Please note I have a new phone number...

512-517-2708

Alan Maki

Alan Maki
Doing research at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

A program for real change...

http://peaceandsocialjustice.blogspot.com/2013/03/a-progressive-program-for-real-change.html


What we need is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would make it a mandatory requirement that the president and Congress attain and maintain full employment.


"Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens"

- Ben Franklin

Let's talk...

Let's talk...

Thursday, July 19, 2007

My call for "accountability" in Minnesota State government continues to anger some...

Below is the blog I wrote on Monday, April 23, 2007. The title was: The "DFL Business Caucus" dominates the Minnesota DFL

Today I had a phone call from Lisa Sarne the secretary for Senator James Metzen's MN DFL dominated committee which voted against saving the St. Paul Twin Cities Ford Plant and over two-thousand industrial, manufacturing jobs.

Ms. Sarne has objected to the way I wrote about her taking of the minutes.

I have been hearing for almost three months now without let-up from DFL party hacks and legislators saying how unfair my blog was because the Senate "rules" permit minutes to be kept in the manner Ms. Sarne compiles them in a less than amateurish manner without any accountability to Minnesota voters--- the majority of whom are working people.

I will be happy to publish Lisa Sarne's opinion of all of this should she provide what she has to say in defense of her record keeping in writing to me as a courtesy to her and in the interest of gaining a better understanding of how our state government operates without any accountability.

Today Ms. Sarne suggested that if I wasn't happy with the manner she records Committee minutes that I should attend all committee meetings in person.

Unfortunately, because neither Senator Metzen nor his staff contacted me per my request to be informed of the time and place of this Committee meeting until half an hour before the Committee went into session I was not able to make the drive from Warroad to St. Paul to view this DFL sell-out of working people. Again, so much for democracy through manipulation in order to control in favor of big-business with the intent of prohibiting people from participating in the decision making process.

Here is my original blog... I leave it to the reader to determine whether or not I have fairly and accurately portrayed the problem...

The "DFL Business Caucus" dominates the Minnesota DFL

The “Business Caucus” of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party wants to silence progressive thought. The well-heeled “Summit Hill Crowd” and the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce along with the Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis have teamed up and been hard at work trying to stifle all discussion on single-payer, universal health care in the same manner that they have tried to derail the struggle to end this dirty war in Iraq, to revoke the permit to mine peat in the Big Bog, to keep the Ford Plant open, to halt predatory lending, and on the issue of global warming… in each and every one of these areas very serious problems relating to human needs and our living environment are at stake.

Yes, the "DFL Business Caucus" dominates the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party... But, there is no "B" in the name. "B" for business... make that double B for big-business.

There is a common thread that links these groups of the most reactionary elements in our state. That link is the drive for maximum corporate profits and these groups all have a vested interest in seeing to it that a real open and democratic discussion does not take place… to this end these powerful wealthy, corporate interests have engaged the services of one Merritt Clapp-Smith to carry forward the corporate anti-people, anti-environment agenda.

We have seen how Merritt Clapp-Smith has been made a cheerleader for the “Summit Hill Crowd” and she is closely associated with all of these very conservative and reactionary business interests… as a board member of the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy which is nothing more than a front for the forestry, mining, and power generating industries who drag this organization out every time they want to create another environmental mess. Check it out:

http://www.mncenter.org/photos/mcea_board_of_directors/index.html

That is Merrit Clapp-Smith, board member in the orange shirt… this organization set out to disrupt our struggle to save the Big Bog--- our primary freshwater aquifer up here in northern Minnesota… Merritt Clapp-Smith is a past president of the Summit Hill Neighborhood Association and presently is a member of that board… it becomes very interesting to see how these business interests operate… Merritt Clapp-Smith, working with the Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis chose a Catholic School community center in which it would be easier to control and manipulate the “public work” of the Ford Site Planning Committee rather than use the public facilities of the UAW-Ford-MnScu Training Center.

I have asked both St. Paul Councilman Harris and Merritt Clapp-Smith to provide us with some of their family histories, both have refused. There is ample reason to believe that both Merritt Clapp-Smith and Councilman Harris have a conflict of interest in the work of the Ford Site Planning Committee.

It is very interesting to note how Merritt Clapp-Smith fosters and advances the work of this extremely wealthy ruling clique composed of the “Summit Hill Crowd,” the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce, and the “DFL Business Caucus.” It is this same grouping that has been in the center of being against everything that working people need in each of the issues I have noted. Make no mistake, on the issue of single-payer, universal health care this grouping has worked in the Minnesota Legislature to derail single-payer, universal health care movement in the exact same way that they have blocked the attempt to save the Ford Plant and the jobs of over two-thousand union workers.

Now, if this doesn’t send a clear signal to all of us working on these various issues that we need to come together in order to counter this powerful grouping of the well-heeled and wealthy I don’t know what ever will… but consider the fact that it is this very same conservative and reactionary bunch that denied Bishop Thomas Gumbleton the right to speak yesterday morning at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church… and it was this group’s favorite Bishop, Harry Flynn, who did their dirty work just as Merritt Clapp-Smith has been doing.

Finally we are getting a glimpse of how this undemocratic, corrupt little group works together in order to make the decisions over the quality of the air we breathe and the water we drink and the jobs we have.

It is no wonder why Red Lake Gaming Enterprises has approached this little group with the idea of using its last gaming license to build a huge new casino along the St. Paul Mississippi River bank and why the Ford Motor Company wants to maintain ownership of this 15 acre parcel of prime real estate.

I think we need to ask how much DFL Chair Brian Melendez and DFL Executive Director Andrew O’Leary know about all of this… and we need to know why a DFL Senate Committee composed of eleven DFL members and only seven Republicans could not carry forward the legislation to protect the Ford Plant from the wrecking ball last Thursday in committee.

I would note that it is the very same DFL legislators, who are in fact the majority of the DFL caucus, whom have looked the other way in indifference as over twenty thousand Minnesotans go to work every day in smoke-filled casinos at poverty wages without any rights under state or federal labor laws… something that autoworkers may want to keep in mind as they apply for all those casino jobs that will be replacing their present employment with the Ford Motor Company.

Perhaps there is “an inconvenient truth” in all of this; that the well-heeled and the wealthy have created the game and made all the rules so they can profit at our expense exploiting our labor.

This is all very interesting indeed seeing how Merritt Clapp-Smith sits on the Board of the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, the same organization that tried to stick a monkey wrench into the struggle to save the Big Bog from another crooked and corrupt deal involving Red Lake Gaming Enterprises trading off its opposition to peat mining for favorable consideration of a casino operation in International Falls… a dirty deal orchestrated by one of the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy’s favorite DFL Congressmen… James Oberstar, who just happens to be a favorite Congressman of Harry Flynn and the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce.

And the Saint Paul Police Department and the FBI want to know what I am doing three hundred and fifty miles from home sticking my nose into what is going on with the Ford Plant.

Oh, and on a final note: It took me over a year to obtain the letter signed by Red Lake Nation Chairman Butch Brun dropping opposition to peat mining in the Big Bog in return for the right of Red Lake Gaming Enterprises to build a new casino in International Falls… it will be relatively easy for me to obtain the birth certificates of Councilman Harris and Merritt Clapp-Smith to begin to explain their long term associations with the business and financial community in St. Paul… but if it took me a year to wrest this letter signed by Chairman Brun of the Red Lake Nation that was on file with the United States Army Corps of Engineers, the Minnesota DNR, the Koochiching County Board, the Red Lake Tribal Council, and in the files of United States Congressman James Oberstar… how long is it going to take me to research and obtain the records associated with the Ford Site Planning Committee and the present underhanded work of Merritt Clapp-Smith and the Ford Motor Company, this “DFL Business Caucus,” and the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce?

Keep in mind… Ford Motor Company intends to bring out the wrecking balls in about a year.

I think there are members of the DFL Caucus in the Minnesota Legislature who know a lot more than what they are saying about how the Minnesota DFL is being manipulated and controlled by these business interests. It is time they save us all a lot of time and step forward and tell us what is going on.

It is time for the UAW’s Gettelfinger to put the full resources of the United Auto Workers Union into this struggle to save the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant and not sell autoworkers’ jobs down the river as he has done at Bradford-White; and it is time for the rail unions to do the same thing… not only with research, but to insist that the politicians who have been the recipients of campaign contributions of autoworkers and the rail unions now do their part in this struggle to save the Ford Plant which is closely related to all of these other struggles. Let there be no more “Dirty Thursdays” as Senator Cohen develops a new legislative approach towards saving the Ford Plant. It is time for Senator David Tomasonni, and Representatives Tony Sertich, Tom Rukavina, and Tom Anzelc to step boldly into this struggle and insist that there be unity in both the DFL controlled Senate and House.

We all know that the only way this Ford Plant is going to be saved is through public ownership of this plant… we are not talking about “mothballing” a plant structure, and the equipment inside of this plant… we are talking about keeping at least two thousand workers employed in an operating industrial production… this should be the focus of Senator Cohen’s future legislation and the UAW’s Gettelfinger should make this clear to Senator Cohen, Sertich, Rukavina, and Anzlc who will have to carry the ball for working people on this struggle… they have been dropping and fumbling the ball, now it is time for them to shape up before Ford and the Ford Site Planning Committee bring in the wrecking ball.

A lot can be done in one year, all is far from futile; the Ford Plant can be saved; but, if we are going to be successful we have a lot of work to do. Powerful influences of big money have to be overcome.

We prevented Red Lake Gaming Enterprises from building a new casino in International Falls with a door-to-door informational campaign, we have established casino worker organizing committees throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Iowa, we have held off a Canadian corporation’s attempt to mine peat in the Big Bog, we got seventy percent of the delegates at the last DFL State Convention to go on record supporting single-payer, universal health care; we successfully beat back attempts in several home foreclosure cases without any help from the DFL in spite of all their talk about predatory lending… we can beat back the drive to demolish the Ford Plant if we take off the gloves and confront these powerful economic interests by bringing the Ford workers, the people of the Twin Cities, and all Minnesotans into this struggle.

If anyone doubts that the struggle for an end to this dirty war in Iraq is not closely related to the struggle to save the Ford Plant through public ownership, take a drive or a walk through the community surrounding the Ford Plant… the only sign supporting this dirty war in Iraq in the entire community was placed at the entrance gate to the Ford Plant by company management… the rest of the surrounding community is filled with signs to stop the war.

The UAW should consider putting as much into making this a full scale community organizing effort as what they put into supporting DFL politicians... this spring, let's see some yard signs sprouting up like dandelions insisting the Ford Plant stay open under public ownership with people going door-to-door talking to their neighbors in much the same way the UAW uses its resources to get out the vote on Election Day. Petitions, leaflets, rallies, and demonstrations... let's see organize labor marching through the communities like they marched around the DFL State Convention floor in support of Mike Hatch and Amy Klobuchar.

We can no longer afford to heed the narrow vision of those who want us to view all of these issues ranging from single-payer, universal health care to the Ford Plant closing to the rights of casino workers as somehow unrelated… the “Summit Hill Crowd” understands that all of these issues are interconnected, even if we do not… anyone care to ask Merritt Clapp-Smith or Councilman Harris their views on the war in Iraq?

Senator Metzen’s Committee met to consider Senator Cohen’s proposed legislation, SF 607 from 3:15 to 4:34 on Thursday, April 19, 2007 with fourteen of eighteen members of the Committee present and by the time the vote was taken for which the person responsible for taking the minutes conveniently left out how the remaining members voted from the minutes… the vote was recorded as seven opposed and three for. We must remember DFL Senator Metzen is the Chair of this committee made up of eleven members from the DFL and seven Republicans. How then, can a Party which claims to represent labor not pass this legislation [Note: at the bottom I have attached the “minutes” of the meeting such as they are as I received them from Lisa Sarnes; I have placed “minutes” in quotation marks because based upon what one reads one has to ask if Lisa Sarnes is competent to be the clerk of such an important Committee; or, was a political decision made to have the “minutes” kept in this fashion]?

Below is a link to the voice recording of that Senate Committee meeting which I received from Ms. Sarnes:

Dear Mr Maki,

Here is the information you requested-

To listen to the audio, copy and paste this in your browser. After scrolling past the blue boxes you will see that the very first meeting listed is the Business, Industry and Jobs Committee and that is the date you are looking for. I have also attached the minutes and the agenda.

http://www.senate.leg.state.mn.us/media/media_list.php?ls=85&archive_year=2007&category=committee&type=audio#header

Lisa Sarne

Legislative Assistant

Senator James Metzen

Capitol 322

651-296-4370

How dare Democratic Senator Metzen not require that his own legislative assistant (LA), Lisa Sarne, who is responsible for taking the minutes of this meeting not record how each and every member of this Committee voted and who was absent at the time of the vote on this very important piece of legislation.

What does this tell us about the collusion of business interests and the DFL to deprive working class Minnesotans of their right to participate in the democratic process?

Perhaps Harry Flynn could enlighten us as to the meaning of the term “blasphemy;” because how else would you describe this conduct on the part of elected and public officials who preach to the rest of the world that we live in the world’s greatest democracy when these public officials can’t even maintain the proper minutes of a Committee meeting that was called for only one purpose… to vote on SF 607 and which lasted only one hour and nineteen minutes? Any secretary of a high school student council can, and does, keep better minutes.

There needs to be accountability.

The UAW leadership of Mr. Gettelfinger from Solidarity House first put forth the idea that “We need to elect Mike Hatch the Governor of Minnesota and the UAW’s delegates to the state DFL convention got up and danced around the convention floor for Hatch like a bunch of teenage cheerleaders at a high school football game at half-time; and, according to Gettelfinger by putting all of our eggs in the Hatch basket we will be all set and things will work out with the Ford Plant… our members will be taken care of.”

Well, Gettelfinger chose a loser in Hatch; and the UAW is poised to lose two thousand members in the Twin Cities.

Then we heard from Solidarity House we will resolve this in the state legislature… oh, how the UAW political action people heaped praise on the DFL caucus members who chaired the committee meetings in the House and Senate on this proposed legislation.

What has this groveling of the Gettelfinger bunch achieved to date? Not one thing of substance for Ford workers who will now have difficulty saving their homes from foreclosure as the parasitic and predatory lenders of the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce and the DFL “Business Caucus” circle like vultures over road-kill.

Is anyone getting a clear picture here of how all of these issues are interrelated?

Who will pay their health care bills? For too long the Reuther bunch of which Gettelfinger is a member has put forward the losing proposition that the UAW will solve all of its problems by developing a cozy relationship with the employers; and, the politicians hand picked by these employers... the results of the Reuther bunch have been coming home to roost in plant closings, job losses, autoworkers suffering the consequences of the health care mess like the rest of us.

Now there is Gettelfinger’s great brain-fart: Interest Based Bargaining (IBB). I have photographs of all the campaign signs the UAW supported in the last election from the State DFL Convention… not one of these politicians, with the exception of Senator David Tomassoni, do we know showed up to support SF 607; not one.

A one hour hearing starts out with fourteen of eighteen members present with DFL’er Roger Skoe missing in action and probably out to dinner with his Republican colleagues and this committee ends up with ten members voting; seven to three in opposition to Senator Tomassoni’s motion to support! This is what passes for democracy? Where is the accountability in any of this.

The Republicans who knew their DFL colleagues didn't have the courage to support this legislation were so confident the DFL was opposed they were no-shows, not only for the vote but the hearing itself.

Look, the Republicans had nothing to do with defeating this most important piece of labor legislation that UAW members were counting on. The business controlled DFL legislators did the dirty work of their own volition.

Are the DFL members of this committee now going to have the political and moral courage to step forward to tell us why they left the committee hearing prior to the vote or voted against HF 607? Or, do we have to pry it out of them?

Rumor has it United States Congressman Keith Ellison apparently is awaiting a call from Walter Mondale to get his instructions on what to do about the Ford Plant closing. Mondale sure is taking his time to phone Ellison.

We have been hearing from the DFL leadership that they were unable to accomplish anything of importance for working people in the last legislative session because the Republicans had been in control… now, the Democrats are in complete control of the House and Senate here in Minnesota and they can not even get a very significant piece of legislation approved by one tiny little committee which they overwhelmingly and completely dominate.

We have faced the same thing on health care; and all of these other issues right on down the line. In place of Republicans we get DFL’ers like Leroy Stumpf, Frank Moe, Brita Sailor, and David Olin… big deal.

I went to a little party at the home of Bob Bergland for Ford Bell… David Olin was there. I said, “Oh, are you supporting Ford Bell for United States Senate?”… Olin walked me over into a corner where no one could hear and whispered very sofly, “Of course, or I wouldn’t be here.” I asked him, “Are you going to publicly endorse Ford Bell for the United States Senate against Amy Klobuchar?” He looked around to make sure no one was listening and whispered even softer into my ear, “Shhh, no one has to know I was here this evening, right?” This is the kind of two faced double dealing politicians that comprise the majority of the DFL caucus in both the Senate and the House… here in Minnesota, and in the United States Congress. How can working people accomplish anything backing these kinds of opportunist, back-stabbing, sleaze-balls?

Several days before the election Olin boasted to the media that he was more conservative than his reactionary Republican opponent… I would be willing to bet that Representative David Olin has formed a fast, lasting and deep friendship with Harry Flynn and the “Summit Hill” gang. And Olin was chosen to run by State Senator Leroy Stumpf whose claim to fame is that he has never voted against a piece of legislation that business is for; coincidentally… Roger Skoe and Leroy Stumpf are great chums; and Skoe doesn’t show up for the hearing on SF 607; coincidental? I don't think so.

That the Minnesota DFL is playing games as two thousand jobs in the auto industry go down the river so several thousand poverty wage jobs in a casino can be created is the epitome of what one would call a “sell out” and “betrayal” of working people considering the fact that the very same Democratic Party is also responsible for casino workers having no rights in Minnesota… and Wisconsin, and Michigan, and Iowa… and all across this country.

Yesterday these powerful economic interests silenced the progressive voice of Bishop Thomas Gumbleton… it is now up to us to carry Bishop Gumbleton’s message for peace and social justice out into the communities across Minnesota.

For three days Legislative Assistants have been scurrying about the State Capitol frantically seeking advice on “How should we respond to these questions Maki is asking now?”

I think rather than worrying about how these legislative assistants have been sent scurrying by their bosses trying to figure out how to prevent me from gaining access to information… someone should whip the DFL caucus members into line.

Tell Harry Flynn, Merritt Clapp-Smith, the Summit Hill crowd, the DFL Business Caucus, and the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce to go to hell.

It is a sad day in Minnesota when working people get shafted like this… casino workers understand because we have been getting shafted like this by the DFL and the Democratic Party for a very long time.

Alan L. Maki

Director of Organizing

Red Lake Casino, Hotel, and Restaurant Employees’ Union Organizing Committee

And

Member of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party State Central Committee


Agenda and minutes of the:


Business, Industry and Jobs Committee

Senator Jim Metzen, Chair



Thursday, April 19, 2007

3:00 p.m. – Room 15 State Capitol



AGENDA



1. S.F. 607-Cohen: Motor vehicle manufacturing plant maintenance requirement.



Proponents: Bob Kailleen, United Auto Workers

Don Gerdesmeier, Joint Council 32 DRIVE

Phillip Qualy, United Transportation Union



Opponents: Mary Culler, Director of Government Affairs, Ford Motor Company

Cecile Bedor, City of St. Paul Director of Planning & Economic Dvlp.

Mark Moeller or Sandra Westerman, St. Paul Chamber of Commerce



BUSINESS, INDUSTRY AND JOBS COMMITTEE

SENATOR JAMES METZEN, CHAIR





Senator James Metzen, Chairman of the Business, Industry and Jobs Committee, called the meeting to order at 3:15 p.m. on Thursday, April 19, 2007 in room 15 of the State Capitol.



The clerk noted the roll. The following members were present:



Metzen, Chair

Saltzman, Vice-Chair

Bakk

Bonoff

Carlson

Day

Gimse

Koch

Latz

Michel

Murphy

Scheid

Sparks

Tomassoni



The following members were absent:



Gerlach

Neuville

Rosen

Skoe



Meeting began with a quorum.



1. S.F. 607-Cohen: Motor vehicle manufacturing plant maintenance requirement.



The following people gave testimony in favor of S.F. 607:



Bob Kailleen, United Auto Workers

Don Gerdesmeier, Joint Council 32 DRIVE

Phillip Qualy, United Transportation Union



Questions and comments from the committee followed.



The following people gave testimony in opposition to S.F. 607:



Mary Culler, Director of Government Affairs, Ford Motor Company

Cecile Bedor, City of St. Paul Director of Planning & Economic Development

Mark Moeller, St. Paul Chamber of Commerce



Questions and Comments from the committee followed.



Senator Cohen and Phillip Qualy gave closing remarks in favor of S.F. 607



Senator Tomassoni moved that the bill do pass and be re-referred to the Committee on Rules and Administration.



The Chair was in doubt and called for a division.



The motion did not prevail.


The meeting adjourned at 4:34 p.m.


_________________________________

James Metzen, Chair

Business, Industry and Jobs Committee


_________________________________

Lisa Sarne

Committee Clerk

Posted by Alan L. Maki at 10:15 AM