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Public gets its shot at redistricting

AFTERNOON EDITION

You want a piece of the state’s redistricting action? You got it. At the PiPress, Bill Salisbury says: “[Y]ou may be pleased to read that average Joes and Janes will get their say on the lines for new legislative and congressional districts at a series of public hearings across the state, starting Tuesday, conducted by a court-appointed special redistricting panel. Some 129 people, including a few politicians and political activists, have signed up to testify at the eight hearings — one in each of the state’s congressional districts. It’s too late for anyone else to register to speak, although the hearings are open to the public. But citizens still may submit written statements and maps to the five-judge panel until Oct. 21. This is the first time in U.S. history that a court has allowed the public to submit their own maps for the judges’ consideration, Mike Dean, executive director of Common Cause Minnesota, said last week.”

Brian Murphy of the PiPress files a piece imagining Zygi Wilf throwing up his hands at Minnesota politics and selling the Vikings: “While momentum is growing for Los Angeles to build a downtown stadium, patience is waning for the Vikings’ owner to get his team a new playground in Arden Hills. Wilf’s Metrodome lease expires Feb. 1, and legislation for a new stadium remains stalled in St. Paul. If state lawmakers do not budge in the next few months, Wilf just might wash his hands of Minnesota politics, sell the franchise and try to buy another NFL team because moving to L.A. would be too costly in power and cash, according to two people close to the situation. That could turn Vikings ownership into a free-for-all. It is possible the next owner could try to move the Vikings to Los Angeles. That is, if that city actually has found a stadium solution that works after so many flops.” The thought of our sheer and utter nothingness in the aftermath of that scenario paralyzes me.

If a wrench exists that can be jammed into the works, politicians will find it. Elizabeth Stawicki’s MPR story on the tactical games being played over setting up the state’s insurance exchanges is not heartening: “The federal health care law is vague as to whether a governor may unilaterally create an exchange. So in Minnesota, leading lawmakers of both parties say that most likely means it’s up to the Republican-controlled Legislature to approve an exchange. But opposition to the federal health law, and the exchange idea, runs deep among many GOP lawmakers. ‘I think it’s unnecessary,’ said State Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, who is among the more vocal and powerful opponents of the law. Hann, who chairs the Senate Health and Human Services committee, maintains the law is unconstitutional and should be repealed. He’s no fan of the exchange idea either. ‘It’s a governmental or bureaucratic arm defining what quality means, what prices are, what are the terms of the transactions to be made,’ Hann said. ‘So it’s a huge interference into a marketplace that is unnecessary if you really want to get efficiencies.’ ” It would be so much more efficient if we just let out one no-bid contract to, say, UnitedHealth.

Today in Bachmannia:  Catharine Richert at MPR reports on Our Favorite Congresswoman’s money issues: “For Bachmann, the numbers need to look good on two fronts. First, she’ll need to post substantially larger figures than the $4.2 million she raised in the second quarter, half of which came from her congressional account. Exactly how much more is a matter of debate. But Republican strategist Scott Reed said she needs at least $6-to-$7 million to show ‘the finance world that she’s serious and she can carry on.’ Bachmann’s aware. In a last-minute fundraising appeal, she wrote, ‘Barack Obama’s campaign machine will use the numbers we report not only as a sign of our campaign’s strength … Your donation today will ensure our campaign is able to post strong numbers.’ If she has not made a lot of cash, Bachmann won’t seem like a good investment, Reed said. She will have difficulty attracting powerful ‘bundlers,’ fundraisers who can pool large donations from many individuals, and more high-rolling contributors willing to give the maximum of $2,500. But it’s also important to look past the top-line number to see how much extra cash she has, said Steven Grubbs, a Republican operative in Iowa, who predicts that Bachmann will need at least $500,000 to $1 million on hand.”

Another MPR story, this by Brett Neely, says Our Gal’s first major piece of legislation — the bill authorizing (taxpayer money) for a new bridge over the St. Croix — is making progress: “If the bill passes through the full committee, it will then head to the House floor for a vote. A companion bill in the Senate authored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar has not yet received committee approval. Bachmann’s bill is co-sponsored by fellow Minnesota Republican Rep. Chip Cravaack, as well as Reps. Sean Duffy (R-WI) and Ron Kind (D-WI). If passed, the bill would be most significant piece of legislation authored by Bachmann, who’s running for the GOP presidential nomination, to receive Congressional approval.”

And again … “Thank you for your service.” Paul Walsh of the Strib reports: “A southern Minnesota police officer was not given his full-time job back after serving in the military overseas and was fired for trying to reclaim that position, according to a lawsuit filed by the federal government on behalf of the Navy reservist. The lawsuit, filed Friday on behalf of Michael Schutz, alleges that the city of Truman violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act by making him a part-time officer upon his return from Kuwait and retaliating against him after he filed a federal claim to get his full-time position. The retaliation involved placing Schutz on administrative leave for about three weeks and his eventual firing. Along with his time in Kuwait, Schutz had earlier military stints in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Who doesn’t love these stories? Walsh again, at the Strib: “A persistent pursuer of pot unwittingly called an on-duty St. Cloud police officer in an attempt to seal a deal, leading to two suspects being arrested and the confiscation of thousands of dollars in counterfeit cash, authorities said Monday.”

The Strib’s Rohan Preston has only grand things to say about Lou Bellamy’s version of August Wilson’s “Two Trains Running”: “The drama is about the struggle for fairness and justice, and about the lives of the restaurant habitués — sage Holloway (avuncular Abdul Salaam El Razzac); Sterling (lyrical James T. Alfred), who has recently been sprung from prison and wants to wed waitress Risa (an inestimable Crystal Fox). Wilson wrote his dramas like jazz pieces, with characters supporting each other and taking turns to solo. The people in ‘Two Trains,’ and the actors who portray them, all have their moments in the spotlight. Waitress and cook Risa, who scarred her legs so as not to attract hurtful men, is underwritten. Yet Fox has made Risa the center of the production, partly by her allure and stylized, clanking walk. She also maintains her dignity on the receiving end of orders from an increasingly tense Memphis.”

The less said about the Vikings — on the field — the better. But next door, in Cheeseheadistan, the Green Bay team is doing quite well. To the point that quarterback Aaron Rodgers is starring with a nice little old lady in an series of ads. Amy Rabideau Silvers of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes:

“The first commercial was filmed on location at an Associated Bank in Milwaukee. Some of the best moments proved to be spontaneous, including as Edith moves to give Rodgers a little hug.
“Is that part of the deal?” Rodgers asks the bank employee in the scene.
“That actually wasn’t scripted,” said Riedel. “It ended up being a keeper.”
As newspaper ads explain, new Packers checking customers are entered into a special drawing every time they use the Packers Debit MasterCard. The prize is an hour with Aaron Rodgers. In keeping with that theme, another commercial and ad show Edith and Aaron under dryers in a beauty salon. She’s reading a Green Bay Packers magazine. He’s reading a woman’s magazine.”

Here’s a straight shot to the videos.

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Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Tim Walker on 10/03/2011 - 04:52 pm.

    “He’s reading a woman’s magazine.”

    Well, I think he ought to give that magazine back to that woman!

  2. Submitted by James Hamilton on 10/03/2011 - 05:19 pm.

    Re: Vikings – Who are you gonna’ sell ’em to, Zygi?

    Re: health insurance exchanges – Ya’ gotta’ hand it to legislators. When you tell them something under consideration won’t pass Constitutional muster if enacted, they’ll tell you that’s for the courts to decide. When they don’t like what’s already law, however, some don’t seem to quibble about passing Constitutional judgment on a law. Whatever the outcome before the U.S. Supreme Court (and I’ve read no one who’s betting that the entire act will be thrown out), “Obamacare” is in full effect in the 8th Circuit, so there’s no legal reason to delay in Minnesota.

    As for whether government should or shouldn’t be engaged in creating an exchange, I thought conservatives believe government action is appropriate only where the market hasn’t acted. There is no single market-based source for the information the exchanges are required to provide, as I understand it. Or should I count on Blue-Cross to tell me how its coverage compares to HealthPartners?

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