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Capitol Chatter: Judge happy more money lands in the courts

ST. PAUL — The new Minnesota Appeals Court chief judge says the court system looks financially better than a few years ago.

"We can always use more," Edward Cleary said after Gov. Mark Dayton named him chief judge on Wednesday.

Cleary, who has served on the Appeals Court for two years, credited Dayton for "making the judicial branch a priority" after years of financial woes.

Cleary said there those problems meant "we could not serve the public."

"More people are being served..." Cleary said. "That is our goal."

The governor said he merely passes on, untouched, Chief Justice Lori Gildea’s budget requests. He joked that when they attend Minnesota Lynx basketball games together that the chief justice hands him a note with her financial requirements and he simply passes it on to legislators.

"I do what she says," Dayton said.

The comment, during the announcement of Cleary’s promotion, prompted Gildea to proclaim: "I have a lot of witnesses now."

Rural phone help wanted

Rural Midwestern senators praise a decision to improve rural telephone call quality.

U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Tim Johnson, D-S.D., and Deb Fischer, R-Neb., issued a statement thanking acting Chairwoman Mignon L. Clyburn of the Federal Communications Commission for suggesting ways address rural telephone problems. Clyburn wants an improved method for the FCC to investigate problems such as rural residents’ inability to connect.

"Call completion problems don’t just inconvenience families trying to stay in touch, they hurt small businesses that depend on phone service to connect with potential customers," Klobuchar said.

The FCC reports that rural Americans often have problems with long distance and wireless calls and people trying to reach rural residents also may have difficulties. The reason is that connecting to rural telephone companies frequently is expensive, so some companies use cheap services that may not adhere to strict enough standards to ensure clear calls.

New teacher training

The University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and Teach for America are creating a program to train mid-career professionals as teachers.

A new law was written to make that easier.

At least 40 Teach for America members will participate in eight weeks of training through the university.

"This agreement outlines a plan to create our state’s first-ever alternative teacher preparation model with high standards for quality and ongoing support for teacher candidates," the university’s Jean Quam said. "Given that research is a core mission of the university, we are committed to creating effective teacher preparation programs and engaging in ongoing evaluation of new and existing models."

Rare GOP-DFL agreement

President Barack Obama may have withdrawn, for now, his proposal to take military action against Syria’s use of chemical weapons, but the proposal did draw together Minnesota Democratic and Republican college leaders.

Several leaders from the groups that seldom agree sent a letter to Minnesota members of Congress saying they oppose American military strikes on Syria.

"This is not an issue of party allegiance," the college leaders wrote. "Well-intentioned and well-respected Republicans and Democrats have fallen on both sides of this important question."

While saying they "deplore" deaths due to chemical attacks, the leaders added that "we share many of the same concerns about this intervention: the substantial risk that this operation will not achieve its objectives, the cost of yet another operation for our overstretched military; and the danger that choosing sides in a complex civil war may ultimately threaten our national security."

Don Davis
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.