As we reported in Mention St. Cloud & visions of prison & North Minneapolis pop into Jim Newberger's head, the Becker Republican gained unwelcome attention from linking North Minneapolis and the state prison in St. Cloud via the North Star Rail.
A review of sources reveals that that Newberger's concerns about trains carrying visitors to the prison from the metro go back to at least 2008. It appears what popped into his head in his floor remarks was the specific urban neighborhood, rather than the more general "metro."
While Minnesota state representative describes himself as an evangelical Christian, he doesn't seem very keen on some of Jesus's schtick in Matthew about how visiting people in prison is like visiting Christ Himself.
Covering his bid for Sherburne County Commissioner in 2008, the Sherburne County Citizen reported in Property taxes and Northstar concern:
Another concern about the light rail [sic] is the kind of population the Northstar will bring to Sherburne County.
"The prison (in St. Cloud) is the last stop on the way out of Sherburne County. There's a steady stream of visitors that go back and forth from the metro to the prison....where are they going to come up with fund to pay people to protect us on the train? That hasn't been addressed."
Via a reader in Central Minnesota, Bluestem received a pdf of pages downloaded from the site on April 17, 2012 and we've clipped this gem from page 11:
With that grim a view of prison visitors, we're surprised the writer didn't call for the shutdown of Highway 10, since commuters share the road with people visiting the prison, and closing down the nearby Sherco power plant, since keeping the lights on probably just encourages more visitors.
All signs point to this text being more Jim Newberger goodness. Several times on the PDF of the pages, he's the contact person for the Sherburne County Tea Party. A post at conservative activist Bruce Miller's blog from late 2011 notes:
I spent the afternoon Saturday the 26th, at the first meeting of the Sherburne County Tea Party. The venue of Kj's Refuge is a wonderful place to meet. Good food, with good prices, always make a political meeting easier to digest. . . . Jim Newberger is the SCTP's point man and is skilled as and MC.
Newberger's campaign site also lists the Sherburne County Tea Party among his leadership experience.
Here's the content of the SCTP website, downloaded and saved as a pdf in April 2012. There's also amazing anti-Agenda 21 and anti-Amy Klobuchar content in the pages as well.
Newberger against North Star
Newberger and his associates have been fearmongering about the train and the prison since he first ran for office (county commissioner in 2008).
Whatever the reason, fear-mongering or not, Newberger has long been an opponent of the North Star Rail line, not simply of extending it to St. Cloud.
The Elk River Star News reported in December 2011 in County certifies tax levy similar to last:
Proponents of Northstar commuter rail would like to see the train service extend through Becker and end at St. Cloud. Currently, passengers wanting to ride the rail to Minneapolis may take a Northstar bus link from as far as St. Cloud to Big Lake, at an additional cost to their train fare.
Sherburne County resident Jim Newberger of Becker seemed to be making a statement rather than really seeking answers of the board Dec. 12 when asking, “Would we be better off stopping this rail development until we have the money, until this economy turns around?”
In 2012, the Sherburne County Citizen reported in Newberger gets nod over Parsakallah at convention:
“I am against big government, property tax increases and the commuter rail,” said Newberger prior to the vote.
A Nexis database search revealed that the St. Cloud Times staff writer Mark Sommerhauser reported in Taxes, "Northstar rail take focus of House District 15B race":
Newberger strongly opposes extending Northstar to St. Cloud. Not only that, but he wants to curtail Northstar service as soon as practicable.
"I do not support Northstar, period," Newberger said. "I think it would be in the taxpayers' best interest to shut it down." (St Cloud Times, October 16, 2012, via Nexis All News, accessed May 2, 2015).
Newberger repeated the sentiments in his 2014 campaign. The St. Cloud Times reported in Johnson, Newberger tangle in GOP-tinged district:
Newberger says the economic benefits of Northstar are dwarfed by the amount of subsidy it requires.
"It's a nice concept. The trains are pretty," Newberger said. "But at the end of the day, you can't keep pouring money down a hole."
That's certainly a step up from the 2012 Sherburne County Tea Party visual of flushing money down a toilet. Or maybe not.
Photo: Minnesota State Representative Jim Newberger, R-Becker.
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