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After Deadline: Losing sleep, no parking in St. Paul; but little moments make it worthwhile

I hear some crazy stuff. Nothing, however, tops the story that Goodhue's Dairy Princess was pulled over during a parade. Why? Well, it seems she was riding on an ATV or UTV that was illegally on the road.

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I hear some crazy stuff. 

Nothing, however, tops the story that Goodhue's Dairy Princess was pulled over during a parade. Why? Well, it seems she was riding on an ATV or UTV that was illegally on the road.

For me, the whole story started when Wabasha County Commissioner Brian Goihl sent me a text message at some ungodly hour of the morning. 

"Good morning," he wrote at 6:47 a.m.

And then it got worse. 

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There was, he explained, a town hall meeting in Mazeppa starting at 8:30 p.m. that night, Tuesday, July 16. There'd be two state lawmakers and a whole bunch of people mad about where they apparently can and cannot ride their ATVs, UTVs and golf carts. 

Best of all, in a town of about 850 people, a significant percentage were expected to show up. After all, at a pre-meeting meeting the night before, 45 people had shown up, Goihl said. 

In my head, as I'm reading this just before my alarm goes off — Thanks, Commissioner Goihl! — two things go through my head. One, this is a meeting I can't miss. And, two, he's woke me up at 6:47 a.m. to tell me to be at a meeting that starts — starts! — in nearly 14 hours. 

So much for my beauty rest. 

Still, I have to thank the commissioner. Without his news tip, I'd never have heard that the Dairy Princess was pulled over and ticketed during a parade. I'm guessing the officer is lactose intolerant or otherwise hates cows.  

Too Much Common Sense

The focus of the evening revolved around DNR enforcement officers writing tickets in town for people driving on State Highway 60 during Mazeppa Daze.

State Sen. Mike Goggin told the folks to form a group, come up with some ideas and bring forth proposals that might be taken to the Legislature. 

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"We need to get (ATV Association of Minnesota) and other organizations involved to get heard," added state Rep. Steve Drazkowski, saying that as a whole, the Legislature listens better to organized groups than to just a few angry citizens.

Both suggested it would be hard to pass any bills changing Minnesota's ATV laws without grassroots support and time. 

That's when I stepped in. Separately, to Goggin and Drazkowski, I suggested a quick fix.

If riding on a state highway is illegal, even when that state highway is essentially a city street (with a speed limit in the 30s), why not just pass a bill that says state highways with speed limits in the 30s in rural towns be treated like all other city streets in that town for ATV and UTV access? 

Drazkowski said the idea had so much common sense it might work. "You should run for the Legislature," he joked.

At least I hope he was joking. 

"I can't be in the Legislature," I said. "I have too much common sense."

Yeah, I said thatto a state lawmaker. Not my finest moment. So, maybe not all crazy things I hear come from other people.

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To his credit, Drazkowski laughed, so he's got a better sense of humor than some folks.

I'm Not A Lawyer, But ...

One of my least favorite things — next to man-on-the-street interviews, which as a rule reporters loathe — is driving to the Court of Appeals in St. Paul to listen to oral arguments on a case before the court. 

First, the parking near the Court of Appeals building is horrible. If Tim Walz fixes one thing during his time as our governor, this should be it. 

Health care? Education funding? Helping farmers in Minnesota? All that takes a backseat to getting me a good parking spot. 

Second, I trek up to the capital, park (see above!), get to the courtroom and then it is roughly 40 minutes of legalese and citations of obscure cases I can't catch the name of and wouldn't understand even if I did hear it clearly. 

The sign outside the courtroom says cell phones must be turned off, and I'm guessing part of that is they don't want reporters recording the proceedings with said phones. 

The final indignation of these hearings is this: I listen, I take notes, I write a story, then a verdict is delivered 90 days later. That's like going to a sporting match of a game you don't quite understand then being told, "Now that you're thoroughly confused, we'll tell you who won in three months."

Anyway, I was on hand to hear arguments between two environmental groups and the MPCA , and an attorney — I'm not naming names — told the three-judge panel that if a certain dairy farm project were to be allowed, the result would be more pollution impact than the entire city of Rochester. 

Think about that: roughly 4,500 cows vs. 120,000 people. Which generates more waste?

Like I said, I hear some crazy stuff. Without a peer-reviewed study on this proving me wrong, this might take the cake.

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