Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Too Tangled a Web For Haste…

In the mid-1960’s, I had the pleasure of serving on the Minneapolis City Council. It was a remarkable experience in that it provided immeasurable learning experiences that helped form a foundation that was most helpful in future years.

The city had a system of diffused power that often frustrated mayors and sometimes the council. But it worked and, in some areas, it worked exceptionally well.

For instance, most projects that involved debt went through a series of hearings before any finalization. The Planning Department had charge of the long-term city plan and was very sensitive to community needs, aesthetics, etc. The Committee on Long Range Improvements (CLIC) focused on the viability of the project and placed its funding and implementation on a 20-year plan. In addition a financial review by the Board of Estimate and Taxation was conducted before it went to the City Council and Mayor.

The system worked because it highlighted transparency, diffused power, and compelled separate aesthetic and financial reviews. It was no accident that Minneapolis enjoyed the highest credit rating – AAA.

But recently, there have been efforts to consolidate power, weaken oversight and dim the lights on transparency.

This is becoming increasingly evident in the city’s Downtown East Project which involves a private-public partnership and an investment of over $400 million. Located adjacent to the new stadium, the proposal includes the building of parking ramps, a park, apartments, office space and retail. The developer is financing some $350 million of the project with the City of Minneapolis borrowing $62 million for a park and a parking ramp and various small items.

Now that is the simple part. The reality is that the inner financial arrangements between the city, the state, the Vikings, the developer, and the Minnesota Sports Facility Authority (MSFA) are far more complicated than any Rube Goldberg device.

For instance, the financial report submitted to the City Council on December 5, 2013 outlines that the MSFA will pay $17.9 million towards a parking ramp with the City paying $32.6 million. The developer will be responsible for bond payments for 10 years but possibly longer if certain revenue targets are not met. However, ownership will reside with the MSFA with the City retaining development rights.

This raises a host of legal and practical issues. For instance, can a city bond for the development of property it does not own? Who is liable for the ramp debt if the developer defaults? How did a financially minority participant gain ownership?

And then we have the $18 million the city will borrow for the park. The remaining funds are listed as coming in the form of grants from “other” governments, and $1 million from the Vikings listed as a “charitable donation” which will receive “recognition consistent with those standards.”

The park will be used by the MSFA for up to “forty days a year” and the Vikings will be allotted the park for Viking games and an additional ten days per year. Hence, again the MSFA has legal use of the park without any specific contribution listed toward the purchase and development of that park. And the Vikings will gain exclusive use without any payment unless that “charitable donation” is really a business deal.

And to make this even more interesting is that the MSFA will have a liquor license for use by the Vikings which will become another profit center for them.

On November 22, 2013, the Star Tribune quoted the city’s chief development official, Jeremy Hanson Willis, as declaring, “It’s one of the largest and most complicated development projects that has come before us in many years. So there are many issues still under discussion that need to be resolved.” (Emphasis is mine).

However, instead of heeding this note of caution, the Mayor and Council want the deal fully approved by December 13th – this Friday.

Toward that end, scrutiny and approval from CLIC and the Board of Estimate and Taxation are being bi-passed.  Further, in order to lower the number of votes needed for this public debt package, the proposal will go to the Port Authority which is actually the City Council but approval for debt will only take a simple majority of seven votes instead of the normal nine required for debt issuance.

Two members of the Board of Estimate and Taxation, Bob Fine and Carol Becker, have expressed their outrage with the latter using the word “sleazy”. They like others are concerned that the traditional checks and balances are being thrown aside in the rush to approve this most complicated and poorly understood project.

Time and again history has shown that secrecy and haste are the enemies of good government and good public policy. Nevertheless, the state and city seem to persist in both.

Look at what has already transpired.  Numerous critics have lambasted the legislative closed-door process including two writers currently or formerly with the Star Tribune.  Jon Tevlin referred to the stadium deal as “transparent as the Berlin Wall.” Nick Coleman on observing the House-Senate Conference Committee on the stadium bill declared, “Yes, as we all learned in school, the corrupt days of smoke-filled rooms are gone. But that’s only because smoking is no longer permitted.”

Even the vice-chair of the Minneapolis Audit Committee is alarmed: “Unfortunately, the lack of transparency on critical spending decisions over the past several years has only increased the lack of trust our citizens have in City Hall.

I could go on but sadly there are other difficulties as well. On December 6, 2013, a MPR reporter, Tim Nelson, disclosed that the state may have to change its stadium financing plans due to the fact that electronic gambling will probably produce $89,000 for fiscal 2013 (June 30th) rather than the originally anticipated $72 million. Now that will probably be covered by the cigarette taxes that were to be used for the reserve fund for the stadium. The bottom line according to Nelson: the fund is expected to be drained by the end of June 2016 – about two weeks before the stadium is completed. Suffice it to say, the financing for the stadium is still a work in progress.

On top of that we have the fact that Minneapolis lost its AAA credit rating last summer. Much of this is due to the pension liability which has been largely solved but continues to demand according to the Center of the American Experiment ten percent of every tax dollar with debt service taking another 8 percent. These are high fixed costs and should strongly suggest more oversight and caution on debt issues and not less.

Simply put, what we have here is an expensive, complicated arrangement that ties together the state’s stadium package with this development. It may well be a fine project because it does reinvigorate downtown, create jobs, bring in added revenues and tie in light rail with the stadium. These are all excellent positives.

However, what elected officials have to understand, particularly in private-public ventures, is that the private sector will always hire the best talent and advance their best deal. They are successful because they know how to make money. This is not the public sector’s strong suit.

With that in mind, we should consider the reality that the stadium package and this downtown development are tied together both financially as well as in user terms. And there are all too few people who understand the intricacies involved.

Further, Zygi Wilf did remarkably well in negotiating the stadium package with the state and city.  Brian Lambert, a MinnPost columnist and longtime Twin Cities journalist, estimates that Mr. Wilf will probably have around $20 million of his own money in this $900 million plus package. I suspect he will make a profit just on the stadium piece alone when naming rights and its profits are thrown in. He is immensely skilled in real estate and financial matters.

By now, the public is aware of the state-city’s appalling lack of due diligence in examining Mr. Wilf’s financing. For instance, after the package was approved, one leader acknowledged surprise at the disclosure of a long-standing lawsuit against Wilf and was taken aback by Wilf’s announcement that he would impose a seat license fee as part of his “contribution” to the deal in spite of the fact that the approved package permitted it.

The public is also aware that Mr. Wilf will not likely win the “model citizen of the year” award after the New Jersey Court found him guilty of civil racketeering and fraud in cheating his partners.

Now for months, the Council and public have seen only the sizzle of the project with appealing sketches and verbiage about jobs, revenues, etc.  That may all be accurate. But the financial details with all of its moving parts were only released on December 5 and December 9. Of all the red flags waving, that is the most important.

How can a City Council digest this complicated financial arrangement in a matter of days sandwiched in between Thanksgiving and Christmas and with six members of the Council and Mayor departing and looking for jobs?

This not only weakens accountability but also denies the public any kind of understanding and participation. Frankly, it is totally reckless.

Good projects improve in a democratic society when we have truthful and open disclosure and a thoughtful and thorough examination of all the elements involved.

I pray that good judgment will prevail and that the incoming Mayor and Council will hold public hearings and do it right. Public service is at its best when it truly embraces the public good and earns the public’s trust.

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Sounds of Silence

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the moment that we lose perspective of the future. It is entirely possible that in three or four years from now we will be reading about the sale of the Vikings football team for a profit of $100 or $200 million as a result of the new stadium financed virtually entirely by the taxpayer and the fans. And, yes, there will be stories of how Zygi Wilf outfoxed and outmaneuvered those representing the interests of the public.

However, on the other side of town in a newly refurbished Orchestra Hall there will be no sounds of Brahms, Copeland, or Sibelius but rather the stillness of silence.

We will publicly wonder how we could pass a Legacy Amendment (by way of disclosure, Governor Wendell Anderson and I served as co-chairs) designed to properly fund the outdoors and the arts, pour hundreds of millions into a facility that ultimately moved Wilf from millionaire into billionaire status, and then stand by while our own world class symphony orchestra disintegrated.

We will understandably ask - where were our priorities? How could we go so overboard for one and yet be so detached from the other? Since when do the arts not play a major role in defining our quality of life and is it not that some quality of life that attracts business job growth? And then, will we wonder about our leadership?

What is hard to comprehend is why the Legacy Amendment, the over generosity of the public in the stadium deal, and the lack of progress in the stalemate at Orchestra Hall do not pose an opportunity for the Governor, the Mayor, and legislative leaders to come together and figure out how some money can be moved in order to permit us to retain the Vikings (with an increased share of participation from Wilf) as well as a treasured world class symphony. We owe this to ourselves and to our future. Let’s get moving

Monday, July 1, 2013

A White Bear Lake Success and Challenge

July 4th is always a special day in that it creates a national sense of unity. In so many ways, it is our country’s great Red, White, and Blue get-together featuring barbecues, parades, bands and a true sense of participation.  It is about us as a community and remembering those who made it all possible.

On June 20th I had the opportunity to share another type of community event; the building of the World’s Longest Sundae in White Bear Lake. My assignment was to serve as a Judge for the Guinness Book of Records.

The brainchild of John Lupo, owner of Grandma’s Bakery, brought together all the leadership of the White Bear Lake community from the Mayor and Council to the local Chamber of Commerce. Everyone participated. Now imagine trying to build a sundae that exceeds the length of three football fields. This undertaking required precision planning, timely delivery to prevent melting and hundreds of hands to scoop and top without any spaces in this contiguous ice cream delight. What incredible teamwork.

Yes, a new record was established and White Bear Lake won. But, frankly, that is not what was either important or most memorable. No, it was the outpouring of support and participation from the entire White Bear Lake community.

This was a coming together of all people – all races, ages, nationalities, political persuasions. It was the total White Bear Lake population defining for all of us the meaning of community. It was about what “we” together can accomplish and what together we can give (thousands of dollars raised for the fight against cancer). There were no egos, no shouts of “I” but rather a meaningful sense of fun – the fun of togetherness held together by mutual respect and gratitude for community.

Driving home, I could not help but reflect on this event and then position it against Washington and our rather dysfunctional government. It seems like they are incapable of doing anything together including just getting along with each other.

Now imagine the White House declaring a day-off for all involved in order to allow the President and Congress and their staffs to build a sundae or some comparable project that will match that of White Bear Lake. I am dead serious. More than anything else they would learn about teamwork; the meaning of group accomplishment, and the value of “we” over “I”.  They may even have a few laughs together.

Why not?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

And then there were none….
The withdrawal of Jim Graves from the 6th District race for Congress has drawn considerable comment as well as some interesting emotional responses ranging from bitter disappointment from moderates and democrats to relief from the right. 

If possible, some perspective is needed. 

First of all, political observers were truly taken by surprise because they looked forward to the marquee matchup of the year:  Bachmann vs. Graves. This was to be the Joe Louis vs. Joe Wolcott fight from my time or, for a later generation, Ali vs. Frazer.   It was the bout. Everyone was in the process of picking sides and getting involved.  In a sense, we were already emotionally invested.

All of a sudden, Michele Bachmann embraced term limits just two weeks after running re-election ads on TV and then Jim Graves pulled out after announcing in April that he would be in.  The battle of the year – the Super Bowl of politics – was no longer. How could they do that to us?

After eight years of Michele Bachmann dominating the Minnesota scene and emerging as a Tea Party favorite on a national level, many Democrats, independents and Republican moderates felt they had a real shot at bringing Bachmann down.  After all, she was hurting from the wounds of legal inquiry with the likelihood of more shoes to fall.

And Jim Graves was now the ideal candidate; talented, successful in business, strong people skills, modest, and genuinely committed to building a better community.  Old Timers may remember the radio show, “Jack Armstrong – the All American Boy”.  Well, that would be Jim Graves.

I supported him in last year’s contest when he came within a whisker of winning.  But I also support his decision to withdraw from a Bachmann-less contest.  In politics, you rarely get more than two shots at opportunity and after that you are labeled a loser and cruelly assigned to the graveyard of the past.  The result is you have to pick your shots carefully and Graves did.

When few others would come forth to challenge Bachmann in 2012,  Jim Graves volunteered. His campaign was little more than his family and some truly dedicated friends. But the upper echelon of power in the DFL was noticeably absent both on the elected and party levels. He was not given a chance and political insiders try to not identify with likely losers.

In the closing days of the campaign, the polls tightened and more followers came on board. Had they been there earlier, Graves could have won.

If there can be a victory in defeat, Graves achieved that in his loss to Bachmann and this is what propelled him into the big time limelight. He had all the markings of a winner for 2014 but that would only be if Bachmann were the candidate.

In eight years, she had become the dominant national force of Far Right politics and the 6th Congressional District tilted in that direction.  But increasingly, more of her supporters cooled as a result of her extreme comments and faulty interpretation of facts. By 2012, she was vulnerable and Graves proved that. (See Michele Bachmann...A Lady in Decline).

Now without Bachmann on the ticket, Graves’ chances collapsed and he wisely understood the folly involved. For those who remain disappointed, they should direct their energy toward the real problem: the gerrymandering of Legislative and Congressional Districts in order to deny competition and insure incumbency. That is the enemy of democracy.

As to Jim Graves.  I hope he remains active and runs again for public office. He is the type of business leader we so desperately need: pragmatic, visionary, caring and committed to governance. I look back at so many solid business leaders who contributed so much to our well being at the local, state and national levels and hope he will follow suit. Look at the names and you realize what excellence is about: Elmer L. Andersen, Bill Frenzel, Wheelock Whitney, John Yngve, Roger Scherer, John Johnson, George Pillsbury and on and on.

The simple fact is that we need our best in public service and Jim Graves represents that.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Paul Anderson – He Saw Tomorrow’s America

Today, Minnesota will retire another truly outstanding Supreme Court Justice, Paul H. Anderson.  By today’s standards, he was a long termer (19 years) and an impact player.

I was invited to speak at his ceremony which was held some two weeks ago.  Unfortunately, due to a back problem I was unable to attend.

What follows was generated from notes I prepared in keeping with Paul’s request that they not be flowery.

Paul Anderson’s legal career was exemplified by his commitment to his favorite phrase “majesty of law”.  He saw the application of law beyond the normalcy of process.  Rather, majesty implied the greatness and dignity of law.

That may well appear to be a lofty and acceptable ideal but it has been under continuous attack from those who want to use the power of government for their own economic and narrow political purposes.

The reality is that the majesty of law can only prevail when jurists and political leaders are truly committed to strengthen and further democracy.  They must have the resolve and unshakeable courage to stand against what may well be the prevailing opinion of today in order to protect the rights of dissent.

We saw so clearly evidence of this last year with the constitutional amendment designed to limit access and fairness under the guise of preventing fraud.  Although voters soundly rejected the proposal, the struggle for full voting rights continues.  In some states last year, the courts put an end to some obvious abuses while in others, they did not.

But, ultimately, the majesty of law prevailed - thanks in part to courageous jurists such as Alan Page and Paul Anderson whose dissent provided a powerful message to the voting public.  In the final analysis, the true achievement was with the people – the people who listened and understood that the real meaning of democracy was its ability to look beyond its European heritage and welcome a newer America; an America that is more global, more representative.

They not only smashed down the voter ID amendment here in Minnesota but thousands and thousands of voters in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida stood in line for up to 6 to 9 hours in order to vote.  Now that’s commitment.

They so much wanted to participate in the simple and basic ceremony of voting.  And no barrier was high enough or sturdy enough to prevent this emerging coalition from participating.

At that moment, they held hands with our Founding Fathers, with Abraham Lincoln, and with the movers behind the historic 1964 Civil Rights Act.  And they loudly proclaimed the majesty of law.

In so many ways, their actions are a testimony to those outstanding jurists such as Paul Anderson who continuously protected and enhanced the application of democracy.  He always brought out the best in us and now leaves us with a legacy and personal commitment to the “majesty of law.”

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Necessary Challenge...

Historically, America’s economic strength has largely been dependent on the quality and accessibility of the education system particularly at the college and graduate levels.  Excellence here has been the fuel for America’s global growth.

But, increasingly, over the past decade plus there has been a most troubling cost growth with tuition growing faster than inflation and student loan debts exploding.  Today, the total loan debts exceed $1 trillion with some 15 percent of that expected to go into default leaving another huge debt burden on the taxpayer.  Further, these sharp rises in tuition have all but eliminated the possibility of a student working his way through college and, thereby, jeopardizing another vital part of the American Dream.

Today a student working at minimum pay rates would have to work some 61 hours per week in order to cover University of Minnesota costs.  In 1970, that figure was 24 hours.  Further, the average student now graduates with a debt load of nearly $30,000.  Assume a couple marries, the combined debt load is $60,000 and this does not include any graduate school costs.  But what it does do is severely hamper the ability of that couple to purchase a home and it also influences the type of employment they seek. Economics compels them to make choices related more to earning power than toward service-oriented opportunities including teaching

For instance, in medicine the debt load is approximately $150,000 and this clearly is impacting career choices with specialties gaining and the area of general practice in decline.

As a result of these changes, our economy will be hurt from fewer housing starts to attracting teachers and doctors.  These rising costs will also prevent many talented individuals from seeking advanced degrees particularly in areas vital to our economic growth.  For instance, a recent Price-Waterhouse report noted that the United States is losing its “innovative edge” in medical technology to countries like China and Brazil

That is a trend we cannot allow to continue.

Over the past several months, there have been troubling stories published in the Star Tribune, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal relative to the University of Minnesota’s administrative bloat and excessive compensation costs.  And contrary to the efforts by administrators to brush aside the importance of these rising costs, it is of vital importance that we deal with them and prevent further harm.

Personally, I had always thought of the role of academic administration to be one of fostering an environment of excellence and success for the teaching and research pursuits that constitute the mission of a university.  In so many ways they defined the public service value in higher education.

Sadly, higher education leaders have created a financial model that focuses on their importance and it is spiraling out of control   And it is this spiraling that is increasingly creating media criticism and is being identified as a cause for the sharp increases in tuition.

For instance, when I came into the Governor’s office in 1991, the President of the University made approximately $152,000 while I made $112,000 – a gap of some $40,000.  Today, the Governor makes $120,000 and the University President, $610,000 – a gap of $490,000.

This mirrors the overall explosion of administrative salaries.  As an example, the lead attorney for the University makes $295,000 or $95,000 more than the Attorney General of the United States, and over $180,000 more than the Minnesota Attorney General and some $78,000 more than the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

The University President’s Chief of Staff earns a salary commensurate with the United States Secretary of State while the University lobbyist who pleads the University’s case at the State Capitol earns some $60,000 more than the Governor.

Joel Maturi, a fundraiser and part-time teacher makes $468,000 while the President of the United States earns $400,000.

This comparison with federal and state government officials with comparable responsibilities could go on ad infinitum.

Overall, the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post found some 17 administrators making over $300,000 per year  - well more than the Vice President of the United States and some 81 earning over $200,000 per year or more than any cabinet-level secretary.

As if this is not sufficient cause for alarm, the retirement packages have been attracting attention.

First of all, the University has a rich pension formula for its higher-level employees including administrators. Prior to January 2012, the required employee contribution rate was 2.5 percent of salary with the University contributing 13 percent.  Most public employee systems require a more even split between employer and employee.  In January 2012, a new formula went into effect with employees contributing 5.5 percent while the University puts in 10 percent – still a most generous plan.

Interestingly, the University is far less generous to its civil service employees.  They are part of the Minnesota State Retirement System and contribute 5 percent of their salaries with the University putting in another 5 percent.  Simply put, the top echelons of administrators have a substantially richer pension reward system than the average employee.

On top of this, the Star Tribune has published the enormous costs of some retirement packages.

At the height of the deep recession from 2007-2012 when the middle class was losing some 40 percent of its total net worth and students were buckling under the weight of sharp tuition increases, some top University administrators were helping themselves to unprecedented retirement riches.  For instance, the Chancellor of the University of Minnesota, Duluth was granted by retiring President Robert Bruinincks a $535,700 bonus package.  Other top administrators were also benefactors in sharing the $2.8 million made available by the University.

The one that caught everyone’s attention was the enrichment package President Bruininck’s negotiated.  In addition to compensation in excess of $700,000, he received $455,000 for the purpose of preparing himself to return to the academic world.  He also funneled some $355,000 to his newly created Center for Integrative Leadership where he teaches at a salary of $355,000 per year.

This excess directly translates into higher administrative costs which are then placed on the various colleges under the umbrella of the University.  For instance, the medical school pays over $66 million for overall administration services ranging from utilities to a variety of student services as well as technology, library, etc.  There is no one specific item that identifies administrative overhead.  Rather these costs are blended in with the overall figures.

However, the bottom-line result is that our medical students pay the highest or near the highest tuition for public universities and this impacts our ability to attract the highest quality students.  Further, as mentioned previously, this high cost burden is a factor in the type of medicine students pursue.

At the Business School, the overhead is nearly $21 million.  The prior Dean of the Carlson School pursued financial independence for the school in order to reign in the costs. This effort was not successful.  She resigned and accepted the position of Dean of the University of Michigan School of Business which enjoys more financial independence.

Clearly, high administrative costs have serious consequences.  But salaries, pensions, and retirement packages are only a part of the overall problem of administrative costs.  Perhaps even more serious is the effect of management layering.

For instance, at the University of Minnesota, most management employees are under contract rather than serving at-will.  This means they can only be fired with cause.  This has created some highly expensive and inefficient practices.  It is not uncommon for an outgoing President to extend the contracts of his favorite managers thereby limiting the flexibility of the incoming President.

Further, it has created an environment resistant to dismissal and supportive of transferring the less productive employees.

The overall effect has been one of creating a confusing array of management layers.  For instance, when the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill hired Bain & Company, they concluded: multiple layers of management can exacerbate complexity.  Complexity and related operating issues lead to inefficiency.  Likewise, when Bain and company reviewed management at the University of California, Berkeley, they noted the redundancies, complexities and inefficiencies.

 Is the challenge worth it?  Well, the Bain report for the University of North Carolina outlined cost savings of $66 million per year.  At Berkeley it was $75 million per year and at Cornell the anticipated savings were $85 million.

Frankly, I have not enjoyed writing this blog. Like so many of you, I love the University and have nothing but fond memories or professors going the extra mile to help faltering students and lead us into a world of ideas and exploration.  They were truly brilliant teachers in the best sense of the word.

As I get older, my acquaintanceship with the medical facilities has become more frequent.  Again, the nurses and doctors are not only talented but also caring. They are exceptional.

They all define the best in serving the public.  But, sadly, the leadership of Morrill Hall has left us with serious problems that must be dealt with if the University is to succeed. It is clearly a necessary challenge…

In my next blog, I will deal with issues of leadership, etc.

See you then.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Again: A House Divided

Rachel E. Stassen-Berger, a Star Tribune reporter, recently wrote a column relative to the new rule imposed by House Democrats requiring that all proposed amendments to bills on the House floor be submitted 24 hours before the main bill is taken up.  Supposedly, this move was done in the name of disclosure in that it would allow the public the opportunity to contact their legislators prior to public debate.  That may well be the case but those who watch legislation closely tend to be lobbyists and they are quite aware of all happenings relative to their interests.  I suspect this move is more about punishing the minority than serving the public.  However, what the Democrats should realize is that this will hurt the quality of the legislation and that will harm their own members.

Limiting member input is never wise.  The quality of a proposed law can always tolerate improvement through debate and amendment and no member’s right of participation should be restricted. The amendment process should be seen as an instrument that can forge quality and one that enhances the opportunity for bi-partisanship.

Flexibility and spontaneity are valuable ingredients in any management system.  Would we ever think of restricting a surgeon in the operating room or an airplane pilot handling a crisis?  We rely on judgment and experience.

We should expect no less from our legislators.  There should be no place for political revenge.  When exercised it only makes the majority look small.

Bear in mind, when legislators campaign for office and want our support they talk of representing the interests of their district.  I never heard a single candidate ever suggest that they would give their vote away to a political caucus or political party.  Yet, that is precisely what happens time and again.  And this increases unyielding partisanship.

In 2012, the public discharged the Republicans in part because of policy excesses, rigid conformity, and an abuse of power.  Usually when one side insists on revenge, the other will retaliate.  I suspect Republicans will think of endless amendments to every bill thereby slowing down an already slow process.  Further, they could hold the bonding bill hostage since a super majority is required for approval.  That is precisely what is not needed.

This session has major issues to confront including preparing a balanced budget, dealing with expensive infrastructure projects and handling the challenges of tuition and higher education.  Solid and intelligent management of these concerns will be required if the session is to be successful.  This amendment does serious harm to that expectation

Governor Dayton has set a most appropriate standard of conduct for his office.  It is one of graciousness, transparency, and a willingness to work with all.  The House democrats would be well advised to do the same.

Gopher Football - Reason for Optimism?

          With the advent of Fall, our attention turns to football and the joy of speculating. The media is all over the Vikings but it is t...