By every measure, Minnesota governor Mark Dayton's five year run as governor has been a stellar success: while Tim Pawlenty, his tax-slashing, "fiscally-conservative" Republican predecessor presided over a $6.2B deficit and a 7% unemployment rate (the mere 6,200 jobs added under Pawlenty's 7-year run barely registered), Dayton added 172,000 new jobs to the Minnesota economy, brought Minnesota down to the fifth-lowest unemployment rate in the country, and brought the average Minnesotan income up to $8,000 more than the median US worker, while posting a $1B budget surplus.
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Less than a week after an officer from a nearby force shot and killed Philando Castile during a traffic stop, leaving him to die in front of his child and girlfriend (and the world on livestream) the Minneapolis Police Department has perjured itself in issuing a copyright takedown notice to Youtube in order to suppress a controversial recruiting video that depicted the jobs of MPD officers as being a firearms-heavy shoot-em-up.
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Minnesota's SF3609, the Personal Rights in Names Can Endure (PRINCE) Act, is the broadest, most ill-considered publicity rights bill in American history.
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Kids in the Twin Cities asked their families what they could do to express their feelings about local lion-killing dentist Walter Palmer. Star-Tribune's Glen Stubbe got some great shots during protests at Palmer's office. Read the rest
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has threatened the Duluth library's free seed-sharing program because it doesn't conform to the seed-distribution rules laid out for big agribusinesses.
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Bridget Erickson, a freshman at St Paul, MN's Nova Classical Academy tried unsuccessfully to get the school board to create a student advisory seat on the board. Roundly ignored, she turned to the by-laws governing the board and discovered that there was no minimum age for board members, so she's now she's running for a full-fledged seat on the Nova Classical Academy school board.
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Kayona Hagen-Tietz, a ninth grader at Como Park High School in St Paul, MN, says she developed frostbite when she was made to stand in -5F weather wearing nothing but a wet bathing suit
. She had been in swim class when the fire-bell rang, and evacuated in nothing but her wet swimsuit. Faculty offered to allow her to wait in a car, but school policy prohibits students from entering cars other than those belonging to family and their delegated help. Eventually, common sense won out, though apparently not soon enough.
(via Free Range Kids
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Every two years, Minnesota artists build a temporary village on a frozen lake near Minneapolis, crafting colorful, creative parodies of traditional ice fishing shanties that are open to the public for four weekends. The event is juried. Dozens of groups submit proposals for shanties, but only 20 are chosen. Each shanty has a theme, and each theme comes with some kind of interactive programming — whether scheduled events or stuff to do in the shanty as you wander through. In 2012, 20,000 people visited the shanties at Medicine Lake. (That year, I followed some Minneapolis makers as they built and launched their monster-themed shanty.)
The 2014 Art Shanty Project opened last weekend on White Bear Lake, north of St. Paul, and my husband I took our daughter and went to see what we could see. Read the rest
In Minneapolis, an estimated 4000 people
ride their bikes as part of a daily commute — year round. (The number doubles for the non-winter months.) At the Pedal Minnesota blog, you can see some of their happy faces
. Or, anyway, happy eyes. The rest of their faces tend to be hidden under balaclavas. Like you do. Read the rest
Michael Karkoc — a 94-year-old Ukranian immigrant who lives in a neighborhood of Minneapolis known for housing populations of both Eastern Europeans and artists — has turned out to be a former Nazi SS commander whose unit was involved in cracking down on the Warsaw uprising, as well as other brutal attacks on civilians. The Associated Press broke the story and Minnesota Public Radio has some great, in-depth coverage
. Reached at his home, Karkoc told AP reporters, "I don't think I can explain." (Strangely, this has been a big week for Nazi-related news. Yesterday, Xeni posted a story about the discovery of a diary
belonging to one of Hitler's confidants.) Read the rest
Celebrate marriage equality with the Swedish Chef.
I've written here before about seed art at the Minnesota State Fair. Every year, Minnesotans glue thousands of tiny seeds to heavy backing material to create some surprisingly elaborate examples of portraiture and political commentary. Oddly, given that this is folk art at a state fair in the Midwest, most of that political commentary is solidly liberal.
I wasn't able to make it to the Minnesota State Fair this year, but Minnesota Public Radio's Nikki Tundel was there. At least four different entries in this year's seed art competition feature marriage equality themes—responses to the coming election when Minnesotans will decide whether or not to enshrine discriminatory marriage laws into our state constitution. It's safe to say: Minnesota's seed artists want you to vote "No".
You can see all the marriage equality seed art at the MPR News Tumblr blog
Via the Stuff About Minneapolis blog, and Andrew Balfour Read the rest
IMAGE: Derek Montgomery for MPR
That is not the result of an earthquake. Instead, this is what happens when a city receives as much as 10 inches of rain in three days. Over the last two days, flash flooding ripped apart Duluth—and other cities in Northeast Minnesota/Northwest Wisconsin. The damage in Duluth alone is expected to be in the millions. There will be street repairs, sewer line replacements, damage to private homes and businesses. The photos are devastating. Luckily, it seems that nobody died, but my heart goes out to everyone dealing with the aftermath of these storms.
At Minnesota Public Radio's Updraft blog, Paul Huttner explains how Duluth, a city built on a hillside and not near any big rivers, can end up with flooding this intense.
A cold front approached Minnesota from the High Plains on Sunday, June 17th and this front set off numerous thunderstorms through the evening. Duluth NWS received nearly an inch of rain (0.71"). The rains that fell on Sunday had inundated the soil, and created more saturated conditions than normal, which primed the Duluth area for runoff in the extreme rain event that we received
Meanwhile, 1/3 of the state of Minnesota is under drought conditions.
In pre-response to the inevitable climate change discussion, let me just remind you of meteorologist Paul Douglas' brilliant analogy:
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You can’t point to any one weather extreme and say “that’s climate change”. But a warmer atmosphere loads the dice, increasing the potential for historic spikes in temperature and more frequent and bizarre weather extremes.
Tomorrow at 7:00 pm, you can get inside the Minnesota Public Radio headquarters in downtown St. Paul, Minn., for a live taping of the interview show "Bright Ideas". I'll be the guest, talking with host Stephen Smith about electricity, infrastructure, and the future of energy in the United States. Tickets are free, but you do need to register. Read the rest
It doesn't appear to count toward the tally at GayHomophobe.com (where it's now been 6 days since the last time a homophobic public figure turned out to be queer), but Minnesota state senator Amy Koch has joined the vaunted ranks of politicians who are deeply concerned about the sanctity of all marriages except their own. The married Koch recently resigned as Senate majority leader after word got out that she'd had an "inappropriate relationship" with a male staffer.
Koch is a major force behind the attempt to enshrine special rights for straight people into Minnesota's constitution, so you might have thought she'd treat her own magical straight marriage with the respect it deserves. John Medeiros, co-curator of Minneapolis' Intermedia Arts' Queer Voices reading series, can only conclude that lapse into blatant hypocrisy must, somehow, be the fault of queer people. So, he's written an open letter, apologizing to Senator Koch, on behalf of queer Minnesotans, for forcing her to betray the sanctity of straight marriage.
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Dear Ms. Koch,On behalf of all gays and lesbians living in Minnesota, I would like to wholeheartedly apologize for our community's successful efforts to threaten your traditional marriage. We are ashamed of ourselves for causing you to have what the media refers to as an "illicit affair" with your staffer, and we also extend our deepest apologies to him and to his wife. These recent events have made it quite clear that our gay and lesbian tactics have gone too far, affecting even the most respectful of our society.We apologize that our selfish requests to marry those we love has cheapened and degraded traditional marriage so much that we caused you to stray from your own holy union for something more cheap and tawdry.