We’re No. 1! In the Strib, Tim Harlow tells us: “Minnesota drivers are paying the highest gas prices in the 48 contiguous states, with the average price statewide running at $4.27 per gallon, according to AAA’s daily survey of gas prices. Average prices are even higher in the Twin Cities metro area at $4.31 for a gallon of unleaded gas, the report said. Drivers in Hawaii were paying the highest, at $4.35 per gallon, while those in Tennessee were paying the lowest, at $3.26. The national average is $3.63.” Nothing to see here, folks. It’s simply the free market at work.
Sued, or is it blackmailed, for downloading porn … ? Martin Moylan of MPR reports: “Imagine you’re accused of illegally downloading a pornographic video and violating the owner’s copyright. Whether you actually did or not, you now face a demand to pay several thousand dollars to settle the matter. Or you could pay the legal costs of a court battle and have the allegations made public. That’s a quandary thousands of people in Minnesota and across the nation have been facing. … One watchdog group, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, estimated that lawyers for porn merchants have filed lawsuits seeking the identities of a quarter million people with Internet addresses to which porn was allegedly illegally downloaded. Lawyers, it seems, got names and addresses for most of those people and demanded money from many of them. Attorneys for the porn industry boast that they have extracted millions of dollars from people.”
And, the answer to whether you can fire an employee because his/her spouse took a job with a competitor is … no. Bob Collins of MPR says: “The Minnesota Court of Appeals today ruled a Mower County social services company violated the state’s Human Rights Act, when it fired a woman because her husband joined an advisory board of another company with whom the Austin-based nonprofit competes for federal funds. April Aase worked for Wapiti Meadows Community Technology and Services, which provides mental-health and employment counseling for low-income clients. So does another provider, Workforce Development, Inc. Relations between the two companies are ‘strained,’ according to testimony in the case. When Aase’s husband agreed to join the board of directors of the competition, the executive director of her company — himself a former employee of the competition — told her, ‘Mark resigns from the position, or you’re fired tomorrow morning.’ He didn’t and she was fired the next day for having a conflict of interest.”
MPR’s Jessica Mador has a good story on the lingering maladies of today’s war vets: “Thousands of Minnesota soldiers are returning from war to live with chronic pain from internal injuries and musculoskeletal disorders that leave many impaired. An MPR News analysis of data from the Department of Veterans Affairs shows a steep increase [in] such injuries over the last decade. In 2012, doctors at VA hospitals in Minneapolis and St. Cloud, Minn., Fargo, N.D., and Sioux Falls, S.D., saw veterans with joint disorders at least 35,000 times, a 133 percent increase over 2003.”
The giant tax bll may also include rescue money for those police and fire pensions. At the PiPress, MaryJo Webster writes: “A proposal to add a $5 surcharge to homeowners and auto insurance policies to support police and fire pensions failed to make it through the Minnesota Legislature, but lawmakers instead are considering allocating $15.5 million annually from the state’s general fund. The measure, which is part of a tax omnibus bill, is scheduled for final approval by the Senate Monday … The House already has passed the bill. If approved, the pension aid would be divvied up between the retirement funds that support police officers, state troopers, other state public-safety workers and firefighters, including numerous relief associations that provide pensions for volunteer firefighters.”
Did you “click it”? Andy Greder of the PiPress reminds readers: “More than 400 law enforcement agencies began the annual “Click It or Ticket” campaign this week to stress the importance of wearing seatbelts while traveling in vehicles. The campaign will run from Monday, May 20, to June 1, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety said. All drivers and passengers, including those in rear seats, are required to be buckled.”
Tucked away in the Strib’s “Your Voices” section is this from U of M associate prof Bill Gleason on the case of Dan Markingson: “For some background on this matter please see my earlier post on the petition to Governor Dayton calling for an independent investigation of the suicide of Dan Markingson. Since that time more than 2500 people have signed the petition including citizens of Minnesota, and students, faculty, and alumni of the University of MInnesota. Also among the signers are three former editors of the highly regarded New England Journal of Medicine; the editor of the Lancet — a highly respected British medical journal, a former editor of the British Medical Journal and the former health and disability commissioner of New Zealand as well as more than 200 experts in medical ethics and related disciplines. Others include a medical historian with expertise in the Guatemala syphilis studies, which resulted in an apology by President Obama in 2010, and one with expertise in the infamous Tuskegee experiments. In his recent opinion piece on the Star-Tribune, Dean Friedman hypothesizes that ‘The University of Minnesota research case is not a scandal.’ ”
As expected … Doug Belden of the PiPress says: “The Minnesota Senate voted to reject the reappointment of a tax court judge Monday, May 20, by a 57-0 vote. Gov. Mark Dayton had asked the Senate to deny Judge George Perez another term on Minnesota’s Tax Court. The state board that polices judges on May 10 found Perez was delaying cases and falsifying records to hide his misdeeds; it recommended censure and suspension without pay for nine months.”
“Mostly false” is actually an improvement over her usual statements. The Tampa Bay Times’ PolitiFact office goes to work (again) on Our Favorite Congresswoman. They say: “Last week was a bad one for the Internal Revenue Service. … Now, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., is charging that the IRS may be able to deny Americans the right to health care. … ‘ … the IRS will have the ability potentially — will they? — to deny health care, to deny access, to delay health care? This is serious! Based upon our political beliefs? That’s why we have to repeal Obamacare. And I still think it’s possible.’ … Experts we contacted for this story said that Bachmann’s scenario — that the IRS picks and chooses who gets a subsidy based on an applicant’s political beliefs — is almost impossible to imagine, even after the recent revelations. But they said it was more plausible that mundane logistical challenges could delay individuals’ efforts to secure subsidies. At a bureaucracy as large as the IRS, and with laws as complicated as this one, it’s possible that individuals could — indirectly and inadvertently — find themselves delayed or denied in getting health coverage. … She makes it sound like the IRS would purposefully deny or delay people from getting health coverage, perhaps based on an applicant’s political beliefs. Experts told us that was extremely far-fetched.” But not “Pants on Fire.” So hey! A good day, Congresswoman.