City Pages reports on ‘Big Ag’ and the destruction of Minnesota’s water quality


Included in Hannah Sayle’s long City Pages exposé on the efforts of agricultural interests to dismantle much of Minnesota’s environmental regulatory structure is a helpful suggestion for a new state slogan: “the Land of 9,000 Lakes and 1,000 Cesspools.” The situation does indeed seem dire: “There are no more swimmable lakes in southwestern Minnesota, a 1,783-square-mile stretch that spans six counties. Dangerous levels of phosphorous, nitrogen, and bacteria like E. Coli will take decades to clean up, says the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The problem extends along our southern border, where rampant pollution threatens the safety of drinking water.” Who to blame for this development? Sayle is unequivocal: “Minnesota’s water quality — our state’s greatest natural asset — has become a sacrificial lamb to Big Ag.”

If you see a Minnesota Cabinet member today, have them buy you a drink. MPR’s Jon Collins reports: “Earlier this year, [Gov. Mark] Dayton announced salary increases of more than $800,000 for 26 top administrators, although he scaled back the raises after lawmakers criticized the plan. The Legislature instead granted Dayton the authority to grant the raise on July 1. … Dayton said in an interview with MPR News host Cathy Wurzer Wednesday morning that the raises are very similar to the $800,000 in increases he proposed in January. He said the average raise will be about $20,000, and that the top salary in the cabinet will rise to $154,000 a year.

Bemidji takes Paul Bunyan really, really seriously. MPR’s John Enger reports: “Paul Bunyan Park, home to Bemidji’s iconic Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox statues, is under construction this summer, part of a $1.5 million renovation project. But as the new design began to take shape, [Bemidji city manager Nate] Mathews started getting calls. … The callers hated the new plaza design. … Specifically, they hated a small hill, about 2 feet high, raised with boulders in front of the plaid giant. The hill was meant to give tourists a better angle for photos, but locals told Mathews it crowded the statue and prevented large groups from getting good pictures. … A few of the callers were in tears, Mathews said, and a load of wet concrete was on its way to finish off the plaza.”

In The Atlantic, Donald Kettl asks what Scott Walker’s record on workers tells us about how he would govern as president:

So it’s worth looking carefully at Walker’s arguments for why he busted the state’s public-employee unions. To what extent were those unions the obstacle to getting the state’s fiscal house in order—a key argument Walker made during the 2011 standoff? To what degree do state and local government employee unions drive government’s costs up and push its performance down?

Even more important is the question of how Walker’s experiences and management choices at the state level might translate at the federal level. Is a governor whose greatest accomplishment is the crushing of state and local government unions the right person to lead the government in Washington?

In other news…

Let the healing begin. “Minnesota’s medical marijuana law takes effect today” [Duluth News Tribune]

Abortions were up in Minnesota in 2014. [Pioneer Press]

From the gritty streets of Edina: “Seven men have been arrested after stealing from a fashion store and fleeing police Wednesday morning, according to a representative with the city of Edina.” [WCCO]

Get a load of the damage this Delta 747 sustained — in flight (!!) — from hail. “Hail pummels Delta 747 over China; NWA’s ‘Spirit of Beijing’ may face scrapyard ” [Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal]

Successor designated. “Chris Thile to replace Garrison Keillor on a Prairie Home Companion” [Secrets of the City]

Pretty good deal on a Minneapolis “Popcorn and Carmelcorn Stand.” You know the one. [Opportunities in Business]

There’s an album of lullaby versions of Replacements songs available on iTunes.

Save the Blanding’s turtles. [Duluth News Tribune]

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 07/01/2015 - 01:53 pm.

    Walker’s record is not to be admired

    Running a deficit and having the ability to beat people down are not two redeeming qualities to be proud of. Walker will be taking the Bachmann road to obscurity as soon as the debates start. With 14 or more GOP candidates, Walker’s fantasy will be explored by his own party members during the GOP debates because they will be more than eager to show they are better qualified than Walker. All of them will be just blowing a smoke screen. It will be things like Bush made his wealth, Trump has more money than anyone, Fiorina ran a fortune 500 business company (she’ll leave out the part about running it into the ground), Christie has his temper under control, Cruz I have all the answers, Graham will be doing it only his way, Huckabee will run the government like a church, etc, etc. The debates will be interesting to say the least.

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