Taxing and spending red alert! The AP says, “A coalition of businesses, labor groups and others is calling for a new statewide sales tax on gas to pay for road and bridge repairs. The group calling itself Move MN proposed Thursday that the Legislature add a 6.5 percent sales tax on gas in addition to what’s assessed per gallon. They say the change would mean a 14-cent increase per gallon based on recent cost averages. The group also would increase a general metropolitan-area sales tax by a half-percent for transit projects.” South Dakota: Barely a three-hour drive.
Also amid the flurry of legislation at the Capitol, never mind the probabilities: The AP says, “Free vocational college tuition for Minnesota high school graduates? Student-loan forgiveness for working in specialized fields or rural communities? Tax breaks for the mining and timber industries? A prohibition on performance bonuses for Minnesota health exchange executives? Those are among the first bills trotted out Thursday in the early going of Minnesota’s legislative session.”
Remember that charge against a chicken processor that it was killing birds by scalding them alive? Not true! Says the processor. Mikkel Pates of the Forum News service says, “A southwest Minnesota food company denies allegations from an animal rights group that it scalded alive spent laying hens, and says there is no concern that the company will interrupt its production. … The Butterfield plant processes some 80,000 birds a day. It pays farmers roughly 2 cents apiece for animals at the farm gate and slaughters them for human food. From a 3.5-pound spent hen, it produces about two pounds of human food products, including wingless fronts, split whole birds and raw chicken byproducts, according to a company website. [Terry Fruth, a Minneapolis-based attorney for Butterfield Foods] said most of Butterfield Foods products go to Asia.”
And what might you suggest as punishment for this guy? Paul Walsh of the Strib writes, “Pausing to smile and lick his lips in satisfaction for the benefit of the video camera, a 24-year-old Princeton man dragged his live-in girlfriend’s dog in front of the lens, body-slammed the modest-sized husky on the concrete garage floor and beat the pet before taking him outside and fatally shooting the animal, according to charges.” Boil me some water.
Talking tough love, Wisconsin-style. The AP reports, “A Prairie du Chien School District principal has been reprimanded and suspended without pay for five days after using inappropriate language directed toward students. District administrator Drew Johnson released results of his investigation into two complaints filed by parents on Wednesday. The complaints said Bluff View Intermediate School Principal Aaron Amundson called a group of boys ‘idiots’ and used the word ‘kill’ to express frustration with students for not properly following directions. Both complaints said the remarks were made on the last day of school in December.”
But is he prepared for the barrage of phone calls from long-forgotten relatives? WCCO-TV reports, “The second of two Minnesota Millionaire raffle winners has come forward to claim his prize, according to officials with the Minnesota State Lottery. Officials said Robert Hans of Elk River came forward on Wednesday to claim his $1 million prize. He purchased his ticket at a Holiday gas station store in Ramsey.”
Apparently a not-so-profitable niche. Anne D’Innocenzio and Michelle Chapman at the AP tell us, “Teen clothing retailer Wet Seal is closing two-thirds of its stores, including seven in Minnesota, as it struggles with financial troubles and a changing retail landscape. Nationally, 338 Wet Seal stores are closing. The company did not provide a list of store closings, but store employees said the seven closures in Minnesota are in Rosedale Center, Maplewood Mall, Southdale Center, Burnsville Center, Crossroads Center in St. Cloud, Apache Mall in Rochester and Miller Hill Mall in Duluth. … Overall, nearly 3,700 full- and part-time retail workers will lose their jobs nationwide.”
Also closing up shop … . Stribber Mike Hughlett says, “General Mills plans to shutter two more North American factories, shedding another 500 or so jobs. The planned closures, in New Albany, Ind., and Midland, Ontario, are part of a cost cutting program General Mills initiated last fall to counter weak conditions in the food industry.”
Bill Luther didn’t make the cut. Yet another AP story, (those kids are working it today), reports on finalists for a regents gig at the U of M. “A former Democratic congressman and a retired Republican legislator have been left off a list of finalists for the University of Minnesota Board of Regents. The Regent Candidate Advisory Council forwarded 10 finalists Thursday for five seats on the university’s governing board. The Legislature will elect regents in coming weeks, with 101 Democratic legislators and 100 Republicans doing the voting. Lawmakers aren’t bound by the recommendations. Former U.S. Rep. Bill Luther and former Moorhead Rep. Morrie Lanning were among 24 applicants who didn’t make the cut.”
Funny piece from City Pages’ Suzy Piper on the over-the-top descriptions self-consciously hip restaurants use to describe, well, hamburgers and such. “If you ever have brunch at the Triple Rock (which is tasty, we might add), steel yourself when the menu arrives. For a rudimentary egg-in-toast, you get this description:
“Rock Star Egg-In-A-Hole – toast + egg $7.50
“If you are unfamiliar with egg-in-a-hole you are definitely not a rock star. Through a complicated scientific process, we meld egg and toast together, creating a hybrid to kick breakfast ass. We’ll serve you up two egg-in-a-hole and home fries. Want the whole experience? Get it with cheese for $1.00 more.’ This simply should not need the explanation it gives, and I don’t necessarily agree that toast and egg is a real rock-star ass kicker since there’s not even a sauce involved, but you get the idea. And the incredible thing is that each menu item has its own sassy description, when all you really want is something to curb the nausea from your blinding hangover.” Dear Ms. Piper: For your next piece collect up the most pompous and absurd artists’ comments on the wall next to their abstract/impressionist/deconstructionist/Dadaist masterpieces.