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Minnesota is ‘below average’ in broadband access

Minnesota Paulites ready for big GOP week; Klobuchar’s chances; rural domestic-violence project shrinks; teen prostitution targeted; and more.

It turns out we’re actually below average in something that matters. At MPR, Dave Peters writes: “Minnesota, which has set lofty goals for broadband access and which has a state task force working on ways to improve it, came out below average in this week’s annual broadband report by the Federal Communications Commission. For eight years, the FCC has been preparing a yearly report on the state of high-speed access to the Internet, something it and lots of other people think is a necessity, the equivalent of electricity in the previous century. … Minnesota has reflected the general trend. All kinds of public and private projects are increasing speeds to residents. But 8 percent of the state’s residents do not have access, the new report says. That’s well more than 400,000 people and higher than the national figure of 6 percent. Among the states with better access, at least by that measure, are Iowa (7.1 percent don’t have access), Wisconsin (6.9 percent), Oregon (3.4 percent) and Washington (3.2 percent). Minnesota ranks ahead of North Dakota (15.9 percent without access), South Dakota (21.1 percent) and Mississippi (12.1 percent), to name a few.” Yeah, we’re cool as long as there is always Mississippi.

In Tampa with the rain-soaked Minnesota delegation, Baird Helgeson of the Strib writes: “If the Republican National Convention takes on a Tea Party flavor with some libertarian spice, Mitt Romney backers can blame two women from Minnesota: Rep. Michele Bachmann and Marianne Stebbins. … With many Minnesota GOP delegates firmly backing Paul, the state’s GOP activists are at the forefront of a ragtag and tenacious collection of small-government libertarians who are ushering in what is proving to be one of the most transformative political movements in a generation.” Really? “Most transformative”?

At the PiPress, Bill Salisbury looks at the Paulites girded for their big week and says: “Paul supporters know Romney will be nominated, but they want to make sure that the defeated candidate’s ideas and the movement he sparked get the recognition they think they deserve. ‘We want to ensure that it’s known that liberty people are here, we’re growing, and we’re not going away,” said Stebbins, of Excelsior. She acknowledged they are likely to be little more than a sideshow in a four-night Romney campaign production. ‘It’s a choreographed television show, so we can’t do everything we want to do,’ she said. And Paul delegates ‘can be respectful’ and ‘not cause chaos.’ But they can spread Paul’s libertarian message, she said, by making an imprint on the party platform and expressing their views to other delegates, influential conservative leaders and the news media.” And good luck with “transformation” by those means.  

There’s no great news but a couple of good quotes to an Associated Press story reiterating the inevitability of Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s re-election. The piece says: “ ‘I spent a lot of time last year talking a lot of my friends out of running against Klobuchar,’ said Mike Osskopp, campaign manager for her opponent, Kurt Bills. While insisting now that she can be beat, Osskopp said he still regularly talks to Republican donors and strategists who see a Klobuchar victory as inevitable. Osskopp and other GOP critics in Minnesota think Klobuchar is popular because she played it safe. She has avoided controversial issues and tough challenges, they argue, to instead pursue noncontroversial matters of consumer affairs and child safety. ‘She’s championed a couple consumer protection things — pool drains safety and Happy Meal toys and crap like that’, Osskopp said.” Really. Where was she on the big stuff? You know, stopping gay marriage and Voter ID?

At MPR, Conrad Wilson covers a protest by anti-Voter ID activists: “About 200 people marched through parts of South Minneapolis on Sunday to voice opposition to a proposed constitutional amendment that would require voters to show a valid ID at the polls. Minneapolis Park Board President John Erwin says the amendment would disenfranchise some voters. ‘What’s wrong with just keeping the system the way it is?’ Erwin said. ‘What is wrong, and why is it broken? When Minnesota has such good voter turnout and we lead the nation in this effort. So I don’t understand the justification.’ ” There would have to be one for you to understand it, sir.

Out in Marshall, Per Peterson of the Independent offers some ground-level perspective on what you lose and who suffers when you cut off the revenue flow: “A combination of a cut in state funding has left Women’s Rural Advocacy Programs (WRAP) facing an uncertain future and poses a threat to the group’s ability to provide services for people suffering from violence and abuse. …  For WRAP, it means a 45 percent cut in funding for FY13 and the loss of one of its four employees come Oct. 1. … ‘It’s my understanding they’re trying to have a one-stop shop in these rural areas and that doesn’t work,’ said WRAP Director Karen Brady. ‘Back in the ’90s it was like they wanted to short-change us out here. I kept saying, ‘You can’t do that, what about us rural people? You don’t have a clue to the isolation these women live in.’ … WRAP, which serves under the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women umbrella and provides services for women and their children victimized by domestic violence, will receive $123,000 to continue providing services in Lincoln, Lyon, Redwood and Yellow Medicine counties — $8,000 for hotel/motel safehomes and $115,000 for domestic violence services.”

A Strib editorial argues for more vigilance on the issue of teen prostitution: “If more hospitality workers pay attention and report suspicious activity, more pimps will be caught and sent to jail. And it’s more likely that their victims — underage girls and young women — can be saved from lives in the sex-for-money business. … It’s essential to have the cooperation of the hotels and motels where pimps and traffickers are most likely to set up shop. Cops making arrests at those locations can find smartphones, computers, sex paraphernalia and other evidence that is crucial for conviction. Yet this is a problem that should be attacked on many fronts. There are other points for intervention in the process that can turn a runaway 13-year-old into a sex trade victim. … identifying and counseling young girls who are at risk for getting caught up in this crime could help with prevention. Minnesota has been at the forefront in working to prevent crimes against women, including battering and prostitution. In 2009, the Legislature strengthened the state’s sex-trafficking laws by increasing penalties and categorizing trafficking as a ‘crime of violence.’ ” And how’s the budgeting for that work going?

Shades of the Zapruder film … . Randy Furst of the Strib writes: “An attorney for the family of a man who died while being held down by Minneapolis police is battling the city over an officer’s tiny personal pen camera that shot video of the man’s death and the home computer onto which the officer downloaded it. Lawyer Robert Bennett has accused officer Timothy Callahan of withholding the video for six days before turning it over to police. Bennett said it might have been edited. Lawyers for the city called Bennett’s claims ‘baseless and offensive,’ saying the video was never edited and is consistent with a video taken by a Taser that police used in the incident and a video captured by an independent security camera. Bennett has sued the city over the death of David Smith, 29, at the downtown YMCA on Sept. 9, 2009.”

Our Favorite Congresswoman is also a kind of theological meteorologist. Looking up at the skies over Florida, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann said, as is mentioned in a CNN piece: “[She] tied religion into comments about Florida’s severe weather, saying Sunday at a prayer rally that there’s ‘a spiritual hurricane in our land.’ … ‘At this moment in time we’re quite literally looking at a hurricane here in Florida. We’re looking at a political hurricane in this country. We are looking at a spiritual hurricane in our land. And it is time for each one of us to show up and suit up and stand up and realize that in this time and in this day we pour it out for Him,’ said Bachmann, a tea party activist, at the event organized by the Florida Family Policy Council.” I’m waiting for her to stand on a wind-ravaged crag and cast back the storm surge.