The Strib includes several reminders of its, um, watchdog status relative to Zygi and Mark Wilf and Minnesota taxpayers’ money by way of editorializing that “from now on” we’re going to be watching the books really, really closely. In an editorial (worth framing) it says: “Off the field, like it or not, they have successfully played the stadium game by the unofficial rules established by their counterparts in the National Football League. … The question whether we could really trust these guys has long been in the air. … A team spokesman quickly labeled the case a “private business matter.” But in Minnesota, the Wilfs are involved in a business matter that is public, and that makes their conduct in other business dealings of great and legitimate interest to their partners— state and city taxpayers. … an NFL franchise is important for any metro area that aspires to major-league status in economic vitality and quality of life. … every business dealing they have in Minnesota from now on is likely to face greater scrutiny.”
As someone who was on the verge of a psychotic incident what with 494 reduced to one lane and every eastbound ramp until 12th Avenue closed … I didn’t need to read this. Tim Nelson of MPR reports: “A variety of road, bridge and other construction projects will slow traffic on Minnesota roads this week, state Department of Transportation officials warned … In Duluth, right lane of northbound Interstate 535 on the Blatnik Bridge is expected to close today as part of a two-year restoration project on the bridge between the city and Superior, Wis.. It is due to reopen in October. The right lane of southbound I-535, which has been closed, will reopen Wednesday. In north central Minnesota, delays are likely on Highway 71, where today crews start resurfacing a 10 mile-stretch of the road south of Bemidji.”
And she doesn’t look happy in her mug shot … . Emily Gurnon of the PiPress reports: “A St. Paul woman set up the murder of her allegedly abusive husband, telling a relative, ‘I want him dead,’ prosecutors said. She also offered to share the proceeds from the victim’s life insurance with the shooter, a criminal complaint said. Heather Leann Horst, 24, and Aaron William Allen, 25, of South St. Paul were charged Monday with second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit a felony in the shooting death of Brandon James Horst, 25. Brandon Horst worked as a security officer and belonged to the Minnesota Air National Guard. … Heather Horst told police at the house that she and her husband had been arguing in recent days about his desire to have an open relationship.”
The tax collector had a bad July. Baird Helgeson of the Strib says: “State tax collections slumped in July, falling 20 percent below projections for the month. Income tax collections were off 13 percent, to $603 million. Corporate income tax receipts were down $12 million, about 12 percent. Sales tax collections were a bright spot, up 22 percent over estimates. Total sales tax collections totaled $201 million for the first month of the new budget cycle. State budget officials say there is nothing unusual or concerning about the sharp revenue changes. July is a month of relatively low revenue collections, so slight variations in dollar amounts can cause dramatic swings in the percentages.”
I’ll make a note to check my favorite blogs for the first reference to “jack-booted union thugs.” Jim Ragsdale of the Strib reports: “About 32,000 unionized state employees have ratified contracts that call for pay hikes of 3 percent per year, the biggest increases they’ve received since the national economy nose-dived in 2007-08. Members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), representing 19,000 workers, and the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees, (MAPE), representing 13,000, announced their ratification vote on Monday.”
The recently wrapped Fringe Festival showed an 8 percent increase in attendance over last year. Graydon Royce of the Strib says: “According to preliminary figures, 49,991 tickets were distributed for the 11-day performing arts festival, which ended Sunday. That’s an 8 percent increase from 46,280 in 2012. The highest-attendance year for the Fringe was 2010, when 50,222 tickets were distributed. However, there were more performances this year, so the per-show average held steady at 56. Buttons were required for most festivalgoers and the Fringe Festival estimates that 16,493 individuals attended shows, based on the number of buttons sold, an increase of 69 from a year ago. The top 15 selling shows (out of 176 total) accounted for about 25 percent of all tickets. ‘These Old Shoes,’ by the company Transatlantic Love Affair, topped the list with 1,408 attendees, an average of 235 for each of six performances.”
Speaking of the Fringe … Sheila Regan, writing at the TC Daily Planet says: “Hat tip to Marianne Combs for posting on Facebook the latest attack on artists by Tom Steward from Watchdog.org, who, you may remember was the guy that also wrote a blog post that decried artist travel stipends, which got picked up by KSTP and eventually incited the Minnesota Legislature to change the laws surrounding Minnesota State Arts Board funding. Because of what went down last spring, artists may no longer receive State Arts Board funding for study out of state, and arts organizations may not use State Arts Board funding to bring in out of state artists. Yay! Steward’s latest rant is about a Fringe play by Natalie Rae Wass about growing up with a nudist family, which, god forbid, contains nudity. … While Watchdog may call itself an “investigative news site,” it’s actually the propaganda arm for the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, a nonprofit organization that was started by $2 million in seed money from the conservative Sam Adams Alliance, according to the Columbia Review of Journalism. Watchdog received 95 percent of its 2011 funding from Donor’s Trust, which receives funding from Koch-supported foundations, according to the Center for Public Integrity.”
And I suppose Babe the Ox wasn’t really blue? The AP says: “The tourism chief in New Ulm admitted Monday that his office faked a story of finding a mysterious concrete cast footprint that the southern Minnesota city promoted as that of Hermann the German, the statue of a Germanic warrior that stands guard over New Ulm. Terry Sveine, manager of the New Ulm Convention and Visitors Bureau, had told the Free Press of Mankato and insisted later to the Associated Press that officials found a 4-foot-long, 425-pound cast of a footprint crated up in the office basement, along with a mysterious note suggesting it might have been made in Germany. But Sveine called the AP back to admit he had lied and to apologize. ‘I felt I was playing the role I was asked to play, and we’re not going to do that anymore,’ he said.” That guy has no future in marketing.
Another piece on big harvest & low prices. Mark Steil of MPR reports: “[T]he 1.4 billion bushels of corn that the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates Minnesota farmers should harvest would be the second largest crop in the state’s history. Soybeans should yield about 272 million bushels, about an average crop. But many parts of the state have potential bumper crops developing, a trend that is reflected nationwide. … Nationwide, corn crop will be the largest ever at 13.8 billion bushels, according to the USDA estimate. The U.S. soybean harvest should be the third largest in history at about 3.3 billion bushels. As a result, there should be plenty of grain supplies this fall, which would send the prices farmers receive for their crops lower.” Great news though for corn syrup buyers.
And did you hear that Minnesota Majority … isn’t dead yet? Aaron Rupar at City Pages writes: “Voter ID may be a dead issue, but the state’s leading pro-voter ID group lives on — barely. … In a statement released [Monday], Dan McGrath, president of the group, said: ‘I’m overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from our grassroots members. Over the last several days, we have been receiving a steady stream of mostly small contributions, ranging from $5 to $25 each. I’m pleased to announce that we currently have sufficient funding to meet our immediate obligations’. But read close and you’ll see hints that while Minnesota Majority may have the funds to stay in operation for now, there’s no guarantee that’ll remain the case for long.” Boy, I sure hope they ID’d every contributor and can swear none of them gave twice or ever served hard time.