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World’s oldest man, Minnesota native, dies at 114

MORNING EDITION ALSO: Senate wants to scrap coal-burning plant ban; “class warfare” examined; Scott Walker grilled in D.C.; bank gives city dilapidated house; and more.
Read Thur. Afternoon Edition


The thing about being the world’s oldest man (or woman) is that you don’t get to wear the crown for very long. Minnesota native Walter Breuning, age 114, has died in Montana. The quite engrossing AP story by Matt Volz says: “Here’s the world’s oldest man’s secret to a long life:
• Embrace change, even when the change slaps you in the face. (‘Every change is good.’)
• Eat two meals a day (‘That’s all you need.’)
• Work as long as you can (‘That money’s going to come in handy.’)
• Help others (‘The more you do for others, the better shape you’re in.’)
Then there’s the hardest part. It’s a lesson Breuning said he learned from his grandfather: Accept death.
‘We’re going to die. Some people are scared of dying. Never be afraid to die. Because you’re born to die,’ he said. Breuning died of natural causes in a Great Falls hospital where he had been a patient for much of April with an undisclosed illness, said Stacia Kirby, spokeswoman for the Rainbow Senior Living retirement home where Breuning lived. He was the oldest man in the world and the second-oldest person, according to the Los Angeles-based Gerontology Research Group. Besse Cooper of Monroe, Ga. — born 26 days earlier — is the world’s oldest person.”

Not that Tim Pawlenty ever expected to get endorsements from Minnesota Democrats … But Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak’s conference call with Massachusetts reporters (in advance of T-Paw’s big Tea Party speech today) is still reverberating. Kendra Marr at Politico writes: “Rybak slammed the former governor for doing ‘almost nothing’ to solve Minnesota’s budget problems. ‘His fiscal record was a disaster for Minnesota, and it will be a disaster for the country,’ he said Thursday. … ‘I worked with the governor,’ Rybak said. ‘I was very happy he is no longer governor and would just keep my mouth shut if he was just going to ride off into the sunset.’ Pawlenty spokesman Alex Conant said it was ironic that Democrats would criticize Pawlenty’s fiscal record ‘within hours of Congress passing another deficit-laden budget as demanded by President Obama.’ ‘It’s clear that Democrats in Minnesota, Massachusetts and around the country are intimidated by Governor Pawlenty’s record of success and his ability to unite the Republican Party and defeat Barack Obama,’ he said.”

Doug Grow’s story here at MinnPost includes: “Rybak said it will be up to people who dealt with [Pawlenty] to define who he is. Rybak admitted that’s not an easy job. He noted that many Republicans see Pawlenty as ‘a blank slate.’ ‘But that should tell you something,’ Rybak said. ‘More than anything else, he was ineffective.’ In the teleconference, which included reporters from the Boston Globe and Boston Herald, Rybak pounded on themes familiar to Minnesotans. He noted that Pawlenty left Minnesota with a debt of more than $5 billion; that taxes ‘for 90 percent of Minnesotans’ increased dramatically under Pawlenty because of the increases in property taxes resulting from his fiscal policies; and that fees in the state increased by 73 percent during Pawlenty’s two terms.” Does it sound like the mayor enjoyed himself?

Hey, smoke, baby, smoke. The Minnesota Senate voted to lift pesky environmental restrictions on coal-burning plants. Patrick Condon’s AP story says: “The Senate voted 42-18 in favor of scrapping what supporters said has amounted to a moratorium on both new coal plants in the state and purchase of energy produced by new coal plants in neighboring states. Several Democrats joined all the chamber’s Republicans in voting to lift the restrictions. The bill undoes a key provision from a package of bills the Legislature passed and then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed in 2007 that was intended to boost the state’s investment in renewable energy. But the bill’s chief sponsor said the coal provision was unpopular at the time with many supporters of the larger set of reforms. ‘We have a base-load energy need and a situation going forward,’ said Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont. ‘Man cannot live by renewable energy alone. I like renewables, I encourage them. I live in a land of renewables, but we still need that base-load energy.’ “

Longtime Twin Cities journalist and communications pro Doug Stone writes a commentary for the Strib on just what we mean when we talk about “class warfare”: “[T]he class warfare epithet is being applied in the wrong direction. Many of these proposals are not only targeted at the middle class and low-income citizens, but they do nothing to create jobs, make us more competitive or attractive, educate our children or build a better future. … Asking the better off among us to pay slightly higher taxes will neither cause them great financial harm nor make them the targets of class warfare. … [T]he wealthiest taxpayers have benefited greatly over the last decade through generous state and federal tax cuts. People making over $137,000, pay 10.1 percent of their income in state and local taxes vs. 12.3 percent for the people making less than that, according to the Department of Revenue. And people making more than $194,000 pay 9.7 percent of their income in state and local taxes. Asking higher income citizens to carry some of the burden for lifting us out of our financial predicament is not class warfare. State Management and Budget figures show that the average tax increase for all those facing an increase under Dayton’s proposal is $287 per year.

Another tough day for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. He was in D.C. taking a ripping from … well, Dennis Kucinich for one. Laurie Kellman’s AP story says: “Just how much did weakening government workers’ collective bargaining rights save the state of Wisconsin? demanded Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio. ‘That particular part doesn’t save any,’ Walker replied. Earlier in his testimony, he told the committee the changes would save local governments in Wisconsin more than $700 million a year. He has said the part of the bill that forces the workers to contribute more toward their pensions and health care saves the state $30 million this fiscal year and $300 million over the next two. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat who represents the District of Columbia, asked Walker whether he’s met with union representatives since the bill passed. Walker said no, but a member of his administration has. Norton suggested Walker should take a lesson on civility from Congress, of all places. Though she often disagrees with [Chairman Darrell] Issa, for example, ‘I have always felt that this was somebody I could talk with and we could have a civil conversation.’ “

They’ll be grabbing up the torches and pitchforks in StillwaterThe Strib’s Daarel Burnette II reports: “Stillwater’s next superintendent, Corey Lunn, will be paid $160,000 a year, the school board decided in approving his employment contract Thursday night. Lunn currently makes $124,000 as superintendent of Montgomery-Lonsdale Schools, a rural district with 1,200 students in the outer-ring southern suburbs. Stillwater’s district has 9,000 students. The three-year contract, which Lunn already has signed, provides a $25,000 relocation package and $10,000 in potential performance bonuses.” $25K to relocate … from Lonsdale?

Like it or not, National Prayer Day is still a go. The AP reports from Wisconsin: “A federal appeals court on Thursday threw out a ruling that the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional and ordered that a lawsuit challenging President Barack Obama’s right to proclaim the day be dismissed. A three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the Madison, Wis.-based Freedom From Religion Foundation did not have standing to sue because while they disagree with the president’s proclamation, it has not caused them any harm. ‘Hurt feelings differ from legal injury,’ the appeals court said. U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled in April 2010 that the national prayer day was unconstitutional because it amounts to a call for religious action. Crabb said the government can no more enact laws supporting a day of prayer than it can encourage citizens to fast during Ramadan, attend a synagogue or practice magic. The president appealed. The Freedom From Religion Foundation issued a Thursday statement saying it would seek a review by the full appeals court. Foundation co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor called the decision cowardly.”

If this became a national trend, it could get real interesting. The PiPress’ Nick Ferraro has a story about U.S. Bank turning a run-down house on which it had foreclosed over to the city of West St. Paul. “ … the home’s owner — U.S. Bank — has dropped the foreclosed property into the lap of the city’s economic development authority. City officials pitched the idea to the bank about four months ago and they recently bit, [Economic Development Authority] president Ed Iago said. He called the donation ‘an unusual opportunity’ amid the mortgage mess. ‘In the 35 years I was in the banking and mortgage industry, I do not recall any institutional lender making a donation of this nature to a community,’ said Iago, a former lending officer. But he added: ‘As a lender, when you have an asset that turns into a liability, then your entire thinking has to change. Your mentality has to turn to: ‘How do I get out of this loan?’ ” … I will not make a juvenile Iago joke.