Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


Minnesota Catholics asked to pay up for anti-gay marriage ads

Joe Senser rips prosecutors; petition opposes expanded mineral leases; Fairmont ethanol plant to be idled; Cargill scammed; and more.

Rabbis have a word for this. It’s “chutzpah.” Rose French of the Strib reports: “Minnesota Roman Catholics will receive a letter this week from the state’s bishops, urging them to donate money for television ads asking voters to say yes to a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. For many of the more than 400,000 Catholic households expected to get the letter, it marks the first time they’ve been asked by church leadership to make a financial donation to Minnesota for Marriage, the chief group campaigning for passage of the marriage amendment Nov. 6. … In trying to reach every Catholic household in Minnesota, the mailing is “unusual” compared to Catholics’ roles in marriage amendment campaigns in other states, said John Green, a political science professor at the University of Akron (Ohio), who studies politics and religion. ‘I can’t think of anything as direct and as explicit,’ Green said. ‘I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with it legally, but certainly I’m sure it’s very controversial. Catholic leaders have been involved in fundraising. I know of examples where they have reached out to parishioners, but I’ve never heard of anything quite this comprehensive.’ ” Now you have.

Joe Senser doesn’t think much of certain prosecuting attorneys. Abby Simons of the Strib writes: “Amy Senser’s attorney argued Monday for her freedom as she appeals her criminal vehicular homicide convictions, while her husband made an even more vocal case for his wife in a defiant statement that accused prosecutors of manipulation and lies. … Joe Senser left the courtroom shortly after the hearing began and was waiting for reporters afterward in the atrium of the courthouse. He repeatedly referred to Freeman as ‘Elected County Attorney Freeman’ and Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Deborah Russell, who prosecuted the case, as ‘Complicit Russell.’ … Joe Senser ended his speech by urging Attorney General Lori Swanson to ‘keep an eye on this.’ He was emotional when he added that although Phanthavong’s family requested he no longer apologize, ‘I want them to know that my family will always honor the memory of Anousone Phanthavong.’ ‘And we are good and decent, hardworking people and I don’t apologize for hard work’, he said. ‘They tried to paint Amy Senser as this rich, white Edina housewife, and nothing could be further from the truth.’

The latest opposition to expanded mineral leases in northeast Minnesota is a citizens’ petition. Steve Karnowski’s AP story says: “Citizens in northeastern Minnesota plan to file a petition Tuesday objecting to the state’s plans to auction off more metallic minerals exploration leases, saying the potential for new prospecting and mining could have a significant impact on the environment. A copy of the petition provided to the Associated Press on Monday asks for the Department of Natural Resources to prepare an environmental assessment worksheet before awarding the leases, saying they could affect trout streams and other sensitive natural resources, drinking water wells, popular recreational trails and property values. More than 140 people have signed it. The DNR announced plans to auction the mineral rights to 64,000 acres earlier this month amid growing interest in the large untapped reserves of copper, nickel and precious metals under northern Minnesota.”

The GleanHigh corn prices have a lot to do with a temporarily closed ethanol plant in Fairmont. Mark Steil of MPR says: “Denver-based BioFuel Energy says it will idle its plant in Fairmont. It’s the second facility in the state to shut down. Last summer Central Minnesota Ethanol in Little Falls halted production. BioFuel Energy last month reported a quarterly net loss of over $12 million. BioFuel Energy says the Fairmont plant, which produces 110 million gallons of ethanol per year, will remain idle until corn prices decline. A second ethanol plant in Nebraska will remain open. In another ethanol development, Gevo will resume fuel production at its plant in Luverne. Gevo began producing isobutanol, another corn-based alcohol, at the facility earlier this year. But Gevo says it has run into some unspecified production problems and will temporarily go back to ethanol.”

Article continues after advertisement

Related … Cargill got scammed. Dave Shaffer’s Strib story says: “Cargill Inc., one of the world’s largest commodities traders, says it’s a victim of an obscure type of business fraud involving the sale of fake renewable energy credits. In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in New York, Minnetonka-based Cargill said it arranged to buy 1.2 million biodiesel credits, known as RINs, from a New York broker in 2010, only to learn later that the credits were invalid. RINs are part of the federal mandate to blend ethanol and biodiesel into the nation’s motor fuels. Each gallon of biofuel produced gets a renewable identification number or RIN. Companies can use RINs as proof of compliance with the federal biofuel blending mandate.”

The Court of Appeals has rescued an HIV-positive man. Amy Forliti of the AP says: “ [T]he Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed the conviction of an HIV-positive man who was accused of passing the virus to another man through unprotected sex, ruling that the statute was ambiguous. Daniel James Rick, 31, was convicted last October of attempted first-degree assault under a statute that makes it a crime to knowingly transfer a communicable disease through ‘sexual penetration with another person without having first informed the other person’ of his positive status. … Rick was acquitted under the first part of the statute, because the jury found he disclosed he was HIV positive before having sex with his alleged victim in 2009, but was convicted under the second section.”

Righty blogger Ed Morrissey lays into the Strib and its most recent set of Minnesota Polls: “Over the past couple of years, I’ve been doing a lot of analysis on the “Minnesota Poll”; to put it bluntly, it’s been a travesty since the late 1980s. Its most annoying — or fraudulent, if you’re feeling less charitable — habit is the fact that it always under-reports Republican performance, especially in the polls it releases the Sunday before election day every two years, for Senate, Governor and President as well as key Constitutional referenda.  While the Strib writes this off to statistical noise, analysis shows that this phenomenon has been a universally one-way thing since 1988; it shorts Republican performance at three times the rate it shorts the DFL.  And the closer the election eventually turns out, the more pronounced the tendency; in other words, if the DFL is heading to a complete blow-out (as in the 2006 Senate race), the more accurate the polling turns out to be, whereas in razor-close races (like the 2010 gubernatorial race, in which Mark Dayton beat Republican Tom Emmer by four tenths of a point) the more ludicrously inflated the margin of the poll the Strib drops in that last, vital pre-election paper.”  All those substantiating links are to … Mitch Berg’s “Shot in the Dark” blog.

A word of warning: Do NOT use an ATM in City Center in Vegas … Jennifer Bjorhus of the Strib says: “At $2.20 a pop, the Twin Cities has the lowest average ATM surcharge in the nation. A new report out Monday found that ATM operators in the metro area charge 30 cents less than the national average of $2.50 for people other than their own customers to use their machines. The national average, a record, rose 4 percentage points from 2011, according to‘s 15th annual checking survey. It’s the eighth consecutive year the average has increased. The Denver area posted the highest average at $2.80, even higher than New York’s $2.70.”

This is rich. An attack ad by Our Favorite Congresswoman against her DFL opponent, Jim Graves, has been voted as being so outrageous, it earned Graves almost $8,000. At The Daily Kos, the editors write: “Daily Kos really wants to boot Rep. Michele Bachman out of office. That much is clear by your vote yesterday, when out of a field of five candidates, you gave her opponent Jim Graves 41 percent of the Hell to Pay vote. … Bachmann is sometimes an entertaining sideshow in American politics. But what Minnesota, and the nation for that matter, needs right now is not a sideshow. We don’t need a person like Bachmann, speaking from a position as a government official and a member of the Intelligence Committee, to be making such dangerous and crazy allegations. We’ve seen what a poorly produced, obscure YouTube video can do to incite anger and violence in the mid-east. The last thing we need is a representative of the U.S. government saying this kind of [bleep]. That deserves an answer. Hell, being as crazy as Bachmann and spending money on the airwaves to prove it deserves an answer.”