IP touts Sandman candidacy in MN-8

Much has already been made of the contentious race in Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District. But it bears mentioning we’re still only in the first act of a long play that will feature an appearance by Ray “Skip” Sandman on the Independence Party ticket in November. The IP issued a statement Wednesday welcoming former Green Party… Read More →

Key takeaways from 2018 straw polls, precinct caucuses

Last night I joined a relatively small group of Minnesotans in attending my local party precinct caucus. I caucus with the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party, so we met at the Balsam Township Hall. The Republicans met in Grand Rapids at the middle school. Six people attended my caucus, including myself. I was prepared to remark that perhaps… Read More →

Trading steel and sun in a changing world

The sun above our heads and the steel that comprises our highways, buildings, cars and appliances might not seem like they have much in common. But there’s a powerful truth behind the sun. The final stage of a star’s life happens when nuclear fusion produces iron at its core, causing it to explode. At once,… Read More →

The hidden importance of Tuesday’s precinct caucuses

With the Super Bowl in the state’s collective rear view mirror, Tuesday night brings the biennial tradition of Minnesota’s precinct caucuses. And while it might seem a precipitous drop-off in excitement, this year’s caucuses offer real world implications. Precinct caucuses are a strange quirk of this moralistic state that once placed tremendous value on grassroots… Read More →

Enrollment decline poses new challenge to state colleges

Trying to read trends is difficult. You have to figure out what’s part of a normal cycle and what might be indicative of change. And then, if it is real change, you have to determine what’s causing the change. Is it inevitable or malleable? Are you causing it or is it something else? That’s the… Read More →

IRRRB backs off plan for private trust

On Wednesday, the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board agreed with Commissioner Mark Phillips that plans to create a private trust for a large agency fund aren’t ready yet. The agency will take the idea back to the drawing board. I wrote about the challenges of balancing the public interest with politics just yesterday. John… Read More →

Getting politics out of IRRRB? Not so easy

With another legislative session approaching, we see new attention paid to the ever changing Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB). The IRRRB now finds itself enveloped in the recently renamed Minnesota Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation. Earlier this week, a southern Minnesota Republican raised concerns about the creation of a new trust… Read More →

New model of journalism won’t happen on Facebook

Lately I’ve been contemplating the difference between how I felt about being on Facebook after signing up a decade ago and how I feel logging on now. It’s a world of difference. In a way, this change explains the reason Facebook is abandoning efforts to curate journalism, and why that probably won’t work either. Looking… Read More →

Remembering Bill Ojala, radical conscience of the Iron Range

Bill Ojala, a former Iron Range legislator and later gadfly social justice activist, died last Saturday at the age of 92. John Lundy of the Duluth News Tribune penned a good obituary (“‘A true son of the Iron Range’: Lawyer, politician Bill Ojala dies at 92“) in yesterday’s paper. Ojala, descended from Finnish-American immigrants on… Read More →

Thoughts on improved Minn. population trends

For the first time in 15 years, more people moved to Minnesota from other parts of the U.S. than moved away. Added to immigration and a positive birth rate, Minnesota’s population is growing. Trends here are better than among our Midwestern neighbors. That’s the good news. The bad news is that all of this is… Read More →