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Mark Ritchie argues ‘no injury’ in Internet registration suit

Timberwolves “smoked out” in Mexico City; MNsure enrollments more than double; Orchestra Hall lease a contentious issue; Westrom to challenge Peterson; and more.

Up for the fight … The AP says: “A lawsuit contesting a new, Internet-based system for voter registration should be dismissed because plaintiffs lack standing to sue, attorneys for Secretary of State Mark Ritchie argued Wednesday. New documents filed in the case say those behind the lawsuit are seeking an extraordinary remedy and can’t show they’ve been injured. Four Minnesota Republican legislators and two advocacy groups filed the lawsuit last month.” So you mean … “outrage” isn’t the same as “injury”?

Postponed because of … smoke. The AP story about last night’s Timberwolves game in Mexico City says: “The game between the San Antonio Spurs and Minnesota Timberwolves was postponed Wednesday night because of smoky conditions inside the Mexico City arena. The game will be made up in Minnesota at a later date. The arena was evacuated about 45 minutes before the scheduled 9:30 p.m. EST tipoff when a generator malfunction outside the arena sent smoke pouring into the building, according to NBA spokeswoman Sharon Lima. About 15 minutes after the scheduled start, the Spurs bus pulled away from the building. The Timberwolves bus followed soon after. While the teams were warming up for their regular-season matchup, lights went out in parts of the arena and smoke began coming out of vents in the upper deck. The court quickly became cloudy.”

The “it’s failing” meme is going to need some tweaking … Catharine Richert and Elizabeth Stawicki of MPR report: “The number of people who are in the final stages of applying for health insurance through the state’s new online insurance marketplace, has more than doubled since the beginning of November, according to figures released [Wednesday] by MNsure. Roughly 24,600 people are in the process of paying for a plan. That’s up from nearly 11,000 in early November. Minnesota residents have created more than 50,000 accounts on MNsure, which are necessary to apply for coverage. … The latest report indicates that slightly more than half the people enrolling in qualified health plans are age 50 or younger. Males represent 45 percent of enrollees, females 55 percent.     Here’s how the numbers break down:  Under 21: 12.7 percent;  21-30: 10.1 percent; 31-40: 12.8 percent;  41-50: 15 percent;  51-60: 26.6 percent and 61+: 22.8 percent.”                                            

The next phase of the Minnesota Orchestra saga … Here’s Doug Grow’s MinnPost report. Graydon Royce’s Strib story says: “The Minnesota Orchestral Association claims that it has complied with the terms of the city lease that governs the operation of Orchestra Hall. The status of the concert hall has become a contentious issue in the bitter, protracted labor dispute between the association and its musicians. Several independent sources have called on the city to find the association in breach and to retake control of the hall, which Minneapolis owns by virtue of sponsoring a $14 million state bonding request for a recently completed renovation.The city requires the association to report each December on whether it has operated the facility as a ‘performing arts center.’ Statements issued Wednesday indicate how difficult it would be for the city to take the hall back from the Orchestral Association.”

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He’ll make it official today. Emily Cahn at Roll Call says: “GOP state Sen. Torrey Westrom will announce Thursday that he will challenge longtime Rep. Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn., in the 7th District. Westrom, the first legally blind person elected to the Minnesota Legislature, will make the announcement Thursday morning in the northwestern part of the state, according to a news release from the campaign. Westrom is the first Republican to announce a bid against Peterson. Republicans have made the 12-term Democrat a top target in 2014. Peterson, 69, is one of nine Democrats who represents a district that GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney carried in 2012. Romney won the district with a 10-point margin in 2012, while Peterson defeated his Republican opponent by 26 points.” Devin Henry’s MinnPost coverage is here.

The Strib gets a piece of the Shannon Gibney story with Maura Lerner writing: “A Minneapolis college professor has ignited a debate about talking about race on campus after going public with a dispute with her employer, the Minneapolis Community and Technical College. Shannon Gibney, who is black, has said that she was reprimanded for offending two white students during a classroom discussion about racism. Gibney, 38, says that she has been investigated three times by the college for incidents involving alleged racial discrimination. The first time followed a 2008 confrontation with ‘an angry white male student’ about the nature of racism, she wrote. The latest incident occurred in October. Gibney, who teaches English, has declined requests to discuss her case with the Star Tribune.”

Still not catching a break … Our Favorite Congresswoman’s life continues to be interesting. Kevin Diaz of the Strib says: “FBI agents have searched the home of former Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson, once a top official in U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s 2012 presidential campaign, his lawyer said Wednesday. The search, conducted two weeks ago, appeared to focus on communications between various campaign operatives and Sorenson, who abruptly quit as Bachmann’s Iowa campaign chairman in the closing days of the Iowa Republican caucus campaign and threw his support behind Ron Paul. ‘It was a very thorough federal criminal search warrant’, said Des Moines attorney Ted Sporer, who represents Sorenson. ‘It’s pretty obvious they are looking for communications with a presidential campaign or third parties working for a presidential campaign’.” Do the words “Michele Bachmann” and “presidential campaign” still make you laugh?

Minnesota men are … 39th. For City Pages, Aaron Rupar writes: “Minnesotans have the 39th ‘largest’ penises out of the 50 states in ‘Murica, according to a study put together by Condomania, an online business which bills itself as the country’s first condom store. Looking for something a little larger? Travel northwest to NoDak. According to the study, NoDakians are packing the largest units in the land. No wonder it’s so damn sexy up there. As you might have already inferred, Condomania put together the list by looking at the condom sizes purchased from each state.” Naturally, the comments get good fast. Like this one … “I’m from Cleveland and our penises are so big, at birth we are forced to install airplane warning lights on them.”

As for the, uh, “nip” in the air today … Paul Douglas says:One of the coldest blobs of Yukon chill in a decade is about to drain out of the frozen wastelands of western Canada. By Friday daytime ‘highs’ struggle to top 0F; temperatures may hold below zero Saturday in spite of a bright, pleading sun. This will be one of the coldest outbreaks of the winter — and no, it doesn’t necessarily mean the entire winter will be Nanook. … Historically winter temperatures bottom out in mid-January, so this is coming a good 5 weeks ahead of schedule, which is unusual, but not unprecedented. Twin Cities temperatures may hold below zero much of Friday and Saturday, more subzero weather Monday night, again Tuesday PM into Wednesday morning.”