Judging Pawlenty (5×8 – 12/22/10)

1) OPEN THREAD: PAWLENTY’S LEGACY

Gov. Tim Pawlenty is doing a victory lap this week. The traditional end-of-administration interviews with various newsies is the governor’s chance to set his legacy before the historians do. Presidential campaigns can’t wait for the historians. This morning, MPR has Tom Scheck’s version of the reflection.

For most of Pawlenty’s two terms, Minnesota lagged the nation in creating jobs. A look at Minnesota’s jobs record shows that the state has just 6,200 more workers now than it had in January of 2003. In January, 2009, the state’s unemployment rate started performing better than the national average — a point he repeatedly highlights during speeches.

A look at other numbers shows that Minnesota became less prosperous during Pawlenty’s tenure, even when accounting for the national downturn. In 2002, Minnesota ranked eighth in the nation in per capita income. By 2009, the state had dropped to 14th in the nation.

In its assessment, the Pioneer Press this morning finds a few good things to say:

For years, Minnesota has been a national leader in high school graduation rates, test scores and other education measures. Pawlenty said he took several steps to improve the state’s education programs.

He repealed the state’s outdated Profile of Learning teaching requirements and replaced them with new, more rigorous academic standards.

He is most proud of establishing a pay-for-performance system for teachers, known as Q Comp, that links salaries to student achievement. One-third of Minnesota students are now taught by Q Comp teachers, he said.

Today’s task: Assess the administration of Gov. Tim Pawlenty in a way we haven’t heard before.

By the way, the Star Tribune reports this morning that the governor bypassed the usual judicial selection process to give the wife of a top aide a seat on the bench. Tis the season for that.

2) THE BURGLARS AT THE BANK

It was bad enough that banks forced people into foreclosure without even looking at the paperwork involved to make sure it was legit, the New York Times reports today. Now banks are breaking into homes and stealing everything inside, including a man’s ashes.

In Florida, contractors working for Chase Bank used a screwdriver to enter Debra Fischer’s house in Punta Gorda and helped themselves to a laptop, an iPod, a cordless drill, six bottles of wine and a frosty beer, left half-empty on the counter, according to assertions in a lawsuit filed in August. Ms. Fisher was facing foreclosure, but Chase had not yet obtained a court order, her lawyer says.

3) JUST WONDERING…

If you took a spaceship to the sun, how close could you get before you vaporize?

Some of the sun’s most basic function’s are still a mystery, and this mission aims to change that, Dantzler says. Solar wind, for example, travels at the speed of sound at the sun’s surface, but closer to lightspeed in the corona. “That has something to do with the magnetic fields of the sun, but we don’t understand exactly how it works. So we have to send something that goes inside the corona, inside that big fiery part, to investigate.”

4) THE FUN OF SNOW DAYS

A Rochester Post Bulletin columnist makes a great point today. Kids don’t have the fun of snow days we used to have when technology was in its relative infancy.

While the snow fell outside, we would go to bed with our radios within arm’s reach. In the morning, as soon as our groggy little eyes opened, we would snatch the radio and lay huddled in our beds waiting for our school to be announced.

The moment we heard the name of our town, we would fly out of bed and get dressed faster than we ever would on a regular school day. At that point, we would race back to the radio to listen for the next round of announcements. We just had to hear it a second time before we could celebrate with certainty.

It’s also what introduced generations of kids to the value of radio.

5) SEASON’S GAGGINGS

Have you ever seen a holiday video that was so horrible you couldn’t stop watching it. No? Here:

Bonus: Make music, not snowmen.

TODAY’S QUESTION

In an important test of artificial intelligence, an IBM computer will compete with star contestants on “Jeopardy” this February. Would you expect the computer to win, or one of the humans?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Local food: can it be more than just a niche? The local food movement has been growing steadily the past few years, but availability, cost, and convenience remain an issue. Can local food be produced at a scale that makes it affordable for the consumer and viable for small farmers? And does the public really care about eating local?

Second hour: Scientists are learning that aging may not as inevitable as we think and the secrets lie in our genetics. Midmorning discusses the latest science and future policy issues for in increasingly older population.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: The impact of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Second hour: David Kirkpatrick, author of “The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company that is Connecting the World.”

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Mara Liasson talks politics.

Second hour: David Crystal talks about the King James Bible and the English language.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – A bill to make food safer has passed out of the House. The Food Safety Modernization Act strengthens government oversight of food processing facilities and farms. A controversial part of the bill exempts small farms from most safety oversight and that divides some Minnesota farmers. MPR’s Nancy Lebens will have the story.

Marty Moylan reports that major local retailers are exploring how they can better communicate and sell things to shoppers by using smart phone applications. The apps offer the ability to compare prices, get information about products and deliver rewards for shopping in a company’s stores.

  • gcb

    Pawlenty screwed the state and now wants credit for improvement??????? The guy is a charlatan.

  • GregS

    Judging Pawlenty?

    How is he solely responsible for the lack-luster performance of the state economy?

    The last time I checked, the Governor does not write law, nor does he have the power of the purse, or policy.

    Those things belonged to the DFL legislature.

    Now that Larry Pogemiller and Margaret Anderson-Keliher are leaving their leadership posts, shouldn’t MPR be judging them?

  • Jeff

    A society is only as good as its least well-off members. That’s where we should look when we assess Pawlenty and decide if he made Minnesota a better place (for all, not just a few and not just businesses).

  • Ryan

    I had high hopes for Pawlenty coming in to office. Over time, one of the things that I noticed was that his tenure really raised the level of partisanship in Minnesota. By itself, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing–Pawlenty wanted to stick to his principles.

    The issue that I had with him was his language when speaking about his critics–he was a jerk. The DFL usually did a pretty decent job of saying that we disagree with Pawlenty and here’s why. I found that Pawlenty (and occasionally his GOP allies in the Legislature) were rude and rarely got to the issues when responding to criticism. Maybe it is a small thing but I noticed it time and time again when listening to the governor in press conferences and even on Midday.

  • GregS

    Gosh Ryan, I found just the opposite.

    “That’s where we should look when we assess Pawlenty and decide if he made Minnesota a better place (for all, not just a few and not just businesses – Jeff”

    Pawlenty played the hand that was dealt him. The 800 pound gorilla of Minnesota politics is Education Minnesota, the teacher’s union.

    They decided that half the state budget would be spend on themselves and were rather adamant that that schools be over-funded before healthcare for needy kids should be considered.

    Let’s put blame where it belongs.

  • Jamie

    Ryan is absolutely right (and it’s NOT a small thing, Ryan). Pawlenty has always trash-talked the DFL legislators while the DFL usually pulled every possible punch to try to stay civil. Pawlenty seems to think that if he’s a jerk in a soft-spoken way that nobody will notice. Apparently Greg fell for that.

    The DFL was totally hamstrung by Pawlenty who held the veto pen. You can’t blame the DFL for the state of the state.

  • MR

    @Greg: As long as Pawlenty is highlighting (and implicitly taking credit for) the state’s unemployment rate performing better than the national average, among other things, I don’t feel bad about placing extra blame on him for something that isn’t only his fault.

    I agree that it would be worth looking at the legacies of Kelliher and Pogemiller, and they will likely be fairly unfavorable (from all sides).

    One thing that I’ll remember about the Pawlenty administration is never quite knowing whether he made certain choices because he thought they were in the best interests of the state at the time, or because he thought they were in the best interests of his future presidential ambitions.

  • GregS

    MR,

    Gov Pawlenty was speaking of his efforts and his role, unfortunately he had to deal with a DFL house and Senate, which explains the state of the economy

    Jamie,

    We can all understand being partisan, but when one can only find fault in the opposition and no fault in their own caucus, it is no longer partisanship, but ideological blindness.

    Pawlenty was a fine governor, certainly better than what the DFL and Rockefellar family has saddled us with for the next term.

  • Jamie

    Greg, I never said I didn’t find fault with the DFL-led Legislature. I especially did not like Anderson-Kelliher as speaker. But Pawlenty had about 80% of the control over what got done during his administration.

  • Bob Collins

    By way of background for those people not from Minnesota who might be reading this (perhaps months from now during the presidential campaign), in his first term, Gov. Pawlenty had a Republican House. In elections in 2006, it switched to control by the DFL.

    Up until January 2011, the Senate was in the hands of the DFL since God was a boy.

  • GregS

    “But Pawlenty had about 80% of the control over what got done during his administration – Jamie”

    Not at all. Education Minnesota got everything they knew that they could get and Education Minnesota IS the DFL.

    They horse-traded their interests for everyone else’s then blamed what the progressives did not get on Pawlenty.

    We hear the same wailing from the left about Obama, Pelosi and Reid. The simple truth is they (and the DFL) did not really want what they did not get.

    Still they had to explain their “failure” to the left, so they did what sleazy politicians always do, they found a scapegoat

    In Minnesota that was Pawlenty, nationally it was the razor thin GOP minority.

  • John P.

    Of course, everything bad that happened was the fault of the other party, and everything good is to your credit. It does not much matter which party is speaking.

    And we wonder why government can’t get anything done any more. There’s your answer.

  • GregS

    “Of course, everything bad that happened was the fault of the other party, and everything good is to your credit. It does not much matter which party is speaking – John”

    That is the way politics always was. The real change is that politicians are like that in private rather than just in public.

    I remember the old days, drinking at O’Connel’s in Saint Paul, elbow to elbow with representatives who spent all day shrieking at each other and were now getting down to business.

    It’s reform that killed politics. It used to be that these guys would get wined and dined by lobbyists and that would mellow them out enough to get along.

    Heck, what happened to the coolers of booze on the last day of the session? What happened to back-slapping and crude jokes?

    Enough of all this parsimonious reform crap…. let’s get back to the good ol’ boyz and grrls drinking and smoking cigars in the back room where the public is not welcome!!

  • Jamie

    You should go to work for the Republican Party, Greg. You have the same knack for telling lies and making them SOUND like the truth so that the many uninformed, unquestioning people of the state believe them. And the same knack for demonizing our hard-working teachers because you don’t want them to HAVE a union at all and because you want to privatize everything, including education.

    Apart from that, you have one of the most twisted points of view of all the right wingers I have heard or read.

    Education Minnesota is not in the least THE DFL. There are probably even some Republican members who are happy to have the union fighting for their right to have decent jobs that pay a living wage and offer professional development to make them better teachers.

  • Jamie

    Have to weigh in on Pawlenty and cronyism, given his very questionable judicial appointment today. Pawlenty has been the cronyism-est governor I’ve ever known of. He and his friends hate government workers and think we should abolish most government jobs except for the ones that THEY want to hold for themselves and their friends. State agencies are currently stacked with Pawlenty’s cronies — and highly paid ones at that. I’m planning on holding Mark Dayton to his promise NOT to do that.

  • GregS

    – “Pawlenty has always trash-talked the DFL legislators while the DFL usually pulled every possible punch to try to stay civil. – Posted by Jamie | December 22, 2010 9:37 AM”

    – ” You have the same knack for telling lies and making them SOUND like the truth so that the many uninformed, unquestioning people of the state believe them. And the same knack for demonizing our hard-working teachers because you don’t want them to HAVE a union at all and because you want to privatize everything, including education. – Posted by Jamie | December 22, 2010 5:47 PM”

    Pot meet Kettle.

  • GregS

    “uninformed, unquestioning people of the state – Jamie”

    Ah, there it is, the desperate belief that DFL defeat lays with the ignorance of the people, not the DFL. It is a meme that still works in echo chamber of the radical left. I guess it always will because the left will always believe that people are ignorant rabble who must be shepherded by the guiding hand and the keen vision of their betters.

    In truth, people are pretty damned good at knowing who to trust with the reins of government. Sometimes they favor the left, sometimes the right and sometimes they fragment power.

    It may look like a muddle….. but it works well

    .

  • GregS

    “demonizing our hard-working teachers – Jamie”

    I am not sure how pointing out that the largest lobbying group in the state got everything it wanted at the expense of everyone else – is demonizing.

    It is merely pointing out that money talks, something you and friends on the left love to talk on and on and on about.

    So when can we expect you to stand up for the children of the state and speak truth to the most powerful group in state politics?

    Never…..

  • Jamie

    Again… really twisted.

    Oh, and there’s no pot or kettle up there.