Thursday, January 04, 2007

A day at the Capitol

On Wednesday, the girls woke up fussy, and I was getting stir-crazy in the house. I was deep in thought about finding an excuse to get out. The talk on MPR was all about the first day at the Minnesota State Legislature. This made me think it would be fun to go to the capitol and check out the festivities. The Minnesota State Capitol building is one of my favorite places to visit, plus with all the action of the new politcians, media coverage, and probably lobbyist to boot, I couldn't resist.

So I packed the girls up, and we headed to St. Paul. Here we are in front of the capitol steps. You can see the legs of protesters at the top of the stairs.


Not wanting to haul two little girls, and a double stroller up all those steps, I queried a nearby security guard about an easier access. He pointed us to a nearby driveway, that lead to a tunnel underneath the previously seen steps. We followed the driveway, and was about to enter the tunnel, when I saw the parking spot is the sign posted, "Reserved for the Speaker of the House"

I thought this would be a fun and naughty picture, until some staff person, who was outside getting a smoke, noted to me that the Speaker had yet to be elected (they were to be meeting, and voting for that within the hour). So I guess this isn't as naughty, but still kinda fun.

After 'parking' in the Speakers spot, we headed into the tunnel, and towards the entrance. At this point, I got a little nervous. Maybe the building isn't open to the public. Since it's the first day of session, maybe they close it up because of all the news and stuff. When I got to the door, it was locked. There was a sign stating it was a secured entrance, and to gain entry I would need to push the large red button. Holding my breath, I pushed it. Almost immediately I heard the door unlock. Not waiting a moment, I opened it, and pushed the girls right in, expecting to be greeted by a security guard wanting to know my business and looking for a reason to kick us out.

The only person to be seen was a nice looking lady, dressed for work, who gave the girls a smile as she walked by on to very important business. I decided immediately that I needed to look like I knew where I was going, so purposely pushed the stroller around the ground floor of the capitol, waiting to be found, and thrown out of the capitol.

After a couple minutes, and getting bored with the interesting portraits and office doors of the ground floor, I decided to take us up the elevator to more interesting things. The first floor is where the capitol rotunda is, and a lot more art and historical objects to view. As we walked around, a number of security staff walked by us, and nodded to me, or smiled to the girls. The MPR table was here, where Gary Eichten was interviewing the Former Speaker Sviggum, and Speaker designee Anderson Keliher. Feeling safer, I stopped us in front of a TV in the hallway that was showing the activities on the Senate floor, which was about to start its first session.

As we were behind the rotunda, there was little people traffic, and at this point, the only ones in sight until a group of people came around the corner and headed our way. I quickly recognized our Governor, Tim Pawlenty. He was surrounded by approximately 4 staffers, and an equal number of security guards. As we were the only other ones in the hallway, the Governor saw us, and smiled to the girls, and said to me, "How are you doing?" I quickly answered, "Very well Governor, Thank you.". The entourage passed us, and I slowly pulled out and started my camera. I clicked the picture where the only evidence of this story is the arm of the last security guard going around the corner. You still believe me, don't you?


Well seeing the Governor, and having a brief conversation with him, without getting thrown out seemed like having dessert before having supper, and the rest of our time there wouldn't be any fun. But we pressed on, and found ourselves in a room with others where other TVs were set up, and we could watch more of the procedings of the Senate. I sat next to a couple of staffers, assuming I could ask questions if I had any. I started giving the girls a bit of a snack (it was noon) and watched the Senate on the TV.

Well, it wasn't the most interesting TV, as I'm sure you could imagine, and the Senate was at a point where they were calling all the Senators, one by one, to provide the election filings, I guess to prove they were dutifully elected. I was trying to keep the girls occupied with cheerios, and chatting with the staffers I sat next to, when I heard the them call Jim Carlson on the TV.

"Jim Carlson! Hey... that's my dads cousin!" I exclaimed silently in my head (the rest of the room was pretty quiet, and felt it better not to add to the noise my girls were already providing). I kicked myself for forgetting about his victory in Senate District 38 (Eagan and Burnville). Janet, the girls, and I actually joined his campaign for the 4th of July parade last summer.

So mulling it over in my head, how I might see Senator Carlson, I decided I should give the girls something more to eat than Cheerios and cheese. The staffers told me about a cafeteria in the basement, so we departed the room, and headed for the elevator. Back at the groundfloor, we searched for signs I was told would direct us to the cafeteria. Not finding any, I looked at the groundfloor map on the wall, searching for the Cafeteria. It appeared however that the groundfloor was entirely offices... or more prescisely, Senator offices. My eyes quickly found dear old cousin Jim's office, and we headed straight there.

Jim's office is joined with 3 other Senators, and there were only a couple staffers there. There was a guest book, so I signed us in as proof of our visit, and took this picture outside his office. His name is the 3rd one on the sign behind the girls.


The girls and I made our way to the basement where the Cafeteria really is, had a nice little lunch of carrots, frys and a cookie, and headed back up to the first floor. At this point all we did was walk around and look at the people and action. The were TV crews, reporters, photographers, staffers... a lot of people. The protestors who were outside earlier were having a loud racous rally in the rotunda. At one point we were sharing an elevator with Eric Eskola! The Senate had adjourned, so we were watching the Senators leave, and people trying to talk to them.

Then I saw Jim heading out. Unfortunately he was heading downstairs, and there would be no way I could catch him. I figured I could try his office a bit later. He would be busy anyway.

A quick change of diapers, and then I found a hallway where I felt I could let the girls walk around for a bit. They were such good girls, not making a lot of noise, and just going along for the ride, they deserved to be let free. So they wandered for a bit on their own, catching more smiles from passerbys. One guy asked me if I was Senator Larson's brother, I said no, but I had a distant cousin for a Senator.

Here we are after the girls ran around.



The protesters were done at this point, which gave me a chance to get this picture. This is the floor of the rotunda.



So my parking meter would be running out soon, so I decided to stop by Senator Carlson's office for one last try. I poked my head into the general area, and didn't see him, so I turned around, and headed for the exit.

Suddenly I hear "George" from behind, and there's Senator Jim Carlson, my dad's cousin, running to get me. Now how often do you get a state senator to run after you?! We shake hands, and he asks me to come back to his office. I tried the "Well I thought you would be busy today, I don't want to interrupt anything" line, and he puffawed it, saying it was Receiving Day and I wouldn't be interrupting anything.

He walked us back to his office, where his wife and kids were, along with his sisters, Ruth and Lynn, and his mom, Anna (who is my Grandpa George Linkert's sister). It was fun to reconnect and hear what was going on.


So we departed just tickled pink on how well our day went. From trying to evade security, to talking to the Governor, to seeing family it was a great trip.

The girls were so good and cute, I wish there was a way I could have them remember it better than this, but this will have to do. I know I had a blast, and it will be a day I will long remember.




Comments:
As everyone can tell George Matthew really did have a ball! I am glad they had such a nice time on their "field trip" and also wish the girls would be able to remember it later... but I have no doubt they will have lots of wonderful days like this with their dad as they grow up, so the memories will be plentiful even without this one!
 
Hey Matt,
Wow, what a day for you!! Good thing you took initiatives to keep going through the capitol! I especially love the last photo. Your smile says it all!!
Your next trip with the girls . . . to the White House?? hehe
 
You do a great job on writing your thoughts. Remember to keep doing these trips and keeping records. The girls will have great stories to tell in school some day.
 
where o where is the picture that belongs on the wall here????? need to be redecorated
 
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