How did 65 million voters miss this? As Aaron Rupar of City Pages tells us, Our Favorite Congresswoman is alerting her (check-writing) followers to the “fact” that President Obama is pushing Sharia Law, you know, like the Taliban: “Constituents of the 6th District who voted for Michele Bachmann instead of Jim Graves last month can’t be happy to hear their Congresswoman say she spent a ‘whole year’ fretting about Obama administration’s alleged efforts to implement Sharia law here in the United States. But that’s what Bachmann said during an interview on the radio show of Jan Markell, a right-wing radio host who discusses ‘current events in light of biblical end-time prophecy.’ … Bachmann also compared the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s 2005 ‘Ten-year strategic action plan’ to Hitler’s Mein Kampf and said the FBI’s effort to remove passages ‘negative about Islam’ from training manuals could be ‘deadly’ for the United States.” Note to Ms. Bachmann … nine days until the end of the world.
As expected, Gov. Dayton has appointed a new commissioner of Transportation. In the PiPress, Bill Salisbury says: “Dayton on Wednesday, Dec. 12, announced he has appointed Charlie Zelle, the president and CEO of Jefferson Lines, as state transportation commissioner effective Jan. 15. Zelle succeeds Tom Sorel, who resigned from the Minnesota Department of Transportation on Dec. 1 to become CEO of AAA Minneapolis. … Earlier this year, Dayton appointed Zelle to a transportation finance task force that recently called for a higher gas tax and other fee increases to raise at least $50 billion more for roads, bridges and transit over the next 20 years.”
What a sweetheart … . Dave Schwab of the Forum papers reports: “A Warroad, Minn., man is accused of forcing his girlfriend and her young daughter to stand outside in the cold near Grafton, N.D., before leading law enforcement on a high-speed chase. Scott Allen Boothman, 44, is in jail facing several charges, including three felonies, for the Sunday incident. … While on Interstate 29, Boothman allegedly forced the woman and her daughter to stand outside at an exit just south of Grafton. The wind chill that night was between 25 and 30 degrees below zero. The woman called 911, but she says Boothman tackled her, causing her to roll in the ditch. Everyone got back in the car and left. … Boothman then allegedly took off at speeds reaching 100 mph for about a mile before pulling over. The woman and her daughter ran frantically from the car, and Boothman was arrested.”
On Tuesday, Minnesota eighth-graders were smarter than just about every other kid in the world. Today, they’re healthier. Christopher Snowbeck of the PiPress writes: “A new report finds that teenagers in Minnesota are generally healthier today than they were during the 1990s. But gaps persist in the health of adolescents from different racial and ethnic groups, according to a Minnesota Department of Health report released Wednesday, Dec. 12. Since the 1990s, students age 12 to 19 from all racial and ethnic groups have seen substantial declines in the rate of cigarette smoking, binge drinking, sexual activity, and hitting or beating up another person, according to the new report. Minnesota also has seen declines in the rate of teens carrying a weapon on school property, drinking pop or soda and riding in a car with no seat belt.” Kids … guns and soda don’t mix.
AG Lori Swanson has settled with another of those hyper-aggressive debt collection companies. The AP says: “A company that buys bad debts has agreed to change its collection practices to settle a lawsuit filed by the state of Minnesota that accused it of filing unreliable court papers and carelessly targeting people for debts they didn’t owe. Attorney General Lori Swanson announced the settlement Wednesday, Dec. 12, with Midland Funding, one of the largest debt buyers in the country. The company has filed over 15,000 lawsuits against individuals in Minnesota courts. Her office accused the company of ‘robo-signing.’ Under a ‘consent judgment’ signed by a Hennepin County judge, Midland agreed to verify its information before attempting to collect on debts and to give people the chance to dispute illegitimate demands for payment. Midland also agreed to pay the state $500,000.” So how do they make a dime if they have to “verify” their lawsuits?
The PiPress has been running a series on public pensions. In particular lately, the “spiking” of overtime (and thereby, pension benefits by said employees). Today the paper summons up an editorial saying: “Someone should be watching, though — and closely — in the interest of the financial health of Minnesota’s public pensions, the workers counting on them and the taxpayers who ultimately are responsible in the event of pension shortfalls. … In the debate on these pages about our public pensions, we’ve discussed the value of moving away from the ‘defined benefit’ plan many public-sector retirees enjoy, to ‘defined contribution’ plans, such as the 401(k), that are prevalent in the private sector. Short of that, careful attention to overtime and other practices that affect plans’ stability will help assure that Minnesota’s public pensions don’t put both workers and taxpayers at risk.”
WCCO-TV’s Pat Kessler offered up one of his “Reality Checks” on the new DFL majority and gay marriage. Says Kessler: “Democrats are super-sensitive, because taking up gay marriage would leave them open to charges of ‘over-reaching.’ That’s exactly what Democrats accused Republicans of doing when the GOP held the majority, debating gay marriage, voter ID, right to work, abortion, guns, and more. Two separate analyses of the marriage amendment vote suggest that it’s not at all clear that legalizing gay marriage would pass — even if it comes up for a vote next year. And most — if not all — of the yes votes may need to come from Democrats. … Minnesota Democratic leaders say they are watching closely the United States Supreme Court, which announced last week it will hear two gay marriage cases and rule on their constitutionality. A Supreme Court ruling could make Minnesota’s gay marriage debate moot, but that decision is not expected until late spring or early summer — after the Minnesota Legislature is scheduled to adjourn.”
Home prices? Up again. Annie Baxter’s MPR story says: “Twin Cities home prices saw their ninth-consecutive month of gains in November. The median sales price spiked to $173,000, a nearly 17-percent increase from November of last year. The number of sales also climbed. Pending sales, where a purchase agreement has been signed, and completed sales both showed double-digit increases.”
Yeah, there’s probably good reason to look a bit closer at this one. Mark Stodghill of the Duluth News Tribune writes: “Because Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell prosecutes people who commit sex crimes with minors, and because he is accused of having an inappropriate romantic relationship with a 17-year-old girl, Cook County Sheriff Mark Falk has asked the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to investigate Scannell. … On Dec. 15 of last year, Daniel Schlienz went to Scannell’s office in the Cook County Courthouse with a loaded handgun, minutes after he was convicted of criminal sexual conduct with a teenage girl. Schlienz shot and wounded Gregory Thompson of Grand Marais, a witness subpoenaed to testify in the trial, and then went for Scannell. The county attorney was shot once in the chest below his heart and twice in the right thigh. ‘I just think that the public is going to perceive a correlation of the relationships; looking at what Dan Schlienz was accused of and convicted of, rightfully so, and looking at the county attorney apparently being involved in a relationship with a 17-year-old, and when did that start?’ ’’