Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


Ramsey County estimates $1.7 million per biennium for state-issued Voter ID

North Dakota voters bench “Fighting Sioux”; Catholic teacher’s private views cost her job; Minneapolis schools dipping into reserves; Best Buy’s big decisions; and more.

If Voter ID proponents are serious about not encumbering anyone’s voting rights, they’ll no doubt be OK with the $1.7 million tab … per two-year election cycle … in Ramsey County alone. Tim Nelson at MPR writes: “Elections officials in Ramsey County may consider an innovative response to a photo identification requirement if voters amend the constitution to require it this fall. Ramsey County elections manager Joe Mansky said the requirement could make voting difficult for thousands each year of county residents who change their addresses. Mansky told the county board Tuesday that they might want to consider providing IDs to voters at the polling places. ‘If people bring in the right documents, it strikes me that it would be possible for our election judges, who are working for us, to issue them a photo ID card right on the spot,’ Mansky said. ‘I don’t have a specific plan to do that, but I don’t see reason why we should not look into that as one possible way of implementing this, again, should it become amended.’ Mansky estimates the new photo ID requirement would cost Ramsey county about $1.7 million per two-year election cycle, because of the need for more equipment and election judges to carry out the verification.”

It surprises me, but North Dakota voters have said, “Dump the Fighting Sioux.” Dave Kolpack of the AP reports: “Voters have approved a measure that lets the University of North Dakota dump its controversial Fighting Sioux nickname. The vote sends the matter back to the state’s Board of Higher Education, which is expected to retire the moniker and American Indian head logo. The NCAA has deemed the nickname hostile and abusive and has placed the university under postseason sanctions.”

Sorry, a day late with this one. Since she’s not hamstrung by a union shop, she’s free to defend herself … by herself. The AP story says: “A Catholic school in Moorhead terminated a fifth grade teacher after she told administrators she disagreed with the church’s stance on gay marriage. Trish Cameron was notified June 1 that she wouldn’t be offered a new contract at St. Joseph’s Catholic School. The decision came after Cameron filled out a self-evaluation form in which she admitted to personally disagreeing with the church’s stance on some issues, but said she never brought those opinions into the classroom … . Cameron had taught at the school for 11 years. Catholic schools are not bound by the same employment laws as public institutions and can terminate employees for not properly teaching tenets of the faith, although the law is less clear on whether they can be fired for privately held views not expressed in the classroom.”

Have you ever wondered how many Hot Pockets you’d have to steal to bail your sweetie out of jail? Ryan Howard of the Fergus Falls Daily Journal writes: “A woman who allegedly resorted to burglary and theft in an attempt to bail her fiance out of jail was charged last week in Otter Tail County court. Kayla Ann Johnson, 21, of Fergus Falls, was charged with second degree burglary and gross misdemeanor theft for allegedly breaking into an acquaintance’s home and stealing money from a local truck stop, court records state. Johnson’s alleged crimes began the morning of May 26, when court records state she pilfered about $700 from some cash boxes at the Big Chief truck stop. A former employee of the truck stop, Johnson allegedly stole the money while the employee working the cash register dealt with Johnson’s drunken companion. Then, on the evening of May 28, Johnson and two other people allegedly visited a trailer home on County Highway 111 in Fergus Falls rented by an ex-roommate of one of Johnson’s companions. Johnson (and possibly the other two) allegedly took a TV, several video games and an economy box of Hot Pockets.”

MPR had a conversation about Minnesota declining the Common Core math standards. Here’s a sample of Tom Weber’s interview with education Commissioner Brenda Casselius:

“TW: One of the states that has adopted Common Core is Massachusetts, and a lot of times in education circles, Minnesota and Massachusetts are compared to each other as being high-achieving states. So, I wonder if it’s good enough for Massachusetts, why isn’t it good enough for Minnesota?

BC: I wondered that, too. The majority of states have adopted both. I believe Minnesota is the only state to have only adopted one (English language arts), and really, I think it’s about pacing and where we were at in timing and not wanting to change the game on teachers. We have a number of initiatives going on where we’re holding schools to a higher standard, and we want be make sure we can move those things in a timely way that’s strategic and purposeful.

Article continues after advertisement

TW: And in sum, you’re saying ‘we’re not part of Common Core, but that’s because we think we’re doing better things here and have more rigor.’

BC: Let me be clear, it’s not that we don’t want to Common Core, just to not go. We’re doing it because we believe we have a sound system right now that’s working that’s placing us atop other states in the nation, and we believe teachers know these standards and they’re starting to embed them. And we see our scores are going up in math, so we want to be sure we stay the course, and that we continue to take what’s good and make it better, and continue to move forward and support teachers.”

Meanwhile … Steve Brandt at the Strib has a story about the Minneapolis School District being well enough off to … dip into its reserves to cover the budget. “More families are sending their children to Minneapolis public schools. A school is reopening. The teacher ranks are growing. Yet the money flowing into the district isn’t keeping up with its spending, so the board plans to dip into the district’s reserves for $18 million to balance next year’s $741 million budget. It will be the second year in a row that the district’s solid financial condition has allowed it to draw from its reserves, and it might do so again next year. … The board is scheduled to adopt a budget on June 26. Drawing the balance down helps to minimize cuts in schools and reduces the risk that the big balance becomes a target for legislators or the district’s unions.”

The Wisconsin press was relegated to a chopper’s eye view of Scott Walker’s Brats & Beers Peace Summit. Scott Bauer of the AP writes: “The two dozen protesters outside the gates included those who have hounded Walker for months, along with Marty Beil, executive director of the state’s largest public employees union. Beil dismissed the cookout as ‘nothing more than a PR gig.’ If Walker were serious, he would meet privately and more discretely with lawmakers rather than throw a cookout for hundreds, ‘This is a perfect venue in summer to talk about issues right after the recall process,’ said Republican Rep. Scott Suder, majority leader in the state Assembly. ‘I truly believe all of us can find common ground.’ Rep. Gary Hebl, a Democrat from Sun Prairie, said the cookout laid a good groundwork for future talks on more substantive issues like job creation. And Rep. Peter Barca, the Democratic minority leader in the Assembly, said Walker stepped out from behind the grill to talk with him and promised follow up discussions with all legislative leaders in the coming weeks.”

In a Business2Community post, MinnPost contributor Brad Allen looks at the impact of Best Buy’s leadership crisis on its overall strategy: “With all the uncertainty Best Buy faces in executive leadership and ultimate corporate control, it might be easy to ignore the massive restructuring and strategic reorientation the company is also trying to achieve, but that would be a mistake, according to Bryan Armstrong, managing director at FTI Consulting, Chicago. ‘Whenever there are a set of risks in play around leadership, strategy or an unclear path forward, the risks surrounding the company supersede the risks surrounding the CEO position every time,’ he says. While FTI is not involved the Best Buy saga, Armstrong refers to his firm’s research on investor reactions to CEO transitions, which he recently presented at the NIRI conference in Seattle. The Best Buy board faces major strategic decisions about the direction of the company that ‘outweigh whether it has the right skipper in place,’ he says. The board could find ‘a superstar’ CEO but it won’t know whether its candidate has the right skill set ‘if it hasn’t identified the path forward.’ ”

The recently configured liberal website looks at Michele Bachmann’s re-election chances sans the usual “independent” nuisance. Writes Tony Petrangelo: “One knock against that theory is that fact that the DFL’s share of the vote in the sixth district appears to have a ceiling of around 43%. The hope of course is that without an Independence party candidate in the race many of those votes will migrate to the DFL column. How many? In 2006 and 2010 Michele Bachmann got more then 50%, so even if every single IP vote went to the DFL candidate Bachmann would have won. In 2008 however she only got 46% and the IP candidate got 10%. So if there was no IP candidate that year, would Bachmann have won? El Tinklenberg would have had to win 65% of the votes that went for the IP candidate, Bob Anderson, in order to have prevailed in 2008. While that’s not out of the realm of possibility, it doesn’t strike me as likely. … This year could very well be the perfect storm of circumstances that finally washes Michele Bachmann out of office. She is starting her campaign in debt from her failed Presidential run. That Presidential run has found her behind the eight ball in the money column and may have also angered some of her softer supporters.” Does she have “soft” supporters?