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Best Buy CEO Dunn takes a ripping ... on his own blog

MORNING EDITION

Well, since you asked … . Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn ripped into company critics on his blog and left it open for comments. What happened next takes very little imagination. MPR’s story says: “ … Dunn recently used his blog to lash out at what he believes is some unfair media coverage. But that blog post prompted a flood of comments from Best Buy customers and employees alike, detailing gripes about prices, customer service, return policies, extended warranties, and credit card pitches. In his post about media coverage, Dunn blasted critics who "question the validity of Best Buy's business model. Dunn didn't cite any particular articles, but a recent Forbes magazine commentary saying Best Buy is ‘headed for exits,’ has attracted more than 2.3 million page views. Dunn left his post open for comments and while some respondents supported Dunn, the vast majority ripped into him and his company. ... Most comments about Dunn's post were harsh and anonymous, but some left names. One employee who did not leave a name wrote that she has felt as though she's a ‘used car saleswoman instead of treating the customer with respect and making sure their needs are met.’ Another commenter said company officials told him to entice customers into buying service plans they don't need. Dunn was not available for an interview, but in a blog post Wednesday the CEO said he is listening and thanked everyone who responded to his previous post. He said the comments were candid and informative and ‘exactly what we look for when we reach out to you.' " Really? "Exactly what we look for"?

Maybe this will be the year they actually get serious about jobs. Dennis Lien’s PiPress story on the DFL’s session plans says: “Gov. Mark Dayton and top Democratic-Farmer-Labor lawmakers proposed a jobs plan Wednesday that they contended would put thousands of unemployed Minnesotans back to work. At a press conference, they unveiled measures ranging from a $775 million borrowing package for construction projects that will be announced next week to a proposed tax credit that would encourage businesses to add new employees. ... Republican leaders gave it a cool reception later in the day. ‘While I concur with Governor Dayton's goal to create more jobs in Minnesota, I disagree with an approach that spends more money without addressing needed reform and relies on short-term bonding projects to grow our economy,’ House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, said in a statement.”

Despite the opposition of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s advisory is for a Minneapolis-Chicago high-speed rail link to go through Milwaukee. Says Frederick Melo at the PiPress: “ [S]o says the Minnesota Department of Transportation, which recently forwarded its high-speed rail "draft alternatives selection report" to the Ramsey County Regional Rail Authority. The high-speed rail line would follow an existing Amtrak route to the land of ‘Laverne and Shirley’ and ‘Happy Days.’ The rail authority, which is composed of the seven-member board of Ramsey County Commissioners, reviewed and endorsed the plans on Tuesday by unanimous vote.”

Why, you could intoxicate me with feather wine ... Our fine neighbors to the east are national leaders … when it comes to binge drinking. At the New York Times, Tara Pope blogs: “Binge drinking was least common in Utah, where just 11 percent of adults reported a binge. It was most common in Wisconsin, where nearly 26 percent of the adult population drinks excessively. Wisconsin binge drinkers also put away the most alcohol, averaging nine drinks per occasion. The frequency of binge drinking was lowest in New Jersey, where the binges happen just 3.6 times a month, and highest in Kentucky, where binges occur 5.9 times a month. ... The C.D.C. says that binge drinking accounted for more than half of the 80,000 annual deaths associated with excessive drinking. In 2010, 85 percent of all alcohol-impaired driving arrests or accidents involved  people who also reported binge drinking. However, most people who binge-drink are not dependent on alcohol, the agency reports.” According to a similar survey from 2007, Minnesotans are binging quite a bit more these days.

It’s a lovely building … but $241 million to fix it up? Nicole Norfleet at the Strib reports on the ever-escalating tab for refurbishing the Capitol: “A report from the Capitol Preservation Commission cites several problems: Among other issues, the Capitol's stone exterior is deteriorating and its mechanical and plumbing systems are nearing the end of their useful lives. There isn't a smoke control system and only a limited sprinkler system. There are also layout problems that make it difficult for the public to find legislators. ‘It is clear that the building has reached a point that it can no longer continue to function through remodels or small restoration projects,’ the report stated. ‘The time has come to address the larger issues of architectural integrity, building function and life safety and security.’ The report said legislators could put the total cost in a single bonding bill or spread it out over as many as three bonding years.” A quarter of a billion?! I mean, good god, it’s not like they play football there or something.

This just in … Ramsey County is still “not dead yet” … in terms of getting the Vikings to move over. Tim Nelson at MPR says: “Ramsey County officials say they're going to sweeten their effort to win the NFL sweepstakes and take on their crosstown rivals. ‘We're not dead yet,’ said Deputy County Manager Heather Worthington, who is on the team that is hammering out the proposal. They're still working on it, albeit in the shadow of the stadium debate in Minneapolis. Minneapolis is expected to offer its own plan, either at the current Metrodome site or near the Basilica of St. Mary. Minneapolis is pledging millions in public subsidy, and says the city's transit and amenities make it the best home for the NFL. … Lee Mehrkens, Ramsey County finance director, said they think they have secured more money to pay the bill. He won't specify where that extra revenue will come from, but said it will be detailed in the county's final paperwork Thursday.” My guess is Central Corridor LRT excavators discovered a lost racino under the Snelling-University intersection.             

Cargill, meet SuperValu. The big local grocer took its hit in quarterly earnings. Mike Hughlett of the Strib writes of "reported sales declines for its most recent quarter that were bigger than Wall Street expected, prompting investors to punish the struggling grocery giant. Its shares fell 12.5 percent, making it the day's second-biggest percentage loser in the Standard & Poor's 500 index. The quarterly results were a reminder that despite intensive rebuilding efforts, Eden Prairie-based Supervalu has yet to regain crucial sales momentum, outflanked by discount food retailers like Wal-Mart and even competing traditional supermarket chains. Supervalu, one of the country's largest supermarket operators and owner of leading Twin Cities grocer Cub Foods, posted a fiscal third-quarter net loss of $750 million, or $3.54 per share, compared with a loss of $202 million, or 95 cents per diluted share, a year earlier.”

Hot Eau Claire music act Bon Iver has been scheduled for “Saturday Night Live” on Feb. 4. Says Chris Riemenschneider at the Strib: “Feb. 4 is the date Bon Iver is set to perform on 'SNL,' still the biggest gig on TV that a band can get outside of awards shows and the Super Bowl half-time. Eau Claire’s indie-rocker-to-the-stars (Justin Vernon) plans to squeeze his whole nine-piece band onto the puny ‘SNL’ stage, something the Arcade Fire proved can be done. Between this and Monday’s announcement of the Coachella lineup with Bon Iver as a main-stage act, it looks like things will continue to steamroll for Vernon in 2012.”

Also in Wisconsin, a GOP legislator wants to close out some of (what little is left of) that pesky campaign contribution disclosure business. Clay Barbour of the Wisconsin State Journal reports: “The measure, sponsored by Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, would do away with a provision in state election law that requires those who donate more than $100 during a calendar year [to] reveal their employer. The disclosure law is meant as a way of preventing business owners from secretly donating money to campaigns through their employees. But this year, during the heated protests over collective bargaining, those same reports were sometimes used to protest or boycott businesses that supported Gov. Scott Walker and other Republicans. ‘To restore civility and help our business climate, we have to leave businesses off these reports,’ Grothman said. Grothman's bill would strike the employer requirement, leaving only the need for donors to list their occupation. Grothman said the proposal is necessary because ... ‘public unions don't care about business, they only care about creating friction.’ Grothman said he had only ‘anecdotal’ evidence of this being a problem.” And what sort of an anarchist troublemaker thinks that isn’t good enough?

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Comments (11)

// There are also layout problems [in the Capitol] that make it difficult for the public to find legislators.

Some legislators might consider that to be a building "feature" instead of a problem.

". . . what sort of an anarchist troublemaker thinks that isn’t good enough?" Good enough for me. I'd just like to know the names of the employers asked Grothman to sponsor this legislation. Somebody must have been feeling some heat somewhere in Wisconsin this last year.

Also #1 John: Do you mean the fact that the legislators' offices are in the State Office Building not the Capitol?

So let me get this straight: The question is no longer whether to build the Vikings a stadium, but where? Zigi must take us for a bunch of rubes, which, of course, we are.

So I was going to make a joke about the legislature's business model requiring more luxury boxes for the lobbyists. Then I thought maybe I'd ask whether if the citizens refuse to fund the refurbishment, the legislature might move to Los Angeles. But these are such low-hanging fruit, I decided just to skip it.

A $3,000 tax credit isn't going to convince me to hire an employee I don't need and who won't make me money, any more than the lack of such a credit will keep me from hiring an employee I need who will make me money.

What's a quarter of a billion dollars these days? We've spent that much on a depot to nowhere in St. Paul and we're about to spend twice as much for the prestige of hosting the NFL's worst team for another 30 years. (Frankly, it's the only one of the three worth the investment, if only because it's such a marvelous bit of architecture. Too, I suspect it will attract more visitors to St. Paul than the depot. Give me an address and I'll happily send my check to cover my family's share.)

If Supervalu/Cub needs help figuring out why its sales are down, I suggest a tour of the nearest Rainbow, for a comparison of prices. Food prices are up everywhere, but even the Cub employees I know are shopping at Rainbow for those items to which their employee discount does not apply. (Don't these folks even bother to compare their Sunday ads?)

"public unions don't care about business, they only care about creating friction"

It's good to see the mail finally got to Wisconsin.

"A $3,000 tax credit isn't going to convince me to hire an employee I don't need and who won't make me money, any more than the lack of such a credit will keep me from hiring an employee I need who will make me money. "

You're right, but the $3000 credit would be for employers who hire workers who are already unemployed (not just job-switchers), veterans, or recent college graduates. These are the people having the hardest time finding work. While a tax credit certainly won't make you decide to hire someone, it may make a difference in whom you hire (if they were equally qualified, would you hire the employee who could get you a tax credit over one who could not?).

"It's good to see the mail finally got to Wisconsin." Not if they could only import some book learnin' and cipherin'.

To reprise part of my letter published in the PP two months ago: Why not tear down the outmoded, 106-year-old, crumbling Capitol and arrange for the (preferably downsized, unicameral) Legislature to meet in the nearby Economy Inn, then build a new Vikings stadium on the old Capitol site. It's handy to bars, restaurants, freeways and light rail! This plan would avoid the $241 million ($200 million a couple months ago) cost of fixing up the Capitol; that money could go toward the stadium. Legislators would be easier to find, and they could enjoy a Continental breakfast before starting work each day!

#2 Representatives and some senate offices are in the SOB as it is unironically called but some (I believe the majority party) Senator offices are in the capitol.

"Wisconsin binge drinkers also put away the most alcohol, averaging nine drinks per occasion."

That's the average? Yikes.