Earplugs

You’re going to need ‘em if this little number is indicative of the governor’s race the rest of the way.

These days, the Willie Horton ad is beginning to look like a cute warm-and-fuzzy.

This, by the way, is one of those situations that underscored the Hatch vs. Pawlenty battle that’s been taking place at the Capitol since 2002. It was Hatch who first publicized the situation. Which was followed by Pawlenty demanding an investigation.

Two years. It’s a wonder it’s taken this long to crank an ad out of it.

One of the interesting aspects of political ads,of course, is the innnuendo while maintaining deniability. Clearly the ad did not say that Pawlenty intentionally sent sex offenders to nursing homes. But the use of the word “idea” at the beginning certainly is meant to leave the implication, as in, “hey, I had an idea today…let’s send a bunch of sex offenderrs to molest old folks in nursing homes.”

There’s intent, then there’s just negligence and stupidity. Either conclusion, presumably, would be desirable by the folks who produced the ad, which was the DFL Party, not the Hatch campaign.

Close race, I guess.

(h/t Laura McCallum)

  • Bill Prendergast

    I don’t understand the reference to the “Willie Horton” ad. This ad is fundamentally accurate, it’s not about race or some other divisive social issue (everybody thinks that housing sex offenders in nursing homes is a stupid, horrifying idea). I don’t see the “Willie Horton” angle Bob sees here.

    Yes, this really happened—this series of crimes they talk about in the ad. The Concordia nursing home mess; I did editorials about it in the Stillwater Gazette. There was a shortage of prison housing for convicts from day one of the Pawlenty administration; the state was simply out of beds for criminals, dangerous and otherwise.

    And Pawlenty was locked into his “no new taxes” pledge; no raising taxes to build more prison space.

    So Pawlenty administration officials decided to house convicted sex criminals with elderly defenseless seniors in private nursing homes—to avoid a state tax hike.

    And then what anybody would have predicted would happen–happened. It’s not that the Pawlenty people “intended” the crimes to happen—they just didn’t care whether it happened or not. Anything was preferable to raising state taxes on the rich to build new prisons. That includes molestation of seniors by sex criminals.

    I guess the Pawlenty people were counting on the fact that the media wouldn’t make such a big deal out of it, when the crimes occured. And in that respect, the Pawlenty people were right: it was it was in the newspapers for a few days—there might have been one big headline–and then the story went away. No call for resignations, that I can remember. So far as I know, the Pawlenty personnel who oversaw the policy are still there. Why fire them? They were just following the Pawlenty tax agenda.

  • Bob Collins

    Actually, according to Hatch at the time. The incidents happened between 2000 and 2004.

    I believe , bonding years at the Legislature are the even numbered years. So Pawlenty’s bonding year (presumably the opportunity to build prisons) would’ve been the 2004 session.

    The story broke on May 26, 2004. The legislature adjourned on May 16, 2004. Not much time to get the bonds out — even if they wanted to, which they didn’t — and the prisons built.

    Now, Pawlenty’s first year, 2003, was, of course, a budget year and that was the year of the deficit and cuts.

    The DFL would seem to agree, since their bullet points sent to the media to support the ad says nothing about prison space, and to support the claim of budget cuts, cites only two — snow removal cuts and crime prevents/police training grants in early 2004.

    Rather it notes the problem was first uncovered by a state health inspector — which operates under the Pawlenty administration, but that corrections department –w hich also operates under the Pawlenty administration — did not read the reports.

    The DFL document also lists three incidents profiled in a story that ran in the Pioneer Press, making no mention of the dates of the incident. The MPR story at the time — cited above — reported a total of 5 incidents, including those that began before the Pawlenty administration.

    These assaults really did take place. So did the Willie Horton record.

  • Bill Prendergast

    So how much did the Pawlenty administration really care about the probability of molestation of seniors?

    The MPR coverage indicates that the priority for Pawlenty was keeping the lid on government spending. Look at the dates on the following stories:

    Pawlenty names chief of staff, corrections commissioner

    by Laura McCallum, Minnesota Public Radio

    January 2, 2003

    Pawlenty says with the state facing a projected $4.5 billion budget deficit, corrections will be on the table for cuts, like every other area.

    He says he will look at whether some non-violent drug and property offenders could serve their time in facilities other than prisons.

    “Is there a way for non-violent offenders to use some of the current state facilities that we otherwise might be shutting down to have a more economical way, less intense way, and a cheaper way to incarcerate these individuals?” he said.

    Pawlenty didn’t rule out closing prisons to balance the state budget. He also appointed outgoing corrections commissioner Sheryl Ramstad to the Minnesota Tax Court, his first judicial appointment.

    (I guess sex offenders were re-housed under the Pawlenty policy, along with the “non-violent” offenders. And here’s another of your stories on “what Pawlenty knew about the prison space problem, and when he knew it”:)

    State will run out of prison space by July, lawmakers told

    January 8, 2003

    St. Paul, Minn. — (AP) – The state’s prison population is rising unexpectedly fast and Minnesota will run out of prison beds as soon as July.

    Department of Corrections officials told lawmakers on a Senate budget panel that new projections have the state’s prisoner population increasing so sharply the state could fill two new prisons by 2010.

    (As Bob notes, the scandal broke about a year and a a half after it was a matter of record that we were out of prison beds, including those for sex offenders. So Pawlenty took a decision–no new taxes for more prison space–not a priority, we can simply re-house the criminals. The Pawlenty administration turned a blind eye on the question of whether it was wise to farm out convicted sex offenders to nursing homes for the elderly. The Concordia tragedy was the result of the Pawlenty administration mindless obsession with their “no new taxes” and spending cuts policy–and people ought to be made aware of that, so history doesn’t repeat itself.)

    People don’t need earplugs; they need to hear this–it was a disgraceful example of the safety and dignity of seniors being sacrificed on the altar of GOP tax policy.