The state auditor's chief function is to oversee the $20 billion spent annually by local governments in Minnesota by performing audits of local government financial statements and by reviewing all pertinent documents and data. The position needs a watchdog, and no better than a self-proclaimed watchdog like Pat Anderson, who held the post from 2003-07. Anderson, a Republican, has a proven record of tracking down inconsistencies in local government spending and informing the public of what they should demand in the way of accountability from their local governments in spending.
Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson has had a tough four years in transforming the office into her own footprint, after emerging from the shadow behind the office's predecessor, Mike Hatch, under which she served as chief assistant.
With the last four years under Sen. Mary Olson, DFL-Bemidji, there has been a sense of accomplishment for the Senate 4 district. As a freshman Democrat, Sen. Olson has successfully authored several pieces of legislation, only to be vetoed by Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty. One bill would have provided protections for whistleblowing state employees, fearful of losing their jobs if they report fraud and abuse in their agency.
The eyes of the nation turned to Minnesota more than a year ago when the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Norm Coleman and Al Franken ended in a deadlock, forcing a recount that took more than six months. Still, Minnesota rose out of that with an election system intact and voter integrity unquestioned. Much of that is due to Secretary of State Mark Ritchie running a tight ship throughout a complicated process that peeled open Minnesota's voting system.
The House 4B district is basically a conservative district -- fiscally conservative and social progressive. As a result, usually a conservative Democrat or liberal Republican wins the right to represent it. Rep. Larry Howes, R-Walker, has held that position for six terms and we find no reason to retire him.
The idea of good government is to always be moving forward, improving upon the foundation that has been laid by predecessors, not to tear down what was done. That seems to be the case with congressional Republicans who would repeal health care reform if they win the U.S. House. They are also pledging to repeal the financial systems reform passed earlier this year should Republicans win control of Congress.
If last weekend is any indication, the Bemidji Regional Event Center got off to a flying start and will prove to be an important asset to the city of Bemidji. Hockey games played by Bemidji State University's men's and women's teams went off without a hitch, and attracted excellent crowds. The women's team garnered about 1,000 fans each day, and the BSU-North Dakota men's series drew a capacity 4,373 each night. Follow that up with 2,300 at a concert Sunday, and it was a full weekend at the BREC, and surely the first one of many.
Minnesota has suffered a partisan divide for too long. The DFL-controlled Legislature has proffered its agenda with little input from the Republican minority, setting up the ongoing confrontation with the Republican governor. On the other hand, Gov. Tim Pawlenty has far exceeded his authority in approving the Legislature's spending bills and then vetoing the bill to pay for the spending, choosing unallot his way to a balanced budget.
Tonight begins a new era for Bemidji. The idea of a new era was repeated frequently at last weekend's warm-up activities for the Bemidji Regional Event Center, but it's true. It does signal a new era, not only for Bemidji State University hockey but also for the greater Bemidji community. Tonight the doors will open at the BREC for its first official prime-time function -- the BSU hockey game with the University of North Dakota.