We’ll start today with some very bad news: Leah Beno of FOX9 reports that officials of the Anoka-Hennepin School District have confirmed another student committed suicide Sunday, the sixth in less than a year. According to FOX, “District officials point out the most recent student to take his own life was not gay and was not being bullied,” which is, of course, the sort of thing you say when there have been bullied gay students who have taken their own life, which has been reported on fairly extensively over the past few weeks. “It’s a tough, tough situation,” says one representative from the district. “We are in the business of caring about kids so it really is difficult to deal with.”
One expects there are similar feelings at the University of Minnesota, which is likewise charged with taking care of the young, and where there has been a string of sexual assaults recently at fraternity houses. Specifically, there have been three such assaults in a three-week period, and, as Esme Murphy of WCCO points out, “The incidents are not related but there is a connection — all three cases involve parties with heavy drinking, including by all three women that were assaulted.” All three victims were drinking, and were underage, which has led to a self-imposed ban on serving alcohol at parties (James Walsh of the Star Tribune details that decision).
It can be a bit tricky discussing alcohol in relation to these stories, as there is a risk of making it sound as though the assault victims were somehow partially culpable, but Murphy’s story details why the discussion of alcohol is important with a quote from Pamela Zeller of the Sexual Violence Center: “We know that predators of this type actually target people who they think are vulnerable to both sexual assault and who are going to be seen as not credible as witnesses if they choose to report to law enforcement.” One of the assaults happened at the Delta Kappa Epsilon frat house, which already has a troubled history at the U: According to Jenna Ross of the Strib, police have been called to the frat 57 times since 2000. According to Hart Van Denburg of City Pages, both the University’s Interfraternity Council and the national chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon decided to suspend the chapter.
Here’s a puzzling story from the U of M: According to FOX9, a student at the Crookston campus hanged a “statue depicting a person of color” in the student center building. Although this might be interpreted as an expression of racial animosity, apparently it was just an incredibly misguided prank.
On to politics: Bachmann has agreed to a debate — three, actually. Usually there is nothing newsworthy about a politician saying yes to a series of debates prior to an election. That is, after all, what they typically do. So it’s telling that the mere act of saying yes to a series of debates netted Bachmann stories from the Associated Press, City Pages, Minnesota Public Radio and two (one; two) from the Pioneer Press. In the second PiPress story, Jason Hoppin compares it to the gubernatorial debate, saying that Bachmann’s reticence to debate stands “in sharp contrast” with the ongoing series of debates among candidates for governor, which could, in the end, total more than 30. Challenger Tarryl Clark has been pressing Bachmann on the issue (her campaign manager called the lack of debates “an insult to the voters of the 6th District”). According to Bachmann’s campaign, the announcement of the forthcoming debates is not a response to Clark, because they have been planning for this for weeks. It is interesting that it takes Bachmann the same amount of time to plan three debates as it takes the gubernatorial candidates to plan 60.
Speaking of the gubernatorial race, there have been some recent developments. Acording to the Associated Press, Vice President Joe Biden is stumping today for Mark Dayton, which has local Republicans doing a little victory dance — GOP Chairman Tony Sutton describes it as “putting arms around the guys who are in charge of Washington. It’s not smart politics.” Of course, they didn’t complain when Sarah Palin supported Tom Emmer for governor, despite the fact that Palin actually quit as governor of Alaska, so “smart politics” might be in the eye of the beholder.
WCCO’s Pat Kessler tackles MN Forward’s ad that attacks Dayton’s plan to raise taxes to the state’s top earners. As Kessler notes, the ad features crying babies and a voiceover saying, “Are you still sad? Scared? You should be.” Kessler doesn’t fact-check whether Dayton’s plan will make babies cry — after all, what doesn’t make babies cry? Vacuum cleaners make babies cry. He does, however, look at the ad’s charge that tax hike will cost $2,300 per Minnesota family. “DISTORTION,” says Kessler. Also, according to the ad, Dayton will raise taxes by $5 billion. “That’s deceptive and it’s FALSE,” Kessler says. Well, the ad must have gotten something right. They charge that some of Dayton’s money is in South Dakota, where they is no income tax. “That’s MISLEADING,” Kessler says. There was a trust set up in South Dakota, yes. In 1934.
In the meanwhile, GOP candidate Tom Emmer and IP candidate Tom Horner have something of a side-tiff going on. Tom Emmer is going after Tom Horner for having had government contracts with his public affairs firm, Himle Horner. Tom Scheck of Minnesota Public Radio reprints Emmer’s comments: “No wonder Tom Horner wants to raise billions in new taxes and grow government at a double-digit percentage increase. Horner has milked government for millions of dollars in lucrative contracts.” By that logic, Emmer should be wanting to raise taxes, too. After all, he’s been a professional politician since 2004, milking government for — well, we really don’t know how much he has made as a state representative. At least a few hundred.
In arts: It’s anniversary time! Peter S. Scholtes, writing for the Star Tribune, looks back on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” which turned 40 this year. “She embodies, for one thing, the idea of making Minneapolis better by moving here,” Scholtes says. And the AP reports that “Peanuts” is turning 60. This author, writing from his Elliot Park apartment, would like to take a moment to point out that even though Charles Schulz is associated with St. Paul, where he spent his childhood and which is now festooned with sculptures of his characters, the cartoonist was actually born in Elliot Park and is a native Minneapolitan. Also, two of the three Andrews Sisters were born in Elliot Park. This author knows this because he has an excess of civic pride for Elliot Park.
In sports: There is a group of extreme kite fliers in Elliot Park. It’s just that awesome.