Tim Pawlenty knows that it can be hard to balance a budget. Well, not hard, exactly; he found a back door, in the form of unallotments, that allowed him to slash the budget without having to reach any sort of compromise with the Legislature. What’s hard is when people start suing, and they have. Tom Scheck from Minnesota Public radio sums it up as follows: Mid-Minnesota Legal Assistance is challenging two of Pawlenty’s cuts on the basis that the governor exceeded his constitutional authority. The two cuts that are being challenged: “funding for low-income Minnesotans who are on special diets and funding for a renter’s property tax refund.”
The Star-Tribune’s Rachel E. Stassen-Berger puts a human face on this, interviewing De’Anna Brayton. Brayton is one of six people on whose behalf the lawsuit has been filed, and stands to lose a $415 monthly food payment, starting Monday. “I really can’t tell you what I’m going to do, because I don’t know,” she says. Stassen-Berger notes that Brayton is disabled and “relies on social security and food aid.”
MinnPost’s Doug Grow provides a summary of the legal issues involved, and points out just how unprecedented Pawlenty’s use of unallotments was, including the fact that the governor’s bypassed “the traditional approach of moving to a special legislative session to resolve problems.” Grow gives more details about De’Anna Brayton as well, listing the specific ailments that cause her to be on disability: “autoimmune disorder, rheumatoid arthritis, degenerative disc disease, osteoporosis, underactive thyroid, irritable bowel syndrome, traumatic brain injury.” “I wonder if Gov. Pawlenty understands who the people are who rely on this,” Brayton asks.
In the meanwhile, as reported by the Associated Press, Pawlenty is headed to Mexico to meet with Mexican President Felipe Calderon on a trade mission.
It may be worth noting that naked sushi will be returning to the Twin Cities, as FOX9 reports. The last time the Twin Cities enjoyed naked sushi, at the now closed Temple restaurant, the owner told WCCO “it’s art,” and then charged $75 for the event; Andrew Zimmern was not convinced, and on his blog he said “naked sushi is a more desperate attempt at wooing customers than half-price wine nights could ever be.” The next restaurant to offer the service will be Giapponese Restaurant in Woodbury.
The race for governor has gone from overcrowded to, well, still overcrowded, but without Rep. Paul Kohls contributing to the crowd; according to Polinaut’s Tom Scheck, Kohls is the first Republican to drop out of the race, saying that “it has become clear to me that the activists are lining up in much greater numbers behind some of the other candidates in the race.”
Thursday was a grim day for Target. The retailer laid of 85 people from its marketing department, which the Associated Press tells us is about 8 percent of the department. A spokesperson for the company, speaking to the Downtown Journal, emphasized that these layoffs were not a result of the economy, saying “This was about marketing looking at its business and saying we need to evolve.” Twitter commenter geo_hutch puzzles over these claims, saying “Target spokesperson claiming layoffs have nothing to do w the economy or declining sales. Really? What else is there?“
A story from Woodbury, covered by the Associated Press, tells of a dog mauling and is most notable for its gruesome headline, which we must assume was the one the AP suggested, as it’s used by both WCCO and is the headling in MPR‘s RSS feed (their online headline is more subdued): “Minn. Man Loses Ear, Most Of Face In Dog Mauling.” The story is as ghastly as you might expect: A former Wisconsin police officer rescued a bulldog from a shelter, and, on Sunday, his housemate heard a “thumping in the basement.” Going downstairs, she found the man in a pool of blood, barely conscious, with his ear and most of the skin of his face gone. “The dog will be euthanized,” the story notes.
And in other depressing animal news, Shawn Hogendorf of Shakopee Valley News tells of the end of Waldo the wallaby, a pet who disappeared from his family home a month ago and popped up every now and then in the neighborhood, always eluding capture. Waldo was found dead on Wednesday. The family is grieving but sanguine, saying “At least we are able to have closure knowing where Waldo is.”
In sports: KARE11’s John Croman offers an understated and moving look at former Minnesota Viking Earsell Mackbee, whose condition has been steadily worsening since a 2005 stroke. Mackbee is a native of Vallejo, California, and Croman’s story tells of his family’s efforts to take him there for his final days, which culminated in an ambulance taking the carefully bundled Mackbee from HCMC to the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport; the story quotes his daughter, Marcee Harris. “We’re happy to be able to grant him his final wish,” she tells Croman, “But we’re also a little sad to know this may be the last time we see him.”