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Top aide Andy Parrish to testify against Michele Bachmann

Ag groups oppose audit; higher-ed boost advances; manufacturers optimistic; court tightens foreclosure rules; “Good Question” about terrorism; and more.

Hmmm. Kevin Diaz of the Strib reports: “GOP operative Andy Parrish, a former chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, is expected to tell an Iowa Senate ­ethics panel that her 2012 presidential campaign made improper payments to its state chairman. Having maintained a public silence so far, Parrish referred questions Wednesday to his attorney, John Gil­more, who said his client will corroborate allegations from another former Bachmann aide, Peter Waldron. … Parrish’s willingness to go public against his former employer and political mentor is likely to send shock waves through Minnesota GOP circles, where both he and his attorney are well-known figures. Parrish served as deputy campaign manager of last year’s unsuccessful effort to pass a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage. Gilmore is a well-known conservative blogger.” MinnPost’s Devin Henry covers the story here. Dang, but these guys are entertaining.

Does anyone like to be audited? The AP reports: “A push by agricultural groups to avoid an evaluation this year by the state’s legislative auditor has raised red flags for some lawmakers. Lawmakers on Wednesday directed the Office of the Legislative Auditor to audit agricultural commodity councils, over protests from some of those groups that the move is unnecessary and burdensome. Rep. Andrew Falk, DFL-Murdock, said the ‘rampant amount of lobbying’ that some of the councils did to have their name taken off the short list of potential audit targets was unusual. Commodity councils charge farmers a small [amount] at the point of sale of their product — from soybeans and corn to beef and potatoes — and use that revenue to fund advertising and research on diseases that affect their crops or animals.”

The big money is starting to move. Doug Belden of the PiPress says: “A plan to spend an additional $263 million on higher education and impose new accountability measures passed by a comfortable margin in the Minnesota Senate on Wednesday, April 17. Several Republicans joined every DFLer in voting for the $2.8 billion higher-education budget, which passed on a 46-18 vote after several hours of debate. The plan provides an additional $80 million each to the University of Minnesota, the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System and the state grant program. That money comes with some tightened controls.”

The mood among local manufacturers is … qualified optimism. Dee DePass of the Strib says: “Most Minnesota manufacturers say that they are optimistic about their outlook, but that confidence remains overshadowed by rising health care costs, higher taxes and the dearth of skilled factory workers in the state. The fifth annual State of Manufacturing report, being released Thursday, found that 82 percent of executives surveyed remain positive about the future of their own companies. However, Thursday’s survey also showed that 15 percent of CEOs and production managers expect a recession this year.”

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You’d hope this would go without saying. Jennifer Bjorhus of the Strib writes: “Minnesota’s Supreme Court has tightened the screws a bit on home foreclosures. In a ruling out Wednesday, the state’s highest court decided unanimously that a foreclosing party must strictly comply with a state law requiring all the different banks and parties that have held a mortgage be clearly documented and filed before a foreclosure-by-advertisement can be initiated. The case involved Doris Ruiz, a woman whose south Minneapolis duplex was foreclosed on by 1st Fidelity Loan Servicing. The court voided her foreclosure because 1st Fidelity filed its paperwork on the same day that it began advertising for a sheriff’s foreclosure auction on her home. Her lawyer, Jonathan Drewes, said the decision sets a strict standard that could impact ‘hundreds’ of potentially defective or illegal foreclosure sales in the state.”

The GleanPop quiz: What’s the best-selling car in Minnesota? John Vomhof of The Business Journal writes: “Auto sales surged nearly 30 percent in Minnesota last year, returning to pre-recession levels. The state registered a total of 196,295 new vehicles in 2012, up from 151,589 the previous year.” OK, no big surprise. The Toyota Camry was No. 1. And the new Ford Fusion No. 2. But — wait for it, southwest Minneapolis, a Subaru was No. 8.

Amid all the fresh hysteria over “terrorism” following the Boston Marathon bomb attack, WCCO-TV’s Jason DeRusha provides a welcome bit of perspective in one of his “Good Question” bits: “Over 12 years, we’ve spent more than $636 billion on Homeland Security, according to one analysis. Another said that number is closer to $800 billion. Did that money get results? Have we been lucky? I asked a security consultant CEO if he was surprised there haven’t been more terror attacks. ‘Surprised, no? Thankful might be the better word,’ said Michael Rozin, CEO of Rozin Security Consultants. … He said there are two types of responsible parties for terror threats: organizations like al-Qaida and individual homegrown extremists. ‘When you’re talking organization, the U.S. has dismantled their organizational capabilities. So that’s one of the reasons we haven’t seen a successful attack from them,’ Rozin said. But with the individual extremists, Rozin said we’ve been lucky and they’ve been stupid.”

DeRusha (and many others) have been quoting Twin Cities-based security expert Bruce Schneier, following his AtlanticWire piece. In it, he says: “Remember after 9/11 when people predicted we’d see these sorts of attacks every few months? That never happened, and it wasn’t because the TSA confiscated knives and snow globes at airports. Give the FBI credit for rolling up terrorist networks and interdicting terrorist funding, but we also exaggerated the threat. We get our ideas about how easy it is to blow things up from television and the movies. It turns out that terrorism is much harder than most people think. It’s hard to find willing terrorists, it’s hard to put a plot together, it’s hard to get materials, and it’s hard to execute a workable plan. As a collective group, terrorists are dumb, and they make dumb mistakes; criminal masterminds are another myth from movies and comic books.”

Speaking of John Gilmore (see top item) on his blog, Minnesota Conservatives, he joins in the kinship of florid eulogists for The Iron Lady: “Her most vicious detractors do not warrant a response or serious engagement. It is apparent to all but the most invincibly ignorant or ideological that 2013 Great Britain would be impossible without her election in 1979 and subsequent governance through 1990. The unremarkable, unimpressive men who followed her in No. 10 Downing were but variations on her theme, the theme known loosely as Thatcherism. They, and each of them, suffer by comparison to her. … Some ideas are right; others quite wrong. It’s not just in America that the banality of compromise and meeting half way holds sway. Some ideas and the consequences of them needs must be rejected outright. Thatcher’s genius was having the courage to speak the truth to the governing, corrosive, poisonous lies of her domestic political milieu.” Wow. If only the Brits loved her as much as our bloggers do.