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Sheriffs want better gun screening of the mentally unstable

Voice of Timberwolves to head auctioneers; sales tax rankings; DNR hearings on endangered species; Dupre still climbing; lockout hearing; and more.

Covering the sheriffs arguing for better background checks for the mentally unstable and basic safety improvements in gun ownership, Megan Boldt of the PiPress writes: “Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said that gun control alone will not solve the complex problem of gun violence but that the severely mentally ill should never have access to guns. And they also shouldn’t be allowed to languish in jail cells instead of getting the help they need. … Hennepin County Judge Jay Quam, who has presided over cases in mental commitment court, has seen too many people allowed to languish in jail cells, waiting for civil commitment hearings, instead of getting the help they need. He pointed out a startling fact. The three largest mental health facilities in the country are the Los Angeles, New York City and Chicago jails.”

Well, he’s got the pipes for the job. Anne Jacobson and Regan Carstensen of the Red Wing Republican Eagle tell us: “The familiar voice of the Minnesota Timberwolves will lead the Minnesota State Auctioneers Association this year. Rod Johnson of Cannon Falls became the organization’s president last week at the annual convention in St. Cloud, Minn. The owner of Johnson Auctioneering was vice president last year and has served on the association’s board for three years. Johnson started in the auction business in 2005, but this is his 17th year as the public address announcer for the Minnesota Timberwolves. In 2007, he was the Minnesota and Wisconsin state champion auctioneer.”

WCCO-TV’s Pat Kessler adds a bit more to the sales tax conversation: “Minnesota ranks seventh in US sales taxes, at 6.875 percent. California is number one at 7.5 percent. Five states — Mississippi, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Indiana and New Jersey — are at 7 percent. … [Reducing the rate to 5.5%] would put the state more in line with sales taxes in the rest of the upper Midwest.”

And now … public hearings for endangered species. The Duluth News Tribune reports: “With dozens of new species proposed for Minnesota’s list of endangered, threatened and species of concern, the Department of Natural Resources has scheduled several public hearings on the changes. … Minnesota’s threatened and endangered species law was passed in 1971, with revisions in 1974 and 1981. This is the first major revision since then and includes 67 new animals and 114 new plants for the list, including listing moose as a species of concern. The DNR is proposing removing 15 plants and 14 animals from the list.” What are the chances they’ll add aged, gun-loving white males?

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Really. I was wondering … Steve Kuchera of the Duluth News Tribune writes: “Lonnie Dupre is in position to climb to the last camp before the summit of Alaska’s Mount McKinley. The Grand Marais adventurer is making his third attempt to become the first person to climb the 20,320-foot peak — North America’s highest mountain — solo in January. Dupre reached 14,200 feet on Tuesday. It took two days to move from his 11,200-foot camp. … Dupre hopes to move to high camp at 17,200 feet on Friday.” And you thought it was brisk starting the car this week.

It is more than just a coincidence … Graydon Royce of the Strib writes: “With three high-profile labor lockouts continuing in Minnesota, Rep. Joe Atkins, DFL-Inver Grove Heights, told an overflow crowd at his Commerce and Consumer Protection Finance and Policy Committee meeting Wednesday that there is ‘an epidemic of lockouts, not just in Minnesota, but nationally.’ Although Atkins’ committee took more than an hour of testimony on the impact of lockouts statewide, he promised no imminent action. ‘Legislation is being contemplated to prevent or disincentivize the probability of lockouts,’ he said. ‘But we will save that for another day.’ The hearing was intended to address lockouts in general, but statements from people affected by the Twin Cities’ two major orchestras dominated the session.”

And I doubt much of it was budgeted … . Rupa Chenoy of MPR says: “The city of Minneapolis says the water main break that flooded a busy downtown area earlier this month cost $325,000 to repair. Minneapolis public works director Steven Kotke said that number is a preliminary estimate because some invoices have yet to come in. … Kotke said the city still doesn’t know the circumstances that led to the accident.”

On The Daily Kos, Kaili Jo Gray leaps on the latest twist in the saga of Our Favorite Congresswoman’s campaign cash flow woes. Quoting from Mike Wiser’s story in the Quad City Times, Gray says:

In a notarized complaint to the Federal Election Commission, [former National Field Coordinator Peter] Waldron claims several violations of federal election laws by the campaign. One pertains to Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson, R-Milo, who Waldron claims was paid $7,500 a month for his role as Iowa state chairman for the Bachmann campaign. […] Waldron claims the payments were funneled through a third party, C&M Strategies of Colorado operated by Guy Short. In essence, Waldron said, the Bachmann campaign would overpay C&M Strategies for its work and C&M Strategies would then cut a check to Sorenson for his work on behalf of the Bachmann campaign. If true, the alleged scheme may violate the Senate ethics rule against state senators being employed by political campaigns.”

Gray then adds: “For those of you who have not committed the minutiae of the 2012 Republican presidential primaries to memory, way back when the S.S. Bachmann For (LOL) President was going down, Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson rather dramatically jumped off that ship and to the far more credible S.S. Ron ‘Gold, bitchez!’ Paul because he totally had a better chance of beating Barack Obama and making it to the White House. For his back-stabbery, Bachmann flippantly accused Sorenson of accepting a bribe to betray her. (No word on whether that bribe was paid in gold.) Bachmann didn’t just smear Sorenson on the radio, though; she sent out a press release making that bribery allegation as well. But, according to epically bitter ex-staffer Waldron, the campaign suddenly dropped that whole casual-accusations-of-bribery angle because they ‘knew that they were doing the same thing.’ ” She can’t get that 2014 Senate campaign going fast enough if you ask me.

You have to consider the source, but former DFL finance commissioner Jay Kiedrowski likes what he sees in Gov. Dayton’s tax plans. In a Strib commentary, he says: “For the first time since the early 2000s, a Minnesota governor has proposed a budget that has revenues equal to expenditures in not only the upcoming two-year period but also in the following two years. This by definition is a structurally balanced budget. If it is adopted, and if Minnesota has normal economic times, there will be no budget deficit two years from now. This fulfills the key recommendation of the Minnesota Budget Trends Study Commission. Embedded in the governor’s budget is major tax reform. It starts with the premise that Minnesota citizens should pay roughly equal amounts of income, sales and property taxes. The current tax system is unbalanced, with Minnesotans paying more in property taxes and less in sales taxes.” But what about that surplus T-Paw kept talking about?

Apparently the situation can only get better. Randy Furst of the Strib reports: “One of the most troublesome landlords in Minneapolis has sold all his rental properties in the city, ending a long-running battle with city officials over repeated housing violations. Spiros Zorbalas accumulated 2,131 violations over a five-year period, including such violations as illegally installed water heaters, work done without permits and roach and rat problems. He had faced revocation of rental licenses for all 38 of his Minneapolis properties. Council Member Gary Schiff, a persistent critic, called the sale good news. ‘Renters won’t be displaced and Spiros Zorbalas is out of business,’ he said Wednesday.”