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Dayton to biz leaders: Show me where you'd cut spending

It’s a question that usually shuts them up … Bill Salisbury of the PiPress writes: “Gov. Mark Dayton says he can't erase Minnesota's $1.1 billion budget shortfall with spending cuts alone, and he has a simple message for business leaders who disagree: Show me where you'd slash state spending. Cuts are part of the budget fix, but ‘fair, progressive, sustainable revenue’ — in other words, tax increases — need to be part of the solution, Tina Smith, Dayton's chief of staff, told more than 1,600 business leaders and policy makers at the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce's annual legislative dinner … In response, Laura Bordelon, the Chamber's senior vice president for advocacy, said spending control ‘isn't just cuts.’ She said business wants to work with the administration and lawmakers to overhaul state programs, redesign the way services are delivered and update government structures to hold down costs. ‘Let's start there,’ before considering tax increases, she said." No, really. Feel free to get specific.

Now this is amusing … and probably effective. At Pro Publica, Lois Beckett writes: “In Minnesota, Democratic volunteers scour their local newspapers each morning for letters to the editor with a political slant. They pay attention to the names of callers on radio shows. They drive through their neighborhoods and jot down the addresses of campaign lawn signs. Then they feed the information into a state Democratic Party database that includes nearly every voter in Minnesota. Some of the states' few dozen data volunteers are so devoted that they log into the party database daily from their home computers. Deb Pitzrick, 61, of Eden Prairie, convinced a group of her friends to form the ‘Grandma Brigade.’ These women, in their 50s, 60s and 70s, no longer want to knock on doors for the Democrats. Instead, they support the party by gathering public information about other voters. … One data volunteer even joked about holding ‘rat out your neighbor parties,’ where friends would be encouraged to add notes about the political views of other people on their block.”  So what happens when they get a load of my Ted Nugent "How 'Bout Some Hot Lead?" bumper sticker?

The mayor wants a truce. Euan Kerr’s MPR story says: “Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak likens his invitation to the Christmas Truce portrayed in the Minnesota Opera Production of ‘Silent Night.’ ‘On one special night, we ask everybody to take the dispute and go into neutral and come together and have one celebration,’ said Rybak. He's talking about a concert to be held February 1st at the Minneapolis Convention Center to celebrate the Minnesota Orchestra's Grammy nomination for its recent Sibelius recording. The celebrations of the honor have been muted since it came after Minnesota Orchestra management locked out the musicians October 1st. Rybak says he knows a lot of people just want the contract dispute settled, but says this will be a chance to take a breather and find some common ground.”

The odds for getting caught were higher than for winning … Joy Powell of the Strib says: “Michael R. Trembley's luck has run out. He's been charged in Ramsey County District Court with lottery fraud after he allegedly stole scratch-off tickets from the New Brighton gas station where he worked and cashed in winning numbers for $18,557, according to investigators who combed through the clerk's bank account. The lottery-fraud charge is unusual, and the amount stolen is fairly substantial as far [as] such thefts go, said Doug Wills, security chief for the Minnesota State Lottery. Only 25 to 30 suspects get busted for lottery fraud each year in Minnesota, typically after stealing from their employers.”

The GleanA bill improving background checks on guardians for vulnerable adults has some early traction. Doug Belden at the PiPress says: “The bill would require background checks every two years, instead of every five as current law prescribes, and would expand the checks to include professional license status, civil judgments and other information that could bear on a person's fitness to be a guardian or conservator. … [Attorney General Lori] Swanson said she didn't have hard data on the extent of abuse of vulnerable adults in Minnesota, in part because these situations are often not reported. She did cite the recent prosecution of a woman who had been suspended from the practice of law but was subsequently appointed to serve as guardian for dozens of adults and wound up stealing tens of thousands of dollars.”

A performing arts school is expanding in downtown St. Paul. Frederick Melo of the PiPress says: “A growing public charter school dedicated to the performing arts plans to purchase a large portion of the Lowry Building at 350 St. Peter St. in St. Paul and consolidate its downtown classroom space. The St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists, a charter high school, has an agreement with building owner Rich Pakonen to buy 57,000 square feet in the building, or about 60 percent of the commercial space on the Lowry Building's first three floors. The goal is to move 550 high school students into the building by this fall. To finance the move, the city's Housing and Redevelopment Authority gave its preliminary approval on Wednesday, Jan. 9, to sign off on up to $9 million in ‘conduit’ bonds. The municipal bonds are issued by the public authority at a tax-exempt rate, with interest and principal paid by the school.”

Listening to the campaign hysteria last fall, I was under the impression that every entrepreneur and small business owner had been driven to ruin. Says Tom Webb in the PiPress: “New business filings rose 18 percent last year in Minnesota, the second-highest number in recent history, the Minnesota Secretary of State's office said. About half of the 60,827 filings last year were for limited liability companies, or LLCs, which can range in size from one-person operations to far larger enterprises. But there were upticks in other types of business formations, too, from corporations to nonprofits to limited partnerships to cooperatives. ‘It's a broadly positive indicator,’ said John Stavig, professional director of the Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management. ‘There can be a counter-cyclical element to it, because in an economic downturn, some people can be forced into creating their own company. But it's generally a positive indicator.' "

She married this guy? Chao Xiong’s Strib story says: “Steven R. Johnson fatally shot and dismembered his wife in their St. Paul home on Sunday after she announced plans to leave him and take their 18-month-old son. Johnson, 34, used a saw to dismember Manya J. Johnson in the couple's shower. He then placed the 32-year-old woman's body in several plastic bins and stored them in a friend's garage in White Bear Lake … . Anoka County court documents from his 1996 conviction for aiding and abetting criminal sexual conduct describe a troubled teen who had chemical dependency issues. A psychologist diagnosed the 18-year-old as ‘particularly defective in his capacity for empathy’ and as having ‘a pathological sexual adjustment that is not likely to be improved very much by the time he leaves prison.’ … The crime was so heinous that Johnson, considered the mastermind of the attack, received twice the guideline sentence — 17 years and two months in prison with supervised release and sex offender registry until 2018. Johnson was released from prison in February 2008.”

In the Mankato Free Press, Robb Murray covers Day One of the trial of The Ogling Ophthalmologist: “To hear prosecutors sum it up, Todd Gavin is a calculating sexual predator, a man who saw the opportunity to take advantage of two young female clients, tricking them into thinking it was within the wheelhouse of an eye doctor to examine a patient’s breasts. … Gavin was facing two felony and two gross misdemeanor charges for allegedly having two female patients remove their clothing for no reason during eye exams in 2010 in Mankato. The charges were filed in July 2011 after a woman told police she had been sexually assaulted by Gavin. He had already been reprimanded and sanctioned by the state for inappropriately touching other female patients, including a second victim cited in the complaint.”

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Comments (6)

I know it was a throwaway comment, but ...

Re: She *married* this guy?

Brian, your comment about the woman who married, and was murdered by, Steven R. Johnson -- a clearly disturbed person who is "particularly defective in his capacity for empathy" -- itself lacks a certain empathy.

Perhaps she had extremely low-self esteem. It happens, you know. Very common in clinically depressed people.

(Not that I have any special powers of diagnosis ... but still, I don't also presume to know enough about the situation to make flip remarks about such a tragic state of affairs.)


There is no wit or virtue in quipping about a a woman's culpability in her own murder as result of domestic violence.

Sorry Ben

Maybe it was asked inartfully, but it's a valid question.

Did she know?

The guy met with a parole officer monthly, but I wonder if she even knew about his criminal history. The article says they were good neighbors; it's possible he hid everything from her.

My apologies ...

 ... I was certainly not make light of an incident as awful as this. But reading through the guy's priors I'd like to know how such a couple got together -- not just to date -- but marry. The victim appears to have been an otherwise competent adult. Low self-esteem? Depression?  Or did he somehow manage to avoid disclosing his heinous past? If so, how did he pull that off? What do her friends and family have to say?Again, my apologies ... .

Business Leaders

I don't see the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce as having a shred of credibility regarding the state budget. It was THEIR guys (and women) who ran the legislature during the last budget round. And how well did that work out? Now they want to tell me, "Watch out, these new guys don't know what their doing!"? This is a joke, right?

They couldn't get the Republican majority to support the Southwest LRT. Now they'll get it from their opponents, once the bills from the last budget are finally paid up.

Everyone gets a seat at the table, everyone gets to have their say. But some voices have not earned much consideration.