Saturday, May 30, 2009

June 16, 2009 Joan Growe Endorsement Reunion

Joan Growe 1984 U.S. Senate Endorsement Reunion

June 16/17 is the 25th anniversary of Joan Grow's 1984 Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party state convention victory...making Joan the 1st woman endorsed for U.S. Senate in DFL history. 19 ballots over 22 consecutive hours...all night long.

Endorsement came only after Joan had withdrawn from the contest, even though she had led on every ballot.

Margaret Anderson Kelliher and Vance Opperman are co-chairing the 1984 Joan Growe U.S. Senate endorsement reunion on Tuesday, June 16, 2009 from 5 to 7 PM at Key Investment, 225 South Sixth Street, Suite 5200, in Minneapolis (55402).

Please come. Please tell your friends of Joan Growe. Please RSVP: facebook, evite, or 612-333-6700.

Monday, April 27, 2009


Hi & good morning. Just a little about me & why I write this blog. I started blogging on Yahoo 360 a little over a year ago (;_ylt=AhDjujkZPyWG.BdpTwPo2mq0AOJ3?cq=1). It began as a blog recounting and raising questions about the I-35W bridge collapse and evolved into general issue advocacy. Facts & questions not reflections. I began this bobmeek blog to tell more personal stories. I was reluctant at first, as in, who would care what I've done or think, but changed my mind after a trip to Tucson, AZ. A popular attraction just outside of Tucson is a rocky area and stream bed where folks 10,000 years ago trekked on their journeys. Some of them left marks/drawings on the rocks. Today's guides interpret the possible meaning of the drawings as 1) I was here, 2) here's what I see in the sky, 3) I'm leaving food for future visitors hidden in a cave over there, 4) danger, etc. Like a flash of light, personal blogging suddenly made sense.

I think about the extraordinary opportunities and teachers I have had in my 55 years. Among those I've learned so much from and owe so much to: my mom and dad, my sister, my niece and nephew, my grandparents, Richard Moe, D.J. Leary, Hank Fischer, Patrick Marx, John Marty, Bob Hurner, Kaye Roan, Nancy Farnham, Betty South, Al Saunders, Hubert Humprhey, Ted Grindal, Michele Grindal, Lori Sturdevant, Bill Salisbury, B. J. French, Steve Pistner, Walter Mondale, Linda Jadwin, Maxine Issacs, Vance Opperman, Warren Spannaus, Bob Hentges, Mary Monahan, Karl Struble, Ellen Struble, Jon Max, Glenn Totten, Joan Growe, Elaine Voss, Steve Novak, Susan Stuart Otto, Tom Horner, John Ewoldt, Larry Charles, Steve Martin, Bill Frame, Steve Shank, Sara Meyer, Gary Eichten, Ron Groat, Bob Deboer, Kathy Deboer, Steve Endean, Ned Crosby, Virginia Sweeney, Jim Dickenson, Ruth Orrick, David Walsh, Char Wegleitner, Mr. Dwight Opperman, Tom Moran, Linda Holstein, Mary Sicilia, Vicki Eaklor, Mona Schmidt, Blois Olson, Nat Bennett, Lou Ann Olson, David Erickson, Laurie Hobbs, Kathy Tunheim, Sean Kershaw, Ahmed Tharwat....this list of kind and generous people who have given so much to me is numerous, incomplete, and, God willing, will grow and continue. My life's many errors are mine alone. I owe so very many of my extraordinary opportunities to these wonderful people. Thank you all.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Floyd B. Olson-style mortgage moratorium?

News.Bridge Grist

Just thoughts. u
Q: Why not a mortgage moratorium?

Why not an interest rate ceiling?

To help spur an end to today's still building economic depression, and now that the seelf-imposed lenders' moratoriums on mortgage foreclosures have ended, and with President Obama beginning to act on credit card interest rates:

* Why not pass and send to Gov. Pawlenty's desk a Floyd B. Olson-style Minnesota mortgage moratorium (please see below) giving homeowners and lenders time for the new federal recovery programs to improve the housing economy and help stop the race-to-the-bottom assault on home values?

Popular support for such a measure might be demonstrated by (Paul Wellstone-like powerline) citizen protests of families losing their homes and renters being evicted?

* And, why not memorialize the Congress to adopt a nationwide ceiling of 8% or 12% on credit card interest rates as opposed to today's bankruptcy-inducing rates of as high as 30% or more in credit card interest rates?...

thus driving down the unnecessary bank, consumer and court costs of bankruptcies, creating a more healthy environment for prudent lenders and borrowers, and leaving lenders and states free to offer lower rates as the economy improves?
Law Encyclopedia: Moratorium Top
Home > Library > Law & Legal Issues > Law Encyclopedia
This entry contains information applicable to United States law only.
A suspension of activity or an authorized period of delay or waiting. A moratorium is sometimes agreed upon by the interested parties, or it may be authorized or imposed by operation of law. The term also is used to denote a period of time during which the law authorizes a delay in payment of debts or performance of some other legal obligation. This type of moratorium is most often invoked during times of distress, such as war or natural disaster.
Government bodies may declare moratoria for a broad range of reasons. For example, a local government may attempt to regulate property development by imposing a moratorium on the issuance of building permits. The legality of such a moratorium is generally determined by measuring its impact on the affected parties. In 1987 the U.S. Supreme Court held that certain moratoria on property development may be unconstitutional takings, thus making it more difficult for local governments to slow development in their communities (First English Evangelical Lutheran Church v. Los Angeles County, 482 U.S. 304, 107 S. Ct. 2378, 96 L. Ed. 2d 250). On the other hand, in 1995 the Court upheld a thirty-day moratorium on lawyer advertising that was challenged as an infringement of First Amendment rights (Florida Bar v. Went For It, Inc., 515 U.S. 618, 115 S. Ct. 2371, 132 L. Ed. 2d 541).
Many state legislatures have passed moratorium legislation in response to popular demand for debt relief during emergencies. The constitutionality of these statutes is determined using a two-pronged analysis. First, the courts consider the effect of the moratorium on the rights of the parties to the impaired contract. If the moratorium changes only the remedy for breach and not the terms of the contract, it is generally upheld (see Sturges v. Crowninshield, 17 U.S. [4 Wheat.] 122, 4 L. Ed. 529 [1819]). Second, if the moratorium is a response to a bona fide emergency, it is upheld (see Johnson v. Duncan, 3 Mart. 530 [La. 1815], upholding a moratorium passed when the British invaded Louisiana in 1814).
As a function of its police power, a state may suspend contractual rights when public welfare, health, or safety are threatened. However, this police power is limited by standards of reasonableness. During the World War I housing shortage, some New York landlords raised rents to exorbitant levels and evicted tenants who failed to pay. In response to what it perceived as a public health and safety emergency, the state legislature passed a law that limited rentals to reasonable amounts, gave courts authority to determine reasonableness, and prohibited landlords from evicting tenants willing to pay reasonable rents. The law was sustained by the U.S. Supreme Court in Marcus Brown Holding Co. v. Feldman, 256 U.S. 170, 41 S. Ct. 465, 65 L. Ed. 877 (1921).

An example of a contemporary debt moratorium is the Minnesota Mortgage Moratorium Act (1933 Minn. Laws 514), passed by the Minnesota legislature in response to a sharp rise in foreclosures on mortgaged farm property.

The constitutionality of the act was challenged in Home Building & Loan Association v. Blaisdell, 290 U.S. 398, 54 S. Ct. 231, 78 L. Ed. 413 (1934), in which the Supreme Court upheld the legislation based on five criteria: a bona fide emergency existed; the statute addressed a legitimate societal interest; debt relief was granted only under limited conditions; contractual rights were reasonably protected; and the legislation was of limited duration.

This act was extended until 1942.

Fifty years later the Minnesota legislature responded again to public pressure to relieve farm debts by passing another Mortgage Moratorium Act (Minn. Stat. § 583.03 [Supp. 1983]).

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Times They Are A-Changin'

News.Bridge GRIST

Bob Dylan has it right!

The old economy is crumbling with much unnecessary pain and dislocation from poorly planned and executed disintermediation...big institutions, e.g., newspapers, evaporating while Web-based pinpoint interactive information services flourish.

For example: Mr. Dwight Opperman's West Publishing, now of Eagan, MN, the foremost source for legal information, transitioned from print to pioneering digital (Westlaw) by retraining and expanding its workforce and did not lay off a soul.

Fact is: The new economy is growing and is a field of opportunity--for example, Mr. Steve Shank's creation and dynamic expansion of Capella distance learning of Minneapolis.

Customers want what we want and when we want it--see former Dayton Hudson (now known as Target) President Steve Pistner's 1980 vision of the Store of the Future (please see entry below, Take your mark-downs early). We demand products and services of the highest quality, latest fashion/technology, and at the lowest possible price.

New equation: As it's all about delivering VALUE, costly intermediaries (e.g., public relations consultants, travel agents, real estate agents, school administrators, etc.) know we/they must advance with the times or be left by the wayside.

We can profit by looking for lessons from change-masters like the Oppermans, Shanks and Pistners.

Government is next: Business change is the tip of the iceberg (Tofflers, Revolutionary Wealth). Nothing is more resistant to or in need of change than government institutions (e.g., collapse of the Soviet Union, Katrina, Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac).

Ambitious Speculation: M4change Partnership?

Just a speculation...draft-only, work-in-progress, comments encouraged

News.Bridge: GRIST:

What If: M4change Partnership?

What about engineering/leading a (next step) M4change evolutionary partnership?

Imagine that the Internet is the (infant) linkage of a new common brain. Twitter, YouTube and such are fire-up mechanisms.

What if: U of M/UW-Madison, Mayo, Medtronic & the Minnesota Learning Resource Center formed an M4change partnership to speed the linkages into the neurons of our actual brains?

Have seen the local (A Chance To Grow) human and national/international (monkeys) use of brain waves for bio-feedback, to play electronic video games and to obtain food.

Medtronic I think has figured out how to hook-in their pain therapy mechanics to our brains.

M4change could make our region the "New Eden" (the phrase real estate speculators used to promote MN settlement in the mid-1800s) of 21st century human/machine (bio-tech) advancement?

Friday, April 17, 2009

HHH: Hope, Humor, Humility

I went to the school of Hubert Humphrey. I learned much of what I admire and most of what shapes my OPTIMISM from Hubert H. Humphrey...listening to his speeches and interviews, reading his articles, books, statements, and correspondence (each week HHH privately circulated to his aides and advisers copies of his letters and dictation, e.g., to a speech writer, roughly, I want my Bi-Centennial--1976--speeches to key off the extraordinary youth of America's founders...recalling that our nation was founded in large part by people under the age of 30!), and visiting with him as he raced to Senate floor votes and meetings with constituents (e.g., the pluses and minuses of snowmobile trails in the Boundary Waters in light of our being "temporary" stewards of the lands/creations we are charged with protecting).

One of the Senator's favorite topics was attitude--informed perhaps by his less than five-votes-per-precinct loss of the 1968 race for president to Richard Nixon; specifically, a rejection of defeatism. Being a foremost student, teacher and maker of history, Humphrey could recite in detail the many years of Revolutionary War battles ("defeats") that led to America's independence. the Civil War battles ("defeats") that led to the Union's victory, the unlikely career paths (filled with "defeats") that resulted in Presidents Lincoln and Truman, and the tortured, centuries-long fights for human rights (HHH, 1948: ...get out of the shadow of state's rights and walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights).

Humphrey would point out (roughly): Unfortunately and too often, our nation's largest club is the "would've," "could've," "should've" club filled with a membership resigned to living on the regrets of lost hopes and failed dreams. Always second-guessing. Always looking-back. Always finding the worst (error) in themselves and everyone else.

His transition: I will have none of that and neither should you!

You see, Humphrey would continue, the question is not what we would have done or what we could have done or what we should have done. It's one thing to study the past and learn from our mistakes. It's another thing to live in the past where the contests are over and the results known. The real questions for us--for the doers, for the builders and for the inventors of today--is what are we doing now (here and now, right now) and what are we going to do next (training for, investing in) to make things better today and for generations to come? (often followed by a variation on Sam Rayburn's: ...Any jackass can kick down a barn but it takes a good carpenter to build one--a sentiment winning great applause from Humphrey's many labor ((e.g., Building Trades)) audiences).

Acknowledging that bad (unfair) things happen in our lives, Humphrey told in his 1976 book, "The Education of a Public Man," how he "celebrated" the end of 1968, a horrific year of war, assassinations and riots. At midnight on New Year's Eve, this former 2-term mayor of Minneapolis, 3-term U.S. Senator, Vice President and presidential nominee went into his bathroom and flushed the toilet thinking to himself: good riddance, it's time we start over.

In 1969, Humphrey returned to teaching and went on to win his 4th-term in the Senate in 1970. He chaired the joint budget committee and the Humphrey-Hawkins full employment act later became law. Humphrey won his 5th Senate term in 1976, when he was also able to rejoice in the election of his friend Walter Mondale as Vice President. A happy, forward-looking Hubert Humphrey. One of the best inspirations I know of to keep from throwing shoes at CNBC & FOX every time they predict President Obama's economic recovery measures are not going to work (I will have none of that and neither should you).

What I was told was Mike Berman's 1980 debate advice: Mr. President, just remember "HHH: Hope, Humor, Humility."

Happy days are (will be) here again!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Call to Greatness

The most challenging and satisfying writing assignments of my life, to date, have been for Joan Anderson Growe, Minnesota's Secretary of State from 1975 to 1999, when she ran for the United States Senate from Minnesota in 1984.

Challenging in that Ms. Growe was taking on Minnesota's male-dominated political and media structure to be the state's first woman elected in her own right to the U.S. Senate (who's making dinner for your kids tonight?). Satisfying in that Joan, as a great teacher (her profession) and perfectionist (her upbringing), always gave her absolute best and deserved the same from those who served her.

I wrote speeches, talking points, Q&A, and ad copy (print, radio & TV) for Joan and coordinated her debate prep. I was also the media advisor and traveling aide. She won a night and day (22 ballot) contest for the Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party endorsement and a contested party primary that followed.

We had always hoped to finish the general election within 8-points of the 1984 Democratic presidential nominee, Minnesota's own former Senator and Vice President, Walter Mondale. Sadly, 1984 was the year of the Reagan landslide presidential re-election and Mondale carried his home-state Minnesota by an eyelash. Joan was soundly defeated by the incumbent Republican U.S. Sen., Rudy Boschwitz.

Joan was and is a brilliant speech-maker. She cares about words. First, she wanted to be sure of the substance. She would not accept a speech line, a premise, a point to be made without first poking holes in it. Second, she wanted the logical construct to make sense...not just to her but also to the half-dozen other people she would test the speech on. Finally, she wanted her delivery to be flawless. In other words, Ms. Growe was and is a speech-writer's dream as there is nothing more satisfying than having a client who cares as much about her words as you do.

Speech-writing is often a collaborative effort. Two of our finest collaborators were Joan's deputy and longtime friend, Elaine Voss, and Joan's friend and a media genius, D.J. Leary. Elaine settled arguments (yes, Joan cared enough about what she was saying to stand her ground). D.J. taught us what Hubert Humphrey had shared with him; Every Speech Is A Call to Greatness (don't miss the opportunity).

Truth is, Joan Anderson Growe would have been a great Senator (HHH was one of her first and fondest promoters!). Great, in part, because she never accepted conventional wisdom as gospel.

Joan would say, Bob: look at those statistics again. America doesn't have a crime problem. America (with 90+ percent of crimes committed by men) has a MALE PROBLEM.

Touring a Nicaraguan farm, Joan advised her traveling party to be wary as here, supposedly, we were viewing a working dairy operation yet the cow barn had no cats.

Finally, Ms. Growe loved to sum up her pioneering attitude by closing her remarks with a paraphrase of Bobby Kennedy's (George Bernard Shaw) quote: Some people see things as they are and ask, "Why?" I dream of things that never were and ask, "Why not?"

Joan Anderson Growe. Trailblazer & friend.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Take Your Mark-downs Early

My first job in business (1978-1979 and one speech in 1980) was as a communications analyst for the Minneapolis-based retailer Dayton Hudson (that we now know as Target Corporation). Part of my job was to write speeches for Steve Pistner, the president and chief operating officer of Dayton Hudson. Steve had won the #2 job at Dayton Hudson by steering Target through the recessions of the early 1970's.

The unconfirmed legend was that things had been so tough for Target during the recessions that some in Dayton Hudson had considered jettisoning their Target division. If that was true, then Steve Pistner was the executive who "saved" Target, now America's #2 retailer.

Pistner was a Humphrey of business. A person of great ideas. A degree in psychology. Steve would tell me: Bob, we don't talk about bed sheets and display racks. We talk about what motivates our customers and how we can serve them better.

The Pistner formula for Target coming out of the recessions successfully was to set and achieve industry-leading standards. Among discount retailers, Target stores would become the cleanest (still to this day, walk into a Target at 7 pm on a Saturday, then check out the nearest Wal-Mart...where would you shop?). Target would have the clearest sight-lines and signage so that customers could immediately read and navigate the stores. Target would always be in-stock on top-selling and advertised merchandise. Customers might come back once for a missing item, but never come back twice.

Among the lessons Pistner drew from managing through recessions: (1) keep your overhead low...don't lard on expenses (staff) during the good times; (2) take your mark-downs early...we knew within 6-months of opening a department store that it was too difficult for customers to navigate...should have blown it up and started over and, (3) if you have to work for a living there is no better job than managing a troubled least you'll get credit for the turn-around.

Steve said his best speech was in 1980 to the Young Presidents Organization of Minneapolis on "The Store of the Future." He told them that the wheel-of-retailing constantly turned to give customers better goods at lower prices. He bemoaned department stores operating at a loss 9-months of the year to make their profits during the holiday season.

Pistner's Store of the Future would minimize operating costs by eliminating the stores themselves. Remember, he was speaking pre-Web. He proposed video kiosks in 7/11 stores updated weekly with new disks displaying the latest merchandise offerings. Customers would view the products on the disks, place their orders, and have their choices delivered to their homes or offices from a regional merchandise warehouse.

So in the summer of 1980, Steve Pistner suggested that the next big opportunity in retailing was to dramatically reduce real estate, energy and staffing costs by making it possible for customers to select their merchandise through a video (disk kiosk) and receive it at their home or office. Amazon?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Rising Sun

My name is Bob Meek. I'm a writer. The first person I wrote for was Hubert H. Humphrey, a former Vice President (1965-1969), who also served as a United States Senator from Minnesota (1949-1965 and 1971-1978). I wrote for Humphrey in 1975 and 1976. Political speeches. Graduation speeches. Letters. News releases.

Humphrey embodied optimism. I listened to him deliver political speeches dozens of times from 1970 to 1974. I hung on his every word. I marveled at the breadth and detail of his knowledge.

Humphrey had grown up in South Dakota during the Great Depression (the first one). He worked behind the counter in his dad's pharmacy. They knew their world depended on customers. Times were tough. Jobs and farm income were hard to come by. Long-time customers would come in for their medicines and be short on the cash to pay for them. Hubert's dad was generous in extending credit.

One of the Senator's favorite quotations during the recessions of the early 1970's came from Carl Sandburg, the great American poet:

"I see America, not in the setting sun of a black night of despair ahead of us, I see America in the crimson light of a rising sun fresh from the burning, creative hand of God. I see great days ahead, great days possible to men and women of will and vision."
Carl SandburgUS biographer & poet (1878 - 1967)

Humphrey would conclude: As we will it so shall it be. A nation without a vision shall perish. A people with hope will triumph.

Good words for our times.