This week’s back and forth between Gov. Pawlenty (but iin the Wall Street Journal) and Eliot Seide of AFSCME (reprinted today in the Strib) reaches some kind of closure, in terms of “truthiness” at least, with the St. Petersburg Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning “PolitiFact” truth-assessing website declaring Pawlenty’s “Pants on Fire” for the outrageousness of his, um, distortions: “We thought we’d take a look at one of the cornerstones of Pawlenty’s column — his contention that the private sector lost nearly 8 million jobs while government added 590,000.To see if he was right, we turned to the Bureau of Labor Statistics …. In January 2008, total private-sector employment in the United States stood at 115,562,000. By November 2010, the most current month available, that number had sunk to 108,278,000 — a drop of roughly 7.3 million jobs. That pretty close to the ‘nearly 8 million’ figure that Pawlenty cited. (Almost two-thirds of those job losses, incidentally, happened while George W. Bush was president.)”
And what’s more: “But Pawlenty’s public-sector figures were problematic. The BLS has a category called government employment — which encapsulates local, state and federal employment, just as Pawlenty had defined it. Over the same period, the number of government jobs went from 22,379,000 to 22,261,000 — a decrease of 118,000, rather than an increase of 590,000, as Pawlenty had written.” As best the “PolitiFact” folks can figure, Pawlenty’s 590,000 number represented a temporary spike in census workers (you know, with all their fat pensions and benefits) and had nothing to do with stimulus spending. Please remind me who in the local media did some homework on this.
This pseudo Harold & Maude tale belongs on someone’s Top Ten list for 2010. Abby Simons writes in the Strib: “A 70-year-old woman with a 26-year-old driver allegedly robbed an Elysian bank Wednesday afternoon, police say. She was quickly arrested, along with the stunned young man, who authorities say was apparently just doing a good turn for his parents’ tenant, had waited in the car and had no idea what happened.” And what’s more: “[T]he bank’s vice president followed the car at normal speeds about eight miles toward Janesville and phoned the Jaguar’s description and license plate information to Le Sueur County dispatchers. When the car reached Janesville, authorities stopped the car and took both people into custody. They quickly determined that the woman acted alone in the robbery and used the male driver, Luke Even Weimert, 26, of Janesville to give her a ride. She’d told him she planned to make a bank withdrawal to pay her apartment rent.”
No parking on the even side of non-snow-emergency streets, starting Friday in Minneapolis. Brandt Williams at MPR writes: “[Public works director Steve] Kotke said in the event of another snow emergency, residents should follow those rules first and then return to the winter parking ban. City officials say the restrictions will be in place until spring — or until conditions improve enough for them to lift the ban early.” … And that could be August at the rate we’re going.
Repairs on the Metrodome have stopped until crews can clear more snow off the collapsed roof. Kevin Duchschere’s Strib story says: “Commission officials said they could not yet say when the Dome will be ready for use again, nor what the cost will be to replace the damaged roof. A new roof for the Dome would cost an estimated $12 million to $15 million. Commission members voted Thursday to add $1.5 million to its repair fund, to take care of immediate expenses.” Hmmm … $1.5 million. That could pay for one luxury box at a new stadium.
The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, vocal and influential in its support of candidates paying lip service to conscientious budgeting and the sparing use of public money is, according to Mike Kaszuba’s “Hot Dish Politics” post, wholeheartedly in favor of … a new taxpayer-subsidized stadium for Zygi Wilf. “The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, one of the biggest lobbying forces at the State Capitol, thinks a new Minnesota Vikings stadium needs to move forward at the Legislature next year — and is working behind the scenes to make it happen. ‘My guess is it has to happen this session,’ Tom Hesse, the chamber’s vice president for government affairs, said Thursday. Hesse said David Olson, the chamber’s president, has been ‘working on some things with the Vikings.’ ”
Better keep this guy away from Tea Party tax radicals. Fox9’s Leif Knutson has a story about sentencing for a bribe-taking Circle Pines IRS agent. “Roger Anthony Coombs was sentenced in a St. Paul Federal Court to 33 months in federal prison for the $9,700 bribe, which he solicited to [sic] two owners of a small Minnesota company on May 8. The business owners then notified authorities and worked with IRS investigators, who witnessed two payments to Coombs that resulted in his June 2 arrest. Coombs was indicted June 21 before pleading guilty on Aug. 19.” It’s so flagrant you do wonder if alcohol was involved.
Frederick Melo of the PiPress has an interesting story about the lack of services for gay and lesbian … senior citizens. “Cathy Croghan, chairwoman of the Training to Serve board of directors, said treating everyone the same isn’t quite cutting it. Her organization helps agencies such as senior centers and respite-care providers understand that asking the right questions at intake might help them realize who else they should be communicating with in that senior’s family or support network. ‘If I only ask about your nuclear family, I might be missing the picture of who really provides support for you,’ Croghan said. ‘GLBT folks are twice as likely to age alone and four times less likely than the adult population to have children. They can’t be married in this state. Often, they have this ‘family of choice,’ which might be a network of friends or a longtime partner.”
Melo has another piece up worth reading. This one on the yin and yang of “buying local.” “ ‘What if I work in an area that is heavily dependent on national or international trade? Buying things local might hurt my income,’ said Louis Johnston, an economic historian at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University. The American colonies were importing and exporting goods before the birth of the nation, Johnston said, and the national economy was ‘integrated’ — with regions trading with each other, instead of being purely self-sufficient — by the Civil War. ‘It’s not clear ‘buying local’ is better,’ he said. ‘It simply isn’t. We’ve gone away from a world where small communities produce everything for themselves. We got rid of that 250 years ago. If we want to go back to that, we’ve got an awful lot to undo.’ The think tank Minnesota 2020 disagrees. It recently released a report showing that buying eco-friendly gifts at local shops keeps more money in Minnesota.” So where does Keystone Light come from?