Nonprofit, independent journalism. Supported by readers.


Flooding along Minnesota-Wisconsin border blamed for two deaths

Plus: SCOTUS punts on Wisconsin’s gerrymandered voting districts; Trump adds roundtable meeting to Duluth visit; intersection of I-94 and 494/694 to get expansion and makeover; and more.

Radigan Flowage Dam

In the Pioneer Press, Maddie Debilzan writes, “Widespread flash flooding in northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin last weekend has been blamed for at least two deaths, both in Wisconsin. A man was found dead near his submerged pickup truck south of Ashland on Monday and a man from Minnesota died when a tree fell on his camper in Sawyer County on Sunday as weekend storms caused extensive flooding and washed-out roads.  … The rains caused an earthen dam to fail Monday in a rural area of northwestern Wisconsin. Water was overtopping the Radigan Flowage Dam west of Dairyland in an area where few people live, said Douglas County Emergency Management Director Keith Kesler. The Radigan Flowage is a 150-acre lake located in Douglas County.”

Making promises. Elizabeth Dunbar’s story for MPR on the Enbridge pipeline hearing at the Public Utilities Commission says, “Enbridge said it would buy renewable energy credits to offset energy use after a new Line 3 is in service. In addition, Enbridge offered to work with those concerned about the old Line 3 to set up a trust fund to decommission all old pipelines in Minnesota. Finally, Enbridge would put a guarantee in place by its parent company, Enbridge Inc., to ensure there would be cleanup money available in the event of a spill.” 

For a while, at least, Wisconsin gets to keep it’s gerrymandered voter districts. The New York Times’ Adam Liptak reports: “The Supreme Court declined on Monday to address the central questions in two closely watched challenges to partisan gerrymandering, putting off for another time a ruling on the constitutionality of voting districts designed by legislatures to amplify one party’s political power. In a challenge to a redistricting plan devised by the Republican Legislature in Wisconsin, the court unanimously said that the plaintiffs had not proved that they had suffered the sort of direct injury that would give them standing to sue. The justices sent the case back to a trial court to allow the plaintiffs to try again to prove that their voting power had been directly affected by the way state lawmakers drew voting districts for the State Assembly.”

In The New Yorker, Jeffrey Toobin writes, “It will probably take another year or so for the reworked case to make its way back to the Supreme Court. There the issue will wind up more or less where it’s been for years — in the hands of [Justice Anthony] Kennedy. That, of course, presupposes that Kennedy, who is now eighty-one, will still be on the Court by then. No one knows for sure whether he will be — there are constant rumors that he will retire — but the fact that he signed onto the delay in the resolution of this case may be a hint that he’s planning to stay around, at least for another year.”

Article continues after advertisement

Enhanced partnership, whatever that means. KSTP-TV reports: “The University of Minnesota’s board of regents Monday approved a non-binding letter of intent outlining the broad terms of an enhanced partnership agreement between the school, U of M Physicians and Fairview Health Services. The terms outlined in the letter of intent, which was approved by Fairview’s board of directors last week, will continue to be negotiated by all parties involved with an eye toward gaining final approval in September.”

There aren’t enough orange barrels to go around. Ms. Debilzan also writes, “The traffic-clogged intersection of Interstates 94 and 494/694 will be getting an expansion and makeover, according to the state Department of Transportation. The $28.5 million project will add one extra lane to northbound and southbound traffic. It will also expand entry ramps and approach lanes. The project is expected to start in 2019, and should be completed by 2020.”

At a risk of stating the obvious, the Strib editorial board says of the 5th Congressional District: “The district’s strong DFL voting history suggests that a win in the Aug. 14 primary will be tantamount to election. If another pattern prevails, primary voters will be making a choice with long-lasting consequences. The Fifth District has been represented by only four U.S. House members — Walter Judd, Don Fraser, Martin Sabo and Keith Ellison — in the past 76 years. That means that for the Fifth District, an uncommonly consequential election lies just eight weeks ahead — and it’s a primary, which in the last five years is an election that has produced an average statewide turnout of just under 11 percent.”

Please, no technical questions. Says Brian Bakst for MPR, “President Donald Trump has added a roundtable meeting to his schedule when he visits Duluth this week. The White House had already announced Trump will hold a political rally at the AMSOIL Arena on Wednesday evening. A White House official said Monday that the roundtable meeting is an official event, not a political one. Trump will sit down with mining industry workers, the president of the Duluth port authority and two St. Louis County commissioners, Pete Stauber and board chair Keith Nelson. Minnesota Republican U.S. House Reps. Tom Emmer and Jason Lewis are also scheduled to be there, but that could change depending on votes Wednesday in Washington.” I suggest questions like, “Why is all this winning making me so tired?”

Related. At FiveThirtyEight, Perry Bacon and Dhrumil Mehta look at Trump’s popularity, state by state: “Trump’s net approval has declined in all 50 states since he took office This isn’t totally surprising, as Trump’s net approval rating — the percentage of people who approve of the president minus the percentage who disapprove — has declined nationally since January 2017. But it’s still noteworthy. It often seems as if American politics is split between two immutable camps: Trump loyalists and Trump haters, and neither group ever changes its mind about anything. But the data here suggests more fluidity — and in Trump’s case, the movement is against him.” 

Classy. Says Sarah Horner in the PiPress, “A St. Paul woman admitted to her involvement in a months-long theft spree that targeted elderly women at grocery stores, according to court records. … While one distracted the victim, the other stole her wallet, which had been sitting in her shopping cart. The duo employed a similar tactic to steal wallets from several others, authorities say. They used the stolen credit cards to make more than $12,000 in fraudulent purchases.”

There’s a Prince story in The New Yorker. Amanda Petrusich takes a tour of Paisley Park and says, “Fans tend to shell out staggering amounts of money for memorabilia or other ephemera, because owning such things allows them to feel closer to an artist whose work has deeply moved them (which is to say, it makes real an intimacy that was previously imagined), or because they believe they can learn something private, and heretofore unknown, from it. It’s possible to cherish music without worrying about where it came from, or what sort of life its creator led, but true love—and what else powers fandom?—makes us want to know a person in some fundamental and complete way. Stuff becomes a conduit for understanding, and for making more sense of the wild, alchemical rush that fuels both fandom and the art itself. How did Prince come to make so many nonpareil recordings? What allowed for it? What clues now lurk in his silverware drawer, or under his pillow, or in the back of his makeup case?”