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T-Paw the bridesmaid

Assessing Paul Ryan; new fights over Legacy money; “Scandinavian Riviera” profiled; MPCA studying river’s water flow; lawyers profit from Petters case; and more.

Our Favorite Bridesmaid, T-Paw, will have to find other ways to campaign for Mitt Romney, other than as his running mate. Kevin Diaz’ Strib story says: “Pawlenty had topped many pundits’ short lists as a safe choice who would not overshadow Romney’s desire for the campaign to be about President Obama and the economy. … Pawlenty is widely viewed as a potentially formidable opponent to Sen. Al Franken, a Democrat up for re-election in two years. Pawlenty, those who know him say, is keeping his options open. ‘I can speak for many, many Republicans when I say that if he chooses to run again, we would be delighted,’ said Minnesota GOP Party Chairman Pat Shortridge.” I think even Al Franken would contribute to that campaign.

After the choice of Paul Ryan, MPR’s Tom Scheck called around for reaction: “The key question is whether the Ryan selection has any impact on how Minnesotans vote. The Romney campaign has spent little time and money in Minnesota. In fact, a fundraising e-mail billed an upcoming fundraiser in Minnetonka Beach as the ‘one and only event that Governor Romney will attend in Minnesota’. University of Minnesota political science professor Larry Jacobs said Ryan may help draw some votes in the Upper Midwest but the pick would not have an overall impact on the presidential race. He pointed to academic research that shows vice presidential picks rarely have a positive effect on campaigns, and that they are not typically chosen for the state or region they represent. ‘They are being chosen for governing,’ Jacobs said. ‘What it says to me is that the Romney presidency is going to be devoted to discussing a major budget restructuring.’ ”

And on the matter of bridesmaids, ex-Stribber Bob von Sternberg writes at MPR, saying: “Wisconsin may be an even more crucial swing state, a formerly safely blue state that has become a tossup as Republicans have become ascendant. Hence, Paul Ryan.     Pawlenty has been willing to be an attack dog for Romney since his own presidential campaign crashed and burned in Iowa last summer. That’s usually the primary job of a vice presidential candidate. He’s been tested, however briefly, in the crucible of a presidential campaign. He has a brown-shoe, modest, affable manner that contrasts well with Romney, stuck with the image of an elitist rich guy. His personal history as a poor kid in South St. Paul, the son of a truck driver who was the first in his family to attend college couldn’t be more different from Romney’s biography. But he always had liabilities of his own in the race for the vice presidential nod. In two terms as governor, he never won a majority of Minnesotans’ votes. His conservatism has been questioned as a come-lately move from his earlier moderate positions in the state Legislature (a quote that has haunted him was saying at one point that ‘the era of small government is over.’) He also once said that the Republican Party ‘can’t be the party of middle-aged white-guy CEOs.’ (Not coincidentally, a major power base of the party.) And few people are speculating that the Romney campaign can win Minnesota, no matter how tight the race with President Barack Obama appears now.

While his fellow Power Liners are in a kind of ecstatic rapture at the thought of a fellow Ayn Rand-ian stepping closer to a heartbeat from the presidency, Paul Mirengoff plays the wet rag: “Ryan wants to have an adult conversation with the American people about the looming insolvency of the welfare state. Adult conversations during presidential campaigns are okay up to a point, depending on the circumstances. But the selection of Ryan limits Romney’s ability to control the extent to which the campaign will be driven by such a conversation. Nor will the conversation that Ryan brings to the fore be entirely ‘adult,’ whatever Romney and Ryan may desire. Ryan is a great congressman and would probably make a fine president. However, I fear that Romney has selected the one man on his short list who can hurt his chances of being elected president.” Oh, I think there were at least a half dozen others …

At Playground Politics, “recess supervisor” writes: “[T]he selection of Paul Ryan is a sure sign that the Romney campaign has figured out its drab message about the importance of private sector experience hasn’t been whipping the masses into a frenzy. You don’t get more career politician than Paul Ryan, a guy who’s barely spent a day in his adult life working outside the sphere of government. I don’t have a problem with guys like that; most of our nation’s greatest political leaders have made a career of public service. Romney, however, does have a problem with it, and has made a point of it repeatedly. Ryan undermines that entire narrative, which means Romney must be prepared to refocus his message. Paul Ryan’s record is interesting. He certainly has emerged as a strong leader in the GOP who isn’t afraid to put actual ideas on the table. That’s refreshing in our current political environment. At the same time, he was also a reliable vote for every budget-busting proposal that George W. Bush put in front of Congress, which should force all of us to ask whether Ryan’s recent leadership isn’t simply the leadership of opportunism; of having bold plans when one knows that one’s plans will never be enacted.”

At the St. Cloud Times over the weekend, Kristi Marohn filed a report on the next looming battle of Legacy Fund money: “[T]he battle over the Legacy dollars is heating up again. Earlier this year, 10 Twin Cities agencies passed a resolution calling the current split unfair. In response, outstate cities and counties have passed their own resolutions calling for an even greater share. It’s likely to be a contentious issue that spills into next year’s legislative session. … In the first round of Legacy funding in 2009, 43 percent went to the Twin Cities, 43 percent went to the Department of Natural Resources for state parks and 14 percent went to a statewide grants program, for which both outstate Minnesota and Twin Cities could apply. In the second round, the Twin Cities metro still received 43 percent, while the DNR received 37 percent and outstate Minnesota 20 percent. Twin Cities projects could no longer apply for the outstate portion.

The Chicago Tribune runs a travel piece on “The Scandinavian Riviera” — i.e., The North Shore. Writes Cliff Terry: “The “Riviera” offers plenty of outdoor opportunities such as hiking, biking, fishing, birding, sailing, golfing, canoeing and kayaking, cross-country and downhill skiing — and even dog-sledding. But if you’re looking for ‘urban’ intrigue, the most interesting city on the North Shore is Grand Marais, about 110 miles north of Duluth and about 40 miles south of the Canadian border. It’s filled with eclectic attractions and stores (an old-fashioned Ben Franklin but no big-box stores) and numerous places to eat and drink. One attraction, the North House Folk School, offers more than 225 courses in such unusual subjects as rosemaling (Norwegian decorative painting), Greenlandic Inuit kayak-building, and moose-hide and canvas mukluk-making. Need more? How about Swedish potato sausage-making, Scandinavian holiday baking, Norwegian fjord horse ‘pleasure driving’ (whatever) and Swedish wire craft?” You’d think an Italian never set foot in the place.

A 24-year low in water flow has given scientists a good opportunity to test the quality of the Minnesota River. Bill McAuliffe of the Strib writes: “The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has been testing the metro end of the river to see whether the oxygen content may have reached dangerously low levels after seven recent months of drought and the second-hottest July on record in the Twin Cities. It’s the first test of its kind since 1988, the last time the river flow in July and August was so meager. … Skuta said the MPCA has been waiting since 1988 for the river to drop to a late summer weekly average flow of under 1,500 cubic feet per second. On Friday, the river flow at Jordan was about 1,000 cubic feet per second, about half the normal for the date. It dropped below 300 cfs temporarily during the summer of 1988.”

Again, I can’t say how shocked I am to hear that attorneys have made out so well off the Tom Petters case. At the Strib, David Phelps reports: “Attorneys and other professionals sorting through the mess left by the collapse of the largest financial fraud in Minnesota history have collected nearly $70 million for their work, and the tab is still growing. The $68.9 million spent investigating, dissecting and sorting through Petters’ affairs includes an average of nearly $1.5 million a month collected by lawyers and other experts. The total spent equals more than one-fifth of the $302 million recovered so far for eventual disbursement to victims and creditors of Petters, whose holdings once included Polaroid Corp. and Sun County Airlines. California attorney Brenda Grantland, who has represented creditors in various Petters legal matters, brands the spending a ‘fee fest’ that ‘has not paid a single dime to honest victims and creditors.’ ” Ma’am, we are talking the American way, here.