Monday, November 06, 2006

Manure with free gift wrap

We go to the polls tomorrow and finally, all the clanging and nonsense will be off our television screens for at least a short while. So what are we likely to get? Here’s my fearless, last-minute predictions:

First, four more years of T-Paw. It will be close, but there’s never really been a compelling reason to remove Pawlenty for Mike Hatch. Hatch’s recent outbursts, including calling a reporter a “Republican whore,” will likely be the mortal blow to his campaign. There is no doubt that, because of Pawlenty’s efforts, various taxes and fees have gone up. There is also no doubt that, as a result, some in the middle class have had to pay more. But there’s a reason for that, and it’s not Tim Pawlenty. The reason is that local governmental agencies do spend too much money. They’ve long been able to hide their spending priorities because they’ve been subsidized by the state through income taxes. Those days are gone, at least for now. And it is a good change, because it is easier for me to hold the mayor of New Brighton accountable, or the Mounds View School District for that matter, than it is to hold the governor of Minnesota accountable, to say nothing of the mob in Washington.

Second, we get a cliché for a Senator. Amy Klobuchar is not a breath of fresh air at all. She is a carbon copy of several other female Senators already in Washington. There’s no difference between her and Debbie Stabenow, Maria Cantwell, Patty Murray, Diane Feinstein or Mary Landrieu. She’ll fit right in, just another member of the herd of independent minds up there. Oh, and good luck getting that “middle-class tax cut” that she’s touting in her ads. And I’ll be curious to see who she’s going to negotiate with to get us out of Iraq. It’s too bad Mark Kennedy ran such a horrible campaign. The only benefit of sending Klobuchar to Washington is that she is a mediocrity replacing a loon (Mark Dayton). That’s progress, of a sort.

Third, we get a property tax increase because of the levy. It’s going to pass, but I think it will be close. The school district is getting increasing scrutiny over their practices, and that is a positive by-product of the changes that I discussed above. The dirty little secret of school budgeting is that teachers get almost all the money and that the teachers’ unions have become a very powerful force in Minnesota. The day of reckoning is coming, but it won’t be this time. And, to be fair, the Mounds View district does have some structural and demographic issues that have made it difficult to hold the line on spending. But when it comes time to negotiate new contracts with the teachers and the other unionized employees, they’ll have some difficult decisions to make.

Fourth, all this won’t matter that much, but the next election cycle will. 2008 will be momentous and we’ll see some interesting new players upon the stage. A bold prediction: Barack Obama is the Comet Kahoutek of politics. There’s a reference that dates me!

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