[Image from CityPages]
Well, I was going to write about sidewalks tonight, but every time our Governor does something asinine, I feel I must add another chapter to the tragic tale of Pothole Pawlenty. And lately, I've been busy!
What will he do next? To what levels will he stoop to win the favor of the Washington conservatives? Will he destroy Minnesota State Government? Will he scuttle our state's future for his own personal gain?
Yes, following hot on the heels of Pothole Pawlenty's Persistent Placebo, Petulant Pique, Withered Funding, and Packed Punch, we now have a case of political payback, of a governor gone wrong, and a taxing temper tantrum of terrific tenor.
We find out: What happens when the governor doesn't get his way? When politicians start cutting his favorite corporate give-aways, and passing responsible state investment plans? Well, the man behind the curtain, manning the controls of state starts smashing the gears of power. Like a bull in a china shop he scuttles the ship, aims it at an iceberg and puts it on auto-pilot, dons his golden parachute, and leaves Minnesota's bridges falling down.
(It's gotten so bad, I'm having to mix my metaphors like a D.J. in a kaleidoscope!)
Unbelievably, Tim "Pothole" Pawlenty saved his best for last, as yesterday he vetoed the crucial funding for the Central Corridor Light Rail line connecting Saint Paul and Minneapolis.
Peeved by the uncharacteristic DFL chutzpah, especially the recent bi-partisan and business-supported override, Pothole is lashing out at the weakest among us, most especially transit riders, the poorest Native American tribes, and inner-city programs.
Here's the list of government programs vetoed yesterday, according to the Pioneer Press:
-- $70 million for the Central Corridor light rail line between Minneapolis and St. Paul.
-- $11 million for St. Paul's Como Zoo.
-- $5 million for St. Paul's Asian Pacific Cultural Center.
-- Two University of Minnesota projects — $24 million for a new Bell Museum of Natural History and $2 million for classroom renovations in Crookston, Duluth, Morris and the Twin Cities.
-- $7.7 million worth of amateur sports center projects, including money for the National Sports Center in Blaine, the National Volleyball Center in Rochester and the Northwest regional Sports Center in Moorhead.
-- $2 million each for St. Paul's Union Depot, $2 million to replace the Cedar Avenue bridge and $2 million for the National Great River Park along the Mississippi River in St. Paul.
-- $4 million in planning money for a high-speed rail line between St. Paul and Chicago and other projects.
-- $16 million for the Red Lake school district.
-- $46.7 million work of MnSCU project, including $13 million for North Hennepin Technical College's Center for Business and Technology and $11 million to Lake Superior Community and Technical College's health and science center.
The biggest single veto was for the Central Corridor line, which caused some jaws to drop in the second floor of the Ramsey County Courthouse and St. Paul City Hall as news of the veto spread.
"It makes no sense," said Commissioner Victoria Reinhardt, after a Pioneer Press reporter told her of the veto. After conferring with a county lobbyist, she continued: "It was his proposal to begin with. We did everything he asked for. We reached consensus. So he vetoes himself?"
The Central Corridor has been in the works for almost thirty years, with the first EIS study being completed sometime in the early 80s. The federal funding for the line is on a tight timeline, and every step hinges on completing previous proposals in time. In particular, under the Bush Administration, the Federal Transportation Administration has placed much greater emphasis on local funding for transit projects. In other words, whether or not a project receives federal dollars hinges on having local support from State governments.
Because so much is at stake, we can probably assume that the legislature will find a way to get the $70 million dollars approved, one way or another.
But it's safe to say that Pawlenty's veto of a project that has long been in the works, a project that has bi-partisan support and will be the backbone of a future transit system for the Twin Cities metro area, and a project that he previously supported is a desperate measure for a desperate man who sees his political power waning. The only lever he has left is marked "auto-destruct".
Governor Pawlenty is exercising nothing but the most petty politics. At best, it's a vainglorious attempt to curry favor for his sinking vice-presidential fortunes. At worst, it's nothing but a cheap political kick in the balls.
Only, it's not the politicians that are on the losing end. It's the Twin Cities. If Pawlenty gets his way, transportation in this state will be set back at least another decade.
Hopefully, the legislature doesn't let that happen. But we'll have to wait and see how long Pothole Pawlenty, our very own mini-Bush, can polish his fiddle while Rome burns.
[The new Pothole of the Day blog is going to be busy! -- image also from citypages]
More braking news on the pothole front!
Adam Platt blogs about the way it is.
MNCR has a bit on it.
Pawlenty to City: Drop Dead.
MnPublius covers it, too.
And this angle on gender dynamics is interesting, as the description of the bonding presser:
"What has the governor got against St. Paul? What have we done?" asked a perplexed Sen. Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul.
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said Pawlenty "just threatened the future of the city of St. Paul." He said vetoes were "just rank partisan politics."
House Majority Leader Tony Sertich, DFL-Chisholm, said, "What he did to the city of St. Paul in this bill is disgusting."
Sertich accused Pawlenty of a "direct, personal attack" on Hausman. He said the governor was punishing her and St. Paul for bucking his budget priorities.
At the very least, this is a petty tantrum aimed at hurting certain people. That they all happen to be women points to some of the ways that gender and power inter-relate in our country, and why its sometimes more difficult for women to exert influence within the current political structure.