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GOP calls Gov. Dayton’s move to the courts ‘unforgivable’

AFTERNOON EDITION ALSO: Shutdown plan reactions; northern suburbs’ advocate says it’s their turn; homeless numbers grow; good year for strawberries; and more.
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AFTERNOON EDITION

Gov. Dayton’s move toward the courts to at least keep a large chunk of government running during a shutdown is covered far and wide. Bill Salisbury and Dennis Lien at the PiPress write: “Gov. Mark Dayton today asked the Ramsey County District Court to keep nearly one-third of state employees on the job to perform “critical services” if state government shuts down July 1, and he also requested the court to appoint a mediator to try to broker a budget deal between him and the Republican-controlled Legislature. Under Dayton’s petition, most large state departments would remain open, although many would have only skeleton staffs. But he recommended closing 46 smaller state agencies and boards.”

For the AP, Patrick Condon says: “Dayton said he submitted the petition ‘with a heavy heart,’ as what would be the most significant government shutdown in the state’s history looms in two weeks and a day. The Democratic governor and Republican legislative leaders have been unable to agree on how to solve a $5 billion budget deficit, and Dayton’s petition asked the court to order mediation that could avert the shutdown. House Majority Leader Matt Dean criticized Dayton’s petition as a ‘political document,’ and he and fellow Republican leaders said a shutdown could still be avoided if Dayton would put more energy into budget talks and less into planning for a shutdown. But on Dayton’s key demand — that Republicans agree to about $1.8 billion in new revenue from a tax increase or some other source — GOP leaders didn’t budge.”

Briana Bierschbach at Politics in Minnesota writes: “Republican leaders who control the Legislature say Gov. Mark Dayton’s actions to prepare for a government shutdown are ‘unnecessary’ and ‘unforgivable.’ Just hours after Dayton filed his petition in Ramsey County District Court to define essential services, GOP leaders held a Capitol news conference on Wednesday. They said the governor was opting to cut off funding for things like  schools, transportation and health care providers instead of working out a budget deal with the Legislature. They urged him to call them back for a special session to resolve the budget deficit before the July 1 shutdown deadline. ‘We hope the governor spends more time with legislators and less time with lawyers,’ Deputy Senate Majority Leader Geoff Michel said, adding that the governor is ‘sprinting to the courts’ instead.”

The GOP leaders complaining about the governor playing politics is, of course, richly ironic. Tim Pugmire files House Majority Leader Matt Dean’s quote: “”He’s proposing not paying schools. Health care, he’s proposing not paying providers. Transportation. He’s proposing that we don’t pay for projects. In 2005, Gov. Pawlenty said these were essential services and we need to keep paying these folks. Obviously this is politics. It’s unforgivable and we need to prevent it.” The link includes video of the performance.

Dan Heinzman, writing in the abc papers (north metro chain), says it’s the northern tier’s “turn” for a big public development. Like a Vikings stadium. “Throughout the development of the seven-county metropolitan area, the northern suburbs of Ramsey, Anoka and Washington counties have been denied major facilities.The southern half of the area has got the development plums: airport and Mall of America in Bloomington and Canterbury Downs and Valleyfair in Scott County. Years ago, metropolitan leaders turned back having a new airport in Ham Lake, preferring to expand it where it is in southern Hennepin County. Sports stadiums and fields are all located in Minneapolis and St. Paul: Xcel Center for the National Hockey League in St. Paul, the Metrodome and Target Field in Minneapolis and the TCF football stadium at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. … The Arden Hills site offers plenty of space for a stadium, practice fields and for bringing back the popular tailgate parties. As for developing the region, Arden Hills, Ramsey and Anoka counties will profit from an upgraded highway system.” The “it’s my turn” argument is kind of the Mitt Romney approach, isn’t it?

Meanwhile … Minnesota’s homeless population last year increased 2 percent over 2009. The St. Cloud Times story says: “The homeless population in Minnesota was about 7,900 people in 2010, about a 2 percent rise over the previous year. Wisconsin’s homeless population was about 6,300 people, a drop of about 3 percent. From 2007 to 2010, the homeless population rose about 7 percent in Minnesota and 12 percent in Wisconsin. The data comes from the 2010 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Nationally, the number of homeless increased about 1 percent from the previous year, a figure HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan called ‘a real achievement,’ given the economic climate.” A few more “achievements” like that and there’ll be a run on tents.

But really, how bad can things be if the strawberries are looking good? The AP reports: “Cool, wet weather this spring has delayed the growing season across Minnesota. Growers expect the strawberry harvest will start about three weeks later this year. But experts say the strawberry crop is looking good. Thaddeus McCamant of Northland Community and Technical College in Thief River Falls consults berry growers statewide. McCamant says it’s unlikely that many berry farms will open for picking much before June 20. In central Minnesota, grower Julie Townsend of Dassel Hillside Farm says last year’s strawberry harvest began around June 10. But this year she expects berries to ripen toward the end of June and continue into the first two weeks of July.”

Some things are so very close to unintentional parody … The PiPress editorializes about Michele Bachmann’s entrance into the presidential race: “Her knowledge, qualifications and record will all be fodder in the months ahead. So will her solutions, and her plans for working with those Americans she disagrees with. But the nation needs to hear a range of views. Bachmann widens that range.” After all, her end of the spectrum has been so cruelly muzzled.

And then there’s stuff like this, from the Superior Telegram: “Matthew Douglas Bonney, 28, faces misdemeanor counts of invasion of privacy and criminal trespass stemming from the June 5 incident. According to the criminal complaint: Officer Erick Flood responded to a Hill Avenue apartment at 9:10 a.m. June 5 for a report of a man in a woman’s bathroom while she was taking a shower. The woman told him she had come home from running and was taking a shower. She heard someone in her bathroom, pulled the shower curtain back and saw a man standing in the bathroom looking at her. She chased the man, who lives in the same apartment building, out of her apartment, locked the door and called 911. Bonney walked up to Flood’s squad car when he arrived at the apartments and said: ‘I suppose you are here for me.’ He later told Officer Brad Esler that he woke up that morning, checked his mail and decided to do some laundry. Bonney said he ‘had his dumbest idea ever … and checked his neighbor’s door.’ It was unlocked, so he went inside to get some quarters, not planning to ask for them. He told Esler he heard the shower running ‘so he decided to sneak a peek at the neighbor.’ She was scared and startled, so Bonney left.”

Denny Hecker and “absurd” in the same sentence! MaryJo Webster of the PiPress writes: “Hecker tried again this morning to get a pot of cash. And once again, he failed. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Kressel called Hecker’s attempt to derail a $4 million settlement between Hecker’s bankruptcy estate, GELCO Corporation and two of Hecker’s creditors one of the most absurd things he’s seen in his 20 years on the bench. Hecker, 58, had objected to the settlement, claiming that 75 percent of the money was rightfully his — and exempt from bankruptcy — because it represented his earnings from providing consulting services to GELCO after selling part of his leasing business to the Eden Prairie-based company in 2005. Hecker’s lawyer barely had a chance to make his case in this morning’s hearing in Minneapolis before Kressel bellowed, ‘What do you want? Is Mr. Hecker looking for money?’ ” Uh, is that a trick question, Your Honor?