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Quake rattles western Minnesota

AFTERNOON EDITION ALSO: Commenters sack Vikes’ new QB; gays and guns at issue at Capitol;  3M and Target developments; Pawlenty vs. Ryan; and more.
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AFTERNOON EDITION

Having made every imaginable, self-pitying joke about our accursed winter/”spring” weather we are now reporting … an earthquake. Paul Walsh of the Strib writes:, “A rare earthquake, albeit modest, rippled in and around Alexandria in western Minnesota early Friday. The temblor at 2:20 a.m. measured 2.5 in magnitude, falling into the ‘weak’ category, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Not surprisingly, there were no reports of damage or injury. The quake probably ‘felt like a truck rumbling by or thunder,’ said USGS geophysicist John Bellini. Bellini said the agency collected more than two dozen ‘felt reports’ on its website from citizens in Alexandria and nearby communities such as Brandon, Carlos and Garfield.”

Do you “need” a roundup of opinions on the Vikings’ first-round draft choice? Here’s one from The Orlando Sentinel: “The move reeked of desperation, NFL.com’s Vic Carucci said. In his eyes, the move of getting [Christian] Ponder at No. 12 is a one that could come back to haunt the Vikings. As you’ll read in his post, Carucci said Ponder was seen mainly as a good developmental type quarterback. One who could be weaned into a system and asked to take it over in a matter of seasons, a la Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers. Still, with free agency and trades looming (once the NFL’s lockout officially ends), there is the potential that Minnesota could pick up a veteran like a Donovan McNabb and use Ponder as his understudy. In that scenario, it could actually be conceivable that Ponder started games this fall. In the Minnesota papers, the Ponder pickup has been shredded. The Pioneer Press’ Tom Powers writes the Vikings ‘could’ve, should’ve waited to pick a quarterback.  … [T]he selection of Ponder caught everyone by surprise and sort of sent the mood spiraling. In the field house there was a gasp, followed by a very short riot. Fortunately, everyone went back to drinking beer rather quickly. When (vice president of player personnel Rick) Spielman showed up to address the peanut gallery, he was subject to a bit of heckling. But at least they didn’t boo him like they used to boo Childress.’ Short riot? Thank goodness I was in friendly Tallahassee.”

A lot like reviewing bad movies, an underwhelming draft choice brings out the snarky best in sportswriters. Kevin Seifert of ESPN writes: “ If you’re upset with anything, blame the mistakes that led up to this moment. The franchise was crippled by trusting that Tarvaris Jackson, a second-round draft pick in 2006, would one day develop into a starter. His failures led to a series of short-term replacement that only delayed the inevitable decision to move on. By the time that point arrived, the Vikings’ depth chart looked like this:

  1. Yuck
  2. Ick
  3. Bleah

Actually, it was:

  1. Joe Webb
  2. Rhett Bomar
  3. And that’s It.

That list doesn’t suggest a need. It’s a crisis. And what you saw take place Thursday night was just that. It was crisis management. The Vikings didn’t take the best player available. They took the best quarterback available …” Wall-to-wall mock draft coverage of the 2012 choices begins tomorrow.

So is this year’s run at a gay marriage ban good or bad for Minnesota business, and “jobs, jobs, jobs” creation? Tom Scheck of MPR files a story saying: “Republican sponsors say the proposal to define marriage in the constitution as between a man and a woman will protect the sanctity of marriage. They’ve been trying since 2004 to put a same sex-marriage ban on the ballot and have their best chance of doing so this year, now that they control the Legislature. But some opponents of the idea are using a key GOP talking point against it: They say it will hurt the state’s economy. ‘With Minnesota competing for talent in other states and countries, a same-sex marriage ban would put the state at a competitive disadvantage,’ said Ann Kaner-Roth, executive director of Project 515. The group works to ensure that same-sex couples and their families have equal rights and considerations under Minnesota law. Roth said many Minnesota companies already provide domestic partner benefits to their employees. She hopes to convince them to get more involved in the marriage issue.”

Dennis Lien of the PiPress has a story on the the “deadly force bill” eating up time and attention at the Capitol: “The top prosecutor in Dakota County doesn’t like it. Neither do St. Paul police or Minnesota police organizations. Not to mention gun-control groups. But Republicans, backed by gun-rights groups, apparently do. And so, a bill that would give Minnesotans more flexibility in using deadly force to defend themselves and their properties cleared its first legislative hurdle Thursday. … As the bill was being debated, the committee room was filled largely with backers, many toting guns and displaying yellow buttons saying, “Self Defense is a Human Right.” But most of the people who actually testified opposed [Tony] Cornish’s proposal, citing numerous examples, such as trespassing, of how things could go wrong, and the extra dangers and burdens that would be placed on police and prosecutors. ‘The issue becomes what was in the mind of the person using deadly force rather than how a reasonable person would have reacted under the same circumstances,’ Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said.”

“Trademark infringement” … “unfair practices”  … “deceitful trade practices” … oh my. Susan Feydor of the Strib reports on charges 3M is leveling at a New York online retailer: “The suit says that when a Shoplet website customer uses the Post-It name to search for products, notes made by Universal, a 3M competitor, are displayed under the Post-It mark as ‘featured’ products. Several other manufacturers are listed on the left side of the page. ‘3M’s Post-It products often are not included anywhere on the first page of results,’ the suit said. The suit asks for a court order prohibiting Ellison and Shoplet from improperly using the Post-It name and for unspecified damages.”

The latest investment guru in trouble is a Wayzata guy by the name of Gary R. Vibbard. The Strib’s Dan Browning reports: “ Court filings in the case include a memorandum to prospective investors dated July 2009 that claimed the firm had ‘$5 billion in signed engagements’ from 30 existing clients on four continents, representing $50 million in future revenue. At a minimum, the document says, a $1 warrant would double in six years and increase 2,500 percent in 25 years. The plaintiffs in the suit are eight trusts, which seek the return of the $3 million they invested, plus additional unspecified damages. Meanwhile, the Better Business Bureau has issued a warning that R Capital Advisors may be defunct and advises investors to seek legal counsel. Vibbard could not be reached for comment Thursday. Phones at his home and business have been disconnected. And the address listed for R Capital Advisors is a Wayzata company that leases mailboxes.” I always love it when these guys don’t even bother with an office.
                                       
So if he tithes like all good Christians, that’ll be $2.5 million into some lucky collection basket. Target CEO Greg Steinhafel’s compensation numbers were released, and while not quite in the same class as UnitedHealth’s Stephen Hemsley’s $48 million, at $25 million he’ll eat just fine. Patrick Kennedy of the Strib writes: “The biggest increases to Steinhafel’s compensation for the year were from the exercise of previously issued stock options and a unique restricted stock award. Steinhafel exercised $10.7 million worth of stock options in 2010 after exercising none the previous two years. In 2009 Steinhafel’s total compensation was $8.1 million. … Steinhafel’s base salary increased 11.1 percent from 2009, and he received a $1.2 million discretionary bonus in part for ‘delivering record [earnings per share] in 2010 in a challenging environment.’ “

It seems T-Paw and Paul Ryan (“P-Ry”?) are not on the same page. Jordan Fabian of The Hill is saying: “House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Thursday dismissed Pawlenty’s recent suggestion that Medicare costs could be cut by implementing ‘payment reforms’ that would direct money to doctors and hospitals for better health care outcomes. The congressman said that the idea hews too closely to the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) proposed in President Obama’s health care law, which both Pawlenty and Ryan oppose. IPAB is tasked with lowering Medicare costs without affecting the quality of coverage. ‘Medicare has yet to do this successfully,’ Ryan said during an interview with the conservative Weekly Standard. ‘The president wants his IPAB to do essentially the same thing.’ ” Key phrase: “has yet to do this.”