I realize a flu scare and even a big coke bust are front-page news, but the Strib doesn’t lead with its own poll results showing Gov. Pawlenty’s approval rating “lower than it’s ever been.” At 48 percent, TPaw still nets a plus-12 (36 percent disapprove), but he’s in the political danger zone. One reason: most Minnesotans reject his tax policies. When asked how to close the state’s deficit, 54 percent back tax hikes versus 40 percent who’d go the no-increase route.
More poll: Strib headline writers say the public favors “tax my neighbor policies,” and that’s true, assuming you don’t smoke, drink, earn lots or own a corporation. In order, the public likes higher taxes on booze (70 percent), tobacco (69 percent), the rich (67 percent) and corporations (57 percent). Only 37 percent favor a broad-based income tax, which Senate DFLers propose.
Still more poll: On the spending side, a majority favors cutting state aid to cities and counties, but no other areas. When it comes to state workers, the public sides with Pawlenty: 70 percent favor a two-year pay freeze and 59 percent back 24 unpaid furlough days per year. Ouch.
Taxophiles — and given the Strib’s polling, can we call them the “silent majority”? — will stage an anti-tea party at the Capitol May 11, the St. Paul Legal Ledger notes via a Dane Smith guest commentary. Smith, who heads Growth & Justice, says the rally advocates a balanced approach to cutting the state deficit. Radical. He notes the share of state wealth going to taxes is at a 10-year low, and our ranking among states has never been lower. (Growth & Justice was founded by MinnPost publisher Joel Kramer.)
In deference to pork producers, it’s now the H1N1 flu, the PiPress Ruben Rosario notes. Officials closed a Cold Spring Middle School after the state’s first likely outbreak, AP reports. There’s a 95 percent chance test results will come back positive, the Strib writes. Rocori Middle School is shuttered at least until the results are in. The female patient isn’t mortally sick; she came in contact with someone from Mexico. Gov. Pawlenty deployed a state plane to fly the sample to Atlanta’s Centers for Disease Control.
H1N1 snoutbreak: WCCO’s Heather Brown tries to calm everyone down, noting it isn’t the current iteration of flu that’s bad, it’s how it might mutate. Colleague Darcy Pohlad has a good Q&A, as does MPR’s Lorna Benson. Fox9 says Minneapolis parents will get a note from the school district today that outlines specific disinfecting steps; KSTP profiles one family who sought out a test after a Mexican trip.
Final flu: Benson says the state will have 600,000 courses of flu treatment, but don’t bug your doc; you probably won’t get the stuff unless you’re sick or were around someone who was. Because we all need to take a deep, unmasked breath, MPR’s Loophole offers a musical ode to H1N1.
It’s official: Minnesotans snort more than 5 kilos of coke a month. The Strib’s Paul McEnroe and Tony Kennedy say the feds busted a Texican ring that delivered 5-15 kilos of uncut nose candy here monthly. Three Minnesotans were indicted, the PiPress’ Mara Gottfried notes. One was a Stearns County worker with access to the Sheriff’s office. Homes in Bloomington, Brooklyn Park, Cold Spring, St. Cloud and Stearns County’s St. Wendel Township were searched.
Elsewhere, a Honduran immigrant who had $4,500 seized by the local gang strike force nine months ago is suing to get the dough back, the Strib’s Lora Pabst and Randy Furst write. Dagoberto Cardona has not been charged with a crime, and going to the media isn’t something a drug dealer usually does. The legislative auditor is investigating how the anti-gangbangers handle seizures after they took a $16,800 Hawaii trip. There’s a paper trial backing Cardona.
I’d love to make a bigger deal of the Minnesota Senate passing a medical marijuana bill, but the 36-28 margin isn’t veto-proof and it needs to be. The PiPress’ Jason Hoppin says the bill would allow patients to legally grow 12 plants or have 2.5 ounces of cannabis. Befitting actual life experiences with death and dying, this was not a straight party-line vote.
Elsewhere in the world of alleged sin, Minnesota officials have asked 11 Internet Service Providers to block access to 200 gambling websites. The Strib’s Paul Walsh says a 48-year-old federal law gives them authority. At least one St. Paul gambler has offered to be arrested as a test case; he claims $2,000 per week in winnings, which should help pay for the lawyers. Attorneys say it’s unclear whether the 1961 law applies, and of course, whether the blockage could possibly stick.
Lefties will spend 10 grand on ads urging Gov. Pawlenty to sign an election certificate should the Supreme Court uphold Al Franken’s Senate win, the PiPress’ Rachel Stassen-Berger reports. It’s amazing this is even an issue, but I suppose this is more seemly that spending 10 grand asking the court to order Pawlenty’s signature. The cable ads are sponsored by Americans United for Change and other groups.
I’m involved in this issue from the citizen side, so without comment will pass along a Strib editorial telling parents angered about southeast Minneapolis school closings to accept administration plans.
There’s nothing quite like a legislative fight over the great outdoors. MPR’s Stephanie Hemphill says the hook-and-bullets crowd is mad that new sales-tax money might go to “native biological communities,” protecting endangered species and fighting invasive exotics, with less emphasis on things you can catch or shoot. The DNR agrees with the game hunters and a state citizen’s board, but other conservationists side with legislators. Angry Dennis Anderson column in 3…2…1….
Minneapolis and St. Paul lack the appetite to enact transfats bans, the Strib’s Steve Brandt and Chris Havens report. Both city councils made noises about the healthful, commie action, but a bad economy is already nailing restaurants and tight city budgets inhibit the artery police. There’s some hope Congress will enact the cholesterol cleansing top-down.
The Downtown Journal’s Dylan Thomas reports that the Cherry will return to the Spoonbridge May 1. Thomas notes, “This was the first time the 1,200-pound steel orb was removed and completely stripped of paint. It was then covered in six coats of protective undercoating, two coats of black and red marine-grade paint and a final clear coat to protect the paint from ultraviolet rays.”
Freak beat: Minneapolis cabbie fills three councilmembers’ voicemail boxes with “French language” complaints; 54 messages in two days to one official, Brandt reports. Trouble is, James Huseby has a city license. So to keep it, he’s ordered to anger management counseling, forbidden to call politicians directly, and limited to one call to the city per day. Meanwhile, nutzis are baiting Lakeville South High with Confederate flags, the PiPress’ Maricella Miranda notes.
I’m not sure I want to live in a world where a new Trader Joe’s fails to lure other tenants to a commercial development. The PiPress’ Gita Sitaramiah says St. Paul’s Randolph & Lexington will still get the trendy grocer this summer.
Nort spews: Nick Blackburn and the Twins beat the Rays 8-3; Sore Loser here and here. Minnesota is back to .500 (11-11), though with 14 home games under their belts, they remain underperformers.