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Bakk: ‘Other things to do’ than gay marriage

Police officer dies in ambush; youths turning more often to prescription drugs; Travel & Leisure likes us; “murder home” in foreclosure; and more.

Senate Majority Leader-designate Tom Bakk isn’t too keen on pushing a gay marriage bill through the Legislature this session. In Don Davis’s Forum papers story, Bakk says: “ ‘We are getting some calls from some real liberal constituencies on the gay marriage issue and repealing the language in statute,’ Bakk said. Such requests were expected given the fact that it has been 22 years since Democrats controlled both chambers of the Legislature and held the governor’s office. But Bakk said that Democrats have to balance serving their constituencies and adopting the budget. ‘One of the challenges will be just to manage all of those expectations,’ he said. Those pressures are coming from outside groups, not his senators, Bakk said. ‘No, not yet.’ ‘We have to do other things first,’ he said. Many expect a report early next month to show the state would face a deficit without adding revenue or cutting programs. How to fix that problem should take priority, Bakk said, not policy issues. ‘I am pretty reluctant to get into anything that is of a divisive nature,’ he said. ‘There has been enough political rancor around here.’ ” But is there a way to use that issue to whip up liberals in 2014?

It’s looking like an ambush cost a police officer his life. Tim Nelson and Elizabeth Dunbar of MPR report: “A police officer was shot and killed in Cold Spring late Thursday night after responding to a call about a man thought to be suicidal, and authorities say they have arrested someone in connection with the case. Authorities described the incident as an ambush. Officer Tom Decker, 31, and another officer were making a welfare check on 34-year-old Ryan Larson in an apartment above Winners Sports Bar and Grill on Main Street when the shooting took place on a nearby street. Decker was shot twice and died at the scene. Larson was arrested about an hour later and is being questioned. He has not been formally charged in the case.”

Jeremy Olson and Kelly Smith of the Strib look at the link between prescription drug abuse and the Little Falls killings: “Teens and young adults are reaching for prescription drugs more often, sheriffs and therapists say, a trend underscored by last week’s shootings of two Little Falls teenagers in a case linked to drug thefts. Police and treatment officials across Minnesota report a growing number of similar burglaries — in which thieves bypass expensive TV sets and silverware for pills — and a burgeoning black market for unused painkillers and stimulants. ‘Prescription drug abuse … is at epidemic proportions,’ said Dr. Joseph Lee, director of youth services for the Hazelden addiction treatment program. ‘People would be surprised at the proportion of crimes that are committed, petty and otherwise, in our community, because of drugs.’ The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse in New York reported this summer that 44 percent of high school students know drug dealers in their schools.”

The GleanWell, this is just embarrassing … Travel & Leisure magazine says we are just about the best in everything you can imagine … except winter. Among virtues of the “people” (i.e., you and me) we are ranked first in the nation for “intelligence” (yeah, OK) and “driving” … which would have to include the @#*!!# nitwit who cut me off on 100 yesterday afternoon.

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The site of last summer’s triple murder in River Falls is now in foreclosure. Pam Louwagie of the Strib says: “A St. Paul credit union has moved to foreclose against Aaron Schaffhausen, saying he has missed the monthly $812 payment on the property at 2790 Morningside Av. since Aug. 1. Schaffhausen took out a 30-year mortgage on the house for $170,153 in April, according to the complaint filed in St. Croix County Circuit Court. The foreclosure filing came just after a real estate agency abandoned efforts to try to sell the property. In an e-mail to the agency, the girls’ mother had objected that Schaffhausen stood to make ‘tens of thousands of dollars’ if the house were sold.” Again, would you want to live there?

At this point, what’s another 19 percent?  Mike Hughlett of the Strib writes: “Supervalu Inc.’s stock sunk almost 19 percent Thursday after a report that a possible deal for the embattled grocer is in jeopardy. Bloomberg News reported that Cerberus Capital Management’s pursuit of the supermarket giant has stalled because the private-equity firm has had trouble obtaining the funds for a leveraged buyout. Potential lenders are balking because they’re concerned over how Supervalu will manage the increased debt load as its revenue shrinks, Bloomberg reported, citing unnamed sources. Lenders also are pressing Cerberus to put more money into the deal than the firm is willing to. Private equity companies like Cerberus usually pile debt onto the companies they acquire, and Eden Prairie-based Supervalu already has significant debt from its 2006 buyout of Albertsons.” Yeah, there probably wouldn’t be much to “harvest” in that deal.

Breaking news! State Democrats and GOP divided on “fiscal cliff.” Brett Neely of MPR reports: “Both parties agree that tax rates should stay where they are for those making less than $250,000 a year but are divided on what should happen to those making more. President Barack Obama and most Democrats want to raise taxes on the wealthiest taxpayers back to the rates that existed during the presidency of Bill Clinton in the 1990s. But raising those top tax brackets could lead to a financial calamity, warns Republican Rep. John Kline, who represents the southern Twin Cities suburbs. ‘It does make a difference because there’s a lot of empirical evidence that raising rates will have an immediate impact on the growth of the economy,’ Kline said. Many economists do not agree with that conclusion. First District Democrat Tim Walz said the rates have been low since Republicans cut them under President George W. Bush in the early 2000s and there is little to suggest that tax rates have such a direct impact on the economy.”  Mr. Kline will be getting back to us with that “empirical evidence,” right?

For an MPR commentary, local writer Brandon Fertig dared Black Friday, first-hand: “Snow was falling as I approached the Buffalo, Minn., Walmart. Bad weather almost kept me from going; I wondered if others would feel the same way. Apparently not. It was 10 p.m., and a line of cars was parading into the parking lot. I could see several cars driving through the rows of parked cars looking for a spot. I got lucky when I saw a car pulling out of its spot; and in the spirit of a Black Friday shopper I drove the wrong way down the lane to get it. … Interestingly, the crowd got thicker as I made my way to a far corner of the store. People with carts filed around the meat coolers. I wondered, ‘What kind of Black Friday deal do they have on meat?’ None. The idea was to keep long lines for popular items spread out around the store. So we had a 32-inch TV in the frozen foods section, a 40-incher in the pasta aisle, a 50-incher in automotive, and a couple of lines for laptops in sporting goods. The 40-inch TV was going for $200.” That has to be at least the seventh, maybe the eighth of the nine circles …

On his blog, The Deets, Ed Kohler rips into the plutocrat mentality of avoiding taxes on a St. Paul sidewalk project: “Back in 2010, the City of St Paul wanted to add a sidewalk along Marshall Ave. on the north side of the street. You’d think that wouldn’t be a big deal, but when St Paul’s wealthiest residents were asked to contribute toward paying for the sidewalk (like everyone else in St Paul does when a sidewalk is built along their property) they freaked out and lawyered up. In the end, the wealthy and powerful prevailed over the poor and powerless. The sidewalk was built without a special assessment on T&C’s property. One thing that was particularly pathetic about Town & Country’s efforts to avoid being good citizens was the work of Summit Avenue resident and Town & Country Club member, Chip Michel, who filed a lawsuit against the city and created a petition to ‘Save our Trees.’ ” Sounds like Michel has learned a thing or two from GOP branding guru Frank Luntz.