One of the greater ironies of the nasty fight over that 5-cent-a-gallon increase in the gas tax — the one that six Republican legislators opposed and for which they incurred the wrath of party operatives — is that the state actually needs a $2-a-gallon tax to repair and improve all the projects identified for work. Now though, the Met Council has effectively conceded defeat, according to MPR’s Dan Olson. “The Metropolitan Council approved a plan Wednesday to cut back on transportation projects in the Twin Cities metro area over the next two decades. Lack of money is the main reason for the change. Met Council officials say the wish list of projects that would add lanes and new interchanges to relieve congestion total $40 billion over the next 20 years.” Olson also says: “Among the projects that are no longer part of the transportation plan is a longstanding goal to add a third lane of traffic to the Twin Cities’ beltway system, Interstates 694 and 494. Another project that’s been dropped from the plan is the widening of State Highway 5 through the southwestern Twin Cities.”
The influence of Minnesota’s congressional delegation has taken a hit lately. First, 8th District voters reject all that pesky big-government spending and vote out Jim Oberstar, and now Michele Bachmann has given up her dream of becoming the Republican House Conference chair, MinnPost’s Derek Wallbank reports. Politico’s story says: “In a statement sent to a handful of reporters Wednesday evening, the tea party favorite said that Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling has her ‘enthusiastic support for his candidacy’ for the top messaging post in the GOP. ‘Jeb has demonstrated his commitment to limited government, reduced spending and lower taxes and he will be a strong voice for the Tea Party’s call for these values,’ according to Bachmann’s statement, sent by spokesman Sergio Gor.” Her statement added: “The new Congress will have great opportunities to lead our country into the direction our founders intended. I spoke with Mr. Boehner and other members of leadership and I am convinced they will wholeheartedly work towards the issues the American people are calling for such as fiscal responsibility, ending the bailouts and repealing Obamacare.”
Nothing says fair and balanced like assigning an attack-dog partisan ex-blogger to oversee redistricting. The always-entertaining state Republican chair, Tony Sutton, has appointed Michael Brodkorb, creator of Minnesota Democrats Exposed, to lead the effort to re-draw legislative and congressional district lines. Naturally, the lefties are outraged. Writes The Big E at the Mn Progressive Project: “The man standing in the breach against Brodkorb gerrymandering even safer districts for Michele Bachmann, Erik Paulsen and John Kline is Mark Dayton. Only Dayton can prevent Brodkorb from giving Chip Cravaack a fighting chance of keeping his seat in 2012. One thing is for sure, the 2011 legislative session is going to be exciting.” Oh, it already is.
Long forgotten in the kerfuffle over Brett Favre’s texting-while-Croc’d episode are the numerous other pro athletes who have engaged in much the same, albeit with classier footwear. But who knew the Twin Cities had a direct connection to the Cleveland Indians’ Grady Sizemore-skin-pix? Joy Powell of the Strib reports: “An Apple Valley woman was charged on Tuesday with breaking into a model’s e-mail account and stealing racy photos of Cleveland Indians baseball player Grady Sizemore, which were widely posted on the Internet last year. Sizemore had sent the photos, which he took with his cell phone, to his girlfriend, Brittany Binger, who was Playboy’s playmate of the month in June 2007.” Powell goes on to say: “Binger contacted the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which used a series of search warrants ofYahoo.com and Frontier Communications records and postings to trace the hacker’s Internet protocol address. It was held by [the 19 year-old woman’s] parents, who live in Apple Valley. Their home was searched in April.” The one where he was holding a coffee mug in front of his Louisville Slugger was all the rage on the Internet.
Fox9 and Tom Lyden throw a ton of time and legwork into a remarkably thorough story on the episode, including a visit to the young lady’s former sorority sisters in St. Cloud. If the motivation is what baffles you, Lyden interviews one friend who says Ms. Ayers, who apparently didn’t know either the Playmate or the player, was just a fan of Sizemore’s. More relevant, as Lyden points out, the punishment, a couple of misdemeanors, doesn’t fit the crime, with its very expensive year-long investigation.
It’s kind of inside baseball, but KARE’s Trisha Volpe tells the story of “an all-out revolt” by employees of the state’s current chief appellate defender: “David Merchant is … head of one of the state’s top legal offices, handling appeals for indigent defendants. Appellate public defenders argue cases in front of the Court of Appeals and Minnesota Supreme Court. The public defense board first appointed Merchant earlier this year to fill out the previous chief’s term. On Wednesday, board members reappointed him amid an all out revolt by many of Merchant’s own employees. The attorneys argued Merchant has no experience in Minnesota criminal law. While his application does show extensive legal experience, he was previously an employment lawyer.”
KSTP’s Chris Keating files a piece on improvements the Twins will be making to Target Field, including a 100-foot-tall clock tower. Fans he interviews seem to prefer choke-proof pitching.
This is good. Two candidates for Minnesota governor are suing the local press for $24 million. The charge? They weren’t taken seriously enough. And no, their names are not Mark Dayton and Tom Emmer. The Business Journal’s Jim Hammerand, writing in its “Law Blog”, says: “Ole Savior and Peter Idusogie are suing Minnesota broadcast and print media organizations for at least $24 million and asking for another chance at the Aug. 10 primary, alleging that they would have had a shot at the governor’s mansion if only they were treated as serious candidates. Savior ran as a Republican with lieutenant governor hopeful and Elvis impersonator Todd Anderson. Idusogie and running mate Lady Jayne Fontaine sought the DFL nomination. Both teams finished staggeringly far behind Republican Tom Emmer and DFLer Mark Dayton, who are now awaiting the results of a mandatory statewide recount. Savior and Idusogie blamed the press for not covering their campaigns.” See now, if Savior had run with one of the guys from Insane Clown Posse, he might gotten some ink.
With all the fraud and sleazeball characters floating around the Petters empire, you knew somebody had to be on drugs, so why not the chief legal counsel? Two years after the raid on Petters’ world headquarters, 37-year-old David Baer has been charged with three felony drugs charges. Rochelle Olson and David Phelps report for the Strib: “The complaint says FBI agents searched Baer’s office when they raided Petters’ headquarters at 4400 Baker Road on Sept. 24, 2008. The agents found a safe under Baer’s desk with his passport and the drugs, according to the complaint. The FBI found cocaine in several containers, including a bottle with Baer’s name, the complaint said. An analysis by the Minneapolis city chemist determined that there was 7.4 grams of cocaine in the safe. The complaint said agents also found pills with a variety of imprints that appeared to be ecstasy, including 10 with a bird imprint that tested positive as the drug, sometimes called MDMA, or just X, for methylenedioxymethamphetamine.” What do you bet the guy has a glaucoma defense?
As Minnesotans, we of course have a hard-wired radar for apocalyptic weather … like 10 inches of snow Friday night. The kids over at Paul Douglas’s WeatherNation are showing some restraint, explaining that it could be mostly rain here in the Cities. Either way, that pleasant run of northern California temperatures is outta here.
Snarky blogs regularly rip The New York Times for what they call “bogus trend stories,” pieces usually based on the activities of a handful of hipsters who one writer and one editor decided sounded “hot” and the thin edge of some social wedge. The Strib may have such a beast this morning, but you can bet every radio talk show will jump on it. Stribber Amelia Rayno declares women are the new pick-up artists: “Not long ago, the idea that women might be the ones to make the moves would have been considered improper. But researchers are noticing a new trend: spurred by a mobilizing blend of confidence and frustration, many women — particularly the 20- and 30-somethings — are simply deciding they’re not going to wait for a guy to make the first move.” This does NOT mean you should expect good-looking women to ignore the fact you’re wearing Crocs to Chino Latino.