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South Dakota revs up the siren song

AFTERNOON EDITION

Right into the wheelhouse comes an ad campaign from South Dakota. Sarah Reinecke of the Sioux Falls Argus Leader writes: “Halfway through a two-month effort aimed at businesses in more highly taxed states — Illinois, Minnesota and California — South Dakota has received what officials describe as 50 solid leads. [Gov. Dennis] Daugaard is pictured on direct mail postcards. The text reads: Tired of taxes? Call me. The postcards are part of a larger, $142,950 marketing campaign that includes radio and print ads. ‘We’re trying to portray we’ve got a very friendly governor that understands business exists to make a profit, and in South Dakota it’s OK to make a profit and keep a profit,’ said Pat Costello, commissioner for the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.”

KARE-TV reports on a deal struck between Lori Swanson’s AG office and Ferrellgas: “Swanson has settled a lawsuit with Ferrellgas, L.P., a large national propane energy company, requiring Ferrellgas to change its business practices. As important, the settlement recovers money for Minnesota consumers who paid undisclosed charges or fees. The suit filed by the AG’s office alleged that Ferrellgas didn’t always disclose specific per-gallon prices to consumers who called to fill their tanks. The lawsuit further alleged that despite telling its customers that it would charge ‘competitive propane prices,’ or ‘our current market price,’ it sometimes charged rates that were significantly higher than those of competitors. Swanson’s office also alleges that Ferrellgas also charged undisclosed and poorly disclosed fees, including ‘low usage’ and ‘no usage’ fees of up to $199 for consumers who in the company’s judgment did not use enough propane.” I always love it when “no usage” costs you money.

In search of a settlement … the Anoka-Hennepin school district and the parties suing it for gay bullying-related issues. Sarah Horner of the PiPress writes: “Representatives from the district as well as the Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Center for Lesbian Rights will all be present at the mediation session, which aims to find agreement between the three parties over differing interpretations of the district’s policy and its alleged connection to bullying of gay students in the district. Representatives from the Department of Justice, which launched a federal investigation in to the district last fall over allegations of harassment and bullying, are also expected to be there, said Brett Johnson, a spokesperson for the district. ‘I have no idea if they’ll be able to reach a settlement of not,’ Johnson said. The Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Center for Lesbian Rights have two suits lodged against the district, both filed in the past two months. The suits represent six past and current students who say they were repeatedly harassed in district schools.”

Following reporter Peter Passi’s two-part series on the rather colossal non-function of Excelsior Energy, the Duluth News Tribune drops an editorial, saying: “[E]elected officials and others with their fingers on the public purse strings haven’t been shy about dumping our money into it. Excelsior owes $9.5 million to the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board. It was supposed to start making loan payments 13 months ago but was given an extension to 2017. The company also received $10 million in state aid through the Minnesota Public Utility Commission’s Renewable Development Fund, despite objections from environmental groups about a plant designed to run on fossil fuel. The U.S. Department of Energy contributed another $22 million intended to cover half of the preliminary design costs, the investigation found. And how much have Excelsior’s owners pumped into their own company? Only $60,000, according to public records. Meanwhile, their combined annual salary has risen to an estimated $600,000.” … $60,000? That doesn’t even qualify as a “good faith investment,” does it?

You have seen the catch that Twins Ben Revere made last night, haven’t you? Says the Total Pro Sports blog: “This is absolutely, positively one of the best catches in baseball this season. Revere has to sprint to the wall while tracking the path of the ball by looking over his shoulder. Then all he does is make a brilliant Willie Mays-style over-the-shoulder catch as he plows into the wall.” Wow.

Minneapolis cops say they’ve caught the three kids involved in that vandalism spree over the weekend. Anthony Lonetree of the Strib reports: “The suspects — boys ages 11, 15 and 16 — were taken into custody after their vehicle was seen by a police K-9 officer at E. 38th Street and Columbus Avenue S. about 10:15 p.m. Monday. The vehicle was stopped, and evidence was recovered linking the three to the vandalism sprees early Sunday and again Monday night, said police spokesman Sgt. William Palmer. … On Sunday, police indicated that the damage may have been caused by two males in a truck using a baseball bat. On Monday, between about 8:30 and 10 p.m., the trio allegedly vandalized at least 14 vehicles in a 10-square-block area between 27th and 37th avenues and 34th and 44th streets, Palmer said. That followed a spree early Sunday during which at least 126 vehicles were damaged in the Corcoran, Standish and Ericsson neighborhoods. Total damage was estimated at between $100,000 and $200,000, Palmer said.” Oh, and the 15-year-old apparently was driving … without a license.

We love our over-the-top lifestyle entrepreneurs. The latest is developer Tim Wirth. Says Jennifer Bjorhus in the Strib: “The Twin Cities real estate developer, charged last week with tax evasion, made his first appearance in federal court in St. Paul on Monday. But the arraignments of Wirth, his former wife and their tax preparer were all postponed because Wirth doesn’t have a lawyer. … Prosecutors accuse Wirth and Damiani of manipulating their finances in myriad ways, such as under-reporting their salaries. Among other things, Wirth and Damiani were accused of diverting more than $2 million from Wirth’s companies to the development of a giant house he was building on Lake Minnetonka, without reporting the money as either personal or business income. Residents in the affluent area have considered the unfinished villa an eyesore.”

Mmmmm, on second thought … not a good idea. Chris Vetter of the Eau Claire Leader Telegram writes: “Joseph Henning was known for his competitive, fearless demeanor on the wrestling mat and his playful, friendly style off of it. On Friday, that spirit was snuffed out when Henning was struck by a train in DeKalb, Ill., after he apparently tried to race it on foot. Henning, 28, who won three state wrestling titles while attending Chippewa Falls High School from 1998 to 2002, was pronounced dead at the downtown scene of the collision, DeKalb police Lt. Gary Spangler said. Spangler said it appears Henning attempted to cross the train tracks on foot ahead of the train when he was struck. The accident happened shortly after 11 p.m. in the 100 block of South Second Street. Spangler said Henning was with a group of friends at the time. Police believe alcohol was a factor in the incident.

There’s no end of thumb sucking over Our Favorite Congressman’s real-world chances. From Niall Stanage of The Hill: “[O]thers question whether those Republicans who place electability above all else will carry the day over their more ideologically committed brethren. ‘You’d think people have these long discussions about, ‘Is this person electable?’  said Wy Spano, a program director at the University of Minnesota Duluth. ‘But to more and more people on the Republican side, that doesn’t seem to matter. They just seem to think: ‘We’re going to go with what our heart tells us.’ ”

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Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Rosalind Kohls on 08/23/2011 - 04:23 pm.

    I don’t see any connection between the staff being directed to remain neutral regarding the health-care curriculum on homosexuality and bullying. The students who are doing the bullying probably have no idea what the school district’s policies on heath-care curriculum are. Bullies just see someone who is different from them and then attack.
    It is safe to assume the school district’s staff has been directed to remain neutral when it comes to religion in the curriculum. No one alleges that this religious neutrality causes prejudice and bullying. Why would anyone think neutrality in a health-care curriculum causes bullying or that there is any connection at all?

  2. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 08/23/2011 - 05:45 pm.

    A question likely to go unconsidered in the South Dakota search for companies to locate there is whether the types of jobs those companies will make available and the practices pursued by those companies will RAISE the standard of living of the citizens of South Dakota and preserve the natural beauty of their state.

    If you bring in lousy companies that don’t pay a living wage, offer no benefits, pollute the area around their plants, and when trouble starts, declare bankruptcy and skip town leaving the local people and state taxpayers holding the bag, the people of your state end up WORSE off for your efforts, not better (but, of course, those are EXACTLY the kinds of companies in search of the best “business climate” they can find.)

    Regarding electability considerations among the GOP base: Such considerations require a perspective far broader than the Tea Party types can generally manage (requiring, as it does, sufficient empathy to imagine what it would be like to be someone other than themselves, and, thereby, to imagine how those people might respond to your favorite candidate).

    Rather than “electability”: their only real concerns seem to be twofold: 1) does this candidate agree with ME on everything I care about, and 2) is he or she one of “us.”

    Whether the average voter agrees with what “we” believe or counts themselves as one of “us” doesn’t matter at all.

    Of course after the GOP has used Bachmann and Perry to divide the support of the Tea Partiers sufficiently to allow them to bring in Romney, or some other more “electable” candidate, yet to be revealed, both will be cast aside quicker than last night’s sushi after it had been left accidentally out on the counter until this morning.

  3. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 08/23/2011 - 05:55 pm.

    Regarding Anoka-Hennepin’s “neutrality” policy: the problem seems to be that the school’s staff has generalized that policy from curriculum to behavioral considerations and has come to feel (likely based on clear-but-subtle indications from their administrators),…

    that to intervene when a GLBT student is being bullied in order to punish the bullies and defend that student demonstrates a favorable attitude toward the GLBT student and a negative attitude toward the bullies and, thus, is an impermissible violation of “neutrality.”

    In the same vein, although the school administration requires “neutrality,” I suspect that if a teacher were to present a unit on the accomplishments of famous GLBT persons in World History class, for instance, and some of their student’s “conservative” parents went ballistic, that the administration would find that teacher to be in violation of the “neutrality” policy, even though the entire history class was presumed to be about the accomplishments of straight people and the GLBT unit would represent only a VERY small percentage of the year’s curriculum.

    Sadly, for some folks, the only acceptable interpretation of “neutrality” translates into pretending GLBT folks do not exist, never mentioning that they DO exist, and refusing to become involved when a student is being bullied by others for being suspected of being GLBT.

    Thus does “neutrality” regarding GLBT issues have EVERYTHING to do with GLBT bullying.

  4. Submitted by Dale Hoogeveen on 08/23/2011 - 08:57 pm.

    South Dakota’s attempts to lure businesses in from other states inevitably involves services that need to be vended back into the more robust economies in those states. South Dakota cannot support those businesses if the economies of the states it is trying to steal from cannot support that sort of economic parasitism.

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