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Don Davis, Forum News Service, Published December 26 2010

Minnesota political notebook: Klobuchar once wrote about Metrodome

‘Neighbors peered out of frosted windows, watching the (snowstorm) victims across the street futilely slip and slide, wheels grinding up and down the icy incline of their driveways.

“Out of the windows of the high-rise office buildings facing the southeastern corner of Minneapolis, wide-eyed dwellers witnessed an even more harrowing sight. ... The stadium’s dome was undeniably, uncontrollably, unmercifully, sinking.”

Sounds familiar. But it was not a report from this month’s Metrodome collapse, but about a similar 1981 incident before it even was open. And it was not a newspaper reporter who penned those words; it was now-U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar as she opened her book “Uncovering the Dome: Was the Public Interest Served in Minnesota’s 10-year Political Brawl Over the Metrodome?”

The Minnesota Democrat wrote about the dome as it opened in 1982. And, at last check, three books remained available for $22.72 each on Amazon.com.

In a holiday card, Klobuchar joked that perhaps the new dome deflation would boost book sales. But, in reality, few people probably know about the book, derived from her “prize-winning senior essay at Yale College,” as a professor wrote in the foreword. He said the dome story “has all the elements of high drama and mundane detail.”

Topics in the book range from “Inside the Purple Palace” to “The State Hears a Threat.”

The need for the Metrodome, Klobuchar wrote, came because the old Metropolitan Stadium “was not congenial to briefly dressed cheerleaders, posh business entertaining and elaborate television production.”

The future senator said there always will be disagreements about whether a Metrodome-like project benefits the public. But since government balances diverse wants, the dome is “an arguably good example of how the political process serves the public interest,” she wrote.

Early in the book, Klobuchar wrote about a reason to build the dome: “The Minnesota Vikings were talking about leaving Minnesota.”

Third chairman picked

Rep. Morrie Lanning of Moorhead is House Speaker-designate Kurt Zellers’ third choice to be House State Government Finance Committee chairman.

Rep. Denny McNamara of Hastings was the first pick, but he moved to lead an environmental committee. Rep. Tom Hackbarth of Cedar resigned from the position following an incident in which he was looking for his girlfriend while carrying a gun.

Chairman No. 2 was Rep. Mark Buesgens of Jordan, who resigned as chairman when he received unspecified complaints from fellow lawmakers. He led Rep. Tom Emmer’s governor campaign for a time and later was charged with drunken driving.

Lanning, who served 22 years as Moorhead mayor, has been the top Republican on the property and local sales tax division.

When Zellers earlier unveiled the committee chairmen list, a reporter asked why Lanning was not included. Zellers said Lanning would be chairman of the GOP caucus personnel committee, a job that includes hiring new people since Republicans will take control of the House for the first time in eight years.

Lanning is a Moorhead High School and Concordia College graduate, and earned a master’s degree from North Dakota State University. He was a longtime Concordia official.

Photo ID pushed

The president of a conservative organization promises to battle for requiring a photo identification card before Minnesotans can vote.

President Andy Cilek of the Minnesota Voters’ Alliance wrote to supporters that the group prefers the Legislature next year pass a bill requiring a photo ID. But if Democratic Gov.-elect Mark Dayton blocks that bill, Cilek said he hopes the Republican-controlled Legislature will pass a constitutional amendment, which does not require a governor’s support.

Dayton opposes a photo ID requirement, but Cilek said his group will lobby the new governor to change his mind.

A constitutional amendment bypasses the governor, going directly to the voters once the Legislature approves. Most Republicans support photo ID and they will hold control of the 2011 Legislature.

Don Davis works for Forum Communications Co. He can be reached at (651) 290-0707 or ddavis@forumcomm.com