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Sally Jo Sorensen
Sally Sorensen, an independent blogger, lives and works in rural Minnesota.
Recent Activity
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Bluestem is back after an unanticipated delay in posting, as our gardens got a bit ahead of us, as did our partner's family business. One of the projects this weekend was creation of a pollinator garden in honor of National Pollinator Week. We'll be posting pictures as it grows out and as we secure some bee balm plants. We're also thrilled to learn that our local honeybee business, Whetstone Valley Honey, didn't suffer much loss of its hives. While the hives that live across US Highway 12 from Summit where late in being placed, transportation issues and the late, late... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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At the Faribault Daily News, Gunnar Olson reports in Jones family, rental ordinance at the heart of ACLU lawsuit against city: Family barbecues and kids jumping on trampolines were a constant in Thelma Jones’ Faribault backyard, but during her five years in the rental home, police were called to her residence 82 times, laying the groundwork for her eviction. The five-bedroom home, which Jones shared with her children and grandchildren, was the “perfect place” for them, she said. “We had the trampoline in the back with kids jumping on it, having fun,” she recalled of the home she was evicted... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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At the LaCrosse Tribune, Steve Rundio takes an in-depth look at Wendy Johnson and Jim Tittle's post-boom documentary about frac sand mining in Southwest Wisconsin in Sand documentary features stories from Hixton, Tomah: Dwight and Ruth Swenson witnessed a bluff disappear next to their property near Hixton in Jackson County. “It feels like an earthquake when they’re blasting,” Dwight Swenson said. “The house shutters. The windows shutter. Our neighbors have been rolled out of bed.” Jim Tittle captured the Swensons’ experience on the film. The Swensons were among people he interviewed for the production of Promise in the Sand, a... Continue reading
Posted Jun 10, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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Now that the acquisition of Monsanto by Bayer is a done deal, the global German company has announced that it will retire the name of the demonized American farming and chemical industry. The move echoes Bayer's renaming itself after World War II, when IG Farben, an earlier incarnation, supported Hitler's rise and were heavily involved in the Holocaust. War History Online notes in Popular Pharmaceutical Company Bayer Bought Concentration Camp Victims in WWII: Everyone has heard of Bayer, the pharmaceutical company that runs aspirin commercials on television. Not everyone knows, however, of Bayer’s dark past. The successor of pharmaceutical conglomerate... Continue reading
Posted Jun 9, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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We went to the polls for the first time in South Dakota, after moving here last year and providing a birth certificate, original Social Security card, a lease agreement, an official letter with our address and a DNA sample in order to register to vote. It's a much more complicated process than in Minnesota. Meanwhile in Minnesota, the field in the coming August primary has grown as complicated as registering to vote in South Dakota. We'll have more on that drama as the dust settles in the coming hours. The difference between the states' politics is underscored in the Senate... Continue reading
Posted Jun 5, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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Their electronic voting devices failed last night-- RT @gillettetpt: Here are the offending electronic voting devices. Thank you @talkette for the demonstration. #mngop #tptalmanac pic.twitter.com/fw4IZiGzdB — Almanac (@tptAlmanac) June 2, 2018 I am hearing it's paper ballots again in Duluth #mngov. Electronic clickers don't seem to be working. Options on the paper ballot likely to be nominated candidates, no endorsement and other. #mngop — Brian Bakst (@Stowydad) June 2, 2018 And their mascot is suspiciously blue (and visual reminder of the GOP furries in this classic SNL sketch), and so the second and final day of the Minnesota State Republican... Continue reading
Posted Jun 2, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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Here's the streaming video for Saturday at the DFL state convention in Rochester: Image: the DFL logo. To help fund The Uptake's live coverage, please visit The Uptake Institute's project fundraising page. Continue reading
Posted Jun 2, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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Both of Minnesota's major political parties are holding their state conventions this weekend. The DFL is cavorting in Rochester, while the Republicans are chilling in Duluth. The highlight so far on social media so far is this gem from Republican State Chair Jennifer Carnahan, captured on Twitter by DFL comms maven Wilhelm Davis: Can’t make it up pic.twitter.com/S2zQHbuc3F — Wilhelm Davis (@WilhelmDavis) June 1, 2018 That visual dissonance was picked up by sassy Minnesotans on twitter: "We're Republicans. We don't SEE color." https://t.co/xS42zh7TaL — Stacey Burns (@WentRogue) June 1, 2018 It’s worst than superb owl pic.twitter.com/g5Yv4diUPo — Koshin Jimcali (@KoshinJimcali)... Continue reading
Posted Jun 1, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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In the article, Revolving Door Prohibitions, the National Conference of State Legislatures reports: "Revolving door" is a phrase that describes the practice of legislators leaving public service and heading immediately for lobbying positions. Ethics laws in all but nine states limit this practice by setting mandatory waiting periods before a legislator may register as a lobbyist or engage in lobbying activites. Among the states that provide for cooling-off periods for former legislators, 26 require a one-year gap between legislating and lobbying. Ten states, plus the Minnesota House, set the waiting period to two years [see next paragraph]. Two states provide... Continue reading
Posted May 30, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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After hilling 100 potato plants this morning, Bluestem is taking a break before attending to the 270 other tater plants to catch up with the news. Perhaps our favorite dog and pony show lately has been watching Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, share how they're so shocked and mystified at Governor Dayton's veto of the Supplemental Budget Bill, nicknamed Omnibus Prime, as well as the tax bill. Heck: the show started before the vetoes. Fortunately, sharp-eyed editors in Crookston and Mankato were able to articulate the reality of the situation for both leaders. At... Continue reading
Posted May 30, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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The Duluth News Tribune minced no words in its editorial, Lawmakers sentence Minnesotans to death, but Tony Albright, R-Prior Lake, glibly excused the Republican-controlled House for failing to bring a bill to the floor of the Minnesota House that would ban the use of hand-held phones and other devices while driving. Albright's excuse occurred during an episode of Your Legislators, a public affairs show on Pioneer Public Television. As South St. Paul Democrat Rick Hansen observed in the episode (Youtube below), "The carnage will continue." The editorial board of the Duluth paper had earlier observed: The heartlessness is a bit... Continue reading
Posted May 29, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
As many readers know, Bluestem's proprietor is a vegetable gardener; with our move to Summit, we've also picked up a lovely old flower garden and an orchard of native fruits. With the late departure of winter and the sudden onset of summer temperatures, we find ourselves a bit busy this weekend. Regular posting will resume on Tuesday. In the meantime, find a local commemoration tomorrow to honor those who gave all to the service of this country. Continue reading
Posted May 27, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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On April 12, 2018, Lake Crystal area farmer and former congressional candidate Greg Mikkelson testified before the Minnesota House Ag Policy Committee about his experience with compliance with the state's buffer. He told a tale of woe, including material about a county employee who feared for his job and a welter of issues. Indeed, Mikkelson worried that he wasn't contacting the right agency. Mikkelson called for the elimination of the Board of Water and Soil Resources in his testimony. Not quite the case, the Blue Earth County Soil and Water Conservation District commissioners said in a recent letter to the... Continue reading
Posted May 25, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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Fearless environmental champion state representative Jean Wagenius, DFL-Minneapolis, State Representative Jean Wagenius asks Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton to line-item veto items in the bonding bill that violate state law governing the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF). Republican leadership attempts to use lottery money to pay bond obligations on wastewater treatment facilities and landfill reclamation. These uses of Trust Fund dollars are not allowed under statute, Wagenius points out in her letter to the governor. Nor is Wagenius alone in sounding the alarm about the move--outdoors defender and Star Tribune columnist Dennis Anderson raises a hue and cry about... Continue reading
Posted May 23, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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While J. Patrick Coolican sees "daylight" for the tax and supplemental budget omnibus bills in a press release from Education Minnesota, in his Morning Hot Dish newsletter, the education union doesn't agree. According to Ed MN press secretary Chris Williams, the union will be sending out a letter press release* later today asking Governor Mark Dayton to veto both bills. That i:s implied by this tweet We applaud the bipartisan passage of a public pension bill, but urge @GovMarkDayton to think twice before signing the GOP's budget and tax/education bills. Read more: https://t.co/IjuXy7JVCh #mnleg #edmnvotes #angryapples pic.twitter.com/eCk5W9QSmF — Education Minnesota... Continue reading
Posted May 22, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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On Monday, Governor Mark Dayton today vetoed Chapter 190, HF 4133 the omnibus agriculture policy bill. The move comes on the heels of a last-minute resolution by the House Ag Policy Committee to block the implementation of the nitrogen rule developed by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture under the Groundwater Protection--if Dayton vetoed the bill. The thought was to pressure Dayton into signing the bill in order to save the rule. Session Daily explained the shameless gambit in House agriculture committee adopts resolution that could delay nitrogen rule: The House Agriculture Policy Committee adopted a resolution Sunday that may block... Continue reading
Posted May 21, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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Early this Sunday morning, the Minnesota House passed the infamous Omnibus Prime bill, nearly 1000 pages of the good, the bad and the fugly, released a couple of hours before members were asked to vote on it. Typical of the tweets responding to this situation: I asked @dbly for the longest book in his office so I could compare it to the 990-page #OmnibusPrime which we have 3 hours to read. Behold the results of my study! #mnleg pic.twitter.com/rRFEJUqlzW — Mike Freiberg (@RepFreiberg) May 20, 2018 The challenge from the Tea Party in the early Obama administration was "read the... Continue reading
Posted May 20, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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Will the members of the Republican Farmer Labor Caucus in the Minnesota House sign on as co-authors of legislation that would would enshrine Minnesotans’ right to collectively bargain for good jobs, wages and benefits into the state’s constitution? After all, they say they're friends of labor, as we reported in Roll over, Elmer Benson, tell Floyd B. Olson the news: Republican Farmer Labor Caucus formed so this would be a good fit. Indeed, this would be a bipartisan victory, doing what the original Farmer Labor Party never got done. Three days ago, this press release about the proposed constitutional amendment... Continue reading
Posted May 19, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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UPDATE #2 May 19, 9:25 p.m. Session Daily's Jonathan Mohr reports Ag committee considers, then delays, procedural move to block nitrogen rule: The House Agriculture Policy Committee gathered Saturday to consider using, for the first time, a 17-year-old state statute that would allow it block a controversial groundwater protection rule proposed by the Department of Agriculture earlier this year. However, after passionate objections that had as much to do with the procedure as the policy, the committee decided to adjourn and postpone action until a noon meeting Sunday in hopes a compromise agreement can be reached. The story contains an... Continue reading
Posted May 19, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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While some Minnesota House members touted the taxes Endridge pays as a reason to skip Public Utility Commission (PUC) review of the Line 3, a recent court decision may claw back that money from counties and townships. At the Bemidji Pioneer, Matthew Liedke reports in Tax ruling on Enbridge has counties concerned: Area counties are concerned a recent decision by a Minnesota Tax Court regarding Enbridge Energy's oil pipeline system could leave them paying out potentially large refunds to the company. On Tuesday, tax court Judge Joanne Turner ruled the Minnesota Department of Revenue had overvalued Enbridge's pipeline system that... Continue reading
Posted May 17, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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The Minnesota's House will take up SF3367 today, a bill whose House author is Anoka Republican Abigail Whelan, who is retiring at the end of the session. The bill, which will require lodging facility employees to be trained to recognize sex trafficking, enjoys bipartisan authorship in the chamber, from the conservative Whelan to Apple Valley's progressive DFL Erin Maye Quade. The senate language replaces the original House bill, which Whelan and a bi-partisan group of representatives support. Om social media, Don Huizinga, an Anoka County Republican activist and once-aspiring state senate candidate, ridiculed Whelan's support for the bill after sharing... Continue reading
Posted May 15, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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In early April, the Aberdeen American reported in Marshall pipeline leak almost twice size of early estimates: The amount of crude oil that leaked from a pipeline in Marshall County is nearly twice as much as originally believed. ... That new number would make the spill in Marshall County the seventh largest onshore oil or petroleum product spills since 2010, as reported to the U.S. Department of Transportation. . . . The final report on the Keystone leak is expected to be released in the next few weeks by the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. On Sunday, May... Continue reading
Posted May 13, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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A pair of newspaper articles make for an interesting contrast on the response to President Trump in rural America. In Loyalty, unease in Trump’s Midwest, the Washington Post's Dan Balz reports: After eight years of displeasure with the presidency of Barack Obama and faced with a choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, Dennis Schminke of Austin, Minn., didn’t have to think hard about how he would vote in 2016. A retired corporate manager, a staunch conservative and a county Republican official, he supported the New York businessman. The Post mentions later that Schminke was an occasional candidate; in fact,... Continue reading
Posted May 11, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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Bluestem has closely covered the legislative response to the slow-motion crisis of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in the state's wild and farmed deer and elk herds. Via Minnesota House Environment and Natural Resource Policy and Finance Committee minority lead Rick Hansen's May 9 Legislative Update, here's a chronology of those efforts this biennium: Recent Chronology on Chronic Wasting Disease at The Minnesota Legislature uploaded by Sally Jo Sorensen on Scribd Photo: A whitetail deer suffering from chronic wasting disease. If you appreciate our posts and original analysis, you can mail contributions (payable to Sally Jo Sorensen, 600 Maple Street, Summit... Continue reading
Posted May 10, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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Bluestem has covered the arrival of the emerald ash borer in Minnesota and the slowness of the state legislature to respond. Now we learn that the evil beetle has made it to our new home state. At the Sioux Falls Argus, Trevor Mitchell and Joe Sneve report in Destructive insect found in Sioux Falls, putting more than 80,000 ash trees at risk: An invasive insect that's killed more than 60 million ash trees across the United States has arrived in South Dakota for the first time. Sioux Falls and state officials held a news conference Wednesday afternoon to announce that... Continue reading
Posted May 10, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie