48A: Selcer pushes back on source, content of slime job

Surprise! The Republican Party is going on the attack in a desperate attempt to hang on to the legislature. That means sliming DFL candidates like Yvonne Selcer, running in 48A (Minnetonka and Eden Prairie). The problem this time is twofold: one, they have their facts wrong; two, they're facing a candidate who is shoving back the right way: against both the source and the content of the attack.

Sunday, a letter to the editor showed up online on the Minnetonka Patch and today in the Eden Prairie News.  It was written by the vice chair of the Senate District 48 Republican Party and claimed that the Hopkins School District, under my leadership had driven up debt.  In the Patch version, which has subsequently been deleted, it noted several documents that supposedly supported the claim.

However, if you read the footnoted documents listed in the letter, it is very clear that the data that is compared is different from report to report, so the cost per pupil numbers are not apples-to-apples comparisons.

But, even if that weren't the case, I disagree with the basic premise of the letter writer.   A school district's facilities are an investment.  Debt, managed responsibly, helps protect that investment.  School buildings will be around as long as the bonds are being paid and, in many cases, a lot longer.  School climate and student learning are impacted by the condition of a school building.  Noise, poor air quality and lighting, and poorly maintained facilities are not likely to be conducive for teaching and learning.

The notion that school districts can "set aside funds" or be run like apartment complexes trivializes the extreme financial stress that our public schools are under.  The debt that the Hopkins school had while I was Treasurer and Chair was managed well and kept more money in the classroom where it belongs.

Let's unpack this statement just a bit: A Republican Party official wrote a letter attacking a DFLer (shocking). That should raise twisted-facts-and-tortuous-logic warning flags right away. That letter was later deleted on the Patch - perhaps because it was grossly inaccurate and contained verifiably false claims, a la Paul Ryan's clunker of an RNC speech? We may never know.

But here's the real money quote: "A school district's facilities are an investment.  Debt, managed responsibly, helps protect that investment." That's the really important concept that the GOP simply does. not. want. you to understand, and it's not just school district facilities. Infrastructure spending of all kinds is an investment in the future of our community, and when the GOP screams and froths at the mouth over ZOMGZ SPENDING ROFLCOPTERZ, what it's really doing is reducing our collective ability to invest in anything other than Mitt Romney's hedge funds in the Caymans. Public investment is part of the business of a strong, thoughtful, committed government. Selcer wants to be a part of that kind of government. Her opponent, Kirk Stensrud, is a Xeroxed copy-of-a-copy of Republican Party talking points.

I'd tell you which one is better for the future of our community and our state, but it should be pretty obvious by now.

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