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Ex-Bachmann aide: Ongoing scandal hurts Iowa caucuses

Liberal activists ready to pressure Kline, Paulsen; butterfly advocate rallies citizens; many school expenses deductible; Chief Harteau sets up community committee; Saints stadium seeks jobs for minorities, women; and more.

“Pay to play” … in Iowa? Kevin Diaz of the Strib says: “The man behind the allegations of ethical and financial irregularities in U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s 2012 presidential campaign said Wednesday that the ongoing scandal has diminished the Iowa Caucuses and the economic benefits that go with them. Amid fresh evidence that conservative Iowa State Sen. Kent Sorenson was paid first to support Bachmann and then former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, the term ‘pay for play’ is being bandied about to describe the Hawkeye State, not Chicago. … In a letter to Iowa’s Senate secretary, [Bachmann’s former faith-based organizer Peter] Waldron said that the citizens of Iowa ‘do not deserve to have their state legislature soiled by the behavior of one’ individual, and urged a quick resolution to the Sorenson affair, which is being examined by a special investigator.”

The con story of the day comes from bucolic Northfield. Kaitlyn Walsh of The Northfield News writes: “A Nerstrand woman who also works for the city of Northfield faces felony charges after allegedly receiving checks in large amounts at Northfield City Hall and depositing them at local banks, including about $23,000 swindled from a victim living in Hawaii. Sandra K. Bremer, 62, was charged with multiple felonies, including theft by swindle and concealing the proceeds of a felony theft by swindle, according to the criminal complaint filed in Rice County District Court on Wednesday. … She faced a felony charge last summer, after police said she helped a man she met on the Internet steal more than $35,000 from several people. Between September 2010 and February 2011, Bremer completed 24 wire transactions to nine individuals overseas for more than $35,000, according to last year’s complaint.”

After their exhausting work in D.C., Minnesota’s congressional delegation is home for a couple of weeks. Corey Mitchell of the Strib writes: “U.S. Reps. John Kline and Erik Paulsen will feel more heat this summer as liberal activists plan to confront the Republican congressmen wherever they go, relentlessly pressing them on hot-button issues such as immigration, gun control and the health care overhaul. The intensified effort comes as President Obama is urging supporters to spend the next month speaking out on issues as part of an ‘Action August’ effort lead by Organizing for Action, an activist network that sprouted from his campaign.” They wouldn’t dare disrupt the town hall meetings, would they?

One of the champions of the monarch is right here in Minnesota. In the Strib, Andrew Wagaman writes: “Every time a monarch butterfly emerges from its chrysalis and unfurls its delicate wings, Karen Oberhauser stops to watch. … The 57-year-old Roseville woman runs the university’s Monarch Lab, as well as a series of projects that have uncovered some of the monarch’s mysteries. She’s rallied conservationists, engaged educators and galvanized a community of ‘citizen scientists’ to track and count monarchs. This summer, she earned the White House’s ‘Champion of Change’ award.”

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One of the essential admonitions of American life has to be … “Save Your Receipts”: Bill Salisbury of the PiPress reports: “If you are doing back-to-school shopping, the Minnesota Department of Revenue reminds you to keep your receipts. You could use them for tax breaks on your 2013 state income tax returns. Those tax benefits are expected to save Minnesota parents nearly $33 million next year. … The department doesn’t know how many eligible taxpayers fail to apply for the benefits. Some 279,000 families claimed school-expense tax breaks in 2011, according to the Revenue Department. The state offers tax breaks for school-related expenses for kindergarten through 12th grade students attending public, private or home schools.” Does this include parking permits for upscale suburban high schools?

Maybe … this will work. Rupa Shenoy at MPR reports: “Police Chief Janee Harteau said Wednesday that a new committee of community leaders will help draft an action plan in coming weeks to address the root causes of community dissatisfaction with the department. … Harteau also said she would be receptive to a federal investigation of the department but wants to start with the work of the committee.” Give the committee a day’s head start …

The Glean“About a third … Tim Nelson of MPR says: “Builders of the new Saints stadium in St. Paul’s Lowertown neighborhood say they want about a third of the 500 construction jobs to go to minorities and women. St. Paul officials said today that the project would ensure that minorities and women are included with a plan that calls for 32 percent of workers to be minorities and 6 percent women.     Toward that end, Mayor Chris Coleman [announced] a two-year recruiting and training effort for the project. It will include a Web-based clearing house and job fairs near the worksite. Coleman said the project will pay workers an average of $48 an hour, for a total of $4 million in wages.”

Good ongoing coverage of a lawsuit involving a for-profit college by Alex Friedrich of MPR: “Former Globe University / Minnesota School of Business dean Heidi Weber continued her testimony today in her whistleblower suit against the school. I’ve already summarized what she had to say in my coverage of her suit, but here are some more details. When Weber became the network dean of Globe’s medical assistant program in 2010, she said, the program was ‘in disarray.’ Some campuses were struggling with academic problems, struggling to maintain accreditation, and had a hard time providing students with the externships they needed to successfully complete the program. Soon after she began working at Globe, Weber said, she began to ‘piece together what was going on’ in the school’s culture. She said that once students enrolled, ‘concern for the student was over. Every question was: How does it help the organization from a business standpoint?’ ” I know, you’re stunned.

Stadium finance-watching blogger Neil de Mause, at Field of Schemes, drops his hammer on Patrick Reusse of the Strib: “[N]ow that the entire Vikings funding scheme [e-pulltabs] turns out to have been a fraud, it’s time for Twin Cities journalists to start jumping off the bandwagon. The Star Trib’s Patrick Reusse chimes in … by complaining that Vikings fans will have to pay for seat licenses (suggesting that because Vikes owner Zygi Wilf once reneged on a real estate deal, it’d be fine for Minnesota to do the same on the Vikings stadium). This on top of a Reusse column last week complaining that Vikings management is griping about new development near the stadium taking up precious tailgating space. All of which is well and good … Except when you remember that when the Vikings deal was in progress, Reusse wrote that it had to be approved or else the team would move to Los Angeles. … And that he only bemoaned the lack of attention to the ‘financial realities’ of the deal once it was done, and then not in the Star Trib but on a radio station’s blog. This isn’t just intra-journalistic snarkiness: The Vikings bonds still haven’t actually been sold … so it’s not too late for the state to tell the Vikings that if they still want a stadium, they’re going to need to come up with a source of revenue that isn’t totally imaginary. That’s not going to happen without public pressure, though, which would require the public actually being informed about those ‘financial realities’ by news reporters.”