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State, Met Council want ‘billions’ from 3M for clean-up

MORNING EDITION ALSO: Twins’ turnover at the top; KSTP hit with state’s biggest defamation judgment; state harvest far above average; airport slots suggested again; and more.
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“Billions of dollars.” That is the stated cost of a clean-up the state, the Met Council and the city of Lake Elmo want 3M to do on its east metro property. Josephine Marcotty of the Strib reports: “Council officials said it will cost $1 billion or more to remove the toxin from water that goes through one of its treatment plants and back into river. That would result in a 40 percent rate increase for customers in the 105 communities it serves, the council said. Although the problem now affects only the Metropolitan Wastewater Treatment Plant in St. Paul, the state’s largest, ‘it impacts all users of the system,’ said Bill Moore, general manager for the council’s environmental services division. Eventually, two more treatment plants that dump water into the Mississippi will also be required to remove the toxin, one in a family known as PFCs, which could add billions more in cleanup costs, he said. A 3M official said the decision was surprising.”

It appears that the Twins ownership finally came to see a near-term future as grim as most of the team’s fans do. At the PiPress, John Shipley writes: “[Former General Manager Terry] Ryan takes over on what is officially an interim basis for Bill Smith, who was relieved of his GM duties but offered another position inside the organization. Team owner Jim Pohlad and President Dave St. Peter said the switch back to Ryan — who ran the baseball operations from 1994-2007 — was over philosophical differences. Neither would get into specifics, nor would Smith. ‘There is no smoking gun,, Pohlad said. ‘It’s simply as we said, there was a difference of philosophy. We weren’t on the same page about what needed to be done to get better this year and in the future.’ “

At, Anthony Castrovince writes: “The Twins didn’t win much at all this season, and now Smith is biting the bullet for 99 losses’ worth of Minnesota misery. That Ryan, one of the sharpest baseball minds on the planet, was still on-hand and available to them in the ‘interim’ — and we’ll see just how interim that really is — no doubt influenced the decision. But the exact timing of the decision, coming as it did when the winter business has already kicked off, was obviously odd. Hey, puzzling as the timing might be, it’s clearly the right move for an organization that got off-track in Smith’s tenure. Minnesota made two postseason appearances in his four years at the helm, but the club regressed so thoroughly and cataclysmically in 2011 that a change in philosophy was in order. And if the Twins, despite giving Smith a vote of confidence just a month ago, didn’t feel he was the man to meet those morphing philosophical demands, they were right to act aggressively, no matter the exact juncture.”

Ouch! A jury has nailed KSTP-TV with a $1 million judgment. Heron Marquez Estrada of the Strib writes: “A Dakota County jury has awarded a holistic healer from Hudson, Wis., $1 million in compensatory damages from KSTP-TV for a March 2009 story it aired about her treatment of a patient, attorneys for both sides said Monday night. The jury’s award is believed to be the largest verdict ever in a Minnesota defamation lawsuit. … The gist of KSTP’s story was that Susan Anderson, then known as Susan Wahl, was a doctor of naturopathy who had ‘de-prescribed’ anti-anxiety medication to Cheryl Blaha. Cheryl Blaha then claimed to KSTP in interviews that she had tried to commit suicide as a result of being weaned from the medicine by Anderson. … In her suit, Anderson claimed medical records indicated Blaha’s own medical doctor had reduced the medication and there was no proof of the alleged suicide attempt, said Patrick Tierney, Anderson’s lawyer. ‘That was certainly the heart of it,’ Tierney said Monday night. ‘KSTP bought [Blaha’s story] hook, line and sinker, and that’s what this case was about.’ “
And that’s pretty much a wrap, folks. The AP is reporting on the last of the 2011 harvest: “In its final weekly crop-weather report for Minnesota this season, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says corn was 98 percent harvested as of Sunday. That compares with 93 percent at this time last year and a five-year average of 73 percent. Sunflowers are 99 percent harvested, compared with 97 percent last year and a 75 percent average. Minnesota’s prolonged warm, dry spell continues. The U.S. Drought Monitor says northeast parts of the state and most of southern Minnesota are in moderate to severe drought.”

There’s a reason I stayed out of the woods last weekend. The AP’s tally of the deer hunting season’s opening weekend has risen to four dead. People. Not deer. “At least four hunters died on the opening weekend of Minnesota’s firearms deer season, while several were injured in accidents. … Conservation officer Jim Robinson of Slayton reported that one hunter had his thumb shot off by a member of another party when a deer ran between the two groups, while another hunter was injured when the barrel on his shotgun exploded because the muzzle was plugged. A Sartell man accidentally shot himself in the leg as he was getting situated in his tree stand near Lengby on Saturday, the Polk County sheriff’s office said. A Clear Lake man was accidentally shot in the arm Saturday by a fellow hunter near Clear Lake, the Sherburne County sheriff’s office reported. In other incidents, a bullet smashed through the rear window of a pickup truck in Mahnomen County but did not injure the driver Saturday evening.” If I didn’t know better, I’d say that sounds suspiciously like your average Green Bay booya.

Today in Bachmannia: Maybe it’s not as surprising as it seems. But as the only woman in the race and with a straight shot at her party’s (co-)leading candidate, Our Gal has … nothing … to say about Herman Cain’s problems. Molly Ball at The Atlantic writes: “Michele Bachmann spoke about the importance of family values in Washington on Monday. The candidate currently occupying what was once her space in the Republican presidential primary has been accused of conduct you could call inconsistent with family values — allegedly sexually harassing multiple women … An obvious opening, you might think — even the most mild reference would be seized upon as a new development in the scandal enveloping Herman Cain. But Bachmann didn’t get anywhere near the subject, and even seemed to back away from an earlier vague allusion to it. … as the only woman in the field of candidates, and one who has made her status as wife and mother central to her appeal, she would seem to be uniquely situated to raise questions about Cain’s alleged personal conduct. Plenty of Republicans — women in particular — have qualms about Cain’s trustworthiness in the wake of the harassment revelations. Part of the reason Cain has so successfully framed the scandal as a battle between him and the media is that none of his rivals has sought to recast it as a question of character. That includes Bachmann, apparently. Asked after the speech if she thought candidates’ personal values ought also to be considered, she said, ‘Uh, that would be up to the voters, I guess, to decide. Sure.’ “

At Wonkette, Kirsten Boyd Johnson watched Our Favorite Congresswoman’s day, with the business about “frugal socialists,” and wrote: “Forgotten succubus Michele Bachmann crossed a new desperation milestone today with a cryptic and paranoid attack where she claimed that there are secret unnamed Republican fiends who are ‘frugal socialists,’ declined to explain what those are or who exactly makes up this shadowy cabal of right-wing Leninists, and then promised to root out socialism in the GOP and America. When one reporter asked the obvious what in the hell are you talking about follow-up question, she gave an evil grin and said, ‘that’s part of the puzzle that you figure out when I give a speech.’ ” … Well, the stab-in-the-dark missing puzzle piece here is that Michele is too chicken [bleep] to call out her Republican presidential primary rivals by name for their, uh, socialist policies and platforms, because Michele has no idea what either ‘socialism’ or ‘policies’ actually are, so she made up some weird conspiracy theory to sound ominous. She has the hang of it! Here’s another strange aphorism she offered up in this same speech … ‘If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat,’ she said, invoking a passage from the Bible’s New Testament.” Ohhhh boy. Now the succubi are going to be upset.

In stadium news, Rep. Phyllis Kahn had the end of the Monday news cycle to herself, with her proposal for Minnesotans … to buy the Vikings. Frederick Melo at the PiPress writes: “Here’s one way to build a new Minnesota Vikings stadium: sell public stock in the team. (Hey, it worked for the Green Bay Packers.) And here’s another way to help raise funds for whatever will one day replace the Minneapolis Metrodome: install slot machines at the airport. Will either of those proposals ever fly? History and National Football League rules would say no, but that isn’t stopping state Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis. She plans to push both ideas in the next legislative session. Republicans have the majority in both the state House and Senate. … Kahn has also been proposing for years that the state install casino-style slot machines at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, somewhere within the security gate, to reap funds from fliers. She plans to do so again next legislative session. Even she admits it’s a long shot. ‘I’ve put the bill in a lot, and I’ve talked about it a lot, but it’s never gone anywhere,’ she said. In 2004, the Minnesota State Lottery pegged the possible net proceeds from 250 airport slot machines at $27 million per year, based in part on the experience of fliers at an airport in Amsterdam. That’s now a dated estimate, if it were ever a fair comparison to begin with. ‘All gambling is a regressive tax on stupidity, but if you put the gambling in the airport, it would be a progressive tax on stupidity, because you have people with higher incomes at the airport,’ Kahn said. ‘Plus, 80 percent of the traffic at the airport is from out of state.’ “