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Post-deadline for a deal, Brodkorb vows to sue

Voter ID debate snippets; another push for business tax cuts; Capitol rehab plans; a plane crash; a Vikings stadium “gift” for Wilf; and more.

Michael Brodkorb
MinnPost photo by Terry GydesenMichael Brodkorb

What’s he got to lose at this point? The AP is reporting: “A former Minnesota legislative employee who was fired in connection to an affair with the Senate majority leader is taking a concrete step toward a possible lawsuit. Michael Brodkorb planned to register a formal gender discrimination complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, his attorney said today. The step precedes a lawsuit that could come soon.”

Fox9’s Tom Lyden has more provocative details: “It’s no longer a threat. Sources tell FOX 9 News that Michael Brodkorb is expected to file a wrongful termination lawsuit against the Minnesota Senate over his firing, which followed  his affair with then-Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch. Talks of negotiation fell apart, and the 6 p.m. deadline that his lawyers set passed without any resolution. Now, sources say that unless there is a last-minute agreement drafted overnight, Brodkorb will take his case to federal court. … Sources told FOX 9 News that Brodkorb will also claim defamation, saying he was slandered by Senate GOP leaders — specifically, Senate Secretary Cal Ludeman, who said Brodkorb was trying to extort money from the Senate. If the EEOC rules in his favor, that would pave the way to a major lawsuit.”

WCCO-TV has a sampler of last night’s Voter ID comments by House legislators:
Rep. Joe McDonald (R-District 19B) “This is not a barrier” … “We lift the barrier. It allows us as representatives to call (constituents) up and help them and to give them an ID.”
Rep. Ryan Winkler (DFL-District 44B)
“The problem with this is: we can’t fix this with legislation. The only way we can fix problems with this is with a further constitutional amendment.”
Rep. Tony Cornish (R-District 24B)
“I’ve had two Red Bulls, four cups of coffee and I wish the house cameras were here because I’m ready to green light this. … I think there’s a lot of support for this. So I can’t believe why you’re beating up on old people and making it look like they can’t take care of themselves or can’t make decisions.”
Tony was probably carrying, too.

Our version of the swallows’ return to Capistrano has (re-)arrived. The GOP is pushing a phase-out of business property taxes … again. Danielle Nordine, for the Duluth Herald Tribune, writes: “Minnesota would phase out state business property taxes and give other groups tax cuts as well if a Senate plan announced today is approved. The proposal would give more than $102 million in tax cuts next year, with more planned in the future, that would be offset by trimming state government spending and using some of the budget reserve funds. ‘We want Minnesota’s tax climate to be competitive,’ bill author Sen. Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen, said. … The proposal would give married couples a tax break in 2012 and give other credits to members of the military and veterans. The plan also would freeze local government aid at 2010 levels. Sen. John Howe, R-Red Wing, suggested looking into not limiting funds for cities with fewer than 5,000 people.”

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Bill Salisbury at the PiPress files a story on the $221 million tab for fixing up the Capitol: “The House Capital Investment Committee on Tuesday … approved spending $221 million for a renovation project that would repair cracking marble walls, update heating, plumbing and electrical systems and take other steps to upgrade the 106-year-old building over the next five years. The committee chairman, Rep. Larry Howes, R-Walker, said House Republican leaders support borrowing money to fix the Capitol. ‘I can’t imagine a member of the House not voting to restore the ‘people’s house,’ he said. Gov. Mark Dayton wants to renovate the Capitol and supports Howe’s approach of funding it in a separate bonding bill, state Administration commissioner Spencer Cronk said after testifying at the committee hearing. In January, Dayton, a Democrat, proposed spending $13.5 million on Capitol repairs as part of a $775 million public works proposal, but Cronk said the governor submitted that recommendation before the state Capitol Preservation Commission offered its restoration plan.”

No doubt TV will have lots of coverage this evening, but as of now the AP is saying: “Sheriff’s officials say three adults have died in the crash of a small plane in central Minnesota’s McLeod County. McLeod County Sheriff Scott Rehmann said the plane went down in a field about four miles north of Glencoe and broke apart. He said there are no survivors in the crash. The Federal Aviation Administration said the crash was reported at 11:12 a.m. Wednesday. Sheriff Rehmann, at the scene of the crash, said witnesses reported hearing a popping noise and then heard the impact of the plane crashing.”

Very nice breakdown of the Vikings stadium deal language by the Strib’s Mike Kaszuba: “If the Minnesota Vikings get a new stadium, team owner Zygi Wilf may enjoy one benefit the late Carl Pohlad did not get when Target Field was built for his Minnesota Twins. It all has to do with the public’s share of any sale of the team after the stadium is built, a clause that was inserted initially for Target Field to give taxpayers a sense they could partially recoup the hundreds of millions they were pouring into the project. For the Twins, the public would get as much as 18 percent of the team’s overall sale price. For the Vikings, the public would get up to 18 percent of Wilf’s profit from a sale — a big difference. The slight wording change, buried deep in the Vikings’ 70-page public subsidy stadium proposal, could mean $100 million or more for Wilf.” Zygi does know his way around a real estate contract, you know.

Shades of an Alfred Hitchcock movie … Mike Nowatzki of the Forum papers reports: “Authorities have confirmed that 27-year-old Jared Nilles of Fargo, whose body was found Monday along the railroad tracks between Glyndon and Hawley, Minn., was a passenger on an Amtrak train bound for Chicago, Clay County Sheriff Bill Bergquist said this morning. … Authorities also are checking with Amtrak officials to determine whether the train had security cameras, he said. ‘I don’t know if we’ll ever know exactly what happened unless somebody saw something,’ he said. BNSF railway contacted the sheriff’s office around 7 a.m. Monday after a train conductor spotted Nilles’ body along the tracks near Buffalo River State Park. … Nilles graduated from Fargo South High in 2003 before studying screenwriting and film production at Minneapolis Community and Technical College.”

The Twin Cities have been declared “The Least Stressful” of the country’s 50 largest metro areas. The study by Sperling’s Best Places says: “[A] research firm specializing in livability rankings, has released its new study of major cities with the most and least stress.  The study analyzed a variety of factors associated with stress, including suicide, divorce, crime, joblessness and lengthy commuting. Five of the top ten metro areas in the Sperling stress study are Florida, with the Tampa area earning the title of ‘Most Stressful City.’ Other Florida cities in the top ten are Miami (#3), Jacksonville (#4), Orlando (#6), and West Palm Beach (#10).  ‘Frankly, I was shocked by the concentration of Florida cities clustered in the top ten,’ said lead researcher Bert Sperling.  ‘But when we look into the statistics, we can see some of the reasons.’  Contributing factors are high levels of divorce and suicide, as well as high unemployment, a lingering consequence of the Florida’s real estate boom and bust.  The residents of most of the Florida cities in our study also were more likely to report feelings of stress, depression and emotional problems, and high crime rates contribute to their rankings. Other places in the top ten were Las Vegas (#2), Detroit (#5), Riverside CA (#7), Sacramento (#8), and Seattle (#9).  ‘The real surprise here is Seattle’, says Sperling. ‘It isn’t a city we normally think of as stressful, but the divorces, suicides and alcohol use are near the 80th percentile for our study, commuting is painful, and crime is surprisingly high.’ … On the flip side of the rankings are the cities with the least stress, and here Minneapolis is the most chill city (literally, this time of the year).  The list of ten least stressful places also includes wealthy spots such as Long Island NY, Cambridge MA, San Jose CA, Washington DC, and Orange County CA.  But gritty places like Pittsburgh (#5) and Cleveland (#10) are also in the top ten, as are Dallas (#8) and Virginia Beach (#4).”