consultants are sandburs

Sunday, January 24, 2016

[UPDATED: SEE BEGINNING] A post I never anticipated having to work out in my mind and publish; SD35 special election, Roger Johnson and Jim Abeler.

Readers can view below the dotted line for background. Briefly, a letter to editor [LTE] to ABC Newspapers, by a person named Mark Jensen criticized DFL SD35 endorsed candidate Roger Johnson, claiming "plagerism" in an aggressive and disruptive way, per a situation in 2012. Credibly, ABC Newspapers' editor, a week later, published Johnson's response explaining a person assisting him did not properly attribute text researched from another item in drafting a letter for Johnson, and did not tell Johnson of having used wording from a published source. Roger did what businessmen and lawyers routinely do, he trusted the underling's capabilities and signed an item drafted for his signature. Lawyers submit briefs that way, after proofreading, and businessmen often have admin assistances draft customer correspondence the same way. They are busy and have learned to delegate authority, and have no choice but to trust the process.

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.

Roger Johnson,
Coon Rapids
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.

Mark Jensen


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.

Patricia Rysdam

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.

____________FURTHER UPDATE_____________
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).

___________FURTHER UPDATE___________
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:

Changing Links

Friedrichs v. California Teachers Assn. [YET MORE]

I run this blog and make whatever decisions about it I like, and while the below text was submitted to me as a comment to this post, my belief is readers are well served by converting it to a guest report, analysis, and editorial. With an online link to the Abood case added now and the Google Scholar search link, for "how cited," etc. also added as a convenience to readers, and then with only a change or two (italicizing Abood and Harris which is lost in plaintext comment submission, and adding the bracketed aside) modifying context to fit a guest posting format - it is entirely as submitted, by Wes Volkenant; and in submitting it his wrap up reminder was:

I did write about this on January 11th in the Issues section of my own campaign website (currently, as of 1/24, it's the 3rd item down on the Issues page):

Without further ado, the guest editorial with which I concur and with which I urge readers to concur:

As a Hennepin County employee, in a job classification that chose to be part of the union, as a long-time union member and activist, and a recently-retired messenger for the Union, through my years editing and producing the AFSCME Local 34 monthly newsletter, this Court case is very familiar to me and other union activists. We're very troubled by the likely ruling in favor of Friedrichs on her 1st Amendment grounds, overturning nearly 40 years of case law in Abood. The Abood decision basically affirmed that if the union has to represent you - which is does - and provide you with grievance representation, even if you choose not to pay full dues as a union member - which we do, and will have to do - you have to pay the union a fair share fee (about 85% of dues to cover union administrative costs, any wages its officers and stewards earn doing the work of the union, and costs associated with the higher levels of the union's organizational units). Basically Abood said you have to pay because you can't ["shouldn't" being perhaps a more fitting word here given this current Court's predilections] get something for nothing.

Of course, this case turns it around, suggesting that since we work for the government, every choice made in negotiations is political, so now it's all political speech - which of course it isn't, because it's an employer and its employees - and then those disagreeing employees are having their 1st Amendment freedoms taken away by the "government" - their employer - by forcing them to pay the union - made up of their work colleagues of course - these fees.

So in this convoluted way, public employee relationships with their bosses will be treated differently than private union employees working for their bosses. Unions protect employees from employer abuses, criticisms, disciplinary actions and terminations. Both private sector and public sector unions.

Of course the whole thing really is about politics. Public employee unions want good bosses, which usually means getting people elected who will help the employees work in good, safe, rewarding work environments. Compare working in Ramsey, Washington, Dakota, Scott and Hennepin Counties to non-union Anoka County. Huge differences in working in the first five to working in Anoka. But, because most Republicans are inclined to either reduce employee wages or basically tread water, and because most Republicans see government as the bad guy and want to reduce it - costing employees their jobs, few Republicans get these unions to support them. It shouldn't surprise that it's not in our interest to see most Republicans elected to positions affecting government employees. But it also makes our unions a target for Republicans to take down. Long-time Republican activist Sam Alito - now Justice Alito - is one of those anti-union Republicans, and helped put this case in motion with his ruling in the Harris case in the recent past. Next year, he'll have another one against the California Teachers that goes beyond attacking our ability to collect fair share fees - this one could find public employee unions lacking the right to exist or could lop off the ability to have the employer take dues out of paychecks, forcing the union - composed not of paid union people, but fellow 40-hour a week workers - to have to collect dues from each member on a one-to-one basis, off-the-clock and outside of the workplace (which in today's mobile society with flexible work schedules, will prove next to impossible and ultimately crippling, for the unions).

Unfamiliarity with the issues leads to speculation the Harris case Wes referenced is this online Google Scholar item, as identified by websearch, here; Alito authored and citing Abood; and Wes can correct things if that guess is wrong.

While I am not fully informed of "non-union Anoka County" differences from other counties indicated by Wes as unionized, I can imagine things; and I invite comments from any reader, anonymity being understood as perhaps needed under circumstances of employer-employee tensions; and that invitation extends, in particular, to my good friends on the County Board, again in particular, my own Board District 1 rep.

Yo, Matt, are you there? Any thoughts to share?


Wes has graciously revised and extended his remarks

A little more on the 2014 Harris v. Quinn case... here's a link to the highly respected Court analyst Lyle Denniston at ScotusBlog:

A couple of key excerpts: "What the Court did do specifically was to draw a legal distinction for now between state and local employees that it will consider to be “full-fledged” public workers and workers who will be treated as something less than that — “partial public employees,” such as the workers in this case — for purposes of union organization. The workers in this case are home health care workers who look after a patient or two in the privacy of a household.

Illinois state officials mandated that those workers, who mainly answer to the patients for whom they work, nevertheless must provide dues to support a labor union that will represent their job interests before state agencies. Ruling against that requirement, the Court said the home health care workers are protected by their First Amendment rights from having to put up money to support a labor organization they do not want to join."


"He stopped short of the ultimate conclusion that Abood could no longer stand, however. While that ruling has many flaws, Justice Alito wrote, the Court could stop at this point by refusing to extend it to “partial public employees.”

The 1977 precedent, confined to public employees, does have “clear boundaries,” the opinion said, but it refused to extend those boundaries to require fee-paying by “partial public employees.” One of the risks of doing so, Justice Alito added, is that almost any group of workers who receive payments from a governmental agency “for some sort of service” could be put under the Abood union support requirement. “It would be hard to see just where to draw the line,” the opinion concluded.

Although dues-paying requirements for non-members of a union in a unionized workforce are also common in the private sector, the Alito opinion sought to draw important distinctions between the nature of employment in the public sector as opposed to private industry.

Public employees do not have to worry, the opinion said, about pushing up prices by their demands for wages and other benefits because they work for the government. Moreover, it added, most of the pulling-and-hauling of bargaining over public employees is a part of the political process."

And, here's one advocate piece on the ruling that appeared in Mother Jones in June, 2014:

Summary excerpt from that article:

"In the case Harris v. Quinn, the court's five conservative justices ruled that home-care workers in Illinois—such as the lead plaintiff, Pam Harris—cannot be forced to pay dues to a union if they're not union members because they are not full-fledged public employees like cops, firefighters, and teachers.

But there's good news for organized labor: The court did not deliver the killer blow to public-employee unions as some warned it might. The court declined to overturn the 1977 decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, the opinion that upheld the model of public-employee unionism. Had the court tossed out Abood, it would've essentially made right-to-work—one of the conservative movement's favorite anti-union policies—the law of the land and dramatically damaged the ability of unions such as SEIU, AFSCME, and others that represent public workers to collect dues and engage in political and issue advocacy."

This should help give context on the one-two punch that Harris - and now potentially, Friedrichs are delivering against public employee unions.

Crabgrass opinion is Alito is a hack, Roberts an unprincipled scoundrel. Opinions can differ. Iincluding reversal of labels.

In terms of usurpation of the legislative function, I envision MnDOT engineers, this bunch, designing and specifying concrete and rebar needs, not political, this bunch, laying out a route and interchange dimensions, clearly political; etc., these are judges, not legislators, AND THEY SHOULD KNOW THEIR OWN CONSTITUTIONAL LIMITS. Separation of powers is not rocket science. The Alito and Roberts hangers-on in making a majority can even understand Separation principles. Now if they would only honor them . . .

In the spirit of Franklin Roosevelt, is it time to propose packing the Court? Wikipedia: Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937. Free Dictionary: Footnote 4, Carolene Products. Ecclesiastes 1:9

Friday, January 22, 2016

Have our west metro friends at Freedom Club pulled their attack site against Jim Abeler now that their dog in the hunt got sidetracked?

This is the scurrilous link:

Before it went dark out of abject shame for having ever done anything that vicious (and at the same time that dumb), it was not archived by Internet Archive, which only got to the thing after it was trashed.*/

It was a bad thing reflecting badly on that entire Freedom Club bunch, each and every one of them to have created that site.

Pulling it now after Aplikowski lost despite their multiple mailers and attack website, to you does that make any of the bunch look any better?

As Sarah Palin might say, "Well, gee, ain't that, you know, not true conservative, as it is in Alaska which I know well, where we, who we are, leave our insulting stuff to fester and rot, it is Alaska so I can say it, like fish remains even the eagles wouldn't eat, left on the beach, five days later - I mean the smell, you know, it's enough to gag a maggot . . ."

Not that she's ever said it exactly that way about anything, but still . . .

If short term memory problems make you uncertain that Freedom Clubsters have their wigs on backwards, reconsider this Glen Taylor's Strib item concluding with:

Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, who was targeted in one of the mailings from Liberty Minnesota PAC, did comment about the involvement of a top Freedom Club staffer in the mailings which targeted Republicans in the Minnesota House of Representatives.

"I am intrigued and astonished that the staffer for the Freedom Club whose goal is to elect conservatives is working with a group that has been attacking conservative House members like myself,” said Franson.

Kurt Daudt and Mary Franson not coloring Freedom Club's litmus paper red? Get real.

Daudt and Franson.

If it is not wigs on backwards it is a death wish against any Republican not 100% towing the Freedom Club - Cummins line on right-to-work [for less], or not doing it sufficiently to color the litmus paper extra bright red that way, or a little of both - foolish litmus test and wigs on backwards.

Friedrichs v. California Teachers Assn. [MORE]

The amicus brief to which Abeler lent his name was filed by the Constitutional Accountability Center, which has a Ballotpedia page. Below are the first three substantive pages of that brief, presented as clickable thumbnail images for reader convenience.

There is enough content there for rudimentary analysis. First, what the pages do not say, the motivations of any or all of the "47 Republican" amici are unstated as to political winds of consistency or change. Whether any signatory amicus has political motives related to electability this year would need case by case research of web content where reliability would be problematic, and content would likely be more opinion than fact.

What is apparent, clearly so, is a "states rights" argument, and a denial of any Constitutional issue for the Roberts Court to manufacture out of puffery, sophism and pure gossamer, which may happen anyway, given the Roberts Court majority's will and capabilities.

Leaving distant criticism aside, the clear argument is that each state has its own unique balance (be that political, historical, or otherwise) so that each state should be left alone by federal fiat and instead be allowed to follow its own forces and counterforces in keeping or altering an existing balance.

Abeler's signing onto the brief, and readers please don't rely on the short preceding paragraphs but read the pages, allies his position with that of 46 other Republicans advocating federal restraint vs federal exercise of power; unlike the Freedom Club - Hinderaker - Meeks faction wanting the federal boot applied, their way.

Federal labor law exists, the NLRB and its rules and its changing makeup over time is part of what we all know. Early in the twentieth century one of the first business powers' effort against labor unions was to claim they were combinatorial things in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act, and the then existing Supreme Court interpreted that statute against union collective bargaining rights, and Congress quickly passed legislation exempting unions from allegations of antitrust dimensions; in effect saying, "Supremes, we did NOT mean that and you should know better." Beyond that, labor law and its history is a vast subject, largely apart from current SD35 considerations.

The states rights argument of the "47 Republicans" is procedural, not substantive, in that it takes no stance on the compelling substantive question, of constraining or allowing union powers of the kind challenged in the pending case. In effect it is a keep-the-powder dry until the shooting starts in my state, then shoot-as-I-will; with that potential shooting being as we may find out, or a moot question if no shooting starts; in Minnesota or in any state in which the other 46 Republicans may reside and act.

Roger Johnson is clear on the issue, pro-union, so it is a what you see is what you get question; Roger being the see-and-get certainty; Abeler being the wait-and-see-and-for-now-hope one way or the other uncertainty.

It is interesting that a wait-and-see position on union cohesiveness and bargaining rights/powers issue was anathema to Freedom Club, so that they hitched their venom to the Aplikowski wagon, ignoring Abeler except to call him "liberal Jim Abeler" which is a pile few stepped in, knowing better and perceiving the smell.

BOTTOM LINE: Abeler is keeping substantive options open, Johnson is committed pro-union on any issue arising involving unions. It seems fair to say that but little more. Abeler is not an intransigent committed anti-unionist, yet. How he'd vote on union issues is something he'd prefer seeing in whatever complexity and dress they present themselves, which is not an unreasonable outlook.

However, in advocating states' powers to rule their own affairs, there is uncertainty on substantive positions with wait-and-see, vs Roger Johnson's what-you-see-is-what-you-get. Abeler is not entirely a mystery, given his many years in the Minnesota House, but an uncertainty short of a mystery does exist.

CAVEAT: Because a labor issues case is pending before the Roberts Court it is easy to be myopic. That is why in favoring Roger Johnson I believe looking at the broader picture, for him and for Abeler also, but in favoring Johnson and in that context, again for reader convenience, thumbnails to disclose the broader Johnson platform (a single webpage presented in three thumbnail/image items, for best readability - and readers should note that in defining a platform Roger leaves labor considerations out because his position there is already clear):

"Roger on Record" is how I characterize that. Roger is not saying, you know me, I've been a representative for over a decade (because he hasn't been), but he is laying out a platform. Favoring Johnson and intending to cast an early vote - "absentee" ballot for him before the Feb. 9 election day, the fairest thing is to note that Abeler mainly is saying you've seen me in action for years, and then stating whatever platform on his campaign site he chooses to.

Leaving it to undecided readers to track down an Abeler link and study "Abeler's platform" is unfair, so the Abler campaign website link is given, along with the Ballotpedia page link on Abler. The latter catalogs Abeler positions in ways his website may gloss over, and any reader believing Ballotpedia mistates an Abeler position is urged to contact Abeler (per his campaign site "contact" page); just as any reader wanting to know more about Roger Johnson should contact Johnson, (per his site "contact" page).

An intent here was to redirect reader attention to the YouTube posting of the LWV pre-primary candidate forum. However, the link posted in the sidebar appears to not be working any longer. As if QCTV pulled the video. If so, QCTV screwed up big time. However, while having pulled the YouTube HTML5 version, QCTV does have the LWV forum posted on their website, but only in Adobe Flash format, where many dislike Adobe Flash and for security reasons do not use it. The video, with one of the GOP pre-primary candidates now out of the running, IS prominently featured at the QCTV website (but in a restricted Flash format only). It's not an improvement, it's a throwback. Why QCTV does not support HTML5 is a mystery; not a technologically limited thing, but likely a thing of will, and/or lassitude.

__________FURTHER UPDATE____________
Readers please tolerate the UPDATE rant, the main point being that the item still is online and will be the only situation where candidates together discuss issues in a retrievable video.

Back to the Friedrichs case; all briefing is accessible online, this ABA link, which opens stating:


California law requires every teacher working in most of its public schools to financially contribute to the local teachers’ union and the union’s state and national affiliates in order to subsidize expenses the union claims are germane to collective bargaining. California law also requires public school teachers to subsidize expenditures unrelated to collective bargaining, unless a teacher affirmatively objects and renews his or her opposition in writing every year.

The questions presented are:

1- Should Abood v. Detroit Bd. of Education, 431 U.S. 209 (1977), be overruled, and should public sector “agency shop” arrangements be invalidated under the First Amendment?

2- Does requiring public employees to affirmatively object to subsidizing nonchargeable speech by public sector unions, rather than requiring employees to affirmatively consent to subsidizing such speech, violate the First Amendment?

A hope would be some semblance of judicial restraint, even from the fearless finagling five obsessed with tampering badly with existing law, to the extent that the separate characterization of bargaining dues shares apart from any advocacy dues portion should not be stricken since all members of a bargaining unit attain benefit from leadership's bargaining, subject always to a membership ratification; and that the speech element of advocacy is apart from the basic, main bargaining share.

Thus the question of opt-in vs opt-out is hoped to be the only thing truly at issue, and how any fool could view that as a constitutional speech issue vs a procedural rule left to state-by-state fancy -- as to where inattentiveness to maintain requisite levels of notice, (i.e., not speech but compliance with a rule of administrative convenience), cuts one way or the other. But, five fools is the worry. Roberts Court after all.

Again, I digress.

From the ABA page for the case, extensive amicus participation is apparent. has a case page linking among other things to a transcript of oral argument, and the audio, online here and here, respectively. Some regard the focus of questioning by individual justices as potentially indicative of where final opinions may fall, but while that's generally a consideration of seasoned court-watcher speculation there is no suggestion here that interested readers should ignore any resource if the questions presented seem personally or intellectually important.

Look for further updating if additional links are encountered that seem to possibly be interesting to readers.

__________FURTHER UPDATE_____________
The Atlantic, this beginning to an item of substantial length:

Will the U.S. Supreme Court Gut Public-Employee Unions?
The justices consider a challenge to labor organizations without weighing the practical implications of their decision.
Jacquelyn Martin / AP

The most important fact about Monday’s oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association is that this case—one of the most important of the term—will be decided on the basis of no facts at all.

The petitioners in Friedrichs are asking the Court to hobble unions that represent more than 9 million public employees in 23 states and the District of Columbia. That decision will have large consequences for those employees, for the states that employ them, and for the political system. But the Court will decide the case without, apparently, serious consideration of those effects.

Representing the challengers, the conservative lawyer Michael Carvin described a public-employee union as a purely political group that “advocates an ideological viewpoint” his clients “do not approve of.” Every single thing a public-employee union does, he said, is a matter of public concern; contract negotiations with teachers’ unions, for example, affect class size, teacher promotion policies, and overall state funding—every one of them a hotly contested political issue. In contrast, the union lawyer David Frederick told the Court that many of the union’s activities are “mundane matters” without political content.
Related Story

Will ending the fees cripple or destroy public-employee unions? Who knows? Will unions become less effective in making labor-management relations harmonious? Who knows? Search the joint appendix in this case—nearly 700 pages of pleadings, docket entries, and opinions—and you won’t encounter even one piece of live testimony from union leaders or state officials. The record contains no testimony or studies by labor economists.

That’s because the challengers below—represented by the anti-union Center for Individual Rights—demanded that the lower courts rule against them on a bare record. Current Supreme Court precedent is flatly against them, and lower courts can’t overturn Supreme Court decisions. We want to hurry this case up to the high court, the challengers said; don’t slow us down with facts.

Related Atlantic coverage here.

FURTHER: HuffPo, here. This websearch, with a lot of stuff from the plaintiff rep fronting that part of the case:

Scotusblog gives multiple links, post-oral argument, here.

Do not misunderstand, this is a high stakes game of politics, so Roberts and his four confederated politicians on the wingbat wing of the court may well be inclined to screw unions into the ground. They did Citizens United and Hobby Lobby, so there likely is no end to their love of such mischief.

The amicus position of the 47 Republican legislators appears in a nutshell to be that the Court should back off and let legislators in individual states chop their own mincemeat; all politics being local, and the question is one of legislative policy balancing and not really too fit for judicial pseudo-Constitutional preemptive tampering.

They do not phrase their argument so indelicately, but it seems the nub of a hands-off and cut us slack to be ourselves if/when needed suggestion, from, after all, Republicans arguing for federal restraint and deference to state legislatures - which is not alien to past Republican outlooks.

Were Roberts and chums to hammer unions one hope would be finally awakening the citizenry to seize their torches and pitchforks to kill the beast; i.e., to vote in a sufficient Democrat majority into the Senate so it could impeach the five for egregious meritless usurpation of the legislative function. Not that that will ever happen, so Roberts and friends can hold a "Who can stop us" outlook akin to robed thuggery. Some may even say that is exactly how things stand.

FURTHER: Scotusblog again, here, linking among much, to a pair of quite helpful online items aiding understanding of the legalities and practical politics of the case, here and here.

So little time, so much to know.

FURTHER: One linking error in the above text was found and fixed. Readers finding any other dead, absent, or incorrect links in the post should submit a comment.

FURTHER: Two links, here and here. So the Birchers laid impeachment hate onto Earl Warren, a former Republican governor of Caifornia, and it is likely their screeds could be put into a Word or pdf document form with a global change of "Warren" to "Roberts"and fed back to that band of esteemed gentlemen [Koch family, as Birchers, included].

_________FURTHER UPDATE__________
The Constitutional Accountability Center which submitted the amicus brief on behalf of the 47 Republican legislators has an about page and then a page on "Redefining Federalism," online respectively, here and here. Together they provide a compatible context for the amicus brief the state legislators submit through CAC. There is nothing extreme in state legislators, of either party, taking an occasion to assert some matters should be left to state-by-state resolution. The specific pending matter, and the range of potential reprecussions that "judicial lawmaking" can have in preempting a function many would say is a legislative matter, or if federal a Congressional powers matter; all that together suggests activist judges should temper their enthusiasms.

And yes, while nothing extreme, there is ambiguity in saying a question should be left to the states, but not saying "If it arises in my state, here's what I would do, where I would stand, . . .". But he who is the candidate makes the decisions on how he runs the campaign, and Roger Johnson has opted to quell ambiguity about his stance.

Last, Tea Party sympathizers should show due caution to not be used by monied interests having a separate agenda, and that should hold whether holding/seeking a judicial or a legislative position. Downsizing taxes and government size, and whacking unions are separate things, and whacking unions can be so off message as to derail Tea Party legislative ambition. Scott Walker, love or hate him, at least used the correct branches of government to whack unions when the powers were there in his state to whack them. Faint praise, but he's by that a cut above the people pushing the Friedrichs plaintiff position. And, opinions can differ, but Walker with all his faults is a cut above Roberts.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association

The image is from here, related links here and here, the latter item beginning:

The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing a case called Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. The lawsuit is backed by the Center for Individual Rights, a front group for wealthy anti-union extremists. If five justices side with them, it could turn America into a “right-to-work” nation for public employees.

With union cohesion under attack per that case, and with SD35 DFL candidate Roger Johnson on record pro-union, it should be clear where Johnson would be on any questions concerning Friedrichs.

Johnson, however, (who I favor for the SD35 seat), is not a single issue candidate by any measure, as is unequivocally clear from his campaign website issues page:

Also very important in terms of Roger getting matching funds for the cycle between the primary and the final ballot of Feb. 9 so that he can fund mailings and signs without personally carrying the entire costs, the gentleman's DONATE page:

Finally, News, where Roger defines his motives in announcing his candidacy and gives some background:

An earlier Crabgrass post touching upon the Friedrichs case, here, has grown a comment thread. In it, Roger's main opponent in the weeks-away election, Republican Jim Abeler, is mentioned. Readers may recall that Abeler was favored here before the GOP primary when Aplikowski and he were on that ballot side, where it was then clearly stated that ultimately DFL candidate Roger Johnson was favored overall but that he had no primary opponent. Given that history, and an intention to be be fair to Abeler and to in no way go negative against him now, the most appropriate thing to do is to give the link back, note mention of Abeler, and let readers pursue the post and comment thread and linked materials, to hone their own opinions.

One loose thread still:

Center for Individual Rights:

An organization for which there is background online information here, here and Wikipedia, here. (The left-side image is from the first of those three links, and there it is captioned to link here.) While an impression of CIR as scum sucking bottom feeders in the lake of reason is justified, a differing opinion is possible.

Readers again are urged to link to and read Roger Johnson's issues page. There is much there that level-headed working people and middle management executives can find there with which they could easily agree.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Aplkowski watch; to me unclear but positive appearing post-election adaptation.

Residual Forces Blog per my bookmarked link, here, appears to have been temporarily or permanently terminated.

That is an ambiguity.

Positive signs to me, or arguably removing one ambiguity in favor of another, Facebook images Aplikowski uses, that of him and Lugnug, and here and here. The first, digging a hole deeper might relate to continuing Residual Forces.

Of course, it might not.

Bonaparte: Surely Andy has no fear of my having not been equivocal nor reticent, but aside from that, who?

And, Bonaparte? After Elba the attempted come-back led to St. Helena. In terms of the partial SD35 term being up soon, are we to anticipate a come-back, and if so, a St. Helena? After a big messy war? And might there be a Metternich arising and a Congress of Vienna, GOP throw-back style, realignment of alliances, all that?

The Aplikowski candidacy to some might be yesterday's news, but for others it could suggest an early part of tomorrow's.

All for now on that.

The SD35special final vote is weeks away. Roger Johnson, Jim Abeler, and Zach Phelps will be on that ballot.

Present wind chill being as it is, the reposted boat image is not current, but it might reflect a current mood. Not being a Facebooker, I don't know what Andy'd posted previously, but with Residual Forces moves and shifts, it deserved a look at what I generally decline accessing. Readers knowing Andy should know whether images are redone or as set out before, pre-election.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Does union solidarity and courage among rank and file matter?

And despite the below posted story of pending SCOTUS bad news efforts; with a headline as above, of course the story will say yes.

That said, start the story November 12, 2013, Motley Fool reporting a new sheriff in town:

Western Refining (NYSE: WNR ) announced today that it has signed and closed a deal to acquire the general partner of Northern Tier Energy (NYSE: NTI ) for $775 million. Western is purchasing the stake, which includes 35,622,200 limited partner units, from the privately held ACON Investments and TPG.

[...] The deal boosts Western's refining capacity to 242,500 barrels per day, and improves the refiner's access to Bakken and Canadian crude supplies. The move also expands Western's distribution footprint to include the upper Midwest, where Northern Tier's assets are located. Northern Tier's retail assets include more than 200 convenience stores, which should integrate nicely with Western Refining's own slate of 200 stores.

Western Refining financed the deal with $550 million in debt, paying the remainder, including fees and expenses, with $245 million in cash. The partnership's units were trading up more than 8% on the news by mid-morning.

Hank Kuchta, CEO of Northern Tier Energy, said in a statement that, "We are excited to welcome Western Refining as a new strategic partner and investor that is committed, as much as we are, to Northern Tier Energy's long-term success. We thank ACON and TPG for their support over the past three years ... "

With the refinery having a limited partnership structure, and it unclear at Crabgrass what might attract limited partners beyond a going concern business, (i.e., possible hidden tax savings perks), it appears Western near the end of the 2013 tax year became general partner and owned the lion's share; with Crabgrass research into who owned Western, itself and in what business format, not done. While some data formats such as "short interest history," and "short percentage of float," are unfamiliar to Crabgrass, guru focus lists info about the Northern Tier Energy limited partnership where a sharp change in institutional ownership is apparent between Dec. 2013 and March 2014, roughly corresponding to Western's involvement. Same source; insider management holds little of the venture's capital shares, and diverse institutional ownership positions exist - the usual suspects.

A labor contract situation developed soon after Western's participation entry and with no right-to-work freeloaders mixed among the union local's membership to complicate cohesion, it looked as if the refinery with its trainloads of Bakken oil might face a strike; see, e.g., here, indicating a vote to strike was made mid-December, 2013.

Strib reported Jan 1, 2014, on the impasse settling somewhat quickly, short of workers walking out and setting up a picket line. The Teamsters local had this to say, winter 2014:

Local 120 Refinery Workers Stand Up to Management, Get Great Contract

Local 120 Teamsters working at Northern Tier Energy’s refinery in Minnesota voted overwhelmingly to strike if necessary in order to protect public safety and good jobs.

Management proposals to cut jobs, seniority rights and workers’ pay as much as 40 percent would have forced senior workers off the job and seriously undermined the safety of operations. A strike was set to begin midnight, December 31.

“We went right to the edge of the cliff,” said Chris Riley, a Local 120 business agent who represents about 190 Teamsters at Northern Tier. “But our members held strong.”

In the end, workers didn’t have to strike. Union and company negotiators reached a tentative agreement hours before the contract was set to expire.

Without the solidarity of the members and innovative strategies from the Teamsters Union, the workers would have ended up with a concessionary contract that put lives at risk.

“We just kept telling the company no,” said Joe Riley (no relation to Chris Riley), who has worked at the refinery for 35 years in just about every position imaginable. “They wanted to cut jobs, we told them no. They wanted wage cuts, we told them no. We were 100-percent backed by the union. Instead of cuts, we got raises, a three-year contract, bonuses and no jobs lost.”

“The Teamsters were united to win,” said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. “The company knew it. Their investors knew it. Northern Tier simply could not withstand a shutdown of its only refinery.”

Lesson learned? Hard to say. One lesson, Freedom Club's will to undercut unions would have likely affected the Northern Tier outcome had Freedom Club, and their right-to-work zealots had their way. Which means knowing who stands in the right-to-work camp is critical knowledge for all who work for a living, and that it is only common sense for allied-in-interest workers to be voting pro-union instead of for right-to-work anti-unionism, wherever it is and from whomever in politics the right-to-work agenda of lessening of union bargaining clout is advanced.

Non-union workers, especially those suffering at the current minimum wage or barely greater should note that when cohesive as a group their plight is sympathetically regarded by those in politics favoring unions since they also favor minimum wage floors being raised while unions also would always welcome expansion of memberships.

Long term, what does it all mean? Keynes noted that in the long term we're all dead. Short term, union cohesion carried the day to the benefit of Northern Tier workers not getting as little daily pay as management would have had it, and management kept the refinery machinery cooking the firm's product and profit.

The Northern Tier - Local 120 outcome was win/win to settle short of a walkout in that sense; but things settled on terms the workers would never have had per the right-to-work mythology of "each worker able to bargain his or her future one-on-one freely with the employer." Whether any contrary concessions from the union local to Northern Tier ownership were given in exchange, perhaps in pension entitlements, is unclear from the degree of web research conducted, although such give-and-take is feasible in peer-to-peer negotiation, vs the evil one-sidedness of the lone-individual-to-empire alternative.

BOTTOM LINE: In the majority of cases the stupidity of any/all union-hating "freedom to negotiate separately" argument is glaring, but it continues. When bargaining power is uneven as in a multi-state refinery employer dealing with an aging population of largely fungible members of a workforce, that "freedom" mythology is a bad fiction, the one-on-one contract "freedom" there being the freedom to get disadvantaged by big management.

Situations can differ. In a small single-site machine shop with specialized tooling and skilled labor required to run the tools via a small workforce number, there is more person-to-person give and take possible, as would also be the case with a small computer and communications firm with a lead owner-salesman and a handful of technicians with varied skill sets and background experience. That latter example is not Best Buy with Geek Squad workers, but even there the workforce is not unskilled labor.

Last, a caveat: Long term, renewable energy enters the picture in an ever growing way, and quick-charge electric automobiles or hybrids for longer commutes or cross country together with oil supply-demand balancing where the Saudis control pricing by altering their vast production levels in cryptic ways present an uncertain future for refinery needs nationwide and worldwide, but for the present, the union worked and would have had a far bigger rock to push up a steeper hill if Minnesota legislators were to have earlier followed or bowed to offensive Freedom Club union-busting aims and methods. Long term, even the best minds can only speculate while short term fluctuations might be only temporary but might also foreshadow lasting economic adjustment.

What that means in terms of politics and voting, is that the ideal candidate will be well qualified and wise, learned and with vision, but with a pro-labor vs an anti-labor leaning, as best as such can be determined from what voters are told, and what candidates may do with a hope of not being called out to defend an arguably anti-union position.

Reading more carefully, a detail or two needs comment, such as the oil trains must go elsewhere than the Northern Tier refinery, since they have an existing (low publicized?) pipeline; Strib's item near the end reporting:

In 2006, the Teamsters struck the refinery for seven weeks, eventually reaching a settlement that included a 3.5 percent wage increase and a $1,500 ratification bonus. At the time, Marathon Oil Corp. owned the refinery, but it sold it and other assets in 2010 to two private equity funds.

They created Northern Tier Energy, a publicly traded master limited partnership based in Ridgefield, Conn. In November, the equity funds sold their interests to Western Refining, a publicly traded oil company based in El Paso, Texas. It now has a controlling stake in the Northern Tier Energy general partnership.

The company also has 163 company-operated and 74 franchise SuperAmerica stores in Minnesota and Wisconsin and owns a stake in a pipeline that delivers Canadian and North Dakota crude oil to Twin Cities refineries.

How the Super America outlets maintained supply during the 2006 strike was not mentioned and has faded into history. Western is publicly traded, a Texas headquartered firm. The nuances of going from "a publicly traded master limited partnership" to "the Northern Tier Energy general partnership" as an organizational change without any driving business necessity likely relates to tax loopholes for the wealthy and how to use the same. Bless our tax code and who's favored.

While cleaning up detail, those UPDATE fact clarifications represent a distinction without a difference.

__________FURTHER UPDATE_________
If the unions are not backing minimum wage reform for the most exploited workers, who will be? If union allies are not a majority in both Minnesota legislative houses while Dayton remains in office, what can be done? With this upcoming November election holding a strong possibility of GOP majority status in at least one of the state legislative houses, is there some other path for low-wage worker relief? The answer for the Twin Cities is yes, see, e.g., the San Francisco minimum wage ordinance details page suggesting that Minneapolis and/or St. Paul can use city ordinance powers in a comparable way. That is why ALEC is pushing for state-by-state legislation that would expressly intervene to prohibit ordinance authority to do so. See, here, here, and the new "A Legislator for Every Corporation" "ALEC" sidebar item. While it is unlikely former low-wage barista Abigale Whelan is a friend of minimum wage reform, electing people who are, wherever there is a contest in Minnesota, is how the job can get done statewide. A place to start? The upcoming SD35 special election. Where else? Demand to know, where do the two parties' candidates stand on minimum wage reform. Or just vote stupid, or don't care if it's not your ox being gored. And enjoy your Tea while so voting.

Friday, January 15, 2016

[THERE IS A COMMENT THREAD, ABELER MENTIONED] The overly politicized activist SCOTUS is being asked to screw over unions. Again.

The forces of darkness that allied themselves with the Aplikowski SD35 GOP candidacy via their interlocking of their directorships, management and/or membership are on record; not surprisingly, strongly anti-union with what to me seems a massive dose of sophistry, e.g., here, here, here (published by Strib but sophist authored), see here (again Strib publishes, but a public worker perspective), and this websearch propaganda listing; then compare statements of local DFL SD35 special election candidate Roger Johnson (from MinnPost) which strongly align with pro-union thinking; this link stating in part:

“The strength of the labor movement in American is ingrained in my very being,” Johnson wrote in a letter to the DFL endorsing committee. “My father was there at the formulation of the DFL Party in Minnesota when I was just a pre-school child.”

Education, then and now, shapes Johnson’s political priorities. “My father was always very supportive of schools, that I might become something someday that he only longed to be,” he said. “Schools are very important to me. Just about everything I do is to find opportunities for young people.”

Johnson acknowledges that the number of Republican candidates is indicative of the conservative strength of the district. But he also contends the DFL should have a role to play.

“It’s amazing how many union members live in this district, yet they vote on the conservative side,” he said. “They’re convinced that Democrats are going to take away their gun rights, their snowmobile trails, but when it comes to Roger Johnson, they don’t have a lot to fear.”

Reader input, either way but on point and not deliberately stupid is welcome, via comments.

Some Republican legislators from around the nation, present and former (many also present candidates facing November, 2016), have amicus status before SCOTUS in the case.

Having only begun researching the case, its politics, and case briefing, I am unable presently to put any one particular brief in any context or comment upon its importance, overall, especially one having amicus status and not being a brief of an actual party to the litigation from its beginning.

Here is another amicus effort to chew on, see its p.41 [Appendix page, captioned "App.2"] for noting the fingerprints of the Minnesota propagandist nest called, Center of the American Experiment; compare this link of the local perps.

_________FURTHER UPDATE___________
Republican union-hatred in its most naked form, stripped of any fig leaf sophistry, is clear from the spokesperson the Republicans chose to counter the President's SOTU address; with USA Today reporting a South Carolina Governor Nikki Hilton statement, in context:

South Carolina loves its manufacturing jobs from BMW, Michelin and Boeing and wants more.

But Gov. Nikki Haley says they're not welcome if they're bringing a unionized workforce.

"It's not something we want to see happen," she said after an appearance at an automotive conference in downtown. "We discourage any companies that have unions from wanting to come to South Carolina because we don't want to taint the water."

In a recent vote at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., the company remained neutral about bringing in the United Auto Workers. VW had said it favors the creation of a German-style "works council," which gives workers a voice on a variety of products and other decisions.


[italics added] Read the entire item. Folks seem plain crazy in South Carolina.

If you are in a union, and do not want to see Minnesota be a frozen clone of South Carolina, vote your conscience - which means vote your economic best interests, and do not be diverted by divide-and-conquer pseudo issues. Yes, easy to say but hard to do. Yet, that is where leaders show leadership and rank-and-file workers show intelligence.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Freedom Club chokes off Aplikowski's GOP primary victory opportunity.

The results are in, Abeler winning the GOP special election primary with 61 percent of the vote.

Freedom Club's first mailer was downright awful, offending many, and they put up the hate-Abeler site on top of that. Then on election day, an email mailer, as below, saying elect Aplikowski, but having each bullet point aimed at trashing Abeler. Each. Each of five bullet points beginning "Abeler ..." or "Jim Abeler ...".

Never a Freedom Club thought to say anything good about Aplikowski. Just trash, trash, trash. They really hurt Andy by doing that. At the LWV candidate forum Andy had to expressly distance himself from their awfulness. It was sad to have to see him disclaim connections to that mud slinging stuff.

The only thing I can figure from the ward/precinct results, is Freedom Club did not send their negative mailers or negative election day email into Andover.

And Andy hurt himself. By telling the truth. Straitjacketing himself before the election to that silly Taxpayers League pledge stuff, and then making it a point to emphasize that he'd done precisely that. Then, by exposing his extremism on that litmus paper thing he submitted to whomever it was, that posed their queer litmus paper test questionaire to him, Freedom Club, the local GOP, whomever:

People do not want that kind of intrusion-into-the-lives-of-others extremism. A minority may, saying care for the embryo but then throw sentient daily suffering adults less fortunate than Harold Hamilton to the wolves. Take away social security from the old, Medicaid from the infirm. Government is not for that level of nastiness, as Sanders says quoting King, welfare for the rich and rugged individualism for the poor, that is simply wrong however it's woofed out to the public. It's a politics that has got all its priorities turned upside down. Most people can recognize that, and shy away from such extreme viewpoints.

The Dave Thompsons of the world have limited appeal. Surely not majority appeal. Andy should have seen this, but at least he was honest about what folks would get if electing him. In a way you have to respect the sheer honesty of "this is what you face if you elect me." He did not dissemble one bit as too many politicians willingly do. He was fair in showing who he was. Fair in doing that.

And he may run the identical campaign after the balance of the vacated SD35 term runs its course and the seat is again up for election. Hopefully so, instead of playing politics by softening the message unless he also softens his heart to what most people feel and want in government.

On that questionaire about the one most sensible thing Andy said was he'd curb the excesses of Met Council. Except he did not say that. He said he'd eliminate it. Throw out both baby and bathwater.

That thing is captioned "ANDY APLIKOWSKI - Candidate Responses — Senate District 35" suggesting an ambiguity. Was it the current SD35 GOP wanting unelectable candidates, but of litmus test "purity;" or was it Freedom Club or some other outside operation submitting a put-it-on-paper thing before any commitment of support? That part, whose questionaire, remains unanswered.

__________FURTHER UPDATE___________
LINKS: Andy has shown respect for his voters and the election process, per his latest item on his campaign site, this "Thank You" link. Or, with site traffic up this morning access can be difficult, so you also can try Andy's main site link:

Note, please, the last paragraph. Andy invested in his candidacy, as all candidates unfortunately must, and his asking help from those who supported and encouraged him to run, in now lessening the debt the campaign owes him, is very appropriate. Those wanting him to run and win should not now turn their backs and move on. It is only proper that his backers heed that "secure contribution" link, and pony up. He deserves that.

ABC Newspapers, here, publishes a brief report online of the GOP primary special election result. Noteworthy there, low turnout as a factor making extrapolation into the future, the 2016 November election, difficult; Mandy Moran-Froemming in her report for ABC online noting:

Just over 60 percent of voters favored Abeler, who had 2,817 votes cast in his favor, compared to 1807 for Aplikowski, according to unofficial election results.

Abeler will go up against Democrat Roger Johnson in the Feb. 9 special election.

[...] Senate District 35 includes Andover, Anoka, Ramsey and a small part of Coon Rapids.

According to the Minnesota Secretary of State, there are 48,624 registered voters in Senate District 35.

Working the numbers, including the handful that voted the uncontested DFL ballot side, shows a total of 4906 voters turned out, from the 48,624 registered voters that ABC noted. That is a 10% turnout, only, with the only contest on the GOP side.

The low overall turnout suggests few DFL voters bothered to turn out either in support of an uncontested candidate, or to cross over and vote the GOP ballot side. The result, among those who cared to brave sub-zero wind chills, suggests that dedicated GOP voters are not as extreme as much popular talk might suggest, or that the zealots when the time to show up and be counted arrived, were not brave-hearted enough to get to the polls on a chilly winter day.

Andy's getting the GOP Inner Party endorsement salute and losing at the polls is akin to the same faction of GOP people opting among multiple choices for Ted Cruz within Inner Party ranks; i.e., a current Inner Party extremism suggesting the GOP Inner Party is out of touch with voters who consider themselves Republicans in the more traditional sense. Ditto the way that both controversial ballot proposals flopped and backfired against the zealots pushing that agenda in 2014 November voting. It is as if a handful of highly opinionated individuals presently are working the Minnesota GOP levers, and unlike Republicans within the general populace, they are not Dave Durenburger Republicans, nor Gary Laidig Republicans.

From outside that GOP tent, I view it as the inmates running the asylum; but opinions can differ.

Andy has not yet resumed his Residual Forces blogging, and would not be expected to this soon after the primary, but the hope is that he will, in time, resume posting. His ongoing posting, while personal, has been illuminating of thinking and feelings among a major part of today's GOP party in the north metro. In that sense he has been a barometer of things to anticipate and understand among his like-minded GOP colleagues.

Reflections in Ramsey has nothing new, today, to offer.

The Freedom Club elitists likely have moved on to other mischief and self-congratulation. They likely will not meddle further, for or against Abeler any more before Feb. 9, and Abeler likely would prefer things that way.

GOP St. Cloud area blogger Gary Gross at Let Freedom Ring Blog has been largely silent about the SD35 contest, and has no post about the low turnout or the result.

Strib, after having endorsed Abeler (and wrongly stating Phelps would be on the primary ballot - not so, but he will be on the final special election ballot Feb. 9), like ABC Newspapers has only a brief item online, indeed more brief than ABC reported after declining any primary endorsement.

Dan Burns at MPP has also reported, this link. Burns' post clearly notes he shares with Crabgrass a belief that Roger Johnson will be the better choice, Feb. 9. He also quite specifically noted how surprisingly low a turnout the hotly contested GOP ballot side actually yielded; although he characterized it as to be expected, for mid-winter specials.

A last point worth noting, there will not be any further LWV special election forum. The link atop the sidebar at this point to the LWV video item online, is where the final election contestants: Roger Johnson, DFL; Jim Abeler, GOP; and Zach Phelps, Legal Marijuana Now, are on record at the same venue together and apart from what each may separately publish on campaign websites, Facebook, or otherwise.

That about wraps up Crabgrass posting about the pre-primary DFL and GOP status in SD35. EXCEPT, again, if you were any part of encouraging Andy's run, pony up to share the load; again, here, for that "secure donation" suggestion.

Having been a council candidate in Ramsey years ago, and getting around a 45% losing share both times, I am in sympathy with the work and money Andy put into things only to lose, and I hence am wholly in tune with his getting post-primary help from his part of the GOP inner ranks and electorate, on the cost of the contest.

They should not hang Andy out to dry simply because someone else got more votes. I'd like it if Jen and Harry hosted another fund raiser and Downey again attended, this time as a debt retirement gesture. It would be appropriate. And decent.

___________FURTHER UPDATE____________
Whoever fed Andy that awful litmus test qustionaire surely should help the man retire his post-election debt. They put him behind the eight ball that way, so step up to the plate. Ditto Tax Payer League and their dumb pledge. Yes, nobody forced Andy to either position, but complicity is complicity.

___________FURTHER UPDATE____________
PiPress coverage, here. Without any attention to the exceptionally low turnout, the PiPress authors reconstruct ward/precinct data, while noting

Abeler, a chiropractor from Anoka, easily bested activist Andy Aplikowski, who had Republican Party endorsement as well as support from outside conservative groups. But that made little difference.

Indeed, "support from outside conservative groups."

With mud-slinging friends like Freedom Club, who needs enemies?

FURTHER: All that PiPress navel gazing, and then not noting that the NRA declined to mail out orange cards with "Aplikowski" printed on them. I expect Andy expected that kind of boost, and might now treat it as a learning experience. NRA only sends out the orange cards when the contest is between a Democrat and a Republican and every time they send the card listing the Republican. Between two Republicans, one rabidly pro-gun, they take a hike.

FURTHER: On, with friends like this, who needs enemies: The Ramsey Reflector, with the last minute Abeler-Jim Deal trashing obsession, never once wrote the word "Aplikowski," much less having a kind word for Andy. The only thing that anonymous jackass published was a scanned image with a bad picture of Andy, and text, "Too extreme for our families." No effort to refute that by talking up positives about Andy, intent instead on the message,

Jim Deal = Satan

and damn any consequences that kind of stuff had on Andy's chances.

If anybody owes Aplikowski campaign debt contributions, it's that town clown. Will it happen? That is Andy's worry, not mine.

____________FURTHER UPDATE____________
FREEDOM CLUB: Yesterday's mail, delivered at about 4 pm, Jan. 14, 2016, contained the final Freedom Club mailing favoring Aplikowski for the Jan. 12 election. Not only are they self-congratulating, they're two days late, and several votes short. May they continue their inefficiency, because if efficient their nuisance would be greater.

And what had the illustrious west metro Brahmans to say in favor of voting Aplikowski? Front side, "Support the ONLY Republican Endorsed Candidate Andy Aplikowski." Backside, "The ONLY Republican endorsed candidate"

Well, around 200 to 300 Republican Inner Party Brahmans themselves divided, took several ballots, to produce an endorsement.


____________FURTHER UPDATE____________
Andy's already noted campaign site closing post

states in relevant part:

Thank you to everyone who voted today. You took part in a process that men and women sacrifice their lives for, and it was a privilege to participate as a candidate. I congratulate Jim Abeler on a hard fought win. Thank you to the BPOU, volunteers, and the delegates for their help to defend the endorsement, you should be proud of the campaign we put together and ran in such a short timeline and against the odds we almost pulled it off.

[...] I put my heart and soul, and many funds into this campaign. If you want to help relieve the debt, donate securely online.

[link in original]

An email sent me noted Andy has posted on Facebook:

I woke up 2 hours before my alarm this morning. Can't sleep. My mind is stuck thinking about what I could have done differently. I'm even more upset than yesterday. I'm ashamed that I let so many people down in this district. But I'm more ashamed that so many people let me down.
9 Likes 24 Comments

As one without a Facebook account by conscious choice, I was unable to access comments, nor would they likely be substantial or even marginally relevant.

On the surface, the thank you, and the "I'm more ashamed that so many people let me down" comment ring contradictory, and shame is a personal feeling about personal things where in that last comment "pissed off" might be the more accurate characterization. Perhaps "ashamed" for having trusted wrongly was the intent.

In any event, nobody but Andy made Andy's decisions, from testing a toe in the waters to deciding to run against Abeler and all the unlikelihood of victory that entailed, in a GOP primary, to trusting Freedom Club and being as bluntly adamant as he was in lockstep with Freedom Club on the right-to-work assault against collective bargaining effectivenes for both sides in a labor contract negotiation. It seems Andy got bad advice and took it, but again nobody but Andy ultimately is to blame for that decision making.

What Andy "could have done differently" opens a vast set of possibility, including would it have made any difference anyway, but one thing stands out. With friends like Freedom Club Andy needed no enemies and one clear thing he might have done differently would have been to have told Freedom Club to fuck off. That would have been an admirable stance in my view.

Yes, they subsidized his mailings opportunity, but Andy straitjacketed himself into their union-hating union-bating evil, and that likely was little help to him. He should have thought out all the implications of marching in lockstep with Bob Cummins' hopes to destroy union effectiveness, to have weighed whether that kind of frontal assault against DFL interests in ways which might have encouraged cross-over voting was, in fact, a sound political strategy. Moreover, in the context of labor law balancing as it stands, is a radical right to work departure from the status quo in Minnesota in any way a sound thought? Is pushing such a change agenda something that polarizes things more, or lessens negativism and government ineffectiveness instead? Many see it as needlessly polarizing and exceptionally insulting to workers. To All workers. To anybody not clipping bond coupons or otherwise living solely off earnings of capital, having to labor somehow, somewhere, and having to view concerted effort among ultra wealthy folks to undermine that necessity. To see counterpoised naked greed on the part of the most privileged among us, to foster their advantage, damn the cost and consequences to the remainder of society. Insulting to workers having to see and suffer such a level of greed.

As it is, the surprisingly low turnout suggests cross-over unfortunately was minimal, and Abeler Republicans simply outweigh and outnumber SD35 extremist Republicans.

IN SUMMARY: Undermining existing labor law balances to an extremist degree and not being in favor of a better livable minimum wage is unsound, particularly for a trailer camp landlord having to collect monthly rent from some folks who'd rather live elsewhere but have trouble scraping together rent money as it is. A better wage floor for Andy's tenants would have been a campaign stance working to Andy's advantage, and to his tenants' advantage too.

Again the people who jollied Andy along into investing money and grief into running against Abeler on the platform Andy advanced owe him one more fundraiser.

I hope they deliver.