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By a hair, Minnesota hangs on to eight congressional seats

AFTERNOON EDITION ALSO: Net neutrality riles blogger, a truer “True Grit,” politicians warm to stadium pitch.
Read Tuesday Morning Edition


In the end, we triumphed over North Carolina. Minnesota will keep its eight congressional seats by virtue of census figures announced today. Sharon Schmickle and Doug Grow, here at MinnPost, report and assess. “Overall,” says Schmickle, “the census reveals the continuation of a trend that has gone on for decades, Robert Groves, the director of the U.S. Census Bureau said at a press conference connected via webinar and telephone with reporters nationwide. The South and the West grew at the expense of the Northeast and the Midwest. Among Midwestern states, Minnesota’s growth was second only — by a hair —to South Dakota, which grew by 7.9 percent.”

Grow duly notes declarations of intent of fairness from both Democrats and Republicans. He then says, “Based on Minnesota history, here is how the process likely will work: There will be quiet, but vicious battles, even within the majority caucus, over how lines on a new map are drawn. ‘Even people from safe seats have their eyes on adding just a few more precincts that would make their seats even safer,’ said Rep. Ryan Winkler, a DFLer from Golden Valley. Winkler predicts that what has happened in the past will almost surely happen again this session. The majority party, in this case the Republicans, will pass a redistricting plan that DFL Gov. Mark Dayton will instantly veto. And ultimately, the matter will go to the courts to redraw the boundaries for the state’s congressional and legislative districts. In other words, the Legislature will waste a whole bunch of time debating something that won’t matter.”

At the Strib, Jeremy Herb writes: “With a divided government, it will be difficult to come up with a plan that both Dayton and the legislature approve — even as both sides pledge cooperation now. ‘We are committed to developing a fair redistricting plan, which recognizes recent demographic changes that have occurred in Minnesota and gives minorities the best opportunity for representation,’ said Michael Brodkorb, the Republican Party’s redistricting lead. The demographic changes he’s alluding to? Population growth in Republican-leaning exurbs and population losses in Democratic-leaning urban areas and the Iron Range.”

Mark Zedechlik and Tim Nelson write for MPR, saying: “State demographer Tom Gillaspy said months of outreach work ahead of the Census was a key factor. ‘Yes, it’s the population, but it’s also how well do you get these people counted,’ Gillaspy said. ‘Minnesota has a lot of pride and we like to be right up there at the top in being the best counted and the most accurate. But it took a lot of work.’ He said several of Minnesota’s Congressional districts had among the nation’s best response rates — including the 6th, where Rep. Michele Bachmann expressed some reservations about the count. He said the Twin Cities also had among the best responses of any U.S. metro area.”

Mike Dean of Common Cause Minnesota  looks at the looming miasma of redistricting catfights and legal battles and says: ” ‘Minnesota’s redistricting process is clearly broken and it’s time for legislators to support sensible reform. An independent redistricting commission will help reduce partisan influence over the redistricting process, making it more fair and democratic. For the last 40 years, the Minnesota legislature and governor have been unable to develop legislative and congressional maps that can withstand judicial scrutiny. The Mondale/Carlson Commission proposal would create an independent redistricting commission, comprised of retired judges, to develop the congressional and legislative maps. The current redistricting process is one of the only aspects of our political process that is truly done behind closed doors, entirely out of the public eye with no transparency or accountability. For that reason, it is especially susceptible to backdoor deal-making, abuse and corruption.” But as pure spectator sport, that of course is the fun of it.

For the most part, local conservative bloggers haven’t yet focused their thinking on the census and redistricting. But I stumbled on this over at Fraters Libertas. You have to love this part in particular, on the FCC’s likely ruling on “net neutrality,” which is supposed to, you know, keep the tubes clean and free flowing for … bloggers like “Chad” at Fraters Libertas. After the obligatory lauding of the Bill of Rights, in all its inalienability, he writes, “[I]t’s always discouraging to see their original meaning and intent bastardized and usually turned completely on head. The latest example comes from last week’s announcement that the Federal government was pushing a Web Privacy Bill of Rights: [He then quotes from a Wall Street Journal editorial]. In a reversal of the federal government’s hands-off approach to Internet privacy regulation over the past decade, the Obama administration said Americans should have a ‘privacy bill of rights’ to help regulate the commercial collection of consumer data online. The administration also proposed the creation of a Privacy Policy Office that would coordinate online privacy issues in the U.S. and abroad. Great. Just what we need. Another government bureaucracy to help protect our rights. Not from the government mind you. No, this ‘bill of rights’ is designed to protect us from those evil commercial enterprises who seek to learn more about us in order to sell goods and services to us (gasp!). Thus it joins the depressingly long list of other government interventions mislabeled as “bills of rights” including:
Patients’ bill of rights: (Now actually probably necessary with ObamaCare).
Fliers’ bill of rights.
Investors’ bill of rights.
Those are just a few off the top of my head. None of them have anything to do limiting government power or protecting individual liberty. Rather they are premised on the notion that you the citizen are too stupid and ignorant to manage on your own and that the government must intervene — ostensibly on your behalf — to protect you.” Sometimes you don’t know where to begin.

The new Coen brothers movie, “True Grit,” is getting very good reviews.
MPR’s Euen Kerr interviews actor Barry Pepper, who has a supporting role in the bears-almost-no-resemblance remake to the old John Wayne flick: “Pepper, who plays one of the outlaws in True Grit, said he understands why the Coen brothers wanted to tell [the story of a teenage girl]. ‘I think that is what is so unique about the Coens,’ Pepper said. ‘They are the kind of filmmakers interested in telling a western entirely from the voice of a 14-year-old girl which totally spins this genre on its head.’ Pepper said another Coen touch is the way they stuck faithfully to the language of novelist Charles Portis. ‘And it really does have this old English-hillbilly-Shakespeare quality to it, in that it’s very musical and rhythmical,’ Pepper said. ‘It’s a very, very authentic sound that the characters have’.”

Over at the Strib, Colin Covert writes: “Rooster Cogburn is a red-nosed souse, a bushwhacker, a liar, a failed businessman, an unloved husband and father, and a cheat willing to take money from a girl under false pretenses. And this peevish old coot is the hero of Joel and Ethan Coen’s rousing adventure ‘True Grit.’ It’s a tonal mash-up no one but the Coens could deliver, the finest, most intelligent Western since ‘Unforgiven’, with the funniest public hanging since ‘Blazing Saddles.’ “

If Zygi Wilf can get a public handout for a new super-stadium amid all of the state’s budget problems, it may be a sign of either The Second Coming or the fall of civilization as we know it. (Wait, they’re supposed to be simultaneous, aren’t they?) Jason Hoppin at the PiPress had this story up: “After meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and team owner Zygi Wilf before Monday’s game with the Chicago Bears, Dayton also said new Republican leadership in the Legislature must get serious about a stadium bill or the state risks losing its team. ‘I think the writing’s on the wall,’ he said. ‘We need to get this done in this session or have a team that isn’t any longer legally obligated to continue to play in Minnesota. And we need to face that reality.’ ” And that, folks, is the Democrat talking.

MinnPost’s Jay Weiner follows today, saying: “As the calendar turns to January, the expectation is that the Legislature, now controlled by the Republicans, will have to generate a stadium bill, not the new governor. Dayton said as much Monday after meeting with [NFL Commissioner Roger] Goodell and Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf. Funny how that works. The pro football stadium dilemma — virtually ignored by Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty over the past eight years — is now fully in the lap of the GOP Legislature. And it was Dayton, not Goodell, who ratcheted up the potential pace, telling reporters, according to the Star Tribune, ‘I really believe 2011 is the final opportunity for all of us to put forward a proposal … I think the writing’s on the wall. We need to get it done in this session.’ The governor-elect told reporters a few others things, some curious: ‘User fees’ could be in the mix. That would be, among other things, ticket taxes and taxes on sports memorabilia and, maybe, hotel-motel, car rental ‘voluntary’ taxes. These are revenue streams oft-mentioned in past Minnesota stadium plans. But, when sharp pencil is put to paper, these slices never seem to add up to a full finance plan. Other forms of publicly generated dollars enter the package.” Someone needs to ask Dayton exactly why he thinks 2011 is our “final opportunity”? That Los Angeles getaway is really that hot a prospect?