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Outside groups doing more and more of GOP's work

It is no secret that the local GOP apparatus is, um, challenged. Tom Scheck of MPR tells us, “ ... several outside groups have formed to start on work that has traditionally been done by the party. ... It's no coincidence that the new conservative groups are forming as the Minnesota Republican Party is strapped for cash and the rank and file party faithful squabble over the direction of the party. Case in point: backers of Texas Rep. Ron Paul's presidential bid overwhelmed the state party convention last year even though Mitt Romney was already the party's presumptive nominee. That kind of infighting has led other outside groups to look past intra-party politics and work directly on issues. Over the past month, the group Americans for Prosperity-Minnesota mailed out campaign literature criticizing Democrats and even one Republican legislator for supporting tax increases.”

Try not to snicker ... . Tim Nelson’s latest “Stadium Watch” post at MPR says, “And at the Capitol, and out at the Minnesota State Lottery headquarters in Roseville, state officials are already weighing their options — and possibly big changes to the lottery. Executive director Ed Van Petten said familiar scratch-off games, like the Vikings-themed game that ran during the football season in 2010, or the current Twins-themed game, are likely starting points because the games are a reliable technology and well-known to lottery players. There could also be a sports-themed lotto game, like a smaller version of the Powerball or Gopher 5 games. ... the games could be a lot quicker than the numbers game Minnesotans are used to. ‘There are games that even go every four to five minutes. But it’s not instant. You have to have your ticket before the drawing, whereas on a slot machine playing the game is the drawing’, said Van Petten. But Van Petten said the Lottery could get into the electronic gambling business, too.”

Aren’t principals and superintendents supposed to handle this? Megan Boldt of the PiPress writes, “Minnesota lawmakers passed a law two years ago to better evaluate teachers, putting in place a system of more-rigorous reviews based on classroom observations and improved student performance. But they didn't give schools additional money to pay for the program, which could cost state schools anywhere from $66 million to $289 million annually to operate, depending on whom you ask. School administrators and teachers now back a bill that would create a funding mechanism they say is necessary to conduct the comprehensive evaluations and provide the necessary training.”

Related: The AP says, “An alternative teacher licensing program in Minnesota hasn't produced a single candidate in the two years since its inception. No organizations have applied for approval to start training candidates under the program, which is aimed at fast-tracking licenses for teachers who hold them in other states or for professionals who want to switch careers.”

There’s something inherently amusing about Strib outdoors columnist Dennis Anderson going up against ... DFL Rep. Phyllis Kahn, ripping in to Kahn’s plan to radically reformat the Outdoor Heritage Council. “ ... Kahn, a legislator for some 40 years now, revealed still more of her peculiar world view, threatening to shift millions of the people’s conservation dollars willy-nilly, dependent on whether prospective recipients of the cash agreed with her plan to overhaul the way Legacy fund dollars are appropriated. ... Viewed up close and personal, as a few dozen onlookers did Thursday, some with teeth grinding, Kahn’s shenanigans suggested the venality of all legislative processes held captive by arrogance. But that’s not the half of it.” You may need to chamber another round, Dennis.

The GleanThe walk-off escapees have been re-apprehended. Says Paul Walsh in the Strib, “Two multimillion-dollar fraudsters who escaped last weekend from a minimum-security federal prison in Duluth were caught early Friday at a Burnsville hotel, authorities said. The arrests of Michael Krzyzaniak, 64, and Gerald Greenfield, 67, were made shortly after 1 a.m., according to the U.S. Marshals Service. The two remain held at the Ramsey County jail. ... Krzyzaniak was serving a 12-year term for a $26 million investment scheme that targeted the rich. Greenfield was serving four years for assisting a mortgage scam with the developer of the Sexton Lofts in downtown Minneapolis.” And they were hanging together ... ?

Valerie Miller and Jeff Feeley of Bloomberg News report on a $24 million decision against UnitedHealth. “Two UnitedHealth Group Inc. units must pay $24 million in damages for failing to properly monitor a doctor who gave two colonoscopy patients hepatitis C by employing substandard medical practices, a Nevada jury ruled. ... The verdict reflects ‘what’s wrong with insurance companies in the U.S’. Robert Eglet, [a defendant’s] lawyer, said in an interview after the verdict was announced. ‘They put profit before patient safety.’ ” And there’s $24 million under their couch cushions.

The whackers may be getting whacked ... . The AP says, “A Minnesota commission created to determine which state agencies and boards are ripe for elimination is now on the chopping block itself. A budget bill in the Democratic-led House would get rid of the Minnesota Sunset Advisory Commission. The panel was created two years ago when Republicans were in charge. They touted it as a way to weed out government offices some people deem ineffective. The commission met about a dozen times over the last couple of years and didn't recommend cutting any government entities altogether. It did press for further reviews of some boards, including one that regulates combative sports like boxing and mixed martial arts.”

The Dream Team on spring break ... . Aaron Rupar at City Pages writes, “Michele Bachmann and Bradlee Dean go way back. For instance, when Bradlee found himself taking heat for an anti-gay prayer he delivered before the Legislature back in 2011, Michele came to his aid with a prayer of her own where she professed support for Bradlee and asked God to transform Minnesota into a ‘sweet-smelling incense of praise and sacrifice’. ... Bachmann and Dean are both scheduled to speak at the Freedom Federation's The Awakening 2013 event, which is happening April 19 and 20 at the First Baptist Oviedo church in Oviedo, Florida. The event, which features more than 60 speakers, is advertised as ‘in-depth Prayer and Patriotism event where people are united by love for our country's freedom and our faith in Christ,’ according to the Freedom Federation's website.” Can you schedule sinkholes?

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Comments (10)

I hope there are

…at least a couple reporters with the stamina and connections to be able to report on “The Awakening 2013” in some depth. If Matt Taibbi can't make it, maybe William Saletan from Slate. Being able to document religious and ethnic bigotry not to mention hysteria and conspiracy theories in jaw-dropping quantity, could prove useful.

In the meantime, one can't help but wonder why, as Brian suggests, principals and superintendents are not engaged in ongoing evaluation of professional staff in their school districts. In the state and school district where I spent my 30 classroom years, teachers, counselors and other professional staff members were evaluated, in person, by their school administrator(s) every year.

What qualifies

public school administrators to evaluate the instructional effectiveness of teachers?
Do they have a background in research methods? Statistical design?
Any data supporting their ability to make valid judgements?
Often they hire professional consultants who are basically self designated experts.
The idea sounds great, but the current capability is sorely lacking.
That's why the rest of the developed world has national school systems and doesn't relay on middle managers to do formal evaluation.

original idea

I've always suspected the original plan for the alternative teacher licensing program was to get minorities who weren't qualified to teach on school district payrolls. When the concept shifted to include training, and licensing for teachers from other states or professionals who wanted to switch careers, the original advocates of the program lost interest.

Quite the opposite--the drive

Quite the opposite--the drive was to bring in all of those people from science, technology, business and industry that had knowledge of the "real world" and had an urge to transmit their wisdom and knowledge (as well as a not so liberal non-liberal-arts background) to the socialist inculcation centers that are currently known as public schools.

I guess that the number of people who want to drop their life down to the realities of teacher wages and working conditions is darn small.

Time to call in the youthful optimism and naiivite (and cheap labor) of Teach for America.

Add a lottery game is the same as taking from the General Fund

According to the MN Lottery's web site, about 46% of the lottery's after-expenses cash goes to the State's general fund with the remaining 54% to one of 3 natural resources funds. I don't think its crazy to assume that adding a For-the-Vikings lottery game doesn't add any new money and just cannibalizes existing games. The result, then, is essentially re-routing money currently going to the general fund and outdoors programs to a stadium.

Flim Flam Stadium Financing

These latest ideas are just further variations on the shell games of the various financing packages. All of them attempt to hide the fact that the taxpayer, through the general fund, has got to be the ultimate guarantor of any shortfalls, else the bonding falls flat on its face.

The only plans for funding that didn't ultimately rely on the taxpayer as guarantor were rejected, almost out of hand, by the proponents in and out of the legislature. The White Earth Band proposal comes to mind.

The only good thing about that last Legislature is it's over - but unfortunately, its damages will linger for a long, long time.

Poor United Health

There may not be 24 million under the cushions, Brian, but I bet I know where they can find some money. Not sure what the current CEO makes but how much was it that former CEO McGuire made? 90 plus million a year? Damn frivolous lawsuits are making it hard for a CEO to make a decent living nowadays.

Racist Idea

Rosalind, I am sorry you feel that this program " was to get minorities who weren't qualified to teach on school district payrolls." I can't believe your post got by the Minnpost censor.
Your post is a sad reminder of how racism continues to permeate society.

More and more groups doing the GOP work

The GOP's fiscal conservatives once called themselves the big tent party. Now they are nothing more than a big group of mostly old white guys. About every 10 people are their own group and they congregate and call themselves the GOP. It should read the BOG, The Big Old Group. There's no leadership, no common goals, no common sense, no morals, no ethics, no meaningful principles, no message, just a dysfunctional Big Old Group full of "NO". They draw their main direction from the likes of Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, and Norquist, all of whom have been elected to nothing. Those that have been elected won't work. That group contains Bachmann, Cantor, Paul, Ryan, and many other less talented group members. This country needs a functioning second party but the BOG doesn't even know how to get it's own act together much less a whole country. They built a party on sound bites and lived off that for years but all the sound bites turned out to be a huge pile of myths. They want to rebuild the party but they have a war on women, minorities, and taxes and they will need all of them to rebuild. They are going to find it hard to rebuild and not be super hypocritical in the process because much of what they need to rebuild is stuff they are devoutly against. Fiscal Conservative only has one meaning - MAJOR DISASTER!

alternative teacher licensing

I'll bet if the legislature approves all-day kindergarten and additional pre-school education there will be a push to waive the standards for the alternative teacher licensing program. We will be told that little children can't learn unless their teachers are the same race and ethnicity that they are.There won't be enough licensed teachers available, so school districts will need to rush to find alternative teachers. to take their places.