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 Response Page - Don Fraser / Tony Sutton  Interview -      

These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Don Fraser / Tony Sutton Interview of

The Questions:comment on Fraser-Sutton summary 070309

1. _9.1 average _____On a scale of (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, what is your view on whether Minnesota voters are entitled to a better dialogue among political leaders about level of taxes versus level of services?

2. Any suggestions you might have for improving such dialogue? __see responses below

3. _7.6 average _____On a scale of (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, what is your view on whether political parties should modify precinct caucuses to attract more grass roots participants, in addition to party activists?

4. Any suggestions you might have for changing precinct caucuses?
_see responses below

5. _64.1 % yes; 35.9 % no; Have you attended a precinct caucus in the last five years?

Jan Hively (10) (3) (yes)
Question 1: When you say "versus," I assume that you are not saying that the discussion should be about one or the other, but about the relationship between the two -- the big picture.

Question 2: I think that it would be interesting to put together: a) a panel of "retired" journalists who would develop a few questions for all of the candidates and ask for written responses. Maybe using the caucus approach with answers on a scale of 1 to 10 plus comments.

Question 4: To be honest, I think that it's the Republicans who are having trouble with
their precinct caucuses. The last couple of precinct caucuses for Democrats that I attended were valuable and productive. Many new people were welcomed into the process and involved as delegates in legislative and city conventions. I do think, however, that the party could modify the process of narrowing down to the state conference delegates.

Are you saying that there aren't enough good candidates coming through for Governor, for example? It's tough to choose among some excellent candidates within the list of Democrats interested in the job. I think that Steve Kelley, Matt Entenza, Margaret Kelliher, or Paul Thissen, or ??? would be able governors. What's wrong with people being good politicians as well as smart, caring human beings? How else do people interact wtih the needs and strengths of all of our citizens? The issue comes when the costs of campaigning require investment from venal power brokers.

Shari Prest (10) (5) (no)
Question 2: Demand it and stop pretending to believe we can do more with less. It is a complex choice and/or a balancing act.
Question 4: Better organization when there is a big turnout.

Question 5: We used to for many years but they became too polarized within the parties.

Fred Zimmerman (10) (8) (yes)
Question 2: Present and analyze more facts rather than merely articulating political ideology. We need to make changes. We do not to adhere rigidly to all of our previously held positions. In order to make the improvements essential to retaining the prosperity of the State, we are going to have to change our individual behavior -- all of us. It is neither fair nor insightful to presume that all changes will have to be made by others, while we endeavor to avoid all personal adjustments. Retirement programs provide an example. None of us deserves to retire until we are at least 70 years of age. Education is another. If education is important, why are not those of us who are a part of it required to work a full year?

Question 3: We not only need a few more people at the caucuses, we need more information -- particularly even-handed information. Caucuses should be more like seminars and less like pep fests.

Question 4: Serve beer to encourage truthful candor.

Charles Lutz (10) (8) (yes)

Chuck Slocum (10) (10) (yes)

Question 1: There is great interest in getting beyond the current partisanship. Perhaps 2/3rd of the voters consider themselves outside the current partisan political milieu.

Question 2: Reaching and engaging young people and the more idealistic below age 40 voters who care deeply about their communities. The tone in which we talk about politics and the explanation of ideas are very important. See answer to 4. below.

Question 3: Parties have lost favor. The multiple endorsement idea is worthwhile and could forestall a movement to open primaries to select candidates.

Question 4: Sometimes looking backward can be helpful. As GOP state chair in the post-Watergate era, we decided to go after the elusive political “independents,” many of whom were voting locally for Republican candidates. Fewer than one-in-ten of the voters, however, would call themselves “Republican.” We had only 31 of 134 House members in the GOP caucus in 1975. We developed a serious outreach plan. We invited party search committees to include “Non-Republicans” and we actively courted political independents like Jim Miles, Al Weiser and Charlie Stenvig. We organized labor, women, youth and Hispanic arms within the party. Working with local legislators, we changed the party name officially to “Independent-Republicans of Minnesota State Central Committee” and won big in 1978, achieving legislative majorities in short order over the next three decades. We lost to Governor Perpich, a maverick DFL’er, in 1982 and 1986, and then continued to hold the governorship in 1990 and 1994 with Arne Carlson. The party changed its name back to Republican in the late 1990’s; Governor Pawlenty won in 2002 & 2006.

Donald H. Anderson (10) (8) (no)
Question 2: Drop the ideology of no new taxes which has killed any new ideas of working together by all Minnesotans.

Lyall Schwarzkopf (9) (9) (yes)
Question 2: Sutton's point is well taken. If any group tries to bring about good dialogue, they must be seen as non-partisan. Any group that either party thinks is partisan, will not work.

Question 4: Have the voters register by party and let the party people vote in their election to elect precinct officers and delegates and alternates.

John Cairns (10) (5) (yes)
Question 2: Convene off the record discussions with 6-10 pairs of senators/reps.. invite Paul Thissen to come for a 2 hour lunch on health care.. and have him invite the best House Rep on Health Care Policy.. Greiling and Buesgens on Education, etc.

Question 4: Later in the Spring.. think about electronic participation via email, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Ray Schmitz (10) (10) (yes)
Question 1: This dialogue has degenerated to a ' more taxes/we are not serving the least of our citizens' polar opposites harangue. It does not have to be so, if in fact we need to
spend more on, for example, health care for low income children then what can we cut from those who can afford to spend their own money to replace the government activity. If we stop mowing the grass in parks and roadsides so often how much would that free up for another use, for example. But we don't hear those discussions.

Question 2: Today the legislature spends most of the session setting up the confrontation with the governor that will occur at the end of session, and the governor does similar things. Why not work together during the session instead of waiting for the end. Do the legislative hearings really attempt to work out the necessary cuts, if that is the state of the income stream, or defend the status quo, does the governor really use his staff, and they are the agency staff who have the knowledge of what is happening to make delivery most efficient?

Question 4: Better training for conveners, less crowding by better organization.

Bert Press (10) (10) (no)
Question 2: Carefully worded questions should be presented to each candidate and their answers made public with comments about evasive or none answers.

Dave Durenberger (5) (10) (no)
Question 2: I don't believe it's the right question as the Fraser/Sutton debate illustrated. Tony's reaction is closer to the way a majority is likely to respond any time

Question 3: I'm with Frenzel on this one.

Question 4: Anyone with 25% of delegate votes gets on the ballot as GOP/DFL if they can afford to. Parties don't like this because is dilutes the value of their money. Because so much money comes from national interests, their argument dilutes the value of MN voters.

Wayne Jennings 10) (10) (yes)
Question 2: Start with asking for positions and ideas in writing with tightly drawn questions. Then televised discussions via non partisan organizations.

Question 4: We need rules to limit the shrill aggressive types. Size of the groups must be limited to afford everyone voice—maybe sub precincts. Separate out some of the tediousness such as elections for officers to give more time to issues. Limit time and exposure of known cranks and one-issue people.

Question 5: I used to attend every year but the process became so impersonal and tedious that I gave up until last year but the crowds and organization were overwhelming.

David Dillon (10) (10) (yes)
Question 2: An ongoing on line debate.

Question 4: Greater on Line participation is the key.

Fred Senn (10) (10) (no)
Question 4: I favor IRV.

Bob White (9) (9) (no)
Question 2: Encourage forums that give political leaders time to explain their views, with a nonpartisan moderator able to follow up with probing questions and, time permitting, allow some audience participation. The model, of course, is the kind of discussion Larry Jacobs oversees at the Humphrey Institute. Similar conversations could take place outside the metro. This would be a worthy project for an organization like the Business Partnership or, perhaps MNSCU.

Question 4: I'm all for caucus grass-rootsism, but I haven't the faintest idea how the parties could encourage it.

Kathleen Anderson (10) (10) (yes)
Question 2: I guess we need good, thoughtful candidates who know the issues, ideally from both or all parties.

Question 4: The atmosphere should be more inviting for new people. I like to encourage new attendees to run for delegate positions. But more often than not, entrenched party people win those slots. The old-time delegate sees winning the slot as power which, of course, it is and there's not much willingness to share which is short-term thinking for the parties.

Robert A. Freeman (9) (5)(no)
Question 2: Do it somewhere other than the pressure cooker environment of legislative sessions.

Question 4: No. Whichever party figures it out first and produces better candidates as a result, the other is guaranteed to follow anyway.

Malcolm McLean (9) (5) (yes)
I learned some things from this CC report. Thanks.

Question 1: Very important. We should decide what we want from government and then figure out what it will cost and tax accordingly. The "no new taxes" is a mantra that has been far overdone. I am idealistic to think that people want good, effective, responsible government and are willing to pay for it.

Question 2: More publicity - More efforts by groups like the CC, Citizens League. Various means of sparking discussion.

Question 3: Not sure of this. I know the argument of radical elements dominating caucuses but Fraser's point that you shouldn't take away that passion is also important.

Question 4: Not right at hand.

Question 5: Several

Carolyn Ring (9) (5) (no)
Question 2: A true debate. Each candidate gives his speech and rebuttal. A debate on one subject only, not a series of questions.

Question 4: I wish I had the answer. The biggest problem is education of the electorate as they do not know what a caucus is. The citizens need #101, Basic Politics, and I don't know how that can happen.

Question 5: My husband and I attended every precinct caucus from 1956-1986. Since then we have been out of MN during caucuses.

Kent Eklund (10) (10) (never)
Question 2: Structure the conversation about the public financial model into debates -- simplify for the average citizen. The average citizen is lost in the layers of taxation among state, county and local governments.

Question 4: I am not a fan of them at all

Norman Carpenter (8) (8) (no)
Here we go again. Don Fraser, whose position on early childhood education is right on, says the Republican position on global warming is "unreasonable." The globe may be warming, as it has been since Minnesota was a glacier. I don't think that human activity is the basic cause, distinguishing correlation from causation. Even if it was, I don't think we can reasonably change mankind to reverse the warming trend. Let's just adapt...and get rid of this political "sky is falling" alarm which many people are using as a campaign plank. (Vote for me and I'll preserve the coasts.) This view is not unreasonable.

Question 2: More facts, less hyperbole and stridency.

Question 4: Serve dessert.

Glenn Dorfman (5) (5) (yes)
Question 2: Have the Civic Caucus/ Citizen’s League and others lay out the state budget with some detail in both graphic and raw data format, including current and future demographics, long term government liabilities (pensions and health care) and stimulate public debate around the issues and questions raised by participants. My suspicion is that this approach would help some interest groups (education) better understand how an aging population has and will continue to erode their funding in favor of “human services.”

Question 3: Political parties, like most incumbent organizations will not change from within. The people who have established the current system, who manage its ebbs and flows for their own gain will only surrender that power to a greater power (an enlightened, educated citizenry).

Question 5: And it was a complete waste of time.

David Pierson (8) (8) (yes)
Question 2: Unicameral government.

Question 4: Unicameral.

Joe Mansky (10) (10) (no)
Question 2: Yes – give the dogmatic approach a rest - any meaningful discussion of public finance needs to occur without preconditions.

Question 4: It may now make more sense to conduct “virtual” caucuses, where participants would indicate their preferences for endorsements etc remotely.

5. My occupation prevents me from doing so.

Bill Frenzel (10) (10)
Question 2: CC might try to arrange interviews, send questionnaires, or even interpret delphic statements by candidates, but they have become pretty skillful in weaving their tangled webs. They are better evaders than we are interrogators. Probably it would be more effective to try to educate the press as to which questions to repeat incessantly.

Question 4: Nope! When the caucus system worked for me, I liked it. Were I among those who like it now, Iwould surely, and vigorously, resist change. I suspect that the best way to change the system now is to beat ‘em in the primaries, but that is hard, and high cost, work.

Larry Schluter (10) (5) (yes)
Question 2: We need a discussion controlled by someone other than those running for office. The dialogue session needd to be set up far in advance and those running for office need to know whether they show up or not the session will be held and it will be on TV. If one of the persons running for office does not show up, their position on the issue will be stated. There needs to be many follow up questions so they cannot dance around with their answers. We have not had a good question & answer session for the governor's race in a long time and we have many important issues to discuss and answers from those who want to represent us. This would be the time for Civic Caucus or some other independent group to step up. This is going to be a very important election and we have many serious problems and issues to discuss.

Question 4: I am not sure how you can eliminate the single issue problem

Scott Halstead (5) (10) (no)
Question 2: There should be a cost benefit analysis as part of all legislation.

Question 4: Prior to the precinct caucuses, each candidate should complete a questionnaire on various subjects that are anticipated in the upcoming term and the results are published in the media.

Sheila Kiscaden (5) (6) (yes)
Question 1: This question is not entirely clear to me...and I have a reaction to the word "entitled"...there is no question that voters would benefit if there were more substantive discussion of this and many other issues during the campaign and after.

Question 3: Last year our caucuses were overwhelmed with people who turned out to
support one of the presidential candidates. We were unprepared for the turnout, which caused many problems, but the caucus approach itself is not really that "user friendly" or interesting. I have never found attending a caucus was an experience I look forward is something I do because it is important. Can't we redesign the caucus system so there is meaningful dialog?

Question 4: Better training for caucus leaders. Start with a review of outcomes that will be sought. Have a real agenda with timelines. Use more small group and one on one discussions to get people involved. Use computers for real time reports back on vote totals so people leave knowing what has been concluded. Bring everyone together for the political "fly-by" speeches at the end or at the beginning before breaking into individual caucuses.

Bill Jungbauer (10) (3) (yes)

David Detert (10) (8) (yes)

Question 2: 1.Have the endorsed candidates of each party publish in September of the election year the budget they would submit to the legislature if elected. 2. Have the endorsed candidates announce their major department appointments prior to the election.

Question 4: The opportunity to participate in the caucus process is available and it is really more a matter of people being willing to commit the time to attending and being active. The only real alternative is an open primary but in a sense that is lazy democracy because citizens to not have to be any more involved than going to the polls.

George Pillsbury (10) (10) (yes)
Question 4: Have them on Sat. or Sunday.

Robert J. Brown (10) (10) (yes)
Question 1: There has to be a discussion about things such as the priorities for government services, the potential for partnerships between government and the private sector (profit and nonprofit) in meeting the needs of the public, the reality of tax competition with other states, the balance of types of taxes in meeting the financial needs of state and local government, and the overall balance of responsibility between federal, state, and local government in providing the necessary government services.

Question 2: Get the media to quit talking about the “horse race” aspect of campaigns and concentrate on policy discussions. Get more groups (including the Civic Caucus and the Citizens League) to partner in hosting policy discussions. Other nonprofits, higher education, think tanks, schools, etc. should work together hosting either general discussions or discussions focused on specific policy issues.

Question 3: It is not likely that anything constructive will happen when the power brokers from the major parties are content with a small turnout at caucuses so that ideologues can maintain control. It will be necessary for a broad based citizens revolt (committed to respecting the right of all to be represented and allowing dissent within the group) to get large numbers at caucuses to make them better representative of the people of Minnesota.

Question 4: There should be a change in the whole system of picking candidates such as multiple endorsements within parties, allowing a candidate to run on more than one party’s line or at least encouraging minor parties to endorse major party candidates when they seem to be the best (or better) alternative for that minor party. The current establishment in the legislature has no inclination to change things because this is how they got elected.

Bright Dornblaser (10) (10) (yes)
Question 2: A fact base on the effect of taxes on the no of high wealth people leaving because of high taxes, also, business, and the significance in terms of tax income lost.

Question 4: Eliminate them. Use IRV

Donna Anderson (_) (_) (yes)

Christine Brazelton (10) (5) (yes)

Question 1: Real dialogue? Not canned rhetoric? What a concept!

Question 2: No one is allowed to use the party "talking points". No one leaves the room until they can honestly see the other side's point of view.

Question 3: Sounds good, but with people's busy lives, I just don't see how you get people to show up and invest time in the caucus process unless you connect with what they are passionate about. Then you end up with activists. As a former candidate, it is incredibly difficult to get non activists to take the time to sit down and talk about the issues.

Question 4: I wish I did.

David Broden (10) (8) (yes)
Question 1: We need to address the level of service vs. taxes and particularly the type and source of taxes including who does the tax management vs. who does the distribution, allocation, and spending. Regarding which services we need to revisit the vision. If Mn does not have a vision of who and what we are--the services are piece meal and then the costs are too independently defined. Linking the costs to some sort of vision and thoughtfulness could help. To revisit the topics in the question first requires a big picture look to at least set some priorities-I would like a citizen based group to set the priorities and recommend these to the legislature--If the ideas for priorities only come from internal to government or particularly the legislature many of the ideas will be the traditional "stove pipe" and circle the wagon themes. Citizen participation must be the driver.

Question 2: A citizen driven dialogue lead by citizen leaders across the state must set the tone. How to start this approach is perhaps the challenge. The work in process at the U via Humphrey Institute if approached as an open process--or via a linkage of statewide media--or via such organizations as Chamber of Commerce etc. could be key to gathering the involvement of today's community leaders. There also needs to be a way to make this work without locked in influence of NGO's or special interests which may set agendas and themes that do not represent openness across the board. Reaching to organizations such as State league of cities, state league of counties--and using their name lists to link with citizen elected officials may be helpful. Working with business organizations such as Mn Ag Council, Mn Bankers Assoc, Unions Mgmt (Iron Range as well and Urban) etc. Also perhaps one or more of the Foundations within MN with interest in a vision and future of Mn could be helpful as a focus of emphasis. Asking the Mpls Fed--Art Rolnick etc. how they could help in collecting and reaching organizations to assess and set a vision could be helpful. Bottom line this cannot be a government driven solution must be citizen driven. _ The process may require elevation to implementing an almost statewide conference of leaders which could approach becoming a push change the way the state is organized, operates, etc.--ie a "citizen driven start to revised and updated state constitution or other document --at least a rebirth of a planning commission. Time to start is now. Who will lead???

Question 3: To begin this answer I need to start with the premise that we have the caucus system as it is and that is what we will have in the next election round--seeking change must be how the caucuses are used and operation not changing the format--so the word modify must relate to how the caucus system is applied by each party etc. We need to treat the caucus as a process that benefits the selection process and use it in that way rather than chopping at it at least until a new effective process is defined debated and established. With that in mind there are perhaps four considerations to address--
• 1. The caucus system is what we have and that cannot be modified until later --finding a way to make it work better is in the best interest of all. Forcing the decision into the primary is part of the process also so if that is what evolves the system is working-- the citizens and the candidates need to work together to get the best dialogue and decision process that all are comfortable with--even with disagreement.
• 2. Party leadership in both and perhaps all 3 parties in Mn have not been effective in stating the importance and need for openness and dialogue in the caucus system. This has been driven by the party ideological views as well as leadership style. The party leaders must change the way they work to prepare and use the caucuses. Training of caucus leaders must be improved significantly. Statement of openness must be expressed by the individual caucus leaders. Special interest groups must have some form of constraint in the caucus without limiting their expression--simple statement that a position stated is from an organization may do the job if this does not impact freedom of expression etc.
• 3. The Caucus trend in the past 20 years to shift to ideological decisions vs. good government decisions must change--this can only be done by the party leadership making it clear that the caucus is not a home for ideology discussions only it must be a discussion of how and what is involved in "good government" processes and decisions.
• 4. Party Visions --must focus first on "Good Government"--as the planning and activity for the caucuses moves ahead. Each party individual and together should make a statement the caucus system is to involve citizens of all views and that good government is ahead of ideological positions. A common message with this focus endorsed and pushed by the parties--not only the state chairs but also the leadership committees of each party (Republican State Central and DFL equivalent) and supported by the candidates can help this in many ways. To begin we need the media, business and community organizations etc. to reach out with a message that the caucus system must work in 2010. Special interest groups need to temper their statements in a way that enables open discussion in the caucus but do not block the opinions of others.
• 5 There are many challenges but if it is addresses wisely and through leadership from citizens the caucus system and the follow on primary will provide good government decisions.

Terry Stone (10) (5) (yes)
Question 1: Fraser is wise to be troubled by the idea that we look at taxes first, without asking what they pay for. It seems intuitive that priorities would be set before a taxing structure would be established to pay for state services.

It was widely assumed (and promised during the last campaign) that the Legislature would start dealing with the budget shortfall by setting priorities then legislating an appropriate tax policy to support those priorities. Surely, all state expenses are not created equal, yet during the entire 2009 legislative session, no meaningful priorities were set; just various tax increase schemes ranging from $1 billion to over $2 billion to support what the Governor obviously felt was an unacceptable status quo.

The unallotment authority of the Executive Branch of Minnesota Government is a blunt instrument with which to set priorities. It would have been better for the Legislature to have set priorities and funded them with the money available; and in a manner acceptable to the people’s Governor who we sent to the capitol to provide the very oversight provided.

Question 4: Caucuses simply have to be separated from straw polls.

Question 5: The Civic Caucus premise that the Governorship is especially critical today to the state’s future evoked informed responses from both party icons.

It was polite of Sutton not to mention something he surely knows; that another problem with Minnesota finance is that environmental policy sucks the lifeblood out of the State Treasury--- much as it has in California.

Federal ownership and management of massive tracts of northern land strangles tax base opportunities for northern counties (whose population is shrinking) while environmental policy applied to state land strangles mining development and logging production efficiencies in the Arrowhead.

Minnesota now has the longest permit acquisition time of any Midwestern state. To advance beyond political rhetoric, the new governor must streamline the permitting process for economic development. This will mean engaging the environmental lobby, with all its political allotropes, and challenging the desiderata of its national and international actors; not a task for the timid.

Minnesota has lost a number of business development opportunities due to what is almost certainly regulatory climate issues and saturnine permitting policy. Polymet Mining is the poster boy for environmental hostage taking with a five-year history of being jerked around for no valid scientific reason. Meanwhile the waiting jobs and national security are held subordinate to the perceptions of environmental interests; we import 37% of our copper.

Marty Seifert, interviewed by the Civic Caucus earlier this year and now a candidate for governor, is the only candidate to have articulated a solid grasp of this economic challenge and forwarded concrete solutions to date.

Energy and enthusiasm for education has predictably waned with the ablation of personal responsibility. In the historic Minnesota paradigm, education was the dispositive, obvious and useful survival tool. In the world of the welfare state and nanny state governance education becomes useful but optional.

In the conversation on what was agreed to have been economic development, neither Mr. Fraser nor Mr. Sutton discussed the exciting new political and media adjective Green Jobs. It would be useful to understand how injecting labor costs into the energy supply chain is anything other than an inflationary redistribution of wealth. Trying to do an end run around free market demand seems like busily rearranging the deck chairs on the Ship of State while oblivious to the budgetary iceberg annihilating the ship. Raising the unemployment numbers in established dependable energy sectors while subsidizing employment in untested intermittent energy sectors will surely have unintended consequences of an undesirable quality.

The question on the relationship of the party-caucus system was insightful. Fraser acknowledged that caucuses get ideological but that was a source of much of the energy around the process. He then explained that candidates, once endorsed, need to moderate once they get to state-level campaigns.
Fraser is describing (perhaps accurately) an intrinsically dishonest process. If we choose to tolerate the caucus system, we should, at minimum, never loose track of this fact.
When Sutton said that, “Big ideas don’t come from the middle; they come from the outside,” I found him insightful.
When he said, “You can’t be in the middle; few people truly are,” I felt an attack of erosive esophagitis; with which I haven’t been diagnosed. Either Tony received information from aliens to which the rest of us aren’t privy, or I need more credits in Political Science. For now, I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that. I hope such ideas don’t arise from eating too much Mexican food; I love the stuff.

Regarding multiple party endorsements, Both Sutton and Fraser seem cheerfully dedicated to the time-honored circular firing squad. Fraser even opined that the idea of multiple endorsements runs against human nature. My experience with human nature is that, faced with multiple qualified candidates, partisans will be paralyzed by indecision like an environmentalist in the cereal isle of the grocery store reading the lists of ingredients. Only when compelled by party rules will they resist the urge to send all the candidates to the ballot and begin the unkind process cannibalizing the candidate pool until there is only one left standing.

Representatives of both parties agree that the circular firing squad of each party will be a positive and friendly experience. Excellent. Now we know how they made it to the top.
In a pool of about 50 candidates there are bound to be crackpots, completely unqualified candidates, wannabees, political has-beens and an LRT supporter or two hiding among the fully qualified contenders. Good luck sorting that out in a positive and courteous manner.

I was struck by the Civic Caucus apparent preference for more gubernatorial citizen candidates over professional politicians. It is fashionable for us private enterprise business folks to see the state as a big business that is best run by a businessman like any other big business. In business terms Minnesota has the same amount of employees as the national workforce of Menard’s; about 40,000. Minnesota has about 8 times the revenue of Menard’s national annual sales.

Yet, I’m learning that a state is not a normal business by any definition. It is a political hybrid requiring a unique skill set that probably isn’t going to be found in a corporate executive. The idea that our local pharmacist could effectively run the state is probably obsolete; but continues to have appeal.

My specifications for governor used to include someone who can hit the ground running. My standards have risen to include someone who is already on the ground running and has been for a number of years. That narrows the candidate pool considerably.

Peter Hennessey (10) (5) (no)
Question 1: By all means let us all be more open, honest and forthright in explaining to the public the philosophical foundations of our views and opinions.
Let the Democrats acknowledge that they derive all their "new" ideas from the 150 year old writings of Karl Marx.
Let the Republicans, at least the religious ones, proclaim their foundations in Christianity (teach a man to fish, rather than rob the fisherman).
Let other Republicans, those with a libertarian bent, proclaim their foundations in the writing of the Founding Fathers as well as the writings of Ayn Rand, and explain to the public that free enterprise is the highest expression of our most fundamental moral values: honesty, integrity and justice.

And, therefore, at the very least, explain that there can be no false dichotomy such as "level of taxation" versus "level of services."
First of all, the two must necessarily be in balance -- it is immoral to run deficits.
Secondly you have to explain and justify precisely what you mean by "services."
Thirdly you have to explain why it is government, rather than private enterprise, that must provide those services.
And fourthly you have to explain if the government is permitted under the Constitution to provide those services.

Question 2: First of all let them all admit that there is very little common ground, if any, between Karl Marx and the Founding Fathers.
Second, let them all admit that it is un-American to propose anything that is based on something other than the philosophy of the Founding Fathers.
Third, let them all define what they mean by being a "Democrat" and a "Republican."
Fourth, let them explain how their self-definitions as "Democrats" and a "Republicans" relate to the philosophy of the Founding Fathers.
Fifth, let them explain how the various problems they are trying to fix are the government's problems to fix. Let them prove that private efforts have been tried and failed.
Sixth, let them prove that the proposed fixes are consistent with the Constitution, with the philosophy of the Founding Fathers, and with their self-definitions as "Democrats" and "Republicans." Let them prove that similar proposed fixes have been tried and succeeded.
Seventh, allow the people vote on the proposed fixes and vote the funds for the proposed fixes, or at least allow the legislative process to proceed openly without lobbyists, back room deals, earmarks, demagoguery, reprisals, voting on 1000-page bills they have not read, late-night dumps of 300-page addenda, etc. Allow representatives to act like statesmen, not as agents of local interests sent to the legislature only to bring back as much pork as they can.

Question 3: I have no idea about changing the caucuses. Primaries are for activists, they are the ones who go everywhere for a cause. As soon as the grassroots get involved, do they not change into activists? What are we to do, force individuals to speak up?

Question 4: OK, well, in any classroom where it was always the same few kids who raised their hands (activists), the teacher had to call on the shy ones (grassroots) and make them participate. Caucus participants are not graded, so, are we to take away their snacks if they don't participate?

Under communism, voting is mandatory and not voting is a criminal offense punishable by jail time. The police come to your house if you have not voted yet. They haul you to the polling place. They even give you a pre-marked ballot to stuff into the ballot box. I thought I'd share a piece of my mother's personal history.

Question 5: There is no caucus in CA, and I am not good in crowds.

Bill Hamm (5) (2) (yes)
Question 1: Since the mechanism by which to quantitatively compare ourselves with other states on this issue doesn't exist it becomes hard to put forth any meaningful dialogue. Some scale of efficiencies must first be developed.

Question 2: First this is far more detail than either of the main political players likes to have on the table and I can tell you from experience putting to much info out can be and most times is a negative thing to all but the 10% or so of us who are actually paying attention. Everyone else is locked into the 30 second sound bite, (Don't bore me with the details just get it done). If I had that answer I would have been elected by now.

Question 3: The political caucus system works well if people turn out to participate; changing the system to attract the lazy doesn't help us. We need to attract the disenfranchised, those the media has convinced that the system doesn't work.

Question 4: . When you can convince the aggrieved out there that participating in this process will actually create the changes they need you will have fixed this problem. The other quick and easy solution is a $1000 a year for 5 years tax deduction for those who participate. Since we are talking about 1/4 of 1% of the population it shouldn't have too big a budget impact.

Question 5: Twice; at least 15 times in my life.



The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Core participants include persons of varying political persuasions, reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

   Verne C. Johnson, chair;  David Broden, Charles Clay, Marianne Curry, Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje,  Jim Hetland,  Marina Lyon, Joe Mansky, John Mooty,  Jim Olson,  and Wayne Popham 

The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
8301 Creekside Circle #920,   Bloomington, MN 55437.
Verne C. Johnson, chair, 952-835-4549,       Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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