Marty Seifert Misleads About Money to Raise Money

Tom Sheck at MPR has a snippet from a fundraising letter Gubernatorial candidate, Marty Seifert, recent emailed where he makes an extraordinary light-weight argument regarding fiscal responsibility.

Tomorrow, the city of Minneapolis will lay off 25 police officers as a part of budget cuts. You may recall that just last year, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak spent $500,000 of taxpayer money on ten artist-designed drinking fountains. With Rybak’s putting the priority on drinking fountains over police officers, imagine what he’d do as Governor of our great state.

Perhaps Marty Seifert should take a look at Minneapolis’ recent city elections to get a feel for whether people think this is a big issue: Not one of the “OMG, RT spend money on artsy drinking fountains!” challengers came close to unseating Mayor Rybak or any city council members. Perhaps Minneapolis’ voters have better accounting skills than Rep. Seifert?

As I see it, Rep. Marty Seifert isn’t taking a shot at Rybak’s decision to provide public access to drinking water. The problem for Seifert isn’t the public drinking fountains; it’s the fraction of the cost of the drinking fountains spent on artwork. If that’s the case, the “waste” in Seifert’s definition of wasteful spending is significantly less than $500,000..

Marty Seifert doesn’t mention that the “artsy waste” is only a fraction of the $500k because, well, that level of accuracy would dilute his alarmist fundraising argument.

How Many Cops Can You Pay for $500k?

Notice how Rep. Seifert compares “wasteful” artwork spending of something well South of $500k to a reduction in 25 police jobs. It makes me wonder whether Rep. Seifert has any idea what it costs to pay, gear up, and provide benefits to a cop these days.

It’s intellectually dishonest to suggest that a fraction of a $500k one-time expense is responsible for the loss of 25 cops’ jobs, but I imagine it makes for decent fundraising fodder if you’re willing to mislead your constituents for money.

If Rep. Seifert’s math was correct and we could actually keep 25 more cops on the streets of Minneapolis indefinitely for a fraction of $500k, I’d fully support it. Say, 10 years of service at $2,000 per year each for salary, benefits, and equipment. Hmm, it might be tough to find cops who’ll work for <$1/hour. Were Rep. Seifert to attempt to counter this, he'd likely say something like "it's the symbolism. Artsy drinking fountains are emblematic of the waste we see in Rybak's city budget." However, it's not symbolism. Rep. Seifert chose to use a concrete example of real money spent and real jobs lost to make a misleading case for waste in an attempt to raise real dollars from mislead constituents. Maybe it's too much to ask, but I hope our next governor can make a case for why they're the right candidate for office without misleading the public about government spending. The next governor of our great state should be able to understand that you can't pay for 25 cops on a fraction of $500k.

13 thoughts on “Marty Seifert Misleads About Money to Raise Money”

  1. Marty Seifert is just using the GOP playbook, that’s all. These guys will sink the ship of state to keep anything positive from being said about the Democrats. If we could just harness all the energy being used for fingerpointing…

  2. If Mr. Seifert sees himself as leader material, where was his bold statement about wasted taxpayer money on drinking fountains 2-3 years ago when the issue was being considered and his voice might have mattered?

    And if Mr. Seifert sees himself as governor (state leader) material, where was his bold statement about the fairly obvious upcoming impact on city police forces of our state when his current Gov BridgeFAIL was leading our state financing down the drain the last 1-3 years when his voice might have mattered?

    If he made such a statement, why isn’t he featuring THAT on his fundraising letters? That would actually be important in showing he is in touch, instead of his current statement that demonstrates how OUT of touch he has been.

    I have to go back too many years to find a GOP politician I have any respect for…guess it would be Arne. Arne…how did your party fall so out of touch with our MN reality?

  3. Dear Mr. Kohler,

    Did you bother as a trained professional journalist to verify your interpretation of what Marty was saying with Marty. I doubt it.

    My reading of what you said Marty said would be that the ENTIRE $500,000 spent on fountains was a waste of money. Most anyone with conservative fiscal values would think that spending a dime on fountains would be economically irresponsible behavior.Spending additional money being a FRACTION of the total cost to commission an artist to create a custom design would be an even greater waste of money than the fountains alone.

    Going only by what you say Marty said, Marty’s point was that if RT thinks nothing of wasting limited dollars on fountains when the budget is short money to pay for the primary responsibilities of our government such as police, then he is not fit for office.RT’s lack of fiscal restraint in this one instance is only one illustration of what is a problem in every area of the city’s budget.Why is it that schools with multi-million dollar budgets seem to have trouble finding the money to be able to afford to buy their students textbooks and chalk? What does that say about having your priorities straight?

    Your strategy of creating a straw man argument is not only misleading it is dishonest since you know what you are doing in your effort to smear the reputation of an honorable man.

    How stupid do you think the general public is? The mainstream media doesn’t get it. We are fed up with you feeding us lies. Newspapers are DEAD. Stop pushing your agenda and go back to informing the public instead of trying to form public opinion.

    Unfortunately the truth is uglier than your fiction.

  4. @Keith, good point about using the total $500,000. Why would we want to provide water to our citizens and visitors for penny a serving when we can force them to buy water for a dollar per serving? Well played. If you look at the argument I made above, I stuck with the $500,000 figure. To be clear, the $500,000 figure would have been the cost of the fountains WITH artistic designs. It’s not a case of $500k plus art.

    I understand Seifert’s point. And I believe he mislead his supporters to make it. He compared one small number of spending he disagreed with to one much larger number in cuts. An honest argument would compare, well, comparable expenses. He also has state funded art projects in his own district, which is kind of hypocritical, don’t you think?

    It seems strange that you say that you’re “going only by what you say Marty said”. I quoted Seifert. Perhaps you’re used to dealing with people who make stuff up?

    And, one more thing, I’m not a trained journalist. Or an untrained one. I’m a somewhat informed citizen with an opinion who happens to have a blog. And someone who thinks that Marty Seifert mislead his constituents about Rybak’s budget in order to score political points. I don’t expect you to agree with my opinions, but I hope we can agree upon the facts of this case.

  5. It’s all political gamesmanship by Rybak and Siefert. There is no honesty and integrity in politics anymore. Or journalism for that matter. If those police officers were critical for the City of Minneapolis, the City of Minneapolis could find plenty of money to keep them on, by cutting other more “fluffy” items in the budget. However, it is easier to plead to the general public that they will lose critical services with less money. If you put the “fluff” on the chopping block only a few small constituencies will be upset. Seifert is trying to get elected and is taking every opportunity to spear an opponent. However, none of this discussion deals with the fact that there are just not enough tax dollars to quench our insatiable thirst for “free” services from the government and the politicians desire to provide them. When somebody finally has the guts to stand up and say that Health and Human Services and Education cannot be funded at these unsustainable levels, then we will have a discussion worth talking about.

  6. Esma Murphy interview Mayor RT Rybak during the the The City of Lakes Loppet if Feb 2010, and one of her questions were in reference to these $50,000 a piece fountains. She had asked him, how he could justify to his critics, funding art programs like these six $50,000 fountains at the same time he approved budget cuts to necessary programs. I.E. Snow plowing/removal and Police budgets.
    His response was: Look, we always provide some money for local art programs.
    I believe there is a sickness within are elected officials, when they are so influenced by lobbyist, that they can’t differentiate between necessary and unnecessary public services. In tough economic times, we as citizens need to make decisive cuts to our budget. Could you imagine as a individual spending your sons or daughters college money or perhaps your food budget in order to plant flowers in your front yard. Sorry, it’s hard to come up with something relevant that’s as dumb as his budget decision. Due to R.T’s poor budget making decisions, the citizens, and visitors to Minneapolis had to deal with some very rough roads this winter. My point is: During tough economic times, budget cuts are needed. Better choices should be made with the publics money. I guess R.T thinks it’s easier to ask for a tax hike later for the purpose of “public safety” or “necessary road repair” than it is to ask for a tax hike for art.

  7. @kirk, RT provided a balanced budget and was overwhelmingly reelected by Minneapolis voters, so it seems like the people he represents are pleased with the priorities he’s chosen for the city. I’m not sure what’s so unique about snow removal in Minneapolis. I’ve had issues on streets all over the Twin Cities this winter, due to the particularly challenging slush storm we received on the 24th-25th of December.

    Regarding funding for arts programs, as far as I can tell, neither Marty Seifert nor Tim Pawlenty have proposed cutting arts funding from the state’s budget, even in light of the budget challenges faced by the state. If that’s the case, I guess all of your complaints about RT are fairly universal complaints about every politician who thinks we can do more than one thing at a time.

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