Daily Digest: Wisconsin stalemate, Johnny Northside, hidden money, ‘McCarthyistic’ inquiry

by Taryn Wobbema

Here’s your Daily Digest for Monday, March 7. Again, I’ll start with a depressing weather report:

Remember last year when we didn’t see any new snow in March? Minneapolis got 2.5 inches overnight and is expected to get 2-4 inches Wednesday. A possible 6+ inches are expected for the second weekend of spring break (March 19-20). That’s annoying. Spring break: T-5 days.

Nothing’s really happening in Wisconsin. Democratic state senators have been working with representatives of the Republican governor, but he’s determined to hold on to the bill’s provision that would cut collective bargaining rights and benefits for public workers. Without the 14 Democrats who left the state Feb. 17, the Senate still can’t vote on the bill, but one of the senators told the New York Times they will have to return eventually. “We will have accomplished some of our purpose – to slow things up and let people know what was in this bill,” Sen. Fred Risser said. In the meantime, each side has begun canvassing for signatures to recall more than a dozen Wisconsin senators. If they reach a certain number of signatures (in the thousands), the legislator has to run for re-election before his or her term ends. Similar bills have worked their way through Indiana and Ohio. Indiana Democrats have also fled the state and will face a daily $250 fine starting today if they don’t return. The Ohio governor is expected to sign the state’s bill, which ban strikes and give local officials the power to break labor impasses.

Check out this NYT graphic on the question of whether government employees are paid too much.

— In a suit headed for trial, former Jordan Area Community Council executive director Jerry Moore has sued north Minneapolis blogger John Hoff (blog: The Adventures of Johnny Northside) for statements he made that Moore says aren’t true and got him fired from the U’s Urban Research and Outreach/Engagement Center. The blog posts accused Moore of “involvement in a ‘high-profile fraudulent mortgage,’” according to the Star Tribune. Moore argues the First Amendment doesn’t cover Hoff because he’s biased. So far, the judge has indicated Moore is a “limited-purpose public figure” so he will have to prove “actual malice” to win. Judge Denise Reilly also threw out two statements because, she said, opinion is protected.

— Reps. Michele Bachmann and Keith Ellison both made the news this morning. On Sunday, Bachmann, R-Minn., bypassed interview questions to make the claim that President Obama’s administration hid $105 billion in “advanced appropriations” in the health care bill, according to the Star Tribune. She also made a point to affirm her belief that the administration is a “gangster government.”

Ellison, D-Minn., has earned the label “activist-congressman” from the Strib. He will appear before a House panel Thursday as a witness, answering questions about homegrown Islamic terrorism. Ellison, a Muslim whose Minneapolis district is known for the disappearance of 20 young Somali men who were recruited by Al-Shabab, called the inquiry “a ‘McCarthyistic’ witch hunt that could demonize Muslims.”