IRRR commissioner OKs contested water tower project in Brookston

On Thursday afternoon Commissioner Mark Phillips of the Minnesota Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation announced the approval of a contested $250,000 grant for a water tower in Brookston. The decision concludes a growing controversy over the project’s exclusion from a collection of public works projects funded by the unique state agency. The small… Read More →

CD8 race to test GOP trend in northern Minnesota

The 8th Congressional District race, which drew so much attention two years ago, begins with a dynamic unseen since the 1920s: a Republican incumbent clearly favored. U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber won the high-priced MN-8 donnybrook of 2018. He enters 2020 joined at the hip with President Donald Trump as both seek re-election. With Trump’s approval… Read More →

Competitive legislative races slated across Northland

NOTE: This post appears in today’s Hibbing Daily Tribune as part of a news sharing arrangement. Generational change. A historically contentious presidential race. Not one, but two major parties devoted to legalizing marijuana. These factors and more will influence several interesting northern Minnesota legislative races that formed after last Tuesday’s filing deadline. Though the presidential… Read More →

UPDATE: Layman won’t seek third term in State House

State Rep. Sandy Layman (R-Cohasset) announced late Tuesday she would not seek another term in the legislature. The surprising news dropped just as the filing period closed, leaving the Republican slot blank if she removes her name from the ballot. “Anyone in public service knows there is a balance that needs to be struck between… Read More →

Talking Iron Range economy and COVID-19 on ‘Almanac’

I was a guest on Almanac Friday evening talking about COVID-19 and the economic downturn on the Mesabi Iron Range. Here’s the video: This was the first time I’ve done the show from the confines of MinnesotaBrown World Headquarters in Balsam Township. It was nice not to have to drive to St. Paul. I was… Read More →

Duluth attorney McEwen thumps Simonson for DFL State Senate endorsement

Jen McEwen, a Duluth attorney, won the Senate District 7 DFL endorsement today after party officials tabulated online balloting. She outpaced incumbent State Sen. Eric Simonson (DFL-Duluth) with more than 70 percent of the vote on the first ballot, a stunning margin for an endorsement challenge. Of 435 eligible delegates, 374 cast votes. “I am… Read More →

As economy shutters mines, reflection on 20 years of the same story

My latest column for the Minnesota Reformer is up today: “The mines will come back, many of the jobs won’t.” I reflect on an early career experience offering hollow words to a laid-off miner. Then I explore trends in mining and American industry in general. As world events and volatile markets flap their butterfly wings,… Read More →

Talkin’ Range history, communists & nonferrous mining, as one does

Last week I gave an e-mail interview to Ed Newman for his blog, which he published as “Dylan Town: MinnesotaBrown Talks About Life on the Iron Range and Its History, Past and Present.” It was an challenging exercise for me, as it combined several different aspects of topics I cover here at the blog. First,… Read More →

All workers are essential

My latest column for the Minnesota Reformer appears today. My topic is one part personal and one part political. Childcare providers like my mother are deemed essential workers during the COVID-19 crisis, but few like her are paid a living wage. Here’s an excerpt: My mom is a childcare provider in northern Minnesota. She’s started… Read More →

Dig Deep tackles COVID-19 and what comes next

Last week, my friend Heidi Holtan hosted my other friend Chuck Marohn and me in a live Dig Deep conversation about COVID-19. It was the first time we’ve done the show from different places. The news ebbs and flows, good news mixed with the bad. As a nation we’re not yet free of collective response… Read More →