“Goodbye to St. Paul city government as you know it.” The PiPress’ Dave Orrick and Mara Gottfried have a way with a lede, detailing the “likely scenario” resulting from Gov. Pawlenty’s proposed $44 million Capital City aid cut. Among the details: 67 of 580 cops gone, half the street lights turned off, eight of 33 rec centers shuttered, library hours slashed. Oh, and 4 inches of snow, not 3, would trigger a plowing emergency.
Minnesota’s budget will get at least $2 billion from the stimulus bill, but the PiPress’ Bill Salisbury provides the necessary caveats. The governor has already included $920 million in his month-old plan, and the deficit is expected to grow by a billion or two. That would mean we’re no better off than we were in January — and maybe a bit worse. Still, the Strib’s Pat Lopez notes there’s another $1 billion outside the general fund budget, “and possibly more once competitive grants are included.” (MinnPost coverage here and here.)
Related: MPR’s Tim Post teases out the stimulus impact on local higher ed. Administrators are bummed there’s little for brick-and-mortar, but there’s also the biggest expansion of Pell Grants ever and other financial aid spiffs. People, not buildings, right?
Reporters can barely hide their chortles at the Senate election contest’s Bizarro World, where Republicans argue for loose interpretations of voting laws and Dems are the sticklers. The PiPress’ Rachel Stassen-Berger details a judge’s poorly concealed disdain for one Coleman extra-legal claim. The invaluable Uptake has the priceless video here. MPR’s Elizabeth Stawicki highlights a loophole-laden contradiction in Franken’s argument. A ruling narrowing the ballot pool could come any minute. (MinnPost coverage here.)
Logical sign of the times: day-care providers are sucking wind as un- or underemployed Minnesotans find less reason to offshore their kids, the Strib’s Jean Hopfensperger reports. There are even infant spots available! One agency says placement calls are down 37 percent from January 2008.
Apparently, Twin Cities law firms got together and decided Thursday was the day everyone would do layoffs. The Strib’s David Phelps documents the carnage: 27 lawyers at regional giant Faegre, 33 staffers at Merchant & Gould, and a handful at two other firms. Bubble business has evaporated, though Merchant’s managing director kicks his ex-employees in the ass by noting cuts were performance-related. One observer says big firms with fancy offices are most in danger.
At Georgia-based Delta’s behest, Northwest’s flights are switching to peanuts, and kids will apparently die. The Strib’s Suzanne Ziegler has an excellent rundown on the issues with allergies; we all thought Northwest was being cheap when they dumped goobers years ago, but there are 1.5 million Americas with nut allergies, requiring complex notification and seating logistics. All this to please the Peanut State.
TCF gets to take a bigger bite out of customer wallets by moving its charter to South Dakota, which has no usury limits. Jobs-wise, it’s a nothing-burger: Bill Cooper’s employees will continue to enjoy Minnesota’s quality of life, the PiPress’ Nicole Garrison-Sprenger reports. The Strib’s Chris Serres says lower taxes and regulatory costs were factors; Minnesota coffers will suffer. SoDak-based banks can blow past Minnesota’s interest-rate limits, which should hit TCF’s blue-collar base.
MPR’s Bob Collins offers a pointed data point on hospital finances: North Memorial had $1 million in unpaid patient bills in 2007; last year, it was $8 million. I’m betting that amount won’t decline this year. Finance and Commerce’s Scott Carlson has a rundown on deteriorating numbers; in the third quarter of 2008, the hospital system’s net loss was 2.5 percent. That’s before an estimated $690 million in state budget cuts.
Collins also has a fascinating report on a meeting between media reps and local Somalis. The script will be familiar to other minorities: Please stop anointing people our leaders (secular source Omar Jamal’s ears might be burning), why don’t you report the good news, where are people who look like us on your staffs? An MPR reporter cops to sourcing problems, a TV reporter complains of too little time for reporting, and National Public Radio — gasp! — gets bashed.
For the ninth year in a row, DFL legislators voted down a Voter ID bill. According to Forum Communications’ Scott Wente, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie says he polled local clerks and found no reports of identity fraud. Smart Politics’ Eric Ostermeier, who champions the popularity of such legislation, notes the relevant House committee is stacked not just with DFLers, but ones from safe districts. The Dem with the tightest race voted with the Republicans.
A protest whose time has come: Minnesota Independent’s Paul Schmelzer chronicles an activist’s plan to have the homeless occupy Minneapolis foreclosures on Valentine’s Day. Cheri Honkala, who was behind a Harriet Island encampment during the Republican National Convention, notes that shelters are becoming overwhelmed, so why not go where the roofs are?
Minnesota State University System profs have tentatively agreed to eschew raises through June 2011 2010, the PiPress’ Brady Gervais writes.
Development, ho! Finance and Commerce’s Burl Gilyard says Opus Northwest and Greco Development are teaming for a fourth big apartment complex in Minneapolis’ Lyn-Lake area. Don’t get too excited; financing is “something we’re still working on,” says one partner.
Proving again that it’s the Saintly City, St. Paul outdoor rinks remain open as Minneapolis closes its outdoor ice sheets, the Strib reports. Minneapolis blames rain and damage to underlying athletic fields. KSTP notes the advantages of St. Paul’s refrigerated rinks; does the artificial freezing survive the budget cuts?
Nort spews: The Wild were peppered by Detroit 4-2, falling to seventh in the Western Conference. The Strib’s Jim Souhan offers a marvelous take on the Vikings’ recent stadium rant here.