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Duluth paper & Strib: ‘No’ on Voter ID

Mom pleads guilty in “diaper duty” case; Nolan goes after Cravaack on residency; Orchestra endowment issues; Rasmussen shows Obama lead; and more.

The never-to-be-confused-with-wild-eyed-liberals Duluth News Tribune editorial board has also come out against both of the GOP’s amendment issues: “Minnesota voters on Nov. 6 can be just as careful with the state’s constitution. They can vote “no” on a pair of ballot questions that aren’t as constitutional as they are legislative, as they are matters more appropriate for our lawmakers’ careful deliberations and decisions. Changes to the constitution should be rare and under special circumstances. They’ve been made that way since Minnesota’s constitution was adopted in 1857. Neither the marriage amendment nor the voter ID amendment rise to the level of constitutional consideration.

In the Strib’s editorial on the matter, the paper said: “As previous governors of both parties agree, major election changes affect all voters and should be made only with agreement of the governor and both parties. This amendment is on the ballot because DFL Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed the GOP Legislature’s party-line proposal. Legislating-by-constitution is no way to handle voting rules. Voter ID proponents say our state has a problem with voter fraud. Yet their own numbers show that only about 200 or so problems occurred — largely because of felons on probation. Photo ID wouldn’t solve that problem because IDs wouldn’t indicate felons’ status. … Earlier this year, when the Legislature approved putting photo ID on the ballot, a majority of Minnesotans approved. But more recent polls show the measure has lost support; it seems that the more people learn about it, the less they believe in it. That’s the right way to go on a proposal that could do more harm than good.” If there was a reference in there anywhere suggesting the whole thing is a raw political tactic, pure and simple, I missed it.

We have a plea in a Parent of the Year case. The Strib’s Paul Walsh reports: “A Fridley mother has entered a plea and faces sentencing for forcing her 12-year-old daughter to run outside in a diaper — her head freshly shaven — as punishment for a failing grade. The 38-year-old woman appeared Monday in Anoka County District Court and entered a ‘Lothenbach plea’ to malicious punishment of a child, a gross misdemeanor. … On May 7, the girl said this was the third time she was placed on ‘diaper duty,’ this time by her mother for getting an ‘F’ on her report card. Neighbors saw the girl doing wind sprints in their townhouse complex in the 1600 block of 68th Avenue NE. Her head had been freshly shaven, and she was dressed in a diaper and a tank top. A neighbor called police; when they arrived, the girl had been outside for more than 30 minutes and was ‘hysterically crying.’ ”

Rick Nolan is playing the residency card against Chip Cravaack. Martiga Lohn’s AP story says: “In the ad, Nolan looks into the camera and says, ‘He’s not from here and he doesn’t live here anymore.’ The ad began airing in Duluth and the Twin Cities over the weekend. It’s the first time Nolan, a former congressman, has directly gone after Cravaack for his family’s move to New Hampshire, after saying for months that he wouldn’t make it an issue.”

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Martin Moylan of MPR asks why the Minnesota Orchestra doesn’t dip further into its endowment fund to resolve its issues? “The orchestra board has the leeway to tap one of the four endowment funds as needed to pay for operations, [Orchestral Association chairman Jon] Campbell said. ‘The general rule of thumb for endowments is the draw rate should not exceed 5 percent,’ Campbell said. ‘Last year, it was more than three-times what would be appropriate.’ Annual withdrawals from that fund have jumped from about $7 million a few years ago to about $12 million in the past two years. Campbell said that portfolio, which accounts for about half the total endowment, is on track to be gone by 2018. For the orchestra’s past five budget years that endowment fund posted an annualized negative return of 0.1 percent. Meanwhile, a similarly sized fund that the orchestra cannot tap as aggressively posted a positive return of 0.1 percent.” Someone needs a much better financial adviser.

The GleanRobo-calling, generally conservative-favoring Rasmussen polling has President Obama with a 5 percent lead in Minnesota. Tom Scheck at MPR writes: “Rasmussen, which Democrats have long argued favors GOP candidates, is the first poll that shows the presidential race in Minnesota that close. Two other pollsters, Survey USA and Public Policy Polling (which is aligned with Democrats) showed Obama leading by 10 points in recent polls. Republicans in Minnesota have said they believe Minnesota is competitive this year but the Romney campaign has spent little money or time campaigning in the state.”

There might be some structural weakness in the basic business model. Jim Buchta of the Strib reports: “[T]he parent company of Capella University, a provider of online post-secondary education, said Tuesday that third-quarter net income was $5.1 million, a 49 percent decline. While active enrollment was off 2.1 percent, new enrollment exceeded expectations during the quarter, rising 10.5 percent compared with last year. Despite a challenging environment for higher education providers, Capella’s chairman and chief executive officer, Kevin Gilligan, was optimistic.

No love for Best Buy on the investment site Seeking Alpha: “Sometimes, transition can lead to improvement, but CEO [Hubert] Joly’s compensation agreement did not include any new hope about Best Buy’s corporate governance. He received absurd payment terms, such as the promise to pay him $6.25 million if he didn’t take the job at Best Buy, but lost his previous one at the hospitality and travel company Carlson, as we discussed in an earlier article. This suggests that CEO Joly’s supervisors will grant him significant leeway, rather than keep his powers in check. Meanwhile, Best Buy’s cash is dwindling, its market value declining, and its debt burden growing larger in proportion to its equity. In October, our mathematical model found that Best Buy is at a higher chance of financial distress than 92% of comparable companies, putting the retailer into high risk territory after it had been at moderate risk since February 2011 and negligible risk before that. Reviewing factors including Best Buy’s accounting and governance risk, recent events, and stock price movements, this month we put the retailer on our Financial Distress Watchlist, which names companies that have heightened chances of problems such as bankruptcy.”

Today, Power Line’s Paul Mirengoff put his finger on the problem with presidential debates: female moderators. “Reflecting on the four moderators, we see that the two old men, Schieffer and Jim Lehrer, performed well and that their female counterparts, Martha Raddatz and Candy Crowley, did not. Raddatz and Crowley turned in ‘more is less’ performances. They participated more than Lehrer and Schieffer but exercised less control. Crowley was particularly awful. At times, she became the third debater; she allowed the proceedings to spin nearly out of control; and she gave Obama significantly more speaking time than Romney. In the end, the approaches of the moderators took me back to elementary school in the late 1950s. In those days, generally speaking, the female teachers cried out for order in the classroom and rarely got it, while the male teachers commanded order with little effort. In fairness to Raddatz, though, in Joe Biden she drew the archetypical problem child — a bully, class clown, and special needs student all rolled into one. I hope this post hasn’t offended our female readers.” No worries, Paul. The dames’ll love it.

Meanwhile, this crackpot says: “Thanks to the heavily negotiated/litigated rules for these debates (and for the moderators), the mano a mano phase of the campaign has ended with no discussion at all of social issues, like abortion, the Republican machine’s anti-gay marriage and Voter ID initiatives and … oh, yeah … climate change. The latter of which might have some very serious impacts on ‘foreign policy’ in the not at all distant future. I’m certain that if Romney had been asked what he would do about carbon emissions he would have assured us that he has a ‘vision’ to act with clarity, authority and strong leadership … without ever actually being clear, or demonstrating any kind of authoritative grasp of the subject matter and therefore betraying a profound lack of personal courage, a principal asset of leadership.”