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Sally Jo Sorensen
Sally Sorensen, an independent blogger, lives and works in rural Minnesota.
Recent Activity
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While Local officials discussed the Zika virus epidemic, the Albert Lea Tribune reports that local professiona1, Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Randy Kehr, fretted that the next minimum wage hike--from $9 to $9.50--could signal the end of the world as we know it. In Minnesota prepares for minimum wage increase, staff writer Sam Wilmes reports: The planned increase in Minnesota’s minimum wage could pose a challenge to small businesses, according to a local professional. As of Aug. 1, Minnesota minimum wages are set to increase from levels set in August 2015: Large employers with an annual gross... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Bluestem Prairie
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In an article posted online Monday, Red Wing Republican Eagle's Michael Brun reports in County Board adopts Comprehensive Plan update that the Goodhue County Board has signaled that the North American High Speed Rail Group need to know what every frisky college student learns during freshman orientation: silence doesn't mean yes. Brun reports in his lede: Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to adopt an update to the Goodhue County Comprehensive Plan, the first substantial revision in 12 years to the document that outlines the county’s vision for land use and future growth. Among the changes is a paragraph clarifying that land... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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From the Department of Who Knew, we are enlightened by news gained from reading Chelsea Perkins' article in the Brainerd Dispatch, Environmental economics: WAPOA measures value of clean water: The water quality in Minnesota lakes has a measurable economic benefit, members of the Whitefish Area Property Owners Association learned at the organization's annual meeting. Patrick Welle, a professor emeritus from Bemidji State University, studied the relationship extensively and published several papers on the topic. Welle told the group at its June 11 meeting his studies found that not only is the clarity of water a factor in lakeshore property value,... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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Buried in Zach Kayser's story in the Brainerd Dispatch, Mills talks Orlando shooting during campaign kickoff for legislators, we read this gem: Gazelka [R-Nisswa] talked about the Republican ideal of free enterprise. He also touched on the presidential election. Gazelka, who served as a state co-chair of the Ted Cruz campaign during the Republican primary, said he would vote for Donald Trump although he never actually said Trump's name in his remarks. "I want somebody that at least says they're pro-life, at least says that they're going to appoint conservative judges, at least says good things about America and that... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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In a letter to the editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise, Dayton busy playing politics, Jon Clauer [elsewhere John Clauer] writes: Thank you for your front-page article on Governor Dayton’s pocket veto of the tax cut bill. . . It is worth noting that the tax bill was the work of a bipartisan effort (in which Rep. Steve Green played a significant part) of both Republicans and Democrats. It was my understanding that the wording error in the bill could have been corrected by an administrative action by the Legislature. Despite this fact, Governor Dayton chose to use that excuse... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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Ban Frac Sand Mining: LSP's Winona County Campaign just posted the image above on its Facebook page along with this note: Plan to attend the public hearing June 30 and help spread the word! It's particularly important for residents of rural areas of Winona County where frac sand operations have been proposed -- like the Saratoga Township and St. Charles area, The Arches, and Stockton -- to attend and make their voices heard. The Winona County Planning Commission's public hearing on the frac sand ban will be Thursday, June 30th, 7:00-10:00 pm, at the Tau Center, 511 Hilbert St., according... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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In Weber addresses critics with added comments, a letter to the editors of the Worthington Daily Globe, the honorable Republican state senator from Luverne hopes to clear up what he perceives are misrepresentations in this letter and this one of his "comments to the governor during his recent visit to Worthington." We'll have to take Weber's word for what he was trying to communicate to the governor, but there's at least one part of the letter that didn't ring true to us. Weber writes: I urged the governor to call for careful evaluation of existing light rail operations. They are... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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Talk about unbelievable corporate citizenship. On page 3 of the Agri-Growth Council's June Newsletter, in the article, Spotlight: Bayer SeedGrowth, we read this gem: Bayer supports environmentally compatible practices company-wide, including recycling and green landscaping practices in all locations. As part of the SeedGrowth Equipment Innovation Center construction, planners worked with county conservationists to develop a native seed mix to plant in the no-mow areas that make up 85 percent of the outdoor area, and contractors installed drip irrigation in place of standard lawn sprinklers to save water. In addition, Bayer planted a pollinator seed mix around the facility to... Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2016 at Bluestem Prairie
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About three weeks ago, friends in Blue Earth County approached me about a potential DFL candidate to challenge Senator Julie Rosen in Senate District 23 who needed to know more about the process of running for office. It appeared from news reports and information online at the Campaign Finance Board that no one was stepping out to run against Rosen. I learned from our phone conversation that Barb Lake of Mapleton is a reporter for the local paper whose background in education and strong working class/labor values are in line with the DFL. She's also well-educated, articulate, funny and tough,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2016 at Bluestem Prairie
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The Winona Daily News and Winona Post report that on Tuesday, the Winona County Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 on Tuesday to send the issue of banning most types of sand to the county planning commission. In Winona County board moves forward on frac sand ban; public hearings coming up, the Daily News' Glen Olson reports: The Winona County Board of Commissioners took a key step Tuesday toward a final decision on whether to ban most frac sand activity in the county. The board voted 4-1 to send the issue to the county planning commission, which will have 60 days... Continue reading
Posted Jun 15, 2016 at Bluestem Prairie
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By now, the spectrum of Minnesota political reporters and pundits have weighed in on state representative Tony Cornish's provocative June 7 letter to the editors of the Star Tribune, "Really, this isn't complicated." From Rachel Wannarka and Jason Soles' response in the Strib, 'Don't be a thug' — what a disgraceful narrative and City Pages' Mike Mullen's Rep. Tony Cornish, in Star Tribune op-ed: 'Don't be a thug' and you'll be fine to the Amen Corner on Cornish's own Facebook page, there's not much more to add. Some of statements by the lawman turned lawmaker to the media since the... Continue reading
Posted Jun 15, 2016 at Bluestem Prairie
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A friend passed along the screengrab (below) of a Facebook share of a New York Daily News article, What is it like to fire an AR-15? It’s horrifying, menacing and very very loud, posted today by Representative Tim Miller, R-Prinsburg, on his personal Facebook page. The post appears to have been deleted. Update: The post is set to "Friends" and a reader posted this remark in our comment section: Umm, Mr. Miller's post is not deleted. It's still there. Those commenting on it are pointing out the same thing Mr. Miller was attempting to point out ... the author of... Continue reading
Posted Jun 14, 2016 at Bluestem Prairie
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In State Campaign Finance Reports Due in June, Tammera R. Diehm reports for Winthrop & Weinstine's Inside the Minnesota Capitol: On June 14, 2016, all political committees, political funds, independent expenditure committees and independent expenditure funds are required to file a Report of Receipts and Expenditures for the period covering January 1 through May 31, 2016. We're eager to learn where and with whom our friends at the MN Jobs Coalition are doing their getting and spending. The group was instrumental in flipping the Minnesota House from DFL to Republican hands in 2014, and its biggest 2014 bagmen, the Republican... Continue reading
Posted Jun 13, 2016 at Bluestem Prairie
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Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, the National Director for the Office for Interfaith & Community Alliances for the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), will visit Redwood Falls in October to speak to public school students and a community meeting. The events are the results of a dialogue Syeed and Scott Prouty, pastor at the 1st Presbyterian Church in Redwood Falls, began when Prouty was serving on the search committee for the stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, according to the Redwood Falls Gazette. Troy Krause reports in Moving beyond prejudice: Prouty learns about Islamic faith: What... Continue reading
Posted Jun 11, 2016 at Bluestem Prairie
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We've been posting editorials from across Western Minnesota urging the legislature to clean up its act in order to finish its work on time. One reform that's been suggested is the 24-hour deadline for bills. The final draft of a bill or conference committee report would have to be written 24 hours before lawmakers take it up on the floor. This would give state representatives and senators--and citizens--time to read each bill. The aim to avoid tweets like this: This time last night trying to read a 599 page bill. GOP House Epic fail in managing time & public input.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 10, 2016 at Bluestem Prairie
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Calling for the elimination of the IRS, the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development didn't help Ted Cruz slowdown the relentless Donald Trump. Now faced with a Republican primary challenger in the form of Assembly of God missionary and ebook author Amanda Hinson in Minnesota's Seventh Congressional District, drone commander and educator David Hughes has thrown the U.S. Department of Labor on to the chopping block. In Thursday's Bemidji Pioneer, Matthew Liedke reports in ELECTION: GOP candidate for 7th District talks small government at town hall: While... Continue reading
Posted Jun 10, 2016 at Bluestem Prairie
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Andy Birkey first reported Wednesday at The Column article that 57A: GOP candidate criticizes opponents LGBT ‘lifestyle,’ family. Ali Jimenez-Hopper: A House candidate in Apple Valley used race and sexual orientation to criticize her opponent at a recent GOP convention. . . . In a speech at the Republican endorsing convention in mid-May — which has since been posted to Youtube — Jimenez-Hopper took a shot at Quade’s family and ancestral background... The story has been picked up nationally by Think Progress and Raw Story, as well as by the City Pages in Ali Jimenez-Hopper, bad politician, talks about 'half-black'... Continue reading
Posted Jun 9, 2016 at Bluestem Prairie
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Bluestem loves a sassy metaphor, and Grand Forks Herald's Tom Dennis delivers with this extended analogy in the opening paragraphs of OUR OPINION: In Minnesota, Gov. Dayton's in the driver's seat: The trouble with playing chicken is that every now and then, your car really does fly off the cliff. That's not quite the situation Minnesota Republicans are in. Their "car" isn't sailing out over the void. But it is teetering on the cliff's lip. And the drop to the next ledge is long. Meanwhile, the guy with the tow-truck and the rescue rope—Gov. Mark Dayton—is parked nearby. He's whistling... Continue reading
Posted Jun 8, 2016 at Bluestem Prairie
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Via the Morning Take, news that Local Republicans Censure Representative Tom Hackbarth. The "treacherous and dishonorable offense? Backing out of an agreement to honor the party's endorsement for his seat. Hackbarth lost the endorsement to Cal Bahr, who had sought the endorsement in 2014 and 2012, but didn't primary the incumbent after the sitting representative secured the endorsement. The text of the press release: Local Republicans Censure Representative Tom Hackbarth Oak Grove, Minnesota (June 5, 2016) - On April 2nd, the Senate District 31 Republicans held an endorsing convention for House District 31B. Both candidates, Repre sentative Tom Hackbarth and... Continue reading
Posted Jun 8, 2016 at Bluestem Prairie
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Yet another newspaper's editorial board passed judgment on Minnesota's fractured lawmaking. Just across the Red River in Grand Forks, ND, editor Tom Dennis writes in a signed editorial, How Minnesota can end last-minute lawmaking, for the Herald: Will Gov. Mark Dayton reconvene the Minnesota Legislature in special session? Will Republican lawmakers agree to the Democratic governor's conditions? As of this writing, the answers to those questions still are not clear. But here's what the recent session did make clear—as clear as the water from the most sparkling of the 10,000 lakes: Minnesota's legislative process needs reform. Delaying negotiations for weeks,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 7, 2016 at Bluestem Prairie
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In late May, we looked briefly at Minnesota Sixth District Congressman Tom Emmer's challengers in our post, No longer the Tea Party darling, Emmer draws 2 outstanding whackadoodle primary challengers. Having lost the CD6 GOP's endorsement on the first ballot, failed Sauk Rapids school board contender and Emmer primary challenger AJ Kern is using her Facebook pages to call out Somali leaders in St. Cloud who felt that anti-Islam speaker Usama Dakdok had a right to speak, just as they have every right to ignore what he says. What seems to be the problem, since support for the freedom of... Continue reading
Posted Jun 6, 2016 at Bluestem Prairie
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In the deceptively titled Marshall Independent article, No bonding bill spells trouble for rural housing, Per Peterson reports: Rick Goodeman, the executive director of the Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership, appreciates the support he's received from local representatives in St. Paul when it comes to affordable housing. . . . Goodeman said lawmakers this year passed up an opportunity to fulfill their promise of addressing the shortage of affordable, workforce housing during the legislative session. "Rural legislators get the preservation issue, and they get the workforce housing issue, but it's not being converted into meaningful action," Goodeman said. "I don't know... Continue reading
Posted Jun 5, 2016 at Bluestem Prairie
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Buried deep in Tony Kennedy's excellent reporting in Political feud disrupts Minnesota outdoors and environment commission, there's this nugget: [Tom] Hackbarth [R-Cedar} said his only motivation for cutting some projects from the LCCMR bill and adding others was to improve the overall package. Both he and McNamara emphasized that LCCMR recommendations are subject to legislative scrutiny. The projects they added to the bill without LCCMR review were meant to address “emerging issues,’’ Hackbarth said. “I didn’t just whack things out because I didn’t like them,’’ Hackbarth said. According to state records, Hackbarth was absent for 12 of 13 LCCMR meetings... Continue reading
Posted Jun 4, 2016 at Bluestem Prairie
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Ten years ago in July 2006, Bluestem Prairie began publishing a daily digest of news about Minnesota's First Congressional District. Since that time, we've expanded coverage to other parts of Greater Minnesota. Over time, we've engaged in distinctive enterprise and investigative blogging, often spotting trends and newsmakers long before the mainstream media picks up the narrative. From uncovering Minnesota's rural anti-Islamic speaker circuit months before the Star Tribune to exploring the plan to re-open the private prison in Appleton, Bluestem delved into these areas long before the rest caught up with the larger picture. Can you help Bluestem continue our... Continue reading
Posted Jun 3, 2016 at Bluestem Prairie
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In Hughes, Hinson will compete in primary to challenge Peterson, Morris Sun Tribune Kim Ukura reports: Two Republicans will face off in a primary election to see who will face Rep. Collin Peterson (DFL) in the general election in November. The two candidates are Dave Hughes of Karlstad, Minnesota and Amanda Lynn Hinson of Long Prairie. Hughes was endorsed by Republicans in Minnesota's Seventh Congressional District at their convention in Alexandria in April. He was selected by delegates of the 38 counties that comprise the district by a majority of 60 percent or more in the first round of balloting.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 3, 2016 at Bluestem Prairie