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House Divided Oral History Project: Interview with Harry Sieben
Harry Sieben was DFL floor leader and a member of the1978 DFL negotiating team. The 1978 election: the top of the ticket was very weak and this hurt the legislative candidates. The negotiations: Anderson picked the negotiators to represent a cross-section of the DFL caucus. Sieben says that he was confident that Judge Breunig would rule that Pavlak could not be seated and if Pavlak was not seated then they would have organized the House and quit negotiating. Sieben says that Irv wanted to negotiate on his own, and on the final weekend that is what happened in the State Office Building. Sieben contradicts his colleague Richard Kostohryz by saying that the hospital-bed vote was a bluff. Harry is more ideological than most, saying that the Appropriations Committee was important to keep because it was a good place to put forward DFL philosophy, but the 1979 Tax Committee was the most important because it was their job to combat the governor's program. The 1979 session: Sieben found the session a bitter and frustrating one. He feels that bills should be partisan - nonpartisan bills lack substance. "I think the citizens ought to know who is doing good and who is doing bad.... The party in control, the majority, should be held accountable for what they do. The people should know who to blame or who to compliment for something that goes right or wrong. When there is no one in control, they don't know who that is." The Pavlak case: Harry feels that the IR could have kept Pavlak in but its inexperience prevented it from doing so. "If Searle had kept his head down and not listened to me it would have been all over and we didn't have the votes to undo it, because we had a tie vote on every procedural issue." The Norton coalition: "I think it was a serious error for any Democrat to not support the majority of the caucus. It made things tough in the caucus to do anything - as a result we didn't have much caucus cohesiveness in 1980.... Also, it made it tough on Norton to be speaker. He had to look like a partisan Democrat more than he would have otherwise. If he was elected only with Democratic votes, he would have been a fairer speaker, but he had to prove to the caucus then that he was really a democrat, so he made more partisan DFL decisions.... It was hard for him to serve as speaker under those circumstances. It destroyed caucus cohesiveness." Sieben goes on to say that the coalition meant that the DFL caucus was split so badly that many leaders shared the leadership burden.
1 hour sound cassette
Content Category: sound recordings
00:54:30 running time
Interviewee: Sieben, Harry A.
Interviewer: Bjornson, Jon
Creation: Not earlier than 1980 - Not later than 1981
|Holding Type||Oral History - Interview|
OH 41 (Library Call Number)
AV1980.269.18 (Accession Number)
MNHS Library Catalog
Oral History - Project, MHS Collection, project: 'House Divided Oral History Project'