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Wednesday, November 05, 2008
By A Wisker

It was a tough night for Fraters Libertas endorsed candidates in the hotly contested Hennepin County soil and water conservation district races.

In District 5, Karl Hansen fell to Jeff Beck (no, for the last time Atomizer, he's NOT that Jeff Beck ) by twelve points. And in a multi-candidate scrum in District 3, our man Ben Torell lost by a mere 6000 votes:

BEN TORELL 97413 29.06%
JAMES WISKER 103540 30.88%

Who says your vote doesn't count? We congratulate the winners and pray for their success in the trying times ahead for soil and/or water.


Monday, November 03, 2008
Soil and Water: Late Hit

Regarding a previous post about the curious web site of a candidate in Hennepin County District 2, this correction comes in:

Concerning your story, the web site you link to is not Richard Klatte's.  It is mine.  I use it as a directory of candidates we support.  So the wrong office listed was our mistake, not Richard's.  I wish you had pointed it out to us so we could fix it, but it is fixed now.  

If you have any other questions, feel free to email me.

Matt Cleveland
"The Election is Just the First Course"

Correction duly noted.  Two fact checkers and a senior editor will be sternly disciplined for this lack of follow through.   Namely, they will be assigned to Soil and Water election coverage in 2012.

For 2008, the excitement is just beginning.  The Sisyphus LIVE BLOG of Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor election results is only 12 hours away.   (tick tick tick tick tick tick)


Friday, October 31, 2008
Let the Soil and/or Water Debates Begin

Our endorsements for Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor have generated quite a buzz in the soil and water community.   Including this email from one of the candidates in Ramsey County:

Read your endorsements for conservation district supervisor candidates and reasons for such on your blog.  I'm David Bogue, Candidate for district 2 and I wanted to clarify a couple of things for you. 

My comment that water quality is our most urgent resource issue requires a bit more clarification.  Water versus soil needn't be a worry for you.  The things we do for water quality involve soil resources in a good way.  If we merely focus on soil resources, however, we can exclude water quality.  I earned far too many credits in soil science to turn my back on soil.  I love the stuff.  God bless soil!  But one of the biggest parts of water quality is keeping soil where it belongs!

You mentioned that I'm anti roof and anti parking lot.  That's not entirely true.  What I'm stating is that as we increase impervious surfaces, we increase runoff.  By utilizing different building techniques, design features, and when we install landscape features to manage storm water, we decrease the impact of impervious surfaces.  Hey, free water is a good thing and storm water can be collected and used again on site. 

Please let me know if I can answer any questions for you regarding resource issues.

All the best,
David Bogue
Candidate for Ramsey Conservation District Supervisor for District 2

Thanks for that email David.  It does clarify things and tends to placate some of our more rabidly pro-soil concerns.  Plus any time God is invoked in a political campaign, we like it.   This information will be submitted to our official endorsement provider, Sisyphus, to see if he wishes to alter his decision in District 2.  

Reminder to any other candidates in these races, Fraters Libertas is your forum for the substantive debate on all soil and water issues.  Send me your opinion pieces and they shall be printed, in full and unedited.  

UPDATE:  Bill writes in to let us know he was researching the candidacy of Richard Klatte for Hennepin County District 3 Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor, and made this discovery:

If you go to his Web site, he apparently isn't aware of what he actually signed up for.


Thursday, October 30, 2008
Soil and Water Endorsements: Ramsey County

Following up yesterday's Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor endorsements for Hennepin county, we now continue with Sisyphus's wisdom on what you should do in the voting booths in Ramsey County.


Ramsey County District 2 Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor

David Bogue seems to have soil and water credentials, but, based on this statement:

"Water quality is our most urgent resource issue."

we fear that he may be too pro-water at the expense of soil. We are also alarmed at his anti-roof and anti-parking lot views:

"Recharge of our aquifers is decreasing because of increased impervious surfaces from development, such as roofs and parking lots."

We here at Fraters Libertas are in favor of recharging our aquifers, but we are unwilling to give up our parking lots and especially our roofs in order to do so.

(NOTE: Our non-endorsement of Mr. Bogue, has nothing to do with the fact that Grace Kelly of MN Blue (which is an anti-Republican blog; note the anti-Norm Coleman ads) endorsed him. Her endorsement is based only on the fact that Mr. Bogue has a blog (with an Atomizer-esque two posts over three months) and she couldn't find anything about the other two candidates online. Advanced methods research tip to Grace Kelly: both of the major daily newspapers in the Twin Cities have something called online voter guides.)

Nick Quade was a Ron Paul delegate to the state convention.

We previously noted Hennepin County District 5 candidate Karl Hansen's contribution to the Paul campaign. What is it with Ron Paul supporters and the soil and water conservation races? Let me check my pocket U.S. Constitution .... nope, nothing about soil and water conservation. Well, I guess the revolution has to start somewhere.

Tom Tuft is an attorney and a Hockey Coach with the Como Area Hockey Association. While we are concerned that he is a lawyer (and that he seems to think that the board needs a lawyer) we are encouraged by his hockey background (a game played on frozen water) and his succinct answers to the survey questions. We especially like that he left blank the question about what accomplishments the voters can expect from him. Finally a candidate who doesn't make promises he can't keep.

We feel that Mr. Tuft is in step with his district, will grow into a fine Soil and Water Supervisor, and we endorse Tom Tuft for Ramsey County District 5 Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor.

Ramsey County District 3 Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor

The Ramsey County District 3 contest is known for being controversial and vigorously contested. This year is certainly no exception.

As you may recall, this is the seat that led to the most embarrassing incident in the history of Fraters Libertas Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor endorsements. For the first and only time, we had to rescind our endorsement.

Four years ago we endorsed Jill Elizabeth Wilkinson over the DFL endorsed candidate, Marjorie Ebensteiner. After making our endorsement, the Star Tribune reported that Ms. Wilkinson had admitted embezzling money from the Libertarian Party (Star Tribune link no longer available). Alas, our endorsement withdrawal came too late and Wilkinson coasted to a 30,000 vote victory over the DFL endorsed candidate.

Not only did Jill Elizabeth Wilkinson survive the embezzlement charges and complete her term, now she is running for re-election. Sorry, Ms. Wilkinson, no Fraters Libertas endorsement this time. We are not Democrats who are willing to look the other way on financial shenanigans just because a candidate can win elections.

Unfortunately, the choices don't get much better.

This is the only Soil and Water Conservation race in the entire state with a candidate endorsed by a major party. Mara Magnuson Humphrey has secured the DFL endorsement. What we have here is a rare example of the Democrats learning from their past mistakes. Four years ago they endorsed someone named Marjorie Ebensteiner, whose name is similar to then MN GOP Chairman Ron Eibensteiner. Voters in heavily DFL Ramsey County decided they would rather have an accused embezzler than someone who might be related to a Republican.

However, this year the Democrats were so desperate to find a candidate with a traditional DFL name that they didn't care about her background. You see, Mara Magnuson Humphrey is .... a REGISTERED LOBBYIST!

And no, she does not lobby on behalf of the Red Cross or Puppies and Kittens, no she is a lobbyist for the FINANCIAL INDUSTRY!

We here at Fraters Libertas are fair-minded folks, so we concede that Ms. Humphrey is probably not 100% responsible for our current financial crisis. But we are unwilling to risk a similar meltdown in our soil and water. We would almost rather have Jimmy Carter on the board than a DFL financial industry lobbyist.

Also running is former Maplewood City Manager and unsuccessful Republican candidate for the State House in 2002, Greg Copeland. The fact that Mr. Copeland is a Republican is a plus, but not the fact that he lost in a landslide (71% to 28%). We are generally skeptical of candidates who lose in other contests and then try to finally win an election by running for Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor. Are they running because they care about Soil and Water or are they running because they want to win an election, any election? We'd like to think the best about these candidates, but we just have no way of knowing for sure. Also raising concerns is Mr. Copeland's tumultuous stint as Maplewood City Manager.

Finally, we strongly object to Mr. Copeland's pledge to:

"Provide for cable television broadcast of District Board Meetings on public access stations."

Our first reaction to recent Hamline grad candidate Paul Sawyer is, at least he didn't go to Macalester. But, after examining him further, he might as well have. While Mr. Sawyer lost out on the official DFL endorsement, he was endorsed by two DFL State Representatives (Alice Hausman and Sheldon Johnson) with a combined 2008 Tax Payer's League rating of zero.

If that wasn't enough, Mr. Sawyer hasn't learned the counter-productivity of harshly negative campaigning. He has directly and viciously attacked the incumbent's attendance record and has taken a more subtle swipe at his DFL endorsed opponent. On the contributions page of his campaign website, he has pledged not only to accept no campaign contributions from PACs or corporations (take that Big Soil! take that Big Water!), but also to accept nothing from .... lobbyists.

Lobbyists, we are left to presume, like Mara Magnuson Humphrey.

Sorry Mr. Sawyer, but that kind of negative campaigning has no place in Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor races.

Unfortunately, that leaves us no candidates we are comfortable endorsing. Sorry residents of Ramsey District 3, we can offer you no guidance. Except maybe to convince Rahn V. Workcuff to move to the district and run for supervisor in 2012.


Stay tuned to Fraters Libertas for any breaking news on the Soil and Water Conservation Superviser election front. Rest assured, whatever might occur -- embezzlement, indictment, floods, cave-ins, slow erosion -- Sisyphus will be there.

Also remember to tune in election night for his Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor election LIVE BLOG right here on Fraters Libertas. It will begin promptly at 4:30 PM until approximately 6:30 AM the next morning. (Warning to the affiliates, he will be going over this time if any margin of victory is less than the level of litigation.) See you all then!


Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Soil and Water Endorsements: Hennepin County

We are happy to report that the Fraters Libertas expert soil and water conservation supervision analyst, Sisyphus, has completed his arduous investigation. His little miner's helmet and scuba suit have been returned to us (thus getting back his complete deposit - less charges for some excessive scuffing). His calculations and formulas have been checked and double checked (thanks to the Atomizer for removing his shoes and socks for the occasion). His manuscript has been fact checked and edited. At least to normal Star Tribune standards (as such we cannot actually confirm or deny any of the facts therein).

As we did four years ago, we will concentrate only on the contested Hennepin and Ramsey County races. These counties contain most of the dirt and water in the metro area anyway, and all of the good stuff, if you know what I'm saying. (I don't, email me with clarification if you do).

Hennepin County endorsements appear today, Ramsey tomorrow. 

Without further ado, here is our man Sisyphus:


It is now endorsement season -- that time of year when newspapers and former Governors let us know who they think we should vote for.  However, they tend to endorse only in races like President, Senate, Congress, and the State Legislature, races for which we already have plenty of information, while leaving us without their guidance in the Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor races.  Unlike the Main Stream Drive By Media, Fraters Libertas believes that Soil and Water are important, nay indispensable, to our children's future.   That is why we take the time to research those vying to supervise their conservation.

Hennepin County District 3 Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor

Running for the hotly contested Hennepin County District 3 seat are Ben Torell, James Wisker, Rahn V. Workcuff, and Richard A. Klatte.

In the Star Tribune's voter guide, Richard A. Klatte lists one of his most important issues as:

"Making big oil companies pay for cleaning the air, water, and soil they've destroyed."

Unfortunately for Mr. Klatte, but fortunately for good sense, the Hennepin County Soil and Water Conservation District doesn't have the power to take down big oil.  We recommend a run for Governor on the Green Party ticket. 

Wait a minute .... he did run in the 2002 Green party primary for Governor!  And was trounced by Ken Petel 86% to 14%.  Just think about that.  He lost an election to Ken Petel -- and it was a landslide.  We don't endorse Green Party rejects here.

Rahn V. Workcuff doesn't list taking on big oil as his most important issue. Instead, his big issue is opposition to gay marriage: 

"I strongly agree that a marriage should be only between a man and a woman. I am not in favor of same sex marriages."  

Mr. Workcuff's candidacy is no doubt an attempt to prevent another possible run by gay marriage/gay divorce attorney Jonathan Burris in the fifth district.  Mr. Burris ran four years ago (he is not running this year) and did not receive our endorsement because we did not see how his "gay divorce" credentials had anything to do with soil and water.  While Mr. Workcuff comes off as a curmudgeon who would liven up the meetings, we still believe that soil and water conservation districts should stay out of the gay marriage debate.  Mr. Workcuff should consider running for state legislature. 

Wait a minute .... he did run for the state legislature!   Against Margaret Anderson Kelliher on the Independence Party ticket in 2000, alas, getting only 6% of the vote.  We don't endorse people who can't get at least 7% of the vote against DFL machine party hacks.    

James Wisker is the only candidate in district 3 with extensive soil and water experience; he is Program Manager for the Regulatory Department at Minnehaha Creek Watershed District. However, in his MASWCD questionnaire he uses words like, "stakeholder driven," "public/private partnerships," and "proactive."  We cannot in good conscience endorse such a buzzword machine.

We are encouraged that Ben Torell is a Firearm Safety Instructor and a Snowmobile/ATV Safety Instructor.  While Mr. Torell does not have a lot of direct Soil and Water conservation experience, we are confident that he will grow into an effective soil and water conservation supervisor.  

Fraters Libertas endorses Ben Torell for Hennepin County District 3 Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor.

Hennepin County District 5 Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor

Running in Hennepin County District 5 are Jeffrey A. Beck and Karl Hanson.

We hope that Hennepin County voters are bright enough to realize that Jeffrey A. Beck is not the legendary guitarist (whose name is actually Geoffrey).  The Jeff Beck running for district 5 soil and water conservation supervisor is the kind of guy who doesn't use capital letters in his Star Tribune voter's guide essay and refers to himself in the third person in his MASWCD questionnaire.  Needless to say, we cannot endorse him.

Karl Hanson may well have written the perfect answer to the "most important issue" question:

"Preserving the public waterways and soil for future generations while allowing private property owners to use their lands with absolutely minimal government interference. Conservation of taxpayer resources must also be a priority."  

But warning sirens go off when we take a look at his political contributions, $2,300 to Ron Paul and *gasp* $300 to Dennis Kucinich.  Do we really want a soil and water conservation supervisor who donated money to Dennis Kucinich? 

No, but we really can't endorse that other guy.

So, we reluctantly endorse Karl Hanson for Hennepin County District 5 Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor and hope he lives up to his essay, not his Kucinich contribution.


If only Barack Obama had been vetted as well by the media as Sisphysus did with Rahn V. Workcuff, this country wouldn't be in such a predicament.

Tune in tomorrow for the dirt (and water) on Ramsey County.


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