1. Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau Questionaire
Name: Ken Pentel
Current home (city): Golden Valley
Political experience: 11 years as a grassroots organizer with Greenpeace. 12 years organizing with the Green Party of Minnesota. 18 years lobbying at the State Capitol. 3 times endorsed candidate for Governor by the Green Party of Minnesota (1998, 2002, 2006).
Other background (jobs, etc.):
High school and college education: Graduated from Hopkins Eisenhower High. Three years of college at the University of Minnesota and Santa Monica Community College.
Family (spouse, children): Single
Brief explanation about why you are running: I have seen the place I love treated with disrespect and I must respond. It's a call to conscience to take responsibility where other have not. Erin and I want to be honest with people and we just want people to be honest with themselves on what their way of life is doing to them, others, and this planet. We don't want to give the voters more smoke and mirrors. We are the party of healing. We want to heal the broken earth and we want to heal a broken electoral system. And with my experience and to that end I'm ready to serve the people of Minnesota as their Governor.
Brief reason why you think you are the best candidate in your race:
I feel the two most important criteria for being Governor:
1. Are initial judgments and mandates of the candidate relevant for the times we live?
The mandates of the campaign lend themselves to common sense and populist support: An ecology-based economy, proportional representation for the Minnesota House, and removing big money and corporate interference in our government are the necessary structuaral changes, leading to greater balance with our habitat and social communities.
2. Is the candidate prepared to fulfill the role of Governor?
I've been organizing in Minnesota for 25 years honing my facilitaton and leadership skills. I have talked personally with thousands of Minnesotan's and have a clear vision of what is in the best intrest of the State. I'm ready to be Governor.
2. Response to Organic Consumers who inquired about genetically modified organism's and our food system.
My running mate Erin Wallace and I are the ecological candidates. Our goal is to stamp Minnesota: "Small-Local-Sustainable-Organic."
Unfortunately, since I have been organizing to heal the earth, I've seen over and over again wise, knowledgeable movements generally voting for a political party (Democrats) which is counter to the movement's desired outcome. I consider this behavior one of the reasons our food systems are so sick and dysfunctional.
We challenge anyone who agrees with small-local-sustainable-organic to, at minimum, work and vote for political parties that offer continuity for these desired outcomes so they translate on the ballot line, or, start their own authentic political party and run candidates that get votes consistent with their grassroots work.
Take a look: www.kenpentel.org,
Ken Pentel and Erin Wallace
My name is Ken Pentel and I am running for Governor with Erin Wallace as Lieutenant Governor. We are endorsed by Minnesota's newest political party, the Ecology Democracy Party.
I have three mandates:
First, an ecology based economy with the health of the economy based on the health of our water, air, soil and habitat. Whole-cost or life-cycle costs will be used as measures enabling small-local-sustainable-organic agriculture to grow. Additionally, value added products of wood and textiles from fiber will help localize energy dollars leading to a lower overall cost of living; dollars staying locally longer and resulting in less boom and bust and more of a steady state economy for Minnesota.
One tool I propose is a Minnesota currency. This will be made available at zero interest and will be redeemable against state taxes thereby stopping the interest-on-debt drain to the state's economy. It will be made available to rural economies as a transition tool to the ecology-based economy.
Second, decentralize political power electing the Minnesota House using proportional representation. If the "Save Rural Communities Party" receives 10% of the vote they will win 10% of the House seats.
Third, we want to remove big money and corporate interference from influencing Minnesota governance and give access to "We the People".
I bicycled 6,000 miles within Minnesota during the last three years talking to many farmers; these three mandates held up well in our conversations.
I see rural Minnesota as key to our ecological and economic revival and survival.
I am prepared to serve as Minnesota's Governor and to make these structural changes.
4. Our Mandates Require a Commensurate Response Proportional to the Problems
In the face of many ecological problems we have been guided to solutions such as picking up litter, recycling, using compact florescent light bulbs, putting in a low-flow shower head, walking to work, buying reusable bags for grocery shopping, and growing our own food. All of these in isolation have their merits but, as a whole, are a sick trick to keep the consumer thinking they are in some ways responsible for the ecological crisis and that by doing these things they are helping to solve the ecological crisis.
We can no longer be guided to incremental changes in the face of exponential problems. We must remedy the overconsumption of limited resources up front in the extraction and manufacturing of energy, transportation, and food production.
Ken Pentel's ecological economy for Minnesota would stabilize the economy by internalizing external costs. For example, when someone receives their electric bill they will see and pay -- the best we can calculate -- the whole-cost for displaced habitat, species depletion and extinction, the damage to rivers and wildlife from mountain-top removal, mining tailings, the toxic by-products from transport and refinement costs of uranium, coal and oil, the cost of 200,000+ years of nuke waste, decommissioning electric power stations, emphysema, bronchitis, asthma, cancer, death, lost days at work, global climate disruption, etc.. .
Using whole-cost measurements would inherently lead to efficient, renewable, local energy planning up front, keeping money local and lowering the overall cost of living for ALL Minnesotans.
5. Ken Pentel offers Minnesotans a means to “Model the way to truly green products and services”
Ken Pentel states “we are led to believe that we can fix our ecological problems by simply recycling, using low-flow plumbing fixtures and reusable bags, etc. All though these methods have their merits, they are incremental changes in the face of exponential problems. We must remedy the overconsumption of limited resources up front, in the extraction and manufacturing of energy, transportation, and food production.”
Ken Pentel proposes to solve our ecological crisis by implementing “an ecological economy for Minnesota that would stabilize the economy by internalizing external costs. Doing so will inherently lead to truly green products and services.” For example when someone receives their electric bill, “they will see and pay the whole-cost for displaced habitat, species depletion and extinction, the damage to rivers and wildlife from mountain-top removal, mining tailings, the toxic by-products from transport and refinement costs of uranium, coal and oil, the cost of 200,000+ years of nuke waste, decommissioning electric power stations, emphysema, bronchitis, asthma, cancer, death, lost days at work and global climate disruption. Using whole-cost measurements would inherently lead to up front efficient, renewable, local energy planning.”
6. I'm Ready to be Governor
By Ken Pentel
The Ecology Democracy Party emerged in early May of this year to introduce new concepts and a shift in the way we look at politics in Minnesota. I proudly accepted the nomination for Governor along with Erin Wallace as my running mate for Lieutenant Governor.
I have committed most of my adult life to protecting the place I live and love and to literally leave a better world -- eleven years with Greenpeace, twelve years with the Green Party, 18 years lobbying the State House, and now 4 times running for Governor. To date, I have failed on this mission.
It is painful to participate in political and economic systems which are rapidly deteriorating this beautiful place we live. It is even more painful to have to hear decision-makers and the most powerful in our society rationalize this behavior and hinder efforts to avoid ecological and social suffering.
I consider the weak, obsolete thinking of the people in the Republican, Democratic, and the Independence parties dangerous. During this severe ecological and economic collapse the policies and rhetoric of the major parties does not offer a commensurate or proportionate response to the problems we are experiencing. To the contrary, they are either indifferent or hostile to the necessary remedies.
Our habitats are under attack. Others have not taken responsibility. Erin and I want to offer a viable option to the unsustainable practices based on the current economic growth model and the undemocratic system that perpetuates this. Continuously being given incremental changes in the face of exponential ecological, social, and economic problems is a diversion and perilous for all of us. Our campaign is introducing three concepts that address structural changes in the Minnesota political and economic system.
First, we want to establish an ecology-based economy for Minnesota where we measure the health of our economy based upon the health of our natural resources. So, when our water, air, soil, and habitats become stronger the economy naturally becomes stronger. This leads to local food and energy, walkable, bike, train and bus friendly cities, and durable over disposable goods. The outcome would be an overall lower cost of living and dollars would come closer to home. Rather than working for the vast waste in our existing economic system we would have more time for friends and family, as well as social, creative, and contemplative time. We would end up with a steady-state economy that lives with the means of the resource base indefinitely.
Second, we advocate for proportional representation in the Minnesota House of Representatives. Currently, we participate in single member winner-take-all (WTA) districts. In a two party race, even if your party gets 49% of the vote you would end up with zero representation in the House. In this system of WTA and partisan redistricting we have predictable outcomes in “safe districts”; in a proportional system 10% of the vote would get your party or candidate 10% of the seats in the House. Most all democracies pick proportional voting and generally have 80-95% voter turnout. Huge numbers and next to impossible thresholds aren't needed to have your values reflected more honestly in the government. Perfect, no. But a much needed improvement over the the obsolete WTA system. More information can be found at http://tiny.cc/do9fv.
Third, we want to remove big money and corporate interference in our government so we can get access our own government. This would lead to ending corporate personhood and the absurd notion that money equals free speech. Further information can be found at http://tiny.cc/owvqc.
I feel structural change in the economy, the way we vote, and who influences our government has to happen first. Then, we can solve the big problems that are facing our common habitat and government.
If you are going to vote and you agree with what you just read then be consistent. When you walk into the voting booth on November 2nd, be honest with yourself and your values.
We encourage readers to go to: www.kenpentel.org and click on the Issue Page to learn more about my campaign.
7. KEN PENTEL CAMPAIGN ON ENDING CORPORATE PERSONHOOD
Ken Pentel for Governor and Erin Wallace for Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota advocate an end to corporate personhood for the protection of Minnesota, the nation, and the planet.
As Pentel/Wallace embark on removing big money or central money from politics, one of the barriers that must be removed immediately is the idea that a corporation is a person. This accepted definition in law has to cease.
Corporations have enjoyed too much power for too long and not enough accountability for their actions -- all because of head notes written by a court clerk of the Supreme Court in 1886 on the court case Santa Clara vs. Southern Pacific Railroad.
Corporate personhood has allowed the insidious tentacles of power to embed themselves and grow within our legal and political systems for the last 100+ years.
Multinational corporations can be in 1000 places around the world at the same time -- influencing and obstructing governments, saturating television and radio with their message, bombarding our politicians with money and lobby influence, and overwhelming our legal system to their advantage. These corporations dump poisons that knowingly cause disease and death and commit financial fraud and then go to Washington to get bailed out by taxpayers. No one person could get away with this, but the corporations can.
A corporation is not a person. They cannot vote, yet they are granted 1st amendment rights to free speech and now, through Citizens United, large amounts of corporate cash can inundate elections, thereby further depleting the already meager power of actual American people to choose our elected officials and influence America’s future course.
-Xcel Energy easily spends $700,000-$2,000,000 lobbying each year in Minnesota and commands 30-50 registered lobbyists to orbit and infuse themselves into our government. This occurs even though "We the People" would prefer local, efficient and renewable energy sources.
-The Koch brothers who own Flint Hill Energy are a major lobby interest in Minnesota enabling the contamination of the Mississippi River, as well as major funder of the global warming deniers.
-And for many decades 3M has lobbied and influenced our state to allow the burning and dumping of toxic poisoning at their Hutchinson incinerator and the contamination in the metro area for many years.
This does not include all the corporate banks, agriculture, auto, home builders and many other corporate interests who dominate Minnesota policy making along with their surrogates, the Chamber of Commerce, Minnesota Business Partnership, and the many law firms.
This interference has allowed the corporation to consume states and countries to the point where they have set up their own layer of governance that transcends government through the North American Free Trade agreements (NAFTA), the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).
According to Ken, “Over 18 years of lobbying at the State Capitol, I tried to get populist positions heard, introduced, and passed, and the corporate lobby dominated and undermined the wishes of the people time and time again. This breeds cynicism and anger at our government and makes elected official irrelevant.”
The Pentel/Wallace campaign will encourage citizens at the local level to pass ordinances, laws, and resolutions to end corporate personhood.
Ken and Erin will use the available legal and political tools in Minnesota to remove corporate interference in Minnesota's government. As Ken states, “We will ask the Minnesota Attorney General to break new legal ground and/or join in national efforts to have the Supreme Court reinterpret the fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, and once and for all erase the non-legal decision of 1886 that a corporation is a human.”
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini
The only difference in our modern time is, instead of the state taking over and running the corporations, the corporations have seized power of the state.
7. Ken Pentel proposes the Minnesota Ecological Health Indicator for Economic Activity
Ecological Whole Cost Accounting for Minnesota will be our guide to develop a new indicator for measuring economic activity to replace the dysfunctional Gross Domestic Product indicator.
This new indicator, the Minnesota Ecological Health Indicator, will measure the degree to which each economic transaction restores the water, air, soil, and habitats to health and sustainability.
Ken Pentel states: “Ecological Whole Cost Accounting internalizes external costs. These are the costs not in the bottom line of bills for electricity, food, transportation, and garbage. This approach illustrates the advantages, ecologically and economically, in durable over disposable goods and saved over wasted energy.”
The Minnesota Ecological Health Indicator will illustrate the health of our economy based upon the health of our ecology. The indicator will show that our economy is failing when our waters, air, soil and habitats are polluted whereas, Ken Pentel states: “the indicator will show that our economy is flourishing when food is being produced in a local, sustainable, organic way, when there are more community gardens, homes and buildings are their own efficient and renewable energy providers, and when there are more bicyclists than drivers, and landfills and incinerators are extinct. An economy must repair and sustain in relationship to the limits of Earth.”
As Ken Pentel states: “A truly healthy economy is measured in the health of the non-human world.”