Posted at 6:42 AM on September 24, 2009
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Daily Digest
The 2010 race for governor leads the digest today. We're fourteen months away from the election but candidates are meeting in forums and working the delegates on a pretty regular basis. Many of the DFL candidates will participate in a debate tonight in St. Cloud.
MPR says the DFL gubernatorial candidates are candid about tax hikes.
Meanwhile, the GOP candidates will meet in a debate/forum on Monday in Prior Lake. Several are also holding news conferences and preparing for a straw poll at the State Party Convention in October.
The AP rolls Seifert's newser in with Tuesday's newser from GOP state Rep. Paul Kohls. Kohls wants to slash state spending to 2004-2005 levels.
The Capitol Report says GOP state Rep. Tom Emmer is gaining traction among GOP activists.
WCCO says the GOP candidates are running to the right in the days leading up to the straw poll of GOP activists.
The group of city mayors will announce an ad campaign today to push LGA into the debate.
The MNGOP filed a complaint with the MN Campaign Finance Board regarding St. Paul Mayor's Chris Coleman's travel.
Under the Dome
Gov. Pawlenty says the state's structural balance problems will not be as bad as some are projecting.
The U.S. GAO says state deficits will continue despite the federal stimulus.
The state has put up for bid most of the projects targeted for transportation from the Recovery Act.
The stimulus will also pay for new light poles on some metro highways.
The world's economic powers gather in Pittsburgh.
The Federal Reserve says the economic recovery has begun but difficulties remain in getting out of the safety net created over the last 18 months.
A report says looming foreclosures will hammer home prices.
Minnesota's delegation supports the extension of jobless benefits.
President Obama told the UN not to expect the U.S. to do it all.
Obama also made gains in building support on preventing a nuclear Iran.
Obama is set to use current law to support indefinite detentions of terrorism suspects.
Former VP Walter Mondale says race is drawing some of Obama's foes.
The NBC/WSJ poll says for the first time independents disapprove of Obama.
Bullets are also flying off of the shelves since Obama was elected.
The White House seeks changes to education law.
Gov. Pawlenty and several other governors urge Congress to get rid of a proposed tax on medical devices.
Senators spar over the proposed health plan's effect on seniors.
DFL Rep. Tim Walz defends House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from criticism that she's throwing conservative and centrist Democrats overboard.
GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann says the Center for Medicare Services is intending to bully and gag HMOs that provide Medicare. The blog post, however, is misleading because it wasn't the communication with members but the appearance that the letters were official letters from CMS and not Humana.
The House is set to vote on Medicare premium hikes.
The Star Tribune digs deeper into whether Bachmann spent taxpayer money on constituent mail that went to people who live outside of her district.
GOP Rep. John Kline opposes legislation that would ban firings due to sexual orientation.
DFL Sen. Al Franken wants labeling on household products.
DFL Rep. Collin Peterson opposes any efforts to give more authority to the SEC.
The House approves an extension of the FAA law. DFL Rep. Jim Oberstar is mentioned.
Delays in approving the Highway Trust fund are making things difficult for states. Oberstar is mentioned.
An interim replacement for Ted Kennedy's seat will be announced.
A NEA conference call appeared to urge artists to endorse White House positions.
A U.S. Census Bureau worker was found hanged in Kentucky.
The IRS severed ties with ACORN.
ACORN sues the makers of the video that got them in all of this trouble.
ACORN is also shutting down its tax clinics but will continue to register voters.
Stu Rothenberg says the 6th (GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann) and the 3rd (GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen) are GOP favored. The 1st (DFL Rep. Tim Walz) is not on the watch list.
A Republican jumps in the race for State Auditor.
Pawlenty for Prez Watch
Gov. Pawlenty is headed to Michigan this weekend.
Posted at 11:33 AM on September 24, 2009
by Tim Pugmire
Mayors from throughout Minnesota say they plan to take a more active role in next year's gubernatorial race to try to preserve state funding for cities.
Representatives of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities outlined their strategy today during a State Capitol news conference. They say recent cuts in Local Government Aid and other state allowances have resulted in higher local property taxes and reduced city services. Wayne Wolden, the mayor of Wadena, says the coalition will keep asking the candidates for governor where they stand on funding for local government.
"The coalition membership will not be doing an endorsement, nor will we negatively try to impact candidates," Wolden said. "But we will be spreading the information throughout our communities as to which candidates plan to support healthy, vital communities."
The coalition also unveiled a two-minute video that explains its viewpoint on state funding. You can watch the ad on the coalition web site.
Posted at 10:43 AM on September 24, 2009
by Curtis Gilbert
Instant runoff voting advocates in Minnesota and nationally reacted strongly to a brief item published yesterday on MPRNewsQ.org. The headline: "Mathematics expert: IRV not the answer."
The piece was about mathematician Donald Saari, who gave a lecture Tuesday night at the U of M explaining why both traditional voting and instant runoffs can result in one candidate winning an election, even though most voters prefer someone else.
"What was the question posed to which Professor Saari responded that IRV is not the answer?" FairVote Minnesota Executive Director Jeanne Massey wrote in an e-mail not long after the story was posted.
FairVote successfully pushed for IRV in Minneapolis, which begins using the system in this November's municipal elections. St. Paul voters will decide this year whether to switch to the system, too.
IRV allows voters to rank the candidates for a given office in order of preference. Winners are determined in a series of simulated runoff elections. This video explains it in just 90 seconds:
IRV supporters say it's a better reflection of public opinion than so-called "plurality" elections. That's the traditional system we're all used to, where whoever gets the most votes wins.
But Saari, a mathematics professor at the University of California Irvine, says IRV suffers from many of the same problems as traditional plurality elections.
"We haven't gotten rid of the cancer," Saari said. "The plurality vote determines who's going to go to the runoff. So, if we have a system that's distorted and gets us the wrong two people for the runoff, we're in trouble. The instant runoff does not solve any of the difficulties."
In his U of M lecture, Prof. Saari used a simple example to make his point. Imagine you and 15 friends are trying to decide what beverage to serve at a party. There are three choices: wine, beer and milk.
This chart shows how everyone's preferences break down:
With a traditional plurality election, milk wins with 6 votes, even though 9 people consider it the least appealing choice. That's why Saari calls it "one of the worst" voting systems.
With instant runoff voting, ballots are counted in rounds. To begin, you count the first choice votes: milk 6, beer 5, wine 4. Since no one has more than 50 percent of the vote, you eliminate the candidate in last place. That would be wine. The wine-lovers prefer beer to milk, and so beer wins the instant runoff against milk 9 to 6.
But Saari points out there's a problem with that. While 9 of the voters prefer beer to milk, 10 of them actually like wine better than they like beer. Remember, 6 voters made beer their third choice. But instant runoff voting can't see that, because it only counts the second choices of voters whose first choice is eliminated. Saari calls that "lost information."
Saari says the best system of voting was the one developed by the French Mathematician Jean Charles de Borda in 1770. It starts out exactly like IRV: Voters rank the candidates from most to least favorite. And the vote counting is actually a lot simpler. Each rank is given a weight. With three candidates, it's two points for a first-place ranking, one point for a second place ranking.
Using the Borda count, wine would come in first with 19 points, beer second with 14 points, and milk takes last place with 12 points -- an outcome that will please the largest number of voters.
"The Borda count we now know is probably the strongest by far of any of the voting systems," Saari said.
"Borda is a voting method that is mathematically neat, but utterly fails to be democratic in high-stakes elections because it is so easily and obviously manipulated through strategic voting," responded Rob Richie, who works for the national arm of FairVote.
Richie argues Saari's preferred system is too easily gamed by cunning voters, who would throw their second choice votes away on weak candidates, rather than casting them sincerely.
As for Saari's critique of IRV, Richie says "there is no 'perfect' voting system that will satisfy everyone. That's simply a fact, so you then try to do something that is better than what one has and fits in with voters' expectations of what's fair."
For his part, Saari has another theory about why IRV advocates reject his analysis.
"They've spent a considerable amount of energy, time and money in putting forth a certain procedure," Saari said. "It's because of what they've invested that they're not into it."
Posted at 2:40 PM on September 24, 2009
by Tom Scheck
Republican Pat Anderson sent out a news release today criticizing Marty Seifert for saying the state's constitution would not allow for school vouchers. Both Anderson and Seifert are running for governor (in addition to seven other GOP candidates).
During a Wednesday news conference, Seifert said "I don't want to get in a situation with vouchers because I just don't think Minnesota's constitution allows for it." You can listen to Seifert's entire newser here.
Anderson, who served as MN State Auditor between 2003 and 2007, said this in a news release in response to Seifert's claim:
"Marty is simply wrong on the constitutional law in play on vouchers, and I can't let his error stand to give aid and comfort to the opponents of meaningful parental school choice," said Anderson.
"Commitment to parental school choice is the essence of the education section of the Republican Party Platform, and a lot of people, including gubernatorial candidate, Sen. David Hann, have put in too much hard work fighting for school choice to have it undermined by blatantly bad constitutional analysis."
The candidates for governor are ramping up their profile in light of next weekend's State Party Convention. The MNGOP is holding a straw poll at the event which is the first litmus test for the candidates.