Oh, come on. The outrage, outrage! I tell you! over those pay raises for commissioners! Brian Bakst of the AP says, “A Minnesota Senate vote to roll back pay raises for state commissioners exposed a deep rift Thursday between Gov. Mark Dayton and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, a fellow Democrat the governor says ‘connives behind my back.’ In an unusually public dress-down of a top legislator of his own party, Dayton said he felt blindsided by the vote and would no longer deal with the Senate leader one on one. Dayton said he would veto the bill rescinding the pay increases, legislation that also provides money for the state’s Ebola response and staffing at the sex offender security hospital in St Peter.”
Patrick Condon of the Strib says, “Dayton’s rebuke of Bakk at a late afternoon news conference was unusually harsh even for the rough-and-tumble politics of the State Capitol. It raised immediate questions about how a splintered relationship between the two men could affect Dayton’s agenda and the DFL’s fortunes in the legislative session. It came after Bakk, of Cook, led a successful charge on the Senate floor earlier in the day to delay the pay raises until July 1. The raises total $800,000 in additional pay per year to 23 cabinet officers.”
For the PiPress, Rachel Stassen-Berger writes, “The brewing civil war between the Capitol’s two most powerful DFLers could create ripples for the rest of the session. The two have tussled before but Dayton indicated Thursday their relations were beyond repair. Dayton said Bakk, his erstwhile ally, has proven himself untrustworthy because he brought forth a salary smack-down without any warning. … Bakk declined Thursday afternoon to comment on Dayton’s strong words but earlier in the day had said he spoken to the governor the day before about the senate options on the salary increases. Bakk, DFL-Cook, indicated one of the options he mentioned was delaying the salary hikes through June. ‘I laid this out,’ Bakk said.”
For MPR, Tom Scheck writes, “Dayton said he trusted Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt but would no longer deal with Bakk without someone else in room. … Dayton met with eight Senate Democrats this afternoon for a private talk. Bakk was not in the meeting. In a text message responding to Dayton’s criticism, Bakk wrote, ‘My only comment is this is not a kid’s sandbox.’” So? Did Bakk renege on an unequivocal promise?
Sad news for many in local newsrooms: David Carr, a well-known New York Times writer who began his career in the Twin Cities, has died: The Times’ Bruce Weber and Ashley Southall write: “More recently … he was best known for The Media Equation, a Monday column in The Times that analyzed news and developments in publishing, television, social media — for which he was an early evangelist — and other mass communications platforms. His plain-spoken style was sometimes blunt, and searingly honest about himself. The effect was both folksy and sophisticated, a voice from a shrewd and well-informed skeptic.”
Let’s hope there’s a legal budget big enough to enforce it. Trisha Volpe of KARE-TV says, “A bi-partisan bill introduced Thursday is aimed at preventing and reducing insurance fraud, which is costing Minnesotans $1,400 year in higher premiums and prices for goods and services, according to the insurance industry. … The bill, introduced by Sen. Vicki Jensen (DFL-Owatonna) and Rep. Tim Sanders (R-Blaine) would, among other things, create a civil penalty to get stolen money back from people who commit fraud, provide more oversight to help medical boards and law enforcement target fraudulent health care providers and stop the release of accident reports for 30 days to keep solicitors away.”
Deja deja vu vu. From Elizabeth Mohr of the PiPress, “Seventeen more priests accused of sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis were identified Wednesday by lawyers for alleged victims. Though some names have surfaced in previous discussions of abuse, none of the clergy had been formally accused of sexually abusing children until now. … Former priest Michael G. Kolar, who was accused of sexually abusing underage girls in the 1970s, reportedly told church officials his misconduct was the result of his abuse at the hands of [John Boxleitner, a monsignor and former head of Catholic Charities in the Twin Cities]. Boxleitner tried to rape him, Kolar said.”
ESPN’s Ben Goessling continues to chronicle the rehabilitation of Adrian Peterson, at least in terms of what Vikings brass are saying. “Whether the Vikings will try to keep Peterson at his full cap number, redo his deal or trade him remains to be seen. But their efforts to reach out to their franchise player — especially at a time when they’re still prohibited from talking to him directly — shouldn’t be ignored. The Vikings seem to be making an intentional, coordinated move toward Peterson, with his reinstatement possibly coming in two months (or sooner). Things are about to get interesting.”
Maybe you’ve heard? “Fifty Shades of Grey” has been made into a movie. It opens today. And while by all indications the film is about as sophisticated as book, high and low(er) dudgeon is erupting around it. In a Strib commentary, local writer Brandon Ferdig says, “The only reason it’s sold in mainstream stores is that the content is in print. (And it sells. Women consume their porn eagerly, just like men. Go to the free section of the Kindle store and the most popular offerings are cheesy, cookie-cutter romance novels.) I’m not saying retailers shouldn’t sell these books, but I want to point out the absurd inconsistency of it all. If Target put ‘Playboy’ magazines in its stores, that would make the news. Meanwhile, a book with descriptions of sex more obscene than any typical pornographic film is for sale in checkout-lane end caps right next to bubble gum and Pez dispensers.” I gotta start buying more Pez.
Meanwhile, at WCCO-TV Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield tells us, “One local group is taking a national stand against the film. The Minnesota Child Protection League has turned their website into a pledge site. It’s asking people take a stand against what they say is violence against women in the movie. … Michelle Lentz is with the group, which fights exploitation of children. ‘The opportunity is to have one of the most important conversations they could have with their kids, which is about what is real love, what is respect, what is dignity,’ she said. The group says the movie’s sexual theme is dangerous. ‘It’s just not OK to inflict violence on another person, and sadly what’s a main attraction in this movie,’ Lentz said.” Right! Why couldn’t they just cuddle?
For the record, Strib film critic Colin Covert writes, “ ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ doesn’t entertainingly cross the line of good taste so much as trip and fall on it. The much-anticipated movie opens promisingly, with a bluesy Annie Lennox cover of the 1956 classic ‘I Put a Spell on You’, which fits the film’s kinky motif. From then, it’s all downhill. Shot in the manner of a ho-hum perfume commercial, ‘Fifty Shades’ takes itself all too seriously when it needs a healthy jolt of cynicism and irony. Watching it doesn’t inspire creative, naughty new romantic ideas. It torpedoes the libido and invites snoregasms.” … which is pretty much what most of us were expecting.