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Chalk up ACLU victory in free-speech case

McFadden hauls in $700,000; St. Cloud crack ring cracked; one guy, 44 arrests; shutdown closes some pheasant-hunting lands; Ventura’s missing records; and more.

If unlimited money is “speech,” why not chalk? Randy Furst of the Strib says: “The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota said Tuesday that it had chalked up another victory — literally — for the First Amendment in the case of an antiwar activist. Under a settlement agreement, the city of Minneapolis, the Federal Protective Service and a private security firm agreed to pay $5,000 to settle a suit brought by the ACLU on behalf of an activist who wrote an antiwar slogan in chalk on a public sidewalk in 2011. All parties agreed in the settlement that using erasable chalk on public sidewalks is a protected First Amendment right in Minneapolis. The activist, Melissa Hill, 34, who has been involved in other free-speech legal battles, had printed the slogan ‘Don’t Enlist, Resist’ outside the old Federal Building at 212 3rd Av. S., which housed the Military Entrance Processing Station.”

Not bad. Rachel Stassen-Berger of the Strib says: “Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden’s campaign said on Thursday that he had raised $700,000 in the last three months and has $1.2 million cash on hand in his quest to oust Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken. The haul gives McFadden, an executive on leave from Lazard Middle Management with no political background, two steady quarters from which to launch his campaign. He raised about $700,000 in the first part of this year. … McFadden fundraising is pitched against Franken’s mammoth fundraising operation. Over the summer, Franken reported pulling in nearly $2 million in a three month period and having more than $3 million cash in the bank.” Yeah, another $16 million to $20 million ought to do it.

St. Cloud cops cracked a crack ring. The Times says: “A five-month investigation by the Central Minnesota Violent Offender Task Force has led to the arrests of 15 people in the last week in the St. Cloud area.The arrests came after the task force started buying small amounts of crack cocaine from suspects living in the St. Cloud area, according to St. Cloud police. The purchases led to several more in the last week, and those led to arrests and a search of a south St. Cloud residence by the St. Cloud SWAT team.”

One guy … 44 arrests! Tom Olsen of the Duluth News Tribune writes: “In the annals of crime, Richard Donald Hegquist won’t rank up there with Chicago’s Al Capone or Boston’s Whitey Bulger. But with a string of 44 arrests in 18 Minnesota counties since 1996, the 37-year-old Ham Lake, Minn., resident finally made the big time in the eyes of prosecutors. Hegquist, who has 12 prior felony convictions and whose criminal career has involved 59 court cases, was sentenced in Duluth on Wednesday to nearly six years in prison for robbing the Hermantown Car and Pet Wash in July. He was sentenced in State District Court in Duluth to serve 71 months in prison, an above-guideline sentence that was agreed to in a plea agreement.”

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Now … it’s gone too far. The AP says: “Minnesota pheasant hunters will find less land available when the season opens Saturday. Due to the federal government shutdown, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has closed 13 national wildlife refuges and eight wetland management districts in Minnesota, totaling more than 489,000 acres of land. The situation is similar in neighboring South Dakota, another favorite destination of Minnesota hunters. State and other non-federal public lands normally open to pheasant hunting remain open.”

Is the Keystone XL still one of the GOP’s shutdown/default demands? James MacPherson of the AP reports: “More than 20,000 barrels of crude oil have spewed out of a Tesoro Corp. oil pipeline in a wheat field in northwestern North Dakota, the state Health Department said Thursday. State environmental geologist Kris Roberts said the 20,600-barrel spill, among the largest recorded in the state, was discovered on Sept. 29 by a farmer harvesting wheat about nine miles south of Tioga. ‘The farmer was harvesting his wheat and started smelling oil,’ Roberts said. ‘It went from there.’ … Tesoro officials were investigating what caused the hole in the 20-year-old, 6-inch-diameter steel underground pipeline line that runs about 35 miles from Tioga to a rail facility outside of Columbus, near the Canadian border. Roberts said the hole may have been caused by corrosion.”

The GleanJesse v. The System. Mr. Furst, again, writes: “Former Gov. Jesse Ventura has failed to produce documentation concerning part of his military service in his lawsuit claiming the book “American Sniper” defamed him, an attorney representing the author’s estate alleges in court documents. Ventura’s attorney said he has lost his records. A hearing on whether Ventura should be sanctioned for not producing the documents is scheduled in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis Wednesday in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur J. Boylan. … Despite a 2012 court order compelling Ventura to produce all service records confirming the nature and dates of his military service, Borger says that Ventura supplied only one military record that he marked “confidential” that consisted of a one-page record of discharge, effective Dec. 10, 1973. He produced no records of military service from December 1973 to September 1975.” A simple statement attesting to having “jumped into shark-infested waters” ought to suffice.

Nice contrarian commentary in the Strib this morning from Paul Scott on alleged ruinous effects of that medical device tax: “Minnesotans are supposed to be troubled by the medical device tax, but the campaign against it is hollow. … Undoing this tax has become a personal obsession for two members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation, Rep. Erik Paulsen, a Republican, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat. It has the support of Democratic Sen. Al Franken and Rep. Keith Ellison as well. … It’s hard to fault Paulsen for his zeal. His party is single-minded about opposing taxation in all forms, and as a legislator opposed to the ACA, his tone is at least nonapocalyptic. He makes using your congressional seat as an extension of private industry look somehow less dishonorable than it is. But if Franken and Klobuchar believe they are doing anything greater than advancing the pet grievance of a powerful lobby, it’s a hard sell. The crying has been loud, but the outrage is phony.” Let’s see if Scott ever gets invited to a Medtronic sunset cruise.

But that stuff pales in comparison to real AAA-rated pandering. Tim Nelson of MPR reports: “Republican state Rep. Pat Garofalo has written to the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, objecting to their ban on doing firearms business at the new stadium. The provision is included in the stadium lease, signed by the MSFA and the Vikings last week. Garofalo asks: ‘Why is the Stadium Authority arbitrarily excluding vendors who, in compliance with federal, state and local laws, sell guns’? Garofalo says the provision wasn’t included in the Metrodome lease and shouldn’t be in the new stadium. He says hunting shows, outdoor shows and other events might be banned from the new stadium. ‘The People’s Stadium should not, under any circumstances, arbitrarily prohibit these types of events from taking place if they comply with all other stadium rules and regulations, as well as federal, state and local laws.’ ” I detect no irony in his use of “People’s Stadium.”