Thursday, October 28, 2004

Endorsement Paralysis

The researcher formerly known as "Ace," Jim Styczinski informs us of a breaking development in the hotly contested Ramsey County District 3 Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor race:

The Star Tribune is reporting that our endorsee for Ramsey County District 3 Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor, Jill Elizabeth Wilkinson, has admitted to embezzling $10,000 from the Libertarian Party.

I recommend Fraters Libertas withdraw the endorsement, and endorse perennial write-in candidate Bart Simpson. Unless of course you (Saint Paul) live in District 3 (East Side of St. Paul) and are willing to throw your hat in the ring yourself. You could live blog all of the Soil and Water Conservation meetings.

As inviting as that sounds, I do not live on the hard rockin' East side. And since the Payne Reliever closed, I don't have much reason to go over there at all anymore. So I must reject this draft movement. To quote William Tecumseh Sherman, "if nominated I will not run, if elected I will not serve."

Or if you prefer a paraphrase of another Sherman quote, "Soil and Water Conservation is hell!" (I won't even bring up this other Sherman quote, made during the Civil War and which I m sure every commander in Iraq can empathize with.)

Since we relied on Jim's research for our endorsements in the first place, and now it appears he's squandered our credibility by advising us to endorsing a criminal, I say let the punishment fit the crime. Vote Jim Styczinski for Ramsey County District 3 Soil and Water Conservations Supervisor!

But, I wonder, do we really have to withdraw our endorsement from Ms. Wilkinson? As the liberals like to say about Saddam Hussein, "we know he was a bad guy, but ....".

"But" indeed. Extenuating circumstances may exist to allow us to adopt a relative morality. For John Kerry and the liberals in Congress (don't you love those ads?) some abstract concept of "stability" excused Saddam's mass murder and continuous, egregious violations of his surrender agreement after Gulf War I. In the case of Wilkinson's crimes, can't we find something to rationalize our continued support of her?

The Star Tribune does provide us with one such reason:

"The libertarians run for these smaller offices. They infiltrate and then destroy," [Wilkinson's opponent] said.

Wilkinson acknowledges that her party advocates downsizing government. "We can't abolish all of government," she said. And she said she has no plans to abolish the Ramsey County conservation district. "But if it's proposed, I'll listen," she said.

You hear that? She's got an open mind, people! Sure, it's an open mind about infiltrating and destroying. But an open mind, nonetheless. Who could possibly vote against someone with an open mind?

OK, maybe that's not enough to salvage our endorsement of her. If only there were some guidance we could get on this matter. For instance, if there was a prominent elected official who has been convicted of theft, yet is running for office again. And maybe our local newspapers would have to decide on whether or not that's a disqualifying criteria in their endorsements. That would definitely help us decide what to do. Our brethren in the Main Stream Media could show us the way. If only ....

If only they'd address the strange case of Rep. Phyllis Kahn (DFL-Minneapolis). As you may recall, a few months ago this 32-year veteran of the legislature and member of the Democratic leadership was caught red-handed stealing Republican campaign literature and convicted of theft. Now she's blithely running again, assuming it's no big deal to be involved in election fraud while you're a public servant.

After she pleaded guilty Thursday to stealing campaign fliers from New Hope, Minn., (sic) residents' door steps, Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, said Friday she does not think her conviction will affect the upcoming election.

I'm sure she does think that. With assumed power does go arrogance. But what about the professional journalists composing the institutional voice of the Star Tribune? Are they willing to overlook her brazen attempts to disenfranchise the good people of New Brighton and to subvert the very foundations of our democratic system? I can't tell for sure yet. Both it and the Pioneer Press have been suspiciously silent about this race.

The closest I can find to a professional journalist judgment on the race in 57B is the Minnesota Daily (the student paper of the University of Minnesota, whose main campus lies within Kahn's district). These budding young journalists ran a profile of the candidates, including Phyllis. But for some reason, they didn't see it fit to even mention the fact Representative Kahn was convicted of election fraud. They teach the kids well over at that journalism school, don't they? Keep your eyes out for the reporter, Stephanie Kudrle. With clippings like this in her portfolio, she's a cinch to someday be the new Capitol reporter at the Star Tribune.

She does get a few quotes out of public servant Kahn:

When asked if she ever plans to retire, the Democrat laughed. "I have unfinished business," she said.

Which I guess means she didn't steal every piece of campaign literature she intended to. Look out New Brighton Republicans, she's got unfinished business to do! There's also this:

"No one ever accused me of not having fresh ideas," she said.

No, but someone did accuse (and convict) her of misdemeanor theft, while in the commission of perpetrating election fraud. Which, to be fair, is probably not a fresh idea for the DFL.

Getting back to our deliberation, to withdraw or not withdraw the endorsement of the thief Jill Wilkinson. I think using the model of the mainstream media is the only responsible course of action. They've been at this game a lot longer than we. Plus, they know stuff.

Therefore, Fraters Libertas is proud to announce its endorsement for District 3 Ramsey County Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor is .... Phyllis Kahn.

Congratulations Phyllis and good luck on November 2.

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