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DFL leaders ‘vague’ on what to do with Brodkorb lawsuit

Bank says fraud claims “without merit”; second wolf zone closing; maestro Vänskä seeks settlerment; broadband use rising; stadium seat licenses pondered; and more.

I was wondering when someone would get around to this. Catharine Richert of MPR writes: “Behind headlines about the impending change in leadership at the State Capitol is the looming question of what newly empowered Democrats will do about a lawsuit filed against the Senate by former Republican staffer Michael Brodkorb. As they assume control of the Senate, incoming DFL leadership has a number of options in how it handles the suit, which has cost the chamber at least $100,000 in taxpayer dollars. … In a press conference following his party’s Election Day victory, incoming Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, reiterated his belief that taxpayer dollars should not have been used to pay for the Senate’s legal representation, but he was vague on how he plans to deal with the case should it spill into his term.”

In an update to their report on the trustee in the Tom Petters fraud filing suit against a major Milwaukee bank for complicity, David Phelps and Jennifer Bjorhus of the Strib write: “In a lawsuit brought by Petters bankruptcy trustee Doug Kelley, attorneys accuse the former Milwaukee-based M&I Bank of turning a blind eye to the source of funds flowing in and out of the principal bank account used by Petters Companies Inc. (PCI) to finance the fraud for more than five years. The bank had knowledge of the fraud, they argue, and was complicit in it. Jim Kappel, a spokesman for Chicago-based BMO Harris Bank, said the claims ‘are completely without merit’ and that the bank will vigorously defend itself.” OK, but just out of curiosity, where did you think that $35 billion was coming from?

And … that’s a wrap on wolf hunting in Minnesota’s northeast zone. Sam Cook of the Duluth News Tribune writes: “Minnesota’s Northeast Wolf Zone will close at the end of shooting hours on Thursday because the harvest is close to the zone’s quota, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced today. By mid-day today, hunters had killed 57 wolves in that zone, one short of the harvest quota of 58 wolves. The East-Central zone had closed on Nov. 5 after hunters had killed eight wolves. The harvest quota for that zone is nine. Only the Northwest Zone will remain open. Hunters there had taken 60 wolves as of Wednesday. The harvest quota for that zone is 133.”

KARE-TV’s Allen Costantini reports on acceptance that Obamacare is a reality unlikely to be repealed: “With the Obama victory in the Presidential election, the reality of the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare) is ensured. Now, states, including Minnesota, are moving to comply with the federal law. … The reality is about 39% of Minnesotans work for big companies that offer health insurance to their employees. Those people are not affected by the exchanges. Nor are Medicare recipients. Medicaid recipients may use the exchange to qualify for their benefits. Individuals who meet certain lower income requirements will qualify for federal subsidies, to ease the cost of premiums for their insurance.”

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The maestro has spoken. At the Strib, Graydon Royce writes: “Music Director Osmo Vänskä has taken the extraordinary step of breaking his silence on the Minnesota Orchestra lockout. In a letter to board members and musicians, Vänskä pleaded for a return to negotiations and said he is ‘desperately anxious’ about the future of the orchestra. ‘Please, do what it takes, find a way, talk together, listen to each other and come to a resolution of this dreadful situation,’  Vänskä wrote in the letter that he delivered to board chairman Jon Campbell and president Michael Henson on Monday. The letter also was sent to musicians. Vänskä has not been involved in negotiations, and has refused all media requests for comment in the past six weeks.” Excuse me, maestro, but wouldn’t it be more efficacious to offer an opinion on the merits of one argument or the other?

At MPR, Dave Peters reports: “Three-quarters of Minnesota households now have high-speed Internet connections, according to a new survey by the Center for Rural Policy and Development. This home broadband ‘adoption rate’ has been rising, as you might expect, but not as fast as it once was. That, the center’s research is suggesting, may mean that the digital divide between haves and have-nots is changing and getting more complicated. … Interesting findings:
• Twin Cities residents continue to adopt broadband use at a higher rate than outstate residents, but the rate has slowed in both places. In the Twin Cities, 79.2 percent of households have adopted broadband; outstate the figure is 70.6 percent.
• The number of households that use cell phones and no land lines is now over a quarter — 27 percent. This starts to hint that how we think about who has broadband and who doesn’t is changing. Are there people who get all the access to the Internet they want via their smart phones and have no home access?”

Katy Read of the Strib files a story on women entrepreneurs: “It started six years ago, when a group of Minnesota women entrepreneurs who sold items they’d made or designed wondered how they could get more attention for their products. … And so began Maiden Minnesota, a holiday shopping event featuring exhibits of women-owned, Minnesota-based gifts products. This year’s event, on Oct. 26, included 36 companies selling cosmetics, jewelry, clothing, food, handbags and products for the home, and is estimated to have drawn more than 1,000 customers.”

More on the fracas over seat licenses for the Vikings stadium. Says Tim Nelson at MPR: “Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority chairwoman Michele Kelm-Helgen said a survey of ticket holders by the Vikings included some of those-five figure numbers in questions about the new stadium. ‘Apparently there were a lot of different examples, and some of them were $20,000 a seat, $30,000 a seat. I don’t think the market in Minnesota probably could bear that anyway,’ Kelm-Helgen said. ‘I don’t think realistically that’s something we’re looking at, but those are the kind of numbers people are concerned about.’ But unlike the governor, Kelm-Helgen would not rule out the idea altogether. In state law, her agency is responsible for actually selling the licenses — the proceeds of which are to go to stadium construction. Kelm-Helgen said she does not want to price fans out of the market.”

The Strib editorializes:Critics of the $498 million public-financing package that Dayton championed on behalf of the team last spring might wonder why the governor’s concern for the little guy wasn’t more evident during those negotiations. But this page was in lockstep with Dayton’s efforts to secure the team’s future in Minnesota, and the Star Tribune Editorial Board was fully aware that the Vikings would try to squeeze every possible dollar out of stadium naming rights, sponsorships, suite rentals and, yes, the seat license fees that drew the governor’s ire this week. Disappointingly, Dayton said in an  interview with an editorial writer on Wednesday that he had not been aware, even though he and his staff were deeply involved in the negotiations with the Vikings, the NFL and the city of Minneapolis, and even though the governor had signed a much-debated stadium bill that enables the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission to sell ‘stadium builders licenses ‘to help the team pay its $477 million share of construction costs.” Yes, everything is so … so … “disappointingly.”

But haven‘t they been advertising “4G” for months? Steve Alexander of the Strib reports: “AT&T is expected to announce Thursday that it will upgrade its Twin Cities cellphone network to full 4G data speeds, nearly two years after rival Verizon Wireless did so but ahead of competitors Sprint and T-Mobile. For AT&T customers with newer smartphones or tablet computers, the upgrade to full 4G means download speeds should triple to about 12 million bits per second. Verizon has been offering those speeds in the Twin Cities since the end of 2010. Sprint and T-Mobile have promised to add full 4G data speeds here, but their timetable is unclear. AT&T’s network upgrade will bring the Twin Cities closer to the day where any cellphone connection to the Internet will be as fast as the average consumer cable or telephone company Internet service, and more widely available.”