Today in Bachmannia: Remember those New Hampshire staffers who didn’t resign? Well, now Team Bachmann is saying that the angry press release the staff members sent out accusing the national staff of being “rude” and “cruel” and other not-so nice things … wasn’t really written by them. Politico’s Maggie Haberman writes: “In the wake of a blistering press release from the five Michele Bachmann staffers who walked out of her New Hampshire campaign last week — comments that blamed her national operation — her campaign manager is pushing back with a statement saying that it wasn’t real. ‘The unauthorized news release was sent by a person who doesn’t even work for the campaign and has never had authority to speak on behalf of the campaign,’ said her campaign manager, Keith Nahigian. ‘We are not responding to comments made by a person who was not even a staff member in New Hampshire. Our focus is on Iowa.’ “
Oddly, CNN’s Kevin Liptak gets a kind of indirect confirmation of the release from his Team Bachmann source: “[National spokesperson Alice] Stewart characterized the incident as a minor hurdle in what will end up being a long campaign. ‘It is disheartening when members of the staff or volunteers or people who are working with the team decide to communicate with the media as opposed with the campaign,’ Stewart said. ‘We haven’t heard anything from these people. It is unfortunate they chose to make it in such a public way.’ ” But of course they didn’t, you understand. Right after they didn’t resign.
Maybe they’ve just had all they can take. The AP reports: “The number of employees retiring from Minnesota state government has hit an annual record, and some officials worry they won’t be able to replace the skills walking out the door. The executive director of the Minnesota State Retirement System, Dave Bergstrom, said Monday that 2,733 state employees have retired as of this month, up 675 from the record 2,058 who retired in 2010. He said it was a matter of a mature work force and an early retirement incentive offered in 2010. That incentive offered two years of health insurance for employees who retired by June 30, 2011.” The carrot is … health coverage.
The little-discussed facet of the long-term unemployment problem — the lack of skilled workers for the jobs that are open — gets re-illuminated in a new state DEED study. The ECM papers report: “Nearly half of Minnesota manufacturers responding to a survey say they haven’t filled positions because they lack qualified job candidates, according to a new study by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). The 2011 Minnesota Skills Gap Survey found that 45 percent of responding manufacturers in the state considered the shortage of skilled workers to be a moderate or serious problem. The biggest shortages were found in skilled production (58 percent of those responding), followed by jobs for scientists and engineers (40 percent of respondents). Shortages were not as severe for jobs in low-skilled production, management and administration, and customer service.” “Low skilled” and “management.” Heh.
And in that vein … Baird Helgeson’s Strib story on Gov. Dayton’s “jobs summit” says: “Dayton has toured Minnesota for months, gathering ideas and hearing suggestions about what the state can do to help businesses grow. People he met along the way will be among 700 participants gathering in downtown St. Paul to share their ideas and begin crafting solutions. Senate Republicans have been touring the state themselves, asking Minnesotans how to improve the state’s business climate. On Monday, they unveiled a proposal to save Minnesota millions of dollars in property taxes and try to reduce government bureaucracy. The proposal, in part, resurrects a plan to phase out business property taxes over the next five years.” I have a question: If the GOP were asked, ‘How would you cure cancer?” would they say, “With tax cuts for businesses”?
Stribber Lori Sturdevant gives a plug to Stillwater-based author Shawn Lawrence Otto’s new book, “Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America.” She writes: “Author Otto points out that science is inherently anti-authoritarian. The new knowledge it generates shakes up the status quo and disrupts defenders of old ideas. It always has. Today’s rejection of climate change science by many Republican elected officials is in keeping with the behavior of authority figures through the centuries. But modern society is more science-dependent than earlier ones, Otto notes. Many modern problems cry out for a science-based solution — from budget-busting health care costs to overpopulation’s strain on water and food supplies. Democracies won’t be equipped to solve those problems if people spurn what science offers, Otto argues. Yet that is what the leaders of one major American political party seem to be inviting citizens to do.”
There might be some painfully unresolved issues here … At the conservative blog Fraters Libertas, “Chad” looks at the Occupy demonstrations and writes of those involved, “It probably should be a surprise to no one that the heavily-nurtured, overly-praised, self-esteem enriched Millennial Generation is having a difficult time coping with the realities of life in a down economy. Nothing in their upbringing has prepared them for the inevitable disappointments awaiting them on the streets today. They’ve been told since birth that if they did the “right” things — went to the right schools, cared about the right issues (the environment), volunteered for the right causes — they would be rewarded with praise, money, and self-fulfillment. No one told them that trying hard wasn’t enough or that simply graduating from college didn’t entitle you to a job. They thought (and were taught) that if they just ‘followed their dreams’ they too would find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. You really can’t blame them for being bitter and angry that instead of a pot of gold they’ve barely got one to [bleep] in. Their rage is understandable yet it’s also misdirected. Instead of blaming the banks and Wall Street, they should be pointing their fingers at the ones who filled them with false expectations and lead them down the primrose path: their parents, their teachers, the educational establishment, and large swaths of popular culture.”
Paul Levy of the Strib turns in a compelling story about … horse abuse in Minnesota: “With only hay shavings and 4 inches of drinking water, and manure packed nearly 2 feet deep on the pen floor, the horses apparently had been starving and without care for some time, according to court documents. But this episode, in Swift County, was different from others involving an estimated 600 Minnesota horses that an investigator says have starved to death or been slaughtered over the past four years. … horses have fallen victim to changing economics and rural demographics. Hay and fuel prices are up, interest in 4-H activities is diminishing and the role of horses in plowing fields is virtually gone. While horse neglect usually runs in cycles dependent on economics, said University of Minnesota veterinarian Dr. Krishona Martinson, this is the first period she can recall in which 300 to 400 Minnesota horses have been found malnourished for several years in a row, with no respite on the horizon. ‘You can sell off beef, dairy or swine, but not horses,’ Martinson said, noting that the federal government stopped funding USDA inspectors for horse-slaughter facilities, essentially banning horsemeat from being processed in the United States since 2009.”
Not precisely related … Wisconsin owes the feds $1.18 billion for unemployment payments. Don Walker of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writes: “Wisconsin still owes the federal government a whopping $1.18 billion it borrowed to pay unemployment benefits to the jobless. Despite the fragile state of the economy, the state is working on ways to repay the federal government. It is doing so in a variety of ways:
• Special assessments against businesses to pay the interest the federal government is charging states.
• A one-week waiting period for people seeking unemployment benefits.
• An increase in the taxable wage base the state uses to calculate what companies owe.
• A requirement that residents filing new claims register first with the Wisconsin Job Service and actively search for work.
• Proposed legislation that sharply increases the penalty for fraud.”