Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


Pro-gun money tilts heavily toward GOP

Stratasys a leader in 3-D printing; another “oops” for Target; stadium “funding fix” bills surface; hunger relief boosted; weather disaster declared; and more.

In D.C. and every other capital, you can never go too wrong following the money. Brett Neely of MPR has a helpful set of graphs showing where the dough has gone in the latest gun control fight: “Much ink is spilled in Washington trying to describe the political power of the National Rifle Association, which announced its opposition to the bill on Wednesday night, and the wider gun rights movement. But the story can actually be told in three charts, courtesy of data released by the Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit which promotes government transparency. … if viewed strictly through the lens of campaign contributions, the gun control movement would appear to be, ahem, outgunned by a 10 to one ratio. … What’s interesting though is how heavily tilted the contributions are to Republicans. [Chip] Cravaack, who served a single term in Congress, received more in those two years from pro-gun donors than [Tim] Walz has even though Walz was first elected in 2006. Similarly, Democrat Collin Peterson has served in Congress since 1991, yet Republican Erik Paulsen, first elected in 2008, has nearly outpaced Peterson’s lifetime donations from pro-gun groups in a mere two terms.” When the gun control movement makes that money a liability, we’ll start seeing some progress.

3-D printing is pretty cool … and it is barely even in its infancy. Martin Moylan of MPR files a piece saying: “[Y]ou can print a wrench, a working clock, or a killer design for a custom motorcycle. Objects designed on a computer can be sent to machines known as 3-D printers that will build them — layer by tiny layer. Stratasys, based in Eden Prairie, Minn., is a leading player in the 3D printing world, helping customers create parts for cars, planes, robots, orthodontics and more. The company’s printers don’t use ink. Instead, they lay down thin layers of molten plastic, slowly building up three-dimensional objects with relentless precision. … Stratasys’ machines cost from $10,000 to $600,000. Some are about the size of an office laser printer. Others are as big as a car. They can produce smaller items like prototypes for cell phone cases or soles for athletic shoes in several hours. Larger objects like panels for a car take a couple of days to produce.”

Moylan also has a story about another “oops” moment for Target: “Target plans to rename some shoes it sells because it used a word not pleasant for Spanish speakers. The problem concerns footwear described as “Orina” flat sandals. Orina means urine in Spanish. … Last week, the retailer caught flack for how it described the color of some dresses for larger women. Target had characterized them as manatee gray, a description it has dropped.”

Every re-negotiation requires a first step. Jim Ragsdale of the Strib reports: “The Vikings stadium project should be held up until the state can be assured that gambling revenues are sufficient or until the team agrees to cover all shortfalls, according to bills introduced by a GOP legislator Thursday. Rep. Bob Barrett, R-Lindstrom, who voted against the stadium project last year, … introduced two bills on Thursday. The first bill would halt the bond sale to finance the stadium — now scheduled for late summer — until the state can guarantee that gambling revenues are sufficient to cover the state’s share. As an alternative, he said, the Vikings would be required to transfer revenues from stadium naming rights or from loans and grants from the league to cover the shortfall. Barrett said  ‘We’re not sure we can require the Vikings to do that,’ he said.” But you better try …

Article continues after advertisement

Al Franken doesn’t appear to have any money problems to date. Corey Mitchell of the Strib says: “U.S. Sen. Al Franken announced today that he raised $1.985 million in the first quarter of 2013 for his re-election campaign. The strong fundraising quarter brings Franken’s total cash on hand to $2.03 million, as Republicans continue to sort out who will challenge the first-term senator from Minnesota. U.S. Reps. John Kline and Erik Paulsen of Minnesota, Minnesota investment banker Mike McFadden and talk radio host Jason Lewis have been mentioned as potential challengers to Franken. … Franken’s fundraising totals do not include proceeds from a fundraiser that comedian and late night television Conan O’Brien hosted for him in California last weekend.” Lewis? Why not Tom Emmer? Or Bob Davis?

The GleanGeneral Mills has given $1 million to a prominent hunger relief program. Julie Siple of MPR writes: “A statewide coalition to fight hunger got a boost from Golden Valley-based General Mills, which pledged $1 million to Hunger-Free Minnesota. Hunger-Free Minnesota is a group of nonprofits and corporations working to make sure all Minnesotans have enough food. The contribution comes on top of a previous $1 million contribution from the company. … Hunger-Free Minnesota also today announced 20 recipients of nearly $400,000 in grants. They include the Minneapolis Public Schools and a hospital food shelf program. The Minneapolis Public Schools plans to expand its breakfast in the classroom program with the $13,000 grant.”

It’s a disaster area out in southwestern Minnesota. The AP says: “Gov. Mark Dayton declared a state of emergency in the region, a day after activating the National Guard to assist there. Six to 8 inches of wet snow fell early Thursday on top of the thick layer of ice that accumulated Tuesday night in Nobles and Jackson counties. Most of the main high-voltage transmission lines that feed the area snapped under the weight, leaving no outside sources of power, Nobles Cooperative Electric general manager Rick Burud said.”

Also at MPR, Tim Pugmire says: “Twenty-six business leaders are speaking out in support of legislation to legalize same-sex marriage in Minnesota. They made their case for the measure in a letter sent today to Gov. Mark Dayton, House Speaker Paul Thissen and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, and copied to all legislators. In it, the executives pointed to evidence of shifting public opinion in favor of gay marriage, and what they view as the inevitablity of its legalization. … The signers of the letter: Michael V. Ciresi, Michelle Courtright, Angie Craig, Charles M. Denny Jr., Jim Frey, Eric Frost, Bill George, Alan Goldbloom MD, Jim Graves, Amy Langer, Dick McFarland, Mary. K. Murray, Brock Nelson, Marilyn Carlson Nelson, Wendy Nelson, Tad Piper, James Pohlad, Robert Pohlad, William Pohlad, Laurie Savran, Scott Schneweis, Doug Spong, Dan Starks, Mike Sweeney, John Taft and Wing Witthuhn.”

Kevin Keto, a local high school coach, has some thoughts about the sports culture we’ve created. In a Strib commentary, he says: “Statistics suggest that in a time of recession, the average job seeker participates in 17 interviews before being offered a position. How can we possibly prepare ourselves to withstand that type of difficulty? How can we possibly continue to be loving spouses, caring friends, supportive parents and productive citizens while giving our best and failing 16 consecutive times? It’s not just the business world where losing is relevant. Perhaps I am an oddity, but 100 percent of my friends have failed to attain their dream homes, their perfect bodies, their ideal lifestyles and the power to keep their loved ones alive forever. If loss and failure occur everywhere, everyday, why have so many parents decided that their sons or daughters deserve to escape it? Since when has being the fourth player off the bench become a failure that no 17-year-old should ever have to endure? Since when has losing 15 games in a season become an excuse to send heinous late-night e-mails to unsuspecting coaches?”