Itasca County commissioner resigns

Commissioner Mark Mandich resigned his seat on the Itasca County Board this week. The board accepted Mandich’s resignation at their meeting Tuesday. My sources tell me that Mandich cites health problems as his reason for stepping down. The Itasca County Board authorized a vacancy, instructing the county auditor to prepare a special election. Details on… Read More →

MN Power’s natural gas plant shows changing industry

Last week, Minnesota Power announced it would build a new natural gas power plant in Superior with Wisconsin-based Dairyland Power Cooperative as a partner. From a Brooks Johnson story in the Duluth News Tribune: “It’s really about giving customers affordable, reliable, less carbon-intensive energy,” Julie Pierce, Minnesota Power vice president of strategy and planning, told the… Read More →

Silicon Energy gone, new company moves in

Another vaunted Iron Range economic development project has quietly fizzled out. The Duluth News Tribune reported last week that Silicon Energy, a producer of solar panels, finally pulled out of its taxpayer-subsidized plant in Mt. Iron. This doesn’t come as a big surprise. Iron Range leaders have long murmured about the starts and stops of… Read More →

Leah Phifer explores DFL challenge to Nolan in MN-8

Rick Nolan might have ended his exploration of a gubernatorial run, but he returns to his Eighth District congressional race to find some intrigue. Leah Phifer, a FBI counterterrorism analyst from Isanti, announced Friday she would explore a run for the DFL nomination in MN-8. She’s making her decision in a unique way: a motorcycle tour… Read More →

What next for rural broadband?

State Rep. Rob Ecklund (DFL-International Falls) lives about as far from St. Paul as you can get. After the end of the legislative session he returned to his home just outside town, wondering if the governor would sign the bills or call lawmakers back. Here’s what he wrote on Facebook: I received the info today on… Read More →

Rick Nolan opts against run for governor

U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN8) announced today he would not seek the DFL nomination for Minnesota governor. He will instead focus on his work in Congress and another run in his swing district. “After much thought and consideration with my wife Mary, friends, and family, I have decided not to run for governor of Minnesota,” said… Read More →

The real problem behind legislative chaos

I teach communication at a community college. I am the loathsome cur who assigns students to complete group work. Students often hate group work. Some don’t like the “group” part; others dislike the “work” component. In any event, relative strangers suddenly find their grade hooked onto someone else’s wagon. They become interdependent, whether they like it… Read More →

Sue Hakes of Grand Marais to explore MN-8 bid

With Congressman Rick Nolan considering a run for governor, a potential Democratic candidate for his Eighth Congressional District seat announced her exploratory committee today. Sue Hakes, who previously served as Cook County Commissioner and Mayor of Grand Marais, will test the field as Nolan considers his future. “When I think about Minnesota’s Eighth District, I think… Read More →

Northeast Minnesota labor trends like a rummage sale

This week I’ll be taking part in Policy and a Pint, a discussion series sponsored by the Citizen’s League and MPR’s The Current. The event, titled “Talent Within the Range,” runs from 6-8 p.m. tomorrow, May 18, at the Minnesota Discovery Center in Chisholm. (Tickets are free; sign up here). In honor of the occasion, I’ll… Read More →

Aluminum and automation: our workforce confounded

This week I’ll be taking part in Policy and a Pint, a discussion series sponsored by the Citizen’s League and MPR’s The Current. The event, titled “Talent Within the Range,” runs from 6-8 p.m. Thursday, May 18, at the Minnesota Discovery Center in Chisholm. (Tickets are free; sign up here). In honor of the occasion, I’ll… Read More →