Johnny Northside and his blog have headed to the Court of Appeals. Says Abby Simons at the Strib: “Whether a blog post that got a man fired is constitutionally protected speech or a malicious smear campaign is now up for interpretation by the Minnesota Court of Appeals in a case that has attracted attention from First-Amendment scholars, citizen journalists and free-speech advocates. Arguments Wednesday came more than a year after a Hennepin County jury said Minneapolis blogger John ‘Johnny Northside’ Hoff owed Jerry Moore $60,000 in damages for a scathing blog post that resulted in Moore’s firing from the University of Minnesota. The jury decided that Hoff told the truth in his post when he accused Moore of being involved in a ‘high-profile fraudulent mortgage,’ but found that his actions amounted to actively interfering with Moore’s employment contract.”
Other than Chip Cravaack, John Kline appears the only even marginally vulnerable Minnesota congressional incumbent this fall. At the PiPress, Jessica Fleming’s story says: “U.S. Rep. John Kline sent a letter to supporters this week asking them to help build his already burgeoning war chest for what he says will be ‘our toughest race since we defeated Bill Luther in 2002.’ The national Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has said it will back Kline’s opponent, Mike Obermueller, in its nationwide Red to Blue Campaign. Kline’s letter says the DCCC has earmarked $2.9 million for Minnesota races. ‘From our perspective, the letter indicates that there is something Kline and I can agree on: This is going to be a tough race,’ Obermueller said. ‘We’re really looking forward to the challenge.’ ”
Jason Stein and Patrick Marley — who are not on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s editoria board — report: “Absentee voting in the June 5 recall election already far exceeds that of the primary earlier this month. As of Wednesday, at least 90,000 Wisconsin voters had cast an absentee ballot, up from 68,000 in the May 8 recall primary, according to the Government Accountability Board. The state elections agency gathers those numbers in its voter registration system from just over a third of the municipalities in the state, including all the state’s large cities. The figures came out as a new poll showed Gov. Scott Walker with a 5 percentage point lead over Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, similar to his advantage in other recent polls. The survey by St. Norbert College and Wisconsin Public Radio had a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points. Democrats contend the race is tightening as spending begins to even in the final two weeks of the race, and both sides have said voter turnout will be key to determining the winner. The absentee figures add more evidence the election could be a high-turnout event.” “Turnout” is what this one is all about now.
Like fear and sex, the profit motive makes people do strange things. Stephanie Hemphill of MPR reports on school trust lands and all the talk about new mining leases: “[M]illions of acres could be sold, with the proceeds deposited in a trust. They could also be managed by the state, which earns money by leasing logging and mining rights. State officials sold most of the original school trust lands. But more than 2 million acres remain in northeastern Minnesota, some of them inside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. That land in the wilderness is protected and can’t earn money for the school trust. With mining companies promising millions in lease payments for new mines, officials in St. Paul and Washington are trying harder to create land swaps that they say could allow money to flow into the trust as never before. … the land isn’t generating any money for public education. Because it is inside the wilderness, the state Department of Natural Resources cannot issue a permit to cut trees or build a mine there. That means no revenue from logging or mining leases is flowing into the school trust bank account. Across the Boundary Waters Wilderness, there are 86,000 acres in the same category. State officials want to swap some of the land it owns inside the wilderness for land outside the wilderness — land that could support logging or mining.”
The new pollution sheriff gave an interview to Steve Karnowski at the AP: “The new head of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency on Wednesday deflected criticism of draft standards for cleaning up the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers, saying the agency can’t compel farmers to cut the runoff that plays a big part in the problem. In an interview with The Associated Press, John Linc Stine said his agency is developing a voluntary program to encourage farmers to help reduce sediment that muddies the rivers and threatens to transform Lake Pepin — a scenic wide spot on the Mississippi — into a bog in coming years. He acknowledged that farmers who don’t want to clean up their runoff won’t have to. ‘The fact that agriculture is exempt under the federal Clean Water Act, that’s something we can’t change,’ he said.”
Bill McAuliffe of the Strib says climate change could be bringing “killer heat” to Minnesota: “By the end of the century, the Twin Cities area could see eight times as many deaths annually due to extreme heat as it does now, according to a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The projected increase — from about 14 per year to 121 by century’s end — would be among the steepest experienced by 40 major metro areas. The authors said that is partly because extremely oppressive heat waves would be more of a shock to northern residents’ systems. … The study’s authors were Larry Kalkstein, a professor of geography and regional studies at the University of Miami, and Daniel Lashof, director of the New York-based NRDC’s climate and clean air program. They urged aggressive action to curb greenhouse gas emissions, the primary cause of climate warming, as well as local programs to reduce the impact of intense heat on residents. The study, ‘Killer Summer Heat,’ is available at www.nrdc.org.” Clearly, those guys have never listened to a Michele Bachmann stump speech.
Those of us who remember ex-Twin pitcher Dean Chance (and his carousing buddy, Bo Belinsky, when they were with the Angels) will enjoy an AP profile of the 71 year-old: “Chance, perhaps the greatest high school pitcher ever, went on to win the 1964 Cy Young Award. For most people, that’s enough. But he’s also been a farm kid, playboy, card sharp, carny showman and a boxing administrator. Pushing 71 years old, the former two-time 20-game winner — one with the Minnesota Twins — still is bringing the heat. His No. 1 gift might be telling stories. He has an anecdote for every thread of his colorful, adventurous life, some built around or mentioning the iconic names of another time: Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Howard Cosell, Eddie Fisher, Joe DiMaggio, Walt Disney, Gene Autry and Muhammad Ali. It’s a sunny spring day, and Chance is asked about a picture hanging among maybe a hundred others in the ranch-style farm house his parents built a few miles outside of the leafy college town of Wooster, Ohio. There is Chance, in his early 20s, and his best buddy, part-time pitcher and full-time party animal Bo Belinsky, flanking none other than J. Edgar Hoover.”
At the PiPress, economics columnist Ed Lotterman talks, for a moment, about the upside to the “strong” dollar and floundering euro: “One development is that the U.S. dollar continues to rise in value compared to the euro. Another is the rise in world wheat prices, because of adverse weather in the Northern Hemisphere. Then there is the continued slowing of the Chinese economy. Finally, ocean shipping rates continue to be low, and increasing numbers of ship owners are going bankrupt. Effects of the more expensive dollar are pretty straightforward, at least taken by themselves. The basic rule is that a “stronger” currency is good for consumers, because it puts downward pressure on prices. However, it is bad for producers, employment and national output because a more expensive or “stronger” currency makes a nation’s exports more expensive and its imports cheaper. That not only hurts exporters, but also any firm that competes, even potentially, with imports. The dollar now buys about 23 percent more euros than it did at its low in 2008. … Minnesota soybeans, corn and wheat are … more expensive for potential European buyers, so farmers here take a hit. Ditto for manufacturers of heart valves, pacemakers and myriad other high-tech products.”
I’m not sure if this actually makes it easier to find a place to park … Tad Veznor of the PiPress reports: “Despite one council member’s objections, St. Paul passed an ordinance Wednesday … allowing restaurants to serve liquor without adding off-street parking, provided they close by midnight. Council member Dave Thune, whose district includes Grand Avenue, was the sole opponent of the measure, calling it ‘a solution in search of a problem.’ He argued that the city should determine such measures through the existing variances process. ‘I have no desire for this city to be Chicago … or Minneapolis, for that matter. I think in St. Paul, we like to have our streets quiet,’ Thune said. ‘That ability (to determine variances) should rest with us.’ ”