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Interesting timing on Zygi Wilf’s $19M Park Avenue digs

MORNING EDITION ALSO: Google CEO happy with his plan; student aid seems safe at for-profit colleges; metro school districts borrowing big; maybe a Bachmann “gaffe”; and more.
Read Wed. Afternoon Edition


Park Avenue. Very nice, Zygi. And only $19 million. Oh, and might I say, “Excellent timing, sir.” Jim Ragsdale of the Strib writes: “Minnesota Vikings team owner Zygi Wilf has purchased a $19 million luxury apartment in one of new York city’s most prestigious Park Avenue co-ops. The purchase surfaced in the New York Observer newspaper on the same day Vikings team officials were at the Minnesota State Capitol, making their case for a new stadium that would require a public subsidy. The paper, which closely tracks super-high-end real-estate transactions, reported that Wilf and his wife, Audrey, purchased a full-floor, four-bedroom apartment at one of New York City’s finer addresses on the Upper East Side. … known as 778 Park, [the building] has been home to such luminaries as the late philanthropist Brooke Astor, fashion designer Vera Wang and the late conservative writer William F. Buckley. It is two blocks from Central Park and less than a mile from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The previous owners of the Wilfs’ unit were identified by the newspaper as victims of Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.”

I’m happy that advertising is working so well … for Google. The uber-tech company’s CEO was in town Wednesday. Martin Moylan’s  MPR story says: “Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, speaking in Minneapolis Wednesday, said the company will get the vast majority of its revenue from advertising for years to come. And he says that means Gmail, YouTube, and other online applications and services from Google will remain free. ‘I’m sure it will,’ Schmidt said during a forum at the University of Minnesota. ‘You never say ‘never’ or ‘always.’ But our model of Google apps as a free service for universities and the average consumer is working really well for us.’ Schmidt said advertising revenue makes everything click for Google. ‘We love advertising,’ he said.” If only newspapers and the rest were so lucky.

According to a Tim Post story at MPR, lawmakers aren’t exactly zero-ing in on cutting off student aid to for-profit colleges. “As the state continues to struggle financially, lawmakers say they may look at cutting financial aid for students who attend for-profit colleges — but at this point the issue isn’t high on their to-do list. Minnesota is one of the most generous states in the country when it comes to providing financial aid to students at for-profit colleges. … In recent years, there’s been a growing debate over whether students who attend private for-profit colleges, like Globe University, should receive financial aid from the taxpayer-funded program. ‘The fundamental flaw is that the state shouldn’t be subsidizing profit for institutions,’ said Aaron Klemz, who writes about higher education issues on the Cucking Stool blog. He’s also a faculty member at state-funded Century College in White Bear Lake.”

We knew it was going to be bad. Jake Grovum at Politics in Minnesota writes: “More than 60 percent of metro-area school districts surveyed will be forced into short-term borrowing to meet their financial obligations this school year, according to new findings from the Association of Metropolitan School Districts. The survey (pdf) found 24 of the 46 districts surveyed by the association will need to borrow, a significant increase over the 15 districts that borrowed last year, the AMSD says. It’s projected districts will need to borrow $382 million with interest costs of $3 million this school year. The ASMD release doesn’t mince words when it comes to the reason for the  borrowing: ‘The increase in the number of districts borrowing is a reflection of the education bill approved during the July special session which increased the education aid payment shift to an unprecedented 60/40 payment schedule.’ ” But don’t fret, the job creators will be here any minute to save the day.

Today in Bachmannia: I’m not sure what Our Gal was doing during that unpleasantness with the Ayatollah and the student radicals and the 52 American hostages in Tehran way back when. But she seems to have missed a key element in that story. Says Thomas Lane at Talking Points Memo: “Bachmann responded to the recent raiding of the British embassy in Iran, by saying that if she was President, she would close down the U.S. embassy there. There’s just one problem: The U.S. has not had an embassy in Iran ever since the Iranian hostage crisis, when revolutionaries from the budding Islamic state held 52 Americans for 444 days. … So, a gaffe it is, and one that’s particularly ironic coming after Bachmann’s recent media push in which she has tried to bill herself as a safe pair of hands, saying, ‘I haven’t had a gaffe.’ Update: The Bachmann team pushed back fairly quickly on this one, issuing a press release at 9:11pm Eastern. They claim her words were taken out of context, however neither the campaign nor anyone else has yet provided a transcript of her remarks. That would help clear things up.” Or not.

The stew is getting thicker in the matter of the Minneapolis impound lot hanging on to money rightfully owed owners of towed vehicles. Says the Strib’s Matt McKinney: “Managers of the Minneapolis impound lot were informed as far back as 2009 that the city was keeping money from vehicle auctions that belonged to the vehicles’ former owners. Yet not until the Star Tribune inquired about the practice last month did officials say they would notify the owners of auctioned vehicles if they have cash owed to them. Under state law, any surplus revenue from the auctions of impounded vehicles should be held for 90 days for the former owners, but this year the city kept an estimated $149,400 in unclaimed funds. The notification policy won’t go into effect for another six weeks, city officials say.”

“No brainer” seems about right. This morning’s Strib editorial commends 1st District Congressman Tim Walz for raising a stink about insider trading by fellow Congresspeople: “[A] move Tuesday by the House Ethics Committee should prompt even more of the southern Minnesota Democrat’s colleagues to support an overdue no-brainer of a bill — the STOCK Act — that would prevent members of Congress from profiting from their privileged, in-the-know perches on Capitol Hill. In particular, we’d like to see Minnesota’s Republican House delegation — John Kline, Erik Paulsen, Michele Bachmann and Chip Cravaack — strongly back this bill. Their absence among the bill’s 131 bipartisan cosponsors is conspicuous and out-of-touch when congressional approval ratings are in the tank.” Somehow, this, too, must a “class warfare” assault on the job creators. The state’s Democratic House delegation — Collin Peterson, Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum — has signed on, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar is a co-sponsor of companion legislation in the Senate.

The readers of the popular Power Line blog are a world unto themselves. Apparently John Hinderaker saw enough value in the analysis of one that he dropped him into a post. A snippet from “a longtime reader”: “Cain’s downfall will raise interesting questions for anti-establishment, hard-core conservative Republicans. Until recently, Cain was the favorite of such voters. That status, had he maintained it, would have propelled him to a strong showing, and possibly a victory, in Iowa. … after Iowa, Cain might have nearly cornered the market on this category of voter, making him a strong force in South Carolina and beyond. If Cain is now a non-factor, to whom his anti-establishment, hard-core conservative supporters turn? One possibility is that they will coalesce around Bachmann, Santorum, or Perry, thereby reviving one of these candidates (most likely Bachmann, at least in Iowa). … A third possibility is that anti-establishment, hard-core conservative Republicans will opt in large numbers to vote for one of the front-runners — Romney or Gingrich — despite the fact that neither is an anti-establishment, hard-core conservative. This approach would represent something of a reversal of form for this voting cohort, but perhaps not an unreasonable one. For, it would enable anti-establishment, hard conservative Republicans to have a decisive say in selecting the nominee. And in this scenario, it seems to me, that nominee would likely be Newt Gingrich. Whether this scenario comes to pass depends on (a) the extent to which anti-establishment, hard-core conservatives consider Gingrich more anti-establishment and hard-core conservative than Romney and (b) the extent to which these voters are willing to overlook Gingrich’s electability problems. Since Gingrich seems at least as electable as Cain, there’s no reason to think that electability in itself will be a stumbling block for the former Speaker, as far as ex-Cain supporters are concerned. However, contemplation of some of the personal shortcomings that underlie voter antipathy towards Gingrich may give some of them pause. As to the comparative conservatism of Gingrich and Romney, neither can plausibly claim to be anti-establishment or reliably hardcore. … unlike Romney, Gingrich was at his most conservative at precisely the time when he was most influential, and thus can point to conservative accomplishments. Second, Gingrich is more likely than Romney to have strongly believed his positions — be they conservative or moderate — at the time he espoused them. This, I suspect, is a tribute to the fact that Gingrich, the intellectual, tends to fall in love with ideas, whereas Romney, the manager, does not.” But is he as reliably hard-core when he falls out of love with them as he is when he falls into love with them — in an anti-establishment way, I mean?

Dave Zweifel of Madison’s Capital Times writes about Gov. Scott Walker’s PolitiFact troubles:[A]t the end of October, the [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel] had checked statements and claims made by Scott Walker some 36 times this past year. The score on those 36 is: five true, three mostly true, four half-true, seven mostly false, 14 false and three pants on fire. Then, just this past Sunday, PolitiFact rated another Walker claim — that most school districts have maintained staffs despite his cuts — as false. … it’s rather amusing these days to hear the governor now claim that his over-the-top policies enacted earlier this year ‘are working’ for the people of Wisconsin. Since the job creation front hasn’t lived up to his predictions, the ‘open for business’ mantra of earlier this year seems to have given way to the ‘it’s working’ claim.The claim is apparently based on a handful of school districts reporting that they’ve been able to hold the line on spending because the teachers unions have been eviscerated. Most educators, however, are experiencing difficulties maintaining the quality of education in their districts and point out that it’s way too early to announce a verdict on whether the Walker agenda has made their finances better or worse. Now that his recall is under way, Walker has also been insisting that no one should have been surprised when he announced that his budget would effectively destroy public union collective bargaining in Wisconsin, claiming that anyone following his campaign would have known. As one blogger noted recently, had that been the case, Walker never would have been elected governor in the first place. The truth is that Walker disguised his anti-union agenda until he was safely in office. And PolitiFact agreed earlier this year when it failed to uncover any such Walker pronouncement — another of the false ratings.”