Questions — or not, in Supreme Court and St. Paul


Even though no one will know the answer until June, everybody’s busily speculating about the Supreme Court health care ruling. When they get tired of speculating, pundits produce court stats — kind of like baseball stats, but without the decimals. For instance, there’s the Justice Clarence Thomas record of 0 for 6. That’s zero questions in six years, and counting. His last question was in a 2006 death penalty case. 

Minnesota Republicans are enforcing similar silence on the ethics complaint against Senator Geoff Michel, stemming from the Brodkorb/Koch affair. The Pioneer Press reports:

On Tuesday, Senate President Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville, said she has “temporarily postponed” the hearing on advice of counsel.

“There were certain places we should not or could not go during that committee hearing,” Fischbach said on the Senate floor Tuesday. 

Game over in Minneapolis — the new ward map shows a redistricted city council line-up with a strangely-shaped Sixth Ward. American Indians and Latinos say the new map disadvantages them and splits their communities, but it’s likely to be approved by the Charter Commission on Tuesday as the the redistricting panel sent it on with a unanimous recommendation. Click here for map. And here is a late-arriving map of Park Board districts, which double as school board districts.

Not that minorities are all in Minneapolis and St. Paul. The Alliance for Metropolitan Stability sponsored a recent roundtable look at the suburban boom in minority population over the last ten years — see Kristoffer Tigue’s report here. Participants were concerned about lack of public transportation, which affects access to health care and employment, and about affordable housing.

A new teacher contract in Minneapolis would provide for four extra school days — but that doesn’t come near the extra time for students in the much-praised Harvest Prep group of charter schools. According to Alleen Brown’s Daily Planet article:

Students are in school 8 am to 4:45 pm, except for Fridays, when they get out at 1:45. The year is 196 days long, compared to Minneapolis’s 172. According to Mahmoud, teachers are expected to work 60 to 70 hours each week, and the average teacher makes approximately $40,000.

Harvest Prep students out-perform other Minneapolis students, and even all Minnesota students on reading and math tests, but lag behind them on science. The school’s focus is on teaching to the test. “If the standards were different, content absolutely would look different,” said founder/director Eric Mahmoud.

The Minnesota House passed a bill that would repeal water conservation rules. Currently, cities providing water to more than 1000 people must set rate structures that reward people who use less water. The bill would repeal the requirement for tiered rates. It would also end a public education program that includes water-conserving toilet and showerhead retrofits.

Looking for late-night music and drinks? The Park Bugle says you can find them at the James J. Hill library in downtown St. Paul, where the business of the business library now includes entertainment.