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Ritchie refuses to defend Voter ID; GOP cries foul

Stadium “team” and prep work; marriage amendment supporters angry at General Mills; Kevin Kling’s travel tips; a Wisconsin recount; and more.

For those of us with a certain mindset … this is great fun. Jim Ragsdale of the Strib reports: “Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, a DFLer who has campaigned against the photo ID requirement for voting passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature, said Thursday he will not defend the language of the proposed constitutional amendment in a court challenge that names him as the defendant. Ritchie’s decision, announced in a letter to Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Gildea, followed a vote by Republican legislative leaders earlier in the day to hire their own attorney to fight a lawsuit that seeks to derail the amendment before it reaches voters in November. … The announcement upset Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, who accused Ritchie of shirking his duty to stand up for even those legislative decisions he disagrees with. ‘He’s an elected official representing the state of Minnesota, and insofar as I’m concerned, he’s walking away from his responsibility to defend the actions of the state,’ Senjem said. ‘And I’m disappointed in that.’ ” Besides, if Ritchie defended the GOP’s bill, the GOP could then claim “bipartisan” support.

The state-city oversight team for the new (next) Vikings stadium has been assembled. Says Tim Nelson at MPR: “Dayton’s search for a person to helm the construction of the biggest public works project in state history did not range far. He picked someone right in his own office — Deputy Chief of Staff Michele Kelm-Helgen. … Dayton wanted someone close to his administration who he could count on to handle what is likely to be the signature accomplishment of his first term. … Rounding out the governor’s picks is John Griffith, executive vice president of property development at Target Corp. — the retailer founded by Dayton’s family. … The City of Minneapolis also had two seats to fill on the five-member authority. Mayor Rybak appointed Capella University Dean Barbara Butts Williams. … Rybak also named Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation President Bill McCarthy to the panel. He is a former president of UNITE-HERE, the hospitality worker union in the Twin Cities, and he also is on the board of directors of the Greater Twin Cities United Way.” Ex NFL player Duane Benson is also on the “team.”

At the Strib, Richard Meryhew says: “Vikings executives, who met last week with the team’s owners to begin advance work on the project, have said that it will take roughly one year for the design and prep work to be completed, followed by at least three years to build the stadium. An environmental impact study, along with negotiations to acquire nearby properties, also will begin in the first year.”

Did you catch the reaction from the pro-marriage amendment crowd to General Mills announcement that it was opposing their ballot initiative?  Tom Scheck of MPR reports: “The decision was panned by Minnesota for Marriage, a group working to pass the amendment. John Helmberger, chair of Minnesota for Marriage, released this statement:

“It is very disappointing that General Mills has decided to play PC politics by pandering to a small but powerful interest group that is bent on redefining marriage, the core institution of society. Marriage is more than a commitment between two people who love each other. It was created by God for the care and well-being of the next generation. The amendment is about preserving marriage and making sure that voters always remain in control over the definition of marriage in our state, and not activist judges or politicians. By taking this position, General Mills is saying to Minnesotans and people all around the globe that marriage doesn’t matter to them. … It’s ironic and regrettable that a corporation that makes billions marketing cereal to parents of children would take the position that marriage should be redefined.”

In an MPR commentary, Kevin Kling recalls that the most important conversations he had with his dad were in cars: “One day my dad turned to me in an ’82 Chevy and said, ‘Kev, I’m going to Europe. I always wanted to go there, and I’m not getting any younger.’  … I could tell he had his heart set on it, so I offered my tried-and-true advice. I said, ‘OK, Dad, lookit, you’re going to England, bring an umbrella. I know this sounds crazy, but once you get wet there, you never dry off. I don’t know why. And don’t eat the food, any of it, especially in Scotland. I ate something there once, and I’ll never laugh at the dog for licking the garage floor again.’ He said, ‘But I got to eat’.  said, ‘For godsakes, Dad, people from Scotland go to England to eat. Oh, yeah, and be sure to learn the language, a phrase or two. I’ve traveled the world over on two phrases. If you learn these, you’ll be fine. One is, ‘I’ll have another beer, please,’ and the other is, ‘Sorry about the carpet.’ You can go anywhere with those’.” Una mas cerveza, por favor.

The fun never stops in Wisconsin. Dinesh Ramde of the AP reports: “Wisconsin state Sen. Van Wanggaard asked elections officials Friday for a recount in his recall race, the outcome of which will decide the majority party in the state Senate. An official canvass this week showed the Racine Republican trailing his Democratic challenger by 834 votes, or 1.2 percent. Democrats had called on Wanggaard to concede, saying a recount would only delay the inevitable and waste taxpayer money. But Wanggaard’s campaign said it was concerned about possible reports of voting irregularities, and said it wanted to ensure the outcome was accurate.” The only explanation for any loss is … voter fraud.

There’s an unusual explanation for the dwindling wolf pack on Isle Royale. Writes Josephine Marcotty: “The researchers reported today that they found the bodies of three adult wolves dead in an abandoned mine shaft.  … John Vucetich, one of the researchers and a biologist at  Michigan Technological University, said:  ‘We found there had been a real catastrophe in early winter, before we arrived on the island in January,’ said Vucetich. ‘There were three dead wolves from the Chippewa Harbor Pack in the shaft: a collared male that we had been unable to locate this winter, an older male — maybe the alpha male — and a female born in 2011. ‘There is no way to know how the three wolves ended up falling into the pit, but very likely, accumulating snow and ice played a role in the accident. ‘We now understand a major reason for the decline in pack size of the Chippewa Harbor Pack in 2012, and perhaps why we saw such a desultory pattern of travel and low kill rate in this pack,’ Vucetich said. The pack seemed to have no ‘game plan’ following the large loss of so many individuals, he explained.”

And there was no girl involved … . Dirk Lammers of the AP tells the story of a 50-year grudge: “A jockstrap pulled over a student sports manager’s head in a high school locker room more than 50 years ago led a 73-year-old South Dakota man to fatally shoot his long-ago classmate, a prosecutor said Friday. Carl Ericsson of Watertown was sentenced to life in prison Friday after pleading guilty but mentally ill last month to second-degree murder. Ericsson was charged in the Jan. 31 killing of retired Madison High School teacher and track coach Norman Johnson, who was shot twice in the face. Lake County State’s Attorney Kenneth Meyer said Ericsson indicated that the decades-old locker room incident led to the shooting. Johnson was a high school sports star and Ericsson was a student manager.”

Ripping a shamelessly bad movie is every film critic’s guilty pleasure. (Watching the thing … not so much.) You have to laugh as the Strib’s Colin Covert goes after the latest assault on neurological health from Adam Sandler: “If this summary is unpleasant, I assure you the film is a lot more fun to read about than to endure. It is about as funny as watching an obese stripper eating an omelet while upside down on her dance pole. Which they actually show. The standard Sandlerisms repeat themselves. The notion that older women might have sexual urges is treated with comic mockery. Roly-poly guys jiggle across the screen in revealing attire. Surprise Star Cameos drag a veritable Who’s Who of familiar faces out of retirement and repurpose them as objects of our derision. Why else cast Tony Orlando in a supporting role that requires him to wear the world’s ugliest toupee? At least I hope it’s a toupee. When the sex gags flout one taboo act that will never have its own Pride Day Parade, the spiral of misery and torment reaches whirlpool velocity.” That folks, merits  a half-star.