Report: Menards ‘class’ for workers favors Romney

At the progressive/lefty site AlterNet, Adele Stan has a piece up on Menards’ not-so-subtle election message to employees: “This January, as the Iowa Caucuses were underway, Menards began encouraging employees to take an at-home online “civics” course that characterizes the economic policies of President Barack Obama as a threat to the success of businesses such as Menards, and by extension, to the employees’ own well-being. The course, titled ‘Civics 101: The National Self Governing Will In-Home Training,’ incorporates much of the material comprising the Prosperity 101 program that AlterNet, working in partnership with the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute, exposed last year — a program concocted by Koch-linked political operatives Mark Block and Linda Hansen, late of the now-defunct Herman Cain presidential campaign. In March, Daniel Bice of the  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the FBI is investigating possible financial improprieties involving two non-profit organizations founded by Block that are linked to Prosperity 101, which is a for-profit venture. … While the Menards course doesn’t offer an explicit candidate endorsement, it describes Obama policies in threatening terms, while policies that echo Romney’s proposals are portrayed in a positive and uplifting light.”

Minneapolis would like a little less transparency, thank you. Says the Strib’s Eric Roper: “The city of Minneapolis is likely to ask the Legislature next year to make several types of public data inaccessible under the state’s open records law. Perhaps the most prominent is license plate reader data, a massive database of tracking information on nearly every car in Minneapolis. Any car that passes one of the city’s license plate readers — attached to several vehicles and bridges (see photo, at right)  — is logged in the system for a year, and the data is available to anyone who requests it. Incoming police Chief Janeé Harteau has asked the City Council to request that the data be classified as ‘private,’ meaning that people can only request data about themselves. Open government advocate Rich Neumeister has fought this approach, arguing that privatizing the data eliminates a key layer of accountability.”

Hey, he had to fund his campaign, right? The AP reports: “A mayoral candidate in Winona County admits his conviction for selling marijuana could ‘throw a few complications’ into his campaign. Stephen Conlin says he’s committed to his campaign for mayor of St. Charles. Conlin will be eligible to vote for himself on Tuesday because he hasn’t been sentenced. But, should he defeat incumbent Bill Spitzer, he would not be able to hold office because of his felony conviction. He’s scheduled for sentencing in December.” So what’s the victory party like if he wins?

One of the Mitt Romney super PACs — with which he has no connection at all, you know — will spend $1.1 million on ads here in the next few days. Dana Davidsen of CNN writes: “Restore Our Future, a super PAC backing Republican nominee Mitt Romney, is going up with $1.8 million worth of ads in Minnesota and New Mexico — states that have been considered safe bets for Democrats. The super PAC announced Wednesday it would spend $1.1 million in Minnesota and $700,000 in New Mexico. The buy will rotate between two, 30-second ads: ‘New Normal,’ which hits President Barack Obama’s economic policies for the ailing economy, and  ‘Saved,’ a positive ad that highlights Romney’s search for a business partner’s daughter who went missing in New York City.” Dang, I was really hoping to see more of that Jeep ad here.

The GleanIf Romney wins Minnesota, one prominent politcal operative will look a bit naked. At the Huffington Post, Elise Foley writes: “Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod said Wednesday he was confident the president will win in Minnesota, Michigan and Pennsylvania — so confident that he promised to shave off his mustache if he’s wrong. ‘Here is what is true in the era of super PACs: there’s a lot of money out there and people can take fliers on states that they don’t necessarily think they’re going to win,’ he said on MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe,’ dismissing polling that shows GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney closing in on the president in the states. ‘I will come on ‘Morning Joe’ and I will shave off my mustache of 40 years if we lose any of those three states,’ he said.”

I still say there’s a very interesting feature story here … David Pitt of the AP reports: “A Minnesota filmmaker sentenced to 10 years in prison for her role in the Iowa Film Office scandal was denied an appeal of her sentence Wednesday by the Iowa Court of Appeals. Wendy Weiner Runge claims the district court judge improperly considered comments she made in an Internet blog during her trial that were critical of prosecutors and the judge. She also alleges the charges were the result of anti-Semitism. Runge’s appeal says Judge Douglas Staskal violated her rights to free speech when he considered the blog comments. In some of the posts, Runge accused prosecutors of engaging in political games and criticized Staskal saying her lawyer found the judge unprofessional.”

This would be a tough thing to forget. Paul Walsh of the Strib writes: “A science teacher at a Minneapolis alternative high school collapsed in front of her students this week and died. Lori Blomme, 40, had taught at Menlo Park Academy in northeast Minneapolis since 2003. Blomme collapsed on Monday while leading the class, said brother-in-law David Blomme. She was hospitalized and died that day. David Blomme said Lori led a very busy life and was feeling some stress over the family dog’s brief disappearance, but she was in good health and took care of herself. He said the family has no immediate clue about why she died and are awaiting autopsy results.”

The Strib’s collection of reader-submitted Halloween pictures is pretty good.

Tom Petters trustee Doug Kelley is going to have to work another angle to get $2 million back from St. Benedict’s. David Unze of the St. Cloud Times reports: “A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against the College of St. Benedict that sought to force the college to give back a $2 million donation from disgraced businessman Tom Petters.The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Richard H. Kyle is a blow to the clawback efforts of court-appointed receiver Doug Kelley, who has been trying to recoup former Petters assets to help offset the losses of those defrauded when Petters’ Ponzi scheme collapsed. Among what Kelley was trying to claw back was the $2 million Petters gave to St. Ben’s in exchange for the college naming an auditorium after his parents. … Kelley … sued under the Federal Debt Collection Procedures Act. [Judge Richard H.]  Kyle ruled last week that only the government could sue under that act.”

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Comments (13)

  1. Submitted by Rosalind Kohls on 10/31/2012 - 03:13 pm.

    Menards’ course

    Menards isn’t doing anything wrong, even if it were endorsing a specific candidate. The company has the same freedom of speech that unions and everyone else has. As long as there is a secret ballot, people are free to vote for whatever candidate they favor.

    • Anonymous Submitted by Anonymous on 10/31/2012 - 04:39 pm.

      Of course it’s their “right” but that doesn’t making it morally right. They’re implicitly threatening their employees’ jobs.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 10/31/2012 - 04:45 pm.

      Menards’s rights

      Yes, they have the legal to conduct political re-education sessions for their employees. Is it appropriate?

  2. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 10/31/2012 - 04:56 pm.

    How Would Menards Survive?

    It seems to me that the selfish, self-serving functionaries at Menards are so busy trying to fill the House, Senate and President’s offices with people who will enable them to further impoverish their own workers in order to pad their own pockets,…

    that they’re ignoring one simple fact: the survival of their business is entirely dependent on the existence of customers who can afford to buy what they’re selling.

    Of course it takes a certain amount of lag time before the fabulously wealthy will have driven the entire middle class into poverty.

    Their efforts to do so were masked through the 1990’s when the majority of people made up for the fact that their incomes were not keeping up by using easy credit,…

    which enabled the financier class to turn many of their fellow citizens into indentured servants for the foreseeable future,…

    but if we end up with Mr. Romney as president and Republicans controlling the House and Senate, they will not be able to resist picking up where “W” left off,…

    wiping out financial regulation and turning the big-money gamblers on Wall Street loose and freeing up the Equity Fund folks to Bain Capitalize (i.e. strip of their assets) much of the remainder of American manufacturing.

    Romney’s advisers have made it abundantly clear that they’d love to start a new war, likely with Iran, (on borrowed money, of course)…

    with the likely result that we’ll suffer the next financial crash in four (or fewer years) this time with a government that no longer has the resources to bail out the banks.

    Thereby the less-than-intelligent, short term thinkers in charge of Menards (and many other American business concerns) will guarantee that their own businesses will die.

    That they can’t see the inevitable results of what they so desperately want to do reminds me of the young, inexperienced workers I’ve known who would never take an extra shift when offered the opportunity to do so, and who always wanted to be the first to leave when things got slow at the end of a shift,…

    but who always complained about being broke.

    Of course most of those teenaged workers grew up and got smarter. The question for me is, will our big money “conservative” friends grow up soon enough to prevent themselves from destroying the goose that has so reliably supplied them with their golden eggs?

    I’m not at all confident that they will.

    Perhaps we DON’T want to put them in positions where the rest of our well being, and that of our nation depends on the answer to that question.

  3. Submitted by Bruce Bednarek on 10/31/2012 - 04:27 pm.

    Menards Class For Workers

    Over the years I have easily spent more than a total of $10k at Menards – which, in view of the above article, will not re-occur in the years to come. The efforts of Menards to force their political choices upon their employees, is deplorable and despicable. Even though I have found Menards to be superior in quality of some of their merchandise, I will be forgoing product quality for the freedom of individual thought and choice.

  4. Submitted by Joe Musich on 10/31/2012 - 06:07 pm.

    anyone know …

    where I can get furnace filters this winter ? Won’t be Mun nerds.

  5. Submitted by Edith Katz on 10/31/2012 - 06:19 pm.

    there’s a very interesting feature story here Wendy Runge

    I believe that Wendy Runge was set up as the fall guy by her partners. They turned state’s evidence against her and got off without serving any time. She didn’t seem remorseful because she was innocent of any fraud against the state of Iowa. The judge took that confidence of innocence as not being remorseful. The judge wants to teach her a lesson. The sentence does not fit the crime. It would make a very interesting feature story.

    • Submitted by Jackson Cage on 11/01/2012 - 10:08 am.

      Actually Edith…

      …it doesn’t appear to be an “interesting story” at all. From reading the link, it seems Runge got exactly what she deserved.

  6. Submitted by Bruce Bednarek on 10/31/2012 - 06:55 pm.

    And your point is??

    And your point is what? Lowes and Home Depot have the same practices or, Lowes and Home Depot would be good alternatives since they do not try to steer their employees personal thoughts and decisions so they fit into the “corporate mold”?

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 11/01/2012 - 11:01 am.

      Are you saying that . . .

      Lowes and Home Depot are also encouraging their employees to take a “Civics 101” course skewed towards Romney-style economics? (I haven’t looked into this – I don’t know the answer).

  7. Submitted by Kenneth Kjer on 11/01/2012 - 06:04 pm.

    Menards class

    Unless they pay their employees for taking the class, they cannot force or coerce the employees to take it. My advise to employees who feel they have been forced or coerced and not paid, file a complaint with the IRS. They responsible for wage and hour violations.

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