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.
Republicans came in from Plymouth and Brooklyn Park to join the regulars in the southwest metropolitan area for a special Pints & Politics-turned-Holiday Party on December 9.
The Club Room at Poor Richards Commonhouse was festively decked out for the occasion. Upwards of 90 people came to enjoy this special year-end event.
Several notables attended, including US Senate candidate Rob Barnett, Congressional Candidate Kendall Qualls, and MN Senate candidate Jeff Jiang. They were joined by MN GOP Secretary Barb Sutter, Republican National Committeeman Rick Rice, and Congressional District 3 Chairwoman Patti Meier.
Live instrumental entertainment by Mark Vandermyde (of Fuzzy Math) on keyboards and Keith Friede on bass guitar provided a special touch of class to the evening.
If we missed seeing you at this merry gathering, we hope that your holidays are wonderful. We wish you a happy new year and look forward to having you join us at a future Pints & Politics!
(More photos below)Read more
Many of those attending the Fall Conversation told us how much more hope they have for our 2020 success after hearing from the impressive Republican candidates for US Congress – Lacy Johnson (pictured at left) seeking endorsement for CD5 and Kendall Qualls (pictured at right), seeking endorsement for CD3. These candidates believe that Republicans should stand strong in support of the American values of freedom, opportunity, and personal responsibility. They made a number of other points in an impressive discussion that lasted over an hour, guided by moderator Max Rymer. We highlighted a few of those in our recent article on our website.
Watch the 70 minute video (lightly edited to remove pauses and keep it reasonable length) and you’ll quickly be able to get a sense of these two great candidates yourself. And from the photos below it’s clear how enjoyable an evening is when sharing views and opinions with fellow area Republicans. Plan now to attend the November “Conversation” next Fall.
A bit of colorful trivia: How did Republicans get assigned red on political maps? This article “When Republicans Were Blue and Democrats Were Red” from Smithsonian Magazine traces some of the history.
And did anyone else think politics when they saw the Dec. 9 announcement of Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2020, Classic Blue?
The December 2 Bloomington City Council meeting did not approve the resolution to proceed with design of a new Community Center at the Valley View Park location.
Mike Hanks of Sun Current News reported the considerations and votes details in his article, “No Community Center Solution in Sight for Bloomington”.
One of our long-serving Precinct Chairs, Don Patton, was recently written up in Edina Magazine for his contributions to making the history of World War II come alive.
Don Patton helped found the World War II Round Table in 1987. “For 33 years, the WWII History Round Table has preserved the factual history of World War II through historians, veterans and travel opportunities for its members.” The roundtable meets on the second Tuesday of each month (September-May) at the Minnesota Historical Society.
As reported by Eric Roper in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, no one testified at a November meeting where the Bloomington City Council voted to approve tax increases associated with development of a waterpark near Mall of America.
The next (and final) Council vote on the project's unusual financing is scheduled for December 17.
"The deal hinges on the city’s option to hike sales taxes at the Mall of America to pay debt on the $260 million facility, if visitors who pay to raft down 10-foot-wide slides and lounge in cabanas don’t generate enough revenue. The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday, November 12, to authorize imposing the taxes — 11 years after the Legislature granted them that power — under specific circumstances that will be agreed to next month.
A series of votes scheduled for Dec. 17 will finalize an unusual financing plan with little precedent in Minnesota."
Call or write your council member before December 17. Here is the link to their contact information.
Precinct work is the one of the key activities of Senate District 49. Thanks to a generous donation, each year we will recognize the person who provides exemplary contributions to SD49 with his/her precinct activity work. Anyone who is not on the Executive Committee is eligible for the award.
Anyone is eligible to submit a nomination for someone deserving recognition for their precinct volunteer work. The nomination period is December 1st through December 31st for 2019 contributions. Anyone may provide a nomination by filling in the nomination form and emailing it to ideas@SD49GOP.com or mailing it to the SD49 GOP at 9201 E. Bloomington Fwy, Suite G, Bloomington MN 55420-3413. Submissions should be mailed or e-mailed by December 31st, 2019.
The SD49 Executive Committee will review the nominations and select the precinct volunteer of the year based on the nomination and selection criteria. The winner will be announced and the award presented at the SD49 Convention (March 21, 2020 at Bethany church).
The selection criteria are based on the level of effort, effectiveness, and results of outreach to voters and community by door knocking, lit dropping, phone calling, sign placement, and event hosting/organizing.
CLICK HERE to view, save or print the nomination form (PDF). OR
CLICK HERE to save an editable version (docx format)
Kendall Qualls and Lacy Johnson excited the audience at Senate District 49’s annual fundraiser on November 22. Both are running as Republican candidates for Congress in 2020 against freshmen DFL incumbents. As moderator Max Rymer pointed out, these candidates offer fresh perspectives, private sector experience, and personal life stories that will make them very compelling to voters.
Lacy Johnson (seated on the right) is seeking the Republican endorsement to run in Congressional District 5 against Rep. Ilhan Omar. He has lived and raised a family in north Minneapolis for 40 years. He worked in computer engineering before going into business to bring technological jobs to his district.
Kendall Qualls (seated on the left) is running in Congressional District 3 against Rep. Dean Phillips. Early on in his life, he experienced the divorce of his parents and witnessed the street/drug culture in Harlem as an elementary student. His adolescent years were spent in a trailer park in Oklahoma. Qualls worked to pay his way through college and served five years as an officer in the Army. He personally saw while serving on the Demilitarized Zone in Korea what a difference Freedom can make to the prosperity of a people. Out of the Army, he pursued a career first in sales and marketing of health care products, then switched over to medical devices.
Why are they running?
Lacy Johnson decided to run to offer his conservative values as a counter to the mindset fostered in his friends and neighbors in north Minneapolis by the Democrats who have been in power for a long time. It is a mindset that looks to government programs and not personal responsibility to solve local and personal problems. Lacy says that if something hasn’t worked for decades, it is time for a change.
Kendall Qualls wants to bring his life experiences to bear in Washington DC. He also believes that the narrative that America is a racist country needs to change. He has received help along the way from people black and white, rich and poor, male and female. We certainly have bad actors in our culture, but they do not define our country. He is not going to let people get away with continuing a negative narrative about the USA.Read more