Dayton says he’ll campaign against Voter ID

Despite all the machinations to avoid him and a certain veto, Gov. Mark Dayton will campaign against the GOP’s Voter ID bill. Tim Pugmire at MPR says: “Dayton said Tuesday that he will work against a Republican-backed constitutional amendment that would require voters to present photo identification at the polls, even though he has no power to stop it from reaching the ballot in November. … Dayton, a Democrat, had already said he would use his bully pulpit to try to defeat a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriages. He pledged to do the same to defeat the voter ID amendment. ‘You know, at first blush it sounds good. I mean we all want every vote to be lawfully cast and everyone who’s lawfully eligible to be able to vote. We all agree on that,’ Dayton said. ‘The question is how do you achieve that goal and not disenfranchise thousands of people? So, as Minnesotans become aware of the facts of the situation, I think public opinion will change.’ But as amendment supporters frequently point out, public opinion is on their side, and by a wide margin. State Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, the chief sponsor of the House bill, said Minnesota voters want the ID requirement because they lack confidence in the current system. ‘Forefront in my mind all the time were those voters and their input into this, their strong desire to have photo ID,’ Kiffmeyer said. ‘They were foremost in my mind, and to write the language well to serve them well.’ ” Uh-huh. So what do you think? Did the ALEC script that quote?

The NTSB, best known as the airline crash agency, will investigate that terrible motorhome wreck in Kansas that killed five members of a Jordan, Minn., family. The AP’s Maria Sudekum writes: “The National Transportation Safety Board will review details of a Kansas motor home crash that killed five members of a Jordan family, including looking into laws that allowed a 17-year-old to drive the 57,000-pound vehicle, an NTSB spokesman said Tuesday. NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson said the agency wants to determine whether the driver, who was critically injured in the accident Sunday, was ‘legally able to drive’ such a large vehicle and whether the applicable laws and licensing requirements ‘could have played a role in this accident.’ ‘This does seem to be quite an unusual circumstance, so we want to be able to understand all the issues that surround it,’ Knudson told the Associated Press. ‘I don’t recall another accident involving a motor home with this many individuals injured or killed. We have a total of 18 who were in the vehicle. I don’t recall another NTSB investigation where you have that many individuals.’ ” And if they find fault, who do they punish?

Get out your tri-corner hats and “Don’t Tread on Me” flags … Toll lanes are a step closer for I-35E north out of St. Paul. Says Frederick Melo of the PiPress: “The addition of toll lanes to Interstate 35E north of downtown St. Paul got a vote of support from the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners. The panel unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday … backing the addition of high-occupancy-vehicle lanes on I-35E. The MnPASS managed lane project would stretch from Pennsylvania Avenue to Little Canada Road. The board doesn’t have the final say over the project, but it does want it known that money from the optional toll lanes should be used along I-35E and not raided for unrelated bus services. They also want it known that neighborhood groups are eager to see pedestrian-friendly biking and walking paths move forward as work on I-35E continues. The project is pending in the legislature. The Minnesota Department of Transportation has set aside roughly $80 million for MnPASS, which would allow drivers to use an electronic transponder to pay an optional toll and zip past traffic. Motorcyclists and carpools could enter the MnPASS lane for free, while drivers would still be able to access traditional lanes free of charge. MnDOT hopes to see the MnPASS project move forward alongside $260 million in changes to the interstate, including replacing the Pennsylvania Avenue interchange in St. Paul with a new interchange at Cayuga Street. Work on I-35E has already begun.”

Bob Shaw of the PiPress recounts the amazing survival story of a Korean War vet in the man’s obituary: “William Wallace Henninger of Hastings, who survived the infamous Sunchon Tunnel Massacre in the Korean War, has died at the age of 88. Through his wits, Henninger lived through one of the most harrowing ordeals of that war. … He was captured and taken to a prison camp in Pyongyang, where Americans were abused, beaten and starved. As U.S. forces advanced toward the city, their captors loaded about 180 prisoners into railroad cars and fled. On Oct. 20, 1950, Henninger’s train stopped in the Sunchon Tunnel. In the darkness, the guards ordered the starving prisoners off the train, ostensibly for their first meal in more than four days. Henninger and others were led, hands tied, to the end of the tunnel and into a ravine. The guards then opened fire with machine guns. Henninger waited until the soldier next to him fell,  then collapsed himself, faking his death. Several bodies fell on top of him. In one account, Henninger said he felt bullets ripping through his hair and clothes. The guards came through, kicking each body. When they heard a groan, they’d shoot or bayonet the wounded. When prodded, Henninger didn’t flinch.”

Guinness says so … the world’s quietest room is in the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis. Tom Weber of MPR reports: “The room, which holds the Guinness World Record designation, is located in the Orfield Laboratories. The recording studios where ‘Funkytown’ and Bob Dylan’s ‘Blood on the Tracks’ were recorded are also in this building.The world’s quietest room is called an anechoic chamber, which means there is no echo as it absorbs sound. Sound doesn’t bounce off the walls the way it does in a regular room. A typical quiet room you sleep in at night measures about 30 decibels. A normal conversation is about 60 decibels. This room has been measured at -9 decibels. Orfield Labs uses the room to test products, including switches that go on car dashboards and the sound an LED display makes on a cell phone to make sure they’re not too loud.”

At the Wall Street Journal’s Bankruptcy Beat blog, Jacqueline Palank notes the move here to limit how much trustees can claw back from charities gifted stolen money. “It’s an issue that hits close to home for dozens of organizations based in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, where Tom Petters used his business empire to carry out a $3.6 billion-plus Ponzi scheme. Among Petters’s many investors were charitable organizations, and he also donated millions of dollars to local nonprofits and religious groups. Because the money these organizations received from Petters was tainted by fraud, state laws allow demands to give the money back so it can be fairly distributed among all of his victims. Such clawback lawsuits are often filed by the independent trustees liquidating fraud-tinged business in bankruptcy courts. They say they’re righting the wrong inherent in Ponzi schemes: Early investors are paid from later investors’ dollars, leaving the later investors unpaid. Still, it definitely doesn’t look good when the lawsuits are filed in bankruptcy court. Charitable organizations say they’ve already put the money to good use and ask why they should suffer when they didn’t know the money they received wasn’t legitimate.

Finally, there may be no excuse not to take Mom to brunch on Mother’s Day. Dave Orrick of the PiPress writes: “The Minnesota House on Tuesday … overwhelmingly approved opening the game fishing season May 5, a week ahead of the May 12 opener currently scheduled. Wisconsin’s opener already is May 5. Supporters of the one-year-only move noted the unseasonably warm weather is prompting ice from lakes to melt and fish to spawn weeks early. Besides, moving the opener up a week might provide a peace accord for many families; May 13 is Mother’s Day, and the calendar quirk creates an almost annual conflict between anglers and moms. ‘I urge you to vote yes on behalf of my wife and my mom!’ Rep. Larry Hosch, DFL-St. Joseph, said shortly before the voice vote. But anglers shouldn’t start making plans just yet — because the change might not happen. The provision for the early opener is contained in a larger game and fish bill approved by the House, but contains several measures Gov. Mark Dayton opposes.”

Some guys never take a hint. Dan Browning of the Strib reports: “A Wisconsin taxidermist who wants to distribute Bibles at the 40th Annual Twin Cities Pride festival in June is suing the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board over a plan to restrict him to an area away from the action. In a federal lawsuit, Brian Johnson, an evangelical Christian from Hayward, says that he has distributed Bibles at the annual Loring Park event since 1995 and that he had no problems until 2009, when the organization refused to rent him a booth after asking about his views on homosexuality. Johnson and his family planned to walk through the 2009 event distributing Bibles, but festival officials told them they weren’t welcome, his suit says. A police officer allegedly told Johnson that the park was ‘private property that day, and Johnson was arrested when they didn’t leave. The charges were dropped. Dot Belstler, Twin Cities Pride’s executive director, said Johnson doesn’t ‘accost’ people but he has created problems at the event, which celebrates gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) individuals. ‘He’s a very open, likable gentleman,’ Belstler said. ‘He would talk to people and kind of engage them in conversation and then would go into, that they’re going to hell, they’re an abomination. That’s really kind of the exact opposite of our message of pride in being OK with who you are.’ ” Yeah, kinda.

On the Strib’s editorial page, Lori Sturdevant makes a (light) case for a bonding bill. “[T]he absence of a bonding bill from Tuesday’s House and Senate calendars has the Capitol buzzing about the delay in action on the session’s marquee bill. The problem appears to lie in the House, where a $280 million bill is deemed too small to win minority DFL votes and too large to get every vote in the 72-member Republican majority. It’s a situation that makes the 81 votes needed to enact a bonding bill difficult to corral. Republicans arguing for a tiny bill — or none at all — question whether the state can afford additional debt service. By the guidelines established several years ago by Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s administration, the answer is yes. According to a Feb. 29 memorandum from Management and Budget Commissioner James Schowalter, as much as $1.9 billion in additional bond authorizations could be enacted this year without exceeding the most restrictive guideline.”

Centerpoint Energy customers involved in the company’s ill-conceived “tier-pricing” gimmick will be getting a refund. At the Strib, David Shaffer says: “The state Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday ordered refunds to customers who paid more because the utility billed them for “monthly” periods that exceeded 32 days. Longer billing periods happen because utilities don’t always read the meter at exactly one-month intervals. For customers paying a flat rate, it’s not a problem. But CenterPoint in 2010 adopted five escalating rates. As customers used more natural gas in a billing period, they paid more for it. If the meter reading stretched to beyond 31 days, some customers got bumped into higher tiers and paid more as a result. Tiered pricing was suspended last October after critics said it was unfair.” Look for the refund in late May or early June.

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Comments (8)

  1. Submitted by Pat Berg on 04/04/2012 - 08:05 am.

    Not necessarily about punishment

    I don’t necessarily think the NTSB is looking to find someone to punish for the crash – at least, that’s not how I’m reading it.

    Rather, I think they just want see if maybe something that would seem logical on its face (an inexperienced 17 year old probably should not be driving a huge vehicle full of people and pulling a trailer) fell through the cracks in terms of what is legal and what is not.

    And that’s a good thing. Laws get written, unforeseen loopholes arise, and unless someone is out there re-examining how it all fits together when unusual events occur, then those loopholes never get addressed.

    So on a first reading (without having gone to your link), I’m not sure I’d frame this one as “Who should we punish for this terrible tragedy?” but rather as “What can we learn from this terrible tragedy?”.

  2. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 04/04/2012 - 08:24 am.

    The Minnesota Constitution is for all Minnesotans

    It is not right to amend the Minnesota constitution just for republicans. If the republican sky is falling it is not because of voter fraud, it is because of the wrong headed policies they are trying to push. There are no voter fraud facts in Minnesota that justify an amendment to the Minnesota constitution. For some reason the republicans refuse to work the real issues of our state. If you listen to the republicans running for office they have ticked off nearly every demographic. Their big mistake will be that they have turned the women against them. You have heard the saying if momma isn’t happy no one is happy. Good luck with that one republicans. In the mean time stay away from the constitution of Minnesota as it was meant to serve all citizens of Minnesota not just republicans.

  3. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/04/2012 - 09:15 am.

    Bully Pulpit?

    Well, if Dayton puts half the energy he’s put into getting Ziggy’s entitlement program up and running, then the most egregious effort to disenfranchise MN voters in history might actually fail.

  4. Submitted by Mark Gisleson on 04/04/2012 - 09:55 am.

    Clawing back

    I’d be very curious to know if these charities ever issued any public comments attesting to Hecker’s sterling qualities as a charitable benefactor. If so, the claw backs make perfect sense.

    How many criminals who looted their way to great fortunes made public displays of their charity (with other people’s money)? It’s part of their P.R. Ask some prosecutors if they don’t think twice before going after criminals who’ve made large donations to charities and religions.

  5. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 04/04/2012 - 01:34 pm.

    A couple of points…

    1. Why not just allow the charities to keep the Petters $$ and let the investors take the charitable deduction?

    2. If a tree falls in an anechoic chamber, does it…aww, never mind.

  6. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 04/04/2012 - 02:23 pm.

    It seems to me

    that given his recent electoral history, Dayton lacks the credibility with most people when it comes to speaking against measures that would prevent election fraud.

    It’s actually amusing and ironic that it is his election that’s one of the driving forces behind the need for such a law, and if you believe the polls, most people would agree. Yet he doesn’t get it.

    • Submitted by Mark Gisleson on 04/04/2012 - 03:29 pm.

      Believe me

      everyone who’s not a Republican (and most of them) do “get” it.

      When a voter is denied the right to vote over procedural claptrap, a Republican vote suppressor gets his wings, and if there’s one thing this country is not short of, it’s flying Republicans.

  7. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 04/04/2012 - 06:18 pm.

    Dennis T.

    How about some proof of your allegations about the governor? How is his election one of the reasons we “need” an unneeded voter id law?

    He’s doing whatever he can to protect the people of Minnesota from right-wing designs on our democracy and economy. His efforts are greatly appreciated by me and by anyone who recognizes the damage the ALEC-controlled Right could do if all their dreams come true.

    If you’re going back to when he was a US senator and closed his office, please know that the Senate was in recess. All the senators had gone home, but staff remained on duty in Washington. When there was a bomb threat or some such thing, Dayton was the only senator concerned enough about their safety to tell his staff to close the office and go home. He is unfairly and incorrectly called a wuss for that action.

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