Tensions mount over paramilitary guards at Wisconsin mine site

Like the Wisconsin woods need more guys with guns … At Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall writes: “There’s been a battle royale up in Wisconsin over an effort to establish a big iron mining operation near Lake Superior, to be owned and operated by a company called Gogebic Taconite. The Republican legislature approved the mine in March over environmentalists’ objections. Some protests have been staged since the operation got started. But people started to get freaked out over the weekend when the company brought in what the Wisconsin State Journal calls ‘masked security guards who are toting semi-automatic rifles and wearing camouflaged uniforms.’ Now two state legislators are asking the company to withdraw the guards/paramilitaries. One of them, Bob Jauch, ‘said he was especially concerned that the guards are carrying high-powered rifles more appropriate for fighting wars than for guarding construction equipment in a scenic forest that draws scores of hikers and vacationers in addition to mine protesters.’ ” Only a masked good guy with a high-powered rifle can stop an angry environmentalist …

Like a “B” movie monster that will never die … Tim Pugmire of MPR reports: “A photo identification requirement to vote in Minnesota is a contentious issue that could again surface as a newly formed state task force launches a study of electronic poll book technology.     Part of the research will look at the use of photographs as a way to verify voter eligibility. Last fall, Minnesota voters turned down a Republican-backed proposed constitutional amendment to require photo identification at election polls. The task force meets for the first time Tuesday. Electronic poll books are a computer-based alternative to the paper rosters that voters currently sign their name to at polling places on Election Day. Instead of signing in, a voter’s driver’s license or some other identification is swiped by a card reader, and their pre-loaded information is displayed on a computer monitor.”

Kind of a “vegetables are good for you” argument from the Humphrey School’s Jay Kiedrowski in the Strib today: “As we approach the next legislative session and the next state election, we need to avoid the false dichotomy of taxes vs. spending. Let’s accept that our taxes are about right and that we do indeed need to invest in beneficial public services at the current level. Our focus should be on how Minnesota can be more productive in all of its sectors — not only public, but nonprofit and private as well. Productivity is what built our great state, and it is what will keep Minnesota a great state.”

At MPR, Elizabeth Stawicki has a piece about the disproportionate share of Hispanics without health care: “While Latinos comprise only about 5 percent of Minnesotans … they are a big part of the uninsured population. One in eight Latinos lacks health insurance. That makes Latino communities a likely focus for efforts to reduce the number of Minnesotans lacking health coverage. … immigrant advocates say the new federal health care law has a mixed message for immigrants that make it harder to convince some Latinos to enroll in health plans.The law includes a variety of restrictions on immigrants. Even people who are legally entitled to be in the United States are subject to a five-year waiting period before they’re eligible to enroll in Medicaid. In addition, the law bars anyone who entered the country without authorization from receiving the health care law’s benefits.”

Sad story out of St. Paul … Paul Walsh of the Strib writes: “A St. Paul home packed with a hoarder’s possessions caught fire early Tuesday, leaving the man who lived there dead near a door he tried in vain to reach, authorities said. The blaze broke out about 2:30 a.m. in the basement of the two-story home in the 1400 block of N. Hamline Avenue, killing a man in his 60s, said St. Paul Fire Marshal Steve Zaccard. The identity of the victim, who lived alone in the house a block north of Como Park, has yet to be released. A longtime neighbor identified the man as Charles E. Nightingale, 68, a military veteran who survived a Vietnam-era crash of two helicopters in North Carolina that killed 22 of his comrades.”

The GleanA potty seat that looked like a what …? Walsh again writes: “A 31-year-old man with a long felony rap sheet has admitted to arranging for a shipment of crack cocaine and marijuana that was sent to a Bloomington home from California in a child’s potty seat designed to look like a baseball. Demar D. Powell, of Sacramento, Calif., pleaded guilty Monday in federal court in St. Paul to conspiring to distribute the illicit drugs. According to the criminal complaint: On Sept. 20, a FedEx employee at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport alerted police to a package that appeared to be suspicious. An airport police officer and a canine partner arrived, and the dog detected the odor of narcotics coming from the package. A U.S. Postal Service inspector was summoned, and he found nearly 10 ounces of crack cocaine and about 4 ounces of marijuana concealed in the potty seat.”

Want a list of the top-selling real estate agents in the city/state/country? Jim Buchta of the Strib reports: “Real Trends, a trade publication geared towards the real estate industry, just released its annual survey, which it’s calling the list of “Best Real Estate Agents in America.”  Here’s a link to the list, which covers agents in 50 states and all major cities.” Jason Stockwell of ReMax Results has a hefty lead over the local competition.

Speaking of real estate … Janet Moore at the Strib says: “The Wedge, a leader in the co-op community and a Twin Cities institution, has big plans to expand. The Minneapolis co-op recently informed member/owners that it has plans for a second store. But the location has still not been determined. … In addition, a remodel is planned for the Wedge’s busy Lyndale Av. store. This will include a new roof, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems and energy-efficient fixtures. The project will also include new services, such as customer seating, a hot bar and salad bar, sliced deli meats, rotisserie chickens, and a serviced cheese case. The Lyndale store will remain open during the remodel. Finally, the Wedge says it will expand its commissary kitchen. This will help meet consumer demand for prepared foods, and feed the co-op’s burgeoning catering business.”

Wisconsin orchestra blogger Robert Levine, on his Polyphonic.org site, compares the Minnesota Orchrestra’s problems with victims of “the vampire squid.” He writes: “The real problem, delicately unaddressed by the writers of the [MPR] article, is that there is no third party willing to wade in and lean on the Minnesota Orchestra board to abandon an approach which has not worked and shows no signs of ever working. And why is that? I would guess it’s because the Minnesota Orchestra board chair and the head of the board’s negotiating committee — in other words, the two people most in charge of calling the shots — run, or help run, the two biggest banks in town, Wells Fargo and US Bank … There are not many people who could actually make a difference to a bad orchestra negotiation who are willing to tangle with that kind of firepower. Normally, one would expect the mayor, or the state’s governor, or perhaps the state’s US senators, to get involved in a negotiation that’s garnering so much negative national publicity. But politicians need donations, and most certainly don‘t need the fourth or fifth largest bank in the country opposed to them.”

Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 07/09/2013 - 03:33 pm.

    Gosh

    Hmmm. Computer-based electronic poll books… What could possibly go wrong?

  2. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 07/09/2013 - 04:24 pm.

    paramilitary guards

    = vigilantes = company thugs = terrorists.
    Sounds like the old Pinkertons.
    There’s a long history of this sort of semi-legal violence.

  3. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 07/09/2013 - 07:18 pm.

    Gee, the Way Wisconsin is Going

    I expect Gov. Walker to initiate prohibition in the near future,…

    then buddy up to the new moguls of the organized crime, rum running black market liquor racket that springs up,…

    making sure he gets his very healthy (under the table) cut of the profits,…

    and a nice comfortable racket to run when he retires.

    No doubt his “business” friends could also create a political machine, hire people with the proper computer skills and bribe/pressure local election officials to make sure that he remains Wisconsin’s governor for a long time, too.

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