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Michele Bachmann in hush-hush talks to settle Iowa case

Minnesota Orchestra cancels rest of season; rural concerns detailed ; Minnesota State-Mankato football coach out; arboretum issues call for tree-huggers; stadium backup funding plans back in play; and more.

I know a wall I’d like to be a fly on … Kevin Diaz of the Strib says: “U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann is engaged in settlement negotiations in a lawsuit alleging that senior members of her presidential campaign stole a proprietary e-mail list of home-school families from the computer of an Iowa campaign staffer, according to sources close to the case. The Minnesota Republican reportedly traveled to Des Moines Monday to meet with attorneys for Barb Heki, an Iowa woman who sued the campaign last year alleging the theft of the list, which eventually was used to contact Iowa home-schoolers. Lawyers for Bachmann and the campaign did not respond to requests for comment on the talks.” The way I see the negotiation beginning is with a call from Our Favorite Congresswoman to stand, join hands, bow heads and pray for the repeal of Obamacare.

Your move, maestro … . Ross Raihala of the PiPress says: “[T]he Minnesota Orchestra has canceled the rest of its 2012-13 season, while adding three weeks of concerts in July. Inspired by the recent end to the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra’s similar labor dispute, the orchestra’s management has offered three new negotiating dates, May 20-22, to be held with the assistance of a federal mediator. … Last week, Minnesota Orchestra music director Osmo Vanska sent a letter to the board threatening to resign if the lockout doesn’t end soon. The orchestra has a recording session scheduled for September followed by performances at New York’s Carnegie Hall in November. In his letter, Vanska told the board it is vital for rehearsals to begin the week of May 27 to be ready for the coming season, the recording and Carnegie.”

Luxury rentals may be the rage in the metro area, but out-state the picture is a bit different. Tom Robertson of MPR says: “Rural Minnesotans are less optimistic about the economy than people in the Twin Cities and other metropolitan areas of the state, according to a new study by the Blandin Foundation. The Blandin Foundation’s Rural Pulse survey, to be released today, found that while about 40 percent of respondents in urban areas thought there aren’t enough local job opportunities, 56 percent of rural Minnesotans thought so. ‘Recovery hasn’t made it to all people,’ said Kathleen Annette, president of the Grand Rapids-based foundation.” MinnPost’s John Fitzgerald has coverage here.

It has been a rude ride for Todd Hoffner, the Minnesota State football coach. The AP is reporting: “A former head football coach for Minnesota State University, Mankato, who was cleared of child pornography charges last year but reassigned to an administrative position, is no longer employed at the university, the school said Wednesday.  Todd Hoffner’s last day on the university’s payroll was Tuesday, school spokesman Dan Benson told The Associated Press. He declined to say whether Hoffner was fired or left on his own, calling it a private personnel matter, and declined to give further details. … On Friday, the judge ruled that the investigative file in his criminal case should remain sealed, citing his family’s right to privacy. Some news organizations had sought access to the file. But Blue Earth County District Judge Krista Jass wrote that because she had already found insufficient evidence of any harm to the family, their right to privacy outweighed the rights of the media to see the material.”

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The GleanThere’s still a $3,000 annual swing between what the Senate and House are offering in terms of a minimum wage increase. Rachel Stassen-Berger of the Strib says: “The Minnesota Senate is preparing to offer the state’s lowest income workers a $1,040 a year pay hike. The Minnesota House wants to hike their pay by $4,680 a year. The yawning differences between the House and Senate proposals on minimum wage hikes will be in the spotlight on Wednesday as the Minnesota Senate takes up its proposal to raise minimum wage to $7.75 an hour by 2015. Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, has said the increase is ‘modest.’ … Union groups, which are key advocates for lifting the minimum wage and important DFL allies, have made clear they prefer the House version.”

“Doktor Zoom,” on the satirical Wonkette blog, has his/her fun with the Montevideo “terrorist”: “So, yet another home-grown terrorist has been arrested, this time a 24-year-old man who was stockpiling guns, pipe bombs, and Molotov cocktails in his parents’ mobile home near Montevideo, Minnesota. We don’t wish to stereotype (actually, why not, since it saves time?), but you have to figure that somebody with a name like Buford ‘Bucky’ Rogers was destined for a life as a used car salesman, minor-league sportsball player, or third-rate failed terrorist. Oh, and he’s also a Juggalo, because just having a grudge against the gummint is no longer enough — to stand out, you also have to be a Wayne Newton impersonator or collect celebrity pap smears or something. Rogers does not appear to have been a criminal mastermind; instead of a secret lair under a dormant volcano, he had a mobile home, and there is no evidence that he had a harem of exotic lady assassins, either — though his Facebook page does have lots of nice pictures of him posing with guns.”

On the anti-government “terrorist,” Eric Boelhert at Media Matters notes: “You will likely not be surprised that none of Fox News’ primetime hosts mentioned the Rogers arrest last night or the looming threat of right-wing extremist violence. That, despite the fact the shows have dedicated countless programming hours in recent weeks to ginning up fear and angst surrounding the terror attack in Boston on Patriot’s Day. Prompted by the arrest of a Muslim suspect, Fox News has spent weeks demonizing Islam by assigning collective blame, as well as targeting Muslims who travel here to study.  But yet another far-right, anti-government plot to possibly kill law enforcement officials? At Fox News, that’s not a story that draws much concern, especially not from its primetime talkers.” Their target demo wouldn’t take kindly to such references.

The photo opp is pretty irresistible … The AP says: “Attention, tree-huggers. The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum wants you. The Chanhassen arboretum hopes more than 700 people will turn out Friday, May 11, at its Pillsbury Shade Tree Exhibit to break the world record for the largest tree hug. The record was set in 2011 by a group of 702 people in the Delamere Forest of Cheshire in the United Kingdom. The arboretum hopes to break that record in honor of National Public Gardens Day.”

With e-pulltabs underperforming ever so slightly, the idea of dropping a new tax on sports memorabilia (for all teams) to cover “the public share” of costs for the Vikings new sports palace has grown in appeal … with some legislators. Tim Nelson of MPR is now saying: “The Minnesota Retailers Association is making a last-ditch push to head off the proposed sports memorabilia tax, pitched in part to help pay for the Minnesota Vikings new stadium. … Supporters say the tax is a way to financially link sports fans with the stadium they’ll presumably enjoy — even if they’re only watching the Vikings play in it on TV. ‘It’s  asking the users and the sports enthusiasts to contribute, and I think the chance of that passing is very high,’ says House tax committee chair Ann Lenczewski (DFL-Bloomington).” Oh, they’ll “contribute,” no doubt about that.

Meanwhile … Baird Helgeson of the Strib says: “Gov. Mark Dayton said Wednesday that state officials are working on a new source of money to pay the state’s share of the new Minnesota Vikings stadium. Dayton would not reveal the source of money, but said the plan does not include the team paying a larger share of the new $975 million stadium to be built on the site of the Metrodome. The governor said the proposal does not include a plan to impose a new tax on sports memorabilia.” MinnPost’s Doug Grow has more on Dayton’s remarks here.