Michael Brodkorb broadsides lawyer

Secret meeting with senators wasn't sanctioned

Michael Brodkorb met Monday with Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem and his deputy, Julianne Ortman, without informing his attorney, Phillip Villaume.

Villaume found out about the meeting from a reporter at MPR and was alarmed about what he said was a by-chance meeting. When we pointed out that Sen. Senjem confirmed having a 20-minute meeting with Brodkorb, Villaume called it a problem.

"As I said, it wasn't lawyer-sanctioned. We knew nothing about it. We were blindsided by this," Villaume said. "I would not have authorized it nor would I have sanctioned the meeting under any circumstances since both parties are represented by counsel."

Villaume kept saying he's "not too happy" about the meeting.

"It's unusual and peculiar and I'm obviously not happy about it but what's happened happened," Villaume said.

Brodkorb has been threatening litigation against the Minnesota Senate for months over his December firing. He lost his plum gig as the Senate Republican caucus's communications chief following the resignation of his paramour, Amy Koch. Koch, the former Senate majority leader, resigned after senators confronted her about the affair with Brodkorb.

Reached for comment, both Koch and Brodkorb declined to discuss the meeting with Republican leaders. —Gregory Pratt

PETA bleats

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals alleges that Lake Superior Zoo staff acted negligently when 13 or 14 animals died during last week's flash flood.

The animal rights group says the animals shouldn't have been left in a position to drown. Kristin Simon, senior cruelty caseworker for PETA, pointed out during a phone interview with the Duluth News Tribune that flash-flood warnings had been issued in the Duluth area, and cited a 2010 flood in making a case that staff should've been better prepared.

"At the very least, PETA would like to see the zoo put standard emergency operating procedures into place," she said. "It's just a shame that this kind of tragedy was required for common sense to kick in."

Three birds — a turkey vulture, a raven, and a snowy owl — plus six sheep, four goats, and a donkey are believed to have died as Kingsbury Creek overflowed, though the raven may have flown away. A seal escaped and crossed Grand Avenue, and a polar bear got out of her exhibit only to be tranquilized before she left the zoo premises. The zoo's two seals and the polar bear are now at St. Paul's Como Zoo.

"It's difficult to imagine the terror that [the drowning] animals experienced, having no way to escape as the water engulfed them," said Daphna Nachminovitch, PETA VP of cruelty investigations.

But Sam Maida, CEO of the Lake Superior Zoological Society, which manages the zoo, blamed the animal deaths on a failed water culvert and a relentless 18-hour rainfall that nobody could've foreseen.

Referring to PETA, Maida said, "Obviously, they were not here to experience it. Taking the zoo and isolating it with all that went on in the counties around here with $100 million worth of damage in the area — I think taking it out of context is somewhat dangerous." —Aaron Rupar

Mayor of the World

Sure, Minneapolis (mostly) loves R.T. Rybak, but who knew he was internationally renowned?

Rybak, mayor of Minneapolis for just over a decade, is a finalist for the 2012 World Mayor Prize. The contest is organized by the City Mayors Foundation, an international think tank founded in 2003 "to promote, encourage and facilitate good, open and strong local government."

Rybak is one of 25 international finalists, and one of four from the United States, along with Stephanie Rawlings-Blake of Baltimore, John Cook of El Paso, and Cory Booker of Newark. Booker, you might remember, raced into a burning home in April and hauled a neighbor to safety. So unless you think persuading recalcitrant council members to support a new Vikings stadium is a comparable feat, it looks like R.T. faces some pretty stiff competition. —Aaron Rupar

 
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