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 Response Page - Quie - Sabo  Interview -      

These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Al Quie - Martin Sabo Interview of
12-11- 09.

The Questions:

On a scale of (0) most disagreement , to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, what is your view on the following

1.  _8.7 average response_____ Many elected and appointed officials and the general public do not yet fully comprehend the terribly painful steps that will need to be taken in addressing Minnesota's state budget shortfalls in 2010 and 2011. 

2.  _9.6 average response_____ If lawmakers remain in their separate ideological camps without working together, they cannot develop mutual trust that is so essential to governing .

3.  _9.1 average response_____ Candidates for Governor need to publicly advance creative new proposals for action and be receptive to new proposals from others.

4.  _
8.9 average response_____ Some advocacy groups are so strongly opposed to changes in how state services are delivered that they would accept a loss of state revenue before giving up their "silos" of special treatment.

Mark Peterson (10) (10) (10) (5)

Question 5:  The 2010 session is simply prelude to the 2011 session where real bloodletting will occur.  Because of that it is quite important that specific re-design proposals get put on the table now; re-design will take time for consensus enough to develop.  My organization contracts with every county in Minnesota; I see enormous variance among the counties and am coming to the conviction that counties should get out of the business of human service delivery;  I appreciate that runs counter to Minnesota populism, but the County structure is just too quaint for the 21st century.

Itís hard to imagine what bi-partisanship can look like anymore.  The party lines are so stiff.  As I recall, when a few hardy Republicans voted to increase the gas tax, they were roundly punished by the party.  Thatís got to stop. 

Charles Lutz (9) (9) (10) (6)

Joe Mansky (5) (10) (10) (10)

Combining the responses to questions 1 and 4:  it is clear to me that in order to accommodate the growth areas in state spending (aka transfer payments to school districts and individuals) that is in the works, the size/scope of the remainder of the state and local government will of necessity need to get much smaller. This is especially true of those activities that require general fund appropriations. This can be done as part of a rationale discourse, in which we may be able to play some part. Or we will end up simply amputating the limbs in order to save the body Ė a messy and painful proposition.

Kent Eklund (10) (9) (10) (9)

Question 4:  It is more than advocacy groups.  The general public expects changes to everybody else's programs and not to the program from which they benefit.  This is human nature.  I personally had the pleasure of serving on Governor Quie's cabinet and know the chances he took to balance a very difficult budget.  He and Roger Moe exercised true statesmanship.

Barbara Robertson (8) (10) (10) (10)

We need to look at all state expenses including the University system to see how we can eliminate ridiculous salaries at the upper levels, even the management of financial areas within the system.  Property taxes cannot continue to carry the state.  Do we really need all of the services that are provided for in this state.  Who gets these services?  People who have paid taxs for years. or newcomers who have contributed very little. 

Robert A. Freeman (8) (10) (10) (7)

Question 4:  Think this depends on how much the "cut" is.

Arvonne Fraser (8) (10) (7) (10)

Question 5:  We all have to face the fact that we have to pay more taxes--at least going back to earlier rates.  No one seems to talk about the fact that taxes (except at local level on property) have been cut a lot during the past decade.  Government is not a free lunch--even a redesigned lunch.  Snow needs to be plowed; kids educated; potholes fixed; sewers flow....let's get practical.  

Allen Paulson (10) (8) (10) (8)

David Pierson (8) (10) (10) (10)

Bert Press (10) (10) (10) (10)

Ed Dirkswager (10) (10) (10) (10)

Joe Vene (10) (10) (10) (10)

Question 5:  The State Legislature and the Governor's Office, along with County Governments need to engage in an on-going organic process with emphasis on partnerships, and commit to outcome-based government with performance measures, setting priorities on fiscal challenges besetting all of us, accepting that we are all within a climate of change/innovation needing new ideas/new approaches.  

County Governments need to find acceptance as partners with the Legislature, rather than as indentured servants, and while Counties are creations of the State, Counties can be active partners by talking about and by delivering outcomes.  With a Legislature/County partnership, we need to address the main issue, which is money:  with unallotments and unfunded mandates, the State believes that it has solved the problem.  Not so: the problem has not been solved by these actions -- it has simply been passed on to the Counties.  Counties need to know what is the County role in the State budget deficit:  Counties have approved 2010 operating budgets and implemented contingency plans without playing a "blame game" -- how then do we move forward in solving our mutual problems through the implementation of measurable, outcome-based performance standards.....  

We must deal with the one constant besetting all of us, and that is change.  We must change.  Rethink the whole budget/financial structure.  Implement first-generation initiatives in a tight fiscal climate.  Develop a new culture that embraces learning (mistakes will be made--dare to fail--to learn--to correct--to "get it right"--create new approaches, skills--understand/manage public expectations/communicate with the public.  

We must change from an entitlement way of thinking (more services equaling more money -- is not sustainable) to challenging ourselves to think about outcomes -- how to improve outcomes if we can't get (more) money.   We need a new model:  identify needs of the public / remove turf barriers and be willing to be accountable.  Service Delivery vis-a-vis Outcome-Based:  We must move from the service delivery to the outcome-based equation.  The "one size fits all" approach is not a vehicle for new ideas.  We must move toward an outcome-based orientation.  

In public administration, we now need to think about return on investment with a priority on partnerships -- the public values an outcome---not a service.  We must focus on defining the target and the measure to achieve it.  The major County decision must be: to tear down the boundaries--get out of the silos and work across the boundaries: results-oriented/outcome-based initiatives: defining the public-as-customer perspective; identify what needs to change to reach the public-citizen/customer perspective; learn and grow; protect the investment.  The best incubator for change is:  a "right now" attitude.

Brent Olson (10) (10) (10) (10)

Itís my opinion that we should set as goals tax increases at no more than the rate of inflation and a balanced budget with no accounting tricks.  We could deliver needed services within those parameters, but it would require transformational thinking, and people who work in government tend to be incremental, not transformation thinkers.

Roy Thompson (8) (7) (7) (7)

Chuck Slocum (10) (10) (10) (10)

Though I have strong and consistent agreement with my own answers, I am uncertain if these questions are the central ones with which to deal as we enter the 2010 Minnesota Legislative Session.

Mina Harrigan (7) (10) (8) (10)

John Cairns (10) (10) (_) (9)

Question 1: Far too  many elected and appointed officials and the general public do not yet fully comprehend the terribly painful steps that will need to be taken in addressing Minnesota's state budget shortfalls in 2010 and 2011. 

Question 2:  I can identify a few who would quietly work on an issue like this which I think is probably the most troublesome of all -- the combination of two year election cycles and instantaneous mass communication is a real mess... candidates would rather have a big problem unsolved to campaign instead of a finding a solution to a crisis.. and it would be no different if majority/minority relationships were reversed.. said differently, the synergism between politics and governing is no longer present and it is getting worse, not better.

Question 3:  This may bring the worst of the candidates out as they attempt to take the most radical approaches to gain endorsements. I see little likelihood that any gov candidate will campaign with proposals that begin with what a final compromise will look like.. that leaves no room for negotiations.

Question 4: The lack of middle ground leadership in the public employee union groups is quite astonishing... their mission seems to me to be protecting the highest possible income for their declining membership with no regard to whether or not gov is serving people better/worse. There is zero accountability for performance for public employees.The dilemma has been most visible with teachers, but the depth of the issue is much greater across every public service that is performed.

In private conversation a candidate  made one fairly compelling point: the issues cannot be solved without all principals being in the discussion and who can do better than a ranger, union rep to convince employee unions that they cannot continue to act solely in their self-economic interest. 

David Broden (4) (10) (10) (10)

Question 1:  The public and the elected and appointed officials do comprehend the situation but they tend to ignore the potential impact because the situation has prevailed in a stalemate for so long. It is almost like sleeping thru a terrible movie--if we simply ignore it or wait long enough someone will pick up the pieces and we will suffer but not too badly. The situation is that all the people don't comprehend that this time the impact will be real because there is no out without real impact to programs or taxes. 

Question 2:  This simply will continue for several reasons. The candidates for governor are all basically from the inside and are the cause of the hard line. Each candidate and their flock of supporters are not able to move without damaging the one that they support so the stalemate will continue. Until the pressure comes from the outside--i.e. from common citizens and community leaders I find it hard to form a way that will develop an form of trust. 

Question 3:  This must become the central theme. Further the ideas must come from outside the political and elected system or the public will view the idea as another scheme to control or do some other trick on the public. Only ideas from a solid independent source with support emerging from across the state involving community leaders and citizens will generate any real meaningful support that has a theme that may gain momentum. 

Question 4:  Again the inside approach to seeking a candidate and where the ideas are coming from must be changed. Parochial views and controls of special interests are biasing and blocking the open idea and innovation process. 

Clarence Shallbetter (6) (7) (8) 8)

Ray Schmitz (10) (10) (10) (10)

The possibility of a meaningful discussion is slipping away as the session approaches, slogans and sound bites will soon be the only news.

Dennis L. Johnson (10) (5) (10) (10)

The gap between two factions is too great to accommodate much compromise or mutual trust. One side will not yield until Minnesota is a Nanny State, the other side wishes an Opportunity State. Moderates in the middle only serve to facilitate a compromise which moves everything to the left, only slower. The difference in these world views of the role of the state must be fought out on the political battlefield. The conflict is healthy, peace comes not from compromise but from winning the battle. The budget process is the battlefield, and the threat of bankruptcy will force the  issue.

Don Anderson (10) (10) (10) (10)

 Robert J. Brown (8) (10) (10) (10)
Question 1:   I think some of them do comprehend, but are afraid to admit it because then they would have to come up with realistic proposals instead of hollow rhetoric aimed at their party's base.

Question 2: It is time to work on developing more civil discourse - this can be done by bringing together a broad coalition of current and former elected officials, opinion leaders from the media and responsible think tanks (e.g., Mitch Pearlstein and Dane Smith's groups), good government organizations like the Citizens Jury, and regular citizens  to adopt a process for  how to approach the major policy issue, then lean on the elected officials to follow that process.

Question 3:  Very rarely do initiatives come from the candidates, rather they adopt ideas proposed by others. Years ago the Citizens League provided many of the ideas that were enacted into law. There is no one such organization with that clout today, but attempts must be made to find new and creative ideas. ideas should be solicited  from the general public - even to the point of someone (not a political party, but a wealth benefactor or a major media outlet with no ideological purpose) offering prizes for ideas to help the state solve its problems. years ago some of governors and key legislators saw themselves as problem solvers, not ideologues.

Mark Ritchie

Another great summary - thank you.

E. Christine Schultze (10) (10) (10) (10)

Wayne Jennings (8) (10) (10) (10) 

Ray Cox (10) (10) (10) (10)

Minnesota is facing a true fiscal crisis and our legislators and candidates are 'fiddling while we burn'. At the same time we have deeply entrenched constituencies that will not back down one inch, are not open to any new ideas or delivery methods, and fight tooth and nail against any and all 'change' or reforms. Both the speakers noted that this sets Minnesota up for a real disaster. An example of our deeply seated problems are shown in the recent unallotment ruling. This is a time to immediately come together and work out an acceptable solution to the budget. Instead House and Senate leaders said they most likely would not agree to a Special Session....and we will simply see more days in the biennium disappear, creating a more difficult issue to deal with. If our political leaders have no ideas to bring forward to deal with our budget then they should be replaced.

Rick Bishop (10) (10) (10) (10)

I would expect advocacy groups to be more creative and problem solve for the common good.  It doesn't take much to realize that success in the common arena means success for them.

Paul Hauge (10) (10)  (10) (7)

Excellent interview- Maybe their comments will be read by some who need to think more seriously about our dilemma.

Sue Abderholden (3) (10) (6) (2)

Vance Norgaard (10) (10) (10) (10)

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

Bill Kuisle (7) (10) (10) (10)

Special education in schools is one area that has its own silo. Unfortunately it keeps getting added unto and never is changed. The special interests will bloody anyone that tries to change it. I along with others tried in '03 to change it and found out what it was like to be pummeled.

Fred Senn (10) (10) (5) (10)

Question 3:  No.3 It seems to me that, sadly, it is very risky for a candidate to "publicly advance creative new proposals."  They need cover.  They need several organizations that are well respected to publically float the new ideas.  Then the candidate can provoke discussion by saying that he or she finds that proposal thought provoking

Royce Sanner (10) (10) (10) (10)

Comments? Recognized leaders who are not currently campaigning, like Quie, Sabo, Gov. Carlson Tim Penny and Roger Moe should publicly articulate the problems Minnesota faces so as to shape the agenda for the 2010 campaigns

Alan Miller (8) (9) (9) (9)

Marina Lyon (9) (10) (10) (6)

Question 1:  The current governor needs to be honest with people about this fact and that his budget-shifts havenít helped.

Question 3:  Their respective parties need to require this of each candidate that wants their endorsement.

Bob White (10) (10) (10) (8)

Question 4:  Probably true, but even with the qualifier "some", I could not determine from the discussion whether that means a few or most.

Jim Demgen (9) (10) (8) (10)

Great Survey!

Christine Brazelton (8) (10) (10) (8)

Question 1:  Because of how polarized our elected officials are, it is difficult for the public to trust anything that comes from government.  We have become too used to being lied to, or at least not being told the whole story, so the public lacks trust in what government representatives say.  The media is also seen as a polarizing force, speaking for one side or the other, and not for the truth.

Question 3:  Their ability to do this should be judged based on their past willingness to work with members of the other party or whether they have spent a lot of energy demonizing the other
party.  Also,  whether or not they have shown a willingness to be open to new ideas.

I loved Governor Quie's comments about putting the State first.  What a concept!  I also appreciated Congressman Sabo's suggestions that there be no pledges, cautioning us not to promise too much.  The only pledge I want to hear is the pledge to be open to all ideas, and to be willing to consider ideas regardless of whose party they came from.

Question 5:  What role, if any, will Civic Caucus play in asking the right questions of all the candidates, and disseminating their answers so that we can compare and contrast the candidates?

Carolyn Ring (10) (10) (10) (10)

We need a couple of "clones" of Gov. Quie and Rep. Sabo to run for Governor in 2010.

Bill Hamm (3) (9) (2) (9)

While I concur with both introductory statements, I disagree with their acquiescence in spite of objections to timing and correct focus. While the vast majority of us support change, the need for new language to describe the effort is elitist and psychologically leading, an element not needed if your aim is honest and open discussion. The rest of this discussion was amazing to hear from two individuals of your success level, (equals if you will). They say it so much more eloquently than someone groveling in it like myself.

Question 1:  I suspect they know so more than we want to assume. That will not stop the vengeful attempts to make sure the other party gets blamed for everything possible. It has become politically safer to let the worst happen and play the blame game, the only question is what kind of public opinion change is needed to change this mindset.

Question 2:  While I support the obvious, I question what this statement of the obvious is designed to do? What is it designed to justify?

Question 3:  Not until after the election. While it would be nice, it is clearly politically naÔve in the extreme and worse yet it promotes political naivetť. Waste of time guys. 

Question 4:  Again so what? How do you expect to change that? What kind of public information campaign are you going to run to overcome this?

When I was between 7 and 10 my grandmother was the first (or one of the first) female chairs in Itasca county history, the presidential candidate was John Kennedy. In her function as DFL Chairperson she and my grandfather would go over to play cards with the Republican Chairperson and his wife and have a civil discussion about politics, something I was privileged and inspired to have witnessed, something I have never seen again. To inner circle DFLers having Republican friends now makes you suspect of treason, to challenge their accepted interpretations is heresy. The emotional hatred level around the abortion issue has poisoned and permeated our entire political process from top to bottom and while this is a bit simplistic it gets me out of going into more details about the combatants. These groups scrutinize all legislation based on this one issue. Any deal must either do no harm to either of these groups or it must equally hurt both a concept much harder to negotiate. This is a major reason lobbies now do much of the negotiating. Your efforts seek to do what has always proven to be impossible. Turning your back on reality sadly doesnít change anything and dooms your effort to failure.

Jim Keller (10) (8) (10) (10)

Question 3:  Where do we find candidates to take these risks?

Chris Wright (10) (10) (10) (10)

It is important to reduce the power of corporate advocacy groups by ending corporate personhood.  Artificial entities should have no right to lobby or contribute to PACs.  There are too many corporate sellouts elected to government that are bought and sold by the corporate interests.  The only ones who should have the right to lobby government is We The People not We the Corporations.  Let's take away their silos.

Congressman Sabo said, "The problem the state faces in 2010 is immense and goes beyond what any of the candidates for Governor have said so far. Everything will need to be looked at on the spending and taxing side." 

I'm sure Mr. Sabo is unaware of my campaign for governor but when he says "Everything will need to be looked at" you can be confident that he would refuse to consider regulated distribution of narcotics as a way to raise revenue.   Democrats and Republicans have always insisted on gangster distribution of narcotics because it's impossible to make it unprofitable to sell through prohibition, even in prison.

However, I would like to thank both Governor Quie and Congressman Sabo for their views on the state's budget woes.

David Dillon (10) (10) (10) (10)

Gina Rutter (10) (10) (10) (10)

Jan Hively (10) (10) (10) (8)

Larry Schluter (8) (9) (10) (6)

I think questions 2& 3 need to be asked of the candidates because the problem our state faces is bigger than just one party can solve and how could they work with the other party to work through the current problem as well as working to a longer term solution.

Bright Dornblaser (8) (10) (10) (10)

Question1:  Understandable that the public is not fully aware of the severity of the budget shortfall, that major, severe cuts will needed as well as increased taxes.  Understandable in large part because  candidates for election are fearful of being more clear.  But I am surprised that these two respected, knowledge men believe the legislators do not understand the severity.

Question 2:  Quie's example of building trust illustrates the principle that legislators need to know each other personally across party lines.  It raises the question of the appropriateness of the prohibitions in place against legislators getting together out of session to have food and drink together.

Question 3:  Agree, but how to build the political courage to advocate positions that advocacy groups are going to oppose?  E.g. restructuring across silos.

This assumes they have creative proposals in mind.  Hopefully those with experience in the legislature do and are able to think out of the box of existing legislative policy and programmatic paradigms.  So, how to reduce the political risk to their expressing them before an election?

George Pillsbury (10) (10) (10) (10)

Terry Stone and John Carlson (10) (10) (5) (8)

Question 1:  What seems to be lacking in both elected and appointed officials is the concept of financial sustainability. Minnesota is nowhere near a level of financial sustainability.

Sustainability would be improved if a Constitutional Amendment removed dedicated funding schemes. This amendment would supersede and nullify all previous dedicated funding schemes, whether Constitutional or Legislative.

Dedicated funding is government on autopilot and weíve far over flown the airport; itís time to wake up the pilot and do some creative navigation.

The polarized budget situation fosters a growing popular fallacy among voters, legislators and gubernatorial candidates. We increasingly hear that tax increases coupled with cuts will be necessary to balance the budget. Unfortunately this reasonable-sounding idea is the iconic statement of the radical center. The idea is groundless and a recipe for continued unsustainability and continued decreasing state competitiveness.

For about forty years, Minnesota government has been undertaking increasing responsibility for limiting risk (self reliance) through social programs and limiting rewards (return on investment dollars) through thirty-six different taxes. To achieve what has become a cultural aversion to risk or pain, Minnesota government has grown to suck the life out of a state noted for exceptional education, industry and quality of life.

Sustainability can only be restored by a comprehensive reduction in the size and expectation of government. Any increase in revenue is an attempt to do business as usual.

Sustainability is best accomplished by a core group of committed legislators who are willing to accept contributions only from their constituents.   

Question 2:  Nothing of much import will be accomplished in mutual trust until our elected officials cease to be excessively concerned about whom, or which party, gets the credit for political policy and legislative actions.

Special interests and their campaign donation potential can make it expensive for a legislator to wander off the ideological reservation.

There is a case to be made that our current bloated and unsustainable State Government is the logical consequence of excessive legislative cooperation. It might be time for principled adherence to a well-defined public policy initiative. An ugly legislative session, a gaggle of unhappy legislators, baffled media and a lobby full of disillusioned special interest groups are a small price to pay for a sustainable Minnesota Government. That is a bargain price to pay for public policies that return us to the qualities for which our state is famous.

When the taxpayers become our most vulnerable citizens, itís time to put Minnesota government back into its Constitutional canister. 

Question 3: The idea that gubernatorial candidates should advance both their own creative ideas and those of others has appeal.  The party endorsement process, though, limits that possibility. It is unlikely that general election voters have the political science expertise to evaluate creative new constructs in governance. Instead, voters seem better at intuitively choosing a candidate who will deploy the expertise to implement new constructs in governance. 

Question 4:  An advocacy group that so strongly opposes changes in how state services are delivered that it would accept a loss of state revenue before giving up its fiefdom exists.

The poverty industry is a complex blend of private, foundation, NGO and public entities dedicated to perpetuating the poverty industry.  It includes public employees, low cost housing advocates, homeless advocates, DHS, activist churches, liberal think tanks, ACORN, the illegal alien network and the legislators who empower them all.

The industry is now a de facto poverty enabler. A change in services delivery would reduce the enabling component and shrink the industry while relegating it to smaller traditional welfare roles. The industry will fanatically resist any change as seen by the six plaintiffs who filed a class action suit over about $77 per month for low cholesterol diets (and ten other qualifying diets under the MSA welfare program).

David H. Hanson (5) (10) (10) (10)

Question 5:  Both parties are so polarized I fear a deadlock giving our governor power to un-allot.  I fully agree that our candidates should make no pledges other  than being open to solve the budget problems in many ways. 

Ray Ayotte (8) (10) (10) (8)

Dave Hutcheson (9) (9) (9) (5) 

Lyall Schwarzkopf (10) (9) (9) (9)

Legislators of both parties are locked into opposite positions.  As long as this occurs, very little gets done.  But the special interest groups that have replaced the political parties and in some cases greatly influence the political parties and legislative caucuses will not let up.  The people in the state continue to suffer.  We need political leaders to look at redeveloping our expensive government.  The Civic Caucus came up with some ideas.  Mike Vekich came up with some other ideas.  We need much more of this thinking.

Scott Halstead (10 ) (10) (10) (10)



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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