We knew the calls would be coming into the Times newsroom at any moment, and Tuesday morning they came.
We knew the calls would be coming into the Times newsroom at any moment, and Tuesday morning they came. Actually, one was a phone call and the other was via email. DFL Minnesota House Minority Leader Paul Thissen was going to be calling newspapers across the state to tell the DFL’s side in the latest debacle that unfolded in the closing days, hours and minutes of the 2016 Minnesota Legislative session. Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt? He was going to be doing the same.
Both legislators wanted to conduct their phone interviews Tuesday afternoon, but a look at the big calendar on the newsroom wall showed a day packed full of things that had to be covered by the newspaper, so picking up the phone to listen to the same, tired blame game and partisan spin-doctoring just wasn’t going to be possible that day.
So the representatives of both Thissen and Daudt were told thanks, but no thanks. They were also told that the Times could probably publish a he said/he said story purportedly based on interviews with both Thissen and Daudt that in reality hadn’t taken place. After all, when the same embarrassing behavior is on display in session after session of our state legislature, this stuff eventually writes itself.
Seriously, running dictionary-thick bills back and forth between buildings in the dark of night as the clock ticks toward midnight...the contents of which are largely a mystery to most of the legislators who are expected to cast a rushed, last-minute vote? A House bonding bill counteroffer, released about an hour before midnight, full of errors? Is there enough shame to go around?
That said, the Republicans are more at fault this time. You just don’t submit your very first bonding bill proposal weeks after Senate DFLers release theirs, and only five days before the session is required to adjourn, with a straight face. These are real projects affecting real communities and real people, and – Hey, Republicans! – they create jobs.
And, while no one wants a humongous government that controls everything, even those who dig super-lean governing would admit that it’s kind of cool when government supplies decent roads, bridges and transit. Or is that a wrong assumption with today’s GOP? Maybe we should put private corporations in charge of all this vital infrastructure and then give them even bigger mountains of free money to bungle it worse than the government ever could.
And then, the icing on the cake: The ink was barely dry on the news headlines announcing that our legislature had once again put off important legislation until the last second, and, predictably, not been able to approve it, when Daudt called on Gov. Mark Dayton to convene a special session so lawmakers could return to St. Paul and try to pass a transportation funding package and a bonding bill.
That’s like a college kid partying like a rock star all night long and, then, hung over as heck the next morning, calling on his professor to cancel his 8 a.m. class.
Daudt had within his grasp the power to avoid this latest display of non-legislating.
This is still Minnesota, right? Aren’t we supposed to be a great place to live, a state admired and respected far and wide? If we don’t get our act together, it will soon be hard to discern our state from our neighbor to the east, Scott Walker-led Wisconsin.