Do you think? Gov. Dayton told the Metropolitan Airports Commission he’d like to see a bit more competition out at MSP International. The Strib’s Pat Doyle reports: “Referring to Delta Air Lines’ overwhelming presence at the airport, Dayton said there is a ‘need to bring in other options and alternatives’ and establish ‘more of a competitive balance’ in flights and pricing. ‘It’s important to me that the commission view its customers as first and foremost the people,’ he said. Dayton, a DFLer, made his remarks as he prepares to put his stamp on the commission with appointments replacing some who served under his GOP predecessor, Tim Pawlenty.” Dayton was charged $25 for his first remark, $35 for his second, and $15 for a chair after speaking.
Nobody, not even Mark Dayton, has said it’ll be anything but ugly. And now the GOP-controlled Senate’s first whack at budget-slashing offers a better indication of just how depressing its going to be. The AP story, by Brian Bakst, says: “Minnesota senators voted Thursday to slice $930 million from the state budget, a more modest cut than the House approved last week as the state tries to dig out from a massive deficit. … The Department of Minnesota Management and Budget and other agencies analyzed the reductions in the Senate bill and found:
• A $40 million cut in children and community services assistance grants would require counties to pick up the slack for neglect, dependency, disability and poverty services for 435,000 people, or they’ll have to scale the programs back.
• About $90 million in aid withheld from the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, which would prevent the schools from filling vacant faculty positions and stop them from offering more on-campus jobs to students as part of financial aid programs.
• Roughly $100 million would be taken from a property tax rebate program for renters. About 19,000 would lose their rebate eligibility and the average recipient would see their payback fall by $170.”
Mike Kaszuba, writing on the Strib’s “Hot Dish Politics” blog, says: “[T]he Senate version, unlike a House proposal to slash $1 billion in state spending, does not include a state employee pay freeze and does not ask state agencies to cut as much money — two items that were hurriedly expected to be sorted out in a conference committee. Thursday’s nearly three-hour Senate debate marked the most passionate criticisms by DFLers since the party lost the Senate majority for the first time in more than a generation. DFLers said the cuts were being made too quickly, without adequate testimony from the public, and unlike a year ago were not being back-filled by federal stimulus money.”
The Senate also pushed through a bill authorizing new pathways to teaching licenses. Says Tim Pugmire at MPR: “Three DFLers joined the Republican majority to pass the measure Thursday on a 40-23 vote. The bill allows non-traditional teaching candidates to get a two-year, limited license if they work toward a full license in a state-approved teacher-training program. … DFL Sen. Ellen Anderson said she was distressed by the absence of a minimum GPA requirement for participants. ‘I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told my middle schooler that a ‘C’ average isn’t good enough. You have to do better,’ said Anderson. ‘I can’t imagine why I would want him to think that his teachers don’t have to do better. That just seems wrong to me.’ Opponents also argued that too many good teachers are currently out of work.”
A story by Cliff Buchan of the Forest Lake Times notes the maverick thinking of one GOP legislator, a guy who appears to remember the classic conservative call for local authority over spending decisions: “While his two [Forest Lake-area] Republican counterparts were undecided or in support of the [Sen. Dave] Thompson bill [authorizing state-mandated pay freezes for school employees], Rep. Bob Dettmer, R-Forest Lake, said he could not support it. ‘I couldn’t support what he [Thompson] is asking for,’ Dettmer said. ‘It takes away the local control of the school board.’ He said it would pass more power from the local district to the state. ‘That’s not my philosophy,’ Dettmer said. ‘Some schools are already taking voluntary pay freezes.’ Dettmer said the bill was a way to start conversations during a bad economic time, but he’d prefer to see the issue resolved at the local level. ‘That’s why we have school boards and superintendents.’ ”
The West Central Tribune, out of Willmar, has a story about a Montevideo supermarket that used exactly $0 worth of natural gas during one month of the current heating season: “There are entire months during the heating season when his 13,000-square-foot store is heated only with a heat exchange system. It captures ‘waste’ heat that was otherwise vented outside from the store’s refrigeration and cooling equipment. ‘We just capture BTUs that we would have normally thrown out the door,’ said [Bill Pauling] the store owner. The waste heat from the electrical equipment is now the primary source of heat for the store. Natural gas is a backup, needed only when outside temperatures fall to 5 degrees or lower, he said.” Heck, the heat off a plasma TV ought to be enough to heat the average house for most of February.
That Minnesota teenager, Michael Swanson, accused of killing two convenience store clerks in Iowa last fall, will stand trial as an adult in at least one of the cases. The Des Moines Register says: “Swanson, 17, of St. Louis Park, Minn., faces two counts each of first-degree murder and first-degree robbery in the Nov. 15 shooting deaths of Sheila Myers, 61, and Vicky Bowman-Hall, 47. He faces trial in Humboldt County in Myers’ death and in Kossuth County in Bowman-Hall’s. Humboldt County District Judge Thomas Bice denied a motion to move that trial to juvenile court, following a hearing Thursday that was closed to the public. The trial is expected to begin in summer, lawyers have said.”
If you’re frustrated by funky Wi-Fi coverage around your house from your antiquated two-year old router, PiPress techie guy Julio Ojeda-Zapata has a glowing review of a new router from LinkSys: “With the E4200, Cisco aims to make wireless connections faster, to allow more devices to use the wireless networks simultaneously and to maximize coverage. In testing the latter category, I found myself connecting reliably to my network from the far corners of the newsroom, even from behind a wall, using an Apple MacBook Air and a Lenovo IdeaPad U260. Handheld gadgets, such as an iPhone and an iPod Touch, linked right up, too. Nice. The E4200 is a ‘dual-band’ router (unlike the Valet) operating at both 2.4 and 5 gigahertz, with a maximum theoretical speed of 450 megabits per second on the latter. These and other tweaks are aimed at creating a wireless nirvana for heavy Wi-Fi users, such as hardcore gamers and those streaming high-definition video across their networks.” Gnarly, dude.
Chipotle restaurants says otherwise, but two of the employees fired for not having valid work permit papers are suing the company for failing to pay their final wages. Julie Forster at the PiPress writes: “The suit, which is seeking class action status, was filed today by two former Chipotle workers on behalf of about 75 workers in Hennepin County District Court. Chris Arnold, a Chipotle spokesman, said in an email that the company paid the departing employees. ‘We paid everything everyone is owed, including wages, bonuses and accrued vacation. As we have said before, if any employee does not feel as if they have been paid everything they are owed, they can contact us directly and we will look into it.’ “