In re Ellen Anderson: The Speech that a Republican Should Have Given
Members. I'm going to shock some of my Republican Senate colleagues. Probably even more of my DFL ones.
I'm voting to confirm Anderson.
Why? I believe that elections have consequences. That constitutional offices, by definition, have consequences. The office of governor of the great state of Minnesota confers certain powers on the person who holds it. The governor gets to decide who should serve in his or her [never mind, still waiting] administration. The governor gets to choose people who generally ideologically agree with him. In choosing Anderson, that's what Dayton did.
I don't agree with some, if not much, of Anderson's renewable energy agenda which has now proven to be untenably expensive. Or bashing traditional energy sources. Former GOP Governor Tim Pawlenty once did, but he backed off on that when it was no longer politically expedient. But worth noting as an aside is that Pawlenty's leadership on the Renewable Energy Standard is what made it law. This past muddies the waters, here, now.
But our state constitution much like the federal government's in this capacity is about making sure people who are appointed by the top dogs are qualified to hold the job. I can't argue that Anderson doesn't know the regulatory energy turf. So, I won't. Anderson does. Dayton won. He gets to choose.
But I will point that we've arrived at a simply awful place in our democracy. We are rejecting both Presidential and gubernatorial appointees purely on politics.
I will also point out most Republicans and rightly so believe this course of action was started by Democrats. And it was. Federally, with Bush judicial appointees.
And here in Minnesota. Correct me if I'm wrong, but in modern state history, the first appointee to be rejected by the Senate was Steve Minn as Commissioner of Commerce under Jesse Ventura. That had something to do with a certain DFL state senator who had it in for Minn. The details of which I've long forgotten. But those details had nothing to do with Minn's capacity to serve as Commerce Commissioner.
Under Pawlenty's tenure, the DFL Senate rejected three of his appointees. Rich Stanek. Over some routine court hearing in his past when he was a street police officer asked to provide testimony about what someone said to him. That person used a highly inflammatory derogatory name for people of color, and Stanek repeated what he was told, under oath. As required by a court of law. As I recall, Keith Ellison led the charge on that one. I also recall a weird hearing full of untrue innuendos. Stanek withdrew before the DFL Senate had a chance to un-confirm him.
Then there was Cheri Pierson Yecke. Pawlenty appointed her to be the Commissioner of Education. I never really understood why. Her views on intelligent design we're bound to be a lightening rod. And they were.
Finally, there was Carol Molnau as Commissioner of Transportation. I'm still sort of shocked when I hear good DFL friends blame her for the I-35 bridge falling down. Nope. That disaster was decades in the making. [I still pity Molnau. Pawlenty -- in his quest for higher things -- was ultimately responsible for what happened to her.]
My point? Yes, indeed, I think Republicans are in a good position to argue, "Payback!" today.
But should we?
I think not. To everything, turn, turn, turn, there is a season, turn, turn, turn Likely in our lifetimes, we'll encounter a GOP governor, again, who needs to get his or her [finally!] appointees through the Senate.
I hope those future DFL senators think about what I'm saying here, today.
Let the record show that it was a Republican who first said on this Senate floor:
We are here only to weed out the unqualified. Anderson is not that.
To my Republican colleagues. Yes, I recognize we've wandered in the oppressed minority for almost four decades. Bad things happened. But, today? Most of the public doesn't remember those things. We will look like petty partisan fools if we reject Anderson, today. Let's swallow our pride, and our sense of retribution, and not do that.
Finally, Democrats? I may be in a wheelchair or dead the next time a GOP governor deals with a DFL Senate. Or it could only be in a few years.
Let the record show:
It was a Republican who had the guts to get up and say on this Senate floor:
Quit the party politics in the confirmation process.
Thank you. And vote to confirm Ellen Anderson to chair the PUC.
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Posted in Law Post Date 01/29/2015