March 9, 2006

Caucus stuff

Sorry this is a couple days late...

First things first: I am officially a delegate to the SD-59 convention March 25th. Let the bidding for my vote begin... j/k. It's not for sale. You can try to convince me if you want, though.

The caucus was pretty fun. In my precinct (2-9) there were maybe 35 people there (a few came, filled out the straw poll, and left.) It was mostly college students, or maybe just out of college, and senior citizens. There were 27 delegate slots for our precinct (must be a big precinct, but it's mostly students, and you know they don't show up) but only 19 of us wanted to be delegates, so there wasn't even a vote. We passed some resolutions on healthcare, the DREAM act, GM wild rice, Instant Runoff Voting, and putting the proposed University Avenue light rail underground or above street level so it wouldn't cause traffic problems.

Then we got the straw poll results back. I was pleasantly surprised: in my precinct at least, Steve Kelley got about 2x the votes of anyone else; Mike Hatch got only 3. Ford Bell actually beat Amy Klobuchar 15-10-(a few undecided.) Mark Ritchie beat Christian Sande by a few votes, and Rebecca Otto was the clear choice for auditor. Unfortunately, the straw poll didn't cover congressional districts, but delegates get to vote on that at the district convention. (I'm still undecided, but I'm seriously leaning towards Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer. He seems like a pretty nice guy.)

Posted by smit2174 at 5:32 PM

March 7, 2006

Some results, finally!

Senate (22,821)

Ford Bell 15.9
Amy Klobuchar 76.9
Undecided/other 7.2

Governor (22,697)

Kelly Doran 6.4
Mike Hatch 38.3
Steve Kelley 22.4
Becky Lourey 22.7
Ole Savior 0.3
Undecided/other 9.8

Attorney General (20,729)

Matt Entenza 81.8
Undecided/other 18.2

Secretary of State (19,427)

Christian Sande 15.4
Dick Franson 5.4
Mark Ritchie 38.3
Undecided/other 40.9

State Auditor (19,157)

Reggie Edwards 12.1
Rebecca Otto 46.8
Undecided/other 41.1

(75% of precincts reporting.)

From Anyone else noticed that the SOS website is sloooooooow as heck?

More soon.

Posted by smit2174 at 11:53 PM

March 2, 2006

Rock the Cauc(us) FRIDAY-- don't forget!

One last time, here are the deets for RTC:

Friday, March 3
Manhattan Loft (Corner of Oak St. & Washington Ave.)

Remember, you'll get 100 APS points just for attending! Seek me out to get your points, or send an email (see sidebar) proving you were there, and you will be immortalized forever on the sidebar! "My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: / Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"

Even if you can't make it, get thee here next Tuesday:

DFL Caucus Banner

Also: Click here for a nifty tool that'll let you find your DFL precinct caucus details. Just type in your zipcode and away you go!

Posted by smit2174 at 10:54 PM

Thoughts on Tuesday's governor's debate

We've already established that the Daily article/video combo on Tuesday's U-DFL-sponsored gubernatorial debate is pretty skimpy on useful detail or thoughtful analysis. Luckily for us, MN Campaign Report, who was liveblogging the debate (I logged him in to the network!), has a great post summing up the points the candidates made for each question. That means I won't waste time writing my own summary, and I can just dive into my own thoughts on how it all went down. Here goes:

I'd seen Steve Kelley and Becky Lourey before at U-DFL meetings, and their debate styles were consistent with their stump-speech personas: Kelley the practiced, polished politician; Lourey the overtly (and sometimes overly) enthusiastic grandmotherly type. Kelly Doran was a pleasant surprise for me. I'd seen his billboard on 35W, but didn't really know much about him. Turns out he is a pretty good speaker (I can't say "debater," because, despite its billing, this wasn't much of a debate.) He plays the role of the sensible, no-nonsense, non-partisan moderate very well. As I mentioned before, Doran had the applause line of the night (if there had been any applause in the entire debate): "My generation is doing a pretty good job of trying to screw your generation. And that's wrong."

The format of the debate was somewhat confusing for me as an audience member, and doubtless even more confusing for the candidates. At first, the candidates, especially Sen. Lourey, had trouble staying within the 1-minute time limit for the specific questions. Later, the moderators (Kelly and Noah) opened it up to more general 15-minute discussions of topics (environment, health care, education, and "effectiveness and vision," or something-- the candidates had trouble defining this one.) I think the intent was to allow an actual debate where the candidates could interrupt each other, but they either didn't catch on or didn't want to appear too combative by interrupting, instead opting to pass the speaking duties down the line. Only once did things get even remotely snippy, as Steve Kelley took a swipe at Kelly Doran, saying that he (Mr. Kelley) wouldn't presume to step directly into the management of a real-estate company (Doran is a wealthy developer)-- the clear implication being that Mr. Doran doesn't have the experience in state government to be an effective leader, while Sen. Kelley believes he does. Doran popped back by saying that the Founders envisioned private citizens stepping up to serve their states and nation, and that he'd like to believe that state government isn't so complicated that he can't manage it, especially with his business experience. [aside: MNCR says "Doran was NOT ready for Kelley's comments"; I disagree. His response was logical and well-delivered, and, if delivered in the right setting, would have opened up Kelley to criticisms of being a "lifer." Then Doran could make the case that he's just the "breath of fresh air" that MN needs. But I digress.]

In my opinion, there wasn't a clear "winner" in this debate. But I did learn a lot about the candidates. Becky Lourey is definitely the most liberal candidate in the race, and she seems to have the most concrete plans of any candidate, especially on healthcare. She obviously has a great grasp on the policy details of the health-care debate, as her appearance at our U-DFL meeting made clear (she spent probably close to 30 minutes detailing her health-care plan, which was great, but she went into such detail-- this type of account vs. that type, what she did with her businesses, etc.-- that none of us had any idea what she was talking about.) She has been a strong voice for programs like MNCare-- and is one of the founders of that program. But Lourey needs to learn to better communicate her ideas. Many times, she ran over her allotted time, or launched into digressions that seemed to have no relevance to the topic at hand. These stories are told with a grandmotherly exuberance that is charming, but in the wrong audience, she could come off as a less-than-serious candidate. I enjoyed her ending story: she told of being called an "F.B." (think curse words) by a veteran over an anti-flag-burning amendment that she opposed, and then later finding him crying in the hallway because, apparently, her words in defense of freedom of expression had made him see why he had fought for his country- to protect these very freedoms. However, it had absolutely no relevance to the topic of "effectiveness" or "vision." She also repeated her joke that she is the only candidate that has had her arm up to the elbow in the uterus of a cow. I think it's a funny story. I also have a sick, morbid sense of humor. Is Minnesota ready for such an incendiary anecdote?

Kelly Doran is a pretty good speaker. He effectively stayed within the time limits, and didn't make any huge gaffes. Rather than going into specifics of his plan, Doran tried to connect his general political beliefs with examples from his own life and business career. (Examples: when speaking of the need to support the University, he revealed that he had paid his own way through the U back in the day; in stating that Pawlenty's "greatest mistake" has been that he lost touch with where he came from, he brought up his own family background of growing up in a single-parent household without a lot of money. He also connected a lot of his policy stances to his experience in the business world.) I think this is a style that could appeal to a lot of voters, especially independents. I'd have to review the Doran campaign's policy specifics, but as of now, I would not have a problem voting for Doran in November, if he makes it past the primary.

However, barring some last-minute change of heart, I will be voting for Steve Kelley in Tuesday's caucus.
He is the only candidate that has promised to abide by the DFL endorsement, which I appreciate. I also liked his views to the effect that conflict in politics is OK, as long as it's constructive. He understands the need to build a broad base for the DFL, and believes that being partisan is a good way to encourage participation. He also praised the state DFL because "we can't be rolled over like the national party," as they proved in the last session. I generally agree with Kelley's positions, but even more, I believe he is the candidate that can successfully appeal to progressives, moderates, DFLers, He is definitely the most polished campaigner of the three.

It would appear that Kelley has quite a bit of momentum going into the caucuses: He won the DFL straw poll last weekend, and appears to have more traction against Pawlenty than Hatch does :

2/20. Likely voters. MoE 4.5% (1/16 results) Pawlenty (R) 40 (47) Hatch (DFL) 45 (44)

Pawlenty (R) 42 (46)
Kelley (DFL) 42 (37)

(Rasmussen poll, via Kos)

He's moved up 5 points, while Hatch shows no movement. And this despite the fact that AG Hatch, perennial candidate for governor and publicity hound, doubtless has better name recognition than Kelley. Also remember that Hatch never shows up to anything. In fact, he doesn't appear to be doing a whole lot of anything. I mean, I'd vote for the guy if he ends up with the endorsement, but he needs to prove he is going to put the work in to deserve it.

Overall, I was impressed with all three candidates. I would not have trouble voting for any of them. We've got to get Pawlenty out of office. ...and that's the end of that chapter.

Posted by smit2174 at 6:19 PM

March 1, 2006

Couple of things from the Daily


*The Daily has a short, not very informative article about last night's DFL debate. They did, however, get the money quote from Kelly Doran:

"My generation is doing a pretty good job of trying to screw your generation," Doran said. "And that's wrong."

They also have a poorly-edited video that highlights a few things from the debate, though most clips are taken out of context. One of the editors must have a grudge against Steve Kelley, because the ending clip shows him getting cut off by the moderator, when, in reality, it was Sen. Lourey that regularly went over her allotted time.

*Does anyone else find this funny?

First-year student [name deleted, but trust me, it's in the article] discovered an option to clear her record when she was ticketed with minor consumption in the third week of September. Along with the citation was information about the restorative justice program, a chance to erase the incident from her record.

Having a criminal record could affect future employment, depending on the severity of the crime. But most employers interviewed said they aren't as concerned about misdemeanor crimes as they are about felonies.

Nonetheless, [name deleted] decided to go through the restorative justice program in November to erase the charge from her record and to save money by not paying the fine. Instead, she did eight hours of community service.

This way future employers will see an unblemished record.

Doesn't this person know that this article will be on the internet for all time? Now, the employer doesn't even have to do a background check; googling this person's name will turn up this misdemeanor she thought she was getting rid of. I'm sure it's not that big of a deal for future employment, but by allowing herself to be quoted, she basically negated whatever benefit she got from the "restorative justice program."

Posted by smit2174 at 8:54 AM

Arrested Development saved!

Sorry to do so many posts in a row, but this news (well, rumor) is too good not to report: the only current TV show worth watching, Arrested Development, will continue for at least 26 more episodes on Showtime!

Oh wait. I don't get cable, nor am I planning on getting it. At least I can still watch it on DVD. Which reminds me: still gotta get through the rest of Season 2 and all of the current season, if those ever make it to DVD.

Posted by smit2174 at 1:42 AM

In other news...

The gubernatorial debate tonight was an overall success, I'd say. We didn't have a great turnout, and only once did a real "debate" break out, but I learned a lot about each of the candidates and think I know who I will support in next Tuesday's caucus. Hopefully I will have time to do a detailed write-up sometime in the next few days. I know that a couple of people from the Daily were there, as long as a few other media outlets and at least one blogger from the Kelley campaign (I hope he didn't abuse the access I gave him to the U's wireless network!) You could check other outlets for news until yours truly finds the time to write something decent.

Also, if I get the chance, I will be making a comic about one of Becky Lourey's infamous stories. So check back!

Posted by smit2174 at 1:20 AM

MN State GOP: screwing you over, once again

MPR's Polinaut blog has the scoop on a CD-ROM, sent out by the Minnesota Republican Party, that surveys voters on a number of issues and stealthily sends the data to the Republican Party to be used in voter ID lists.

Ingenious idea, yes. But apparently there is no privacy notice on the CD, which poses frightening risks to data privacy. From ThinkProgress:

The problem – the CD sends your answers back to headquarters, filed by name, address, and political views. No mention of that in the terms of use. No privacy policy at all. The story concludes: “So if you run the CD in your personal computer, by the end of it, the Minnesota GOP will not only know what you think on particular issues, but also who you are.?

These practices fall way below the standard for today’s polling firms and web sites. The norm for polling firms is to anonymize the data and report only statistical totals. The norm for commercial web sites is to have a privacy policy, with Federal Trade Commission enforcement if the web site breaks its privacy promise.

Without a privacy policy, the state party can tell your views to anyone at all. If you give the “wrong? answers on abortion or other issues, they can tell your boss, members of your church, or anyone else. In fact, these answers could get distributed to campaigns in your town during get-out-the-vote efforts – precisely the place where “wrong? answers can be most damaging.

Worse still, something apparently went wrong with the programming, and some people have figured out how to access the GOP's data on an unsecure server:

What's worse, the information is on an unsecured Web site. I'm not going to tell you what site we found it on (until it's been secured), just to let you know that the data is there. And it can be found by anyone who can decompile the program on the CD. [...]

We could -- if we were malicious (and we're not ) -- change the questions that are "on the CD" because they're really not on the CD. The program connects to a database and provides the questions.

Imagine if thousands of CDs arrived in homes with the question "do you like Siegried and Roy?"

We could steal the data. In fact, the mailing list of more than [...] 25,000 names is also on the site, and is easily downloaded into a spreadsheet. Cool. Twenty-five-thousand names and addresses. Free.

This is a significant security flaw. And it's coming to a mailbox near you in a few days.

Ridiculous. They don't tell you that the CD uploads your personal information to the internet, and they can't even be bothered to secure that information?

Props to North Star Politics for the catch.

Posted by smit2174 at 12:53 AM