SuperValu CEO out

To no one’s surprise … The AP reports:Supervalu is ousting CEO Craig Herkert as the grocery chain looks to right its business following disappointing quarterly results and plans to possibly put itself up for sale. Earlier this month the Minneapolis company reported that both its first-quarter net income and revenue slid and it suspended its dividend. Monday, Supervalu said Chairman Wayne Sales will take on the additional roles of president and CEO.”

At Forbes, Abram Brown adds: “In Sales, SuperValu receives an able executive. He previously led Canadian Tire, the country’s largest general retailer, and served on SuperValu’s board since 2006, becoming chairman in 2010. Still, he faces an uphill climb. Under the latest turnaround plan, SuperValu plans to cut costs and accelerate price investments. Analysts questioned SuperValu’s ability to win a price-war against its better-positioned rivals. And the company did not rule out putting itself up for sale; Sales says he will lead a continued review of strategic opportunities. ‘Sales will have a lot [on] his plate for the next several months, making it imperative that others, such as new head of operations Kevin Holt step up and play greater leadership roles,’ says Guggenheim analyst John Heinbockel, who maintains a Neutral rating on the stock. ‘At the same time, it does not increase our confidence in what remains a very difficult turnaround story.’ ”

Elsewhere in big local business … with hundreds of jobs on the line … A Bloomberg story by Chris Burritt and Jeffrey McCracken says: “Best Buy Co. founder Richard Schulze has been recruiting executives to help lead the retailer if his attempt to take the company private is successful, according to a senior Best Buy executive. ‘He is talking to people he trusts,’ J.D. Wilson, senior vice president of enterprise capabilities, said in an interview. ‘There is a small group he’d like to have wih him in righting the ship. He is serious as a heart attack.’ Wilson, who said his position is being eliminated as part of Best Buy’s cutbacks, was approached by Schulze in June and said he would work for the company if a deal went through. Schulze also has been seeking to recruit other executives such as former Chief Executive Officer Brad Anderson, said a person familiar with the matter.”

It sounds like these people have a very good reason to fight city hall. In the Strib, Jane Friedmann writes: “Gerry and Margie Richels have been fighting an uphill battle with Blaine City Hall for almost two years. Their property used to be at a higher elevation than the land next to them. But since the city allowed a developer to raise the elevation 6 feet and build houses on it, water and silt washes down into the Richels’ yard. Richels, a retired engineer, had warned that such a thing might happen when he caught wind of the project, but the city promised him it wouldn’t. His frequent complaints to City Hall since then have prompted numerous attempts to stop the erosion and drainage trouble, but he’s still not satisfied — especially since the city allowed the berm to be built right up to Richels’ property line, despite a standard calling for a 3-foot setback. City officials, for their part, are exasperated with Richels. One council member calls it the ‘project from hell.’ “

The war against invasive species has fought some losing battles. At MPR, Dan Gunderson says: “This summer, zebra mussels have been found in more Minnesota lakes. The invasive species has now infested more than 60 lakes across the state. Stopping the spread of aquatic invasive species like zebra mussels is the responsibility of the Department of Natural Resources. The agency expanded its watercraft inspection program this year but faces a big challenge in a state with more than 10,000 lakes. Minnesota has about 3,000 public access points to lakes and rivers. But the Minnesota DNR has only 118 inspectors charged with keeping invasive species out of the lakes and rivers.” I like the invasive species’ odds in this one.

The Glean Professor Jose Santos has some thoughts about those folks who invariably argue the extreme end of the spectrum. In an MPR commentary, he says: “Extremists love a lynching. They yell ‘Hey, I’m being lynched!’ at every opportunity. The crucial debate on health care has been portrayed as a war. Extremist feminists portray it as part of a larger ‘War on Women.’ Christians speak of a modern ‘War on Religion.’ For both, the answer to key national debates is outrage, not dialogue. Extremists direct the outrage at each other. Extremist Christians portray feminists as a threat to family, social structure and values. Extremist feminists see Christians as obliterating the rights to self-determination, mental and bodily well-being and dignity. Yell about how abused you are. It gets attention, as people … genuinely want to stop abuse.”

Paging Rep. John Kline … Senate Democrats in D.C. have blasted three for-profit colleges in Minnesota. Says the AP story: “A Senate Democratic committee report says for-profit colleges place revenues above education and charge students high tuition and excessive loan rates. It says that top officials running the schools enrich themselves. The report found students often leave these schools after four months, deeply in debt from loans and unable to find a job.  The report said veterans are especially vulnerable to encountering these problems, since for-profit colleges receive the largest share of military educational benefit programs. Eight of the top 10 recipients of GI bill money since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks are for-profit education companies. The report said reaching an enrollment quota was the highest priority for recruiters. Student performance was found to be poor. In 2008-09, an estimated 54 percent left without a degree or certificate. The report included three Minnesota-based for-profit colleges: Capella University, Rasmussen College and Walden University.” As Claude Rains said … “I’m shocked, shocked.”

GOP congressional candidate Allen Quist is giving Mitt Romney a run for “gaffe champ.” In a Mankato Free Press story, Mark Fishenich reports: “The Free Press dug through newspaper archives and old files from Quist’s previous runs for office to provide some of the context Quist said is missing from present-day accounts of his legislative and campaign history. Quist has more than once in recent weeks called the story about his visit to Mankato’s adult bookstore a lie. … But in March of 1988, Quist wasn’t only publicly talking about his incognito visit to the ‘Adult Book and Cinema’ store on what was then North Front Street. Quist, a three-term state lawmaker who was well-known for leading the House Republican effort to combat the spread of AIDS, told The Free Press that he found evidence that the store was set up to promote anonymous homosexual sex and should be shut down by the Minnesota Department of Health. From the March 30, 1988 Free Press: ‘Quist said he recently visited the bookstore disguised in sunglasses and grubby clothes. The store’s darkened rear area contains coin-operated film booths, he found. ‘On the north end of these booths there’s a section marked off for homosexuals,’ Quist said. ‘If you open a door, you’ll find there are apertures in the partitions. They are there to facilitate anonymous sodomy.’ He also said he found direct evidence of sexual activity on the floors of the booths. ‘I was ready to vomit before I left there.’ ”

Here’s another story where you really have to get a load of the mug shot. Aaron Rupar at City Pages writes: “Marcie is the mother of a boy who plays little league baseball in Crystal. About a week ago, she logged onto her son’s Facebook account and noticed a strange message in his inbox from a man named ‘Michael Hammer.’ The man had asked Marcie’s son to join him for a movie at the Mall of America. Marcie’s creep-dar went off, and she called police. After conducting a sting operation, police arrested 44-year-old Michael Hamer last week. He’s been charged with solicitation of a child for sex and possessing child pornography. Marcie talked with other parents and realized that Hamer had sent friend requests to a number of players on her son’s team. He had even texted some of them. Alerted to the situation by Marcie, Hamer’s behavior aroused the suspicions of police, who then created a fake Facebook account for a 12-year-old little leaguer named ‘Aron Patterson.’ Patterson friended Hamer and the two talked via Facebook chat the next day. The conversation soon went in a sexual direction, with Hamer at one point asking the boy if he could see him naked.” Ewwww.

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