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Federal cuts mean MN National Guard techs endure furloughs

Oh, and thank you for your service … . Elizabeth Dunbar of MPR says, “More than half of the Minnesota National Guard’s full-time force will be forced to take to take a day off each week through the end of September, creating a 20 percent pay cut for 1,156 members. Federal budget reductions are driving the furloughs, which began this week. They affect Minnesota National Guard technicians who perform everything from vehicle maintenance to human resources support. Lt. Col. Jon Lovald says most of those days off come on Mondays, which affects operations.” So much for “supporting the troops.”

Trouble for tots … . Mark Brunswick of the Strib says, “As many as 60 teachers and staff at a Twin Cities Spanish immersion day care chain may have been targeted in a federal immigration investigation after they failed to provide documentation of their status. The Minneapolis office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement requested the documentation for the day care, Jardin Magico, as part of a routine audit. At a meeting Monday night and in a letter sent last week, parents of the chain were told that as many as 60 staff members had left rather than contest the findings or submit new documentation … .” And where are they supposed to find bilingual American citizens?

Will the oppressive job-killing taxation never end … ? Frederick Melo of the PiPress reports, “Ramsey County is the latest county to adopt a ‘wheelage tax’ on motor vehicle registrations, a $10 charge to vehicle owners which will help the county whittle away at a growing backlog of road-maintenance projects. The Ramsey County Board of Commissioners voted 5-2 Tuesday to pass the tax, which will be imposed Jan. 1, 2014. Commissioners Janice Rettman and Blake Huffman voted against the proposal. ‘It’s $3.8 million we currently don’t have, to do … basic maintenance on our roads,’ said Ramsey County Commissioner Jim McDonough, a leading proponent. ‘Unlike most other counties, we have actually been putting property-tax levy dollars into our roads for the past few years, because we have been trying to keep at least a basic minimum of investment in our roads.’ The county has identified 58 miles of roadway that need to be replaced or rehabilitated, representing $26 million in deferred maintenance.” Today it’s roads, tomorrow it’ll be firemen and schools. Is there anything gummint won’t waste money on?

After that hellish train disaster in Canada, Jenna Ross of the Strib checks out small towns bisected by fuel trains out of North Dakota. “Because oil wells are extracting far more oil than the pipelines can carry, the amount of U.S. crude oil traveling by rail has skyrocketed, from 9,500 cars in 2008 to more than 233,000 last year. This year’s totals are on pace to exceed 380,000. Minnesota doesn’t keep track of rail use or what trains are carrying. But Minnesota’s two largest railroads — Canadian Pacific and BNSF Railway Co. — have direct lines from the North Dakota oil fields … . CP is ‘positioned for [crude oil] carloads to grow by a factor of two to three times,’ according to its presentation at a recent conference.”

Also from John Myers of the News Tribune … . “A Cloquet man found out the hard way that, while sharing usually is a good thing, it’s illegal to share your fishing license. Andrew T. Swenson, 30, was caught using his brother’s fishing license May 13 while in a remote area on the St. Louis River near Knife Falls Dam in Cloquet. He ended up in jail facing fines. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Scott Staples approached Swenson and asked to see his license. But when Staples questioned Swenson about his birthdate, height, weight and the address listed on the license, Swenson stumbled. … Swenson was arrested and taken into custody on a warrant for failing to pay the previous year’s fine. ‘Since he didn’t pay his fine, he couldn’t buy a license, the system flagged him,’ Staples said. ‘So the court issued a warrant for his arrest.’ ” And, I’ve lost count, what’s the number of Wall St. bankers behind bars?

The GleanConsumer reporter John Ewoldt of the Strib on a new business along the lines of Angie’s List. “The Twin Cities-based business takes a different approach to finding a good auto mechanic, plumber or other service provider. BeHeroic lets friends form their own user group, a mini-version of Angie’s List or Consumers’ Checkbook, where they know and trust everyone in the group. They sign in through Facebook to gain access to reviews written by their friends. It taps into recommendations from people whose standards, interests and biases are known because they’re friends or family, said Dan Linstroth, 28, one of Heroic’s four co-founders. … Millennials are three times more likely to turn to social channels than boomers when differentiating among products or services, according to a survey. They want feedback from experts and people with common interests, including personal connections, although not exclusively.”

We said, “Get a room,” not a museum … . A WCCO-TV story says, “University of Minnesota police officers say they warned two students after they were caught engaged in sexual activity at the U’s Bell Museum last week. According to the police report, a 21-year-old man and an 18-year-old woman were discovered at the museum the afternoon of July 9. Police said the man told them he and his girlfriend were ‘exploring the university’ and found a private area inside the museum, where they removed their clothing. … [the] witness was a day camp leader who was leading a number of children through the museum that afternoon. Police said the other camp leader distracted the kids while the first was telling the two to get dressed and leave. Police say no one actually witnessed any sexual activity in the incident, but the two students were issued a trespass warning.”

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