Some Perspective on MN GOP’s Issue with RT Rybak

A recent comment on Minnesota Democrats Exposed helped me understand that there may be some misunderstandings between MDE readers and the reality based community when it comes to the size and scope of Minneapolis’ city budget.

The latest example of this comes from a comment left from a commenter using the “Focused on 2010” moniker. The problem I have with arguing with someone like Focused on 2010 is that he/she and I can’t seem to agree upon a shared set of facts. Until that happens, we’ll just be talking past each other. However, in this case, I think I can help Focused on 2010 understand the facts on this case, and from there we can debate whether the policies behind those facts are sound.

Over on MDE, I left the following comment:

@Focused on 2010, I was attempting to rephrase that to make it more clear when I hit the Submit Comment button on my phone’s touchscreen.

The point being that Luke Hellier is comparing $1,400,000 in operating expenses to $450,000 in capital expenses. If Luke’s going to suggest that Rybak’s choice to balance the city’s budget in part through $1.4 million in cuts, he should find $1.4 million in expenses. And, ideally, operating expenses rather than capital expenses.

But, that’s only if Luke’s interested in making intellectually honest arguments.

I don’t believe I misrepresented any facts in that comment. Recent posts on The Deets have rehashed those enough. While I wouldn’t expect Luke Hellier’s choir members to agree with my opinions, the facts seem pretty darn clear. With that preface, here was commenter Focused on 2010’s response:

Let me think… water fountains on one hand, clearing streets of snow on the other. Which would be the best way to provide services to the most customers.

I believe clearing the streets winds on that one.

I’m not sure where you got your $450,000 number from but I believe that is a little low. Are you interested in making intellectually honest arguments?

As you can probably imagine, I found it rather strange to be accused of not making an intellectually honest argument by someone who doesn’t address the capital vs. operating costs issue or bother to verify whether my numbers are correct. Rather than prove me wrong by citing stats, Focused on 2010 dismisses my argument because he/she believes that I must be making stuff up. Is it possible that I could I be both disagreeing with Luke Hellier and citing actual facts? That may be too far outside of Focus on 2010’s beliefs to be conceivable.

In previous posts on this topic, I’ve mentioned that the artsy part of the drinking fountains being built in Minneapolis accounted for 0.03% of Minneapolis’ budget. However, it didn’t occur to me that people like Focus on 2010 were such poor readers, so I’m going to try to illustrate this in a chart this time. Frankly, 0.03% is a pretty difficult concept to understand, so I can’t blame Focus on 2010 for misunderstanding this. For example, often do you see 1/30th of a penny?

If you look at the chart below, you may notice that a fair amount of it is blue. In fact, 99.97% of it is blue. Nearly all of it. That’s the portion of the balanced Minneapolis city budget that the Minnesota GOP is not getting their panties in a bunch about. The only issue they seem to have with Rybak’s budget surrounds money he authorized to spend on art projects involving drinking fountains. That’s represented by the red slice of the pie:

GOP's Issue with RT Rybak's Minneapolis Budget

The Minnesota GOP’s favorite anti-Rybak talking point – as bloviated by Luke Hellier – is found in that tiny pie slice. If you can’t see it, click here or a larger version of the chart. There really is a red pie slice on that chart.

As I see it, this tells me that the MN GOP is essentially giving RT Rybak’s budget a grade of 99.97%. Nobody’s perfect, but it certainly seems like a good thing to find out that Rybak’s most fierce opposition only has 0.03% of a problem with his finances.

Requesting Follow-Up Stories from Luke Hellier

By the way, am I the only one who noticed that Luke Hellier stopped using the drinking fountains vs. cops argument once 15 of the cops given layoff notices were re-hired?

In related news, here’s a Luke Hellier apology wait update from Twitter regarding this post:

120 Hours into @lukehellier Apology Wait

13 thoughts on “Some Perspective on MN GOP’s Issue with RT Rybak”

  1. You’re losing me with some of the details here…

    I think its kinda pointless arguing about this since, well, 15 cops are back at their jobs AND we have sweet-ass drinking fountains!


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  3. If I were of the teabaggin’ persuasion, I might say that you are playing politics using non-contrasting colors.


    Daniel (DMV tells me I’m color blind anyway 🙂

  4. Thanks for inserting some facts into the debate, Ed. No one in this silly discussion has addressed the fact that while Mpls spends $250,000 on public art per year, the state of MN under Pawlenty spent $10,200,000 on the state arts board and regional arts councils. That doesn’t even include the millions of $ spent on the giant granite numerical statues in front of the MN dept. of revenue which cost millions alone.

  5. @Jeremy, expecting introspection from the MDE wing of the MN GOP is expecting a lot. The cost of just the granite used for the numbers in the Shunyata project was $280,000.

    Perhaps I’m wrong about this, but I think most Minnesota Republicans appreciate art and are willing to invest a small portion of their tax dollars to fund art projects in the state. It seems like Pawlenty understands this. Perhaps MDE is out of touch with their own party on this topic?

  6. “capital vs. operating costs issue” Ah, those pesky facts always get in the way when talking politics with a particular group. Reality is lost when governed by emotion.

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