The puzzle pieces continue to fall together in the matter of Amy Koch. Catharine Richert and Tom Scheck at MPR reveal that it was Koch’s chief of staff who alerted the party elders about the “inappropriate relationship”: “Between December of 2010 and November of this year, Cullen Sheehan was the top staffer in the Minnesota Senate. He was Amy Koch’s chief of staff, helping to oversee the day-to-day operations of the Senate. Sheehan is also the first person to report an inappropriate relationship between Koch and a male staffer. Sheehan told MPR News that he first became aware of the relationship on Sept. 21. He said he confronted the staffer, who confirmed the relationship. Sheehan said both he and the staffer then met with Koch, who also confirmed it. Sheehan said he then reported the behavior to Deputy Majority Leader Geoff Michel. … Interim Senate Majority Leader Geoff Michel confirmed Sheehan’s timeline. … Michel acknowledged that Sheehan’s comments contradict the comments he and three other senators made to reporters on Friday. At that time, Michel said the allegations about Koch’s behavior were first reported to them a few weeks ago. Michel said he wasn’t honest about the timeline in an attempt to protect Sheehan and other staffers.” … Always an acceptable tactic when dealing with public employees.
Doug Belden’s story for the PiPress adds: “[GOP Sen. Geoff Michel] said in the time between September and when he and the other senators confronted Koch this month, they were working with Senate staff to make sure they had the human resources details in order. As to why he or others didn’t simply go to Koch directly after Sheehan’s report and tell her to end the relationship, Michel said the senators’ understanding was that even after Koch and the staffer admitted the relationship to Sheehan that they kept it going. ‘We knew they’d been confronted already,’ Michel said, and ‘that had not resulted in any changed behavior from either of the individuals involved.’ ” So … we’re to believe this was so hot and heavy that not even likely punishment by party leadership and public embarrassment could make it stop? Wow.
Without exactly over-describing anything, former Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch released a statement last evening. At the Strib, Baird Helgeson writes: “Admitting to ‘mistakes and errors in judgment,’ former Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch issued a statement Wednesday saying she had an inappropriate relationship with a staffer. ‘I am deeply sorry by engaging in a relationship with a Senate staffer,’ she wrote Wednesday. Insisting she has not broken any laws or violated Senate rules, ‘I want to express my deep regret and apologies to my constituents, the Republican party, my fellow legislators, friends and most importantly, my family,’ Koch wrote. … Koch said when she stepped down from the Senate’s top position that she would not seek re-election. Some senators have said she should leave the Senate now, but the statement gave no hint of her future with the body.”
The Jimmy Williams saga, the coaching assistant who never was, isn’t ending any time soon. At the PiPress, Emily Gurnon writes: “The Minnesota Supreme Court will consider a petition to review a lower court verdict awarding Jimmy Williams $1 million in his lawsuit against the University of Minnesota, the U said this afternoon. Williams sued the university over a 2007 assistant coaching job offer from Gophers basketball coach Tubby Smith, alleging that Smith negligently misrepresented the offer. A Hennepin County jury found for Williams last year, and awarded Williams a $1 million verdict against the U; the Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment Oct. 17. The university asked the Supreme Court to review that decision.”
Daarel Burnette II at the Strib reports: “In an apparent suicide, a man walked out into traffic on I-35E in Hugo Wednesday. He was hit by a semi-truck and an SUV, killing him instantly, state patrol said. ‘It appears to be an intentional act on his part,’ said State Patrol spokesman Lt. Eric Roeske.”
With Ron Paul now posing a bona fide threat to Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich in Iowa, the Strib’s Jill Burcum and D.J. Tice write: “[A strong] showing could well create some serious challenges for the Republican Party in the months ahead. Paul’s far-out stances on the gold standard and the Federal Reserve, plus his isolationist foreign policy, will scare off big money donors and mainstream Republicans. … If Paul doesn’t record an outright win, placing second or third is likely. Even if the subsequent primaries don’t go well, a true-believer like Paul may well be motivated to fight on while Republicans try to rally around one candidate. Paul’s supporters frequently complain that their candidate doesn’t get the media coverage he deserves. They should be careful what they wish for. A strong showing in Iowa would amp up the media spotlight and the vetting that comes with it. Paul doesn’t appear to have the personal baggage of a Gingrich, but his outside-the-mainstream policies will prove a difficult sell.” But if you’re all about the Tea Party revolution, isn’t Ron Paul your only credible vote?
Having done almost nothing all year long, is it any surprise that Congress called it a year without acting on the St. Croix bridge? Jessica Mador at MPR says: “Up until a few weeks ago, congressional action on the proposal for a new St. Croix bridge looked likely. The bipartisan bill cleared a major Senate hurdle last month, and was awaiting floor votes by the House and Senate. But the current impasse is yet another delay for the project, which has taken years to get this close to approval. … The delay in Congress hasn’t changed Oak Park Heights Mayor David Beaudet’s views on the bridge. He’d rather see a tunnel. The current bridge proposal, he said, would cost Oak Park Heights around $14 million over the next 20 years to relocate utilities, traffic signals and other infrastructure. ‘I’m opposed to the current proposal,’ Beaudet said. ‘First of all, it violates the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act; second of all, it has no positive impacts on the city of Oak Park Heights. We need a project that improves the safety and function of the transportation and protects the river.’ “
The PiPress’ “City Hall Scoop” notes the list of projects in some phase of development along the Central LRT Corridor: “[T]he Central Corridor office of the Metropolitan Council released a list of nearly 40 major commercial, retail or housing projects underway or recently completed along the future 11-mile light rail corridor, which will connect downtown St. Paul to downtown Minneapolis in 2014. The projects run a wide range from the Union Depot transit hub in downtown St. Paul to a new Planned Parenthood headquarters and health clinic under construction on Vandalia Street, near Raymond Avenue. Another notable would be the upcoming redevelopment of the Chittenden and Eastman building, also near the future Raymond Avenue Station on University Avenue. The building, which was constructed in 1917 as a mattress warehouse and store, is poised to become luxury lofts and apartments by October 2012.” … Just further proof that government never creates jobs.
Today in Bachmannia: Bill Prendergast at the Minnesota Progressive Project, and one of Our Gal’s original betes noires, writes: “Many political blogs are announcing that the latest bad news for Bachmann is the report that Iowa Family Leader’s Bob Vander Plaats wants GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann to quit. CNN has that, Politico has that, the Dump Bachmann blog cross-posted it. And it is bad news for Bachmann. But it’s not as bad as this news, which ran yesterday in the Washington Times: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has corralled one of the top names in the conservative evangelical movement, winning the endorsement of Donald E. Wildmon, founder and chairman of the American Family Association and American Family Radio, in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination. Wildmon is a leader of the Christian right; Vander Plaats is a leader of the Christian right in Iowa. But Wildmon’s ditching of Bachmann is more important than Vander Plaats, because the difference between Wildmon and Vander Plaats is the difference between dealing with a Tyrannosaurus Rex and Barney. … Wildmon is active in the Council for National Policy. The Council for National Policy (CNP) the ‘secretive’ group of national evangelical and conservative leaders that has exercised a kind of veto power over who can be the Republican presidential nominee for about two decades, now. The Bachmanns (Congresswoman and spouse) have maintained a special relationship with the CNP since before she launched her national career. The leaders of the organization make it their business to promote the careers of candidates like Michele Bachmann, in elections around the country where local evangelical influence on the local GOP can be activated.”