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Franken urges Legislature not to jeopardize $900 million in funding for Southwest LRT

Plus: state Sen. Terri Bonoff to challenge Rep. Erik Paulsen in Minnesota’s 3rd Congressional District; Baxter postal worker arrested for having hand grenade; the decline of dairy farms in northern Minnesota; and more.

Sen. Al Franken
REUTERS/Richard Clement

Always avoid doing anything until the 11th hour. Karen Zamora of the Strib reports, “U.S. Sen. Al Franken visited the proposed future light rail stop in Hopkins Sunday morning to warn that nearly $900 million in federal funding for the Southwest Corridor light-rail line will be lost if state legislators don’t fund the state’s smaller share this year. Standing in front of a green Metro Transit bus that says ‘get on board’ with the Southwest line, Franken advocated for the project, saying it would propel economic development and job creation in communities along the line.” Did Al door-knock in the Kennilworth corridor with that message?

For WCCO-TV, Esme Murphy says, “[Terri] Bonoff  is entering the race at a time when Democrats across the country believe that Republicans may be vulnerable if Donald Trump is the party’s nominee. Some call it the Trump effect – it’s a theory that if Donald Trump is the party’s nominee, it could hurt moderate Republicans in local races. Congressman Erik Paulsen’s district includes the western suburbs of Brooklyn Park, Minnetonka, Eden Prairie and Bloomington. First elected in 2008, Paulsen has easily won his previous re-election bids. But the district has also voted for Barack Obama twice, as well as Senator Amy Klobuchar. And that is why Democrats believe they can win the seat especially if Trump or even Senator Ted Cruz is the nominee.”

This is sporting. Brad Dokken of the Grand Forks Herald says, “Minnesota’s state-record fish program now will include catch-and-release length records, but for only three species — lake sturgeon, flathead catfish and muskellunge, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced this week. Traditional catch-and-keep records will remain an option for all species, said Mike Kurre, mentoring program coordinator with the DNR.”

In the Pioneer Press, Kristi Belcamino writes: “Multiple people were shot — and one person was killed — Sunday night at Indian Mounds Regional Park in St. Paul, according to police. About 300 people were at the park near Earl Street and Mounds Boulevard when gunfire erupted about 7:30, St. Paul police said, adding that it was not yet clear what sparked the violence. According to St. Paul police spokesman Steve Linders, police responded to reports of shots fired and a group of people fighting. When officers arrived at the scene, they encountered a large group of people. ‘It was a chaotic scene, and they found a male victim lying on the ground, suffering from gunshot wounds,’ he said.”

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And I suppose he bought it online? Jennifer Stockinger of the Herald reports, “The Baxter Police Department Thursday identified the postal worker who was arrested for having a hand grenade in his possession as 56-year-old Robert John Menth of Brainerd. Menth is in custody at the Crow Wing County Jail in Brainerd and is awaiting formal charges of felony terroristic threats and misdemeanor disorderly conduct. Menth was arrested Wednesday afternoon after allegedly making terroristic threats at the Post Office Annex on College Road in Baxter and for having a hand grenade with him while he was on his mail route.” 

Well, it didn’t help the Angels. In the PiPress, Mike Berardino writes, “Mike Scioscia, veteran manager of the Los Angeles Angels, visited the press conference room at Target Field on Sunday morning, but it wasn’t to announce a trade. Instead, Scioscia was among perhaps 30 worshipers attending a Roman Catholic Mass the Twins will be offering for all Sunday home games this season. Catholic Athletes for Christ, an organization based in Alexandria, Va., approached the Twins about the idea this offseason.”

An “informal rodeo” drew about as many cops as spectators. Dave Orrick of the PiPress writes, “Some 400 people had bolted for their vehicles, which were now crammed — some even scraping up against each other — at the only exit to the rural property off Interstate 35W in Lino Lakes Saturday night. Everyone was trying to get out as the cops, responding to reports of a massive brawl, were trying to get in. The 911 caller had spoken of dozens of people fighting, ‘using spurs and whips.’ … At least 35 squad cars representing more than 40 officers from perhaps 10 agencies, including the Minnesota State Patrol, descended on the Anoka County property. Turns out, no more than five people suffered scrapes and bruises, nothing worse than a black eye. None needed hospitalization. No signs of violence by means of rodeo accoutrements.” Spurs and whips. Sounds more like Uptown.

Brady Slater of the Duluth News Tribune says, “A 2012 Minnesota Department of Agriculture survey counted 25 dairy farms in Carlton County, 10 in St. Louis County and zero farms in both Cook and Lake counties. [Carlton County Extension Educator Troy Salzer] said the number in Carlton County is now down to eight farms that are shipping their milk to market. Farm auctions the past four years have become a regular occurrence and Salzer said he’s talked with more current dairy farmers who are entertaining the thought of discontinuing milking.” Apparently everyone’s switching to beer.

Why do I think there’s a catch? The Worthington Daily Globe says, “AT&T has launched High Definition (HD) Voice calling in southwest Minnesota. HD Voice lets users have crystal clear conversations while surfing the Web at 4G LTE speeds. AT&T initially launched HD Voice about two years ago between Chicago and Minneapolis. Now it’s available in Appleton, Benson, Canby, Clinton, Cottonwood, Graceville, Granite Falls, Hector, Hutchinson, Ivanhoe, Litchfield, Luverne, Madison, Marshall, Olivia, Pipestone, Redwood Falls, Slayton, Sleepy Eye, St. James, Tracy, Willmar, Windom and Worthington. ‘HD Voice new technology lets customers experience crystal clear conversations, while still being able to surf the web at 4G LTE speeds. It’s the best of both worlds,’ said Paul Weirtz, president of AT&T Minnesota.”

Someone’s a little touchy. James Eli Shiffer of the Strib says, “Mary Valentine’s life revolves around youth sports. These days, though, she doesn’t dare go to a game or a practice. If she does, the Chanhassen Athletic Association has threatened to throw her entire family out of the program. … Did she head-butt a ref? Show up drunk at a game? Scream at a coach? No, it was Valentine’s repeated use of the phrase ‘Who is playing in left field?’ and a decision to attend a meeting where a coach was present, according to disciplinary letters sent to Valentine by the association in December and February. … The current trouble began with her question to a scorekeeper about ‘Who’s in left field?’ at a June 2015 softball game. A coach said it insulted the player and complained. In subsequent e-mails and a Facebook post, Valentine used the phrase ‘Who is playing left field?’ under her signature. ‘It was never to belittle any 13-year-old girl,’ she said. She thought it was funny.”