It’s an upgrade, I guess … Amy Forliti of the AP files a story on one state school district bringing in …bulletproof white boards: “The Rocori School District plans to equip each classroom and common areas with whiteboards made out of Dyneema, a material that the manufacturer said is 2 times stronger than the material used in police-issue bulletproof vests. The boards can hang on a classroom wall like any other marker board, but in event of a shooting, a teacher could use it as a shield. … But at least one security expert questioned whether the boards would be effective. Bill Nesbitt, president of the school security consulting firm Security Management Services International, said … his initial reaction is that the boards might provide a false sense of security, and the prudent thing to do would be to retreat from danger, rather than hide behind a whiteboard. [Officials] said the boards only supplement their larger security plan. The district has 170 of the $300 boards, about half of which were purchased by Coldspring, formerly Cold Spring Granite Company.”
Some stories just get worse … Emily Gurnon of the PiPress reports: “A St. Paul man has been charged with criminal sexual conduct after allegedly having sex with a 14-year-old girl who delivered a stillborn baby at Regions Hospital on April 3. The baby is the same stillborn whose body was found at a Red Wing laundry last week, said Howie Padilla, St. Paul police spokesman. The baby’s mother told police that Jose Armando Recinos-Ramirez, 32, was the child’s father, according to a criminal complaint made public in Ramsey County District Court on Monday.
Arguing against an earlier Strib commentary that claimed as many as 250,000 undocumented Hispanics in Minnesota, the executive director of the state’s Chicano Latino Affairs Council puts the real number at maybe 50,000. Hector Garcia responds: “The 2010 census recorded 250,000 Hispanics living in Minnesota — not 250,000 undocumented immigrants in Minnesota, as suggested in last week’s commentary. Using the Pew formula to calculate the undocumented in Minnesota, there might be about 50,000. Undocumented immigrants pay taxes, unless their employers choose to violate tax regulations. The Houston Chronicle and consumeraffairs.com published articles on ‘The Earnings Suspense File.’ It was reported that the ESF — ‘much of which can be attributed to undocumented immigrants using fictitious or fake Social Security numbers,’ since they cannot collect benefits from their payroll tax withholdings — ‘continues to accrue money at roughly $6 billion a year, with the total as of 2005 sitting at $519 billion.’ The ESF is a fortuitous cushion for Social Security’s vital and precarious safety net.”
So … smokes and 2 percenters, but not your brewskis? Bill Salisbury of the PiPress writes: “Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk predicts the Legislature will boost taxes on cigarettes and the highest-paid Minnesotans, but maybe not on beer. And he expects the new DFL legislative majorities may disappoint union allies on such issues as higher minimum wages and allowing child-care providers and personal care attendants to join unions. Bakk, DFL-Cook, did his crystal ball gazing Monday … during a joint appearance with House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Democratic-Farmer-Labor senators are expected to release their tax overhaul bill [Tuesday].”
More on the booze tax … Tom Scheck of MPR says: “DFL House Speaker Paul Thissen said House Democrats are proposing the increase because problems related to alcohol cost the state a lot of money. ‘Conservative estimates say that about $2 billion in state costs, including DWI related costs, health care costs and a whole variety of other costs, are paid out by the state related to alcohol use,’ Thissen said at [the] University of Minnesota Humphrey School event. ‘And particularly alcohol use by those who use it excessively.’ Gov. Dayton did not include an alcohol tax hike in his budget plan but didn’t outright oppose the idea when speaking with reporters last week. … Bakk said he doesn’t think there’s as much support for raising alcohol taxes as there is for a cigarette tax increase. ‘Even among smokers I don’t think there’s a lot of anxiety about raising the tax,’ Bakk said. ‘I think when you go to alcohol it’s a lot of different. Clearly it’s 80-85 percent of people and most of them don’t want to quit — unlike cigarettes’.”
Tom Petters was wound up with a lot of high-profile people in these parts. David Phelps of the Strib reports: “Ted Mondale, the executive director of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority and heir to a prominent Minnesota family, has agreed to pay $50,000 to the receiver for convicted Wayzata businessman Tom Petters to cover an unpaid personal loan of $150,000 provided by Petters in 2005. … Mondale, the son of former Vice President Walter Mondale, did not respond to requests for comment. The $50,000 payment was negotiated between Kelley’s office and Mondale and included a review of Mondale’s financial situation by former federal agents working for Kelley. ‘He [Mondale] submitted a financial statement. My former FBI and IRS agents dissected it and we are convinced this is the most Mr. Mondale can pay,’ Kelley said in an interview Monday.”
And in an adjacent vein … Jim Spencer and Corey Mitchell of the Strib say: “Minnesota’s biggest donor to President Obama’s second inauguration was a 28-year-old who runs a marketing firm that caters to small businesses and who once pleaded guilty to ‘theft by swindle.’ State and national Democratic officials contacted Monday said they had never heard of the man, Johannes Marliem, who donated $225,000 to the president’s inauguration. That was just $25,000 less than multinational corporation ExxonMobil and more than twice as much as the state’s second-largest donor, Rockefeller relative Alida Messinger, who is Gov. Mark Dayton’s ex-wife.”
Another Strib story, from Jim Ragsdale, says: “Legislative criticism and a funding defeat prompted the leader of Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge addiction treatment program to defend his group in a letter to the Minnesota Senate. … Criticism arose last week when Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, offered an amendment to add $1.5 million in state funds to the program. Rosen said the program had great success and is depending on the state subsidy. But foes focused on the group’s evangelical orientation. Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, said he knew of gay people who were treated badly by the group. ‘I personally know folks who are gay, have gone to Teen Challenge, and came out in much tougher condition, tougher shape,’ Dibble said. Sen. Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, said court-ordered participants were not free to leave if they disagreed with the evangelical content of the program.”
My “Big Lebowski” bobblehead collection might make my office a contender … Jessica Armbruster at City Pages tells us: “Sometimes, bad decorating happens to good people. This is especially true when folks don’t have the time or money to spend on major home improvement projects and aesthetic updates. Does this sound like you? Well, get your camera out and snap the most unflattering shots you can of your current living space. HGTV wants to redo your ugly and outdated living rooms, bathrooms, and bedrooms for a new television show. So what qualifies as an embarrassing room? According to the casting release, the home improvement channel is looking for things like ugly peeling wallpaper, shag carpeting, horrifying dumpster-diving furniture, wood paneling, and decor best left in the past. … Producers are looking for homeowners living in the Twin Cities and Hudson, Wisconsin areas.” So, do I steam out the stains on the Elvis shag carpet before or after the pictures?