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Trump considering Minnesota-native Hegseth to head VA

Plus: Did Rep. Mary Franson compare ‘March for Our Lives’ kids to Hitler Youth?; Pence stops in Minnesota; another year of small profits for state’s farmers; ‘Circle me Bert’ is no more; and more.

Pete Hegseth
MinnPost file photo by James Nord

A Minnesotan Trump can love. At MPR, Tom Scheck reports: “The lure of another television personality has President Trump reportedly considering Fox News’ Pete Hegseth to run the Department of Veterans Affairs. But while Hegseth’s experience as a combat veteran and commentator on Fox would seem to appeal politically to the president, his appointment could extend two disruptive narratives playing out in the White House: marital infidelity and nepotism. An APM Reports investigation has found Hegseth engaged in two extramarital affairs with co-workers during two marriages and paid his brother — who had no professional experience — $108,000 to work for him while chief executive of a non-profit. And while running a political action committee in his native Minnesota, Hegseth spent a third of the PAC’s money on Christmas parties for families and friends.”

Can’t make it up. For City Pages, Mike Mullen reports, “As a couple million Americans took part in March for Our Lives rallies across the country, [GOP Rep. Mary] Franson observed these frightening gatherings from the safety of her keyboard. Around 9 p.m. that night, something moved Franson to speak out. Finding her voice in a moment of political courage, Franson wrote angrily on Facebook about teens. … Having laid this sturdy foundation for her beliefs — namely: Man your battle stations! The teens are coming! — Franson rounded out her Saturday evening with one more post. The frosting on her little conspiracy cupcake arrived via a quote about ‘indoctrinating youth.’ It’s from Adolf Hitler.”

Not the best of times for farmers. Says the AP’s Steve Karnowski: “Bumper crops and slightly better prices for some commodities weren’t enough to save most Minnesota farmers from a fifth straight year of thin profits in 2017, according to a report released Tuesday. The annual analysis from University of Minnesota Extension and the Minnesota State colleges and universities system found that nearly one-third of Minnesota farmers saw their net worth decrease in 2017. The state’s median farm income was about $28,500, down from about $36,000 in 2016.” That’s a lot of work for $28K.

Did he bring Marlon Bundo? In the Star Tribune, J. Patrick Coolican reports, “Vice President Mike Pence is spending a night in Minnesota where he will raise money for Republicans ahead of a Wednesday morning rally in Minneapolis aimed at spreading the GOP’s campaign message. … Pence was scheduled to arrive around 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday and travel to a fundraiser in Golden Valley, which was not open to the press. Pence will deliver remarks Wednesday morning at an event called ‘Tax Cuts to Put America First,’ at the Minneapolis Convention Center at 9:30. Republican U.S. Reps. Erik Paulsen, Tom Emmer and Jason Lewis were scheduled to participate.” Followed by town halls?

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Seems so out of character… Also in the Strib, this from Eric Roper, “Minnesota groups preparing for the 2020 census expressed alarm Tuesday over the Trump administration’s decision to include a question about citizenship, fearing fewer immigrants will participate in the crucial survey. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced the change on Monday night, after the Department of Justice requested a citizenship question to aid with enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. Within hours, the state of California’s attorney general filed suit claiming the change is unconstitutional, and local groups were warning about a flawed count.”

Read your bill carefully. For MPR, Elizabeth Dunbar says, “Xcel Energy is asking lawmakers for help anticipating how it will pay for the high costs of maintaining nuclear power plants that date back to the early 1970s, and on Tuesday the utility’s plea got a positive reception from a state Senate committee. But the plan that’s now heading to the Senate floor faces stiff opposition, including from Gov. Mark Dayton. Xcel Energy wants to keep running its Monticello and Prairie Island nuclear plants for another 12 to 15 years, which utility officials say is critical to its goal to generate 85 percent of its electricity from carbon-free sources by 2030.”

And on other accounting issues, Dan Kraker of MPR writes, “It’s going to cost hundreds of million dollars more than originally planned to build the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine and processing plant in northeast Minnesota — but the eventual payout could exceed $2 billion, according to a new economic and technical report PolyMet Mining released Tuesday. … PolyMet’s current plans call for mining about one-third of the mineral resources the company controls. The company predicts earning between about $170 million and $270 million in profits over the 20-year life span of the mine as currently proposed. That’s actually significantly less than the roughly $650 million PolyMet predicted in an updated technical report released in 2012.”

The end of an era (of fans misspelling ‘Bert’ on their signs): The Strib’s Mike Nelson reports: “On Tuesday Twins color commentator Bert Blyleven announced on Twitter that he was informed by Fox Sports North that the ‘Circle Me Bert’ tradition would be no more. In its place, Fox Sports North is introducing a new concept it says will get ‘fans at the ballpark and watching at home’ involved. Called the ‘Winners Circle,’ it will highlight milestones for fans (like birthday and anniversaries), and fan submissions will be collected on Fox Sports North’s website, the company said.”