It’s so unfortunate when really important news is undermined by a pun. Let’s take the case of the story of low-quality and potentially contaminated honey coming into the United States from China. Minnesota beekeepers held a press conference on the subject Monday at the State Fair and included Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who is on the Agriculture Committee. The problem, as reported by the Associated Press, is that this honey is allegedly “being shipped through third countries to avoid import duties and food safety rules.” Alas, they’re calling this “honey laundering,” which one imagines is accompanied by a sad trombone sound every time it is said aloud.
In more insect news, bed bugs are on the march, and it’s enough to produce a very silly article by Donald G. McNeil Jr., of the New York Times, in which he refers to Cimex lectularius as an “international arthropod of mystery” and “The Bug That Ate New York, Not to Mention Other Shocked American Cities.” Minnesota is one of those shocked America cities, and University of Minnesota entomologist Stephen A. Kells is the local contact, informing us that they don’t cause disease. But they do have unpleasant qualities, enumerated in a piece by Olmsted County’s KAAL.tv: They leave spots of blood; they shed exoskeletons; they can cause a rash. And the cleanup can cost $400 to $3,000.
Bill Hudson of WCCO tells us that Minneapolis is “number 15 on the list of U.S. cities battling a growing infestation of bed bugs,” coupled with a horrifying tale of a restless night at a Brooklyn Park hotel that left his daughter covered with bed bug bites. The story details how exterminators get rid of bed bugs, and it involves cooking them with heat lamps, and ewww.
In politics: While DFL gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton is doing a pretty good job racking up union endorsements — according to Bill Salisbury of the Pioneer Press, he recently scored the Minneapolis Police Officers Federation — a new MPR News-Humphrey Institute poll shows him and GOP candidate Tom Emmer currently tied for voter support, each getting 34 percent. Mark Zdechlik of Minnesota Public Radio has the details, which includes Independence Party candidate Tom Horner trailing badly with only 13 percent. According to University of Minnesota political science professor Larry Jacobs, the man behind the poll, the most interesting thing about this survey is not who is being supported, but who is not being supported: “[W]e’re finding about one-third of Democrats and particularly surprising, a third of Republicans not supporting their party’s candidate,” Jacobs tells MPR. “… it’s very rare to see so many Republicans not rallying around their party’s standard bearer.”
Bob Von Sternberg of the Star Tribune also takes a look at the numbers and discovers that it might now be a bit premature to even discuss this, with “more than half of likely voters saying they aren’t yet interested in the governor’s race.” An additional detail: Voters who only use cell phones were excluded from the poll; a previous one, which included swinging moderns who only use cells, had Dayton ahead by a comfortable margin.
Dayton was the subject of a recent attack ad by a group called Minnesota’s Future (which can be viewed at Minnesota Independent, with some analysis from Andy Birkey). It has a rather appealing, pop-up book sort of quality to it, coupled with menacing music and a focus on Dayton’s willingness to raise taxes. The ad also twice mentions that Dayton was once rating one of America’s worst senators, which is a quote that his opponents have been trotting out a lot lately, so we at the Glean decided to get to the bottom of it. The source is Time Magazine from April 14 of 2006, in which they mention Dayton shutting down his office in response to worries about a terrorist incident, as well as him saying that the Mayo Clinic is “worth a hell of a lot more than the whole state of South Dakota,” which is, truth be told, an odd statement. After all, while the Mayo Clinic provides superb, world-class health coverage, South Dakota has Wall Drug. But the meat of the Time Magazine piece is on the fact that Dayton passed very little meaningful legislation, “partly because some are too liberal for the Republican-controlled body, including one that would have created a Department of Peace and Nonviolence.”
Obviously, a big concern for the incoming governor will be the budget deficit, which is projected at about $6 billion for the biennium. Tom Emmer has been saying that deficit doesn’t exist, which Pawlenty recently agreed with in a presser covered by the UpTake. And, of course, the deficit was erased back in May, thanks, in large part, to $2 billion worth of payments being delayed to schools. “There’s no deficit at all if the state simply spends what it’s spending now and lives within the revenue coming in,” Pawlenty says. So … just keep delaying those school payments?
Pawlenty has a long history of bolstering his budget with federal dollars, but, as MPR’s Elizabeth Stawicki points out, now that Pawlenty has his eye on the White House, and critics have their eyes on him, he may be disinclined to accept more federal help — especially as he has been a vocal critic of federal spending. On the table now is “$1 million to jump-start Minnesota’s health insurance exchange” — which, as state Rep. Tom Huntley, DFL-Duluth, points out, is going to happen anyway, and now it’s a question of whether we accept the money and oversee it locally or let the feds set it up for us. Pawlenty has already refused a $1 million health care grant, making Minnesota one of only five states to pass on that grant. And there are a lot of similar grants down the road — Medicaid money that comes in at more that $200 million, which Pawlenty says he is considering, but has made no actual decision about.
In arts: Renee Jones Schneider of the Star Tribune documents a simultaneous outbreak of fabulousness and bad singing that accompanied Monday’s Lady Gaga performance. Their video shows droves of teenagers and young adults dressed in their best approximations of Gaga’s ensembles, doing their best impersonations of her songs, and the former is rather exciting to the eye while the latter is rather damaging to the ear.
In sports: Steve Brandt of the Star Tribune discusses the fact that both the Vikings and the Twins will be playing games on Thursday, and his concern is primarily one of transportation — with so many people flooding into the city, how will they get there, what will parking be like, what will public transportation be like? As a resident of downtown, this Glean writer is very interested in the answer.