As you may have heard, the progressive edge of the Democratic party was making noises about how appalled they are at the stuffing of that giant federal spending bill that cleared the Senate over the weekend. For the Strib, Allison Sherry says, “In statements Sunday, both Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken said they didn’t support the spending bill because of a provision that gave wealthy people more influence over campaigns because it lifted some contribution limits to party committees. ‘This spending bill included major provisions that were added with no public debate,’ Klobuchar said Sunday, in a statement, ‘including measures designed to chip away at campaign finance laws. We need to have these debates in the light of day through an open process and moving forward I will continue to fight to make sure we can find common ground.’ Franken said, in a statement, he didn’t favor the campaign finance measure either. He also disagreed with a provision in the big spending bill that rolls back some banking rules that were put in place by Congress after the 2008 financial crisis.” But it’s just a rumor that Citigroup will be rewriting the Constitution, right?
Interesting information from Mark Steil at MPR. He writes, “When months of rail traffic delays cost farmers, coal companies, utilities, grain businesses and others hundreds of millions of dollars, Burlington Northern Santa Fe and other carriers blamed the delays on unexpected heavy shipping demand and bad weather. … Every year the railroad sends a letter to the federal Surface Transportation Board addressing its readiness to handle normally heavy autumn shipping demand. In August of 2013, BNSF informed federal regulators that the company was ‘well positioned’ for the typically heavy autumn demand for transport. The railway acknowledged that shipping demand was increasing, but said the company was ‘well-positioned to handle additional growth’ and that ‘we will meet our customers’ expectations.’ That assertion turned out to be way off.”
There’s a question whether this new hire will be armed. The AP’s Brian Bakst reports, “The next chief sergeant-at-arms of the Minnesota House will have something most recent predecessors lacked: A law enforcement background. It’s a requirement in a retooled job description that also seeks someone skilled in ‘crisis intervention techniques.’ The change in scope for the top chamber doorman, enforcer of public decorum and key legislative administrator is part nod to security and part desire to move away from the patronage approach that rewarded majority-party allegiance. … Whether the sergeant will be armed is an open question. Daudt said it’s a possibility. Rep. Paul Thissen, who is going from House speaker to Democratic minority leader, said he hasn’t given that aspect much thought.” If not, the new guy could just ask one of the Second Amendment exercisers to open fire.
Also from Bakst, the latest Capitol chatter on road work. “Margaret Donahoe, co-chair of the Move MN coalition advocating for a large-scale funding package, said pledges of a transportation fix came from both political parties during the just-finished campaign and ‘there will be pressure’ on lawmakers to deliver. The group of road builders, transit backers, labor unions, businesses and local officials will put its own ideas on the table in January. Lawmakers have talked up transportation before only to settle on temporary patches even when Democrats had complete statehouse control. With power split between Democrats and Republicans, it’s natural to wonder about chances for a deal this session.” Personally, I’m 110 percent in favor of it, unless I have to pay for it.
And this is before they start bouncing off the Vikings stadium. In The Duluth News Tribune, John Myers says, “The number of birds counted each summer in Minnesota’s Chippewa and Superior national forests nearly doubled from 1994-2009 but crashed by 30 percent this year after back-to-back cold, late springs. And the legacy of this year’s poor nesting season could last into next year, with fewer chicks hatched this summer and even fewer birds returning to be counted in 2015. That’s the conclusion of the annual Summary of Breeding Bird Trends released recently by researchers from the Natural Resources Research Institute at the University of Minnesota Duluth.”
Our grip on major league-ness will weaken if this goes down. According to the AP, “The days of Minnesota’s only bicycle racing velodrome may be numbered. With a mounting list of necessary repairs at the National Sports Center’s velodrome in Blaine, board members are weighing whether to put in hundreds of thousands of dollars for a facility that attracts just a few thousand spectators a year — or close it up. Built in 1990 for $1.3 million, bikers race around the wooden track with 43 degree banks. Now, stretches of wood are rotting. Trusses supporting the track have aged. Officials estimate a renovation would cost $850,000. Rebuilding it could cost as much as $1.2 million.”
Pre-session, Don Davis of the Forum News Service looks at several hottish topics, including North Dakota envy/love/hate. “All that money has Minnesota politicians envious and concerned. It is common to hear them wishing that Minnesota had a resource worth as much as that being pumped from the Bakken formation in western North Dakota. Then, almost without pause, a politician can pivot and complain that North Dakota’s oil makes Minnesota a more dangerous state.”
Speaking of NoDak, Brad Dokken of the Grand Forks Herald came down to St. Paul to talk hi-tech ice fishing. “Brad Hawthorne of Isle, Minn., is an open-water fishing guide on Lake MIlle Lacs in central Minnesota, but in the winter, he runs ‘The Otter Train,’ a guided ice fishing service on Upper Red Lake. …
Q. How much more sophisticated can ice fishing get? The equipment has undergone tremendous changes just in the past 10 years.
A. Right now we have a PanCam (MarCum underwater viewing system) that will actually hook up to your iPad, and so we’re taking a modern-day piece of equipment that’s in just about every household and bringing it into a wheelhouse or a portable, and a guy’s actually able to take his (iPad) from home, from being a couch potato, out to being in a portable icehouse and actually use it to view the underwater world and record. It’s amazing; now we’re taking ice fishing from the living room and bringing it into the portable and the wheelhouse, so I don’t know really what more can be done unless we start getting into drones (laughs). I think the industry as a whole would probably draw the line at drones.”
Add this to the cops’ PR nightmares. In the PiPress, Richard Chin writes, “St. Paul police officer Ruby Diaz was convicted of felony electronic identity theft Friday but acquitted of two forgery charges for sending money to her imprisoned boyfriend — a gang member — under someone else’s name. Diaz was accused of using her best friend’s name and personal information to set up payment accounts with Western Union and the Minnesota Department of Corrections to make wire transfers to Ramone D. Smaller, 22, with whom she had a romantic relationship.” She may have heard that Charlie Manson got married.