Today in Bachmannia: To the surprise of … well, no one … it wasn’t a good night for Our Favorite Congresswoman. Although her sixth- (out of seven) place finish — she did beat a guy who didn’t campaign in Iowa — may have been the surprise she promised. Her former campaign manager, Ed Rollins, popped up on FoxNews, saying it was time for her to bow out. Luke Johnson’s Huffington Post story says: “Rollins said she should quit the race Tuesday night on Fox News, amid early returns showing her finishing sixth in the Iowa caucus. ‘At the end of the day she didn’t quite pass the muster that she needed to be looked at as a credible candidate,’ he said. ‘I think if she goes on she’s just going to go into debt,’ he said, adding that she had ‘no organization’ in New Hampshire. ‘She’d be better off to endorse somebody today. She’s not going to take my counsel, but I think at the end of the day don’t go in debt.’ … Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin also gave a frank assessment of Bachmann’s campaign prospects on Fox News Tuesday night. ‘I just don’t see a way to progress her campaign to become the top tier candidate,’ she said.”
And in the category of “You Can’t Get Much Lower,” Our Gal’s erstwhile adviser, Donald Trump, issued a royal tweet, picked up by FoxNews: “Trump, who is famous for firing his apprentice candidates, sent the same message to Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) in a tweet late Tuesday afternoon, just hours before the Iowa caucuses.
‘Michele Bachmann will finish dead last tonight in Iowa because she is disloyal and a terrible boss. Sadly, it is over for Michele,’ [according to] the tweet from Trump’s official Twitter handle @realDonaldTrump.”
“Healthy gains” is the term applied to Minnesota’s manufacturing sector by a new study. Annie Baxter of MPR writes: “In December, Minnesota’s index climbed to 56.9, up from 54.7 in November. A score above 50 indicates growth. December marked the 26th straight month that factories in the state signaled expansion. Durable goods manufacturers have noted healthy gains over the past few months, while non-durable goods producers, such as food manufacturers, have suffered somewhat of a slowdown. Employment ranked as the weakest component of the Minnesota index last month. Creighton University economics professor Ernie Goss says overall employment in Minnesota’s manufacturing sector is expected to have finished up 2011 with a growth rate of 0.4 percent. In 2012, that growth rate is projected to triple.”
First-term GOP Rep. King Banaian is a professor of economics at St. Cloud State. Conrad Wilson of MPR checks out his thinking on public subsidies for football stadiums: “Like many economists, Banaian, a professor in the economics department of St. Cloud State University, believes money fans spend on sports entertainment would get spent elsewhere in the region in the absence of a team. ‘The economics of it are pretty clear in my mind that most public stadiums do not provide enough benefit for the cost that we put in,’ he said. ‘For the most part the costs are pretty substantial. They’ve risen recently … and the public benefits are often quite overstated by the proponents of stadiums.’ But in at least one respect, Banaian isn’t like most other economists. As a first-term state lawmaker, he could have to vote on a stadium-financing bill in the upcoming session. That means he’ll also have to weigh the views of constituents, even those swayed by emotion.”
Meanwhile, score one, or 0.10 for the pro-Arden Hills forces. Rochelle Olson of the Strib reports, “One of the biggest supporters of an Arden Hills stadium for the Minnesota Vikings became chairman of the Ramsey County Board on Tuesday. The six colleagues of Rafael Ortega, in a routine rotation of the chairmanship, unanimously elected him for the next two years. He replaces Victoria Reinhardt, an opponent of a taxpayer-subsidized stadium. … The re-election of Mike Opat as chairman of Hennepin County Board later Tuesday means two stadium proponents lead the counties vying for a new Vikings stadium.”
The Strib picks up a New York Times opinion piece by Rahm Emanuel’s brother, Ezekiel, and Steven D. Pearson critical of the Mayo Clinic’s venture into proton beam cancer therapy. “If you want to know what is wrong with American health care today, exhibit A might be the two new proton beam treatment facilities the Mayo Clinic has begun building, one in Minnesota, the other in Arizona, at a cost of more than $180 million dollars each. They are part of a medical arms race for proton beam machines, which could cost taxpayers billions of dollars for a treatment that, in many cases, appears to be no better than cheaper alternatives. … Because it’s competing against Massachusetts General Hospital, M.D. Anderson in Texas, the University of Pennsylvania, Loma Linda in California — all of which have one. With Medicare reimbursement so generous, and patients and doctors eager for the latest technology, building new machines is sane, profitable business for hospitals like Mayo. But it is crazy medicine and unsustainable public policy.”
In the constantly conflicting realm of real estate/construction trends, Jim Buchta of the Strib reports: “Construction spending in the U.S. hit a 17-month high during November as residential development showed signs of strength, according to census data released Tuesday. Overall spending rose 1.2 percent from this past October and 0.5 percent from November 2010. Most notable was single-family spending, which jumped 1.5 percent from October. Mark Vitner and Anika Khan, economists for Wells Fargo Securities, called the increases in single-family construction ‘impressive.’ While home building has fallen drastically in the past few years, many Twin Cities builders have said interest in new construction has picked up as housing inventory dwindled.”
The Vikings’ elevation of Rick Spielman to full-fledged GM (or so we’re told) isn’t going over well with the likes of PiPress columnist Tom Powers. He writes: “Coming off a disastrous season and facing an increasingly disillusioned fan base, Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf needed to make a bold statement. And on Tuesday, they did: ‘We are idiots.’ Actually, we were all starting to figure that out for ourselves. But their actions Tuesday simply confirmed the notion. Hiring Rick Spielman as general manager was about as inspiring as 28 floors worth of elevator music. Plus, Spielman was sort of like the general manager anyway. And look where the team is today. I’ll bet the season ticket hot lines are on fire.”
Christopher Magan of the PiPress covers the abrupt closing of a St. Paul charter school: “Students from General John Vessey Jr. Leadership Academy are hunting for new schools after their 8-year-old charter high school abruptly closed over Christmas break after running out of money. … School officials cited a combination of factors that forced the closure. Leadership and staffing turnover caused enrollment to fall from more than 100 students in 2007 to about 50 this school year. The decline hurt a budget already stressed by the delay of large portions of the school’s state aid that lawmakers used to balance Minnesota’s budget. ‘It all has an impact,’ said Jeff Meyer, chairman of the school’s board. ‘Charter schools are under a lot of stresses these days.’ The fiscal difficulties encountered by Vessey are squeezing charter schools across the state as they struggle to find ways to bridge the funding gap that delayed 40 percent of their funding this budget cycle. Most charters were forced to use private financing.” … Which can support local banks.