Legal tab grows for GOP issues, scandals

As our Cyndy Brucato reports here at MinnPost, Minnesota taxpayers are being primed for another load of Michael Brodkorb-related legal expenses, in addition to last month’s $46,000 bill. She says: “The Minnesota Senate still hasn’t paid the $46,000 bill for its defense lawyers’ initial work in the Michael Brodkorb wrongful termination case, and another big bill is on the way. DFL Minority Leader Tom Bakk, who, along with Republican majority leader Dave Senjem, must sign the check, is responsible for the delayed payment on the first bill. ‘I will not sign off on this bill until there is a meeting of the rules committee,’ he said again Wednesday.  The rules committee has jurisdiction over the Senate’s internal management.”  Doesn’t Tony Sutton still have a line of credit somewhere?

And in another GOP-inspired legal bill, Doug Belden’s PiPress story says: “The Minnesota House and Senate will seek to intervene in a lawsuit challenging a proposed constitutional amendment that would require voters to present photo IDs. The Legislative Coordinating Commission, acting on behalf of the Legislature, voted Thursday … to hire an outside law firm to file the motion. The cost is $18,000. House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, who sits on the commission, said it’s a waste of taxpayer money for the Legislature to take the unprecedented step of intervening in a lawsuit to pursue the Republicans’ ‘obsession with constitutional amendments.’ Joel Michael, an attorney with House Research, said as far as he knew, this was the first time the Legislature was moving to intervene in an existing lawsuit, though it has initiated legal action and been a party to suits in various ways before.” Putting aside the other expenses of Voter ID, what is the per-incident cost of voter fraud in the most recent election divided by $18,000?

Go ahead, make your Lake Minnetonka happy hour jokes. Stephanie Hemphill of MPR says: “[A] report from the University of Minnesota published in The Journal of Wildlife Management says that cougars, or mountain lions, … are slowly expanding their range eastward returning to areas where they were killed off a century ago. Cougars once lived across most of the country, but have long since been pushed into mountainous hideouts. Now, they’re making a comeback. Many of them roam from the Black Hills of South Dakota, where at least 220 of the animals live. U of M doctoral student Michelle LaRue has been compiling confirmed sightings and physical evidence collected by wildlife agencies and a non-profit group called the Cougar Network. LaRue found 178 cougar confirmations in the Midwest, with numbers steadily increasing over the last 20 years.”

While traffic deaths in Minnesota overall have decreased to their lowest level in … 70 years … you better stay on the defensive in the southeast corner of the state. Matt Russell of the Rochester Post-Bulletin says, “Bucking a statewide trend of decreased traffic deaths, fatalities increased by 35 percent in southeastern Minnesota last year, according to data released Wednesday by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. However, while the number of fatalities increased, the number of vehicle crashes in the region fell by more than three times the statewide rate. A total of 35 crash-related deaths were recorded in 2011 in southeastern Minnesota, compared to 26 deaths in 2010. The increase in road deaths can be attributed to two counties, Olmsted and Wabasha, which both saw significant increases in the number of deaths last year.”

Russell has another story, this about the Rochester waitress who is taking her fight over tips to court: “A former waitress at a popular Rochester restaurant has filed a class-action lawsuit in Olmsted County District Court alleging a ‘tip pool’ that set aside money to be distributed to hosts and hostesses violated state law. The waitress, Natasha Foss, was fired for insubordination at the Canadian Honker restaurant after contributing less than the required 2 percent of her total sales to the tip pool on March 7 and March 8, according to the complaint. The complaint alleges that the tip pool is a violation of Minnesota law that protects employees from being required to share gratuities.”

The Glean A 40 percent increase in Medicaid costs!? To more than $4 billion!? Holy [bleep]. Warren Wolfe at the Strib reports: “The number of Minnesotans on Medicaid shot up at nearly twice the national rate over the past two years, while state costs soared by 40 percent to surpass $4 billion for the first time. There now are about 733,000 Minnesotans in the state-federal health insurance program for the poor — called Medical Assistance in Minnesota — an increase of 125,000 in two years, according to a new federal study. While the weakened economy explains most of the rising Medicaid rolls in other states, much of Minnesota’s increase came when Gov. Mark Dayton expanded the program by 80,000 people last year under an option in the federal Affordable Care Act, the law now facing U.S. Supreme Court scrutiny. Nationwide, the massive and growing Medicaid budget $450 billion this year to care for about one in five Americans — will place a drag on states as they struggle out of the 2007-09 recession, according to a report issued this week by the National Governors Association and the National Association of State Budget Officers.”

Expect Minnesota’s Catholic bishops to scratch Cheerios from their shopping lists. Baird Helgeson of the Strib writes: “The leaders of General Mills Inc., one of the Minnesota’s largest companies, announced they are opposing a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. ‘We do not believe the proposed constitutional amendment is in the best interests of our employees or our state economy — and as a Minnesota-based company we oppose it,’ Ken Charles, vice president of global diversity and inclusion for General Mills, wrote in a letter to employees and the public. ‘We value diversity. We value inclusion. We always have … and we always will.’ Charles said company CEO Ken Powell addressed 400 local gay and lesbian professionals Wednesday and announced the company would oppose the amendment, which will be on the November ballot.”

Homeowners in the Red River flood plain up in Fargo-Moorhead are getting the early word about “special assessments” for flood diversion. Kristen Daum of the Forum papers writes: “Residents ought not to panic, officials said, since they’re still months — more likely years — away from determining who would cough up how much dough. Local government leaders coordinating the Red River diversion project have made no secret that special assessments might be needed to help pay for the $2 billion metro-area flood-control channel. However, most previous public discussions often downplayed that possibility in favor of more popular revenue sources, such as city or county sales taxes. But as the Diversion Authority’s finance team looks into long-term financing options for the project, they said this week special assessments will have to be a part of the puzzle.”

Another variation of problem we didn’t have 10 years ago. The AP reports: “The makers of a mobile app have shut part of it down after reports that at least three child sexual assaults were set up through the service, including one in Wisconsin. The founder of San Francisco-based, Christian Wiklund, announced Tuesday … that the company had temporarily suspended its under-18 community. The app is for flirting and dating.
Wiklund says in a blog post the site was intended for adults but it was attracting younger users so the company launched the service for those under 18 about a year ago with stringent security safeguards. In Milwaukee County, a 21-year-old Waukesha man, Daniel Schmidt, was charged June 5 with sexually assaulting a 13-year-old boy he met.”

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Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Logan Foreman on 06/14/2012 - 02:24 pm.

    So amazing how

    Litigious the republican party has become! Spending money for attorneys all over place – on the taxpayers’ dime! Small govt – not so much.

    • Submitted by Tom Rees on 06/14/2012 - 08:26 pm.

      Hasn’t anyone ever heard of Amicus Curiae?

      The legislature could file any pertinent information with the court via amicus curiae. When I was a legislator a couple of decades ago, it cost me $500 of my own money to enlighten the Supreme Court with information they needed to know before passing judgement on a case involving the district I represented.

  2. Submitted by Mark Gisleson on 06/14/2012 - 02:37 pm.

    Aren’t tip laws meant to keep owners from taking a cut?

    Tip pools are meant to give bus persons and cooks a small share of the tip money which they obviously earn just as much as wait staff. In most well run restaurants, wait staff don’t have to be coaxed to share tip money with cooks as timely service has a lot to do with big tips.

    But on the other hand . . . Canadian Honkers? It sounds like a good case could be made that the tips received had very little to do with food or even the quality of service so much as the type of service received.

    I will anxiously await the official Republican position on this lawsuit.

    • Submitted by John N. Finn on 06/15/2012 - 01:20 am.

      Deceptive name?

      Unlike KFC which proudly serves its namesake, geese, Canadian or other, were not on the menu a few years ago when I dined there.

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