I grew up reading comic books wanting to be a superhero. Comics taught me that those who speak the truth are heroes, all the rest are liars.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

'Boots on the Ground' or 'Dog And Pony Show'?

There's an interview with Steve Sarvi, candidate in Minnesota's Second Congressional District, posted up at mnblue. If you haven't read anything on Steve Sarvi, take a look at the interview...Basically it points to a 'boots on the ground' person verses the Kline 'dog and pony' show. Finally a candidate with a solid history of service to the community and county that will be able to cut through Kline's smoke and mirrors image.

One of the key differences highlighted by mnblue besides health care, vet support and education, is about Kline's recent announcement he will no longer work for earmarks for Minnesotans:

On transportation, Sarvi asserts that Kline has not done the job needed. Republicans have neglected our infrastructure at the state and national level and Kline has gone along with it. Kline's vow to fore go any earmark's in 2008particularly baffles Steve.

"We've got a bridge in Hastings over the Mississippi that's in danger of falling down and now is when we need a Representative in Congress who will deliver the district an earmark and get this bridge rebuilt. Our infrastructure is crumbling all over the district and Kline has done nothing. This wouldn't be some kind of bridge to nowhere, it's desperately needed."

"Look, I'm not scared of spending money. There are many things we need to spend money on like that bridge in Hastings. I'm more concerned with wasting money."

In a Friday commentary piece in the Star Tribune, Steve Sarvi takes John Kline to task for his new-found opposition to requesting federal funds for important Minnesota projects. Contrary to the image that John Kline has cultivated, he isn't representing Minnesotans when he continues to play partisan politics such as voting against funding to rebuilding I35W bridge.

Kline's record for the past several terms shows a disturbing picture of his major support for big oil companies, war profiteers, and blind allegiance to the Bush administration. With Kline's announcement last week that he won't be working toward funding Minnesota projects,and the emergence of a strong DFL candidate like Steve Sarvi, perhaps the Kline 'dog and pony' show has come to an end.

Friday, December 14, 2007

If Kline Won't Represent, Steve Sarvi Will!

Stephen T. Sarvi, a candidate in the second congressional district running against John Kline recently got published in the Star Tribune: Not all federal earmarks are bad:
"Part of congressional leadership is getting money to the places that need it in the state you represent."
Steve Sarvi couldn't be more right. What value does Congressman John Kline have when he won't meet with his constituents and announces that he won't vote for any bill with earmarks? Sounds to me like Mr. Kline doesn't want to be a congressman.
"Every year, we Minnesotans send our tax dollars to Washington, putting more into the federal pot than we get back. Our state is blessed with talented and hard-working people who generally don't begrudge sending money where it is most needed for the common good.However, U.S. Rep. John Kline, who the Star Tribune reported on Dec. 10 has decided to no longer seek "earmarks" on behalf of our state, would have us believe that bringing money home for high-priority projects is "corrupt" -- and in taking this stance, he's gone too far."

Steve Sarvi shows his common sense when it comes to fulfilling the duties of a Congressman as well as pointing out the responsibilities a Minnesota representative should have to his state.

"For every "bridge to nowhere" - the infamous Alaskan project that, it bears noting, Kline voted for in 2005 - there are many projects for which Minnesota's congressional delegation can and should seek federal dollars. These projects are not extravagant or wasteful -and members of Congress who seek them in the interest of the people they represent are not corrupt; they are doing their job. Federal funds secured by members of Congress are commonly used to help with transportation projects. These projects keep the people and products of our state moving, and as such are the backbone of our economy. Providing for transportation needs is a basic function of government.

Minnesotans expect leadership from elected officials on this issue... People in our communities don't care whether Republicans or Democrats meet them at the table to solve problems. They do care that government at its various levels -all supported by taxpayers - can't seem to cooperate to use those tax dollars efficiently."

We elect our representatives to represent our best interests. I think Steve Sarvi summed it up best by saying:

"Citizens, local government and state government must do their parts to ensure that we raise and spend tax dollars appropriately. Our members of Congress do not engage in corruption, as Kline claims, when they work hard to see that Minnesota's sorely needed tax dollars come back to our state instead of going elsewhere. Our representatives are supposed to go to bat for us; it's one of the things we "hire" them to do. If they don't want to do it, the good people of Minnesota can hire someone else. "
With Kline unwilling to fulfil his duties, there is an alternative; Common sense, level headed, willing to represent Minnesotans, to make necessary compromises to accomplish goals...Steve Sarvi would be great Congressman

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Congressman John Kline Abandons Minnesotans

So let me get this straight...Congressman John Kline won't advocate for his district on congressional budget spending..hmmm...why is he still in office?

From the DFL:

John Kline’s Double Standard: Abandon the Home Front, but Still Back Iraq

Republican Congressman Abandons Earmarks for District While Costs of War He Still Supports Continue to Mount

St. Paul, MN (December 10, 2007) The Star Tribune reported today that Second District Republican Representative John Kline has abandoned the practice of earmarking, leaving his constituents to fend for their own in obtaining needed federal funding for worthy local projects, including for roads, bridges and transit. In response, the Minnesota DFL Party noted that Kline’s new-found fiscal conservatism cannot hide the double standard of his continued blank-check support for President Bush’s failed war in Iraq.

“John Kline’s double standard is breathtaking,” said Minnesota DFL Associate Chair Donna Cassutt. “It’s not just that his supposed fiscal conservatism is entirely new-found, given that he earmarked projects when Republicans controlled Congress. It’s not even that he voted against federal funding for the I-35W bridge on the same new-found grounds, after claiming he was for it. It’s his double standard: no funding for worthy projects here in Minnesota while the war in Iraq that he still supports is draining America dry.

“While corporate special interests like Halliburton and Blackwater keep profiting from the failed war, the rest of us will be stuck paying the bill for years to come while our needs at home keep going unmet,” Cassutt continued.

“Fortunately, next year Second District voters will replace John Kline and his double standard with someone willing to fight for the home front first.”

Kline’s Double Standard: Abandon Home Front but Still Back Iraq:

In Abandoning Earmarks, Kline Leaves Second District in the Lurch. Representative John Kline’s refusal to earmark projects for his district in this Congress, after having done so when Republicans controlled the House of Representatives, “has left officials in his rapidly growing suburban district wanting federal dollars to complete projects from the Cedar Avenue Transitway to the expansion of Hwy. 212 in Carver County.” [Star Tribune, 12/10/07]

Local Officials Not Pleased with Kline’s Inaction. “‘It's shocking and disturbing,’ said Dakota County Commissioner Will Branning, who heads a partnership working on the Cedar Avenue transit project, which was looking for about $6 million from Congress this year. ‘For one congressman to do it, it puts us in a box.’ Others on the Dakota County Board, including former Eagan Mayor Tom Egan, complain that the planned Mall of America bus corridor ‘is not a 'Bridge to Nowhere'’ -- a reference the now infamous Alaska project regarded as the turning point in last year's backlash against earmarks.” [Star Tribune, 12/10/07]

Kline Also Voted Against Funds for I-35W Bridge Reconstruction. The appropriations bill for the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (H.R. 3074) included $195 million in federal funding for reconstructing the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis. The only other Minnesota representative to vote against the bill was Representative Michele Bachmann. [Vote #1102, 11/14/07; St. Cloud Times, 11/14/07]

Minnesota Transportation Needs Going Dramatically Unmet. According to KARE-TV, the Minnesota Department of Transportation “is already reporting that current funding projections show they will be a $23 billion shy of what they need to hit performance goals in Minnesota over the next 23 years.” Counties, cities and the Minnesota Department of Transportation have identified over $1.07 billion in needed transportation projects for each of the next ten years [KARE 11, 11/27/07; Woodbury Bulletin, 11/28/07]

Iraq War Now Costing Over $700 Million per Day. “The money spent on one day of the Iraq war could buy homes for almost 6,500 families or health care for 423,529 children, or could outfit 1.27 million homes with renewable electricity, according to the American Friends Service Committee, which displayed those statistics on large banners in cities nationwide Thursday and Friday. The war is costing $720 million a day or $500,000 a minute, according to the group's analysis of the work of Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz and Harvard public finance lecturer Linda J. Bilmes.” [Washington Post, 9/21/07]

Cumulative Price Tag for Wars Already $16,500 per Family and Climbing. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have already cost the average American family $16,500 in taxes and other “hidden” costs such as oil market disruptions, forgone investments, long-term healthcare for veterans and interest payments on borrowed war funding. Through 2017, the total cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is projected to balloon to $3.5 trillion, or nearly $36,900 for the average American family. [Los Angeles Times, 11/14/07; Joint Economic Committee, 11/13/07]

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A Light Dusting Of Snow

Albert Lea’s citizens know it’ll take at least 100 years to set this right again…but who’s counting? ‘In the name of oil and pipeline safety’…amen.

It’s it just me or has America become even more stupid?

Since we’ve moved on to the unreal…let’s get to the truth about yetis.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tis the season for a Special Election...

It wouldn't be the holiday season without a special election now would it?

Well, at least in Minnesota with a Governor who enjoys having special elections during the Holiday season...

Today State Senator Thomas Neuville (senate district 25) was named the Third District judge by Governor Tim Pawlenty. What's interesting is that the judge retired back in September on the 14th to be specific. So the question is why did it take Pawlenty so long to appoint a new judge??? Well if history dictates anything, Tis the season to hold special elections.
Here’s the story

Why would it be important to hold a special election for Governor Pawlenty during the holidays?
Two words for ya: St. Olaf & Carleton Colleges (ok more than two words - LOL)
The two schools reside in Northfield and both schools will be on holiday break.

So who’s going to run?

Well former State House Representative Ray Cox (republican) has thrown his hat into the race “unofficially” of course. One just needs to take a look at his weblog… He was an announced candidate for the House (25B), however if you look at his weblog’s banner it states “candidate for Senate 25”…

So who’ll take on Cox?

There has been a number of names thrown about in DFL (Democratic) circles…
A former party unit chair? An attorney with a county who also sits on a city council committee? A former House 25b candidate who ran for the DFL endorsement?

Something is for sure – a candidate will emerge tomorrow to make it official on the DFL side.

While Neuville contemplates when to resign, we’ll wait and watch candidates pop up out of the political popcorn machine…. Maybe Pawlenty and the Republicans will encourage Neuville to wait until the week of Christmas to resign???

Stay tuned!

The Rights Of Women

If as President Bush says “The Iraqis are slowly taking their country back”, then I would offer up…if by taking their country back he means pre Hussain, Taliban-like control where women were abused and had no voice, well then… Mission Accomplished

While the Bush administration is now touting success in Iraq, last month alone over 50 women were killed. The deteriorating plight of Iraqi women has been ignored as pressure has been applied to the media to not cover the issue often referring to it as ‘a cultural or internal issue’. But the reality is abduction, rape and murder are the punishments for any woman under the guise of the new Iraqi 'democracy'. That despite his atrocities and failings, Saddam Hussein ran an essentially secular government that gave women more educational, professional and social freedoms than does the current regime. In other words, women are victims in the new Iraqi 'democracy'.

There is growing pressure and violence toward women to adhere to strict Islamic laws in Iraq. Instead of liberating Iraqi women, the United States has driven women deeper into poverty, despair and danger. Iraq's women live in terror of speaking their opinions; of going out to work; going to school; or defying the strict new prohibitions on dress and behaviour applied across Iraq by Islamist militants, both Sunni and Shia. They live in fear of their husbands, too, as women's rights have been undermined by the country's postwar constitution that has taken power from the family courts and given it to clerics.

But the plight of women is not limited to Iraq. The current administration has ignored human rights issues regarding women through out the world. The latest being with Bush’s good friend and ally Saudi Arabia. By law in SA- women are subject to numerous restrictions, including a strict dress code, a prohibition on driving and a requirement that they get a man's permission to travel or have surgery. Women are also not allowed to testify in court unless it is about a private matter that was not observed by a man, and they are not allowed to vote. So it was by no surprise when a gang raped victim was sentenced by court to punishment.

If you’re not outraged you’re not paying attention… Hillary Clinton was a hundred percent correct when she said it’s time to start including women when we speak of basic ‘civil rights’ or human rights around the world.

"I urge President Bush to call on King Abdullah to cancel the ruling and drop all charges against this woman. As president I will once again make human rights an American priority around the world."

Yet the Bush administration has refused to condemn the rape victim’s sentence and said it will not protest against an internal Saudi decision. Other Democratic candidates joined in the criticism, with Barack Obama writing a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, urging her to condemn the ruling. John Edwards said in a statement: "I am outraged that President Bush has refused to condemn the sentence"; and Joseph Biden called on King Abdullah to overturn the court's decision.

A state department spokesman on Tuesday called the verdict "astonishing", but said it was not its place to call for the ruling to be changed. No, I guess it would be wrong to expect this administration to stand for the rights of all citizens!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Talk To Steve Sarvi!

Steve Sarvi- Congressional Candidate in Minnesota's second district will be interviewed today! From insidemnpolitcs@mac.com.:

Your Chance To Talk To Steve Sarvi - Candidate To Replace Rep. John Kline
When I first interviewed Steve Sarvi he was in Iraq helping people in rural Iraq rebuild their roads, buildings and other infrastructure that has been destroyed in the fighting there. It was his last assignment in a 19-year military career that had included successfully mentoring people in war-damaged Kosovo on how to set up their own local governments.

At that time Sarvi indicated he was ready for his next assignment: coming home, taking on Rep. John Kline in a run for Congress, and then helping us fix our own war-damaged government.

Today Steve will be a guest (and I'll be the fill-in host) on Air America Minnesota's Mark Heaney show. We're going to talk about what Steve has heard in his 13-stop listening tour through Minnesota's 2nd Congressional District. By the way, that's 12 more open face-to-face meetings than Rep. Kline has held with his constituents this year. I'll be opening the phone lines so you can ask questions of Steve too.

So as you're driving home, or cleaning house today for Thanksgiving, turn your radio to AM 950 and participate.

Three ways to listen. On the air live on AM950, on line live, or if you miss the show there's a podcast available usually by the next day.

You can subscribe to our Inside Minnesota Politics podcast in iTunes with just one click. Comments or questions please email us at

Sunday, November 18, 2007

John Kline supports building bridges in Iraq, but not in Minnesota.

Friday, Tim Walz and John Kline appeared on Almanac together to discuss a House bill that would fund the final construction costs of the new 35W Bridge in Minneapolis. Walz voted for the bill, Kline voted with BUSH against the bill.

Throughout the exchanged Kline referred to the "pet projects" imbedded into this bill, like money, which is LONG overdue to improve HWY 14 here in Minnesota. He stated that the Democrats were being irresponsible with the budget... this is laughable since the President, which Kline supports 110% without question, has put our country in the most debt EVER!!!

Watch as Tim Walz sticks up for Minnesota and goes after Kline!

Want to find out what pet projects are important to BUSH?
Click on this link and then click on "Bush's money hypocrisy?" from MSNBC's Countdown:

What does Kline think about us dishing out money to BUSH's pork projects????

Mr. Kline you need to represent US, the people that live in your district and NOT BUSH!!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday's Sayings

Say What? Congressman John Kline (R-MN CD2) continues to fiddle while Rome burns…only it’s bridges in Minnesota and John Kline is voting against funding the rebuild. Tell you what, let’s all turn our backs on Kline so he can really twist the knife he’s placed in our backs. Obviously he has no soul to go with his missing heart and brain. I’d go on but I’m too depressed by his inability to stand with Minnesotans on every single damm issue that might help them...

Say It Again! There will be free speech…I won’t be silent….I am an American with a voice….ah hell..mnblue says it best…go over and read it, then start organizing.

Stop Saying It! Hey isn’t it time we stop kicking your future leaders while handing them our overdue credit card federal debt. Really, beside being rude and mindless….we’re sounding a lot like our parents…

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

New Weblog Launches...

Hey all. I have launched a new weblog: amndemocrat.blogspot.com
It's titled "a Minnesotan Democrat (DFLer)".
Consider it a mix of stories, personal thoughts and feelings from an insider on politics.
I'll be sharing stories, personal thoughts and feelings in regards to politics and hopefully in the process I hope to create an interesting forum for everyone.

I've enjoyed contributing to truthsurfer and will continue to do so!

Thanks for indulging me!

Check out my first post: "The Spark"
Take part in a related poll.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

If you're an illegal alien you'll get a driver's license... or maybe not? (Hillary Clinton)

During an MSNBC debate this past Tuesday, Clinton demonstrated her "doubletalk" and not being upfront when asked a question:

from MSNBC.com -

Clinton may have given her opponents an opening to bear down on their “doubletalk” attack. In a convoluted answer to the same question, Clinton first said she thought New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s plan to let illegal immigrants have driver’s licenses “makes a lot of sense.” Then she said she did not endorse Spitzer’s plan even though she repeated that he had the right idea. Then she accused Russert of asking a “gotcha” question.

Edwards leaped, noting that Clinton appeared to have given two different answers in less than two minutes.

“I think this is a real issue for the country,” he said. “I mean, America is looking for a president who will say the same thing, who will be consistent, who will be straight with them.”

Thank you John Edwards, I totally agree!

I'm growing tired of the political games Hillary Clinton has been playing. We need change, we want hope - we don't need more of a Bush like double speak.

Friday, November 02, 2007

In Good Company

Guest who I'm gonna be spending time with when the RNC Convention comes Minneapolis?,,I'll let Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak explain....

“When we were bidding on the convention… the head of the Republican Party called me [Mayor R.T. Rybak] and said ‘Ya know, it’s coming close and you guys are great contenders here, but I need you honestly to say that you’ll work as hard for the Republican Convention as the Democratic Convention.’

And I said ‘Well, to be perfectly honest, I think I’m going to have to work a little harder on the Republican Convention.’

And he said ‘Why?’

And I said ‘Well, because I want to make sure the protest areas are comfortable for my wife and kids.’ ”

The UpTake has the video

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Throwing Stones From A Glass House

According to Eric Black over at Minnesota Monitor, "Ciresi campaign confirmed as much to me this week -- that Ciresi did nothing to publicly express this opposition until he became a Senate candidate this year."

But apparently after much back and forth, Ciresi finally remembered and provided the names of a couple of close friends that he had private conversations with regarding his opposition to the war prior to being a candidate this year.....Hmm...well I say...if he can just find the protests he attended, petitions he signed, letters he wrote, and anti-war organizations he funded, then his private stance will become much more meaningful (and believeable!).

I was one of those that received a call from a calling house in New Jersey last week asking who I supported for U.S. Senate, after saying Franken, I was then push polled by the caller saying 'Would you still support Al Franken if you knew he supported the war in Iraq unlike Senate candidate Mike Ciresi who was against the Iraq war since the beginning?"

My answer was over 80% of the American people supported the war in Iraq based on what their President and his advisers mislead them to believe. Now only 27% support war in Iraq. Most of those were victims of a belief that the American President wouldn't lie to them, or use incorrect data to lead them into a war.

Saying Mike Ciresi was among the minority that didn't support the war from the beginning doesn't change anything. Ciresi did nothing to make it different...he neither wrote, or petitioned, or posted, or countered the war other than to have private conversations over wine with a select group of close friends...hmmm...not much to brag about there..

And another thing...who paid for the above mentioned polling? When I asked the pollster he first mentioned the DFL, when I questioned that he changed and said it was a private party calling DFLers and couldn't give me the information. Personally, I don't mind being asked who I support and why...but why the follow up question? Is that really an ethical way to campaign (again don't know who paid for the poll, could be a third party.) Since receiving the call I know of two other State Central members who have received calls from the same calling house.

But private stance and push polling aside...who jumped on the band wagon first shouldn't be the qualifier for supporting a candidate...things like character, ethics, personal integrity, public work and community service should all come into play as well as their stances on issues. At the end of it all, I feel it's important to vote for someone that overall will reflect your values and work toward them.

Tax Payer League Fails Our Kids

Taxpayer League President Phil Krinkie isn't fit to take out the trash. He is not a conservative..just another radical loud mouth that talks trash without any factual information or realistic solutions to issues...He advocates the selling of the American way of life and it's government in exchange for a few more tax dollars in his pocket. Want proof? Minnesota 2020 has Phil trashing special education and public schooling.

On a personal note, I have a beautiful and uniquely talented child in a public school special ed program. She loves learning and her teachers and school. She is a joy to be with and brings happiness to everyone around her...when I read what Krinkie had to say regarding Special Ed, I realized that he was a mean spirited thug who believes that all public funding is a waste...that same mentality that doesn't want to adequately fund public transportation so bridges start to fall down....

I would offer up that if Krinkie doesn't want to exist in a society that helps and provides for the young, disabled, elderly or have a government that exists for the general good and welfare of the public, he think about leaving America for a third world country that won't take his tax dollars...nor will it aid, provide assistance or have an government infra-structure. Beside being an argument regarding tax dollars, this is also one that reaches into the ethical and moral obligations of a community. An obligation that Krinkie would dump in lieu of his wallet contents.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Sometimes Politics of Hope has to FIGHT

Dear Senator Obama,

Sometimes the politics of hope has to roll up its sleeves and go after the “establishment”. I have been supporting John Edwards, and as of late I have been looking more into your campaign. I want to vote for the candidate that has the most courage to get things done, to stand up and speak truth to power and bring power to truth.

It’s time that politics of hope takes the fight to the politics of the Washington insider. It’s time that you become the aggressor and go after the endorsement. It’s time to prove everyone wrong about the front-runner being “the chosen one”. For politics of hope and change to have a chance, you must fight harder and stronger starting NOW.

It would be a tragic shame if you loose due to not putting all of your heart and soul into this campaign. It would be sad to see that when all it would have taken was courage to stand up and fight for hope and change and all of those that support it, not to have happened.

NOW is the time for TRUE leaders to show their courage and fight with all of their hearts and souls.
Have no regrets when the dust settles.

We need a TRUE, HOPE filled, and COURAGEOUS Leader.
Now is the time. Please do not waist a minute!

Sometimes the politics of hope has to fight!

Thank you.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Too Little and Way Too Late

So after 6 years of war....US clampdown on private security in Iraq...
How reassuring that must be to the countless of relatives who have lost family and love ones to private American thugs.

Wellstone Quote of the Day

“The future will not belong to those who sit on the sidelines. The future will not belong to the cynics. The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” (Frequently used quote)

- Paul Wellstone

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Why Bridges Fall Down In Minnesota

Last week, the House Commerce & Labor Committee examined the overdue, over-budget Wakota Bridge project. Below is the detailed summary of the findings from that hearing, based upon the documents and testimony presented. The committee's objective is to determine what went wrong with an eye toward preventing further delays and cost overruns.

Seems pretty clear to me that MnDOT has ceased to function in the best interest of Minnesotan commuters and tax payers. They don't even coorporate with our duly elected officials in turning over requested paperwork and reports? MnDOT's Commissioner Carol Molnau must go or does the blame stop at her boss- Governor Tim Pawlenty?

Twice the Time, Twice the Money: What Went Wrong with the Wakota Bridge?

Issue. Why is the Wakota Bridge reconstruction project taking twice as long and costing twice as much as originally anticipated?

Overview. Begun by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) on February 10, 2003, the $58 million reconstruction of the Wakota Bridge on I-494 was to have been completed by November 17, 2007.[1] At this time, less than half the project is finished, and the eastbound span has not been started. According to MnDOT, final completion of the project will not occur until at least 2011 and is expected to cost twice as much as anticipated.[2]

The cost to commuters and businesses for the failure to complete the Wakota Bridge project is $36,500 per day, or $13.3 million annually, according to MnDOT’s calculations.[3] If the project is not completed until 2011, MnDOT projects the cost to Minnesotans and Minnesota businesses of the delay to be $53.3 million.[4] In addition, MnDOT’s internal estimates anticipate increased construction costs of $52.0 to $57.7 million,[5] which will be paid by Minnesota taxpayers.

On June 21, 2007, the House Commerce & Labor Committee sought documents regarding the Wakota Bridge project in an effort to determine why the project is taking twice as long and costing twice as much, with an eye toward preventing similar problems in the future.[6] As a result of MnDOT’s admittedly deliberate refusal to fully cooperate with the Committee’s document request,[7] a hearing was held on October 4, 2007. The results of the Committee’s document review and hearing are set forth below.

Twice the Time, Twice the Money: What Went Wrong? Based upon the documents and testimony of MnDOT's own employees and contractors, there are several reasons for the doubling of the project’s schedule and budget:

MnDOT required use of a suspect bridge design that has failed half the time. Of the thousands of bridges built across the country, a three-web design has been used only six times, according to the Wakota Bridge designer, HNTB.[8] Three have failed, resulting in cracking, requiring costly and time-consuming repairs and retrofitting.[9] Though MnDOT knew this in 2003, the agency nonetheless required use of the three-web design for the Wakota Bridge.[10] Cracking resulted[11] Significant repairs, retrofitting, and re-design have been required.[12]

At exactly the same time HNTB was preparing the three-web design for the Wakota Bridge in 2003, another HNTB three-web bridge in Florida was found to be failing. This did not trigger rejection or greater scrutiny of the Wakota Bridge plans. In July 2003, cracks were found in the HNTB-designed Grantham bridge in Florida, which also used a three-web design and required repairs and retrofitting.[13] MnDOT knew this at the time the Wakota Bridge project was being designed, yet ordered HNTB to continue with the three-web design for the Wakota project, asking only that HNTB review its design plans itself.[14] A MnDOT official testified the agency did not have the expertise to review the HNTB plans for correctness, nor did it opt to have the HNTB plans peer-reviewed.[15] It trusted HNTB.[16]

HNTB admits its three-web design for the Wakota Bridge failed. HNTB officials have openly admitted to the shortcomings of the design and pledged to take responsibility for it.[17]

In addition to design issues, the independent Dispute Review Board (DRB) found MnDOT responsible for seven months of project delays related to other issues. MnDOT insisted that a three-member DRB be a part of the contract with the general contractor, Lunda Construction, with both parties appointing members. In previously undisclosed documents, it was learned that the DRB unanimously held MnDOT responsible for 219 days of project delays.[18] This was primarily due to MnDOT’s failure to appropriately account for a wastewater force main located underneath one of the bridge piers, which needed to be re-located.[19]

Following re-design of the eastbound span of the bridge, MnDOT sought, then rejected re-bids from the general contractor to perform the newly designed, more costly eastbound span, even though the bids were within MnDOT estimates of what they thought the project would cost. Internal estimates at MnDOT showed the agency expected to spend $52.0 – 57.7 million to have the eastbound span constructed.[20] Lunda, the general contractor, submitted a bid within that range of $56.8 million.[21] It was rejected. Another bid of $59 million was similarly rejected.[22] MnDOT made no further counteroffers and nothing exists within MnDOT’s records to fully explain the rejection. MnDOT then terminated Lunda with respect to the eastbound span of the contract on December 27, 2006.[23]

The independent Dispute Review Board found MnDOT wrongfully terminated the contract with Lunda. In a decision dated August 6, 2007, the DRB held MnDOT wrongfully terminated the contract with Lunda for the eastbound span and held that MnDOT was in breach of contract.[24]

MnDOT has inexplicably delayed re-bidding of the eastbound span of the Wakota Bridge for 14 months. MnDOT ordered the contractor to stop working on October 2, 2006. MnDOT finally removed the eastbound span from the contract in December 2006.[25] Since this breach of contract with Lunda in December 2006, re-bidding of the eastbound span has been repeatedly delayed and
now is projected to occur on January 25, 2008.[26] Internal MnDOT documents show the agency has considered delaying the re-bidding of the eastbound span for up to four years, but provides no basis for considering that.[27]

Deliberate and admitted refusal by MnDOT officials to disclose documents related to the Wakota Bridge project leaves open that other possible reasons for the delays and budget overruns may exist. At the 10/4/07 hearing, MnDOT officials admitted they had openly defied the Committee’s request for documents, dating back to June 21, 2007.[28] They repeatedly apologized for this at the hearing. One official stated the agency had, in fact, just found another box-and-a-half of documents for the Committee’s review.[29] Prior to the hearing, MnDOT had claimed some documents were privileged but had refused to even identify those documents or provide the basis for asserting they were privileged. Under threat of a possible legislative subpoena, MnDOT has agreed to provide the balance of the documents related to the project no later than November 5, 2007.[30] This includes key financial documents to determine whether MnDOT does, in fact, even possess the funds necessary to continue the project.

Similar requests for documents, also under the threat of a legislative subpoena if the entities are not forthcoming, have been made to the design firm, the general contractor, and Tom Warne, a MnDOT-contracted mediator for disputes over both the east and westbound bridge portions.[31]

The Next Step. The balance of documents from MnDOT and other entities involved in the Wakota Bridge project will be reviewed, with an aim toward preventing further delays and cost overruns on this as well as other MnDOT construction projects. In the event any of the parties fail to cooperate with document requests, the Chair intends to pursue issuance of legislative subpoenas.

[1] MnDOT contract with Lunda sent 9/12/02 and internal document titled “Settlement Options,” dated 12/10/06
[2] Settlement Options document, 12/10/06
[3] MnDOT Office of Investment Management document, 3/8/06
[4] Id.
[5] Settlement Options document, 12/10/06
[6] Correspondence from Chair J. Atkins to Commissioner C. Molnau, 6/21/07
[7] Testimony of Betsy Parker, MnDOT Government and Community Relations Director, 10/4/07. See also correspondence from Chair Atkins to MnDOT officials, 9/5/07
[8] Testimony of Ken Price, HNTB, 10/4/07
[9] In addition to the Wakota Bridge, Florida’s Grantham Bridge and Texas’s Houston Chronicle Bridge have also required repairs and retrofitting.
[10] Testimony of Ken Price, HNTB, 10/4/07
[11] Id.
[12] Id.
[13] Id.
[14] Id.
[15] Testimony of Dan Dorgan, MnDOT, 10/4/07
[16] Id.
[17] HNTB correspondence, dated 5/17/05.
[18] Recommendation of Disputes Review Board #1, 5/9/05.
[19] Id.
[20] Settlement Option document, 12/10/06.
[21] Correspondence from D. Behnke to Commissioner C. Molnau, 11/20/06.
[22] Id.
[23] Correspondence from Commissioner C. Molnau to D. Behnke, 12/27/06.
[24] Recommendation #2 of Disputes Review Board, 9/27/07.
[25] Correspondence from Liz Benjamin to Dennis Behnke, 10/2/06.
[26] Testimony of Khani Sahebjam, MnDOT, 10/4/07.
[27] Internal MnDOT document titled "Wakota Bridge Situation," 12/13/05.
[28] Testimony of Betsy Parker, 10/4/07; Testimony of Commissioner C. Molnau, 10/4/07.
[29] Testimony of Betsy Parker, 10/4/07.
[30] Testimony of Bob McFarlin, MnDOT, 10/4/07.
[31] Correspondence from Chair J. Atkins to HNTB Corporation Lunda Construction and Tom Warne, 10/9/07.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Sarvi Files for Second District Congressional Race

News release from the campaign...looks like our reclusive republican congressional puppetman John Kline might have some competition...In the immortal words of Kline's puppet master "Bring it on"

Pledging to Fight for a Change of Course at Home and Abroad, Sarvi Files with FEC to Challenge Representative John Kline

Watertown, MN (October 4, 2007) Iraq war veteran and former Watertown mayor Steve Sarvi filed his campaign committee today with the Federal Election Commission, paving the way for a challenge to three-term Republican United States Representative John Kline. Sarvi said that Minnesotans are ready for a change in course both at home and abroad.

“As a veteran of the Iraq war, I’ve seen first-hand that we need to change strategy in Iraq and change strategy here at home,” said Sarvi, a married father of three school-age children.

“Minnesotans want a representative in Washington who listens to their concerns, knows how to bring people together to solve the many challenges we face at home and abroad, and will fight every day to get things done for our state. I have fought for our nation on many battlefields, and now I’m ready to fight for our district, our state and our nation in Congress,” Sarvi said.

Sarvi, who is the city administrator of the City of Victoria, returned in July after serving 16 months in Iraq, the longest any state’s unit has served in the war. Sarvi stepped aside as mayor in order to volunteer to go to Iraq with the National Guardsmen he trained for deployment. While in Iraq, he worked on civil reconstruction in the war-torn country. Sarvi also previously served a peace-keeping tour of duty in Kosovo in 2004.

“We in the Second District deserve a representative that isn’t afraid to to talk to their constituents, and has real-world experience bringing people together to get things done," said Charlie Thomas, a resident of Burnsville and supporter of Sarvi. “I’m supporting Steve Sarvi for Congress because we need change, plain and simple, and he’s the person who knows how to make change work.”

Sarvi said his direct war experience influenced his decision to run for Congress, but he added that America needs a new course at home as well, particularly when it comes to ensuring the health and security of our families with good jobs, access to affordable health care and a safe transportation infrastructure.

“The future of our communities, our state and our country directly depend on the choices we make in Washington,” said Sarvi. “Whether I’ve been on the job in Iraq or on the job in our local government, I’ve always put Minnesota values first. In Congress, I will fight for the good jobs, affordable health care and quality transportation we must have in order to change the direction of our state and our country.”

Sarvi noted that given his service in Iraq, his perspective is unique — his strong support for American troops is matched with equally strong dissatisfaction with the president’s failed policies.

“I am very proud to have served my country in Iraq,” said Sarvi. “Our district deserves a representative in Congress who will put the safety of our troops and the well-being of our families ahead of blind party loyalty. I want to provide the new leadership and courage that we need in Congress to change course in Iraq and make our sure our district becomes a safer and fairer place for our families at home..

Franken Outside the Wallet

Thinking outside the wallet!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Minnesota's Embarrassment Continues

Ugh...Will a hot shower and stiff drink make this image go away?!

Rep. Michele Bachmann on the Dave Lee show on WCCO radio Wednesday morning:

“The President and I enjoy a great relationship. When he was at the site of the collapsed bridge, he reached over because he wanted to give me a kiss when we were down at the site and I had pulled back and he said ‘What?’, you know, “You don’t want an embrace?’, and I said, ‘You know, the people of Minnesota love you, Mr. President, but I think one kiss was enough.’”

Monday, September 17, 2007

Pawlenty of Nothing

When a community experiences tragedy like the bridge collapsing over the Mississippi River in Minnesota in August, they can pull together or go down in flames. Apparently Minnesota's Governor Pawlenty is a card carrying member of the latter group. While Minnesotans and their elected representative want transportation resolutions to ensure adequate funding and repairs, Tim Pawlenty continues to be an obstructionist.

In many ways it that kind of behavior that lead to a bridge collapsing and the resulting injuries and death. Pawlenty's failure to compromise, to raise taxes or at least set a reasonable budget that meets the needs of local government, and to find resolutions has brought us to the brink abandoning local governments and bridges falling down. Instead of calling a special session and building bridges to the future, Pawlenty once more stand in the way of progress.

Toady's Star Tribune quotes Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak by saying he [R.T] is going to have to walk into the U.S Conference of Mayors meeting this weekend and tell them that while "other states are taking this seriously, but our state, where people died, is doing nothing".

Once again, Pawlenty of nothing.

Airport Restroom Signaling Techniques For Dummies

There's a new red hot attraction drawing travelers from all over into Minnesota. All the 'in' people want to be seen and have their pictures taken there. The multitude of travelers gather round with their camera phones clicking while they pose in front of (and inside) the men's restroom at the Minneapolis St. Paul airport!?!

Yes, travelers in an attempt to forget about the daily threat of terrorism at the MSP airport now brave other like-travelers and potential terrorist to view the notorious men's restroom (better know as the Craig's Room) with the hopes of glimpsing...what? I'm guess here but perhaps they want to be at ground zero of where the wide stance and foot tapping all started.

Still such a trip down restroom memory lane is not without risk. Who knows what sting operation is in place by local police in an effort to net more adults 'hooking up'? While crime is festering all over, rest assured the MSP bathroom is....well...sort of safe...that is. if you don't tap your foot. Who knew that was a 'signal'.

So what other signals are there? Could using the hand dryer be a sign? Or pumping the soap dispenser more than once be a sign? What if I take the time to put on lipstick? Is it possible I'm sending a message to an undercover officer that I'm looking for a lesbian lover?

This latest Minnesota tourist attraction raises some interesting quests such as...

Will the airport start charging admittance to the infamous restroom? Will there be a 'airport restroom signaling techniques for dummies' book? Who's watching the terrorist if the police are all in the restroom? Is it really a crime to arrange a rendezvous between two consensual adults while in a bathroom? Will they be posting future 'threat levels' specifically for all MSP airport restrooms?

Wide stance aside, enquiring minds want to know.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Without Healthcare Reform, More Will Die

The desperate need for healthcare reform hit home last year when my husband was diagnosed with cancer...I've seen and experience things in the last year that no human should be subject to...but here's the real tragedy...we're the lucky ones...we have health insurance, a supportive family and a committed HR department where he worked...those souls that don't have these things....die...

You can sing along to the video...but for me, I'll just cry...for the shame of a 'great society' and those that it's lets die.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Reason 2007 and 2008 Why Minnesotans Want To Dump Norm Coleman

While Kelly at the DFLers answers the question of ‘Why Do Minnesotans Want to Dump Norm Coleman?’, she left out a couple of reasons:

  • Reason 2007: ‘Because Puppets are for Children and he didn't do the job!'

  • Reason 2008: ‘Because he doesn’t represent Minnesota values’

Yes John, I'm Outraged

Hard to teach accountability to our kids when we shy away from our own.... And to answer John's question, yes I'm outraged...but not surprised:

from www.mn2020.org:

The Minnesota Department of Education announced that it will release its annual school progress report to the public at 9:45 p.m. tonight, on the eve of one of the busiest travel weekends of the year. The report is a key measure of how Minnesota schools are faring, reporting which ones are and aren’t making “adequate yearly progress.”

Minnesota 2020 Education Fellow John Fitzgerald said he was shocked that the state would release such an important report so late in the evening before a holiday
weekend.“It is clear that the tactic is to release bad news on a day that Minnesotans are traveling and unlikely to read newspapers and watch TV,” Fitzgerald said. “This report is enormously important to the state of Minnesota – and parents should be outraged that the state is trying to hide these results.”

Why Continue The Failure?

General Petreus (be-tray-us) is now saying that the US troop surge is work by a reduction in sectarian killings and a drop in roadside bombings…I guess the general is confusing Iraq with some other war…

Roadside bomb attacks in Iraq reach an all-time high:

"Roadside bomb attacks on American troops in Iraq reached an all-time high last month [July 2007], accounting for more than one third of all combat deaths."

Patterns of Sectarian Violence in Baghdad: doesn’t paint a pretty picture
"The distribution of unidentified bodies found dumped in Baghdad between June 18 and July 18, 2007.'

General Petraeus is expected to recommend keeping the high US troop numbers. His interim report, published last month, acknowledged attacks were continuing and the "slow progress" of establishing Iraqi security forces.

My question is....why? Failure is to continue and not learn from our mistakes. Iraq War = Failure.

We Are All One

Even in Iowa some get that equal protection and due-process is for everyone!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Don't Hold Your Breath Waiting For The Truth

I'm not holding my breath waiting for the General David Petraeus’s much-anticipated September report regarding Iraq. Do we really need to wait two more weeks to know what his report will say? Especially if the White House is going to write it!

Recently, the media revealed — and the White House confirmed — that Gen. David Petraeus’s much-anticipated September report on Iraq will “actually be written by the White House.” But this week, Petraeus assured lawmakers that he won’t let the White House interfere with his analysis...

100% Feminist

You Are 100% Feminist

You are a total feminist. This doesn't mean you're a man hater (in fact, you may be a man).

You just think that men and women should be treated equally. It's a simple idea but somehow complicated for the world to put into action.

No Cost Goodness

Sometimes doing good cost nothing in the way of time and money....One of my virtual WOW friends decided to start up an Allakhazam folding@home team, and I thought it was so good an idea that I am posting it here for everyone who wants to download the program.

What is folding@home? It is a distributed computing program sponsored by Stanford University designed to help the scientific community understand the development of many diseases, including Alzheimer's disease, BSE (mad cow disease), cancer, Huntington's Disease, Cystic Fibrosis and many others.

It runs in the background on your computer using your excess CPU power to join with millions of other computers to compute at speeds which otherwise could not be reached individually. It costs you nothing to run and may help to save lives, including perhaps your own or those of your loved ones. If you want to help, simply download http://folding.stanford.edu/download.html and fill in team ID 85020 after you install it. Also, you can read more about it here and here.

If you need the brownie points toward heaven, this should provide a few for a minimal amount of work.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Minnesota Dreaming

I have a dream…or spotty did…or Amy and Walz or somebody…

"Tim, you went to Camp Wellstone. You even had my friend Rick Kahn speak at your election party. And Amy, you were one of the people over at DFL headquarters after my plane went down asking to be the replacement candidate, right?"

Amy and Tim reply, "Yes."

"And both of you have invoked my memory in your campaigns, haven't you?"

Again the reply is "Yes."

Tim says, "But, Paul, we have to try to keep everybody happy now. I have an election in just another year."

"That's true. But you'll never please everyone, and you need to remember the tide of public opinion that brought you into office. The people you pleased with those votes won't support you anyway."

They represent us…don’t they? Are am I just dreaming...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Franken Vells

From the Franken camp on Bu$h visit yesterday:

This week, President Bush is coming to Minnesota. But there won't be any cheering, because he won't be appearing in public. He won't be speaking to middle-class families who can't afford to send their kids to college. He won't be meeting with sugar beet farmers whose livelihoods are threatened by CAFTA. And you can bet he's steering clear of any Minnesotans who want him to finally face up to the mistakes he's made in Iraq

No, George W. Bush is here to raise money for Senator Norm Coleman at a private party in Eden Prairie - and you're probably not invited. It costs at least $1,000 to attend, and if you want to be a "host," it'll run you nearly $15,000. In 2005, Bush came to town for Mark Kennedy and raised almost a million bucks in one night.


A Great Guy But A Wrong Vote

Listen, shh, do you hear that? It’s the sound of your civil rights being eroded….

Walz was certainly right that there is a need for surveillance of potential terrorists, that the United States continues to face serious threats, and that it should not be necessary to have to obtain a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to intercept communications between two foreign parties simply because they pass through the United States.

But that wasn't the real issue. The Democratic majority's original proposal fixed that problem without expanding warrantless wiretapping to Americans and without giving carte blanche to the Bush administration to vacuum up and sift through millions of our e-mails, telephone calls and other communications.

Sen. Russell Feingold had it right: "The bill the president signed yesterday gives free rein to the government to wiretap all the communications of anyone who happens to be outside the United States, for whatever reason, without court oversight."

He could have added that the bill, according to the Washington Post, allows warrantless wiretaps of any conversation between a foreigner and an American as long as the conversation could reasonably be interepreted as "concerning" someone outside the country. This is a loophole the administration could drive a truck through. The new bill even provides the administration a cudgel to force telecom companies to comply with virtually any request the government makes of them.

I’m glad that Rep. Tim Walz is in office, and I think he’s committed to doing a good job. He’s been a straight shooter who is running an open and transparent Congressional office unlike my Congressman John Kline who won’t even hold public forums. But Tim Walz made a seriously wrong vote in regards to FISA. Hopefully his numerous public meetings with constituents will help drive home to him the levity this bill has on civil rights and the need to revisit and change it. Our civil rights should'nt be left to the whims of Bu$h’s advisors.

Talking about civil rights, looks like SOP for the GOP with a pre-emptive approach to Minnesotans wanting to use their freedom of speech during the RNC. It use to be I could hear a steady drip of our rights being eroded...but it's turning into a gusher.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Minnesotan Honors the Earth

XcelEnergy has posted up on their home page: "Reducing our impact on the enviroment". But is that really so or have they just moved the impact to other locations?

Excel had been ordered by the Minnesota state legislature in 1994 to find an alternative site away from Prairie Island, home to the Prairie Island Mdewakanton Community, for storing its radioactive garbage. In response, Xcel forged an alliance with other utilities to create a ‘private’ dump on one of the poorest and most isolated reservations in the country – Skull Valley.

A protracted and pitched battle around the Skull Valley dump ensued, and last September, grassroots reservation-based groups and their national allies celebrated a precedent-setting victory when two agencies within the Department of Interior rejected plans for the private dump on tribal land.

Now Skull Valley reservation is going solar. Honor the Earth, a national Native environmental advocacy group and foundation that focuses on energy issues, has developed a pilot project in conjunction with OGD and Solar Energy International (SEI) that will present a viable community alternative to destructive energy policies in general, and nuclear waste in particular.

“This is the chance to demonstrate what is right,” said Honor the Earth Executive Director Winona LaDuke. “It’s time to look to a sustainable energy future that is built on developing the abundant and safe renewable resources that exist on Native lands. Native America should have wind and solar power, not coal mines and nuclear waste.”

Winona Duke resides on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota. Winona LaDuke is an Anishinaabekwe (Ojibwe) enrolled member of the Mississippi Band Anishinaabeg , and is the mother of three children.

Friday, August 17, 2007

One More Nail

Another reason to elect a Democratic Prez: so that the pretender can be brought to justice.

I can't tell you how many times growing up my mom told me that not writing legible will come back to bite me...I guess the times have changed:
DoJ released new documents today to the House Judiciary Committee. The hand written notes indicate the White House and President were fully aware of the Gonzalez decision, and approved the retaliation against the US Attorneys.7 of 76
Goodling's hand written notes indicate that "WH [White House] cleared".

It would be hard to make a believable case that the "White House clearing" something does not include the President who supposedly is "the decider"...I'm just saying...

Funny Friday

This letter to the editor in Friday's Mpls. StarTribune:

Soliciting Republicans

Convention shortage?
As a gay man whose marriage is responsible for the deterioration of the American family, I am confused and worried by the recent spate of arrests of Republicans -- elected officials, their press secretaries and their family members -- being arrested on prostitution-related charges. Will the Twin Cities will be able to attract enough prostitutes for the convention next year?

Okay...I'm ROFLOL...too funny...too true..enjoy the weekend

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Spitting In The Wind

Evil Bobby says that Tim Walz’s OpEd in the Post Bulletin yesterday reminded him of Monty Python’s Dead Parrot Sketch…While I get the analogy, at least John Cleese is funny unlike Walz’s voting to allow government measures expanding domestic spying powers in what the Washington Post calls “as reckless as it was unnecessary.” Keeping in mind that any effort to rewrite this legislation will be vetoed by Bush, Walz bringing it up as a second step is like spitting in the wind... with the constitution down wind.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

FOX News Framing Franken?

Fox news is trying to effect political changes by re-writing history through the editing of Wikipedia. Seems Fox News isn't comfortable just reporting the news, they want to make the news; this time by interfering in Minnesota politics. The tech blog O’Reilly discovered: someone at a Fox News IP modified the entry for Al Franken to delete a quote from Franken that the 2003 lawsuit against the Minnesotan by the news outlet was "literally laughed out of court" and that the judge's ruling that the suit was "wholly without merit" was "a good characterization of Fox News itself."

This is just the sort of media interference and rewrites we've seen the in past from Fox News. While this one is trying to paint themselves white, don’t forget the GOP used them to falsely paint a war veteran and hero as a weak flip/flopper while their AWOL Bu$h wasn’t reported on at all.
What does Fox News stands to gain by eliminating and cleansing comments made by U.S. Senate Democratic candidate Al Franken and others? This goes beyond reporting and being 'Fair and Balanced' and is certainly against their latest logo 'We Report. You Decide'. Apparently 'They Decide, then you get to , then they report but only what they want to'....I can't say I'm surprised. Might I suggest Fox News try a new logo more in keeping with what they really do like 'Fox News = egregiously unfair and unbalanced...'
Hat tip to Eyeteeth.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Pawlenty Too Little, Too Late

The aspect of a long prison sentence makes many criminals ‘see the light’. Supposedly (or so they say) it opens them to an amazing transformation. Today I read in HometownSource.com, pretty much the same kind of amazing but unbelieveable transformation - only this time it was our own Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.

Pawlenty who twice vetoed comprehensive transportation bills because of gas taxes, now ‘sees the light’ or as he put it: “We have a divided government…Someone had to extend the olive branch and try to bring the sides together so we can make some progress,”

So instead of accepting any culpability with himself, his starvation policy or his appointee, MnDOT commissioner Carol Molnau, Governor Pawlenty would have us believe he now has found leadership. Too bad he couldn’t have found his leadership before the bridge fell down, and people died.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Local Hero Says 'Nope' to the Dope

Hahaha...he said nope to the dope....A Minnesota Hero and smart too!

August 7, 2007 Bridge Hero Gets Offer: Paid Tuition By ELLEN BARRY

Among the dozens of wrenching accounts to come out of the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis, the actions of 20-year-old Jeremy Hernandez were a bright spot: Trapped in a tipping school bus with 50 children, he kicked open the back door and began helping them one by one to safety.Within a day, news outlets across the country were repeating the story of the school bus, along with a sad footnote — that Mr. Hernandez had recently been forced to drop out of an automotive repair program because he could not afford the $15,000 tuition. That has changed.

On Saturday, Mr. Hernandez learned that Dunwoody College of Technology had offered him a full scholarship toward a degree in applied science. He has also received offers of help from dozens of strangers across the country, said Molly Schwartz, communications director for Pillsbury United Communities, which employed him as a gym coordinator for one of its summer programs.“We’re all very emotional about this,” Ms. Schwartz said.

When she sat with Mr. Hernandez on Friday and read him e-mail messages from across the country, she said, “His eyes are just getting bigger and bigger — ‘California. You’re kidding.’ When we told him about the Dunwoody thing his eyes just got really wide.”Mr. Hernandez was not available to comment on the offer; Ms. Schwartz said he left town for northern Minnesota late on Friday, overwhelmed by the attention and concerned that his co-workers were being overlooked. He spent the weekend fishing.

When President Bush’s staff contacted him to request a photo opportunity, “He was just, like, ‘Nope,’ ” she said .

Another National Security Threat

China Threatens 'Nuclear Option' of Dollar Sales

Two officials at leading Communist Party bodies have given interviews in recent days warning - for the first time - that Beijing may use its $1.33 trillion (£658bn) of foreign reserves as a political weapon to counter pressure from the US Congress. Shifts in Chinese policy are often announced through key think tanks and academies. Described as China's "nuclear option" in the state media, such action could trigger a dollar crash at a time when the US currency is already breaking down through historic support levels. It would also cause a spike in US bond yields, hammering the US housing market and perhaps tipping the economy into recession.

China currently holds an estimated $900 billion in American bonds, and a total of $1.3 trillion worldwide. The warning is apparently a response to a bill backed by the Senate's Finance Committee that would impose tariffs to penalize China for currency manipulation.

All this but Bu$h has kept us save from terrorism here at home....

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Wednesday's Wackers

Be It
Went to the YearlyKos Convention? Yeah, me neither but The UpTake has some great video and reporting ...check it out.

Overstating 30 years of the same ole...
While we fell short of winning in 28B with the great DFL candidate Linda Pfeilsticker, saying it 'signals growing Republican momentum', is overstating it...Centrisity has the math on it:

"Only Republican logic would take a 13 - 20% DROP in Republican candidate support and imply it signals GROWING momentum.

Comical, actually."

Is it time to leave yet?
I don't know if this will ever happen, but I've dreamed and plotted to retire to the coast of Spain. My husband who like most engineers doesn't take to change easily, hasn't quite been convinced of the benefits. Now this, Beaches have indeed been closed, and more than 20,000 people have received medical treatment for jellyfish stings they received in Spanish waters. The Spanish government has collected 8 tons of jellyfish so far, and recruited hundreds of volunteers into a Campaign for the Study and Detection of Groupings of Jellyfish to keep information on the jellyfish crisis current...maybe it's just a pipe dream.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Tuesday's Truths

Quote of Note: A country that can't keep its bridges from collapsing is not going to be running the world very much longer.- Rick Perlstein

Passing Basic Social Studies
If Norm Coleman isn’t sloppy then he’s either stupid or arrogantly thinks he's above the law. Which leave me wondering, after being elected to office shouldn’t Norm know what our constitution says? He can’t be that stupid can he?…or has Norm decided to ‘rewrite’ the laws to suit him just like Bu$h?

Look- It's Twins!
The ‘Time’s’ whitehouse blog shows a great picture of Karl Rove and Josh Bolton helping to advise the President on his recent visit to Minnesota's collapsed I-35W bridge. And now we’re a little closer to knowing why it was more important to fund a Twins ballpark over a falling down bridge!

Now this is special

….it’s election day in 28B....Joe at MCR is saying that although the seat has been held since the dawn of time by the republicans that ‘the DFL has made significant inroads in rural areas of Minnesota’. While I don’t disagree, I also think that the Republican’s promises have fallen through and for many it’s more a case of what they don’t want verses what they want.

Pretty words like ‘no taxes’ just don’t square with the safety of their families crossing bridges that fall down…at least not any more. Also DFLer Linda Pfeilsticker is a great candidate with wonderful qualities. Her positive and fresh attitude has to factor into the race. I think we might see a change is course with rural Minnesotans.

Mission Failed

If Iraq was a patient, we would be calling in family members and sending for the rabbi. It's just that bad. Chris Hedges, former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times , has a must read on Iraq...Iraq is about to become a lot worse.

"The occupation of Iraq, along with the Afghanistan occupation, has only furthered the spread of failed states and increased authoritarianism, savage violence, instability and anarchy. It has swelled the ranks of our real enemies -- the Islamic terrorists -- and opened up voids of lawlessness where they can operate and plot against us. It has scuttled the art of diplomacy. It has left us an outlaw state intent on creating more outlaw states. It has empowered Iran, as well as Russia and China, which sit on the sidelines gleefully watching our self-immolation. This is what George W. Bush and all those "reluctant hawks" who supported him have bequeathed us.

What is terrifying is not that the architects and numerous apologists of the Iraq war have learned nothing, but that they may not yet be finished."

Monday, August 06, 2007

Kline Votes to Halt Bridge Funding

Ouch! Congressman John Kline (MN-2) is still (sigh) voting for the Bu$h administration over the Minnesotans that elected him to office. This time he sides with the Bush administrations over consideration for the I35W Bridge funding...does he have no shame?

"Not only did Congressman John Kline vote to adjourn right before the bill was considered, but he then voted against a resolution to suspend the rules so the emergency aid could be considered."

No Longer Minnesotan Nice

Minnesotans greet the prez on Saturday... We're no longer going to be 'Minnesota Nice'! Not with lives in the balance.

Giving Cosmo Peace

One of the countries that I spend several years growing up in was Japan. To this day one of my fondest memories is cherry blossom (sakura) time at Kyoto's Hirano Shrine. Japan is one of the most beautiful places on earth. But like most countries, Japan has a past checked by military actions including war with the United States. Today Japan marks the 62nd anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima with a solemn ceremony.

For me, having lived there and personally knowing survivors of that period, it's anything but a happy reminder of the imperialist mentality that comes from war. During a ceremony of thousands of elderly survivors, as well as children and dignitaries at the Peace Memorial Park where the bomb was dropped, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe apologized to the survivors for comments made by former Defence Minister Fumio Kyuma, who said "the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki could not be helped because they brought an end to the second World War".

To atomic blast survivors, winning or losing makes no difference to the pain and suffering they've carried over the last decades. It doesn't return their health, family, friends or neighbors. It doesn't give them back their lost dreams, or salve their open wounds, or make them smile again and nothing will ever take away the memories of the mushroom and it's devastation.

Over a third of Hiroshima's population of 350,000 was melted dead by the blast. Thousands more succumbed to related illnesses and injuries over the years. All carry emotional scar from the gruesome reality of this terrible event. At today's Peace Declaration, the lists of names of 5,221 hibakusha who died during the past year were added to those stored inside the park's monument honoring atomic bomb victims. The number of deceased hibakusha now stands at 253,008.

My close friend Cosmo (Grace) Yamamoto will one day be listed on the monument. She was just a child when the bomb was dropped. Many of her family were killed or injured. Immediately afterward, Cosmo (12 yrs old) was sent to Yokohama to board a ship for Taiwan. Only before boarding she was separated from her escort, then picked up and questioned by American soldiers. Imagine her horror and fear especially when she didn't speak English and the American's didn't speak Japanese. Just wanting to survive she handed over the money meant to offer her assistance in her new life, including the ring on her finger and all her identification. And then she begged in Japanese to be allowed to live.

Years later, Cosmo has not only survived but found a new life. She married an American in 1960 and moved to the United States. She founded several businesses, been an active member of her community, and brought happiness to those around her. But privately, she still suffers from the dropping of the bomb and the events that followed. Loving her, I wish I could take away that suffering, but nothing can....but 'never again'.

The promise of 'never again' and the action of Japan's non-nuclear policy banning the possession, production and import of nuclear arms helps. Ultimately the duty of each of us is to work for the abolition of nuclear weapons...it's the only thing that makes a difference and can bring about the change of peace...

Ben at True Majority shows the insanity of the United State's policy...take a look...then work for change so that Cosmo and the other hibakusha might know some degree of peace.

Families and friends gathered along the banks of the Motoyasu river Saturday night to launch the candlelit lanterns. The river is the same one survivors fled to in an effort to escape the horrific heat of the nuclear blast. They would throw themselves in the river to try and eliminate the pain and burning from the blast.

The lanterns represent the souls of the victims.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Pawlenty Left Holding the Bridge

I could tell you how there’s a chronic history of deteroriating infrastruction in Minnesota since this group of ‘no new tax’ republicans under Governor Tim Palenty have taken office. How they put more emphasis on the ‘here and now’ few then the future of all Minnesotans. How our infrastructure has been crumpling and they were warned...but…Kathlyn Stone does such a nice of job of it, I thought you should read what she writes.

"In a brazen CYA move last night, Gov. Pawlenty (Bush Republican) said 2005 and 2006 bridge studies indicated there were "no structural deficits" in the I-35 bridge.
But today the president's spokesperson said the report actually said there were structural deficits.

A 2005 federal inspection rated the bridge 50 on a scale of 120 for structural stability, and the Bush administration said it was up to state officials to take corrective action."

Thursday, August 02, 2007


A day after the horrific bridge collapse in Minnesota, officials are saying that they are now in a "recovery operation," not a "rescue operation." Another official says for now, the site is considered a "crime scene" since they to not know the cause of the collapse.

The use of the words ‘crime scene’ may potent future events. This catastrophe of historic proportions for Minnesotans highlights what our elected officials determine is important. Investigators looking into the cause of the Interstate Hwy. 35W bridge collapse are likely to focus on two primary causes -- vibration and fatigue cracking, the former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board said in an interview early this morning.
But what role. if any, did lack of funding and political pressure have in this bridge collapsing? We know that for two years in a row Governor Tim Pawlenty has vetoed a comprehensive transportation bill (but hey we have a stadium!). We also are aware that over the last several sessions, money has been slowly siphoned away from MNDOT (must keep those taxes low!) Also keep in mind…the money used to fund constant wars could have been used on the chronic neglected infrastructure of the United States!

Others are also stating what they see as political issues regarding the collapse of the bridge. Blogs of note: Inside Minnesota Politics, Mercury Rising, Across the Great Divide

Pictures of note: Centrisity