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Report: Menards ‘class’ for workers favors Romney

Minneapolis wants some data made private; marijuana conviction complicates mayor’s race; super PAC makes pro-Romney ad buy; Axelrod’s Minnesota election wager; and more.

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.

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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.”