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3 GOP gubernatorial candidates vow to scrap MNsure

Minnesota’s “cave man”; “sovereign citizens” surfacing; corn and soybeans displace wheat; Arboretum joins seed project; Replacements reunite in Toronto; Allegiant’s “limited” promotion; and more.

Left to right: Jeff Johnson, Dave Thompson, Kurt Zellers debating the issues at the Minnesota State Fair on Sunday.
MinnPost photo by Brian Halliday

I’m not really sure this qualifies as “news” … Bill Salisbury of the PiPress reports: “On a scorching-hot Sunday at the Minnesota State Fair, three Republican candidates for governor pledged that, if elected, they would work to scrap the state’s health insurance exchange that is scheduled to open in October. Predicting rising costs and burdensome government regulations, Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, state Sen. Dave Thompson and state Rep. Kurt Zellers said during a candidate forum that they would try to close the new online marketplace for health insurance that’s a key component of the federal law known as Obamacare that is intended to overhaul the nation’s health system. … Thompson said he would scale back the exchange so it wouldn’t impose any regulatory burdens beyond those required by federal law. He also said he would work with other Republican governors to push Washington to repeal the federal law.”

Things I never thought of acquiring … James Card in The New York Times writes: “Since the mid-1980s, Mr. [John] Ackerman has been traveling to southeastern Minnesota from his home in the Twin Cities area to explore and acquire caves. He is the largest private cave owner in Minnesota and might be the largest in the country, but nobody is certain because not all of his caves have been fully explored to determine their extent. Among his prized holdings is Spring Valley Caverns, located in what he calls the Minnesota Cave Preserve, his subterranean holding of six caves that run collectively over 40 miles. ‘There are always passages to find,’ he said. ‘I’ve pretty much explored all of the hot ones and found five and a half miles.’ ”

The state got more pub from The Times in an Erica Goode piece on “sovereign citizens”: “Cases involving sovereign citizens are surfacing increasingly here in Minnesota and in other states, posing a challenge to law enforcement officers and court officials, who often become aware of the movement — a loose network of groups and individuals who do not recognize the authority of federal, state or municipal government — only when they become targets. Although the filing of liens for outrageous sums or other seemingly frivolous claims might appear laughable, dealing with them can be nightmarish, so much so that the F.B.I. has labeled the strategy ‘paper terrorism.’ A lien can be filed by anyone under the Uniform Commercial Code. … The sovereign citizen movement traces its roots to white extremist groups like the Posse Comitatus of the 1970s, and the militia movement. Terry L. Nichols, the Oklahoma City bombing conspirator, counted himself a sovereign citizen.” Just protecting their precious constitutional freedoms …

Corn is still king … but soybeans are princes. Mike Hughlett of the Strib reports: “Once the lifeblood of Minneapolis, the nation’s onetime flour milling capital, wheat’s presence has been fading. Minnesota’s wheat acreage in 2012 was 60 percent less than it was during the grain’s heyday in the late 1970s and early 1980s. ‘King wheat,’ as it was known in Minnesota long ago, simply isn’t as good an investment as corn and soybeans. Prices for those crops have been robust in recent years. Both are easier to grow than wheat, partly because of genetic engineering, and they tend to bring better yields.”

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Also in the fields … Tom Meersman of the Strib writes: “Known for its popular garden displays and apple breeding, the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is branching out to protect endangered plants. The arboretum has joined the Center for Plant Conservation, a national network of botanical institutions and gardens that are trying to conserve rare species in the wild, and to store their seeds in regional deep freezers so they don’t become extinct. … But the greatest impetus for establishing the new program, [David] Remucal said, is to store genetic material of rare Minnesota plants, mainly in a new freezer that keeps seeds at minus 40 degrees.”

The GleanIt was kind of big deal in Toronto last night. Marc Weisblott of writes of the Replacements’  reunion: “A fabled rock band from Minneapolis played their first concert since July 4, 1991 on Sunday night. Curiously enough, the show took place in Toronto. The first five songs played were from their earliest albums: ‘Takin’ a Ride,’ ‘I’m in Trouble,’ ‘Favorite Thing,’ ‘Hangin’ Downtown’ and ‘Color Me Impressed.’‘Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out,’ ‘Kiss Me on the Bus’ and ‘Androgynous,’ ‘Achin’ to Be’ and ‘I Will Dare’ followed. The audience could be counted on to remember the words that the band could not. And the rest of the songs played, in order: ‘Love You Till Friday,’ the Chuck Berry tune ‘Maybellene,’ ‘Merry Go Round,’ ‘Wake Up,’ a Sham 69 cover called ‘Borstal Breakout,’ ‘Little Mascara,’ ‘Left of the Dial,’ ‘Alex Chilton,’ ‘Swingin’ Party,’ ‘Can’t Hardly Wait,’ ‘Bastards of Young.’ Encore songs were the new ‘Everything’s Coming Up Roses’ and 1987′s Pleased to Meet Me album opener ‘I.O.U.’ ” Who got more airplay on our local “classic rock” stations back in the day, The ‘Mats or Bachman Turner Overdrive?

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Ninety times out of a hundred this is how it goes down … . Tim Harlow of the Strib says: “Last Tuesday, Allegiant Air announced that it was adding seasonal service between St. Cloud and Orlando. To spur bookings, the airline offered a $99 round-trip special to customers who made arrangements within three days. That was just the kind of deal Cyndy Chancellor was seeking to get six people to sunny Florida for a week in February. Unfortunately, she didn’t get the deal. … In a news release, Allegiant does have a disclaimer that says ‘seats are limited,’ and, boy, are they ever.  An airline spokesman told The Drive that roughly 10 percent of available seats were set aside for the promotion.” Dear newcomer airline … first impressions matter.

Stadium-watching blogger Neil deMause isn’t what you’d call impressed with tobacco money covering the state’s “contribution” to the new Vikes palace: “There won’t be any more tobacco tax money next year, but that’s okay, because even if Minnesotans keep turning up their noses at these e-pulltab things that were supposed to pay for the stadium, money from a new corporate tax has been set aside to fill any gaps. So hooray, even if gamblers won’t pay for the stadium, the state can do so by tapping tax money that otherwise would have gone into … the general fund … hey, why isn’t anybody rejoicing? Rejoice, damn you! Meanwhile, a county court judge … heard a lawsuit to force a referendum on the Vikings stadium deal, on the grounds that city voters passed a ballot initiative in 1997 requiring a public vote on any stadium subsidies over $10 million.” The word “hamfisted” keeps playing in my mind …

Weather guy Paul Douglas’ forecast for the week:
“MONDAY: Isolated T-storm early. Blazing sunshine most of the day. High: 98 (100-degree heat for parts of the metro).
TUESDAY: Sunny and hot — but not quite as dangerous. Heat Warning. High: 94
WEDNESDAY: Slight relief under partly sunny skies. Still sticky. Dew point: 65. Wake-up: 75. High: 90
THURSDAY: Chance of a few badly needed T-storms? Wake-up: 73. High: 87
FRIDAY: Hot sun. Evacuate to cabin. Wake-up: 74. High: 92
SATURDAY: Statewide barbecue. We’re all invited. Sunny. Wake-up: 76. High: 97 … 3 days ago I predicted this would be the hottest week of summer. This still looks likely.”