Lawsuit puts human face on Pawlenty’s unallotments

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 saidnaked 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.”

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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 10/30/2009 - 01:37 pm.

    Does Pawlenty not understand the problems he causes for people with his cuts OR DOES HE JUST NOT CARE? He obviously has joined Grover Norquist’s (founder of the anti-tax crusade, Americans for Tax Reform) second group, which is called Leave Us Alone.

    In Leave Us Alone, people are divided into those whose hard-earned money is taken by the thievery called taxation and those, the Takings Coalition, which he says “consists of the Trial Lawyers, the corrupt Big City Machines, the Labor Bosses and the two wings of the Dependency Movement — those who remain trapped in dependency and those who make $80,000 a year managing the dependency of others and making sure they don’t get jobs and become Republicans.”

    Says Norquist, “My ideal citizen is the self-employed, homeschooling, IRA-owning guy with a concealed-carry permit. Because that person doesn’t need the goddamn government for anything.”

    Before voting for any right-wing candidate for governor next year, folks might ask if they have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.

  2. Submitted by Virginia Martin on 10/30/2009 - 03:12 pm.

    It’s about time Pawlenty experienced some consequences for his one-man “unalottments.” I don’t know if Pawlenty has a legal leg to stand on, but he sure doesn’t have a moral one. He leaves some people without any resources whatsoever. I’ll contribute some $$ to the lawsuit.

  3. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 10/31/2009 - 09:47 am.

    Governor Pawlenty and those who are like him have a reversible condition which renders them incapable of identifying with the troubles and struggles of others, except in the rare instances in which those others are people they know well and respect.

    Even where that is the case, their concern for those folks with whom they’re close are usually not generalized to the population as a whole, but only limited to their immediate circle of family/friends.

    Now, as the holiday season approaches, we so often think that if we could just offer these people the Ghosts of Christmas, they’d reform. The sad fact is that it’s unlikely a night of past, present, and future, would have punctured Scrooge’s dysfunctions.

    Rather, he would have done what our Governor does when he sees others who are struggling, he would have been completely unable to identify with them and blamed them for their plight (even where his own budget cuts have caused it).

    If Governor Pawlenty (or Grover Norquist, for that matter) were Scrooge, he’d likely come to these self-justifying conclusions:

    If Belle chose not to remain involved with an up-and-coming young financier, that was her loss, not his. If she had stayed with him, she’d now be fabulously wealthy (and what else could a person desire?).

    If Bob Cratchit really wanted a better life, he should show some initiative and find a better job. It’s his own fault if he continues to work for me and accept the pittance I pay him.

    As to mourners, it’s easy enough to set up a trust to pay people to attend my funeral, to visit my grave and to keep it well-tended.

    Perceived problems solved. No personal change required or desired.

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