I went to the "People's House" our State Capitol today for the first time since the shutdown. I became aware of a press conference that Governor Dayton was to have. It was to be on the front steps or the south front of the Capitol.
As I walked to the Capitol from downtown I did not know what to expect to see. Was there going to be fences to prevent people from going on the steps, jersey barriers, or what? To my amazement I did not see any of that out right, but did see steel barriers in various places. Also physical appearances can be deceiving. Do not kid yourself the Capitol is locked up, and tight as a drum. It is like a cocoon.
Cocoon used as a noun is a "silky case spun by the larvae of many insects for protection as pupae."
As I waited for the Governor to step out of the "Capitol Cocoon" for the press conference I noticed a lot of people coming from the west end of the "Cocoon." It was members of the press. I asked why they did not come out of the other exits. Told by media folks can only go in one way, and generally out one way. If you are are not a member of the news media, and a member of the public, tough luck, you cannot even go into the "People's House."
Several legislator's have told me that even constituents escorted by their Representative or Senator cannot even come in.
The Governor arrived. I got a press release stating he was"launching a week long discussion with Minnesotans on what's at stake in the ongoing budget debate." I commend him for that. He is also going to major areas of the state during the week. He answered a number of questions from the media and back into the "Cocoon" he went.
Like after all press conferences in the political scheme of things, the other side will want their say and press conference. I was looking forward to the GOP Leadership emerging from the "Cocoon" to meet the media, say a statement, hand out a press release, and answer questions. But to no avail it did not happen.
I asked a GOP Senate media person if the leaders were going to do an outside press conference. No, he said they were going to remain inside and do it. In other words, they were to stay in the "Cocoon."
Many things are happening with the shutdown, but what I see and hear is that there is more cynicism about Minnesota government than ever before from my experience.
With little or no opportunity for public input, during the negotiations before July 1, and now with the Capitol being in a "silky case". The elected officials are taking up to the sorry beliefs that the public has about their legislative and administrative processes of government.
What can the Governor and the GOP Leadership do as a public service to engage Minnesotans in the budget process/debate and to advance a greater recognition about the tough choices we need to make?
I suggest the following:
1.Offer the opportunity for the people to ask questions about Governor and GOP budget differences and proposals in public and also to get answers in a immediate way. This to be done together.
2.The Governor and GOP Legislative Leadership together engage in several open forum to discuss their approaches to specific parts of the budget.
The Governor is stepping outside the "Cocoon" for the next week to engage Minnesotans. GOP Leadership should do the same with the Governor. Would it not be refreshing to see the GOP Leadership and the Governor on the same platform discussing solutions for our state?
Excuse me, just woke up, I must be dreaming.