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Rick Berg Steps Down
Written by Adam   
Friday, 12 September 2008 14:36

As reported by KXMB :

Berg says he intends to leave the House after his term ends in 2010, and House Republicans should pick a new leader for the 2009 Legislature.

Now before you go jumping out of your seat that a major opponent of North Dakota's injured workers is stepping down, read on...

Another Fargo Republican lawmaker Al Carlson says he'll be running for the top G-O-P leadership job. Carlson ran against Berg twice for the position and lost both times.

Carlson says it's hard to tell whether his chances will be better with an open seat. As he puts it nobody could run or everybody could run.

Oy, Al Carlson...




State Treasurer Kelly Schmidt: Law Breaker?
Written by Chet   
Wednesday, 10 September 2008 09:53

BannerI'm going to try to walk you through something I think is kind of a big deal.  You might disagree.  You might say, "it's pre-election silly season," and that's fine.  That doesn't make what I'm about to show you any less offensive.  Or less criminal.  (Allegedly.)

Follow along:

1.  North Dakota's State Treasurer is Kelly Schmidt.  The duties of the State Treasurer are set forth in North Dakota Century Code section 54-11-01 that you can read -- if you're really bored -- by clicking here

2.  The State Treasurer runs a website you can see by clicking here (pdf).  You'll notice that right below the Treasurer's photograph there's a little box alternating between saying "Manage Your Financial Future" and "Tomorrows' Money."  That's an advertisement. 

3.  If you click on that advertisement, you'll be taken to this page (pdf), which is a letter to you from North Dakota's Treasurer.  The Treasurer, in her letter, says she wants to help you with your planning for a "path to a successful financial future."  (Interestingly, I'd note that helping you with that planning is not one of the duties of the State Treasurer that's outlined in the statute I suggested you should read if you're really bored.). 

4.  Within her letter, the Treasurer invites you to link to a website called "northdakota.tomorrowsmoney.org " (pdf).  You'll get to that page and you'll think to yourself (quietly, I hope), "Hey!  There's the Great Seal for the State of North Dakota in the upper right left-hand corner, and it says 'North Dakota State Treasurer' so I must still be on a state government website."  You'd think that, of course, because you're a smart NorthDecoder.com reader and you know it's a Class B misdemeanor (click here) to use the Great Seal for the State of North Dakota for non-State purposes (with limited exceptions, none of which seem to apply here).  Well, you'd be right that it's a crime to use the Great Seal, but you'd be wrong about whether you were still on a State of North Dakota website. 

See, you've crossed over into the land of the United States Bond Market Foundation and their promotional website, "TomorrowsMoney.org." What is the "Bond Market Foundation?" you ask?  Good question.  

The Bond Market Foundation (TBMF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable and educational entity organized by members of the bond market industry. The Foundation was re-launched in 2000 to harness resources to help society strengthen communities.

TBMF is an educational and charitable partner of the Bond Market Association's membership. The Association graciously contributes the net proceeds from its Annual Awards Dinner; however, the Foundation raises money and is expected to operate on independent outside financing. The Foundation's Charter Partners are MBIA and Gartmore Global Investments/Gartmore Group. Barclays Capital is a contributing Partner. Project partners include the Bear Stearns Charitable Foundation. Other funding comes from individuals and foundations both within and outside the bond industry.
NorthDakota.TomorrowsMoney.Org (pdf)

Being the observant NorthDecoder reader that you are -- having had your brain trained to look for these sorts of things -- you will have noticed the Great Seal of the State of North Dakota, again, in the left-hand margin of that "about" page I just pointed you to, just above the North Dakota State Treasurer's name.  You'll again think to yourself, "This must be a State of North Dakota website, because it would be ANOTHER crime for them to have put it on this second page."  Again, you would be right that it could be a crime, but you would be wrong about being on a State of North Dakota website.

You might spend some time looking around on that website and find numerous other pages with the North Dakota Great Seal at the top of the page, next to our State Treasurer's name, or in the left-hand margin.  If you're like me you'll wonder "How many of those uses of the Great Seal are criminal, and how many are not criminal?"  You won't know.  Because nobody's been charged with a crime.  Yet.  (Feel free to contact your local law enforcement person or prosecutor and report a crime if you feel you've just witnessed one.)

Then you'll go back and read that "about" information (indented, above) and you'll say "Who is this 'Bond Market Association' and what have they done to get our State Treasurer to co-opt the Great Seal and "partner" with them to have our Seal put on their website?"  That too will be a great question.  

I'm going to leave that question open for today, but I will give you a couple things to chew on:  (1) do you think the Bond Market Association (or Foundation) has any kind of "other" relationship with our State Treasurer?  Hmmm...  That might be worth looking into; and (2) If you click here (pdf), you will find a list of 60 or so of the members of the Bond Market Association.  [And, oops, there's that Great Seal again.]  Some of them that may be of interest to you include "Bear, Stearns" and "Edward Jones."  Do those companies' names ring a bell to anybody out there?

If you're like me, you're probably still stuck back there in #2, above, where I've pointed out the fact that there is an "advertisement" for the Bond Market Foundation right there on our State Treasurer's website.  You probably think that's a scandal in and of itself.  The fact that the Great Seal is plastered all over a private foundation's website hasn't sunk in yet.  You're probably not ready to think about the possibility there might be other connections "of interest."  We'll let this stuff sink in a little before we continue this story. 

Because this story is... 

(to be continued)

Gubernatorial Candidates Debate Tonight
Written by Chet   
Wednesday, 10 September 2008 08:54

E-mail just in from the Democratic-NPL party today:

If you are in the Bismarck area, we urge you to come out tonight to support governor candidate Sen. Tim Mathern in his first debate with John Hoeven.

Mathern will be laying out his vision for a better North Dakota and a governor's office that cares about all people, not just the rich and powerful. 

The debate is being held at the City/County Building, 221 N. Fifth St., tonight. It begins at 6:30 p.m., but seating is limited to 100 people, so please come early to get your seat.

DemNPL e-mail (no link)

These debates usually happen in the Tom Baker Room, which is downstairs in the City/County building.  This one might be interesting.

Update - Adam

Word is that the debate will be webcast here at freetv.org

I might liveblog.  We'll have to see...

How is this happening in a Democratic congress?
Written by Adam   
Tuesday, 09 September 2008 08:27
This is why congress's approval rating is so low:

The party leadership now appears likely to allow a vote on offshore drilling as early as this Thursday - but will wrap the measure into a genuinely progressive energy package designed to boost the renewable-energy sector, establish new efficiency rules for buildings, and overhaul tax provisions for oil companies. That’s essentially an attempt to call the GOP’s bluff, forcing lawmakers to show their true colors in a vote that would allow drilling, but would also boost genuinely clean energy at the expense of Big Oil.

This is happening because of a few "Republic" whiners that held a sit-in with the lights off whining as if the fate of america hung in the balance.  forget that it will have no impact on prices now(unless the speculators decide to let oil prices freefall to make it look like it is having this massive PR impact), forget that the oil industry is not drilling where they already have leases, forget that republicans are in the minority and don't control the agenda, Democrats are going to let the Republicans control the agenda again.  Just like they did on Iraq, just like they did on SCHIP, just like they have done on every other issue the past two years.  I frankly don't care if the president is going to keep vetoing it.  He will lose that battle, as would McCain if he were called to answer for his vote.  Instead, we are not only having a vote on offshore drilling, we are letting the tax credits for wind energy expire at the end of the year and the democrats won't take that vote up again , nor will they take a vote on SCHIP

The congressional leadership needs to get their heads screwed on straight.  Even if you do lose on those votes, you have them on the floor.  Then you can go to the voters in November and say, "See, the republicans care about oil more than they care about wind.  They care more about insurance companies than they care about our children.  they care more about investors on Wall Street than they care about families on Main Street.  And that's why you need to vote Democrat."  Instead they are laying down on the issue and letting the Republicans win

More and better.  More and better.
And That's Not All!
Written by Adam   
Tuesday, 09 September 2008 04:07

Does this sound familiar?

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has billed taxpayers for 312 nights spent in her own home during her first 19 months in office, charging a "per diem" allowance intended to cover meals and incidental expenses while traveling on state business.

The governor also has charged the state for travel expenses to take her children on official out-of-town missions. And her husband, Todd, has billed the state for expenses and a daily allowance for trips he makes on official business for his wife.
Palin, who earns $125,000 a year, claimed and received $16,951 as her allowance, which officials say was permitted because her official "duty station" is Juneau, according to an analysis of her travel documents by The Washington Post.
The governor's daughters and husband charged the state $43,490 to travel, and many of the trips were between their house in Wasilla and Juneau, the capital city 600 miles away, the documents show. 

Sounds kinda like a state legislator I know of...

This not only reflects poorly on Palin, who is keeping our eye off of the ball, McSame.  What on earth was this man thinking asking someone to be his Vice President after meeting her once, and having her fill out a questionnaire.  Don't you like...do opposition research on them, thoroughly vet them, make sure they pass muster?  I guess when James Dobson and Pat Robertson tell you that you are supposed to pick her that means God has spoken and you need to listen.  

That's change we can believe in....

Is Palin Really More of the Same?
Written by Chet   
Tuesday, 09 September 2008 02:53

GWPYou know how Americans have all suffered through the lies and secrecy of the Bush Administration over the past 7.8 years?  You know how McCain-Palin keeps promising "change"?  

Check out this story: 

The Palin administration won't release hundreds of emails from her office, claiming they cover confidential policy matters. Then why do the subject lines refer to a political foe, a journalist, and non-policy topics?

In June, Andrée McLeod, a self-described independent government watchdog in Alaska, sent an open records act request to the office of Governor Sarah Palin. She requested copies of all the emails that had been sent and received by Ivy Frye and Frank Bailey, two top aides to Palin, from February through April of this year. McLeod, a 53-year-old registered Republican who has held various jobs in state government, suspected that Frye and Bailey had engaged in political activity during official business hours in that period by participating in a Palin-backed effort to oust the state chairman of the Alaska Republican party, Randy Ruedrich. (Bailey has been in the national news of late for refusing to cooperate with investigators probing whether Palin fired Alaska's public safety commission because he did not dismiss a state trooper who had gone through an ugly divorce with Palin's sister.)

In response to her request, McLeod received four large boxes of emails. This batch of documents did not contain any proof that Frye and Bailey had worked on government time to boot out Ruedrich. But there was other information she found troubling. Several of the emails suggested to her that Palin's office had used its influence to reward a Fairbanks surveyor who was a Palin fundraiser with a state job. In early August, McLeod filed a complaint with the state attorney general against Palin, Bailey, and other Palin aides, claiming they had violated ethics and hiring laws. Palin, now the Republican vice-presidential candidate, told the Alaska Daily News that "there were no favors done for anybody."

But more intriguing than any email correspondence contained in the four boxes was what was not released: about 1100 emails. Palin's office provided McLeod with a 78-page list (PDF) cataloging the emails it was withholding. Many of them had been written by Palin or sent to her. Palin's office claimed most of the undisclosed emails were exempt from release because they were covered by the "executive" or "deliberative process" privileges that protect communications between Palin and her aides about policy matters. But the subject lines of some of the withheld emails suggest they were not related to policy matters. Several refer to one of Palin's political foes, others to a well-known Alaskan journalist. Moreover, some of the withhold emails were CC'ed to Todd Palin, the governor's husband. Todd Palin—a.k.a. the First Dude—holds no official state position (though he has been a close and influential adviser for Governor Palin). The fact that Palin and her aides shared these emails with a citizen outside the government undercuts the claim that they must be protected under executive privilege. McLeod asks, "What is Sarah Palin hiding?"

AlterNet.org (read the whole thing)

She professes to have been against the Bridge To Nowhere, but then we find out she actually advocated for the Bridge to Nowhere, and kept all the Bridge To Nowhere money.

She's professes to be a fiscal conservative, but then we find out she increased spending by 33% in the little Alaskan village where she was mayor, repeatedly redecorating her own mayoral office and taking the town from zero debt to $22 million in debt.

She claims to be pro-family, but then we find out she used the line-item veto to slash funding for teenaged mothers who were less fortunate than her own pregnant seventeen year old daughter.

I've been lied to by secretive neocons and fundamentalist religious end-timers in the White House -- who think "the ends justify the means" -- for the last 8 years.  I'm about tired of being lied to.  

Measure 4 (regarding WSI) Approved by SOS
Written by Chet   
Monday, 08 September 2008 04:10

I just received word from one of the measure committee members that Ballot Measure 4 -- regarding curing some of the defects in North Dakota's Workforce Safety and Insurance (WSI) system -- has been approved as to form by the North Dakota Secretary of State's office [and has enough signatures to be on the November 2008 ballot].  Read the ballot measure petition by clicking here (it's short and pretty easy to understand).

WSI has some interesting perspectives on the measure.  Last week they gave me an internal memorandum addressing some of their perspectives.  You can read it by clicking here and reading pages 13 through 15.

North Dakota's Measure 2: The Takeaway
Written by Chet   
Monday, 08 September 2008 00:50

There are a lot of things you might say about Duane Sand's initiated measure (Measure 2).  You might say that it's an irresponsible way to blindly reduce the State of North Dakota's revenue sources at a time when we don't even know what the State's bills are.  You might say that it's sponsored by an astroturf group funded, we all think (but don't know because they won't tell us) by out-of-state big businesses looking out for their corporate bottom line.  You might say that ballot proponents have been charged, criminally, with ballot fraud for (allegedly) faking signatures on ballot petitions, etc.  You might say that the Attorney General's Office run by Wayne Stenehjem (R) screwed up by approving the ballot title in the way that they did. You might say that the Secretary of State's Office run by Al Jaeger (R) screwed up and might be illegally modifying approved ballot measure language after it has authority to do so. Here's the language:

This initiated statutory measure would amend sections 57-38-30 and 57-38-30.3 of the North Dakota Century Code.   This initiated measure would amend sections 57-38-30 and 57-38-30.3 of the North Dakota Century Code for tax years beginning after December 31, 2008 by lowering the state corporate income tax rates by fifteen percent and the adjusted state income tax rates by fifty percent, except for one taxpayer bracket where the reduction would be forty-five percent and for two other brackets where some income would not be taxed.

YES – Means you approve the measure as summarized above.

NO – Means you reject the measure as summarized above. 

NDSOS (emphasis added by NorthDecoder.com)

You can say that it's causing a division in North Dakota's Republican Party that's kinda fun to watch from a distance.

But what I love most about North Dakota's Measure 2 -- and what you should take away from all of this -- is that Measure 2 is littered with "typographical" errors that its proponents think should be "corrected" by others (but not "other" others) because Duane Sand and his friends at Americans "for" Prosperity didn't bother to take 10 minutes to proofread it, and they want you to vote to adopt their junk into law.

Yeah, I want to send this guy to Congress.

Voting for this initiated measure wouldn't just be irresponsponsible; it'd be stupid.

Happy Monday: Never Gonna
Written by Chet   
Monday, 08 September 2008 00:11

Barack Astley

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