OK! Champagne all around. The Ramsey County board voted … unanimously … to buy the Arden Hills site for a Vikings stadium if … and it’s a small if … the state comes up with a way to pay for it. Says Rochelle Olson at the Strib: “The deal is firmly contingent on the state finding the money to pay for the land. The county has until Aug. 1, 2012, to cancel the deal without paying a penalty if the $1.1 billion stadium doesn’t get going. Commissioners said it’s a good deal with or without a stadium because of parkland preservation and the chance to develop the fallow property. The purchase requires the federal government to remediate the former munitions site to industrial standards. … The plan was announced last week, but there has been no breakthrough agreement on a means to pay for it.” In other news, I agreed to purchase a new Bentley. I get the keys when my neighbors pitch in to pay for it.
As for a special session to gin up the taxpayer cash for a football factory, the word today is: “doubtful.” Rachel Stassen-Berger at the Strib writes: “Gov. Mark Dayton, who had been pushing for the Legislature to decide on the Minnesota Vikings stadium issue this year, now says that does not look likely. ‘I’m doubtful that there will be a special session at this point,’ Dayton said. … the governor said it does not appear that the deal will be all sewn up soon. ‘I don’t believe we are going to get to a point of being able to have a specific proposal or two specific proposals,’ if Minneapolis also has a proposal to keep the Vikings in that city, Dayton said. Still, he said settling the question would be best. ‘The Vikings deserve an answer, the people of Minnesota deserve an answer. We should make a decision one way or the other and not just avoid it because it is a politically uncomfortable vote,’ Dayton said.” But what if those, you know, voter-thingy people don’t like what we decide?
Interesting commentary at MPR from Roger Richter, gambling manager of the Burnsville Lions Club, on the appeal of electronic pull tabs. “Pull-tabs are a social form of gambling. Most people buy them at a bar, where they can have a drink and meet and socialize with friends. I have asked many of my customers if they would play pull-tabs on a machine, and the answer was no. Their ages ranged from 21 to 42. Several of them said that if they wanted to play a machine, they’d go to a casino. Allied Charities of Minnesota is pushing to get electronic pull-tabs. I have attended its conventions and several meetings. The people I talked to at the conventions were not interested in it. I do not know how much these machines would cost, but I imagine that the proprietors of bars and restaurants would lease them. There you would be cutting into your charitable gambling monies. The state would not care, because it knows it will get its money even if the charity loses money. The state taxes you on what you sell, not on what you make. Having electronic pull-tab machines in every bar, restaurant, convenience store and whatever will turn Minnesota into another South Dakota, with small casinos in every little town. Is this what the people of Minnesota want?”
Our Joe Kimball reports on Minnesota asking for a waiver from No Child Left Behind. Over at MPR, Tom Weber writes: “Minnesota’s waiver would lift the sanctions that come from not making AYP. Instead of measuring one factor the state wants to measure four. Being proficient in reading and math would still count, as it does now. New factors would be a student’s academic growth, the size of a school’s achievement gap and, for high schools, the graduation rate. The highest performers would be labeled ‘reward schools’ — the lowest would be either a ‘priority’ school or ‘focus’ school. ‘There will still be a list, but it’s a much smaller list, a much more accurate list, and a much more directive list because it’s multiple measures,’ [Education Commissioner Brenda] Cassellius said. Minnesota’s application proposes replacing that goal of 100 percent proficiency by 2014 with an entirely new goal: To cut the state’s achievement gap in half in six years. That’s the gap between how well white and affluent students do, compared to students of color and students in poverty.”
Traffic may have you this close to crazy, but it’s a lot safer out there than it was not so long ago … a lot safer. Paul Walsh of the Strib reports: “So far this year, there have been 303 traffic deaths in Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) said Tuesday. That’s down from 357 at this point last year. The DPS’s Office of Traffic Safety is now projecting a final tally of 355 for 2011, meaning a fourth consecutive annual decline and a 38 percent reduction from a decade ago. Should that projection prove a bit high, state officials note, Minnesota could achieve its 2014 goal of limiting deaths to 350 three years early.”
Today in Bachmannia: Coincidental with her long-awaited, hotly anticipated memoir, Our Gal also has a new TV ad out … ripping up five of her GOP compadres. Kevin Diaz of the Strib writes: “How many political ads manage to attack five different politicians in less than a minute? There’s a younger Mitt Romney saying abortion should be ‘safe and legal,’ segueing to Herman Cain calling it a ‘choice that a mother has to make.’ Then there’s Ron Paul asking ‘what’s so terribly bad’ about a nuclear-armed Iran, and Rick Perry vouching for the importance of educating the children of illegal aliens. There’s also Newt Gingrich appearing with Nancy Pelosi on a global warming ad campaign, and later agreeing that, yes, he was for the individual mandate in health care before he was against it. Finally, the video returns to Perry’s famous ‘oops’ moment in the Michigan debate, the first time any of the GOP contenders has so explicitly made hay of his mortification. (This is in contrast to Bachmann’s kind words for Perry after the debate, when she said they all felt bad for him).” Our Gal has never been accused of lacking “game.”
Tim Krohn of the Mankato Free Press has a story about a husband-wife team searching the Minnesota River for sunken steam boats. Really. “Ann Merriman and Chris Olson are shipwreck hunters, using high-tech gear and historic records to scour Lake Superior, Lake Minnetonka and other big bodies of water for wrecks. Next summer, they will begin surveying what may seem a less likely maritime route — the Minnesota River. ‘On the Minnesota, there were many reports of sunk or snagged (steamboats), five or six at least,’ Merriman said. ‘How much is left of them, no one knows.’ The steamboats that plied the Minnesota River from 1823 to near the turn of the century were substantial crafts — many 125 feet long, 25 feet wide, two stories high and carrying up to 160 tons of cargo and people.”
With police in New York and elsewhere rousting Occupy protesters, Power Line’s John Hinderaker is in a happier mood: “The battle, however, is not over in New York, where the Occupiers apparently have obtained a court order from a friendly judge, allowing them to return to the park with their tents. Naturally, the Occupiers are represented by the National Lawyers’ Guild, a long-time Communist front. … Personally, I hope that the Occupiers in New York, Minneapolis and elsewhere stick to their guns. The longer their crime wave continues and the more the public learns about them, the better for the conservative movement. I had lunch yesterday with a group that included the Hennepin County Sheriff. Among other things, he talked about the Occupiers. He said they have been trying hard to get themselves arrested, but his office is highly professional and has avoided giving the protesters their wish.”