A More Perfect Union

“What about me?”
Gov. Jesse Ventura took a bulldog-ish approach to budget negotiations, literally. He credited his pet pooch, Franklin, for starting a fire under lawmakers and inspiring them to cut a deal so they wouldn’t have to sit with the smelly mongrel in the governor’s mansion.
Ventura delighted in telling the press Tuesday night how he gave legislative leaders a time-out to dog sit, but only named two of the three unfortunate lawmakers that received a dose of Franklin. As the Capitol press corps chuckled at Ventura’s coy Franklin jokes, Rep. Ron Abrams, R- Minnetonka, fumed.
“What about me? I was there too,” he whined. “What about me?”

It worked last time
The Franklin tactic didn’t work quite so well Saturday night. Sen. Doug Johnson, DFL-Tower, brought a faux Franklin into the tax committee room to speed up negotiations. The photo of a bulldog head on a stick, draped with a navy suit coat didn’t have a chance to work its magic. By 2 a.m. the committee still wasn’t close enough to even sit down for a public meeting.
So what’s holding up the tax committee? Not taxes. Johnson wants a $20 million appropriation for a hometown project to come out of the tax bill. Then House Republicans involved abortion language from another bill as a bargaining chip to gain leverage.

Damned media
Some people never learn. Earlier this session, a reporter asked Jesse whether he planned to take voice lessons following his somewhat embarrassing rendition of “Werewolves of London” at the governor’s ball. “The Body” shot back a sharp complaint about the media’s criticism.
Last week the same reporter, Dan Bernard from the Duluth News-Tribune, tried again. Knowing Ventura prefers a unicameral Legislature, rather than the current two-body system, Bernard asked whether Ventura had newfound hope for Minnesota’s bicameral Legislature. A nervous giggle spread across the room, waiting for Ventura to erupt again. Instead, the guv paused and carefully replied: “Why don’t you just ask me about my singing?”

Bleeding-heart liberals
Now a minority member of the House, University Rep. Phyllis Kahn isn’t ashamed of her beliefs. Kahn, who represents the East Bank of campus, has often said she doesn’t think Minnesotans are overtaxed. This position doesn’t prevail in the now Republican-led House, hell bent on permanent across-the-board tax cuts.
In a silent reminder of her political philosophy, Kahn gave a sprig of pink flowers to each of her DFL counterparts, which they each proudly display on their desks on the House floor. The flower? A bleeding heart, cut from her personal massive plant.

Feel the love
Sometimes bills instigate heated debate on the Senate floor; other times they start a love fest. The majority of the date about a massive-spending bill on jobs and economic development included thanks and praise to author Sen. Jerry Janezich, DFL-Chilsholm.
But enough is enough, and Sen. Allan Spear, the DFLer who represents the University area, tried to bring the body back to order.
“Are we going to love this bill to death?” he said impatiently. “Are we going to love Senator Janezich to death?”
Why not? It sure beats the name-calling political posturing that usually preoccupies the lawmakers.

— Coralie Carlson