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In the quiet Capitol, Vike stadium talks continuing

MORNING EDITION ALSO: Bundler “Bobby Thompson” fined; Democrats chided for false Pawlenty claim; a legislative wish list; spectacular spellers; and more.
Read Wed. Afternoon Edition


It’s good to know somethings are shutdown resistant. Like a Vikings stadium. MPR’s Tim Nelson reports talks are still going on between the team and key legislators: “Republican state Rep. Morrie Lanning of Moorhead and Republican Sen. Julie Rosen of Fairmont met behind closed doors with Vikings officials, lobbyists for the team and officials from Ramsey County on Wednesday. The Vikings have signed a tentative deal for a new stadium in Arden Hills. Vikings vice president Lester Bagley said they’re trying to get the numbers to add up. ‘We’re still working,’ Bagley said. ‘And, you know, we’re going through the legislation and we’re just trying to make sure that the state’s interests are protected, and the state’s interests are represented.” That’s reassuring.

The funky/smelly case of campaign finance “bundler” Bobby Thompson has taken another turn. Tom Scheck of MPR writes: “The Minnesota Campaign Finance Board is fining ‘Bobby Thompson’ $18,000 for making campaign contributions to Republican Marty Seifert’s campaign for governor, the House Republican Campaign Committee and Patriot PAC. The board investigated the donations after Stillwater blogger Karl Bremer filed a complaint with the board that ‘Thompson’ bundled contributions through a group known as the U.S. Navy Veterans Association Minnesota Chapter. Apparently that group solicited funds to help Navy Veterans and then either kept those funds or distributed money to politicians across the country (Read the St. Petersburg Times investigation here.) The person claiming to be Thompson allegedly stole his identity from an individual in Washington.”

In his blog, “Ripple in Stillwater,” Bremer tells readers he has won a Page One Award from the Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists for his investigation of Thompson. He adds: “The exclusive multi-part ‘Minnesota and the Man Known as “Bobby Thompson” ‘ series began on and continued on Ripple In Stillwater. It detailed the Minnesota operations and Republican political connections of an allegedly fraudulent charitable organization called the U.S. Navy Veterans Association. The group was led by a man known as ‘Bobby Thompson’ who, the Ohio attorney general’s office has charged, stole that identity. It raised more than $1.5 million in Minnesota over a six-year period but did little apparent charitable work. … “Thompson” gave tens of thousands of dollars to Minnesota Republican candidates and party units, including $21,500 to former Sen. Norm Coleman. Two of his last known political contributions anywhere were $10,000 to a Michele Bachmann fundraiser featuring Sarah Palin and $5,000 to a GOP-leaning Minnesota political action committee called Patriot PAC, both in April 2010. … Minnesota media, with the exception of former St. Paul Pioneer Press reporter Jason Hoppin, largely ignored the ‘Bobby Thompson’ story while it became nationwide news everywhere else.”

MPR’s PoliGraph blog is not pleased with the Democrats this week. Catharine Richert writes: “Less than a day after Republican Tim Pawlenty announced he’s running for president, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) posted an ad that implies the former governor has no idea why he wants to be in the White House. Toward the end of the ad, the question, ‘Why are you running?’ flashes across the screen. Pawlenty’s answer: ‘I don’t know,’ and ‘I wish I had a better answer for you.’ The ad takes Pawlenty’s words out of context. … here’s the rub: the author of that article asked Pawlenty when he started considering a run for president, not why. … The DNC twists Pawlenty’s words, implying he doesn’t know why he wants to run for president. Pawlenty said he didn’t know when he started thinking of himself as presidential material. The claim is misleading to the point of being false.” Naughty, naughty … and stupid, too.

The St. Cloud Times ran a “wish list” for what remains of the legislative session. (It was picked up by the Strib.) Under the heading of “Wait until next year,” the paper says: “• Redistricting — History and partisanship make this bound for the courts early next year so don’t waste time on it this summer.
Bonding bill — Dayton needs to pass on his idea of $1 billion package in an off-bonding year.
Amendments — Enough time has been spent on legislation seeking constitutional amendments.
Sunday liquor sales — Maybe its time will come in 2012, but not now.
Veto overrides — From abortion and cloning bans to the so-called cheeseburger bill, Dayton issued many vetoes of policy measures. There are few, if any, indications the Legislature can override them, so let them stand.”

The Fergus Falls Journal’s view of the state’s budget standoff is this: “Republicans have used statistics that say they are simply reducing the growth of state spending, and that a tax increase will be a “job killer.” But not everyone, particularly the governor, agrees with that assessment. If wealthy residents, knowing the financial condition Minnesota is in, decide to leave the state or cut jobs because of a tax increase on their personal incomes, then they are simply doing it out of spite, and not economic realities.”

Julie Buntjer of The Worthington Daily Globe has a story about a guy with a magic touch for rare trees. “[Walter] Willey has become rather protective of his horse-chestnut trees. As seedlings, the trees are surrounded by deer-proof wire or mesh fencing to protect the delicate buds, and as they get older, he keeps plastic tile around the trunks to protect the bark from being damaged by mice. Today, Willey has eight common horse-chestnut trees growing in his yard, and he hopes to collect more nuts this fall to plant the seeds. As word has spread about the tree, however, he’s already fielding requests for seed. The common horse-chestnut, according to Willey’s well-used copy of ‘Field Guide and Natural History to Trees of North America,’ is widely used as an ornamental and shade tree. Extracts from the leaves, fruits and seeds have been used as medicines and as poisons, he read. While the common horse-chestnut can grow to a height of 80 feet, the mother tree on the Willey homestead was only about one-fourth that size.”

The indefatigable Mitch Berg, of “Shot in the Dark” notoriety, was blogging his brains into a thin puree Wednesday. Eventually he got around to some deep thinking on the gay marriage issue: “[T]he big question is, is there a ‘civil right’  to marry at all, much less someone of the same gender? On the one hand, someone — the tribe, the church/Islam/your tribe’s witch doctor/government/whatever people believe in — has always said who could marry, and how; outside of whatever the institution was, people pretty much just shacked up otherwise. Like they do now. On the other hand, rights are not granted by the state; they are endowed to us by our creator, whatever you believe our Creator is. And if you are a Tenther, you know that rights not specifically granted to the Federal government are supposed to be reserved to the states and The People. Individual states have always taken on the whole notion of ‘who can marry whom.’ ”

Make that waaay above average. Minnesota has two kids in the semi-finals of the national spelling bee. The AP story says: “Fourteen-year-old Anja Beth Swoap from Edina and 13-year-old Connor Gunsbury from Nisswa are among 41 youngsters advancing to Thursday morning’s semifinals. Swoap spelled ‘calvities’ and ‘mesmerize’ correctly during Wednesday’s oral rounds. Gunsbury correctly spelled ‘ineradicable’ and ‘sclerosis.’ Swoap participated in the 2009 and 2010 spelling bees. She tied for 20th place last year. Three other Minnesota students were competing but did not advance to the semis: 14-year-old Alyssa Everson from Duluth, 12-year-old Antony Joseph from Fairmont and 14-year-old Radhika Lakshmi Edpuganti from La Crescent.” And here I struggle with “furriners,” “soshalists” and “big gummint.”