Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch’s decision to step down and not run for re-election caught pretty much everyone by surprise. At MPR, Tom Scheck says: “Her announcement took her colleagues by surprise. Republican Senator Julianne Ortman of Chanhassen said she was shocked by Koch’s announcement but understands the challenge of balancing family and legislative responsibilities. Ortman said Koch made an unmistakable mark after a year as majority leader. … Senate Republicans will now have to find a new majority leader who will lead them in the 2012 session and be responsible for maintaining Republican control of the Senate in the 2012 elections. Every member of the Legislature is up for election next year and redistricting will force a new set of political boundaries. … Assistant Majority Leader Geoff Michel will serve as temporary Majority Leader. Michel sent an email saying GOP bylaws call for the election of a new majority leader within two weeks. GOP Senator Dave Thompson of Lakeville said he hasn’t thought about running for the position but would not rule it out. Thompson believes Senate Republicans will be fine heading into 2012.”
At Politics in Minnesota, Paul Demko writes: “Koch’s resignation comes with barely a month left before the opening of the 2012 legislative session. Likely potential challengers for the GOP leadership post would include Health and Human Services Committee chair David Hann and Deputy Majority Leader Geoff Michel. The news came as a surprise to many rank-and-file in the caucus. Freshman Sen. John Howe, R-Red Wing, wasn’t aware of the news until contacted by PIM at about 5 p.m. ‘That comes as a complete surprise,’ Howe said. Sen. Dave Thompson said that he heard rumblings about Koch possibly resigning roughly three hours before the letter was released.”
Baffled by those November unemployment statistics? You’re not alone. Chris Newmarker at Finance & Commerce writes: “Minnesota’s November jobs statistics are so confusing that even Steve Hine, the state official who analyzes the data, says he is “very concerned.” Look at the state’s unemployment rate, and it was down half a percentage point in November, to a seasonally adjusted 5.9 percent — its lowest level since October 2008 and lower than the national unemployment rate of 8.6 percent. Count jobs based on the rate, which is based on a survey of households, and Minnesota has regained all the jobs it lost in the recession and has more jobs than ever. But look at the official jobs count — which is based on a survey of about 3,000 state employers, especially large employers — and there was a loss of 13,700 jobs in November, and a loss of 22,900 over the past three months. By that count, Minnesota has now regained only a fourth of the 158,300 jobs it lost in the Great Recession; just a month ago it was still a third. … Hine, director of DEED’s Labor Market Information Office, said Thursday that there were no ‘empirically viable explanations’ for the ‘very conflicting signals’ between the unemployment rate and the jobs count. DEED officials offered theories including possible sampling errors in the separate surveys; more people becoming self-employed or contract workers; changes in Bureau of Labor Statistics methodology; and a state labor force participation rate that is at its lowest level since 1988.
A former pro boxer is the suspect in a triple shooting in the Cook County Court House in Grand Marais. Mark Stodghill and Brandon Stahl of the Duluth News Tribune report: “The shootings occurred between 4:15 and 4:30 p.m. in Grand Marais, sources are reporting. Court officials said Cook County Attorney Timothy Scannell is one of the shooting victims. Gary Schlienz, of Grand Marais, told the News Tribune the suspect probably is his son, 42-year-old Daniel Schlienz, a former professional boxer in Duluth. Daniel Schlienz was the defendant in a criminal sexual conduct case that was being heard in the Grand Marais courthouse today, according to court records. Gary Schlienz told the News Tribune he went to the courthouse, where he was told [his] son was responsible for the shooting. He was told that two people were shot — a bailiff in the arm, and a prosecuting attorney in the body. ‘He hated the prosecuting attorney that did this,’ Schlienz told the News Tribune.”
Chao Xiong’s Strib story says: “Schlienz had just been convicted of one count and acquitted of another when he shot the two men about 4:00 to 4:30 p.m., said John Lillie III, who represented Schlienz in the case. Lillie said he was in a conference room with Schlienz and Schlienz’s mother. Schlienz walked out, and Lillie heard two gunshots. ‘The next thing I know I open the door and I see [Schlienz] running with a gun towards the county attorney’s office,’ Lillie said. Lillie ran to the other end of a hall were a man was screaming for help. He had been shot at least once in the leg. Lillie said he dragged the man outside, put him into a car that happened to be parked nearby and ran back into the small courthouse in Grand Marais.”
Today in Bachmannia: Our Gal kept on taking it to Newt Gingrich in last night’s (latest) GOP debate. Alex Roarty of The National Journal says: “Bachmann, dragging near the bottom of most polls, has become largely irrelevant on the campaign trail after winning August’s Iowa straw poll. But on Thursday she distinguished herself by leveling one of the sharpest attacks yet seen during the 13 presidential debates, criticizing Newt Gingrich as an ‘influence peddler’ for advising mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. ‘I was trying to see these two entities put in bankruptcy because they frankly need to go away when the speaker had his hand out and he was taking $1.6 million to influence senior Republicans’, Bachmann said. The issue has dogged Gingrich for weeks, and he once again denied he had ever lobbied on Fannie and Freddie’s behalf. But the Minnesota Republican didn’t let up. ‘You don’t need to be within the technical definition of being a lobbyist to still be influence-peddling with senior Republicans in Washington, D.C to get them to do your bidding,’ she said. ‘And the bidding was to keep the grandiose scam of Freddie Mac going. That is something that our nominee can’t stand for,’ the congresswoman said. ‘We have to shut down the government enterprises. We have to end them.’ ” All of them! Each and every one of them!
Uh, pal, we got rules up here. Massive Minnesota guy Brock Lesnar is in trouble with the Canuckistanis. Dave Orrick of the PiPress reports: “Lesnar, 34, of Alexandria, Minn., has been charged in Medicine Hat with three counts of violating the Alberta Wildlife Act in connection with a 2010 hunting and fishing trip, according to court officials and published reports. The three counts are failing to tag a deer after killing it; allowing edible mule deer flesh to be wasted or abandoned; and illegal possession of a deer, a Medicine Hat Provincial Court official said.”
In the Emmer v. Hamline fracas, Doug Belden of the PiPress reports: “A Hamline University professor said Wednesday that hiring Tom Emmer would have been a bad business decision for the school, while Emmer said “political bigotry” in higher education is discriminating against people with conservative views like his. … Jim Bonilla, an associate professor in Hamline’s business school, said he wrote to McCarthy with concerns about Emmer’s appointment and that he knows of two other professors, outside the business school, who raised concerns with [Hamline President Linda] Hanson. He said he doesn’t know whether faculty concerns about Emmer factored in the administration’s decision not to hire him. For Bonilla, listed on the school’s website as a consultant on diversity in higher education and the founding director of Hamline’s ‘Race, Gender & Beyond’ program, there is a business case and a social justice case to be made against Emmer. In terms of business, he pointed to fallout from gay-rights groups after Target Corp. donated $150,000 to a political fund that in turn supported Emmer. And hiring someone stridently opposed to gay rights goes against the school’s ethic of nondiscrimination and works against training the staff does on creating safe spaces for gay and lesbian students, Bonilla said. ‘That would be money wasted,’ he said. Not hiring Emmer allows Hamline to make a decision ‘congruent with our values and a sound business decision’, Bonilla said.”
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has sued the state agency handling the recall election against him. Jason Stein at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel says: “Walker’s campaign and the director of the state Republican party sued the state’s elections and ethics agency Thursday over its handling of the ongoing recall effort against the governor. Also Thursday, the top GOP lawmaker in the Assembly said the state might need to replace the Government Accountability Board, saying it has strayed from its nonpartisan mission. The lawsuit filed Thursday in Waukesha County Circuit Court asks a judge to order the accountability board to look for and eliminate duplicate signatures, clearly fake names like Mickey Mouse and illegible addresses. The lawsuit can be brought in the conservative county because of a change in state law earlier this year by Republican lawmakers and Walker that allowed lawsuits to be brought against the state outside of liberal Dane County, the seat of state government.”