A year ago, eco-terrorists vandalized several pieces of heavy equipment owned by Scheff Logging & Trucking, Inc. and harassed its employees on a worksite near Cloquett, MN. Now, the company has filed a lawsuit against those individuals, citing over $100,000 in damages The lawsuit names Defendant Shawn Etsitty and his co-conspirators, as well as the organizations that trained them and funded their activities.
The incident is the latest in a string of violent criminal protests by extremists who believe they are justified in breaking the law as a form of environmental-political activism.
The criminals tore out wiring, stole keys, cut hydraulic lines causing oil to drain into the ground, poured sand, glue and water into Scheff’s equipment, cut and pulled out wiring and damaged dashboards, drive trains and oil reservoirs, causing more than $100,000 of malicious and intentional damage to the equipment of this small family logging company working under contract for St. Louis County.
“This is not an isolated incident, unfortunately,” added Scott Dane, Executive Director of Associated Contract Loggers & Truckers of Minnesota. “Many small businesses in Minnesota have experienced similar disruptions and vandalism, and it needs to stop. The victims here are our families, our friends, and our neighbors – their livelihoods are on the line.”
The MN Legislature reconvenes Tuesday, February 11.
Our January 28 dinner speaker Rep. Drazkowski provided some predictions on what will happen this session.
He also briefly discussed a possible way the MN legislature could begin to deal with the millions of dollars of misspent funding by the Department of Human Services: create a separate Inspector General division outside of DHS's tainted administrative structure.
And he gave us a quick forecast of what will happen to our money in the 2020 legislative session. The funds on-hand already exceed what's needed for the 2-year budget bill that was approved in 2019. The DFL majority will want to spend the 2.4 Billion in excess tax-collections already in the state's treasury, as well as the forecast 1.3 Billion excess that will accrue by 2021. Expect to see a "Supplemental Budget Bill" filled with pet-projects from every district.
Plus: Gov. Walz will propose a 2.6 Billion bonding (borrowing) plan, 2-times larger than any previously approved.
A portion of SD49 is within MN US Congressional District 5, currently represented by Ilhan Omar (D). Dinner attendees expressed surprise January 28 to learn the extent of unethical, possibly criminal, actions that Omar has committed.
Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa) was the featured speaker at the January 28 dinner program hosted by Senate District 49 Republicans. He has been one of the strongest advocates for an investigation of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN5).
Drazkowski served in the Minnesota House of Representatives with Omar before she was elected to Congress. He noted that she filed a required Minnesota Campaign Finance report several months late, despite reminders from the Campaign Finance Board. She finally filed after she had secured the DFL endorsement for her candidacy in the 5th Congressional District.
In looking into the report she filed, Drazkowski noted expenditures that did not appear to be true campaign expenses. An investigation by the Campaign Finance Board essentially agreed and fined her campaign. During this period, other investigative journalists such as David Steinberg, Praya Samsunder, and Scott Johnson reported on inconsistencies with Omar’s statements about her background as a refuge, her marriages, and her contacts with her brother.
Rep. Steve Drazkowski has pushed the US House Committee on Ethics and the Internal Revenue Service to determine if the allegations that have been raised are valid and constitute illegal activity. He and others have created a new site OmarTruth.com which includes a short video and links to the source-documents that highlight the questionable actions.
Last week, MN Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R- Nisswa) held a press conference to outline his plans for the legislative session that kicks off in February.
“Our 2020 Vision will build on the successes of the 2019 session and Republicans will continue to work with Democrats in the House and Gov. Walz to get things done, even as we fight hard for our principles. Principles like fiscal responsibility, a limited but effective government that takes care of the vulnerable, a market-based economy and strong belief in personal responsibility and liberty.”
The 2020 Vision plan includes initiatives addressing health care, transportation, education, jobs and workforce development, clean energy, the economy and family budgets, clean water, violence prevention, taking care of people, childcare, greater Minnesota, state government, election security, and veterans.
The March 3 Presidential Primary will be our first opportunity to formally register our support for President Trump's re-election. While this is strictly a presidential primary, the number of Republican voters will be measured against the turnout for the highly-contested Democrat Party nomination. It may well be looked at as a reflection of the expected turnout in November for all Republican candidates. So we're encouraging EVERYONE to vote.
For this Presidential Primary, you'll sign an extra oath "I am in general agreement with the principles of the party for whose candidate I intend to vote, and I understand that my choice of a party's ballot will be public information." You'll request a Republican ballot, and only our candidate, plus a write-in line, will be on your ballot.
Early voting by mail-in absentee ballot or in person at your City Hall is available now. On March 3rd, local voting locations will be open for each precinct from 7 AM - 8 PM.
In Edina Precinct 2 has a new voting location. Edina P-02 use Highlands Elementary School, 5505 Doncaster Way, Edina, as their new polling place.
In Bloomington, two precincts have new voting locations:
- The Bloomington Precinct 17 polling place will be at the Westwood Community Church, 6301 Cecilia Circle. This is down in the hollow at the northwest quadrant of the East Bush Lake Road overpass of 494. Voters will be directed to the West Lot where the main building entrance is located. Although easily visible from the freeway, the location's street entrance is a bit tough to find on your first attempt - you may want to preview the drive /walk before March 3.
- The other new polling place will be in Bloomington Precinct 24 where it's been moved to Bloomington Lutheran School, 10600 Bloomington Ferry Road. The main entrance is on the south side of the building.
No surprise to anyone here in the metro area, property taxes are going up. What is surprising is how different constituencies are affected.
Local governments like to report their new tax rates using the median house value in their town or city. For some reason, these local governments feel that these provide a meaningful comparison. This despite significant differences in those median house values.
Here are some statistics to ponder (sourced from the Star Tribune, December 15)
City 2019 Median Value Tax Rate Increase*
Bloomington $283,800 8.7% to 10.3%
Edina $548,500 1.1% to 4.7%
Eden Prairie $396,200 3.0% to 4.6%
Minnetonka $359,800 2.8% to 6.2%
* The differences in rates depends on in which school district the house resides.
The levies approved by the voters in the different school districts clearly have an impact on the property tax rate a home-owner will pay. Yet the tax rate increases above certainly vary significantly. Bloomington argues that its median-value homes had an annual increase in market value of 10.5% compared to the 3.4% annual increase of Edina’s median-value house. Minnetonka and Eden Prairie had 5.2% and 4.4%, respectively.
However, if one tries to judge the fairness and reasonableness of these increases, or even the efficiency with which a city government is operating, it would seem that using the median home value is not a meaningful way to compare. A rate increase on top of a market value increase just further raises the dollars a tax-paying home owner must turn over to the city.
Given the close proximity of cities in the metropolitan area and the similarity in their circumstances, reporting the property tax increase for, say, a $300,000 house would be much more telling. We asked the Bloomington city assessor to provide us that information in early December. We will publish the response when we get it.
The “Mess at the DHS” reinforces the need for stronger efforts to rout out political corruption and bureaucratic mismanagement within our state government. This will come only when our own local representatives demonstrate that they care about how our tax dollars are being spent.
If you are concerned about these developments and are looking for a way to do something about them, running for the state legislature is a meaningful action. If you live in Senate District 49, we want to hear from you.
Campaigns for the Minnesota Senate or House take passion, time, and personal energy. They also take funding, messaging, and support. We are ready to sit down and explore what it will take to run a strong race. We can help if we feel that we are a good fit
The time to decide is rapidly approaching if you want to run this year. Please reach out to us by CLICKING on this link and writing us of your interest. We will respond. We are looking forward to hearing from you
Please plan to attend your local caucus February 25, 2020 at 7 PM. Registration opens at 6:15 PM.
Residents in precincts within Senate District 49 will caucus in one of two locations:
Bloomington Republicans will caucus with their precincts at Thomas Jefferson High School, 4001 W 102nd St, Bloomington. Note that SD50 Republicans will also caucus here.
Edina, Eden Prairie, and Minnetonka Republicans who reside within Senate District 49 will caucus at South View Middle School, 4725 Southview Lane, Edina.
Volunteers are still needed to serve as Greeters, both in the main lobby to help attendees find their correct meeting room, and also to coordinate precinct sign-ins within each room. All volunteers (Greeters, Caucus Conveners, Caucus Secretaries) must attend a training session
UPDATED TRAINING INFORMATION AS OF 2/5/2020 - revised location for Edina, training is 2 hours
Volunteers from Bloomington (both SD49 and SD50) will train at Jefferson High School Media Room, either Saturday February 8, 9-11 AM or Thursday February 13, 7 – 9 PM. Please contact Vince Riehm to indicate interest and let him know which training you’ll attend.
Volunteers from Edina/Eden Prairie/Minnetonka will train at the South View Cafeteria (parking lot by Concord, Door 2), either Thursday February 6, 7 - 9 PM or Saturday February 15, 9 – 11 AM. At South View park in the lot between South View and Concord Elementary. Enter Door 2 to find the Cafeteria. Please contact Wayne Wenger to indicate interest and let him know which training you’ll attend.
Why attend the Caucus?
Good government starts with you. The Caucus is an opportunity for area residents to show their support for Republican principles. There is too much at stake this year to be spectators. If conservatives and Republicans are going to return fiscal responsibility to the State Legislature, we must begin now.
The future of our Party and nation belongs to those who show up. And if you want to see a change in our Party or our candidates, precinct caucuses are your chance to stand up and be heard. Don’t miss your chance to make a difference.Read more
In the first two years of the Walz administration, the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) has been rocked by one revelation after another about mismanagement and the misuse of state and federal funding.
Through it all, Gov Walz has remained silent about who has been responsible. Nor has he made changes to restore accountability. It may be that the incredible rot in DHS is left-over from the Mark Dayton administration, but there is no evidence that Walz is moving decisively to clean it up.
The DHS is an $18.5 billion state agency that makes up a third of the state’s budget, and employs 7,300 people. In a quick review of some of what has become public:
In 2018, KMSP-TV reports alleged that fraud in the Minnesota Child Care Assistance Program ran as high as $100 million annually. Partly citing unidentified sources, the reports said state and federal agents had tracked some of the money overseas, and that they believed some of the cash was likely being skimmed by terrorist groups.
- Investigators for the legislative auditor in early 2019 didn't find evidence to substantiate a connection between fraud money and support for a terrorist organization. While they couldn't establish a reliable estimate of how big, they stated that fraud in the child care program is a recognized problem.
In early July 2019, Deputy Commissioners Chuck Johnson and Claire Wilson announced they were stepping down. About a week later, DHS Commissioner Tony Lourey suddenly resigned after several months on the job. Soon after, Johnson and Wilson retracted their resignations.
- At the time, Gov. Walz was quoted as saying, “… the Commissioner came to me, said he wasn’t the right person to do the job and I accepted his resignation. I know people want to keep seeing drama, I said I don’t do drama. I’m trying to be as transparent as I can.” Unfortunately, not transparent enough to explain what was going on at DHS that made Lourey resign.
Looking back over the last twelve months, we shared times of commitment and inspiration, frustration and exhilaration, introspection and re-dedication. We were joined by some great new people, were buoyed by a lot of volunteer effort, and we benefited from some important learning experiences. We have challenges ahead of us. And we have some strong candidates and potential candidates willing to rally us to meet those challenges.
The November election results were clearly a disappointment in Bloomington and Edina. We were pleased to recommend some particularly strong candidates for the Edina school board and the Bloomington municipal races. They mounted positive campaigns that articulated their positions and provided clear choices for the voters in their communities. The efforts put forth by these candidates resulted in a notably higher voter turnout for a non-presidential, non-school referendum year.
We congratulate the conservative candidates in the Eden Prairie school board race that won their seats. We will be following the impact that they have on the performance of their school over the course of the next few years.
We would particularly like to recognize the work done by campaign volunteers in getting out lawn signs and leveraging social media. They provide high candidate name recognition. Lessons were learned, and efforts to address those lessons will be the focus of the coming year.
Our senate district put on a number of educational, social, and fundraising events this year.
• In January, Max Rymer gave a frank assessment of what is and isn’t working for the Republican Party, and for the DFL.
• Brad Aho spoke in February of the impact of local and regional governments on the affordability of housing.
• March featured Lisa and Klaus Schneegans, talking about the digital campaign arms race and what their Right Tech Pac is doing to level the playing field.
• In April, Jason Flores, State Director for the Minnesota Chapter of Americans for Prosperity, pointed out how Governor Walz’ spending demands were impeding efforts to reach a budget compromise.