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Poll: Dayton in good shape for re-election

DNR, bear researcher spar again; State Fair cracks down on smokers; database misuse targeted; Best Buy, Amy Poehler team up, “Good Question” on all-day kindergarten; and more.

Like Al Franken, Gov. Dayton appears to be starting his re-election cycle in good shape. Rachel Stassen-Berger of the Strib looks at the latest Public Poliy Polling and says: “The year before he will face voters for re-election, Gov. Mark Dayton got high job approval marks from more than half of Minnesotans and beat all potential Republican rivals pollster Public Policy Polling tested him against. According to the poll, 53 percent of Minnesotans said they approve of the job the governor is doing. The vast majority of Minnesotans who call themselves liberal, very liberal or moderate said they think he is doing a good job. They were joined by 24 percent of people who said they were ‘somewhat conservative.’ ‘He’s popular on his own merits, and none of his potential Republican opponents appear to be particularly strong at this point — most of them are unknown and the ones who are well known aren’t very popular,’ said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling.” But just wait until Mike Parry gets in that race.

There’s bear trouble up north. Sam Cook of the Duluth News Tribune writes: “Ely bear researcher Lynn Rogers and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources have locked horns again. In late December, the DNR renewed Rogers’ research permit to study black bears, but cut back the number of bears he may radio-collar from 15 to 12. The permit is valid only through June rather than December, so that future renewals won’t have to be made when bears are denned and Rogers has den cameras deployed, DNR officials said. ‘We continue to be concerned about the lack of scientific publications resulting from your research,’ DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr said in the letter to Rogers that accompanied his permit. The agency claims Rogers, who leads the nonprofit Wildlife Research Institute near Ely, has not written recent peer-reviewed papers that demonstrate ‘hypothesis testing, statistical tests or other protocols.’ ”

The noted healthy-living event the Minnesota State Fair is cracking down on … smokers. Says Paul Walsh of the Strib: “Smokers can forget about puffing away while strolling the State Fair midway or while waiting in line for a spin on the Ferris wheel. The fair’s board of managers over the weekend gave the go-ahead for the creation of outdoor designated smoking areas starting with the 2013 Great Minnesota Get-Together. That means smoking in virtually all other open-air spaces on the 320-acre grounds will be banned. Smoking already was prohibited in fair buildings or in entertainment seating areas, such as the bandshell and the grandstand.” Next … trans-fat and cholesterol patrols.

Repeated abuse of official state databases has several legislators looking for solutions. The AP story says: “Sen. Scott Dibble, a Minneapolis Democrat, and Rep. Mary Liz Holberg, a Republican from Lakeville, plan to unveil a bill Wednesday, Jan. 23, to curb the misuse. It’s illegal to access drivers’ license data without a government purpose, but investigations have found that misuse is common.”

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Never mind … that Zephyr train car auction. The PiPress story says: “The Andersen Corp. in Bayport has reached an agreement with the owner of six Minnesota Zephyr dinner-train cars, nixing the public auction originally set for Wednesday, Jan. 23. The agreement with Dave Paradeau resolves storage fees and allows Paradeau until March 1 to remove the railcars from the Andersen Corp. property, according to Laurie Bauer, vice president of corporate communications for Andersen.”

The GleanBeleaguered Best Buy will pop for a couple of Super Bowl commercials, with Amy Poehler providing some comic energy. Says the AP: “The Minneapolis-based electronics chain said Wednesday it will air a 30-second spot featuring Poehler, fresh off from her gig co-hosting the Golden Globes earlier this month, in the first quarter of the big game, which airs Feb. 3 on CBS. The ad will convey a branding message and comes as the electronics retailer works on a turnaround plan to combat tough competition from online retailers and discounters. The spot will be supported by a social media component, and a second ad will air after the game detailing several special offers. A Best Buy executive said Poehler’s frank humor dovetails with Best Buy’s marketing message.” Really?

On his “Good Question” segment, WCCO-TV’s Jason DeRusha asks whether all-day kindergarten is worth it? ‘Unlike 29 other states, Minnesota only funds half-day kindergarten. Gov. Mark Dayton proposed changing that Tuesday in his new budget. He proposed giving schools $910 for each student attending a free all-day, every day kindergarten program. But is that extra investment in kindergarten worth it? … Students who attended all-day kindergarten far outscored their classmates who had attended kindergarten outside of the district on the standardized math and reading tests, according to the CAREI report.”

Jennifer Bjorhus of the Strib has a piece on a higher-stakes ATM fraud: “U.S. financial institutions have been put on alert for a potential round of more sophisticated, and more dire, ATM cash-out fraud schemes. Both credit card juggernaut Visa Inc. and Fair Isaac Corp., a leading payments fraud analytics company, issued separate alerts to clients in the past two weeks with general warnings about the potential risk of ATM cash-out fraud schemes. A copy of the data security alert Visa sent clients around Jan. 10, obtained by the Star Tribune, warns of cases in which organized criminal groups in various parts of the world have been plundering cards and accounts by penetrating internal networks at financial institutions. ‘In a recently reported case, criminals used a small number of cards to conduct 1000’s of ATM withdrawals in multiple countries around the world in one weekend,’ the Visa advisory begins.” And final liability for ineffective security lies with …?

What expertise do these people have in the context of our precious Second Amendment freedoms? Says the AP: “A group of Minnesota sheriffs want to make it harder for those suffering from mental illness to obtain guns. Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek, Carver County Sheriff Jim Olson and others are holding a news conference Wednesday to announce proposed reforms to the state’s gun laws. Among them, the sheriffs want to strengthen background checks for those who want to own guns. They also want law enforcement to have more access to an individual’s mental health records.” Stalinist tyranny!