The first of the four Powderhorn Park assailants was supposed to show up in court Tuesday, but the presiding judge, noting a discrepancy in birth dates — meaning he could be younger than 16 — postponed the hearing. The kid was however charged. The Strib story by Rochelle Olson, Abby Simons and Matt McKinney (are you gauging the Strib’s sense of reader interest in this one?) write: “In an interview with police, [the suspect whose initials are] G.D.T. allegedly admitted that he and the other three robbed and sexually assaulted three people the night of Nov. 24. G.D.T. told police he had a gun and that N.S.H. asked for it. The four met up and talked about robbing people with the gun. G.D.H. reported seeing N.S.H. sexually assault the mother and talk about assaulting the girl.”
Fox9’s Tom Lyden demonstrates the storytelling power of the camera over the mere pen when he interviews the mother of one of the girls involved in the second assault. He emphasizes that prosecutors fully intend to certify all four of the boys as adults.
Start planning your charity bake sales. UnitedHealth told investors in New York Tuesday that 2011 presents some challenges. The Bloomberg Business Week story says: “[E]conomic stagnation, the health care overhaul and pressure on government programs like Medicare and Medicaid will affect its performance heading into the new year. The Minnetonka, Minn., health insurer expects a rise in medical enrollment but a drop in earnings per share next year compared to its 2010 projections. UnitedHealth forecasts 2011 earnings of $3.50 to $3.70 per share, down from its projection for 2010 of $3.85 to $3.95 per share. It expects 2011 revenue to range from $99 billion to $100 billion, up from its 2010 projection of about $94 billion.” At this rate, it’ll be a penny stock by 4011.
The Wall Street Journal story notes: “UnitedHealth, the largest U.S. managed-care company by revenue, said it expects, on a consolidated basis, to spend some 82.7% of health plan premium revenue on patient care next year, compared with an estimated 81.1% this year. The company attributed the change to new medical-spending requirements and a higher mix of Medicare and Medicaid enrollment in 2011, and favorable claims trends this year. The new U.S. health-coverage law requires insurers to spend at least 80% of small-group premiums and 85% of large-group on patient care — a figure known as the medical loss ratio — and is seen as limiting health insurers’ profits. Health plans falling short of the minimums will have to provide customer rebates. UnitedHealth projects a net margin of 3.8% to 4.1% for next year, which compares with a net margin of 5.1% for the first nine months of 2010.”
According to the PiPress’ John Shipley, the soon-to-be-Super Bowl champion Minnesota Vikings are looking at four sites for a new taxpayer-subsidized stadium: “The Vikings have been looking for a site within a municipality willing to help finance the package. If there are three potential sites in Minneapolis, that would require the city or Hennepin County to help. As recently as last summer, Hennepin County Commission chair Mike Opat said the county has too many other issues to handle to help with another stadium. The commission helped build the Twins’ Target Field by approving a countywide sales tax. John Stiles, a spokesman for Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, said, ‘It’s Mayor Rybak’s position that the Vikings are a statewide asset and as such, this requires a statewide or regional solution. It should not fall on Minneapolis alone.’ “
The Strib story, by Kevin Duchschere, has the Vikings’ Lester Bagley saying the team’s stadium dream is “down to its last at-bat.” (What? He couldn’t think of a decent football metaphor? Like, you know, “fourth and 35”?) There’s some discussion of the effect of a March NFL labor shutdown’s effect on the deal (or lack thereof). But as for the money part, the story says: “[Bagley] said the team is focused on ‘user-based financing,’ generating revenue from sources such as lottery games, a surcharge on NFL gear or taxes on food and lodging. If legislators and the new governor want to use revenue from casinos or slot machines at Canterbury Park, Bagley said, the Vikings would ‘jump on board.’sounds g Latest estimates put the price of a new stadium with a retractable roof at nearly $900 million. The Vikings have said that they don’t need a roof and wouldn’t pay for it.” But if taxpayers want to pay for it …
Bob Kelleher at MPR files a report on briefings in Duluth-Superior for two new budget-cutting congressmen, Minnesota’s Chip Cravaack and Wisconsin’s Sean Duffy. Writes Kelleher: “The federal government is responsible for dredging harbors like Duluth-Superior, and has invested millions of dollars in port improvements. A new shipping lock planned to accommodate the largest lake ships at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan could cost an estimated $500 million, but that project is currently on hold for lack of funding. Cravaack sounded supportive, but stopped far short of committing to support federal spending on improvements like that.” Hmmm … harbor dredging … sounds pretty “earmarky” to me.
Bouncing back from the obscurity of a long holiday weekend, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann Bachmann grabbed some headlines with her charge that the so-called Pigford II case (the $1.2 billion settlement to black farmers of the 1980s for loan discrimination) is riddled with fraud and insinuates it is really about Civil War reparations. Kevin Diaz of the Strib provides some welcome context: “Bachmann’s outspoken criticism sparked a war of words with John Boyd, president of the National Black Farmers Association, as well as with Minneapolis Democrat Keith Ellison, the state’s first and only black representative in Congress. Boyd, one of the architects of the deal, criticized Bachmann for inserting herself in the longstanding dispute, noting that her family farm received more than $250,000 in farm subsidies over the past decade while the Pigford case was being litigated. Bachmann responded that she has never received ‘one penny’ from her in-laws’ family farm in Independence, Wis., even though she reported between $15,001 and $50,000 in ‘farm income’ on her federal financial disclosure forms this year. She and her husband also list a stake in the farm valued at up to $250,000.”
With the outcome of the latest recount pretty much a foregone conclusion, the only real fun is analyzing the GOP strategy. MPR’s Tom Scheck writes in its “Capitol View” blog: “[I]t’s becoming clear that Republican Tom Emmer’s strategy is to challenge ballots cast for Dayton that few think the State Canvassing Board will agree with. In Ramsey and Hennepin Counties, most of the challenged ballots that have been viewed by reporters are clear votes for Dayton and are unlikely to be sustained by the Canvassing Board. In Hennepin County alone, the Emmer team has challenged 68 times as many ballots as the Dayton team. 894 of those challenges were deemed frivolous. The key question to Emmer and the Republican Party is whether there’s a path to victory or is it more about delaying the inevitable? GOP Chair Tony Sutton tells the AP that they may file an Election Contest, which would further delay the outcome of the race.”
The latest jump in gas prices makes for a good opportunity to provide what passes for mainstream consumer reporting. Case in point: WCCO’s Reg Chapman files a story saying: “AAA says that one reason is the conflict brewing between North Korea and South Korea. The uncertainty about what’s going to happen there is making the market unstable. However, whatever the cause, the experts believe the price of gas may go up before it goes back down again.” The question is: Does the average viewer have any better understanding of “the market” after hearing that? Is there really no way to condense the information in this “60 Minutes” piece?