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Minneapolis budget shrinks, Bachmann’s woes grow

Mayor R.T. Rybak offers scary quotes along with his proposed city budget. Also: big news day for Bachmann, and school district settles gay-slurs case.

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak has proposed his budget for the city and, seemingly just to frighten us, brought with it a series of menacing-sounding introductory quotes: As reported by Scott Goldberg of KARE11, Rybak described this budget as coming at a time that ranks as the “greatest recession since the Great Depression,” and tells us that our state government is experiencing a “financial meltdown.”

But like one of those cartoons in which a menacing shadow grows larger and larger, only to turn out to be cast by a mouse, Rybak’s actual budget doesn’t seem as menacing as his introduction suggests. Brandt Williams of Minnesota Public Radio breaks down the details. Yes, there will be cuts to the city’s fund and positions eliminated, but those cuts, in part, consist of little cost-saving measures, such as LED traffic lights in Public Works. Most of the 200 jobs Rybak will cut are currently unfilled anyway. The big news is that there will be a property tax hike, and the number bandied about is 11 percent, but Rybak was quick to deflate that bit of news as well: “Let me be very, very clear. This does not mean everybody’s property taxes will go up 11 percent. There are many other factors at play,” MPR quotes Rybak. “The actual impact on the average home in the city of Minneapolis will be an increase in 2010 of 6.6 percent.”

Rybak also took a moment to chastise Tim Pawlenty, as the KARE11 story reports. “Our spending has gone up one percent, while his has gone up 12 percent,” Rybak said, and then added “I don’t need a lecture from Tim Pawlenty about how to manage the budget.” Pawlenty is expected to announce additional budget cuts today in his attempt to bring down the state’s $2.7 billion deficit, which will involve state agencies paring their budgets, according to the Associated Press; we’ll see if Pawlenty has some pointed words for Rybak at that time.

Thursday was a big news day for Michele Bachmann, and, for once, one she didn’t seem to enjoy. It was widely reported that Bachmann’s son had joined Teach for America, a member of AmeriCorps, an organization that Bachmann had claimed might lead to some sort of Maoist-sounding, government-funded youth re-education camp (“As a parent, I would have a very, very difficult time seeing my children do this,” she said,) and the reportage included some gleeful schadenfreude from Keith Olbermann.

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Bachmann wasn’t happy — or, at least, publicly wasn’t happy — claiming in an email blast that the Star Tribune did a “hit piece” on her child, as Polinaut reports. “Don’t Let Them Palinize Me,” she cried out in her subject line, causing recipients of the email to go scrambling for their Urban Dictionary bookmark, including City Pages; of course, what the 6th District representative was asking is that the media not attack her through her family, as Sarah Palin liked to complain happened. And, of course, similar to Palin, Bachmann’s family only became a subject of reportage after she herself referenced them.

But it’s hard to say how upset Bachmann was by this, really. She’s enjoyed painting herself as a victim of the media before, such as when she claimed her comments about members of Congress being anti-American were an “urban legend” created by the media. And her “Palinized” email wasn’t a retort addressed to the press; it was a fundraising letter.

The court case regarding the engineering firm that consulted on the I-35W bridge is heating up. The state is suing the firm of URS Corp. for its consultation regarding the bridge before its collapse, but the firm has responded with a claim, reported by the Star Tribune’s Jim Foti, that MnDOT had hired them because of concerns about metal fatigue in the beams, when the cause of the bridge collapse was probably a gusset plate; additionally, they claim that MnDot ignored some of their recommendations.

In what must be considered, at best, a questionable example of pedagogy, during the 2007-2008 school year, a pair of teachers in the Anoka-Hennepin School District reportedly repeatedly insinuated one of their students was gay. Emily Johns of the Star Tribune has today’s story, including samples of the teachers’ alleged comments, including this doozy, reported by the boy in the story: “I told Ms. Cleveland that I wanted to do a report on Ben Franklin, and she said, ‘Why? Do you have a thing for older men?‘” The school paid a $25,000 settlement.

Target has apologized to a woman who breast-fed her child in one of their stores, according to WCCO’s Liz Collin. The woman had stopped in the lingerie section to breast feed and was confronted by an employee, who apparently didn’t know the state law. The woman’s husband looked it up, however, as paraphrased by Collin: “a mother may breast-feed in any location, public or private, where the mother and child are authorized to be.” Target spokespeople described the incident as a misunderstanding.

Tiger Woods has had so many good days, one more or less probably doesn’t even get noticed by him, but the press still loves it when he does well. Mark Craig of the Star Tribune tells us about Woods’ latest: The golf superstar opened the first round of the 91st PGA Championship with a bogey-free, 5-under-par 67. Craig quotes Woods’ playing partners: “It looked easy for him.”