SuperValu’s predicament is not getting any better. At Barron’s, Avi Salzman reports: “Supervalu (SVU) plummeted in after-hours trading as the supermarket chain reported a large fiscal first quarter miss, and announced it will suspend its dividend and rescind guidance. Supervalu posted 19 cents of EPS, 19 cents below expectations. Revenue fell 4.5% to $10.6 billion, below expectations for $10.8 billion. The company’s new price plan appears to be faltering badly, and it now plans to cut prices more drastically and slash expenses.” Maybe if they merged with Best Buy, so you could buy TVs and flank steak in the same place … oh wait, that’s Costco.
Chris Burritt at Bloomberg writes: “The Eden Prairie, Minnesota-based company’s shares have fallen 35 percent this year, putting it on course for a fifth straight annual drop. The company, which last month announced layoffs in its Albertsons unit in California and Nevada, plans to accelerate price reductions and cut costs by an additional $250 million over the next two years, it said in a statement. It has retained Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Greenhill & Co. to review its options, it said. … Its valuation stands at 4 times earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, making it the cheapest among its peers and prompting investors and analysts to view it as a potential acquisition target. ‘They’ve said it’s all about their ability to execute and get the prices right and get people in the stores, and then they come out and say they’re studying strategic options and suspending the dividend,’ Joe Feldman, an analyst at Telsey Advisory Group in New York, said by telephone. ‘It just makes people wonder, ‘Well, geez, what is going on?’ ”
A reminder that some of the worst damage in last month’s flooding up north was NOT in Duluth. The AP reports: “In Thomson, the street leading into town is still dotted with portable toilets for people who lost sewer service in the flood. Around the corner, one street collapsed into a hole several feet deep — and a business at the end of this street is cut off from the rest of the town. … Carlton County officials estimate private property damages at nearly $22 million, but the cost to repair those homes and businesses will likely be double or triple that figure. … Officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency planned to be in northeastern Minnesota on Wednesday to begin assessing damage to private property. The state can then request another federal disaster declaration for private property owners. But if any assistance comes, it could be months away.”
Legislators are moving toward a flooding-oriented special session. Dennis Lien of the PiPress writes: “Gov. Mark Dayton said he expects to call a special legislative session some time in the last two weeks of August to help areas of Minnesota hit recently with storms and flooding. … [Dayton and legislative leaders] said they first must wait for federal officials to complete assessments and other work. With the federal government expected to pick up 75 percent of public infrastructure damage costs, Dayton said he and the leaders agreed the state should take care of the remaining 25 percent. The governor said he expects most, if not all, of that money to come from the state’s budget reserves. Sen. Majority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, said … ‘When disaster strikes, Minnesota comes together … Not only its people … but certainly units of government.’ ” Which might be another way of saying, “Thank god for that Big Gummint money.”
The St. Paul City Council has made its complaint about sex ads official to City Pages’ parent company. Frederick Melo of the PiPress writes: “The St. Paul City Council passed a resolution calling on Village Voice Media, the owners of the classified ad site Backpage.com, to discontinue the adult section of their online classifieds ‘because it serves as a platform to traffic minors for sex.’ In a statement, Council President Kathy Lantry joined Ramsey County Attorney John Choi and Ramsey County Commissioner Rafael Ortega, chair of the county board, in denouncing the online sex ads. They said the St. Paul Police Department’s vice / human trafficking unit has linked almost all of its recent investigations involving juvenile victims to the one website. … In November, a front-page story in City Pages pointed to ‘an outbreak of denial among child-sex trafficking alarmists nationwide.’ It focused on research done by anthropologists at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan which found many juvenile sex workers to be male, U.S.-born and ‘going it alone,’ or self-employed, rather than held captive or sold by a pimp.”
Good luck in him getting a teaching job, but the 36-year-old Elk River teacher who had a fling with a 17-year-old student will not be doing prison time. Emily Gurnon of the PiPress reports: “Former high school English teacher Matthew Ellsworth of St. Paul, who admitted to a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student, has been sentenced to five years’ probation. A judge lifted an order banning him from contact with the woman, who has since turned 18. Surrounded by family and friends, the two stood across from each other in a courthouse hallway after sentencing. They said hello, almost shyly. ‘We can hug now if you want,’ Ellsworth said. Anjelica Pentheros rushed into his arms.” If not stranger, life is at least as good as fiction.
At The Atlantic, Talya Minsberg files a story on Minnesota’s “Lake Wobegon” gals fighting the GOP’s gay marriage amendment: “The southwest Minneapolis suburbs of Minnetonka and Eden Prairie bring to mind Garrison Keillor’s tales from Lake Wobegon: They’re lined with well-maintained homes and tree-lined roundabouts, and home to residents of largely German and Scandinavian ancestry. But the ladies of these towns have quietly begun a revolt — one fought with rainbow flags and a Minnesota nice attitude. The women, mostly in their 40s and 50s, come from different political parties, religious views, and backgrounds, but they’ve united to fight what many of them call an embarrassment to Minnesota: a proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage that will appear on the ballot this November. … The vote on the amendment and the support of gay marriage has largely been labeled as a partisan issue. The neighborhood ladies insist that it doesn’t need to be. ‘This is an issue that crosses those boundaries and lines,’ [Maureen] Henderson argues. ‘Our state is contemplating losing its soul.’ And she insists that it’s not a religious issue, either. ‘The whole message to me is about fighting injustice and fighting discrimination, not about being saved and going to heaven. It’s about making this place heaven, making this place just, not waiting for another day. Heaven is justice, heaven is fairness.’ ” Nicely put, ma’am.
Bottoms up at TCF Bank Stadium. Alex Friedrich’s MPR story says: “It’s official. Gophers fans can drink beer — and maybe a little wine — in TCF Bank Stadium when the University of Minnesota’s football season starts this fall. University regents today approved a two-year trial allowing alcohol consumption at the campus stadium, with some restrictions. Fans won’t be able to buy any hard liquor. They can only buy two beverages at a time. Drinks may be taken back to seating area. But the concession booths will be at two locations: on the West Plaza and an overflow area near Gate A.”
Mayor Rybak is batting .667 with MPR’s PoliGraph fact-checker. Catharine Richert writes: “In a conference call with reporters, Rybak said getting the auto industry back on its feet is one of Obama’s major accomplishments. ‘The auto industry is also one that the president stepped up to save — we made a million more cars in America this year — and that’s the auto industry that Mitt Romney would have collapsed and outsourced to China,’ Rybak said. Rybak’s claim starts out on solid ground, but ultimately falls apart. … Rybak is basically correct on his first two points. Obama’s administration played an instrumental role in boosting GM and Chrysler, and his estimate that one million more cars will be made in the U.S. this year is in range. However, Rybak’s last point is misleading to the point of being false.” Whenever something like that happens to me, I just blame the copy desk.