Statewide: October 21, 2011 Archive
Posted at 8:01 AM on October 21, 2011
by Michael Olson
Filed under: Around MN
Clark: Funds raised show threat to Cravaack in 8th
DFL congressional candidate Tarryl Clark isn't pledging to abide by her party's endorsement in the race to decide who'll oppose GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack in 2012.
Clark, a former St. Cloud state senator, unsuccessfully challenged Rep. Michele Bachmann last year.
Clark cited her campaign fundraising haul for the last three months as evidence that she's the DFL candidate most feared by Cravaack and fellow Republicans (Saint Cloud Times).
Some Republicans consider arts amendment money for Vikings stadium (MPR News).
Study: 28% of Minn homes lack broadband access (Pioneer Press).
Bundle up. Winter outlook: Bitterly cold, snowier for upper Midwest
Forecasters expect above-normal snowfall and below-normal temperatures, possibly including daily high temperatures below zero in December, according to Jack Boston, senior meteorologist with accuweathercom (West Central Tribune).
More brrrrr than usual (Duluth News Tribune)
Governor touts $242 million saving in state health insurance programs
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton claimed the first major success of his drive to improve government efficiency Thursday, saying a competitive-bidding process for state health insurance programs will save $242 million in the next two years (Pioneer Press).
IRRRB cuts tax refund for taconite mines
Instead of receiving the $9.67 million tax refund they expected this year, Iron Range mines will get $4.95 million. The remaining $4.72 million will go to pay for public works projects on the Range (Duluth News Tribune).
In BWCA, new growth blooms even as hot spots still burn
Months after the Pagami Creek Fire started, and more than a month after it ripped through a slice of the most popular area in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, signs of new life are beginning to show (MPR News). Despite the ravages of the Pagami Creek fire, greenery abounds, old-growth and new (Star Tribune).
Couple breaks vicious cycle of domestic violence
Chuck Switzer came into his marriage with anger bottled up inside him since childhood. He unleashed his rage against his wife, M'Liss, for 20 years before he finally accepted responsibility for his actions and got help (Alexandria Echo Press).
Minnesota redistricting plan calls for shakeup of political borders
Forty-two Minnesota legislators - more than one in five incumbents - would lose their seats or be forced to move under a plan to redraw the states political boundaries that a bipartisan citizens commission will submit to the states five-judge redistricting panel today (Pioneer Press).
Santorum, Bachmann hammer Cain on abortion comments
Republican presidential candidates Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum blasted rival Herman Cain after Cain's unclear statements on abortion Wednesday (CBS).
Bancroft polar trek will focus on water
Adventurer says 2012 South Pole expedition will teach youth about the global need for fresh water (Star Tribune).
The controversy over frac sand mining has spread to yet another pocket of southeastern Minnesota.
Dozens of people showed up for a Winona County Planning Commission meeting Thursday night, where commissioners were scheduled to discuss proposals for three sand mine operations in the Saratoga township. But the public comments went on until 1 a.m. and commissioners decided to table the proposal until their Nov. 17 meeting.
Planning commissioners asked for more time to study issues surrounding frac sand mining before making a recommendation to the county board, according to Winona County Zoning Administrator Eric Johnson.
Johnson said residents voiced concerns about road safety, as well and environmental and health issues.
Parts of southeastern Minnesota are full of "frac sand," highly sought after for its size and strength. With perfectly round grains that look like brown sugar crystals, the sand is ideal for the oil and natural gas exploration, which uses it to extract fuel from underground rock in a process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
The sand in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois is considered some of the best frac sand in North America because it's chemically inert and can withstand intense pressure needed to break rock.
But in some areas of southeastern Minnesota, the sand is buried deep in the ground and the process of extracting that sand has met with environmental and health concerns. Earlier this year, Goodhue and Wabasha counties put a moratorium on sand mining mines.
The natural gas industry denies widespread problems. The federal Environmental Protection Agency is conducting a national study to evaluate the environmental contamination in gas drilling areas around the country and expects to release its findings sometime next year.
Thirty dollars and twenty five cents.
"Our goal is solely to bring awareness to hunger in Minnesota," said Susan Pagani, communications director for Open Arms, which provides free meals for people with diseases including HIV/AIDS, Multiple Sclerosis, and cancer.
More than 500,000 Minnesotans receive food stamps, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. That number jumped 19 percent between February 2010 and February 2011, due to increased need and changes in eligibility.
This is the nonprofit's second annual food stamp challenge, which helps participants understand what putting together meals is like for that growing number of Minnesotans, Pagani said. She watched last year as participants blogged about their experience.
"It was really interesting to see people go into the SNAP Challenge with the idea that they could manage this," she said. "And a lot of people, their first blog posts were about how it took them three hours to plan where they would shop, so they could get the most out of the money they had to spend for the entire week. So that was one epiphany -- how much time you would have to invest if you wanted to eat well."
Pagani also saw participants experience what she calls "shelf shock.""People would find themselves in the grocery store negotiating with themselves -- well, I would really like some fruit. Well, I don't want fruit in syrup. Well, I could either buy one pear, or I could buy this can of fruit that's filled with syrup."
Many began to understand that some Minnesotans make those kinds of decisions regularly.
"It started to really bring home for them the correlation between health and poverty and food," Pagani said.
Such challenges are common and have drawn media attention across the country. In the past, a few members of Congress have participated in them.
But the challenges also have been criticized. Some critics say food stamps, funded by the United States Department of Agriculture, are not intended to cover all the groceries a person buys. The program is designed to merely supplement a food budget.
But that's not always the way the benefit is used, argues Pagani.
"I think it's supplemental in a best-case scenario," she said. "But if you really look at it, [for] a lot of the people who are using it, it's their entire food budget."
Open Arm's one-week challenge will begin on Thursday, Nov. 17 and end on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24.