In The New York Times, Michael Wines reports, “A panel of three federal judges said Monday that the Wisconsin Legislature’s 2011 redrawing of State Assembly districts to favor Republicans was an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander, the first such ruling in three decades of pitched legal battles over the issue. Federal courts have struck down gerrymanders on racial grounds, but not on grounds that they unfairly give advantage to a political party — the more common form of gerrymandering. The case could now go directly to the Supreme Court, where its fate may rest with a single justice, Anthony M. Kennedy, who has expressed a willingness to strike down partisan gerrymanders but has yet to accept a rationale for it.” But if The Donald can substitute Ted Nugent for Merrick Garland, case closed.
For the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Jason Stein and Patrick Marley say, “Depending on the outcome of an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, the case could have national implications because it includes a new method of determining whether legislative maps are drawn in a way that discriminates against voters of a particular party. … The 2012 and 2014 elections showed that the maps for the Wisconsin Assembly are some of the most heavily skewed maps in the country going back more than 40 years.” So this may be what they’ve meant by “rampant voter fraud”?
This could be significant. Says Chris Serres for the Strib, “In a case that could open doors for thousands of Minnesotans with disabilities, a large disability services provider has settled a state human rights charge and agreed to give its workers a shot at regular jobs. Opportunity Partners, a Minnetonka-based nonprofit, has for years classified individuals with disabilities who labor in its facilities as ‘clients’ or ‘persons served,’ even though they perform actual work for pay and may aspire to be considered regular employees. Many of these individuals are paid less than the minimum wage.”
Dan Gunderson of MPR is up at the Dakota Access protest. “A few thousand people populate an encampment about a half mile from the bridge where protesters faced off with police Sunday. Wood smoke hangs thick in the air from campfires people use to stay warm, everything is coated with the dust from ground beaten bare by thousands of feet. Over the weekend, a stiff breeze and temperatures ranging from 10 to 30 degrees brought a strong hint of winter to the camp 40 miles south of Bismarck, N.D. But that doesn’t mean the activists protesting the Dakota Access oil pipeline are going anywhere soon.”
Looking for work? The AP says, “The state is seeking applicants to help set Minnesota lawmakers’ salary. Gov. Mark Dayton sent out the request to fill out half of a new 16-person commission charged with determining legislator pay. That commission was set in motion by a constitutional amendment that overwhelmingly passed on Election Day.” And the usual line about how “they’ll get nothing and like it” probably won’t get you on the board.
Who needs art when we’ll need workers to build that Mexican wall? Solvejg Wastvedt of MPR says, “The board that oversees the Perpich Center for Arts Education is searching for answers to high staff turnover and declining student numbers at its schools. Some current and former employees, however, say the answers, while painful, are not difficult to find. They describe a secretive, fearful atmosphere where colleagues quit or are fired without much explanation. They also say the pressure to maintain the center’s reputation for student achievement is so intense that ethical lines get blurred. Staff and faculty have been especially pressed by the leadership’s desire for a 100 percent graduation rate, said former school counselor Dianne Auger.”
Loaded eagles. Another MPR story says, “Minnesotans know that deer-vehicle crashes peak in the fall. But state conservation officials are also reminding drivers that roadkill draws eagles down to the roads seeking a free meal — and the creatures are not good at flying off when a car approaches. While crows can get up and out quickly, eagles can become too heavy to fly until they digest their meal. They can also suffer from ‘neurological issues if they are exposed to lead in the carcass of the animal they are eating. When this happens, eagles become disoriented and do not know to fly off when a car is approaching.’”
Done in by technology. KSTP-TV’s story says, “A 37-year-old man has pleaded guilty to murder after DNA linked him to a 1998 Minnesota cold case. The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office says Jason Richard Preston pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder this week for the deaths of Dustin Baity and Carrie Richter. … Preston is expected to be sentenced to 48 years in prison on Jan. 6. According to the attorney’s office, Preston admitted he went to the couple’s apartment on the 1000 block of 23rd Avenue Northeast on Dec. 24, 1998, and got into an argument with 20-year-old Baity over a drug debt. He said he strangled Baity with a cord and stabbed 18-year-old Richter to death.”
Bob-o-phile Kurt Chandler of the Chicago Tribune gave himself a tour of Dylan haunts in northern Minnesota. “Today, Hibbing’s celebrity bus tour no longer exists, but the public library has launched a Dylan walking tour. Stopping at 14 points of interest, tourists can reconstruct the essence of his formative days in 20 square blocks. High on the list is Hibbing High School, a grand building, with gleaming hallways and a chandeliered auditorium. Teachers remember Bobby Zimmerman as a quiet ‘B’ student. But he stirred things up at a homecoming show in February 1958 with his band. ‘You had a very small clique that followed him,’ says Leonard Hirsch, a retired mine worker who went to high school with Dylan. ‘The rest of them, they had their own interests … I don’t think he was understood or appreciated.’”
“Sorry” will have to do. The AP reports, “A Minnesota jury has ruled against a man who sued two media organizations over news stories that named him as a suspect in the killing of a police officer. Ryan Larson accused KARE-TV and the St. Cloud Times of defamation. Larson was arrested on suspicion of murder in the 2012 killing of a Cold Spring police officer, but was released without charges. The 38-year-old Larson contended that KARE-TV and the Times went too far in publicizing some statements by authorities. The media outlets argued their reporting was protected because it was based on information provided by law enforcement.”
If only someone would remain vigilant enough to make certain this happens. The Strib editorializes, “Now comes Trump, possibly the wealthiest man ever to occupy the White House, with hundreds of companies and business interests that span the globe, who plans to put his adult children in charge of the Trump Organization — the same children who served on his campaign and are involved in his transition. Trump has called the arrangement a blind trust. Let’s be clear: It is not, and it is arrogant for Trump to think he can hoodwink the public by saying it is.”