Oy: TIZA. Strib columnist Katherine Kersten has crusaded against an Arabic charter school for promoting Islam; following Monday’s state report, the Strib says the public school has no problems in classroom or after-school education. The PiPress’s take: “State dispels suspicions.” Both papers note two state “concerns”: a too-long communal Friday prayer shouldn’t be adult-led and on-site; and a busing schedule favors after-school Muslim programming. Did Kersten’s allegations hold up? I review the checkered record here.
More TIZA: KSTP — which helped fan Kersten’s flames — says TIZA officials “attacked” a station cameraman yesterday. The video seems to confirm that, and it’s never, ever cool. However: The video shows that just before the attack, KSTP was taping school kids. A reporter calls it an “innocent start,” but most journalists get releases when photographing school kids — and that’s at typical schools; this one’s been battered by repeated threats.To me, KSTP was within its rights but acting stupid; TIZA wildly overreacted. No heroes here.
What more did we learn in Day Two after the state budget deal? The Strib’s “If You Are …” story too cutely quips that school administrators “may not need another bake sale to meet your budget” — a second Strib piece notes that the new funds will only plug $20 million of $75 million in projected cuts at 36 districts next school year. KSTP has a good look at impacts in Osseo and Minneapolis.
MPR’s Art Hughes reports that University of Minnesota and state-college officials say they’ll be no extra tuition hikes to cover cuts from the budget deal. Tuition will inevitably rise, but the U has scrapped plans for a whopping 9.5 percent increase, for example. It seems likely to stick with a still-gulpy 7.5 percent hike. The U is relying on faculty buyouts to cut costs. The school is awash in construction cash, thanks to the bonding bill.
How will local governments cope with the new property tax cap? MPR’s Chris Gilbert observes that there are two dozen exemptions; Minneapolis will take advantage of some to balance its budget. Higher local government aid from the state will also help. St. Paul will get fully a tenth of the total local-government aid increase, but the $6 million is less than half the city’s $13 million deficit. Counties are screaming louder.
KSTP reports that Hennepin County may close a suburban courthouse
to cope with criminal-justice-system cuts. The state court system will
have to lop off $2.8 million on top of a $13 million deficit it already
faced. Even before the cuts, 7 percent of court positions were unfilled.
Interesting budget details: The Gov. Pawlenty-mocked Chatfield Brass Band and Music Lending Library got bonding money. The PiPress says the defunct Gopher State Ethanol plant will stop receiving state subsidies. The guv vetoed a moved to let workers use sick time to care for ill or injured relatives. His loudly touted get-tough-on-illegal-immigrant proposals died quietly.
A Star Tribune Minnesota Poll gives Pawlenty a 54 percent approval rating — pretty good, though the 37 percent disapproval is the highest ever. The poll terms the public “indifferent” about voting for McCain if he names Pawlenty VP; it doesn’t provide a breakout for independents. A majority say it’s OK for Pawlenty to go for the nation’s No. 2 spot.
The Strib’s Pat Lopez burnishes DFL House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher’s leadership rep with tales of her barking at flinty DFL Senate leader Larry Pogemiller and outfoxing Republican leaders on vetoes. Junkies will revel in Tom Rukavina being brought to heel while gubernatorial spokesman Brian McClung gets a plum recommendation. Money quote from Pawlenty on the two DFL leaders: “It’s not always me against them. Sometimes, it’s them against them.”
In the wake of the Todd County family barred from church, the Strib’s Pam Louwagie and Curt Brown look deeper at “accommodating autism.” It’s an issue in more than one church, they report. An untested state law says people with disabilities can’t be barred without a direct health/safety threat to others. The Todd church says the son “struck a child during mass … pulled an adolescent girl to his lap and revved the engine of someone else’s car.”
The Strib’s Steve Brandt says the Legislature made it easier for Minneapolis to pay off Target Center while effectively creating a successor to the 20-year, $300 million Neighborhood Revitalization Program. An unspecified amount will come from extending taxing districts that funded NRP, but now the city, not a joint-powers group, controls the cash. Council members will determine how much goes to the basketball palace and how much to neighborhood priorities.
Today’s talker: Man hides gun in crib where his 3-month-old twins were sleeping, Fox9 reports. Good parenting apparently goes out the window when the SWAT team is bursting through your door.
Nort spews: it was all-you-can-eat night at last night’s Twins game, and apparently all-you-can-watch, too. Bobby Korecky got the win in a 7-6, 12-inning marathon versus Texas. Korecky also became the first Minnesota pitcher since 1973 to get a hit in an American League game. There’s another pig-out night tonight.