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One in five gay teens risks physical assault at school

AFTERNOON EDITION ALSO: GOP email fallout; Wisconsin Sen. Johnson’s intriguing finances; union challenging Target tactics; a Petty request for Bachmann and more.
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According to a 2009 study released today, one in five gay teens has been physically assaulted in their schools. Jeremy Olson of the Strib writes: “One in five GLBT students were physically assaulted in Minnesota schools due to their sexual orientation, according to survey results from the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN). The figures add to the growing evidence that schools are hostile places for gay students, and to the public attention that has grown since reports of suicides involving gay students. Released Tuesday, the 2009 results are based on responses from 181 teens in Minnesota who identified themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. The state-specific release is based on survey results from 7,261 teens nationally that were released last fall. Among the Minnesota teens, 84 percent said their sexual orientation resulted in verbal harassment, 47 percent said it resulted in physical harassment, and 19 percent said it led to physical assaults. (The survey defined physical harassment as being pushed or shoved, and defined assault as being punched, kicked or injured by a weapon.)”

OK, the courts can stay open. Tom Scheck of MPR reports, “Retired Judge Bruce Christopherson has ruled that the state’s courts should continue operating even if Gov. Dayton and the Legislature fail to agree on a budget. In his order, Christopherson said the state should continue to fund the courts at least through July 30th. The decision comes one day after the Attorney General, the governor’s office and public defenders argued in court that the judiciary should continue to receive funding. In his order, Christopherson said that due process and other constitutional protections require the courts to continue running.”

Following on Jeff Severns Guntzel’s report here at MinnPost about the email from GOP leaders Amy Koch and Kurt Zellers to state employees, others are chronicling reactions. The UPI story says: “Zellers defended the e-mail as an attempt to let employees know “they’re valued members of our workforce and that we don’t want to shut down government’. … The Minnesota Association of Professional Employees, which represents more than 12,100 state government workers, took exception. ‘Meet with the governor and get the job done,’ the union said in a statement. ‘Don’t waste time on insincere and insulting letters.’

A letter in the Marshall Independent, from Greg Van Hee of Perham, says: “Personal incomes such as Governor Dayton wants to tax of those making the most in the state do not create appreciable wealth for the rest of us. Companies do and there are many qualities of life in Minnesota that attract some of the best companies in the country. These qualities include a better educated workforce, even though now Minnesota’s spending on education has fallen into the bottom third of the states. Good roads and technological connectivity are also critical to companies, as are many services provided them by the government itself. When it’s all boiled down, the new legislators are being called upon to govern in the interests of 98 percent of Minnesotans and not just the wealthiest 1-2 percent. We’ve already had a decade of trickle down economics with huge tax cuts for the wealthiest in America. At the same time real wages for American workers from 2000-09 rose only 4.5 percent over all of that time, when from the years 1929-39 they rose a little over 5 percent, smack in the middle of the Great Depression.”

Have you followed the latest from Wisconsin’s “no new taxes” crowd? Namely, the campaign funding of new Tea Party-flavored Sen. Ron Johnson? The lefty blog “Uppity Wisconsin” reports: “Johnson recently paid himself 10 million dollars for what he called ‘deferred compensation’ because he says he has ‘never collected a salary’ since he bought the factory (with his wife’s family’s money) in 1997. The truth?  Ron Johnson has collected a $650,000 a year salary from Pacur, but that’s pocket change compared to the real money he’s collected from Pacur:  several multi-million dollar loans he has gotten from Pacur at the bargain-basement interest rate of 0.69%! Why loan himself money from Pacur, when he owns Pacur?  It’s tax free money. According to his financial disclosure form, he’s loaned himself approximately ten million dollars at the next-to-nothing interest rate of 0.69%. Johnson then invested that ten million in the stock market and paid a capital gains tax on those earnings of only 15%, which is of course much lower than the Federal individual income tax top rate of 35% he would have paid if he got the money directly and also a fraction of the Wisconsin tax, which only taxes half of the income from capital gains. This ten million he borrowed from Pacur is of course of interest now because he spent approximately ten million on his Senate campaign at a time when he had not yet paid back his Pacur loan.  In other words, Pacur corporate money was clearly paying for Johnson’s Senate campaign. … Here’s the kicker:  From the State of Wisconsin’s perspective, before Johnson owned Pacur, they were getting 3-400K a year in tax revenue from Pacur and 50-70K from Johnson and his wife, but after Johnson took control of Pacur the State got ZERO from Pacur and still got about 50-70K each year from Johnson and his wife. In other words, the net effect of Johnson owning Pacur has been that Pacur has paid no taxes. However, now Johnson will have to pay the Wisconsin top rate of 7.75% on the 10 million, and have to cut a check to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue for $775,000.  Which is still a fraction of what Pacur would have paid.”

Daniel Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel gets in on the action: “Johnson’s plastics company paid him $10 million in deferred compensation shortly before he was sworn in as Wisconsin’s junior senator, according to his latest financial disclosure report. The first-term Republican declined to say how his Oshkosh firm, Pacur, came up with a figure that so closely mirrored the amount he personally put into his campaign fund. ‘You take a look in terms of what would be a reasonable compensation package, OK?’ Johnson said this week. ‘It’s a private business. I’ve complied with all the disclosure laws, and I don’t have to explain it any further to someone like you.’ … Federal Election Commission spokesman Christian Hilland said the situation is a new one on him, too. Hilland, though, said he couldn’t discuss the Johnson matter in particular. All he could say was it would be illegal for a corporation to donate directly to a candidate or for it to give money to a candidate for the express purpose of reimbursing the individual for campaign loans or contributions.

Progressive activist group OneWisconsinNow is out this afternoon with Johnson’s tax information. It is saying: “Tax documents obtained from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue by One Wisconsin Now show Oshkosh Tea Party enthusiast and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Ron Johnson and his spouse have reported an estimated $12.2 million in the last 15 years. This would appear to either contradict claims by his campaign he will spend between $10-15 million in personal funds, or indicate Johnson has somehow shielded vast sums of money from his tax liability. ‘How can Ron Johnson spent $15 million when he’s earned $12 million over the last decade and a half?’ asked Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. ‘Since Ron Johnson is already trying to hide the true nature of his wealth from the people of Wisconsin, this raises serious questions.’ ” Johnson recently missed the deadline for filing a public financial disclosure report required by the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. Records from the DOR show Johnson and his wife have had a total of $824,976 in net tax. Dividing by the state’s top tax rate of 6.75 percent, they have an estimated $12.2 [million] in income from 1994 to 2008.”

The supermarket union in New York that tried and failed to unionize a Target store isn’t giving up easily. Crain’s Daniel Massey reports: “In a petition filed with the National Labor Relations Board in Brooklyn Friday evening, the union alleges that Target sought to curry favor with workers by renovating the employee kitchen, providing free coffee, donuts and pizza and granting large raises to staff who provided information about the union and promotions to those who did not support the organizing drive. The nation’s No. 2 retailer directed employees to call the police if union representatives came to their homes, threatened them with reprisals if they supported the union, prevented them from communicating with each other about the union and told them the store would close if the drive succeeded, the petition contends. Known union supporters were issued final warnings, workers were told they could be permanently replaced if the union came in, and employees’ union activity was under surveillance, according to the filing. On election day, Target stationed an ‘unusually large’ number of high-level managers and security guards at the employee entrance, creating a ‘atmosphere of intimidation,’ the union alleges.”

Veteran rocker Tom Petty is not — repeat, not — down with Our Favorite Congresswoman using his song “American Girl” as a campaign theme song. Says Chris Riemenschneider in the Strib: “Tom Petty has sent the Minnesota congresswoman a cease-and-desist order after she used his 1977 classic “American Girl” as background music at her kickoff rally Monday in Waterloo, Iowa, a source close to the singer has confirmed. This is not the first time Petty has sent out such an order: George W. Bush’s team also received one in 2000 when the future president used “I Won’t Back Down” at campaign stops. Nor is it the first time a candidate has used “American Girl:” Hillary Clinton also spun it at many of her presidential campaign rallies in 2008, without any complaint from the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer — who is otherwise relatively apolitical in his music and public life. … Probably the first big high-profile case of it came in 1984, when Bruce Springsteen denounced Ronald Reagan’s use of “Born in the USA.” As was the case with “Born in the USA” — which Springsteen wrote about America’s mistreatment of Vietnam vets — “American Girl” might not exactly be an appropriate song for Bachmann, Clinton or any woman in politics to use in the first place. The ‘girl’ in the song is hung up on a man, and the second verse has her standing on a balcony listening to cars roll by, which has been interpreted to mean she’s contemplating suicide. It ends with these lyrics:

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“And for one desperate moment / There he crept back into her memory / God it’s painful when something that’s so close / Is still so far out of reach.”

Petty might be doing Bachmann a favor, in other words.” That’s too bad. But I hear The Troggs might let her use “Wild Thing.”