You think we’re funny? Like a clown, funny? Apparently they do in Miami. John Bordsen of the McClatchey papers writes: “The Twin Cities is the home base of Dudley Riggs, credited by many as the inventor of improv/sketch comedy revues. His Brave New Workshop troupe launched many careers and did off-the-news comic sketches for NPR’s ‘All Things Considered.’ There are a half dozen comedy-only clubs there, not including theaters, cabarets and dinner theaters — this, in a market perhaps half the size of Philadelphia. Some say humor here is an ingrained side-step to forces that simply must be lived with. Winters are so severe that Minneapolis skyscrapers are linked with human-size gerbil tubes — elevated skyways that allow pedestrians to shiver without walking in snowdrifts. In summer, marshy lakes breed mosquitoes that cast shadows the size of basketballs.”
If you’ve missed a couple of meals lately, you might consider heading to the Ames straw poll this weekend, where T-Paw will feed you for your vote. Michael D. Shear of the New York Times writes: “At a town-hall-style meeting at a small business on Monday morning, Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota, told a crowd of about 50 that he would fire the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, increase choice in schools and reduce the corporate tax rate to 15 percent. … Before he took questions, Mr. Pawlenty promised free tickets to the straw poll, where his campaign will feed supporters barbecue and Dairy Queen Blizzards. There’s also a band, Mr. Pawlenty said. ‘You can come and stay for any part of the day,’ he said. ‘You don’t have to stay for the whole thing.’ He quickly added: ‘The voting is from 10 to 4.’ Later, he finished his appearance with a final appeal: ‘We’ll get you a ride to Ames,’ Mr. Pawlenty said. ‘You just gotta get on the bus. We’ll get you back, we’ll take care of you, have a good time, listen to some music, have some barbecue, have a Blizzard. That’s this Saturday, so if you’re interested sign up.’ ” So, just a thought here: How “committed” would you have to be to spend all day on a summer Saturday at T-Paw’s straw poll party?
Michael Falcone of ABC News writes: “Over breakfast with a small group of reporters at the Machine Shed restaurant in Urbandale on Monday morning, Pawlenty noted how seriously he was taking the straw poll (‘We didn’t get sucked in, we dove in’) but downplayed it too — it’s ‘just one measure,’ he emphasized. As he cut into an enormous cinnamon roll, Pawlenty drew a contrast with Donald Trump, who he pointed out ‘was going to be the next big thing,’ but fizzled out after he passed on a presidential bid as well as Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is expected to enter the race. ‘That’ll be all the buzz for a while,’ he said of a Perry candidacy. ‘Over time these things settle.’ ‘My campaign is not a shooting star campaign,’ Pawlenty said, adding later: ‘I’m not doing this to get a cable TV show or some sort of gig down the road. I’m doing it because the country’s in trouble, and we need real leadership to solve the real problems and that’s what I offer.’ ” But if somebody could hook him up with a cable TV gig …
The Duluth News Tribune is not pleased with the level of transparency it sees on Minnesota government websites: “When it comes to the government providing vital information on its websites, a grade of ‘B’ falls short, according to a hard-to-argue-with determination by the nonprofit, nonpartisan, pro-transparency group Sunshine Review. The group, based in Alexandria, Va., conducted an independent analysis of government websites across Minnesota and found what it called ‘a big performance gap.’ Using a 10-point transparency checklist, the analysis measured the content available on government websites against what should be provided. Areas checked included budgets, meeting information, information on lobbying activities, financial audits, contracts, academic performance, public records and taxes. The state’s website earned a ‘B.’ The state’s 10 largest school districts and five largest cities also earned ‘B’s,’ while the state’s five largest counties scored ‘a mediocre ‘C’ grade,’ according to a statement released by the group.” And no, it doesn’t matter that the average elected official was a C- student.
One $150,000 budget cut, lost in the state’s shutdown fiasco last month, will keep foreign doctors out of Minnesota hospitals. MPR’s Lorna Benson writes: “A state-funded program that helps immigrant doctors qualify to practice in Minnesota has become a casualty of the state budget agreement. It shut down after lawmakers eliminated funding for the $150,000 program during last-minute negotiations last month. Unless the program’s funding is restored, its legacy will be the three doctors from Somalia who, after years of professional limbo, were finally able to begin residency training, a difficult proposition for immigrant doctors who received their training years ago. ‘I knew that there was some obstacles,’ said Dr. Jibril Elabe, a Somali doctor who came to the United States 11 years ago. ‘But I never thought they would be so hard and it will take so long to overcome.’ “
Despite denials by certain politicians that anything of any consequence would happen in the event of a federal default or downgrade, it seems Minnesota cities are girding for actual problems. Rupa Chenoy of MPR reports: “Minnesota cities already struggling to deal with large cuts in state aid now face the possibility of increased borrowing costs because of the downgrade in the federal government’s credit rating. Gary Carlson at the League of Minnesota Cities says the move will likely mean that cities will have to pay higher interest rates when they borrow money. ‘At a time when interest rates have been fairly low, and cities have been doing a lot of their capital project needs, this could suddenly potentially force interest rates up and increase borrowing costs for all levels of government,’ he said.”
Talk about inevitable. Kathie Jenkins of the PiPress says the backlash against food trucks has set in: “Andreas Pizza owner Mario Gambino is fed up with food trucks. Last Tuesday, when a cupcake truck parked too long in front of his Lowertown restaurant, he ran outside and screamed at it to leave. … For Gambino and other St. Paul restaurateurs, the food truck trend is getting to be too much of a good thing. They say the trucks take away business, hog precious meters, make too much noise and don’t play by the rules. “They park right in front of my door,” Gambino said. “It’s like they’re toying with me. My business is down, and you’ve got someone selling food right in front of you, and they don’t pay rent.” But much of St. Paul loves the trucks, and downtown has become a mecca for them. As of June, there were 125 licensed food trucks and carts in St. Paul. Half a dozen trucks caravan weekly on Cedar at Exchange on Mondays. Five line up on Kellogg at Wabasha on Wednesdays. And daily, a dozen or so descend on all parts of downtown to feed the workforce everything from gourmet fish and grass-fed beef sliders to hot dogs and tacos. Mears Park, Rice Park and the Capitol are common stops.”
This guy is still driving? The AP reports: “Former South Dakota governor and congressman Bill Janklow was cited this summer for driving 80 mph in a 65 mph zone on state Highway 46 in the southeastern part of the state. Janklow, 72, was cited in late June and later paid a $59 fine and court costs, The Daily Republic reported Janklow told the Associated Press today that he was trying to get to a hospital to say goodbye to a dying friend, and didn’t make it in time. … Janklow has a history of speeding tickets and other traffic violations. He resigned from Congress after killing a motorcyclist in a 2003 accident near Flandreau. A jury convicted him of second-degree manslaughter and he was sentenced to 100 days in jail and fined $5,000.”
A perspective piece from Jason Stein and Tom Tolan of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel on Wisconsin’s recall elections, which begin Tuesday: “Since 1908, there have been 20 recorded state legislative recall elections in the United States — Wisconsin is in the process of holding nine such elections in the space of a month, according to one recall expert. With control of the Wisconsin Senate in the balance, six Republican state senators will face a recall vote Tuesday. One Democratic senator has already weathered a recall attempt and on Aug. 16 two more Democrats will be up for recall. ‘Wisconsin has taken a quantum leap in a fast-changing process, in what has been a growing use of the recall’ nationally, said Joshua Spivak, who writes the Recall Elections Blog. … State Government Accountability Board officials have yet to release turnout predictions. But Fond du Lac City Clerk Sue Strands estimated an exceedingly high 75%-to-80% turnout Tuesday in her area, where Sen. Randy Hopper (R-Empire) faces a challenge from Democrat and Oshkosh Deputy Mayor Jessica King. Strands said the volume of calls, voter registrations and absentee ballot requests that her office has been receiving is comparable to a gubernatorial race.”