It’s good to be an incumbent … Brian Bakst of the AP says: “Sen. Al Franken now has $3.9 million socked away toward a 2014 re-election bid against a yet-chosen Republican challenger. In the three months the report covers, the first-term Democrat pulled in about $2.1 million. Among Franken’s announced rivals, businessman Mike McFadden has reported the strongest figures so far. He collected more than $700,000 over the same period and has $1.2 million saved up. Some of that money is accessible only if McFadden secures the GOP nomination in a probable summer primary. State Sen. Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen, reported raising $120,000 in the seven weeks after joining the race, most of which she has in reserve and can use toward a primary.”
In farming, good news brings … less good news. Mark Steil of MPR writes: “Many of the state’s farmers are seeing better than expected grain production, among them southwestern Minnesota farmer Alan Roelofs, who has watched his combine gobble up hundreds of corn plants a minute. On a recent pass through his fields near Tyler, Roelofs glanced at a computer screen mounted in the corner of the cab. One number on the screen was especially noteworthy as it indicates the field should yield about 200 bushels an acre — more than 20 percent above the expected state-wide average. … The bountiful harvest is causing grain prices to drop. Corn is 40 percent below last year’s drought-induced peak. Soybean prices have held up better than corn, but have been falling over the past month. For livestock producers, the trends are a welcome relief after some tough years. They buy a lot of grain to feed their animals and the falling prices will reduce their costs and boost profits. But for grain farmers, slipping prices will shrink profit margins.”
WCCO-TV’s Pat Kessler asks what the heavily lobbied (against) medical device tax would actually do to Minnesota: “There are more than 400 medical device companies in Minnesota, with more than 30,000 workers. It’s become one of the largest industries in the state with names like Medtronic, St. Jude Medical and 3M, but it’s also home to hundreds of startups. Now, industry leaders say the medical device tax is slowing down what’s been explosive job growth. ‘Small companies with 20 people. They’ve just got themselves on the market. They need two or three more sales people or they need a couple more engineers to replace engineers who have gone away. They simply can’t do it,’ Shaye Mandle of Life Science Alley said.” I would expect some reference to the effect of millions of new patients requiring medical devices …
When Edina perceives a “severe lack” of anything … changes are made, by god. Mary Jane Smetanka of the Strib reports: “Edina will build a sports dome and an outdoor refrigerated ice rink next to Braemar Arena in an attempt to fix what city officials describe as a severe lack of athletic facilities. By a 4-1 vote, the City Council on Monday directed staff to proceed with plans for the new facilities. The improvements, which also include new playing fields in Pamela Park, would be paid for with bonds that could boost annual property taxes on a median-priced home by about $60 a year. Mayor Jim Hovland said taking on the expense was ‘a big gulp for all of us’ but that insufficient athletic facilities had become a competitive issue for a city that wants to attract young families.” $60 a year! What’s Joe Soucheray’s number?
In all of human history, has there ever been “100% compliance” … on anything? Paul Walsh of the Strib says: “Drivers and passengers in Minnesota are inching ever closer to never failing to buckle up, according to data released Tuesday by state safety officials. Results from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety annual observational seat-belt use survey — conducted in June — show a record 94.8 percent rate of compliance. This marks a 15-plus percent increase since 2003 and is up from 93.6 percent in 2012. … How far have motorists and passengers come in their willingness to wear a seat belt? In 1986, the year Minnesota first passed a seat-belt law, compliance was 20 percent. Deaths of people who didn’t buckle up that year totaled 280, well more than double the tally of 116 from last year.”
In Brainerd, Mike O’Rourke of the Dispatch reports: “Citing environmental concerns, Liberty Diversified International’s (LDI’s) chairman and CEO informed the city of Brainerd Tuesday it was no longer interested in a possible purchase of the Wausau paper mill in northeast Brainerd. News of Liberty Diversified’s interest in the plant became public late Friday when the Brainerd City Council scheduled a meeting for Thursday to allow LDI officials to make a presentation on their plans. That meeting has now been canceled. Brainerd Mayor James Wallin said Tuesday that to describe the latest development as disappointing would be an understatement.”
Much … much better … Dave Phelps of the Strib says: “Best Buy Co. Inc. shares moved to a new level Tuesday, nudging above $40 for the first time in nearly three years. With a closing quote of $40.62, stock in the Richfield-based retailer has basically doubled since Hubert Joly took over as CEO of the beleaguered company in September 2012. Shares traded as low as $11.29 in late December. Tuesday’s upward move was fueled in part by increasing confidence on Wall Street that the company’s turnaround is gaining traction. Best Buy’s 2.6 percent gain came as broader markets dropped nearly 1 percent amid growing fears of a possible government default.”
MPR’s Brett Neely does a quick scan of Minnesota’s U.S. House delegation: “During this fiscal crisis, two things are true about Minnesota’s five Democrats in the U.S. House: 1) they’re spectators with little input in the process and 2) it’s increasingly likely that they’ll be called upon to provide the bulk of votes needed to reopen the shuttered federal government and increase the debt ceiling. … 8th District Democrat Rick Nolan said it’s clear few House Republicans will vote for such a bill. ‘We’re prepared to put up 190, 200 [Democratic] votes and there’s another 35, 40 Republicans who have indicated that they’re prepared to vote for that,’ said Nolan. But it galls Nolan to vote for a measure that’s at a far lower funding level than he believes is necessary. … Amid the chaos in the House Republican conference, Minnesota’s three House Republicans appeared to be avoiding the spotlight Tuesday. None responded to interview requests.” But what if Sean Hannity called?
Local hip-hopper Lizzo, made No. 1 in City Pages’ annual “Picked to Click” list of emerging local artists. Says Reed Fischer: “Until last year, no rap act had ever won Picked to Click, City Pages’ yearly poll of the best new local artists. Not Atmosphere (23rd in 1997), not Heiruspecs (24th in 2001), not Dessa (26th in 2007), and definitely not Prof (31st in 2006). A few who came closer include Brother Ali (4th in 2003), Kill the Vultures (3rd in 2005), and Maria Isa (5th in 2006), but only in 2004 did rap make the top two when P.O.S/Doomtree finished behind the Olympic Hopefuls. Finally in 2012, the Chalice edged out Pony Trash for the win. Proving that hip-hop’s enhanced Picked to Click presence wasn’t an anomaly, Lizzo, Greg Grease, and GRRRL PRTY lead this year’s group. (And yes, we know that some of that awareness stems from ties to the Chalice.) Sure, plenty of rappers have thrived here without a Picked to Click bump. But right now, Twin Cities hip-hop itself is on the podium.”