Thursday, June 13, 2019

David Lillehaug …Minnesota’s Finest


Raised in South Dakota, a standout student, David Liilehaug at an early age knew he would have a series of excellent choices ahead. After graduating from Augustana College, he chose Harvard Law. Now he would be competing with the best of the best. Again, he excelled and all doors of opportunity were opened. It could have been a life of wealth and status, but he chose public service. That was his “True North”. He wanted to shape the discourse of the body politic.

He became active in the partisan political arena serving in campaigns from Walter Mondale’s to Paul Wellstone’s.  But one problem with politics at this level is that it tends to underuse legal talent. His appointment as United States Attorney opened that door for fulfillment. Here, in Minnesota, we have been blessed with a series of excellent appointments who placed law above politics. The Office of United States Attorney was viewed as the finest in our legal system. David Lillehaug quickly stepped into this new role with enthusiasm and made it absolutely clear that professionalism in protecting the majesty of law would dominant and politics would remain a nonconcern. That is our legal system at its best.

When Governor Dayton elevated Lillehaug to the Minnesota Supreme Court , this will stand as one of the finest appointments ever. Our court needed Lillehaug’s legal intellect, his ability to work with others to frame decisions, and his talent for understandable communication. Invariably, it was his South Dakota upbringing, not his Harvard J.D, that spoke to us. 

But we also knew that the Lillehaug character reflected the finest in ethics and used the Court to express the highest standards of decency. Now, poor health is compelling David Lillehaug to retire. We can honor him with testimonials, letters of gratitude, and expressions of good will. That is the reward of excellent public service and no one desires our gratitude more.
I know one thing, history will always place him with the best of the best. And, we as citizens, will always be grateful that David Lillehaug chose a life in public service. We have been extraordinarily well served.



Saturday, November 3, 2018

Pragmatic Leadership Over Ideology


Walz and Flanagan – Our Best Bet

My endorsement of Tim Walz for governor certainly comes as no surprise. Ever since he was first elected to Congress, his sense of pragmatic leadership and healthy independence has been impressive.

Coming from Mankato gives him a unique insight into non-metro Minnesota and should allow for a more workable relationship with legislative Republicans. Simply put, this public feud and gridlock must end.

The Johnson – Walz campaign was a model in polite discourse that allowed for a sensible airing of the differences between the two parties. There is no reason why that same sense of decency cannot prevail during the next legislative session.

What should not be forgotten in a Walz-Flanagan administration is the necessity of governing from the middle. Most Minnesotans tend to mix progressive values on the social issues with financial prudence and they expect pragmatic leadership from the Governor’s office. Every issue discussed in this campaign is doable from expansion of affordable health care to quality educational opportunity for all. Leadership is the difference. Tim Walz and Peggy Flanagan are the best suited.



Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Dean Phillips…Following in the Steps of Mondale


Yesterday (October 23), Walter Mondale, Dean Phillips and I participated in a discussion before, during, and after an advertising shoot. Aside from being engaging, it was also reassuring.

When people get older and beyond the pressures of employment, there is a focus on the younger generation. Can they handle the compelling challenges that confront our society or are they self absorbed and centered on satisfying today at the expense of tomorrow?

As our discussions went on, it became increasingly apparent that Dean Phillips is following in Walter Mondale’s footsteps. He is immensely grateful for being adopted into the Phillips family. So much so, that his commitment to serving others has become his life’s mission. All too often, politicians will respond to an inquiry with a political response that suggests too much self-interest. That is not the case with Dean Phillips. His first instinct is the wellbeing of others. That was always the hallmark of Walter Mondale. They both have a sense of decency that separates them from the norms of politics and it is most refreshing.

I remember serving in the Army and, like thousands of other soldiers, evaluating sergeants and officers on the basis of how they would lead in combat. Instinctively, you separated those who would likely be protective of their troops as opposed to those who were more inclined toward self-preservation.

That is a distinction we should make in selecting our candidates and leaders. The acid test is whose interest will they put first?

This is not just a philosophical question.  It is very real. The fact is that if the Republicans control Congress next year, Social Security, Medicare, and health care will all be on the chopping block. That is already in the Republican budgets in both houses of Congress.
Dean Phillips, like Walter Mondale before him, knows the importance of this moment in our history. Is it ethical to reduce life’s most essential services for those heading into retirement in order to pay for a tax cut for the affluent?

Who do you think will protect you…Dean Phillips or Erik Paulsen?

My choice is clear…Dean Phillips.  


Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Mark Rosen…Thanks for the Memories


So much of the Minnesota character has been defined by our media stars. For me it was the creative tandem of Charlie Boone and Roger Erickson of WCCO Radio. They not only understood us but they had that unique ability to make us laugh at ourselves and they did it in a kind & humorous way.

But there were others who somehow managed to be more Minnesota than others. One such personality is Mark Rosen who announced his upcoming retirement as sports anchor at WCCO-TV. Yes, he knew sports, was always well prepared and demonstrated an unusual versatility. But that is not what makes Rosen special. Somehow, he came across as authentic Minnesota. He was always one of us and never pretended to be anything else. He was the kid from St. Louis Park who made good. Hard work, long hours, a stressful schedule may have been the reality but what we saw was a relaxed, warm, well-informed sportscaster who loved Minnesota sports and the personalities who made it all come alive. I always felt that when my beloved Gophers lost, Rosen was equally saddened and personally shared in that loss. When he celebrated a World Series win and interviewed Kirby Puckett we were there. He made us part of the experience and for that he will always be our beloved Mark Rosen.



David Lillehaug …Minnesota’s Finest

Raised in South Dakota, a standout student, David Liilehaug at an early age knew he would have a series of excellent choic...