Category Archives: Politics

Ken Martin recommends you do NOT Vote Yes for the “Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment”

That’s a weird title for a post on my own blog. Well, here’s the story: there’s another Ken Martin. Actually, there’s a bunch of us, but there’s one in particular who is the campaign manager for the “Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment”. So folks are searching the web for him and seem to stumble in here.

Well, OK, but I’m not that Ken Martin, and though I’m sure he’s a perfectly fine fellow, I don’t agree with him that there should be a constitutional amendment like the one his group is supporting. In fact, I think it’s a dreadful idea. Please, vote no for the “Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment”.

I’m tempted to rant… sorely tempted. But I promised myself I’d keep this short. OK, I’ll try the constraint of bullet points:

  • Let’s keep our “how government spends money” questions out of the constitution and in the legislature. That’s where government is faced with all the needs and must draw up a budget. Doing this constitutionally feels like an end run around representative government.
  • “Yeah, well they did it!” Yes, others have pulled exactly this shenanigan, but I don’t accept that excuse from my kids, and none of us should accept it as a basis for creating public policy.
  • I don’t trust a movement that talks all about “clean water” and then has 19.75% of the funds going to “the arts and cultural heritage fund”. You want to clean the water? Go clean the water. This is the hackneyed old political shell game… and a little for my friends to get this passed.
  • Only 33% of the funds actually go exclusively to clean water.
  • It’s a 25 year tax hike. Hello? A tax hike. I don’t really want to increase the “Minnesota Taxes” portion of my family’s budget. Certainly not in times like these.
  • It’s a constitutional amendment. Hello? OK, that’s basically the same as my first bullet, but does anyone get this? If you’re unhappy with this choice – if it turns out to be a mistake – what will you do about it? Replace your legislator? Tough cookies… won’t work. Nothing will work! That’s why you shouldn’t make it a constitutional amendment.

Look, it’s a good idea to have clean resources. A very good idea. But there are a lot of very good ideas. It’s a good idea to help disadvantaged folks. It’s a good idea to make sure folks are educated. It’s good idea to have excellent law enforcement. It’s a good idea to replace the carpet in the capitol once in a while. So what we do is we get all the good ideas together and prioritize and find out which ones we can afford. We hire and pay for legislators for this very purpose.

My guess is folks behind this initiative have tried that, and have constantly missed the “cut”. And they’re just trying to find a way to get this thing – what they think is a good idea – done.

Don’t vote for this. If you care about this, you make your legislator pay attention to them and support them, but don’t support this practically irreversible end run around how we as a people prioritize our resources.

Ken looks like a nice guy (all of us Ken Martins are), and he’s done a nice job on the web site (I look at such things). But I just disagree with what he’s doing. This particular Ken Martin in Minnesota urges you to vote “No” for the “Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment on Tuesday.

28 minutes. I’m OK with that.

UPDATE: Here’s 10 reasons to vote “no”.

UPDATE: One more link with nice, balanced pro and con information.

John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States

Our true choice is not between tax reduction, on the one hand, and the avoidance of large Federal deficits on the other. It is increasingly clear that no matter what party is in power, so long as our national security needs keep rising, an economy hampered by restrictive tax rates will never produce enough revenues to balance our budget just as it will never produce enough jobs or enough profits… In short, it is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high today and tax revenues are too low and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now.

Rosemount (Minnesota) Port Authority: Thieves?


Pretty blunt, Ken. Yeah, I suppose. But what else can it be called when a [city government takes someone’s property][1] not for a bridge or a road (things historically understood to fulfill the “public use” concept in eminent domain), but just because they want a shiny new commercial district. Keep in mind that this new take on “public use” (thanks [2005 Supreme Court][2]) could easily and logically be used to take your house so the government can have someone build a larger one in order to increase the tax base. As long as it’s called economic development.

The majority (five of seven) of the Rosemount Port Authority (RPA) voted to take the land. They were unhappy that this fellow named Hansen strolled in a purchased the land for an amount higher than the city appraisal. So they took it from him. Really, they couldn’t help it:

> “If we don’t go forward, we’re being held hostage” by one property owner, said commissioner Jay Tentinger.

Yes, because they must have their way. They can’t change or adapt their plan. (They wouldn’t want to have to [re-do the drawing][5].) It *must* be the way they want it. Now!

Yes, Veruca.

For us poor reg’lar folk, if we can’t pay the price someone is asking, we just make due without buying it. But the government? I guess they can just steal it away.

If this *isn’t* theft by government, what would the definition of theft by government be? They’re taking someone’s property against their will to give it to someone else who will profit from developing it in a way the city likes better. The “public” will not “use” this.

Maybe they should have left it in Hansen’s hands; he’s at least sharp enough to have known it had value and to have purchased it. In the meantime, it looks like the Rosemount Port Authority moved too slow and offered too little. Now they will use the force of government to make up for their lack of business savvy. (Say, they should be in charge of economic development!)

So, for those of you in Rosemount, next time you’re voting, remember that the following people are willing to take your property, as long as they feel they can do something “good” with it: Michael Baxter (chair), Council member Mark DeBettignies, Bruno DiNella, Mary Riley, and Jay Tentinger.

Only Mayor Bill Droste and Council member Phillip Sterner voted no.

Oh, my. Waitaminit. Guess what I just realized. Four of the five votes to steal are from appointed – not elected – members. Two of three who have to stand for election (the mayor and a City Council member) voted no.

So, this will be done at the hand of a majority of unelected people; people who can’t be booted from office for what they’ve done.

Well, folks, remember Council member Mark DeBettignies next time he’s running. Seems like he need a “Former” in his title.

And remember Mayor Bill Droste and Council member Phillip Sterner, too. Do not neglect. Re-elect! (That’s my Jackie Chiles impersonation.)

And from what I read in a [recent City Council minutes][3], it seems as though at least Mayor Droste would like to see the development happen. Apparently he just doesn’t want to steal to do it. (Though I can conceive more cynical scenarios, too.)

I know it’s the national stuff that gets the big press, but I really think that a lot of real stinky stuff happens at the very local level.

Y’know, this isn’t just conservative Ken talking. A [pretty broad spectrum of folks][4] find this kind of use of eminent domain pretty repulsive. And by the way, this kind of takings is now illegal in Minnesota, except for a loophole that RPA is using.

“I want the world. I want the *whole* world…”

New Atheism?


Last Friday (I think) I heard a long interview of Christopher Hitchens concerning his latest book God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. He is a well-spoken and witty man, but during the interview he failed to progress much further than anger and weak logic, all with a dogmatic yet inexplicably founded moral tone.

There’s a fairly recent editorial about Hitchens’ book (and the “new atheist” trend overall) by Peter Berkowitz on the Wall Street Journal’s [Opinion Journal][1] titled “[The New New Atheist][1]” that’s well worth a look.

From the editorial:

> They contend that from the advantage point of the 21st century, and thanks to the moral progress of mankind and the achievements of natural science, we can now know, with finality and certainty, that God does not exist and organized religion is a fraud. The disproportion between the bluster and bravado of their rhetoric and the limitations of their major arguments is astonishing.

CARE Package

I listen to a lot of old time radio shows; Johnny Dollar, The Shadow, Superman… things like that. They’re often very good little dramas, and they don’t require my visual attention.

They were the mass media of the time. And unlike today, there weren’t thousands of choices for content, and there was little freedom concerning when you could listen in. Just a few choices played nightly or once a week. Listen or miss it.

They are also very interesting time capsules. Phrases we don’t use any more. Politically incorrect characterizations. Positive, hopeful national identity (a refreshing break from modern American recommended self-loathing). Even an occasional hat tip to that religion which the vast majority of Americans at least acknowledged as common and useful (which was Christianity, as it is now).

And sometimes there are just these odd little facts…

_Unto Death Do Us Part_, a “The Shadow” episode from March 6th, 1949, had an announcement in it for [CARE](, and something you don’t even see on [their history page]( was there. In soliciting support for a particular CARE initiative, the announcer said “CARE, the Cooperative for American Remittances to Europe, proposes to help meet that need…”

CARE is an acronym? Hmph. Never knew.

Though the organization has now a much broader scope, I just found it interesting where it started: a movement of Americans voluntarily helping European (and later Asian) survivors of WWII.

The City Pages and the Maplewood City Council hullabaloo


Local weekly newspaper *City Pages* has [an article about the Maplewood City Council][1] happenings. It’s a nice summary of the view of some. It’s not terribly balanced, but that doesn’t make for as easily interesting writing. It’s good to have the topic brought up, though. And I hope concerned Maplewood citizens study up on what’s going on. The City Pages’ article basically falls in line with the other media outlets I’ve noted in my commentary – Lillie Press and KSTP-TV – and with the the active critics of the “Gang of Three” manifest in places like and “What’s Left of Maplewood”.

Sidenote: Even writing the phrase “Gang of Three” is terribly funny to me. The above noted critics and media are simply an echo chamber of their own snappy moniker, and now “[the current Maplewood City Council majority have] effectively become a ruling troika, in the process earning the nickname.”

**Anyway, welcome visitors!** I don’t live in Maplewood. I don’t know any of the folks on the city council other than what you see here in the comments, and a couple of email exchanges concerning my posts. I simply saw one little article in a local weekly newspaper which seemed obviously slanted and [I commented on it](

Over the following months it became terribly interesting to me and I posted a lot. I’m a pretty conservative guy, which might not sit well with some visitors coming via *City Pages*, but I think that if you’re interested enough to look, you’ll see my commentary isn’t necessarily putting forward a conservative agenda. I think it’s pretty fair, and it’s commentary and (neophyte) reporting that you won’t have seen elsewhere. My interest is not necessarily in current majority of the city council, but the way reporting happens, research is done, and how we don’t really get very balanced information from our local media.

You can find my posts on this topic [here][2]. Enjoy. Comment. Then go enjoy this beautiful day.

**UPDATE:** Had a nice email conversation with the article’s author. Seems like a nice guy. :)

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

No, not MLK… c’mon, have some respect.

Here’s the (, given on August 28, 1963 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Now that I’ve started to become more familiar with Lincoln, the speech strikes me as very like Lincoln’s work. Not too long. Elegant language. Rich analogy.

> Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
> But 100 years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.
> In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men – yes, black men as well as white men – would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Give it a listen. Communication of this caliber is rare. It will be sixteen minutes well spent.


Sorry to leave my severe finger wagging at the East Side Review on top for so long. I’ve been buried. Sometimes work is work, and so work has been. And we had a head cold take a few of us down. And diagramming Greek is just *not* taking hold in my head. And I’m teaching this month. And… and… and…

So get out and vote. Republican. Or stay home. :)

By the way, [Obi Sium](, who is running for Minnesota’s 4th, has finally appeared in the media. He’s running radio ads that **rock**. You gotta vote for him.