Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


‘Unresolved constitutional issues’ in fight over dirty farm?


With all the talk about the Constitution in the air, it’s interesting how it comes up in the saga of the Gibbon, Minn., farmer told by a court to destroy all the food on his property after E. coli sickened a dozen people. MPR’s Mark Steihl reports: “A judge ruled that embargoed food items on the Michael Hartmann farm must be destroyed. Hartmann sells unpasteurized milk, cheese, yogurt and other products produced on his farm near Gibbon, grossing about a quarter of a million dollars a year.” And: “The agriculture department told the judge state law gives them the authority to embargo any food produced in unsanitary conditions. They said the Hartmann farm was unsanitary, pointing out they found manure contamination near the milk tanks, chickens in the dairy barn, dead animals in and near the barn, and deposits of mouse droppings.” Which gets us to: “Hartmann attorney Zenas Baer said Hartmann will cooperate with the court order. He said the judge’s ruling leaves some constitutional issues unresolved. ‘The right of Mike Hartmann to sell and peddle the products of his farm,’ Baer said. ‘And the flip side, [the] right of a consumer to buy that product.’ ” Because we all have a constitutional right to eat E. coli-tainted food. It’s right in there … somewhere.

And you thought amnesia was just a Hollywood gimmick. Paul Walsh of the Strib follows up on the young Duluth man afflicted with bouts of amnesia turning up a long ways from home: “Scott Tridgell, 26, left a note at his family’s home Dec. 13, saying he was going to a job interview, but he has not been in contact with his family since. On the morning of Dec. 14, Tridgell was in Post, Texas, using an ATM, Duluth police spokesman Brad Wick said. The bank camera showed Tridgell and his vehicle. More recently, Wick said, similar bank activity by Tridgell was detected in the Los Angeles area. In this instance, however, there was no video evidence, Wick said. ‘We suspect that’s him in California,’ Wick said. ‘We don’t suspect foul play. … He’s done this before.’ “

Also, a follow-up to that story from three weeks back of the Apple Valley woman who set fire to her house, with her husband in it, and who tried to stab herself to death. Walsh again, with Joy Powell, write: “In a statement to police, Rhonda Arkley confessed to setting the fire, dousing her husband with gasoline, hitting him with the exercise weight and trying to kill herself, authorities said. She added, according to the complaint, that ‘she never intended to kill her husband but only wanted him to say her name and that he loved her.’ Rhonda Arkley, also treated for significant burns, is in a ‘secure hospital setting’ and upon release will be taken to the Dakota County jail, said County Attorney James Backstrom. ‘It’s a very sad and tragic situation, particularly around the holidays,’ Backstrom said. In mid-November, Rhonda Arkley’s 22-year-old son was found dead in his bedroom at the home, according to police. An autopsy determined that Collin Van Dyk died of a heroin overdose.”

Shades of Harriet Miers?  Gov. Pawlenty is emphatically denying cronyism in naming the  wife of his chief of staff  to the Hennepin County bench.  Tom Scheck at MPR writes: “On Tuesday, Pawlenty appointed Jamie Anderson to a judgeship in Hennepin County. Anderson is the wife of Paul Anderson, Pawlenty’s Deputy Chief of Staff. Pawlenty disregarded the judicial screening process when he picked Anderson. It’s a legal but unusual move, but Pawlenty said his appointment of Anderson should not be considered cronyism. ‘I think she has obvious strengths and I don’t think this is somebody that you look at and say she is unworthy of this position,’ Pawlenty said. ‘Plus, I know a lot more about her than I would after interviewing somebody else for fifteen or twenty minutes.’ ”

$7,500 is a nice round number, and it’ll get you into the big GOP fundraiser at Midland Hills Country Club the day before the 2011 session starts in St. Paul. Tom Scheck again blogs: “Donors are being asked to give up to $7,500 to attend the fundraiser. … State campaign finance laws forbid Senate and House caucus fundraisers from being held during the legislative session. The law also forbids lawmakers from accepting contributions from lobbyists during the session. It’s standard practice for all of the legislative caucuses to hold fundraisers on the eve of the legislative session. I suspect that there will be more lobbyists attending the Senate GOP event since they’ll take control of the Senate for the first time in thirty years.” Let me see what I’ve got here … OK, who’ll lend me $7,483.16? I’ll get you Tony Sutton’s autograph.

In a Strib commentary, DFL legislators Erin Murphy and Tom Huntley counter an earlier piece by Peter Nelson (from the Center of the American Experiment) and make the case for opting into Federal Medicaid, as Gov. Pawlenty resisted and Mark Dayton promises to do as soon as he’s sworn in. “We have learned from GAMC that severe cuts to the care of the chronically sick do not save money — they just shift costs. That’s why, given our present and future budget challenges, opting into Medicaid is the right move. The program will bring $1.2 billion in federal matching funds into Minnesota hospitals at no additional cost to the state. Those funds will go directly to Minnesota hospitals, clinics and providers that otherwise would give care without payment or turn sick Minnesotans away without treatment.” They add: “Nelson’s claim that the ‘opt-in’ clause is somehow unconstitutional is disingenuous at best. The Medicaid opt-in became law with open eyes by both the legislative and executive branches and is clearly constitutional.”

OK, he’s a drama queen, and that sexting-while-Croc’d thing is pretty weird, but look at the video in this AP story of gnarly old Brett Favre visiting a sick Wisconsin kid. “Favre wore a towel during the game with a backwards No. 4 on it in honor of a 5-year-old Milwaukee boy with a terminal brain tumor. Favre and his wife, Deanna, flew to visit him on Friday. Favre says the boy, whose first name is Anderson, writes his fours backward because of the tumor at the base of his brain. Deanna sent the towel down to Favre before the game, and he wore it during the 40-14 loss to the Bears.” Isn’t the news here that Deanna is speaking to Brett?

More. More snow: 5 to 8 inches. This weekend.
So says Dave Dahl at KSTP. “A strong winter storm is expected to hit the Twin Cities metro Friday evening … Much of the state will be under a Winter Storm Warning beginning at noon Friday. Meteorologist Dave Dahl says the heaviest snow will fall on a line along Interstate 94 from Alexandria to the Twin Cities.”

Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Dimitri Drekonja on 12/23/2010 - 09:00 am.

    ‘Plus, I know a lot more about her than I would after interviewing somebody else for fifteen or twenty minutes.’

    You can tell he’s reaching the end of his term, he’s not even putting in the effort to make a semi-defensible excuse.

  2. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 12/23/2010 - 09:47 am.

    If there’s anything that should have become obvious by now as we reach the end of King Timmy’s reign it’s that Little Timmy takes care of his friends (and doesn’t give a tinker’s da__) about anyone or anything else.

  3. Submitted by Hudson Leighton on 12/23/2010 - 09:55 am.

    Remember that Saint Arne H. Carlson appointed several judges in the last days of his term.

    Including, I think his Chief of Staff.

  4. Submitted by Roy Johansen on 12/23/2010 - 11:29 am.

    Another reason he bypassed the screening is that according to The Minnesota Independent, is that she was a lawyer for The Minnesota Family Council ( It seems he wanted to stack the deck one last time in his war on gay marriage.

Leave a Reply