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GOP’s Emmer picks Meeks, ironies withstanding

ALSO: chickens and cows; DFL and GOP convention politics; and Goldman Sachs explained.

The now obligatory choice of a woman as lieutenant governor running mate produced Met Council member/former Newt Gingrich deputy chief of staff Annette Meeks Tuesday to run with Republican Tom Emmer. As Fox9’s Jeff Goldberg and others noted, ironies abound, in that Meeks once produced a report arguing that the lieutenant governor’s job should be abolished and Emmer thinks the Met Council is “waste” and should be trash-canned. The PiPress’s Bill Salisbury writes, “While Emmer is a solid conservative, his selection of Meeks should reinforce his bona fides with the conservatives who will control the GOP convention. ‘Annette Meeks is a great person. I like her. I’ve known her for years’, [competitor Marty] Seifert said. “But I have heard concern this morning from rural delegates that Emmer-Meeks is an all-metro ticket.”

Baird Helgeson, over at the Strib, writes, “Yes, Meeks spent nine years at the Center of the American Experiment, where she helped create the Minnesota Policy Blueprint, a review of state government through conservative eyes. Policy wonks didn’t have to read past the second page to see, ‘Recommendation: Eliminate the office of lieutenant governor.’ ‘It is our view that, historically, lieutenant governors seldom have been chosen primarily because they would be good successors to their governors,’ the group wrote. ‘Instead, they often have been selected for political reasons (to ‘balance the ticket’ by gender, by ideology, or by geography, for example).’ ” I guess this is a case of “Do as I say, not as I do.”

The little matter of $400 million the state doesn’t have … and must have before legislators can pack it in for the season by May 17 … is complicating the never uncomplicated session in St. Paul this spring. MPR’s Tim Pugmire files a short piece on the dilemma: “Minnesota’s top finance official says it is “significantly unlikely” that Minnesota will get its share of anticipated federal health care money before the legislative session ends on May 17. The delay means lawmakers will likely have $408 million less than expected to solve the state budget deficit. Management and Budget Commissioner Tom Hanson told a legislative panel that it’s time to start talking about a contingency plan for balancing the books.” Wouldn’t you like to listen in on Gov. Pawlenty calling D.C. asking when his federal money is going to be coming?

Profits at Minneapolis-based Buffalo Wild Wings have plateaued after a fairly long run, in part because of declining booze sales. So, now the chain restaurant is hoping to recover with late-night happy hours and maybe … cheaper beer, depending where you are. The Strib’s Mike Hughlett writes that “Tuesday, the company said that during the first quarter, same-store sales at company-owned restaurants were up only 0.1 percent, and rose just 0.7 percent at franchised outlets. Both numbers were below analysts’ estimates. And they were the lowest quarterly growth rates Buffalo Wild Wings has recorded over the past two years, even though the U.S. economy has recently improved to the point where sales are finally perking up at many other restaurant chains.” He also notes that “the company has several plans to reverse the trend, including looking at lower beer prices in some markets.” Cheaper beer, of course, plays havoc with your target demographics.

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With chickens in mind we move across the farmyard to … cows … and note an AP report that Minnesota and our good friends to the east (yes, Wisconsin) are seeing significant increases in dairy production. “Milk production in Wisconsin rose to 2.24 billion pounds for March. That’s a 6 percent increase over the volume it produced in March of last year. It was also the largest rate of increase in the U.S. for the month.Minnesota dairy farmers weren’t far behind. Milk production there increased 4 percent in March, to 797 million pounds.” But even with that nice boost over in Cheesehead-i-stan they still trail America’s Real Dairyland … California … by nearly 30%. Have you ever seen a cow in La Jolla?

Conservative blogger Pat Staley, writing at True North, lays out the appeal of Marty Seifert as Republicans do the sound check for their endorsing convention. This part says a lot about the 2010 party: “For those that are frustrated that the Republican Party isn’t ‘conservative enough,’ it’s worth noting that the GOP gubernatorial candidates on the ballot in my voting lifetime have gone from Arne Carlson to Norm Coleman to Pawlenty to either Marty Seifert or Tom Emmer. Notice the trend?  I would assert this is a good thing, and the result of the persistence of so many good conservatives within the GOP.” If they got any more “conservative,” they’d be Aztec sun worshippers.

Lefties, like Joe Bodell at MN Progressive Project, continue to analyze the entrails of the much-publicized reNew effort up in Duluth. The nicely financed effort supposedly was designed to deliver delegates to the right candidate at the right time. Writes Bodell, “If Renew did want to rally around Thissen or Rybak, the time to do it was before Rukavina dropped out and endorsed MAK. Once that happened, their leverage was gone, as the margin between MAK and the other candidates was wide enough that even a big swing among Renew delegates probably wouldn’t have gotten Rybak or Thissen to parity on the floor. This was a tactical error, not a strategic one, and if the effort is reproduced in the next competitive statewide endorsement race (around 2018, most likely), my bet is that TakeAction will improve its tactics the second time around.” So they’ve got what, eight years, to get their act together?

Erin Carlyle at City Pages checks out the ramp-up of the Michele Bachmann-Tarryl Clark race in the 6th District. She dials up quote machine Larry Jacobs over at the Humphrey Institute. He “expects the contenders to take different strategies in their campaigns. ‘The issue I see Democrats developing: whether she [Bachmann] delivers for the district,’ Jacobs says. ‘I think there’s a meat and potatoes campaign that could be run against her pretty effectively. What kind of legislation has she passed? How many votes has she missed? I think if Tarryl Clark can make the campaign a referendum of Michele Bachmann advancing her own political agenda rather than the jobs and needs of the district … then I think Tarryl Clark has a shot.’ ” He adds that Clark is “cooked” if the campaign becomes a batty debate over ideology.

How long have you heard talk about streaming video check-ups — where you basically say “ahhhhh” into a hi-def screen and a doctor in … wherever … makes a diagnosis, and probably emails you a prescription? Well, the universal broadband thing has a ways to go, but Park Nicollet is introducing a $25 online diagnosis questionnaire that might save you a trip to the clinic for a routine prescription. The Strib’s Wendy Lee writes: “Consumers can go to www.zipdiagnosis.com and spend five minutes answering questions about their symptoms. Park Nicollet’s nurse practitioners will then suggest treatment or prescribe medication within an hour. The service is for non-emergency problems. The cost to consumers is $25 and they can use a credit or HSA/MSA debit card.”

Finance and Commerce’s Burl Gilyard reports on three competing proposals for one of the last available parcels of land near the Guthrie Theater. “The St. Paul-based American Academy of Neurology (AAN) is proposing to build a new 50,000-square-foot office building on the site for the nonprofit’s new headquarters. As part of the pitch, Minneapolis-based nonprofit developer Artspace Projects would build a separate building with 36 units of affordable housing and some commercial space. Combined, the two projects would total more than $25 million. St. Louis Park-based JMW Development is pitching a new, 72,000-square-foot multi-tenant office building that would cost between $13 million and $15 million. Minneapolis-based Sherman Associates is proposing a mixed-use project with 75 apartment units and 15,000 square feet of commercial space. The project budget is approximately $14 million.”

It’s always entertaining to check with Power Line’s John Hinderaker. He makes a point of his attorney status and his talent for scrutinizing arcane documents for evidence, as the (new) SEC and Senate are doing with regards to Goldman Sachs. Writing about Tuesday’s hearings, Hinderaker seeks to correct a popular misperception, namely that the economic crash was in any way led by the likes of Goldman’s derivatives units. (He also asserts that Goldman Sachs is “a major supporter of the Democratic Party” … leaving out the millions they also give to Republicans.) Says Hinderaker of the roots of the crash: “Here is what really happened: there was a bubble in housing prices. The bubble was mostly the result of government policy — loose money, combined with pressure on banks to make bad loans to unqualified home buyers. It all worked for a while because Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, under the leadership of Congressman Barney Frank and others, created a secondary market for shaky mortgages. Goldman Sachs participated in this market, downstream, along with many other players. But the whole thing wasn’t an accident or a conspiracy, it was government policy.” With professional scrutiny like that, I might seek a second opinion to argue a parking ticket.

It remains to be seen if competition will inspire lower fares, but Southwest is adding two daily nonstops from MSP to Phoenix, starting Aug. 15.  Gita Sitamariah writes in the PiPress: “The twice-daily nonstops to Phoenix will add to Southwest’s presence at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, which already includes service to Chicago-Midway, Denver and St. Louis. The airline is pleased with the Twin Cities market, which in turn is benefiting from Southwest’s cutting flights from underperforming routes. Statistics from the airport and airline suggest Southwest planes are carrying more paying passengers here than elsewhere in its system. Its Twin Cities flights average more than 90 passengers, compared with its systemwide average of 76, according to a Pioneer Press analysis. Travelers can expect more deals, but overall pricing to Phoenix may not change drastically. ‘Southwest is difficult to determine. When you get to the last minute, they’re the same as everyone else, but they have great discounts in the beginning,’ said Terry Trippler, a Minneapolis air travel expert.”

If you notice the office Twins fans lingering longer in conversation this morning … and smiling broadly … its because it appears pitcher Francisco Liriano is for real, again. Liriano’s eight shut-out innings and 10 strikeouts last night against Detroit pretty much lead news in Major League Baseball this morning. MLB.com’s Kelly Thesier writes: “Liriano delivered his first double-digit strikeout performance in nearly five years, striking out 10 Tigers batters while scattering just four hits. His 10 strikeouts were the most he’s had in a start since his magical rookie season when he struck out 12 on July 28, 2006, also against these Tigers. ‘I thought Liriano was terrific,’ Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. ‘That’s the best I’ve seen him for quite a while. He looks like he’s obviously back to where he was, and he’s very, very good when he is, and he was very good tonight.’ “