consultants are sandburs

Friday, September 26, 2014

Yesterday evening's HD 35A NMMA candidate forum had an awful lot of "me too." [UPDATED: QCTV has the forum session online - link given below]

I am still mulling over what the candidate session demonstrated. It will be available online. First impressions can be immediate and strong, but wrong. The two things that stood out for me were first, that Perovich suggested that, to use the cliche term "bending down the cost curve," the medical providers need to be uniform in pricing and to give pricing information up front, not to ignore talking of it and then send arbitrarily extreme and disconcerting billing invoices. At the super market you get pricing information item-by-item to make buying decisions, taking your car in you get estimates, but it seems "what the market will bear" pricing is the norm in medical care provision, with the providers prospering from that and liking it as a paradigm amenable to their comfort levels. It was, to me, the one innovative thing said during the session.

Whelan largely gave three or four atta-boys for Jim Abeler, apparently her mentor this election cycle, and one wonders about how capable those coattails will prove to be.

She did so, while representing the party that went after Abeler with knives and torches and pitchforks when he broke party ranks and voted to override the Pawlenty transportation veto. That sits a bit strange with me, and I need to think it over.

She's a me too on transportation and education and the environment, in general terms without specifics provided, and that reduces the question to who's likely to be the most effective person at bringing state money back to the district; a point both candidates emphatically noted as in their view an important voter concern.

So how does that thought play out? Another minority Republican out of the area sent to St. Paul complaining like Harold Hamilton all the time about budget, or taxes, but wanting the benefits of government spending in her district more than elsewhere, or a most moderate Democrat sounding and appearing able to represent the district while living over the years through the same housing, employment security, and child rearing concerns shared by the majority of district voters?

With each saying much of the same thing, you get to weighing your gut level reaction to the genuineness of the persons saying it. Perovich was proud of the DFL effort on raising minimum wage, while Whelan did not say boo about it (while having earlier published a belief the job creators will react negatively and job numbers will drastically shrink).

The major area of disagreement was on healthcare reform, with Perovich noting it as an ongoing issue that will not go away and Whelan not suggesting anything precise about what she did not like or how she'd make a better situation for voters if going to St. Paul to represent them.

Perovich had a sound specific thing to say, on the pricing dilemma, and while others might not be impressed, I was. Voicing platitudes and generalities while whining on an already implemented first series of steps does not suggest it would lead to making positive improvements ever, to any status quo.

Whelan talked more than once about "her generation" and that smacked very much of intentionally playing the generational divisiveness card in a way that was not dispelled when she did briefly say something about Medicare and Social Security, in the future. It was a most brief allusion, and reviewing the online forum to catch it again might be the idea. As an immediate impression when she said it, it sounded very much like Paul Ryan being channeled at the dais. But then it was as if she caught herself and cut it short to stay on script.

Clearly, that might be a misimpression. Again, the recording will be online at QCTV, and we all should access it more than once to be informed.

QCTV: There was a QCTV technician in the control room recording the event. My understanding by email from QCTV is that, barring any problems, streaming online replay of the event will be in place very soon; email stating:

For a complete listing of election forums affecting the Quad Cities, please go to our web site [homepage] We have set up a special page on our web site for the election coverage. Click on the tab 2014 Election for updated information. We are videotaping the forums and require 24 hours to turn them around. The forums will start to playback on the channels Saturday.

BOTTOM LINE: I cannot too strongly urge readers to anticipate that schedule, and to view the HD 35A candidate event online. Whether readers will see it as much of a me too thing or not is an uncertainty, but if so, then the question would be where were the indicators of actual differences, and ultimately, who do you trust for the job. If you were a job recruiter and had two applicants, with that as each one's job interview, which would you hire? Put all politics aside and answer that one for yourself, in viewing the event.

UPDATE: I learned QCTV requires a 24 hr turnaround on things it records, and, Saturday posting is quite likely. Moreover, please note:

The forum listings on the front page of our web site are for promotion for folks to attend the forums. Use the 2014 Elections tab to view the forums (just like with city government meetings).

Because there will be an October candidate forum for Ramsey council candidates, we in Ramsey may want to note that link is:

Checking that link will show that today, Saturday, the HD 35A forum has indeed been posted.

FURTHER UPDATE: There will be a Monday, Oct. 13 LWV [League of Women Voters] candidate forum for Ramsey's council candidates. For the two contested seats the two pairs of candidates will be invited; Buchholz and Williams for the at large seat, and Howsmon and (Hesselgrave) Shryock for the Ward 3 seat (see the city website elections page:

for candidate detail). A guess is that Jill Johns running unopposed for the Ward 1 seat will not be a participant. I will seek information from the League about that and other detail.

Check back at the QCTV homepage, for time and place detail (place likely being City of Ramsey council chambers); presuming such detail will be finalized in the next few weeks.

Detail will be sought from the LWV and will be posted in a separate, subsequent Crabgrass item.

Noting detail in the YouTube archived HD 35A forum: Whelan's opening statement expressed her appeal to "millenials" (at about the 5:30 mark of the recording) which was not the audience make-up at the event. 29 minutes or so into the recording Whelan said she [her generation] were not counting on Social Security.

Later, at about the 32:50 mark, there, around 33 minutes into the session, and most striking to me, Whelan advocated "doing away with" Medicare and Medicaid taxes, (her wording if I recall correctly and viewers can check that), with that change to be made along with "give everybody a health savings account when they're born."

She did not flesh that proposal out at all, declining to explore what she meant by that or to comment on possible consequences and difficulties in such a drastic revision of our nation's ways of dealing with human issues, and it is where I had the "channeling Paul Ryan" feeling in a way that left me uneasy.

An account is fine, if people make enough to save but it appears to write off those on minimum wage [the raising of which Whelan has opposed], i.e., those who scrape to make ends meet living week-to-week with uncertainty stresses all the time while working full time (if allowed to do so by employers). Tax credit plans or proposals only help those using long form filing, while not a majority of wage earners do that when income is solely from wages and not with investment income of any great proportion.

Certainly millenials - unmarried single persons with limited low-wage and often part-time incomes, (like Ms. Whelan not earning herself a lot while primarily a steady student); they are not a class of major big time savers/investors.

They should be shaking their heads in wonderment if hearing that kind of a proposal. Presumably this "health savings account when they are born" thing would hypothetically allow additions tax free, with some tax credit provisions to boot. Tax credit proposals unevenly benefit the wealthy who are most able to plan their income streams to take full advantage of loopholes and exceptions and credits they have salted into the tax code and Treasury Regs.

Some benefit from credits greatly, while everybody else benefits less, and for those who might years from now need Social Security and Medicare to continue to live, what is the answer, let them be out in the cold with nothing but The Reaper as company - turn them out to cope with no social security, no medicare, no veteran healthcare benefits, and insufficient income and opportunity to save or even meet basic expenses? To go away and die?

Some account starting somehow, "when you are born" and if exhausted along the way by bad luck illnesses or genetics, then go die? What?

It seems there is an abject and cruel heartlessness to Paul Ryan, and his offering "answers" that are to problems that are not real were income and wealth in the nation more fairly distributed and were the trend toward greater concentration of power and wealth in fewer hands reversed; ends which would need only a simple pattern of extended government fair policy for a change, to acheive.

The United States is the wealthiest and most prosperous nation of all time, with the problem not being the amount of resources but the inequality of wealth, income and resource distribution. The resources are there to maintain Social Security and public healthcare assistance and funding for veterans and for the elderly. Some would deny the public will is there for that, but it seems otherwise. Doing less than what is now the norm is heartless, given that the resources exist and the Paul Ryan folks simply want more to themselves for discretionary luxuries, regardless of the needs of others. It is a big time Paul Ryan con job that the man is trying to sell us, despite truth being to the contrary.

One has to wonder how far down the Paul Ryan path Ms. Whelan wishes us to go.


Anonymous said...

Abler was nothing but a wanker..Good riddance. Hopfully Whelan will turn out to be a real conservative after she is elected.

Wes Volkenant said...

Eric - I also sat in the audience at this debate, with a vested interest, serving as Chair of SD 35's DFLers. So, my first comment may surprise... I specifically sought out Abigail Whelan after the debate, to congratulate her on presenting herself well - that I can't support her policies, but I think that politics aside, she presented her side very appropriately. I also want to thank Peter Perovich for representing his DFL values well, for standing up to certain Republican criticisms, for correcting a purposefully-inaccurate statement of position on a gas tax (he has never called to raise the gas tax, and on taxes, is firmly in the camp of working in the camp to reduce property taxes), and for taking a strong position on several hot-button issues, such as day care unionization, the "safe schools" or "anti-bullying" legislation, and disparities we face in the northern suburbs.

Abigail Whelan addressed her youth several times last night... in her opening statement she calls on Anoka and Ramsey voters to elect a Millennial Generation (typically, these are about 32 and younger in 2014) member to the House. Peter Perovich is either a very late Boomer, or I think an early Generation X member (Strauss & Howe made 1960/1961 the divider, demographers looking solely at birth numbers made 1964/1965 the split - as a small-letter "E" expert on things generational, I'm in the Strauss & Howe camp on linking generations to shared experiences and changes.). Look around the workplace in America. Baby Boomers (those of us that are right now basically 54 or older, are moving out of many leadership positions in America, making room for the 40 & 50-something Gen Xers, who've worked their way up into those leadership roles.

How many of our workplaces have put persons 24, 25, 26 years of age into key positions, already - like being supervisors? Many of these younger men and women are just learning these jobs. I know some young people want to take on the challenges of being Legislators. I dreamed of this myself, in my teens - but when the time came, I wasn't ready. We have several in the DFL Party, too. Great young people! Truly! And, Abigail comes across nicely, too! But, do they own homes, are they paying property taxes, have they had to do a family budget, have they experienced the hardships of being young parents, have they been in key decision-making roles or positions of responsibility, yet? Peter has. He's earned "his stripes", so to speak. He's the paid the dues to position himself to do good for our community in St. Paul.

I don't see that in Abigail. She might not even be a Junior Executive yet at a large company. I want to see these young people get involved in their communities, serve on City Boards or Commissions, be campaign managers, serve 2 or 3 terms as Legislative Assistants.... Abigail has a bit of this - she interned during college, at the Legislature - that's not the key assistant role, and it's usually time-limited. She DID serve as an aide to a Legislator, so she has a sense of the job and the policy being faced. But it was for just one term, I believe - hardly enough time to figure it out age 25 or 26. Where are Abigail's life experiences to shape how SHE would react to those bills and make the decisions? I don't want her bringing her college classroom training or her indoctrination from Kurt Daudt and the other House GOP leaders as the basis of her voting choices.

So, as well-spoken as she may have been last night, was there depth there - or is it all at the surface, barely skin-deep?

I like my candidate, Peter Perovich for this 35A seat, and I sure hope the voters do, too!

eric zaetsch said...

Why is it Anonymous comments are brief, unhelpful, and too frequently offensive; whereas when people put their name to their thoughts the thoughts are worth reading? It is a part of what the Internet enables - good, bad, and ugly.

I agree with Wes to the extent that should Whelen win, (district demographics being what they are), it could be less a disaster than I imagined prior to the candidate forum session.

That is an indirect way of saying be grateful - she's not Tom Emmer, (having more style and grace, and being a tad shorter, thinner than Emmer too).

Also, I am glad she, like Emmer now, both now avoid rollerblades as a parade campaigning feature.

Not that Whelan ever included rollerblade skills as a feature in her resume. Tom, different story.

eric zaetsch said...

I did post the one Anon comment for a reason: When the worse of the Tea Party mentality surfaces, one can ignore it easily, or shine some light on it. I believe in this instance shining light was proper.

It will be a vote for Whelan, and she wants all votes she can get since nobody runs to lose.

However commendable it is that Whelan's forum appearance did not resemble Sheila Khine in what she chose to say, we can only hope it means there is little Khine to the Whelan outlook rather than as a tactic Khine resemblances, if any, were suppressed.

It would be refreshing if Whelan affirmaively distanced herself from that Khine streak of Minnesota's Republican base (the term "base," serving as an adjective as well as a noun).

Anonymous said...

Oh I see.. you become 40 or 50 years of age and become a supervisor , Run a household, Pay taxes, and become an America hating communist / progressive. You goofy head case liberals trying to justify your existence are just mind boggling.

eric zaetsch said...

Anon - Stay forever young. It's your's for a song. And, tread the Cato Institute path religiously, and you might even get invited to a Koch Brothers' swank confab. Some may hold that possibility, remote or not, as an incentive. Some, not as much. Some not at all. Reading between lines is not the easiest thing. Never is.