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Sally Jo Sorensen
Sally Sorensen, an independent blogger, lives and works in rural Minnesota.
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In U.S. bullet train proposals shun public funds, favor private cash, Reuters' Robin Respaut reports: All the rules relating to public engagement start the day you take public funding," said Wendy Meadley, chief strategy officer for North American High Speed Rail Group's project in Minnesota. With private financing, she said, opponents "can't make thousands of public records requests and run the project over." The company said last year it would seek money from Chinese investors. Now, it said it is considering two foreign partners for the $4.2 billion project, which seeks to connect the twin cities of Minneapolis and St.... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Bluestem Prairie
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Last Thursday, the Minnesota House rejected an amendment to HF3467 that would have directed the Office of the Legislative Auditor to conduct independent third-party financial audits of federal, state, local, and nonprofit spending related to refugee resettlement costs and other services provided to refugees in Minnesota by a 94-36 split (p. 7828, Journal of the House). UPDATE: This isn't the first time Drazkowski brought legislation hostile to New Americans to the Minnesota House. In 2010, we reported that Draz chose Cinco de Mayo to unveil his version of "The Arizona Immigration Act" or SB 1070. Much of the Arizona anti-immigration... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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While tensions over refugee resettlement in St. Cloud dominate news about Greater Minnesota and New Americans, that narrative isn't accurate for the entire state. Take Mankato. In Speaker series to host Muslim perspective, Brian Arola reports in the Mankato Free Press Abdi Sabrie said of the places he’s lived since moving from Somalia as a young man — among them Boston, Washington, D.C., and Georgia — no place was quite as welcoming and open-minded to him as a Muslim than Mankato was. Mankato’s special place in his heart led him to want to give back to make the community an... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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In Minnesota Political Notebook: Minority leader may be major player, Forum News Service reporter Don Davis reports: A Republican-backed plan to put some state prisoners in the privately owned Appleton prison remained in budget legislation the House passed early Friday, but its future remains dim. Democrats, led by Gov. Mark Dayton, vow that they never again will allow prisoners to be housed in a privately owned facility, even though the GOP plan would require the state to lease the prison and run it like any other Minnesota prison with state employees. Several attempts to ban privately owned prisons failed in... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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During Thursday night's Minnesota House floor debate, Rep Debra Hilstrom, DFL-Brooklyn Center, offered an amendment to ban private prisons in Minnesota. Rep. Tim Miller, R-Prinsburg, engaged in a moment of self-pity for the City of Appleton and himself. The response to Miller's statement that the opposition to the plan to lease the prison was about having something against Appleton or him was rebuked swiftly by two of his colleagues. First, Dan Schoen, DFL-Cottage Grove, who grew up in Miller's district, rose to object, explaining what the objections were that he had raised in community, including trying to find alternative economic... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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In Monday's post, Fergus Area College Foundation sponsored speaker who said white men are target of racism, we looked at the Fergus Falls Journal's coverage of a lecture by France Rice, before reviewing Right Wing Watch's posts about the Republican over the years. Bluestem wasn't the only reading the news article. Today's Fergus Falls Journal published a guest column by Underwood resident and Women’s Foundation of Minnesota vice-chair Victoria McWane-Creek, Coverage of Bigwood speech inaccurate. McWane-Creek, who attended the lecture, writes: I was appalled at the coverage of Lt. Col. Rice’s lecture for the Bigwood event series. The print edition’s... Continue reading
Posted Apr 28, 2016 at Bluestem Prairie
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In Peterson: Ag's plate is crowded, Prairie Business News' Jonathan Knutson reports: Peterson is garnering national attention for his support of Bernie Sanders, but thinks Donald Trump would be a better president, at least for agricultural interests, than Ted Cruz. . . . "I'd be more comfortable with him (Trump) than Cruz," said Peterson, the ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee. Peterson spoke Tuesday on Capitol Hill with members of North American Agricultural Journalists during the group's annual convention. . . . Peterson, generally considered a moderate Democrat, has surprised many political observers with his support of Sanders, the... Continue reading
Posted Apr 27, 2016 at Bluestem Prairie
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Kay Johnson reports in the Hutchinson Leader article, Democracy was in action at town hall meeting: Gruenhagen pointed the finger at the Minnesota Family Investment Program, which helps families with children meet their basic needs, while helping parents move to financial stability through work. “Our welfare system is undermining the family system,” he told the audience of about 20. While Gruenhagen has been criticized for waging a war on poor people, he believes reducing waste and fraud will result in more money being available for those who are eligible. “(We) subsidize as a government promoting women having children out of... Continue reading
Posted Apr 27, 2016 at Bluestem Prairie
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Here's the video: If you appreciate Bluestem Prairie, you can mail contributions (payable to Sally Jo Sorensen P.O. Box 108, Maynard MN 56260) or use the paypal button below: Email subscribers can contribute via this link to paypal; use email sally.jo.sorensen at gmail.com as recipient. Continue reading
Posted Apr 26, 2016 at Bluestem Prairie
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One Somali family has moved to Little Falls, Minnesota, prompting freak outs among the more fearful among Morrison County residents. Meanwhile, the Central Minnesota Tea Party is hosting another talk by anti-refugee speaker Ron Branstner: You're invited to attend- REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT AND AGENDA 21 By RON BRANSTNER, LITTLE FALLS BALLROOM, 15870 MN 27, LITTLE FALLS, MN, FRIDAY, APRIL 29, 2016, 6:30 – 9:00 PM. Mr. Branstner has been traveling the central MN region educating on the cost and effects of immigration to small communities. He believes freedom isn’t free and neither is charity if your hand is in some one... Continue reading
Posted Apr 25, 2016 at Bluestem Prairie
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Usually when Bluestem posts about speakers who have their own tags on Right Wing Watch, those individuals are the guests of Tea Party groups and other such grassroots groups, but not so with Frances Rice. Jacob Tellers reports in the Fergus Falls Journal article, Bigwood Lecture reflects on who is being treated unfairly, Rice's lecture was sponsored by the Fergus Area College Foundation and Otter Tail Power Company. Tellers reported that Rice believes that racism is no longer a problem for black Americans: Racism is no longer a problem for African Americans, according to a speaker at the 24th annual... Continue reading
Posted Apr 25, 2016 at Bluestem Prairie
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Student speech has rarely been free in American high schools, and after "Loud & Proud" t-shirt-wearing Morris High students shouted at their silent peers who'd donned "Look Beyond" shirts for the pro-LGBT National Day of Silence, the administration banned both sets of shirts and student demonstrations in the Western Minnesota High School. The "Look Beyond" t-shirts had gotten the twitter seal of approval from former Viking's punter Chris Kluwe: Support your local GSA on the National Day of Silence! Got this cool shirt from the Morris GSA - happy to wear it. pic.twitter.com/neNw9UDuvp — Chris Kluwe (@ChrisWarcraft) April 15, 2016... Continue reading
Posted Apr 22, 2016 at Bluestem Prairie
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Early this morning, Bluestem reported on the Realigning Sentencing and the Appleton Prison Town Hall on Tuesday in Minnesota DFL state representative Raymond Dehn's district in Minneapolis. The District's Demographics are available via Dehn's official website. One of the rural Republicans who is part of the town hall is former Browns Valley Mayor and current Minnesota House District 12A state representative Jeff Backer. Minnesota's western boundary waters, from whence both the Minnesota River and the Red River of the North spring, forms his district's western edge. The District Demographics contrast with those in Minneapolis. Why do we believe it's a... Continue reading
Posted Apr 22, 2016 at Bluestem Prairie
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During a discussion of the Appleton Prison and criminal justice reform broadcast earlier this month on Minnesota Public Radio, Justice 4 All organizer Justin Terrell and Representative Tim Miller agreed that a public meeting in North Minneapolis would be a good thing. Representative Raymond Dehn, DFL-Minneapolis, will be hosting that meeting on April 26. Details are in the image at the top of this post. While people in Greater Minnesota might find it difficult to travel to week night forum, the event will be live streamed by The Uptake for those who want to watch next Tuesday. We'll post the... Continue reading
Posted Apr 21, 2016 at Bluestem Prairie
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Earlier this morning, we received an emailed update from the Session Daily Digest that began: The omnibus jobs, agriculture and natural resources bills are scheduled to make their final committee stop Wednesday when they are heard in the House Ways and Means Committee. There they are expected to be combined into one piece of legislation before heading to the House Floor. The discussion of HF3888 will be streamed on Live Video HTV 1 at 12:45 (other legislative business will be streamed on the channel before and after the Ways and Means Committee). Since the channels are shared, not every committee... Continue reading
Posted Apr 20, 2016 at Bluestem Prairie
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We're a bit late in serving up this morsel from the Minnesota House Environmental Policy and Finance Committee, wherein Chairman Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, left off a discussion of trail grooming to bushwhack into the weeds of . . .This is not rocket science, it's not. But don't react after the fact and you're always going from one fire to another. Which reminds me: today we have no fires going on even down in Southwestern Minnesota surrounded by black earth, we can't burn a patch of grass because it might torch Northeastern Minnesota. So sometimes we do stuff that makes no... Continue reading
Posted Apr 19, 2016 at Bluestem Prairie
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In Houston County's approach to frac-sand regulation is chilling, a column in the Winona Daily News, city resident Steve Schild writes: We’re in trouble when we find truth in the absurd — and that’s what’s going on in the following exchange from a Houston County Board of Adjustment meeting in February. “Are we trying to shut the mine down or are we trying to correct it?” “What we’re asking is that the county enforce the ordinance.” “By doing that, we shut it down.” So, the only way the Erickson mine can continue operating is if Houston County refuses to enforce... Continue reading
Posted Apr 18, 2016 at Bluestem Prairie
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In As local road projects begin, funding questions are ample, Tom Cherveny reports in the West Central Tribune: DFL and Republican legislators remain divided over funding for transportation. The debate is focused on how to fund an increase in spending, and not whether an increase is needed, according to two of the leading outside interest groups following the debate. Jim Pumarlo, with the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, said the organization is “encouraged’’ by work taking place in the Senate Transportation and Public Safety Committee. Margaret Donahoe, with the Minnesota Transportation Alliance, also said she is “cautiously optimistic’’ about the possibility... Continue reading
Posted Apr 15, 2016 at Bluestem Prairie
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In Forum Communications political reporter Don Davis's commentary, Lawmakers accomplish little so far, we read this: Everyone around the Legislature knows that no major bill will move ahead until all major issues move ahead. And for that to happen, negotiations must take place among Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, D-Cook, Daudt and Dayton. Everything is linked in the Capitol complex. While end-of-session negotiations are held behind closed doors, everyone knows political leaders deal one provision for another in unrelated areas as they try to come up with a deal. In preparing for such wide ranging negotiations, they keep all big... Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2016 at Bluestem Prairie
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This afternoon, Bluestem Prairie watched the Minnesota House take up legislation on fireworks and online fantasy sports games. Never mind the potholes, parents desperately seeking childcare, pokey greater Minnesota broadband, higher education poorhouse loans, racial equity or any other things with which grown-ups concern themselves. It confirmed our impression that the Republican Party may just be turning into the Games Over Priorities party. It's the new GOP, the pop culture party whose presidential frontrunner is a reality television star. Coincidentally, we'd been working on a post about one of those fashion decisions working it's way through the Minnesota House: adding... Continue reading
Posted Apr 11, 2016 at Bluestem Prairie
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Right Wing Watch (April 5) and Joe Conason's National Memo (April 8) report that Ted Cruz advisor Clare Lopez brought up the debunked notion of no-go zones during an April 4 interview on Dan Ochsner's "Ox in the Afternoon" radio show which airs on St. Cloud's KNSI Radio. The interview appears to be part of a speaking tour in Minnesota sponsoring by the anti-Muslim group Act! for America. Andrew Wig at the Sun Current reported in Republican Seniors to discuss Islam that Minnesota Act! for America coordinator Debbie Anderson and Lopez would speak to the GOP group: The Republican Seniors... Continue reading
Posted Apr 10, 2016 at Bluestem Prairie
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Matt Grossell, endorsed Republican candidate in Minnesota House District 2A, shares some interesting material on Facebook. We suspect that the candidate might not have been vetted much in the swing district. In Hancock departure reopens contested 2A seat, David Hancock, R-Bemidji, tells Capitol Report's Chris Steller: Q: DFLers have endorsed Jerry Loud for your seat, and Republicans made an endorsement over the weekend? A: They did. They endorsed Matt Grossell from Clearbrook. I haven’t vetted him, so to speak. I’ve talked with him. In comparison to me he’s a relatively young man, former deputy sheriff and military man. He’s probably... Continue reading
Posted Apr 9, 2016 at Bluestem Prairie
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One student at the University of Minnesota-Morris is not impressed with House Republican budget targets and she's taking it out on the local state representative. In her letter to the editor of the Morris Sun Tribune, Republican budget raises taxes on all college students, Ramona Bias writes: On Thursday morning, Minnesota House Republicans released budget targets for how they’d like to see us spend the $900 million budget surplus. I had foolish hope that there might be some funding to help freeze tuition at the University of Minnesota, Morris. However, when I looked at the Republican budget target for the... Continue reading
Posted Apr 8, 2016 at Bluestem Prairie
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We've written occasionally about the notion of regulatory capture. Investopedia defines the concept this way: Regulatory capture is a theory associated with George Stigler, a Nobel laureate economist. It is the process by which regulatory agencies eventually come to be dominated by the very industries they were charged with regulating. Regulatory capture happens when a regulatory agency, formed to act in the public's interest, eventually acts in ways that benefit the industry it is supposed to be regulating, rather than the public. Public interest agencies that come to be controlled by the industry they were charged with regulating are known... Continue reading
Posted Apr 7, 2016 at Bluestem Prairie
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On Wednesday, Virginia news media begin publishing an Open thank you letter from the Dermyer family. It's the latest installment in the public grieving for Virginia State Trooper Chad P. Dermyer, who was murdered by James Brown III of Aurora, Illinois, during a state police training exercise gone terribly wrong at the Richmond bus terminal Thursday, March 31. The letter came on the heels of massive public mourning for the death, as well as support for the Dermyer family. If you're a Minnesotan whose only knowledge of the murder is a post on Minnesota State Representative Tony Cornish's Facebook page,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 7, 2016 at Bluestem Prairie