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Blogger goes after Target’s political donations and Strib

MORNING EDITION ALSO: Al Franken on “net neutrality,” high-speed rail and streetcars, and maybe a new Saints stadium, too.
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Target and the Star Tribune take a ripping from blogger Abe Sauer of the popular website “The Awl: Be Less Stupid.” It’s a long piece, but the gist is that far from learning any lesson about those contributions to anti-gay politicians like Tom Emmer, Target went right on contributing to … well, anti-gay politicians other than Tom Emmer. Sauer launches his screed by saying: “The December 4th Star Tribune article begins, ‘It isn’t easy being CEO of a public company.’ The business section’s ode to Minneapolis-based Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel, which describes the executive as ‘always classy,’ was a public display of affection Minnesotans stereotypically avoid. The author makes little mention of the recent revelations of gay-friendly Target’s long-standing support for many of the most openly anti-gay politicians. Of these donations, the Star Trib says only, ‘The worst one could say about this incident is that Steinhafel may have been naive. But he admitted his mistake and reaffirmed the company’s long-standing support for gay rights.’ According to documents filed with the FEC in October 2010, Target continued donating to a bevy of anti-gay politicians even after Steinhafel apologized and committed to reforming the review process for future political donations. These donations even included some of the same anti-gay politicians the company had already been criticized for supporting.” … And then it goes downhill from there. The author of the piece in question was former Medtronic CEO, Bill George.

Which leads Sauer to his Grand Unifying Theory: “Poor Gregg Steinhafel. Despite all the suffering the Star Trib describes, he ranks only 126th in executive compensation. How, really, can a man support a family on $8 million anymore? It’s a lucky thing for him he has citizens like Bill George at the Trib sticking up for his (and his hand-picked executive team’s) management of the Target brand. It’s a glowing piece that even the mildly suspicious might dismiss as holiday season circular quid pro quo. But it’s worse than that.”

Al Franken talks with the Strib’s Jeremy Herb (in its “Hot Dish Politics” blog, not the dead tree edition), about the “net neutrality” rules adopted Tuesday. Writes Herb: “Franken told Hot Dish that while he was happy some improvements were made to an original draft proposal of the new Net neutrality rules —  which regulate how Internet service providers operate — he still had major problems with the new regulations. ‘I’m not happy with this,’ Franken said of the proposal the FCC adopted Tuesday by a 3-2 vote. ‘This should be real Net neutrality regulations and I don’t feel it is.’ ” Herb continues, saying: “Franken’s biggest complaints are about allowing Internet service providers to create so-called ‘fast lanes’ for websites that want quicker service for their high-end content, such as movie streaming. He’s also upset that wireless Internet is largely not covered by the proposal. ‘Since wireless is no doubt the future of the internet,’ Franken said, ‘this very much concerns me.’ “

Derek Wallbank covered the story for us here at MinnPost, adding this nugget: “[M]ore than 300 members of Congress on both the left and right had contacted the FCC opposing the regulations. Republican leaders in Congress said flatly they’d work to repeal it, including possibly by starving the FCC of the funding necessary to enforce its rule. House Speaker-designate John Boehner pledged that the Republican House would ‘work to reverse this unnecessary and harmful federal government power grab’ next year. ‘The Internet is an invaluable resource — it should be left alone,’ agreed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who decried what he called the Obama administration’s attempt to nationalize the Web.” Which, I guess, is McConnell-speak for “keeping it free and equal for everyone.”

The Strib picks up a commentary from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s house conservative, Patrick McIlheran, mocking us for our “pro-boondoggle” attitude toward high-speed rail: “[Mike] Beard, a Republican from suburban Minneapolis, isn’t just anyone. He’ll chair the Minnesota House’s transportation committee next month. If he has his way, his state won’t spend a dime on high-speed rail. This is interesting, since Minnesota is used as a shaming device here. News stories quote head-shaking Minnesota officials, disappointed in [Gov.-elect Scott] Walker’s obstinacy over the Madison-Milwaukee line, which was the nub of an eventual link to Minneapolis. Pundits insinuate that the cooler, smarter Twin Cities will get a fast link to Chicago, but via Iowa, bypassing backward us. Minnesotans, after all, are wise enough to demand rail. ‘I think it’s a priority for a certain select group,’ said Beard —urbanists and some greens ‘who just absolutely hate the automobile.’ Beyond that? Meh.” Urbanists and greens? Does that come with collards and grits?

I can only imagine what McIlheran will think when he hears that the Federal Transportation Authority has doled out $900,000 (in “non-ubanist carnivore” money?) to seriously study putting streetcars back on Nicollet and Central avenues. Mary Turck at Twin Cities Daily Planet writes: “Meanwhile, across the river, St. Paul City councilmenber Russ Stark recently visited Portland [Oregon] and observed, ‘ … relatively seamless integration of light rail with streetcars, buses, bikeways, and even an aerial tram (like a gondola). I was particularly impressed with how Portland has used the streetcar to revitalize economically depressed areas of the City and attract new housing and jobs back into the urban core. … Portland uses the streetcar as a primary economic development tool, and the City touts the fact that along existing streetcar lines that cost $155 million to construct, they have seen more than $3 billion in private investment.” Sure, but do you have any idea how many urbanists it takes to pay off $155 million?

There’s smitten, and then there’s this guy. The PiPress’ Mara Gottfried tells the story of Khang Dao Vang, who allegedly made “800 voice and text messages [to a Maplewood woman] in one night, 450 texts during a three-week span. The 36-year-old woman has a permanent protection order against Vang, 48. The complaint said many of his contacts ‘threatened her with death. Others made clear that Vang was watching her. All were unwelcome and unwanted.’ “

With even Mark Dayton making “Go, Stadium! Go!” noises for the Vikings, the St. Paul Saints are continuing to make their case that a few well-placed bucks for their new home would really spiff up Lowertown in St. Paul. Chris Havens in the Strib writes: “The city of St. Paul and the St. Paul Saints are stepping up to the plate once again with the hopes of getting $25 million from the Legislature in 2011 to build the venue. It became obvious last week when the City Council approved its legislative agenda that the ballpark is a priority. Only two building projects are being pushed: the ballpark and $9 million for an Asian-Pacific cultural center. ‘We feel the project is well vetted and ready to go,’ said city lobbyist Wendy Underwood. Plans call for it to sit on the old Gillette factory property, across from the St. Paul Farmers Market, and hug the maintenance facility for the planned Central Corridor light-rail line.” And: “The Saints, who draw about 6,000 people to each home game, would be the big-name tenants and play about 50 games there each summer. The facility also would be used by college and high school baseball teams, youth teams and for other events. Advocates say it would be a regional asset that would be in use 210 days per year.” My Montevideo math says 210 is more than 10 Vikings games … and two Monster Truck rallies.