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T-Paw to Romney, ‘Look elsewhere’

Hockey board toughens penalty rule; Iowa’s voting “ban” for felons; Minnesota’s wetlands inventory; farmland investments; and more.

Despite the likelihood he’d make Mitt Romney look visionary and courageous every time they appeared together, T-Paw says the putative GOP candidate should look elsewhere for a VP. The AP says: “Pawlenty says he’s told Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign to look elsewhere for a running mate. Pawlenty, who competed briefly last year for the GOP nomination before dropping out and endorsing Romney, says he thinks he could serve the Republican ticket better in other ways. Pawlenty says being asked to run as vice president with Romney would be an honor. But Pawlenty [says] … he’s ‘encouraged people who asked this question in the campaign to look at other prospects.’ ” I believe the “I’m not a witch” lady is still available.

The hit that paralyzed high school hockey player Jack Jablonski will now get … a five-minute penalty. The AP reports: “Minnesota Hockey board members voted 18-6 to extend the move it made at the end of last season, a rule change that elevates the penalty against the team from a 2-minute minor … The vote, during the board’s meeting in St. Louis Park, followed two hours of passionate discussion, Minnesota Hockey president Dave Margenau said. An ad hoc committee had previously recommended returning to the penalty structure that had been in place before Benilde-St. Margaret sophomore Jack Jablonski was hurt. That system gave referees the discretion to determine the severity of penalties for boarding and checking from behind. The committee also recommended stepping up accountability of coaches, players and referees.”

So does someone think most ex-cons are … Democrats? Ryan Foley of the AP reports from Iowa: “Republican Gov. Terry Branstad has made Iowa one of the most difficult states in the nation for felons to vote, with an executive order he issued last year already having disenfranchised thousands of people, a review by The Associated Press shows. On the day he took office, Branstad signed an order reversing a six-year policy started under Democrat Tom Vilsack in which felons automatically regained their voting rights once they were discharged from state supervision. The move flew in the face of a nationwide trend to make voting easier for felons, making Iowa one of four states where felons must apply to the governor to have voting rights restored. Branstad’s new process requires applicants to submit a credit report, a provision critics call inappropriate and unique among states. Since then, 8,000 felons in Iowa have finished their prison sentences or been released from community supervision, but less than a dozen have successfully navigated the process of applying to get their citizenship rights back, according to public records obtained by the AP. Branstad’s office has denied a handful of others because of incomplete paperwork or unpaid court costs.” I suppose the felons won’t be voting for “law and order” candidates.

This guy probably won’t be exercising his constitutional right this year. Says Paul Walsh in the Strib: “A gun-toting convicted felon suspected of driving without wearing a seat belt sped away from a State Patrol officer on Interstate 94 in Minneapolis — reaching 100 miles per hour at one point — and crashed into a patrol squad car and another vehicle before being arrested, authorities said Sunday. The incident occurred late Saturday when ‘we attempted to stop a vehicle for a seat belt violation on 94, when the driver fled,’ said Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske. The driver, a 24-year-old man from New Hope, exited the interstate and ‘crashed a couple times before being taken into custody,’ Roeske added.” He crashed … “a couple of times”?

It is 2012, so you’d think we’d have something like this … 20 years ago. But Dave Orrick at the PiPress writes: “It took years to assemble, but Minnesota now has an inventory of wetlands by which to measure whether, and to what extent, they’re being damaged or improved. What’s clear is that ponds and wetlands in the southern and western parts of the state are in poor shape, while those in the northeastern region are in good shape. … The DNR’s report was completed in 2010, the PCA’s in March. The state began monitoring wetlands in 2006. Among the report’s findings:
• Minnesota has 10.6 million acres of wetlands, 19.7 percent of the state’s land cover, not counting deep lakes and rivers.
• Plant communities are in good condition in only 29 percent of depressional wetlands (ponds and marshes), while 25 percent are in fair condition and 46 percent are in poor condition.
• Macroinvertebrates (leeches, snails and insects ) are in good condition in 47 percent of ponds and marshes, fair condition in 33 percent and poor conditions in 20 percent.
• Forested wetlands make up 4.4 million acres and are the most common wetland type in Minnesota, followed by emergent wetlands (shallow marshes, wet meadows), shrub swamps, and deep marshes and ponds.”

Eighty-five … and armed to the teeth. The AP story says: “Police in the northern Wisconsin town of Hurley shot and killed an 85-year-old-man who they say had multiple firearms in his possession. A news release from the Hurley Police Department said officers responded about 8:30 Friday morning to a report of a man with a gun at an apartment complex. It said the man retreated to his apartment and that police learned he had other weapons.”

In a Strib commentary, Susan Hogan wades into the fleeting controversy over a Coon Rapids High School kid’s rosary necklace: “Because I’d been a religion reporter for two decades and a philosophy teacher before that, the religious sensitivity issues most interested me. Minnesota’s students are more religiously diverse than ever before. While religious education may not be the role of public schools, fostering an atmosphere of respect is fundamental. Most people of faith that I know wouldn’t intentionally hijack the sacred objects of another religion and use them in insensitive ways. … While for school officials the primary issue is [the student] Jake’s safety, for me it’s a little more basic. It’s about respect for others — a lesson Jake and his parents apparently still need to learn. Prayer beads are used in many religious traditions. A little sensitivity is in order.”

Interesting story from Jennifer Bjorhus in the Strib on the investor rush for farmland, in Minnesota and elsewhere: “Over the past decade, U.S. farmland has returned an average of 15.5 percent a year, according to a widely watched index from the National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries. That compares with about 4.1 percent for the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index and about 1.8 percent for 90-day government bonds. Gold? About 19 percent. … Just how many outside investors are buying Minnesota farmland isn’t exactly clear. The state Department of Agriculture estimates that about 185 of the 4,700 business entities certified to own farmland in Minnesota have an out-of-state address. Blue Earth’s county assessor studied its own database of property owners at the request of the Star Tribune and determined that about 4 percent of the tax statements on that southern Minnesota county’s farm land are mailed to out-of-state addresses. Farmers eager to expand their holdings are still the bulk of the buyers in Minnesota, said Steven Taff, an economist at the University of Minnesota.”

Someone got the talking points and nails every one of them. Andy Aplikowski, at Residual Forces, blogs: “Senator Amy Klobuchar has been a waste of a US Senate seat for 6 years. She’s been in the majority for her whole term and has been little more than a cheerleader for bigger and more incompetent government. She pretended to be a watchdog in her 2006 campaign, but has been more like a lapdog since President Obama was elected. The deadly scandal that is Fast & Furious, where guns bought by the Obama administration to help demonize gun owners in America and expand gun control legislation, ended up being used to kill US border agents. The US House has been putting pressure on the Obama official, Attorney General Eric Holder, who was in charge of / overseeing the operation, Klobuchar’s US Senate colleagues have not bothered to look in to the situation. Why? Does Amy Klobuchar not care about US Border Agents being murdered by illegal immigrants or drug smugglers?” BTW, Andy, where is that expanded gun control legislation?