The Minneapolis School Board dropped the big one Tuesday night, finally voting through the plan that will close four schools and eliminate the transportation-heavy “open choice” program. Those decisions are among several changes certain to throw wrenches in family school planning all over town. The Strib’s Emily Johns reports: “Gone is the citywide school choice system, a patchwork of magnet and community schools that developed over decades as a way to deal with federal and state integration laws. The Minneapolis school district currently transports 74 percent of its students to school, and spends $33 million on transportation every year as its buses criss-cross the city.” She says 200 people showed up for the decisive meeting.
The PiPress runs Politico’s story saying that Gov. Pawlenty really is getting real serious about running for President in ’12. How serious? A big-money dinner in early November. Says Politico, “The $5,000 per-person dinner will be a home-state start to Pawlenty’s potential 2012 run, mostly underwritten by the governor’s fellow Minnesotans. The highest level of sponsorship, according to an invitation obtained by Politico, is “event chair” and will be accorded those who raise $100,000 for the event.” So call a couple of your buddies and grab yourself a good seat as the governor re-works his Values Voter speech.
Speaking of the governor, he is going to give the old maxim about politicians running to the fringes for the nomination and then veering back to the middle for the election the ultimate stress test. Previously a proponent of government action on climate change and cap-and-trade, Tim Pawlenty — presidential aspirant in vital need of Tea Partiers’ affection — is no longer on board with either, for the time being, you understand.
MPR’s Tom Scheck gets about as sharp-elbowed as an MPR news feature ever gets in a piece on Pawlenty’s Mitt Romney-esque reconsiderations. Says Scheck, “In June, Pawlenty wrote a letter to Minnesota’s Congressional delegation criticizing proposed cap and trade legislation in the U.S. House. He also came out against the Midwest Governors’ Climate Change initiative — an effort he helped launch … Pawlenty also hasn’t acted on any findings from the Minnesota Climate Change Advisory Group, a group he formed to look at the ‘profound impact of global warming.’ ” Somebody better check and see where he stands on motherhood this morning.
The U of M filed a suit and issued a statement Tuesday to make the Met Council actually explain how they intend to keep construction vibration, noise, etc., from affecting “esthetic quality” and disrupting research operations during the Central Corridor LRT’s four-year construction period. Tad Vezner reports for the PiPress: “The statement added that the U has 80 labs conducting delicate research — and commanding millions in grant money — within proximity of potential noise, vibration and electromagnetic interference caused by the line.” Would they really get less vibration if the council bored a tunnel under Washington Avenue, as the U originally wanted?
We don’t know if there was a six-pack of Chateau Le Pin Pomerol in Tom Petters’ wine cellar, but whatever was down there is now getting hauled over to the house of a Wayzata guy. The Strib’s David Phelps has the story of the latest indignity laid upon one of the Twin Cities’ most, um, celebrated investors.
Says Phelps, “A wine expert had appraised Petters’ varied wine collection at an average of $10 a bottle. But the buyer, Wayzata resident William Larson, might have placed some sentimental value on the collection, as he outbid Jack Hanna of Minnetonka and bought the 590-bottle lot for $7,080 — a two-buck-a-bottle premium over the appraised value.” If these numbers are right, my Keystone Light collection has to be worth $10K.
By comparison, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman’s Republican opponent, businesswoman Eva Ng, is on him for a, uh, whopping $1,932.95 in travel expenses he charged to his election campaign. In the piece by PiPresser Dave Orrick, Ng says, “Last time I checked, you don’t need an airplane to campaign for mayor of St. Paul … ” and that Coleman has “totally checked out as mayor.” $1,932!? That barely covered the corkage fee in Tom Petters’ glory days.
Several newsrooms are following Attorney General Lori Swanson’s pursuit of “debt aid” companies, those reassuring folks who promise to get you out from under your credit card bills … for a very fat fee. WCCO-TV’s Bill Hudson files a piece, noting that after Swanson went after one crowd, her offices “were flooded with citizen complaints saying that other companies were doing the same thing. They were telephoning consumers and promising to reduce their credit card interest rate for what they said was a guaranteed and fully refundable upfront fee. The companies commonly charged between $999 and $1,995 which was often times assessed to the very credit cards that customers were trying to pay down.” The other question, of course, is: “Who gives $1000 to anyone over the phone?”
It wasn’t exactly the 1.2 billion that Glenn Beck says turned out for his anti-Everything Tea Party demonstration in D.C. a couple of weeks ago, but according to the Finance and Commerce staff, 100 pro-insurance reform people did show up on the grounds of UnitedHealth in Minnetonka to demonstrate their opposition to the company’s stupendously lucrative status quo.
A “pop-up Barbie store” will appear on the first floor of the Mall of America next month and linger through March as part of Mattel’s celebration of the 50-year history of Barbie and the contribution the doll has made to the body consciousness of young girls. The PiPress’s Gita Sitamariah adds more detail to the idea of “temporary stores” (i.e., seasonal retailers bugging out before the post-holiday doldrums). She writes, “Since California-based Mattel Inc. opened an American Girl store at the mall last year, some see the temporary Barbie Shop as a pilot for a permanent store. Mattel opened the first-ever permanent Barbie Shop in Shanghai in March modeled after American Girl’s mix of dolls, a café, hair salon and clothing.”
If you’re a whitetail deer, you have good reason to seek anxiety counseling. Wisconsin is edging closer to adding an entire week of hunting season in 2010. The deer herd over in the strange land to our east is now nearly as numerous as the state’s road house bars … making for always exciting twilight drives. According to an AP story, the DNR will decide today whether to hold public meetings on the extended season this October. The betting here is that our neighbors will be just fine with adding another week of big guys in blaze orange clogging their bar stools. Pop quiz: What do they call hunting season in Wisconsin? “Fashion Week.”