News Day: Lightening up in the legislature / Burroughs brouhaha / Union battles / Entenza announces / more

A little legislative levity In a day that ran long past midnight, Rep. Rod Hamilton (R-Mountain Lake) injected a little humor, offering an amendment that would require:

“A legislator that lives within 50 miles of the State Capitol must provide housing, food, laundry and entertainment for legislators that reside greater than 50 miles from the State Capitol during a special session.”

Rep. Joe Mullery (D-Minneapolis) wanted an assurance that metro legislators could choose which colleagues they wanted to entertain, but after a bit of back-and-forth that included inserting the word “wholesome” before “entertainment,” the proposal was scuttled and what City Hall Scoop called the “world’s best amendment” was withdrawn.

Burroughs brouhaha The Strib reports favorably on suspended Burroughs elementary school principal Tim Cadotte. Both the school district and Cadotte are mum, as on who said what to whom.. More of the story is told in comments than in the news articles, with many commenters claiming they need the protection of anonymity to avoid reprisals.

Dis-united here The Minnesota Independent reports on heated infighting that involves UNITE HERE union coalition and the SEIU. The national dissension within the UNITE HERE has regional HERE federations trying to disaffliate from UNITE HERE, and SEIU figuring as an alternative to both, forming Workers United to offer a home to disaffected HERE members. Locally, former HERE Local 17 leader Jaye Rykunyk is pushing for HERE members to join the SEIU-affiliated Workers United, which Wade Luneberg, Secretary/Treasurer of Local 17 sees as a raid by SEIU. SEIU Local President Javier Morillo-Alicea says it’s not: “They decided to leave. We did not cause that.” The whole affair is dividing former allies, HERE Local 17 and SEIU Local 26, both of which have worked to organize low-income and immigrant workers.

Entenza announces Matt Entenza announced yesterday that he is running for governor in 2010. No surprise there, as he joins an already-crowded field of DFLers eager to challenge T-Paw. Entenza’s announcement said his campaign will focus on three principles:”growing jobs by focusing on the potential of the clean energy economy, providing better educational opportunities to our children and those seeking higher education, and ensuring health care for all.”

Once again, without feeling After the legislative hard work put into reforming tax codes and defining a new tax bracket for the super-wealthy, T-Paw once again said no – promising to veto any tax increase. And the game of chicken is on. Will the legislature send him their best effort, knowing that he is determined to veto it? And what happens if he does? Can T-Paw dictate exactly what he wants, vetoing everything else? What if the legislature finds backbone enough to just say no to the Guv? Stay tune – there’s less than a month until the May 18 deadline for adjournment.

MN human rights advocates warn U.S. policies hurt Saberi MinnPost’s Sharon Schmickle reports that the case of imprisoned journalist Roxana Saberi highlights problems that human rights advocates and the military have agreed on for years:

For Saberi’s friends and family in the Midwest, her case brings frighteningly close to home the reasons why so many Americans — from top military officials to exasperated human rights advocates — have warned for years that our own citizens would be endangered if we took shortcuts on human rights in the name of fighting terrorism.

According to Barbara Frey, founding director of Advocates for Human Rights and now head of a human rights program at the U of M: “When you try to find exceptions to international standards that are quite clear, one of the risks that you run is that you will no longer be able to measure other governments according to those standards.”

The NYT reports that now North Korea has decided to indict two jailed U.S. journalists.

Teachers dump Q-Comp After Forest Lake teachers and students did too well on tests, there wasn’t enough money to pay promised Q-Comp bonuses. In apparent disgust, teachers voted to dump the program entirely.

World/National headlines
In a second day of suicide bombings in Iran, BBC reports more than 60 killed in Baghdad at a Shiite shrine in the Kadhimiya area as people gathered for Friday prayers.

• A dance of withdrawal and advance continues in Pakistan, with the Taliban announcing that it will withdraw from Buna, 100 miles from Islamabad, where it had taken control of government buildings. Buner is within the six divisions of Malakand, including the troubled Swat region, where the Pakistani government has agreed to imposition of Sharia law in Islamic courts. This northwest region is almost entirely Taliban-controlled, and part of the deal was to have been an end to the Taliban insurgency in the region.

• Despite a U.N. call for an renewed pause in hositilities, the Sri Lankan government has said there will be no more ceasefires, and is advancing on remaining Tamil Tiger forces. According to some reports, the Tamil Tigers refused to allow civilians to leave the conflict zone during a brief ceasefire.

• Islamist opposition leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys has returned to Somali from exile in Eritrea, reports BBC. While he broke ranks with now-president Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, there appear to be an opening for negotiation. Sheikh Aweys is on a US most-wanted list of suspected terrorists with links to al-Qaeda.

And in car talk: Ford lost $1.4 billion in the first quarter, but still says it does not need government aid, saying it is on track to meet financial targets and reverse losses by 2011. The Treasury Department is directing Chrysler to prepare a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing as soon as next week. And General Motors is closing 13 of its 21 North American plants for most of the summer.

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