Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New Minnesota Legislature Gives Old Bills Animation.

 I stated in a previous posting the difference the new Republican Legislature may take on privacy issues. There will be differences on other issues as well.

Proposed legislation that went nowhere because of who controlled the legislature in the past may now see some daylight and get some traction.  Bills that could curtail organized labor efforts, to the rights of citizens to bear arms, or requiring welfare recipients to be part of a finger imaging system, for example, are proposals that could get a welcoming committee hearing.

It does not necessarily mean that the bills will become law.  The Legislature has to contend with Governor Mark Dayton(DFL)who may veto some of these proposals. Secondly, constitutional proposals need only a majority of the House and Senate to be placed on the ballot.

No matter what happens to the initiatives by the GOP the direction and mood of public debate will change.

The following are some bills that Republican legislators introduced during the last legislative session:

Abolish the need for issuing of certificate of need for new nuclear power plant.
Providing life imprisonment sentence for persons convicted of three or more violent felonies.
Establish a finger imaging system to identify applicants for recipients of public assistance programs.
Authorization for use of union dues for political purposes.
Providing for a gradual phase out of the corporate income tax.
Right of citizens to bear arms.

To find out other proposals and initiatives that may get new life because of the change at the Capitol check out the Minnesota legislative bill search.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Anatomy of a Snow Plowing.

I have driven nearly 400 miles these past several days in our city streets.  I have wondered as much as other citizens have about the effectiveness of Minneapolis's and St. Paul's snow plowing efforts.  I wonder why the Mayor of St. Paul and the Superintendent of St. Paul Schools are spatting over who is right on the quality of snow plowing in the city and whether or not the schools should have been closed.  Can't we all get along?

There were people on Tuesday more than likely lost income from their jobs because they had to stay home with their kids  Their were also other trials and tribulations that the Saturday snowfall created in both cities.

There needs to be accountability, openness, and transparency from city leaders as to what transpired since Saturday in regards to the snowplowing efforts.

Are there specific plans for snowplowing such as Saturday's situation? And what are those?  Have there been cuts in the public works departments that have made it less effective in essential snowplowing?  At least in St Paul, why was there such a difference of opinion between two public leaders?  It would be interesting to see their electronic communication if they had any, such as e-mails and text messages.  What was the rationale used by both leaders to come to their conclusions?  Will the city councils do effective oversight?

How can the city government engage its citizens to shovel out emergency items such as fire hydrants immediately after a major snowfall? Or even technology to help fire personnel find the hydrants.  There were several fires in the Twin Cities.  The Pioneer Press reported in the at least with one of those, fire hydrants were hard to find.  How does the role of sidewalk accessibility for pedestrians play in the public works departments snow plowing plans?

What can we learn to do better in a similar situation in the future.?  I hope the city leaders are listening.

Monday, December 6, 2010

How The U Can Come Clean On Kaler.

There has been some criticism and questions from the public as to how the U selected the new President.  Is Eric Kaler the best person?  The Chairman of the Regents, Clyde Allen, indicated that all four semi-finalists are qualified for the U of M Presidency.  How is it that every regent was on board to support Candidate C (Kaler) when Regent Simmons made the motion to name him as the finalist?  What communication or meetings were there between regents or the selection committee and regents about the U President selection process?

To bring more transparency, openness, and accountability to the recent presidential process I suggest the following:

1. Make public the search committee's notes and evaluations of each of the four semi-finalists. The search committee used criteria developed by the Regents.  Public data can be separated from private data.  If the consultant did an evaluation of strengths and weaknesses of the semi-finalists that should be public.  Again the separation of private and public data.

2. Make available all agendas, minutes, and all data that are public of the Presidential Search Committee.

3. Tell the public the process of how Regent Allen and Simmons communicated with the other Regents during the Presidential selection process.  There have been allegations of serial or rolling meetings to avoid the Open Meeting Law.

I am sure other things could be done.  That is for other people and entities to do and suggest.  For me this is a start.