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Mark Dayton sounds ready for serious government reform

AFTERNOON EDITION ALSO: Budget deal hasn’t impressed many; Pawlenty’s Iowa efforts; a weekend of Bert-mania; U2’s mega-concert; and a new Christian radio station.
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Gov. Dayton gave an interview to the Forum papers’ Don Davis who comes away with an upbeat take: “Minutes after Minnesota legislators passed that budget, Republican leaders were talking about making reforms throughout state government next year and saying that they think Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton will be an ally. Dayton is right there. ‘I want to go top to bottom with us as a state and really transform how we deliver services and do them better,’ Dayton said in a Forum Communications interview. The stereotype is that Democratic-Farmer-Laborites defend government and hesitate making changes. Not Dayton. During talks with Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, R-Buffalo, and House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, reform was a common topic, Dayton said. ‘We brought it up again and again.’ The governor said he felt Republicans at first were skeptical that he really wants to change government. ‘I reminded them, I have no investment in protecting or defending the status of state government in Minnesota. … I want as much as they do to provide better service at lower costs.’ Dayton self-financed much of his governor and U.S. Senate campaigns, so he has fewer allegiances than politicians who rely on money from organizations that want to keep the status quo.’ ” He also has no further political ambitions and, we guess, a desire to to leave a legacy justifying an iconoclastic career.

In addition to our Sharon Schmickle, others are digging into the reality of the deal that ended the state’s 20-day shutdown. No one is much impressed. Andrea Billups of the Washington Times writes: “The downside to Minnesota’s government reopening, which creaked to a start in earnest Thursday: No significant progress was made on the state’s massive budget woes, leaving lawmakers and taxpayers on track to face the same — if not bigger — deficit problems in two years. ‘The governor will say he is pleased because he got $1.5 billion in additional spending. The Republican Legislature will say that there was no new increase in taxes. If that sounds like hocus-pocus, it is,’ said Jay Kiedrowski, a former state finance chairman and member of the Arne Carlson-Walter Mondale advisory group, which offered bipartisan expertise to help end the shutdown. … ‘There clearly are people that are better off because of this budget,’ Mr. Kiedrowski added. ‘It just wasn’t balanced honestly. Our group said there should be no accounting shifts and no borrowing from future tax receipts. We didn’t expect that we would save the day, but we were hoping to emphasize some of these points that they could use to create a true compromise. I’m sure that all are disappointed in this outcome.’ ”  They have company.

Michael Moore — no, not that Michael Mooreof WorkdayMinnesota covers a satirical demonstration Thursday with a view unflattering to business CEOs: “Big banks, speakers said, are winners in the budget compromise, as they stand to increase their already-obscene profits, thanks to a provision in the deal that will delay payment of $700 million in aid to the state’s public schools until next year. While they wait for the delayed state-aid payment, many school districts and charter schools will have to borrow money — and pay interest — in order to cover their day-to-day expenses. Said Mary Cathryn Ricker, president of the St. Paul Federation of Teachers: ‘The GOP’s budget solution is a banker’s dream.’ Flanked by activists dressed in tuxedos and furs, Ricker pointed out that banks, which reported $30 billion in profits during the first quarter of this year, hardly need another taxpayer bailout. ‘They are on the verge of earning a lot more from Minnesota taxpayers,’ Ricker said. ‘This so-called school shift does nothing more than siphon school district resources out of our classrooms and into bank profits.’ ” … Where that money will provide new jobs.

Another labor site, “Labornotes,” finds Mischa Gaus writing: “Despite Dayton’s giving up the millionaires’ tax, Michael Kuchta of Council 5 said public unions considered it a win to have him reject Republicans’ deep budget cuts, which would have necessitated 5,000 layoffs. Republicans had put forward dozens of proposals to kill collective bargaining, freeze wages, chop pensions, and privatize services. Kuchta said Dayton’s deal took those attacks off the table, adding that AFSCME’s tax-the-rich campaign will continue. Tigger Lunney, a long-time member-organizer from AFSCME Local 3800 coordinating the phonebank, said members he spoke to were ‘in mourning, angry, freaked out.’ Without an outsize and clumsy target like Wisconsin’s Scott Walker to fix on, members didn’t rally as quickly as their neighbors in the next-door state, he said.”

Kevin Diaz of the Strib is following T-Paw in Iowa: “So far back in the presidential pack that he’s been dropped from at least one general election poll and is scraping the bottom of another, Pawlenty has thrown himself almost full-time into Iowa, where he’s in a battle for survival against fellow Minnesota Republican Michele Bachmann. The Sixth District congresswoman is now widely viewed as the favorite to win next month’s critical Ames straw poll, a dress rehearsal for the February 2012 Iowa caucuses. … While Pawlenty combats Bachmann’s obvious advantage in media attention and buzz, he is doubling down on his paint-by-numbers strategy of organizational work and hustle, lining up endorsements one by one. He is conspicuously offering to buy the tickets and provide rides for all potential straw poll voters to and from the big event in Ames on Aug. 13. ‘We’ll get you there, we’ll get you fed, and we’ll get you home at a time that’s convenient for you,’ he told a town hall gathering at the Iowa Farm Bureau in West Des Moines Wednesday night.” And … oh, hell … we’ll give you $100 for your vote.

There’s a lot of coverage of Bert Blyleven what with his induction into The Hall of Fame this weekend. Everyone is claiming ownership, even Saskatchewan. Says Craig Slater of the Regina Leader-Post: “Born in Holland, Blyleven emigrated to Canada when he was just two years old. His father’s brother had moved from Europe to the United States, and Blyleven’s dad wanted to follow. Joe and Jenny Blyleven, along with young Bert and his two older siblings, moved to Montreal in 1953. Because Canada lost so many soldiers in World War II, workers were desperately needed to tend to the abandoned farms across the prairies. That work brought the Blylevens west. Bert’s father continued on to California while his family settled in Melville [Saskatchewan] to await their U.S. passports. Blyleven was six when he moved from Melville to California. … Blyleven will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday. Thanks to colleague Will Chabun, a proud Twins fan, for this news gem.”

Saturday’s U2 concert at TCF Bank Stadium is already setting records … for adjectives. Ross Raihala of the PiPress writes: “When the Irish foursome takes the stage Saturday night at TCF Bank Stadium, it won’t be just another summer concert. The expected crowd of about 60,000 will make it the Twin Cities’ biggest outdoor concert in more than three decades. It also marks the first major musical headliner to play the U’s new stadium, which opened in September 2009. The more than 100 semis that cart the Claw from town to town began arriving Sunday, with workers enduring the week’s heat and humidity to construct the largest stage ever created for a tour. U2’s lead singer, Bono, and two veteran stage designers worked together on the concept for the four-legged, 170-foot steel monster. The stage itself sits at the center of the Claw, while the steel arms hold speakers, lights and a 14,000-square-foot, 360-degree video screen. ‘The Claw is a bizarre and beautiful thing’, said Katryn Conlin, a U2 fan from Red Wing, Minn., who already has seen the tour show eight times, including stops in Chicago, Miami and Winnipeg, Manitoba. ‘It looks like a spaceship that landed in the stadium. People have asked if they should bring binoculars, and I say, ‘Don’t bother.’ The screen brings it all right to you, no matter where you are sitting.’ “

It’d be hard to say this one qualifies as “filling a vacuum.” Bob Shaw of the PiPress reports: “The inspiration for radio station WAJC in Woodbury can be found in the call letters – WA for Jill Martin Rische’s dad, JC for Jesus Christ. ‘I think this is a very exciting thing,’ said Martin Rische of Forest Lake, who plans to start the noncommercial station within six months. The Federal Communications Commission granted her a license to operate the 1,200-watt station at 88.1 FM last year. Since then, she said, she has been trying to raise the $150,000 she figures she needs. Martin Rische said the studio will be in Woodbury and the station will be broadcast from an existing radio tower in Inver Grove Heights. … Martin Rische’s father was Dr. Walter Martin, a former star of Christian radio known as the Bible Answer Man. He died in 1989. Martin’s shows were broadcast nationwide, and he was known for his confrontational style, often challenging others’ religious beliefs. Martin Rische said her father questioned witches, Muslims, Mormons and everyone else, and the people he interviewed ‘were not always happy, but it gave them a chance to talk.’ ‘I don’t know of one other Christian station today that does that,’ Martin Rische said.” Good … lord.