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Huge crowd turns out to weigh in on proposal for transgender high school athletes

Plus, debate reactions; Gardenhire gets some love (from Oklahoma); MOA aquarium expands; and more.

A chance to weigh in on the Minnesota High School League’s consideration of a new policy for transgender athletes drew an impassioned audience, writes the Star Tribune’s David La Vaque: “An unprecedented and overflow crowd of about 150 people packed the league’s boardroom in Brooklyn Center, as three city police officers stood by to ensure that the workshop on the sensitive and divisive topic remained civil. And while the views were pointed, the tone was measured, as 55 speakers lined up to urge the league to either approve or reject the new plan in a vote scheduled for Thursday. … The policy leaves much to schools to decide, including how to provide ‘reasonable and appropriate restroom and locker room accessibility for students.’”

A few outside reviews of the Franken-McFadden debate in Duluth yesterday. Michael LaRosa at MSNBC says, “McFadden said ‘Obamacare’ is a policy based on lies calling it a train wreck and blaming its poor implementation on Franken. ‘Al Franken was the 60th vote for Obamacare,’ he said.  ‘We wouldn’t have this disaster but for Al Franken.’ On foreign policy, McFadden credited Franken for supporting the President on arming the moderate Syrian rebels but criticized President Obama and by extension Franken, for not arming them sooner. Franken shot back and mocked McFadden for not taking a position on Syria last year when he had the chance.”

Michael Brodkorb, at his politics.mn blog says, “McFadden called Franken ‘the most partisan senator in the Democratic party,’ while Franken said he’s been working hard for Minnesota during his first term in the U.S. Senate. The two candidates presentations at the debate were completely opposite … .”

At Power Line, John Hinderaker says, “As regular readers probably know, I have been skeptical of Republican Mike McFadden’s chances of unseating Al Franken in this year’s Senate race. This is not because Franken is invulnerable; on the contrary, Franken has never been very popular and has been a cipher during his six years in Washington. … The Minneapolis Star Tribune had two reporters live-blog the debate. While I don’t know the reporters personally, it is reasonable to assume that they are Democrats. Their tweets indicate that they were underwhelmed by Franken’s performance.”

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At Breitbart, Dan Kiehl says,Media accounts have often portrayed Franken as anywhere from disappointing to decidedly low-profile during his time in Washington. If the take away from the first debate is he didn’t quite show up, that could feed into an increase in attacks from McFadden, looking to close the remaining ground between him and the incumbent.”

And one from the gubernatorial debate in Rochester. The Strib’s Patrick Condon says, “[Jeff] Johnson’s criticisms included harsh words for MNsure, Minnesota’s health insurance exchange, which released 2015 rates earlier in the day. The Republican took issue with Dayton’s measured praise for the program. ‘We had the best insurance in Minnesota, and we don’t anymore,’ Johnson said. ‘It’s been an unmitigated disaster and it’s hurting thousands of people.’ The debate could shake up the governor’s race, which so far has seen Dayton hold on to a sizable lead in most polls. Dayton has employed a classic incumbent’s strategy, more inclined to make official appearances as governor rather than as a candidate at political events.”

The GleanInevitably: Mila Koumpilova says in the Strib, “Kristen Ehresmann, director of the [Minnesota Department of Health’s] infectious disease division … said her department has been ‘completely inundated’ with calls about the Dallas case, but overall, the response among healthcare partners and contacts in the large local Liberian community has been measured.”

Yin and yang. The Strib’s Kavita Kumar says, “After being kicked out of Amazon’s affiliate program more than a year ago, Minnesota bloggers and deal site operators appear to be back in business with the largest online retailer in the United States. The reversal came on Wednesday, the same day Amazon.com Inc. began collecting sales taxes on online orders in the state for the first time.”

The Twins talked with Paul Molitor yesterday about their managing job. Simultaneously, Barry Tramel of the Oklahoma City Oklahoman writes, “[Ron] Gardenhire clearly is the greatest baseball manager ever from Oklahoma. The dugout always had a hole in the all-time Oklahoma team. Alvin Dark, who moved away from Comanche when he was eight, doesn’t count. Bobby Cox was born in Tulsa but moved to California and grew up there. Nope, Gardenhire is the best from Oklahoma. And maybe it’s time he got a little closer to home. How about managing the Texas Rangers? The Rangers are in need of a manager with Ron Washington’s resignation, and baseball has had few managers better than Gardenhire in the recent decades. Stable, strong, affable.”

Apparently they passed their credit check. WDIO-TV in Duluth says, “Essar Steel Minnesota has succeeded in reaching a major financial milestone by closing the financing to complete construction of its fully permitted open-pit iron ore mine and pellet plant. With this financing in place, Essar will now aggressively ramp up construction activities at the project site. In the next 30 to 60 days, construction activities at the site will focus on completion of foundational and concrete work before winter freeze-up.”

In another expansion: WCCO-TV reports, “Sea Life Minnesota, the aquarium inside the Mall of America, is getting its biggest expansion since opening. The aquarium announced Wednesday a $2 million expansion that should be completed by March. At the heart of the expansion is Stingray Adventure. A press release from the aquarium said guests will get to touch and feed dozens of stingrays housed in a 15,000 gallon touchpool.”