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Naomi [userpic]

Election 2012: Soil & Water, St. Paul

October 13th, 2012 (05:26 pm)

First, an update on the move: we pushed it back to after Election Day, so I will definitely be voting in Minneapolis. However, since I've already done a bunch of St. Paul oriented research, I'm still going to do endorsements for St. Paul.

I'll get to the Minneapolis Soil & Water endorsements in a few days -- I e-mailed people and want to give them a chance to respond. (However, I will note for the record that when you're an elected official -- any sort of elected official -- and I can find no way to e-mail you, your opponent would have to be really pretty goddamn bad for you to get my endorsement.)

Anyway! On to the St. Paul Soil & Water District Commissioners. There are two contested races.

Soil and Water Supervisor District 2
Gwen Willems
Greg Ryan

I am endorsing Gwen Willems. She's endorsed by the DFL and is the incumbent. I found a newspaper article that noted they tried to reach her opponent and got no response. I googled her opponent and came up dry. Gwen it is, then.

Soil and Water Supervisor District 5
Matt Ledvina
Margaret Ann Behrens
Dee Dodge George

Yes, that would be three candidates. I think I read that there was a tie in the primary.

I am endorsing Matt Ledvina, who has both a website and some actual qualifications for the job. (He's a Civil and Environmental engineer with significant professional experience in stormwater management.) He's also endorsed by the DFL.

Of the other two -- all I found about Dee (Dodge) George was her LinkedIn page, which says she's a lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry. (I think? The employer is Takeda Pharmaceuticals and her first job accomplishment listed is, "Lobbied in five state region on legislative and regulatory issues with potential impact to business interests and executed favorable outcomes." I am pretty sure I'd rather she not be on the SWCD board.)

Margaret Ann Behrens turned up as someone who'd filed a lawsuit against another candidate in a prior race and had her lawsuit thrown out. Which made for mildly interesting reading. I was not super impressed.

Back in a bit with judicial candidates and the mystery of What the Hell Dan Griffith Believes. This may take a while.

Naomi [userpic]

Election 2012: Judicial Race for Chief Justice

October 13th, 2012 (08:06 pm)

Conveniently, I don't think there are any contested judicial races on the ballot for my future St. Paul address that are not also on the ballot for my Minneapolis address. This post is going to be just about the Chief Justice race, though, because I have a surprising amount to say.

Chief Justice
Dan Griffith
Lorie Skjerven Gildea (incumbent)

I nearly always vote for incumbents in judicial races, but I realize that "well, s/he is the incumbent" is not necessarily a particularly persuasive argument to my readers. So I started doing a little digging this time and wound up really perplexed by what the hell does this Dan Griffiths guy actually believe, anyway.

His website is ... vague. Dog-whistle-y in a Christian Dominionist sort of way. There's the picture of his wife, staring up at him all smiley while he stares out resolutely at the camera. There's the phrase, "I offer a servant's perspective," which he then clarifies below is a reference to elected officials being public servants. In "About Dan," one of his sons describes him as "righteous." This is not language anyone outside of Dominionist subcultures uses to describe real people that they actually know, ever (unless it's the late 1980s/early 1990s -- it was one of those terms that enjoyed a brief vogue that might have been Bill and Ted related, I can't quite remember. It is not used SERIOUSLY by anyone outside that subculture.) He quotes Bork (OMG, remember Bork?)

If you're a Dominionist and you look at this website, you will see someone who is signalling clearly and repeatedly, I am one of you. Even as he carefully stays away from the phrases that the left has learned to watch for, like "original intent of the founders" or "activist judges."

And yet when people have publicly said, "This guy is a stealth right-winger" he has popped up in the comments (scroll down, you'll find him) to say that this isn't true and you should look at his website to see what he really believes.

But his website contains no positions of any kind. On his Facebook page, someone asks him about this and he says, "That is because judicial candidates are prohibited from making a pledge or a promise on specific issues that could come before the Court (which is just about everything). That is why I speak about the principles I adhere to. One issue I can speak to is that I believe judges must apply the law (and Constitution), not rewrite it."

...and, sure. You're not supposed to say, on your web page, when you're running for a judgeship, "I will firmly uphold a woman's right to an abortion!" (say) or "I will rule in favor of gay marriage!" or "I will rule against Obamacare any chance I get!" or "I will rule in favor of Naomi. ALWAYS. Whatever she wants, she gets."

But you can talk about your principles far more specifically than Griffith does. You are certainly allowed to say that you've not yet heard a convincing argument that women have a legal right to abortions, if you're anti-abortion. You're allowed to say that in general you think that love is love, regardless of whether the two people in love are two men, or a man and a woman. He doesn't say any of this stuff.

He does, however, have this great picture of himself posing by the party booths for Democrats, Republicans, Greens, and Jessecrats. It sort of implies that they all think he's awesome. Never mind that this picture was taken at the State Fair, and anyone who wants can take a picture of themselves in the DFL booth at the State Fair.

So anyway, here's another "he's a stealth Dominionist" article, which he responds to, once again. In his rebuttal, he says (among many other things) that the article says he's on the board of a network of radio stations "that preaches hell-fire and damnation to gays, pro-choicers, and other liberals." Griffith responds, "Wrong again. I am on the board of ONE radio station in International Falls. They have nothing to do with politics, just service to the community."

Here's the radio station: PsalmFM. And their programming listing.

Let me note for the record that I do not think Christian is synonymous with Dominionist, nor do I think that a Christian radio station inherently "preaches hellfire and damnation" to anyone. And I'm not going to listen to the shows. But I did visit some of the websites, and found stuff that disturbed me, like the "Eight Lies About Marriage" article from familylife.com that listed as lie eight, "there's no hope for my marriage--it can't be fixed." (Look, if your husband is beating you, you need to get out. This is not a fixable situation and you should not stick around and pray for God to change his heart. This website does have an article about abuse that at least says that it's unacceptable and not the fault of the victim, and encourages victims to leave -- but with the ultimate goal of reconciliation because "change is possible." Yeah.)

Also, the PsalmFM website itself features a "Marriage Minute" (a video made by the group that's pushing for the anti-gay amendment that's on the ballot this year). Interestingly, on Griffith's facebook page, someone asks, "Will you strive to give LGBT equality?" Griffith responds, "EVERYONE deserves to be treated equally under the law."

There's a level of disingenuousness in his campaign that is frankly breathtaking.

Back in 2010, Griffith was also running for judge, and a lot less stealthy about his beliefs -- apparently he got endorsed by both the GOP and the ultra-conservative Constitution Party.

Anyway, I will wholeheartedly endorse Lorie Skjerven Gildea on the grounds that Dan Griffith IS, in fact, a stealth Dominionist, and a freaking dangerous one -- he apparently got 48.5% of the vote in the Judicial race he ran in back in 2010. Gildea is a Pawlenty appointee, and I would prefer someone more liberal. Griffith is NOT IT.

But he wants you to think he is, while he counts on his religious-right allies picking up on all the cues about his real beliefs.

Naomi [userpic]

Election 2012: Judicial Races: the rest

October 13th, 2012 (09:04 pm)

The Associate Justice races are in both Minneapolis and St. Paul, and then that's it for contested judicial races in St. Paul.

ASSOCIATE JUSTICE 1
Barry Anderson (Incumbent)
Dean Barkley

Dean Barkley is best known in local politics for spending 61 days as a Senator (he was appointed by Governor Ventura to fill the seat after Paul Wellstone died). He's sort of a crank -- as was (and is) Ventura, for that matter. Barkley enthusiastically joined the Reform Party after it was started by Ross Perot. At some point the MN Reform party changed its name to the Independence Party, but I usually call them the Jessecrats. If someone is running as a DFLer or a Republican or a Libertarian or a Green, you can make some assumptions about their beliefs and you will be mostly correct. Jessecrats -- well, years ago I remember reading their party platform and thinking that it seemed to be a laundry list of random grousing. I mean, it practically included as bullet point #328 that the GODDAMN KIDS NEED TO STAY OFF HAROLD'S LAWN, that's how weirdly specific it got in places.

I actually participate, after a fashion, in the writing of the DFL party platform. At caucuses, people introduce resolutions which are then debated and voted on at the caucus. These all get forwarded to the Senate District Convention, where the Resolutions Committee puts them all together into this enormous list and people vote on the ones they like while they're killing time between ballots and so on. Those lists are comprehensive and often overly specific. There are invariably reams upon reams of resolutions for things that are already in the DFL platform. Other resolutions -- well, I remember one that called for extended unemployment benefits for electricians. Another called for every laboring woman to be provided with a doula by her health insurer (I'm pro-doulas but does this really need to be in the DFL platform?)

Anyway, post-convention stuff gets sent to another committee and the fact is that they do a lot of weeding. The Jessecrat platform read like no one had bothered to weed. At all. Ever.

(I just looked it up and it is MUCH better written now, FYI.)

But that's still my overall impression of Dean Barkley. Kind of a crank.

Barry Anderson was appointed by Pawlenty but I don't think he's evil. This admittedly poorly-sourced rant says that while he's a Republican, he's not the crazy hate-filled sort of Republican but the centrist, openminded kind.

I will probably vote for Barry Anderson but I am open to a case being made for Dean Barkley. Actually, you would have to make a convincing case against the incumbent, in this case, because honestly, I don't have a very high opinion of Dean.

ASSOCIATE JUSTICE 4
David R. Stras (incumbent)
Tim Tingelstad

Stras is a lesser evil here. Tingelstad is not even remotely subtle about his Dominionist foaming at the mouth. Vote for Stras.

In Minneapolis, there are two more contested races.

4TH DISTRICT COURT -- JUDGE 22
Steven E. Antolak
Elizabeth V. Cutter

Neither candidate is an incumbent (!) I voted for Liz Cutter in the primary after being totally unimpressed by the stupid boilerplate ad about his "AV Rating" on Antolak's website. I'm going to vote for Liz Cutter in the general election for the following reasons:

1. She's endorsed by a bunch of people I like. Antolak is endorsed by AFSCME so he's not endorsement-less, but I am less impressed by AFSCME endorsing you than BOTH Keith Ellison AND Arne Carlson endorsing you.

2. Did I mention the stupid, boilerplate ad on Antolak's site? I want judges to be smart.

3. Liz Cutter's done a bunch of work on domestic violence issues, including working with international groups to draft laws in other countries, which I think is cool.

That said, I think they're both reasonable choices. Antolak sounds compassionate and hardworking.

4TH DISTRICT COURT -- JUDGE 44
Mark Berris
Lois Conroy

ANOTHER judicial race with no incumbent! This wasn't in the primary because only two people filed.

Berris's website.
Conroy's website.

They both look like reasonable candidates. I like Conroy's endorsements much, much better -- partly because Berris's are mostly from the suburbs, and I don't know who these people are or what they stand for. (Except for Rich Stanek, whom I don't much like.) I'm going to vote for Conroy based on her endorsements. If anyone has specific information about these candidates, please feel free to share.

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