According to the Associated Press, Tim Pawlenty has “elaborated” on his decision to strip Minnesota funding from ACORN in the wake of videos showing non-Minnesotan ACORN representatives advising political activists masquerading as a pimp and a prostitute — funding that doesn’t, in fact, exist. According to the AP, Pawlenty is claiming that his decision was a policy decision, rather than a political one. This is one of those moments when a neutral headline could probably have been replaced by a less-neutral one for clarity’s sake as Pawlenty is not “elaborating” here, he is “dissembling.” Either that or we have entered the world of Bizarro Superman, where seizing on a hot-button topic with an empty gesture is not political and where stripping nonexistent funds is good policy. Us do opposite of all Earthly things!
While we’re on the subject of Pawlenty, Tom Weber of Minnesota Public Radio reports on a survey of more than 30 metro-area school districts that detail he financial fallout of Pawlenty’s shifting of state aid for schools to the next fiscal year. (A PDF of the report can be read here.) Some schools have had to borrow to cover budget shortfalls, while others have had to tap into savings, meaning they won’t be earning interest. “The survey lists 16 such districts that will lose a combined $2.5 million,” Weber tells us, and quotes Scott Croonquist of the Association of Metro School Districts, the organization that performed the survey: “Sometimes we get accused of ‘Chicken Little’ — the sky is falling and education groups are just saying this will happen and it’s really not,” Croonquist tells MPR. “So we thought it was important to confirm that, in fact, school districts are sharing in the pain.”
Pawlenty himself will be speaking at a series of GOP events in the next few days, as the Associated Press tells us, but also informs us that “Pawlenty told Minnesota reporters Thursday that they shouldn’t presume the speeches are aimed at building a foundation for a White House run of his own,” further telling us that Pawlenty might not even remain in politics after his term of service as governor expires. Obviously, we’re going to have to convert this from the language of Bizarro World into plain English, where it roughly translates as: “Me increase me national exposure because me want to be president.” Maybe we should also add “Me swing hard to the right to appeal to hard-liners,” as this is that case that fellow Republicans are making, according to the Star Tribune’s Rachel E. Stassen-Berger. She includes a quote from pollster and former state Republican Party chair Bill Morris: “He really is taking fairly hot-button positions on key conservative issues.” Apparently, Morris didn’t get the note that it’s policy, not politics.
Speaking of ACORN, True North sums up how Minnesota representatives voted on the subject of defunding the organization on a federal level. Both Betty McCollum and Keith Ellison voted against defunding, while “Bachmann, Kline, Oberstar, Paulsen, Peterson and Walz voted to defund.” One imagines Michele Bachmann actually wore a party hat a blew a New Year’s noisemaker when she cast her vote, as she has spent the past year actively painting the organization as some sort of sinister cabal in league with Obama to undermine America. “What a tremendous victory for the taxpayer!” the Star Tribune’s Big Question blog quotes her as saying, and perhaps it is. After all, a handful of employees of the organization got caught on camera giving some very bad tax advice, and, one supposes, the behavior of a few employees condemns an entire institution. We will wait patiently for Bachmann to likewise champion defunding Blackwater and Wackenhut, just for consistencies’ sake.
The Star Tribune reports on their own good news: Jennifer Bjorhus of the Strib reports that Minneapolis’ beleaguered newspaper has been cleared by a federal judge to exit Chapter 11. You’d think this news would be met with, well, party hats and noisemakers, but Bjorhus sounds a pessimistic note, telling us that “like publishers around the country, it faces a weak advertising market and is struggling to find a way to make money from readers and advertisers who have migrated to the Web, cable television and other outlets.”
MinnPost’s own David Brauer has been reporting extensively on the Strib’s reorganization, reminding us that the Strib will be carrying $100 million debt after the reorganization (“The question is whether that’s still too much,” he asks), printing outgoing publisher Chris Harte’s good-bye letter to his staff, and reporting that the Strib staffers don’t yet know who their new publisher will be. Brauer also informs us that just as the paper is exiting bankruptcy, one of the new board members may be entering it; specifically, GateHouse Media CEO Michael Reed, whose company’s credit rating was downgraded Thursday, with its credit service saying entering bankruptcy proceedings “may represent the optimal solution.”
Former Minnesotan Diablo Cody is enjoying the release of her second film this weekend, “Jennifer’s Body,” a horror film set in suburban Minnesota. Actually, “enjoying” might not be the right word, as the film is getting fairly creamed by critics, including the Star Tribune’s Colin Covert, who says “the execution fails on almost every level,” while Stephanie Zacharek of Salon.com says the film “is so contemptuous toward its own characters, and its audience, that it chokes off any visceral thrills it might have offered. The movie substitutes calculation for brains, and the filmmakers seem to think we’ll all be too stupid to notice.” In the words of those awful locally produced television commercials for World of Wireless, ouch.
In sports, it might be worth noting, in the midst of endless discussions of football and, especially, Brett Favre, that the daily papers have writers who tackle subjects other than the events on the gridiron. The Pioneer Press has Chris Niskanen, for instance, who a few days ago composed a rather poetic ode to his love for stuffed animals. To be clear, it’s not teddy bears we’re talking about here, but taxidermic creations, including a roadkilled badger Niskanen found and had mounted so that guests could ogle the creatures razor sharp claws, which may have been the breaking point for his wife: “There is too much taxidermy in the house, she says.“