Following Sen. Al Franken’s crusade to block the merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable, CBS News reports, “Senator Al Franken, D-Minnesota, has been an outspoken voice against the marriage of the two cable and internet giants. ‘This is a merger which would create a behemoth that would be anti-competitive and [it’s] not in the public interest,’ Franken said Wednesday on ‘CBS This Morning.’ ‘What this would mean to consumers is higher prices, less choice, and — if it’s even possible — worse service.’ Comcast has promoted the deal by touting it as providing more choice for consumers. But the Minnesota senator shot down that argument, saying the merger would instead create a ‘giant company, unprecedented in size.’ ‘This would be less choice, less competition,’ Franken said. ‘What we need is more competition if you want higher speeds.’“
At NPR, Jim Zarroli says, “Franken says opposition to the merger has been steadily building. He says when he first started criticizing the deal his was something of a lone voice in Congress. ‘Most people thought it was a fait accompli, but now I think it’s changed and I believe the Department of Justice and the FCC will reject this,’ Franken says.”
The winnah! For USA Today, Donovan Slack tells the nation, “There were Tater Tots, turkey and a whole lot of trash-talking on Capitol Hill on Wednesday as members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation faced off in Sen. Al Franken’s fifth annual casserole bake-off — or hotdish-off if you’re Minnesotan. Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum pulled out the win this year with a turkey and wild rice dish covered in sweet potato Tater Tots. Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson scored second place with his ‘Suspend the Rules and Pass the Hotdish,’ a hearty ground-beef mixture topped with a cornbread crust. Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar rounded out the top three with a turkey-bacon dish topped with biscuits.” Where’s the bacon?
Always with the Vegas. Stribber Dave Phelps writes, “For federal prosecutors, Sean Meadows is the poster child of investment advisers gone bad and the reason to step up investigations in this area. In the Meadows case, the U.S. attorney’s office is seeking a hefty 30-year prison sentence for his role in a seven-year, $10 million fraud in which he took client funds to support an opulent lifestyle that included gambling junkets to Las Vegas.” You just know there was a ridiculous boat in there, too.
The Film and TV Board is getting a working over. In the Strib, Kristin Tillotson reports, “The Minnesota Film & TV Board is facing questions about its effectiveness, a year after the Legislature granted an unprecedented $10 million for its Snowbate incentives program in 2014-15. The House was moving Wednesday to eliminate funding for the program, which uses tax rebates to draw film productions to Minnesota. Meanwhile, the Senate voted to renew it. … In fiscal 2014, the report says, 30 productions received $1.2 million in incentives, and spent more than $5.5 million in Minnesota, providing work for nearly 500 state residents. In an interview, [Auditor Jim] Nobles said the taxes generated by that spending were not enough to offset the program’s cost.”
What the esteemed member meant to say: Abby Simons of the Strib files a piece on the furious back-peddling of GOP Rep. Jim Newbergher. “A Minnesota state representative apologized Wednesday for remarking on the House floor that a rail line connecting north Minneapolis to a state prison in St. Cloud would be ‘convenient.’ ‘I sincerely apologize,’ Republican Rep. Jim Newberger said in a prepared statement. ‘I recognize my comments last night offended some people. I will work in the future to not repeat this mistake.’”
For MPR, Tom Scheck writes, “State Sen. Bobby Joe Champion, a DFLer who represents north Minneapolis, said he believes Newberger’s comments reflect the overall Republican view of investing in impoverished communities. ‘At a time when we should be encouraging hope and inspiring people, we’ve got to throw in those sort of pot shots at people saying, ‘Your life means nothing. I know where you’re going to end up,’ he said. Champion and [DFL Rep. Rena] Moran said they’ll be watching to see whether Newberger is truly remorseful. House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, said he thinks Newberger should apologize on the House floor.”
So let’s save a lot of time and skip actually playing the games. ESPN’s Ben Goessling works through this year’s Vikings schedule, predicting the outcome of each game. The net effect? A 9-7 season. “Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 6, Seattle, 1 p.m. ET Here’s where things get tough: The two-time defending NFC champions come to town for a game that could have all sorts of subplots (Marshawn Lynch vs. Adrian Peterson, Russell Wilson vs. Bridgewater, the return of former Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, etc.). In the end, Bridgewater will have a tough time in his first matchup with the Legion of Boom if the Vikings can’t protect him. Seahawks 24, Vikings 13. Record: 7-5.” Unless Bevell calls another goal-line pass play.
Here’s a headline every mother can love. “Minn. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Sex Offender.” The WCCO-TV story says, “The Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a convicted St. Paul sex offender who argued that a jury, and not a judge, must decide his risk-level status. The decision could affect the statuses of several Level-III sex offenders in the state. Ge Her, 35, was released from prison in 2003 after serving time in a 1998 conviction for third-degree criminal sexual conduct, conspiracy to commit criminal sexual conduct and committing a crime for the benefit of a gang. Her was adjudicated delinquent in the case, which involved the rape of two girls who were 13 and 14 at the time of the crime.”
Vice Sports tries to explain the soccer situation here to its readers. “In an optimistic light, this is a relatively sweet deal for taxpayers, what with no state money going into the buying of the land or building of the stadium. However, Dr. McGuire’s group glossed over some key details in their proposal: property and sales tax breaks (and caps) that add up to about $50 million dollars. Still, that’s only slightly more than the interest payments for one year on the debt for the Vikings stadium. … On March 24, 2015, Minneapolis City officials emailed tax projections for a new MLS stadium and the City stood to gain around $700,000 per year in sales and entertainment tax receipts from home games alone. Guess what Dr. McGuire’s proposal added a few weeks later? Sales and entertainment tax receipts.”
According to the conventional wisdom on one edge of the spectrum, public employees shouldn’t be earning any more than a Walmart janitor. But Curtis Gilbert at MPR says, “About 120 of the highest-paid employees in Minneapolis city government are in line for a raise. The city’s Executive Committee, which includes Mayor Betsy Hodges and senior members of the City Council, voted Wednesday to increase the employees’ salaries by more than 7 percent over the next year at a total cost of nearly $1 million. Current salaries for the appointed officials range from $80,000 to $165,000 a year. Republicans in the Minnesota House plan to use the move as ammunition in their quest to reduce state aid to Minneapolis, a DFL stronghold.”
If Dickens wrote the crime blotter. Susan Du at City Pages writes, “St. Paul Police’s latest prostitution sting swept up an unlikely suspect. Mark Toogood, a 58-year-old division director for the Minnesota Human Services department, was charged Monday with trying to solicit sex from an undercover officer. In early April, Toogood was surfing Backpage.com’s Erotic Services section when he stumbled upon an undercover lady cop posing as a prostitute, according to the St. Paul city attorney on Monday. After a series of phone calls and texts, Toogood made an appointment to meet the officer at a hotel. According to the criminal complaint, Toogood greeted the cop with a hug and a kiss before getting down to business.”