Friday, July 26, 2013

Quick Hits: Volume LXXII

-When given an opportunity to revoke or increase a tax, government (whether it be federal, state, municipal or county) most often chooses to go with the hike.

Thankfully, my home county decided not to rubber stamp an increase mandated by the state of Minnesota.

Residents of Anoka County won't have to pay a wheelage tax beginning in 2014, after the county board voted 5-2 to revoke it.

The $5 tax is tacked onto vehicle registration costs and goes toward road-maintenance projects within counties. It will rise to $10 in January for counties imposing it, including Ramsey and Hennepin.

The Anoka County commissioners who voted to end the tax said that they were upset the state decided to raise the tax without consulting the county and that the rate had to double because state computers couldn't handle multiple fee levels.

Uh oh. Sounds to me like a preemptive strike where the state will appeal for increased taxes in order to upgrade their computer systems.

But I digress.

There was also another preemptive strike launched (but in a good way) ahead of the kvetching about how infrastructure may suffer without the revenue derived from a wheelage tax.

Board Chair Rhonda Sivarajah said she had little faith in state claims that the computer system would allow for county-set wheelage tax amounts by 2016.

"Our roads and bridges will not suffer as a result of taking this action," said Sivarajah, who is running for Rep. Michele Bachmann's congressional seat in Minnesota's 6th District.

Emphasis mine.

That too is a key point. Don't think for one second that Sivarajah won't use this in the CD6 campaign to tout her "walking the walk" of fiscal restraint, which will still be a salient issue in 2014.

-Speaking of MN Congressional races, GOP Congressman Erik Paulsen (MN CD3) could possibly have a big name challenging him in his quest for a fourth term.

Former WCCO news anchor Don Shelby is reportedly mulling a run against three-term Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen next year, potentially putting in play a suburban Minneapolis congressional district that has been in Republican hands for decades.

Shelby’s interest burst into the open amid remarks by U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., who mentioned it at a Washington fundraiser Wednesday attended by about 30 or 40 campaign contributors, lobbyists and Democratic activists.

Peterson’s account of Shelby’s interest was confirmed by two prominent Minnesota lobbyists who were at the luncheon. Both said Peterson described Shelby’s long career in Minnesota broadcast journalism.

Democrats have been tight-lipped about Shelby’s possible entry into the race, but they made clear Thursday that they would welcome a respected Twin Cities figure with almost universal name recognition across the state.

Given that this state elected Jesse Ventura as Governor and Al Franken as Senator, we know full well how many Minnesotans are enamored with "universal name recognition." But as we've seen with the two names I've just mentioned, that doesn't necessarily translated to good government. Nevertheless, Shelby's name recognition is definitely a positive for him.

The bad news for "DFL Don" (radio host Jason Lewis's long-time nickname for Shelby during his news anchor days) is he's not running in a statewide race. This is a congressional district represented by a strong incumbent. Despite President Obama winning CD3 by just under 1% this past November, Paulsen was easily reelected by a whopping 16%. So if you combine the fact that a middterm election means no coattails for Shelby to ride with the fact he's facing a popular, well-funded incumbent, I have a tough time seeing Shelby ultimately prevailing.

But hey, the political reporters have to try and gin up some suspense in a district that has been a Republican stronghold for decades.

- To say politics is nasty business is an understatement. In an effort to thwart a political career of an individual whose political leanings one dislikes, one will resort to becoming an amateur sleuth in an effort to dig up scandalous background information on that person.

While I've seen some pretty despicable stuff in my time as a political observer, the recent character attack on former GOP state rep (and current member of the U of M Board of Regents) Laura Brod reaches a new low. Apparently somebody got a hold of a racy photo of a scantily clad Brod while she posed very provocatively while in bed.

The photo appears on a single-serve Tumblr site called "ThisIsAPictureOfLauraBrod." It first came to City Pages' attention on Monday when an anonymous email provided a link to the site. Several days later, a link to the site was tweeted out by Shawn Towle, a former DFL activist and publisher of the political site Checks And Balances.

"She's on TV speaking for the party on occasion, she sits on the Board of Regents, so she has a particular public reach," Towle told City Pages in explaining why he tweeted out the link. "And if you're going to be a moralist, and state your opinion on what you think should be happening, then when you have indiscretions I think you're fair game."

Gotta love that leftist logic. Never mind if the photo was obtained illegally and then redistributed without permission. As long as someone with whom you disagree politically is exposed as some sort of hypocrite then the ends justify the means or something.

In a joint statement released by Brod and her soon-to-be ex-husband Wade, they specifically addressed the issue with the photo.

The Brod Family loves each other, and we stand united against anyone who would seek to do us harm. Specifically, someone has posted a photo - which was illegally disseminated - on the Internet for the sole purpose of embarrassing our family and damaging our reputations. We cannot begin to explain why someone would be so mean, and so hateful. Nor can we overstate the humiliation they have caused.

As embarrassing as this entire incident is, we know the larger nightmare of harassment, cyber-stalking and privacy invasion is not unique to us, and we plan to fight back with everything we have. This matter has been referred to the FBI and we are pursuing all legal means possible to prosecute whoever is responsible for the illegal dissemination of this material.

I'm not someone who typically gets any enjoyment out of someone else's pain, regardless of how insufferable or unlikeable the person in pain appears to be. With that said, I will not shed one tear on behalf of whomever has to endure the consequences (jail or otherwise) for getting this photo out into the public domain.


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