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Local CEO prods peers to oppose marriage amendment

Jesse and Terry Ventura to campaign against marriage amendment; a charter-school critique; Vikings lobbying costs this spring; Tony Sutton’s blog; and more.

At least one local CEO is pushing his peers to oppose the GOP’s so-called gay marriage amendment. The Knight-Ridder story says, “When he talks privately to other corporate executives, John Taft says he’s noticed two things. First, he finds that almost none of Minnesota’s business leaders supports the marriage amendment. That amendment would add to the state constitution, ‘only a union between one man and one woman will be recognized as a marriage in Minnesota.’ But second, Taft finds that almost no CEOs are eager to take a public stand on a controversial issue such as same-sex marriage, wary of seeing their companies caught up in a culture war. So Taft, chief executive of RBC Wealth Management in Minneapolis, is working quietly behind the scenes, hoping to amass the safety in numbers that will allow Minnesota business leaders to say — in public what they’re now saying only in private.”

Even bigger … Jesse Ventura says he’ll campaign against it. Heather Carlson at the Rochester Post Bulletin writes, “Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura said both he and former first lady Terry Ventura have pledged to do whatever they can to help defeat a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage. ‘I certainly hope that people don’t amend our constitution to stop gay marriage because, number one, the constitution is there to protect people — not oppress them,’ Ventura said during a recent interview. …  Ventura said the issue is personal for him because when he was a professional wrestler he had a friend who was gay who had been with his partner for more than 20 years. When his friend’s partner got sick, he was unable to be by his bedside because hospital rules allowed only spouses or next of kin. ‘And because they are not allowed to be married, he’s neither. That’s cruel,’ he said.” See, the Big Lunk has a soft heart.

A gathering of 5,000 charter schools has a couple local outlets asking how the trend is holding up, 20 years down the line. Tim Post at MPR says, “This week, charter school officials will gather in Minneapolis to share notes and discuss the progress of the national charter school movement, which marks its 20th anniversary this year. The first charter school in the country, City Academy in St. Paul, opened in 1992 and is still in operation today. Leaders of the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools say they expect nearly 4,000 people to attend the conference, which runs Tuesday through Friday. Despite their growth, the schools’ effectiveness is still being debated. A University of Minnesota study found that students at charter schools in the Twin Cities, for example, scored 7.5 percentage points lower on math testing and almost 4.5 points lower on reading tests than their counterparts at traditional schools. National studies have found similar results across the country.”

The GleanIn a Strib commentary Al Fan and Todd Ziebarth — two charter administrators — say, “In city after city, the public charter school model has proven to be effective in increasing academic performance and closing the achievement gap. In the Twin Cities, eight of the top 10 “Beating the Odds” public schools are charters; in New Orleans, 13 of the top 15 public schools are charters; in Denver, seven of the top 10 public schools are charters. The charter model offers greater autonomy and flexibility than traditional school models to close the achievement gap. But the charter model only works if there is also high accountability. While there are dozens and dozens of remarkable charter successes nationally and statewide of many different varieties — project-based, language immersion, online, classical, performing arts — it is true that there are too many chronically low-performing public charter schools. This is true both nationally and in Minnesota. Unless we as a public charter school community acknowledge and address this issue, critics of charters will continue to have some credibility in their opposition to public charter schools.”

Whatever this was really about will be interesting to learn. Sarah Horner of the PiPress writes, “The man allegedly assaulted by a Minneapolis police officer this weekend is on life support, according to the Anoka County sheriff’s office. Brian Keith Vander Lee, 43, was sitting on the patio at Tanners Station in Andover Saturday, June 16 when video surveillance at the bar shows Sgt. David Clifford walking over to the Ramsey man’s table and verbally confronting him before punching him once in the head, according to Cmdr. Paul Sommer, spokesman for the sheriff’s office. ‘He immediately (fell) backwards,’ Sommer said, adding he heard reports Lee hit his head on the concrete patio. Lee was reportedly rising up out his chair when Clifford struck him, Sommer said. He was taken to Mercy Hospital where he has undergone two brain surgeries.”

It’s not exactly Big Pharma or JP MorganChase, but the Vikings dropped $115,000 on lobbying this past session. Doug Belden of the PiPress says, “The Minnesota Vikings spent about $115,000 lobbying state lawmakers in the first five months of this year, according to reports filed with the state Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board. Most of it was from the team’s vice president of public affairs and stadium development, Lester Bagley, who led efforts to secure state approval for public funding for a new stadium. The House and Senate OK’d the $975 million stadium project in early May. Bagley reported spending $105,358, of which $54,050 was for salary and administrative costs of support staff and $44,400 was for phone and communications.” Considering the sweetheart of a deal they pulled off, that’s one great investment.

An appeals court has given the OK for that long-controversial ATT cell phone tower near the BWCA. Steve Karnowski’s AP story says, “AT&T is welcoming a Minnesota Court of Appeals ruling that permits it to build a 450-foot cellphone tower with flashing lights that would visible from parts of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.  A three-judge panel ruled Monday that a lower court erred by concluding the tower east of Ely would have a ‘materially adverse effect on the environment.’ AT&T said it now plans to replace a smaller tower that recently became operational with the taller tower.”

She’s man enough to do her time in the boy’s prison. Abby Simons and Paul Walsh of the Strib report, “Chrishaun ‘CeCe’ McDonald, whose manslaughter conviction in the slaying of a man during a scuffle outside a south Minneapolis bar stirred outrage within the transgender community, will serve a 3 1/2-year sentence in a prison for men, according to the Department of Corrections. DOC spokeswoman Sarah Russell said Monday that officials determined McDonald, 24, who is a man transitioning to a woman, will be placed in the adult male facility, although the final destination has not been determined.”

Sally Jo Sorensen, who loves a good Tony “The Chairman” Sutton sighting as much as anyone, reports that Sutton has started a blog. She writes on her Bluestem Prairie site, “There’s an old cliché: when you’re in a hole, quit digging. If you’re former Republican Party of Minnesota state chair Tony Sutton, who buried the Republican Party of Minnesota under 1+ million dollars of debt while bringing a burrito franchise chain to near collapse, you start a blog called Dispatches from the Trenches. The subtitle? ‘One man’s view from the front line of politics by political war horse Tony Sutton.’ That Sutton can assert that he’s able to correspond from the front line should be somewhat discouraging to conservative accountants who had hoped the party boss and failed burrito baron had been put out to pasture. There’s some of that: readers are treated to Sutton’s reflections on state parks, photography and the 48 Hour Film Festival, as well as his discovery that the Minneapolis Museum of Art doesn’t just house modern art. Who knew that Tony was such a connoisseur? Or, given his past membership on the CAGE board and opposition to racino, that he had taken a horse as his totem animal?” For my part, I vow to be a faithful reader … .