The start of another school year

It’s the day after Labor Day, which means a lot of Minnesotans are putting away their white clothes (including, most famously, artist Scott Seekins) and a lot of Minnesotans are sending their children off to school, and it would be interesting to see a Venn diagram showing the overlap. Who are the Minnesotans who have the energy to bundle their children off for another year of education, but are still fashion-forward enough for season changes of wardrobe? One suspects many Minnesota parents are more like WCCO’s Jason DeRusha, whose primary concern Monday wasn’t his closet, but what to drink.

There are, of course, the usual assortment of back-to-school stories. The Associated Press, for instance, reminds us that there are a lot of kids on the road, so drivers should pay attention. Thanks, AP! They also let us know that students in St. Paul are starting the day with a good breakfast, which puts St. Paul students one up on this writer, who will be spending the morning staring at his armoire and wondering when he acquired so many white clothes. This writer does not have children.

Minnesota Public Radio offers up a slide show of how teachers prepare for the new year. No, it isn’t by figuring out what to drink — although who could blame them if they did? It mostly seems to involve setting up their rooms, and the first photo shows a canvas satchel belonging to a teacher emblazoned with the helpful words “Keep calm and carry on.” Wait a second — wasn’t that the poster printed by the United Kingdom to be passed out in case England was invaded and occupied by the Nazis? Yes it was. It could be worse, one supposes. The teacher could have a canvas bag with an image of a hard-hatted turtle lying on the ground in terror, printed with the words “Duck and cover!”

One can understand a teacher’s sense of being under siege. John Fitzgerald of Minnesota 2020, republished on Twin Cities Daily Planet, reminds us that our schools aren’t just underfunded, but they haven’t even been given the funds they were promised — special education, in particular, has taken a hit, having been left underfunded to the tune of more than half a billion dollars.

Education is going to be at the forefront of the gubernatorial election — DFL candidate Mark Dayton has made it one of his primary talking points, putting it front and center at the gubernatorial debate this past week at the State Fair, summarized by MinnPost’s Jay Weiner. The biggest point of contention seemed to be taxes — Dayton has been quite forthright about his intention to raise taxes to the state’s highest earners, which GOP candidate Tom Emmer opposes. This opposition didn’t seem enormously popular at the Fair — Emmer complained about Dayton’s tax plan, and also about IP candidate Tom Horner’s plan to tax clothing purchases. “This sound bite brought the longest extended boos of the event from everyone, it appeared, but Emmer fans,” Weiner writes, “and it forced the be-gloved debate moderator Gary Eichten to calm the masses.”

Dayton attacked Emmer for not having released a detailed budget plan, as related by Tim Pugmire of Minnesota Public Radio (MPR also has the complete audio of the debate), and Emmer promised his plan would be coming soon. Now, politicians are not ordinarily very fast about fulfilling campaign promises, but, sonofagun, Emmer went ahead and released a plan on Labor Day. A jobs plan. As reported by the Pioneer Press’s Bill Salisbury, Emmer offered up something he called a “job creation agenda,” which mostly involved slashing taxes — specifically, $626 million in business tax breaks over the next two years. How will that help balance the budget? According to Salisbury, Emmer “would not say how he would account for the loss of revenue in the face of the state’s projected $5.8 billion budget deficit.” Well, he says his budget plan is still forthcoming, and consider our curiosity piqued.

We’ve been talking about Emmer and Dayton a lot, but what of Tom Horner? He always seems to get the short shrift, and one suspects it is not merely because he is a third-party candidate, or because he is trailing in the polls. Horner’s campaign seems mostly to consist of “I’m not those other two guys,” as demonstrated by his second television ad, which you can watch on Minnesota Independent with some commentary from Andy Birkey. The 30-second ad merely complains that Emmer is too far to the right and Dayton is too far to the left, while Horner is, one supposes, just right, like that final bowl of porridge. And that’s it — there is nothing more to the ad than Horner’s promise that he will use common sense as a governor. So in 30 seconds all we learn is that he’s not Dayton or Emmer. But anybody could make that claim — Ken Pentel can make that claim. Who? You know, Ken Pentel, the Ecology Democracy Candidate for governor, who has been campaigning on a bicycle. Haven’t heard of him? Well, he’s not Emmer or Dayton.

One more political story from the Fair: CNN’s Gary Tuchman follows Rep. Michele Bachmann around at the Fair and files a report that fairly drips with scorn, republished on City Pages with the highlights summarized by Hart Van Denberg. Tuchman paints a portrait of a politician who has put herself in a bubble of self-righteousness and Tea Party rhetoric, and although Bachmann agreed to answer questions from Tuchman (two questions, specifically), most of the piece consists of trailing behind the congresswoman as she scurries from one extended interview with right-wing radio hosts to another. Tuchmann also catches a Fairgoer who doesn’t seem to be a Bachmann supporter, calling out after her, “You’re an insane lady,” and then quizzing the camera, asking, “Could anybody believe the crap that comes out of her mouth?”

Some odds and ends: Stuff about Minneapolis reprints a photo of a St. Paul couple that is, in writer Paul Merrill’s words, “too badass to pass up.” As the man in the photo is dressed in a white suit, we probably should have printed it before Labor Day; the Daily Glean regrets its error.

A Celtic temple has opened in Northeast Minneapolis, as reported by the Pagan Newswire Collective — the small structure is the first of its kind in North America, dedicated to the Old Belief Society, which derives its beliefs from old Celtic practices. We point this out, firstly because we find it interesting, and secondly to point out just how wide we at the Glean cast our newsgathering net. Come on, who else is reading the Pagan Newswire Collective? Eric Eskola? Hardly.

In arts: On Aug. 23, we at The Glean predicted that Tom Emmer would be the subject for some especially biting seed art at the State Fair. Our powers of prognostication remain unparalleled, as demonstrated in a Chaska Herald photo essay wittily titled “Cropaganda.”

In sports: City Pages offers a video of football analyst Dan Hampton saying that the Vikings need to go down to New Orleans “and hit that town like Katrina.” These are the moments when you wish the camera was actually pointed at the show’s producer, just so you could see the magic that is colloquially known on the Internet as the “facepalm.”

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Comments (8)

  1. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/07/2010 - 11:28 am.

    Say Bunny?

    Given the righteous outrage expressed by the scary smart, reality based community right here on “the Glean” regarding the absolute requirement for crystal clear transparency in campaign financing, I’m surprised that you missed the opportunity to aggregate the latest instance of skullduggery…

    These political hacks will just never learn, will they, Bunny?

    BTW….do you think Rep. Bachmann was at all surprised with the product her CNN tracker turned in? How about the voters of her district?

  2. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 09/07/2010 - 11:53 am.

    The really scary part is that there are voters in Bachmann’s district who actually vote for her – lots of them, obviously. Fortunately, I’m not in her district, but I didn’t miss by much, so I’ll be paying close attention to the redistricting that takes place as a result of the census.

    Political hackdom has crossed party lines without cringing for decades, probably centuries. When getting elected depends upon the ability to raise money, raising money becomes a primary consideration – as every candidate in every race, including Mrs. Bachmann, could surely tell us.

  3. Submitted by Max Sparber on 09/07/2010 - 12:35 pm.

    That is an interesting story, Mr. Swift; I assure it it was not included because it did not appear in my reader, and not for any other reason. I have added the Local politics” feed to my Reader, as obviously I was missing some stories.

    One of the nice things about being part of the reality based community is not ascribing motivations — or even politics — to somebody else without having investigated the accusation first. But you don’t have to be scary smart to know that’s good policy, just smart enough.

  4. Submitted by Rich Crose on 09/07/2010 - 12:44 pm.

    What’s that you say? A Pagan Temple in the shadow of the 35W bridge collapse. Someone call Fox News right now!

  5. Submitted by James Hamilton on 09/07/2010 - 07:39 pm.

    In Duluth yesterday, Mr. Emmer claimed that the almost $6 billion deficit we face in the next biennium is not a deficit at all, because:

    a. Recent projections of revenues are up $3 billion; and

    b. There is no deficit in the first place because there can only be a deficit if you plan to spend more than you have.

    He also claimed that his $600+ million in tax breaks would not increase the deficit, apparently on the same reasoning as b., above.

    It’s time for someone to go through the looking glass and bring him home.

  6. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 09/07/2010 - 08:54 pm.

    Good one James….

  7. Submitted by John Hakes on 09/08/2010 - 09:44 am.

    Mr. Sparber:

    Thank you for your observations on the governor’s race. We agree that packaging effective TV advertisements can be a challenge, but believe the Horner ads to be constructive invitations to voters who want to learn more before casting their votes.

    In addition to MinnPost’s coverage, an excellent one-stop shop for comparing and contrasting candidate positions can be found at We also recommend the Horner 2010 website linked to this note or the Facebook page by the same name.

    A well-informed vote is a good vote.

  8. Submitted by John Hakes on 09/08/2010 - 10:02 am.

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