GOP Sen. Claire Robling of Jordan, GOP Rep. Bob Gunther of Fairmont and three other legislators offer a Strib commentary calling for racino money to fund a Vikings stadium: “Do you want a people’s plan for the stadium? Consider the following:
1) More than 70 percent of Minnesotans support racinos to fund a new stadium.
2) Racinos will increase employment in the hospitality and construction industries, two sectors badly damaged in the recent recession.
3) Racino revenue will be used to increase horse racing purses and revitalize the horse industry. That’s real economic development that will ripple through the rural economy and provide a shot in the arm for people employed in agricultural businesses in all corners of the state.
4) Racinos will generate at least $133 million in new state revenue every year without increasing taxes, more than double the amount needed to pay the public portion of new stadium costs.
5) With the remaining state revenue, we can repay our local school districts the money borrowed from them to balance the budget last July.”
Why, I hear racinos can even cure cancer and, some say, make your kids clean up their rooms.
Some kids are playing catch-up before they’ve even started. Tom Weber of MPR files a story saying: “The Minnesota Readiness Study finds children of color and children who live in poverty are less likely to be considered ready for kindergarten than white students and those living above the poverty line. According to the study, 60 percent of all students were considered “proficient,” meaning they had enough skills to enter kindergarten. But only 44 percent of Hispanic children were considered ready for kindergarten, compared to 63 percent of white children. State Education Department spokeswoman Charlene Briner says it’s not surprising that the achievement gap between children of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, and between those from different economic situations, is showing up in children at such young ages.”
What the Better Business Bureau can taketh away, it can giveth back. Gita Sitamariah at the PiPress writes: “The Better Business Bureau on Friday withdrew a “Third Strike” ruling that accused local auto dealership Fury Motors of violating a new advertising policy and has restored Fury’s A-plus rating. The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota reported Friday that certain disclaimers required by Minnesota Automotive Advertising Standards could not be achieved reasonably by Fury Motors on websites it doesn’t own or control. Jim Leonard, whose Fury dealerships are in Lake Elmo and South St. Paul, said he’s considering legal action given the ‘significant amount of harm done to our reputation’ after a BBB news release last month said Fury was reduced to an F rating after violating the new advertising ‘Three Strikes Policy’. … Last month’s BBB news release said Fury advertised a $1,000 discount on cars without disclosing ‘clearly, conspicuously and in close conjunction’ with the price that the discount was contingent upon financing through Fury Motors.”
MaryJo Webster of the PiPress tees it up for everyone who wants public employees feeling the same down-sized pain as their private-sector peers. She leads her story on accrued sick-time payouts saying: “State of Minnesota employees can go into retirement with an extra nest egg that’s almost unheard of in the private sector. Some get $100 or less. A few get more than $100,000. Most take home $10,000 to $30,000. It all depends on whether an employee has an ironman-like career — rarely, if ever, calling in sick — and what that employee is paid. Unused sick days paid out at retirement, most often into health care savings accounts, usually cost state government about $14 million per year. But this year, Minnesota exceeded its annual sick time payout total by June 30. The reason: Thousands of workers took early-retirement incentives designed to trim the workforce and balance the budget. Although paying out unused sick time is extremely rare in the private sector, it’s common at all levels of government around the country. It’s been the standard policy in Minnesota for at least 40 years, before state workers were unionized.”
Did you catch Stribber Jim Ragsdale’s Sunday piece on Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker? Along the way of resetting the saga since the election of 2010, Ragsdale writes: “[Walker] points out differences between benefit packages for public and private workers and blames national unions seeking to reclaim their dues for the opposition. He objects strenuously to the most persistent criticism of him — that his ‘original sin,’ as foes call it, was in not disclosing during the campaign that he planned radical changes in public employee bargaining. ‘For eight years as a county executive I talked repeatedly about the problem of collective bargaining and arbitration,’ Walker said. He said he has dealt with an inherited $3.6 billion deficit the way he said he would. ‘We clearly said we’re going to do it without raising taxes, we’re going to do it in a way that creates more jobs in the private sector, we’re going to do it by protecting core services — and that’s what we’ve done,’ Walker said.” Well, to essentially ask the question again, did he or did he not make public comment during the campaign vowing to do what he did? And if we know the answer, why not say so?
In the latest New Yorker, John Seabrook tells readers the tale of the U of M’s development of the SweeTango apple. There’s subscriber/paid access through the link, but the synopses lays out the story: “In its débutante season, supplies were so limited that few New Yorkers got to taste it; this year, there were three times as many nationwide. Like Honeycrisp, SweeTango has much larger cells than other apples, and when you bite into it the cells shatter. The bursting of the cells fills your mouth with juice. … the University of Minnesota has managed the release of the SweeTango. Instead of an ‘open release,’ which meant that anyone could grow the apple, the university decided to release it as a ‘managed variety,’ or what’s known in the business as a ‘club apple.’ The university would grant a license to an outside company, which would establish a consortium that could market and grow the apple nationally.”
In an opinion piece in the Strib, Terry Larkin seems to have found the villain at the core of America’s unenmployment problem: “I fear that the biggest risk threatening America’s exceptional character is that more Americans would rather complain about the lack of job than go find one. If you regard this as blasphemy, then tell me how a nation with more than 14 million people not working can have one single illegal immigrant fixing a roof, mowing a lawn, cutting a hog, washing a dish or changing a nursing home bed? … My parents were almost penniless when they were booted off their family farms. And yet, in the middle of the Great Depression, they thrived through work. America will again thrive and be great when each of us, and especially the Occupy Wall Street protester seen carrying the sign, “One more MBA without a job,” understands that successfully finding work is less about a person’s education level and more about a person’s character.” Oddly, there’s nothing in the piece about CEO compensation, collateralized debt obligations or 25 years of middle-class stagnation.
Here’s a gutsy move. Jessica Lussenhop at City Pages writes: “On Monday afternoon, Seth Coleman, a seasonal Target employee in Northfield, will deliver a hard copy version of the ‘Save Thanksgiving’ petition to the retailer’s headquarters on Nicollet Mall. ‘My choice is stay up all night and work two shifts like a zombie, or sleep and not have a Thanksgiving,’ he says. After Target announced it would be opening at midnight on Black Friday, a Target employee in Omaha realized he’d have to go to bed at 2 p.m. in the afternoon on Thanksgiving if he had any hope of surviving his shift at 11 p.m. He started the ‘Tell Target to save Thanksgiving’ petition online, and so far it has over 181,000 signatures. … Since the petition is directed at CEO Gregg Steinhafel, someone has to deliver it to him. That’s why the folks at Change.org went scouring the signatures looking for a Minnesotan who’d be willing to risk his or her job to make Target look bad. They found a local boy in Seth Coleman, a line cook by trade who says jobs are hard to come by in Northfield. He took a seasonal job unloading trucks at Target and is currently scheduled to work two shifts on Thanksgiving in order to keep the store stocked for Black Friday lunatics. He’ll be on the clock from 4 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. and then again from 10:45 p.m. until 8 a.m.” Good luck, kid. Maybe they’re hiring at Malt-O-Meal?
Today in Bachmannia: Someone should do a photo mash-up of her eyes and his hair. Our Favorite Congresswoman will be meeting with … Donald Trump again (this is the fourth time) today. Shannon Travis at CNN writes: “Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann will meet with real estate mogul Donald Trump on Monday in New York City, her spokeswoman said Sunday. The meeting will happen at Trump Tower. It will be the fourth meeting between the Minnesota congresswoman and the reality TV star. ‘He called the other day … and she’d mentioned she was going to be in New York,’ Bachmann Communications Director Alice Stewart told CNN. ‘It should last about an hour or so.” Bachmann will also tape a show for NBC’s “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon’, Stewart said.” OK, here’s a show pitch to NBC — the “All GOP Presidential Candidates Apprentice,” where no idea is too batty or bizarre to win a job as The Donald’s wing man, or woman.