Oh hell, let’s get it over with … football diva Brett Favre flew into town. Press conference today. The planets are back in alignment. It is again safe to breathe. Hallelujah! Here’s the obligatory extended helicopter coverage, courtesy of KSTP. Other coverage is unavoidable.
Nothing too remarkable from Tuesday’s Minnesota Chamber of Commerce-sponsored candidate debate up at the Grand View Lodge in Nisswa. Bill Salisbury’s PiPress story covers the talking points discussion of job creation, with Republican Tom Emmer getting to the root of that issue by blaming … teachers. Writes Salisbury: “Emmer suggested Dayton was beholden to the unions that have endorsed him. ‘The issue is not dollars. The issue is the (teachers) union is standing in the way of any real reform in this state,’ he said.” Better teaching, you see, creates a better educated work force and Dayton told the Chamber crowd that he’d raise taxes to pay for better education. To which Emmer replied, “ ‘Senator, if dollars were the answer, then we would not have nearly a 60 percent dropout rate in the Minneapolis schools,’ he said of the state’s highest-spending school district. To create jobs, the state should reduce taxes and ease regulations on business, the legislator from Delano argued.”
Emmer, meanwhile, is passing on another debate this week, this one Thursday in Winona. Mike Kaszuba writes in the Strib’s Hot Dish politics blog that “Cullen Sheehan, Emmer’s campaign manager, disagreed [with a debate organizer that this was the best way to speak to rural Minnesota]. ” ‘Unfortunately, debates are just one of the many demands made on our campaign,’ he said. ‘Having done three debates in the past week, Tom Emmer must focus on other activities as well.’ “ So what is a better place to be on a Thursday in August?
MPR’s PoliGraph blog, the station’s political truth assessor, says — much as WCCO’s Pat Kessler did the day before — that … are you sitting down? … Michele Bachmann’s recent claim (on FoxNews) is false that “Taxpayer money [referring the recently signed $26 billion in state aid] will essentially be laundered through the public employee unions, and spent to re-elect those same Democrats this fall.” You could knock me over with a feather. Bachmann went on to say: “Quite literally what will happen is this money will be shifted over to public employee unions. The unions will skim off the top; they’ll put a good portion of that into political action committees.” Catharine Richert researches Bachmann’s claims and says: “[She] implies that state aid will literally be used to pad Democrats’ campaign-funding chests. But that’s not true. The money will go to states, not unions.” Richert adds: “Bachmann is wrong to say that the state aid will be ‘laundered’ through public employee unions and used to help re-elect Democrats. In fact, the bill is clear that the money can only be used to keep teachers on the payroll.” I assume the congresswoman will claim she was quoted out of context.
KSTP’s Tim Sherno files a report on the new MoveOn.org ad urging a boycott of Target for its now notorious MnForward donation assisting the campaign of Tom Emmer.
A piece on Politico re-emphasizes the demands MoveOn and the Human Rights Campaign made on Target to pony up $150,000 for gay rights candidates and causes. “HRC said it will devote $150,000 of its resources to defeat Emmer. And MoveOn members are still calling for a boycott of the national chain that had nurtured strong ties to the gay community through its store locations, marketing, and non-discriminatory employee benefits program. In addition, [an HRC spokesman] said the gay community is now pressuring Best Buy, which donated $100,000 to Minnesota Forward’s pro-Emmer advertising campaign. Like Target, Best Buy receives one of the highest corporate rankings for workplace equality issues from the HRC.”
Federal stimulus money may get tapped to lift the long-discussed Penfield project, adjacent to I-94 in downtown St. Paul, off the ground. The apartment complex with a Lunds supermarket on the ground floor has been stalled for several years. Burl Gilyard at Finance and Commerce reports: “The latest version of the plan calls for 250 to 275 market-rate apartments in three buildings. Under the plan, Edina-based Lund Food Holdings Inc., would lease 30,000 square feet for a Lunds store. The original plan for the site called for a high-end condo tower. A later version called for a combination of apartments with a hotel and the grocery store. The plans now call for using the entire block to build three new buildings with a courtyard space. The project would include approximately 375 parking spaces. The new plan is lower to the ground than previous versions: none of the buildings is taller than six stories.” Gilyard notes, “The city of St. Paul is hoping to finance the mixed-use project … using federal Build America Bonds. But that program is currently set to expire at the end of the year. Build America Bonds are a stimulus-related program meant to lower borrowing costs paid by local government for public works projects.”
One of Tom Petters’ cronies, Larry Reynolds, was in jailhouse orange Tuesday, a result of his “sham” divorce in California where he divested himself of all of his property, maybe, possibly, most likely to avoid having it confiscated by the feds. Dave Shaffer’s Strib story gives Reynold’s attorney, one Fred Bruno, just enough rope to make himself look ridiculous. Writes Shaffer: “Bruno said his client made a mistake and was acting without advice of a lawyer when he signed the [divorce] settlement last December. He urged the judge to release Reynolds, 68, so he can spend time with his family and resume treatment for several medical matters. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Dixon said Reynolds committed a ‘clear and willful violation’ of the asset freeze, and urged the judge to jail him. Kyle agreed after wondering out loud whether Reynolds, if released again, would even show up in court Sept. 14 to be sentenced to a prison stay that is ‘going to be lengthy.’ Asked the judge: ‘What does he have to lose by running’?” Fair question, your honor.
They’re not just running on high fructose corn syrup out there in Minnetonka. Ag giant Cargill more than doubled its earnings in its recently concluded fourth quarter, compared with last year. Mike Hughlett of the Strib says: “The company on Tuesday reported fourth-quarter earnings of $691 million, compared to $327 million a year ago. Not including Cargill’s 64 percent stake in fertilizer maker Mosaic Co., its fourth quarter earnings would have been $433 million. Revenue rose 11 percent to $28.1 billion for the quarter ended May 31. For its fiscal year, Cargill earned $2.6 billion, down 22 percent from the previous year. However, excluding publicly traded Mosaic, Cargill’s earnings rose 14 percent. Revenue fell 6 percent for the year to $107.9 billion.” That’s “billion” … a lot of “billions” … with a “b.”
The Financial Times story on Cargill’s numbers includes the company’s assessment of overall market conditions. As economists debate the merits of government intervention to avoid a double-dip recession, the company said the economic outlook was uncertain. More uncertainty lies ahead, for the world has yet to transition from a policy-stimulated upturn to a structurally sustained recovery,” Cargill said in its annual report. “Europe’s debt crisis and China’s monetary tightening are moving markets. Governments have made promises that their economies cannot fulfill. Regulations are changing in unpredictable ways.”
The economics of solar heating are still a little complicated. MPR’s Stephanie Hemphill takes a run at breaking down a small-ish system. At the end of a story on a 29-unit apartment building getting a quarter of its water heating needs from thermal solar panels, she says: “[Such] systems typically cost between $6,000 and $12,000, installed. The federal government offers a 30-percent tax credit, and the state has a rebate program for 25 percent of the cost, up to $2,000. There’s another program for businesses. The payback time for solar thermal can be as little as four years, depending on the situation. And for people in Minneapolis and St. Paul, there’s another incentive: The Minnesota Renewable Energy Society is organizing a bulk purchase of solar hot water systems, and they’re scheduling installations geographically for more savings.”