I know a crowd who won’t find this encouraging. David Peterson of the Strib writes: “With more native-born residents leaving the state, Minnesota’s growth and prosperity depend increasingly upon its unusually strong flow of foreigners, according to a series of new analyses and data, the most recent of which arrived on Thursday. As North Dakota and South Dakota experience jumps in population, Minnesota’s once enviable position as a population magnet among Frost Belt states is fading. But in immigration, it towers over the rest of the Upper Midwest, with almost as many foreigners arriving as all the neighboring states combined. Among facts to emerge this week:
• In the first part of this decade, the state lost an average of 4,037 people each year to migration, but gained an average of 5,940 international migrants each year.”
I assume we’ll have Cartier kiosk next to the lifts. Jennifer Bjorhus of the Strib says: “Afton Alps, one of the Twin Cities’ most popular ski areas, is being sold to Vail Resorts Inc. as the Colorado skiing giant seeks to add “gateway” urban ski areas close to its customer base. Vail Resorts said Thursday that it’s snapping up Afton Alps as well as the Mount Brighton ski area outside Detroit, for a combined $20 million in cash. The Midwest is a new frontier for Broomfield, Colo.-based Vail Resorts, which owns seven high-end resorts in the West, including the famous Vail Mountain. The acquisitions are the first step in a new growth strategy, said Vail Resorts CEO Robert Katz.” I hope that strategy doesn’t require snow.
John Myers of the Duluth News Tribune reports on an at least temporary victory for environmentalists regarding mineral leases up north: “The state’s top elected officials turned down a package of state leases to mining companies Thursday that would have allowed exploration and drilling in northeastern Minnesota. The state Executive Council in St. Paul voted 3-1 to delay the leases pending a decision by the Minnesota Court of Appeals on whether an Environmental Assessment Worksheet should be done to gauge potential environmental impact where the exploration will take place. … Dayton went as far as scolding DNR officials for not making the minerals lease process more open and accessible for public input, and he called for a meeting in his office in the near future to include concerned citizens and top DNR staff. It’s the second time in as many years that the Executive Council has delayed mineral leases, although for different reasons. In 2011 the board delayed action after many private landowners said they were not aware the state held mineral rights under their land and that the state was about to allow mining companies to drill there.”
Well, it wasn’t like they need any encouragement … Jaime Uribarri of the New York Daily News writes: “Like a bad hangover, the media scrutiny just won’t go away for Chad Greenway. The Minnesota Vikings linebacker unintentionally thrust himself into the national spotlight this week by urging fans to get “super duper drunk” prior to Sunday’s NFC North showdown with the Chicago Bears, in a light-hearted rallying cry that quickly went viral for all the wrong reasons. Now Greenway is backtracking from comments that were meant as a joke but quickly took on a life of their own. ‘Obviously, I could have used some more responsible words,’ he told ESPN Radio Chicago.” I know someone who got a call from the commissioner’s office.
The Strib’s Mark Brunswick picks up on the story of the Minnesota cadet resigning his West Point commission over the academy’s religious pressures: “Six months short of graduation, West Point cadet Blake Page resigned over what he says is a culture that promotes prayer and religion and harasses nonreligious cadets at one of the country’s most prestigious military academies. Within the next few days, his life in the military will be over and he’ll be headed to Minnesota amid a firestorm about the meaning of God and country and the separation of church and state. At West Point, Page said, he witnessed cadets being rewarded for participating in religious activities, saw requirements for mandatory prayer, and other efforts to reward, encourage and require sectarian religious participation. After deciding to leave West Point, he wanted to make a statement to his chain of command, writing a scathing letter criticizing academy leadership for its ‘blatant religious bigotry.’ ” Are we still fighting wars in the name of God?
Bain Capital-owned Clear Channel radio has whacked “The Superstar.” Says Paul Walsh in the Strib: “Morning drive-time host and former Viking Mike Morris is off the air at KFAN Radio (100.3 FM) amid reported layoffs by the station’s parent company. … Morris, known by his tongue-in-cheek nickname ‘Superstar’, was an offensive lineman who specialized as a long snapper with the Vikings from 1991 to ’99 before retiring. Morris, 51, was the host of ‘The Power Trip’ morning show, which aired weekdays from 6-9 a.m. He also co-hosted post-game shows after Vikings broadcasts on the station. Messages left Thursday afternoon with Morris, station executives and Clear Channel officials were not returned.” The media refuses to talk to the media. I always love that one.
Fraud du jour. Doug Belden at the PiPress reports: “The head of a nonprofit used thousands of dollars of public grant money for personal expenses and fabricated documents to conceal the activity, according to a state audit that faults the Department of Health for not monitoring the group carefully enough. … Acting on information from the Health Department, the Office of the Legislative Auditor, in a report released Thursday, Dec. 6, reviewed Sierra Young’s financial transactions and found many that couldn’t be tied to grant purposes and appeared to be for personal uses, including:
— $95,810 in payments to the executive director’s family members
— $6,050 in rent payments for son’s apartment
— $22,320 in checks made out to executive director
— $16,790 in cash withdrawals
— $16,562 in payments to repay a loan
— About $3,000 in payments to various retailers, vendors and offices.”
Similarly … David Hanners and Elizabeth Mohr of the PiPress say: “A former district treasurer for the state’s amateur hockey association has been accused of tax evasion because he allegedly embezzled money from the group and didn’t report it as income. Steven Brier, 55, of Oakdale was named in the charge filed by federal prosecutors. … The former insurance agent once served as treasurer for District 2 of what is now known as Minnesota Hockey, the group that governs youth and amateur hockey play in Minnesota. The federal charge says he underreported his 2010 income by the $74,473 that he embezzled from the organization, then called the Minnesota Amateur Hockey Association.”
The always entertaining John Hugh Gilmore gets off a cathartic rant, sparked in part by our Cyndy Brucato’s piece on influential Lakeville GOP Sen. Dave Thompson. Says Gilmore on his Minnesota Conservatives blog: “Brucato wrote about Senate Assistant Minority Leader Sen. Dave Thompson’s address to a republican gathering earlier this week. I tweeted that his remarks were ‘incoherent twaddle.’ … He noted that proclaiming there was a budget surplus while all the reporting declared deficits made it ‘look like you’re being disingenuous, especially when it’s self-serving.’ Since when is being disingenuous not self-serving? Oh and senator, why the lack of the first person singular? I’ll take plural in a pinch. But no, Thompson’s comments read as if he wasn’t in office last session, let alone in a leadership position. They lack integrity. … possibly as a result of having read some random tripe on World Net Daily, Thompson goes all in and declares 2012 as the year in which we lost the country to the European-style social welfare state. If you’ve gone French and surrendered your political raison d’etre you have an affirmative obligation to quit the field and let someone else take your place in the battle of ideas. It takes some brass to be instrumental in policy choices that led to an electoral massacre and then claim the war has been lost permanently because of forces beyond your control.”