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Social media chatter is not an ‘open meeting’

Social media chatter — on Facebook and Twitter will not ever be considered official meetings. The AP says: ”The House Government Operations Committee on Tuesday, Feb. 26, discussed the bill that would make clear that those types of communications don’t trigger the open meeting law. Republican Rep. Duane Quam’s bill would adapt Minnesota’s open meeting law to newer technologies. To comply, however, government officials wouldn’t be able to take votes via social media or substitute required public hearings for virtual ones. A lawyer for the Minnesota Newspaper Association raised concerns about social media being used to foster off-line deliberations.”

It appears to be a bipartisan thing … Christopher Snowbeck of the PiPress says: “Bipartisan legislation announced Tuesday, Feb. 26, would boost state funding for nursing homes and assisted living centers by about 5 percent over a two-year period beginning in July. About three quarters of the $56 million in new money for long-term care providers go to worker salaries or for new hires, said Rep. Patti Fritz, DFL-Faribault, during a news conference Tuesday at the Capitol. … The state ends up providing a large share of the revenue for nursing homes and other long-term care providers in the state through the Medical Assistance program, which is the state’s version of Medicaid.”

Four hundred more jobs are leaving Best Buy in Bloomington. Thomas Lee of the Strib says: “The company said the move is part of an effort to eliminate $150 million in costs as part of CEO Hubert Joly’s “Renew Blue” strategy to boost sales and lower expenses by $725 million over the next several years. The company employs 8,000 people in Minnesota and 160,000 workers worldwide. Analysts say they were not surprised by the announcement. In November, Joly told investors that Best Buy’s overhead costs in North America alone totaled $4 billion. Shaving just 10 percent of the number could generate $400 million in savings, he said.”

At Bloomberg, Chris Burritt says of founder Richard Schulze’s plan to buy the company back: “Schulze has worked with three private-equity firms — Cerberus Capital Management LP, TPG Capital and Leonard Green & Partners LP — to arrange financing, people familiar with the matter have said. In December, the company extended the period for him to conduct due diligence through Feb. 28. … Sales at U.S. stores open at least 14 months were little changed in the nine weeks ended Jan. 5, Best Buy said last month. Global comparable-store sales fell 1.4 percent, less than the 2 percent decline projected by analysts Mike Baker at Deutsche Bank AG and Scott Tilghman of B. Riley & Co.”

Speaking of … Nedra Rhone of the Atlanta Constitution-Journal alerts readers: “Plastic Jungle, an online secured gift card exchange, has a new partnership with Best Buy. Best Buy Reward Zone members can exchange unused gift cards from more than 100 other retailers for Reward Zone points. Reward Zone points can then be redeemed for reward certificates to be used toward purchases at any Best Buy location or online at BestBuy.com. The online exchange is instant and the value of the Best Buy Reward Zone credit is determined by the demand for the brand of the redeemed card in Plastic Jungle’s online marketplace. For example, today a $25 gift card from Toys R Us was worth 1,083 Best Buy Reward Zone credits.”

It’s like L.A. out there … without the sushi tacos and the ocean. Lorna Benson of MPR tells us: “Fine particle pollution in the air across southern Minnesota is causing unhealthy breathing conditions for children, the elderly and people with respiratory diseases. An air pollution health alert is in effect for the Twin Cities metro and Rochester. It expires at 12 a.m. Wednesday. Cassie McMahon with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency said a storm system across the Great Plains has trapped stagnant air over Minnesota, allowing pollution levels to rise.”

The GleanIt does not sound like a pleasant experience … . Matt Sepic of MPR says: “A man who suffers from schizophrenia is suing Hennepin County, claiming he did not receive proper care while in jail. Michael Schuler, 25, was arrested on a probation violation last March and held for more than a month. His attorney, Bill Lubov, said Schuler had a severe psychotic episode while behind bars, and is partially blind after damaging his eyes with a pencil. Lubov said Schuler should never have been allowed access to sharp objects. ‘He was literally for a period of time a caged animal, standing in his own feces, naked, screaming unintelligibly in his jail cell, and posing a danger, certainly to himself and also at times to the staff because he was incapable of controlling his behavior,’ Lubov said. Schuler is seeking more than $50,000 in damages.”

And welcome home … Paul Walsh of the Strib writes: “A former prep school teacher at Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Faribault was moved from detention in Los Angeles and appeared in a Minnesota court Tuesday on charges of sexual misconduct involving six students. Lynn P. Seibel, 71, who taught theater and was a ‘dorm parent’ during his tenure at the school from 1992 to 2003, faces 17 counts alleging that he instigated so-called ‘AP drama’ sessions that included group masturbation, other sexually explicit activities and use of pornography. Seibel had been held in the Los Angeles County jail on unrelated child porn charges and was transferred to Minnesota late Monday.”

The last words that the silica sand mining industry wants to hear … “state board” and “regulation.” The AP says: “Minnesota senators will discuss whether to halt new silica sand mines while the state studies the booming industry. The possibility of a statewide moratorium is part of a broader effort from Sen. Matt Schmit to establish firm regulations for silica sand mining. The Senate Energy and Environment committee was expected on Tuesday to take up and vote on Schmit’s bill. The Red Wing Democrat’s bill calls for the creation of a regional board to regulate silica mining and a statewide environmental study to gauge the industry’s effects on air, water and roads.”

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