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Dayton vetoes ‘teacher seniority’ bill

Veto heightens Capitol tensions; Senser trial aftermath; Zellers says Dayton “disrespectful” of GOP priorities; Minnesota West among best community colleges; and more.

This veto required a bit more mulling than all the others. Jon Collins of MPR reports: “Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed a bill Thursday that would have forced school boards and teachers unions to consider teacher performance when making layoff decisions, rather than just seniority. The bill was described by supporters as a reform of the ‘last in, first out’ system that puts priority on preserving the jobs of senior teachers during layoffs. It passed the State Legislature along largely partisan lines. Dayton wrote in his veto letter Thursday that the bill was just one of many introduced this legislative session that was ‘anti-public schools, anti-public school teachers, or anti-collective bargaining rights.’ … Education Minnesota President Tom Dooher said in a statement that his organization approved of the veto. ‘Instead of tackling the serious challenges facing public education, the Republican majority’s top priority for our schools this session has been to further regulate teacher layoffs,’ Dooher said. ‘The priority should have been making layoffs unnecessary.’ “

At the Strib, Rachel Stassen-Berger writes: “The veto heightens the tension between the DFL governor and the Republican-dominated Legislature. … ‘The governor has dealt a major blow to teachers, schools, students and parents across the state,’ said the proposal’s chief sponsor, Rep. Branden Petersen, R-Andover. Petersen and other supporters met with Dayton repeatedly to urge him to sign the bill. Petersen issued what he called a ‘public apology’ for Dayton’s veto. ‘I am sorry that Governor Dayton chose to side with big-labor special interests and sell out our children’s futures,’ he said. … The measure was also one of the state Chamber of Commerce’s top education priorities. It spent more than $2 million lobbying last year.” What I wonder is whether Rep. Peterson will have to apologize to the ALEC?

Post-verdict, David Hanners at the PiPress writes of the Amy Senser trial’s last day: “As a first-time offender, she faces four years in prison, under state sentencing guidelines. Her attorney, Eric Nelson, promised an appeal and said he’ll ask a judge for a sentence shorter than what the guidelines call for. After the verdict, he said Senser ‘has struggled with her inability’ to talk to Phanthavong’s family about what she maintains was an unfortunate, unavoidable accident. … Even as the verdicts were read in court, they didn’t seem to sink in with the defendant. She stood next to Nelson and didn’t move as [Judge] Mabley set a sentencing date, thanked jurors and told the packed courtroom (whose doors were held open so those standing outside could hear the verdicts) that court was in recess. Senser, who worked in a chiropractic clinic, remained standing, still, for minutes. Finally, Brad Idelkope, Mabley’s law clerk and the one who had read the verdicts into the record, approached her to hand her a copy of the form reminding her when she has to come to court for sentencing.”

Setting up Monday’s big vote on the Vikings stadium, Stassen-Berger (again), writes about Speaker Kurt Zellers’ afternoon news conference: “During the quickly called, tense press conference, Zellers repeatedly addressed not just the crowd of reporters but the union building trades workers who packed the Capitol hearing room to hear the news. During the press conference, Zellers motioned to the construction workers and told them that tax provisions for the Mall of America in an unrelated proposal would likely create better jobs than a Vikings stadium would.  ‘It’s a lot longer project,’ he said as he looked directly at the workers. As he ended the press conference, he said, ‘I’m going to go over and say ‘Thank you.’ Zellers said that the stadium bill was DFL Gov. Mark Dayton’s ‘only priority’ this session, something the governor  denies, but the governor has been ‘disrespectful’ in his treatment of Republicans’ top priorities.” By that, I assume he means gay marriage and Voter ID, right?

Cory Merrifield of has a commentary on our stadium ordeal … in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It’s about what you’d expect. But this part is amusing: “Minnesota won’t host another Super Bowl, Final Four or any other national event without a new stadium. You saw the roof collapse on the Metrodome a year ago. Would you step foot in the building? I sell professional services for one of the largest IT consulting firms in the world. When I speak to people outside Minnesota, they think of three things: The Mall of America, cold weather and the Vikings. Without the Vikings, we are just a cold state with a big mall. Never mind that Minnesota is home to more Fortune 500 companies per capita than any other state. Nowhere in our Constitution is it written that we are entitled to an NFL team. I won’t try to justify the economics of the NFL. They are predatory and absurd. It’s a limited market and we have to pay for a team if we want one.

Stribber Lori Sturdevant writes about the GOP’s late 11th-hour switcheroo(s): “[Gov. Dayton’s] calmer tone Wednesday afternoon, after meeting with the GOP proponents of using general obligation bonds to pay for a stadium, suggested that he no longer doubted the sincerity of the GOP effort.  After Thursday’s quick GOP retreat from their idea, no one should. If adding the stadium to the bonding bill had been a political stunt, as many Capitol wags first surmised, the resistance the idea encountered from state bonding authorities would not have deterred them. The majority leaders would have pressed on. … House Majority Leader Matt Dean, an architect by profession and the ‘architect’ of the withdrawn bonding idea, said he spent several hours with state, Minneapolis and Vikings officials Wednesday examining the narrow question: Would general obligation bonding work? State officials’ analysis convinced him that the rules governing those bonds, which are backed by state income and sales taxes, would preclude their use for this project, he said. Dean’s chastened tone and the somber faces of GOP leaders as they briefed Capitol reporters Thursday foreshadowed a tense few days ahead for state lawmakers.”

Getting called one of the best — even of the 120 best — by The Aspen Institute counts for something. Scott Tedrick at the Granite Falls Advocate Tribune says: “Minnesota West Community and Technical College has been named one of the top 120 commmunity colleges in America by the Aspen Institute of Washington, D.C. The college is now eligible for the 2013 $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. The Aspen Institute used a quantitative formula that assesses performance and improvement in four areas to pare the roughly 1,200 technical colleges in the U.S. to the 10 percent eligible for the prize. According to a press release, those areas include: graduation rates, degrees awarded, student retention rates, and equity in student outcomes.”

The ferocity of feelings for and against Scott Walker in Wisconsin is a remarkable thing to behold. Craig Gilbert at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writes: “To Gov. Scott Walker’s opponents, recent polls tell an unflattering tale about the Republican incumbent — that no matter how many millions he spends, his numbers don’t get any better. True enough. As survey after survey shows, public opinion about Walker is almost freakishly fixed in place. But saying this is ‘bad news’ for the governor is leaving out half the story. His opposition and support are equally unwavering. They are two sides of a coin. They fuel each other in a feedback loop of love, hate, anger and zeal. … More than most politicians, Walker’s political strengths are inseparable from his political weaknesses. The same policy agenda that inflamed opponents and led to the third gubernatorial recall election in US history has given Walker a national following in his party that could sustain him in politics for years to come. Of the nearly $11 million Walker spent between Jan. 18 and April 23, a staggering sum – almost $5 million — was spent on mailings, much of it on fundraising appeals. He spent more on mail than he did on TV. Walker will come out of the recall fight with a national donor list like that of few governors, and no Wisconsin Republican before him.