Norm Coleman’s advocacy organization picked up a $7 million donation from … well, we don’t know, and that’s the beauty of it, isn’t it? Corey Mitchell at the Strib writes: “An anonymous donor gave $7 million to the American Action Network, a conservative advocacy group led by former Republican Minnesota U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman. The donation accounts for more than 25 percent of the $27.5 million the organization raised between July 1, 2010, and June 30, 2011, according to tax returns the organization is filing with the Internal Revenue Service. As a tax-exempt organization, the American Action Network is not required to publicly disclose its donors. Network spokesman Dan Conston did not comment on its contributors. … The tax filing reports Coleman’s annual compensation as $246,900 per year and lists former Republican U.S. Rep. Vin Weber, a Washington lobbyist and policy advisor to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, as an unpaid director.” Good gig, Senator.
At MPR, Elizabeth Dunbar files a report on the apparent effectiveness of teen pregnancy education: “The group, called Sexually Mature And Responsible Teens (SMART), is one of many projects across the state that are engaging teens in pregnancy prevention efforts. Experts say those efforts are paying off, as the birth rate among Minnesota teenagers has plunged nearly 40 percent in the past two decades. of the more obvious possible explanations for the trend, which is also happening nationally, don’t fully explain what’s happening, said Mary Jo Chippendale, who follows birth rate statistics for the Minnesota Department of Health. In the sex education classes teens take in Minnesota schools, abstinence has been touted as the only 100 percent effective way to avoid pregnancy. But survey statistics don’t give abstinence the credit.”
For the Woodbury Bulletin, Mike Longaecker reports on area legislators explaining their, um, principled opposition to the Vikings stadium deal: “Rep. Kathy Lohmer, R-Lake Elmo, drafted a more than 1,600-word memo to supporters after the vote, explaining in detail her opposition to the bill. ‘Ultimately, deciding how to vote came down to standing up for District 56A schools and taxpayers,’ Lohmer wrote in her weekly update. ‘We are in need of prioritizing our funding to schools in the area, as well as tax relief for our businesses and families.’ She and [GOP Rep. Andrea] Kieffer railed against the use of appropriation bonds that will be used to borrow funds until they are paid off. ‘For the next 30 years the state will cut a check for these appropriation bonds first, before filling budget reserves, before filling rainy day funds, before paying back education shifts, before paying for health and human services, and before providing funding equity for our schools,’ Lohmer said in the update.”
On the blog “Cheap Seats,” Stephen Knight compares the stadium to the Simpsons episode where Springfield bought itself a new monorail: “Have you ever seen the episode of The Simpsons when the town of Springfield is dazzled into buying a pricey monorail that turns out to be a track to nowhere that costs the citizens tons of money? It’s a great parody of the short-sighted enthusiasm we often have for pricey gew-gaws while other basic public infrastructure needs like roads or transit or schools are ignored. When I read that Minnesota governor Mark Dayton signed into law a $975-million stadium deal for the Vikings Monday that will see the state and the city of Minneapolis contribute $498 million of public money to the deal, but will not allow the public to see the team’s books, it reminded me a lot of the slick-talking monorail huckster on The Simpsons voiced by Phil Hartman. Call me a poutine-sucking, health-care addicted Canadian, but isn’t corporate welfare of this magnitude supposed to be frowned upon in the land of free enterprise?” Silly Canuckistanis. They know nothing about true democracy.
On MPR’s Ground Level blog, Molly Bloom asks why people should consider moving to rural Minnesota: “New University of Minnesota Extension research being published later today shows people in their 30s and 40s continue to move to rural areas that otherwise are experiencing population declines. So we asked sources in our Public Insight Network why they had moved to (or back to) rural Minnesota and how the experience has been. The benefits and challenges seem to break down into three categories: community, lifestyle and economics. Check out what some of our sources had to say and click on the link at the bottom to add your thoughts:
We wanted our child to have a sense of community and to know all of her classmates. I like knowing that I can count on any of my neighbors in an emergency. I also like the fact that she can run around our year and as she gets older our neighborhood and I’m not going to worry as much as I would in the city.
-Tracie Yule, moved to Belle Plaine 10 years ago
It has been a much more difficult transition than I anticipated. Many people who are here grew up and have family connections. Our biggest challenge is forming relationships with others in hopes that we can have adult conversation other than amongst each other.
-Alyssa Besonen, moved to Madison, Minn. three years ago.”
If anyone’s thinking of relocating to beautiful, thriving Montevideo, call me for the real estate deal of a lifetime.
Teacher layoffs in Duluth. Jana Hollingsworth of the News Tribune reports: “Six non-tenured teachers were laid off Tuesday by the Duluth School Board in a 5-1 vote. The layoffs include four special education teachers, one English teacher and one social studies teacher. Five more non-tenured teachers are expected to be terminated next month when a number of tenured teachers also are laid off. Those positions weren’t yet finalized Tuesday because the issue of moving from seven periods to six and eliminating some elective choices at the middle schools has yet to be approved by the Duluth Federation of Teachers and the board. It was set for a vote by the board Tuesday night but was tabled.”
Also in Duluth, the city is losing yet more ground in its fight for revenue from the Fond-du-Luth Casino. The AP reports: “The U.S. Department of Interior says the city’s lease agreement with the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa is invalid. The agreement once provided the city with 19 percent of electronic gaming revenue from the Fond-du-Luth Casino, or about $6 million a year. The band stopped making the payments in 2009, which triggered a continuing legal battle.”
Lakeville’s runaway dad is getting two years probation. Jim Adams of the Strib says: “Steven A. Cross of Lakeville will serve two years of probation for abandoning his son last summer, and the boy will be on the move again for the first time since he was placed in foster care with an aunt last year. Cross was sentenced for child neglect in Dakota County District Court on Wednesday, and at a child custody hearing afterward, Judge Richard Spicer ordered that Sebastian Cross, who was 11 when his dad left last summer, will be placed with his mother, Katik Porter, effective immediately. Steven Cross still has not been granted visitation rights, but is expected to see his son eventually at the discretion of therapists working on the case. Sebastian’s thoughts were heard publicly for the first time during the sentencing hearing, when prosecutor Nicole Nee read an impact statement the boy had written to describe how the crime affected him. ‘When my dad left me, it felt like my life was over,’ it read in part. ‘It was horrible.’ ”
A “Best of” list, the ever-popular, highly unscientific sop to advertisers, gets the Strib treatment. A couple of samples from its “Best of Minnesota”:
“Cultural festival you may have never heard of: Askov Fair and Rutabaga Days:
“Velkommen Til Askov” says the sign, and this delightful little city (population 364) means it. Founded by the Danish Peoples Society in 1906, Askov — a couple of exits north of Hinckley on I-35 — is worth a visit at any time, but it really comes to life the fourth weekend in August, when it hosts Rutabaga Days. Browse the craft fair, dance to the polka band, sample the rutabaga brats and (if you’re really adventurous) the rutabaga malts, and gorge on the homemade pies and fried fare — all at a fraction of the cost of the slightly better-known State extravaganza down the road.
Comic stage performers: Sarah Agnew and Jim Lichtscheidl.
She is the buck-toothed farm wife, the hunched-over harridan, the geeky and gawky neighbor, the outrageously unaware ditz whose innocence seems unbelievable. But with Agnew, it always seems believable because she is so unafraid to let herself look ridiculous. She spills it all out on stage. The brilliant thing about Agnew is that she’s also seriously dramatic. She uses the same gift of commitment when she goes after comedy and it never fails to bring laughs. Anyone who saw “The 39 Steps” must understand.”
I can’t quarrel wth either of those, especially Agnew, who is an amazing talent. But nowhere in the Strib’s best of “Bests” is there one for “Best Supporting Character in a Long Running Taxpayer Subsidized Stadium Drama.”