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Wisconsin judge halts Walker law

AFTERNOON EDITION ALSO: Porky’s drive-in closing Sunday; a “vampire” babysitter; stadium bill delayed — and issue debated; Walker eyeing tuition reciprocity; microwaving potholes; and more.
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This time she really means it. The Wisconsin Circuit Court judge, who didn’t much like what Gov. Scott walker and GOP legislators pulled late last week, made it crystal clear today that the highly controversial “budget repair” bill that brought thousands to Madison is temporarily dead in the water. Scott Bauer and Todd Richmond of the AP report: “Judge Maryann Sumi issued a declaration stating in no uncertain terms that the collective bargaining law that led to weeks of large protests at the state Capitol had not taken effect, contradicting Republican arguments that it had because a state office published it online. Hours later, Walker said his administration would comply, despite misgivings about the order. ‘In my mind it’s not a matter of if the law goes back (into effect), it’s just a matter of when,’ Walker said. Democrats and union leaders said Sumi’s declaration showed the arrogance that Walker and his allies, including top aide, Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch, have shown in trying to push through the polarizing law.”

Porky’s Drive-In in St. Paul is closing Sunday. Paul Walsh and Rochelle Olson say in the Strib: “While Porky’s, at 1890 University Av. in St. Paul, ‘has always been doing OK [and] was not losing money, it’s just a business decision,’ said Nora Truelson, who began at Porky’s as a carhop in 1957, then as the owner’s girlfriend and eventually his wife and business partner until Ray Truelson died in 1994. The Central Corridor light-rail line ‘is going to ruin the avenue, and I’m sure there isn’t going to be any parking,’ she said, adding that high taxes and disruption from the line’s construction were also factors. Patrons overran the restaurant as news of Porky’s imminent demise spread. While the sign out front under the pig reads, ‘Twin Cities best burger in 2 minutes,’ the wait was considerably longer Thursday.”

It’s tough if you have to deny you’re a vampire. The AP has a story about a Sheboygan (that’s in Wisconsin) guy in pretty much that predicament: “A Sheboygan man who pleaded no contest to charges that he bit a 3-year-old boy’s neck while ‘playing vampire’ has been sentenced to 30 days in jail. Mark R. Adams Jr. was convicted of felony child abuse. The Sheboygan Press says the 43-year-old was sentenced Tuesday. Adams was babysitting the boy in January. He told police that after he watched a vampire-themed show he bit the boy’s neck three times while ‘playing vampire.’ He also told investigators it was possible he said something about wanting to suck the boy’s blood.” Next time, Mom and Dad might want to check craigslist under “Wiccan.” They’re not into the bloodsucking thing.

Some times simultaneousness isn’t becoming. Such is the predicament of the state GOP legislators who, on the one hand, are dropping grim news about budget cuts for schools, seniors, parks, etc., every hour and want to create a little distance around their plan for a taxpayer-funded stadium for the rather well-to-do owner of the Minnesota Vikings. Mike Kaszuba of the Strib writes: “Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, the House State Government Finance Committee chair, said that although the proposal was ‘ready’ the legislation’s introduction was again being pushed back, this time until next week. The latest stadium developments came as evidence mounted that Republicans were holding back on releasing the plan this week while party leaders — who control both the House and Senate — aggressively push through far-reaching budget cuts that would heavily impact the elderly, the poor and state government services.”

Tara Bannow of the AP files a report from a debate Wednesday between various sides of the stadium controversy: “Jeff Anderson, the Vikings’ assistant director of public affairs, said the team provides revenue, jobs and public service during the debate at the University of Minnesota. The team wants taxpayers to help pay for a new stadium to replace the 29-year-old Metrodome, which Vikings executives say is not profitable enough compared to other NFL facilities. However, Art Rolnick, former Minneapolis Federal Reserve research director, rejected Anderson’s assertions that the Vikings create more jobs, participate in more civic engagement and generate more tax revenue. He said the team is no different in those respects than other successful Minnesota companies, such as General Mills, and should be treated as such. ‘If you can’t fund your business, if you can’t get your customers to pay the price for your services, you go out of business,’ Rolnick said.”

Sharon Rolenc writes for the Twin Cities Daily Planet that government spending isn’t exactly as “out of control” as some are saying: “For much of the 1990s, the average share of a household’s income for state and local government hovered around 17.6 percent, peaking at nearly 18 percent in 1993. Nan Madden, director of the Minnesota Budget Project, says today that number has dropped to 15.2 percent. ‘When we look at the data about the size of state and local government in Minnesota over time, we do see that government has been downsized from where it was for much of the ’90s.’ The economic downturn, not overspending, has led to the state’s budget deficit, Madden says, because less income- and sales-tax revenue is coming in to cover state operations, programs and services.”

Michele Bachmann gave an interview to one of her favorites, David Brody, of Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network: “For sure, Bachmann has had a few missteps along the way where she’s gotten some historical facts wrong. But her supporters say it’s a double standard since the media gives liberals like Obama a pass if he gets something wrong. Bachmann says it’s something conservative women like her and [Sarah] Palin have to deal with. ‘She has been unfairly criticized and I think we’ve seen that with other conservative women as well across the country whether they’re political commentators or whether they’re in public service,’ Bachmann said.” Public “service.” Really? Is that what you call it?

That tuition reciprocity business between Minnesota and Wisconsin? Well, Gov. Scott Walker has plans for that, too. The AP story says: “Currently, the state of Wisconsin makes up the difference between the higher University of Minnesota tuition for students from Wisconsin who go there. But Walker backs eliminating that subsidy, which means Wisconsin students would have to pay all of the higher Minnesota tuition. This year the difference between tuition and fees at the University of Wisconsin-Madison  and Minnesota is about $3,000.” Well, that’ll cut down weekend traffic on I-94.

And it works great for cleaning sponges! John Lundy of the Duluth News Tribune has a story about using microwaves to fix potholes. “Mix taconite waste, recycled asphalt and recycled shingles. Microwave on high. Tap down. Repeat. That’s an oversimplification of the process that brought a small group of people, most of them wearing fluorescent green vests, to Tukhanen Drive just off U.S. Highway 53 near Twig on Wednesday morning. The microwave oven in your kitchen runs at 2,450 megahertz; the shiny silver microwave transmitter heating a just-filled pothole on Tukhanen Drive runs at 950 megahertz, said Stephen Rogers of Applied Microwave Technology in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the company that created the technology. ‘So it’s a longer wave,’ Rogers said. ‘It gets deeper into whatever product you’re microwaving.’ Also, your microwave runs at about 1,000 watts; the pothole-filling version has a 75,000-watt transmitter, Rogers said. And it doesn’t have a popcorn setting.”