Daily Reformer: Frey task force on off-duty police; Bakk-inations; Walz $$$; thoughts on Rogan

Sen. Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook.

Good morning!

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Apologies for no Daily Reformer on Thursday; it was like that episode of Family Ties when Alex P. Keaton is on speed and he’s like superman but then he crashes, except I promise mom it wasn’t speed it was just adrenaline and by yesterday I had nothing in the tank.  

(Who remembers the episode or am I really dating myself?)

Today at the Reformer: Max Nesterak scoops a new task force to tackle an interesting police issue: Off-duty work. The city has offloaded a lot of responsibility for policing the bar scene and events to private entities, which has given officers a lot of off-duty work. But it’s being poorly monitored, even though the cops are often in uniform, using patrol cars and exposing the city to the same liability as if they were on duty. Remember that Mohamed Noor had finished a 7 hour off-duty shift before he shot and killed Justine Ruszczyk. Read it. 

Also, how come I’m not getting more hate mail? Read my column about how the decision by Beltrami County to not allow religious groups to place refugees there threatens to send us down a dangerous road. It allowed me to share one of my grimmest finds — the work of Elliot Jaspin, who detailed black population collapse in the Jim Crow South in a book that came out during the aughts. I saw him give a talk at THE Ohio State University when I was there in 2005 keeping the bars of the Short North neighborhood in business. 

Also, Ricardo Lopez got three women mayors to talk about what it’s like to be the woman in charge in the age of social media, when they can be subject to vicious, gendered, sexualized attacks. 

Walz cash

Gov. Tim Walz will report having raised $1 million in 2019, his campaign spokester Teddy Tschann tells me. (Obligatory Dr. Evil link and it’s incredible how that still makes me laugh 20 years later.) His campaign also shared some internal polling they did in September that matched recent Morning Consult numbers, showing he’s above 50% approval and has a +25 spread. Their numbers, incidentally, also match Morning Consult and every other poll I’ve seen that show President Trump is underwater and in the low 40s, where he’s been stuck for nearly 3 years. 

Walz is doing an MPR interview this morning, meeting with AG Keith Ellison, ag interests, and doing a retirement ceremony for Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Klinkner in Mankato; don’t drink too much root beer, governor and congrats to Klinkner! 

Senate DFL leadership battle

The timing of former Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens’ entrance into the state Senate race against state Sen. Susan Kent two days before the latter tries to topple Minority Leader Tom Bakk had the Capitol crowd buzzing. 

Kent won by fewer than 400 votes in 2016, as the Reformer’s Ricardo Lopez noted. This means Kent goes into the leadership vote having to persuade the caucus that she can help them win the majority while protecting her own seat against a top tier challenger. (Paging David Hann.) 

So the speculation is that Bakk, known for his Machiavellian artistry, was somehow involved.  

Senate DFL spokeswoman Ellen Anderson sent me a text: “Sen. Bakk does not comment on internal caucus discussions. Sen. Kent and Little’s races were the Senate Republicans’ closest losses (in 2016) and I do expect them to target those districts.”

I asked Stephens’ politico Gregg Peppin about it: 

“I know the press thinks the timing is suspicious, but I can tell you Mary just made up her mind very recently. And as there is another Republican candidate seeking endorsement, she wanted to get in this month.”

A Senate DFL source noted that Bakk supported Eagan Mayor Mike Maguire — yes, the one with the recent DUI unpleasantness —  in a race against fellow DFLer Jim Carlson. Carlson had written a bill aimed at sulfide mining years before, which must have drawn the ire of mining stalwart Bakk. 

The implication: Bakk is not averse to taking a shiv to someone in his own party. (And remember his battles with Gov. Mark Dayton.

But this could also be shrewd legerdemain by the Republicans, sowing the seeds of chaos in the minority caucus right before session, right as they are in their final fundraising stretch. Senate GOP announced they raised $2 million last year. Big number. 

Joe Rogan is a guy who talks

Apparently I’m supposed to care about Joe Rogan, who is a famous alpha male person and said something nice about Sen. Bernie Sanders, but then some Democrats said Rogan is mean to some people and Sanders shouldn’t accept his support, but then some other Democrats said, no, we need these Joe Rogan people, and all I want is a bowl of candy and an episode of The Watchmen.

Anyway, Matt Yglesias makes the case against the case against Joe Rogan, and maybe it’s worth reading. 

He points out some interesting things under a provocative subhead: “Democrats need the votes of lots of bigots.”

As of 2018, for example, 47% of African Americans told the General Social Survey that it is “always wrong” for two same-sex individuals to have sex. … Meanwhile, 40% of white Democrats deny that the black/white gap in jobs, income, and housing is mainly due to discrimination … about 40% of Hispanics tell the General Social Survey that “it is much better for everyone involved if the man is the achiever outside the home and the woman takes care of the home and family.”

Speaking of Sanders, a smart reader questioned his ability to win the key battleground states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin because the unions don’t want to give up their health insurance in favor of a single payer government plan like Sanders proposes. There’s some merit to that, but I also think there’s a growing recognition among labor that if health insurance were off the table, they would be in a better position to win raises. 

Here’s a commercial from Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s 2006 Senate campaign in which the mother of Tyesha Edwards appeared, but new details from an AP investigation are casting doubt on the guilt of Myon Burrell. 

Times reports Biden has a weak ground game in Iowa, and Iowa is all about organization. 

This and that

Billy Grant informs that RightVoter will work with GOP candidate Tyler Kistner in the 2nd Congressional. 

Women Winning endorse Athena Hollins in 66b, which is currently the Rep. John Lesch seat. Gutsy endorsement over a longtime incumbent who is chair of judiciary. 

Star Tribune reports that Minnesota Pollution Control Agency released a report on the dangerous carcinogen TCE in which they say we don’t know the scope of the problem but it’s bad. 

Insulin update from the Star Tribune. More on the topic of pharma in this space on Monday.

Also in the Star Tribune

“After four Minnesota Vikings seasons at U.S. Bank Stadium, construction and design costs remain unresolved, the stadium’s public operator reported Thursday. But officials were not yet ready to say what the specific issues were.”

Let me help on the specific issues, but really there’s only one: Using a single dollar of public money to build a stadium for the billionaire owners of a team in the concussion league is a stupid waste of money. (Uh-oh, did I lose some of you?)

Back to Jill Lepore’s These Truths: Let’s consider the establishment of the Bank of the United States in 1790. Washington asks Jefferson if he should do it. Jefferson says the Constitution doesn’t say the federal government can create a bank, which means it’s left to the states or the people, as spelled out in the 9th and 10th Amendments. Hamilton said it was allowed under Article 1, Section 8, granting to Congress the ability to make “all Laws which shall be necessary and proper.” Washington sided with Hamilton and an extraordinarily broad interpretation of the Constitution.

What does this episode tell us? That the idea that the federal government should have broad powers to regulate the economy, like through a national bank, is not new. It’s a very old idea. And, that there was a competing idea that the federal government basically couldn’t do much of anything, except that which was spelled out in the Constitution. And Washington sided with the broad interpretation. 

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Have a great day and a great weekend all! JPC