The Strib’s Baird Helgeson and Jim Ragsdale offer a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at what they say “could be the 72 most tumultous hours in state Senate history”: “Leaving a meeting at the Minneapolis Club last Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch thought she was bound for a social event in St. Paul. Instead, sources say, Deputy Senate Majority Leader Geoff Michel hustled her into a nearby meeting room. There, he and three other GOP senators confronted her about an alleged affair with a male Senate staffer who reported to Koch. After a meeting that lasted for hours that night and resumed on Thursday morning, the Republican from Buffalo resigned her leadership post and announced she would not seek re-election. The next afternoon, Michael Brodkorb, the Senate’s powerful communications chief, was asked by an old junior high school friend who also worked in the Senate to meet at the Moose Country restaurant in Mendota Heights. Once there, Brodkorb was shocked to see Secretary of the Senate Cal Ludeman walk in and tell him he was out of a job and barred from Senate offices.”
Also on the Amy Koch scandal … among the collateral damage is the lack of a new budget for the state Senate. Doug Belden of the PiPress reports: “On top of losing their leader and top spokesman last week, Senate Republicans are also facing the challenge of cutting about $2 million from the budget. The Senate took a 5 percent cut as part of the budget adopted in July for the 2012-13 biennium, which amounts to about $2.2 million over the two years, officials said. To date, a budget specifying where that money would come from has not been adopted, said Wendy Dwyer, deputy secretary of the Senate.” And as for Koch … “On Monday, a member of the Senate’s subcommittee on ethical conduct said if the allegations about Koch having an improper relationship with a subordinate are true, ‘it’s definitely something that could come before the ethics committee.’ Bill Ingebrigtsen, a Republican from Alexandria, added that if the reports are true, then Koch should not just step down as leader but should ‘absolutely’ resign her seat. ‘Amy’s a really good friend of mine’ and she’s done a ‘superb job,’ Ingebrigtsen said, but ‘I would encourage her to do that.’ “
The Strib editorializes on the disclosure of Koch’s office “relationship,” dismissing complaints that it smacks of a sexist double standard: “Did four male senators really need to announce the until-then hidden reason for the resignation of the Senate’s first female majority leader? Was Koch being held to a different standard than legislators had been in years past, or a male legislator would be today? We think the answers, respectively, are yes, yes and no. The four clearly uncomfortable men who disclosed the reason for Koch’s departure from her leadership post did the advisable thing with bad news in a public realm. Granted, they might have spared themselves some suspicion if they had found a female senator to join them. But rather than waiting for the story to roll out from unfriendly and ill-informed sources, the foursome told it themselves, as directly and fully as sound employment policies permit. That’s what stewardship of a crucial public institution required. Previous legislators have also had ‘inappropriate’ relationships. In decades past, they were spared the public airing Koch has endured. What has changed has less to do with gender than with the changed nature of public life. The sphere of privacy that elected officials once could occupy after hours has all but vanished. Any expectation that knowledge of a misstep could be confined to a tight inner circle disappeared with the dawn of the Internet age.” Just ask Jon Grunseth.
Meanwhile, the list of possible successors to Koch are starting to pile up. Briana Bierschbach at Politics in Minnesota writes: “In the rapidly-developing race to replace Amy Koch as the Senate’s majority leader, GOP Sen. Mike Jungbauer has taken to the web to push his candidacy for the chamber’s top job. In a video posted to YouTube on Monday, Jungbauer says past leadership has not done enough for small business owners. ‘I’m coming to you today on a serious note. We have to pick a new majority leader and tragic events led to that,’ Jungbauer said in the video. ‘I think people like me that are out there in business every day, working everyday jobs, don’t see us trying to fix government in a way that helps them.’ ” Really? “Tragic events,” you say?
Out in Willmar, Carolyn Lange of the West Central Tribune reports: “Sen. Joe Gimse said today he’s considering tossing his name into the ring for majority leader in the Minnesota Senate, following the surprise resignation last week of Amy Koch from the top post. The Willmar Republican said he would be a ‘calming voice’ to the GOP caucus, which has been thrown into turmoil since Koch resigned after it was revealed she had an inappropriate relationship with a male staffer. Gimse said the Senate needs a majority leader that is thoughtful, exhibits ‘decisive leadership’ and is willing to ‘take risks and be courageous’ in order to move policy issues forward in the next legislative session.”
At MPR, Tom Scheck is saying: “[Geoff] Michel wouldn’t say whether he plans to run for majority leader. Neither would Sen. David Hann of Eden Prairie, who said most members of the Senate Republican leadership team are working to organize the election and on other matters. Hann said he hasn’t given any thought to a run. … Michel would not comment on whether Brodkorb was fired or resigned from the Senate.The secretary of the Minnesota Senate, Cal Ludeman, confirmed that Brodkorb was let go because he reported directly to Koch, who no longer is majority leader. ‘He serves at will to the Senate and then to Senate Caucus,’ Ludeman said. ‘But the Senate Caucus leadership then lost ‘its will’ for him to continue to be employed so it is because of that relationship directly to the previous Senate Majority Leader.’ Reached by MPR News, Brodkorb said he would not answer any questions from reporters.” I got dumped by a girl in high school once. I think she said something about how she “lost her will” for me.
If you get the job, get the cash up front. Frederick Melo of the PiPress says Ramsey County will want to see the bona fides of any architects trying to snag the Vikings’ Arden Hills stadium job: “The Ramsey County Commissioners on Tuesday will consider issuing a ‘request for qualifications’ — an RFQu, for short — asking engineering and architectural firms to submit their credentials for what could be one of the most expensive public projects in state history. The agenda item was submitted by Ramsey County Commissioners Rafael Ortega and Tony Bennett, who have proposed drawing the Minnesota Vikings out of Minneapolis and situating them in a new stadium on the site of a decommissioned military ammunition plant in Arden Hills. The ‘RFQu’ has raised the hackles of two commissioners who are opposed to using county tax dollars for the stadium, which would be publicly owned. The request for qualifications is not a formal request for contract proposals, but more of a precursor to it, said Ramsey County Board Chair Victoria Reinhardt. In an email Monday morning, fellow commissioner and stadium critic Janice Rettman asked the county administrator’s office to provide her a copy of the county’s RFQu policy, as well as ‘any legal or fiscal authority and / or past precedence of the (county board) providing this service to a for-profit entity.’ “
Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan got a “no confidence” decision from a citizens panel assessing complaints of police misconduct. Says Randy Furst in his Strib story: “A citizens’ panel that hears complaints about the Minneapolis police said Monday that it had ‘no confidence’ Chief Tim Dolan would discipline officers who engage in misconduct. Dolan imposed discipline in seven of 53 cases in which the Minneapolis Civilian Review Authority found that misconduct occurred, according to the review board’s report covering the period from July 2010 through June 2011. In one case, Dolan has not yet issued a disciplinary decision. While the board gave the chief an ‘unsatisfactory’ mark on three aspects of his disciplinary record, it said he has shown some progress since its last performance review.”
The saga of the Catholic-bashing client, attorney and oddball Wisconsin “cult” continues. Dave Hanners of the PiPress writes: “A Minneapolis business executive has ignored a judge’s order to turn over records connected with her company’s bankruptcy, a federal trustee said Monday. The trustee said that not only had Naomi Isaacson, president of Yehud-Monosson USA Inc., failed to meet a Friday deadline to provide the records, but the requests were ‘returned to my office with the words ‘RETURN TO SENDER’ handwritten on the front.’ U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Nancy Dreher already has found Isaacson, 37, in contempt for failing to turn the records over to court-appointed trustee Nauni Manty. The judge has scheduled a Jan. 4 hearing on the contempt order, and she’ll also decide at next month’s hearing whether Isaacson and her lawyer will be fined up to $10,000 each for filing a legal brief filled with religious slurs. Isaacson, who is also a lawyer, has been under court order since Oct. 7 to provide the business records to Manty’s office. In court filings, Isaacson and her company’s lawyer, Rebekah Nett, of Hastings, have accused Dreher, Manty and others of being involved in a conspiracy rooted in the Catholic Church. … Earlier this year, Yehud-Monosson USA filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which would have protected it from creditors’ lawsuits and would have given it control of its assets while reorganizing.
But the U.S. Justice Department accused the company of acting in bad faith and abusing the bankruptcy system.”
I’m sure he never imagined anything like this would happen … Rick Ungar of Forbes reports on the effects of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s latest move against Planned Parenthood: “Walker has set his sights on ending the availability of cervical and breast cancer screening — along with multiple sclerosis detection — for Wisconsin women who have insufficient health insurance to pay for these critical procedures. It’s not about money or budgets or unions or any of the usual ideologically driven nonsense we’ve come to expect from Scott Walker. This time, it’s just all about politics. The screening service, which goes by the name of the Wisconsin Well Woman Program and is administered by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, contracts with various screening providers throughout the state on a county-by-county basis. Among those who provide these critical services to women between the ages of 45 and 64 is Planned Parenthood. The good news is that Walker is not looking to completely destroy the program. If you are a woman fortunate enough to live in a county where the screening is available by any entity that is not Planned Parenthood, these tests will continue to be available to you. However, if you are a Wisconsin woman with insufficient funds or insurance to pay for cancer and multiple sclerosis screening and live in Winnebago, Fond du Lac, Sheboygan, or Outagamie County, I’m afraid you now have a problem.”