Blogger’s case lands in Court of Appeals

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” 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.’ ”                                         

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Comments (19)

  1. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 05/24/2012 - 08:06 am.

    Something doesn’t pass the smell test

    90,000 absentee ballots already?

    Absentee voting is the second most common vehicle for stuffing the ballot box and should be reserved for people who can prove, in advance, they will be out of town on election day. Once the photo ID law passes, that should be next on the legislative agenda.

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 05/24/2012 - 08:41 am.

      Republicans have also deployed a voter turnout plan that includes an “aggressive absentee ballot program,” said Ben Sparks, spokesman for the state Republican Party.

      Read more:

      • Submitted by Jim Camery on 05/24/2012 - 09:33 am.

        Absentee is the Repub’s friend

        Repubs submit about 2x absentee requests as Dems in WI (I’m a Dem county chair). Its what allows them to go to FL or Arizona after Labor Day but still vote up north. Legally, they’re not supposed to vote both places, but…?

    • Submitted by Mark Gisleson on 05/24/2012 - 08:58 am.

      Um, actually

      according to the Republican party, ANYTHING that results in Democrats voting is considered likely voter fraud.

      To suggest voter fraud where none is evident is seditious. I think we have laws about sedition on the books, but sadly they’re never enforced anymore.

    • Submitted by Rachel Weisman on 05/24/2012 - 01:23 pm.


      Is 2% absentee ballots different than in years past?

    • Submitted by Sean Huntley on 05/24/2012 - 10:32 am.

      “Absentee voting is the second most common vehicle for stuffing the ballot box”

      Really? Outside of voter fraud fantasy land is there any actual confirmed evidence of that occurring?

    • Submitted by Bruce Johnson on 05/24/2012 - 10:50 am.

      Let’s keep our solutions market-based. The poll tax on absentee ballots should just be higher than on voting in person.

    • Submitted by Tom Clark on 05/24/2012 - 12:01 pm.

      He who smelt it dealt it

      Actually, it’s Republicans who are more likely to vote via mail-in absentee ballots and given how early June is the start of summer vacation season in Wisconsin it’s not unreasonable to expect those who are heading up north to vote absentee.

    • Submitted by Robert Gauthier on 05/24/2012 - 01:46 pm.

      Obvious conspiracy

      Those absentee voters are the kind of scum that should not vote! Elderly, military personnel serving overseas and students. Of course, they don’t reliably vote Republican, so it is obviously fraud. After all, any vote for a Democrat must be fraud.

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 05/24/2012 - 01:53 pm.


      You’re saying that if Walker gets re-elected, we have cause to look for ballot box stuffing, right? ‘Cuz something just ain’t right here.

      By the way, you can’t possibly be serious that people will next need to “prove, in advance, they will be out of town on election day” to get an absentee ballot. Wow. Just. Wow. Will my receipt for a camping stove suffice? Or maybe my pre-purchased ski lift ticket? Maybe my bank statement with a savings account called “vacation?” Or are you suggesting that, in order to be out of town, we all need plane tickets? You know, this post is almost definitive proof that you only post here as a joke.

  2. Submitted by Dimitri Drekonja on 05/24/2012 - 09:01 am.

    Yeah! And after that, let’s make sure only productive citizens can vote, and require that only property owners can vote! And just to make sure the riff-raff isn’t voting, lets re-institute a poll tax! Heck, let’s make it simple and make voting the privilege of angry white men. Then we can just watch as society falls apart…

  3. Submitted by Lauren Maker on 05/24/2012 - 10:43 am.

    Thanks for the heads up, Dennis

    I’m sure that eliminating absentee balloting is next on the GOP agenda for voter suppression. We can’t have those people in nursing homes and hospitals voting–they are probably Democrats. And military folks stationed overseas–no need to let them vote either–they are just protecting democracy–they don’t get to use it.

  4. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/24/2012 - 11:45 am.

    Not to mention…

    There’s no evidence whatsoever that ballot boxes are being “stuffeed” in the first place. More correctly all one can say is that after vouching, same day registration, and voter ID have diminished the number of votes cast, the second biggest imaginary problem is absentee ballots. What’s the 1st method by the way?

  5. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 05/24/2012 - 12:21 pm.

    “Doesn’t Pass the Smell Test”

    Is just another way of saying, “It makes me feel all nervous and jiggly inside. I’m not sure WHY it bothers me, but it just really, really, bothers me. Things that bother me shouldn’t be allowed (because I don’t like being bothered and society has responsibility to structure itself so that I don’t ever FEEL bothered).”

    What the large number of absentee ballots in Wisconsin would do for a normal person (if it did anything at all) is arouse their concern and curiosity and send them searching for the most accurate information available…

    (i.e. NOT web sites that deal in conjecture and likely “liberal” or “conservative” plots and cite no sources except other, similar sites),…

    to discover what all those absentee ballots mean.

    It’s likely that they don’t mean anything at all and are being cast within the rules for elections in Wisconsin for a wide variety of legitimate reasons.

  6. Submitted by Rosalind Kohls on 05/24/2012 - 01:46 pm.

    It’s the increase that is fishy

    It’s not the number of absentee ballots that is peculiar. It is the increase in the number of absentee ballots that is fishy. Wouldn’t the numbers of voters in hospitals, nursing homes and travelers be about the same as in years past? Why such a big increase? Could many of the absentee voters in the recall be students who are going back to their home states when classes end in the spring? They don’t actually live in Wisconsin, they just want to vote and influence events there.

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 05/29/2012 - 07:12 pm.

      Wisconsin Election Law

      I’m not an expert in Wisconsin election law, but – assuming it is legal for students in Wisconsin to vote where they go to school just as it is in Minnesota – then what’s the problem?

      Seriously. If it’s legal, then it doesn’t matter whether or not you don’t like them “influencing” events there.

      I thought conservatives were in favor of a society where the citizens lived in accordance with the laws.

      Your hypocrisy is showing (again).

  7. Submitted by Steve Roth on 05/24/2012 - 02:44 pm.

    Still Waiting for the First Most Common Vehicle

    Of Voter Fraud.


  8. Submitted by r batnes on 05/24/2012 - 05:38 pm.

    Still demonizing college kids, Rosalind?

    At first, you said that roving bands of students were going from precinct to precinct, casting multiple votes. Now they’re flocking back to their home states to do the same. Amazing tenacity for a demographic that likes their bars, eating establishments and laundromats all within walking distance.

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