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GOP Rep. Garofalo taking heat for tweet

Broadened broadband access sought; another multiple-victim car crash; Minnesota’s hockey hair; congressional delegation’s pricey trips; PolyMet’s immense size; and more.

Oh, good lord … GOP Rep. Pat Garofalo was at it again. For the Mediaite subsection Sports Grid, Rick Chandler writes: “ Minnesota Republican state representative Pat Garofalo has never been the smartest, most sophisticated man in the room: unless that room is at this event. (Example: In Oct. he proposed that the new Vikings Stadium be allowed to sell guns during games.) But when one mixes dumb with racist, the result is an incredible tweet like this: ‘Let’s be honest, 70% of teams in NBA could fold tomorrow + nobody would notice a difference w/ possible exception of increase in streetcrime.

In the Strib, Rachel-Stassen Berger writes: “Within two hours, more than 600 people retweeted it, meaning they passed it on to their followers, and hundreds more responded, many calling Garofalo’s comment racist. Among them Ryan Vernosh, whose Twitter bio identifies him as the 2010 Minnesota Teacher of the Year, replied to Garofalo that: ‘the racial and racist undertones in this comment is beyond alarming.’ Asked about his tweet, Garofalo said he was ‘talking about NBA’s high arrest rate and that they are the only major pro league that testing positive for marijuana is not a substance abuse violation.’ ‘No intent beyond that,’ he said.” By the time you read this, he’ll be a misunderstood hero to the talk radio demographic.

Two former legislators, Margaret Anderson Kelliher and Dan Dorman, argue for broadband in a Strib commentary. “Statewide access to reliable, fast broadband technology is absolutely vital to our future. Data from Connect Minnesota found that about 71 percent of households in the state currently have access to wired broadband with download speeds of greater than 10 megabits per second, yet only 46 percent of households in Greater Minnesota have that kind of coverage. However, if 95 percent of Minnesotans could access top-quality broadband, it would have a $1 billion positive impact on the state’s gross domestic product, according to data from the Strategic Networks Group.”

Again … Joy Powell and Kelly Smith of the Strib report: “A second multiple-victim crash within a week has killed three teens and a 20-year-old — bringing to seven the number of young men killed in simi­lar broadside collisions on icy Minnesota highways. The latest victims died Friday night after the car they were in slid out of control outside Sleepy Eye, 105 miles southwest of Minneapolis in south-central Minnesota, the State Patrol said.”

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The only thing better than Minnesota hockey is … Minnesota hockey hair. At Deadspin, Samer Kalaf writes: “Since Minnesota loves hockey at all levels, the high school state tournaments are televised, with each kid getting at least a few seconds of camera time for the team introductions. For the past four years, a man has ranked the best hair — flow, salad, or lettuce, if you will — from those intros. It’s a bit weird but mostly funny. For 2014, ‘Pulltabproductions11’ not only ranked his ten players for the All Hockey Hair Team, but went back into the archives of old state tournaments, when mullets and racing stripes weren’t supposed to be funny.” And yeah, there is video …

For the St. Cloud Times, Donovan Slack files a piece on the Minnesota congressional delegation’s wanderlust … “They traveled to destinations as exotic as Morocco and Ethiopia and as familiar as Nashville, Tenn., and Maryland. Most flew business class and stayed at five-star hotels. Together, they took more than $110,000 worth of free trips, part of a record-setting tab for Congress as a whole … Among the travelers was Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Stillwater, who took a 10-day tour of Israel with her son valued at $25,724, and Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Crosby, who traveled with his wife on a $19,000, eight-day trip to Israel. Rep. Erik Paulsen, R-Eden Prairie, spent four days in Dublin and then another five days with his daughter in Ethiopia, a trip valued at $20,800.”

The GleanMPR’s Dan Kraker discusses the epic size of the PolyMet operation up north: “[E]verything is on an immense scale. One wheel on a truck is twice as tall as an adult. The plant where PolyMet Mining plans to process the ore it digs up is a third of a mile long. The tailings basin near Hoyt Lakes, where PolyMet would slurry its leftover waste is massive, stretching to the horizon. ‘If you look off in the distance, the skyline that you see out there, that’s tailings all the way out to the ridgeline,’ PolyMet CEO Jon Cherry said recently, as he stood atop old iron ore tailings more than 20 stories high.”

At the PiPress, Christopher Snowbeck runs a brief survey of Minnesota physicians on the question of medical marijuana: “In one camp, there are physicians like Dr. Jacob Mirman, a primary care doctor in St. Louis Park who says a few patients have told him they use marijuana to cope with medical conditions. Mirman hasn’t personally recommended that patients use it, and he doesn’t take a position on the specifics of a bill currently advancing at the Capitol. But he supports the idea of making medical marijuana legal — in part because the risks seem small compared to those with some prescription painkillers.”

At City Pages, Jesse Marx tries to explain the official law enforcement position: “According to Jim Franklin, executive director of the Minnesota Sheriffs’ Association, the list was put together after certain lawmakers reached out and asked for it. It does not equal support for medical marijuana, he says. It was intended to carve out a middle path — a way to stay neutral in the debate. ‘I don’t think we, as law enforcement, can support any type of a medical marijuana because, technically speaking, it’s a violation of federal law,’ Franklin says, adding that any marijuana reform ought to come from Congress rather than individual state legislatures. The list urges lawmakers to limit the qualifying conditions of medical marijuana patients to ‘seizures, late stage cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis or AIDS.’ “