Sen. Tina Smith's Campaign-Like Memorial Ceremony Remarks

The annual Memorial Day ceremony at the Ft Snelling cemetery went on again this year, albeit virtually because of the coronavirus emergency restrictions. While the production work was admirable, the choice of speakers took a political tilt.

Senator Tina Smith, up for re-election this year, was chosen to lead off the remarks. She spoke of the work her office is willing to do for veterans, rather than stopping after her mention of the lives given for our country. You can view the video by CLICKING HERE

Thank you to US Army Col (Ret.) Don Patton for bringing this to our attention.


Bloomington City Council Pushes RCV as November Ballot Question

By Kathy Kranz, Co-Chair, Senate District 50 Republicans

Vote_ballot_box_cube.jpgVery late in the evening at the Bloomington City Council Meeting on May 18th, the teleconferenced City Council, after minimal discussion among the council members and a phone-only public comment session, voted unanimously to forward the ordinance recommendation for a Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) Amendment on to the Charter Commission. Some council members said by approving this ordinance, they were passing on the responsibility to the voters to decide for themselves.

Per the staff briefing, timing was crucial if the council wanted to get this on the November 2020 ballot: The Charter Commission has 60-90 days to develop ballot wording that must be approved and submitted by mid-August to appear on the ballot. If the Charter Amendment is approved by 51% of the voters, it will be effective for future Mayoral and City Council elections.

The City Charter is Bloomington’s Constitution. Changing the way we vote in our community should not to be taken lightly. In our view, this should NOT be pushed to the November 2020 ballot without further public discussions and debate.

Please consider getting involved in this critical issue now. Send letters, emails and phone calls to all council members prior to June 1st, requesting that they revisit the decision. Contact charter commission members prior to June 11th. Send letters-to-the-editor. Expressing your concern about the rush to change our voting method will let them know now is the time to slow this down and really vet such a crucial process.

The city council and charter commission need to hear from you this week. Some have stated many times they have not heard from the other side of the issue. Whether this is true or not is up for debate.

Our previous Newsletter article included additional information about RCV. You can view the May 18 City Council discussion and public comments CLICK HERE   The RCV discussion is agenda item 8.5 and starts at 3 hours 37 minutes into the meeting (i.e., after 10:30 PM). Public comment ran thru time-mark 4 hours 26 minutes, with Mayor and council comments after.

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Qualls Family Marks 4 Generations of Military Service to America

On May 23, Army veteran and 3rd District Congressional candidate Kendall Qualls reflected on his Facebook page the meaning of Memorial Day for him. It is clear that, when it came to serving his country, he and his family willingly go in harm’s way – they do not send in their proxy.


Kathryn_Jacob_Ashley_Qualls.jpgTo commemorate Memorial Day, this picture gives a snapshot U.S. History by displaying 160-years of bravery, virtue, anguish and the rights given all citizens in the Constitution all in one picture.

My daughter, Kathryn (L) is holding the burial flag of Sheila’s grandfather who fought in WWII. My daughter, Ashley (R) is holding the burial flag of my father who fought in Vietnam. What you might miss is the Civil War print in the background.

Memorial Day started as a result of the informal gatherings to mourn the lives lost to restore our great country. When President Lincoln asked the Union states to send troops to Washington D.C. to protect the capital and defend the country, Minnesota was the first to send troops.

The Minnesota 1st Regiment was a unit pivotal in winning the Battle of Gettysburg. However, it came at cost with 80% of the Regiment killed in action. The highest loss of life in U.S. Army history to this very day.

My family and I are descendants of American Black Slaves. We’re grateful for the sacrifices made and honored to serve in uniform when called. God bless us all and God bless America.

The family tradition is being carried on by Jonathan Qualls, who enlisted this year to make his own mark in the US Army. Youngest son Jacob is pictured with his sisters above. This Memorial Day week, we thank the Qualls family for their tradition of service to our country


Another Edina Developer's Variance?

Initial_Edina_Cleaners_proposal_view_2.jpgOn Tuesday, May 5, the Edina City Council held a meeting that included a proposal to allow expansion of a proposed restaurant from 35 to 100 seats. The expansion would add additional traffic and parking concerns in the neighborhood at Sunnyside and France (former Edina Cleaners).

19 individuals spoke during the hearing—4 in favor of the variance and 15 against. No one successfully explained why the city should change the deal the developer had agreed to.

Because the community input was so good, the city council decided to allow more time for citizen input until noon 5/13. Final decisions will be made at the city council meeting at 7 pm 5/19. Contact the mayor and city council with your thoughts CityCouncil@EdinaMN.gov.

Here’s more background on the issue:

Lorient is a development that has been approved at Sunnyside and France on the site of the former Edina Cleaners. The developer received a variance to exceed the zoning in the area for a building height to create 45 housing units, some retail space and a restaurant. They also received over $2,200,000 from the city in tax increment financing (TIFF). The city received public access to 36 parking spaces. The development included a 35-seat restaurant that would also use those same parking spaces.

Recently, the developer requested a variance to expand the restaurant to 100-seats. The planning commission approved this 5-2. City staff did not support this variance due to traffic and parking concerns

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Bloomington Council to Consider Major Closure Issues May 18

Bloomington_Existing_Community_Center.jpgBloomington residents are being asked to respond before May 18 to a survey CLICK HERE  and contact the city council members (e-mail city-council@bloomingtonmn.gov) to weigh-in on two major building and services closures that have been proposed: Creekside Community Center and Motor Vehicle Services.

Residents who would like to take the survey but don’t have internet access may call 952-563-8877, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

These closures were recommended by city staff at the May 4 city council meeting, however the council tabled the proposals to allow some time for community comment, and also community recommendations for other cost-saving strategies to address the expected budget shortfalls. Without the tax income from hotels and restaurants due to COVID-19 shutdowns, the city expects to need to cut between $7 -$17 million dollars of expenses in 2020, about 18% of the city’s budget.

Details on the city website make it clear that all low-cost congregate meals for Seniors would be cut completely, although some other Senior-services programs now based at Creekside Community Center might be continued in other city-owned buildings. Closing these services in particular seems counter-productive. As explained in this article, "The combination of nutrition, socialization, and connection to other resources and activities may help explain why participating in a congregate meal program leads to better health and a greater likelihood of staying in the community... also, older adults participating in congregate meal programs are less likely to be admitted to a hospital or nursing home."

However, when the city must cut 18% of its budget, we have to stack all of the suggestions against each other to determine which have the least merit (or the least beneficiaries) before we can advocate to take one off the table. The city has not yet listed anywhere close to $7 million worth of proposed cuts and seems to be seeking opinions without providing enough information.

This May 5 article from the Star Tribune provides more information from the May 4 Council meeting. 
The city website includes some added info on the survey page and also in Mayor Busse’s video summary of the May 4 council meeting. 

You may also attend the May 18 Council meeting via telephone and watch on video conference. The process for doing so is detailed on the city’s website city council page


Is Ranked Choice Voting in Bloomington an "Emergency" Action?

Co-Chair, Senate District 50

On March 16th, the Bloomington City Council voted 7-0 to enact our City Emergency Plan, authorizing our City Manager to manage funds and actions on his own. Jamie Verbrugge, Bloomington City Manager, pledged that evening, “if it doesn’t need to be on the agenda, we’re just going to defer until we feel it’s safe to continue to have meetings in a way that meets our community’s expectations and that’s pretty consistent with what other cities are doing too.

Unfortunately, Bloomington’s Manager and City Council are taking up matters that could easily be deferred while the City Emergency is in place. On May 18, the City Council will consider an ordinance that would change the way that we elect our mayor and city council members. Our City Charter requires that we elect these officials in a Primary/General election. The City Council is proposing a November ballot question to change the Charter to “Ranked Choice Voting”, or RCV. This could significantly alter the nature of our elections in Bloomington.

RCV_Ballot.jpg

There are several factions that are pushing Bloomington to institute RCV.  The League of Women Voters, FairVote MN, Dean Phillips, Steve Elkins, MN DFL, the City Manager, the Mayor, and several members of the City Council are just a few.   Ironically, they use arguments that recent studies and actual experiences from other cities have contradicted. The League of Women Voters argues that RCV will encourage more lower income and low information voters to participate. (A claim that a survey of St. Cloud voters disproved).

Other proponents argue that our current Primary Plurality System has flaws that have led to the partisan divide in our legislature at the state and national level. However, they are proposing a fix for a problem that does not exist at our city level and could potentially add unnecessary complexity to our voting process.

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Don't Move the Goal Posts

Political Courage Needed to Lead through the Coronavirus Pandemic

COVID-19.jpgIn our April 13 SD49GOP newsletter and on our website, we noted that an increasing number of Republican legislators were pushing back on Gov. Walz for extending his order requiring most Minnesotans to stay home to May 4th. We went on to urge the governor to tell the state that, assuming current trends continue, restrictions will be lifted by May 4 for those businesses that put in place measures to keep their workers safe.

Two weeks ago, the criteria for re-opening the economy were two-fold:
• We need to “bend the curve”. Rather than an increasing trend in the number of new cases, we need to see the trend level off and start to decrease.
• Our health care system needs to be able to cope without resorting to crisis measures such as emergency hospitals.

Over the past week, our number of new cases has averaged 192, fluctuating between 97 and 261. The percentage of new cases to the number of daily completed tests has trended downward from 11.5% to 9.4%. With respect to the second bullet, the number of virus patients in ICU has fluctuated in the range of 104 to 122, well within the capability of our 844 ICU beds to handle.

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My Plan to End America’s Reliance on Chinese Manufactured Pharmaceuticals

By Kendall Qualls
Candidate for Congress in MN 3rd Congressional District

The United States must end its reliance on Chinese manufactured pharmaceuticals, the latest example of our overdependence on China. Our continued dependence on China for pharmaceuticals and medical supplies threatens our public health and undermines our national security. The coronavirus pandemic has Qualls___Home.jpgspecifically highlighted the extent of our reliance on Chinese manufactured pharmaceuticals and the immediate need for realigning our supply chain in this life-saving industry.

China Controls America’s Pharmaceutical Supply
Generics account for roughly 90% of U.S. prescriptions and we depend on China for 80% of the key ingredients to make our generics. Chinese firms also dominate production of household over-the-counter drugs and life-saving antibiotics, including 97% of antibiotics and 95% of ibuprofen imports.

Threat to Public Health
America’s reliance on Chinese manufactured pharmaceuticals is a threat to our public health. China’s pharmaceutical industry is not effectively regulated by either the Chinese government or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA cannot guarantee the safety of Chinese manufactured pharmaceuticals because it has a limited number of inspectors in China and limited cooperation from the ruling Chinese Communist Party. Inspections are critical because of the fraudulent practices of many Chinese manufacturers. In 2016, China’s Food and Drug Administration, now known as the National Medical Products Administration (NMPA), was compelled to cancel 80% of new drug applications from Chinese manufacturers because of fraudulent data. This is especially worrisome because the NMPA does not have the same standards and resources as the FDA.

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Mail-In Voting Requires Oversight

Sec_of_State_Steve_Simon.jpgAs reported in our April 13 edition, Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon has introduced legislation to expand mail-in voting and reduce in-person polling places.

This is part of a nation-wide effort to expand mail-in voting, which as the linked article points out is far more open to potential fraud.

And now Simon has proposed rules that circumvent mail-in ballot oversight as required by law. 

“Unbeknownst to almost everyone, the ballot boards that are responsible for determining which absentee ballots are properly submitted to be counted are being stacked with partisan bureaucrats instead of the citizen judges of balanced political affiliation required by law,” says the Minnesota Voters Alliance (MVA).

MVA has filed a lawsuit directly with the Minnesota Court of Appeals, and seeks declaratory judgment in the case, meaning it is asking the court to immediately force Simon to stop his actions as a matter of law.


Walz Extends Stay At Home, GOP Legislators Pushing Back

Gov. Walz extended his order requiring most Minnesotans to stay at home to May 4th. In response to questions about the information on which the governor is relying, the Minnesota Department of Health released the modeling and the assumptions on April 10.

According to the Star Tribune , Minnesota researchers modeled two scenarios. One extended the statewide stay-at-home order until May 8, and a second kept restrictions in place only for people 60 and older and others at greater risk of severe cases until July 10.

An increasing number of Republican legislators are pushing back. Pointing out that the situation in Minnesota is nowhere near what New York City is facing, Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and Sen. Scott Jensen (R, Chaska) question the assumptions that are going into the models. Watch Senator Jenson's video remarks from March 27, prior to last week's release.

After the April 10 release of the model, Alpha News also featured a critical analysis of several assumptions,  by Kevin Roche.

closed_businesses_graphic.jpg“It is past time to allow reopening of businesses that are clearly Covid-safe, “ tweeted Sen. Jim Abeler (R, Anoka). “Many should have never been closed in the first place. Tragically some of those are gone for good.”

Republicans in the Senate are questioning why large stores are deemed “essential” and remain open, while smaller local companies must stay closed. Sen. Andrew Mathews (R, Princeton) feels that the “blanket order does not fit our largely rural state.” If a local store works with its employees to operate safely, they should be able to operate. “If we wait for the state to micromanage each industry, many businesses will run out of time.”

While the Governor has not released his exact criteria for relaxing the self-quarantine restrictions, what might they include?

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