Al has a bone to pick. For Talking Points Memo, Esme Cribb writes, “Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), whose questioning of Attorney General Jeff Sessions in his January confirmation hearing kicked off a chain of events that ultimately led to the appointment of a special counsel, on Thursday had some more pointed questions for Sessions. Franken included his questions in a scathing letter to Sessions after court documents unsealed Monday revealed that President Donald Trump’s former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos in March 2016 floated the idea of setting up a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. … ‘Once again, developments in the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election have brought to light evidence that you failed to tell the truth about your interactions with Russian operatives during the campaign …,’ Franken wrote.”
Looking at Vin. In a development MinnPost essentially previewed here, the AP reports: “Special counsel Robert Mueller’s grand jury is investigating a prominent Democratic lobbyist and a former GOP congressman for their involvement in an influence campaign on behalf of Ukrainian interests tied to Paul Manafort, according to a person with direct knowledge of the investigation. At the center of the widening probe are Tony Podesta, a longtime Democratic operative, and Vin Weber, a former GOP congressman and leader of his own high-powered lobbying firm, Mercury LLC.”
Lots of seats up for election in the east metro. The PiPress’ Christopher Magan reports, “In Ramsey, Dakota and Washington counties more than 41 seats are up for election in municipal government and school districts. St. Paul voters will pick the city’s next mayor and fill three seats on the school board. Six other districts also have school board seats to fill, including South Washington County, where 15 candidates are vying for five seats. Five suburban communities, from Falcon Heights to St. Paul Park, will pick new council members and mayors. Interest in these contests has been strong. Just nine, or 22 percent, of the seats up for election in the three counties are uncontested.”
That’s a lot of khat. Says Tad Vezner in the PiPress, “Federal customs officials intercepted four packages bound for Minnesota from Germany consisting of 69 pounds of khat. The plant, which is classified as a Schedule 1 narcotic — the most serious type — is chewed as a stimulant and is typically grown in the Arabian Peninsula. The packages, sent through international express mail, were intercepted by customs in Philadelphia on Oct. 25. Federal officials estimate the street value of the seized khat at $18,000.”
Big surprise: They like their plan. Says Maya Rao for the Strib, “Minnesota Republicans in Congress enthusiastically pitched their tax proposal to voters back home Thursday, vowing it would jump-start the economy while reducing the cost of living. ‘It’s going to help small business, it’s going to increase paychecks, and it’s going to make sure we have a growing competitive economy so our American headquarters can also stay in Minnesota and hire more people,’ Rep. Erik Paulsen said in an interview. A member of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, Paulsen went all in on what his office touted as a ‘once-in-a-generation tax reform bill.’” To paraphrase: There’ll be so much growth you’ll be tired of the growth.
And this is before the ice. A Duluth News Tribune story says, “The state’s roadway fatalities eclipsed 300 in late October and now include 306 deaths through Wednesday, said the Minnesota Department of Public Safety in a news release — putting the state on a path to match its recent average. … The six-year average through 2016 for roadway deaths in Minnesota was 386, meaning the state is tracking to be around that number again with two months left in the year.”
This is something, I guess. John Lundy in the News Tribune says, “Health insurance plans offered in Minnesota and Wisconsin are among the best in the country, according to ratings released on Thursday. Overall, Wisconsin ranks third in terms of the plans offered to its residents and Minnesota sixth, concluded the National Committee for Quality Assurance, which rated more than 1,000 plans nationally, including commercial, Medicare and Medicaid plans.”
Nearing completion in downtown St. Paul. Says Jon Collins of MPR, “Construction workers poured more than a half million pounds of concrete on the Minnesota Wild’s new practice rink Thursday, as construction on the old Macy’s building in downtown St. Paul draws to a close. Called the Treasure Island Center, the building will house the Minnesota Wild’s new practice rink, restaurants, a brewery and shops. … Offices for the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency have already opened in the building. The rink on the building’s 5th floor, which previously was an open-air parking ramp, is expected to open in mid-December with seating for 1,200 and six public locker rooms. The Minnesota Wild could start using it as soon as January.”