Don Davis, Forum News Service, Published September 01 2013
Minnesota political notebook: Politicians roll with State Fair punches
House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, and Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, sat at the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party booth answering softball questions from the party’s communications director, but when she began taking audience questions, things changed.
Farmer Dave Werner, from near Montevideo, delivered a speech attacking the DFL’s increased taxes.
“They are slapping taxes” on farmers, he said, such as a new sales tax on farm implement repairs. “Overtaxing does not solve the problems.”
Thissen said Republicans raised agriculture property taxes when they removed the market value homestead credit a couple of years ago. But he added that since Democrats took control of state government this year, there has been little property tax relief specifically aimed at farmers.
Later, Bakk, a former union leader, said he favors raising the state’s minimum wage, but there are issues such as how that affects communities near states with lower wages.
Bakk said he expects a higher wage to come out of the 2014 Legislature.
Bilking seniors fought
A group of mostly senior citizens stood around Peggy Hiestand-Harri, of Duluth, during a state fair appearance in which she talked about her mother losing $47,000 to con artists.
“I am a fraud fighter,” she declared, to the cheer of those assembled.
She told the story of her mother, then 82, who received a call in 2010 saying she won $2.5 million and a Mercedes Benz car. After a series of calls, she sent the money to the con artists, who said they needed the funds before she could get her winnings.
She has testified in front of Minnesota legislative committees, and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., suggested she also should go to Congress to testify for a bill Klobuchar supports to crack down on con artists who target the elderly.
The bill Klobuchar supports would increase education so the elderly and their families are warned about such dangers.
Five Republican state legislator and staff offices were broken into early this past week.
The Public Safety Department reported that it is investigating the theft of $15 from a fundraiser envelope, blood pressure medication and keys to offices on the State Office Building’s second floor. Locks are being replaced on the floor, a House spokesman said.
Politicians sometimes think everyone follows their every move, but a state fair episode proves that is not always the case.
Gov. Mark Dayton was walking through the Education Building when a couple of elderly women came upon him. One quietly asked the other: “Who is that politician?”
When asked why she thought he was a politician, the woman said that she had seen his picture many times. When told he was Gov. Dayton, she walked on, saying she would have no further comment.
Short job notice
Potential secretary of state candidate Kent Kaiser was not thrilled to see a state agency giving little time for people to apply for a state job.
He tweeted about a job offered by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, which posted a job as being open on Tuesday, with applications due the following day.
The job, a top information officer position, would pay up to $50,550.