Nonprofit, independent journalism. Supported by readers.


Minnesotans give big to Hillary Clinton

Plus: Minnesota cities and counties jockeying for 2016 bonding bill projects; traffic fatalities up this year; avian flu has cost the state $650 million so far; and more.

Hillary Clinton
REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Backing up the trucks. Allison Sherry and Mary Jo Webster of the Strib say, “So much for the notion that Hillary Clinton is not generating enthusiasm in Minnesota. The state’s residents donated more than twice the cash to her as to all the other presidential hopefuls combined — including other Democrats, from April through June. All told, Minnesotans gave more than $780,000 to all presidential candidates in the second quarter, according to a Star Tribune analysis of data provided by the Sunlight Foundation, a nonpartisan advocate for open government. Of that amount, the Democratic former secretary of state and first lady scooped up 71 percent, or a whopping $559,700.”

At MPR, Catharine Richert adds, “So far, [Bernie] Sanders has raised $15 million, and more than $12,000 has come from people living in Minnesota. Again, that’s a sliver of Sanders’ overall fundraising for the quarter, but Minnesota was more generous to Sanders compared to most other states.”

Oil up the bike. On gridlock-by-construction, Peter Cox of MPR says, “Contractors are hard at work removing asphalt, grinding concrete pavement and reconstructing the Lyndale Avenue Bridge along I-394, the busy commuter artery out of downtown Minneapolis. The project pushes westbound commuters into the high-occupancy toll lanes, causing major traffic jams during rush hour. At the end of the month, motorists heading into downtown from the west will shift into the toll lanes. The Minnesota Department of Transportation says the impact on traffic should lessen by mid-August. MnDOT also is in the middle of two three-year projects on Highway 100 and sections of I-494 near Plymouth.”

Speaking of construction, Brian Bakst for the AP says, “Jostling has begun among Minnesota cities, counties and state government agencies to get road projects, nature trails, amphitheaters, prison repairs and much more into a public-works borrowing plan that Gov. Mark Dayton and the Legislature will assemble next year. The Department of Minnesota Management and Budget informed lawmakers Wednesday that $3.2 billion in preliminary construction requests had poured in — from $500,000 for a community center in Victoria to $151 million toward the construction of a light-rail line from Minneapolis to the southwestern suburbs.”

Article continues after advertisement

Also in vehicular mayhem, WCCO-TV has a story saying, “Authorities say 361 people died in crashes on Minnesota roads last year. That’s the lowest amount since 1944. The state credits increased enforcement and road engineering enhancements with the lower numbers. Unfortunately, the trend has not continued over the last six months. The Minnesota Department of Public safety says 198 people have died in crashes so far this year. That’s a 21 percent increase from this time last summer.”

Then there’s this, from Laura Yuen at MPR. “Motorcycle deaths are driving a dramatic increase this year in the number of overall traffic fatalities in Minnesota. So far this year, 37 people have been killed while riding their motorcycles, more than double the number by this time last year. … In many of the motorcycle crashes, no other vehicle was present and the riders were having trouble handling curves … .”

Sort of a Walker Watch. The Tea Party’s Favorite Governor was heavily supported by M&I Bank, which morphed into BMO Harris, which has finally kicked back money in the Tom Petters fraud. Jacqueline Palank of the Dow Jones Services reports, “BMO Harris Bank agreed to pay $16 million to settle litigation tied to the Tom Petters Ponzi scheme that cheated investors out of $3.5 billion. The settlement, filed Thursday in a Florida bankruptcy court, would free Chicago-based BMO Harris from a lawsuit seeking nearly $24 billion in connection with accusations that M&I Bank, which BMO acquired in 2011, was complicit in a massive fraud orchestrated by Petters, once a prominent Minnetonka-based businessman now serving a 50-year prison sentence. ‘M&I was complicit in the scheme, serving as a critical lynchpin “legitimizing” Petters’ plot and facilitating it,’ the lawsuit, filed in September 2014, claimed. ‘M&I had actual knowledge of Petters’ fraud and provided substantial assistance, helping it flourish.’” Presumably the investment in Walker will pay off better.

While we’re trash-talking the neighbors, here’s the latest from the crime blotter. Mike Longaecker of the Forum News Service says, “A 66-year-old Ellsworth woman accused of shooting her husband to death and hauling him to the woods was ordered Tuesday to undergo a competency evaluation at a secure state mental facility. Patricia A. Kees was charged Tuesday with one count of first-degree intentional homicide and one count of hiding a corpse. After dragging the body to the woods, the woman — with blood on her face and clothes — allegedly told people in a bar just down the road she had shot her husband.” 

Deadspin, the snarky sports site, picks up on Pat Kessler’s comparison of the cost of the 3.5 billion mile flight to Pluto and our major league football palace. Says Samer Kalaf, “I want to take this opportunity to propose that the Vikings be sent to Pluto. The Minnesota Vikings are a middling NFL team, with promise at quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater, but there’s nothing really special about them to justify leaving them on Earth. Football Outsiders calculated the snap-weighted age of each team in April, and the Vikings averaged at 26.2 years old, the 27th-youngest team in the league. They’ll be fine with a 10-year trip. The players could all absorb some great experience for road games. It’ll keep them disciplined, and no one on Pluto could get them into trouble. Roger Goodell should be all for this idea. The move will expand the league’s fanbase, and get those highly coveted Pluto dollars, or whatever currency they have there.”

Speaking of Kessler, he reports at WCCO-TV on … yet another legislative operative heading over to work for our very elaborate medicinal pot bureaucracy. “A third state official who helped write Minnesota’s medical cannabis law has gone to work for the company licensed to sell it. That news comes one day after DFL State Representative Dan Schoen announced he’ll become LeafLine Labs’s top security officer. … WCCO found out on Thursday that LeafLine hired Jamie Olson as its chief counsel last month. She was a top lawyer for the Minnesota House who helped write the cannabis law in 2014.” Always remember, though, that it’s about three an hour in D.C. leaving “public service” for a directly-connected private paycheck.

Also in the realm of flight-to-Pluto type money, Mark Steil’s MPR says, “The economic toll of avian flu on Minnesota’s poultry industry has climbed to nearly $650 million, according to new data from University of Minnesota Extension. That is nearly double the estimate in May, when the disease was midway through its march through the state.”

USA Today has a story on how closure isn’t always everything it’s talked up to be. “Michelle Yvette Busha was Don Busha’s first child and he said she was the rebellious type. In 1978, at age 18, Michelle Busha ran away from home. ‘She wanted her freedom,’ Don Busha said. ‘She left. That’s the last time I saw her.’ Despite the passing of time, her dad still kept the same home phone number and address. He also kept the family name visible on the Busha Boat Shop to make sure his daughter could find her way home. ‘I think closure’s overrated,’ he said. ‘I always lived with the hope that someday she would show up.’ In March, she did. Detectives exhumed a ‘Jane Doe’ in southern Minnesota and, based on DNA taken from Don and one of his other daughters, detectives identified Michelle.”