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Dayton declares emergency over bird flu

Plus: Scott Walker blames Democrats for Wisconsin’s economy; Sun Country pilots want a raise; Dayton threatens veto of gun silencer bill; and more.

Gov. Mark Dayton
MinnPost photo by Briana Bierschbach

Ok. It’s official. We’ve got an emergency here. in the PiPress, Rachel Stassen-Berger reports, “Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton on Thursday declared a peacetime emergency to deal with the growing avian influenza attacking turkey flocks across dozens of farms. … The impact in Minnesota, the top turkey-producing state in the nation, has shaken farmers, devastated flocks and caused Austin-based Hormel Foods to warn that its Jennie-O Turkey Store was experiencing supply problems. The five-day peacetime emergency allows state agencies, including the Minnesota National Guard, to work together to offer what help, technical assistance and relief they can to curtail the outbreak. The state’s executive council will be asked to extend it for another month next week.”

For NBC News, Maggie Fox says, “In Minnesota, about 87 people have been identified who might have handled sick birds, Kristen Ehresmann, infectious disease specialist at the Minnesota Department of Health, told NBC News. She said 70 of them had agreed to take a course of Tamiflu, an antiviral drug that can prevent human influenza. There’s no evidence that people can catch H5N2, but they can catch other forms of avian influenza, notably H5N1 bird flu and H7N9 bird flu. ‘We haven’t seen any human cases,’ Ehresmann said. ‘It’s entirely possible. We just haven’t seen a case yet.’”

In the Strib, Mike Hughlett and Paul Walsh say, “The state’s farmers raise roughly 47 million chickens a year for meat and another 11.4 million for eggs. Annual egg production in Minnesota averages nearly 3 billion. Turkey growers raise 46 million birds a year.”

You know it’s killing righter-than-right NewsMax to say so, but Jason Devaney says, “Rep. Al Franken praised reports that say Comcast has dropped its bid to acquire Time Warner Cable, saying it would represent ‘a huge victory.’ Citing sources familiar with the attempted merger, The Wall Street Journal reports that Comcast decided to reverse course and abandon its plans to take over its rival. ‘I’ve been opposed to this deal since it was first announced, and I’m glad that over the last 15 months, more and more people have come to see it the way I do.’” Actually, kids, it’s “Senator” Franken.

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Some comments attached to the Strib story on the deal’s (apparent) demise are pretty funny. Here’s a few:

“What an American hero. It is right up there with pool drains and the Strib gives front page coverage. He railed against it. Wow, what a Senator. We elect little people.” — Waterbunker.

“And yet, Al didn’t stop all of the airline mergers.  Which led to higher prices, fewer options, fewer flights, tighter seating, etc., which cost the consumer far more than this merger would have cost.  Al seems to be selectively against mergers.” — redeye12

“The same person that advocates single-provider health care is against a single cable company? I can’t make this stuff up.” — supervon2

Whatever happened to that “informed electorate” thing?

It’s nice he stopped by to see where it actually “is working.” But the AP and his hometown paper aren’t cutting Scott Walker much slack. From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: “Minnesota’s jobless rate has consistently been lower than Wisconsin’s but also it never climbed as high during the Great Recession. Minnesota’s unemployment rate has also tumbled from above 7 percent at Gov. Mark Dayton’s first election to 3.7 percent now. At Marquette University Law School on April 10, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald spoke glowingly about Minneapolis and St. Paul. ‘The Twin Cities are kicking our butt,’ Fitzgerald said. ‘We see Minnesota flourishing because of the Twin Cities.’ Fitzgerald, a Juneau Republican, said Wisconsin is inextricably tied to the fortunes of Milwaukee. For that reason, the Milwaukee Bucks and public officials must strike a deal to fund a new arena in downtown Milwaukee, which would boost the fortunes of the city, he said.” So the takeaway from the miserable comparison is … they have to build a new stadium? At the very least, we could be neighborly and loan them our warehoused e-pulltab machines.

For MPR, Tom Scheck writes, “Walker defended his economic record to reporters today. He said the state has made significant gains since he took office, and there are other factors why Minnesota’s economy is doing better than Wisconsin’s. ‘Before we came into office for many years, there was a Democrat governor, a Democrat assembly and a Democrat Senate,’ Walker said, noting the state’s peak 9.2 percent unemployment rate prior to his election in 2010 and its 4.6 percent rate now. Minnesota’s unemployment rate is 3.7 percent. ‘You look at where we were at, where we started and where we’re at today there has been a dramatic change,’ Walker told reporters following his closed door meeting with GOP lawmakers.” Just to be clear. Is he blaming the Democrats of long ago for that $2 billion deficit?

After that Germanwings incident, I’m not too cool on disgruntled pilots. MPR’s Martin Moylan reports, “Sun Country Airline’s pilots are stepping up pressure on the company to raise their wages. The pilots union argues that no other sizable airline pays pilots less for flying Boeing 737s. Federal records indicate the carrier has been consistently profitable since 2009. And pilots argue it’s time for the carrier to share its good fortune with them.” How fast can you say, “eight inches of legroom” and “$40 checked bags”?

The first step is admitting you have a problem. In the St. Cloud Times Kirsti Marohn writes, “The study of adults age 21 and older published Thursday in the American Journal of Public Health finds wide variations in rates of heavy and binge drinking across the United States, with more than a third of adults drinking at dangerous levels in some areas. Among Central Minnesota counties, Morrison County led the way in excess drinkers in 2012. It had the highest percentage — 30.6 — of people who reported binge drinking. Among men, the percentage was 40.3, the highest among all Minnesota counties.”

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They’re going to fence this thing? Susan Feyder of the Strib says, “A popular sculpture by the late Minnesota artist Paul T. Granlund has been stolen from the grounds of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, the center said Thursday. ‘South Wind,’ a 42-inch-high bronze work depicting a nude woman facing the wind, was taken from the arboretum’s Nelson Shrub Rose Garden sometime between last Thursday evening and Saturday morning, according to the arboretum’s on-site security patrol. Removal of the sculpture from its marble base would require special tools, the arboretum said.” Too big for a hood ornament?

Hopkins is cleaning up Minnehaha Creek. Stribber John Reinan says, “Officials gathered Thursday to celebrate the beginning of work on an expanded city park and a new effort to reclaim the most heavily polluted stretch along Minnehaha Creek’s 22-mile length. The area along North Blake Road also has a history as the highest-crime neighborhood in Hopkins.”

Good luck with this. The Forum News Service tells us, “A Cass Lake teenager who started one of two northern Minnesota forest fires last May because ‘mosquitoes were bothering him’ has been sentenced to a treatment program and ordered to pay $161,000 in restitution for the costs involved with the fire. … Wittner, 17 at the time, initially denied any involvement with lighting the fire and implicated another person.” Classy kid.

The latest attack on our precious Second Amendment freedoms! Patrick Coolican of the Strib says, “Gov. Mark Dayton today threatened to veto any bill that legalizes firearm suppression devices, commonly known as silencers.  The Republican-controlled House overwhelmingly passed a bill last week that would legalize the devices … . In a statement released by his office, Dayton said: ‘Nowhere in the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution does it refer to a right to bear a silencer. To allow gunshots to be silenced increases the danger to law enforcement officers, and to innocent bystanders.’” While we’re at it … does anyone want to get into that “well regulated militia” business again?