January 11th, 2019
Quote of the Week: “We’re gonna go in there and we’re gonna impeach the motherfu**er.”
In This Issue:
The Walz administration is off to rather unremarkable, status-quo ante start.
Whenever a new governor assumes office, he signals the strategic direction of the new administration by the selection of high-ranking cabinet officials and other staffers who will assist in crafting and executing policy.
Unfortunately, many of those picks are current or former registered lobbyists, current politicians, and recycled politicians, a DFL favorite. Some are both.
Let’s review who has been selected so far, with the designation of “lobbyist” or “politician” meaning current or former:
Transportation Commissioner: Margaret Anderson-Kelliher (politician, lobbyist);
Health and Human Services Commissioner: Tony Lourey (politician);
Met Council Chair: Nora Slawik (politician);
Agriculture Commissioner: Thom Peterson (lobbyist);
Pollution Control Commissioner: Laura Bishop (lobbyist);
Natural Resources Commissioner: Sarah Strommen (lobbyist);
Human Rights Commissioner: Rebecca Lucero (lobbyist);
Public Safety Commissioner: John Harrington (politician);
Commerce Commissioner: Steve Kelly (politician);
Housing Finance Commissioner: Jennifer Ho (lobbyist);
Education Commissioner: Mary Cathryn Ricker (teacher union leader, which is worse than lobbyist or politician. The teachers’ union owns the Walz administration);
To be fair, other Walz picks were people who aren’t politicians or lobbyists.
Having said that, nearly half of his picks (11 of 23) are of this ilk.
It didn’t have to be this way, since his transition team announced that they received over 500 applicants for the 23 cabinet-level appointments.
Picking a bunch of political insiders to run the administration isn’t the way to go.
The status quo means nothing more than more government, less efficiency, more spending, and less freedom.
LINE 3 RECKONING
Just days into the Walz administration, the pipeline chickens have come home to roost.
This publication has noted throughout the gubernatorial campaign the difficulty Walz was inviting by playing both sides of a very intense, passionate fight between pipeline proponents and opponents.
On the one hand, Walz assiduously courted construction trade unions, rural counties and cities that want pipeline tax revenue, and companies that stand to gain from building and maintaining them.
On the other hand, Walz selected a running mate who is a vocal, active opponent of pipelines. He also assiduously courted tribal nations who passionately oppose pipelines.
The strategy of being both things to all parties worked great in the campaign.
Now he sits hoisted on that same petard as a sitting governor.
This cynical, hypocritical ploy has been forced to decision by one last incompetent move by Mark Dayton, who left a steaming Line 3 turd in Walz’s lap.
That turd comes in the form of a legal appeal filed late last year by Dayton’s own Department of Commerce.
The legal appeal essentially asks the Minnesota Court of Appeals to review permits granted the Line 3 pipeline project by the state’s Public Utilities Commission.
Both sides are now pushing Walz to either withdraw the appeal or to sustain it.
For example, pipeline advocates this week delivered a petition with 2,500 signatures asking him to withdraw the appeal.
There is nowhere for Walz to run on this issue and he will now have to choose, leaving one side more than ticked off at the governor they thought was on their side.
That’s too bad.
Both sides knew the game Walz was playing and took the gamble they would win.
This publication has spoken with sources who opine that Walz will side with pipeline opponents.
Regardless of the outcome of this particular issue, the pipeline controversy will remain front and center at the legislature.
Governor Walz’s choices for cabinet positions are subject to Senate confirmation.
The Watchdog has spoken with a number of Republican senators who are preparing to ask important, pointed questions of commissioner-designees for public safety, the National Guard, and the PCA about pipelines, and Line 3 in particular.
Among the questions, those designees will be asked about what they are doing to maintain order and guarantee public safety once Line 3 construction begins.
Pipeline opponents have already vowed to visit the same violence, intimidation, and property destruction on Line 3 that they did at Standing Rock in North Dakota, where the Dakota Access Pipeline was disrupted time and again.
For reference, the Standing Rock debacle resulted in nearly 700 arrests and over 300 injuries.
Nearly $40 million was spent in law enforcement costs attempting to maintain order.
Millions more was lost to equipment destruction and vandalism.
It cost another $250,000 to clean up the environmental mess left at the protest camp, where over 1,000 tons of waste was removed.
How ironic that the “Earth Protectors” trashed the very place where they lived while terrorizing those working on the pipeline.
Rest assured, Republican senators will demand answers from Walz and his commissioners about their plans to guarantee law and order once Line 3 has the required permits and begins construction.
In addition, Republicans in the Senate (the House won’t do anything) should hold hearings to take testimony from state and local law enforcement regarding what resources and appropriations they will need to address the anticipated unrest.
The legislature should also proactively consider legislation to increase penalties for pipeline violence to deter anyone who is contemplating violence.
Now is the time for choosing regarding Line 3.
Republicans need to make their choice clear.
Will we never learn. Government intervention on behalf of favored industries and actors is never as efficient and just as letting the free market decide how to best allocate scarce resources.
Minnesota got another harsh lesson in this regard this week as the state learned that a beneficiary of crony capitalism decided to seek rent in another jurisdiction.
The rent seeking actor in this case is a company called Tru Shrimp, which engages in the practice of factory farming shrimp in indoor “harbors” where the shrimp are bred and raised.
Strangely enough, South Dakota and far Southwestern Minnesota were the jurisdictions competing for privilege to host a “harbor.”
In Minnesota, the state spent over $2 million on ancillary infrastructure for the anticipated “harbor,” to be located in Luverne.
Moreover, the City of Luverne spent an additional $600,000 of taxpayer money.
Apparently Tru Shrimp was also shaking down South Dakota for taxpayer monies to locate in that state.
In the end, South Dakota won and Minnesota has been left holding the bag, with roads and utilities built to serve – nothing.
Tru Shrimp has blamed Minnesota’s environmental permitting process, which may or may not be true.
The real story here is that the state and Luverne had no business spending over $2.6 million to lure the business in the first place.
This sort of market-distorting activity, often dressed up as “public-private partnership,” is really nothing more than business extorting taxpayer subsidies from government.
There is much empirical data to demonstrate that even when the deal happens, the net effect is negative for taxpayers.
In other words, the benefit of having a business come to a particular jurisdiction is outweighed by the cost to taxpayers.
In this case, it’s nothing short of an outright embarrassment, as there was apparently no contract to compel Tru Shrimp to perform their end of the deal.
Watch for the next chapter in this sordid tale to be yet more taxpayer monies offered up to either get Tru Shrimp to build another “harbor” in Luverne or some scheme to get another business at the Luverne site.
Maybe a chopstick factory?
Welcome to my web site!
I created this website in response to governmental waste and abuse in Anoka County.
Many taxpayers don’t know that our local governments spend millions of tax dollars every year on things like public relations teams, lobbyists, and junkets to places like Hawaii.
Since there seemed to be no place to turn for the “other side” of these issues, I created the Anoka County Watchdog. My intent is to create a one-stop-shop where concerned taxpayers can find fact-supported information and other resources to counter the governmental machine. Many people want to confront their elected officials regarding waste and abuse but feel they don’t have the information they need to make an effective argument. This web site offers that information.
Some of our elected officials in Anoka County have become arrogant and unresponsive, forgetting that they work for the very people who put them in office. It’s high time to hold them accountable for their decisions.
Harold E. Hamilton
US Mail: Anoka County Watchdog
7956 Main Street NE
Minneapolis, MN 55432
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