To me Roger's having done what is a normal practice I have seen done many times, and having it end up with unfortunate consequences, is irrelevant to an election where, after all, Roger carefully has disclosed a full set of issue positions while his GOP opponent has declined to do so, resting on reputation alone. Knowing where a candidate will act or refrain in advance appears a better way to treat voter discretion than to be silent. Clearly other people may weigh things differently. Being caught up in circumstances where an underling underperformed when trusted simply is not plagerism. It is error, but the only alternative would have every person a sole proprietor - never delegating, with an end result of nobody having a job where trust in capability mattered, and the world economy would grind to a stop. Think about it.
In that context, ABC Newspapers published the following, from Roger:
Letter was character assassination
To the Editor:
Mark Jensen’s recent diatribe against me on this opinion page (“Why Johnson won’t get my vote” – Jan. 22) stems from a four-year old letter from me, but written by an over-zealous campaign supporter. I had asked a volunteer to do research for an issue important in that past campaign; unfortunately, he borrowed language from another source and did not provide credit to them (putting in quotation marks would have been easy), nor to me.
That’s past history, but I did sign the letter and I take responsibility for the campaign volunteer’s bad judgment. Anyone who knows the quality and extent of my work knows that sloppy work like that is just not who I am. Of course, the position papers of the current presidential candidates are written by their support teams. The busy candidate is often left little choice but to trust their support team. It’s often the same in local races.
Jensen did indeed contact me in 2012 with his concerns, but did so in such an inflammatory and accusatory tone (not dissimilar to his recent letter) that any reasonable person would be incensed and not reply. So I didn’t. Besides, busy candidates have more important things to do than to reinforce ill-chosen verbiage. I did, however, get to the bottom of what happened and dismissed the volunteer.
He also claims that I am “a former teacher in the Anoka-Hennepin School District…” That also is not true. To lie in wait like this, and then pounce on me four years later with an old and irrelevant issue, is just another example of dirty politics – an example of attempted character assassination rather than policy discernment or shedding light on value differences.
Candidate for Senate District 35
Delegation of authority happens in the legislature. Present HD35A representative Abigale Whelan in the past has interned there, Minnesota Senate, and hopefully was delegated tasks in trust where she doubtlessly performed satisfactorily, to her benefit. Had she erred in a way that then reflected at all badly on her boss, she'd have inadvertently created a problem. But her capability saved her from any such outcome. Fine. Roger was not so lucky as the gentleman who had Whelan's assistance years ago. The situation is that simple and obscuring the way things actually are done in the real world is unfortunate. Surely, in signing a mortgage or a government form one looks to be unusually careful, more so than a LTE. Yet consider presidential candidate Trump, signing his tax returns. Does anyone believe he did not rely on help, and that he tediously personally double checked every detail his accountants and lawyers gave him? The scale is different there, but the principle is the same. If you use help, you rely, you have no choice; and help done poorly can make you look bad. End of story. Back to basics. Two major party candidates are running to complete the balance of an SD35 term in office, Jim Abeler, GOP, Roger Johnson, DFL. With a third candidate, Zach Phelps, not representing a major party. Each of the major party candidates has faced party endorsement processes, differently; but Johnson being the endorsed DFL candidate is clear evidence others who take things seriously considered his character and were without hesitation in lending him their uncontested support.
UPDATE: A comment was submitted by Mark Jensen. I refuse to post it. Mark Jensen, in a June 2015 ABC Newspapers LTE criticizes Wes Volkenant in a manner suggesting he might be ill-informed and biased, while identifying himself as "a conservative" with a "Constitutional" bug in his bonnet. Don't need it. I truly doubt Jensen knows much about the Constitution, I doubt he's read any of the Federalist Papers, and I expect somebody is telling him what the Constitution means. The drafters did not have electricity, trains, the internet, the NSA, contraception, in vitro fertilization, the telephone, nor oil wells, nor aircraft, nor Citizens United, nor the bomb; and how their thinking applies to today's situations and needs, all that, requires something besides a locked mind. Jensen has the sidebar email address, and can correspond if he chooses. He can propagandize elsewhere than here. I expect Jensen dislikes the judicially evolved "right to privacy" given that "privacy" is not mentioned anywhere in the bill of rights nor the main text. Nor is "abortion." Nor is "marriage." Here is a link where one can find the federal Constitution; here, for Minnesota's. Do word searches, "privacy," "abortion," and "marriage," or any other pet-peeve word searches. One needs to understand nuance, including the norms of British common law at the time the drafters debated and drafted, otherwise words used are words with no context, and context is needed to construe Constitutional, statutory, or administrative law; e.g., "natural born citizen" as but one now current example; "due process of law" as another of longer standing need of interpretation. Also, history matters, e.g., the Civil War Amendments. Also historically, the Articles of Confederation, because if you fail to study what the Constitution was formed to replace you only know half the story of federalism then, and less of what federalism is best, now.
Before the Republican special primary it was written here that the hope would be two gentlemen contesting the final. And it is, in my mind, exactly that now, with it fair to start by mentioning Zach Phelps, who is on ballot with a single issue campaign, decriminalizing and allowing free cannabis growing and usage. That issue is one I stand wholly in agreement with, having seen how such a posture is cordial and problem free in Seattle, where that sane step has already been taken.
An impression of Phelps at the LWV forum is he had no clue about "right to work" when the question arose and instead of seeing it as a buzzword invented to deceive, he appeared misled by the glib and inherently evil propagandizing intent behind that fine-sounding but misleading wording for fucking over unions; and he is young.
To start, I shall later get to the fair use reposting below of two Jan. 22 LTE items published online by ABC Newspapers; here. Clearing the air has always seemed best to me. I believe it incumbent on me to do this after having received an email calling my attention to the first of the LTE items, after I had strongly published in favor of Roger Johnson's candidacy and urged others to support Roger in terms of voting and contributing to help him toward victory in the special election.
The email I received wondered how I might view the LTE thread. So here it is, with first an extended preamble.
I had been supportive of and published in favor of the Abeler candidacy while the GOP primary contest was pending while at that time indicating I likely would ultimately favor the DFL candidate, whichever of the two GOP candidates prevailed.
Abeler won the primary, and I thought that good for several reasons, independence of action being primary. Aplikowski publicized his kneel to Harold Hamilton's Tax Payer League Pledge, and put online at his candidacy site his responses to an absurdly Draconian GOP litmus paper inquisition/questionnaire, and that was followed by his being touted by Freedom Club including a hatchet job against Abeler that Andy, in my opinion, did not sufficiently distance himself from, leaving any questions of his campaign's contact or possible coordination with Freedom Club insufficiently answered publicly by Andy only saying at the LWV forum that he'd "not received any money from Freedom Club" which was fundamentally a non sequitur.
Basically, Harold Hamilton's past occasional woof, woofing sniping at Abeler, and Freedom Club's big dump on Jim in my mind inured much to Abeler's benefit, the saying, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend," coming to mind. Moneied unelected powers wanting to ingratiate to and encumber a later elected candidate in my mind is a most corrupting thing in politics, akin to the revolving door taint on governmental function. It is hateful stuff, and should be hated, that is my viewpoint. Opinions can differ, and some believe that kind of "give and take" (in the figurative if not provably actual sense), is part of making the process balanced and consistent and predictable, over time, as individuals come into and go from office.
Abeler stood up to pressures to conform from his GOP leadership's wanting him to march in lockstep on their transportation tax veto override opposition, which he declined to do in an act of courage and sensible judgment, while Pawlenty, whose veto was overridden, had disingenuously called a tobacco tax a "fee" because he'd dumbly kneeled to the identical "no new taxes" crap that Aplikowski on record embraced. Abeler's GOP legislative leadership at the time wished via Pawlenty's ill advised veto to kill a popular transportation funding item having super-majority appeal. Jim declined to play ball, and has been a target of zealotry scorn ever since.
My expectation in getting to know Roger Johnson in the past month or two is he would demonstrate equivalent courage if elected in standing up, as is clearly needed, to Tom Bakk's bullying leadership demeanor and questionable ways and means.
Abeler has chosen to be enigmatic about policy issue stances were he the special election victor, while Johnson has laid out a sensible and clear agenda of policy stances with which I substantially agree. Clearly, Abeler has a record in office of independence, and in the current local GOP mood and outlook he faces, there is wisdom to holding cards close to the vest instead of embracing absurdities that would render the man less electable as having no appeal to moderates or progressives, if some in his party were to have their way in sculpting him to their biases. That is understood, but wait and see has its troubling dimensions which I suspect Abeler understands in striking the balance he must.
BOTTOM LINE: I respect the basic integrity of both Abeler and Johnson, the expectation of each being fit to stand up to leadership conformance pressures when conscience dictates is strong for each, and the intelligence and wisdom levels of each is reassuring. On balance, I go with the disclosed and rational agenda Johnson has set out that is in line with my own thinking of what is best for the State, district, and local governments in the district. Johnson is closer to me on issues as best as I can read Abeler's more enigmatic approach, but one with a record, and Johnson gives every indication of true commitment to what he says his goals and actions would be if in office. My vote is with him. One hundred percent, and with respect for and not with disregard of Abeler's good character.
Now to the pair of letters having my focus:
Why Johnson won’t get my vote
To the Editor:
This is why I am not going to vote for Roger Johnson in the Senate District 35 special election.
When Roger Johnson was running for the City Council in Coon Rapids in 2012, he wrote a letter to the editor. It is extremely long and took up the entire letters to the editor section. It was entitled “Businesses and Jobs.”
Here is a link to it.
Here is an article written in 2010 by a columnist as it appeared in the Huffington Post entitled “Businesses do not create Jobs.”
Roger Johnson’s letter to the editor was plagiarized almost verbatim. Not only is Roger Johnson a plagiarist, he is a lazy plagiarist. He didn’t even try to hide it.
I understand Roger Johnson went to Harvard. His actions remind me of a scene from Good Will Hunting, where Will stands up for his friend in a Harvard bar.
“So, Roger, were you just going to plagiarize the entire context of your letter or were actually going to have an original thought of your own? Someday, you’re going to find out that the education you spent $150,000 for, you could have gotten for $1.50 in late fees at the public library.”
Roger Johnson, a former teacher in the Anoka-Hennepin School District, tried to pass off a plagiarized letter to the editor as his own, solely to try to convince a voting electorate that he was a smart guy with a Harvard education just to win a City Council election. Now he’s running for the SD35 Senate seat. Apparently, he thought his new constituency was so unintelligent that they wouldn’t notice either. Guess what Roger? Your constituency noticed.
My father was an English teacher in the Osseo School District and he instilled upon me that you never, ever plagiarize someone else’s work as it is generally frowned upon in academia. As a former teacher, I would have thought the Roger Johnson would have already known this, but apparently not.
Johnson represents our needs
To the Editor:
As an older adult I would like to share my concerns for our community going into the Feb. 9 election.
There are few residential sidewalks for after dinner strolls or exercise. One has to risk walking in the street or trespass on someone’s lawn.
Also, except for downtown Anoka, there is no walkable shopping area. There are only the big-box or chain stores, where the employees are underpaid, work difficult shifts, have few benefits or bargaining rights. These low paying jobs offer small hope for advancement and hinder local economic growth. This does not bode well for the future of our area. It ultimately reduces property values and public safety services. Do we want this race to the bottom of the economic ladder?
As our population ages, more people become unable to drive — yet there is no strong alternative. We know we have traffic congestion, but are more roads and cars the answer for future non-drivers? There are few buses for local shopping and much resistance to high speed trains for those of us who still like to go downtown for sports events, concerts or business meetings. Current train schedules restrict these things. Our population is aging rapidly, yet our elected officials take no note of this. Older people will literally be stuck in their homes, unable to go for a walk, shop for groceries or attend social events. No exercise and no socializing lead to an unhealthy population.
Looking at the politicians in office in this area, I ask what good have they done? Who is looking to the needs of the present and future population?
In searching the candidates’ websites, I believe Roger Johnson has thought through these important matters. His vision is for a safe and accessible community where all are healthy, have an education that fosters job growth, attracts local businesses that will thrive, and will increase property values. We need his influence in government.
He’s got my vote Feb. 9. Think about these things for your own life and I hope you come to the same conclusion.
Besides seeming to have a hardon for some obscure reason against Harvard educations, Jensen's letter questions Johnson's credibility and character. Having read Jensen's item, the logical step was to contact Johnson with a "What's up?"
In response, Roger has indicated he has submitted a LTE of his own expected by him to be be published by ABC Newspapers in the Jan 29, 2016, ABC LTE online posting; reachable then via this Opinion and Columns link.
I also have a submission pending with ABC Newspapers, without knowing whether it will or will not be accepted by them for their publishing.
Roger has released to me the text of his original submission and indicated a truncated part which might likely be published, where the right to publication rests with ABC Newspapers and I honor that by leaving things between him and that press outlet free of any meddling by me.
Upon a specific followup focused on Jensen himself, and background if any as to why creation and submission of an apparently vindictive letter was important or might be important to Jensen, who I do not know from Adam; Roger was kind enough to flesh things out for my, and for readers' understanding, on record, specifically:
It is true that Mark Jensen and I got into it four years ago in the LTE column over Mark's imprudent remarks about the school district's budget. The bottom line is that he ranted about school costs using numbers he invented. I went to Michelle Vargas, school district financial officer, and obtained a copy of that 200-page budget. I read it and wrote a LTE suggesting Jensen ought to have done the same thing before waxing nonsensically about issues he obviously knew nothing about. I intimated he was lazy. So it is understandable that he is mad at me. Jensen could have called me and learned the truth about how that copied language occurred. Had my researcher been a campaign employee, I would have fired him. But Jensen had a different goal - that of political assassination of a progressive. He has been lying in wait of the opportunity to besmirch my trustworthiness. As an Abeler supporter he has waited four years to pounce on me from his hidden lair. It's just dirty politics, and I am disappointed at the subtle and duplicitous action the editor has taken to use this 11th hour opportunity to support Abeler. Our thick skin will continue to sustain our campaign all the way to the end.
Everything is ON record, in the sense that all of Jensen's and my letter opinions may be found in the archives of the ABC Newspaper's LTE columns. There are on OFF record aspects to the dust up. So it's all there for you to see.
Again Roger's LTE and hopefully mine also should be anticipated in the Jan 29, ABC Newspapers online LTE posting, and each shall speak for itself. No big secret, my somewhat extended remarks here should be expected, in a tighter form, to be available to a wider range of readers beyond those accessing this blog, should ABC choose to publish what I wrote.
Check it out and see.
In closing, it is a judgment and opinion, but it seems to me this Jensen person has put himself into a petty pissantish perspective in doing what he did.
Johnson out of trust and on record on the issues continues to have my support. I believe he will stand up to the excesses of Tom Bakk in DFL leadership, however long that may last, and he will be true to the issue positions he has stated.
Final wrap up note: I present both of the two LTEs, one negative to Roger Johnson, with a history as to why there is a negativism going beyond the self serving self proclaimed motivation representations stated within the Jensen letter. My belief is Jensen's LTE is not best read without knowing its context in history, as Roger has explained it. The second LTE is firmly positive toward Roger Johnson, for differing but similar reasons I hold in favoring his candidacy - liking his positions, openly articulated and revealed, on key issues. Ms. Rysdem's issue-related focus is separate from mine, where my line of agreement with Roger is clear within a near-to-the-top sidebar item; agree or disagree, but please do read it if caring at all on the issues.
End of story. Comments are welcome.
Learning my LTE will not appear in the Jan. 29, ABC Newspapers online LTE page was a disappointment. It was rejected on grounds I do not care to dispute, but about which a post-election post may be merited.
With its rejection, I retain all rights to the work product after having it handed back on a technicality, not on any substantive nor editorial basis, and that technicality is express, news outlet policy with a sensible basis, the existence of which I acknowledge:
In support of Roger Johnson, DFL Candidate, SD35
By the time this letter is published my "absentee" ballot favoring Johnson will have been voted.
I have read Jan 22 ABC online LTEs including that of Mr. Mark Jensen, who seems queerly ill-disposed to Harvard, despite that not being the main thrust of his letter. I have read the immediately following online letter by Ms. Rysdam and believe it no injustice to her thoughts to summarize, she supports Roger based on his positions on issues.
I know Roger from the last few weeks and Jim Abeler too while never having spoken with him at length. We have exchanged email and he has been candid. I regard both as having trustworthy character. With either, the district will be fairly represented. Roger has stated his policy goals online and I agree with them. Abeler remains indistinct over policy while running on his experience, opposition to MNSURE, and the courage of a years-ago override vote on a veto where six GOP votes helped make the override majority - showing independence of judgment apart from leadership pressure of his party.
ON THE ISSUES I embrace Roger's openly expressed stances.
I anticipate Abeler would be less a progressive in outlook and voting.
I want my beliefs to carry the day as I think them best; short and long term; and Roger embodies them better than Jim; while I trust the core integrity of each of them, beyond challenge.
One person, one vote. We await Feb. 9 results. Phelps' single issue has very great merit and deserves thought, but the contest is really Abeler or Johnson.
That's it. All there is to it. Nothing not posted earlier. Nothing controversial. A nutshell version of the above text.
12:45 PM Monday, January 25, 2016 - Returned home after casting the early "absentee" vote ballot per the time/date stamp, Ramsey City Hall. Pam at the reception desk indicated few early ballots so far but that the pattern with the primary was that as election day approached the absentee "in person" people count increased, so if in the vicinity for license renewal or shopping at Coborns, it's better to vote the special election early to avoid any line.
FURTHER: A reminder, 4900 voters was roughly the primary turnout, and now Zach Phelps is on the ballot too, so a hope would be a substantially greater turnout for this decisive ballot. The numbers this time may give a better hint than previously possible of the effect of DFL crossover, if any substantial amount, in the primary.
One hopes Phelps gets a fair turnout, but drawing away from GOP inclined voters instead of DFL, (if one hopes as I do).
While current posting is being held to SD35 special election matters, there are links being added, with or without brief commentary/quoting, in the sidebar area above the Trump/flag embrace image, below the caption: