Nonprofit, independent journalism. Supported by readers.


Michael Brodkorb threatens Senate with a second lawsuit

White Earth casino plan going nowhere; new Twins song; confiscated hunting equipment on sale; N.D. wind-power standstill; abusive caregivers targeted; and more.

With Denny Hecker put away and Michele Bachmann off the campaign trail, this column needs Michael Brodkorb more than ever. Rachel Stassen-Berger of the Strib reports: “Brodkorb on Thursday formally warned the Senate majority leader that he plans to sue the Senate for defamation and demand damages of more than $500,000, according to documents provided to the Star Tribune. Brodkorb’s new claim is that Senate Secretary Cal Ludeman defamed him when he told the press that Brodkorb was trying to ‘blackmail’ and ‘extort payment from the Senate’ through his legal case for wrongful termination. … On Thursday, a process server came to the State Capitol to physically serve Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, with notice that a defamation claim would be coming in addition to the wrongful termination suit. Senjem said on Thursday afternoon that he had received the warning. ‘We’ll deal with that’, he said.” Do you have a choice, Senator?

The answer to Thursday’s rhetorical question about looking a gift $400 million in the mouth is… “Yes, of course.” Jim Ragsdale and Jennifer Brooks at the Strib say: “A northern Minnesota Indian tribe is offering enough money to cover the state’s entire $400 million contribution to a new Vikings stadium and $12 million per year for racetrack purses if it is allowed to build a gambling palace in the metro area. … But historic gambling rivalries and concerns over legal and financial issues are making the tribe’s ‘Minnesota Wins’ proposal look like anything but a winner. Shortly after [White Earth tribal Chair Erma] Vizenor unveiled the plan, House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, appeared cool to it. ‘We will stick with what works,’ he said, referring to the consensus forming around an expansion of the charitable gambling industry to include electronic pulltabs as a way to help pay for a stadium. Zellers is a strong proponent of the charitable gambling proposal. Senate Majority Leader David Senjem, R-Rochester, also appeared unenthusiastic. ‘It’s probably going to have a difficult time,’ said Senjem, noting potential conflict with other tribes and their casinos on reservations. Senjem has strongly backed a languishing proposal that would put video slots at horse-racing tracks as a stadium revenue source.”

The Strib really should consider moving reliably crusty outdoor writer Dennis Anderson over to the op-ed page, at least once in a while. His column today is a classic: “[T]hose who worry that Minnesota is fast becoming a ‘nanny state’ in which all problems are solved for residents and risks to their welfare eliminated can sleep well knowing that Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, has been ever ready this session to ward off any such sissy creep. Example: Come autumn, you might fancy a stroll with Ol’ Fido amid the season’s florid aspens and oaks. Or perhaps you ponder following your English setter or Labrador retriever in quest of the wondrous and wily ruffed grouse. But instead you stay home, fearing the watered-down body-gripping trap regulations the House passed this week might ensnare your pooch in the torturous death grip of a Conibear 220. Well, man up, you sissy, and head for the woods, your doggie in tow. It’s not the Legislature’s job to protect Minnesotans and their chicken-livered mutts from concealed killers — even though Wisconsin, among other states, has managed such protections quite well. Drazkowski also stands ever alert on behalf of citizens who worry they might have too much public land at their disposal on which to have fun. There’s hardly a public forest that couldn’t easily be platted for homes, he seems to believe, or a state park whose trees shouldn’t be whacked or a wildlife management area that wouldn’t be better suited as a feedlot.” What Dennis doesn’t seem to appreciate is the time and psychic energy required to give the people what they wanted most — Voter ID and gay marriage amendments.

It’s opening day for the 2012 (soon to be World Series champion) Minnesota Twins. Tom Weber at MPR has a piece about a guy who has whipped up a new fight song to compete with “We’re gonna win Twins.” “Andy Sturdevant is pretty well known in the local arts scene. He hosts a live show at Bryant Lake Bowl every month called Salon Saloon. Two Octobers ago he had a show about baseball and he’d just seen a movie about the Leeds United soccer team and loved the Leeds fight song. Sturdevant quickly noticed the lyrics ‘Here we go with Leeds United’ can very easily become ‘Here we go with Minnesota’ and the chorus of ‘We love you Leeds, Leeds, Leeds’ very easily becomes ‘We love you Twins, Twins, Twins.’ So Andy changed the words and performed the song that night.” Andy, of course, writes for MinnPost, too, and we’ve also featured his song. It’s really pretty good.                                    

If you need a new gun or rod … Zimmerman is your place to go. Krista Burns of KBJR in Duluth writes: “If you’re in need of new hunting and fishing gear for Minnesota’s upcoming seasons, this may be your perfect opportunity. The Minnesota DNR is auctioning off hunting and fishing equipment on April 28th at 10 A.M. at the Hiller Auction Service in Zimmerman, MN, which is about an hour north of the Twin Cities. These items are from people who forfeited their equipment after committing serious game violations. Items offered for sale include, but are not limited to: firearms, bows, tree stands, fishing rods and reels, tip-ups, traps, trail camera, depth finders, spotlights, scopes, spears and hand ice augers.” Having pretty well depleted my gun closet, I should get up there.

Just when you thought everything was unproductive partisanship in St. Paul, here is a piece of legislation with unambiguous merit. Brad Schrade of the Strib reports: “Minnesota lawmakers gave final approval Thursday to a measure that would, for the first time, punish abusive caregivers with prison time and significant fines if they severely neglect elderly and vulnerable adults. The bill, which has the support of Gov. Mark Dayton, creates a felony provision in state law that would target caregivers who intentionally deprive vulnerable adults of food, clothing, shelter, health care or supervision. Elder advocates and prosecutors say it will close a gaping loophole that for years left vulnerable people without proper protection. In some cases, elders have been found in horrible squalor, left in their own feces or with debilitating bed sores. Some even died at the hands of neglectful caregivers. Minnesota is one of five states that has treated such crimes as misdemeanors with little or no jail time and minimal fines.”

Patrick Springer of the Forum papers files a piece on the lagging to motionless pace of wind power construction in North Dakota: “The Coteau des Prairie hills that form a hummocky spine through McIntosh County provide a perfect platform for wind turbines. They’ve been chosen as the site for a sprawling 200-megawatt wind farm six miles north of here — one of 20 wind projects that have been permitted or are in the regulatory pipeline in North Dakota. But more than a year after the Ashley Wind Energy Project was approved, not a single turbine has been erected, and landowners who signed leases with the developer were told in December that the project is on hold. North Dakota’s once-booming wind energy sector is waning because of the sluggish economy, continued transmission bottlenecks and the prospect that federal tax credits will expire at the end of the year. … If Congress allows the tax incentives to expire, renewable energy advocates say the lapse would severely curtail new wind farm construction. Meteorological towers, used to measure wind potential for possible turbine placement, have been pulling out of North Dakota and South Dakota, said Mike Gray, an independent renewable energy consultant based in the Denver area. ‘They’re coming down,’ he said. ‘If you take a ‘met’ tower down, you’re pretty much done.’ ”

Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post crunches Wisconsin’s primary night numbers for a view of “the most polarized state in the country”: “[S]eeing the numbers coming out of Wisconsin on Tuesday night really opened our eyes. They are simply amazing, the kind of numbers you don’t see much — if ever — for any politician. ‘Yes, Republicans love Walker, Democrats hate him and the slice of voters with no opinion is certainly smaller than in any other state,, acknowledged one Republican strategist granted anonymity to speak candidly about the state of the state. … Among ‘very’ conservative voters, Walker’s approval rating is 98 percent with 92 percent of those voters strongly approving of him. Among ‘somewhat’ conservative voters, Walker’s approval is at 92 percent with 83 percent feeling that way strongly. … The data among tea party supporters is equally striking. Ninety seven percent of ‘strong’ tea party supporters in Wisconsin said they approve of Walker with 94 percent(!) saying they do so strongly. Those who are somewhat supportive of the tea party are close to unified in their support for Walker; 93 percent approve of him with 82 percent doing so strongly. … Republicans argue that while the electorate is in­cred­ibly polarized, Walker’s approval ratings are starting to trend upward and that the issues that will predominate in the recall — taxes and spending — work in the incumbent’s favor among independents. … There are virtually no persuadable voters.”

Cattle rustlin’ in the Great City of Montevideo! Says the AP: “A Montevideo man has pleaded guilty to stealing steers from a Madison feedlot. Twenty-three steers were taken from Robert Ludvigson’s farm on Jan. 29. Richard Kenneth Nelson pleaded guilty to two counts of possessing stolen property. Investigators found the missing cattle, worth about $40,000, at livestock auctions in Pipestone and Benson, with Nelson’s name listed as the seller. When confronted, authorities said Nelson admitted to selling the animals but said they were his.” Tongues will be waggin’ at Topper’s today.

The thought of Power Line’s John Hinderaker as … poetry critic will always get me into a blog post. Noting the paucity of “left wing art” as he calls it, John is whipped up about octogenarian German writer Gunter Grass. He says: “The left has dominated the arts — pretty much all of them, are there any exceptions other than country music? — throughout the modern era. And yet, how much good left-wing art has been created? Surprisingly little, it seems to me. But the latest from Gunter Grass is an especially lame instance of the genre. Grass, if you don’t recall him, is an 84-year-old German novelist whose best-known work is his first book, The Tin Drum, which was set before, during and after World War II. Grass was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1999, even though his writing has had little impact for some decades. At one time, Grass was hailed as the conscience of post-war Germany, but then it came out that he served in a Waffen-SS Panzer division in the latter part of the war. I don’t hold that against him; he was really a boy at the time. Still, most people, if they had a stint in the SS in their past, would have the delicacy to avoid posing as a moral arbiter. Not Gunter Grass. Inoculated by his left-wing politics, he assumes the right to instruct others, most recently, his bete noir, the state of Israel — again, a target that a former SS soldier might deem it prudent to avoid. … The politics are entirely predictable, but what I want to comment on is how terrible the poem is. … it is mindless left-wing noodling with occasional line breaks. I don’t think there was ever actually a time when patriotism was the last refuge of a scoundrel, but isn’t it obvious that leftism is the last refuge not only of scoundrels, but of the untalented, the over the hill, the too scared to be anything but conventional, and the depraved?” It must have been a slow day at Power Line. Either that or John couldn’t find a new angle on the hoax of climate change.