One of the hallmarks of the collection of DFL politicians in my area is careerism. Yesterday we discussed the career paths of two DFL candidates running for the Ramsey County Board. Today, let's look at another one, Connie Bernardy, who would like to get back in the game as the new representative for District 41A.
Bernardy served the better part of three terms in the legislature representing the old District 51B. She claims that she chose not to run in 2006 to spend more time with her family. It's tough to be spending a lot of time in St. Paul, I suppose, but she hardly left the game, since she resigned before her term was complete and immediately took a job elsewhere. The job? A lobbyist for Education Minnesota. The state lobbyist records indicate this as well.
This is a predictable pattern in St. Paul. Legislators leave and cash in as lobbyists, then try to come back. The question is whether such patterns are desirable, especially where Education Minnesota is concerned. Bernardy's opponent, Dale Helm, would argue otherwise. From his website:
There are two competing models for education in our state - one is "pro-union" the other is "pro-people". The union model supports a more bureaucratic and centralized form of control for our schools.
In my opinion this model is dangerous because it restricts the voice of parent, teacher, and school board from having a more direct impact on the education of our children. Also, if you do not like a policy or program you are far less able to create change. Remember, you can't elect or vote out a bureaucrat.
My opponent supports this model - and has been a fulltime lobbyist for the Education Union to promote and expand this model even further. This is why she resigned in her third term - to become a fulltime lobbyist for Education Minnesota.
Helm is correct that there is a disconnect between the particulars of Bernardy's career and what she claims on her website about her history:
Connie entered into the public arena in 1999, when she saw the funding crisis that was threatening the schools her daughters attended in the area. With a non-partisan group of parents, administrators, teachers and others, she founded S.O.S. (Save Our Schools). S.O.S worked successfully to restore funding to our schools.
A funding crisis means different things to different people, but for Education Minnesota the crisis is (a) only related to compensation for its membership and (b) eternal. It's worth asking if sending Connie Bernardy back to St. Paul will help education generally, or simply give more power to Education Minnesota.
Cross-posted adn comments welcome at Mr. Dilettante's Neighborhood.