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 Response Page - Kolderie  Interview -      

These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Ted Kolderie Interview of


Ted Kolderie, Senior Fellow of the Center for Policy Studies, contends that Minnesota has maintained a leading position among states by its ability to leverage its resources effectively and to adapt and change its institutions.

But the state is losing influence, he says, because (a) it's more difficult for Minnesota to keep pace with the growth occurring elsewhere, (b) constraints on spending have placed at risk the state's emphasis on high quality of service at a relatively high price, and (c) the state's civic infrastructure has declined.

To remain "big time", to stay in the top tier, to be at the top of all the "best of" lists, Kolderie believes leadership must emerge spurring Minnesota to rebuild a productive civic culture.

For the complete interview summary see:

Response Summary: Readers have been asked to rate, on a scale of (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, the following points discussed by Ted Kolderie. Average response ratings shown below are simply the mean of all readersí zero-to-ten responses to the ideas proposed and should not be considered an accurate reflection of a scientifically structured poll.

1. Adaptation has been key to success. (7.0 average response) Minnesota has maintained a leading position among states by ability to leverage its resources effectively and adapt and change its institutions.

2. Combine resources to compete. (8.7 average response) The state recognized early on that it had to combine resources to produce institutions--academic, cultural, corporate, civic and governmental--big enough to compete nationally.

3. Re-making is harder than creating anew. (8.0 average response) Having civic and government institutions with a superior ability to adapt and change is tougher today because the need now is to re-make existing institutions rather than to develop something completely new.

4. Harder to grow population in MINNESOTA. (5.8 average response) Minnesota is losing influence nationally because businesses and populations are getting bigger nationwide, and it's easier for other states to get bigger than it is for Minnesota.

5. High quality service level at risk. (7.6 average response) Constraints on spending--partly economic and partly political--have placed at risk the state's emphasis on high quality of service at a relatively high price.

6. Civic infrastructure has declined. (8.3 average response) The state's civic infrastructure has declined, meaning Minnesota has lost much of its capacity for raising and resolving issues, anticipating opportunities and problems, and generally operating as an opportunity-driven polity, rather than a crisis-driven state.

7. Leadership needed to rebuild civic culture. (9.0 average response) To remain "big time", to stay in the top tier, to be at the of all the "best of" lists, leadership will need to emerge for Minnesota again to build a productive civic culture.

8. Minnesota is OK as is. (1.8 average response) Things are OK in Minnesota; no real change or adaptation is needed.

Response Distribution:

Strongly disagree

Moderately disagree


Moderately agree

Strongly agree

Total Responses

1. Adaptation has been key to success.







2. Combine resources to compete.







3. Re-making is harder than creating anew.







4. Harder to grow population in Minnesota.







5. High quality service level at risk.







6. Civic infrastructure has declined.







7. Leadership needed to rebuild civic culture.







8. Minnesota is OK as is.







Individual Responses:

Ray Ayotte (7.5) (10) (10) (5) (7.5) (5) (7.5) (2.5)

W. D. (Bill) Hamm (0) (10) (7.5) (0) (0) (10) (7.5) (0)

1. Adaptation has been key to success. Minnesota has steadily lost its edge as the rise in public employee power has occurred. These self-serving elitists have shown no concern for anyone outside their tight circle.

2. Combine resources to compete. We did excellent in our early years because a forward-looking concept based on the greater good. The public employee takeover and domination of the DFL party has greatly changed those dynamics shifting to their narrow self-serving interests.

3. Re-making is harder than creating anew. It is absolutely tougher when you now have one party so heavily dominated by such a small percentage of self-serving Union public employees.

4. Harder to grow population in Minnesota. We are losing ground because we are now one of the 16 most racist states in the nation. We are arresting and persecuting 9 times as many people of color over the non-toxic medicinal herb marijuana as whites and this is only one way we are undermining our societal structure. This amounts to over 1% of these populations per year for over 35 years, and we wonder how we have destroyed their family structure.

5. High quality service level at risk. We have had and still have great options if the needs of public employees ever begin to take their proper place in society. Perhaps we need a Peoples Union to stand for needs of the majority, something the Public Employee Unions have no stomach for.

6. Civic infrastructure has declined. It goes right back to public employee unionism and most especially white-collar public employee unionism. The institutional racism Minnesota is now part of is benefiting these above union elements and has been a growth industry for over 30 years. These racist (people) and their predatory policies have undermined the fabric of our society, in ways no different from the old "Jim Crow" chain gangs of the south.

7. Leadership needed to rebuild civic culture. Leadership has the ability to get beyond rhetoric; neither party can at this time elect such individuals. Until that equation changes Minnesota's future looks bleak.

8. Minnesota is OK as is. Our founding fathers clearly understood the dangers of too much power in the hands of public servants. While I will not speak against the organization of blue-collar labor, even public employee blue collar, I speak strongly against the power accumulated by our white-collar public employee elitists. It is long past time that their oath of allegiance be to their country and position, not to any self serving union.

Dave Broden (10) (10) (7.5) (0) (7.5) (7.5) (10) (2.5)

1. Adaptation has been key to success. The statement is well stated and expressed as far as the role of the state is concerned. I however will emphasize that the strength of Minnesota is not a public function but a uniquely strong private--public partnership. The leadership of Minnesota has in many ways been highlighted by the public-private links and by private business strengths themselves. We must get off the sense that government is the answer to leadership in Minnesota.

2. Combine resources to compete. This gets to the private--public partnership links and joint efforts. The concept of competing nationally is perhaps a bit overstated and even a misuse of terms. Do we really compete or do we really just do a great job and not worry about competition. I argue for doing the best and aiming for superior in key areas without reference to the other states

3. Re-making is harder than creating anew. Governmental organizations are by nature very static, conservative, self-protecting etc. Establishing the inertia to change address change is definitely the key challenge. Establishing a culture in the private and public sector that views challenges and change as opportunity and a framework from which innovation can evolve is the key.

4. Harder to grow population in Minnesota. This statement seems to say only by growing big can new things happen in a positive way. Small states are doing great things--Delaware, Vermont, New Hampshire, Utah, etc. Size and numbers is not the issue; it is the culture as the how the state and private sectors work together to collaborate. To say Minnesota cannot do things because of size is way off base and should be dropped from further discussion. It is really a strong misdirected thought that has no place in the discussion.

5. High quality service level at risk. The constraints on spending are really a factor but only because the focus is too often first on cost and second on the function and purpose and who should do the function. The discussion must shift from spending focus to purpose focus to solve any problems.

6. Civic infrastructure has declined. Civic infrastructure has evolved. Generation changes bring in new people, business operation and leadership has evolved, new businesses replace those that have declined by market or technology. This has occurred in the past and will again in the future. A key change however is the change in the type of persons serving in the legislature today vs. 20-30 year ago and a shift of some private functions to the state for unknown reasons.

7. Leadership needed to rebuild civic culture. New leadership is evolving effectively in many ways-- to measure the evolution look beyond government to elements within the private sector and how segments are evolving. While not strongly visible and having major impact the progress is evident and the framework is there from which to spur the actions required.

8. Minnesota is OK as is. Things in Minnesota need to move ahead with attention to shaping the future. We are not however in the decline and doom phase. We have the understanding and initiatives to move ahead.

Don Anderson (10) (7.5) (10) (7.5) (10) (10) (10) (0)

3. Re-making is harder than creating anew. The political problems of today make it impossible to adapt and change. "No new taxes" replaces logic and a realistic view of the world today.

5. High quality service level at risk. Again constraints on a realistic approach to today's needs have placed our high quality of service at risk.

7. Leadership needed to rebuild civic culture. To remain "big time" means we have to have more bipartisanship.

Michael Martens (2.5) (5) (5) (5) (0) (7.5) (7.5) (0)

1. Adaptation has been key to success. Minnesota does a good job of leveraging its resources. Minnesota is doing a very bad job of adapting to change.

3. Re-making is harder than creating anew. I don't know what people mean by this question. What is the difference between re-making institutions rather than developing something completely new? Unfortunately civic and political organizations rarely go out of business. In many situations it is better to close down a political or civic organization and build something new than to make major changes to an existing organization

5. High quality service level at risk. Because the world has changed, Minnesota no longer competes with other states; it competes with other countries. The high cost high service model is no longer a viable option because of international competition. Political and some civic organizations have become bloated with overhead and expensive benefits. Minnesota government and civic organizations are like the auto companies and the UAW. Because of foreign competition, which became competition in other states, the auto companies had to be restructured and bailed out by government and UAW contracts completely changed to lower salaries and lower benefits to compete or the auto companies would have been out of business.

6. Civic infrastructure has declined. Because the world has changed, business leaders have to think internationally, not locally or nationally. Many corporations have changed their system for donating to communities and nonprofits; instead of giving a little in a lot of different areas, they are now concentrating their donations in one or two areas, (for example,) childhood diseases, improving educational outcomes.

Scott Halstead (10) (7.5) (7.5) (7.5) (10) (10) (10) (0)

4. Harder to grow population in Minnesota. Our previous success has been very beneficial. However, our high wages and Federal income taxes have been transferred to other states and they have utilized it to improve their infrastructure while we paid for it. Now, they are lowering their wage structure to attract jobs while we continue to be their bank. Our Federal legislators and others are not doing their job in getting more of our funds (federal income taxes) returned to us for smart investment in education, research and essential infrastructure.

6. Civic infrastructure has declined. Our transportation and transit infrastructure is very disappointing. We were in bed with a single air carrier that milked the state for funding and soaked their freight users and the travelers including business. We have and continue to make very poor investments in transit with very high initial cost and operating cost rail systems that operate very slowly. Again, we are investing around $700 million on a bridge to Wisconsin for their economic development, our increased pollution and to the detriment of other roads and bridges that need maintenance. If they don't like the commute, (they should) move and occupy our communities, schools and homes.

7. Leadership needed to rebuild civic culture. The general public needs to play a much larger role in our political process to ensure we have candidates with a vision to improve Minnesota.

Chris Brazelton (10) (10) (10) (2.5) (10) (10) (10) (2.5)

3. Re-making is harder than creating anew. If you've ever renovated an old house, you understand this point.

4. Harder to grow population in Minnesota. States are all competing against each other. We have to maintain and market our quality of life. We can't be all things to all people. We can't be the best and the cheapest.

7. Leadership needed to rebuild civic culture. I am impressed with what I have seen from Growth and Justice. They are asking the right questions and bringing a good cross section of experts into the discussions. Unfortunately, because of our hostile political climate, the results of their studies are not getting the traction they deserve.

8. Minnesota is OK as is. We still have a great state. While we bicker and argue over politics, we are slipping into mediocrity. And given our harsh winter climate, we can't afford to be mediocre.

R. C. Angevine (5) (5) (7.5) (7.5) (10) (7.5) (10) (0)

1. Adaptation has been key to success. While that may have been true in the past I am concerned that the ability to "adapt and change" seems to be slipping away from us.

2. Combine resources to compete. Again, I am fearful that we are talking about the past rather than the future.

5. High quality service level at risk. I agree and am especially concerned about the political side of the equation. I'm enough of an optimist to believe that we will recover economically but am not so sure about the political side of the equation.

7. Leadership needed to rebuild civic culture. And the leadership needs to be open minded vs. pursuing a narrow, personal benefit course of action.

Marina Munoz Lyon (5) (7.5) (10) (7.5) (10) (10) (7.5) (2.5)

1. Adaptation has been key to success. We appear to be like other states -- politically divided with the divide getting larger every year.

2. Combine resources to compete. Kolderie's history indicates this is true. Other institutions/systems, like the Metro Council, also make it true. Recently, however, the best hope of this is Steven Rosenstone -- whose ideas should improve the state university system better.

3. Re-making is harder than creating anew. Vested interests and large numbers of special interests make adaptability very difficult.

4. Harder to grow population in Minnesota. Probably true. Southern states, with low or no taxes are growing at quicker rates, but I don't know if this will hold long-term.

Donald Mark Ritchie

Great piece, thanks.

Chuck Slocum (10) (10) (5) (8) (8) (10) (10) (5)

3. Re-making is harder than creating anew. In some cases it is easier to start change-making initiatives but more difficult to make a broad impact because of the greater diversity of the power structure.

5. High quality service level at risk. Many things are OK and properly functioning but real change and adaptation are definitely needed.

9. Comment: I think if we could get the future workforce formula together (intervene early, close achievement gap and improve educational preparation, support the high potential but too often "throw-away" kids over the next decade, involving literacy and mentoring, we would be making important progress in assuring Minnesotaís preeminence.)

Peter Hennessey

None of the Survey Monkey questions are relevant to the presentation. Interestingly, the root of the problem is revealed, if inadvertently, in the summary of the speaker's presentation:

"After the election of 1972 when the DFL took full control of government...."

The DFL? Really? The party, which, not coincidentally, bears the same name as all of the communist parties in the old Soviet empire and its slave states in Eastern Europe? That alone says it all. That "vision" alone explains all the problems.

The summary also mentions Minnesota's contribution of two presidential candidates and two Supreme Court Justices. If only you had not. Another passage explains that Minnesotans wanted to recreate the same grand civic infrastructure that they left behind in the east coast cities that they came from. If those cities were so great, then why did you leave? And you deliberately set out to concentrate everything of any significance "in the Metro," so "you have no hinterland," "nobody lives there." Do you realize, you deliberately set out to recreate a small European country? Then why are you lamenting the fact that you have the same problems? Why did you even come to America in the first place, if not to escape from the mindset and problems of Europe?

Arvonne Fraser (4) (9) (8) (5) (10) (8) (10) (2)

Malcolm and Wendy McLean (6) (9) (7) (7) (8) (7) (0) (4)

It is always useful and interesting to read Ted's ideas. He is a great social saint for Minnesota. I remember a long time ago Elmer Andersen said that to understand Minnesota, look at national figures and take 2% and you will find Minnesota's place. I have always liked population statistics a lot but Ted's comments reminded me that with a national population of 310,000,000 and Minnesota at about 5,400,000, we no longer have Elmer's 2%. Maybe observation. There were many observations about "top tier," "among the best,"_ etc. I understand the need to be competitive but maybe we shouldn't worry too much about top tier, and just be the best state we can be, smaller probably, but really good. Cautionary observations about the closing down of government, stumbling all over the place on the Vikings, no willingness on Republicans to support the U and other significant institutions do not help. Very interesting to read Ted again.

Carolyn Ring (6) (9) (9) (7) (8) (8) (10) (0)

The "Giants" of Minnesota's past were either born here or were brought here by civic minded business associates. As Kolderie rightly pointed out the national and even international ownership or corporate headquarters are usually no longer here. Example: Honeywell. We need to again revive that sense of civic/cultural pride in today's government, educational and business leaders to create an urgency to gain Minnesota's supremacy.

Bert Press (5) (10) (5) (0) (0) (0) (10) (5)

D. T. King (7) (5) (8) (10) (10) (10) (10) (3)

I doubt that real change or adaptation is possible during these contentious, restrictive times. Worse, policy is too far removed from active practice.

John Milton (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (0)

Thank you, Ted, for bringing this back for serious discussion. You've heard me say it before, but the 8 years of Pawlenty's "no new taxes or increases" set Minnesota back enormously. (Just to help him spin why he should be the GOP nominee for president.) And it doesn't help to have today's mini-Pawlentys running the House and Senate. If we don't replace these leaders with people who believe in "giving back" (as both Democrats and Republicans once did), Minnesota will be a colder version of Alabama and Mississippi. Too bad -- didn't have to happen. Thanks to Ted Kolderie for giving us a chance to sound off.

Joseph Mansky (5) (10) (7) (3) (8) (10) (10) (0)

My ambivalence in answering some of these questions is based on my perception that for many people these days, being the best in anything is no longer something that is desirable. You will need to sell me on the proposition that there is a consensus among Minnesotans, or least among opinion leaders in Minnesota, that itís worth being first.

Tom Swain (10) (10) (7) (9) (10) (9) (10) (0)

Wayne Jennings (7) (8) (8) (7) (10) (9) (9) (4)

I'm proud of our state and will live nowhere else. But I want us to be at or near the top in education, healthcare, quality of life, environment, cultural, productivity, etc. I think we have lost ground in recent years with penurious leadership focused on getting by cheaply and lacking vision and risk taking. I see it most directly in my field of education. There are great opportunities ahead if only our legislature would lead.

Clarence Shallbetter (9) (10) (10) (9) (10) (9) (10) (3)

Part of our challenge will be to prioritize whether it's in health care research and delivery, higher education research, pre-K-12, transportation, etc.

Ann Schluter (9) (9) (9) (8) (8) (6) (9) (7)

Very interesting discussion. Thank you.

Al Quie (0) (10) (10) (0) (5) (10) (10) (0)

If we cannot solve our education problem we will not solve the rest. We will not solve our education problem unless we solve our family and community problems. Vision---Every child have two adults, a woman and a man, who love them unconditionally, hold them accountable and help them become responsible.

Sheila Kiscaden (9) (9) (10) (10) (10) (9) (9) (1)

David F. Durenberger (10) (10) (5) (5) (0) (7) (10) (0)

Minnesota has an extremely serious leadership problem. Leaders like me are over the hill and our replacements in positions of leadership in civic, business, political, religious, government, education, foundation, journalism, and charitable institutions haven't the capacity or the resources or the comparative influence in our civic life to attract the attention of all the "followers." Name the Minnesota Fortune 100 Corp leader who is making a difference in the future of this state. Or the University Regent or President, or the Foundation CEO, or the government CEO. Seems as though every institution has become dependent on forces beyond its control to determine its own direction to say nothing of setting a new leadership tone for the larger community. Donít want this comment to be a downer, but a challenge to somebody.

Paul and Ruth Hauge (7) (8) (7) (5) (9) (8) (8) (2)

Ted has a heritage of insight in the workings of Minnesota and also appears to have futurist ability.

Bright Dornblaser (5) (8) (10) (8) (10) (10) (10) (0)



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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