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Judge refuses to preside without weapon screenings

MORNING EDITION ALSO: Comcast raising rates; a DWI-dad tale; hot demand for mall’s Bloomie space; high school hockey player paralyzed; a bridal shop apology; and more.
Read Thur. Afternoon Edition


Someone somewhere somehow will be complaining about a violation of his or her Second Amendment rights. The Strib’s Abby Simon reports: “A Hennepin County judge and vocal critic of a lack of weapons screening at three suburban courtrooms says he is refusing to hear cases at them until stronger security precautions are put into place. ‘I’m tired of driving to Brookdale, the courtroom everyone who knows agrees is the most likely place for a shooting or violence to occur, and not know whether I will be carried out in a body bag that day,’ District Judge Lloyd Zimmerman wrote in an e-mail to his judicial colleagues Wednesday, citing the high number of domestic violence cases at that courtroom. ‘I ask that you stand in solidarity with me. Do not go. Don’t take my place.’ … Zimmerman, 57, an 11-year veteran of the bench, said he intends to continue hearing cases at Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis, where visitors are screened before they can enter the court and administration towers.”

Get out your torches and pitchforks … Leslie Brooks Suzukamo of the PiPress says: “Comcast, the nation’s largest cable company and the Twin Cities’ dominant provider, said today it will be raising its monthly cable prices by an average of 3.1 percent starting in February. Comcast, which markets its cable, broadband and phone services under the Xfinity brand, also said that beginning today it has moved Turner Classic Movies from its Digital Starter package to its more expensive Digital Preferred tier. For Digital Starter customers, that would mean a monthly increase of $18 now and nearly $22 come February to watch their favorite older movies.” So how much will you pay to watch “Bringing Up Baby” again?

Here’s one that will go national. Says Emily Gurnon in the PiPress: “A St. Paul man was charged with third-degree DWI and refusing an alcohol test after police said his 5-year-old son knocked on the door of a house in the Macalester-Groveland neighborhood of St. Paul on Tuesday and asked for help. The boy told someone at the house in the 1900 block of Palace Avenue that his father, Christian Damon Derek Stoner, 40, was refusing to bring him and his baby sister home, according to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday in Ramsey County District Court. When police arrived, they found Stoner sitting in his car, on the center console, with the boy in the front passenger seat and the 1-year-old girl in a car seat in the back, the complaint said. … The complaint said police noted that Stoner’s eyes were bloodshot and glassy; he was not wearing shoes; he stumbled and nearly fell down in the roadway; and his preliminary breath test resulted in a blood-alcohol reading of 0.289, more than three times the legal limit of 0.08.” So yes, for the record, it appears Stoner was bombed.

The space Bloomie’s is currently filling at the Mall of America is apparently in hot demand. Martin Moylan of MPR reports: “Mall officials have lined up several tenants to fill the nearly quarter-million square feet of retail space that Bloomingdale’s will vacate. Those new tenants include four ‘fashion forward’ retailers. Mall officials won’t name them, but say three are new to the Twin Cities market. The mall also plans to locate what it calls ‘destination, value-priced’ retail on the third floor of the Bloomingdale’s store. But that value-priced retailer won’t be Target, which plans to open only one store in the Twin Cities in 2012. That store will be in Inver Grove Heights. Breaking up the Bloomingdale’s floorplan into smaller stores should make it easier to attract new tenants. Mall of America officials suggest the unnamed replacements will be an upgrade.” Oh really? From Bloomingdale’s? Take that, you Upper East Siders.

The news on prep hockey player Jack Jablonski is very sad. ESPN’s story says: “The neurosurgeon who operated on Minnesota high school hockey player Jack Jablonski, who was paralyzed when he crashed head first into the boards during a game last week, confirmed Thursday that the 16-year-old will never walk again and is ‘very unlikely’ to regain movement in his arms from the elbows down.‘Hopefully he is going to prove me wrong,’ Dr. Walter Galicich said in a press conference Thursday at Hennepin County Medical Center. ‘But we can’t expect much recovery.’ “

Now that they’ve been vilified via the web, the company that destroyed all those pricey wedding dresses rather than donating them … is very sorry about the whole business. The Strib’s Kristin Tillotson continues her coverage, saying: “David’s Bridal, the parent company of Priscilla of Boston, has apologized for the deliberate trashing of $4,000 bridal gowns that caused such negative public reaction. The company also claims that ‘wherever possible’ they will donate all remaining gowns from the 19-store chain that went out of business Dec. 30.

I mean, really, who could live next to the hellish sounds of ice cream trucks? Eric Roper of the Strib explains the matter of Izzy’s vs. developer: “Shamrock Development of Coon Rapids said it can’t build its planned 12-story, 150-unit apartment building across from Gold Medal Park if the city follows through on the sale of an adjacent lot to Izzy’s Ice Cream. Shamrock Development believes noise and trucks from the factory would make the new apartments ‘no longer a viable project’. … ‘The plans for Park Vista depend on the property not being used industrially,’ Shamrock attorney James Susag wrote to the mayor and City Council members last week, noting that the company has already invested $4 million in their apartment project. City development officials contend that the two proposals can co-exist on the same block, adding that Shamrock also underbid for the disputed property more than a year ago.

Today in Bachmannia: Chris Cillizza at The Washington Post’s “The Fix” blog does his bit dissecting what went wrong with Our Gal’s campaign: “According to two former advisers to the campaign, Bachmann left Ames with 20,000 identified strong Iowa supporters and another 12,000 who were leaning her way. ‘We came out of the straw poll with an identified base to win Iowa,’ said a former Bachmann aide. (Romney wound up winning the caucuses with 30,015 votes; Bachmann got 6,073 votes.) What happened next exposed a long-running split between Bachmann’s advisers and, to hear some tell it, doomed the campaign. One wing of Bachmann’s strategy team — Rollins, pollster Ed Goeas and deputy campaign manager David Polyansky — wanted her to keep Iowa at the center of the campaign, traveling to the various debates around the country but focusing the rest of her time on the Hawkeye State. ‘It was the Santorum strategy,’ one source said, referring to the Iowa-heavy schedule kept by the former Pennsylvania senator who finished in second place in the caucuses. Another wing — composed of adviser Keith Nahigian and campaign jack-of-all-trades Brett O’Donnell, a duo derisively referred to as ‘the boys on the bus’ by detractors — wanted Bachmann to take the fight national with equal emphasis on a series of early primary states. … In the end, the common strain among those who counseled Bachmann in the race — those who remain loyal to her and those who don’t — is a sense of an opportunity missed. The rise of Santorum in Iowa, they argue, is evidence that Bachmann’s message of not settling for an inconsistent conservative had legs. And they believe that Bachmann’s charisma — not to mention her status as the only woman in the race — would have allowed her to deliver that message more effectively to Iowans than even Santorum.”

And are you dying for more Bachmann job speculation? (Don’t answer that.) Also at The Washington Post, Aaron Blake writes: “If Bachmann did face a tough opponent, that opponent could make the case that the congresswoman has not been representing her district for the last year and sold out to Minnesota’s rival to the south. (Remember when Hawkeyes football fans tore down the goal posts in the Metrodome!? Some things cannot be forgiven.) But it’s rare that a politician gets tossed out of office for seeking higher office — think Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, John McCain, Joe Lieberman — and Bachmann fits very well ideologically with her district. … Many see Bachmann, 55, as a strong candidate for television punditry, while others think she may have designs on running against Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) in 2014. If she does the latter, it may actually be advantageous to be out of Congress, where she doesn’t have to take flack for missing votes and can burnish her outsider credentials.” Then again, given her attendance record, she could run again, win and still credibly say that she has nothing to do with D.C.