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Feds say ‘no’ to homeowner aid for flood victims

AFL-CIO targets Crystal Sugar; Supreme Court rejects “repressed memory”; Sabo bridge builder out of Southwest LRT; Gingrich backs Bachmann; and more.

The feds have said “no,” and our state folks are not pleased. Peter Passi of the Duluth News Tribune reports: “Minnesota state officials said Wednesday they will appeal the federal government’s decision that private property owners in the Northland, collectively, don’t have enough flood damage to require federal assistance. W. Craig Engate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, told Gov. Mark Dayton in a letter that damage to dwellings from the flooding that began June 19 ‘was not of such severity and magnitude as to warrant the implementation of individual assistance.’ Duluth Mayor Don Ness strongly disagreed. … teams surveyed more than 1,100 homes and found, based on FEMA classifications, 17 destroyed, 154 with major damage, 419 with minor damage and 479 others at least affected by the floods.”

At MPR, Tim Nelson and Conrad Wilson add: “Even if the state is successful in its appeal, few people would likely qualify for the assistance, according to Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook. He represents parts of the region impacted by the flooding. ‘Most home owners would’ve been offered a loan that they would’ve had to pay back,’ Bakk said. ‘As far as grant money going for individuals, there’s a very small number of people that probably would’ve qualified for that.’ ”

The big dogs are getting involved in the American Crystal Sugar lockout. Dan Gunderson of MPR says: “A national union leader says he plans to turn up the heat on American Crystal Sugar over the lockout of 1,300 union workers. AFL- CIO President Richard Trumka said the union is stepping in to escalate the one-year-old lockout by American Crystal Sugar. ‘We pledge to coordinate and support the efforts to highlight American Crystal Sugar’s total disregard for its employees and to make them a poster child for corporate greed and profit over employees,’ Trumka said. He said the union will bring additional resources to the labor dispute and attempt to pressure American Crystal to return to the bargaining table.”

The “repressed memory” strategy didn’t cut it. Doug Glass of the AP reports: “The Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday, July 25, tossed out a clergy abuse lawsuit by a man whose case rested on a repressed memory claim, siding with a lower court’s ruling that repressed memory is an unproven theory. James Keenan sued the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis and the Diocese of Winona, claiming that as a teenager he was sexually abused four times in 1980 or 1981 by Thomas Adamson, a priest since defrocked. … Keenan brought his claim in 2006, well outside the state’s six-year statute of limitations, but argued that it should be allowed because he repressed memories of the abuse. A district court rejected that claim, but the state Court of Appeals revived it last year.”

There are some things you don’t mess with, and a man’s parking spot is one of them. Maricella Miranda of the PiPress says: “A Farmington man has been accused of attacking a man and threatening him with a butcher knife over a parking spot at an apartment complex. Robert Scott Meyer, 18, was charged in Dakota County District Court with felony second-degree assault and a lesser charge of fourth-degree criminal damage to property in connection with the July 13 incident, according to a criminal complaint filed last week. … the man who was attacked honked his horn because Meyer’s vehicle was parked in his assigned parking spot at the complex on 220th Street West in Farmington. [Andrew] Jensen, who lived there, brought the knife to Meyer in the parking lot. Meyer chased the man for about a block, trying to stab him.”

The company that built Minneapolis’ troubled Sabo bridge is getting cut out of work for the Southwest Light Rail link. At the Strib, Pat Doyle says: “In a move that could end up costing millions of dollars, the agency overseeing the future Southwest Corridor light-rail line on Wednesday scrapped plans to award a major contract to a firm linked to the troubled Sabo bridge. The Metropolitan Council carved up a $94 million engineering contract rather than give all the work to its first choice, URS Corp., which has come under scrutiny for its role in designing the bike and pedestrian bridge that was suddenly shut for repairs earlier this year. But there was unusual public dissension among council members, with one worrying that the new plan could cause delays, adding $20 million to the cost of the project.”

Newt to the defense! Maggie Haberman at Politico covers (yet another) Newt Gingrich talk show appearance: “Newt Gingrich, appearing with Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen on POLITICO Live’s Driving the Day this morning, defended Rep. Michele Bachmann for asking questions about the Muslim Brotherhood — and declined to hit his former presidential rival for raising questions about Hillary Rodham Clinton aide Huma Abedin. ‘There weren’t allegations, there was a question,’ Gingrich told VandeHei and Allen, adding, ‘the question ought to be asked across the board’ about the Muslim Brotherhood’s relationship with and goals in the U.S. are. When it was pointed out to him that other Republicans, such as Sen. John McCain and House Speaker John Boehner, have hit Bachmann for a form of a witch hunt, he said, “I think those folks are wrong … what is it they’re afraid of learning?”

At the conservative Town Hall site, Cal Thomas writes: “Like the ghosts of Shakespeare’s Banquo or Dickens’ Jacob Marley, the specter of the late commie-hunting congressman from Wisconsin, Joseph McCarthy, will always be with us. It is summoned up today, by some on the left, who use it as a tool to thwart legitimate questions about people and ideologies that seek to destroy America.  According to many commentators, the McCarthy spirit has inhabited Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN). … Sen. John McCain says Abedin is ‘a dedicated American.’ Even if he is correct, the larger issue is being obscured. Many in government and the media don’t want to face the possibility that infiltration is a tactic of Islamic extremists who repeatedly say they want to destroy not only Israel but the ‘Great Satan’ America. Such objectives should be taken seriously, given their violent history.” Don’t you get the feeling old Cal is itching to strap on the ammo belts and go at ’em?

The son only a mother could love will do a year in the work house. Kevin Duchschere of the Strib says: “An Eagan man will serve a year in the county workhouse and pay restitution of $111,000 for emptying his mother’s retirement nest egg of hundreds of thousands of dollars, a case that brought to life the growing financial abuse of seniors. Ward Allen Knutson, 47, was taken into custody Wednesday after being sentenced by Hennepin District Judge Kerry Meyer, who said she decided against prison time for Knutson to give him every chance to pay back what he owes to his mother and to get psychological help for his gambling and other issues. But Meyer also put Knutson on probation for 20 years, an unusually long time, and ruled that if he violates any of several conditions he would go to prison for 42 months.”

In a Strib commentary, Myron Orfield and William McGeveran swat down interpretations that suggest the secretary of state has no role in titling ballot measures: “Supporters of two state constitutional amendments up for a vote this November object to the ballot titles that Secretary of State Mark Richie has chosen. They’ve sued to overturn them. At the same time, Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, declared that Ritchie had ‘thrown the Constitution and established case law out the window to serve his political interests’ (‘Ritchie’s rewording is out of bounds,’ July 19). Actually, our state’s Constitution does provide quite a clear answer in this dispute — but it’s not the answer amendment supporters want to hear. … A Minnesota law, first enacted in 1919, says, ‘The secretary of state shall provide an appropriate title’ for every question on the ballot. (Notice that’s ‘shall,’ not ‘may’ — and that it’s ‘appropriate,’ not ‘whatever the proposal’s boosters prefer.’)”