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Emmer enters 6th District race, says he’s a ‘change agent’

Flashy Lowertown business sign allowed; U of M’s tuition-freeze budget; Dooher explains Teach for America opposition; Owatonna mosque damage; second day-care-union lawsuit; and more.

I don’t see anyone using the phrase “stunning surprise” in relation to Tom Emmer’s Wednesday announcement. In the Strib, Rachel Stassen-Berger says: “[T]he first [of likely candidates in the 6th Congressional District] to come out blazing was 2010 gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer. ‘I have never felt more compelled in my life to serve,’ Emmer said to at least 100 supporters at a tiny park here in his hometown. During a brief dry spell in the daylong rain, Emmer ticked off the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups, the Justice Department’s search of reporters’ records and out of control spending as reasons to run. … [Michele] Bachmann herself has been unusually quiet since last week, when she released a pre-dawn video announcing she would not return to Congress after this term. She then jetted off to Russia on a congression fact-finding trip. Since her return, she has declined Star Tribune requests for an interview.”

For Politics in Minnesota, Charley Shaw writes: “Emmer is the first Republican to enter the race, although there are a couple of elected officials in the St. Cloud area and northern Twin Cities suburbs that are frequently mentioned as considering a run. A number of political observers from the area note that Emmer is a formidable candidate in the GOP endorsement hunt in the 6th CD. Emmer’s base is in Wright County, which has the largest concentration of delegates of any county in the state. Following his speech, Emmer told reporters he would ‘absolutely’ abide by the 6th CD GOP’s endorsement.”

Priya Anand of Politico says of Emmer: “He went on to praise Bachmann’s work for the suburban Twin Cities 6th District, while promising voters he would be a change agent in the capital. … Emmer, a staunch conservative, proposed in 2010 that the Minnesota Constitution add an amendment requiring state approval of all federal laws. Some said it was unconstitutional and would allow the state to nullify health care or education legislation.” I almost forgot about that one. That was good.

For MPR, Rupa Shenoy adds: “Emmer said he plans to stop appearing on a radio show he co-hosts.” But will Bob Davis open for him at campaign stops?                                            

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Lowertown will get a big, flashy sign. Frederick Melo of the PiPress says: “Developer Dave Brooks is eager to promote one of his most visible tenants, the A’Bulae wedding and event center atop his parking ramp across the street from the future regional ballpark. The illuminated aluminum ‘A’Bulae’ sign proposed for near the top of the ramp at 255 E. Sixth St. would measure 3 feet by 17 feet, making it one of the more visible building promotions in Lowertown. That proposal irked members of the city’s Heritage Preservation Commission, who voted 7-0 in April to deny Brooks’ application. They noted guidelines in the Lowertown historic district restrict signage above the cornice line, or the uppermost portion of the facade wall. On Wednesday, they were overruled.”

The GleanThe gift horse is getting a long look in the mouth. In the Strib, Jenna Ross says: “A tuition freeze proved to be the most popular part of the University of Minnesota’s proposed budget during a pair of meetings Wednesday. But students and members of the Board of Regents also worried that the tuition relief for in-state undergraduates might burden graduate and professional students. Others wondered whether the plan sets the university up for future problems. President Eric Kaler fielded praise, questions and complaints about his 2014 operating budget, which spends about $61 million more than in 2013 or a 1.9 percent increase.”

Education Minnesota President Tom Dooher takes to the Strib to explain why he and his union don’t like Teach for America: “[I]t’s really not surprising that career educators would oppose a $1.5 million earmark for Teach For America — opposition noted in a June 1 editorial (‘A setback for education reform’). If the Legislature wanted to spend another $1.5 million on schools and students, there were far greater needs than TFA. For more than 20 years, TFA has placed recent graduates of elite universities into challenging public schools. They get five weeks of training and some on-the-job mentoring. Local districts pay the TFA organization a ‘finder’s fee,’ then the districts pay the TFA ‘corps members’ at the same rate as other new teachers, including those who are fully licensed. TFA teachers don’t meet Minnesota teaching standards.”

Might be some national attention for Owatonna soon … Al Strain of the Owatonna People’s Press reports: “Officials at Owatonna’s Muslim Society Center are looking for answers after a window was broken at their location on 12th Street Northeast. Center officials say that its the second time in two weeks and third time in a year that a window has been broken at the facility. The most recent damage was done about 1 a.m. Saturday. Ali Farah, one of the leaders at the mosque, said they don’t understand why they’re being targeted. ‘We are members of the Owatonna community, and our building has been attacked three times,’ Farah said, speaking through an interpreter, Olad Ahmed. ‘We have been attacked two times in the last month.’ ”

First comes legislation, then comes litigation. The AP reports: “A federal lawsuit has been filed over a new Minnesota law that could lead to unionization of certain in-home day care providers. The lawsuit filed Wednesday pairs with another federal case also seeking to overturn the law. The measure approved last month gives unions authority to press for a unionization vote covering providers who care for children eligible for state subsidies. The latest lawsuit was filed on behalf of 12 providers and is being paid for by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.”

What are they going to do to him, really? Emily Gurnon of the PiPress writes: “A Minneapolis man convicted of running a ‘nice-guy’ prostitution ring violated his probation ‘knowing he doesn’t have consequences’ because he’s too sick to go to prison, a probation supervisor said. John St. Marie, a former assistant Hennepin County attorney, pleaded guilty in November 2010 to three felony counts of promoting prostitution. He arranged for so-called ‘nice guys’ to pay for sex with women, claiming the men were safe and would pay well. In return, he got free or reduced-price sex. St. Marie, 69, got in trouble again in 2012, when he was charged with hiring a woman for sex; he had his personal care attendant drive him to a Minneapolis hotel for the encounter. He pleaded guilty. A Hennepin County judge sentenced him to six months of home confinement. He violated probation a second time in March of this year by surfing the Internet for sexually explicit material, the prosecution alleges.” Well, he’s obviously not too sick for some things …