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Unenthusiastic Kurt Zellers schedules Monday vote on stadium

Senser guilty on 2 of 3 felony counts; buzz starts to build on Gardenhire fate; Accretive CEO speaks out; bike deaths down, injuries up; national Dems target Kline race; and more.

On second thought … the hell with it. GOP legislators have (very) quickly given up on their alternative funding schemes for a Vikings stadium, and an actual floor vote might come as early as next Monday. At MPR, Tim Nelson says: “Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Zellers said Thursday that his fellow Republicans are dropping their plan for an alternative Vikings stadium finance bill and will vote on the stadium in the House on Monday. The so-called “Plan B” approach was an offer to finance the stadium with general obligation bonds. It was an alternative to the gambling expansion plan that the Dayton administration, the Vikings and the city of Minneapolis had negotiated. Zellers said the vote will be on the plan negotiated by the governor.” … Which Zellers opposes.

At Politics in Minnesota, Briana Bierschbach writes: “GOP leaders said that serious questions about using general obligation bonds to pay for the state’s portion of a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings have forced them to drop the plan, which they floated as a possible end-of-session path just two days earlier. They will now move full-speed ahead with votes on a separate bonding bill and the stadium proposal negotiated between the team, city of Minneapolis and lawmakers, sketching out an end-of-session map that will involve  lengthy floor debates and little negotiating with DFL Gov. Mark Dayton.”

The AP story says: “House Majority Leader Matt Dean cited ‘impediments’ on Thursday for giving up on their general obligation bonding proposal that came to light only Tuesday. ‘We took our best shot,’ Dean said. ‘It’s only fair to everyone to vote on the existing plan because that’s the alternative.’ Senate Majority Leader David Senjem said he’s not sure if the Vikings bill has sufficient Senate support. ‘I’m not going to presuppose anything at this point,’ Senjem, a Republican, said. There’s a chance the Vikings plan could require two votes in the House and Senate. If the chambers pass differing plans, they would have to work out a common bill in a conference committee and vote again to send it to Dayton.” By “impediments,” do we assume Dean means, “really no votes at all”?

At the fan site the Daily Norseman, Christopher Gates says: “Speaker Kurt Zellers said that he wouldn’t be voting for the bill, because . . . well, just between you and me, if you thought that guy was voting in favor of it regardless, you haven’t been paying attention. He did say that the voters of Minnesota voted for a Democratic governor and a Republican majority in the state legislature, so the voters have ‘gotten what they asked for.’ … on the bright side, Zellers has finally taken a stand on the stadium issue. And after only three or four months. On the downside, he basically just called the voters of Minnesota idiots. I know if I were a Minnesota voter, I would not be terribly pleased with his assessment. In that case, maybe it’s just an addition to the ‘bright side’ and really not a downside at all. In any case, if you thought the political rhetoric and invective had reached a fever pitch to this point, then the next 96 hours or so are going to be sheer hell for you. It could also be the most important 96 hours in the history of this football team.” Heart, be still.

Breaking news: The Amy Senser verdict in. Reports WCCO-TV/AP: “After three days of deliberations, a jury has found Amy Senser guilty on two of the three felony counts in the fatal hit-and-run crash. The wife of ex-Minnesota Viking Joe Senser will be sentenced at a later date.” Details are still coming out.

Earlier, David Hanners’ PiPress story says: “ ‘In the Senser case, there’s no witnesses and all you have is Amy’s testimony and circumstantial evidence,’ said Minneapolis defense lawyer Joe Tamburino, who represented [Dinkytown hit-and-run driver Timothy] Bakdash. During seven days of testimony and argument, it was clear that Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Deborah Russell had little more than inference and innuendo — ‘circumstantial evidence,’ in the parlance of the courtroom — to indicate elements the state must prove to win a conviction. Those elements require the jury of seven men and five women to find beyond a reasonable doubt, on the first count, that she struck and killed him and failed to stop, and that she knew she had killed or injured somebody. To convict on all three counts, they must also find that she had that knowledge yet failed to call police as soon as possible, and that she’d been driving in a ‘grossly negligent manner’. Of the 146 pieces of evidence entered as exhibits — 119 by the state and 27 by the defense — none directly show what she knew or when she knew it.” Senser probably wishes Hanners was on the jury.

Yes, the Twins are miserable. Fresh off a no-hit loss to the Angels and carrying the worst record in baseball, the inevitable chatter has sprung up. At Yahoo Sports, Blair Reynolds writes: “[Ron] Gardenhire is not a bad manager. In fact, he ranks right up there with Tom Kelly as one of the best to ever lead the Twins. However, it is evident he has lost this team. They have become resistant to coaching and despite pretty good talent this team seems to be forever stuck in neutral. In my opinion, it seems Gardenhire has lost his edge as a manger and his players don’t always seem to buy into what he is trying to do. Firing the manager won’t cure all of the Twins’ problems, but it is the one very public way the front office can send a message to its underachieving roster. Firings of coaches and managers have helped other professional teams before, and they will so again. There is no guarantee the Twins will improve without Gardenhire, but it is worth the risk. Let’s face it; this team needs to be re-tooled from top to bottom.”

The GleanThe CEO of Accretive Health Services has gone public with her thoughts about AG Lori Swanson’s charges against her company. Peter Frost at the Chicago Tribune reports: “Mary Tolan, Chicago-based Accretive Health’s chief executive, said in a brief interview Wednesday that Swanson’s report contained ‘a tremendous amount of innuendo and falsehoods and doesn’t represent what we do at all.’ Tolan said Swanson’s six-volume report on the company used information out of context and incorrectly painted Accretive Health as a ruthless debt collector. ‘When the truth is that you’re really advocating for patients and someone says you’re something that’s the exact opposite of that’ the market fills with uncertainty resulting in undue damage to the company’s reputation, Tolan said. ‘These are not true assertions’. Since Swanson’s report was made public last week, shares of Accretive Health’s stock have fallen by 54 percent. Accretive Health on Wednesday finished at $8.71, down 5 percent.” Has anyone looked at Fairview (and others’) contracts with Accretive?

Why I like airbags … At MPR, Jon Collins writes: “Preliminary numbers from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety show that five bicyclists were killed in accidents on state roads last year. That’s lower than any year since 2007. But the number of bicyclists injured in accidents in 2011 also slightly increased. … The preliminary numbers from Minnesota DPS show 942 bicyclists were reported injured in accidents in 2011, slightly up from the 882 reported injuries the year before. Nine bicyclists were killed in accidents in 2010. The number of bicyclists has continued to climb in Minnesota, according to [DOT spokeswoman Jessica] Wiens. Slightly more than half of Minnesotans now say they ride a bike sometime during the year, up from previous years.”

If you’re following the GOP scramble for a candidate to run against/sacrifice to Amy Klobuchar, you have to be amused by the outsized influence of Ron Paul on the intra-party race. Also at MPR, Mark Zdechlik reports: “The three candidates seeking the GOP nomination include former state Rep. Dan Severson, Minnesota Army National Guard Capt. Pete Hegseth and first-term state Rep. Kurt Bills of Rosemount, who has Paul’s backing. Severson and Hegseth say Minnesota Republicans should be concerned about that because Paul’s anti-establishment brand of politics would make Bills an unviable candidate to run against Klobuchar in the general election. But the state GOP convention is expected to attract many of Paul’s supporters, which could help Bills win the endorsement. … Ron Paul supporters appear to be well organized heading into the May 18 convention. So far, Paul has won an overwhelming majority of Minnesota’s national convention delegates, indicating that Paul supporters will make up a good share of the state convention delegates. That has led some to question why the Bill’s opponents are criticizing Ron Paul. ‘At this point you’d want to be building bridges’, said 29-year-old Tom Dippel of Cottage Grove, Minn., a newly elected Ron Paul national delegate.”

It’s no big surprise, but national Democrats are official about targeting Congressman John Kline this fall. Jessica Fleming of the PiPress says, “National Democratic Party officials will offer an assist to former state Rep. Mike Obermueller, the candidate who will attempt to unseat Republican Rep. John Kline in November. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced Thursday … that it would add Obermueller to its Red to Blue Program, which is targeting 67 races nationwide. The program offers candidates in competitive races financial, grassroots, communications and strategic support. ‘We are very excited to have Mike on the list, because he has put together such an impressive operation,’ said Robby Mook, executive director of the DCCC. ‘He has the viability to win this race.’ Congressional District 2, once solidly Republican, appears to be split more evenly between the parties since redistricting in 2010.”

Well, Mitt Romney has Minnesota sewn up. On the endorsement by the 6th District congresswoman, Kevin Diaz of the Strib says: “After weeks of dropping hints, Minnesota Republican Michele Bachmann came out firmly Thursday for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, granting him a measure of Tea Party backing after criticizing him harshly during her own presidential bid. … political analysts say her endorsement could help bring disaffected evangelicals and social conservatives into the fold.” Remind me to check and see how quickly the remainder of her campaign debt is “retired.”