Legislators question State Auditor Otto over using state funds to sue counties

MinnPost photo by Briana Bierschbach
State Auditor Rebecca Otto

The Star Tribune’s J. Patrick Coolican has the story on the showdown between State Auditor Rebecca Otto and Republican lawmakers at the Captiol: “While the hearing stayed civil on the surface, it bubbled with the simmering animus of an ugly divorce mediation. The laughs were few and mirthless, the smiles chilly as DFLer Otto defended a lawsuit she has filed against three Minnesota counties that stems from a 2015 measure to strip some of her authority. ‘It’s never been personal,’ said Rep. Jim Nash, R-Waconia, who has been one of Otto’s chief critics in the House GOP.”

Apparently not everyone can get away with anti-Muslim rhetoric. Jace Frederick and John Shipley of the PiPress report, “The chairman and owner of the Minnesota Mr. Basketball Award, which has traditionally been awarded to the state’s top high school senior, has resigned in the wake of anti-Muslim tweets that set off a firestorm of criticism over the weekend. Ken Lien made the announcement in an open letter he sent to the Pioneer Press on Wednesday afternoon. ‘I humbly and sincerely apologize for my insensitivity and to those I have offended’, Lien said in his letter. In a tweet sent by the Mr. Basketball account, @MrBasketballMN, Lien quoted a tweet regarding Muslim high school students in New Jersey with the comment ‘Run their asses outta there’!”

Steve Cannon would be a little unnerved by this. Says David Montgomery in the PiPress, “Fans of the Minnesota-based retailer Target have long affectionately pronounced its name with a French accent, ‘Tar-zhay.’ Apparently the president of the United States is one of those fans. President Donald Trump broke out the Tar-zhay Wednesday morning on live TV — to Target’s CEO Brian Cornell. … During the public portion of the meeting, Trump provided no insight as to whether he still intends to levy a border tax on imports.” He may be waiting for a map on that.

I don’t see The Brotherhood liking this much. Don Davis for the Forum News Service says, “Minnesota law enforcement officers, who have received minority community criticism after high-profile shootings and other incidents, likely soon will be required to take diversity training, partially at state expense. Police groups not only welcome the concept, but presented it to state legislators. ‘This will be a game changer for law enforcement,’ said Dennis Flaherty, who represents a coalition of law enforcement organizations.” Oh, OK, if he says so.

Back in business, bigly. Brooks Johnson of the Forum service says, “Enbridge has closed on its $1.5 billion purchase of a stake in the contentious Dakota Access pipeline. Enbridge Energy Partners said in a news release Wednesday it acquired the 27.6 percent interest in the project ‘as final conditions have now been met.’”

One of those classic clarifying statements that clarifies pretty much nothing. Says John Ewoldt for the Strib, “Gander Mountain responded Wednesday to bankruptcy rumors, saying the company had ‘undertaken a best practices approach to review our strategic options specific to positioning the company for long-term success.’ ‘As a privately held company, it is our long-standing policy not to comment on our business affairs,’ executives at the St. Paul-based outdoors retailer said in a statement. … Reuters reported over the weekend that the company was nearing bankruptcy. The company’s statement does not specifically address the report or mention bankruptcy.” Get me the Department of Officialish Gibberish, pronto!

Thanks, I’ll drive. Tim Harlow of the Strib alerts readers, “Travelers flying out of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Thursday and Friday can expect to spend more time than normal in line at security checkpoints. Why? High passenger volume. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is expecting 35,000 travelers to pass through the body scanners and magnetometers on Thursday and 40,000 on Friday as folks make a President’s Day weekend getaway. Normally about 31,000 passengers are screened on a daily average at MSP, the TSA said.”

Hmm, here’s a legal nuance. At MPR Bob Collins says, “The Minnesota Supreme Court Wednesday ruled that police do not need a search warrant to enter a home a suspect is visiting. It’s a case I first wrote about a year ago when the Minnesota Court of Appeals reinstated charges against a Meeker County resident after a district court threw out the case against Leona Rose deLottinville because sheriff’s deputies captured her while she was visiting a boyfriend. The lower court had also ruled that evidence seized in the arrest could not be used against her because the warrant for her arrest did not authorize police to search her boyfriend’s apartment. In upholding that decision Wednesday, the Minnesota Supreme Court said the woman, who was suspected of possessing meth, had no expectation of privacy when visiting another home.”

Speaking of nuances, here’s another one from MPR, via Brian Bakst. “Some neighborhood-based car-sharing services are asking the Legislature for an exemption from Minnesota’s car rental taxes. But the idea has run into resistance — from other rental companies. Minnesota’s taxes and fees on car rentals can exceed 20 percent, even more on cars picked up at the airport. Car-sharing services pay the same taxes, although they argue that they serve a different market. HourCar, Car2go and ZipCar cater to people who need temporary transportation to run errands, commute to work or go places not easily served by other transit options. Car2go recently pulled out of the Twin Cities market, citing high rental taxes.” Hey! How is the NFL supposed to get decent stadiums if we don’t tax the bejeezus out of rental cars?  


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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 02/16/2017 - 07:08 am.

    No search warrant?…

    This sounds like one sloppy piece of legislation judging by some mad, ‘careless’ moves by police lately?

    Let’s say they get the address wrong and wrong residence is home to a sweet little old lady, home alone, with her pet cat doing knit one purl two with a sweater for her grandchild…an idyllic scene indeed until wham bang come the cops and lady has a heart attack…cops make mistakes often lately in one overt atttempt to do their duty I suppose…who is responsible?

    Knowing mistakes happen among our finest and best boys in blue and now, “ones home is one’s castle” is suddenly reduced to rubble essentially?

    What about the sanctuary movement…blows that to pieces also I suppose… just curious?…

  2. Submitted by Henk Tobias on 02/16/2017 - 09:33 am.

    Yeah, right….

    ‘It’s never been personal,’ said Rep. Jim Nash
    Actions speak louder that word Jimmy boy. Republicans are very good at destroying their enemies and that’s what this is, an attempt to destroy Otto. They don’t like competent government employees because it goes against everything they stand for. Government in their minds should not work for the people.That’s what Otto represents to them: Government that works for the people and they’ve gone to great lengths to get rid of her. Using the legislative process to define her out of a job when they couldn’t beat her at the polls and now this line of attack.

    If these right wing fanatics would spend as much time working for the people as they do promoting their wingnut ideology we’d all be a lot better off.

  3. Submitted by Elsa Mack on 02/16/2017 - 11:26 am.

    Car sharing

    I hope that car sharing services do get their exemption. I was a frequent user of Car2Go, and it was a really useful service, a nice supplement to my usual bus/train routine for times when I had a lot to carry or transit was not convenient. I miss it often. HourCar and ZipCar are not as convenient, since the cars must be returned to a specific location, but they’re an amenity that we should try to keep.

    Car-sharing definitely serves a very different purpose and audience than rental cars. I would never consider getting a rental car just to pick up groceries, or because I don’t feel like spending an hour on the bus… or basically ever, unless I am visiting another city.

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