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Wisconsin governor could cost high-speed rail ’10-15 years’

MORNING EDITION ALSO: More troubles for Chipotle; Minnesota’s hot industries; more beer, more jobs; Dayton’s radio show; HuffPo and Bill Clinton focus on Bachmann; and more.
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Wisconsin’s new Tea Party-cozy Gov. Scott Walker’s wrench in the works of that high-speed train link between Chicago and Minneapolis could set the plan back “10 to 15 years” or so, says the chairman of a Minnesota pro-train group. The Strib’s Pat Doyle (now on the transportation beat) writes: “The dashed prospects for high speed come as President Obama vowed in last month’s State of the Union address to make it available to 80 percent of Americans by 2035. Obama dedicated $8 billion in stimulus money for high speed — defined as 110 miles per hour or faster. But Walker’s decision to reject $810 million of it to build a link between Milwaukee and Madison resulted in those funds being re-routed to other projects. Walker said the line would have cost Wisconsin millions to operate … While the Twin Cities-to-Chicago project has stalled, other regions are moving ahead. Illinois is using $1.1 billion in federal money to begin building high-speed from Chicago to St. Louis. California voters approved nearly $10 billion in bonds to help finance a San Diego-to-Sacramento line.” Thanks a lot, pal.

Walker is, however, pro-Super Bowl champions. He’s declared the rest of February “Green Bay Packers Month.” ABC Ch. 2 WBAY runs his official proclamation:

“I, Scott Walker, Governor of the State of Wisconsin,

do hereby proclaim February 2011 as


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throughout the State of Wisconsin. I congratulate their unprecedented success, and I enthusiastically commence this observance to all citizens.”

 Yeah, that’s a tough one, encouraging otherwise sober Wisconsinites to party down over a football team.

The Wall Street Journal’s Miriam Jordan files a story on the troubles Chipotle restaurants — who fired hundreds here a few weeks ago are having with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement folks. But they are getting a lot of attention. “It’s unclear why Minnesota was the initial target of the probe. In the last few weeks, the company was notified by ICE that 60 restaurants in Virginia and Washington, D.C., would also be subjected to inspection, according to the spokesman, Chris Arnold. … The company … is one of the most prominent to be targeted for worksite enforcement by the Obama Administration, which has made employers the center of its immigration policy by setting up raids of company documents. In the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, ICE conducted audits of more than 2,740 companies, nearly twice as many as the previous year. The agency levied a record $7 million in civil fines on businesses that employed illegal workers. It’s unclear how many workers have been let go as a result of the investigations. Enforcement activity during the Bush administration focused on high-profile raids of companies in which thousands of illegal immigrants were arrested and placed in deportation proceedings. Relatively few companies and their executives were prosecuted.”

The classic advice to Benjamin Braddock in “The Graduate” was to consider “plastics.” Today, in Minnesota, you might want to think about agricultural biotechnology or pharmaceuticals. The Strib’s Wendy Lee reports on a new report and writes: “[T]he state saw employment in pharmaceuticals increase 76 percent over a five-year period to 3,398 jobs in 2007, the report said. The growth was bigger than in any of ten competing states in the report. Employment in the medical device industry in Minnesota increased by 4,500 jobs during 2002 to 2007. That compared with a loss of 11,000 medical device jobs nationwide during that same time period, the report said.”

Surly beer very tasty, I have on good authority is planning a serious expansion with an on-site beer garden that would make it the biggest brewery in the state. Chris Riemenschneider reports for the Strib: “Last year alone saw a 32 percent increase in sales, to 12,000 barrels (about 3 million pints), Surly says. The new facility would have an annual capacity of as much as 100,000 barrels, a little more than either Summit and Schell Brewing. With that kind of growth, [owner Omar] Ansari is confident that raising the $20 million won’t be a problem. The legislative issue is the linchpin. Only small-scale Minnesota breweries are allowed to sell beer for on-site consumption. Ansari has hired the lobbying firm Cook Girard Associates to work on his behalf in what could be a tough fight.” Oh, come on! It’s a “jobs bill.”

You’ve seen “The King’s Speech,” right? Well, no less than five Twin Cities radio stations/media outlets are bidding for Mark Dayton’s radio show. The AP story says: “The bidders are the website, JR Broadcasting, KFAI, the Minnesota News Network and WCCO Radio. BringMeTheNews provides content to stations including Cities 97. JR Broadcasting owns AM 950.”

Victoria M. DeFranco writes on The Huffington Post that Michele Bachmann has several qualities that set her above Sarah Palin: “Bachmann may not be as slick as Palin, but it is a grave mistake to dismiss Bachmann as a “poor man’s Sarah Palin,’ as stated by Meghan McCain in a post SOTU interview. Bachmann’s Facebook page may not have all the bells and whistles and her speaking style may need an overhaul, but that can be easily taken care of by a PR firm. The style will come, what is important is that Bachman has the substance and a base. Just in numerical terms, Bachmann has a strong base of support to stand on. If we look at home base support alone, Bachmann wins. Her Minnesota district at 750,00 residents handily beats out Palin’s 700,000 residents. Add to that the institutional base that Bachman has she is not only a U.S. congresswoman but the founder of the Congressional Tea Party Caucus.

Bill Clinton in Davos, Switzerland, with all the super swells even took a shot at Bachmann. City Pages’ Hart Van Denburg writes: “Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Clinton said that Republicans in Congress are trying lay the groundwork for the 2012 elections by asserting that ‘they know America is a truly exceptional country and all these wussy Democrats don’t.’ Then he singled out the sixth district congresswoman for scorn. ‘Michele Bachmann said in her Tea Party response to President Obama, ‘Everybody knows we have the greatest health care system in the world’, Clinton said. ‘That is factually untrue. That’s not true.’ ‘You can get the best health care in the world in America if you are Bill Clinton, or David Gergen or Turki Faisal, but that’s not the same thing as having the best system that works for everybody,’ he told the audience.”

Andy Post at Minnesota Democrats Exposed thinks he’s got a big one on the line. The story begins with DFl Sen. Ellen Anderson complaining she was “dumped” from the Minnesota Legislative-Citizens Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR). But the spirals … He writes: “Could this be a result of MDE’s investigation into the grossly unethical practices going on within this commission and across the broader legislature?” (Short answer: Maybe. Or, you know, like, maybe not.) Soon though, we’re referred back to an expose by … Andy Post … this past December: “In December, 2009 DFLers Rep. Kate Knuth (New Brighton) and Rep. Jeremy Kalin (North Branch) took to the skies for Copenhagen. Their destination? The United Nations Climate Change Conference of 2009 known as ‘COP15.’ Funding for Kalin’s portion of the trip is unclear, but multiple sources confirm Knuth’s portion of travel and/or additional compensation was paid by the Will Steger Foundation — a progressive group that funds education programs pushing a global warming agenda.”