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Racino plan dies (another) death

Racino 2012 … we barely knew ye. Tim Nelson at MPR reports: “A bill to legalize slot machines at Minnesota's two horse tracks failed in a Senate committee this Monday afternoon. The State Government Innovation and Veterans committee voted 8-5 against the racino bill.  Even a last-minute change that would have dedicated the proceeds to potentially tens of thousands of college scholarships did not sway legislators. Bill sponsor Republican Majority Leader David Senjem said he was disappointed the bill didn't pass, but said there was progress. ‘I don't think we've ever had a full-blown hearing. This was a full-blown hearing with a vote,’ Senjem said. ‘We kind of tested the water and found out where the rocks are.’ The vote may mark the end of racino prospects for this year. Opponents on both sides of the political aisle said they were wary of opening the door to new gambling.” So what do they think about electronic pull-tabs?


Need to take your mind off “right to work,” Brodkorb and a stadium bill that's going nowhere fast? Bring in Bud Grant. Don Davis of the Forum papers writes: “[T]he most entertaining episode probably was an unannounced appearance by a Minnesota football legend, former Vikings coach Bud Grant, urging lawmakers to raise hunting and fishing license fees to fund programs related to those activities. He must have done well: The Senate natural resources committee unanimously passed the bill with license hikes. Usually, senators ask tough questions about the issue a witness discusses. But it was obvious from the get-go that Grant was not the normal witness. Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, wore an ear-to-ear smile when Grant sat down next to him to support his bill. Grant opened his testimony joking that he was there to discuss something more important than a stadium, the most-discussed issue of the legislative session. He buttered up the outdoors-oriented committee by proclaiming the Mississippi, Minnesota and St. Croix rivers offer the best fishing experiences in the country. … At the end of his testimony, Sen. Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, started to applaud, but caught himself after one clap. Legislators pretty much never applaud a witness.” If he'd asked, Bud might have blessed his Helga braids.

A PAC has been formed to fight the so-called “right to work” legislation. Says Catharine Richert at MPR: “Minnesota's unions have formed We Are Minnesota, a fund meant to raise money to oppose a proposed constitutional amendment that would make union membership and the payment of union dues voluntary for all workers. A Senate panel approved the ‘right-to-work’ bill last week. We Are Minnesota is backed by ‘public and private sector workers, nurses, firefighters, police officers, teachers, construction workers, clergy, small business owners, local elected officials, students and your neighbors,’ according to the group's web site. The committee was registered March 9 with the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board by the Minnesota arm of the AFL-CIO, an organization that represents labor unions.”

Speaking of … Workday Minnesota, the labor website, is encouraging members to show up at the Capitol to protest the GOP’s Voter ID bill. It says: “The Minnesota AFL-CIO is asking union members to converge on the state Capitol Tuesday at 5 p.m., when the Minnesota House is scheduled to vote on a voter ID amendment. … The proposed legislation would put a measure on the November ballot to amend the Minnesota Constitution to require all voters to submit photo identification at the polls. It would eliminate the current process by which neighbors can vouch for voters without identification and would make Election Day registration impossible.” How soon before we hear the next "jackbooted union thug" reference?

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As I say, this one is something to keep on the radar. Dennis Lien of the PiPress reports: “The Minnesota House opted Monday ... to shift control over 2.5 million acres of school trust lands in northern Minnesota from a state agency to a new board in hopes of generating more money for schools. The House voted 104-26 to scrap oversight of those lands by the Department of Natural Resources and give it to a five-member permanent school fund board. Sponsored by Rep. Tim O'Driscoll, R-Sartell, the bill tries to raise more money for public schools from land the federal government gave the state when it was established in 1858. Most of that land was sold off for agriculture or development long ago, but what's left is typically in northern Minnesota and not available for sale or such revenue-generating practices as development. The DNR manages those lands, generating income through timber sales, land leases and mineral royalties. After expenses, it sends leftover money to a permanent trust fund. In recent years, that fund has generated $22 million to $27 million a year for public schools, a level critics of the arrangement contend could be higher.” And how ... exactly?

Oh! That’s where I left it … The AP reports: “A naked 41-year-old Iowa City man told deputies that he'd been forced by four men to handle a nuclear bomb at his home in Iowa City. … They say they found William Bliss naked and showing signs that he'd been drinking. He told them he was forced to handle the bomb at his home nearby.”

Wisconsin’s circuit court judges are not big fans of Gov. Scott Walker. The Sheboygan Press reports: “Twenty-nine circuit court judges in Wisconsin were among the thousands to sign recall petitions against Gov. Scott Walker, according to a Gannett Wisconsin Media analysis. Dane County Judge David Flanagan has drawn the lion's share of the scrutiny after issuing a temporary restraining order March 6 against a Walker-backed voter ID law without disclosing his support of the recall, but the analysis shows he was joined by judges from 15 other counties in signing petitions. Walker supporters were outraged that Flanagan did not disclose his apparent conflict and filed ethics complaints against the judge. However, judges who signed the petition and agreed to interviews defend their decision as constitutionally protected and not explicitly banned by the Wisconsin Code of Judicial Conduct. Twelve percent of the state's approximately 250 county-level judges signed the petition. By comparison, the 930,000 signatures submitted by recall organizers would represent 21 percent of the state's voting-age population, if all signatures were valid.”

Amanda Terkel, at The Huffington Post, writes: “[O]thers are wondering why a judge would sign a petition, thereby awakening potential criticism and questions of bias. Professor Richard Painter of the University of Minnesota Law School questioned why judges would expose themselves to criticism and a potential perception of bias by signing the recall petition, though he acknowledged there might be wiggle room within the judicial code allowing judges to sign. ‘For judges to be getting involved in the question of whether the governor ought to be recalled I think is highly inappropriate,’ said Richard Painter, who served as chief ethics lawyer in President George W. Bush's administration. ‘Whether it violates an ethics rule or not in Wisconsin, I think it's very inappropriate.’ ”

There’s something wrong when New Jersey is at the top of the list of least corruptible state governments and supposedly saintly Minnesota is 25th. At City Pages, Aaron Rupar writes: “Minnesota is in the middle of the pack when it comes to the potential for government corruption, according to a new study by the Center for Public Integrity, Public Radio International, and Global Integrity. The study, called the State Integrity Investigation, gave Minnesota a D+ grade, which ranked 25th out of the 50 states. New Jersey got the best grade, Georgia the worst. To see the full rankings, click here. Areas of particular concern for Minnesota included a lack of legislative openness, weak campaign finance oversight, underfunded government watchdog organizations, and inadequate consequences for ethics violations in the legislature.”  These numbers could slump further, post-Brodkorb depositions.

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Comments (9)

In other news, pot calls kettle black

Whether or not it violates an ethics rule at the University of Minnesota, I think someone who was a chief ethics lawyer in the George W. Bush administration should have the decency to not advise others about their ethics.

There's an oxymoron in there somewhere ...

"'For judges to be getting involved in the question of whether the governor ought to be recalled I think is highly inappropriate,' said Richard Painter, who served as chief ethics lawyer in President George W. Bush's administration."

Can We PLEASE Stop Seeking to Protect the Fortunes of the 1%

By seeking to provide even more venues for vulnerable 99%er's to addictively gamble away their own fortunes and monthly incomes. It doesn't matter if you provide counseling/treatment for gambling addicts, their lives are STILL destroyed, and the lives of those around them seriously damaged before they seek recovery.

Racino, video slots, card clubs,... it doesn't matter what form of gambling you legalize, it's ALL an effort to fleece the unwary, the unwise, and the vulnerable in an effort to protect the already-well-stuffed pockets of those who do not need nor deserve such protection.

Regarding the DNR management of School Trust Lands: The GOP proves once again that it has the high moral philosophy of a typical ripoff/flim-flam artist: from their warped perspective, why should a state agency manage the education trust lands, in a reliable, responsible way; protecting their integrity and providing a reliable income for state schools,...

when we can appoint our cronies to manage them, exploit them while destroying them, and eventually sell them off, further damaging our state's public school system, all the while paying those friends management fees that we would scream bloody murder if the administrator of any state agency received.

1) Damage the public schools (further),

2) pad the pockets of their already-undeservedly-wealthy friends,

3) sell off the future in order to party hardy in the present,...

it covers all sorts of bases in the clearly dystopian (unwritten, unacknowledged, but absolutely real) Republican platform.

Wisconsin judges sign petition

Which tells you how bad things are in Wisconsin, that so many judges would risk the appearance of impropriety to exercise their constitutional rights.

Judges are citizens

Does anyone really think that any judge is inherently unbiased? Of course they're bias, the job doesn't require an absence of bias, it requires that one put that bias aside. The job does NOT require a person to surrender their rights as a citizen. Judges can vote can't they? Are we saying that any judge that didn't vote for walker can't be trusted? Are we saying that a judge that voted for Walker can be trusted MORE than a judge who didn't? By that standard every judge in Wisconsin would have to recuse themselves from any case regarding the Governor unless they didn't vote at all.

Don't be silly, this is a contrived ethical conflict.

Does That Cut Both Ways?

If a judge refused to sign a recall petition not because he or she wants to appear unbiased but because he or she supports Walker would he or she need to avoid ruling on any Walker recall related decisions? Apparently that would be the honorable thing to do. Else we run the risk of a biased pro-Walker judge muddying up the process.

And is signing a recall petition any different from casting a ballot for Walker? Should judges never vote at all?

Integrity?

I hate say but any survey that yields these results simply challenges it's own integrity. I'd like to see more transparency in MN, but you can't tell me New Jersey is better with a straight face.

Why NJ tops the list

States that have had dire problems with corruption tend to pass legislation to require greater accountability and transparency. States without much history of corruption tend not to have these protections in place. In other words, Minnesota is at present quite vulnerable.

29 Circuit Court Judges

That's a whopping 11% of the 249 circuit court judges in Wisconsin. It's important to put these OMG reports in perspective. As for as the racino bill, the one that was defeated is the weakest of many, and it was defeated, as usual, by the powerful tribal casino lobby that runs the Capitol and helps Minnesota get that #25 ranking for corruption.