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Feds see Anoka-Hennepin plan as national model

DNR unhappy with school trust plan; Dinkytown hit-and-run driver convicted; local ad reaction to Limbaugh; new “old” weather records; and more.

The feds are happy with the settlements in the Anoka-Hennepin gay/bullying episode. Says the AP: “A settlement with Minnesota’s largest school district over the harassment and bullying of students who are gay, or perceived to be gay, should serve as a model for other schools in the U.S., federal officials said Tuesday. The Anoka-Hennepin School Board agreed Monday night to strengthen the district’s efforts to prevent sex-based harassment. Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Brooker told reporters during a conference call Tuesday that several provisions that are part of the settlement shouldn’t cost much for other school districts to adapt, such as conducting anti-bullying surveys; creating a committee of students, parents and teachers to discuss what’s working and what’s not; identifying ‘hot spots’ on school grounds and on buses that need better supervision; and peer leadership training. Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for the civil rights division at the U.S. Justice Department, said districts can seek federal dollars and free training and technical help from the Department of Education.”

A phone survey here in the state shows that a significant number of people regaining employment after the worst of the recession are not getting health insurance with it. Says Lorna Benson at MPR: “Minnesota’s uninsured rate in 2011 remained essentially unchanged at 9.1 percent, despite improvements in the state’s job picture. ‘Whatever recovery has occurred in the labor market has not come with jobs that provide employer coverage,’ said Stefan Gildemeister, the state health economist. ‘Or, if new jobs with employer coverage were added to the economy, we may have lost employer coverage elsewhere.’ The number of employers who offer health coverage has remained essentially the same. But Gildemeister said fewer people were eligible for coverage and fewer employees decided to opt-in to employer-sponsored plans — possibly due to stagnant or reduced wages.”

An item worth watching on the radar … Don Davis of the Forum papers reports: “Commissioner Tom Landwehr told the House Education Finance Committee Tuesday that his department manages 3 million other acres and a proposal to establish a new agency for so-called school trust lands would just make for a larger government. “When I look at this bill, I see more expenses,” he said. Supporters of the bill complain that the DNR has done a poor job of using the land to make money over the years. Money from sale, mineral leases, timber sales and other uses of the 2.5 million acres is split among all Minnesota public schools. Rep. Denise Dittrich, DFL-Champlin, said that Minnesota schools have lost $400 million in the last 50 years because the lands were not well managed. … Dittrich and other supporters of the change said the DNR has a conflict of interest because it is charged with the job of improving natural resources. They say that a new school land trust fund agency would have a priority of raising money.”

The driver in the Dinkytown hit-and-run case was found guilty of second-degree murder. Dave Hanners’ PiPress story says: “[Timothy] Bakdash, 29, of Roseville was convicted on nine counts in the April 15 Dinkytown hit-and-run that resulted in Ben Van Handel’s death. The most serious count he was convicted of was second-degree murder. By finding that his acts lacked premeditation, though, the jury of six men and six women acquitted Bakdash of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder, the severest charges he faced. A first-degree murder conviction carries a life sentence without hope of release.  … Bakdash, who has a history of substance abuse and treatment dating to age 11, had testified that he and a friend spent the evening getting drunk at the Library Bar, a Dinkytown nightspot.”

A combo of the AP and the Strib’s Mike Kaszuba try to explain the balancing act between a Vikings stadium and the Target Center: “The Minnesota Vikings stadium bill that was promised for Monday is being delayed in part by a politically tricky move to find a way to include financial relief for the Minneapolis-owned Target Center. Negotiators are looking at a package of two legislative proposals — both of which would need to be adopted — in order to gain the votes needed for the $975 million project. Ted Mondale, Gov. Mark Dayton’s point man on the stadium, said on Tuesday that one plan would adopt the details of last week’s agreement but would give Minneapolis express authority to use existing taxes to overhaul Target Center. The other proposal would give the city an exemption from its charter provision capping spending on sports facilities at $10 million. That exemption would allow the city to actually undertake a $135 million remodeling of the aging Target Center. Chuck Lutz, the city’s top development director, said Minneapolis needs both provisions before it would agree to divert $150 million of existing taxes toward building a new stadium.”

A professed Democrat writes a commentary for the Strib arguing against teacher seniority. Says Lynnell Mickelsen, a Minneapolis public school parent and co-founder of Put Kids First Minneapolis: “Our small meeting started off with the governor’s deputy chief of staff, Michelle Kelm Helgen, saying that [Last In First Out] LIFO is not a problem because — listen up, people, great news — ineffective teachers in Minnesota are routinely removed from the classroom within two or three months. So by the time layoffs are announced in April, she went on, there aren’t many ineffective teachers left. They’ve already been removed. Which is why our seniority rules work just fine. As God is my witness, she actually said this. I started to reply that this rosy scenario had not been my experience in Minneapolis. But the governor cut me off, saying that Minneapolis schools were not relevant to this discussion because the district was an abomination, a sea of dysfunction; its school board couldn’t even negotiate a decent contract; it was not like the rest of the state. It was an abomination, he repeated. Which I thought was a bit too biblical. Yes, we have problems, but I didn’t think we were at Book of Revelation levels. As I type this, I’m thinking the governor may have meant ‘aberration.’ ” I’ll expect that to be clarified rather quickly …

The Strib’s Susan Feyder adds some local dimension to the tale of Rush Limbaugh and his advertiser exodus: “The companies parting ways with Rush Limbaugh over the radio host’s latest controversial remarks are following a well-established script for crisis management: Make a brief statement and move on. ‘You don’t have to overelaborate,’ said Matt Kucharski, an executive vice president with the Minneapolis public relations firm Padilla Speer Beardsley. Kucharski said he’s not surprised by the terse explanations issued by most companies announcing they have pulled their advertising from Limbaugh’s show. That includes Plymouth-based Select Comfort Corp., which Friday was among the first to say it was dropping its advertising after Limbaugh said on his show that a Georgetown law student was ‘a slut’ because she advocated female contraception. … Kucharski said companies are aware of the risks of sponsoring shows with hosts like Limbaugh and Stern. ‘Companies have to make the decision to go after a particular demographic, and that can mean advertising on a popular but edgier show. Otherwise they’d all be advertising on programs that are so generic that they don’t offend anybody but also don’t interest anybody. Advertising on ‘Little House on the Prairie’ is not going to reach your key demographic,’ Kucharski said.” And what does local radio management have to say about Limbaugh’s performance?

Weather just got older. The Strib’s Bill McAuliffe writes: “A national effort to make local weather records more consistent dropped the Twin Cities’ all-time low temperature by 7 degrees, from 34 below, in 1936, to 41 below, set in 1888. That’s cold enough to freeze mercury. ‘As if it weren’t bad enough before,’ said Keith Eggleston, a climatologist at the Northeast Regional Climate Center in Ithaca, N.Y., and coordinator of the ThreadEx data project that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) launched several years ago. The lower low is a result of the project extending Twin Cities official records 20 years further back, from 1891 to 1871. ThreadEx isn’t so much about bragging rights as it is about making weather records from around the nation more uniform, Eggleston said.”

You know you’re getting old when something a 19-year-old says matters all that much to the chattering classes. Andrea Swensson of The Current explains the flap over Howler: “Howler’s Jordan Gatesmith decided to throw whatever goodwill he’s accrued in his hometown out the window during a recent interview with the Guardian’s Alexis Petridis. It was a puzzling display, to say the least, and I don’t have much interest in editorializing Gatesmith’s remarks; I thought it’d be best to let him speak for himself. The interview begins with Petridis asking Gatesmith if there is a strong music scene in Minneapolis. ‘I’m so mixed about this. I feel bad like back-talking my city or whatever,’ Gatesmith replies. ‘Feel free — they can’t hear you, man,’ Petridis prods, laughing. ‘I mean, they might.’ ‘Screw ’em,’ Gatesmith scoffs. ‘Yeah, it’s weird, because you know the ’80s saw a great hardcore and punk rock scene, Hüsker Dü kind of being the leaders of it, and the Replacements as well. And Prince was there, which was a whole different thing all together. Completely different. But yeah, I feel like there’s this giant lull period of like 30 years. We had Tapes ‘n Tapes kind of come out for a little bit, so that was kind of interesting, but the scene right now is interesting. It really supports its own bands, like they’ll build up these bands no offense, Minneapolis that I will hate. I will completely hate. But they’ll like sell out the biggest room in Minneapolis.” Like, man, chill. The Plasmatics sold out Zoogies.