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Minneapolis City Council to hold hearing and stadium vote April 24

Rep. Gottwalt laments Obama statement; rural medical residency program squeezed; “DNA samples” plan controversial; college debt concerns aired; and more.

April 24 will be an interesting day at Minneapolis City Hall. Eric Roper of the Strib writes: “Council Member Gary Schiff announced in a newsletter Monday that a public hearing will be held on April 24. It will include a key vote on whether the Council endorses redirecting convention center taxes to fund a stadium as a legislative priority. Rybak has taken his proposal to the Council’s Committee of the Whole twice, but not since the bill was introduced at the State Capitol. Neither of the previous hearings included a vote or public testimony. Schiff said each speaker will have two minutes to testify before the Intergovernmental Relations Subcommittee, which includes all members of the Council. The committee will then decide whether to amend the city’s lobbying agenda to include formal support for the plan. That will be the first test of whether Rybak’s seven letters of support translate into seven votes.”

At least one Minnesota Republican finds President Obama’s statement lamenting this state’s gay marriage amendment “unfortunate.” At the Strib, Pam Louwagie writes: “Rep. Steve Gottwalt, R-St. Cloud, one of the House supporters of the marriage amendment, said he was ‘disappointed’ in the Obama campaign statement. ‘Frankly, I think it’s unfortunate that the president of the United States is getting involved in a state issue,’ Gottwalt said, ‘but that’s certainly his right.’ Gottwalt said he objects to the idea that the amendment is being framed as anti-gay marriage. He said the amendment simply would enshrine the idea that marriage should be a union between a man and a woman. ‘The idea that this is an attack on anyone is just incorrect,’ he said. ‘It’s called the marriage amendment. What this really is about is marriage, and Minnesotans ought to have the right to say what that means to them.’ ” I’ll give Mr. Gottwalt the benefit of the doubt and assume he actually knows someone who believes that.

What’s the line about no good deed going unpunished? It comes to mind reading John Lundy’s Duluth News Tribune story about a program to steer more doctors to rural areas: “A medical residency program in the heart of Duluth that trains future doctors to work in rural areas is being squeezed by decreasing funding and increased regulation, its director said. … State Sen. Roger Reinert, DFL-Duluth, tried last week to steer money toward the Duluth program and similar programs in St. Cloud and Mankato but was unsuccessful. Reinert offered an amendment on the Senate floor on Thursday to appropriate $6.4 million to Medical Education Research Costs, which helps pay for the programs. Reinert would have used a portion of the $73 million in health-care savings returned to taxpayers because of a voluntary 1 percent cap on 2011 profits agreed to last year between Commissioner of Human Services Lucinda Jesson and four major insurers, he said in a news release. The federal government would have matched the appropriation dollar for dollar, Reinert’s news release said. Reinert’s amendment to the Health and Human Services Finance bill was defeated. … The program, which has a $6 million budget, has a staff of six doctors, a social worker and a diabetes educator, but also uses faculty from the community, some of whom serve without pay, [Dr. Roger Waage, program director of the Duluth Family Medical Residency Program] said. People apply for the program because they are interested in serving away from cities, and about 80 percent ultimately do, he said. The residents learn skills that are particularly in demand in rural areas, such as the ability to perform Caesarean sections.”

The devil is always in the details with these ideas … The AP story says: “Gov. Scott Walker said Monday he plans to revive a contentious proposal to require police to collect DNA samples from suspects upon arrest in at least some felony and sex cases in his next state budget. Walker offered few details on the plan, including what specific crimes would trigger DNA collection, saying only ‘some felonies and serious sex-related offenses.’ He said he would ask Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen to develop the logistics. Depending on the number of qualifying offenses, the plan could add tens of thousands of DNA profiles to the state’s database. Walker said the move would help identify suspects quickly and save money by shortening investigations. But it also could cost millions of dollars and raise new questions about government invasion of privacy in Wisconsin.” We would also like to know, for example, if Wisconsin has upgraded loudly protesting union-busting to a felony?

Gary Gilson, former executive director of The Minnesota News Council, reflects, in the Strib, on the passing of news icon Mike Wallace, saying: “Unlike most powerful figures in the news business, he came to embrace public accountability for the news media. That’s why he agreed to help raise money for our News Council. His normal speaking engagement brought him as much as $50,000. For us, he did it for no fee. … Mike told me privately that if the complaint Northwest Airlines had filed with the News Council against WCCO-TV’s I-Team report on airline safety ever came to a public hearing, ‘60 Minutes’ would come out to cover it. That did happen, and Mike’s report ran for about 14 minutes. Months later I found out that to get the story on the air Mike had to battle with the program’s executive producer, Don Hewitt, who didn’t want the story; he didn’t believe in the idea of a news council. But Wallace fought hard — even against his old friend the boss — because Mike did believe, passionately, in the news media’s responsibility to live up to the same standard of accountability that they insist upon from the people they cover.”

A few college kids had the opportunity to take their tuition complaints to the top. Jenna Ross at the Strib reports: “[Jinaa] Lane was one of a dozen students who told their stories Monday to local officials and a U.S. senator during a roundtable on college affordability at the University of Minnesota. Together, their tales underscored the increasing indebtedness of students, many of whom are turning to parents, private loans and long work weeks to pay the escalating cost of college. … Student loan debt is swelling, and Minnesota students are among the most indebted. The state’s college students who graduated in 2010 and borrowed had an average of $29,058 in student loan debt — the fourth-highest average in the country, according to an annual report by the Project on Student Debt. Minnesota also ranked fifth in the proportion of students with debt, at 71 percent. Those numbers do not include students at for-profit universities. The average debt load at the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus is closer to $ 27,500 — a number that is ‘too high,’ said U President Eric Kaler.”

Experiencing a hot flash? Reach for the soy. Elizabeth Dunbar at MPR reports: “Certain soy supplements could help menopausal women experiencing hot flashes, according to new research from the University of Minnesota. The study published in the journal Menopause looked at 19 past studies on soy isoflavone supplements and summarized and analyzed their results. Individually, those studies didn’t prove the supplements could reduce hot flashes, but researchers say the summary results from 1,200 women show a positive link. ‘The main take-home message is that soy supplements and isoflavone supplements in particular — these are the extracts — do exert some benefit on hot flashes, that women should try it and see if they feel some benefit’, said Mindy Kurzer, a U of M food science and nutrition researcher.”

If you’re skeptical that the Vikings could easily pack up and get to a shiny new stadium in Los Angeles, Neil de Mause is following the machinations in LaLa Land and says: “AEG owner Philip Anschutz now says he’s willing to buy an NFL team if that’s what it takes to get a stadium built in downtown Los Angeles. Which isn’t really big news given that his original plan was to buy 50% of a team, and that his offer is still contingent on getting a “reasonable” deal with the NFL — read, something that lets him pay his stadium bills and still turn a profit — which would likely mean getting a team at a cut-rate price, which is what the NFL (and team owners) have been objecting to since last fall. Anschutz lieutenant Tim Leiweke threw out a stick to go along with the carrot, as well, saying that AEG is exploring plans to just expand the Los Angeles Convention Center without a stadium if no NFL deal can be reached. Which means one of two things:

  • The whole NFL stadium thing was a dodge to get the city of L.A. to go along with redevelopment near AEG’s L.A. Live complex, as was rumored last week.
  • Or, this is all just a negotiating ploy to get the NFL to cave on its demands and cough up a team on the cheap, in exchange for … forcing football fans in the lucrative L.A. market to watch the local team no matter how crappy, and face blackouts if they don’t buy enough tickets?”  When it comes to the NFL selling anything, the words “on the cheap” never apply.

“Mr. D” at Mr. Dilettante’s Neighborhood amuses himself with other purely symbolic actions Gov. Dayton might take, as he did in vetoing the GOP’s Voter ID bill: “He’s a deeply silly man, our governor, but considering this is the state that elected a professional rassler to be governor not that long ago, it’s hardly surprising that we now find a man at the helm who is exercising imaginary power. In fact, in order to add greater fairness, social justice and goodwill to the commonweal, Gov. Dayton has decided to also use his imaginary power to handle a series of other issues that have heretofore proved intractable. …
12.  Providing a posthumous pardon to Johnny Cash for “shooting a man in Reno just to watch him die.”
11.  Issuing a symbolic executive order changing the name of Dayton, Ohio to Prettner Solon, Ohio, in order to appear self-deprecating. Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon will then appear in the newly renamed Ohio city, marking the first time she has been seen in public since November, 2010. …
3.  Appearing in a production of ‘Cabaret’ at the Chanhassen Dinner Theater with ex-wife Alita [sic] Messinger, with the highlight being a show-stopping performance of the ‘Money Song.’
2. Directing Zygi Wilf to give naming rights to the new ‘People’s Stadium’ to Education Minnesota honcho Tom Dooher.”