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Pre-shutdown, layoff notices go out to 800 cops


You want big government out of your business? You think private industry is the best answer to every problem? Well, consider hiring your own police force. Rachel Stassen-Berger’s Strib story on layoff notices for 800 law officers says: “Minnesota is warning 800 state troopers, conservation officers and other law enforcement officials that they may be out of work by July 1. The notices, which are going out Wednesday, tell the employees they could face layoffs ‘unless they are directed to report to work to perform critical services during a government shutdown.’ In addition to troopers and conservation officers, the notices include licensed peace officers for the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and Department of Corrections. By next Friday, an additional 35,000 state workers will get their notices. Those will include clerks, engineers, nurses and residential school workers.”

The Minnesota Farmers Union takes the editorial position that … they’re not happy about this legislative session. The Spring Grove Herald runs their thoughts. “MFU agrees with Gov. Dayton’s veto of the Omnibus Health and Human Services Bill, because the bill would have revamped Minnesota Care. The Department of Human Services estimated that this action would result in thousands of working Minnesotans losing their health care. Farmers have a variable income and many rural communities rely heavily on Minnesota Care. Cuts to Minnesota Care would be devastating to rural Minnesotans, and Minnesota Farmers Union will continue to fight to make sure those cuts do not happen. MFU is disappointed the Legislature did not pass a tax bill the governor could sign and we are concerned about the impact a tax bill will have on property taxes, local government aid and essential services for our local units of government.”

Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett could not be more upbeat about the benefits of the Arden Hills Vikings stadium. He says in a commentary in the White Bear Press: “ … it will mean improved highways, good jobs and increased economic development for the entire state. The project will clean up the largest Superfund site in the state and turn the TCAAP property into a productive site that will create jobs and economic activity now and for decades to come. The stadium will be publicly owned and available for high school/amateur sports and other community events. A multi-purpose, year-round facility will allow the Twin Cities to continue to host events — such as the Super Bowl — and visitors from across Minnesota and beyond. The project will support 13,000 full- and part-time jobs, including 7,500 construction jobs, over a three-year construction period. The stadium project will put $286 million in construction wages in the pockets of working men and women over the next three years. In return, they will pump $10 million in income taxes into the state’s coffers.” Dang! That’s great! Let’s build a couple of them babies!

But before Commissioner Bennett stops hyper-ventilating, Tim Nelson of MPR notes that the St. Paul City Council is pretty much a solid buzzkill. “Six out of seven City Council members say they’re against a half-cent sales tax the county plans to help pay for the stadium and the council might even put the tax up to a vote — a non-binding, but telling gauge of support for the plan.…Council president Kathy Lantry and several other council members say they’d consider a formal resolution opposing the Arden Hills deal. The council proposed a stadium spending cap and a referendum requirement that helped scuttle city bids for the Twins in 2002 and 2004. Such local opposition could ultimately be a factor in a Vikings deal. Back in 2005, the Legislature skirted a limit on stadium spending in Minneapolis by handing a Twins deal to Hennepin County instead. Lawmakers also skipped a referendum, normally required for sales tax hikes. But Republicans may now feel differently about imposing new levies against taxpayer opposition — even in DFL strongholds like St. Paul. City Council member Dan Bostrom, who represents much of the East Side, said ‘no-new-taxes Republicans’ are risking hypocrisy if they sign on to the deal for the Vikings in Arden Hills.” Well … maybe … but Norquist’s pledge doesn’t say “No new taxes for…football” does it?

A local company has scored a big client in India for its biodegradable packaging system. David Shaffer of the Strib writes: “Northern Technologies International, based in Circle Pines, said it will sell corn-based resins for plastic coatings and packaging to ITC Ltd., a conglomerate based in Kolkata, India, whose paper products division had $769 million in sales for the 12 months through March. Executives did not put a price tag on the deal, but said it will be worth millions to the Minnesota company, whose engineers will help ITC develop new biodegradable and compostable bioplastic packaging for food, personal care products and other consumer goods. Some of the new packaging developed for the Indian market could be introduced into the U.S. market, said Vineet Dalal, vice president and director of global marketing for Northern Technologies International.”

A Zumbrota teenager who died in a car accident has been memorialized with a black spruce transplanted from Target Field. KARE-TV’s story (with video) says: “Season ticket holder Dan Flaaen submitted a video in memory of 2006 Zumbrota High School graduate Patrick Gadient and was chosen to receive one of the trees. Gadient died back in February, 2011 from injuries he suffered in a car crash. He was a 2006 graduate of Zumbrota-Mazeppa High School and grew up playing baseball along with watching the Minnesota Twins. ‘It’s tough losing somebody period,’ said Flaaen. ‘But when you lose somebody who had so much life to live it makes it even tougher.’ The black spruce was planted in the outfield at the Zumbrota-Mazeppa High School ballpark; a marker was also placed by it that reads: ‘Patrick Edward Gadient Class of 2006, Yaaa Baby.’”

Minneapolis’ protracted legal battle over pension benefits was not made any clearer by a ruling yesterday. Steve Brandt of the Strib says: “ … the ruling, by throwing out a pretrial decision that trimmed the payments of certain police and fire pensioners, made it a little harder to predict whether they’ll continue to support a proposed merger between their closed funds and a statewide pension fund. Mayor R.T. Rybak has said such a merger, which would need the state Legislature’s approval, is essential if the city is to hold down large property tax increases. If a merger doesn’t happen and the city ultimately loses its court battle, it could owe pensioners an additional $52 million in back payments and $87 million in future payments. The appeals court overturned a lower court’s decision that the closed police and fire pension funds had improperly included certain items of compensation in the salary base used for calculating pensions. The appeals court said that’s a question to be decided after a more extensive trial.” And the effect on property taxes of an “extensive trial” will be what, exactly?

Yesterday’s (post Wall Street closing) vote on raising the national debt ceiling was pretty much a tactical stunt. But MPR’s Brett Neely writes: “For Democrats like 1st District Rep. Tim Walz, voting to increase the debt ceiling is a necessary, albeit sometimes unpleasant, part of governing. ‘This is one of those issues that has all kinds of political theater wrapped in it, but it is one of the very few votes here that is very clear cut if you don’t get it done,’ Walz said. …[T]he United States needs to borrow more money or it will have to stop paying some of its debts. Many economists believe if that happens, interest rates will shoot up, potentially sending the economy back into a recession. That makes this a tough vote for Republicans who are close to the business community, including Erik Paulsen, who represents Minnesota’s 3rd District. He’s taking the party line and will vote against this increase in the debt ceiling. But in an interview with MPR News last week, Paulsen said a deal that cuts spending would get his vote and calm the markets. ‘I think Wall Street knows that the most important thing we can do to settle the markets or to keep the markets healthy and strong is to have a real spending plan put forward,’ Paulsen said.”

Winona Daily News editor Darrell Ehrlick clearly enjoys having a target as big as “tenther” third-term GOP legislator Steve Drazkowski: “ … in Drazkowski and his buddies’ dislike of any government except for their own, they would rather push hot buttons than solve other real problems in meaningful ways. Abortion? Not specifically in the Constitution. Let’s cut. Medicare or health care? Well, when the 10th was written in 1791, doctors were still using leaches, and a barber and a surgeon were interchangeable. Cut health care, too. What the new breed of tenthers hope, though, is something much different than a simple restating of what the federal government can or can’t do. Instead, those like Drazkowski believe they’ve discovered a long-forgotten, seldom used cudgel that states can use to bludgeon any laws they don’t like. Like a law? Great. Don’t? Well, we’ll just invoke the Tenth and move along.” I’m telling people GOP Chair Tony Sutton should be worried. “Draz” has what his people want in a loud, vehement voice.

Comments (13)

  1. Submitted by Warren Park on 06/01/2011 - 06:28 am.

    GOP legislator Steve Drazkowski is serving his third term as Representative for 28B. He was returned to office in 2010 with a “mandate” of over 65% of the vote.

  2. Submitted by Robley Henry on 06/01/2011 - 07:20 am.

    “The Draz” is my legislator and the successor to Steve Sviggum. He makes Steve look like a reasonable moderate in comparison.

  3. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 06/01/2011 - 08:54 am.

    As time goes by, and the State of Minnesota prepares for, and eventually “shuts down,” and the effects of an “all cuts” budget balancing approach become more and more painfully clear,…

    While our Republican legislators refuse to move to allow even a “penny” of additional taxes on our state’s most over-compensated citizens,…

    For fear of losing the endorsements of the MOST dysfonic members of their party, who have taken over leadership and control at every level,…

    Thereby, making it clearer, day by day, that they care NOTHING for the well being of the average citizens of the state of Minnesota,…

    The Jim Jones-style koolaide they have so carefully mixed for themselves, now being administered by their own leadership at the behest of Grover Norquist, Tony Sutton, et al, is clearly having its effect.

    My question is, have we ever seen political suicide on such a massive scale as we are now seeing in Minnesota and across the nation, where voters everywhere are demonstrating a most EXTREME case of buyer’s remorse for electing Republican governors, Republican legislatures, and a Republican house of Representatives in D.C.?

    Once the bodies are laid to (political) rest, how long will it take for the stench to fade from the nostrils and the memories of the citizens of Minnesota and the nation sufficiently that they might consider voting for a “Republican” politician again?

  4. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/01/2011 - 09:57 am.

    I’m pretty sure new stadiums lower infant mortality rates as well.

  5. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 06/01/2011 - 10:25 am.

    There must be way too many cops on the state payroll. How else could you explain why they would be the number one priority on Dayton’s list to trim the workforce?

  6. Submitted by Paul Scott on 06/01/2011 - 10:26 am.

    Draz is most likely a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) the organization that produces model legislation for GOP state house members in an effort to coordinate state law from the viewpoint of corporations. It has been seen as the driving force in Wisconsin. The membership list is private and he blew me off when I wrote him to ask if he is a member, but he is a signatory to something they put out on a press release a while back, which is available here

    Anyhoo, the Tenther Bill he introduced is a cut a paste job of model legislation used elsewhere, with all of the exact same pseudo-Jeffersonian Whereas, Whereas, Whereas baloney at the top.

    Whatever. But why does the MN state legislation writing office let guys email over a PDF of a bill produced in another state? If a student does that its considered a no no. They should say, hey, write your own nonsense.

  7. Submitted by Mark Stromseth on 06/01/2011 - 11:07 am.

    @Greg Kapphahn

    Since Republicans are trying to commit suicide, that’s a crime that needs to be punished by arresting them placing them in a psychiatric prison for the rest of their lives.

    Unless we do that, they will succeed in their noble quest, after which it won’t be a crime.

    Which one do we pray for? It’s so hard to pick…

  8. Submitted by Charles Spolyar on 06/01/2011 - 12:32 pm.

    Dennis, I think the cops got the layoff notices first because of the provisions in their contract that call for advanced notice.

  9. Submitted by Mark Stromseth on 06/01/2011 - 01:29 pm.

    @Dennis Tester

    The police aren’t being laid off; they’re being notified of the possibility of a layoff, which is required by their contract.

  10. Submitted by Rich Crose on 06/01/2011 - 02:15 pm.

    Contractors are getting notices too. That will be devastating to the economy.

    State employees make $45K a year but they pay contractors $180K a year to do the same job.

    If you ran Government like the private sector those jobs would go to China and India.

  11. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 06/01/2011 - 02:18 pm.

    People, people, people if you are only going to present Dennis with facts, you’re really going to muddle up his GOP playbook.

  12. Submitted by jody rooney on 06/01/2011 - 03:17 pm.

    The only “new money or benefit” for a stadium in Arden Hills is construction money. Everything else inter regional transfer or as they say robbing Peter to pay Paul.

    Any construction money for new capital carries an economic benefit and actually pays living wages. No matter where a new stadium is built in Minnesota that will provide a benefit.

    Why not build it in Hinckely?

  13. Submitted by C.S. Senne on 06/01/2011 - 03:55 pm.

    Thanks, Rep. Paulsen, for showing such stalwart leadership regarding raising the debt limit. Baaa. Playing chicken with this issue is not what you were elected to do!

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