June 8, 2005
Close to a deal?

DFLers say they're ready to move. So why don't they just do it? Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson says he'll make an offer to end the special session. But not until Thursday. Remember, that's more than two and a half weeks after the end of the regular session when, of course, these closing offers should have been made. Maybe that's why I'm skeptical. Here's the story from the Pioneer Press:

Senate and House Democratic-Farmer-Labor leaders say they will try to break the budget logjam at the Capitol on Thursday by putting a "significant" new offer on the bargaining table.

After a second day of closed-door negotiations in the governor's office Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, and House Minority Leader Matt Entenza, DFL-St. Paul, announced they would propose a revised budget package to address the three main issues in dispute: how much to spend on health care and K-12 education, and how to raise the revenue to pay for those programs.

"Progress is being made," Johnson said. "I think we can do it."

While the DFLers now are apparently ready to accept Pawlwenty's cigarette tax, Entenza says an income tax increase is still on the table. That's something Pawlenty has said he won't accept (he even called it "profoundly stupid"). Anyway, House Speaker Steve Sviggum says if there isn't a deal by the end of the week, he may seek a 10- day cooling-off period that would bring things closer to the July 1 shutdown date.

In other words, there's still a big game of Texas hold-em going on at the Capitol.

The Star Tribune has a story looking at internal challenges to state GOP chair Ron Eibensteiner:

Minnesota's Republican Party Chairman Ron Eibensteiner faces a surprisingly strong and heated challenge this weekend in his bid for reelection to an unprecedented fourth term. The fracas appears to reflect frustration by some in the party with Gov. Tim Pawlenty as well as with his longtime ally.

Eibensteiner, a venture capitalist who has presided over net Republican gains through three election cycles, is being accused by two opponents of betraying the party's principles by at least indirectly endorsing Pawlenty's proposal for expanding gambling. They also say he failed to raise enough campaign money or didn't provide key services to candidates, which resulted in losing ground to DFLers in the 2004 presidential and state House elections. And they complain that he has embarrassed the party with his legal troubles.

The critique came in numerous mailings to Central Committee members by candidates Bill Pulkrabek, a Washington County commissioner and real estate agent, and Ron Carey, secretary-treasurer of the party and a financial software company executive.

MPR did a couple of stories a few months ago about conservative dissatisfaction with Gov. Pawlenty over the gambling issue. If Eibensteiner doesn't survive this challenge this weekend it's the first sign that the push for casino gambling has seriously split the party.

How reponsible should a politician be held for the actions of his adult children? That's a question Attorney General Mike Hatch may be pondering as his daughters go on trial in Chicago. Here's more from the Strib:

Anne Hatch, 22, and Elizabeth Hatch, 23, were arrested after an early hours scuffle with police outside the Crobar club on Chicago's Near North Side where they had been celebrating Anne Hatch's birthday in March 2004.

Police allege that after the two were removed from the club, Elizabeth Hatch slapped an officer with an open hand and knocked his glasses off. Police said Anne Hatch wrestled with another officer and scratched his face and later broke a police car window.

Each woman faces misdemeanor counts of resisting a peace officer, simple battery and criminal damage to property or a vehicle.

The women were treated at a Chicago hospital for injuries they received, which included black eyes, cuts and bruises and a fractured wrist, a Hatch spokesperson has said. Mike Hatch said after the incident that his daughters were devastated and wanted to be accountable for their mistakes but that they denied having assaulted the officers.

They briefly planned to pursue a complaint of excessive force by the arresting officers, but dropped it a few days after the incident.

"It's more important to have these kids taken care of," Mike Hatch said at the time, adding: "my daughters were having a bad day."

They may have another one today.

Posted by Mike Mulcahy at 6:25 AM