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Ellison and liberal caucus dig in heels on entitlement cuts

Walker tradition offers best British TV ads; Span trade brings pitching prospect; pension changes proposed for firefighters and police; St. Paul cops cleared; Franson wins recount; and more.

Congressman Keith Ellison is drawing his line in the sand on the subject of entitlement cuts. Brett Neely of MPR writes: “[L]iberal Democrats, including Minneapolis U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, are warning the White House not to give too much away in negotiations. A recent story on the secretive negotiations in Politico suggested that the White House is open to changes in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security in exchange for tax hikes from Republicans. Not so fast, said Ellison, who was recently re-elected as co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, home to the most liberal members of the Democratic Party in Congress. He warned that his members wouldn’t back such a deal. ‘Any agreement to meet our end-of-the-year deadlines will need a large portion of the House Democratic Caucus to pass. Progressives will not support any deal that cuts benefits for families and seniors who rely on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security to put food on the table or cover their health costs,’ said Ellison in a statement.” It would be a low-life move if they cut that stuff.

It’s a tradition nearly as cherished as “The Nutcracker.MPR’s Euan Kerr reports on the Walker’s 26th annual revue of British TV commercials: “Flying lawnmowers, dancing royalty, and dockland thugs demonstrating CPR are just some of the gems from this year’s British Arrows Awards opening this weekend in Minneapolis. … Emotional ties come in many forms. Another popular technique this year are commercials set to readings or unorthodox performances of popular songs, such as naturalist David Attenborough interpreting a song Louis Armstrong made famous, ‘What a Wonderful World’’ There are also the notorious public service messages which in Britain have been very in your face. This year’s crop includes pieces on knife violence, mental health in the workplace, and safe sex. Long-time observers might notice they are more subtle, and more cerebral than in years past.”

The Twins traded likable centerfielder Denard Span for a very tall pitcher. In the Washington Post story, Adam Kilgore says: “The Washington Nationals ended their long-standing search for a center fielder and leadoff hitter at the substantial cost of their best pitching prospect, acquiring Denard Span from the Minnesota Twins for minor league starting pitcher Alex Meyer in a trade that shapes the rest of their offseason. Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo saw Meyer, a 6-foot-9 right-hander with a 99-mph fastball, as Washington’s next great homegrown arm.”

Working past 55 is one of the solutions to the police and fire pension problems in Minnesota. At the PiPress, Mary Jo Webster and Mara Gottfried write: “A coalition of law enforcement and firefighter representatives and Minnesota’s largest pension plan reached an agreement on a strategy to shore up the financially troubled police and fire pension fund. The proposal, which needs legislative approval, includes increases in employee and employer contributions and a change that would make it financially less attractive to retire before age 55. Mary Vanek, executive director of the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA), said this solution should get the police and fire fund ‘back on track’ to be fully funded by the legally mandated deadline of 2038.”

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There’ll be no felony charges against the St. Paul cops caught on camera kicking a man accused of threatening his ex-girlfriend. Jeff Baenen of the AP says: “Two St. Paul police officers will not be charged with felony assault after an arrest captured on video shows one of them kicking a man, a prosecutor said Thursday. Olmsted County Attorney Mark Ostrem said there was ‘insufficient proof’ the officers used unreasonable force. A video of the August arrest posted by a citizen on YouTube shows Officer Jesse Zilge kicking Eric Hightower as Hightower lay on the ground. Zilge was then able to handcuff Hightower, Ostrem said in a news release. … The prosecutor noted that Minnesota law authorizes law officers to use reasonable force when attempting to arrest a person. ‘The law is designed to prevent after-the-fact second guessing about the actions of officers on the streets who may have to make the decision to act quickly,’ Ostrem wrote.”

GOP Rep.Mary Franson won her recount. Joy Powell of the Strib says: “The recount is over in House District 8B, leaving state Rep. Mary Franson with a 12-vote lead over her Democratic challenger Bob Cunniff. Franson, a freshman Republican from Alexandria, picked up one extra vote Thursday when Otter Tail County recounted its ballots. ”

What? Did he diss his decoys? The AP says: “Authorities have arrested a suspect after a clash between duck hunters ended with a shotgun being fired at one hunter in Dakota County. Sheriff’s deputies were called to Spring Lake Park just after 2:30 p.m. Thursday on a report of shots fired at a duck hunter. The caller said a hunter was confronted by another hunting party as he placed his decoys in the water. The argument grew heated, and a shotgun was fired at the hunter who was placing the decoys.” Basic rule for a long(er) life: Don’t get in the face of a guy with a loaded gun.

According to another AP story:State election officials say more than 3 million Wisconsin voters cast ballots in this month’s presidential election, setting a state record. The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board says official results certified Thursday show that 3.07 million votes were cast. That’s the highest number of votes cast for a single office in a statewide election in state history. Board director Kevin Kennedy says the turnout rate was 70.1 percent of Wisconsin’s 4.3 million eligible voters. State turnout for the 2008 presidential election was about 69 percent, and top turnouts of about 73 percent were recorded in 1960 and 2004.”

Remember the story from a couple of days ago of the Eagan couple and the son they allegedly kept in a lightless room and abused for years? Betsy Sundquist of Eagan Patch has more details: “He told officers that his sister brought peanut butter sandwiches to him every night in his room, and he was told to leave the plate on the stairs for someone to carry upstairs to the kitchen. He said the Danners had installed a video camera in his bedroom so they could monitor him. The boy said he was required to do hundreds of military-style pushups every day — sometimes as many as 1,500 or 2,000, but never fewer than 500 — and that he had difficulty sleeping because he was sore from the pushups. He said he had been required to do extreme exercises since he was 12 or 13. The Danners also required the boy to do the ‘wall chair ‘exercise from 20 minutes to an hour, and that he was sometimes required to run several miles outside in very cold temperatures, according to the complaint. The Danners called the exercise ‘therapy,’ the boy said. The boy told police that Gregory Danner spanked him occasionally, once administering between 40 and 50 blows as punishment for profane words in lyrics that the boy had written down. He said that he tried to curl up in a ball when he was spanked, but said Gregory Danner knocked him down or grabbed him by the neck to get him into a position to spank him.”