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 →

Even northern towns under curfew tonight after chaotic week in Minnesota

UPDATE June 1: A peaceful night passed on the Iron Range. Further review indicates that internet rumors prompted Range towns to set curfews. Efforts to organize peaceful protests in these towns became wildly misinterpreted. Original May 31: Today, peaceful demonstrations took place in towns across northern Minnesota, including Bemidji, Grand Rapids, Hibbing and Virginia. In… Read More →

The rise of post-commute opportunity in northern Minnesota

Around 1960 my grandfather Marv Johnson quit the Keewatin police force to work at the Erie taconite plant in Hoyt Lakes. He told me that his take-home salary doubled that day. It was the first time he felt confident he could provide for his growing family. There were downsides. For one, the job almost killed… Read More →

Now less than ever

It’s hard to watch TV these days. It’s not just that American society seems locked in death struggle over the existence of objective reality. (Though, that’s certainly not helping). No, the more persistent annoyances are the growing heaps of advertising cliches. And there’s one phrase that seems to have scummed on the surface of the… Read More →

Rites of passage

On Friday Hibbing Community College held its annual commencement ceremony. No, the sounds of organ playing “Pomp and Circumstances” did not fill the cavernous Hibbing High School auditorium. Indeed, the excited students could not congregate in the cafeteria before marching across the stage. For the first time in many years of teaching I didn’t hide… Read More →

Eveleth-Gilbert, Virginia voters approve school district consolidation

On Tuesday citizens in Eveleth, Gilbert and Virginia voted to approve the consolidation of two Mesabi Iron Range districts. More than 77 percent of Virginia district voters backed consolidation while almost 54 percent of Eveleth-Gilbert voters supported the move. Both districts needed to approve the measure for it to take effect. The new district will… Read More →

Another giant awakens

Photographs of early Mesabi Iron Range mining are in black and white. We may identify the gray material in the rail cars as iron because, well, why else would those sturdy mustachioed gentlemen have shoveled it up? But the early open pit and underground mines were very much driven by color — bright, vibrant hues… 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 →

Mail voting safe, secure and simple

The first time I voted in a general election I was lying on a set of dorm room sheets that wouldn’t be washed until spring. Cigarette dangling from my lips, I marked my ballot for Jesse “The Body” Ventura as Minnesota’s next governor. Democracy prevailed. However you gauge the wisdom of my first ballot, it… Read More →