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Poll finds marriage amendment a draw

Divisions over amendment evident in Red Wing, Grand Rapids; Swanson wants law firm reinstated; future of Hudson dog track site uncertain; and more.

KSTP-TV’s latest polling shows the trend lines favoring opponents of the GOP’s marriage amendment. Tom Hauser says: “Less than three weeks from Election Day the battle over Minnesota’s marriage amendment is too close to call. The latest KSTP/SurveyUSA poll shows 47% of Minnesotans surveyed support the amendment to the state constitution that would define marriage as only the union of one man and one woman. It requires 50% of all votes cast in the election to pass an amendment. According to the latest poll, 46% oppose the idea and 7% are undecided. The margin of sampling error in the poll is +-4.3%. Just last month our survey showed 50% voting ‘yes’ and 43% voting ‘no.’ Despite losing ground, supporters of the marriage amendment are encouraged that they’re still in the lead.  ‘We’re thrilled that we’re maintaining a lead in the polls,’ says Autumn Leva of Minnesota for Marriage.” That’s what I call “glass half full” thinking.

Interesting piece by MPR’s Elizabeth Baier on a marriage amendment forum in Red Wing: “When a dozen churchgoers recently gathered to discuss the marriage amendment, it quickly became clear that not everyone agreed that their religious views should be enshrined in the state constitution. … In Red Wing, a picturesque town of 16,472 residents on the Mississippi River in southeastern Minnesota, few signs from either side dot lawns or storefronts along Main Street. Business owners say they veer away from the topic to avoid confrontations with friends and long-time customers. While amendment supporters discuss the issue privately, a vocal and well-organized chapter of a gay rights organization is leading opposition to the amendment.”

Similarly, colleague Sasha Aslainian was up in Grand Rapids: “Supporters of the amendment include Kelly Klatt, the youth minister at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. During a Labor Day parade in neighboring Bovey, Klatt, her husband and youngest daughter marched with other member of their church. They carried signs bearing names of the 30 states that have passed marriage amendments similar to the one on the ballot and urged Minnesotans to do the same. ‘You had people booing and giving you the thumbs down, which, on a regular basis you don’t deal with stuff like that, so that was kind of shocking,’ Klatt said. ‘A grandmother booed my daughter who’s 9 years old’. … In Grand Rapids, neighbors are divided. That’s clear from the opposing signs in yards and churches, and from conversations in coffee shops like Brewed Awakenings. That’s where Jake Gustafson, a self-employed flooring installer, said he plans to vote yes on the amendment. ‘I believe thoroughly that there is a God and he wrote us the Bible and he wrote us all the info we need to know about marriage in there,’ said Gustafson, 28, who described himself as a non-denominational Christian.” Is that like a Sunday-at-the-pub Catholic?

AG Lori Swanson wants the D.C. law firm disqualified last week in a case against 3M back on the job. David Phelps’ Strib story says: “Attorneys for Swanson and Covington & Burling filed separate requests with the Minnesota Court of Appeals late Tuesday to overturn the ruling of Judge Robert Blaeser. The court motions said 3M’s disqualification request should not have been granted because it came more than 15 months after Covington & Burling became the state’s counsel of record. The state alleges in its case that 3M contaminated groundwater sources and stretches of the Mississippi River over 50 years through the release of perfluorochemicals (PFCs).”

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The site of the long-deserted dog track in Hudson will not be used for a high school, if the City Council there has its way. Jim Anderson of the Strib says: “School board members in Hudson, Wis., thought they had a sure thing when voters last April approved spending $8.25 million to buy the abandoned dog track on the south edge of town for a badly needed second high school. But those plans put the board at odds with the City Council, which turned down a rezoning request that would have allowed the school to be built but also would have taken one-third of the city’s commercial real estate off the tax rolls.”

Michael Rietmulder of the Strib’s files a piece on the 27 local brews it sampled in a beer-off:

SURLY FURIOUS Ranked by as the No. 1 IPA in the world, the invigoratingly bitter Furious is one of the local craft scene’s anchors. Its can-matching bright red color defies style norms, and it greets the palate like a hop-handed slap in the face — note the whopping 99 IBUs (International Bitterness Units). A+
SUMMIT SAGA After languishing in the popular category with its very average India Pale Ale, the old-guard microbrew unleashed its IPA 2.0 this summer. Saga has that signature Summit bite with a clean hoppy flavor that has our beer-scene originators catching up with the newbies in this hot-selling style. A-

The Strib’s editorial board wasn’t pleased with the way serious fiscal issues were treated in Tuesday night’s presidential debate: “Both candidates’ evasions disappointed. Obama’s complaint about a noncompromising Congress is legitimate. But he once again failed to explain how the next four years would be any different. For his part, Romney finally gave a glimpse — although not a plan — of how he would pay for even more tax cuts. He suggested a possible cap to itemized deductions, with voters choosing which ones to exercise come tax time. That’s hardly a blueprint, however, which is why Obama was right to refer to Romney’s deficit plan as a ‘sketchy deal.’ Romney’s reassurance that ‘of course they add up’ was résumé-based, not policy-based. Voters, and Congress, deserve more specifics. And the candidates don’t have to invent them: Instead, they can embrace the sensible solutions advocated in the Simpson-Bowles plan, which realistically advises that making difficult choices now will avoid devastating choices later.” And what would Mr. Romney say to the Simpson-Bowles defense reductions?

The state DFL takes a slap from MPR’s PoliGraph reporter, Catharine Richert: “ ‘Ben Wiener will be another vote against Medicare,’ the DFL flier states. ‘In recent years, Republican politicians have repeatedly voted to cut Medicare. And now Ben Wiener wants to join them.’ … [But] Wiener can’t be another vote against Medicare because the state Legislature has no control over the program, as the ad implies. … The DFL also points out that many Republican legislators supported a legal effort to overturn the new health care law. But it’s misleading to link their amicus brief to Wiener because he was not in the Legislature at the time. In fact, Wiener hasn’t made any public statements about Medicare or federal entitlement programs in general. He says that’s because ‘it’s a federal entitlement program and not a state issue.’ Aside from using tenuous evidence to support the specifics, the DFL flier is fundamentally misleading.”