OPINION

  • Rep. Elkins, Drop Your Single-Family Re-Zoning Bill

    Letter to the Legislator

    Letter_Writer.jpgDear Representative Elkins,
    Your proposed bill to promote the rezoning of local single family residential housing into multiple unit housing zones under the guise of improving housing affordability and addressing racism appears to be ill-conceived.  Where on earth did this idea come from?  What majority of your constituents is asking for such a bill?  Aren't they who you are supposed to represent?  Or is it Ken Martin and the far left of the DFL Party?  George Soros?  Who?

    Since we moved into our upper middle class Bloomington neighborhood in 1979, we have enjoyed numerous Black, Asian and Hispanic neighbors. Currently, out of 9 homes on just our block alone, lives a black family and two Asian families all of whom have lived in our neighborhood for decades.  When we first moved in, our neighbors across the street were a very nice mixed race (black/white) couple.  We all enjoy living in our pleasant single-family neighborhood.  Everybody worked hard to be able to buy a home here.  The notion that single-family zoning is racist sounds more like far-left ideology than truth.

    In today's America, anybody can get educated, get a job or start a business, start moving up the ladder and, depending on their level of ambition, buy any house in any neighborhood that they want to live in.  The evidence of this is all around us.

    Access to affordable housing isn't the main problem for minorities. It's a symptom of the real problems affecting minorities disproportionately.

    The real problems are that too many minorities live in Democrat-controlled inner cities where the quality of public-school education is poor and the teachers unions are the Democrat's first priority.  Add in that too many minorities become dependent on government social programs that destroy personal initiative and incentivize too many dysfunctional single parent families.  Minority kids suffer greatly in this kind of an environment. This is well known by black leaders who are working to address these problems without much political support from Democrats.

    It's pretty tough for a young minority person to get a good education, get a good job, afford a house and move up the economic ladder with a start in the poor circumstances noted above.  Zoning single family neighborhoods so that lower income multiple unit housing can be built will do nothing to help minorities significantly improve their circumstances.  Only after the above-noted social catastrophes are addressed will minorities make real economic progress.

    Please drop your single-family rezoning bill.

    Sincerely,
    Tom Spitznagle
    Bloomington, MN

    The response from Rep. Elkins:

  • Dean Phillips and Democrat Bills to Federalize Elections

    Dean_Phillips_1.JPGU.S Representative Dean Phillips wrote to constituents last September that he voted in favor of HR4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, “to do everything possible to ensure our elections are safe, secure, accessible, and fair.”  He claimed that it would ensure ALL [his emphasis] eligible Americans are able to vote. 

    He included a link to a WCCO radio interview during which he stated that “it is time that we recognize that especially in part of the south and other parts of the country that voting is not easy.”  He went on to say,” Laws are in place to make it hard, to disenfranchise people.”  Phillips never cited a specific example of where eligible Americans are denied the ability to vote, or exactly how these states are making it "hard" to vote.

    While professing to be non-partisan, his comments are straight out of the Democratic Party playbook.  These “voting rights” bills are designed to eliminate voting suppression measures that were already addressed 50 years ago.

    Phillips argues that if you do not support the Federal take-over of state voting processes, you are not patriotic.  As will be made clear in the following analysis of HR4, Dean Phillips’ support of the 2021 Voting Rights bills was not an exercise in patriotism, it was a demonstration of straight-up partisanship.

    Analysis:  Federal House bill HR4 

    The misleadingly titled ‘John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act’, does the opposite of advancing voting rights. It actively aims to end fair elections to Federal office.

    Sponsored by Alabama representative Terri Sewell and co-sponsored by 223 House members (all Democrats), the 76-page bill, last updated August 24th, 2021, passed the House on a party-line vote but its identical Senate companion measure, S.4 (same title) failed cloture in the Senate. 

    HR4 includes a lengthy laundry list of reasons allowing the Federal government to take over election of Federal representatives at the state level.  HR4 has provisions requiring that non-protected classes (read: white people) be identified as ‘voting as a bloc’, and that they are ‘politically cohesive’ – both terms impossible of objective definition, and both inherently racist, and that is about as legally reasonable as HR4 gets.

  • Minnesota a Sanctuary State for Child Sexual Predators?

    Child_Protection_League_logo.jpgChild Protection League president Michele Lentz asserted in an interview with Kyle Hooten, editor of Alpha News, that Minnesota is becoming a ‘sanctuary state’ for child sexual predators.  According to Lentz, 87-91% of those accused in Minnesota receive only probation, leaving them at large in our society.

    Lentz specifically addressed those charged for possession, distribution and/or production of child pornography, but provided no data on what percentage of child sexual predators fell into this category. 

    Lentz concludes that the reason is a growing sympathy for predators over victims and a general distaste for incarceration here in Minnesota, but offered no specific evidence for her conclusion during the interview.

    The Child Protection League ( CLICK HERE to see their principles), is promoting Minnesota legislation to toughen penalties for child sexual predators.  Rep. Matt Grossell (R- Clearbrook) and Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen (R, Alexandria) introduced HF 229  and SF 1220 , respectively, to address the problem.  Both bills are known as the Protect Minnesota Kids Act.  The bills would raise Minnesota sentencing standards to more closely match Federal sentencing standards.

     

  • Comment by Dec. 14, Jan. 14 on School Social Studies Standards

    history_book-g1408a91d9_640.pngAs reported at Alpha News, the revised social studies standards for schools continue to wend their way through the rule-making process. That will take 18 months to two years, and will include “multiple opportunities” for public comments and potential changes. There will be a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge before formal adoption.

    The article at Alpha News by Katherine Kersten, Center of the American Experiment, includes detailed analysis and commentary on the third and final draft of the standards, with examples. As previously noted, the new standards omit many basic historic facts about the United States and Minnesota and instead focus on "group identity based on race; life as a power struggle between oppressors and victims; and American history as a shameful story of domination, marginalization and injustice."

    There are two ways to make your voice heard on the recently released third draft social studies standards, which you may download as a 92-page PDF document from the MN Department of Education's website.

    The first is easy — sign a petition at the Center of the American Experiment’s website, and send a message to the Minnesota Department of Education and the Office of Administrative Hearings. You can sign your name to their prepared text or personalize it with your own thoughts. The MDE comment period closes on Dec. 14, 2021, and your comments will be sent to both MDE and the Office of Administrative Hearings.

    The second way to make your voice heard is to engage directly with the Office of Administrative Hearings through their open comment process. Commenters can join an ongoing discussion Minnesotans are having about the current draft of the standards. You can attach documents to your comments to support your views. The Administrative Law Judge will read all of the comments before making a decision. Click here  to create a profile and join the discussion. This comment period closes on Jan. 14, 2022.

  • Ready for More Gas Tax? Rep. Elkins Thinks So

    Elkins.jpgOur House District 49B Representative Steve Elkins (DFL, Bloomington) has widely advertised his extensive interest and involvement in everything to do with Minnesota transportation. This information can be found in the several paragraphs on his candidate website discussing his future questionable plans for the district regarding roads, vehicles and taxes increases. 

    Representative Elkins has been and continues to serve in high-ranking positions of Minnesota transportation committees since his participation in Minnesota politics after transplanting from California. He is currently vice chair of the Walz administration transportation committee. 

    On his candidate website, Elkins clearly stated his support for increasing the gas tax to provide funding to complete road and bridge projects. “I also support fairly taxing electric vehicles based upon the number of miles they are driven. I support fully funding transit operations and capital investments in expanding the region’s Bus Rapid Transit system.” 

    However, he has gone beyond simply trying to raise the state gas tax.  In January 2021, Representative Elkins proposed legislation to enable local governments (political subdivisions) to impose their own gas taxes.  A close look at his bill, House File 274 reveals that the bill does not specify any limits on those local taxes. 

    The language is also vague and open to interpretation regarding how the revenue from his proposed local gas taxes could be spent.  It appears that it could go beyond bridges, highways and roads, to include “transportation infrastructure”.

  • Why Democrats Must Drop Drug Price Controls

    By Erik Paulsen, former Congressman for CD3

    Erik_Paulsen.jpgThe future of the Democrats' $3.5 trillion spending bill could come down to an intra-party showdown on a single issue: drug pricing.

    On September 15, the House Energy & Commerce Committee, deferring to moderate Democrats, rejected a plan to let the government interfere in the price of drugs purchased through Medicare. Later that day, in an exercise of progressive political muscle, the House Ways and Means Committee approved a nearly identical measure.

    Some on the progressive side are portraying the Democratic moderates as callous toward patients who need relief from high prescription costs. The criticism is misplaced.

    This proposal would save Americans little at the pharmacy counter. It would, however, hugely damage the American system of drug innovation, depriving patients of breakthrough cures and vaccines for years to come.

    At the center of this controversy is a collection of prescription drug reforms that would authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate with drug makers on the price of medications purchased by the government through Medicare.

    In this context, however, "negotiate" is a misleading word at best. The proposed reform would create a system of prescription drug price controls under which the government would cap the tab for hundreds of brand-name drugs. Medicare would pay no more than 120 percent of the average of the prices paid in six other developed countries.

    Pharmaceutical firms that refused to sell their wares at this artificially low rate would be subject to a massive tax penalty, equivalent to 95 cents for every dollar of sales. What's more, the bill would make these lower prices available to private insurers as well.

    The attempt to shoe-horn this major policy change into the budget bill has met with fierce opposition from moderates in the House, as well as Democratic Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Joe Manchin (D-WV).

    Some might wonder why these holdouts are standing in the way of reforms that force pharmaceutical companies to cut prices. After all, roughly 80 percent of the country believes that drug prices are too high, and one in four Americans struggles to afford their medications.

    The reason is that the proposed tax on innovation would not address the financial challenges facing patients. Instead, it would free up money to help fund other spending priorities having nothing to do with healthcare.

  • Consider Your Edina School Board Choices

    vote-letter_tiles_640.jpgVoting for the School Board matters.  We need people who will listen first to parents and students when making decisions.  Early voting is possible at the Edina City Hall Monday-Friday during the day.  Vote at your precinct on November 2 from 7:00 am – 8:00 pm.

    There are 6 people running for 4 positions.  The current School Board has 6 of 7 members that were endorsed by the Edina Teachers Union.  They should be listening to parents and students first.  They supported the union when they wanted to shut down the schools last November.  They have supported Critical Race Theory ideas to promote racial equity that have led to declining academic achievement for all races since 2014.  22% of Edina students attend other schools.  This has increased dramatically since 2014.  Proposed changes for courses of study are being re-written in ways that are unacceptable for most of us.

    I want a board of independent thinkers that will represent the voice of the community, parents and students not the Edina Teachers Union! Erica Allenburg has been endorsed by the Teachers Union.  Michael Birdman, Karen Gabler and Dan Arom are supported by past Union leadership and current Board members who were union endorsed.  That disqualifies them from being the independent thinkers we need in Edina.   Look at everyone’s web site to make your own decision.

    I recommend you vote for only two or three candidates.

    Editor's note: We've listed all the candidate websites under the Local Elections, Edina tab on our site CLICK HERE

    If you want our recommendations, contact us ([email protected]) and we will be happy to help.

  • From A New Citizen: Voting Smart to Protect Our Country

    Constitution_and_Flag.jpgSenate District 49 recently received an email that we felt was worth sharing. The author indicated he works in the public sector and we've chosen to not include his name.

    “I proudly became a US CITIZEN two years ago and immediately started using my right to vote. I am very concerned the way our country is heading in the current political theater. I have some personal experience about voting manipulation and voting fraud in my country of birth, and the resemblance about what is happening here is very troublesome.

    “I would like to vote for candidates that are pro-America, candidates that support and defend our exceptional constitution as written. Becoming a US CITIZEN was one of the most important decisions in my life. I swore to protect and defend our beloved nation against not only foreigner enemies but also local enemies, and I strongly feel that our local enemies are far more dangerous than any other foreign enemies.

    “I could elaborate more; however, I just want to do my part and help elect GOP candidates in the next elections. Searching the names of candidates online helps a bit; however, very few candidates describe their political party affiliation (I believe it is a mistake when they do that) and I do not want to vote for a candidate opposing our political view.

    “Thank you in advance for your help, I will continue supporting our beloved GOP party despite what others say about us, and believe me when I say that we are a very large “silent majority” we just need to stay focused and together.”

  • The Awful Elkins Bill

    House_beside_apartment_residential-g2f5a28f00_640.jpgThe Newsletter has run articles in September and October explaining Rep. Steve Elkins’ bill in the state legislature. I hope Bloomington citizens pay attention and start asking their city council members about this bill.

    The bill itself is sweeping. Among other things, it would remove Bloomington’s power to zone a neighborhood for single family residences; force fast track processing of multi-family (including apartment) high density housing; and use the profit motive to almost guarantee builders would be scrambling to build higher density housing. It also provides a guarantee that property owners could build solar power, which means they could use the law to force neighbors to cut trees which shaded their roofs (where most solar power installations go).

    Elkins’ own letter to constituents cites several articles he wrote or contributed to. In those articles he makes it clear that he believes single-family zoning is racist and has to be eliminated for that reason.

    Elkins’ bill and his arrogant, elitist attitude endangers our right to live in the kind of neighborhood we please. If we wanted to live in a densely populated neighborhood, my wife and I would have stayed in Minneapolis. We love our single-family neighborhood and the home we built ourselves twenty-one years ago. Speaking for myself, I don’t need Rep. Elkins to lecture me about my supposed racism because I want to live that way.

    Elkins has supported and does support city councilman Nathan Coulter,  running for re-election this year (and also Shawn Nelson whose term ends in 2023). He has contributed to the campaign of Lona Dallesandro (running to replace Councilman Baloga) who in turn served on Coulter’s campaign. Coulter, Nelson, Mayor Busse and at-large representative Jenna Carter seem to form a tight majority on our council, support one another’s campaigns, and apparently are in ideological agreement with Steve Elkins.

    This council in-crowd of cool kids needs to be asked straight up if they support the Elkins bill. And if they deny it, asked if the City is going to actively oppose it in the next legislative session. Candidates this year also need to be asked where they stand on the Awful Elkins Bill.

  • Edina School Board Chair Wants to Limit Public Access

    Edina_Public_Schools_logo.jpgErica Allenberg, chairman of the Edina School Board and a candidate for re-election in November, proposed to limit availability of the time devoted to Hearing from Members of the Public at Edina School Board meetings. This was at the Work Session on September 13. The entire School Board will be discussing this proposal later.

    Every Edina School Board meeting allows time to Hear from Members of the Public. Anyone can sign up to address the School Board for 3 minutes. They just need to sign up ahead of time. This, along with the entire meeting, is recorded for anyone to review at a later date.

    Allenberg has proposed to not record the “Hearing from the Members of the Public” portion of the meeting. It would be only heard by the 35 people who are actually attending that particular meeting. This is a bad idea.

    The role of the School Board is to represent parents and students. The wider that the content of school board meetings is available, the better the public is informed on the issues of the day. This includes everything brought up as part of the community input.

    I have heard discussions of school start times; bus schedules; school trips; academics; and many other subjects. In this segment, I heard a 4th grade girl talk about her struggles to learn to read in 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade. She had to leave the Edina School system to get the help she needed to learn to read. Many say that you “learn to read” in grades 1-3 and then “read to learn” the rest of your life. She read her 3-minute speech. It moved me that she came back to advocate for help for others like her.