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Sequester cuts expected to hurt Minnesota’s legal system

The millstone continues being a drag … At the PiPress, David Hanners writes: “For half a century, it has been a sacred promise of the American legal system: If you are accused of a crime and too poor to afford a lawyer, the courts will provide one. But with the automatic spending cuts of the budget sequester poised to take effect Oct. 1, federal officials in Minnesota say they are worried about whether they can keep that promise. Nationally, the public defenders service is facing a 23 percent cut, and Minnesota’s Federal Defender, Katherian Roe, said she would probably have to cut her office’s staff from 18 people to 10, a 45 percent cut, to be able to continue to pay for rent and other fixed costs. U.S. District Judge Michael Davis, chief judge of the District of Minnesota, said he is ‘deeply disturbed’ about the cuts and warned, ‘At some point, things will start breaking down.’ ” … Which I believe was the whole point of one of the factions.

Opportunism at its finest! Rachel Slavik of WCCO-TV reports: “Where most people just see storm debris, Rick Siewart sees opportunity. ‘These are prime for slabs, beautiful 12-foot slabs,’ said Siewart as he pointed to a pile of logs. He visualizes unique wood pieces and then works to shape the products in his workshops. Siewart’s business, Wood from the Hood is based on the simple idea to reclaim the diseased or damaged wood from urban areas. ‘It’s going to live on. It’s not going to contribute to the carbon footprint if we actually make something out of it,’ said Siewart. Rick shapes old logs into all types of products including furniture and cribbage boards. Everything is a one of a kind piece.”

A new magazine for adult adoptees? Laura Yuen at MPR writes: “Starting Monday, a new online magazine called Gazillion Voices aims to provide a voice for adult adoptees around the country. … Many of those adopted babies became artists, activists and writers who are helping shape the conversation on adoption, much as Minnesota adoptee Jane Jeong Trenka did when she questioned the effect of international adoption on children. Her activism led South Korea to pass new laws aimed at reducing overseas adoptions there. Vollmers and other contributors to the magazine say the success stories of adoption must be balanced with the stories of loss — an approach they expect will be controversial.”

Cathy Wurzer’s “Morning Edition” show left the atmosphere this morning: “Vining native Karen Nyberg, one of the astronauts aboard the International Space Station, is serving as flight engineer for Expedition 36. She flew to the space station on a Russian-built Soyuz space craft in May. Part of her duties include working as a mechanical engineer and as an expert on environmental and thermal controls. Nyberg talked to MPR’s Morning Edition from space about how the time in a gravity-free atmosphere has impacted the health and fitness of her colleagues.  … she did manage to snap a picture of her hometown of Vining from space recently. The town is between Fergus Falls and Brainerd in northwestern Minnesota. (View the photo by clicking here.)”

The GleanAlso from Nyberg … . Phil Plait at Slate writes: “International Space Station astronaut Karen Nyberg has tweeted some amazing photos from space over the past few weeks, but this one may be the most remarkable, and she may not have even noticed why when she took it! [UPDATE: She did notice …] The picture above shows sunrise as seen from 400 kilometers (250 miles) above the Earth, our planet’s silhouette just beneath the overexposed curve of our atmosphere. The Sun is a mix of reddish colors, the blue and green light scattered away from it by particles in the air. What makes this image immediately special, though, is the quiet presence of the Moon, a thin crescent, off to the right.” Very cool shot.

With airtight liability waivers, I’m assuming … The AP story, by Jeff Martin and Michael Felberbaum on a Minnesota version of the running of the bulls, says: “Organizers of a new event planned for several U.S. cities, including Shakopee’s Canterbury Park, plan to unleash bulls to sprint through fenced-in courses as daredevils try to avoid being trampled. The Great Bull Run is inspired by the annual running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. It’s set to kick off Aug. 24 at a drag-racing strip south of Richmond, Va. A second event is planned for Oct. 19 at an Atlanta-area horse park that hosted events for the 1996 Olympics. More events are planned later for Texas, Florida, California, Minnesota, Illinois and Pennsylvania. The Twin Cities event is scheduled for May 10, 2014, at Canterbury Park.” This would be one of those “thinning the herd” events Jesse Ventura used to talk about.

It’s still a great shtick for the city … At The Huffington Post, the story goes: “Robert “Bobby” Tufts hasn’t made it to preschool yet, but he’s already been elected twice as mayor of a tiny tourist town in northern Minnesota. … Asked how he felt during a phone interview, a tired Bobby made clear he was done answering questions. ‘I want to be with the boys,’ he told his mother. They were on their way to dinner and then planned to go fishing or have a bonfire to celebrate. Bobby, of nearby Nevis, starts preschool this fall. Emma Tufts said her son’s agenda includes raising money for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Red River Valley in Fargo, N.D., and a new welcome sign for Dorset, which bills itself as the Restaurant Capital of the World.” “Boys” … “cronies” … same difference.

Look who’s doing the Iowa thing … . Brett Neely of MPR writes: “Ever since her landslide re-election victory last fall, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar has undoubtedly been raising her profile inside the Washington Beltway. Flip on the Sunday political talk shows and you might see her on the ABC show ‘This Week with George Stephanopoulos.’ She makes frequent appearances at Capitol Hill rallies, such as a recent one to promote bipartisanship, one of Klobuchar’s pet projects. Perhaps with that in mind, political observers couldn’t help but notice that Klobuchar will be the keynote speaker for the North Iowa Democrats’ Wing Ding Fundraiser on Aug. 16.”

Sprocket heads are already aware of this, but Aaron Rupar of City Pages tells the rest of us: “Minneapolis’s latest bike highway opened late last week. The lighted-at-night .77-mile stretch runs below Dinkytown along old railroad tracks with a downtown-connecting pedestrian bridge (Bridge #9) on one end and TCF Bank Stadium on the other. Via the Granary Road, it also connects with the U of M Transitway. About two-thirds of the funding for the $2.34 million project came from federal sources.”

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Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/05/2013 - 01:55 pm.

    Pretty please?

    Can we stop hearing about the toddler “elected” mayor? It was cute the first 500 times the media reported on it, but now, it’s just tiresome.

  2. Submitted by Mike Worcester on 08/05/2013 - 04:04 pm.

    Some Sacred Promise

    Talk to people who have had to use court appointed attorneys and they will tell you that those folks are horrifically over-worked, woefully underpaid, and stretched to the breaking point. And this was before the most recent round of cuts. Until we take away the profit motive from criminal defense–with all due respect to my lawyer pals–justice will only come to those who can afford it.

    Perhaps it is time to take a radical step. Perhaps we need to remove that profit angle and adopt a military JAG type of system for criminal law. Attorneys work in a pool and take on cases as needed, alternating between prosecution and defending. Pay them well and offer equal support for both sides.

    Yeah, like that will ever happen. Oh well……

  3. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 08/05/2013 - 08:12 pm.

    What if we just tried to reduce the number of

    Poor people?

    Thank goodness the sequester didn’t rob money from the $2.3 million dollar bike path that covers less than a mile.

    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 08/05/2013 - 10:25 pm.

      Call The Pope!

      $2.3 million for a bike path?! Oh, the outrage! Why, just think of what we could have spent that money on. It would have done a whole 10 feet of some very important highway somewhere, like the Stillwater bridge to nowhere.

      Tom, I can’t thank you enough for bring this issue to the public’s attention. If we didn’t have good citizens like you watching the pennies the billions of dollars spent on other projects would just get away from us.

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