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Macalester’s Marlon James wins Man Booker Prize for Fiction

Plus: more on Nolan v. Mills; DFL and GOP still can’t agree on transportation funding; fish parasite spreads to 26 Minnesota lakes; and more.

Marlon James
Jeffrey Skemp/Courtesy of Riverhead Books

F. Scott Fitzgerald never got one those. The Star Tribune’s Rohan Preston has the story of Macalester prof Marlon James’ big book world win: “Like one of his own novels, Marlon James’ life has traced an improbable trajectory — from Jamaica to Minnesota to a glittering London hall where on Tuesday he received one of the literary world’s most prestigious awards. ‘This is so sort of ridiculous,’ James said in accepting the Man Booker prize for fiction at a ceremony carried live by the BBC. ‘I think I’m going to wake up tomorrow morning and it didn’t happen.’ James, 44, lives in Minneapolis and teaches literature at Macalester College in St. Paul. He won for his epic 2014 novel, ‘A Brief History of Seven Killings,’ which revolves around the attempted assassination of reggae icon Bob Marley.”

Re-rumble on the Range. Zach Kayser’s Grand Forks Herald story says, “Stewart Mills III on Monday formally announced he is running for Congress in a rematch bid against U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan. Mills lost to Nolan in the 2014 race for Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District by a margin of 1.4 percent, but announced in September he was considering another run. … the campaign will make ad buys in the Twin Cities broadcast TV market despite the added expense, he said. However, ‘enthusiastic donors’ and his personal sacrifices will result in a victory, Mills said.”

In the PiPress, Rachel Stassen-Berger says, “Next year is a presidential year. In most presidential years, Minnesota Democratic candidates pick up a few percentage points. But Mills, who has replaced his first-time-candidate naivete with the analysis of a seasoned veteran, said that does not concern him. The scion to the Mills Fleet Farm family said that he has already done polling that shows him doing well no matter who is running for president. ‘We’ve done polling. We’ve done voter turnout projections. We know what we need to do,’ he said.”

From Michael Brodkorb in the Strib, “‘Rick Nolan is a far-left liberal,’ said Mills in an interview, adding, ‘he’s out of step with our part of Minnesota — our ideals and our priorities. … Mills keeps his narrow loss in 2014 in perspective, noting that Nolan was unsuccessful in his first run for Congress and adding that both Congressman John Kline and Congressman Collin Peterson ran multiple times before eventually winning.”

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Related, this from Roll Call’s Nathan Gonzalez, “Nolan starts the race with the advantage, but calling the race Safe would be misleading. We’re changing the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rating from Safe Democrat to Democrat Favored. … The GOP lean of the [Seventh] district should make Peterson vulnerable, but he has proven to be a formidable incumbent and Republicans have yet to unearth a top-tier challenger, or any challenger at all. The seat will be a top takeover opportunity once Peterson retires, but for now, we’re changing the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rating from Democrat Favored to Safe for Democrats.

Speaking of Rick Nolan, MPR’s Tom Scheck reports, “U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Minn., said he’s waiting to back a candidate for president in 2016. Nolan, who signed on to a super PAC backing Hillary Clinton last year, was noticeably absent when Clinton’s campaign released a list of Minnesota supporters earlier this month. One reason is that Nolan is waiting to see whether Vice President Joe Biden gets into the race.”

Effective lawyering, it would seem. Jim Spencer of the Strib says, “The Minnesota Court of Appeals has struck down a state rule that required builders to install firefighting sprinkler systems in new townhouses and single family homes unless those homes were one story and less than 4,500 square feet in size. The Builders Association of the Twin Cities challenged the rule, calling it arbitrary, costly and beyond the authority of the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry. In a decision announced Tuesday, the appeals court said there was no evidence that justified exempting one-story houses under 4,500 square feet, so the rule was invalid.”

Also from the court, Elizabeth Mohr of the PiPress tells us, “If police want to test the blood of a suspected drunken driver, that’s fine, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday, but they’ll need to get a search warrant instead of falling back on DWI test-refusal charges. Because drawing and testing the blood of a suspected drunken driver qualifies as a search, the driver is thus protected from unreasonable search by the Fourth Amendment, the court said. … In a 2-to-1 ruling issued Tuesday, the appeals court reversed the conviction of Todd Trahan, who was arrested by a Ramsey County sheriff’s deputy for suspected drunken driving in October 2012. It remanded the case to District Court.”

No. 3! No. 5! and No. 7! Michael Rietmulder of City Pages says, “Small town livin’ isn’t for everyone. But for those into the lifestyle, several Minnesota cities are primo locations to plant roots. The National Association of Realtors recently compiled a list of the country’s ‘top 10 affordable small towns where you’d actually want to live’ and three Minnesota cities made the cut.”

The conservative’s Tom Steward writes, “Opponents of a 62 megawatt solar generating facility proposed for 515 acres of cropland in rural southwestern Minnesota insist they still have a chance to stop the project. But their case hinges on an obscure state regulation put on the books to protect farmland from being plowed under for conventional power plants. The power struggle pits a handful of farm families and rural residents against Nextera Energy Resources, a Florida-based renewable energy developer vying to build the second biggest solar installation in the state.”

News flash, no partisan changes on transportation funding. Tim Pugmire at MPR says, “DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and several Republican legislators were in Rogers, Minn., Tuesday for an event celebrating the recent expansion of a segment of Interstate 94. … But [House Majority Leader Joyce Peppin, R-Rogers] and Dayton still don’t agree on how to fund future transportation projects. House Republicans oppose the gas tax increases that Dayton and Senate Democrats insist are needed for a long-term funding solution. Lawmakers failed to reach agreement last session on a transportation bill and said it would be a priority for the 2016 session. Peppin said after the event that her caucus will continue to push for using of existing revenues generated from auto parts sales and car rentals.”

Ohhhhh, this one sounds fun. Daniel Hu at says, “A terrifying fish parasite in Minnesota has now spread to 26 lakes in the state and 15 different species, according to researchers from the University of Minnesota. The parasite is called heterosporis, and the effects it can have on fish are rather grisly. … Heterosporis is a microscopic parasite that can infect the muscle tissue of freshwater fish, such as yellow perch. Once there, the parasite begins to produce millions of spores that break down and liquefy muscle matter, replacing entire sections of the fish with white, opaque spores.” This reminds me, “The X-Files” is coming back.