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Minnesota economy ‘notably better’ than rest of nation

Council member takes down Confederate flag; Walker and Obama together; ACLU group to oppose all GOP amendments; Forum project examines Midwest water; and more.

Despite an oppressive level of job-killing taxation and the flight risk of all our millionaires to South Dakota, the Minnesota economy has held up better than most. At the PiPress, Julie Forster writes: “Minnesota’s economy weathered the recession ‘notably better’ than the rest of the nation, Narayana Kocherlakota, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, said today. Kocherlakota made his remarks during his first local media briefing in Minneapolis. He has been president of the Minneapolis Fed since 2009. During his briefing, he reviewed the U.S. and Minnesota economies since the recession started in December 2007 and provided his thoughts on the economic outlook for the nation. ‘While Minnesota has clearly felt the pain of the recession,’ the state is further along in a recovery than the national economy, he said. While state GDP numbers for 2011 are not yet available, he noted that by 2012 the state’s output was 1.6 percent above 2007 levels, while national GDP was still 0.3 percent below.” His first news briefing?

Rules are either rules or they’re not? Right? Tom Scheck of MPR reports on the latest incident of one party accusing the other of playing fast and loose: “Republican state senators handed out pamphlets at precinct caucuses last week that were printed at taxpayer expense. Democrats allege that violates Senate rules and state law that prohibit using taxpayer money to campaign for office. But Republicans say they don’t think they’ve done anything wrong. Among the 15 Republican senators who distributed the literature were powerful office holders like Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem of Rochester and freshmen in swing districts, like Ben Kruse of Brooklyn Park. The brochure, titled ‘Senate GOP Legislative Update,’ credited Senate Republicans for accomplishments such as making tough choices that resulted in a projected budget surplus to giving Minnesotans a chance to vote on the proposed marriage amendment to the state constitution. ‘In my mind that was a constituent piece and they are constituents,’ Senjem said.”

A touch of South Carolina in West St. Paul. Nick Ferraro at the PiPress reports: “[A] West St. Paul City Council member says he has removed a Confederate flag from the back deck of his house. But Ed Hansen didn’t take the banner down because of negative community reaction. Rather, he said at Monday night’s city council meeting, the flag had become a distraction because people ‘wanted to get into debates about Civil War history.’ He reiterated what he said last week: He sees the flag as a symbol of free speech and individual liberty.” Yeah, every time I see a Confederate flag I think “symbol of freedom.”

Will there be any finger-wagging, I wonder? The AP reports: “Republican Gov. Scott Walker plans to greet President Barack Obama in Milwaukee on Wednesday and accompany him on a visit to Master Lock. Walker’s spokesman Chris Schrimpf confirmed Tuesday that Walker will meet the president at the tarmac and join him on the company visit. Walker has been attempting to tie the effort to recall him from office with Obama’s re-election plans and hopes of winning Wisconsin like he did in 2008. Walker has been telling supporters that a victory for him in a recall would be a ‘devastating blow’ for Obama’s chances at re-election.” I’m sure Obama’s sweating that one.

In addition to that $1,000 call-their-bluff pledge issued Monday, the ACLU is planning to campaign against all of the GOP’s (growing) list of constitutional amendments. Jake Grovum at Politics in Minnesota writes: “The Board of Directors for the Minnesota chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is preparing a 2012 push to defeat the constitutional amendments backed by Republican majorities at the Capitol — all of them. Late last week, the ACLU board filed papers with the state’s Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board establishing Vote No 2012, a coordinated statewide effort that will look to enlist the group’s more than 8,000 members in defeating amendments ranging from same-sex marriage and right to work to proposals that would restrict tax increases and spending. ‘Minnesota’s Constitution should never be amended to serve the political agenda of any one group,’ said Leslie Sandberg, chair of the Vote No 2012 Committee. ‘Vote No 2012 was created to fight against any amendment that would place prejudice and discrimination over rights and freedoms in our Constitution.’ ”

You heard that Randy Moss wants back in the NFL, right? But have you followed ex-Viking Cris Carter’s thoughts on that matter? At CBS Sports, Will Brinson writes: “[O]ver the past couple of days, Carter’s managed to make Moss, who recently announced his return to football, something that doesn’t resemble happy. Carter initially said that Moss could hop out of bed and run a 4.3 40-yard dash. But then he added later that Moss has a lot of ‘quit’ in him. ‘The one thing you have to address with Randy Moss is not a conditioning thing,’ Carter said. ‘It’s not an age thing. It needs to be addressed. I believe it’s the elephant in the room. It’s that thing called quit. And Randy, not like any other superstar I’ve met, he has more quit in him than any of those other players. So I need to address that. That’s what (New England Patriots coach Bill) Belichick did when he brought him over from Oakland. He told him he wasn’t going to have it.’ Moss had taken criticism from Carter pretty well, not mentioning it on one of his many USTREAM sessions. He’s also been surprisingly contrite since announcing his return. But then he took to Twitter on Tuesday afternoon and fired some shots back at his former teammate. ‘@criscarter80 its sad how u stroked ur own ego when u were suppose to b my mentor!then u wonder why karma bites u in the ass! #goodlukwithhof’, Moss tweeted.” And that’s like sayin’ it straight, homie.

The Forum papers, led by the Grand Forks Herald, have a sprawling special project on water in their immediate area and, to an extent, the upper Midwest. The project, currently part three of five, involves literally dozens of staff stories, community crowd-source stories and variations of every statistic graph and pie-chart you can imagine.

Apparently the principals in that downtown Minneapolis hotel shooting were “breaking bad” prior to the gun fire. Paul Walsh of the Strib says: “A 33-year-old from western Hennepin County was among four men in a downtown Minneapolis hotel room smoking meth, when he fatally shot one man and wounded another, according to charges filed Tuesday. Brian V. Griffin, 33, of Dayton, was charged in Hennepin County District Court with second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder in the shootings early Saturday in a room at the Millennium Hotel on the Nicollet Mall. Killed was Jeremy Shannon, 33, of Minneapolis. Authorities have not identified the man who was wounded and survived. According to the complaint: At one point while the four were smoking meth, Griffin walked to the door as if he were leaving. Instead, he pulled a handgun from his waistband, turned around and shot Shannon numerous times and also shot one of the other men. Griffin then ran from the room.” The hotel has to love this publicity.

There’s a 93 percent chance the guys who burglarized your house will never be caught. Matt McKinney of the Strib reports: “Already one of the most common crimes in the city — 5,103 burglaries were reported in Minneapolis last year, or about 14 every day — they also hold the distinction of being among the least likely to be solved. The Minneapolis clearance rate for burglaries — a measurement of how many are solved — has hovered around 7 percent. That’s less than the national average of 12.4 percent, according to FBI statistics. ‘Are we happy? No,’ said Assistant Police Chief Janee Harteau.” That’d be the right answer, chief.