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Nuke-plant spill takes 'clean' energy a bit too far

AFTERNOON EDITION

How do you make a chlorine spill seem benign? When you do it at a nuclear plant! Prescott, Wis., schoolkids nearly got a “Clorox day” when sodium hypochloride — bleach to you and me — leaked from a tank in the Prairie Island nuke plant screenhouse. With the spill originally described as a “release,” MPR’s Tim Nelson reports that kids ultimately enjoyed a mere two-hour start-time delay. The Pioneer Press’ Brady Gervais and Rhoda Fukushima say a 2-inch PVC pipe broke on a 500-gallon tank, but no bleach hit the river. The bleach was used to treat water used in cooling.

The Best Buy bashing continues: This time, Bloomberg’s Tara Lachapelle speculates the sagging retailer is a prime target for a leveraged buyout. Best Buy suffered a blistering fisking a few days ago when a Forbes blogger ripped the service and proclaimed company is “Going out of Business … Gradually.” (The post — which contains factual errors, including Best Buy’s “recent” acquisition of Geek Squad … in 2002 — now claims 1.6 million views.) Lachapelle notes Best Buy’s stock fell nearly a third in 2011, and now trades at a very low multiple of the cash it still throws off. The idea is, buy the company cheap, commandeer the cash. As the Mpls-St. Paul Business Journal’s Mark Reilly points out, Best Buy founder Richard Schulze owns 20 percent of the company and would be an LBO obstacle, but with the stock tanking, anyone might reach for a golden lifeboat, even one that lacks an extended warranty. By the way, the company’s P.R. pros and advocates have been resolutely mute in the face of this chattering-class bashing. For an industry built on “wow factor,” letting depressing news go uncountered can’t help sales.

Meanwhile, Target had another lousy month. AP’s Mae Anderson says the retailer lowered earnings expectations after December same-store sales rose a bare 1 percent over a year earlier. Common thread with our other foundering mega-retailer? Lousy electronics sales. (Another factor: Both companies have crappy websites, not that such things are important these days.) Target profits did rise 2.6 percent — I hear those are kinda important — but the sales “jump” was a third of what analysts expected, so the stock lost 4 percent of its value in opening trading. By the way, remember these sober January pieces when you read all that excited “Black Friday sales up” November copy.

Gov. Mark Dayton has given Minneapolis and Ramsey County a Vikings stadium ultimatum: Have your plans ready by close of business Jan. 12, or else. The Strib's Mike Kaszuba and Rochelle Olson reprint parallel letters to the respective jurisdictions asking for "as much detailed information as possible about your proposed means to finance your local share of the project" and "the reasons you believe your site to be superior." The Strib's Eric Roper says Minneapolis is scrambling for a vettable financing plan.

You’d be forgiven if you thought Wednesday’s Strib front-page “Wilf shows sketches for two downtown sites” headline signaled heightened Vikings interest in a Minneapolis stadium. Finance and Commerce’s Burl Gilyard reports that the Vikes didn’t signal their ardor by commissioning new art; officials simply used existing drawings when discussing legislative stadium desires with new Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem. Wouldn’t be the first time the media overhyped this story.

Godless homosexuals and their fellow travelers will have to parse their feelings about Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede. The Rochester Post-Bulletin’s Jeff Pieters reports that Brede’s “State of the City” address included a plea against the Minnesota GOP’s (anti-)marriage constitutional amendment, but for an “official prayer” before Council meetings. That last one sounds like the sort of constitutional oxymoron George Carlin would lampoon, a la “jumbo shrimp.” Speaking of shrimp, if you enjoy critiques of biblical literalism in the marriage debate, check out “God Hates Shrimp” and the latest machine-narrated “So You Support the Minnesota Marriage Amendment.”

My wife cringed when I told her about the Giant Duluth Baby. The Duluth News Tribune’s John Lundy reports the whopper — er, child — was 15 pounds, 7 ounces. So basically, 36-year-old mom Gina Calistro emitted a decent-sized Thanksgiving turkey. Michael Robert Calistro-Gomulak was born Sept. 28 — Caesarian, natch — and is the fourth-biggest newborn in Minnesota Health Department records since 1990. Mom reports son is now “healthy as a horse,” though we hope more Shetland than Secretariat.

Presented for your amusement: “Tim Pawlenty’s Caucus Day Diary,” from the slicksters at New York magazine.

Former Minneapolis Tribune editor Chuck Bailey’s death is cause for tributes and — as these things often are — a cudgel against modern-day journalism. Bailey, who ran the Trib in the '70s up to the merger with the Star, is warmly remembered by ex-Stribber/current MPR guy Eric Ringham and by ex-Strib columnist Nick Coleman. In case you thought the peppery Coleman never liked an editor, read “The Last Decent Newspaperman.” Together with MinnPost’s reprinting a Bailey speech and a New York Times obit, we learned Bailey loved ombudspeople, contextualized business needs, gave young reporters international assignments, wrote non-promotional editor’s columns and resigned over staff cuts. Yes, it was an era when newspaper profit margins were huge, but Bailey’s principles continue to resonate.

Nort spews: Ex-Twin pitcher Kevin Slowey — so lustily mocked by local scribes as a brainiac whiner — is on the verge of surmounting Mount Kilimanjaro, the Strib’s Paul Walsh notes. Surprised Slowey’s new club, the Rockies, let him. Even more surprised Jim Souhan hasn’t made a rockslide joke yet.

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Comments (4)

Brede’s suggested “official prayer” before Council meetings does sounds like a constitutional oxymoron to fans of that document, Brian.

But as oxymoron’s go, it's certainly no more egregious than "gay marriage" is to fans of science, human biology, common sense and tradition...

@1: Science and biology have not a word to say about marriage, and tradition says the opposite of what you think it does. You can keep your "common sense".

David: In reality, newspaper profit margins were far smaller in Chuck Bailey's day than they are now... The Cowles family usually was happy with a 6 or 7-perent return. It was only the pornographic takeovers and profit-thirsty investment bankers and equity pirates who came along in the '90s who started demanding 25- and 30-perent profits. Interesting, isn't it: Bailey's unafraid and unapologetic kind of community journalism went down the toilet only after the newsroom MBAs of today came along and killed the goose that laid the golden eggs.

Please give us more history Mr Coleman. It is desperately needed. Where is today's Cowles family ? Someone who can do fair.