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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Bloomington Makes Big Commitment To World's Fair - Will MN GOP?

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 09/21/17 00:06, Edited: 09/21/17 00:13

by Dave Mindeman

Minnesota is one of the finalists to host the World's Fair in 2023.

You can debate the value of that - but there is little question that it would be a economic boost with lots of construction jobs.

Bloomington made a significant purchase in preparation...

During a joint meeting Tuesday of the Bloomington City Council and the city's Port Authority, officials voted to buy the Kelley farm property, also known as the Spruce Shadows Farm, for $32.3 million as a possible Expo site.

In addition to the Mall of America and the Minnesota River Valley, the Kelley farm is close to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, the light-rail Blue Line and thousands of hotel rooms. "That was one of the largest pieces of property available near light rail," said Mark Ritchie, president and CEO of Minnesota's World's Fair Bid Committee.

Notice the reference to the Blue line light rail. Locations next to transit are necessary in hosting big events. You need to move people and in a location friendly way.

Republicans continue to block light rail development. Will they continue to do that if the World's Fair comes here? Will we be able to show off a complete transit system for those visitors or will they be navigating the piecemeal infrastructure we have been relegated to?

The city of Bloomington seems to be all in. Mark Ritchie has made a strong bid to get Minnesota as one of host finalists. Mark Dayton has done what he can.

Will the legislature? That Republican legislature that keeps telling us they are bringing jobs to Minnesota?

If they want to attract these major events, we need a modern and efficient transportation system.

So far, their efforts in that regard are a big disappointment.
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To Mr. Erdmann: Don't Use The Big Money Problem To Divide Dems

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 08/07/17 19:06, Edited: 08/07/17 19:08

by Dave Mindeman

Jeff Erdmann had an extensive interview with the Uptake which covered a broad range of topics.

I'd like to take a closer look at a few of his statements.

There is no question that money is the scourge of modern day politics. Citizens United opened up the Pandora's Box and we have had to deal with it ever since. Democrats have had to scramble to raise money just as much as Republicans, but to say Democrats are abandoning their principles because of money is just too broad a concept to be justified.

Here is some specifics from Erdmann:

"I think the voters of district CD2, I think they deserve to have competition. Last go around, Angie self-funded a big chunk. This is what happens in politics, is that you see wealthy people come in and they can write a big check for themselves to loan themselves money, and then competition goes away and in a sense, they have no competition and they get the endorsement. I don't think that's good for the democratic process.

"When Stuart Mills (Mills Fleet Farm executive who ran as a Republican for congress in northern Minnesota) goes and tries to buy an election, when Betsy DeVos tries to go and buy a seat as Secretary of Education, I don't think that's okay. And when other candidates try to do that, I don't think that's okay. Especially when you're trying to represent the Democratic Party, which is supposed to be kind of against the influence of big money and trying to buy and lessen or reduce, the voice of the people."

I don't know if Mr. Erdmann was paying attention early on, but Angie Craig did have competition. Mary Lawrence made a brief splash in 2015 by putting in over $1 million of her own money. But she failed to connect with the activist base and dropped out. Angie Craig did self fund at the beginning, but she worked to establish a broader base of support and it paid off.

Erdmann's example of Betsy DeVos is more on point. She made her donations for a different purpose - to buy influence. To buy a seat at the table. Most of the Democrats who raise money, do it to establish name recogntion - to introduce themselves to the party and the electorate. Unfortunately, it takes a large amount of money to do so. If individual donations can reach that level, then we have the ideal situation. Bernie Sanders did it and it took him a long ways. However, Jeff Erdmann has a couple of problems.

First, judging by his comments about the last election, he has not participated in the party. Sure, he may have wished to stay out of the political fray in order to be "authentic" to his students, but authenticity also includes being honest about your political views as well.

If Jeff Erdmann was really considering what was good for the Party and what was good for his place in politics, then he should be running for the legislative seat held by Anna Wills in Rosemount. There his "authenticity" would mean something. He would have an established base. He could learn how to raise money the right way and build a campaign base of volunteers who could help him win a needed legislative slot.

But Erdmann never learned any of that. He didn't get into the trenches. He may have the ideals of a progressive and would vote the right way legislatively - BUT YOU HAVE TO GET ELECTED FIRST.

A Congressional race for a novice is a large undertaking. And without a previous electoral springboard, you simply have to have a donor base of support that can build that name recognition.

Angie Craig did that. She seeded it with her own money. She reached out to all the right people. Hired experienced staff. And kept building that base. And if not for that Trump surge at the end, I think she would have won. She has stated that she will not self fund her campaign this time around. She is going to count on the base of support she built last time. She is not beholden to big money, as Mr. Erdmann would imply.

Erdmann can criticize big money in politics - I will join him in that criticism. But we are where we are. And I think attacking Angie Craig for doing exactly what she needed to do is the wrong approach.

And very divisive within the District Party.

More on the rest of Erdmann's interview later.
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Instead Of More Mining Controversy......

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 08/30/16 17:09

by Dave Mindeman

I am sure that most of you, at one time or another, have seen the North Dakota tourism ads (Legendary). North Dakota invested a pretty sizable chunk of money to bring in some tourism dollars.

Here is a summary of a 2014 report on that campaign....

The campaign generated 1.1 million incremental trips that would not otherwise have taken place, which brought $211.1 million in incremental visitor spending and $15.9 million in state and local taxes.

It cost $1.80 in advertising to generate each incremental trip.

Every $1 invested in the North Dakota ad campaign generated $107 in visitor spending and $8 in state/local tax revenue for the benefit of North Dakota residents.

By almost any standard that was a pretty good return. And the additional value of that is that the ad spending can implant the idea that ND is a tourist destination for future trips as well.

The reason I bring this up is that we have, at least I feel, an underutilized tourist destination in this state....I'm talking about the boundary waters.

The Iron Range gets some tourism dollars, but I believe they could be getting a whole lot more as millenials get into more of the rugged outdoor vacations.

Instead of the controversy of mining development that could actually be a detriment to this potential industry, why doesn't the state invest in national advertising in the way North Dakota has done.

I know there is the "Explore Minnesota" campaign and that has provided some benefits, but with the need for jobs in northern Minnesota, why not take the opportunity to greatly expand our tourism outreach.

Before we get into another heated debate about sulfide mining and the controversies that develop with that, how about an extended discussion of what we can do to make the Boundary Waters a national destination?

Hey, what have we got to lose by the conversation?
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