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Gov. Dayton: ‘I’d lay better odds on [bonding bill] than stadium’

Busy week for courts; Duluth white supremacist “rally”; Jewish leaders oppose marriage amendment; and a first-grader’s unique peanut butter sandwich; and more.

Baird Helgeson’s Strib piece on Gov. Dayton’s performance to date and challenges ahead included this: “Several DFL legislators and colleagues say the former U.S. senator, who admitted he was not successful during his one term as a senator in Congress, is gaining confidence as the state’s chief executive. They say his political spine has stiffened and that he is showing growing acumen for legislative strategy. ‘I think he is way better than anyone thought he would be,’ said state Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul. ‘I hear that everywhere. I think what he is discovering about himself, as we are discovering, is that he is pretty good at this.’ ” And this: “He expects Republicans to eventually send him a bonding bill with $500 million in building and road projects and another $241 million to renovate the aging Capitol. He said Republicans need those projects for their home districts just as much as he needs them to kickstart the state’s depressed construction industry. ‘I’d lay a lot better odds on that than a stadium,’ Dayton said. The stadium remains Dayton’s biggest political challenge of the moment, one that will require the kind of bipartisan arm-twisting the Capitol has not seen in years.”

The courts beat will be busy this week. Abby Simons of the Strib sets up three trials likely to get ink. “Jury selection is scheduled to begin in Hennepin County Monday for three high-profile trials involving Minnesota Vikings player Chris Cook, former Minneapolis Park Police officer William Jacobs and Joseph Duane “Little Joe” Gustafson, the alleged second-in-command of a violent North Side gang. … Cook will stand trial for domestic assault and third-degree assault, both felonies, following a fight with his girlfriend last fall at his Eden Prairie home. Charges say Cook, 24, assaulted and tried to strangle the 21-year-old woman during an Oct. 21 fight at his home. … Two years after he was charged, Jacobs, 68, of Lutsen, Minn., will stand trial on a charge of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and 15 felony counts of possessing child pornography. He is accused of molesting a boy from 2007 until 2010, when the 15-year-old went to authorities. … Less than a week after his father was sentenced to 15 years in prison for racketeering, Gustafson, 37, of Minneapolis, will stand trial on 14 felony charges, including racketeering, extortion, assault, robbery, kidnapping and weapons and drug trafficking in connection with the ‘Beat Down Posse,’’ a north Minneapolis gang that robbed and assaulted drug dealers and others while operating a bail bond business.” Swell bunch of guys.

It would, of course, be churlish and beneath our dignity to make comment on the intellectual quality of what Jason Lewis has been selling for years, but in his role as the Strib’s badged libertarian, he takes a shot at MinnPost and other 501(c)3 entities. Of us he says: “The irony here is that far from relieving the government’s (taxpayer’s) social burden, most of these ‘public charities’ seek to expand it. Regardless, my favorite ‘tax expenditure’ is a fledgling little project known as MinnPost. Here you’ll find a group of scribes still smarting over a market devaluation of their services. Hence, MinnPost’s creed is that high-quality journalism ‘can no longer depend only on the private sector.’ Maybe that’s why they’re propped up by grants from yet another tax-exempt entity, the mega-McKnight Foundation.” Perhaps Lewis will enthrall us with how thoroughly for-profit Bain Capital enhanced the depth and quality of ClearChannel radio?

John Lundy’s Duluth News Tribune story on the white supremacist “rally” says: “A white supremacist rally on the steps of Duluth City Hall turned into a raucous confrontation on Saturday, with dozens of counter-protesters shouting, chanting and pelting the white-pride group with snowballs. For 30 minutes, the two groups stood face-to-face as a steady snow fell, watched by a line of Duluth police, wearing safety helmets, who stood against the building. Aside from some pushing and shoving and the snowballs, the confrontation was verbal. … Robert Hester of Superior, a member of the Supreme White Alliance who organized the rally, said later that he was able to give the entire speech he had planned, but he couldn’t be heard. Duluth police banned use of amplifiers, and earlier had told an American Indian Council group staging a counter-rally of its own in the Civic Center that it had to turn off its microphones. Even if his voice had been amplified, Hester might not have been heard over the vigor of the chanting protesters, many of whom were from the Occupy Duluth group. A second member of the supremacist group held a revolving set of signs printed with words such as ‘Whites can be victims too’ and ‘No more white guilt.’ The man declined to identify himself. A woman with the group who gave her name as Laurie said she had driven eight hours from Wisconsin to participate because she was offended by what she had heard about the billboards used in the Un-Fair Campaign.‘I work two jobs to support my kids,’ the woman said. ‘I don’t get a bonus because I’m white.’

On the gist of the confrontation, Duluth’s anti-racism campaign, Power Line’s Scott Johnson writes: “It’s hard to see stupidity … when you’re liberal. That was my take on the purported Duluth anti-racism campaign covered in the Star Tribune last month. We believe in treating people equally without regard to race. Does any one of the white liberals sponsoring the campaign including the Mayor of Duluth believe in equal treatment without regard to race? Does any one of them oppose racial preferences in educational institutions, public or private employment, or anywhere the heavy hand of government holds sway? Not bloody likely. Liberalism abandoned equal treatment as the reigning principle right around the time Civil Rights Law of 1964 adopted equal treatment as the supposed law of the land.”  

A Mankato kid is a finalist for his deluxe peanut butter sandwich. The AP story says: “A Mankato first-grader who created a peanut-butter sandwich that features blueberries and maple syrup is one of five finalists in a national sandwich contest. Sullivan Jacobs calls his concoction the Blue Monkey Pita. It features whole-wheat pita bread, blueberries, agave nectar, banana, maple syrup and peanut butter. The sandwich was good enough to qualify him as one of five finalists in the ‘Most Creative Peanut Butter Sandwich Contest,’ sponsored by Jif. Sullivan is now in the running for a $25,000 college fund and $10,000 for education products. The grand-prize winner will be announced March 30 in New York.” All that recipe needs is a couple of slices of thick bacon …

Local Somalis are threatening to vote with their feet. Rupa Shenoy of MPR explains: “Hundreds of Somalis desperate to send money to loved ones in Africa agreed at a meeting Saturday to set a deadline for two banks to help with their cause, or face the possibility of losing business. The Somali community sends millions of dollars to the horn of Africa each year through Somali-owned money wiring businesses in Minnesota. Typically those businesses need a US bank to facilitate the transactions — but the last American bank to do so stopped three months ago. Bank officials said they couldn’t be sure their systems weren’t being used by terrorists under the new federal restrictions.”

Shenoy also covers a gathering of the area’s more conservative Jewish leaders: “The group Jewish Community Action says the proposed state amendment to define marriage as between a man and woman conflicts with Jewish tradition. They invited hundreds of people to an event in Minnetonka on Sunday in an effort to build support for a campaign against the amendment using ancient Jewish texts from the Torah. ‘We believe that all people are made in the image of God and that we need to respect everyone’s orientation,’ says event organizer Adele Brown. ‘We want to stress that, educate our Jewish community about the values that are in our Torah, and also the tools we can use to make sure this amendment is defeated.’ Brown says the event has 18 co-sponsors including some of the area’s most … conservative and reformed Jewish congregations, and local rabbis will speak about the amendment from a Jewish context.”

“Best of the Weekend” may have been Rachel Stassen-Berger’s Strib story on the lobbying blitz about to descend on tax-supported stadium nay-sayers, at the Capitol and the Minneapolis City Council. Among the highlights: “On Friday, Tina Smith, Gov. Mark Dayton’s chief of staff and a former chief of staff to Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, was making personal phone calls to swing votes on the Minneapolis City Council, where several members maintain that any diversion of taxes should go before city residents for a referendum vote. Supporters admit passage could be an uphill climb but say they are getting to work immediately. Dayton has pledged to keep ‘working on this project until we get it done.’ … House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, has said he has no intention of letting the bill skip less friendly committees. He has diligently avoided taking any stand for or against the measure. So far, backers do not know even which committees the stadium proposal will have to hit. That makes it hard for them to count support on any committee. … Sen. Dave Hann, R-Eden Prairie, who remains opposed to the expansion of gambling needed to fund the state’s $398 million share of costs. The stadium proposal would allow electronic pulltabs in thousands of bars and restaurants — the first such expansion of video gambling beyond tribal casinos.”