Over in Cheese-i-stan, Judge Maryann Sumi, best known for bringing Gov. Scott walker’s anti-collective bargaining to a standstill until legal issues are sorted out, disnmissed one of three suits today. The AP story says: “Sumi on Thursday dismissed the lawsuit filed by Democratic Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk saying she does not have standing to bring the action. The judge says state law forbids an agency or arm of government like a county to challenge the constitutionality of state laws. Another lawsuit brought by the Dane County district attorney remains. In that case, Sumi blocked enactment of the law earlier this month while she considers whether state open meetings law was violated in the process of passing the bill. A third lawsuit challenging the law pushed by Gov. Scott Walker has been brought by firefighters and other public workers.”
Nevertheless, Judge Sumi is taking ferocious/hilarious heat from supporters of Gov. Walker. Bill Lueders of Madison’s The Isthmus reports: “Conservatives from all over, taking their cue from the harsh rhetoric of Wisconsin legislative leaders like Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, have unleashed a torrent of abuse on Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi, who has confounded Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-union agenda. ‘You should be impeached,’ declares a letter addressed ‘Dear Comrade’ from Richard McKee of Phoenix, Ariz. ‘Your alliance with large labor thugs and bullies is treasonous. Your salary should be confiscated, your pension cancelled, and you should be jailed as an enemy of democracy.’ [D]isrespect toward Sumi is echoed in the correspondence she’s received. About 80% is critical; most contacts with a discernible address are from out of state, in one case from someone who can’t even spell Wisconsin. Some examples (spelling and punctuation preserved):
• ‘Comrade Vladimir Lenin … and Stalin and others like them are obviously your inspirations … The only comfort we patriots get from this is the fact that … these sub-human animals [and their close supporters] were all rewarded with a cruel and savage death.’ Email from Jean-Claude Guenette, Albuquerque, N.M.
• ‘Here’s a restraining order for you: Stop interpreting the law! Stop overreaching your authority!’ From an anonymous letter with a Milwaukee postmark that includes a graphic of Judge Sumi’s face affixed to a horse’s behind.”
Many Republicans are trying to decide whom to be most upset with now that the cuts in last Friday’s epic budget compromise are much smaller than originally thought. Tim Pawlenty is laying it on President Obama for his Wednesday speech. Via TIME’s “The Page” blog: “Breaking with House GOP leaders, [the] Minnesotan says [the] plan ‘should be rejected’ for lack of serious cuts. ‘Today’s speech was nothing more than window dressing. President Obama’s lack of seriousness on deficit reduction is crystal clear when you look at the budget deal he insisted on to avoid a government shutdown. The more we learn about the budget deal the worse it looks. When you consider that the federal deficit in February alone was over $222 billion, to have actual cuts less than the $38 billion originally advertised is just not serious. The fact that billions of dollars advertised as cuts were not scheduled to be spent in any case makes this budget wholly unacceptable.” Maybe someone should have, you know, “looked a little closer” when the deal was going down?
Just as every candidate needs his or her own set of facts, each needs a pollster. So today, T-Paw hired one. Chris Cillizza at The Washington Post’s “The Fix” writes: “Tim Pawlenty has signed Jon Lerner as the pollster for his soon-to-be-announced presidential campaign, the latest in a string of high-profile hires for the former Minnesota governor. ‘I took a lot of time to look at the candidates and the records of the candidates in the field,’ said Lerner in an interview with The Fix. ‘The more I looked at it, the more I was impressed with what Tim Pawlenty was able to do in Minnesota.’ Lerner is one of the lowest-profile consultants in Washington but has a long list of wins under his belt. In the 2010 cycle, he helped elect Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), as well as Govs. Nikki Haley (R-S.C.) and Sean Parnell (R-Alaska). Lerner has also long been involved with the Club for Growth’s political activities.”
Likewise, every paper and pundit gets to have his or her “power rankings” of candidates. This one, from the Boston Phoenix’ David S. Bernstein has to have our guy feeling good: “1) Tim Pawlenty, former Governor of Minnesota. Making the kinds of hires that suggest he’s secured the kind of fundraising to run a full-fledged campaign. A first big test will probably come in the early June debate, where we’ll begin to see how he holds up to attacks. His M.O. so far has been accept-and-shrug-off, as when he says that he was wrong to have once championed cap-and-trade. Don’t know how that will play.
2) Haley Barbour, Governor of Mississippi. One of the big inside-baseball newsmakers was Barbour’s hiring of Sally Bradshaw, to run Florida for him. Bradshaw, considered a Jeb Bush loyalist, led Romney’s Florida effort in ’08 — so naturally, people like me wonder if Jeb (and more broadly, the Bushes) are now anti-Romney the way they were anti-McCain last go-around. Romney people say not to read too much into the Bradshaw move, but it’s hard not to.
3) Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts. He’s made it official, so for the next few months he’ll be changing a lot between the casual plaid shirts and jeans/chinos he wears to campaign, and the tailored suits he wears to fundraise.
16) Michele Bachmann, US Representative from Minnesota. Just in case anyone might try to take her seriously, she proclaimed — twice, publicly — New Hampshire to be the home of the Revolutionary Battle of Concord. This is like showing up for your date and calling her by the wrong name. And telling her you like redheads, when she’s a blonde. And talking about the sex you had with her that you really had with somebody else. No, actually, it’s still worse than all of that.”
The great city of Montevideo was apparently the worst hit by flooding of the Minnesota River. Tom Cherveny of the West Central Tribune reports: “Preliminary, admittedly rough assessments indicate that Chippewa, Lac qui Parle and Yellow Medicine counties will qualify for emergency disaster aid, if the president declares the state a disaster area. A presidential declaration would mean that the Federal Emergency Management Agency would cover 75 percent of the reported damages. Montevideo has been the hardest hit by the flood of 2011. City Manager Steve Jones said the community experienced an estimated $200,000 to $250,000 in flood damages to report to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.”
Not bad. Better than a shovel to the head. Brian Johnson of Finance and Commerce reports the state added 1,200 construction jobs in March: “Minnesota employers added 2,800 jobs in March, including 1,200 construction jobs, according to numbers released Thursday by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. With the small-but-encouraging gains, Minnesota’s unemployment rate dropped 0.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted 6.6 percent, which compares favorably to the national rate of 8.8 percent, DEED noted. Steve Hine, DEED’s Labor Market Information Office research director, described the gains as ‘slow but steady.’ The good news is the state gained 7,300 jobs in the first three months of 2011, averaging about 2,400 a month. But at that rate of growth, it would take roughly four and a half years to gain back the 158,000 jobs lost since February 2008.”
Classy. The AP reports: “A criminal complaint filed in Douglas County charges Penny Jo Haupt of Park Rapids with two felonies. She’s accused of stealing more than $1,000 from a bank account set up for contributions to the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Haupt headed a Motorcycling for Mobility ride in August 2009 and told supporters she was suffering from MS. The complaint says that when Haupt asked another woman, Kelly Harris, to take over as treasurer for another ride in August 2010, Harris became suspicious, went to the bank and discovered checks from the account had been written for personal expenses.”
Home sellers may finally be adjusting to “the new normal,” thinks the Strib’s Jim Buchta. “[A]s of April 1, the rate of price reductions dropped to 28 percent, a sign … that Minneapolis sellers realize that they need to list their homes at more realistic prices initially to keep them from lingering on the market, avoid receiving low-ball offers and maximize their chances of getting their homes sold at all.
• The median sales price for all home sales in Minneapolis from Jan. 11 to Mar. 11 was $134,250, a 12-percent decline compared with the previous quarter.
• Sales prices have fallen 38 percent over the last 5 years.
• Popular neighborhoods (based on how many people are searching for information for those neighborhoods on Trulia.com) in Minneapolis include Linden Hills, Lowry Hill, Lynnhurst, Fulton, Warehouse District, and Willard-Hay.”