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‘No’ vote on Ellen Anderson seriously peeves Dayton

ALSO: Brodkorb lawyers up; Dayton, GOP at odds on health exchanges; bridge survey disputed; stadium starts and stops; Santorum forum; and more.

You look at the fracas over Ellen Anderson and the PUC and wonder, “Is this a fight the GOP really wants to have?” Dennis Lien’s PiPress story says: “Moments after the Republican-controlled Minnesota Senate voted 37-29 along party lines to reject former DFL state Sen. Ellen Anderson as chair of the state Public Utilities Commission, Gov. Mark Dayton called them ‘unfit to govern’ and resurrected a laundry list of controversies facing Republicans in recent months. ‘A very good person, a very dedicated public servant, and an excellent chair of the Public Utilities Commission was wrongly maligned and cruelly rejected today by Republican senators, who showed once again that they are unfit to govern this state,’ Dayton said at an impromptu press conference. … State Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, who led the push to reject Anderson’s confirmation, defended the Senate vote, saying the state needs a balanced energy portfolio and Anderson, known in her Senate days as a passionate advocate of green jobs and renewable energy, holds views too ‘extreme’ to be counted on to help deliver it.”

Tim Pugmire’s MPR story includes this: “Anderson has a record of trying to marginalize traditional energy sources, said Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, the current energy committee chair. ‘I look at a public career that has demonized traditional energy sources. I look at derogatory references to quote: “dirty and dangerous fossil fuels or energy cartels,” that don’t reflect well on the nominee,’ Rosen said. ‘We all know there is always work to be done to move forward. Outright rejection of energy options that built this country and helped foster the highest living standards in the world is irresponsible.’ ” Perhaps if Anderson gave a pro-fracking speech to the Chamber of Commerce?

Daringly close to overstating the obvious, the Strib editorializes: “Minnesota Senate rejection of a governor’s appointee to head a state agency ought to be exceedingly rare, done for reasons approaching the ‘crimes and misdemeanors’ standard for the impeachment of U.S. presidents. The Republican Senate majority’s ouster Monday of Ellen Anderson as head of the Public Utilities Commission does not meet that standard. In fact, it misses that mark so widely that it appears to have been done for political spite, or sport. That appearance ought to have given Republican senators pause. Cognizance that a troubling precedent was being set also should have led to a different result. … Anderson was pilloried for the positions on issues she took during 19 years in the state Senate as a leading voice for greater reliance on renewable energy and less dependence on nuclear power.”  

A dorsal fin has pierced the surface. Mike Kaszuba of the Strib reports that Michael Brodkorb wants to be made whole: “Brodkorb, who lost his job last month a day after Amy Koch resigned as Senate majority leader, will seek monetary damages for wrongful dismissal, an attorney for the former Senate communications chief said. ‘If they think my client is going to quietly go away, that’s not going to happen,’ said Philip Villaume, one of two attorneys who were announced Monday as representing Brodkorb. ‘This is not going to go away easily.’ Koch stepped down from her leadership post after admitting to having an inappropriate relationship with an unidentified male staffer. She continues to serve as a senator, though she has said she will not seek re-election in November. Villaume declined to discuss any role Brodkorb might have had in the scandal that toppled Koch and said the case at hand is about how Brodkorb was dismissed from his job.” I guess we can assume Brodkorb and the GOP failed to reach a private settlement.

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So the brawl has begun over whether Minnesota should get its own act together on health insurance exchanges … or not. Don Davis’ story in the Forum papers says: “When Gov. Mark Dayton went in front of reporters Monday to announce an outline of a health insurance exchange, he was backed by some fellow Democratic officials, but no Republicans. ‘Tea Party folks want nothing to do with this. Period,’ Rep. Tom Huntley, DFL-Duluth, said. Another key health-care Democrat, Sen. Tony Lourey of Kerrick, said he is working with Republicans on an exchange bill. Lourey said that he understands Republican reluctance to work with a bill that implements an Obama administration policy. ‘It’s really hard, and I get that,’ Lourey said. Republican Sen. David Hann of Eden Prairie, who leads the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, said Republicans soon will have their own bill dealing with the same issue. However, Hann said, while his bill will address accessibility, affordability and portability of health insurance, it will not establish health insurance exchanges like Democrats want.”

At the Strib, Warren Wolfe writes: “About 100 people representing insurance, health care, state agencies, advocacy groups, businesses and the Legislature are at work on the governor’s task force. Republican legislators declined to participate, concerned that the presence of their four members among 22 on the task force would allow Gov. Mark Dayton to claim bipartisan support. The Republican Party has had its own task force at work since fall, with 20 to 30 legislators and people from business involved, said Hann, chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. Last year he threatened to sue Dayton to stop implementation of an insurance exchange. ‘I’ve glanced at the [Dayton task force] report, and so far I don’t see a description of a problem or a solution to a problem,’ Hann said.” Does Sen. Hann look at the American health insurance scheme and see a problem?

A bit like the Iraqi elections that Saddam used to win with 99 percent of the vote, skepticism is greeting the survey that says 85 percent of Stillwater residents prefer the giant, four-lane bridge. Mary Divine’s PiPress story says: “[A] significant majority — 85 percent — said a four-lane bridge needs to be built now. Such lopsided results in support of a controversial project that has been studied by government agencies and the courts for decades were met with skepticism. The Coalition for the St. Croix River Crossing, a group advocating for the bridge, released the survey results. American Strategies Inc. out of Washington, D.C., an advocacy polling group, did the survey. And the National Association of Realtors paid for it. … Carol Hardin, chairman of the [Sierra Club’s] St. Croix Valley group, said the survey gave respondents ‘a false choice between a costly mega-bridge that is neither fiscally or environmentally responsible, and no action. Meanwhile, residents in communities across the state with urgent road and bridge repairs have not had a voice.’ [Christine] Goepfert, from the National Parks Conservation Association, said there’s no doubt a new bridge is needed. ‘The survey results just underscore what we have been saying all along: a new bridge in Stillwater is needed,’ she said. ‘Now, let’s build one that will cut down on congestion, cost far less than the one proposed, and better protect a great Stillwater resource, its river.’ “ But, of course let’s run it by the National Association of Realtors …

The PiPress also reports: “Ramsey County Commissioners Rafael Ortega and Tony Bennett have said they have not given up on their proposal to build a new Vikings stadium on land that pertains to a decommissioned army ammunitions plant in Arden Hills. Bennett said he had received no official notice that last Friday was a deadline for Ramsey County to come up with a viable financing plan to fund the county’s $350 million share of the $1.1 billion proposal. Nevertheless, he saw mention of the deadline in the newspaper, and the commissioners sent a note to state Sen. Julie Rosen and state Rep. Morrie Lanning last week asking for more time. ‘We haven’t gotten a response,’ said Ortega, who declined to speculate if any major announcements on financing will occur this week. ‘Why should we be treated any differently than Minneapolis? … All I’m going to say is we’re in the stage of brainstorming now, and we’ll have a response in time.’ ” I’m sorry … I’m reminded of this classic scene from “Dumb and Dumber.”

Conservative blogger Ed Morrissey plugged into Rick Santorum’s tele-town hall and reports back with this: “[A] caller politely challenged Santorum to explain how he’d win moderates.  Santorum replied that moderates don’t tend to be issues voters, but respond to enthusiasm and momentum, and that the important task was to rally the base as happened in the midterms. Neither Romney or Gingrich are consistently conservative enough to do that, Santorum argued, while his record gave the GOP the best chance to stoke conservative enthusiasm. He also said that he had a track record in Pennsylvania of winning Reagan Democrats, which he would do throughout the Rust Belt and Midwest. ‘Will I lose California by a wider margin than Romney?’ Santorum asked, and replied that he certainly would — but losing California and New York by a marginally smaller amount won’t do the GOP any good in November anyway. Santorum insisted that he could do better in the center of the country than any other Republican, and that would make the difference in November.” Where were all those “Reagan Democrats” when he lost his re-election bid … by 18 percent?