“If we’re going to do it, we really need to get started yesterday.” That’s the word from the U of M on using TCF Bank Stadium for Monday’s Vikings game.” An AP story says: “Inside the Metrodome on Tuesday, work crews were laying sheets of plywood on the field to keep it dry and using several hydraulic lifts as they began tearing down pieces of the torn roof. Pat Milan, spokesman for the Sports Facilities Commission, said that five experts from Birdair Inc., the Amhert, N.Y.-based contractor that built the roof, were in the process of a damage inspection and officials with the commission were expecting to have a set of options laid out for them later in the day.” I think somebody’s playing in St. Louis next Monday.
Madeleine Baran of MPR interviews Chip Cravaack, who is succeeding Jim Oberstar in Congress from the 8th District. She writes: “Cravaack said Monday that he opposes increasing the federal debt and will work to undo portions of the recent health care overhaul, although the freshman lawmaker acknowledged he has not read the legislation.” And: “The newly elected lawmaker said he supports some provisions in the federal health care law, but believes that it’s unconstitutional to require Americans to purchase insurance.” And, in the context of deficits: “Cravaack also discussed the pending legislation to extend the Bush-era tax cuts and unemployment insurance benefits. Without the tax cuts, he said, many small business owners would not be able to hire more employees or make other investments. ‘I haven’t read the bill,’ he said. ‘That’s one thing I’d want to do first, but if it increases the debt at all, that to me is a non-player. We cannot kick this can continually down the road’.” Sounds like someone’s got a lot of reading to do.
A Huffington Post column by Rebecca Sive expresses a tone of amazement that Amy Klobuchar, who she clearly admires, is even having to think about running against Michele Bachmann. Says Sive, “[A] Senate race against Bachmann would require raising not just millions and millions, but millions and millions and millions, in the face of the Tea Party’s likelihood of doing the same for Bachmann. This would mean Klobuchar would be buying lots of TV airtime. Inevitably, the national media would pick up those ads. That would be really great if Klobuchar were eying the Presidency, say.” On the money thing, local TV stations are 100 percent in favor of any race with Bachmann.
For her part, Bachmann’s media exposure in the last 24 hours included a stop on Lou Dobbs’ syndicated radio show, where she announced she has signed up Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia to teach one of her classes on the Constitution. Jeremy Herb posts at the Strib’s “Hot Dish Politics”: “Bachmann said she plans to kick off her classes on the Constitution with Scalia an hour before members cast their first votes. ‘We’re going to do what the NFL does, and what baseball teams do — we’re going to practice every week, if you will, our craft,’ Bachmann said.”
U.S. Census data are starting to flow. A facet called the American Community Survey released figures today, and Elizabeth Dunbar of MPR is among those breaking some of the figures down. Among the highlights: “Nearly one in three people with Somali ancestry in the U.S. live in Minnesota. The survey says there are about 25,000 people with Somali ancestry in Minnesota and about 85,700 in the United States.
Also: “Towns within a 45-minute drive of the Twin Cities are booming. Several cities and towns close enough to the Twin Cities for residents to commute have more than doubled in population since 2000: Wyoming, Forest Lake, Isanti, Shafer, Montrose, Carver, Hanover, Mayer and Otsego. Some other big population gains were in Rogers, Hugo, Zimmerman, Chisago City, Belle Plaine, Victoria and St. Michael.
And: “Small towns in outstate Minnesota with populations under 2,000 saw the biggest drops in population. Ninety-five towns with 2,000 people or less saw their populations decrease by 10 percent or more.” Dunbar says MPR will continue to crunch census numbers over the next few days.
Mayors know one thing for absolute certain, and that is if they don’t get the streets plowed well enough to keep the schools open, all hell is going to break out. Mayor Chris Coleman went on the offensive last night, criticizing superintendent Valeria Silva’s decision to keep city schools closed for a second straight day. The PiPress’s Doug Belden writes: “Silva said Tuesday she agreed it’s inconvenient for parents to have kids home another day, but she said, ‘I’d rather create that burden on a family than have one tragedy. I can’t apologize for trying to ensure student safety,’ she said. Silva said the city had done a good job clearing streets, but the district’s concerns were about getting buses around and getting kids on and off safely. In explaining its decision Monday night to close for a second day, district officials cited several factors:
• buses would likely be running late, and children might be standing in the cold for long periods of time;
• students walking to school might be hidden by large snow mounds or forced to walk in the street if sidewalks weren’t shoveled;
• the district needed another 24 hours to clear the snow from its building sites.”
According to the state’s Management and Budget office, Minnesota won’t have to start using credit to pay basic bills until the spring. The AP reports: “Budget coordinator Charles Bieleck told a legislative commission today that December cash flow is $600 million better than projected, mostly because of increased tax collections and lower debt payments. Still, Bieleck says the state may have to tap into a $600 million credit line to cover bills at the next low point in March and April.” I hope they get that “zero percent for 12 months” feature.
Whoa! Did you catch the story of the woman who drove off the Hwy 52 (Lafayette) bridge and landed 25 feet below? Mara Gottfried reports in the PiPress: “ ‘It’s amazing that she’s alive’, said Jim Golden [one of those who discovered the car]. “It’s a miracle. She just landed perfectly. She flew over power wires and missed landing on a cement divider by inches. It landed on the driver’s window, and somehow, the car popped back up.’ The Minnesota State Patrol had no record of any witnesses to the accident. Lt. Eric Roeske, State Patrol spokesman, said [Mary Kay] Jungbauer hit the barrier, where snow was pushed up, on the right side of the highway. ‘Snow was piled up there from the plow,’ Roeske said, referring to the cleanup from Saturday’s blizzard. ‘Apparently, the car just went up and over that, fell down and landed on Fourth Street.’ The Lafayette Bridge is about 50 feet over the Mississippi River and, as it nears Interstate 94, it’s an estimated 25 feet in the air, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.”
Correcting ‘the street scene’
The folks down at City Hall in Minneapolis took mild umbrage to Tuesday afternoon’s item about how few streets had seen a plow since the weekend storm. The story, from the Strib, said: “Minneapolis officials Monday afternoon declared a second snow emergency, as St. Paul did Sunday. Minneapolis transportation maintenance supervisor Mike Kennedy said one-third of the city’s streets, most of them residential, still hadn’t seen a plow as of Monday morning, technically Day 3 of the current snow emergency.” To this, a city spokesman wrote me: “We’re not sure where the info came from that one-third of the city’s streets had not seen a plow yet, but we’ve let the Star Tribune know it’s incorrect. As of this morning [Monday], 95% of the city’s streets had been plowed at least once, along with 100% of the alleys. We hope to see it corrected soon on the Star Tribune website.” The Strib has since, uh, “modified” the story.