Time to turn it up … it’s Nigel Tufnel Day

MORNING EDITION

Happy Nigel Tufnel Day. As Richard Chin of the PiPress needs to remind everyone other than groupies of The World’s Loudest Band: “Fans of the rock mockumentary ‘This is Spinal Tap’ have declared 11-11-11 to be Nigel Tufnel Day, in honor of the scene in which the band’s lead guitarist notes that the volume knobs on most amplifiers have a maximum level labeled 10, but his go up to 11, so they’re that much better. … Nov. 11, of course, is also Veterans Day in the United States and Remembrance Day in Canada, the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries. The date was honored earlier as Armistice Day, commemorating ‘the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month’ of 1918 when the ceasefire ending World War I commenced. Among the Veterans Day events Friday will be a ceremony at 11 a.m. at the First Shot Memorial at the state Capitol sponsored by the Twin Cities chapter of Veterans for Peace.”

This, of course, isn’t a surprise. The AP reports that should the Vikings stadium somehow migrate to downtown Minneapolis, the contribution the team will make to build … will significantly decrease: “Vikings owner Zygi Wilf tells The Associated Press that the team would significantly drop its financial contribution to a new stadium if it is built in Minneapolis instead of its preferred site in the suburbs. … ‘We’re committed to the Arden Hills site for what it brings to the fans, but we’re also committed to investing over $400 million in specific to the Arden Hills site for the experiences that everyone can get from Arden Hills,’ Wilf told The Associated Press in an interview. ‘Any other location besides Arden Hills wouldn’t justify near that level of commitment.’ ”

Meanwhile, Ramsey County and the feds have reached an agreement for that Arden Hills land. At the Strib, Rochelle Olson writes: “Ramsey County commissioners announced Thursday a tentative deal to buy the proposed Minnesota Vikings stadium site in Arden Hills from the federal government, giving that plan a much-needed boost — if the money can be found to do it. Commissioners Tony Bennett and Rafael Ortega sent a letter to Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders saying that the price won’t top the budgeted $30 million for the property, including further pollution cleanup. They said that ‘should alleviate concerns’ about unknown acquisition and remediation costs. The 430-acre site at the northeast corner of Hwys. 10 and 96 is the largest Superfund site in the state and the biggest chunk of undeveloped land in the Twin Cities.”

Tim Nelson’s MPR story says, “There’s a second clause as well: the county says it has a fixed price quote from ‘an experienced local contractor with substantial experience on the TCAAP property’ that ‘caps the demolition, hazardous waste abatement and remediation costs at a dollar amount that is significantly less than the amount of credit available to the County against the GSA’s proposed price.’ And finally, the letter says that the offer commits the cleanup contractor to have the stadium footprint available within 9 months of signing a contract.”

The PiPress kind of got stiffed on its survey of legislator opinions on the stadium debate: “Gov. Mark Dayton has said it is now up to lawmakers to come up with a stadium plan that can get enough votes to pass, which led the Pioneer Press to survey the state’s senators and representatives directly on the key issues involved. Among the 3 percent of lawmakers who responded so far, using a sports memorabilia tax and electronic pulltabs to fund a stadium got strong support. Arden Hills got two votes as the best stadium site; the Farmers Market and Metrodome each got one. Acting in a special session and in the regular session each got one vote, and two lawmakers said they didn’t care when the issue was taken up. Those responding were Sens. Linda Higgins, DFL-Minneapolis and Carla Nelson, R-Rochester; and Republican Reps. Jim Abeler of Anoka and Bud Nornes of Fergus Falls along with Democratic Reps. Bev Scalze of Little Canada and Alice Hausman of St. Paul.” I blame deer hunting season.

I’m sorry. I missed this from Wednesday. The Chairman had his wrists slapped by Catharine Richert, MPR’s PoliGraph fact-checker: “Candidate attacks on earmarks and wasteful government spending are standard election year fodder. Opponents often accuse incumbents of loading up on pet pork projects with taxpayer dollars. A recent example is an Oct. 21 press release sent by the Republican Party of Minnesota regarding DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s spending record: ‘Since she took office, Sen. Klobuchar has grazed at every opportunity at the federal funding buffet heaping her plate with tasty treats like $6 million for a snowmaking machine in Duluth and $1.2 million to build a bike trail to Target Field. In all she’s supported over $1 trillion (with a “t”) in stimulus spending.’ ‘It was bad enough that past stimulus bills included things like bike trails and snowmaking facilities,’ GOP Chair Tony Sutton goes on to say. There’s a bit of truth to this claim. But it’s been distorted to the point of making it false. … The stimulus bill did not include earmarks, which are pots of funding meant for specific pet projects in lawmakers’ districts (though critics argue that some of the stimulus funding was specific enough, such as dollars to buy green vehicles, to be considered earmark-like). It’s true that Hennepin County got about $1.2 million in stimulus dollars to extend an existing bike trail to Target Field in downtown Minneapolis. But, unlike the GOP’s claim implies, Klobuchar did not request the money for the specific project. Rather, the state got a share of a $1.5 billion pot of stimulus money meant to fund transportation projects nationwide. … So, aside from the ‘aye’ vote she cast in favor of the bill, Klobuchar had no control over specific projects supported by the stimulus bill.” Has either party ever done any research on who believes these claims?

I believe blogger Sally Jo Sorensen at “Bluestem Prairie” had her antenna up first on this one. But now Mark Steil at MPR is looking at the impact of the bankruptcy of ex-Jersey Gov. (and ex- Goldman Sachs exec) Jon Corzine’s MF Global investment fund: “The bankruptcy has frozen funds the grain traders say they need to stay in business. The 10 days since MF Global filed bankruptcy have been one of the toughest stretches ever in Chuck Mastel’s nearly 40 years in business. His Minneapolis company, Mastel Grain, was an MF Global customer. Mastel said when the New York securities dealer went belly up, nearly $10 million of his customers’ money was instantly tied up in bankruptcy court. Normally, his customers would use that pool of money to buy and sell grain futures. ‘We’re almost completely shut down,’ Mastel said. ‘Our customer funds are completely frozen with MF Global and we’re just unable to do any business until those funds are released.’ Mastel calls the situation unprecedented. He said the customers’ money does not belong to MF Global and should be released back to them by the bankruptcy court.”

Earlier, Tom Weber at the PiPress had looked at the impact still further down the food chain: “Bob Zelenka, executive director of Minnesota Grain and Feed, said 86 percent of the money in affected commodity accounts has been released but that plenty of worries remain. ‘We’re still frustrated, and we still have a lot of concerns about recovering 100 percent of our money,’ Zelenka said, ‘but they were certainly reassuring that they’re doing everything they can do [to] find the rightful owner and get it returned.’ Zelenka said that as far as he knows, ‘it’s a limited number of (Minnesota) elevators that are affected, but the amount of money at stake is pretty large.’ The Minnesotans involved in the mess are innocent victims, Zelenka said. The collapse of MF Global was triggered by the company’s disastrous bet on high-risk European debt. Commodity futures accounts should have been isolated from those problems, but that’s not what happened.” Uh, no. That is not what happened.

They do work, you know. Paul Walsh of the Strib reports: “More than four in 10 vehicle occupants killed on Minnesota roads from 2008 to 2010 were not wearing seat belts, the state Department of Public Safety said on Thursday. … In the three years, 932 vehicle occupants were killed in crashes; 409 — or 44 percent — of those were not buckled up. The state also highlighted the 20 counties where the highest percentage of vehicle fatalities involved occupants who didn’t buckle up. The list was dominated by sparsely populated counties with few total fatalities.”

Comments (8)

  1. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 11/11/2011 - 07:58 am.

    “In the three years, 932 vehicle occupants were killed in crashes; 409 — or 44 percent — of those were not buckled up.”

    So 523 people, or 56% wore their seat belts and died anyway.

  2. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 11/11/2011 - 08:27 am.

    “ ‘…we’re also committed to investing over $400 million in specific to the Arden Hills site for the experiences that everyone can get from Arden Hills,’ Wilf told The Associated Press in an interview. ‘Any other location besides Arden Hills wouldn’t justify near that level of commitment.’ ”

    …because we wouldn’t be able to build the hotels, bars and restaurants to provide those “experiences” from which we’d be able to profit through the generous donation of taxpayer dollars by officials of both parties and many political persuasions.

  3. Submitted by Dimitri Drekonja on 11/11/2011 - 08:55 am.

    Dennis- it’s fairly simple to do a statistical calculation to see if there is a difference in the 85% rate of overall seatbelt use in MN, and the 56% use among those who died. If you assume 2 million drivers, the 2×2 table is:
    409/523
    300,000/1,700,000

    Plug that into any test of proportions: p value is <.001, meaning highly highly unlikely difference is due to chance alone. But, data never seems to bother you.

  4. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 11/11/2011 - 09:03 am.

    Just in case this is the only stadium-story-of-the-day column, I’ll stick my comments here. We see at almost any college that football is more important than education. We see at Penn state that football is more important than the safety of children. We are now seeing that in Minnesota, the same legislature that balanced its budget on the backs of our schools and the disadvantaged will find a way to build a new shrine to football for a billion dollars. To me there is little moral difference between Doug Grow (sorry, guy) and the idiots who were rioting over Paterno’s dismissal. The only difference is in degree. Anyone, I mean that, who puts a new stadium ahead of health care for the poor, support for schools and other worthwhile programs is culpable in the domination of sports over basic human morality.

    They don’t need a new stadium to play the game, they need it as a monetary shrine. Penn State didn’t need to allow children to be raped in order to have a “winning” program; there are plenty of coaches. Dayton sucking up to Wilf is little better than the coach who walked away from a kid being raped in the shower. In public they give lip service to integrity but in the dark their craven hearts show true.

  5. Submitted by Hudson Leighton on 11/11/2011 - 09:05 am.

    932 people died in total.

    523 people died that used the automobiles safety systems.

    409 people died that DID NOT use the automobiles safety system.

    The unknown is how many of those 409 died that would have survived if they had utilized the automobiles safety system. But it would have been at least one.

  6. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 11/11/2011 - 09:35 am.

    I can’t help but wonder how many of those who are now being damaged by the collapse of MF Global have fought tooth and nail against any and all kinds of regulation of commodities traders and commodities trading,

    a system in which speculation on the part of people who have too much money and who have nothing to do with the commodities involved taking risky bets in the hope of great rewards,…

    bets which currently leave the price of commodities largely divorced from the cost of production.

    THIS situation is exactly what we get every time we let the “I PROMISE you’ll get amazing rewards,” speculative, snake oil investment folks run the system in ways which place no limits on their willingness to reward themselves handsomely for placing those risky bets with large amounts of other people’s money (even when they lose).

    As always, the people responsible will skip off with large amounts of money to do the same in other far-too-poorly-regulated investment companies.

    Meanwhile, I predict a congressional bill to bail out any fat cats who got burned (while ignoring the local “farmer’s elevator”-type investors, some of whom will be forced into bankruptcy and shutdown themselves).

  7. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 11/11/2011 - 09:43 am.

    Excellent math and innuendo skills by Mr Tester.

  8. Submitted by Mark Stromseth on 11/11/2011 - 02:07 pm.

    The sorry display of leadership taking place in the debate over a new Vikings stadium is only exacerbated by the lack of honesty by both the Wilfs and the media.

    Doesn’t anyone remember just a few weeks ago that our local media reported the Wilfs’ oft-touted contribution of $400 million really consisted of up to $150 million directly from the NFL? That means the Wilfs are not contributing $400 million for their desired shrine, and never were.

    So why does the media fail to report the honest numbers in subsequent stories? They can’t claim ignorance, because they reported it previously.

    The Wilfs’ contribution would be a mere $250 million, and the taxpayers are expected to pony up the rest for their $1.1 billion plus shrine to themselves, where they would get all the revenue.

    Nice deal if you can get it.
    And you can get it—if you try.

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