Obviously our brutal business climate, which we’re told is driving our millionaires to South Dakota and snuffing out all but the faintest whimper of entrepreneurship … has been overlooked by that know-nothing business rag, Forbes. For the Strib, Paul Walsh says, “Forbes magazine is out with its list of the most business-friendly states, and Minnesota comes in at No. 9 thanks to high marks for ‘quality of life’ and a strong overall economic climate. Well ahead of Minnesota at No. 2, though, is North Dakota. The continuing Bakken oil boom is behind the state’s robust economy and continued prospects for more of the same in the years ahead, Forbes noted. It also praised the state’s ‘thriving technology and service sectors’. … Wisconsin can be found further down the rankings at 32nd.”
Speaking of job-killing taxes: Ron Way, an “investor representative” lays into the myths of the medical device tax, opposed by our entire Congressional delegation. In his Strib commentary, he says, “Repeal forces — including Minnesota Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken and Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen — will gain important leverage as leaders of the incoming Republican majority look for ways to emasculate the ACA. … it’s disquieting that otherwise intelligent lawmakers are quick to genuflect to the industry even though simple examination shows its lobbyists are overreacting and distorting facts. Plus, the lawmakers won’t explain their eagerness to help a prosperous industry that’s spending millions to kill the tax at the expense of poor folks who have no lobbyists and no cash to throw at politicians.”
Over the weekend biz columnist Lee Schafer of the Strib essentially concurred. “Forget what you may have read. There’s no reason to expect a burst of hiring. There will be no surge of research and development on those new life-saving devices the industry’s lobbyists made sure we’ve all heard about. Those tax savings will be going to the bottom line. Maybe they will be used to buy back stock and boost reported earnings-per-share even more. That isn’t the industry’s message, of course. But in fairness, it would be tough to rally bipartisan support for more stock buybacks.” This story is a good example of where every “representative’s” contributions from the medical device industry should be woven into the story.
Today in Archdiocese sex scandals: Four sisters. At MPR Madeleine Baran says, “The confrontation between [Fr. Kenneth] LaVan and the Meyers sisters wasn’t over, and it didn’t end well. LaVan continued serving as a priest in the Twin Cities for the next 23 years — even after Catholic bishops pledged ‘zero tolerance’ for priests accused of sexually abusing children. LaVan has denied abusing anyone and refused to talk about the confrontation. ‘I can’t comment because it’s been all taken care of over 30 years ago,’ he said. Internal church documents show LaVan had told a therapist in the 1980s that he hugged and kissed Nancy [Meyer] when she was a child and that he tried to kiss her when she was a young adult living in a convent. Two other women have accused LaVan of sexually abusing them as children.”
Those Guard troops heading off to Liberia? Semi-quarantine when they get home. Says Mark Brunswick in the Strib, “members of the Minnesota National Guard who are scheduled to deploy to Ebola-stricken Liberia early next year will be subjected to a 21-day period of observation when they return, with their temperatures taken twice a day and doctors monitoring them for symptoms. Guard officials emphasize the soldiers will not be quarantined, but the soldiers, who will be mobilized to support humanitarian relief in West Africa, will likely be kept at an American military base for ‘controlled monitoring’ during the three-week period.”
A study by the real estate site Interest.com gives the metro favorable marks for housing affordability. Says Reed Karaim, “Middle-income families are unable to afford the median-priced home in just over half of the country’s 25 largest cities, and in the least affordable metropolitan areas, they aren’t even in the game. … For the second year in a row, no city qualified for an Affordability Grade of A. (We don’t grade on the curve.) Only three cities, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Atlanta and St. Louis recorded a B.”
From a distance they sorta look like deer. At WCCO-TV, Ali Lucia reports, “During this year’s open of waterfowl season, the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center admitted more trumpeter swans for bullet wounds than ever before. Waterfowl season started in late September. The number of swans admitted to the hospital this fall is still low, currently standing at eight, but the DNR said that’s still higher than usual. A pair of swans admitted to the hospital in October share similar injuries … .”
Rolexes? Did Denny Hecker break out of prison? Tim Nelson at MPR reports, “A weekend smash-and-grab jewelry store robbery in St. Paul is believed to have netted the thieves about $300,000 in merchandise, police said. St. Paul Police were called to R.F. Moeller Jeweler on Ford Parkway in Highland Park at about 5 p.m. on Saturday, department spokesman Paul Paulos said. The thieves took about 30 Rolex watches, he said.”
Bill Frenzel has died. Says Paul Walsh (again), “Bill Frenzel, for 20 years a Republican member of Congress who served the west metro until 1991 and was a leading spokesman for his chamber on economic matters … . Frenzel, a moderate who was acknowledged for his ability to create bipartisan connections, was the ranking minority member on the House Budget Committee. He also was on the House Ways and Means Committee and a congressional representative to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in Geneva for 15 years.” In other words, he did nothing to repeal Obamacare.
Finally, in another affront to transparency, Sally Jo Sorensen at Bluestem Prairie gets nowhere trying to find out what the Senate Rural Task Force is actually doing. She writes, “The Minnesota Senate Rural Rask Force is holding meetings at the state capitol in St. Paul that are listed on the senate’s calendar, being briefed by public officials and representative of powerful special interests about a legislative agenda, and receiving handouts about that testimony. But no video or audio is being recorded, no minutes kept, and no digital copies of the handouts are available for the interested public to read. … The problem is the inability of rural Minnesotans to learn what is said at meetings of a Senate Rural Task Force unless we attend these meetings ourselves. It’s about a three-hour drive from Bluestem’s world headquarters in Chippewa County’s sunny Maynard to the state capitol, and even longer for people who live in Hallock, Clinton, Luverne or LaCrescent. And unlike the state senators, we’re not getting per diem or mileage. One would think that since the public is paying that, as well as for keeping the lights on and the building warm, record of the task force might be kept for us.” Is there a valid reason why in 2014 any such meeting can’t be streamed live?