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 Response Page - Slocum / Mansky  Interview - Presidential primary, campaign finance, Legislative power    

These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the 
Chuck Slocum / Joe Mansky  Interview of 06-20-08.

The questions:

_6.8 average___ On a scale of (0) strong disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) strong
agreement, what is your view on whether decision-making in the 2008 Legislature
was concentrated too heavily in three top offices, the Governor, the Speaker of
the House and the Majority Leader of the Senate.

_6.5 average___ On a scale of (0) strong disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) strong
agreement, what is your view on whether ranked choice voting, also known as
Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), should be used if a presidential preference primary
is conducted in Minnesota in 2012?

_7.7 average__ On a scale of (0) strong disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) strong
agreement, what is your view on whether all contributions to, and expenditures
by, all organizations for or against candidates for elected office be reported
on-line within 24 hours?

Jan Hively (3) (9) (6)

Bob Brown (5) (0) (10)

I am a little confused by the assertion that decision making was too concentrated. It seemed that in the previous session there was criticism that the governor was not being involved early enough in the process. One thing I have learned over the years is that one day's solution becomes the next day's problem. Back when there were many committees in the legislature the reformers proposed reducing the number of committees to create a more open and visible process. However, when the number of committees was reduced the number of subcommittees increased dramatically making for an even less open process as groups as small as three or four members could kill a bill before the public was aware of it.

As I have said several times previously, changing the redistricting process is probably the most important thing that needs to be done to create a legislature that more broadly represents the population - creating more marginal districts which would force the parties to nominate candidates with broader appeal if they hoped to get elected. Having been involved in legislative reapportionment and congressional redistricting I know that as long as the legislature does it the goal will be to protect as many incumbents as possible and to create safe seats rather than marginal districts.

I agree with my friend (and successor a GOP chairman) Chuck on the benefit of multiple endorsements. I think having multiple endorsements may be the only practical way to modify the current caucus and convention system. It would encourage candidates with reasonable support to seek endorsement and then go to a primary. This should be coupled with an earlier primary, for which there appears to be an emerging consensus.

It was great to see Joe and Chuck oppose using constitutional amendments to allow the legislature to avoid making policy decision. However, Chuck's position on the current proposal undermines his policy position. If everyone said we oppose the process except for (fill in the blank), then we will continue to have legislation by constitutional amendment.

Staggered terms for the state senate is a fine idea. This was not possible in the early years after the Baker v. Carr reapportionment decision, but now that the great disparities in district population no longer exist and the courts have loosened up the very narrow population deviations they once required I think it would be worth attempting to honor the "One man, one vote" directive on a reasonable basis, but adjusting our election cycles so that there would be staggered terms in the senate.

Alan Miller (5) (9) (2)
With the hectic pace of campaigning, it is unrealistic to burden candidates with a 24-hour reporting requirement.

Ed Dirkswager (3) (7) (5)

Shirley Heaton
What an incredible session! Just wish I could have been there.

Robert A. Freeman (7) (3) (8)
Question 2: Although IRV has been used in many elections world wide, I have yet to see a single scrap of evidence that it has brought about any of the benefits its proponents claim (i.e. increased turnout and participation). I am comfortable allowing it to be used by parties to select their own candidates since how they do that is really up to them, but before it becomes the general method of voting in MN (or anywhere) I would want to see evidence it measurably improves the process. Also I think it is difficult to understand to the average person which could lead to a disconnect between his/her voting preferences and the final result.

Question 3: I think this is a terrific idea but I am concerned that 24 hours might be too quick for a small campaign who cannot afford full-time staff and think perhaps 72 hours might be more reasonable, at least for state legislative races. If the goal is to stop last-minute donations from large donors wishing to conceal themselves until after an election then perhaps a 24-hour rule in the last two weeks before the election might be a fair compromise.

I have two more comments:
1/ I am completely opposed to a unicameral legislature. As someone who has worked in the legislature both as a staffer and now as a lobbyist I can attest that the majority of bills introduced by legislators are poorly thought out, interest-group driven and have generally had little or no public input. If anything new laws need more scrutiny, and unicameral promises only to offer less. The fact that there are many steps is a good thing because it offers the public many chances to scrutinize proposed laws and requires legislators to compromise and come up with solutions acceptable to everyone. We should certainly not sacrifice a major part of the deliberative process to try and be more efficient as this effectively removes half the chance for input by the public and interested parties - a polar opposite to what we are seeking to achieve with reforms.

2/ I fully support staggered terms for state senators, as is the case in the U.S. Senate. This would prevent a Senate caucus from deliberately seeking to scupper negotiations if it were also accountable to the electorate. Otherwise the Senate is given the whip hand every four years because it enters the negotiation process with nothing to lose, knowing the House and governor are accountable to the voters and it is not.

Eric Schubert (10) (10) (10)

Dan Loritz (0) (5) (5)

Donald H. Anderson (9) (5) (8)

Bill Frenzel (7) (8) (5)

Don't like unicameral!

Richard McGuire (5) (10) (10)

Wayne Jennings (8) (8) (9)

I like IRV but it has to be constitutional for me to support it.

Vici Oshiro (3) (5) (0)

Question 1: This will vary from session to session depending upon politics, personalities and more. Any attempt to develop rules or legislation is likely to invite unintended consequences. Let the legislators express their opinions to the leadership.

Question 2: Not enthusiastic about presidential preference primary. On the other hand I am concerned about the ability of local parties to find venues for caucuses if we have a repeat of 2008 - or even half that turnout. Open primaries invite meddling in an opposing party's business. They also involve much less participation that a caucus. This year some came to caucus only to vote; but others have hung in there and are fully participating.

Question 3: We currently have prompt reporting of large contributions just before the election. Have pity on the candidates' treasurers. Are they to be prevented from taking a vacation during an election year? Maybe Chuck Slocum's experience is different from mine, but treasurer's I have known are reluctant to let others get involved in recording and reporting because CFB holds TREASURERS accountable. And I have sometimes needed to authorize an expenditure without knowing the exact amount. How report that within 24 hours?

On reapportionment: I don't recall the MN legislature ever enacting the final reapportionment unless it was they who established the group that handled 2002 and then enacted their recommendations. But, yes, set up a commission to do it. Make one of the important parameters be honoring city/county boundaries where feasible. I thought last reapportionment did a good job - at least for us and some surrounding communities. Perhaps others got little pieces of many communities. In 1990s we had pieces of 4 cities in 3 counties in just the house district.

Multiple endorsements: Only if we move the primary to June.

On senate terms: Yes, rotate. Can't remember why it was set up without rotation to begin with.

How is having lots of polling places open for days going to save money? I don't disagree with the principle, but think it would be costly.

Clarence Shallbetter (6) (3) (10)
Let's also include contributions in excess of $100 from individuals and all contributions by individuals that are bundled with others.

Charles Lutz (5) (9) (6)

Tom Swain (7) (8) (7)

State Sen. David Senjem (0) (0) (10)

The 24 hour notice would further expose the millions of dollars the tribes, through their gaming proceeds, are putting into state legislative races.

Ellen Brown (9) (10) (_)
This last point sounds great but the reality of it is very difficult from a candidate's point of view. I was Peter Hutchinson's campaign treasurer for about 8 months and the paper and computer work associated with the finance stuff was overwhelming. This suggestion might be fine for folks with big campaign teams and parties behind them, but for the little guy, it is a real challenge. And we do want to encourage minor parties, don't we? You might want to get Craig Swaggert in on this discussion; maybe an interview with him focusing on some of the challenges third parties face.

Royce Sanner (5) (_) (10)

Roy Thompson (8) (9) (6)

Marianne Curry (10) (10) (10)

Ray Schmitz (10) (_) (_)

Question 1: Agreed 10+ I think I may have earlier quoted the comment from New York that everybody other than the leadership should be charged with theft for not earning their pay. Slight digression, I now find it increasingly frustrating to not have the ability to participate electronically in hearings. When there was somebody paying my mileage or getting paid to lobby on my behalf it was one thing but even though I can afford the gas I don't want to spend the carbon. I have taken part in several interactive internet courses and programs recently, there is no good reason why the legislative hearings could not include that ability.

Question 2. Strongly favor IRV, only way to give third party and other independent voters a chance

Question 3. Strongly favor, but with the ability of other groups to do advertising I wonder if such reporting would be meaningful.

Al Quie (10) (0) (10)

Lyall Schwarzkopf (8) (1) (9)

On the last item, I believe that all contributions given to a candidate should be disclosed within 2 or 3 days and all expenditures disclosed the same way. In addition, the contributions to candidates should be only made by an individual. We need to get all the special interests out of politics. Special interests are creating the unfriendly atmosphere in legislatures and Congress and the things that need to get done, don't get done because of the cross pressure on elected officials. The contributions to candidates should be as much as anyone wants to give because it is disclosed nearly immediately. We should stop all public campaigns funds.

Mark Ritchie
Thanks again for this great work!

Bright Dornblaser (10) (10) (10)

Pam Ellison (10) (10) (10)

Larry and Ann Schluter (9) (6) (5)

Regarding the last question since I was a treasurer for a Senate district and along with having a full time job I was in no position to enter contributions within a 24 hour period or even in a week. Monthly would be the best time frame.

Scott Halstead (10) (10) (10)
It is time for the unicameral legislature, at large election of the majority and minority leader and appropriate controls on last minute legislation.

Chuck Slocum (10) (5) (10)
I enjoyed being a part of this report and do want to encourage the Civic Caucus to continue to advance the public spirited dialogue.

Ray Ayotte (8) (10) (10)

David Hutcheson (8) (9) (10)

Glad to hear the confidence that it's feasible; so see no reason not to do it at once.

Paul and Ruth Hauge (5) (9) (6)

Carolyn Ring (8) (3) (10)
No matter if you have contributions recorded in 24 hours or whatever finance reforms are adopted, someone will find a loophole and way around any attempt to limit finances. Anything that would reduce the money spent on campaigns however, is helpful. The 2 biggest deterrents I found in recruiting good legislative candidates were the time consumed in campaigning and raising funds.

David Broden (3) (0) (3)
Question No. 1: The fact that the legislative process involving members has not been moving thru effective committee and floor debate it seems that the only approach to moving toward resolution of some of the state issues is for the leadership to establish positions which can then be acted on by the larger body and appropriate committees. While this may not be the preferred approach for effective legislative process, until responsibility to resolve issues becomes the focus vs. partisan focus, it is then only way to change the process toward more participation at all levels.

Question No. 2: Any voting process by citizens cannot be multiple choice--we are based on a simple yes or no on issues as well as yes or no on candidates. Ranking simply is not part of our process nor should it be presented to the voters in this way--we need to focus on up or down on topics--we are a decision based government not a maybe --or if not this then that--I just do not see where a ranking has any place in any way in our system.

Question No. 3: Simply not practical. Also we should be free to express our thoughts without having to state who and why --reporting on a realistic time frame makes sense but to limit the time such as 24 hours and force disclosure seems to move the discussion from what the candidate stands for to who gave what to whom --another attempt to monitor something that is not directly a factor.


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;  Lee Canning,  Charles Clay, Bill Frenzel, 
Paul Gilje,  Jim Hetland,  John Mooty,  Jim Olson,  Wayne Popham  and  John Rollwagen.  

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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