Let’s see how long we can go without mentioning the word … “stadium.”
As smoking guns go, this video is about as good as it gets. The AP reports: “Newly released documentary film footage from January 2011 shows Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker describing a ‘divide and conquer’ strategy for going after the state’s public employee unions that would begin with going after their collective bargaining rights, undermining his long-held claim that his divisive union rights law was meant solely as a budget-balancing measure. The video, which filmmaker Brad Lichtenstein captured for a documentary about the city of Janesville’s efforts to create jobs following the closure of a General Motors plant, shows the newly-elected Walker talking to a top donor, Beloit billionaire Diane Hendricks, and Mary Willmer-Sheedy, an M&I Bank executive from Janesville. In the clip, Hendricks asks Walker whether he can make Wisconsin a ‘completely red state, and work on these unions, and become a right-to-work’ state … ‘Well, we’re going to start in a couple weeks with our budget adjustment bill,’ Walker said. ‘The first step is we’re going to deal with collective bargaining for all public employee unions, because you use divide and conquer,’ Walker responded.” Walker really should stay away from cameras and telephones.
Entirely coincidentally, Walker’s office released figures showing that … next year … Wisconsin will be rolling in surplus money. Jason Stein and Patrick Marley at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report: “Gov. Scott Walker’s administration released improved budget projections Thursday that would leave the state with a $154.5 million surplus a year from now. Coming less than four weeks before Walker’s June 5 recall election, the projections take the state from a previously estimated $143 million budget deficit in its main account through June 2013 to the surplus. A large chunk of the surplus is realized by delaying payments that will ultimately cost taxpayers more in interest. The budget numbers released Thursday do not account for a sizable shortfall in the state’s health programs for the poor that Walker’s administration says it will deal with through increased efficiencies and spending cuts. … The projected surplus includes $78 million that was acquired by restructuring debt. A small amount of that comes from getting lower interest rates, but most of it comes from pushing off payments and allowing long-term interest costs to rise, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau. Also Thursday, a new poll by Rasmussen Reports showed Walker leading Barrett 50% to 45%.”
Corey Mitchell at the Strib reports: “Accretive Health CEO Mary Tolan has pledged to fully respond to questions that Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., posed last month about the company’s debt-collection tactics and patient-privacy practices at Fairview hospitals. Speaking with Wall Street analysts, Tolan said she plans to have answers by Friday to Franken’s questions, plus a response to a blistering report that Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson compiled on the Chicago-based firm. Her comments came in a previously scheduled call to discuss Accretive’s latest financial results, but the issue of Swanson’s report came up in conversations with the analysts. Accretive has already missed two deadlines, May 4 and 7, that Franken set to respond to his questions.”
Yet another post-verdict twist in the Amy Senser case. Abby Simons at the Strib writes: “A newly released note from jurors who convicted Amy Senser of criminal vehicular homicide indicates they believed her claims that she didn’t know she struck Anousone Phanthavong on a dark Minneapolis freeway ramp. But they found her guilty anyway because they believed she thought she had struck a vehicle — a point never addressed during her seven-day trial and likely a key issue in post-conviction motions that her attorney will file next week. … one noted criminal defense attorney said the note makes clear that the written instructions followed by the jury didn’t match the laws under which Senser was charged. ‘There is no evidence in this case that either she thought she hit a vehicle or that she hit a vehicle,’ said Joe Friedberg, who added that jury instructions are not the law. ‘The law is that you have to prove that she knew she hit a person.’ “
A Minneapolis lawyer is in trouble for going “godfather” on an opposing attorney. In the Strib, the story says: “The Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility wants the state Supreme Court to suspend a Minneapolis attorney for violating professional conduct rules, including allegedly harassing and bullying another attorney. The complaint alleges that Peter Nickitas insulted an opposing attorney during an arbitration hearing and later made multiple threatening and insulting comments. While leaving the courtroom, attorney Michelle Hurley said, Nickitas yelled at her, saying he hoped she ‘sleep[s] with the fishes.’ Hurley said she was shocked. As she headed to the courthouse exit, she said Nickitas got in front of her and went nose-to-nose, screaming at her. The complaint said Nickitas had to be pulled away by an associate as a bailiff approached.” Pal … the first rule of good lawyering is “Never let ‘em see you sweat.”
Mara Gottfried of the PiPress writes: “Rep. Rena Moran’s 19-year-old daughter was grazed by a bullet outside the lawmaker’s St. Paul home on Thursday, … police said. Police were patrolling in the area of Dale Street and Aurora Avenue at 5:54 p.m., according to a police report. ‘We heard what sounded like shots fired and saw people running eastbound of Aurora,’ the report said. ‘We ultimately were able to find a victim with minor injuries.’ The report identified the victim as Diamond Moran, but a 2010 Pioneer Press article about Rena Moran said her daughter’s name is Diamonde. She was discharged from Regions Hospital Thursday, a hospital spokeswoman said. Police do not believe the shooting was random.”
The next tuition increase at the U of M will be the smallest in quite a few years. MPR’s story says: “The proposal calls for a 3.5 percent tuition increase for Minnesota undergraduates. It also boosts financial aid, raises salaries a little for professors and staff, and funds new programs and faculty. And all that with a minimum of increased spending. [Regents] are expected to vote on the budget at their June 8 meeting.A tuition increase wouldn’t normally be anything to cheer about. But the past decade or so has been rough for students and their families. Starting in 2001, they saw double-digit tuition increases in four out of the next five years, some as high as 16 percent. Several subsequent increases were more than 7 percent.”
While most sources are cheering new export numbers for Minnesota products, Bill Catlin at MPR applies a bit more perspective. He writes: “Manufactured exports are things that are made, not grown, and exclude services such as travel. And although they reached a record $18.4 billion last year, the growth rate of Minnesota exports has lagged the national average in five of the past six years. And in 2009, they beat the U.S. average only by plunging a little less. … So, how bad is this lagging trend? The answer changes a lot depending on how far back you look. If Minnesota’s export growth had matched the U.S. rate since 1999 the state’s factories actually would be selling less stuff overseas than they are now — $1.4 billion less. That would mean fewer export related jobs. On the other hand, if Minnesota’s export growth had matched the U.S. rate since 2005, when Minnesota’s pattern of outperforming the U.S. changed, the state’s factories would have sold $3.5 billion more stuff abroad. Bottom line? Nothin’ more than the obvious: better to outperform the U.S. average than to trail it.” OK. I feel better, I think.
Hey, I tried … St. Paul is going to use it’s $2.7 million/year booty … from the Vikings stadium deal to … pay off RiverCentre. Frederick Melo of the PiPress writes: “The St. Paul Saints didn’t get the slam dunk they were hoping for, but the door for a proposed ballpark in downtown has been opened so wide, some say it’s just a matter of months, if not weeks, before they step through. The stadium bill approved by the Legislature on Thursday … includes $54 million for St. Paul, dispensed as $2.7 million annually for 20 years for ‘sports facilities’. So what could that money be used for? One thing it will not be used for is a $54 million regional ballpark in St. Paul’s Lowertown neighborhood, according to the mayor’s office. The ballpark money still could come from a competitive grant fund unrelated to the Vikings bill, but city officials said the stadium legislation offers no direct support for the Saints. ‘That money is to pay off RiverCentre debt,’ said Joe Campbell, a spokesman for St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman. ‘Everybody thinks that money is for the ballpark, and it is not.’ ” But in a way … it is.
Let’s see how long we can go without mentioning the word … “stadium.”