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GOP’s Nienow urges delaying Vikes stadium groundbreaking

University of Minnesota proposes taking over Fairview Health Services; off-duty Minneapolis cop on trial; false alarm bells go off about DNA from invasive carp; and more.

Only a couple days after being accused by Gov. Mark Dayton of “shooting his mouth off,” GOP Sen. Sean Nienow is doubling down on his crusade to renegotiate the Vikings stadium deal. At MPR, Tim Nelson says: “Nienow (R-Cambridge) says the state ought to wait for its stadium dessert until after the fiscal broccoli. Nienow says he’s introducing a measure to delay groundbreaking on the stadium until Minnesota’s finance commissioner can certify that the revenues from electronic pulltabs and other sources are sufficient to pay the debt service on the bonds. … Nienow has been sharply critical of the stadium’s financing plan, virtually from the get go, and again in a statement he released Thursday:

Are we really going to build a sports stadium and take money from education, health care and maintaining roads? In who’s world was this a good idea? When the stadium bill was debated, I said the e-pulltab revenue source was based on “fairies and fufu dust.” It appears I have been proven correct.

Grandstanding or not, tell me he doesn’t have a point.

This was the logical blocking maneuver … . The Strib team of Tony Kennedy, Jenna Ross and Anthony Lonetree report: “The University of Minnesota has proposed taking over Fairview Health Services in a move that would pre-empt a possible merger between Fairview and South Dakota-based Sanford Health. Fairview has controlled the U’s medical center since 1997, and the prospect of a Sanford-Fairview merger could put the flagship hospital under new authority out of state. But in a letter to Fairview’s top executive, University President Eric Kaler has proposed a deal in which the university would assume all of Fairview’s assets and liabilities, putting it in control of the Twin Cities’ second-largest hospital and clinic chain. The Jan. 28 letter, obtained by the Star Tribune, said an alignment excluding Sanford would be the “best choice for our patients and communities, our state, and our physicians, staff and students.”

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The off-duty Minneapolis cop charged in what looked on video tape like a sucker punch to another patron of an Andover restaurant patio is now on trial. Sarah Horner at the PiPress says, “Guilty people don’t run and hide. That was the sentiment prosecutor Robert Goodell used to open the trial against Minneapolis police Sgt. David Clifford on Thursday, April 4, in Anoka County District Court. … the video shows him leaning over in his chair to say something to Vander Lee, presumably ‘to keep it down,’ Goodell said. Shortly thereafter, the video shows Clifford stand up, walk over to Vander Lee and lean in to say something to him again, Goodell said. At that point, Vander Lee puts his phone down and starts to stand up, which is when Clifford swings, Goodell said. ‘The defendant raises his right hand … and punches him with a closed, cold fist in the head,’ Goodell said. Then, with Vander Lee lying on the ground, Clifford ‘runs away,’ Goodell said.” Doesn’t he mean “innocent people”?

The GleanThe latest in carp … . Josephine Marcotty of the Strib says: “Alarm bells went off in 2011 when wildlife researchers found surprising amounts of DNA from invasive carp in the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers and even above the Coon Rapids Dam. Could the voracious fish already be here in large numbers? Could the DNA have come from the droppings of birds who had eaten the carp elsewhere? Or from illegally released baby carp used as bait? None of the above, it turns out. It was a false alarm. A new, comprehensive analysis released Thursday shows that if there are invasive carp in Minnesota’s rivers, they haven’t left behind any biological fingerprints to prove it.”

And yes, it will cost money to improve the database for firearm background checks. Kyle Potter of the AP writes: “The state Senate Judiciary Committee is trying to determine how much it will cost to dig through old court records for mental health commitment information to send to the national database of people who can’t own a gun. That’s just a small — and uncontroversial — part of a lead DFLer’s move to tighten the state’s gun laws. Sen. Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, said Thursday, April 4, that it will ‘fill in the gaps in the current background-check information databases.’ Janet Marshall of the State Court Administrator’s office said many of those records, dating to 1994, aren’t computerized. That could mean extra manpower and significant costs.”

Your bureaucracy in (in)action. Frederick Melo of the PiPress tells readers: “The Metropolitan Council has asked the city of St. Paul to amend its comprehensive plan to include the Lowertown regional ballpark, a process that will involve additional public hearings before the St. Paul Planning Commission. In a letter dated April 3 to St. Paul Planning and Economic Development Director Cecile Bedor, Met Council planners said they had reviewed an environmental assessment worksheet for the 11-acre ballpark project. The ‘review finds that the EAW is complete and accurate with respect to regional concerns and raises no major issues of consistency with council policies,’ according to the letter, which notes that a more formal environmental impact statement will not be necessary. Nevertheless, the city’s Downtown Station Area Plan identifies potential redevelopment for the area as residential, office, retail and hotel: ‘No mention is made of any proposed ball field or entertainment park.’ The city’s comprehensive plan will have to be amended accordingly.” My eyes glazeth over.

Education Commissioner Brenda Casselius offers a commentary in the Strib on the state’s testing regimen. It is in sharp disagreement with another commentary by two local business leaders. “Our urgent priority must be to boost the achievement of all students closer to the levels of our most successful students. According to some, the answer is to burden students and teachers with more of the same old tests. In ‘We can’t ease our way to student achievement’ (April 1), two leaders of major Minnesota business organizations advocated that strategy, claiming that the past decade of testing has improved results. I disagree. The data show clearly that testing our children to greatness has been a failed experiment.

And in another commentary, this one on public pension paranoia, Kim Crockett of the conservative Center of the American Experiment writes: “A tremor coming from California this week could have consequences in Minnesota — and certainly will for the nation. A federal bankruptcy judge signaled that pension obligations for the bankrupt city of Stockton could be part of the restructuring plan. California’s giant public employee retirement system had been arguing that pensions should be immune from cuts, while bondholders argued that it was unfair to reduce debt payments unless all municipal debts were on the table. No Minnesota cities are officially in bankruptcy. But soon we can expect to see signs of the enormous strain that pension obligations will impose on school districts, cities and the state. Ratings from agencies like Moody’s, which affect the costs of local government borrowing for schools, roads and bridges, are taking a hard look at pension obligations. … Like the private sector, which long ago moved away from unsustainable guaranteed pensions, the state should offer a portable defined contribution — or 401(k)/annuity — plan to address the retirement needs of today’s public employees.” Administered by who at what cost?

In the realm of distinctions without a meaningful difference, John Hinderaker at Power Line takes up the “gun expertise” argument in criticizing President Obama: “Today it turned out that Barack Obama, who has campaigned tirelessly for gun control legislation over the last several months, doesn’t know the first thing about firearms … this transcript of Obama’s speech at a fundraiser yesterday in San Francisco on the White House’s web site:

Now, over the next couple of months, we’ve got a couple of issues: gun control. (Applause.) I just came from Denver, where the issue of gun violence is something that has haunted families for way too long, and it is possible for us to create common-sense gun safety measures that respect the traditions of gun ownership in this country and hunters and sportsmen, but also make sure that we don’t have another 20 children in a classroom gunned down by a semiautomatic weapon — by a fully automatic weapon in that case, sadly.

“This is painfully elementary: all of the weapons that reportedly were used by Adam Lanza were semiautomatic. Possession of a fully automatic weapon requires a special license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. It has never been reported that Lanza’s mother had such a license or owned any fully automatic firearms. … No: Barack Obama is one more example of a gun-control advocate who has no idea what he is talking about. One of the reasons why the current gun control campaign has fallen so flat is, I think, that it has been apparent to many people that the gun control advocates are generally ignorant of the subject matter.” Fear of the gun-obsessed might be a better explanation for why the campaign has fallen so flat, politically.