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Minnesota jobless rate drops to 5.8 percent

Bachmann’s race seen easiest of Tea Party incumbents; out-state mayors want more legislative attention; drought taking toll; student debt load; and more.

More disturbing news for those selling doom and gloom Adam Belz of the Strib reports: “Minnesota employers added 5,900 jobs in September and unemployment fell to 5.8 percent, both numbers in line with a rapid drop in the national unemployment rate in the month. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development also said the August job losses were smaller than initially reported, with the number of lost jobs falling from 2,000 to 700. The monthly jobs report is the latest in a series of positive reports about the economy. National retail sales were healthy in September, the national unemployment rate fell below 8 percent for the first time since 2009, and housing starts were up a whopping 15 percent.”

Brian Bakst and Alan Fram of the AP suggest that Michele Bachmann has the easiest shot at re-election of her Tea Party colleagues: “Her bulging campaign treasury and conservative district make her a clear favorite to win a fourth House term on Election Day, despite her Democratic rival’s attempts to turn her won’t-budge philosophy into a liability. Three other high-profile House conservatives, facing opponents insisting that their views are too extreme, have trickier paths to re-election next month. GOP Reps. Allen West of Florida, Steve King of Iowa and Joe Walsh of Illinois are all embroiled in tough and expensive races that are drawing plenty of spending by friends and foes from around the country. … National Democrats recently added Graves to their list of House candidates whom they are helping raise money. But with outside groups routinely swooping into House districts with ads and other help worth hundreds of thousands or more, neither side has invested much in Bachmann’s race.”

In a Duluth News Tribune commentary, two out-state mayors argue that their constituents need a better class of legislators: “We have many needs that will only be achieved through strong representation. Without a doubt, the 2012 session was a good one for the metro area. The Legislature funded a new Vikings stadium for Minneapolis, St. Paul was awarded $25 million for a new Saints ballpark and will receive $2.7 million per year for its convention center, and the Southwest Corridor light rail project was advanced. Meanwhile, the state has failed to fund the job-creating and event-attracting civic centers in Rochester, Mankato or St. Cloud. Completing the four-lane expansion of U.S. Highway 14 has been put off for decades, impeding the movement of goods and services from the corridor’s regional hubs and economic centers and jeopardizing the safety of its residents. Greater Minnesota has hundreds of millions of dollars in backlogged wastewater treatment needs that have gone unaddressed. While we don’t dispute the positive economic impacts that stadiums and transit improvements will have for the metro area, we also need to make sure the needs of Greater Minnesota are not being ignored.” Maybe if they had more stadium ideas and fewer waste-water treatment projects they’d have gotten more attention.

It’s a good thing we’re past lawn-sprinkling season. The AP reports: “Drought conditions are straining Minnesota’s water resources, and state officials are urging everyone to adopt water conservation measures. The Department of Natural Resources is asking agricultural, commercial and industrial water users to stop outdoor irrigation and to take conservation measures now. DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr says that at a time when per-capita water consumption is decreasing nationwide, Minnesota’s water use per resident is actually increasing.”

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Openly gay DFL Sen. Scott Dibble appeared on Amy Goodman’s “Democracy Now” program. A sample of their conversation:

AMY GOODMAN: I want to play another ad that was put out by the pro-amendment, anti-same-sex-marriage group, Minnesota for Marriage.
MINNESOTA FOR MARRIAGE AD: Who should decide the definition of ‘marriage’? We think it should be the people, not judges or politicians. Right now there’s a court case in Hennepin County to redefine ‘marriage.’ Some powerful legislators want to do the same thing. If they succeed, voters will have lost their say. Everyone has a right to love who they choose, but nobody has a right to redefine ‘marriage.’ Please, vote ‘yes’ on the Marriage Protection Amendment so that voters always have the final say.
AMY GOODMAN: Your response, state Senator Scott Dibble?
SEN. SCOTT DIBBLE: Well, I actually appreciate that commercial, because it really gives us the opportunity to have this really important discussion in a very civil manner. I think the commercial itself is divisive and seeks to alarm, and we can replace some of those alarmist messages with a really civil discussion that really affirms this idea that no one is redefining ‘marriage’ for everyone, and in fact we’re upholding the fundamental values of things we all cherish, that everyone cherishes across Minnesota, that marriage is about love and commitment and taking responsibility for each other and protecting your family, and it’s about having strong families that are the foundation of strong communities.” It’s, of course, preaching to the choir …

The GleanKMSP-TV has a story about Minnesota’s student loan debt ranking third highest in the nation: “Two-thirds of college graduates in 2011 finished school with student loan debt, carrying an average debt of $26,600 into their post-collegiate life — up about 5 percent from the class before. The student loan debt numbers are in a report out Thursday from the California-based Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS). Minnesota graduates carry the third highest average debt, at $29,739 per student. The state also has the fifth largest proportion of graduates carrying student loan debt, at 71 percent. The report shows Winona State University has the highest average student loan debt among 2011 graduates, at $31,275. Minneapolis College of Art and Design graduates had the highest loan debt among private, non-profit institutions, with a $43,035 average.”

Jim Geraghty of The National Review sees a convoluted Obama strategy afoot here in Minnesota: “A reader points out that several of Minnesota’s radio and television markets extend into the western edge of Wisconsin — so Jill Biden’s campaign stops in Minnesota this weekend may be part of an Obama campaign effort to shore up Wisconsin, rather than reflecting any internal concern about Minnesota.” He who carries Hudson and Superior carries the nation!

Meanwhile, Rosslyn Smith of The American Thinker wonders if Ross Perot’s Romney endorsement won’t rally Minnesotans to the GOP cause: “Ross Perot’s endorsement of Romney was made in an op-ed in the Des Moines Register but could it have an effect in Minnesota, too? The national media sees Minnesota as solidly Democrat.  It isn’t. In 2010 Mark Dayton became the first Democrat governor in 20 years.  The fact is the Land of 10,000 Lakes has always had a weakness for outspoken loons. In 1992, Ross Perot earned 23.96% of the vote in Minnesota compared to his national average of 18.91%.  Perot then attempted to create a third party. It fizzled in most places but the Independence Party of Minnesota traces its origin directly to Ross Perot’s 1992 presidential race. … I can’t see Obama’s support reaching too much beyond the city limits of Saint Paul, Minneapolis and Duluth this year.   While several other parts of the state are heavily Democrat, especially the northeast corner, those areas tend to contain blue collar voters much like the ‘bitter clingers’ who are up for grabs in Ohio and Pennsylvania. The single biggest under reported issue of this campaign — the squeeze on family budgets because of high gasoline costs — are very much on voters’ minds because almost everyone in Minnesota has to drive to work and shopping.  Another factor reducing Obama’s total are that both Saint Paul and the northeastern part of the state have large Catholic populations. I expect that many Catholic voters will defect to Romney or another candidate in protest.” I hope she’s taking bets on that last part.

MPR’s Brandt Williams files a story on recidivist 911 calls: “In a typical year, police officers in north Minneapolis respond to nearly 90,000 emergency calls — usually more than any other precinct in the city. Officers say the majority of those calls involve addresses they’ve been to repeatedly, and that many of the calls are a drain on resources that could be used to fight more serious crime. … MPR News obtained a list of north Minneapolis addresses with the most police calls for service from the beginning of 2011 through September 2012. Topping the list is Cub Foods on West Broadway Ave., where police were called more than 1,200 times. Luke Freidrich, a Cub Foods spokesman, said thousands of people come through the store every day, including shoplifters which draw a large share of the calls. Three north Minneapolis parks are also near the top of the list.” Nearly four 911 calls … a day?