Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


GOP moves to another court to prevent shutdown funding

MORNING EDITION ALSO: Blogger Gilmore’s confrontation; joint media project on poverty; former nightclub owner’s new problems; triple murder convictions; lots of health issues; and more.
Read Tuesday Afternoon Edition


The GOP really does not like the courts blunting any effects of the looming shutdown. Mike Kaszuba of the Strib writes: “One day after making their case to the Minnesota Supreme Court, the four Republicans on Tuesday also asked a Ramsey County court to adopt their approach in heading off a possible state government shutdown.
The senators, led by Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, and Sen. Sean Nienow, R-Cambridge, asked the state Supreme Court Monday to confine what would be funded during a government shutdown to what is required by the Minnesota constitution, federal mandates or state law. In their latest filing, the senators asked Ramsey County — which will hear legal arguments Thursday regarding a possible shutdown — to do much the same. The senators said that Gov. Mark Dayton and state Attorney General Lori Swanson, in trying to define what state core functions should be funded during a shutdown, were overstepping their authority and attempting to unilaterally create a state budget. ‘Our purpose as interveners is to oppose the petitions of the governor and attorney general, which usurp the authority of the Legislature,’ said Nienow. ‘This is nothing more than a power grab.’ ”

I have linked several times to conservative blogger John Hugh Gilmore, an attorney in St. Paul. Gilmore, who has a gift for phrasing, is something of an iconoclast outside the otherwise lockstepping Tea Party crowd. But he appears to have other issues. Matt McKinney of the Strib wrote Tuesday: “Gilmore spent a night in jail last week after a sidewalk confrontation on Nicollet Mall with two women wearing traditional Muslim dress. According to police reports, Gilmore, 52, called out the name of a well-known critic of Islam, author Ayaan Hirsi Ali, to the women as they crossed paths on the sidewalk near the Dakota Jazz Bar and Restaurant Thursday night. … Gilmore asked the women why they had come to the United States and why they were trying to change the nation. Gilmore continued taking pictures of people on the sidewalk and speaking for at least 20 minutes, said Elisabeth Geschiere, one of the friends. Gilmore also called two blonde people standing on the sidewalk ‘dirty Swedes,’ told Muslims to go back to where they came from and said that Muslims should be documented in America, according to Matthew Glazer, one of the progressive bloggers. He called police, who arrested Gilmore in a nearby bar.” Asserting poor hygiene in a Swede? What was the man thinking?

On MPR’s “Minnesota Today” blog, Michael Olson posts on a joint project with MPR, the Bemidiji Pioneer and Lakeland Public TV looking into worsening poverty in northern Minnesota: “New census data shows some of the state’s poorest counties are in northwestern Minnesota, where living wage jobs are limited and geography isolates rural residents. Beltrami County is one region with concentrated poverty where officials are examining the future challenges. About one in five people in Beltrami live in poverty — nearly a quarter of all children.

We just keep giving out food, but our numbers continue to grow,’ said Randy McKain, Food Shelf director. ‘There are more people in need.’ This year, the Food Shelf extended allotments of boxes of short-term emergency supplies from five times a year to monthly distribution. (Bemidji Pioneer).

“The poverty rate in Beltrami County is nearly 21 percent and need is increasing, but resources are shrinking. Since the recession, the number of people getting some type of public assistance has climbed to approximately 6,000, up from around 5,000.” Perhaps those people should look into the “alternatives to participate in the free market economy” that GOP chair Tony Sutton was writing about Tuesday.

Sometimes when you’re already in so deep, you must just say, “Oh, what the hell.” John Brewer’s PiPress story about the White Bear Lake bar owner suggests something like that: “Former nightclub owner Michael W. Ogren, facing millions of dollars in civil suits and a criminal fraud case in Anoka County, is now accused of buying booze for his White Bear Lake sports bar from a Wisconsin liquor store, skirting Minnesota liquor laws. Ogren, 43, of Roseville, is accused of buying more than 100 kegs, 1,000 bottles of beer and almost 100 bottles of liquor from Casanova’s Liquor Store in Hudson between October and December 2010 and resold it at the Stadium in White Bear Lake. The move was illegal, prosecutors said, because the Stadium, an alcoholic beverage retail licensee, was barred from purchasing alcohol from another retailer for the purpose of resale. Ogren’s bar at the time was on the state Department of Revenue Tax Delinquent liquor posting list, which meant that wholesalers were barred from selling to him. … Ogren is scheduled to head to court in Anoka County Aug. 15 on charges of theft by swindle and fraud, stemming from the financial downfall of the Myth nightclub. The Maplewood music venue was taken over by one of Ogren’s lenders in August 2009. It was eventually shut down but has since reopened under a new owner. In the Anoka County case, Ogren is charged with allegedly taking a $600,000 loan from Patriot Bank in Lino Lakes on Dec. 31, 2008, and using stock in the Myth as security on the loan — even though he had already promised the stock to another lender.” Pal, cut your losses.

We hope the jury got the right guys. Dave Hanners of the PiPress covers the convictions of two guys in a notorious 2007 triple murder: “Tyvarus Lindsey, 29, and co-defendant Rashad Raleigh, 33, were convicted of the 2007 slayings in the 200 block of Burgess Avenue. The two were convicted of murder charges in the March 23, 2007, slayings of homeowner Maria McLay, 32, her fiance, Otahl “Telly” Saunders, 31, and McLay’s 15-year-old daughter, Brittany Kekedakis. … The government believes Albert “Bozo” Hill and Phillip “Filthy Phil” Howell were also involved in the killings. Hill was shot and killed in a bar fight eight months after the Burgess Avenue slayings, and prosecutors said they’ve been unable to find Howell. Both men were shackled at trial — with at least four deputy U.S. marshals in the courtroom — because both are serving sentences in state prison for other, unrelated murders. Raleigh is doing life without parole for the murder of Ramsey County probation officer Howard Porter, a killing that occurred two months after the Burgess Avenue slayings. … Although the revolver supposedly used in the crime and Saunders’ watch were recovered, no physical evidence links Lindsey or Raleigh to the crime. Rather, much of the evidence Wilton and colleague Jeffrey Paulsen introduced came from the testimony of convicts and ex-convicts who said Lindsey or Raleigh confessed to them.”

If it all comes down to a battle of the best legal talent money can buy, I’ll take UnitedHealth over the Pentagon. Jim Spencer of the Strib writes: “UnitedHealth Group filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Defense Tuesday, seeking the restoration of a $20 billion contract to oversee health care for more than 3 million military members, retirees and families within the government’s Tricare network. Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth won the contract to serve Tricare’s south region in 2009, only to have the deal taken away in 2011, following a protest by Humana, the health insurance company that previously held the contract. UnitedHealth then filed its own protest, which failed last week when the Government Accountability Office refused to side with UnitedHealth in the dispute.”

Jill Burcum of the Strib opinion page drops in an item noting the American Medical Association’s support for the individual mandate in “Obamacare.” Says Burcum: “The nation’s most influential doctors’ organization voted 326-165 to continue backing the individual mandate, which is at the heart of the constitutional challenges to the new federal health care law. The AMA had supported the mandate during the law’s 2010 passage. But the AMA had been pressured by some state medical groups and specialty societies to abandon its support for this measure. Just a guess: many members of these anti-mandate groups will be on the losing end when the new law starts to reward providers for quality of care vs. quantity of care. The AMA delegates’ vote is a triumph of pragmatism over ideology. The mandate is not the attack on personal liberty that health reform opponents disingenously claim. Instead, it’s about personal responsibility.Those who choose not to buy insurance should not be allowed to stick everybody else with the bill.

The (first) murder trial of St. Louis Park teenager Michael Swanson may be a short one. Abby Simons of the Strib reports on the first day of actual testimony: “Danny Cegla had just gotten off the bus in St. Louis Park last fall when Mike Swanson pulled up in his mom’s Jeep. Cegla, knowing Swanson was unpredictable and dangerous even in ordinary situations, immediately feared something was wrong. The two talked and smoked cigarettes. Swanson showed him the gun he stole from his grandfather’s cabin and told them it was likely the last time they’d see each other. He had violated probation and wasn’t going back to jail. Instead, he was heading for Amsterdam or Mexico. Cegla urged his friend to check in at a hospital to get some help. Swanson refused and said goodbye with an ominous prediction. ‘You’ll see me on the news,’ Swanson told him. It was the last time Cegla would see his friend before taking the stand Tuesday at Swanson’s first-degree murder trial for the slaying of Sheila Myers, 62, a Humboldt, Iowa, convenience store clerk.”

Thank God it’s finally safe to stop in Wisconsin. Gov. Scott Walker’s latest jobs creation bill — conceal-and-carry firearms — will receive his signature very soon. Mary Spicuzza of the Wisconsin State Journal writes: “Wisconsin would become the 49th state to legalize the carrying of concealed guns. The legislation would require those who want to carry concealed firearms to obtain permits. It would allow people to carry concealed weapons in the state Capitol and other public buildings but not places like police stations and courthouses. Weapons also would be prohibited in buildings where posted notices bar them, and in places like Summerfest music festival at Milwaukee’s lakefront. Backers say it will help people protect themselves; detractors worry that it could escalate tense situations in public. Last week, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi also unveiled a proposal late last week that would prohibit people from carrying concealed guns on county property, such as Henry Vilas Zoo, Dane County Regional Airport, and the City-County Building. Also, Mayor Paul Soglin said he plans to enact an ordinance that would require written permission for gun owners to carry a weapon on private property in Madison.”