Daily Glean: Sign of things to come: cash-strapped school districts

Tanner Kent of the Mankato Free Press suggests that the Waseca school system might be a taste of things to come, as the school board recently passed a resolution to borrow $3 million to cover cash flow problems. Kent names other school districts that may follow suit, including St. James, Anoka-Hennepin, Hopkins, Edina and Roseville, some of whom are making plans to borrow as much as $15 million. What has happened? Kent lays the blame squarely at the feet of Tim Pawlenty delaying 27 percent of the state’s aid.

Pawlenty, meanwhile, has been on the road, testing out his message at various GOP events, should he decide to make a presidential run. (The Star Tribune also reports that Pawlenty was named vice chairman of the Republican Governors Association, a position of high visibility in the GOP.) And what is his message? Patricia Lopez of the Strib sums it up thusly: Voters “don’t want to follow cranks.”

Speaking of cranks: MinnPost’s own Doug Grow looks at the crowded collection of candidates throwing their hats in the ring for the next Minneapolis mayoral election, which will be the first in which voters use Instant Runoff Voting. As a result, pretty much any resident with $20 can run and potentially get votes from Minneapolitans who would otherwise have been skittish about casting votes for non-mainstream candidates, which means that such offbeat candidates as John Charles Wilson will be on the ballot. Wilson, by the way, believes that Laura Ingalls Wilder is God.

It’s three years since six imams were removed from a US Airways flight after complaints from other passengers, and it looks like the so-called Flying Imams will get their day in court, the AP reports. At the center of the case is a 2007 law passed by Congress — which was passed in response to the imams’ lawsuit — shielding tipsters who report suspected terrorist activity in good faith, which effectively prevented the imams from pursuing a discrimination lawsuit against the airline or their fellow passenger. However, U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery determined that the law does not protect law enforcement officials, saying Congress did nothing that changed the “traditional qualified immunity principles” they enjoy. “The right not to be arrested in the absence of probable cause is clearly established and … no reasonable officer could have believed that the arrest of plaintiffs was proper,” Montgomery concluded.

The Associated Press digs a little deeper into the case of the missing Minnesota Somali men, asking in the headline — at least in the New York Times version —  if the men are “Aspiring Fighters or Dupes? The question hinged on the story of 25-year-old Abdifatah Yusuf Isse, who was arrested in February. Isse claims he did not know he was signing on to fight with militants when he traveled to Somalia, instead thinking he had received a free flight to visit his grandmother. Minneapolis Somali activist Abdirizak Bihi, who is an uncle to one of the men who was killed in Somalia, is quoted: ”These guys were very naive.”

Although all the critics may love you in New York, as Prince once told us (although, typically, the singer swapped out the letter U for the word “you,” in the manner of a 10-year-old sending a text message), the New York media might not be as fond of you if they discover the competition has already booked you. The Pioneer Press reports that ABC was rather unkind to Kevin Heinz and Jill Peterson, who were responsible for that viral YouTube wedding dance video that your mother emailed you this weekend, and then your aunt emailed you, and then a distant cousin in Fargo emailed you. ABC had booked the newlyweds for its “Good Morning America” but then discovered the couple had pre-taped a segment for competitor NBC’s “Today” show. ABC responded by canceling the couple’s hotel room and flights. “New York is cutthroat,” the Strib quotes Heinz as saying. “That’s what we’ve learned.”

We don’t know precisely what Denny Hecker texted on Dec. 3, 2008, but we’re going to go ahead and just guess: “Got 2 go OMG hit a lite pole.” Elizabeth Baier of MPR reports that the auto mogul (her term) pleaded guilty Friday to careless driving, stating that he was texting when he hit a light pole last year. Included in his sentence will be a 30-day license suspension, a fact that will be especially satisfying to anybody annoyed by Hecker’s “Nobody Walks” ad campaign.

FOX9 sums up the chaos that ended this weekend: Seven people were shot on Sunday night in Minneapolis and St. Paul all within a 90 minute time span. The first call came at 7:45 p.m., when three men were reported wounded by gunfire, one critically, as the Star Tribune reports; the Strib also explains that shortly after this, a fourth shooting victim was taken to HCMC. “It’s unclear if the men were together when they were shot, or if they had exchanged gunfire with one another,” the Strib explains, also noting that it isn’t clear whether the fourth shooting was linked to the first three.

In the meanwhile, in St. Paul, at about 9 p.m., another shooting left one dead, two seriously wounded. Dave Orrick of the Pioneer Press runs down a fairly detailed description of a firefight in a vacant lot, drawing from eyewitness testimony from angry neighbors. “This is too much,” Orrick quotes one as saying. “We have small children, running and playing.”

In sports: The Pioneer Press offers up a retrospective from Tom Powers on some of the Twin’s goofiest players during their tenure at the Metrodome, including Rich Becker, who was exceptionally good at striking out, and David West, who was known for his remarkable flatulence. It’s hard not to wonder if the PiPress has been sitting on that story, as mocking the Twins, even as gently as this, might come off as petty when the team is losing. Thankfully, the Twins scored a decisive win over the Los Angeles Angels.

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Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by dan buechler on 07/27/2009 - 10:06 am.

    Why would edina and roseville have to take out bridge loans they have a good retail and property tax base? They also have an affluent student population.

  2. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 07/27/2009 - 12:11 pm.

    Edina, Roseville, and all other school districts in the state are quite severely restricted in their taxing authority. The state provides aid to local school districts from statewide income tax revenues (originally structured to equalize available resources across all school districts in the state no matter whether the local populace is richer or poorer). The state sets limits on what districts, themselves, can levy on local property owners, including limits on what districts can accomplish by vote of the local populace in the form of excess levy referenda.

    Now, when governor Pawlenty by personal fiat has decided to delay 27% of the state aid to local school districts promised by and passed by the legislature, those districts are simply not allowed to extract the difference from local taxpayers. Student fees could not possibly be raised enough to make up the difference (and here, too, state law severely restricts the types of fees that can be charged).

    There are a very few school districts that can make up the difference from cash reserves which they can pull out of the places they’re invested (thus losing the district that investment income). The vast majority of districts will have to borrow to make up the difference, thus costing (eventually) local taxpayers the interest necessary to procure those loans. It would have been cheaper to pay the money outright in taxes. Now taxpayers will have to cough up the taxes plus the interest on the loans, too.

    What’s worse is that Governor Pawlenty has made no provision for actually coming up with the revenue necessary to pay this 27% of missing state aid in the next biennium. It will simply be a huge part of that biennium’s own budget crisis. Whether the legislature will successfully be able to enhance revenue (increase taxes) sufficient to restore these funds remains a very large question.

  3. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 07/27/2009 - 02:02 pm.

    “What’s worse is that Governor Pawlenty has made no provision for actually coming up with the revenue necessary to pay this 27% of missing state aid in the next biennium.”

    You’re right, Greg. The Governor did make a mistake; he should have cut K-12 funding outright.

    By “holding harmless”, he’s given the districts no incentive to start contemplating real reform. They’ll simply borrow against the hope that the next Republican governor will be as good a friend to the status quo as Pawlenty has been.

  4. Submitted by dan buechler on 07/27/2009 - 02:28 pm.

    Thanks for the timely info. It seems the republicans always like the bankers, it’s always borrow and borrow some more.

  5. Submitted by Kyle Edwards on 07/27/2009 - 05:58 pm.


    Yeah! Let’s cut K-12 funding outright! 27% not enough?? Let’s cut it in half!

    We should start charging tuition at public schools! The state is over stepping its bounds trying to educate the youth!

    We should also cut teacher’s salaries! $30,000 is too much when it comes to the education of my children!

    We should also cut all funding for higher education! A high school diploma is enough, right?

  6. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 07/27/2009 - 08:02 pm.

    Take a breath, Edwards; read the story. Pawlenty didn’t cut K-12, he delayed payment.

  7. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 07/27/2009 - 08:07 pm.

    BTW, $30,000 is the average beginning salary. The overall average is $48K; not too bad for 9 months work IMO.


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