Not content to repeal the long-standing wheelage tax in Anoka County, last night county board member Rhonda Sivarajah upped the stakes in the Tea Party panderfest that is the pursuit of the Republican endorsement in Minnesota Sixth Congressional District.
St. Cloud Times staff writer Mark Sommerhauser reports in Hopefuls in 6th tout contrasts to tea party crowd:
Two Republican candidates on Tuesday told tea party activists they have styles that are sharply different from the woman they hope to succeed in the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Michele Bachmann.
The remarks came from Anoka County Coard of Commissioners Chair Rhonda Sivarajah and former state Rep. Phil Krinkie at a Central Minnesota Tea Party event in St. Cloud.
Sadly, this difference is only one of temperament, not wackiness, if we're to judge from one of Sivarajah's responses to a question about "world government." Sommerhauser writes:
Sivarajah took aim at the Metropolitan Council, of which Anoka County is part, as “nothing more than social engineering.” The comments came in response to a questioner’s concerns about “world government” and “regional government.”
“They want to tell you how you should live, where you should live,” Sivarajah said of the Metropolitan Council. “It is not a pleasant picture — really takes away that local control.”
Given the centrality of Agenda 21 Phobia in the Central Minnesota Tea Party discourse, the suburban county commissioner is racketing up the paranoia from her earlier criticisms of Met Council. In Bill Clements' 2011 story in Politics in Minnesota, Met Council under the magnifying glass, Sivarajah's observations were much more moderate when she joined a working group of 14 county commissioners to craft recommendations for changing the agency:
Developing a unified voice is going to be a challenge; county commissioners hardly speak with one voice about the Met Council.
“My personal opinion,” said nine-year Anoka County Commissioner Rhonda Sivarajah of Lino Lakes, “is that the Met Council has gone beyond its original scope.
“It was focused originally on sewers and water, and it became involved with transportation and affordable housing — and so it may be a matter of looking at the scope of work and what it should be.”
What ever happened to that working group? Gone with the wind of Rhonda's ambitions? Bluestem was unable to find a report--and we're struck with the irony of centering a state agency as an issue on a congressional race.
Perhaps Sivarajah is just playing a game of conservative catch-up on Met Council whipping. After all, the Taxpayers League copyrighted the phrase "social engineering" when it came to Met Council transit plans at a time when Krinkie was still earning a medical degree in "No!" in the Minnesota House. Back in 2003, ABC News' Philip Langdon reported in The Right Targets Smart Growth For Smearing:
Strom said a campaign that the Taxpayers League ran against a mass transit proposal in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area depicted pro-transit leaders as practitioners of social engineering. ``No one knew what social engineering was,'' Strom said, ``but it sounded bad. We made it sound like they were a bunch of commies.''
Strom told smart-growth opponents to wage merciless attacks. ``We often make the mistake of assuming this is a battle over who has the better facts,'' he said. Quite the contrary, whether smart-growth policies are adopted will hinge, he asserted, on whether voters can be persuaded that the typical smart-growth leader is ``a pointy-headed intellectual fascist'' trying to ruin people's lives.
Actually, Phil Krinkie knew--in 1999 (and this bunch is ready to party like it's that year). On December 30, 1999, ECM Publishers staff writer Dan Gearino reported in In Dakota County, the future is now:
State Rep. Phil Krinke (R-Shoreview) vehemently disagrees with Ventura and would much rather maintain and expand area highways than invest in mass transit. Krinke made headlines recently because of his attempt to hold up a federal grant for the Minneapolis light rail line.
For Krinke, new urbanism and mass transit are wrong-headed attempts at social engineering. Repeatedly referring to new urbanism as "utopian," Krinke believes that planned communities will not work because people naturally want to move further and further from the city while still being able to work there.
No wonder the Taxpayers League hired this guy.
Ten years later after Strom joked about nobod knowing what "social engineering" however scary it sounds, Sivarajah's sharing the low-vocabulary version of fear-mongering, while Krinkie playing down-home in St. Cloud.
But when it comes to trolling votes on the back of regional infrastructure and the Met Council, both Rhonda and Phil are slackers compared to endorsement rival Tom Emmer. While running for governor in 2010, Tom called for the elimination of the Met Council. Tom Scheck reported in A closer look at Tom Emmer's plan to cut state agencies:
At various times in recent months, Emmer has called for eliminating agencies, merging departments and looking at duplication in government.
"The Department of Human Rights needs to go away," Emmer said during a debate. "I'm not combining it with anything. You talk about redesigning a smaller Met Council. The Met Council needs to go away."
Sivarajah told the Tea Party members last night that she's got no personality compared to Congresswoman Bachmann:
“She is a fireball, and that isn’t necessarily my personality,” Sivarajah said. “But I certainly would stand up and fight for our conservative principles, just as I’ve done on the Anoka County board.”
Will Republican delegates and primary voters respond to her Bland Ambition or go with the fiery (and let's face it, fun) Tom Emmer? Will they say yes to Dr. No? Or go with what's-his-face from St. Cloud? Don't touch that dial.
Photo: The triumph of Sivarajah on the front page of the A section of the Blaine/Spring Lake Park paper. Repealing the wheelage tax and looking for highway funding. Hmmm. via Twitter (above). Tom Emmer laughing. We share the sentiment (below).
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