here for PDF format
of Meeting with Wendell Anderson
8301 Creekside Circle
#920, Bloomington, MN 55437
Friday, November 18,
Attendance: Verne C. Johnson, chair; Jim
Hetland, John Mooty (by phone), Jim Olson (by phone, John Sampson (by
phone), Paul Gilje, Gary Clements, and Wendell Anderson, guest
A. Introduction of
introduced Anderson, former Olympic hockey player, DFL Party member,
former state legislator, former governor, former
Senator, former regent at the University of Minnesota, and honorary
Swedish counsel. Verne drew attention of the caucus to Anderson's picture
on the cover of
said an average of two times a week people still mention this issue of
to him. In his opening comments Anderson made the following points:
1. Complete agreement with Bill Frenzel--Anderson
said he read the summary of our meeting last Friday with Frenzel and said
he agrees completely with what Frenzel had to say.
read a sentence from the draft document on threats to America's democracy
which indicated that we'd be concentrating chiefly on the national
government, not the state government. It is extremely difficult to make
changes at the federal level, he said, despite major problems at that
level. He advised the caucus to concentrate on making changes in
3. Importance of two-party participation in all
races--Anderson took note of the absence of the Republican
Party in the two recent races for mayor in St. Paul and Minneapolis. It
is not good for the state for the Republicans to have abandoned the
central cities, he said. He remembers a time when the Republicans
dominated the city of Minneapolis.
4. State had great leadership in the past from
both parties--He took note of a time in 1962 when outstanding
Republican legislators were elected. He then mentioned that five times
during the 60s and 70s a Minnesotan (Humphrey and Mondale) was on the
national presidential ticket.
5. Problems of sub-caucuses--He said
single-issue people began to dominate DFL politics sub-caucuses in the
early 1970s. Until that occurred, the makeup of the DFL endorsement
convention closely paralleled that of the DFL voting population. He
recalled that in 1970 Hubert Humphrey defeated Earl Craig for DFL
endorsement for U.S. Senator by a 79%-21% margin, which was approximately
the same margin that Humphrey beat Craig in the primary. Since the
sub-caucuses were begun, he said, most DFL endorsed candidates have not
has been a leader for the nation--Anderson
recalled that Minnesota enacted a progressive income tax in 1933 and
dedicated every dollar to K-12 education until 1955-57. During World War
II Minnesota led the nation in the fewest rejections of armed forces
inductees for reasons of education and health.
7. Strategic importance of the
recalled the connection between the University and business development,
heavily in the health field, in the 1950s and 1960s. The Governor and
Legislature failed to take the opportunity to continue that effort by
giving the "U" significant funds for stem cell research. Instead we let
California take the lead, which in a referendum dedicated $300 million a
year for 10 years for stem cell research.
8. Business community still is enlightened--He
mentioned the $750 million proposal by the business community to the 2005
Legislature for strengthening transportation.
for state leadership on teaching children to read--He
lead the nation in an effort to guarantee that by the end of the third
grade all children should be able to read. He cited statistics about the
inability for many disadvantaged children to read by the end of the third
grade and how such results lead later to low high school graduation
rates. He also noted the high percentages of teen pregnancy and the
resulting life of poverty for teen mothers.
B. Discussion with
the discussion with
Anderson the following
points were made:
1. Absence of political leadership--Anderson
was asked what caused the decline in political leadership along with
tightening of governmental purse strings and what might be done about it.
repeated his concern about emergence of sub-caucuses.
Anderson said we must
find ways to develop leaders of the quality of Luther Youngdahl and Harold
Stassen. He recalled Gerald Christenson's leadership as State Planning
Director, in developing a national model for right-to-read.
step to improve leadership, Anderson suggested, is to require that U.S.
Senators and Representatives relinquish chairmanships of congressional
committees upon reaching the age of 65. He recalled an important
committee meeting when he was in the U.S. Senate where the chair had
said President Bush's failure to take leadership on the Katrina hurricane
as an indication of the president's being out of touch with the public.
He could have done so much more in utilizing the National Guard for such
needs as providing medical care, feeding people, and providing engineers.
discussion the point was made that while we are critical of the federal
government, so much of America today has expectations that the federal
government is the place to turn for leadership.
2. Ways to revitalize caucuses?--Anderson
said he hopes that young people in college would be encouraged to
participate and that large law firms would enable their lawyers to run for
public office. He said he deeply enjoyed his service in the State
Legislature and would not have been frustrated staying there instead of
pursuing high office.
recalled that Jerry Christenson was able to obtain funding for three our
four programs on public television to educate people about the
Legislature. He thinks that maybe public television could help with
3. The strict litmus tests for both Republicans
and Democrats--Because of the influence of the single issue
groups, it's impossible today to be a Democratic candidate for president
and be anything but pro-choice, and it's impossible to be a Republican
candidate and be pro-choice.
4. His support for light rail--Anderson
recalled riding all over St. Paul as an 11 year old on the old
streetcars. He said he was an advocate of light rail in the early '70s
when the Citizens League was opposed.
5. Concern over campaign finance--Citing
an example of receiving a late-night phone call from Ted Kennedy seeking
campaign funds, Anderson said that all our Senators seem to spend the last
two years of a term raising money. He doesn't know who can afford to run
for the Senate any more. Nevertheless, he repeated his counsel that we
concentrate on state issues, not national issues. We should see if we
can get a handle on finances for state races. He thinks more people are
using the check-off option on income tax forms than was indicated in a
about 527 groups,
said he'd support disclosure of gifts through them.
6. Concern over length of state legislative
sessions--Anderson recalled the reason a bill for annual
passed was because a TV station constantly was publicizing the extra daily
expense of a special session. He said the length of session in the
off-year could be very short if the Governor insisted in advance on prior
agreement on the agenda.
7. Remember the "U"--He stated his
conviction that in the past there were "old-timers" who took care of the
University of Minnesota in the Legislature. He was aware of those people,
many of whom were also lawyers in private practice. It's hard to find a
practicing lawyer in the Legislature today.
8. Support for third parties?--Anderson
said he is a two-party person. In response to a question he said he
doesn't know much about instant runoff voting.
9. Unity that crosses party lines--Anderson
recalled many times he appeared on panels with Elmer Andersen, Al Quie,
and Arne Carlson, all Republicans. They were singing the same tune with
Anderson, a Democrat. He thinks it is critical we again find leaders
with common objectives, such as teaching children to read by the third
recalled being a student at the University of Minnesota law school and
that Jim Hetland was very popular with students and one of his best
thanked Anderson for meeting with us. Verne said Anderson will be
receiving a summary of our meeting before the summary is mailed to
electronic participants, so that he can have an opportunity to make
corrections in advance.
The Civic Caucus
is a non-partisan,
tax-exempt educational organization. Core participants
include persons of varying political persuasions, reflecting
years of leadership in politics and business.
A working group meets face-to-face to
provide leadership. They are Verne C. Johnson, chair; Lee
Canning, Charles Clay, Bill Frenzel,
Paul Gilje, Jim Hetland,
John Mooty, Jim Olson, Wayne Popham and John Rollwagen.
Click Here to
see a biographical statement of each.