Thursday, February 28, 2008

An evening with the guv...

I attended a fundraiser for Governor Pawlenty tonight in Sartell; which was attended, by my estimate, by around 150-200 people. It was a great affair, attended by a number of successful local businessmen, political luminaries, and just plain folks, like myself and Gary, who shot the moon and plunked down the $100 donation to spend the evening with one who could potentially be the second most powerful man on the globe.

During the course of the evening I was able to have the Governor's ear for a few minutes. During the conversation, he downplayed his chances of being the Veep selection for John McCain, saying, "Why would someone select a governor from Minnesota to be a V.P. selection?"

(Ever hear of Walter Mondale? Or for that matter of the fact that Jimmy Carter was from Plains, Georgia, and that Bill Clinton (and Mike Huckabee) are from Hope, Arkansas.)

During the course of the conversation, I was also able to subtly voice my displeasure with Tim Pawlenty's venture into the dark side of global warming. While I was able to get him to see the possibility that anthroprogenic global warming was a hoax, Pawlenty stated that he was for environmental measures that would not harm the economy. Pawlenty acknowledged that the production of corn- and soy-based ethanol was having unintended consequences, and that there has been a huge move away from food-product ethanol and toward ethanol created via corn-based by-products, animal waste and other "refuse-to-energy" alternatives. While the governor and myself are still far apart regarding his level of buying into and legitimizing the whole MMGW, he at least is recognizing the fact that much of the policy initiatives called for by the enviro-whackos are. in fact, economy-killers.

The governor did give a good speech tonight; recognizing that once-stalwart Minnesota businesses like 3-M are looking to expand not in Minnesota, but in neighboring states in large part due to the high corporate tax burden that Minnesota imposes. The governor called for a tax climate that invites businesses and jobs, not driving them to neighboring states.

The governor also articulated his vision for the future of education in Minnesota. While he praised the current educational structure, citing the fact that Minnesota consistently scores at the top for ACT scores and graduation rates, Governor Pawlenty also stressed the need to meet the technology and other demands that the upcoming world will exact on our youths in the coming century. He stressed the need to develop computer-based curricula, that would allow high-flying students to progress at their own pace in their studies, and leave teachers freer to give more individual attention to struggling students.

Other highlights of my evening included talking with St. Cloud's mayor Dave Kleis. Kleis gave us the scoop that the City of St. Cloud, following the State of Minnesota's lead, would impose a freeze on new hires until further notice. Kleis stated that the current climate is such that a tax increase would be unconscionable. Kleis was extremely disappointed at the DFL's decision to override Governor Pawlenty's veto the other day. Kleis, a small businessman himself who operates an area driving school, stated that the gas tax will significantly increase the costs of his business which he will have to pass on to families who utilize his company's services. Additionally, the taxpayers of St. Cloud, who currently foot the gas for police and fire vehicles, snow plows, city trucks and the likes will have to absorb the increased gas tax that the city pays to run its vehicles (yes, municipalities pay as much gas tax per gallon as do its citizens).

Good going, DFL-- way to sock it to the taxpayers. Again. But I digress.