A bit like Diogenes, Mayor Rybak is out looking for gun and ammo manufacturers and retailers with a social conscience. At WCCO-TV, Edgar Linares says: “During Wednesday’s city council meeting Mayor R.T. Rybak said he’s going to closely examine where the city purchases its guns and ammunition. ‘We buy a lot of guns and ammunition, we should really question whether the companies that we are buying from are going to Washington and are working with us or fighting against us,’ he said. Rybak says he wants to begin a constructive dialogue with companies they buy from and see if they would like to be partners with the city in reducing gun violence in the community.”
And yes, President Obama will be coming to Minnesota to talk gun control. The AP story says: “It will be the president’s first trip outside of Washington centered on the gun proposals, which include a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, as well as universal background checks. Obama unveiled his plan in response to the horrific shooting of 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. While in Minneapolis, the White House says Obama will meet with local leaders and law enforcement officials. Some of those officials have been part of discussions with Obama on ways to curb gun violence.”
It escaped their attention? Pat Pheifer of the Strib tells us: “A Taser that had been mistakenly left behind by a Burnsville police officer during a drug search six weeks ago turned up Jan. 21 when three 19-year-olds allegedly used it to rob a Subway restaurant in Burnsville. The officer who misplaced the Taser was a member of the Dakota County Drug Task Force, said Capt. Jef Behnken. ‘It was inadvertently left behind’ at a search on Dec. 5, he said, and ‘It shows up in this robbery case and that’s when we first discovered it.’ The department is conducting an internal investigation into how the mistake happened and why it wasn’t reported by the officer who misplaced it.”
“Food trends” … made the topic list at MPR. Tom Crann talked with Rachel Hutton of Minnesota Monthly. A sample:
Tom Crann: I keep seeing charcuterie, or assorted meat plates, on menus? Is that another carnivore trend that’s going to stick around?
Rachel Hutton: I think things like head cheese and pate reminded local diners that some of the least attractive foods can be the best tasting, so I think that charcuterie and offal — organ meats and such — will be explored with more depth. Diners will be eating pig tails — an occasional special at The Left-Handed Cook in the Midtown Global Market, and chicharrones.
Tom Crann: What are chicharrones?
Rachel Hutton: Puffy, crisp pork rinds. Think of them as meat Cheetos. They were a perfect, crunchy garnish for the pork tongue I had at Victory 44 in north Minneapolis. When you think about it, deep-fried pig skin isn’t any weirder than deep-fried Twinkie.”
Thanks, but I’ll have the flank steak and sweet potatoes.
Remember, “fees,” not “taxes.” Gov. Dayton’s budget calls for $45 million in new fees. Baird Helgeson of the Strib says: “The proposal calls for $4.7 million from strengthening the state’s newborn screening program, $2.9 million from home health care licensing and an increase in the critical habitat license plates fees that will bring in an additional $2.6 million. Some fee revenue is expected to go down, like wind turbine permitting, which is expected to drop $52,000. Fees from the state auditor are expected to drop $13.1 million. The state is expecting to take in $50 million less from the so-called health impact fee, a cigarette and tobacco tax approved several years ago. The fee is going down because fewer people are smoking, budget officials say.” Never mind, I guess, Tuesday’s story about more adults smoking.
Without admitting “wrongdoing,” of course … Mike Hughlett of the Strib says: “Mosaic Co. and North America’s two other big potash fertilizer producers said Wednesday that they’ve settled suits accusing them of collusion. Plymouth-based Mosaic and Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan each agreed to pay $43.75 million, while Alberta-based Agrium Inc. has settled for about $10 million. None of the companies admitted any wrongdoing in the suits, which have been pending since 2008. ‘Mosaic chose to settle these claims to avoid the significant costs, burden and distraction of protracted litigation,’ the company said in a statement.” Four years sounds kind of “protracted” to me.
MPR’s Brett Neely, like MinnPost’s Devin Henry, covered the Senate Judiciary Committee’s gun control hearing. Neely writes: “Both [Al] Franken and [Amy] Klobuchar have signed onto legislation that would restore a 1990s-era ban on assault-style weapons. [The NRA’s Wayne] LaPierre and other witnesses argued the ban was unworkable and nonsensical. Franken asked why specific features such as a collapsible stock and a pistol grip mattered in defining what counts as an assault weapon. Police chief James Johnson responded. ‘It’s meant for the battlefield and a public safety environment only,’ Johnson said.” The battlefield and, of course, “avid shooting enthusiasts.”
There are two pretty different stories on the stand in St. Paul. Emily Gurnon of the PiPress writes: “Fellow political activists described Anthony David Newby in a Ramsey County courtroom as calm, peaceful and level-headed. But prosecutors with the city of St. Paul have accused him of hurting a female employee at the St. Paul law firm of Reiter & Schiller during a protest. He is on trial this week in Ramsey County District Court on misdemeanor charges of fifth-degree assault and trespassing. Newby, 38, of Minneapolis, helped organize an Occupy Homes MN action March 1. The organization works to stop foreclosures in Minnesota. … [a] 45-year-old woman, a paralegal named Denise Reinke, fell outside the front door of the firm at 25 N. Dale St. She said that Newby banged on the door, then, as another protester yanked the door open, Newby grabbed her and ‘pulled her out of the doorway, then pushed her to the side, causing her to fall down the steps leading up to the doorway,’ according to the criminal complaint in the case.”
Good cover story by City Pages’ Jacob Wheeler on the “Stand Your Ground” controversy. A couple of highlights: “Among the Tampa Bay Times’ findings: that 70 percent of those who invoke Stand Your Ground to avoid prosecution have gone free; defendants claiming Stand Your Ground are more likely to prevail if the victim is black; and that the number of cases is increasing as defense attorneys use Stand Your Ground in ways that state legislators never envisioned. Stand Your Ground claims have arisen following incidents outside an ice cream parlor, on a racquetball court, and at a school bus stop. Two-thirds of the defendants used guns, but other weapons have included an ice pick, a shovel, and a chair leg. … Since it was born in 2005, Stand Your Ground has spread like wildfire. Seven years later, more than half of the states in the union have adopted some version of it — not by organic political means, but after they were pushed as ‘model legislation’ by the National Rifle Association and the Koch brothers-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a corporate-sponsored neo-conservative consortium of lawmakers. … Minnesota’s Stand Your Ground bill, H.F. 1467, was sponsored by Republican state Rep. Tony Cornish and state Sen. Gretchen Hoffman, and would have been among the ‘craziest gun laws in America,’ according to Salon. Had Dayton not vetoed it, the Minnesota version would have exempted homeowners from any duty to retreat if an intruder enters illegally; allowed the use of deadly force if someone is threatened with substantial, albeit temporary, bodily harm (including a punch to the face); granted total immunity from criminal prosecution; and disallowed the arrest of the suspect until police had fully considered any claim of self-defense.”