The courage to brown nose

One of my old political heroes was Rep. Pete McCloskey who took on Richard Nixon in the 1972 nomination process. He got exactly one vote at that year’s Republican National Convention. Years later I heard Pete give a speech on NPR where he pointed out that the word politician derives from politic which means, among other things, to give no offense. In other words we elect people to represent us who will bend over till their head is stuck where the sun won’t shine to avoid telling us anything we don’t want to hear.

In Tim Pawlenty’s case he vowed not to raise taxes when he got the GOP nomination for Governor in 2002 despite a looming deficit. When he waffled on that pledge after his election he was promptly beat up by Grover Norquist for attempting to raise “fees” as an alternative to taxes. So Pawlenty backed off, raised no taxes so he could keep his no new taxes bonifides as he pursued a GOP presidential nomination to challenge Obama in 2012. Lucky Minnesota now has an even more killing deficit to endure than the record setting red ink faced by Pawlenty in 2003.

Nevermind that the Republican deity, Ronald Reagan, who helped turn the no new taxes idea into a virtual religious commandment raised taxes as President and before that raised California’s taxes an unprecedented billion dollars back when a billion dollars was real money.

Real Courage today would be for a Republican to point out that all the borrowing we are doing to avoid taxes simply places a great burden on our children and grandchildren. Ah, but such an admissions could cost a GOP candidate a primary election so our GOP candidates are all busy courageously brown nosing no nothing, anti-tax fanatics at the expense of the next generation.

All this is prologue to thank Rep. Kerry Gauthier for courageously offering to defend Duluth from a mean old Republican Representative from Farmington, Minnesota who is threatening to take money from Duluth’s school children.

Last time I checked, Duluth schools were facing a massive $7.3 million deficit and planning on laying off dozens of teachers. The School Board is considering increasing class sizes, making kids walk two miles to and from school and even moving to a four-day school week.

I can’t prove it but I’m pretty willing to bet that the lion’s share of our District’s financial problem are pretty much self inflicted. Oh the economy hasn’t helped and the Pawlenty Administration has played it part but Duluth City Councilor Gauthier stuck his head in the sand when the Red Plan was pushed through. His excuse? The School District wasn’t his turf.

Well, the evil Education Chair that Kerry brags that he will fight represents Farmington, Minnesota a city where the City Council wasn’t afraid to tackle its school board over a controversial school building project. I don’t know all the details but the Farmington City Council set a much less supine example than Councilor Kerry Gauthier did in Duluth. Had Kerry been willing to challenge the unions that were hell bent on building the Red Plan, whether it was needed or not, our Duluth Schools would be in considerably less financial distress.

But that would have taken courage and all Rep. Gauthier is willing to offer us after-the-fact is the same sort of courage Governor Pawlenty gave us when he bowed to Grover Norquist and let our deficit balloon. Thanks Kerry. Thanks $293 million! And good luck fighting the Chair of the Education Committee in your position as a minority member of the House of Representatives.