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Appeals Court says blogger can’t be fined for telling the truth

Updated databases aid domestic violence prevention; new Best Buy CEO; Bachman shut out of GOP convention slot; and more.

The Appeals Court has decided that the truth trumps all. Abby Simons of the Strib reports: “The Minnesota Court of Appeals overturned a $60,000 award a local blogger was ordered to pay for a post that got a man fired, claiming that the blogger cannot be found liable for interfering if the information is true and protected under the First Amendment. The decision issued Monday in a case that garnered attention from free-speech advocates came a year and a half after a Hennepin County jury said that Minneapolis blogger John ‘Johnny Northside’ Hoff owed Jerry Moore $60,000 in damages for a scathing post on his well-read blog, ‘The Adventures of Johnny Northside.’ The post resulted in Moore’s firing from the University of Minnesota. … The Appeals Court sided with Hoff, reasoning that he cannot be held liable for interfering with Moore’s contract with the U if the information is true, regardless of his motivation for doing so, and ordered the case sent back to district court for judgment in Hoff’s favor.” Now … as for all the other bloggers who engage in nothing but “untruths” …

Police databases have been making a lot of news in the last couple of weeks. At the Strib, Heron Marqez Estrada writes: “A new computer database will put up-to-the-moment information about protective orders in the hands of police across Minnesota, a change officials hope will better protect domestic violence victims. The state is now using 14-year-old technology that only allows new or modified orders for protection (OFPs) to be disseminated twice a day on weekdays, which can mean hours or even a weekend — can pass before police in the field can access them. ‘It’s an antiquated system,’ said Liz Richards, executive director of the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women. ‘Nobody even makes the replacement parts anymore, that’s how old it is.’ “

Ex-CEO Richard Schulze is into a twisty game with Best Buy. At The Wall Street Journal, David Benoit reports: “Just days after Best Buy said its founder and former chairman didn’t need its permission to form a buyout group, the electronics retailer offered a ‘waiver’ granting Richard Schulze just that. Schulze turned down the offer, and several other proposals, Best Buy said late Sunday in a statement that laid out the steps the company had taken to try and get Schulze to the table. The apparent shift in language on whether or not permission is needed has to do with a previously obscure Minnesota law that has become a centerpiece of the battle over Best Buy’s future. The law freezes new investments in companies from taking action and could apply if Schulze was to sign an agreement with others, who would then be considered new holders. The timeout period is four years.”

Meanwhile, the big firm has a new top dog. Patrick Kennedy of the Strib writes: “Best Buy has named a turnaround executive, Hubert Joly, as its new CEO as the company tries to move beyond the Richard Schulze era. Joly resigned over the weekend as head of privately-held Carlson Cos., a $4.5 billion Minnetonka-based hospitality company. On Monday, Best Buy issued a press release confirming Joly’s appointment and lauding him as having the right skills and experience to lead the Richfield-based consumer electronics retailer into an uncertain future. Investors seem unconvinced. In early morning trading, Best Buy’s shares traded down 7 percent, or $1.42, to $18.85. … Joly acknowledged the challenges faced by Best Buy, but assured employees he has a vision for the company. ‘My strong hypothesis is that there is a real and very special place for Best Buy in this market, one that combines competitive prices and great service at the point of sale and over time, and one that combines an online and a physical presence,’ he wrote.” Details will be forthcoming, one presumes.

DFL Rep. Kelly Gauthier is getting little to no support from his caucus. Tim Pugmire at MPR writes: “Minnesota House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, said he thinks an embattled member of his caucus should end his re-election bid. Thissen said today that he is ‘deeply disappointed’ with the conduct of Rep. Kerry Gauthier, DFL-Duluth, who was investigated for his involvement in a public sex act at a Duluth-area rest stop. Authorities declined to press charges against Gauthier. In a news release, Thissen said the conduct was wrong, and that no one in the DFL House Caucus condones the behavior.”

Also over at MPR, weather guy Paul Huttner posts video of what may have been the lightning strike that killed a 9-year-old boy Saturday: “The storm that killed 9-year-old Luke Voigt of Iron River, Wis. on Duluth’s Park Point Saturday blew up fast. The storm intensified rapidly just after 5 p.m. as Daniel Thralow shot a time lapse video from Skyline Parkway above the Duluth harbor. Watch as the storm produces multiple cloud to ground lightning strikes over Lake Superior near Park Point.”

The St. Cloud Times’ Larry Bivins reports that the national GOP is not showing Our Favorite Congresswoman any love. “Rep. Michele Bachmann’s ability to amass millions in campaign cash on the strength of legions of small-contribution donors shows she has a substantial fan base across the country. But those supporters won’t get to hear or see her speak on national television during the Republican National Convention set to start Aug. 27 in Tampa — at least not from the convention floor podium. That’s because Bachmann, R-Stillwater, a contender for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination and a tea party favorite, is not among the 22 Republican ‘headliners’ selected so far to address the gathering in support of the Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan ticket. … The Republican National Committee declined to say why Bachmann, who elicits grins from rank-and-file party conservatives but groans from establishment party leaders, was not given a formal convention speaking slot.” Do these people not understand TV ratings?

Here in Minnesota, “chad” at the conservative Fraters Libertas site first quotes some thinkers on the moral essence of charity — vis a vis Mr. Ryan, his Catholic upbringing and his Draconian budget — then throws in a bit of his own. “Antony Davies and Kristina Antolin on Paul Ryan’s Catholicism and the Poor:

Wealth and poverty are catalysts for bringing the rich and the poor together in community, and community is the hallmark of the church’s mission on Earth. Government is not community. Government is one of community’s tools, a coercive one we use when it is necessary to force people to behave in ways they would not otherwise behave voluntarily. But that word—voluntarily—is key, and it’s where Mr. Ryan’s religious detractors go awry: Charity can only be charity when it is voluntary. Coerced acts, no matter how beneficial or well-intentioned, cannot be moral.

 The reality is that while it would no doubt be prefferable to have all such assistance provided volutarily (for the reasons cited in the article), there is a need for the government to continue to be involved. Whether that involvement should be direct or whether the government should provide funding to groups best able to deliver critical services is worthy of discussion. As is a broader conversation about the appropriate scale and scope of the government’s involvement in this area (and others). This is exactly the sort of thing we should be talking about before November’s election and why having Paul Ryan on the ticket has changed the game.”