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Reapportionment Day Rant

Now is the time for all good people to come to the aid of their party.

In the past week or two I’ve been doing my bit. Attending town hall meetings, making the probably futile attempt to affect the political process by showing up at caucus and volunteering for a committee: Resolutions. (I had proposed a resolution against the NDAA indefinite detention provisions and they didn’t have enough volunteers.)

Now waiting for the redistricting lines to come out later today, so we know for whom we might be voting. Maybe I’ll get a chance to vote against Michele Bachmann, who knows?

Asking questions about sulfide mining in northern Minnesota, now coming upon us without much real public discussion. I only know what I know because I personally went to a hearing at Minnesota Pollution Control and learned about Water Legacy.

Flusterating, is about the only way I can describe it.

Now, let me say this. I have come to deeply respect many of our current elected representatives in this process.

In my district and in the neighboring districts, we can count ourselves fortunate to have persons of intelligence and – perhaps even more important – just plain common sense representing us. I have heard John Marty and Bev Scalze field a question on Voter ID with such eloquence and precision. Really impressive. Rep. Alice Hausman, always pleasant, yet a tough professional, knows her way around crafting good bills – and that’s important in a legislature with so many Tea Party freshmen. She gave a three-minute comment on why racino is coming up right now that enlightened all of us.

On the federal level, Betty McCollum manages to be a fiscal conservative and a social progressive. Her staff is responsive. She actually comes to these small-town local affairs, and she listens.

Usually, the other attendees are gray-hairs like myself, but recently I was excited to note a high-schooler offering a resolution on the marriage amendment. Got to say that gave me a goofy pleasure. Another generation that cares, finally.

Yet something weird always happens. For instance: I go to my town meeting with a question in mind. I want to know why the local paper runs a piece on a controversial bill to sweep away teacher seniority without mentioning the fact that it’s sponsored by ALEC members.

The papers never seem to mention ALEC, but I’ve been following the bills introduced in the state House of Representatives, and they have ALEC fingerprints all over them. ALEC members chair the Education Finance and Education Reform committees here. Common Cause is all over this, and of course so is, but the newspapers, not so much.

I’m thinking it’s interesting that an online for-profit school company was corporate co-chair of the ALEC education task force. Also, I’m thinking it’s no surprise that ALEC opposes teacher’s unions and supports reducing the authority of university-based schools of education. I’m thinking, in fact, that these ideologically hyper-conservative types would like to roll back education to before the Civil Rights Era while making a free-enterprise curriculum mandatory.

Finally, I’m thinking maybe this is why Ellen Anderson – our governor’s smart choice for the Public Utilities Commission – might have been rejected by the Minnesota Republican delegation, because a person in that position would appoint one regulator of this mess while the current Speaker of the House would appoint a business representative. Yuh-huh. (Our crafty speaker is a “former” ALEC member, I have read.)

So my town-hall question is fielded by Rep. John Lesch, who offers gamely but lamely that Democrats don’t really have anything like ALEC, the secretive, behind-closed-doors cabal that benefits from billions in corporate donations.

Yes, I think, we knew that.

Why can’t we talk about the fact that far-right-wing types DO?!

But just as I’m thinking this, the whole room starts to vibrate, like we’re sitting on top of a compressor. I think, WHAT!? I put my hand on the table, thinking, yes, I feel a definite rumbling. I look at the person next to me. He’s ignoring it, so I ignore it, too.

We’re above a restaurant, so I just chalk this up to “whatever.” However, when we exit, and we go outside into the freakishly warm February sunlight, I see a gigantic surveillance stalk on a portable generator. Its business end stands right at the level of the upstairs windows where we had been meeting.

Has it come to this? Is it because of Gabby Giffords or something? I find it bizarre. Has this happened to anyone else?

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