Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


Sanders draws big crowds in Duluth and St. Paul

Plus: a new simulator for snowplow drivers; Minnesota Court of Appeals says disrupting a meeting isn’t free speech; 34 domestic violence deaths in 2015; and more.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, center, on stage with his wife, Jane O'Meara Sanders, right, and Rep. Keith Ellison before speaking to supporters during a campaign rally in St. Paul on Tuesday.
REUTERS/Eric Miller

Did you feel the Bern yesterday? For MPR, Dan Kraker reports, “Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders fired up a crowd of about 6,000 people in Duluth Tuesday during a campaign swing through Minnesota. The Vermont senator laid out a populist vision of Medicare-style health care for all, free tuition at public universities and a $15 minimum wage. … ‘I think things like, what he brought up, health care, and student loan debt, is driving people from making major life decisions such as buying homes, cars, and moving along with their family plans,’ [Robin Lings of Superior] said. ‘That creates a problem.’”

A trio of News Tribune reporters covered Sanders at the DECC. “Joe Howard pulled his daughter, Katie, out of third-grade classes at St. John’s Catholic School to experience the rally and better grasp how the nation’s electoral system works. Howard, who works as a nurse at Essentia Health, said he supports Sanders’ proposal to switch Americans to a single-payer, universal medical system. ‘Our health care system is so broken right now,’ Howard said. ‘Obamacare is a good start, but it doesn’t go far enough. We see it all the time.’” 

For Bloomberg Politics, Arit John and Mark Niquette say, “While Sanders has struggled with minority voters, Minnesota is 85 percent white. And its caucus system benefits campaigns that can effectively turn out enthusiastic supporters. So far, Sanders is behind in both the polls and in endorsements. A Star Tribune poll of Minnesota registered Democrats released on January 24 found Clinton leading Sanders 59 percent to 25 percent. And while Sanders has Ellison’s support, Clinton has been endorsed by the state’s governor, lieutenant governor, both of its senators, and Ken Martin, the chairman of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, the state’s Democratic Party affiliate.”

The AP has this story: “Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said Tuesday the prospect of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg mounting an independent presidential campaign ‘speaks volumes about the state of American politics,’ noting with a populist flair it might mean two of the three contenders would be billionaires. … In a wide-ranging interview, Sanders called the notion that he must win Iowa’s caucuses against Hillary Clinton ‘mythology,’ but appeared to lower expectations about his challenge to the Democratic front-runner in next Monday’s lead-off caucuses. ‘If I lose Iowa by two votes and end up with virtually the same number of delegates, is that a must-lose situation? Is that a tragedy? No,’ Sanders said aboard a charter flight en route to a rally in Duluth, Minnesota.”

Article continues after advertisement

Patrick Condon and Maya Rao covered Sanders in St. Paul last night for the Strib. “More than 14,000 people came to St. Paul’s RiverCentre — a third of them in an overflow crowd — for the Vermont senator’s evening speech, and earlier, about 6,000 people packed his afternoon rally at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center. … In St. Paul, he said that no president ‘can effectively address the crisis facing our country unless there is a political revolution.’ The crowd cheered when he attacked the campaign finance system as corrupt and the criminal justice system as broken, and booed when he singled out Wal-Mart for not paying its workers enough and railed against Wall Street, corporate America, the corporate media and the Koch brothers.” I’m sure he said nice things about UnitedHealth.

Stribber Tim Harlow takes a cruise in the metro area’s new plow simulator. “Snowplow drivers take to the roads at unfavorable hours and when conditions are their worst. The Minnesota Department of Transportation is using a new mobile state-of-the-art simulator to make sure they are ready for the job. Looking kind of like a video game on steroids, the simulator replicates conditions plow drivers are likely to encounter while cleaning the streets … . The simulator controlled by five computers and featuring four 55-inch monitors is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation. MnDOT spent $670,000 … .”

What!? By god I know my rights! Amy Forliti of the AP breaks the news to every city’s crank. “Citizens who want to express their views at public meetings don’t have a free speech right to do so if their actions disrupt government business, according to a ruling Monday by the Minnesota Court of Appeals. The ruling comes in the case of Robin Hensel, who was convicted of misdemeanor disorderly conduct for disrupting a Little Falls City Council meeting in 2013 when she refused to move her chair into a public-seating area at the request of authorities, forcing the meeting to start late. Hensel argued that her First Amendment rights were violated.”

Dude. Says Richard Chin in the PiPress, “A Minnesota man fought off a 14-foot tiger shark that attacked him while he was paddleboarding in Maui over the weekend. ‘It was nuts,’ said Matt Mason, 48, who escaped unscathed after he punched the shark. ‘It was something, man.’ … Mason said he was kneeling on his board when he felt a jolt, and the board started speeding forward. Mason said he thought his wife, who was paddling a board behind him, had rammed him as a joke. But then he looked over his shoulder, and ‘there was this head attached to the back of the board.’ ‘I said,  ‘—-, this is a shark,’  Mason said.” 

Oh, and if you’ve clicked on to the PiPress in the past 24 hours you’ll notice some dramatic improvements. Says Jan Westphal for the paper, “Today the Pioneer Press unveils a website that we are as proud of as we are of our commitment to covering the east metro. As loyal and casual readers alike know, our previous website’s clunky design and knack for freezing up computers could make reading news about your communities a frustrating experience. We have aimed to fix that with our new site. It’s not only a new design, but truly a whole new site. It loads faster; it fits any device or screen; it has less intrusive advertising; it’s better organized.” As a, uh, frequent user, let me just say, “Thank god!”

Oh boy. Here’s another “quinteseential Minnesota story” in the Wall Street Journal.  A.J. Baime interviews a classic snowmbobile collector who tells the world, “People from Minnesota love snowmobiles. Two of the biggest manufacturers— Arctic Cat and Polaris—are here in the state, near the Canadian border. You can ride across a stranger’s lawn on a snowmobile in Minnesota, and he probably won’t care. Because that’s just the way it’s always been.” And we do it eating cold lutefisk and grape salads. Every day.

Not reported in the Journal story: Bad news from Polaris. Says Martin Moylan at MPR, “Polaris Industries is laying off about 100 workers, half of them in the Twin Cities. The move came as Polaris reported double-digit drops in sales and earnings in its most recent quarter. The maker of off-road vehicles and motorcycles says it’s been trying to reduce labor costs by 7 percent. In a conference call with stock analysts, CEO Scott Wine said the company has been hurt by the strong U.S. dollar and an unseasonably warm winter that’s cut demand for off-road vehicles and snowmobiles.”

For KARE-TV Dylan Wohlenhaus re34ports, “A new report says 34 people died in Minnesota at hands of domestic violence in 2015. ‘People need to be outraged. Our sisters, our mothers are dying,’ Nicole Matthews says. … Seven of the 22 adult women who were killed were African-American, and 5 of 22 were Native American.”

The moose are not faring well. Sam Cook of the Duluth News Tribune says, “After three years of monitoring live adult moose via satellite, retrieving them as soon after death as possible and carefully examining their remains, wildlife biologists can identify specific causes of death, reported Glenn DelGiudice, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources moose project leader. Preliminary results from 47 of the adult moose captured and collared during the past three years show that two-thirds died from health-related causes including brainworm, winter ticks, bacterial infections, liver flukes and severe undernutrition, DelGiudice reported. Wolves killed one-third of those moose but sickness in 25 percent of those animals made them easy prey, he said.”