Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


WCCO-TV drops anti-Cravaack ad

Kurt Bills comments on filmmaker’s First Amendment rights; smartphone pay-system eyed; anti-tax crusaders defended; and more.

This doesn’t happen very often. Kevin Diaz of the Strib says: “WCCO, the CBS affiliate in the Twin Cities, acceded to a demand by freshman Republican Chip Cravaack to stop airing an attack ad that suggests that ‘instead of town hall meetings, you had to pay to see him.’ The spot, which went up on the air in the Twin Cities on Thursday, is sponsored by the House Majority PAC, a political organization dedicated to winning control of the U.S. House for Democrats. Although the two-week, $250,000 ad buy is running on Twin Cities’ television stations, it is aimed at the Eighth Congressional District in northern Minnesota, where Cravaack is fending off a spirited challenge by former DFL congressman Rick Nolan. ‘CCO apparently stopped airing the House Majority PAC spot on Friday, the same day the Cravaack campaign complained in writing that it is ‘a blatant attempt to defame Mr. Cravaack.’ … House Majority PAC spokesman Andy Stone said the group ‘unquestionably stands behind the content of the advertisement.’ The ad remains up on three other network affiliates in the area.”

Tim Pugmire of MPR covers GOP Senate candidate Kurt Bills’ Humphrey School comments expressing concern for the First Amendment rights of the “filmmaker” who made the inflammatory anti-Muhammed Internet video. “Bills said the treatment of a filmmaker linked to an anti-Islamic movie that has sparked protests across the Middle East raises concerns. Federal authorities in Southern California interviewed the filmmaker, who is now in hiding, over the weekend at a Los Angeles sheriff’s station. Bills said the action is an example of what he views as the nation’s ‘liberty deficit.’ ‘We had him taken out of his home by federal agents to be questioned,’ he said. ‘So, will there not be a first amendment any longer in this contry? I would have to ask that. It really bothers me.’ Bills later clarified that his concern is specific to the first amendment questions raised by the incident.”

Martin Moylan of MPR has a story about Target and Best Buy trying to jump-start a new smartphone-based retail payment system. “[B]efore most people can pay with their phones, there are many technical, business and other issues to sort out. ‘This is not even a nascent industry yet,’ said David Robertson, who publishes the Nilson Report, which tracks the payment card industry. ‘There’s still jockeying for position. Maybe your bank will provide the ‘wallet.’ Or maybe the telecom companies. Or maybe Google.’ Or Apple. Or PayPal. Or perhaps Target, Best Buy and other major retailers that have joined forces to develop a mobile payment network of their own. The big retailers have not set a launch date but they’re confident e-wallets will be a hit with consumers.”

Influential Republican Jeff Johnson writes a Strib commentary defending anti-tax crusaders: “Government spending grows year after year; its reach expands without restraint; we see endless examples of our money being wasted, and then politicians opine that those of us who question higher taxes must be somehow ‘corrected’ or we will destroy America. The truth is, many of us who are conservatives would not oppose higher taxes if the ruse that government has ‘cut to the bone’ were true. The fact, however, is that government spending at nearly every level has been increasing at rates greater than inflation for many decades — even during the past few years of supposed austerity.” In sum, it is what is called a nuance-free argument.

It’ll be official Sept. 28. Dee DePass of the Strib says: “Tyco shareholders have given the Pentair deal the nod of approval. Shareholders voted Monday to break off Switzerland-based Tyco into three pieces, including one that will merge with Golden Valley-based Pentair Inc. in an all-stock deal worth an estimated $4.9 billion. … Pentair’s U.S. shareholders approved the merger Friday. And now that Swiss shareholders have given the green light, the transaction is slated to close Sept. 28.”

We’re probably at the point in time when a private equity firm buys up another functioning company and we start the layoff and reduced benefit clock. DePass also reports: “The private equity arm of Wells Fargo Bank has purchased Minnesota Rubber & Plastics for an undisclosed price, officials announced Monday. Under terms of the deals, the private equity firm, Norwest Equity Partners, gains control of Minnesota Rubber & Plastics plants across the United States, Europe and China. Minnesota Rubber & Plastics has about 1,100 employees globally, including about 100 employees at its Plymouth headquarters, 200 at its Litchfield, Minn., factory and another 200 in River Falls, Wis.”

They say they’re a victim of LRT. Jess Fleming of the PiPress reports: “If the owners of Mai Village can’t come up with the $150,000 they owe the bank before Oct. 24, their University Avenue restaurant will be sold at a sheriff’s sale. Mai Nguyen and her husband, Ngoan Dang, say light-rail construction has whittled their business down so far that they are behind nearly six months in mortgage payments. They are asking for help from customers and community members via a Facebook page and trust fund set up to save the restaurant. ‘We think after the light rail is done, we will see the light,’ Nguyen said. ‘So we cannot give up.’ The Vietnamese restaurant has been a fixture on University Avenue since 1992, when the owners ran a smaller cafe next door to their current $3.8 million sprawling and ornate dining room, which opened in 2004.”

Article continues after advertisement

The school superintendent who had responsiblity for that infamous $255K pay-out to a short-lived administrator is now departing himself. Christopher Magan of the PiPress says: “Randall Clegg, superintendent of the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage school district, wrote board members a letter announcing his intention to retire just a day before the board made public a critical performance review. In February, complaints against Clegg were at the center of a $254,814 separation agreement district officials approved for former human resources director Tania Z. Chance. … Past reviews of Clegg during his four-year tenure have been stellar, but his latest found he failed to meet three of seven goals. Board members declined to say which of the benchmarks, including such qualities as ethics, management and shared vision, Clegg failed to meet.”

Like community, like community employees? Not so much. Dave Chanen of the Strib says: “In Carver, Scott, Washington and Anoka counties, minorities hold between 2 and 5 percent of county jobs, while the overall minority populations range from 9 to 15 percent. The 849-member Carver County workforce included 16 people of color this year; just 56 of 1,760 Anoka County workers are minorities. Officials cite familiar reasons for the numbers: tight budgets that have curtailed hiring or caused job cuts, commuters who face limited transportation options, and resources that remain scarce for outreach in minority communities. One county also acknowledged that its top officials haven’t pushed diversity hiring as a high priority.”

“Activism” is a dirty word again, on conservative blogs. At, Adam Freedman writes about the latest in Wisconsin’s collectrive bargaining battle: “The decision is a thinly veiled piece of judicial activism by Judge Juan Colas, who was appointed by the former Democratic Governor, Jim Doyle. How exactly does Governor Walker’s reform infringe the ‘associational and speech rights’ of municipal union members? Well, it prohibits municipal unions from collectively bargaining on non-wage benefits (they can still bargain on wages); it prohibits unions from forcing non-union members to pay part of the union’s expenses (for the privilege of being represented by a union they want no part of), and it prohibits unions from automatically deducting union dues from payrolls. Got that? It’s a violation of free speech to make the union ask its members for their dues. I confess, I had to read Judge Colas’ opinion several times to discover his rationale. The heart of the decision appears to be this single sentence on page 15: ‘Although the statutes do not prohibit speech or associational activities, the statutes do impose burdens on employees’ exercise of those rights when they do so for the purpose of recognition of their association as an exclusive bargaining agent.’ What a gloriously convoluted sentence! The reality is: the law dethrones municipal unions in Wisconsin from their former status as all-powerful closed shops, and finally gives employees the freedom to join, or not, municipal unions.” Since he never resorts to “jackbooted union thugs,” we’ll have to consider his opinion “restrained.”