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Spam-maker buys Skippy peanut butter

Would you like a smear of Skippy’s on your Spam? Bloomberg reports: “Hormel Foods Corp., the maker of Spam lunchmeat, rose the most since February 2011 after agreeing to buy the Skippy peanut-butter business from Unilever for about $700 million to expand further into China. Hormel rose 3.9 percent to $33.26 at 11:15 a.m. in New York after earlier gaining as much as 5.7 percent. The purchase of the second-biggest U.S. peanut butter brand with $370 million in annual sales will “modestly” boost profits in the current financial year and add 13 to 17 cents a share in fiscal 2014, Austin, Minnesota-based Hormel said today in a statement. The deal is a ‘significant opportunity,’ Hormel Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey M. Ettinger said in the statement. ‘The fast-growing international line will also strengthen our global presence and should be a useful complement to our sales strategy in China for the Spam family of products.’ ” Well now it’s official. The Chinese have it all.

Graydon Royce of the Strib says a “thaw” has set in between Minnesota orchestra musicians and their board. “A spokesman for the musicians said only that the players ‘agreed to a fresh start.’ The board offered a four-point plan for musicians to consider:
• Return to the organization's former mission statement, with two changes to emphasize community service and financial stability.
• Share more financial data with musicians, including forecasts through 2015.
• Invite musicians to submit a proposal for a "mutually agreeable independent financial review" to verify the orchestra's financial condition.
Offer a schedule of dates for more meeting.
Never mind the money and benefits. Just give me a shot at another meeting.

I hear Kurt Bills still has some fight left in him. Brett Neely of MPR reports: “After the losses they took in last year's elections, some Minnesota Republicans have hoped that U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen would challenge DFL U.S. Sen. Al Franken in 2014. They're going to be disappointed. When asked Wednesday whether he was interested in a run for Senate, Paulsen said, ‘No, that's ridiculous.’ He emphasized that he wants to use his seat on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee to overhaul the tax code this year …
Paulsen's office says his use of the word ‘ridiculous’ wasn't about running for Senate. A spokesman says Paulsen used the word in the context to the preface of the question that mentioned Paulsen's ‘no’ vote on the fiscal cliff deal before asking whether he was running for Senate.” So he’s saying … there’s still a chance?

Another long-running story I’m really going to miss. … really. Dave Chanen of the Strib writes: “Four men are scheduled to be sentenced in a Minneapolis federal court Thursday for their roles in the state's second-largest Ponzi scheme. But before that, the case will take another dramatic turn when prosecutors seek to present evidence of an alleged murder plot against one of the defendants, and two of the defendants argue that the late disclosure of the alleged plot warrants a new trial. The $194 million Ponzi scheme bilked more than 700 investors nationwide, mostly retirees. It was run by Trevor Cook, a Burnsville money manager who is serving a 25-year prison term. … Court records show that prosecutors knew about the alleged plot for quite some time but failed to turn over FBI interview notes to defense attorneys until Dec. 28. Prosecutors chalk up the failure to human error, noting that they turned over more than 7 terabytes of computer evidence. In court filings, they argue that the error does not warrant a new trial because the alleged murder plot was not relevant to the fraud scheme.” All this story needs is a connection to a Kardashian sister.

The GleanPower Line’s Scott Johnson leaps upon the Wall Street Journal story that prompted the op-ed piece in this morning’s Strib. The topic of administrative bloat at state universities is ripe for those who believe everything “state” is a cesspool of waste. Says Johnson: “The Minnesota media usually luxuriates in national attention directed to local institutions or figures. Not so with the December 28 Wall Street Journal article (behind the Journal subscription paywall) highlighting the University of Minnesota as Exhibit A for the administrative bloat fostered by the higher education bubble. The silence is, as they say, deafening. … Here’s a thought. Some local Twin Cities paper with a reporting staff really ought to follow up on the Journal article with reporting and analysis of its own.” Fair enough. I’d read that.

Yet another assault on our constitutional freedoms … Paul Walsh of the Strib reports: “Green Bay Packers management, operating in a state that prides itself on making — and drinking — beer, said Thursday that it is turning off the taps earlier than usual for Saturday night's playoff game against the Minnesota Vikings. Alcohol sales at Lambeau Field will halt upon the second half's start, the team announced. That's earlier than the standard end of the third quarter. The earlier last call also comes as the team cautions those heading to the game that security personnel ‘will be extra vigilent’ during the game in keeping fans in line.” Yeah … that’s how they spell it in Green Bay.

Speaking of … Andy Rathbun of the PiPress says: “A Woodville, Wis., mother is asking Baldwin-Woodville High School officials to examine bullying issues after a racial incident left her 15-year-old foster daughter ‘shut down’ and afraid to go to school. Sarah Hitzeman said the freshman has dealt with bullying since ‘day one’ at the school. It culminated Dec. 20 when a Caucasian male student gave the African-American girl a hemp noose while wearing a white paper cone hat resembling the hood of the Ku Klux Klan. ‘I think it was just an uneducated, not-thought-through juvenile prank, and it was more hurtful than he could imagine,’ Hitzeman said. ‘I believe what the student did was wrong, but my issue is with the school.’ School Principal Eric Russell said teachers were in the art classroom where the incident occurred and did not see the student wearing the hat.”

And these guys are walking around … . Aaron Rupar of City Pages expands on an Oakdale Patch story, saying: “President Pimpin Austin Sr., 21, has been charged with felony domestic assault, violating an order of protection, and felony malicious punishment of a child for allegedly beating his then one-year-old son and the boy's mom. The accusations against Austin Sr. are unfathomable. Also unfathomable: The ‘Sr.’ suggests his boy's name is President Pimpin Austin Jr., which seems like a form of child abuse in and of itself. … Austin, a St. Paul resident, has two previous domestic assault convictions — one in 2010 and another in 2011. He could spend five years in prison for each of the three new charges he faces.”

GOP Rep. Steve Gottwalt is a guy who understands the concept of Carpe Diem. Jennifer Brooks of the Strib writes: “State Rep. Steve Gottwalt, R-St. Cloud, has taken a job as state legislative director for the Center for Diagnostic Imaging, a company that lobbies the Minnesota legislature. House Republican Caucus spokeswoman Susan Closmore said Gottwalt, who was just elected to a fourth term, will remain in the Legislature. The company lobbies in a number of states and Closmore said Gottwalt's new job will not present a conflict of interest as long as his lobbying work is done out of state. … Gottwalt, who served as chairman of the House Human Services Reform Committee, also sells insurance — a career that raised eyebrows after it was revealed he works as a contractor for a brokerage firm that lobbied his committee to move thousands of Minnesotans off MinnesotaCare and into the private insurance market.” To offer a bit of perspective on the varying degrees of conflicts of interest: During the Super Bowl week way, way back, PiPress staffers were admonished not to accept free cans of Pepsi from the omnipresent game sponsor ... less they be tainted by the negative appearance.

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Comments (4)

Ethically challenged legislators

Obviously, the GOP legislator who cannot possibly *not* lobby the Minnesota Legislature being a member of the Minnesota Legislature does not even know the meaning of the word ethos.
First, last session he was all over health care issues in the legislature while claiming to be a *consultant* when in actuality he's an insurance salesman. Ethics? Not in my book.
And now he claims he can take a job as a lobbyist and not lobby the legislative body of which he is a member? His membership, alone, is a method of lobbying.
But I've come to the conclusion that these ill-informed, badly educated GOP representatives are really just naive, heartless souls who have no business representing anyone anywhere ever.

So the "noose" student is suspended

What other options should/could the school exercise? Make every other student drop and give them 20 pushups? The teachers?

I too would read a local article about the bloat going on at the U of M. I'm not sure the WSJ article even mentioned paying other schools to not play football with us...

Can we assume

that Rep. Gottwalt will refrain from voting on any legislation which might directly affect his new employer? I'm guessing not.

If anyone would like to have a look at the Wall Street Journal

article about the U, it is available here:

Hiring Spree Fattens College Bureaucracy—And Tuition
Wall Street Journal on University of Minnesota