Former Sen. Dave Durenberger’s weekly post for the University of St. Thomas includes his thoughts on the demise of T-Paw the Presidential Candidate: “The Tim Pawlenty I learned to know and respect, after giving him his start in public service, enjoyed public service and the difference one person could make in public policy. The Republicans who will decide which person takes on President Obama next year are not the kind of Minnesota Republicans who brought Pawlenty to work for me, or him to work for others in this state. I know times change, and I know the definition of conservative changes. But candidate Pawlenty wasn’t the Republican president this country needs right now. And he knew it. The Iowa State Fair straw poll campaign and debate proved one thing clear as a bell: If people today prefer Michele Bachmann to Tim Pawlenty, it’s no wonder Republican power brokers keep looking for new candidates.”
They might need to do better than “Joe, Who?” The state GOP has another candidate for Amy Klobuchar’s job. Said Tim Pugmire at MPR on Monday: “Joe Arwood, a first-term member of the St. Bonifacius city council, will officially announce his candidacy at an event later today in that city. Arwood said his political philosophy is rooted in the constitution and the country’s founding principles. He said that he decided to enter the U.S. Senate race because he’s grown concerned about the size and the reach of the federal government.” I guess they’re not giving points for novelty.
That’s a pretty good union Northwest Airlines used to have. Eighth District Congressman Chip Cravaack’s long-delayed financial disclosure statement shows, according to Catharine Richert at MPR, “Cravaack’s earned income for fiscal year 2010 topped out at $92,273; the cash comes in the form of disability payments for sleep apnea, which ended his flying career with Northwest Airlines, now Delta Airlines, in 2007. According to the documents, Cravaack has between $843,219 and $1,696,000 in assets and unearned income, including stocks and retirement savings. (Asset value is reported in ranges rather than exact numbers.)”
There was a time when “au naturel” had a whole other meaning. Now, says the Strib’s Steve Brandt, we’re talking … lawns: “A proposal to make Minneapolis safe for nontraditional yards advanced to the full City Council with nary a whisper of dissent. A council panel Monday endorsed the proposal to allow natural landscapes as an alternative to lawns after environmental staff assured it that the plantings need to be both intentional and maintained. In other words, not merely turf grass gone wild, according to Daniel Huff, a city environmental supervisor. That opens the door for property owners to plant native and exotic grasses, wildflowers, forbs, ferns, shrubs or trees without running afoul of the city’s 8-inch height limit on grasses. But those lawns can’t include state-defined noxious weeds.” Wait … how do they define “weed”?
There are no more subsidies left for solar power. David Shaffer of the Strib writes: “High demand for rooftop solar electric panels, especially for commercial buildings, has exhausted Xcel Energy’s Solar Rewards subsidy program for the year, shutting out other customers, solar industry officials said Monday. ‘People are really excited about solar,’ said Rebecca Lundberg, CEO of Powerfully Green, a solar installation company based in Champlin that now has eight residential solar projects in limbo. ‘Now all of a sudden, they pull the rug out.’ John Wold, who manages Xcel’s solar programs, said that the final $1 million of its $4.6 million 2011 Solar Rewards program was awarded recently to commercial projects whose applications had been on hold while the Legislature enacted changes to another solar subsidy program. … Some industry officials are concerned that the other, state-mandated Xcel program to encourage installation of Minnesota-made solar panels is almost exclusively subsidizing commercial solar projects, and eventually may have little or no money left for residential solar installations.”
In Part 2 of Peter Passi’s Duluth News Tribune piece on Excelsior Energy, he says: “Despite receiving more than $40 million in federal and state government money, Excelsior Energy risks running out of gas if it cannot attract additional investment from the public or private sector soon. Gone are state funds, including: About $9.5 million in loans it received from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board, and $10 million from the Minnesota Renewable Development Fund. Soon, Excelsior will burn through the more than $22 million in federal funding the Department of Energy earmarked to help develop its clean coal project on the Iron Range … Unable to move ahead with plans to build a $2.1 billion power plant that would run on gasified coal, Excelsior received authorization from the Minnesota Legislature this past session to proceed initially with a plant fueled by natural gas. Sen. Tom Bakk, D-Cook, supported Excelsior’s request. ‘I think that if we allow Excelsior to start as a natural gas plant, it substantially increases the chance that it (the coal plant) will be built,’ he said.” The move to natural gas is supposedly the only way the IRRRB will ever see its $9.5 million again.
Has talk radio got ahold of this one yet? Laura Yuen of MPR checks out the tale of Muslim employees at the St. Cloud Electrolux plant: “Last year, a machine operator who worked at the plant alleged that Electrolux ignored employees’ requests to pray and break fast at sunset during the holy month of Ramadan. That led to the company adjusting its meal schedule to accommodate the Muslim workers. But shortly before the holiday began this year, workers learned that their 30-minute meal breaks would be reduced to 20 minutes. Machine operator Ahmed Said said 20 minutes is not enough time to eat and pray after sunset during the holy month of Ramadan.”
A Twin Cities stunt pilot died in an air show crash in Kansas City. Nick Ferraro of the PiPress reports: “Bryan Jensen’s entire life revolved around flying. A Delta Air Lines pilot, the 50-year-old Lakeville resident spent his summers on the national air-show circuit performing stunts in his aerobatic plane, ‘The Beast.’ But something went tragically wrong Saturday afternoon when the biplane failed to pull out of a dive and crashed during the annual Kansas City Aviation Expo Air Show. The sight of the fiery fatal wreckage at the edge of a runway at Wheeler Downtown Airport stunned spectators, many of whom can be heard on YouTube videos gasping and screaming in horror.”
There is a downside to being a Twin Cities “celebrity.” Emily Gurnon of the PiPress lays out the gorey details of a TV anchor’s ongoing divorce battle: “A divorce dispute involving Fox9 TV news anchor Jeff Passolt and his ex-wife over alimony payments and their country club membership has landed at the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Passolt appealed his 2010 Hennepin County divorce judgment, which granted petitioner Lisa Passolt permanent alimony, or spousal maintenance, of $16,740 a month. The lower court said the law did not allow it to consider Lisa Passolt’s ability to become self-supporting over time without determining that she was acting in bad faith to remain under-employed. … In his job as a TV news anchor and occasional radio personality on KQRS, Passolt makes about $525,000 a year, the court said. His ex-wife earned about $3,000 a year as a part-time fitness instructor. She also home-schooled the younger of the couple’s two children, who was scheduled to graduate from high school in 2010. Lisa Passolt earned an undergraduate degree in education and taught special education for five years when the couple was first married. She quit when their first child was born in 1985, the court ruling said. Since then she has not worked full-time, but has volunteered and coached high-school dance line and tennis. Her husband argued that she could go back to teaching and eventually make about $37,000 a year.”