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A ‘smoking gun’ in Scott Walker’s collective bargaining claim?

Tweaking “synthetic drugs” law; Academy bankruptcy may prevent ACLU fund recovery; blogger blasts “Boondoggle Bridge” politicos; a shared three-sibling birthday; and more. 

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has consistently claimed, despite a complete lack of evidence, that he talked openly about attacking public-employee collective bargaining rights during the 2010 election. Now a blogger claims to have found a smoking gun in the case. Jud Lounsbury of Uppity Wisconsin writes: “Footage of an Oshkosh Northwestern’s editorial board meeting with Scott Walker, which took place one week before the 2010 election, has just been released.  In the hour long video, which I have edited down below, Walker has a back-and-fourth with an editorial board member that went like this:
Editorial Board Member: Before, we were talking about state employees contributing to their plan, paying their share of the pension plan. Collective bargaining come into that?
Walker: Yep (nodding yes)
Editorial Board Member: How do you get that negotiated and accepted by the state employee unions?
Walker: You still have to negotiate it. I did that at the county as well. Walker then goes on to say that he has used furloughs as a bargaining tool at the county level and that ‘we’d approach a similar strategy for the state,’ but said that he was open to compromise, saying  ‘we’re not locked into saying it has to be exactly the same’ and that if unions could provide alternative routes to saving money he would be willing to explore those ideas. Previously, it had been documented that, despite Scott Walker’s claims to the contrary, that he had not campaigned on ending collective bargaining.  This, however, goes one step further and documents that Walker had not only not said he wasn’t going to end collective bargaining — he explicitly promised to negotiate via collective bargaining — with public sector unions before the election!

Minnesota’s war on synthetic drugs is getting some official language. Brandon Stahl of the Duluth News Tribune is reporting: “State Sen. Roger Reinert, DFL-Duluth, is co-sponsoring legislation that backers hope will bring an end to synthetic drug sales in Minnesota, including at the Last Place on Earth in downtown. The House version of the bill, which Police Chief Gordon Ramsay testified on last week, would broaden language that would ban sales of synthetic drug analogs — compounds similar to the ones already banned by state and federal law. In the past, bans of specific compounds used in synthetic drugs simply prompted manufacturers to tweak the drugs to keep them legal, said Duluth Police Lt. Steve Stracek. ‘This would ban any synthetic cannabinoid and their analogs,’ Stracek said.” Doesn’t “cannabinoid” sound like something from “The Walking Dead”?

Not to be confused with “loose deer meat”Julie Siple’s MPR story says: “A bill that would loosen rules on donated venison got a hearing Tuesday in the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee. Since the state began to regulate donated venison, the amount donated to food shelves has plunged over the past few years from 78,500 pounds in 2007 to about 20,000 pounds in 2010. Some Republicans blame a state rule that requires all donated venison to be X-rayed to ensure it’s not contaminated with lead from bullet fragments. Bill Ingebrigtsen authored the bill that would limit the state’s control of the venison donation program. At a hearing in the Senate Environment and Natural Resources committee Tuesday, Ingebrigtsen said meat processors are not participating in the program because of all the rules.”

At the popular national web site Boing Boing, Maggie Koerth-Baker argues in favor of state-driven research, from a Minnesota perspective. She says: “[C]orporations have special concerns that influence what scientific research they undertake, and how they do it. In general, today, what they focus on is short-term stuff. They improve existing products. They figure out how to make nifty technology work in the real world. What they don’t do is long-term, big-picture science. This is the stuff that shapes our futures — and the futures of private corporations. If we abandon public funding for science, then we put all of that at risk. Case in point: Since 2003, Minnesota has funded research on energy through the University of Minnesota’s Initiative for Renewable Energy & the Environment (IREE). The scientists involved with this program do low-profile, but extremely important work, developing technologies (and methods for using those technologies) that affect every level of our energy systems. … Tomorrow, Minnesota state legislators in the Senate Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications Committee will vote on a bill called SF 2181. If it passes, the bill will de-fund the Initiative for Renewable Energy & the Environment. Instead, all state money for energy research will go to Xcel Energy, our local electric utility.”

The ACLU expects to see almost nothing in the aftermath of its successful suit against Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy. Says Christopher Magan at the PiPress: “Days after agreeing to a $1.4 million settlement in Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy’s bankruptcy case, the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota expects to recoup little of the millions it spent suing the now-defunct charter school. Meanwhile, the ACLU continues to pursue a 2009 civil lawsuit against the school’s leader, Asad Zaman, alleging taxpayer money was used to teach religion. The ACLU agreed last week to a $1.4 million settlement for attorneys’ fees in the bankruptcy case that grew out of an ongoing lawsuit claiming the public charter schools in Inver Grove Heights and Blaine taught Islam in the classroom. The charter school had high test scores and a waiting list before legal costs and other pressure forced it to close last summer. The ACLU had sought nearly $2.4 million, though it has spent nearly $3 million on the case so far. Chuck Samuelson, attorney for the Minnesota chapter, said he doesn’t expect the ACLU or its attorneys to recoup anywhere near that.”

The somewhat anachronistic contraception debate has arrived at the Minnesota legislature. Christopher Snowbeck of the PiPress says: “Later this year, the full cost of all government-approved contraceptives and related services must be covered in many private health plans as part of the federal overhaul of the nation’s health care system, which Congress passed in 2010. The bill introduced Tuesday by Rep. Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul, would extend the mandate to employer-sponsored health plans that have ‘grandfathered’ status, meaning they were in place before the federal health care law was enacted. Murphy said she didn’t know exactly how many employer groups in Minnesota would be affected by the mandate. Nationally, about 56 percent of workers covered by insurance were enrolled in grandfathered plans last year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.”

GOP Rep. Mary Franson, she of the “funny” video comparing welfare recipients to national park animals, is getting support for her claim that she is the true victim of the incident. Rachel Stassen-Berger writes at the Strib’s “Hot Dish Politics” blog: “Late Tuesday night, the Minnesota Republican Party condemned the ugly emails Franson shared Monday that she received in the wake of the video. The Minnesota GOP repeated its condemnation on Wednesday morning. ‘Today is a sad day in Minnesota, with malicious, hate-filled attacks threatening physical violence against Rep. Franson and her three children. This might be the kind of Chicago-style politics that has, unfortunately, infected too many corners of public life, but it sure isn’t the Minnesota way,’ Republican Party Chair Pat Shortridge and Deputy Chair Kelly Fenton said in a statement. Also Wednesday morning, the Minnesota-based Welfare Rights Committee decried the video and announced a Thursday morning protest. ‘We demand that Representative Fransen resign.  Elected officials have a basic responsibility to the people of this state and she has violated her position,’ Angel Buechner of the Welfare Rights Committee said in a statement. Meanwhile, Franson herself continues to take on critics on Twitter, including tweeting a link to her campaign website so that backers can offer her financial support. On Monday, she told Hot Dish that her critics are, ‘not even talking about the issues. If they’re upset, talk about the issues. Name calling, vulgar name calling’? She also said that the reaction has been ‘a learning experience, for sure. It also opened my eyes to how vile some people can be.’ ” Did you catch the “Chicago-style” code in there?

Quick, get a math nerd. What are the odds? The AP is telling the story of this Rochester family: “All three children were born on March 5 — in different years. The youngest, baby Russell O’Neill, was born Monday at a Rochester hospital. His sister, Rebecca, was also born on March 5, but two years ago. Brother Nolen turned 4 years old on March 5. Mom Carrie O’Neill says it’s an amazing coincidence since Russell wasn’t due until mid-March. She says Nolen has already celebrated his birthday in the hospital when his sister was born two years ago and now the family is back in the hospital for Russell’s birth.”

Karl Bremer at Ripple in Stillwater is not one bit pleased with anyone involved in the St. Croix bridge deal: “Wisconsin Republican Rep. Sean Duffy has only been in Congress for a year-and-a-half, but he’s already mastered the art of lying to pass legislation. Of course, he’s had the tutelage of the Queen of Lies, Michele Bachmann, to assist him in this time-honored tradition. Duffy stood on the floor of the House March 2 and spewed the same false information that Bachmann had written in a ‘Dear Colleague’ letter a couple of weeks earlier: that the Boondoggle Bridge Congress voted to exempt from the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act later that day is merely a $292 million bridge and not a $700 million bridge: ‘I think we gotta be clear on what that $700 million is,’ Duffy misled the House during the floor debate on this ‘noncontroversial’ measure. ‘It’s really only $292 million when you look at the actual cost of construction of the bridge — $292 million. If you want to look at all the extra costs that will get you upwards of $600 million, that cost comes from all the mitigation — the environmental mitigation that’s been requested over the decades of negotiation of trying to get this bridge done. … As Bachmann and Sen. Amy Klobuchar were so fond of reminding us, this was a bipartisan effort. Minnesota Democrats Amy Klobuchar, Al Franken and Mark Dayton stood by silently and let Bachmann’s lies be disseminated unchallenged as well, adding further disgrace to a party that once could be counted on to defend environmental protections like the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, not dismantle them. … There was another force at work that helped pushed this abomination through: the hidden hand of labor. It wasn’t until the votes were taken that new best friends Bachmann and Klobuchar hailed the contributions of the AFL-CIO and other labor organizations in strong-arming (Democratic) votes to the table for their Boondoggle Bridge.”