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Wisconsin echo of Trayvon Martin shooting draws protests

Vikes stadium back in play; Coen Brothers crew films in Owatonna, and possibly a TV version of “Fargo”; timber harvest dropping; and more.

Wisconsin’s version of the Trayvon Martin shooting — this time an unarmed 20-year-old escaping a drinking party who hid in a neighbor’s porch and was shot and killed by the owner — has put demonstrators on the street in West Bend. Says Bruce Vielmetti of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: “The crowd that lined Highway 33 on Sunday evening had already mourned and memorialized Bo Morrison. This time, they were trying to start a cause, to get others to see the young man’s death as a catalyst for repealing Wisconsin’s castle doctrine law. Morrison, 20, died early March 3 after he fled an underage drinking party in Slinger, hid inside a neighbor’s enclosed porch at 2 a.m. and was shot by the homeowner investigating noises. Washington County District Attorney Mark Bensen announced last week that the shooter, Adam Kind, 35, was justified under the doctrine and would not be charged with any crime. The law, passed last year, presumes that anyone using deadly force against unlawful intruders to their home acts reasonably. More than 160 people at Sunday’s protest carried signs such as ‘Repeal the castle doctrine’ and ‘Castle doctrine = License to kill.’ … Vielmetti’s earlier story lays out the details of the case.”

Not so fast on that DOA stadium business … In his PiPress story, Doug Belden writes: “Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and City Council President Barb Johnson presented Gov. Mark Dayton on Monday with letters from seven council members indicating support for the Vikings stadium plan. The letters are not identical. Three are the same, two others add additional language, and one — from Ward 1 council member Kevin Reich — is completely rewritten. Johnson said the cover letter she co-signed with Rybak counts as the seventh letter of support. Despite the differences in the letters, Rybak said he’s confident that on the fundamentals of the bill currently before the Legislature, there are seven council votes to pass, which would be a majority of the 13-member council.”

At MPR, Tim Nelson is saying: “Rybak handed out signed letters … from Council President Barbara Johnson, as well as council members Diane Hofstede, John Quincy, Meg Tuthill, Don Samuels, Sandy Colvin Roy and Kevin Reich. The two latter council members had been wavering on the plan until late last week and finally committed over the weekend. Rybak said the council members have agreed that the stadium plan is not subject to a citywide referendum despite city charter language that says any spending of more than $10 million for a sports stadium must be approved by voters. Stadium sponsors say the charter language does not apply to the Vikings plan because the sales taxes that would pay for the city’s $150 million upfront share actually go to the state, not the city. The council president credited new revenue numbers for 2011 sales taxes in the city with helping turn the tide. She said the good numbers, from as recently as last week, help the city’s financial analysts convince some of her colleagues that the deal would work. … Dan McConnell, business manager for the Minneapolis Building Trades, said that stadium supporters were buttonholing council members at this weekend’s DFL endorsing conventions and that the union was putting ‘patch through’ calls of stadium supporters to city officials still on the fence. ‘We’ve been experiencing like 20, 30 percent unemployment for the last several years,’ McConnell said in an interview after the announcement. He said unions wanted the council to help move the stadium forward to help fill in the ‘trough’ in construction work still lingering from the recent recession.” Next up … the unions working their magic on the GOP.

At the Strib, Rachel Stassen-Berger adds: “Separately, Council member Meg Tuthill said that she has decided to support the plan, saying that a vote for the stadium does not violate the city’s charter rule limiting spending on sports facilities because: ‘None of the money for the proposed stadium comes from the City’s general fund.’ ‘I’ve got to look at the future of this city. I’ve got to look at it longterm. And jobs are huge, especially now,’ she said. Council Member Sandy Colvin Roy, who had been opposed, also has lent her support.”

The Glean

The Coen brothers were elsewhere, but they had a crew shooting scenes down near Owatonna. Jeffrey Jackson of the People’s Free Press writes: “[H]ad the winter been colder throughout the country and spring not arrived quite so early back east, Steele County and Minnesota might have lost out on the opportunity for a movie — or at least part of a movie — to be made here. The film, ‘Inside Llewyn Davis,’ is the latest project from the writing, directing and producing team of Joel and Ethan Coen — the Minnesota-born brothers who gave the world such films as ‘Fargo,’ ‘The Big Lebowski,’ the Oscar-winning ‘No Country for Old Men,’ and their most recent effort, the Academy Award-nominated remake of ‘True Grit.’ ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ tells the story of a singer-songwriter who travels from Chicago to New York City in 1961 to be a part of the folk music scene. It stars Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, Oscar Isaac and John Goodman. Filming for the movie, which is set to be released next year, began in New York in early February. When it came time to film the road scenes from Chicago to New York, however, the filmmakers discovered that as much as most folks enjoyed the warmer-than-usual winter and the early spring, the warm weather fouled their plans. Because the trees back east had started budding, scenes that were supposed to be filmed on roads where the trees were bare could not be filmed where they were originally set to be shot. And the filmmakers had to look elsewhere.”

Coincidentally enough, the perpetually on, then off, TV adaptation of “Fargo,” the brothers’ 1996 hit, is back on a burner. Cynthia Littleton at Variety writes: “FX is eyeing a possible small screen adaptation of the 1996 Coen brothers’ pic ‘Fargo’ with MGM Television. Sources stress that the conversations are in the early stages, and there’s no certainty a deal will come together. It’s not clear if the cabler and studio have a scribe in mind to handle the adaptation of the murder-mystery dramedy. … ‘Fargo’ starred Frances McDormand as a pregnant police chief tasked with traversing snowy environs to solve murders spurred by an inept car salesman, played by William H. Macy. McDormand won an Oscar for the pic, as did Joel and Ethan Coen for original screenplay.”

Harvest volume of Minnesota timber is down substantially since 2006. The AP story says: “Since the downward trend started in 2006, the timber harvest volume in Minnesota has dropped by between 25 percent and 30 percent because of closures or cutbacks at several board plants, paper mills and numerous smaller sawmills, said Scott Dane, executive director of the Associated Contract Loggers and Truckers of Minnesota. ‘Minnesota is following the national trend of losing logging infrastructure,’ Dane told the Mesabi Daily News of Virginia for a weekend story. According to his group, there has been a 35 percent decline in U.S. logging jobs from 2001 to 2011, from 73,500 to 47,700 workers. Wayne Brandt, executive vice president of Minnesota Forestry Industries, said the drop was driven largely by the crash of new home construction. Minnesota loggers harvested about 4 million cords of wood a year around 2006, but that figure is now at about 2.7 million cords annually. The number of new U.S. housing starts fell from about 2 million in 2005 to under 600,000 per year currently, Brandt said.”

Brett Neely of MPR adds to the story of Sens. Klobuchar and Franken calling out Wall Street speculators for their role in rising gas prices. “[P]eople who study the price of oil and gas aren’t convinced prices are out of line with what’s happening in the market. ‘There’s really is no evidence that speculators are playing any significant role in the world price of oil,’ said Severin Borenstein, a professor at the University of California-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. ‘It’s the world price of oil that’s driving up prices of gasoline right now.’ That’s because densely populated developing countries such as China and India are consuming more oil, said Borenstein … There’s not much Congress or the federal government can do about that, he said. There are plenty of speculators on the oil market, but Borenstein said it’s very hard for them to move prices for more than a day or two. He also said there is an easy sign that speculators are trying to move the markets: growing inventories. That would happen if speculators were trying to take oil off of the market to drive up the price. ‘We aren’t seeing that now,’ Borenstein said. …Veteran oil market analyst Tom Kloza of Oil Price Information Service said rising gas prices are to be expected this time of year. ‘We’ve seen this movie before,’ he said. ‘The difference in the movie this year is that it comes in an election year and some folks have seized on it for political opportunism.’

The Bloomberg story on St. Jude Medical discontinuing Riata wires on implantable defibrillators isn’t reassuring. Says Michelle Fay Cortez: “Recalled St. Jude Medical Inc. heart device wires, still in use to connect life-saving implantable defibrillators in 79,000 patients, had multiple defects that led to melted conductors, electrical abnormalities and shocks, a study found. Little Canada-based St. Jude stopped selling its Riata wires in December 2010 and recalled them last year on reports they could break through their insulation. Surgery to remove the leads may present higher risks than keeping them in, U.S. regulators have said. A study of 105 reports on failed wires found that two-thirds had multiple defects, often up and down their length. The wires, called leads, can produce noise, like static on a television set, which may result in unnecessary shocks or reduce the energy needed to stimulate the heart, according to the study reported Monday, March 26, at the American College of Cardiology meeting in Chicago. ‘The problem with this whole defect is there is no easy way to pick it up until an event happens’, said Robert Hauser, the Minneapolis Heart Institute cardiologist who authored the report. ‘It’s an all-or-nothing situation. We are trying to figure out how to manage these patients, or a way to monitor them safely and effectively.’ ”