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After the storm: 308 road projects

The latest on ‘Scottish aristocrats’; Cargill CEO describes China chicken facility; Bachmann on Benghazi; Citizens United endorses Ortman; and more.

And right after the next half dozen blizzards … The AP says, “State Department of Transportation officials Thursday unveiled the projects they’ll tackle this year. The $1.1 billion construction plan includes 308 projects, 74 in the Twin Cities and 194 projects elsewhere around the state. Projects in the Twin Cities include new MnPASS Express lanes and other improvements on Interstate 35 between I-94 in St. Paul and Little Canada Road, upgrades to Highway 65 from Fridley to Spring Lake Park and Highway 100 bridge replacements.”

CBS Miami has the latest on those “Scottish aristocrats.” “A South Florida couple accused of living a lavish lifestyle while collecting food stamps and other forms of public assistance from the state of Minnesota will soon be heading back there to face the proverbial music. During a court appearance Thursday in Ft. Lauderdale, Colin Chisholm, III and his wife Andrea waived their right to extradition. … One way Minnesota officials said the couple hid the money was to funnel money from a business of Chisholm’s along with a side business selling puppies through an account belonging to an elderly grandmother.”

We’ve all read about Apple’s Chinese manufacturing “campus.” Today, Tom Philpott at Mother Jones checks out Cargill’s chicken operations. “In a wide-ranging interview with the India-based Economic Times, Cargill CEO David MacLennan talks about how the globe-spanning agribusiness giant managed to turn the 2008 economic crisis into a ‘record year of profits’ … . MacLennan drops this nugget on his company’s poultry operations in China: So we are building a facility in Shuzou, Nanjing, which will have 45 farms and it’s a chicken facility that will process 1.2 million chicken every week. That’s 60 million chicken a year. We have a hatchery, where we hatch the eggs and one-day old chicks, DOCs, get transported to the farms. The employees live on the farm. They can’t leave because then you increase the risk of disease.” Just like ma and pa used to do it.

A little late on this one, but the best interview/feature of the week (TV version) has to be KMSP-TV’s Tom Lyden meeting up with a guy in St. Charles who is convinced he can sell marijuana legally. “In the small town of St. Charles, a barber shop called ‘The Buzz’ can be found just off Main Street — but [Stephen] Conlin hopes to offer a lot more than a trim. ‘I’m the first lawful dispensary and I’m fighting it in the courts,’ Conlin said. Conlin argues that since the Minnesota Department of Revenue issues a stamp for marijuana, it’s perfectly legal to sell it. Anyone with more than 42.5 grams of marijuana can buy a stamp anonymously, with the drug taxed at $3.50 per gram.” Watch the video for the part where Conlin first accuses Lyden of lying, then tells him to “get the [bleep] out.”

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Our Favorite Congresswoman turns up in a Dana Milbank column in The Washington Post. It seems she was in D.C. long enough for (the latest) hearing on the Benghazi “scandal.” Says Milbank, “House Republicans on Wednesday held Benghazi hearing number 1,372,569, give or take, and this time they were determined to find the proof that had eluded them in the previous 1,372,568 … . Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) skipped the questions in favor of accusations. ‘I believe that the totality of the information was obfuscated and that there was an intentional misleading of the public,’ she said, charging Morell with changing the talking points ‘for the White House’.”

It’s “bullying” day in St. Paul, and we’re not talking the weather … . Christopher Magan of the PiPress says, “A bullying prevention bill, altered after it stalled in the Legislature last year, appears headed for a vote in the Senate on Thursday. The Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act, sponsored by state Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, is expected to be debated during a noon floor session. The bill was last in the Senate in May, when it was tabled after the threat of a Republican filibuster.”

Let’s see the expense report for this story. In the PiPress, John Brewer tells the tale of the Wisconsin bar you can only get to via Minnesota. “The bar is just off a stretch of Minnesota 23 known at the Evergreen Memorial Scenic Drive, which stretches diagonally from Duluth to the far reaches of southwest Minnesota. Just outside of Duluth, though, after the road leaves down-on-its-heels Gary-New Duluth, it crosses the St. Louis River and passes through a spit of Wisconsin barely 2,000-feet wide. On the western edge of that spit, wedged between the river and the state border (and the Evergreen highway a few feet beyond), sits the Wabegon. By some long-forgotten engineering gaffe, the driveway to the Wabegon runs from the bar in Wisconsin, over the imaginary border line to the highway in Minnesota.”

Sen. Ortman has Citizens United behind her … . Cameron Joseph of The Hill reports, “The conservative group Citizens United is endorsing Minnesota state Sen. Julianne Ortman’s (R) Senate campaign, bucking establishment Republicans who want businessman Mike McFadden (R) to lock up the nomination against Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.). ‘Julianne Ortman believes in individual liberty, limited government, and the sacred rights set forth in the U.S. Constitution’, said Citizens United President David N. Bossie. Bossie went on to attack the GOP establishment for backing McFadden.”

In The National Review, Jim Geraghty assures his readers that Al Franken is in big trouble, reelection-wise. “… the headline from a new poll of Minnesota likely voters commissioned by American Encore and conducted by Magellan Strategiess. Only 41 percent of respondents had a favorable view of Sen. Franken, while 45 percent had an unfavorable view of him. Only 44 percent approve of the job he is doing. • 54% of respondents disapprove of the Affordable Care Act, and only 38% approve. • Only 40% of respondents think Al Franken deserves re-election. Obviously, Minnesota is not easy territory for Republicans, and very few folks had this race on even the broadest target list for 2014. But maybe he’s not quite good enough, not quite smart enough, and doggone it, people just don’t like him enough.” If you were wondering about the mission statement of American Encore it’s this: “America’s greatest days lie ahead. This is a steadfast belief, an intrinsic principle serving as the foundation for American exceptionalism.”

If you’re a people, get in line for a high-paying, long-term job building The People’s Stadium. WCCO-TV says, “Companies that are part of the construction for the new facility are hosting a job fair Thursday afternoon at the Sabathani Community Center in Minneapolis. Mortenson Construction, the primary builder of the new stadium, and other companies connected to the project, will be represented as they’re looking for workers both with and without experience.”

The country’s Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) handed out their annual awards today, and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel won two:


“Backfire” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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John Diedrich and Raquel Rutledge. Judges’ Comments: In an exhaustive and shocking yearlong series, Journal Sentinel reporters John Diedrich and Raquel Rutledge detail reckless and illegal operations carried out by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.”


“Deadly Delays.” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Ellen Gabler, Mark Johnson, John Fauber, Allan James Vestal and Kristyna Wentz. Judges’ comments: Reporters for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel exposed a shocking practice at many of the nation’s hospitals. In an analysis of nearly 3 million newborn screening tests from throughout the country, the Journal Sentinel found that hundreds of thousands of blood samples from newborn babies arrive late at labs where they are to be tested.”

Classy … Paul Walsh of the Strib says, “An office supply store in southwestern Minnesota must pay a former employee $11,000 after federal investigators found that a manager repeatedly zoomed a security camera in on her chest for him to view from his desktop computer. The owner of Davis Typewriter Co. in Worthington explained to the woman at the time that she was ‘a very beautiful girl and that men will always look at beautiful women’ … .” Exactly. It’s her fault for being good-looking.