With the first real freeze coming in this weekend, Paul Huttner at MPR writes: “With the deep and prolonged cold wave, our still thawed (and bone dry) soils in Minnesota will likely freeze up for the winter season next week. This means our fall window for soaking, drought easing rains has come and gone without much help from typical fall rain systems. With nearly 100% of Minnesota now in drought and 43.17% in severe drought, the freeze up will effectively “lock in” the soils drought going into the Spring of 2013. Even if we get hammered with snow this winter … frozen soils will be unable to absorb significant moisture until the ground thaws in spring. Not good news heading into the 2013 growing season.”
And who exactly wants to buy the place? Pam Louwagie of the Strib says: “The mother of three young girls killed in their River Falls, Wis., house reacted sharply after learning her ex-husband’s family had placed the home for sale even as he faced trial for the slayings. On a Facebook page dedicated to the girls, Jessica Schaffhausen posted a copy of an e-mail she had sent to an Edina Realty agent warning that a sale would let Aaron Schaffhausen get ‘tens of thousands of dollars.’ … A public relations consultant working with Edina Realty, Maria Verven, said Monday that, after receiving Schaffhausen’s request, the agency canceled the listing Friday and will no longer handle it.”
The AP notes: “A Minnesota task force helping craft a health-insurance marketplace is discussing its next steps. The task force, which is advisory in nature, planned to convene today for an update on the consumer-oriented project. Minnesota has already declared it will set up a health-care marketplace to help people and small businesses get private insurance. Other states have balked at the idea because leaders object to President Barack Obama’s health law that inspired the exchanges. Minnesota has received more than $70 million in federal grants to develop its own exchange, and much of the state’s progress report is online for consumers to see. The state is seeking another $39 million grant to finish developing the exchange.”
Another pretty bad quarter for Best Buy … Thomas Lee of the Strib (who by now has to be looking for a “good news” story) writes: “Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly told analysts Tuesday morning that the company’s worse than expected third quarter results will not spill over to the key holiday shopping season and fiscal 2013. The Richfield-based consumer electronics retailer said excluding restructuring costs, profits from continuing operations for the three months ended Nov. 1 fell 94 percent to $10 million, or three cents a share, compared to $173 million, or 47 cents a share during the same period a year ago. The deterioration came from higher expenses and a 4.3 percent decline in sales at stores open for at least a year, a key measure for retail growth.”
Meanwhile … the AP says: “Continued strong sales of Spam and Jennie-O products helped Hormel Foods as its net income climbed 13 percent in its fourth fiscal quarter. The Austin, Minn., company also increased its annual dividend by 13 percent to 68 cents per share. But both its earnings and revenue were below Wall Street expectations and its shares slipped 29 cents to $31.01 in premarket trading. For the period ended Oct. 28, the food company reported Tuesday that it earned $132.6 million, or 49 cents per share, up from $117.3 million, or 43 cents per share a year earlier.”
New Jersey … in the Big Ten? Ralph Russo of the AP says: “Rutgers is leaving the Big East for the Big Ten and cashing in on the school’s investment in a football program that only 10 years ago seemed incapable of competing at the highest level. The school will make its decision official Tuesday at a news conference on its campus in Piscataway, N.J., with Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany joined by Rutgers University President Robert Barchi and athletic director Tim Perenetti. Rutgers will leave the Big East, where it has been competing since 1991. The move follows Maryland’s announcement Monday that it was departing the Atlantic Coast Conference to join the Big Ten in 2014. Rutgers will be the Big Ten’s 14th member.” Have any of their players even heard of … Iowa?
Who knew … that truckers have some bad lifestyle habits? Lorna Benson at MPR says: “When many people think of truck drivers and their lifestyle, they likely envision someone who sits a lot, eats loads of unhealthy food and consumes too many soft drinks. They’d be right. … To reduce trucking accidents such emergencies cause, new rules from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will soon require commercial drivers to undergo medical exams from health professionals it has certified to perform physicals designed to identify conditions that could pose a hazard while driving. A 2007 study by the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that 86 percent of truckers were overweight; of those, 66 percent were obese. Research suggests that health problems, a poor diet and a lack of physical activity can contribute to accidents.”
Union Depot’s makeover is nearly complete. Frederick Melo of the PiPress says: “After two years and $243 million in historically accurate improvements, the Union Depot in downtown St. Paul will reopen as a transit hub for commuters for the first time in more than 40 years. An all-day public celebration featuring Winter Carnival royalty, the rededication of a Snoopy statue, building tours and a free family movie takes place on Dec. 8. This is the first time that the 1920s-era facility will be fully open to the public since the last train left the station in 1971. Metro Transit buses will begin service at 7 a.m. on Dec. 8, inaugurating more than 300 arrivals and departures each weekday.”
What was Sen. Lindsey Graham’s advice to Mitt Romney the other day? “Stop digging”? The Dan McGrath who pushed the voting amendment might consider the same advice. In a blog post on the conservative site True North, McGrath writes: “There were a lot of factors that led to the ultimate defeat of the Voter ID amendment, but chief among them was simply money. We couldn’t even come close to matching the resources of the massive coalition of left-wing organizations, unions, DC-Based national non-profits and even government agencies that were aligned against the Voter ID amendment. But for the help of one major donor, the campaign to pass Voter ID wouldn’t have even gotten off the ground because people simply weren’t supporting the campaign financially. … SEIU, AFL-CIO and other government and labor unions heavily contributed staff time to door-knocking and calling campaigns pushing their scare-tactics and misinformation. The League of Women Voters was gaining access to senior care facilities under the guise of presenting non-biased, non-partisan information sessions about Voter ID, when in reality, they were campaigning against it. … We went toe to toe in debates against the opposition and every observer said we crushed them on facts. After nearly every debate, our opposing advocate refused to debate us again because of the embarrassment they suffered. They sent new representatives and lost the debates again and again, but even all of that wasn’t enough. … Ultimately, money was the principle factor in the defeat of the Voter ID amendment. Initial post-election research now being conducted by Minnesota Majority indicates that voter fraud likely played a role, but voter fraud is only effective in a close election. It shouldn’t have even been close.” I think he’s so deep he struck a gas line.