Saturday, February 20, 2010

Speaking Truth to Power

State Representative Alice Hausman

on Governor Pawlenty's

Bad Faith Negotiations

One of our best state representatives has an opinion piece on this topic in the Star-Tribune:

Compromise on bonding will work only if the governor is serious

The Feb. 18 Star Tribune editorial suggested the Legislature should trim the amount of the bonding bill by $300 million in order to meet Gov. Tim Pawlenty's demands for a more modest bill.

Unfortunately, Pawlenty is more invested in maintaining his political position than he is invested in Minnesota's future.

If he had Minnesota's best interests at heart, he would have answered me directly when, at a meeting in his office Wednesday evening, I looked him in the eye and asked, "What size bill can we agree to write that you will sign?"

The governor had no response.

I proposed to him almost exactly what your editorial suggested; a bonding bill $125 million smaller with perhaps six or seven projects he specifically wanted removed to make it more acceptable to him. But then I added, "But you're not willing to do that."

He didn't deny it.

If someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time, goes the saying. Time and again Pawlenty has shown us he views negotiation as a one-way street. With vague responses and shifting demands, he forces us into a position of negotiating against ourselves, and worse, against Minnesota's best interests. Compromise by definition is a two-way street. Parties start from a position they assume they will move from in order to reach an agreement each can live with. However, the governor's position in negotiation has always been "Do what I want or I'll do what I want.

State Economist Tom Stinson has told us repeatedly that last year's bonding bill, combined with federal stimulus dollars, helped keep this recession from turning into a depression, saving and creating thousands of Minnesota jobs. A jobs-focused bonding bill this year, reflecting equitable compromise from both the Legislature and the governor, would build on that momentum in a responsible, affordable way.
Representative Alice Hausman is an outstanding public servant. Let us hope that the same can be said of our next governor, be (s)he a Republican or a DFLer. Governor Pawlenty had better hope his national ambitions pan out - when the consequences of his poor decisions and leadership come to pass, he will not be able to run successfully for dogcatcher in the state of Minnesota.

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