Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Joint Statement by Former Vice President Walter Mondale and Former Governor Arne H. Carlson

As former public officials, we are increasingly concerned about the role of money in influencing public policy. The U.S. House of Representatives is on its way to passing out major tax legislation without any public hearings. In addition, they leak out information daily about the possibility of major changes thereby preventing analysis and commentary.

This is repugnant in a democratic society. There are two certainties in the tax bill: large financial rewards to the Republican donor base and a massive increase in our national debt.

With this in mind, we issue the following challenge to House members who vote for this bill:

Publicly pledge to run for re-election.

This is the only way the public can express its voice on policies that are harmful to the general good and practices that are clearly undemocratic.

We are fearful that some members will vote “yes”, then announce their retirement to spend more time with their family, and accept lucrative employment from those who reap the benefits.

Respectfully,

Walter F. Mondale                                                     Arne H. Carlson
Former Vice President of the United States              Former Governor of Minnesota
Democrat                                                                   Republican

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Roger Erickson – Another Minnesota Giant

In April 1945, the train carrying the body of President Franklin Roosevelt moved slowly down the tracks from Warm Springs, Georgia on its way to the Nation’s Capitol. Thousands of mourners lined the pathway to wave goodbye to their beloved leader. A reporter went up to one of the men waving softly while tears moved slowly down his checks. “Did you know the President?” the reporter inquired. “No” responded the man. “But he knew me.”

What a remarkable tribute.

Today, we celebrate the life of another great who truly knew us.

For some thirty-eight years, Roger Erickson with his partner, Charlie Boone, dominated the airwaves with America’s most humorous and delightful morning show on WCCO radio. It was always fresh and tasteful. There was no place for vulgarity or self-promotion. No, it was about the character of Minnesota: hard work, honesty, respect for others, and community. We were all neighbors in the Minnesota of Boone & Erickson; farmers, doctors, teachers, plumbers – even politicians – were just neighbors and no one more important than another. Nor was anyone immune to being the subject of wholesome humor.

Susan and I were blessed to share in Roger’s life on numerous occasions. On one, we invited the show to be aired from the Governor’s Residence. At 4 a.m. we stumbled down the stairs in our robes only to be greeted by the banter and laughter of Roger and Charlie. And this was before we had our coffee.

But that is the way it was for nearly four decades. Morning became a time for joy commencing with the Good Morning song. We all enjoyed our breakfast while Boone and Erickson took us through their adventures at Minnesota Hospital or the Lutefisk Lament. And who could turn the announcement of school closings into a major source of humor and delight. That was sheer artistry. 

When we received word that Swedish King Carl XVI Gustav and Queen Silvia would be visiting Minnesota, Susan and her staff went about planning the reception. The goal was to balance the formality and protocol of a royal visit with the warm hospitality of Minnesota.

This included the University of Minnesota Marching Band to greet the royal couple outside the Residence and a garden covered with a white tent and tables with formal settings to accommodate over 300 guests. It was an absolutely beautiful setting.

But the key was to set the tone and who better to serve as Master of Ceremonies than Roger Erickson. He was perfect with his light and warm humor and his remarkable ability to make everyone feel comfortable.

So comfortable, in fact, that the King leaned over to Susan and asked if he should speak. Susan’s response was enthusiastically positive. Than the rather shy King inquired about what he should say. Her response was simple. “Anything you say, they will love.”

What is of special note here is that we were informed by the Swedish advance team that the King would not speak and they were quite emphatic about that.

My personal belief is that Roger was so successful in creating a welcoming and warm environment that the King was moved to verbally participate.

But that was Roger Erickson. Maybe not all Minnesotans personally knew him but it is certain that he knew us and we are all richer for it.



Thursday, October 26, 2017

It’s Time to Decide

As you can tell from the accompanying ad prepared by the campaign, I am supporting John Hayden for the Minneapolis City Council. I do this for a very simple reason: he believes in the public’s right to know how their money is being spent and he has the courage and intelligence to make this a reality.

Now that may seem a bit absurd. After all, of course, the public has a right to know when their money is involved. But tragically, that is increasingly not true.

Just ask yourself a few basic questions:

·       Do you know what is in the package involving the NFL and the Super Bowl committee? Is the taxpayer on the hook? And for how much?

·       Do you know how, when or why the state legislature overrode the Minneapolis City Charter which limited taxpayer contributions to professional sport teams owners to $10 million? The new law now opens the door for unlimited taxpayer monies to the billionaires owning the teams. Why did our elected city officials support this?

·       Do you know how or why the Vikings got use of the downtown Common parks free of charge?  We, the taxpayers, bought the park for some $20 million and we pay millions for its upkeep. Where is Zygi’s money? (Answer: In his pocket.)

·       Did you know that the city property taxpayers are on the hook for the parking ramps used by the Vikings on game and other days for free?  Property taxpayers likely will spend some $30 million to subsidize these ramps.


If you did poorly on this test, it is understandable. There has been very little transparency on the transfer of public monies to wealthy team owners. The issue here is openness in government and the right of the public to participate in decisions that take their money. We can debate the wisdom of government/ sports teams’ partnerships later. But, for now, we should agree on full and open disclosure.

This is particularly essential when we realize that we are cutting back on education for our children, reducing our commitment to public safety, and ignoring the thousands of youngsters and war veterans looking for a place to sleep.

Let’s have a full public discourse on our priorities and it all starts with supporting candidates who will lead the fight for openness.

John Hayden fits the bill. He and his wife, Jackie, are currently raising a three-year old son in the Waite Park neighborhood and, like all parents; they want the doors of opportunity open and the streets safe.

This coupled with a background of service to disadvantaged children as a teacher and mentor speaks to his commitment. Currently, as a manager with Genesys Works, he creates opportunities for young people by helping them develop useful job skills and employment internships. This also involves working with schools and businesses to form partnerships for employment.

Frankly, we need that kind of dedication to the public good in City Hall. I know that he will fight for us.  If you can, please send a modest contribution or a note of support to John at his website:  www.myneighborjohn.com.

Thanks,

Arne




Saturday, September 9, 2017

Those were the Days

Last week, Keith Ford organized a reunion of former members of the Minneapolis City Council consisting largely of those who served from the 1960’s to the 1980’s. Clearly, it was a delight to renew old acquaintances and reminisce about the past.

But what was so apparent to me was that these people knew how to govern. That meant bi-partisan cooperation (yes, Republicans were quite dominant for many years back then) with a real focus on advancing the public good. And we were blessed with a Citizens League that brought together CEO’s, labor leaders, along with alderman and legislators. It was about public policy. The Star Tribune led by John Cowles, Jr. was an incredible asset in that they had top flight reporters and a superb editorial staff all with the same goal of the long-term common good. All players were committed to public disclosure in order to avoid even the suspicion of private gain.

These partnerships helped Minneapolis become a national model. I toast all of these wonderful retired leaders who were in attendance. Hopefully, their values will return to City Hall.

Attending:

Ward         Alderman     
1.                  Walt Dziedzic

2.                  Tom Johnson
                     John Cairns
                     Kathy O'Brien
                     Joan Campbell

3.                  Dianne Hofstede
                     Dick Miller
4.                  John Derus

5.                  Lou DeMars

6.                  Earl Netwal

7.                 Lee Munnich
                     Parker Trostel
                     John Bergford
                     Dan Cohen

8.                  Ed Felien

9.                  Tony Scallon

10.               Keith Ford
                     Sally Howard
                     Joan Niemiec

11.               Walt Rockenstein

12.              Arne Carlson
                    Dan Quillin
                    Dennis Schulstad

13.               John Johnson
                    Bill Nieman

City Clerk/City Coordinator - Lyall Schwarzkopf
City Attorney - Walt Duffy
Council Aide - Jan del Calzo