The Pagami Creek Fire is now nearly 100 square miles, nearly as big as 2007’s Ham Lake Fire (120 square miles). MPR’s Tim Nelson says it may close down a “sizeable part” of the BWCA. Scariest part? It may be moving toward the 1999 blowdown where “timber on the ground is dry and stacked like cordwood,” Northland’s NewsCenter notes. Eleven days ago, officials were touting the blaze’s benefits, noting it wasn’t near a blowdown. MPR’s Bob Collins examines the rationale for letting it burn.
Not much new in the New York Times’ front-page Anoka-Hennepin bullying story, but the harassing of LGBT students — sometimes to suicide, advocates say — gets a greater national profile. Amid the awfulness is this particularly vivid moment: “[O]nce he was urinated on from above the stall as he used the toilet.” Talk of tolerance gets this rejoinder from the Minnesota (Straight) Family Council’s Tom Prichard: “Saying that you should accept two moms as a normal family — that would be advocacy.” Or human decency.
Related: Minnesota 1st District DFL U.S. Rep. Tim Walz became the 122nd representative to support repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, Minnesota Independent’s Andy Birkey notes.
MSNBC reports Texas Gov. Rick Perry is countering Michele Bachmann’s by-all-accounts-successful attack on his mandatory HPV vaccination order by likening her to autism alarmists: “You heard the same arguments about giving our children protections from some of the childhood diseases … autism was part of that. Now we’ve subsequently found out that was generated and not true.” He’s lost the Jenny McCarthy vote. Bachmann told the “Today Show” that “she was approached by a woman after the debate whose daughter had suffered mental retardation as a result of getting the vaccine.”
The afternoon’s best read can be found in Southside (Mpls.) Pride, where the city’s former police chief and DFL gubernatorial candidate Tony Bouza opines: “Tea parties are right, sort of.” Bouza battled police unions in the ’80s, and that’s the undercurrent of his rollicking recollection of bureaucratic featherbedding. In the end, though, he pulls back from the ledge: “The Tea Party’s dictum to ‘Starve the Beast’ is mindless and makes us neither freer nor better served.”
Poverty in Minnesota hit 10.8 percent in 2009-10, up from 9.6 percent in 2007-08, according to Census data, the Strib’s Jeremy Olson and Warren Wolfe report. Believe it or not, that’s 13th best in the nation. Poverty level is $11,344 for a single person and $22,113 for a family of four; one in four Minnesotans is in a household that earns less than double that. The percentage without health insurance (16.1 percent, or one in six) was flat.
In that context, this next story might not come as a shocker. “Rivals, Weak TV Sales Weigh on Best Buy’s Profits,” which were down 30 percent, the Wall Street Journal notes. The Richfield-based company’s stock has been halved in the past year, and is at its lowest point since 2008. WSJ says analysts are pessimistic, given competition and drooping consumer spending; the company’s stock per-share earnings are up only because it is using cash to buy shares back. Revenues, writes the Strib’s Jennifer Bjorhus, are flat. Bad times for brick and mortar.
MPR’s Annie Baxter does a nice job beating the crap out of a sloppy dataset purporting to show Minnesota with a rising Mortgage Fraud Index. That’s a fraud because cases are counted several times if there are, say, lots of court filings and case activity. As City Pages’ Gregory Pratt puts it, “the state’s high rating might be the result of its willingness to prosecute con artists.”
The Strib’s Steve Brandt says cops voted overwhelmingly for a pension merger that will save Minneapolis taxpayers $17.4 million next year. That undergirds Mayor R.T. Rybak zero-property tax increase plan. Board of Estimate member Carol Becker says 65 percent of Minneapolis homeowners will see zero or reduced city property taxes. By the way, the Strib debuted a new Minneapolis blog today.
Nort spews: The Vikings are still about 1,000 seats short of a home-opener sellout, but according to the Pioneer Press’s Jeremy Fowler, the Tampa Bay game won’t be blacked out. (The Vikings’ passing game may be, though.) The Timberwolves officially confirmed Rick Adelman as their new coach, the Strib’s Jerry Zgoda writes, a move Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowsk contends vocationally castrates g.m. David Kahn.
Glean creator David Brauer returns to fill in for vacationing Brian Lambert.