Can we agree that this Black Friday thing is completely out of control? Tom Webb of the PiPress finds very little shopper interest in door busting at midnight: “By a huge margin, most shoppers don’t want stores to open on Thanksgiving, a new survey found. But that’s not stopping some retailers. Toys R Us became the latest, saying Monday it will open its doors at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving night, as the Christmas shopping season officially begins. Walmart will soon follow, opening earlier than ever at 10 p.m. Thanksgiving night. A bevy [of] other retailers will throw open their doors at midnight. … a survey Monday from ConsumerSearch suggests the public isn’t sold on Thanksgiving Day-shopping. It found 87 percent think all stores should be closed Thanksgiving Day, compared with just 11 percent who’d like them open.”
Pell grants, a facet in last summer’s protracted debt ceiling “debate” (the GOP wanted them gone, on the grounds they are “welfare”) are getting support from … students who need them most. Paul Tosto at MPR reports: “Two groups representing Minnesota college students have collected 4,000 signatures on a petition opposing cuts to federal financial aid for needy college students. Representatives from the Minnesota State College Student Association and the Minnesota State University Student Association delivered the petition to the state’s congressional delegation Monday. The U.S. House is considering cuts to the Pell Grant program that would change who’s eligible for the federal aid. The two groups say some 13,000 Minnesota students stand to lose $76 million if the cuts go through.”
Today in Bachmannia: Interesting piece from Kevin Diaz of the Strib on Our Gal’s “message guru,” Brett O’Donnell: “It was O’Donnell, [former campaign chief Ed] Rollins told the Star Tribune, who turned up the unknown woman who gave Bachmann the faulty vaccine story. Rollins gives O’Donnell high marks for writing speeches and crafting debate points, but not for campaign strategy. ‘Brett doesn’t know a lot about politics,’ Rollins said. ‘He’s sort of her security blanket. … She didn’t want a strategy. She wanted a cheerleader, and he gives her that comfort zone.’ Part of the comfort zone is prayer, according to Rollins: ‘They’re together all the time. They share a common faith. He understands the language of the evangelical movement.’ “
Oh, and Herman Cain … when asked what flavor ice cream Our Gal would be, says: “Michele Bachmann … I’m not going to say it. I’m not going to say it. … Tutti-frutti. I know I’m going to get in trouble!” That from Politico’s Mike Allen. (Herman could have said something like “Nutty Buddy.”)
The question of whom to blame for the property tax increases many are getting in the mail will go on as long as … the Earth orbits the sun, or as long as there are Democrats and Republicans. DFL Rep. Paul Dilworth turns in a Strib commentary pointing his finger at you know who: “The truth is that there was ample information before the Homestead Credit was taken away that the changes supported by the Republican majority would increase taxes on most Minnesotans. Legislators were warned that under the changes, anyone with a home valued under $414,000 (around 95 percent of homeowners) would lose the credit completely and permanently. We knew that some homeowners would lose as much as $304 a year; the average loss being $202. We knew that a program providing $261 million in property tax relief would be replaced by a confusing, nontransparent program providing $0 in property tax relief. Legislators who voted to eliminate the Homestead Credit may want to blame this mess on someone else, but it is a problem they created. They voted to eliminate the credit, and now property taxes are going to increase. It’s that simple.” He does go on to say that the finger-pointing must stop.
Speaking of midnight starts, the recall of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker commenced last night at the stroke of 12 … without a door-busting super deal on one lonely 50-inch TV set. At the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Jason Stein and Patrick Marley write: “The recall attempt against Walker formally begins a fight that has been looming since the governor introduced a bill in February to repeal most collective bargaining for most public employees. If successful, it would be only the third recall election for a governor to be held in the nation’s history. Dozens of petition drive events are planned around the state for Tuesday, including one at Walker’s home in Wauwatosa, and a large rally is planned for Madison at the state Capitol on Saturday. United Wisconsin’s website crashed Monday because of high traffic, the group said. Organizers have to gather 540,208 valid signatures within 60 days — by Jan. 14 — to force a recall election against Walker and must turn them in by Jan. 17. Mahaffey said her group hopes to gather 600,000 to 700,000 signatures to allow a cushion if some signatures are found later not to count.”
At Mother Jones, Andy Kroll looks at blog posts and Facebook chatter suggesting an organized sabotage of the recall effort may … may … be under way: “A group of self-identified conservatives say they plan to sabotage the effort to recall Wisconsin GOP Gov. Scott Walker, which begins on Tuesday, by burning and shredding recall petitions they’ve collected and misleading Wisconsinites about the recall process. These plans, discussed in Facebook posts that were first reported by the blog PolitiScoop, entail posing as recall supporters and gathering signatures, only to later destroy the petitions. They also include telling Wisconsinites that they can only sign one recall petition (which is false — they can sign different petitions as long as they each correspond to a different organization) and directing signature collectors to the homes of registered sex offenders. … Michael Maistelman, a Wisconsin attorney and election law expert who reviewed screenshots of the comments, says the postings could raise serious legal issues if the plan is to tamper with official recall petitions. ‘If a person fraudulently solicits recall petitions and then destroys those petitions, they will probably go to jail,’ Maistelman says. ‘The law is very clear on this.’ “
Minnesota got some unflattering ink in a New York Times story by Michael Luo about violent offenders who — thanks to lobbying pressure from the National Rifle Association — had their gun rights restored: “In some states, even violent felons face a relatively low bar, with no waiting period before they can apply. The Times examined hundreds of restoration cases in several states, among them Minnesota, where William James Holisky II, who had a history of stalking and terrorizing women, got his gun rights back last year, just six months after completing a three-year prison sentence for firing a shotgun into the house of a woman who had broken up with him after a handful of dates. She and her son were inside at the time of the shooting. ‘My whole family’s convinced that at some point he’ll blow a gasket and that he’ll come and shoot someone,’ said Vicky Holisky-Crets, Mr. Holisky’s sister.”
At “The Deets,” Ed Kohler has an idea for maintaining a reliable revenue stream off Vikings tailgaters: “It’s time for tailgaters to work together to make the Arden Hills proposal work for them. Since the cost difference is as much as $200 million vs. downtown Minneapolis, and a plan that public officials have a hard time subsidizing (a 21,000-car parking lot while taking revenue away from municipal ramps?), the difference should be made up by tailgaters. If the 5,000 more hardcore tailgaters simply wrote a check to Zygi Wilf for $40,000 each, that gap could be bridged. It could even be done with personal seat license style financing with 10% down and the rest paid off30 years at 8% interest. Personal tailgating licenses. If tailgaters are willing to put some skin in the game, they may be able to make their dream a reality by making the Arden Hills proposal at least somewhat more economically competitive with Minneapolis venues. And, if they aren’t willing to help subsidize the costs of their 10 days a year playground, we’ll understand that it’s a want but not a need.” Obviously, it’d have to be $60K for your converted, purple-and-gold school bus with the inflatable horns.