Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


AG Swanson targets ‘aggressive recruiting’ by for-profit colleges

Kline pessimistic on settlement; supporters poised on gay marriage bill; irked GOP offers flood of amendments; new shopping leader; mercury emissions drop; and more.

In the polite vernacular, it’s called “aggressive recruiting.” The Strib’s Mark Brunswick reports on AG Lori Swanson’s latest target … for-profit colleges: “Although the state’s investigation is a broad probe of practices at the for-profit schools, authorities are particularly focused on how the institutions target veterans and active duty military personnel who have access to lucrative GI Bill benefits. The industry’s ubiquitous advertising campaigns can be manipulative and misleading, including hidden costs and deceptive claims about graduation and placement rates, alleged Lori Swanson, the Minnesota attorney general, who has launched the investigation.” And what, if anything, does Congressman John Kline, chair of the House Education and Workforce Committee, have to say about this?

Speaking of … Don Davis of the Forum papers says, “Kline predicts there will be no last-minute agreement to fix massive federal budget cuts, an inaction that would cost many American jobs. The Minnesota Republican said one study indicates 4,000 Minnesotans could lose their jobs when the automatic cuts, known as sequestration, hit next month. ‘My expectation is that we will see the cuts take effect,’ Kline told reporters at the state Capitol this morning.” Oddly, he’s not quoted in the piece blaming sequestration on the president.

His caucus leaders might not be too thrilled about this … But according to Esme Murphy at WCCO-TV: “Senator Scott Dibble said he plans to introduce a bill to legalize gay marriage this week. Dibble believes this legislation has the momentum to pass after voters defeated a constitutional amendment that would’ve strengthened the existing gay marriage ban. ‘It’s just simply an amendment that removes the restriction that disallows some couples from getting married,’ Dibble said. ‘My strong sense, even from folks in greater Minnesota, is that they’re comfortable with this, they know that Minnesota has changed a lot and is continuing to change at a very rapid pace.’ State Representative Karen Clark is expected to introduce a similar bill in the House.”

Is somebody throwing a tantrum? Megan Boldt of the PiPress writes: “Republicans in the Minnesota House called last week’s rule change requiring amendments to be filed 24 hours before bills are heard on the floor a ‘power grab.’ So in an apparent protest, GOP members filed around 160 amendments on four noncontroversial bills slated to hit the House floor Monday, Feb. 18.”

Article continues after advertisement

There’s a new leader in (shopping) paradise. Janet Moore of the Strib says: “The Minneapolis Neiman Marcus store shuttered last month. But Luis Serrat, the former vice president and general manager of the store, is now heading up operations at the Galleria in Edina. Serrat’s official title is vice president-retail, but he’ll be responsible for all facets of management at the luxury lifestyle center off France Avenue. He begins his new job Feb. 25. … In a statement, Serrat says he’s long enjoyed shopping at the Galleria, which he says has the ‘market’s best selection of national and international designers and brands under one roof, bar none.’ ” And just in time. Who doesn’t need a new pair of $500 spring pumps?

It’s progress … . John Myers of the Duluth News Tribune writes: “Minnesota regulatory officials said Monday that the state’s coal-fired power plants have cut their mercury emissions by more than half over the past 15 years as the state tries to limit its residents’ exposure to the toxic metal. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency held a media event at a Twin Cities power plant to herald the effort of cutting mercury from 1,850 pounds per year in the 1990s to about 870 pounds today. PCA Commissioner John Link Stine said the goal is to cut power-plant emissions to less than 200 pounds by 2016.”

The GleanIt’s a story that will only get bigger as spring arrives … Greg Vandergrift of KARE-TV reports: “[A]t state climatology, Greg Spoden says without abundant spring rains, Minnesota is on the verge of a 1988-like drought. As things stand, the soil is certainly not in shape to produce a crop. ‘Not without replenishing the soil moisture, no. Timely rains would do the trick; but there would be no buffer; there would no room for dry spells,’ Spoden says.”

That leave of absence has turned into a flat-out firing. The AP is now saying: “A man charged with slapping a toddler on a Minneapolis-to-Atlanta flight is out of a job, his former employer said Sunday. Joe Rickey Hundley, 60, of Hayden, Idaho, is no longer an employee of AGC Aerospace and Defense, Composites Group, Daniel Keeney of DPK Public Relations confirmed Sunday night. … [Mother, Jessica] Bennett and her husband are white, while Jonah, whom they adopted, is black. ‘We wish to emphasize that the behavior that has been described is contradictory to our values, embarrassing and does not in any way reflect the patriotic character of the men and women of diverse backgrounds who work tirelessly in our business,’ [CEO Al] Haase said in his statement.” And what else do we know about Lake Hayden, Idaho?

We’re certain it was just an innocent, inadvertent typo … . Derrick Kuntson of the East Central Minnesota Post Review wrote: “Last fall, State Rep. Bob Barrett (R-Lindstrom) maintained a seat in the legislature thanks to a narrow victory over former State Senator Rick Olseen (DFL-Sunrise Township). The election, however, did not mark the candidates’ only bout. A different contest went in favor of Olseen last week, as the state’s Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) ordered Barrett and his campaign committee to pay a $1,000 fine for distributing a flier with false information about Olseen in the days leading up to the election. The mailing … among other statements said that ‘Bob’s opponent didn’t serve on the Education committee while a state senator even though our schools need help.’ In fact, Olseen served on the Senate’s Education Policy Committee from 2007-2008. A three-member panel of judges concluded Barrett and his team prepared and disseminated false campaign material with reckless disregard as to whether it was false.