Joseph Biden — remember him? Big guy, big smile, nice teeth? — was in town Thursday at a fundraiser you probably didn’t hear about, unless you’re the sort of person who can drop $7,000 to hobnob with the vice president. Rachel E. Stassen-Berger of the Star Tribune was there and reported on the event, which raised a quarter of a million dollars for the Democratic National Committee. Speaking to a group of 30 donors at Robert Pohlad’s house, Biden was optimistic, saying, “I promise you — I promise you — things are going to get better.” (More of Biden’s comments can be found on the MPRnewsQ site.)
Arguably, if you can afford $7K for a night of rubbing elbows with the VP, things are better for you already, but Biden might be on to something. After all, the state Department of Employment and Economic Development reported Thursday that state unemployment “dropped substantially to 7.3 percent in September,” as the Associated Press puts it. That’s quite a bit better than the national unemployment rate, which is 9.8 percent for September. But not so fast! The AP also reports that some of this is because 19,000 people simply stopped looking for work. Worse still, now that we’ve dropped beneath 8 percent, there are federal unemployment benefits that will no longer be available for out-of-work residents.
Additionally, despite the drop in unemployment, Minnesota still lost 7,900 jobs last month, and, as Matt McKinney of the Star Tribune explains, a lot of those jobs belonged to teachers. “I wasn’t even told,” one teacher complains. “I was just given a letter.” And our precipitous drop in unemployment was so dramatic that McKinney quotes State Economist Tom Stinson as wondering if it isn’t a statistical anomaly. “It may just be a problem with the sample,” he says.
A team of reporters for MPRNewsQ give Stinson a chance to expand upon his comments, and he tells them: “This is a pretty big divergence here, and we have to be concerned about which one is actually reflecting what’s going on, and which one is actually a monthly aberration.” They also give a ballpark figure for how many people might experience a reduction in benefits: 7,000. Those people could probably also use an encouraging squeeze on the shoulder from Biden; perhaps if they all pitch in a dollar, they can send one from among their ranks to represent them.
If there is one person who has clear cause for optimism, it is 6th District Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. According to the Associated Press, Bachmann has an early lead in fundraising for the next election. Bachmann is sitting on a cool $617,000, while her Democratic opponents have $581,000 between them. The AP is quick to point out, though, that this combined amount already exceeds what the Dems had on hand when they were headed toward that 2008 election.
The Minnesota Independent peeks in on Bachmann with two stories. Firstly, they briefly point out, in a story by David Weigel, that Bachmann was one of 52 signers of a petition “demanding the resignation of Kevin Jennings, the White House’s ‘safe schools czar.’ ” Jennings, who is gay, is accused in the letter of covering up child abuse; the Independent points to Greg Sargent’s blog, which looks at this charge and notes that while Jennings should have reported the event, the “child” in the story was of legal consent age.
Paul Schmelzer, in the meanwhile, points out that only 10 congresspeople have missed more votes than Bachmann, who skipped out on 13.6 percent of all votes. For those who might be gearing up to use this little factoid for partisan purposes, however, it’s worth noting that Keith Ellison is No. 23 on the list, and missed 10 percent of the votes. Schmelzer also points out that both representatives missed votes because of family obligations during the very week when the House cast a record number of votes.
Rep. Marty Seifert has decided that if he doesn’t get to be governor, he’s not going to seek to reclaim his House seat, according to the AP. They quote him as saying he isn’t “looking in the rearview mirror” in his bid for governor, which is pretty typical for a Minnesotan. One presumes he also won’t signal his lane changes and doesn’t know how to merge.
Chris Kallal of KARE11 does a quick promotion for a new show on TLC, “Mall Cops: Mall of America.” Kallal references “Paul Blart: Mall Cop,” but assures us the show will be nothing like the critically pilloried Kevin James vehicle. Kallal mentions nothing of the considerably darker Seth Rogen vehicle, “Observe and Report,” so we can still hope for a scene of stoned mall cops assaulting skateboarders.
In the words of a recursive Internet meme: sketchy guys are sketchy: If you’ve gone to the Metrodome for a game, or merely passed it during a game, you’ve certainly experienced the gauntlet of scalpers aggressively hawking their tickets. Well, it turns out some of them are crooks. I know, take a moment; sit down if you must. We were shocked, too. According to the AP, a few hundred tickets sold for the Minnesota v Green Bay game on Oct. 5 were counterfeits. So what to do? FOX9’s Jody Ambroz has the answer: “Never buy “e-tickets” on the street, because they’re too easy to copy and counterfeit.”