Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Looking to 2012

I'm confident in our voting and recount system; I observed it closely in 2008, and it gave me immense faith that the laws protect the will of the people collectively by insuring the standard is basing outcomes on voter's individual intent -- even prior to the clarifications that followed the Coleman/Franken recount and legal challenges. Where there's a close vote count, such as David Bly's very narrow loss to Kelby Woodard, we must obviously allow the process to play out fully to be certain of the election outcome, but I see no reason to assume the eristic strategems being pursued by the GOP in the gubernatorial recount will alter the Dayton margin in any substantive way.

So here are some thoughts for both the DFL and the team advising Mr. Emmer, and possibly even Joe Miller's GOP/Tea-Party advisors in Alaska, about what to do moving forward. When those who are opposed to a given group are given unflattering/negative labels, when warnings that challenge a group's assumptions are ignored or deprecated, when a group is so sure it's right that it won't consider outside opinions and/or advice, "groupthink" happens.

GroupThink Happens

When groups experience the stress of failure or the perception of a threat from "outside" -- in other words, when a group feels under pressure -- the well-known tendency to hunker down and rely on "the things we already know" or "the way we've always done it" virtually ensures a dynamic of top-down control, which results in the stifling of creativity.

Research into group dynamics suggests that certain cohesive collections of people are particularly prone to fall into this trap, including particularly church boards, university committees, military organizations, and partisan political groups.

Such groups, in the guise of pursuing quick turn-arounds and/or success, run the risk of promoting this counterproductive process. You can calculate the risk by multiplying two tendencies of group leaders: limiting new input and guiding outcomes to preferred ends. To achieve optimal outcomes, those leading any discussion must act as truly "neutral brokers" for ideas and solutions, devoting abundant attention to the process itself rather than manipulating it. It's true for business executives, politicians, team coaches, and countless other group leaders.

Naturally the open-minded collection of ideas has to be followed by a winnowing process, where consideration and experience of leaders may be key, and those accountable for outcomes have a clear interest in attaining success, but short-circuiting the process has been shown repeatedly to result in tactical blunders that ultimately undermine victory.

Leadership Doesn't Just Happen
Senator Lisa Murkowsi (R-Alaska)
In much the same way that campaigning for a leadership position requires and tests a very different set of actions and behaviors than actually exercising effective leadership once one is elected by a group to represent their best interests (be they committee members or registered voters,) agreeing on what optimal outcomes might be is obviously not as simple in practice as it seems in theory. Leadership is an intentional process; good leadership is rarely instinctive, and should not be confused with charisma.

Factor in the reality of the Peter Principle and it's easy to see why true leaders at any level in any venture are a precious commodity. In most cases the 2010 elections are done, and those who came up short when the votes were tallied need to think long and hard about what's next. The challenge for the 2012 elections will be finding candidates who are capable of being effective both on the campaign and when serving the people in elected office.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Kline rejects another opportunity to appear with Shelley Madore

According to the Madore campaign, former state Representative Shelley Madore received a formal response Monday from incumbent John Kline rejecting an opportunity to debate her in front of a live audience in the Second Congressional District.

"It saddens me that the voters of this district will have one 25-minute radio interview just one week before the election as their only opportunity to evaluate our ability to best represent them in Washington," said Madore discussing the incumbent's reluctance to make time to appear before district voters.
"Rep. John Kline has been in office for eight years; he seems to take for granted that his seat is secure despite the 18% public approval rating for members of Congress. I believe the voters of this district have had enough of elitist Washington politics.

I have appeared at FarmFest and the Goodhue County Veterans candidate forums and will participate in two Transportation Alliance candidate forums in the next two weeks, all of which John Kline has refused to attend. In his response, John Kline cited his conversations with voters at community events over the summer. I have spent the last nine months listening to voters' concerns about jobs, health care, transportation and education funding. These are serious times and demand a serious candidate willing to work for your vote."

Former Minnesota Representative Shelley Madore
Madore's campaign has reportedly conveyed an additional offer made Monday by the Burnsville Chamber of Commerce to host a debate, seeking an opportunity for voters to compare and contrast the two candidates and their records in a setting where the public can see and judge both.

According to Rasmussen incumbents are in trouble, and Kline's lack of initiative for projects within the district while he continues to vote for earmarks inserted by other members of his party leaves him open to questions from the voters. His record of voting against funding for veterans has led some to accuse him of supporting war without supporting the warriors. Madore's 35 Cent Tour has successfully explained to Minnesotans that not all earmarks are pork, and swing voters are increasingly suggesting that Kline needs to do more than repeat talking points if he wants to represent them in Congress again.
"Only 12% of voters believe most members of Congress are more interested in helping people than in helping their own careers. Seventy-six percent (76%) say most in Congress put their own careers first. Skepticism has remained this high since October."
Rasmussen Reports

Monday, September 27, 2010

Kline continues to dodge voters

First Kline dodged the Farmfest candidates forum, then the former Marine officer skipped the invitation to the Goodhue Veteran's forum, and yesterday the Star Tribune revealed that GOP Congressman John Kline somehow could find no time to debate his opponent, former State Representative Shelley Madore, in response to an invitation from KSTP-TV and the League of Women Voters. The spin? Madore's campaign hadn't specifically asked.

Seriously. The Star Tribune article cites a campaign statement that Kline has been busy talking with constituents about Washington's "increasing intrusion into their homes and workplaces," echoes carefully tested GOP talking points -- but where is Kline talking? Saying a short joint appearance on MPR - less than a half hour - an open exchange of ideas with his opponent suggests Kline has nothing much to talk about. And even that came from staff.

OK, I suppose he can rationalize avoiding voters at Farmfest since it was a few miles outside the district. After all, Michelle Bachmann wasn't there. Sure, it's a big deal to Minnesota farmers, but it's not like his whole district is farms, right? There are obviously many more votes in the northern, suburban areas. Of course, Madore thinks farmers are a vital part of the local economy, but she grew up on a small farm.

Still, it starts to be a story when a former Marine officer somehow can't find time to accept an invitation to a veteran's forum that is clearly inside his district. His rhetoric tends to support military funding - well, at least funding current operations. If my record voting for spending on veteran's affairs was as shabby as his I might give the veterans forum invitation a miss, too.

But KSTP and the League of Women Voters gave him plenty of notice, and evidently the rest of his voting record isn't something he's proud of, either. Well, kudos to Shelley Madore for holding a press conference and personally delivering a letter to his office.

"Please allow the voters of our Congressional District the opportunity to learn enough about us to make an informed decision by participating in a debate with me."
Shelley Madore,
in an open letter to John Kline

Should Madore echo the late Senator Paul Wellstone's "Where's Rudy?" campaign, perhaps? Kline's spokesman says he's talking to constituents, but mostly he seems to wave from the middle of parade routes. Is a 4-term Congressman really so scared of losing his seat that his campaign has to make flimsy excuses? Is his record really that thin? Apparently so, yes.

Kline doesn't usually talk to anybody in uncontrolled, unscripted settings, and he's hoping that talking a few minutes on MPR one week before the election will convince voters in his District that he listens?

Pull the other one, John; it's got bells on.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Madore applauds President's proposed business tax credits

"...our district is already in a position to create those opportunities without a tax increase...”
former State Representative Shelley Madore
Sept. 8, 2010 (Apple Valley, MN)– Minnesota Second Congressional District Candidate Shelley Madore applauds President Obama’s plan, announced today, to provide for transportation infrastructure improvements, continued business research and development tax credits, and the extension of tax credits for middle-income earners. Madore, a former state representative, has been touting ways to create jobs, increase business development and strengthen the local economy.

My campaign’s 35 Cent Tour calls attention to the total lack of investment in our community since Republican incumbent John Kline became the hoarder of our hard-earned federal tax dollars,” Madore said.

What does that mean for the taxpayer in the Second Congressional District?

For every Federal tax dollar paid in our district, only 35 cents is spent here in our community,” Madore said. “Other Minnesota districts receive an average of 77 cents. At the same time, John Kline voted for the bill that included the 'Bridge to Nowhere' in Alaska, and many other bills that included earmarks for other states.

As the rest of the country struggles to find ways to finance job creation, our district is already in a position to create those opportunities without a tax increase,” Madore continued. “If we had a Representative who would ask for our money back, we could bring back to this district millions of dollars and thousands of jobs. Mr. Kline has a grip that won't loosen, despite the loss of more than 10,000 manufacturing jobs in our district. While we were losing those local jobs, John Kline was bailing out Wall Street banks and leaving Main Street behind. I support small business growth. John Kline’s continued lack of support for small businesses is evident, most recently in his vote against the Small Business Lending Fund Act. I look forward to working with local leaders to address our long term economic strategy and put hard-working Minnesotans back to work.

For more information about Shelley Madore and the 35 Cent Tour, please visit madoreforcongress.com


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

John Kline avoids veterans forum

John Kline was conspicuously absent from the VFW in Cannon Falls last night, skipping the chance to address veterans face-fo-face at the Goodhue County United Veterans Organizations "Candidate's Forum." My theory is that he didn't want to have to explain the disconnect between his rhetoric and his votes.

Why would a former Marine officer serving in Congress not vote to support funding for Veterans Affairs?  I don't know; you'll have to ask him yourself, but since action speaks louder than words maybe you already know enough about how little he cares for the honest, working Minnesotans in his adopted District.

Former MN Representative Shelley Madore: Cannon Falls VFW
Goodhue county United Veterans Organization Candidate Forum
Kline's opponent, former State Rep. Shelley Madore was certainly there, joining candidates at all levels from Governor through county offices to meet with vets and their families and talk about needs and priorities.  Her record in the Minnesota House shows a dedication to Veterans that you might expect Kline to want to counter for such an audience, considering either his startling votes on spending for Veterans Affairs or the fact Madore's "35 Cent Tour" is gaining traction with the media and the voters.

Republicans, following President Bush's lead, led this country into an economic quagmire pursuing wars of choice while protecting big banks and special interests, but that's no reason for Kline to dodge his military family constituents.  Leaders get out and talk to voters, and if necessary explain why they made bad decisions, but Kline evidently lacks the commitment to the veterans in the district to face those tough questions.

True leaders don't sit back and spout ideology when the chips are down, they roll up their sleeves and take ownership of the challenges and problems.  They lead by example, not by talking points.  The men and women who put on this country's uniform deserve the respect of all of us, but a former officer couldn't be bothered to attend their forum?

The November election will be a choice between a marine officer who voted against defense department funding and now deliberately dodges veterans and a former legislator who's visiting every community in the district at every opportunity to make sure her constituents know how hard she works.

The choice for voters is increasingly clear: Kline's content to sit at home, while Shelly Madore continues to show she'll do more.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Myths & Ideology Undermine Business

Who figured voters would have a pro-business DFLer on the ballot in the Second District?  Incumbent John Kline's got to be worried, because as I pointed out back in early July, former State Rep. Shelley Madore is just that.

Shelley's winning message for the primary was wrapped up in her "35 Cent Tour" highlighting that the imbalance of federal tax dollars is undermining job creation and business investment, the facts tell the tale. While the state averages 77 cents back for every dollar we spend in federal taxes, the Second is only getting back 35 cents - which moves the burden for key projects in the community onto other revenue sources, such as property taxes.

Among the myths about John Kline is that Republican ideology has just got to be good for the business climate here by favoring lower taxes and fighting pork.  Here's the thing:

In "How does Minnesota stack up in business taxation? Pretty well, it turns out" by Sharon Schmickle yesterday at minnpost the facts and figures indicate our effective tax rates for businesses are somewhat less than Wisconsin, Iowa, or South Dakota, and substantially less - approaching HALF - the effective rate in North Dakota.

Factor in that North Dakota's unemployment rate is the lowest in the country right now.

I'm not about to tell you that there's no waste in government spending. There's waste in virtually every business, too, and controlling it is essential to efficiency and - ultimately - success.

But if lowering taxes and keeping federal dollars out of the state or the District is the secret to creating jobs, why have 10,900 manufacturing jobs moved from the Second District to China?  That's the worst record for any Congressional District in the state.  Our population is growing, but we're shedding jobs on John Kline's watch, and he's not doing anything but throwing political double-talk at the problem.

And if sounding reasonable meant a Representative was good for the District, Kline would be just fine: his rhetoric is polished, and persuasive. But the fact is he's quietly voting for his ideological theory, not the people of the Second District.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

MPR: Bachmann, Kline, and Powers spurn Farmfest invitations

OK, to be fair, according to the MPR story Ms. Bachmann's staff said her absence was due to a sudden undisclosed illness, but after watching Tarryl Clark's reception she may regret the decision to give her District 6 opponent the chance to address Farmfest unchallenged.

One DFLer, Powers, joined Bachmann and Kline in skipping Farmfest 2010

Kline (R) and Powers (D), though, evidently have no interest in this traditional election year opportunity to get their message out to the most politically interested rural and farm voters in advance of the August 10th Primary, so the only voice for the 2nd District was former State Rep Shelley Madore, who has recently been criss-crossing the sprawling 2nd on her 35 Cent Tour as her campaign gains momentum while Powers struggles instead to counter negative stories in the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press.

Voters not certain where to cast their ballots on August 10th can visit the Secretary of State's website to find polling locations based on zip codes in advance of the Primary. Traditionally low turnout in "off" years may be countered this year by the prominent contest among three DFLers, Former U.S. Senator Mark Dayton, and former MN Legislators Margaret Anderson-Kelliher and Matt Entenza, all seeking the party's gubernatorial endorsement There has been extensive coverage of the MN Governor's race..

DFL voters looking to compare and contrast Madore and Powers, however, are left scratching their heads, as Powers has gotten limited media coverage and avoided invitations to debate since before the party's convention, including one from Alan Miller of Access to Democracy.