Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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ST. PAUL -- Workers removed chunks of marble from the Minnesota Capitol exterior in recent weeks, meaning scaffolding protecting visitors from falling debris soon will come down. But work will continue on the 106-year-old iconic building. A report on the status of the outside marble is due in a few weeks, complete with estimates of what further work would cost and how soon it should be done.
ST. PAUL -- Great Lakes-area state fishing regulators spend much of their time trying to defeat an Asian carp invasion, but the Illinois Department of Natural Resources thinks it has the answer: eat them. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Illinois is hiring a Louisiana chef to create recipes to prove that the invaders are as tasty as they are pesky. The new campaign is aimed both at providing food for the needy and reducing the number of Asian carp, including those that famously jump far out of the water and sometimes hit people in boats.
ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Agriculture Department Friday announced a trade mission to Vietnam for later this year. The announcement came as Gox. Mark Dayton leaves Minnesota for Japan and South Korea on his first trade mission as governor. He returns on Oct.
ST. PAUL -- The country's third major credit-rating agency has downgraded Minnesota's bond rating, meaning that borrowing money for new construction and repair projects likely will cost state and local governments more. Minnesota Management and Budget on Friday announced Standard and Poor's dropped the Minnesota rating from AAA to AA-plus. "This downgrade is a direct result of the recently passed state budget," Management and Budget Commissioner Jim Schowalter said. "The budget was substantially balanced using one-time measures and does not lead to a long-term financial solution.
MINNEAPOLIS -- The new University of Minnesota president promised to lower administrative costs every year he holds the job and in his Thursday inaugural address said professors must keep up or "step aside." "My friends, we have work to do," President Eric Kaler said as he was officially installed as the university's 16th president. Kaler spoke to 1,000 invited guests and others via the Internet, including students and staff gathered at each of the university's five campuses. The 55-year-old president, on the job since July 1, used some of his half-hour speech to praise those at the univers
ST. PAUL -- The new leader of Minnesota's 31-school higher education system told his bosses Tuesday that tough choices are ahead and predicted dramatic changes. "The greatest risk we face is the risk of business as usual," Chancellor Steven Rosenstone told the MnSCU Board of Trustees, which governors state-run technical and two-year community colleges as well as four-year universities. It was Rosenstone's first meeting with the board after taking the system's top job Aug.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system union workers say this is not the time to pay top officials bonuses and high salaries. Union members Tuesday particularly blasted a $50,000 payment made to Chancellor James McCormack after he retired this summer, but also criticized other high-level system workers and campus presidents' extra pay.
ST. PAUL -- Even the dark smoke clouds billowing out of the Twin Towers, a Pennsylvania field and the Pentagon 10 years ago contained a silver lining. The East Coast terrorist attacks that killed 2,975 people convinced, and in a way forced, emergency workers to work closer with each other preparing for the next big disaster, whether it be manmade or natural. At the same time, it opened the door to much improved day-to-day contact among government officials.
ST. PAUL -- This year will go down as one of the most contentious in Minnesota government history, so exceptions to that attitude are notable. The first exception started out as yet another controversy. Several days ago, news reports indicated that the state had stopped paying for military honor guards at veterans' funerals. The funding cut apparently slipped by all the top officials as political leaders this spring and summer debated a $34 billion, two-year budget. Sen.
GOLDEN VALLEY -- Minnesota police and prosecutors have a new way to fight the newest drug craze, but say they still need to catch up. Synthetic drugs, in many cases designed to get around existing laws, are soaring in popularity even as use of traditional drugs such as heroin is waning. "In law enforcement, we may be a little behind the curve," Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner Mona Dohman said during a Thursday discussion about synthetic drugs, also known as designer drugs, sponsored by U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.