for PDF format
of the Meeting with Al Quie
Friday, September 30,
Johnson, chair (by phone); Chuck Clay, Jim Hetland, Clarence Shallbetter,
Paul Gilje, and Al Quie, guest.
Opening comments by Al Quie--Jim
introduced Al Quie, former Governor, Congressman and State Senator. Mr.
Quie offered these thoughts:
for term limits--He would set
a limit of 20 years for U.S.
Senators and Congressmen. He thinks that efforts for a shorter limit are
The importance of keeping
responsibility and authority in elected officials at the state level--Quie
recalled when he was in the State Senate that he and Elmer Andersen after
a bi-partisan Legislative Commission Study obtained legislative approval
of a bill making it mandatory to educate the educable handicapped and
providing funding. What happened in the Courts and in Congress in other
situations illustrates the importance of elected state officials making
decisions. In Pennsylvania the courts ordered that the educable
handicapped be provided with education but money wasn't appropriated.
Congress itself has repeated the process by imposing mandates without
money. Programs are authorized by the Congress, but it takes a
separate action for a legislative body to appropriate. Thus
Congress can appear to be taking action that is responsive to a problem,
but the action is empty without the appropriation and forcing taxation in
Moreover, he said, local school districts faced with federal mandates are
forced to take money from other parts of education. Thus, the national
government appears to be showing sympathy with an issue but in actuality
is simply forcing the local authority to find the money by short-changing
Interesting to remind ourselves
who collects the taxes--Income
taxes are collected by the people and sent to the federal and state
government. Sales taxes are collected by business and sent to the state
government. Property taxes are collected by local governments that are
closest to the people. Rules for expenditures are made far from the
people in the use of the tax revenue that people and business have
Quie recalled when he was growing up in the 1930s that the
patient and doctor had a close relationship. The doctor charged the Quie
family more because they could afford it, in order to make it possible for
the doctor to treat the less fortunate. Giving another illustration, he
recalled that traveling hobos knew they could come to the Quie farm and
receive help. When a hobo came for a meal, his dad insisted that the
hobo be fed in the dining room--the room that the family used for meals
only on special occasions lie Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Respecting local decisions in a
that his first elected office was to a local school board. The school was
about two miles by four miles. It had only five children, all of whom
were sent to Nerstrand. At this time Minnesota had about 1,600 school
districts. Quie was fresh from the US Navy and in college. He proposed
that the school district be consolidated with Nerstrand. A referendum in
his school districts was soundly defeated. Quie said he was the only
person who voted yes. People turned out in droves to defeat the measure,
even using tractors because of bad roads. He then spent the next year
educating the community about the importance of their having a voice in
the education of their children. That would only happen, he said, when
they could be part of, and participate in elections, in the Nerstrand School District.
The next referendum was widely approved, although by then many people
didn't bother to vote. That 's the way it is in a democracy, he said.
Opposition stirs things up.
The demagoguery in the media--Unfortunately,
he said, the media today seem to highlight the opposition to a proposal,
irrespective of its validity. Opponents of good proposals know how to
work the system and that "The only way I know I win is to make you lose."
importance of sympathetic listening--He
wishes that elected officials would listen to people both inside and
outside their comfort zone with an attitude that "I might be wrong."
Recalling his work with the handicapped, he said he received wisdom from
the most interesting sources, namely the parents and the handicapped.
Quie recalled the vision that President Eisenhower had in
proposing the Interstate highway system. He also mentioned the
establishment of Dulles Airport, widely criticized because people thought
that the location was too remote. We need to think out 50 years and even
100 years ahead.
of political adversaries talking with one another--Quie
said that it's a myth that people in their last year of office are
ineffective. Quie said his decision not to seek a second term as Minnesota
governor was very beneficial. Surprisingly, he said, he became a leader
that was listened to by both sides. He's a Republican. Roger Moe, the
Senate majority leader, is a Democrat.
Moe attended a speech that Quie gave at the C-400 fund raising
dinner at Concordia College in Moorhead. Quie decided not to give a
typical speech on the states' budget problems but instead talked about the
Holy Spirit guiding people. At the close of the meeting Moe came forward
to the stage and shook hands with Quie. Quie said he sensed something had
happened. He invited Moe to come to his office at the Capitol.
Subsequently, Moe showed up at the office. Quie's staff wondered why he
was there. Moe simply replied that the Governor wanted to see him. He
and Moe listened to one another. They talked about principles. Moe, he
said, had a good idea for solving a fiscal dilemma: one-third taxes,
one-third program cuts, and one-third shifts and other "smoke and
mirrors." Moe then carried this proposal through the Legislature.
Changes in campaign funding--Quie
said that he'd change campaign funding so that campaign funds would have
to come only from persons who live in the same jurisdiction. Every
contribution would be immediately made public and be available on the
Internet for everyone else to see. In the case of Presidential
campaigns, the only money a candidate could spend in a given state would
be what the candidate raised from individuals in that state. No bundling
by special interests.
would change the winner-take-all approach that now exists in each state.
for example, the Presidential winner in a Congressional district would
earn one electoral vote. He also would provide for two winner-take-all
electors in the state. He opposes national direct election of the
President because candidates would never spend any time in smaller
states. They'd concentrate on California, Texas, Illinois, Florida, and
discussion with Quie, the following points were made:
for reapportionment commissions--Quie
supports removing the decision on congressional and legislative districts
from officials directly affected by the boundaries. He believes that the
elected officials can lay down some principles to be followed by
reapportionment commissions. For example, the principles could require a
sense of geography and commonality of interest. He wouldn't give
authority to judges without some protection.
democracy is performing well--Quie
said he agrees with the statement in our document that contends our
democracy is facing serious problems. Asked whether his comments thus far
today would make him a conservative Republican, Quie said he is cautious
about just "getting the feds off our back." He mentioned that water and
air flow from state to state. He definitely wants to get away from heavy
regulation at the federal level.
Changes in families and in other
time today, he said, for families to sit together in interchange. He
recalled the discussions his father led around the table at this farm.
Also, he said, various workers and business people used to gather at the
community cafe and talk things out. That is missing, too. Another
example is that parents who place their children in pre-school day care
don't have the opportunity to drop by at lunch and talk with one another
and with their children.
expectations in schools--Quie
bemoans the high drop out rate in some school districts. Teachers seem to
have low expectations of their pupils in many such districts. Many
citizens don't realize the impact that low expectations has on children.
Importance of mediating
organizations--Quie is very
active in prison ministry. He used that as an example of non-governmental
organizations that can do much more than government.
6. Other potential resource
persons--Peter Hutchinson, Tim
Penny, Jean Bethke Elshtain of the University of Chicago, Mitch
Pearlstein, Roger Moe, and State Senator David Hann.
Get rid of endorsement for
conventions were open to people of all ideas. Now many delegates are
single-issue. We're denying the people access to the process. The
solution is to eliminate party endorsement.
Combating special interest
dominance--Quie returned to
his earlier point that requiring candidates to receive their funds only
from citizens in the geographic area where they receive votes would go a
long way to get rid of the influence of special interests.
When referendums should be held--Quie
said that when there's legislative gridlock, he'd support a limited
initiative-referendum process. He does not support the requirements for
especially for additional operating expenses. School Board members
should have the authority to increase property taxes. Quie would have no
problem with school boards making the decision if the school district fit
the needs of the kids in the locality. He's less certain that such
authority should exist in large school districts.
Combating "pork" legislation--Asked
how he'd deal with issues such as the recent $24 billion congressional
package for transportation, Quie said he'd favor something similar to the
bas-closing commissions. The commissions can recommend, with the
Legislature making the final decision.
Quie said he personally avoided vote-trading in Congress. He
more than once voted against a bill that contained his own amendment
because he didn't like the overall bill.
How to inform and educate our
young people on government--Quie
agreed that it is a shame that children seem to get most of their
information from television. Quie, said he has serious problems with
"post-modern" thought that encourages thinking with your feelings. We
need to work on increasing rational thought. Schools also ought to teach
history without running it through social science.
thanked Quie for meeting with us.
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.