The note at the end Adam Ulbricht's column in the St. Cloud Times, Your Turn: Dayton was not fighting for small business on trip, mentions that the "longtime resident of Melrose" is now living in Washington D.C., but it doesn't tell readers of the op-ed section what he's doing there.
Watchdog Wire employee
The Franklin Center does not disclose its funders. But based on a review of the annual IRS filings of foundations that fund groups like Franklin, as of 2011 (the most recent available financial data), 95 percent of the group's funding comes from DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund. These two related entities are "donor-advised funds" that were spun off by the Philanthropy Roundtable and cloak the identity of donors to right-wing causes across the country. Mother Jones has called the combined Donors funds "the dark-money ATM of the conservative movement." The Franklin Center received the Donors funds' second-largest donation in 2011. Among the most prominent funders of Donors is the Knowledge and Progress Fund, a Charles Koch-run organization, which contributed nearly $8 million from 2005 to 2011. The Franklin Center has also received funding from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and Searle Freedom Trust. As CMD has previously reported, the Franklin Center received a startup grant from the Tea Party Sam Adams Alliance, run by Eric O'Keefe, who also helped launch American Majority and sits on the board of Club for Growth Wisconsin.
Watchdog Wire doesn't turn up for scrutiny, but perhaps it should. While the St. Cloud Times doesn't share the new gig that its former community columnist has, perhaps it should. Transparency, after all, is everything, and Ulbricht's Linked In profile contains a job description for the position:
I work with citizen journalists across the country for an online-based news page. I am also actively seeking and writing news for the national website, along with state websites within our Watchdog Network.
Modeling transparency for those citizen journalists he trains can only be a good thing, and his new columns should note his work for Watchdog Wire and whether it's his own work or copy created for his employer.
Missing: the Shutterfly deal; or, Dayton's pro-business, anti-business adminstration
Unless he's being coy, Ulbricht's column appears to be a bit dated, since he doesn't seem to know that Dayton visited Shutterfly or what the incentives were for luring the photo service to the state. His column is dated August 16, while the Star Tribune's business writer Janet Moore reported on August 8 in Shakopee moves ahead with incentives for Shutterfly:
Shakopee’s City Council late Wednesday approved economic incentives to lure fast-growing Shutterfly Inc. to the southwest metro city, a move that followed Gov. Mark Dayton’s “mystery” visit to the California firm last week.
All told, the maker of digital photo and paper products is seeking up to $3 million in economic incentives from the city, county and state. . . .
Shutterfly plans to create 329 jobs over the next two to five years with an average hourly wage of $18.78. In addition, just over 200 people would work on a seasonal basis, according to city documents. It’s unclear how long the seasonal work would last. . . .
Minneapolis-based developer Ryan Cos. will invest about $26 million in the plant, while Shutterfly will fork over $34 million. It is the latest in a series of companies locating or relocating to Shakopee.
On Wednesday, Minnetonka-based Datacard Group confirmed that it was moving about 680 employees to the city, and Emerson Electric’s Rosemount division announced in June that it would take over a long-abandoned complex that was the former home of ADC Telecommunications, investing about $70 million in the facility.
There's more in the story, but you get the drift. For Ulbricht, these aren't positive developments, because Dayton is a progressive and for cat's sakes, a progressive should never do anything for corporations. He writes:
Companies don’t just move or expand to another area by simply asking, which suggests Dayon likely offered potential incentives or tax breaks.Does this really make sense? Ask yourself, why should an out-of-state company get breaks while businesses already in Minnesota have to play by the rules? Why is a progressive politician offering deals to bigger companies while the mom-and-pop shops face high tax rates?
Since Ulbricht wonders why the Dayton administration doesn't do anything for small business, Bluestem surfed over to DEED to see what the job creator-crunching damage might be. It was disappointing to learn that things weren't quite as dire as Ulbricht implied. A press release from July, 2012 a Successful Year for Minnesota Small Businesses discussed assistance to those mom-and-pop shops Ulbricht so cherishes:
Minnesota’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) network is shaping the future of small business in Minnesota. The SBDC annual report for 2012 highlights that success: over 3,000 businesses served, 8,000 jobs created and access to $125 million in new capital to help Minnesota small businesses grow.
. . .The SBDC focused on serving veterans, youth and struggling businesses in 2012, according to the report.
Working with several partners, the SBDC provided outreach to thousands of veterans and family members through job fairs, panel discussions and training opportunities. They provided more than 40 scholarships to veterans interested in entrepreneurship for high-level financial literacy training.
In the area of youth entrepreneurship, the SBDC offered business startup training programs to more than 500 students throughout the state. Training and discussion on credit, financial literacy and the importance of planning were included in all youth entrepreneurship programs.
The Turn-Around Program for struggling businesses helped those businesses to refinance debt or obtain more than $28.5 million in new credit to stabilize their company, stay in business and retain more than 700 jobs. More than 100 businesses are participating in the Turn-Around Program. . . .
How rank are the rankings?
That's some hating on the little guy, all right. But Ulbricht has more to complain about: the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) so doesn't like us!:
In the American Legislative Exchange Council’s rankings, Minnesota has an economic performance rank of 34th with a future outlook of 46th.
That would the conservative ALEC. Reporting on the Rich States, Poor States ranking back in May, Twin City Business noted that it came up with a less-gloomy perspective:
. . . Twin Cities Business produces a quarterly economic indicator report that, unlike ALEC’s Rich States, Poor States study, is based on input from hundreds of Minnesota business leaders. Minnesota business leaders’ optimism increased last quarter, as companies planned to increase hiring and capital expenditures, although they indicated that a shortage of qualified talent may slow the pace of growth.
CNBC rates the Gopher state’s cost of doing business as 39th in the nation. Forbes rates the state’s regulatory environment as 32nd, while ranking both the business costs and growth prospects as 34th.
What Ulbricht doesn't share is CNBC's overall ranking: 15 or Forbes' giving the state the #20 position overall. It's much of the same conservative game that Bluestem checked out in After moving to MN in 2010, Scott Honour now wanders state telling editors how awful we are.
Ulbricht collected some sweet student journalism awards from the Associated Press and the Society for Professional Journalists while studying at St. Cloud State University, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Two of his most recent awards he received are for the same story, this KVSC feature available on a podcast:
Mon, 23 Apr 2012 0:00:00 America/Chicago
(image) The SCSU chapter of College Republicans is getting some heat from the Republican Party of Minnesota and the state board of the College Republicans over Bradlee Dean, a nationally-known speaker, to campus.Media Files:
It's easy to hear what the judges found attractive: the reporting is crisp, he's obtained an audio recording of phone calls between four SCSU CRs and Ryan Lyk, and he discloses that until recently, he was president of the College Republican chapter.
The St. Cloud State College Republicans are facing threats of being unchartered if they bring nationally known speaker Bradlee Dean to campus.
According to Minnesota College Republican chairman Ryan Lyk, the state College Republican board voted unanimously to uncharter the St. Cloud group if the Dean event is held Tuesday night at SCSU.
Lyk says the National College Republican Committee approved the measure; however, attempts to reach the national committee were unsuccessful.
Party officials have stated that they do not want any affiliation with Dean, due to his controversial messages. The Republican Party of Minnesota is also involved in the decision making, according to Lyk.
Four SCSU College Republicans say that they have spoken with the Executive Director of the state party, Ben Zierke, in which he states College Republicans affiliated with the event will never be able to get a job with the state party if the event is held.
KVSC has acquired an audio recording of one of the phone calls between Zierke and three SCSU College Republican members.
One student asks for clarity on the state party's position: "So you're basically stating that if we have this event that we won't be able to get a job [garbled] in the Minnesota GOP?"
Zierke also states that the part plans to connect individual members to the event itself: "Your names will be attached to the event, yup, we'll make sure of that, we'll make sure that happens . . .you guys will get a name attached to that...you'll be associated with that the rest of your lives."
SCSU College Republican Elizabeth Ilse is taking the mandate very personally. "I don't want to hear that my future in the real world will be threatened by this. If we basically disobey the Republican Party of Minnesota.
The event centers around Bradlee Dean who is the driving force behind You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International, which according to their website specializes in reaching America's next generation through principles of morality. The GOP is also dealing with issues of debt and an affair between former Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch and Michael Brodkorb.
In the interest of full disclosure, until recently, I have served as president of the SCSU College Republicans . . .
According to a Star Tribune Hot Dish blog post by Rachel Stassen-Berger from the next day, "recently" meant the week before; RSB also dates the conversations--or ones close to it--from the week before as well, while providing more background on just what it is that gives the MNGOP the fantods about Dean:
Dean is a self-style hard rock pastor who has been ardent in his opposition of homosexuality, saying things that opponents say suggest he approves jailing of gay people. Last year he opened a Minnesota House floor session with a prayer prompting House Speaker Kurt Zellers to step down from his rostrum to denounce him and pledge, "that type of person will never, ever be allowed on the House floor again."
But Abbey Gooch, the chair of the St. Cloud state college Republicans, said Dean's message is one that "needs to be talked about on the St. Cloud campus." She said Dean's "You can run but you can't hide" ministries have been "so nice to us."
Gooch, who has only been chair since last week, said the threats from Republican officials have been scary, made her feel like throwing up and doubt her future plans to stick with politics. . . .
Gooch said and Shortridge, and materials obtained by the Star Tribune, confirmed that Republican Party executive director Ben Zierke told the leaders of the college group last week that they would have trouble getting Republican Party or Capitol jobs in the future if they did not cancel the event. Shortridge said Zierke, who did not return a call from the Star Tribune, was acting with his direction.
Doesn't that sound as if Ulbricht might have been one of the four students threatened? If so, the disclosure is hardily "full."
And his name didn't get in the press that he was making that connected him to the event or Dean. Is this ethical? Or merely gray?
Three weeks later, after the media storm that Ulbricht may have had a hand in creating blew over, the St. Cloud Times published a column, Event spawns ugly politics, in which Ulbricht shared more details of his involvement:
For the past couple of years I have been the president of the College Republicans at St. Cloud State University. Recently, as you probably know, the group brought Bradlee Dean to speak on campus. . . .
The Dean event was in the works since the end of November. Originally scheduled for February, the event was rescheduled for the end of April. Since the very beginning, I was not in favor of hosting the event and let my opinion be known. Our group had a limited amount of money, and I wanted to use it to maximize a turnout, which I didn't think this event would do. I just didn't think college students would come check it out.
However, the rest of the group wanted to go with it so the group did. A little more than one week before the event, I received several phone calls from the Republican Party of Minnesota telling me we can't hold this event and that I should shut it down. They did not want the Republican name attached to the event.
I also started receiving messages from the State College Republican Board telling me to take care of the issue.
Money was on the line for the event. We would have to pay regardless of the event going through so I asked the state party if it would reimburse us. The answer was no, which probably is not surprising given its debt problems.
After a two-hour meeting, the rest of the St. Cloud State College Republicans still decided to go with the event. I called and informed the state party of the vote.
They were not happy. I received a 20-minute lecture while I was driving home to my best friend's funeral. I was told several times that I nor anyone from the organization would ever get a job with the state party again and that we should not even bother applying. That is regardless of the fact if you were for or against hosting the event.
I was also told that, as president, I should singlehandedly shut down the event despite the wishes of the rest of the group. I was stunned to hear this message coming from the political party that prides itself on freedom and liberty.
Three other members of the organization were given the same message. I was told by another party member that this is not blackmail; it is the nature of politics. . . .
Was Ulbricht the four CR on the call? And did he bail both in time to use the audio of the call for his report--and pass it on to the Star Tribune? Would the judges for the journalism awards have made another selection if he had made his personal involvement in the breaking of the story more clear?
He does seem to reveal that he's a more important part of the story than his "until recently" full disclosure would imply.
In a way, it's not much different than the peculiar set of standards he's holding against Governor Dayton, although the squishiness of the journalistic ethics are far more favorable to his career path, than the state rating systems he selects to use are to the Governor.
And then there's that "progressives hate business" metric, said by no serious DFL governor ever.
Update: Via email, a working journalist responds to Ulbricht's reporting on the Dean story: "[if correct], that's bad. He's personally involved, failed to disclose full extent of involvement, helped push/motivate the story.Worst of all, he had a hand in creating the event, which [he's] personally profiting from with his story."
Photo: Adam Ulbricht, from Watchdog Wire (above); Bradlee Dean speaking at SCSU, via GCN Live (below). Dean is now the employer of Elizabeth Ilse, so hosting Dean doesn't seem to have been the career killer that she fretted about.
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