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Leaders won’t support exemption from stadium sales tax vote

AFTERNOON EDITION ALSO: More bad news for Humphries; achievement gap continues; name-the-turkey contest; pre-term births rise slightly; and more.
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Uh-oh Zygi. Gov. Mark Dayton has decided that there’s no support for an exemption from a public referendum on using tax money for a Vikings stadium. In the Strib, Mike Kaszuba writes: “In a troubling move for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium, Gov. Mark Dayton announced Tuesday that there was not enough legislative support to exempt either Ramsey County or Minneapolis from having a referendum to increase local sales taxes for the project. Dayton said he and Republican legislative leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch and House Speaker Kurt Zellers, came to the conclusion following a meeting last Friday. Without a legislative exemption, the governor said in a statement, the earliest a referendum could be held in either Ramsey County or Minneapolis would be November 2012. The announcement could effectively derail a plan to have Ramsey County contribute $350 million to a new $1.1 billion stadium in Arden Hills through a countywide sales tax increase. Stadium proponents have argued that without a legislative exemption — like the Minnesota Twins had in Hennepin County in building Target Field in downtown Minneapolis — the Vikings stadium project would likely be scuttled by voters.” So, can you say, “Vegas-style electronic pulltabs”?

The kid’s having a tough run of it. Jillian Herman of the Huffington Post writes: “Kris Humphries, Kim Kardashian’s soon-to-be ex-husband, may be having the worst day ever. Not only is Kardashian — Humphries’ wife of just 72 days — reportedly filing for divorce Monday, but the free agent who was most recently a power forward for the New Jersey Nets also revealed that he lost thousands in a hedge fund scam. Humphries invested hundreds of thousands of dollars with Andrey Hicks’ Locust Offshore Management, a fraudulent hedge fund that ultimately raised $1.6 million from investors like Humphries, Fin Alternatives reports. A federal judge froze the assets of Hicks’ fund last week, after accusing him of lying to investors about the existence of a fund in the British Virgin Islands, according to the Boston Business Journal. Hicks — who was a guest at Humphries’ and Kardashian’s multi-million dollar wedding ceremony — also claimed to be an alumnus of Harvard; in fact, he failed out of the prestigious school after three semesters.” And … the soon-to-be-ex says she won’t be paying spousal support.

While Minnesota kids are, in general, still above average in academic performance, our minority and lower-income kids continue to lag. The story at MPR, by Tom Weber, says: “The National Assessment of Educational Progress — sometimes referred to as the nation’s report card — is one of the few tests in the nation that allow for state-to-state comparisons. Minnesota students continue to beat the national average in both reading and math, but scores are mostly flat in reading over the past decade. The results are also the latest indicator of the achievement gap, said education commissioner Brenda Cassellius. ‘Again, how are we meeting the needs of all of our kids,’ Cassellius said. ‘We still have these very large gaps between students of color and students in poverty with their white peers.’ “

Here’s a New York Times story by Sam Dillon on the same study, with a national perspective.

This could be asking for trouble. But Minnesotans will have the opportunity to name the turkeys sent to the White House to be “pardoned” by President Obama. The ECM papers say: “The top names will be submitted to the White House to be considered for naming the 2011 National Thanksgiving Turkeys. Contestants will be asked to submit two names, one for the National Thanksgiving Turkey and another for his alternate, who will also make the trip to Washington. Names may be submitted November 1st -10th on the Presidential Turkey website. (Contest is only open to Minnesota residents ages 13 and over.) From Nov. 11-15, the public will be able to vote on their favorite pair of names on Minnesota Turkey’s Facebook site. Simply log into Facebook, search for “Minnesota Turkey” and click “like” prior to casting your vote. The 10 most popular sets of names from the Facebook voting will be forwarded to the White House for consideration when naming the National Thanksgiving Turkey. Past names for the turkeys include: ‘Pumpkin and Pecan,’ ‘May and Flower,’ ‘Marshmallow and Yamy.’ Last year’s names were ‘Apple and Cider.’ Final name selection of the National Thanksgiving Turkey and his alternate rests in the hands of President Obama and his family.” I got dibs on “Mitch” and “Eric.”

We are also — slightly — above average in terms of the number of pre-term births each year. At the PiPress, Christopher Snowbeck reports: “Minnesota’s preterm birth rate was 10.1 percent in 2009, up from 10.0 percent in 2008, the report said. In 2006, the rate in Minnesota was 10.5 percent. Even with the slight increase during 2009 in the preterm birth rate, Minnesota was one of just 16 states that received a ‘B’ rating in the March of Dimes report, which provided state-by-state as well as national numbers. Only one state — Vermont — received an ‘A.’ The United States overall earned a grade of ‘C,’ with a preterm birth rate of 12.2 percent. ‘Since 2006, when the nation’s preterm birth rate peaked (at 12.8 percent), our rates have improved,’ Glen Andis of the Minnesota chapter of the March of Dimes said in a news release. Danielle Prenevost, a spokeswoman for the Minnesota group, said experts aren’t especially worried about the slight uptick between 2008 and 2009 because ‘it’s such a small statistical difference.’ She noted that in 2010 and 2011, a growing number of local hospitals adopted policies to eliminate medically unnecessary cesarean sections and inductions before 39 weeks of pregnancy.”  Dead last? Mississippi.

Ladies! Ladies! Brady Gervais at the PiPress reports: “St. Paul police arrested a woman after they say she rammed her vehicle several times into another woman’s car Monday afternoon near Geranium Avenue East and Jackson Street. Sheryl Lynn Stafford, 36, of St. Paul, then pulled out a box cutter and tried to slash the other woman’s tires, according to a police report. She also made slashing motions with the box cutter toward the woman. The incident appeared to stem from jealousy over a man.” Since when is a man worth a perfectly good set of tires?

On that business of the $80,000 donation the Stillwater City Council made to the pro-St. Croix bridge group … co-chaired by Stillwater’s mayor? The council voted 5-0 to do what the state auditor said and give the money back to Washington County. Mary Divine at the PiPress reports: “The deadline for turning over the money was today. ‘We made a mistake. We need to cut our losses,’ said council member Doug Menikheim. ‘Let’s just move ahead.’ The state auditor’s office issued an opinion Aug. 30 that the city’s donation to the Coalition for the St. Croix River Crossing was illegal because it was made without a contract that would keep the public informed about how the money would be spent. In a final notice issued Oct. 21, the auditor’s office also said that TIF funds cannot be donated to a nonprofit organization and can’t be given to lobby for construction of a bridge outside of the TIF district. After the earlier ruling, the coalition returned the money to the city, but the city did not immediately turn the money over to Washington County for redistribution.”

Geezer rock alert! Roger Waters, essentially the last man standing of Pink Floyd, is returning to the Xcel Energy Center next spring. The Strib’s Chris Riemenschneider, who probably wasn’t born when “Ummagumma” was released, writes: “The Pink Floyd guru will continue his well-received live revival of Floyd’s paranoid 1980 album into 2012, including a June 3 date at St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center, where the ‘Roger Waters: The Wall Live’ tour previously stopped in October of last year. Tickets go on sale Nov. 14 at 10 a.m. through Ticketmaster at prices not yet announced. Prices are exactly the same as the 2010 show: $57-$201. Waters managed to sell out the prior Xcel Center date, helped at least in small part by pre-show rumors that David Gilmour was spotted having dinner with Waters in town (it was likely just a roadie who looks like DG; Gilmour did finally show up at the initial tour finale in London). The elaborate, spectacle-filled concert was quite rabidly received by the crowd, but it’s questionable 15,500 people will show up again.” So who wants to hear the story of my afternoon in Grantchester Meadow … if I could only remember it?