Anderson: Ode to fishing and dissing Kahn

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 9, 2013 - 11:13 PM

The walleye opener will be welcome getaway from fishy business going on at the Legislature over Legacy funds.


The weather was brutal for the 2008 fishing opener at Upper Red Lake, but at least there was open water. This year, some northern lakes are in danger of being ice-covered come the May 11 fishing opener.

That the Minnesota Legislature can be convened — as it will be Saturday — at the same time the state’s walleye season opens suggests the yin and yang of everything.

Seemingly opposites, the two instead are complementary. The latter, fishing, is a celebration, while the former reminds us what a gathering of fools is capable of. In the process, we recall also, as Keats argued, of the necessity of beauty, manifested as it will be Saturday by the purr of outboards, the slap of waves and the tug — just maybe — of walleyes.

And how a person needs to fish after a winter like the one just past! No matter that ice will blanket some northern lakes. Come Saturday morning, wherever in the state open water can be found, Minnesotans en masse will make their own decisions about where to fish, when to fish and how to fish; actions that, like Fourth of July parades, are the essence of freedom.

But first, today, Friday, on the eve of the opener, the Minnesota House will debate its Legacy bill, rearranged as the measure has been by Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis.

A legislator since 1972 — that’s no typo — Kahn’s meanderings this session as chair of the House Legacy Committee were amusing, to a point. Attendees got to hear the importance she ascribes to ducks eating “breakfast and lunch” near her downtown Minneapolis home before flying on, presumably, to dinner in more typical haunts. And many of her committee attendees will not soon forget Kahn’s soliloquy about the Legislature’s Easter-Passover break, during which she had lots of houseguests and big meals to fix. Which is why, she said, she didn’t have time to explain further to the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council why she was padding the budgets of metro parks at the expense of the Outdoor Heritage Fund (OHF). Or explain to the council why she wanted to switch the fund’s expenditures from annual to biennial.

But so it goes in the Legislature, and knowing this, supporters of the 2008 constitutional amendment that raised the sales tax fractionally to benefit game, fish and wildlife, parks and trails, and the arts and cultural heritage, bypassed the Capitol, offering their proposal instead directly to voters.

Legislators, lest we forget, had over many decades proved themselves incapable of funding the state’s natural resources adequately, and incapable also of leaving their sticky fingers off money intended to clean the state’s waters and to otherwise ensure that future generations of Minnesotans can fish, bird, hike, hunt, swim and otherwise recreate outdoors as past generations have.

Constitutionally, the OHF is intended for game, fish and wildlife habitat. And in the past four years, the 12-member, citizen-dominated Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council that screens OHF projects has performed its duties fairly, transparently and expertly, and recommended the best, most cost-effective projects to the Legislature.

Kahn, et al, see things differently. Their apparent concern has been less with the council’s intelligently developed statewide conservation plan or how the state’s fragile ecosystems interconnect to support its economy and traditions, than with directing more OHF cash to their districts, arguing that the metro is where most Minnesotans live.

To that end, they concocted a plan to develop fish, game and wildlife habitat in … metro parks! Never mind the vast per-acre expense of the proposal or its questionable benefits — two among many reasons the Lessard-Sams council rejected the idea. Never mind as well that DNR, metro and outstate parks and trails have their own $42 million (annual) Legacy fund to cherry-pick.

What matters in the end, as Kahn has reminded us, is that she and other legislators have the power, as elected officials, to do as they please. And the rest of us do not.

Which brings us to today, Friday, the eve of the fishing opener.

It is true that Kahn is a formidable legislator and that she and her supporters have proved adept over many years at doing what they do.

But others over an equal period have aggregated in complementary force — the yang of the yin — and the trajectory of this paired whole through time and space has been, and will be, determined by what we call politics.

Issues of stadiums and taxes are decided similarly. But the stakes rise when the debate is natural resources conservation, and our course here is critical. Ultimately, over time, everyone’s fate will be at stake, and with luck, enough of Kahn’s colleagues realize as much, and will stand on the House floor today to say what she’s doing is wrong.

Either way, come Saturday, the rest of us are going fishing, aware, as Keats argued, of the need for beauty, manifested as it will be on the opener by the purr of outboards, the slap of waves and the tug — just maybe — of walleyes.


Dennis Anderson •

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Chicago 17 FINAL
Detroit 34
Philadelphia 33 FINAL
Dallas 10
Seattle 19 FINAL
San Francisco 3
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
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St. Louis
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Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Edmonton 0 FINAL(OT)
Nashville 1
Robert Morris 71
Santa Clara 57 FINAL
Tennessee 64
Oklahoma 59 FINAL
Butler 46
Austin Peay 79 FINAL
Brown 58
Princeton 56 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 62
Coastal Carolina 67 FINAL
Chattanooga 78
Kansas 76 FINAL
Rhode Island 60
Wisconsin 68 FINAL
Georgetown 65
USC Upstate 68
Long Island 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 73
San Diego 71 FINAL
Xavier 82
Illinois 88 FINAL
Indiana State 62
Cal State Fullerton 67 FINAL
Wright State 62
Western Ky 62 FINAL
Saint Josephs 59
Michigan State 77 FINAL
Rider 45
North Carolina 78
Long Beach State 73 FINAL
Western Mich 55
Marquette 72 FINAL
Georgia Tech 70
Stephen F Austin 73 FINAL
Prairie View 61
Florida 56
Rice 64 1st OT 1:38
Mercer 68
San Jose St 18 1st Half 3:09
Washington 31
Washington St 10:59 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Baylor 10:59 PM
Texas A&M 17
(6) TCU 48 FINAL
Texas 10
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
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Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
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Eastern Mich
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(17) Missouri
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South Alabama
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(12) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
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Virginia Tech
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Fla Atlantic
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(8) Georgia
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(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
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New Mexico
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Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
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(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
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Texas-El Paso
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Fresno State
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(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UCF 12/4/14 6:30 PM
East Carolina
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Hartford 43 FINAL
Furman 53
Clemson 77 FINAL
Ohio State 86
Idaho State 53 FINAL
San Diego State 68
East Carolina 58 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 69
Santa Clara 0 Cancelled
Texas-El Paso 0
Florida State 68 FINAL
Washington 80
Wichita State 39 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 56
Wisconsin 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 67
Kansas State 0 Cancelled
BYU-Hawaii 52
Charlotte 58 FINAL
Montana 67
Illinois 77 FINAL
(9) Kentucky 71
Central Michigan 61 FINAL
Richmond 56
Oklahoma 68 FINAL
South Florida 83
Princeton 72 FINAL
Wake Forest 55
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Butler 53
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