Trayvon Martin is a focus of attention in Minnesota this week, with people joining in the One Million Hoodies March for Trayvon at the University of Minnesota on Thursday (6 p.m., Northrop Plaza), and a commentary by Ron Edwards in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder asking, “Will Minnesota also adopt Stand Your Ground legislation, adding another clear and present ‘open season’ danger to African Americans in the United States of America?” (A police video obtained by ABC yesterday shows George Zimmerman getting out of the police car at the station, with no visible marks on his face or the back of his head. )
The Minnesota Senate dissed both St. Paul and Minneapolis, cutting funds for major projects in both cities from the bonding bill. No to a Saints stadium in downtown St. Paul, no to Nicollet Mall renovation in Minneapolis, no to light rail … and no to funding for a massive and much-needed repair project for the State Capitol itself. The Senate bill adds up to $496 million, while the House version has only $280 million, and Governor Mark Dayton is proposing $775 million in bonding projects. Politics? Of course not, say Republicans piously. It’s just a coincidence that St. Paul and Rochester, both represented by DFL senators, got axed while projects in Mankato and St. Cloud (with Republican senators) got funded. With the House bill and conference committees and plenty of negotiation still to come, the Pioneer Press reports that Saints backers are still pushing for inclusion:, with the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce weighing in, and Saints co-owner ike Veeck explaining:
“We still have people who need a $2.50 hot dog, a $3 beer and a $5 ticket. A lot of them can’t afford major league prices,” he said.
The Vikings stadium deal would be in a separate bill, all its own. The Star Tribune has obtained a series of emails from Minneapolis City Hall players, showing the maneuvering for support, framing the message, and extensive involvement by Target VP John Griffith, ranging from political strategy to stadium design:
A week before the stadium deal was announced, Target Executive Vice President John Griffith urged Rybak and others to finalize the city’s agreement and bluntly told them what should be included and left out of the package. “I can imagine that some of this has made many of you anxious, my apologies,” Griffith, the company’s property development specialist, wrote on Feb. 21. “Much work awaits us. Let’s go.”
MPR’s Madeleine Baran has the story of the departure of David Proffitt from the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter. He was asked to resign after investigation of complaints about his abrasive personality and emotional abuse of staff. Proffitt was hired just seven months ago.
DFL representatives are calling on Republicans to join them Thursday in restoring cuts to PCA payments for relatives who care for persons with severe disabilities. Last year’s budget bill ending the state shutdown included a 20 percent cut for family caregivers. A judge temporarily blocked the cuts last fall, but last week lifted the injunction, so the cuts are now in effect. The Minnesota House is set to vote Thursday on the Health and Human Services finance bill, and a proposed amendment would reverse the PCA cuts. From Andrea Parrott’s recent article:
“I don’t think they [legislators] realize what our life entails,” Belisle said. “There is so much care that is involved. We work around the clock.” Belisle’s son has trouble sleeping, and when he is awake, so is she. Belisle is thankful that he now sleeps about five hours a night as opposed to the two hours a night that used to be routine.
MinnPost reports on a U of M study showing that higher co-pays mean kids go without some of their asthma medication. That, in turn, leads to more hospitalizations for those kids for asthma-related conditions. The study was conducted nationwide, including more than 8,000 kids. Out-of-pocket costs for pills or inhalers ranged from $89 to $242 per year.