HolidayFest 2017

I recently attended the HolidayFest at Hindu Milan Mandir.  It is a celebration of the many holidays that are taking place.  In addition to the religious observance,we spent most of the evening being entertained by singing and dancing. The talent was outstanding and the clothes are so beautiful. A great way to bring people together during this very special time of the year.

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The 39th Annual Minnesota Hmong New Year celebration started today at the St. Paul River Centre. In addition to the program on the main stage, there are many other activities taking place.

The theme this year was “Women In Leadership.”  The keynote speaker was Pa Der Vang, an Associate Professor at St. Catherine University-University of St. Thomas.  She said that the Hmong started immigrating here 42 years ago and gave an overview of their history.  While they have adapted to their new home, they are still trying to retain some of the their traditions like honoring their elders and maintaining their language.  There is no doubt that they have become an important part of our community and the state of Minnesota.

Nyob Zoo Xyoo Tshiab (Happy New Year)

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Veterans Day Celebration

The State of Minnesota held its Veterans Day Celebration at the Inver Grove Heights Veterans Memorial Community Center today. It is always an impressive. event. For one, the 34th Infantry Division Red Bull Band provides the music. Secondly, it is well attended and there is lots of interesting conversation. Third, the speeches help illustrate the importance of observing Veterans Day.

The Keynote speakers were Douglas Bradley and Craig Werner, the authors of  “WE GOTTA GET OUT OF THIS PLACE – THE SOUNDTRACK OF THE VIETNAM WAR.” They talked about how important music was to the troops during that time. It was easier to have veterans tell their stories if they first talked about the music that was important to them while they were in Vietnam.

The highlight is always when the Red Bull Band plays the songs for each branch of the military and the people stand when the music for their branch is played.

U.S. Senators Klobuchar and Franken were in attendance as were U.S. Representatives Tim Walz, Tom Emmer, and Jason Lewis. They did an very good job of emphasizing the importance of our military and paid tribute to them.

Truly a special way to observe Veterans Day.



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I saw “SHRAPNEL IN THE HEART”  Friday evening.  It is a very moving play based on letters and remembrances from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.  Essentially, it takes portions of the book of the same name by Laura Palmer.

The last performance in Eagan is Saturday, November 11, at Advent Church on Lexington at 5:00 p.m..



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Fall Housing Summit

There was a good turnout this morning for the Fall Housing Summit at St. John Neumann Church in Eagan. It was attended by a number of state legislators, city council members, a school board member, staff from numerous agencies, real estate agents, and many housing advocates.

Madeline Kastler, Housing Manager for Dakota County Social Services, led off the program with some statistics on the impact of homelessness. Anyone who pays more than 30% for housing is considered to have a problem,  Students without stable housing do not do as well in school as do those that do.

The main part of the program was highlighted by a panel of people knowledgeable on the topic.

One question is how do we increase the availability of affordable housing? Another is what should be the role of state government and local government?  We need to solve these issues sooner than later. The need for affordable housing is growing!

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Campaign Event

Many thanks to all who came to Wildcats yesterday for our campaign event!  There was a lot of good discussion and lots of energy in the room.

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Projects for Clean Water

Last week, the folks from the Dakota County Soil and Water Conservation District showed us some of the projects that have been done in the county to help with water quality.  One was streambank stabilization on a stream very near the Fairgrounds.  As it happens, this stream does have good-sized trout in it.

We also visited a homeowner who has put in a raingarden in her front yard as well as some other conservation projects in the back yard that is on a lake. It is great to see individuals taking responsibility to improve water quality.  We looked at a church that put a raingarden on the front of its property to help with water quality.

The Minnesota Zoo has a number of projects on its property to mitigate stormwater runoff.

It is exciting to see so many projects that will help us in our quest for good water quality. Clean Water is essential for life!

Our last stop was at the prairie restoration area on the Fairgrounds where the annual Outdoor Education Days for 5th graders was taking place. There are sites set up where the students can learn about water quality, native plants, and so on. Adults learn a lot, too.

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The Impact of Social Media on Modern Elections

I attended The 2017 Minnesota Election Summit: The Impact of Social Media on Modern Elections at the Humphrey School.

Sharon Yang, the Government and Politics Associate Manager at Facebook gave an interesting presentation on some of the activity that took place on Facebook during the 2016 campaign. She provided information on their Civic Engagement Tools such as an Issue Page and a Voting Plan Page. The millions of unique addresses on Facebook and the resulting number of messages during the 2016 election is staggering. Since the 2016 election, they have been sending out reminders on local elections. It seems Facebook has programs for constituents to interact with elected officials. Ms. Yang also talked about some of the programs being used in the United Kingdom and France for their elections.

Afterwards, there was a panel that included MN Secretary of State Steve Simon, Mike Dean, the Executive Director of LeadMN, and Aly Hagglund, the Director of Communications of Students United, and Doug Chapin, the Director of the Elections Academy at the Humphrey School.

The impact that social media can have on elections is huge and will probably increase in the future. Something to think about!


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Future of Automated Cars

On Friday, I attended a presentation on the future of automated cars at VSI in St. Louis Park.  We were told about the status of current technology and expectations going forward.  For the most part, current self-driving vehicles are at a level 2 and it is level 4 vehicles that will be the ones that will provide the performance we really need.

In another room, there were screens showing simulations of a car driving on a roadway under a variety of conditions. One fact that is important, the camera shows essentially what we see, so we still need to concentrate on decent striping, adequate signage, and good infrastructure.

One question to consider is whether the use of automated cars will increase the number of cars on the road and what will that mean to our transportation system.  Another is how long will it for autonomous cars to be widely accepted.


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Women’s Equality Day

A screening of EQUAL MEANS EQUAL was held at the Humphrey School on Saturday evening to observe Women’s Equality Day. It illustrated the many injustices that confront women and the importance of passing the Equal Rights Amendment.

It also mentioned that on the international level, only seven countries have not ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Unfortunately, the United States is one of them.

It is time for action. For more information, go to

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