Just like you and me, gray wolves now have the State of Minnesota looking out for them. Stephanie Hemphill’s MPR story says: “Last summer, the Obama administration announced that it would remove gray wolves in the western Great Lakes regions from the federal endangered species list. Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan officials have been preparing to take over management of the gray wolves. Minnesota’s population of about 3,000 gray wolves is roughly twice the number required by the federal government’s wolf recovery plan. With a stable population for the last 10 years, wolves now live closer to roads and people than biologists previously expected. Beginning today, the state must not only protect the wolf, it must manage the wolf. For the DNR, management includes a wolf hunting and trapping season. The agency proposes a quota of 400 wolves for the first season, to run from late November through January. If all goes smoothly, the first season could proceed late this year.” How soon do you think before we hear a demand that they all be officially ID’d?
With Friday happy hour in mind, I refer you to Curtis Gilbert’s MPR story on local mini-breweries: ”Harriet Brewing will brew a lot more beer after the Minneapolis City Council approves its application to operate the city’s first brewery taproom today. It probably won’t be the city’s last. Small beer-making operations have been popping up all over the city — and around the state. At least 10 new breweries opened in Minnesota last year, from Castle Danger Brewing on the North Shore to Olvalde Farmhouse Ales near Winona. That’s great news for beer lovers, but it also raises a question: can the Minnesota market support them all? Harriet Brewing owner Jason Sowards made his first batch of homebrew in 2008. The company sold its first keg less than a year ago. ‘It was a hobby turned into a passion turned into a job,’ he said.” … Which is not something you hear insurance agents say very often.
Kevin Seifert’s distillations of our stadium issues for ESPN are always good reading. Today he says: “As Minnesota state leaders zero in on the Metrodome site in Minneapolis for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium, a significant political hurdle has arisen. Part of the city charter requires a voter referendum for any expenditure of more than $10 million toward a new stadium, and on Thursday, a majority of city council members expressed opposition to overriding that charter for this project. … The plan had been to insert language in the bill that would override the referendum requirement, but the council opposition will at least require further massaging of the issue. A referendum would not only delay the process but also almost certainly scuttle the project. It’s generally assumed that voters want a new stadium but won’t approve public funds to be used for it.”
Similarly, Neil de Mause at “Field of Schemes” writes: “State stadium negotiator Ted Mondale thinks he can get around Minneapolis’ voter-approved ban on using city money to fund a stadium without a referendum by instead having the city vote to direct the funds to a stadium authority, and then that body would spend it on a stadium, so that ‘it really isn’t the city spending that money.’ Pretty clever, eh? Except that apparently Mondale never asked the Minneapolis city council about his idea, and a majority of the council now opposes funding a Vikings stadium without a public vote, after councilmember Sandra Colvin Roy declared that doing so would thwart the ‘will of the people.’ (She even cited the Occupy movement as a reason that government shouldn’t so easily dismiss voters’ concerns.) Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak retorted, ‘We’re not going to do a referendum in the city. We are going to have a referendum in a couple years when I stand for re-election.’ He might want to check with George Petak before saying that too loudly.”
The saddest story of the day. From the AP: “Amy Ann Romero was arrested in Milan, Mo., last week after being indicted on first-degree murder charges in Sibley County District Court. An indictment unsealed Thursday says Romero, now 29, gave birth to a child identified as Ava Juanita Aune on April 28, 2001 and hours later left her in the woods near her home in Henderson. County Attorney David Schauer … declined to say how the death of the child nearly 11 years ago came to light recently. Schauer says more will be revealed in future court appearances.” I can’t imagine living with something like that.
Well, this one isn’t that pleasant either … Paul Walsh of the Strib reports: “A 34-year-old man was charged Thursday with prostituting a 17-year-old girl out of a Roseville hotel for several weeks after an inquisitive manager found the teenager’s services being advertised on the Internet. Samuel Cozart, of Columbia Heights, was charged in Ramsey County District Court with promotion of prostitution. … According to the criminal complaint, a manager at the Days Inn at 2550 N. Cleveland Av. called police on suspicion that a patron was prostituting a teenage girl. The manager said she checked the Internet for Cozart’s name and discovered an escort service known as M.A. Entertainment … that featured the girl. Police arrested Cozart and determined that the girl had been selling herself in exchange for money and methamphetamine.”
U of M President Eric Kaler had a press “avail” and made some news. Mila Koumpilova of the PiPress writes: “He said he is preparing a budget for the coming school year that includes a 3.5-percent tuition increase for incoming students. He voiced ‘great concern’ over Gov. Mark Dayton’s bonding proposal, which honors only a portion of the university’s $169.5 million capital request. Kaler said he will take a job-creation angle in urging full support for the request, which includes what he called critical maintenance needs and new facilities on the Duluth campus and elsewhere. The U estimates the request stands to create 4,000 jobs. ‘Those are jobs right now and infrastructure that will be used for years by the university,’ said Kaler. Kaler also addressed the possibility of the U hosting the Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium temporarily during construction of a new stadium for the team. ‘I am hopeful we can be helpful to the state of Minnesota in retaining the Vikings,’ he said.” All he’ll have to do is show fealty to the gods of the NFL.
Alert Grover Norquist! GOP legislator Greg Davids is in favor of raising taxes … MPR’s Elizabeth Dunbar writes: “A proposal to collect Internet sales taxes in Minnesota has support from Gov. Mark Dayton and the Republican chairman of the House Taxes Committee. State Rep. Greg Davids says he’s opposed collecting taxes from online-only retailers in the past, when few states did it. ‘I didn’t want Minnesota to be an island sitting out there. Well, now there’s about 14 to 15 states — California, Illinois, Texas, New York state, some of the bigger states,’ Davids said. ‘We’re reaching a critical mass here and I think its time has come.’ ” I assume local job creators are OK with this?
On the wolf-hunting story, Nick Coleman smells old-fashioned blood-lust in the Legislature’s rationale of “pent up” need to do some killin’. Says Nick: “[T]here is something about the way that wolf-hunting is being cheered and hurried through the bureaucratic pipeline that is unsettling and which represents a retrograde blood lust more than sound public policy. The DNR’s wolf management plan, adopted in 1999 after the agency took testimony from thousands of citizens, farmers, hunters and wildlife groups, and which was drafted by a citizens round table and approved by the Legislature in 2001, goes into effect today. But a key provision of that plan was removed without discussion or debate last summer: A five-year hiatus between de-listing and hunting. A hiatus that, by law, was supposed to go into effect today and run through Jan. 27, 2017. But in an un-democratic and furtive end-run, the Legislature last summer dropped a wolf-killing measure into the bill that ended the state government shutdown: While public attention was focused on a budget bill that would end the shutdown, the Legislature eliminated the five-year hiatus. They did this without notice and without a hearing, overturning the work of the citizens round table, caving in to the demands of hunters and rushing a wolf season onto the 2012 calendar that could begin as little as nine months from now, with little public education or preparation. The main argument for eliminating the five-year moratorium seems to boil down to the pent-up thing again: Well, the wolf management plan was crafted more than a decade ago and, gosh darn it, we thought we’d be killing wolves by now.”