value of commuter rail. The fundamental role of government, he said, is to provide all kinds of infrastructure.

Margaret Anderson Kelliher - She's been working on infrastructure issues for 20 years. Her mantra is reforming the MetCouncil. She wants it to work closely with MNDOT.

John Marty - "Every community needs affordable transit," he said. He wants to invest in roads and the maintenance of roads. Also important to him is making sure that roads have places for walking and biking.

Tom Rukavina - He wants a big bonding bill (it's nice to hear Rukavina use alliteration) for transportation to pass in the upcoming legislative session.

R. T. Rybak - Transportation and land use have been the key focus of his work as mayor of Minneapolis. He reworked 35W after the bridge collapse. He wants Minneapolis to be the #2 bike city in American and Minnesota to be the #1 bike friendly place in the world.

John Uldrich - He asked, "Can we afford it?" He said that if he is governor, his administration will be pragmatic. He's a big believer in mass transportation and stated that we must maintain highways and byways in environmentally safe ways.

Leslie Davis - He was happy to get this question. He told us that it's right up his alley. He gave a kudos to Tom Rukavina. He said to check out his transportation plan. It's on the paper tucked inside his book. I guess if you didn't pick up your free copy, you're out of luck.

Mark Dayton - He started out getting a laugh like he always does when he refers to Jesse as a wrestler turned libertarian. Dayton was in top form tonight with his quick humor and witticisms. He said transit should be focused on, and in response to someone else's comment on this question, said that nothing is free.

Susan Gaertner - She grew up on the East Side of St. Paul with public transit. (Did she really say she was a transit nerd?) Gaertner stated that we need to invest in transit. It's a core function of government. "We need bold government and initiatives," she said.

Queston #2: What role, if any, should land use regulations play in relationship to expanding transportation choices and protecting Minnesota's natural resources?

Margaret Anderson Kelliher - She's been a conversationist since birth. (Or did she say conversationalist?) And a dairy farmer, too. Boy, that was one smart baby. She said that the state and the governor have a role to play in smart planning. She prefers a MetCouncil that is elected.

John Marty - His take is that we must preserve land or there won't be any left. We must be more aggressive in land use. I think he means we must be aggressive in regulating how we use land so that there is some left for our children and grandchildren and beyond.

Tom Rukavina - He was at his entertaining best again tonight. Where does he get all these one-liners? I think they're entirely original. On a serious note, he said that it sickens him and saddens him to see urban sprawl. He hates to see the land being destroyed to make cities spread out. His solution is to look at revenue bonds and to fix up old houses for affordable rental units.

R. T. Rybak - "Land shouldn't be treated as a disposable commodity," he stated. He wants to restore the connection between the city and the country. He wants a new food economy.

John Uldrich - He's into stewartship. He wants to figure out what the greatest use of the land for the greatest number of people is. He will keep this mantra up in front of everyone. Well, John, let us know when you figure it out. Or you could ask Mark Dayton. He always knows the answers to questions like that. Can I get you to vote for him?

Leslie Davis - People can be wherever they want. They may all want to come to Minnesota, but where will you put them all? He wants population control in Minnesota. I don't think he's talking about birth control. Maybe he's talking about immigration control.

Mark Dayton - He gave his famous talk on his favorite state agency, Pollution Control Agency. When he is governor, he'll change its name to Pollution Reduction Agency. Good one. Good thing the Toastmasters Club housed there is not called Pollution Control Toastmasters. I'm not sure Pollution Reduction Toastmasters would work either. That's ok; it's called Lafayette Park Toastmasters. A good Toastmaster never pollutes, so Dayton should feel right at home giving the club a visit. Anytime. Wednesday at noon. Seriously, though, I have no doubt that Dayton will revamp this agency and make sure it does what it's supposed to do. Go Mark!

Susan Gaertner - Her values, she said, are about preservation of the environment. She's all for the Legacy Amendment. She wants a "prism of stewartship of the environment." (Wow, that's almost as good as Rybak's "laser-focused.")

Rob Hahn - He hates urban sprawl. As governor, he would reduce it through legislation. He also thinks that you should be able to sell land if someone wants to buy it. I think I missed something there.

Tom Horner - He thinks we need a governor who can engage people and get them talking. Leadership means getting people together. Gonna have a party. Get down Saturday night...

Question #3: The Twin Cities region has a larger regional highway system and a smaller public transit system than most peer regions. What relationship, if any, do you see between development and maintenance of roads and transit and economic growth?

Tom Rukavina - He said that making 4 - 5 lane highways is very expensive. He advocates more mass transit.

R. T. Rybak - He said that another choice is to do a better job with what we have. As mayor of Minneapolis, he insisted that the new bridge have transit capabilities for future use.

John Uldrich - He is not in favor of emminent domain.

Leslie Davis - He's the founder and president of an environmental group. He supports nuclear power and energy development.

Mark Dayton - He stated that the relationship between development and maintenance of roads/transit and ecomonic growth is crucial. He also said that failure to invest in infrastructure is catastrophic. The audience noted the good point he made.

Susan Gaertner - She said that jobs are important and that building a good infrastructure creates jobs. She noted that rural Minnesota cannot survive without transportation.

Rob Hahn - This is the first time I've seen or heard Hahn. He's got a nice voice and is a good communicator/speaker. He will ask business leaders what would give them the most incentive to hire more people.

Tom Horner - "Of course we need good transportation. That goes without saying." (Don't say it then. That's a major faux paux of public speaking.) He feels that an improved transportation system will create new jobs. He wants to ask lots of questions in regard to jobs.

Margaret Anderson Kelliher - She has been working on this very issue (she's been working a long time on every issue that is mentioned at these forums). She maintains that we must get this work done together. (Note how reNEW Minnesota has brought us all together, at least in the jargon of the candidates...) She wants to complete the commuter rail system, have passenger rail and lots of busways. Personally, I'm a train person. I wonder if any of the candidates have ridden the rails? You guys have got to get out more.

John Marty - He wants to address these issues in smart ways as far as preserving energy. He thinks we should be stewarts of the future. He wants to look at the long term future of land use.

Question #4: Bicycling and walking are the least polluting and healthiest forms of transportation. What, if anything, would your administration do to make it easier for Minnesota residents to walk and bicycle?

John Marty - He wants to invest in bike/hike paths. He tried biking from his home in Roseville to downtown St. Paul and found that it was too dangerous.

Tom Rukavina - He supports setting money aside to be used only for road projects. He also supports education that gets kids outside and away from their computers.

R. T. Rybak - He says we must move aggressively now. He wants Bike Share like they have in Europe. He talked about using the money Oberstar brought in.

John Uldrich - Uldrich could use Toastmasters. He used quite a few crutch words. His favorite were "uh" and "um." He claims to believe in physical activity.

Leslie Davis - Says he doesn't own a car. He wants to help people by getting them a bike and walking shoes. Ok, I'll take one of each. I loaned my bike to someone and that was the last I saw of it.

Mark Dayton - He told of a woman he knew who was hit by a bicycle in Minneapolis and killed. No one should have to put their life at risk because we don't have good bike/hike paths/trails. He supports a bus/bike connection. (Some buses already have bike racks. Hopefully they all will soon.)

Susan Gaertner - As Ramsey County Attorney, she dealth with people who were hurt while walking or biking. She believes profoundly (now where did she get that word?) in bike trails.

Rob Hahn - He doesn't think that the government needs to step in on this issue. Parents need to lead kids outside and away from computers. (Good luck with that one. My youngest son was a WOW addict. I couldn't get him off unless I pulled the circuit breaker.) Hahn told the audience that he sweats a lot. Ewwww! TMI!

Tom Horner - He said we need more sidewalks and safe, lighted trails. He worked with Dave Durenberger on these issues.

Margaret Anderson Kelliher - As a mother she's against all the deaths and injuries. She thinks we should stripe the roads to reduce injuries and deaths. She supports investing in bike and walking paths.

Question #5: Minnesota needs new jobs and a new and revamped infrastructure. No one wants to invest money. What will you do about this?

Mark Dayton - He will raise money on the wealthy. Even though that probably won't get the vote of his family, he's going to do it anyway. Good for him. It's about time they paid their fair share. I'm not good at finances, so I think I'll leave it at that. I can write, though. Mark was very passionate and Wellstonian in this answer. He excels on this question. He told of how hard it is to teach in overcrowded classrooms. He said we have to invest in education because kids are our intellectual future. He did a superb job on this quesiton. The audience loved his answer. We weren't supposed to applaud until the end, but we did it anyway. Against the rules? Tough!

Susan Gaertner - She stated that taxing the rich is not enough. Her goal was to disagree with Dayton. No one paid any attention to her. All focus of the audience was still on Dayton. Gaertner stated once again that she can get the job done. Whatever that means. From a Toastmasters perspective, she uses too much slang. She drops her g's a lot and says "gonna" instead of "going to." We might as well have Joe Pesci be governor.

Rob Hahn - He's all for using free federal money when it's available. He wants to look at how these issues and ideas for resolving them are presented to the people of Minnesota. What's in it for them?

Tom Horner - He blatantly disagrees with Dayton. The statement he then gave told me he must have listened to Tom Hauser. Tom and Tom had a little conference. While they're off doing that, I'll give you a play by play of how Dayton runs off with the governorship. In spite of Horner/Hauser tossing about a figure of $120,000/year. I don't think that amount is correct. Horner claims he's running as an Independent so he can bring DFLers and GOPpers (lol) together.

Margaret Anderson Kelliher - "People wanna know!" She's getting Dayton's passion in her voice now. She must be reading my blogs. I've been talking about how the DFL candidates need to get the passion, enthusiasm and excitement of Paul Wellstone in their voices. A couple of candidates already have it. Marty and Dayton both excelled in that tonight, and with this last question, so did Kelliher.

John Marty - His voice was very bold and passionate about the things he believes in. He's got the courage of his convictions. He says that Minnesota has thousands of tasks that must be done to make this a better state. Thousands of people are out of work. He challenged MAK regarding her remark about changes in the legislature. He wants to undo all the tax cuts that were previously made and add new taxes. Well, we have to get revenue somewhere. I still don't see why we can't have just one temporary lottery ticket where all the proceeds go to the budget deficit. Or take donations...people would rather donate than have it forced from them in the form of taxes. Pawlenty asked for ideas from state employees on how to balance the budget. Of course he rejected every idea.

Tom Rukavina - He will raise taxes based on income. He's the Farmer Labor part of the DFL. He buys American made and passed legislation so that only American made flags can be sold in Minnesota. Rukavina got a big laugh from the audience when he quipped, "When you make millions and send 12 vikings out to the huddle you deserve to be taxed."

R. T. Rybak - He told the poignant story about the bridge collapse. He wants to build communities together. He thinks toward the future. He wants street cars. (Isn't that the same as light rail?) He doesn't agree with those who think no one will use it. They've already been proven wrong. Reminds me of my stepfather when they put in I694 next to my grandparents' farm. He said, "I don't know why they're building it. No one will ever use it." So shortsighted. Rybak, on the other hand, looks to the future. He wants commuter lines going in many directions. Rybak gave a great public speaking performance tonight.

John Uldrich - I kind of zoned out on his answer to this question. I'm looking at my notes and all it says is blah blah blah. I did catch his statement that he will have his plans ready for fixing this in one month.

Leslie Davis - He recited a tax poem. Gosh, I've never heard a tax poem before. He then stated that we don't need taxes in Minnesota. What we need is conservation of energy, he explained, in order to save billions of dollars. He claims that interest makes the debt grow but doesn't increase the money supplied. Seelah.

Question #6: If you become governor, what legacy do you want to leave?

Susan Gaertner - Environmental, because when we're all gone, that will be left; educational; ethical leadership.

Rob Hahn - Fresh leadership; bringing both sides together. And finally, mass transit as a way of life.

Tom Horner - Never argue with Iron Range math (huh?). He said that we need a leader with vision and courage. Everyone should take responsibility together.

Margaret Anderson Kelliher - She wants her legacy to be early childhood funding, closing the achievement gap and new jobs.

John Marty - He wants his legacy to be a state in which all the people care about each other. He also wants his legacy to be the Minnesota Health Plan and living wage jobs. He quoted Paul Wellstone: "We all do better when we all do better."

Tom Rukavina - He wants all new immigrants to get a good education too.

R. T. Rybak - He wants to leave safety in Minneapolis and in Minnesota. He wants his legacy slogan to be "Transportation builds communities." He wants to build great neighborhoods.

John Uldrich - He stated that gubernatorial means steerman. Is that like Entenza means governor in Norwegian? I'm never sure what Uldrich is talking about. He said something in German. Sounds like sinus problems to me.

Leslie Davis - He wants his legacy to be environmental. I get the impression that he's really in to that. Could he be another Ralph Nader?

Mark Dayton - Mark talked about Zen and Chief Seattle. Great ideas! Those are subjects I've studied myself. He also talked about his campaign slogan: Mark Dayton for a Better Minnesota. He then elaborated to state that a better Minnesota means better jobs, better environment and better education. Sounds excellent to me.

That's it, folks. That's all for now. I'm going to bed before my head clunks down on the keyboard. I'll post more about the candidates in new and interesting ways very soon.


Monday, January 25, 2010


Mark Dayton is the candidate with the longest proven track record of standing up for justice and equality for all. He's been engaged in progressive politics since 1968. He also has a proven record of winning elections and getting votes in Minnesota. This is a candidate who truly cares about the people of Minnesota and who has lived his life with honesty and integrity. He's got a history of standing by his word and of helping individuals all over Minnesota. Vote Mark Dayton for governor of Minnesota.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Minnesota Young DFL (MYDFL) Convention Gubernatorial Candidate Forum

Yesterday I attended two events. In the morning I drove on icy roads to Coffman Union at the University of Minnesota for the Minnesota Second Chance Coalition Gubernatorial Candidate Forum. It ended at noon. I drove from there to South High School in Minnesota for the MYDFL Convention's gubernatorial forum.

I'll blog about the MYDFL event first. I'll write a new blog a bit later about the event at Coffman.

I arrived at South High about 12:30. Upon entering the caferteria area, I took a quick glance around to see which candidates had campaign tables. Almost everyone did, including Mark Ritchie, Rebecca Otto and others who are candidates for other offices. After chatting briefly with those I already knew, and meeting new people, I went into the auditorium where those running for congressional office were speaking. I came in at the tail end.

Dan Powers, who is running in the 2nd District, was the first speaker I heard. He used an analogy from the movie The Matrix. He told the audience not to try to bend the spoon because the spoon won't bend. He said that the spoon does not exist. The box does not exist either. I think he meant that we shouldn't try to bend the Republicans to fit our needs. The Republicans don't exist (grin). Powers is a very good speaker who knows how to make use of his floor space and who knows how to add the impact of metaphors and analogies to his presentations.

Next was Maureen Hackett. She's running for Congress in the 3rd District. If I lived in the 3rd Disrict I would definitely vote for her.

Next up was Jim Meffert, who is also running for Congress in the 3rd District. He is the current president of the MN PTA. He's an excellent speaker.

Senator Tarryl Clark (state senator of District 15) also spoke. She also displayed high excellence in speaking. She really knows how to raise the excitement of an audience. That's what we need; candidates who can create excitement and passion in a crowd. She's running for Congress now.

Opposing Michele Bachmann in the 6th Congressional District is Maureen Reed, who, along with Elwyn Tinklenberg, is seeking the DFL endorsement for that office.

After that it was break time. I used the brief interval to network. When we returned to the auditorium, it was time to hear the gubernatorial candidates. They each presented for four minutes. Missing were Mark Dayton (he's on his 87 counties in 87 days tour)and Susan Gaertner.

Here's the order in which the DFL gubernatorial candidates spoke. I've included my comments.

Tom Bakk - He has been in the legislature for 15 years. He's very concerned about where MN is heading. He stated that he is the candidate who best understands the budget, taxes and the deficit. He tells the exact same story he always does. He reiterated that the deficit is not the problem, but a symptom of a deeper problem: an economy that is performing very, very poorly. He exclaimed that we need a governor who will make creating jobs his number one priority. He said that we can't tax our way out of our deficit problem. Taxing the rich is just not enough. Bakk gave a very good, very powerful speech today.

Matt Entenza - Entenza seems like more and more of a pretty good guy to me in spite of what happened a couple of years ago in the AG's office. He's got a pleasant reeks of Minnesota Nice...and he seems quite congenial. He should, however, learn to put more passion and enthusiasm into his voice. I would suggest getting World Champion of Public Speaking Craig Valentine to coach him on that. Entenza can afford him and it would definitely help him win. If anyone would like to hear Craig Valentine in person, he'll be at TELI - Toastmasters Education and Leadership Institute - at the Doubletree Hotel in St. Louis Park on February 20. (Sorry, Matt, for the TM advertising on your paragraph.) Anyway, back to Matt's speech...he said that the Obama voters in Massachusetts stayed home on voting day and now we have a Teabagger in the U.S. Senate. That's about right. Matt was talking to the young MYDFLers to get them to become active and get out and organize so we don't have another Republican governor. Matt wants to build a new state. It was nice of Matt to acknowledge me today. He even asked if I was ready to join his campaign. I gave a political answer...(grin). The impression I came away with is that Entenza is a likeable person. (Even though I don't really believe that Entenza is Norwegian for governor...)

Steve Kelley - He's still way too loud. He started out with such a booming voice that the girls sitting behind me jumped. Facilities had to turn his mike down. I've blogged about that before but he doesn't listen to me, even though I've earned the prestigious DTM award. Kelley wants us to know that under his governorship, everyone working together will change first Minnesota and then change the world. He then told the previously humorous story about asking Pawlenty to be in his budget class but he didn't because he doesn't like to flunk students and Pawlenty doesn't have the prerequisites anyway. Gosh, that was a really funny story the first couple of times I heard it, but now it's overdone. Time for a new joke. On the positive side, Kelley wants opportunity and justice for everyone. He wants students to be able to get an education without going deeply into debt. He's in favor of gay marriage. He said that if Iowa can have gay marriage, then so can Minnesota. He said that he will be one governor but there will be five million heroes in Minnesota.

John Marty - He crowed that he's the author of the MN Health Care Bill, advocated for GLBT rights for a long, long time, worked hard on the Marriage Equality Bill, and wants equal rights for everyone. He's also good on environmental issues. He stands up for his convictions because he really believes in what he says. I can vouch that John Marty is very sincere and passionate in his belief that everyone should have health care and everyone should have equal rights. He truly believes that health care should be a basic right. I notice that he's getting a lot better in his speech presentations now. He's got excitement and enthusiasm in his voice. He's portraying his passion for these issues much more vehemently now. I think that if John Marty does win the governorship, Minnesota will definitely get his health care bill passed.

Tom Rukavina - He informed us that if people have good jobs, a lot of other things in their lives will take care of themselves. A good education will prepare young people for a good job. He has fought at the legislature for a long time to keep the cost of tuition reasonable. He has been advocating for the use of mineral rights owned by the University of Minnesota to go for Freshmen scholarships. The young audience of students applauded him for that. He then told us that his suit and his underwear are union made right here in America. He opened his suitcoat so those with excellent vision could see the label. That left me out. He didn't offer to show us his underwear, so I can't say for sure whether they were American made or not. Rukavina also stated that he's been a blue collar worker all his life and that both he and John Marty have voted against tax cuts. He wants to provide a place in the economic sun for all Minnesotans. He then reiterated the legendary story of how he is the love child between Jesse Ventura and Paul Wellstone (don't even attempt to visualize that). That means that he can relate to the strongest Progressive as well as to the Independent voters. The audience loved Tom Rukavina. They gave him applause and cheers.

Margaret Anderson Kelliher - Apparently MAK did very well in the MYDFL straw poll. She got quite a bit of applause from the young audience. I could tell they really liked her. She identified herself with them by saying that she, too, got involved in politics at an early age. She spoke directly to the audience. One of the first rules of Toastmasters is to know your audience. Kelliher definitely achieved that. As always, she gave an excellent speech with clear and concise enunciation, great use of her floor space, viable gestures, appropriate voice volume and projection and an interesting array of vocal variety. There is absolutely nothing wrong with her speaking technique. I give her a 10. I've heard others say that they're not sure about her sincerity. The current Toastmasters District 6 Governor told me just the other day that one of the reasons he joined Toastmasters in the first place was to increase his ability to put sincerity into his speeches. Regardless of that, this audience loved her. The evidence was all the claps and cheers.

Paul Thissen - First he told us that he's not going to talk about his campaign because we can check that out on his website. We can find out where he stands on the issues, what he's done and what he's doing. Today he wants to talk about where we're going. He stated that most politicians are still using the politics of nostalgia and looking at the past to create a future. He thinks that those days are over. Now the world has changed and we need to change along with it. The old way of engaging in politics will not work for our new global economy. He wants to breathe new life into the DFL party. Politics as usual won't work anymore. If anyone can give Minnesota politics and the governorship a fresh new start, it's Paul Thissen. He's fresh, young, honest and very smart. He's a great choice for governor. (There's far too many great DFL candidates. Now what? I've always heard it said that you should go with your first hunch.) Thissen concluded by stating that the new governor will need to talk to the people and remain in conversation with them.

R. T. Rybak - As governor, Rybak wants to use the model of the Minneapolis Promise to create the Minnesota Promise. Go R.T.! He was an excellent speaker today, as always. He knows how to capture the attention of the audience. He knows how to raise enthusiasm. His mantra is that grassroots got him elected as mayor of the largest city in Minnesota as an unknown candidate and grassroots will get him elected to the governorship. He said that his campaign is an entire generational movement for changes in Minnesota. I wouldn't mind having R. T. as governor.

Of course I wouldn't mind having Dayton, Thissen, Marty or Rukavina, either. If I keep going to these forums and debates, I'm going to have to start all over, because lately MAK and Entenza have been growing on me too. (No, not like warts.) I think it's because they've been nice to me at these events. Being nice to us bloggers goes a long way.

As far as today's audience, I heard some wondering where Dayton and Gaertner were. They were missed. Maybe we'll catch them next time. Which is when? Let me check my calendar...okay, there's a gubernatorial forum at Macalester College on Monday evening, January 25, and a big gubernatorial debate in Bloomington on Wednesday January 27. Then on Sunday, January 31, reNEW Minnesota/TakeAction Minnesota has its annual meeting. That's when members will vote for their top three candidates.

I bet you're all looking forward to seeing me again. Right? Yeah, sure, you betcha!

reNEW MN Campaign, 3rd & Final Set of Candidate Interviews

On the evening of January 19, reNEW Minnesota had its third and last set of candidate interviews. This one included Susan Gaertner, Tom Rukavina and R. T. Rybak.

You know the routine. I'll take each candidate separately, state the questions they were asked, paraphrase their answers, and then give my take on it. Each candidate was asked a set of six identical questions and two questions unique to each candidate. Here we go:

Susan Gaertner

Question #1: Since the reNEW MN kickoff last fall, what have you done to enact the reNEW MN vision into your campaign? Gaertner stated that she will make the system more fair for everyone. She has been bringing people together on her campaign trail. She asks them what solutions they want. She continues reNEW MN conversations. Her focus is on the inequalities of the criminal justice system and the disproportionate number of minorities who are incarcerated. She talks to people on the campaign trail about how we're all in this together and we must all work together.

Question #2: What will you do about taxes? Gaertner replied that we need to take care of things now or we will pay for it in the future. She promotes a progressive tax system and stated that property taxes are regressive. She says we need more than we can get by just raising taxes on the rich.

Question #3: What are your solutions to racism, particularly in the educational system? She plans to talk about it. She again mentioned a program she knows of called Baby Space, where children are nurtured from a very early age. She talked about disparities in education, Chinese immersion and that funding for education needs to be fair in order to solve the disparity in education problem.

Question #4: What makes your campaign unique? Gaertner said that it's unique because she's not afraid to take people on. She assured us that she can win the Independent vote as well as that of the DFL pragmatic voters who will realize that she's the one who can get the job done.

Question #5: How will you maintain the vision and not park the reNEW MN bus? Gaertner states that she has listened to diverse groups of people to find out their perceptions of the problems. She is convinced that institutionalizing problems marginalizes them.

Question #6: What are your views on corporate farms vs family farms? Gaertner says she has a great deal of commitment to the family farms. She has a big concern about childhood obesity and how it relates to the way that our food is grown. She would look to various resources to pick a Commissioner of Agriculture.

Question #7: Would you honor tribal gaming? Gaertner stated that she respects sovereign nations. She doesn't like gambling, including the lottery. She will not support the expansion of gambling. She will support tribal casinos.

Question #8: What is your stand on global warming and the environment? She will acknowledge that we do have a climate change problem. She's not a big ethanol supporter. She prefers wind and solar.

My take on Gaertner: I like to listen to Gaertner speak because of her use of language, voice inflection, witticisms and body language. She does use too many crutch words, which is annoying. I wonder if she would consider visiting a Toastmasters' meeting?

I think Gaertner has some good ideas and she probably really would get the job done. However, I don't think she sees the reNEW MN vision as clearly as a couple of the other candidates do. What I don't understand is why she's going to the primary even if she doesn't win the endorsement. Where will she get the money, since she doesn't buy lottery tickets? Maybe she thinks that her husband got Jesse elected so he can get her elected too. I wish her well. She'd be an interesting governor.

Tom Rukavina

Question #1: Since the reNEW MN kickoff last fall, what have you done to enact the reNEW MN vision into your campaign? Rukavina declared that he has lived our vision throughout his entire political career at the Capital. He has always had an open door policy with absolutely no exclusions and no exceptions. He said that his parents were immigrants so he can relate to the immigrant issues and communities.

Question #2: What will you do about taxes? He has been in favor of progressive taxes for a very long time. He then referred to Pawlenty as our crybaby governor who wants deficit by design so government will fail.

Question #3: What are your solutions to racism, particularly in the educational system? Rukavina again stated that he grew up in an ethnically diverse community. He believes in a good education for everyone. He wants a fair tax system that funds education. He wants the old Minnesota Miracle because we can't afford The New Minnesota Miracle right now. He wants input from everyone.

Question #4: What makes your campaign unique? Rukavina says that he will win by raising hope, not just money. He is refreshingly honest, although he admitted that he wanted the slogan to be brutally honest. He travels all over the state to get delegates.

Question #5: How will you maintain the vision and not park the reNEW MN bus? He is following his goals for jobs, education and the immigrant population. He talks to people about principles and what we stand for.

Question #6: What are your views on corporate farms vs family farms? Rukavina stated that he likes hippie farmers. He believes in the family farm. He believes in livestock research. He wants to keep agriculture money in the pockets of family farmers. He said that livestock and farm animals should roam free and not be kept full of hormones and cooped up in cages.

Question #7: What is your stand on a second chance for ex-prisoners? Rukavina stated that he voted against 22 criminal justice bills. He will not make criminals out of kids who make a mistake. He believes in giving people a second chance.

Question #8: (This was my question.) Homelessness has greatly increased in Minnesota due to loss of jobs and foreclosures. Also, there are over 4,000 homeless veterans in MN. What will you do to alleviate the homelessness problem and what is your timeline? Rukavina stated that he would not talk about a timeline but he would raise money to alleviate the problem. He would use levy bonds to make homes affordable.

My take on Rukavina: I like Rukavina's sense of humor. It reminds me of Wanda Sykes' humor. Straight up and to the point. Tom Rukavina is a natural speaker. He's not shy and knows just how to speak up and how to work an audience so they know he's speaking right to them. He zooms in on individuals then zooms out again to continue the conversation with everyone. He knows how to make use of his floor space, has great gestures and body movement and projects his voice strongly and clearly. I didn't hear any crutch words at all. I strongly suspect that he could easily hold his own in a debate with any opponent.

Tom Rukavina is definitely one of my top three choices for my reNEW MN vote. (Each member will vote for 3 candidates on January 31.) Tom should come to Toastmasters and show the rest of us how it's done.

One last thing for Rukavina: I really liked it when he said he will win by raising hope. We need to have our hopes raised. I think a lot of Minnesotans have lost hope. If Rukavina can raise hope and passion and excitement the way that Wellstone or Kennedy or even Hubert Humphrey did, I'd say he would have an excellent chance of winning. Hey Orrie, tell Tom to use music in his campaign. That's what people always did in the 1920's and 1940's. It worked, too! The right type of music can do wonders for a campaign.

R. T. Rybak

Question #1: Since the reNEW MN kickoff last fall, what have you done to enact the reNEW MN vision into your campaign? Rybak stated that reNEW MN has been transformational for him in his campaign. The vision is helping him to reconnect Minnesota. He brings this message with him on the campaign trail.

Question #2: What will you do about taxes? He explained that we have to invest as well as make changes to the budget. He further said that we need a progressive tax system but that alone won't fix the budget. He then crowed that he's a better fiscal manager than Tim Pawlenty.

Question #3: What are your solutions to racism, particularly in the educational system? Rybak claimed that he has more experience with racial issues than any governor in history. He has always stood up on issues of immigration.

Question #4: What makes your campaign unique? He knows how to mobilize at the grassroots level. He can get the vote of the Independents as well as the DFLers. He runs a strong campaign. He stated that no one can outcampaign him.

Question #5: How will you maintain the vision and not park the reNEW MN bus? He engages in the Wellstone way of thinking. He knows how to build a good team. He learns from both his successes and his failures. He has learned so much just by talking to people and by going to forums like this one. As mayor of Minneapolis, he has remained laser-focused on Minneapolis issues and thereby got things done. He will do the same as governor of Minnesota.

Question #6: What are your views on corporate farms vs family farms? He will promote a progressive food policy. He said that when he is governor, Washington Honey Crisp apples won't be sold in Minnesota. He'll concentrate on Minnesota grown food for Minnesota.

Question #7: What is your position on the health care issue? Rybak advocates a debit card to use at the clinics that have all our medical information on it. He claims that this will save millions of health care dollars. He maintains that preventative medicine is very important.

Question #8: What will you do about the achievement gap in our educational system? Rybak stated that the way in which we currently test kids does not test the full brain. Then he said that we need to forget about No Child Left Behind, as it's not working. He advocates using innovative teaching techniques, such as using music to teach math.

My take on Rybak: My opinion is that Rybak has an excellent chance of actually winning the governorship. He's definitely in the top half of the candidate list. The word on the street is that he's done a fantastic job in Minneapolis and he could do the same as governor. Can he get the outstate Minnesota vote? That remains to be seen. He's not at the top of the list for that because his name is not as well known as it is here in the Twin Cities. He can change that on the campaign trail. It'll be interesting to watch.

I like many of Rybak's ideas, including the use of music to teach math. The two are so interconnected. He's the only candidate I've heard come up with that idea. Of course I'm never able to make it to the outstate forums and debates because of a safety issue with my car.

As far as Washington Honey Crisp apples not being sold in Minnesota, I don't think he can keep them out. Free enterprise, you know. Personally, I'd rather have Beacon apples from Pine Tree Apple Orchard in Dellwood. And Haralson.

I do think that Rybak learned a lot about campaigning when he campaigned for Obama. I could easily support Rybak for governor, not as my first choice, but as someone I'd be happy with if he won.

As far as his communication and presentation skills, Rybak is very good. He makes good use of his floor space. He's good at gestures and body movement. He rarely uses a crutch word. Most of all, he engages his audience with the interesting things he says. I love the phrase he used when answering question #5: laser-focused. Rybak is definitely a candidate to watch.