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Minnesota GOP gets ready for a Ron Paul wrangle

Schools readying for minority wave of preschoolers; Minneapolis stadium and the charter; Cravaack gets national help; Arden Hills site’s future; and more.

The fun this weekend will be watching to see “The Ron Paul Effect” at the  GOP convention. Don Davis of the Forum papers writes: “Estimates of the number of Minnesota Paul delegates range from a third to nearly a half of the 2,000-some Republicans at the River’s Edge Convention Center. ‘Ron Paul is a big factor in this race,’ Minnesota U.S. Senate hopeful Pete Hegseth said. ‘The Ron Paul and Kurt Bills organizations have been completely merged.’ … Many Republicans wonder if they will have a repeat of conventions a week ago. The Daily Oklahoman reported that Paul supporters booed former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and current Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin when they spoke during the party convention in Norman last Saturday. Both are presidential candidate Mitt Romney supporters. ‘Paul supporters, who numbered about 600 and made up about 40 percent of the convention, used various parliamentary procedures to contest rules,’ the Oklahoman reported. The Arizona Republic said that Paul supporters at the Arizona convention booed Romney’s son, interrupting his speech several times.” Can’t you just feel the 11th Commandment?

The state’s ethnic make-up may be taking a big jump in the next few years. The AP reports: “While minorities make up 17 percent of Minnesota’s population, new U.S. Census Bureau estimates show they make up 30 percent of the state’s preschoolers. Educators are watching the demographic changes closely because Minnesota has one of the widest achievement gaps between students of color and their peers. An influx of federal dollars is helping to propel a major push to narrow the gap, with a particular focus on ensuring preschoolers are ready for kindergarten. In three Minnesota counties — Ramsey, Mahnomen and Nobles — minority children now make up more than half of the younger-than-5 population.”

Minneapolis Council Members Gary Schiff and Barbara Johnson were on Cathy Wurzer’s MPR show Thursday, talking the inevitable sign-off on the Vikings stadium. A few of the better comments:

Wurzer: Mayor Rybak said that this was a good deal before, but this new one is an even better deal. Are there any changes to the bill, Council Member Schiff, since you last voted that would influence your final vote?

Council Member Gary Schiff: The deal has just gotten worse since the initial deal was first rolled out, particularly for city taxpayers. More property has been taken off the tax rolls than was originally identified, and that totals half a million dollars a year of property taxes that’s going to become tax-exempt.  over the 30-year lifetime of the deal, that’s $15 million that won’t go to schools, to the city, to the county and to the parks. …

Wurzer: The city Charter Commission has declined to advise on whether this deal goes against the city’s charter because it bypasses a referendum. What happened there? Was there enough pressure exerted to not look at the issue, Council President?

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Barbara Johnson: The Charter Commission felt that it wasn’t within their authority to issue an opinion.

Wurzer: Really?

Johnson: Yes. I think they’re correct. The Charter Commission is staffed by our city attorney’s office, and they have authority that is not in the policy arena, and so I’m not surprised that they declined to opine on whether it violated the charter or not. And the law certainly does not violate the charter. The state law always can trump the city’s charter.”


Andrew Joseph of The National Journal reports on House Speaker John Boehner and his (loyal?) righthand man, Eric Cantor, pitching in to help Eighth District Congressman. Chip Cravaack. “Republicans are holding a fundraiser  … for five House GOP members who are being targeted by Democrats. The fundraiser … is benefiting Republican Reps. Ann Marie Buerkle of New York, Chip Cravaack of Minnesota, Chris Gibson of New York, Nan Hayworth of New York and Reid Ribble of Wisconsin. According to the invite, “special guests” include House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), and Reps. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), Pete Sessions (R-Texas) and Greg Walden (R-Ore.).”

You may have heard, taxpayers are not going to build a stadium for the Vikings in Arden Hills. So … what to do with the old ammo dump? Chao Xiong of the Strib writes: “Some want to buy the 430-acre Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant (TCAAP) land, develop it for mixed residential-commercial use and add it to the tax rolls. Ramsey County commissioners plan to discuss their options at a June workshop. ‘We are committed to moving forward, even if we have to do it ourselves,’ said County Board Chair Rafael Ortega, who, along with County Commissioner Tony Bennett, led the county’s failed flirtation with the Vikings, who recently won public funding to build a new stadium in Minneapolis.” At least they’re not saying they still “have a shot.”

At City Pages, Aaron Rupar fleshes out a report on drug levels of Minneapolis arrestees. Seventy percent of men arrested in Minneapolis last year had illegal drugs in their system, according to a report released … by a federal drug-monitoring program. The report looked at drug use rates for arrestees in 10 large American cities, and Minneapolis’ 70-percent rate ranked fifth highest. In 2011, 52 percent of men arrested in Minneapolis tested positive for marijuana, 20 percent for cocaine, 10 percent for an opiate, and four percent for meth. Twenty-one percent were under the influence of multiple illegal drugs. As far as trends go, the study shows that from 2000 through last year, cocaine use among Minneapolis’ male arrestees declined, while opiate use is on the rise.” Party on, boys.

Dear, book that trip to Branson … . Dave Shaffer of the Strib brings the news that “CenterPoint Energy says it will give refunds to 370,000 Minnesota customers who were overcharged during a now-suspended experiment with multitier rates that was designed to conserve natural gas. The utility said Thursday that the one-time refund will average $3.45 per customer and will appear as an adjustment, or credit, on residential and commercial bills to be mailed starting Monday.”

Lori Sturdevant of the Strib’s Stadium Promotion Dept. … excuse me … editorial page, notes that female legislators actually were as helpful as your average pigskin-loving, commissioner-ogling male counterparts in getting the deed done: “DFL Rep. Phyllis Kahn, the only still-serving female legislator from the breakthrough 1972 group of six, kept a tally of how this year’s women legislators voted. By her count, shared via Twitter, women cast 34 no votes and 28 yes votes in total. In the House, female rejection of the project ran deep: 27 no, 16 yes. The count went the other way in the Senate: 12 yes, 7 no. Some observers were quick with the conclusion that women aren’t as susceptible as men to suasion by big-time professional sports interests … But this week brought a feminist counterpoint of sorts from Minnesota Wild lobbyist Maureen Shaver … Look at all the women who worked at high levels to get the stadium bill enacted, she said. First and foremost on her list was Republican Sen. Julie Rosen, the bill’s very able Senate chief sponsor. Also mentioned: Tina Smith and Michele Kelm-Helgen chief and deputy chief of staff, respectively, for Gov. Mark Dayton; Laura Bordelon, senior vice president, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce; Shar Knutson, president of the state AFL-CIO, and Vikings lobbyists Judy Cook and Margaret Vesel.” Splendid ladies. Just splendid.

I have a sister in St. Pete. Wendy Lee of the Strib reports: “Discounter Sun Country Airlines said Thursday it will compete head-to-head against Twin Cities’ dominant carrier Delta Air Lines in December, offering four nonstop seasonal flights to Tampa each week. Analysts said the competition will likely lower airfares in the market. Until now, Delta had a monopoly on nonstop flights to Tampa from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Sun Country’s nonstop flights will start at $170 one-way, $8 cheaper than an average Delta flight to Tampa.”

Finally: A Correction. Yesterday I referred to the fine newspaper in Worthington as “The Globe” when it is “The Daily Globe.”

Also several people urged me to point out that it is not just the St. Paul Archdiocese involved in supporting the so-called gay marriage amendment but all the state’s bishops and dioceses.

Best, though, was this note, from a concerned Christian, on the matter of those 80 ex-priests NOT supporting the bishops and dioceses: “Brian … Since these men are ex-priests (in other words they renounced their lifetime vows of pledging themselves uniquely to the religious needs of Catholic parishoners) [their] opinion carries no more weight than yours or mine.  They are simply civilians who are common members of the Catholic Church  and, as such, can voice their own opinions.  The church does NOT mandate group-think, it only asks that members abide by the sacraments and make a faithful effort to abide by church directives. Ours is not a dictatorship, it preaches love, understanding,compassion and, most of all, FOREGIVENESS.  The best example is homosexuality.  It teaches kindness, understanding and  heartfelt support as human beings — and most importantly — fellow children of God.  What seperates Christians — and especially Catholics — is the ability to forgive/reconcile move on.   This is what religions like Muslims do not practice.  They’re all about punishment and eye-for-an-eye mentality.”