Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


Specter and Bachmann mix it up in Pittsburgh

PLUS: Pent-up demand for yachts? Also, split opinions on Legacy Act, and Senate District 26 politics.

Arlen Specter, the crusty, multi-term senator from Pennsylvania (now nominally a Democrat) and our own Michele Bachmann mixed it up a bit on a radio show yesterday in Pittsburgh. As reported by the Post-Gazette, “Mr. Specter was his first guest, and the Republican-turned-Democrat was joined by Ms. Bachmann. Mr. Giordano had the two square off on what Mr. Obama accomplished in Year One … Ms. Bachmann declared last night’s victory by Scott Brown a repudiation of Mr. Obama’s policies. Mr. Specter then asked what, exactly, Ms. Bachmann is in favor of. The Minnesotan detailed a list of fiscal changes: cutting the effective income tax rate to 22 percent, dashing capital gains taxes and eliminating the estate tax will stimulate the economy plenty, she said, as opposed to the overreach of the Obama administration with the stimulus and health care legislation. As Mr. Specter started to respond, Ms. Bachmann interjected to try to reinforce her point. Mr. Specter, clearly, did not appreciate the interruption. ‘I’m going to treat you like a lady,’ Mr. Specter shot back. ‘Now act like one.’ Ms. Bachmann replied, ‘I am a lady.’ “

In an interesting piece of intramural business, the City Pages post by Hart Van Denburg on this scuffle includes this line, “It didn’t take long for Luke Hellier at Minnesota Democrats Exposed to call out Specter as a sexist,” which MDE does in its headline. But Van Denburg avoids mentioning that MDE refers its readers to … Van Denburg’s boss, City Pages editor Kevin Hoffman, who tweeted Wednesday, “I bash Michele Bachmann as much as anybody, but Arlen Specter was over-the-line, sexist, and should be rebuked by Dems.” Sometimes you want to just tweet about where you’re having Happy Hour.

Really, there’s a demand for boats? Well maybe not your average 15-foot Starcraft, but … yachts. Local tycoon Irwin Jacobs is getting a piece of his Genmar operation back, according to a story by Liz Fedor in the Strib. ” ‘Business isn’t booming,’ [Jacobs] said, but boat inventories are low around the world and managers at the Pulaski factory already are getting calls for orders. ‘The overseas markets are clearly showing more lift to them than the domestic market.’ ” The story has Jacobs planning to hire back 200 people at the plant outside Green Bay. Last time I drove up the North Shore, there was a boat — not a yacht — for sale in every driveway.

In a related report
, filed by Chris Newmarker at the Minneapolis/St.Paul Business Journal, big bank profits are up … double, in fact, from the same quarter last year. “U.S. Bancorp (NYSE: USB) had earnings of $580 million, or 30 cents per share, for the quarter ended Dec. 31, up from $259 million, or 15 cents a share, for the same quarter a year before.” See, everything really is getting better … or at least for yachts and giant bank stocks.

Strib Op-Ed writer Jill Burcum adds a bit more on her interview with Realtor/booster/arts patron Ralph Burnet. Ralph ain’t happy about the way some people — can you say Bill Kling and MPR? — have cleaved money away from the long-anticipated Legacy Amendment cash flow. “The real arts people, Burnet said, had ‘their lunch eaten’ when lawmakers specified in a 2009 bill that a big chunk of Legacy funding generated over the next two years go to zoos, radio and organizations promoting civics education, among other things. ‘I’m surprised they don’t have Dairy Queens in there,’ said Burnet of lawmakers and the special interest-laden 2009 bill.”

Meanwhile, Dennis Lien of the PiPress looks into complaints from the conservation side of that unwieldy piece of legislation. That crowd had complained that their pet programs, the PCA, the DNR and the like,took deeper cuts because Gov. Pawlenty knew money was flowing to them because of the Legacy Act. But Lien says, after checking out the numbers, Conservation Minnesota is carping no more. ” … [C]uts to general-fund spending at the MPCA and the DNR were ‘roughly proportionate to those of the overall state budget.’ ‘Right out of the chute they got it right and listened to the will of Minnesotans in 2009,’ Conservation Minnesota Executive Director Paul Austin said.”
A day after getting sued by a group of predominantly black business and community groups in the Rondo neighborhood, three much argued-over LRT stops were back on the planning board. Dave Orrick follows the action in the PiPress, saying, “The three stations have been a flashpoint for a number of concerns along University Avenue that have especially resonated among minority and environmental justice groups, who allege the project will disproportionately hurt them. A group of Asian business associations have filed a federal civil rights complaints, and on Tuesday, a group of African-American residents and business owners led by the NAACP filed a lawsuit in federal court. While the inclusion of the three additional stations is one of the demands of the lawsuit, it’s not the only one, and the lawsuit isn’t going away, plaintiffs said Wednesday.” So if I sue the Met Council will I get a stop in front of my house?

The formal arrival of Mark Dayton
as a DFL gubernatorial candidate was obviously no surprise, nor was any of the coverage. MPR’s Tim Pugmire noted that Dayton left the stage after taking only three questions, and his story has Michael Brodkorb of the Republicans cattily suggesting its Dayton’s money that has him in any position to run at all. The candidacies of Joe Repya and Tom Horner are mentioned, perfunctorily. Pugmire, The PiPress’s Bill Salisbury and others covering the launch get this quote from Dayton: “You can read my lips: Tax the rich.”

Gov. Pawlenty paid a visit to Waseca Wednesday, and was covered by Clare Kennedy of the Waseca County News. He came to endorse Mike Parry, the Republican running to fill Dick Day’s seat. Parry, you may remember, has an affinity for talk radio-style rabble-rousing on his website (which he has been caught scrubbing clean after taking heat). The Governor though likes the cut of his jib. “Elections matter. They have consequences, and if you don’t believe that, look at what is happening in Washington, D.C., as an example.”

Bluestem Prairie, the blog that caught Parry in his hyperbolic rhetoric, is not at all pleased with the way the Republican Party is portraying campaign events down there. MPR’s Tom Scheck has reported on the slight fund-raising lead of Parry’s DFL opponent.

Eric Ostermeier at Smart Politics checks out the history of the district, particularly its Independence Party bona fides and says, “The 26th district, whose main cities include Owatonna, Waseca, and Faribault, was one of the strongholds back in 2002 for Independence Party gubernatorial nominee (and former 1st CD Rep.) Tim Penny, who carried the district with 39.7 percent of the vote. Penny received only 16.2 percent of the vote statewide.” Point being that in this case the Independence factor works in favor of Democrats. Says Ostermeier, “A Smart Politics study of 57 Minnesota state House races with IP candidates on the ballot from 2002 through 2006 found that at the district level, the presence of IP candidates on the ballot is correlated with a stronger performance by the DFL and a weaker performance by the GOP.”

Today’s Daily Glean misstated the target of the blog Bluestem Prairie’s unhappiness. The blog is displeased with Republican Party reports about campaign events in Senate District 26, not at coverage by area newspapers. MinnPost regrets the error.