MinnPost file photo by James Nord
This one will attract a crowd. Stribber Ricardo Lopez writes, “A Minnetonka DFL senator broke with her party Thursday to take on some its most powerful allies with a measure that could end the long-standing practice of teacher tenure, which makes job seniority the prime consideration during layoffs. Eliminating so-called last-in, first-out protections has been a goal of Republicans, but opposed by many DFLers, who count the teachers’ union Education Minnesota among its staunchest allies and who say there is value in keeping experienced teachers in the system.”
How many more reports do we need on this subject? The Forum News Service’s Don Davis writes, “Many Minnesota public safety workers say they are not prepared to deal with an oil train or pipeline accident. They told the state Public Safety Department they are not adequately trained and some did not know what type of equipment they need to fight an oil fire, the department said in a report released Thursday. Public safety workers also lack knowledge about what railroad and pipeline company and other resources are available in case of an accident. ‘As a whole, first responders surveyed for this study rated their area’s preparedness for an oil transportation incident as below moderate (2.6 on a 1 to 5 scale),’ the report indicated. ‘None of the responders rated their area’s preparedness as excellent.’”
A report called “The State of Rural Minnesota” points out both distinctions and similarities between city folks and their country brethren. Don Davis (again) says, “North-central Minnesota’s population is poorer than most of the state, with lower income and more school students on government-subsidized free lunch than much of the state. A few other deep rural areas joined the north-central area on those marks. The state’s two biggest cities also had a high free-lunch rate, but median household income was far better than north-central Minnesota in demographics presented to a state House committee Thursday by Executive Director Brad Finstad of the Center for Rural Policy and Development. … In many ways, greater Minnesota is a contrast. The areas doing best generally are in a corridor from St. Cloud, through the Twin Cities to Rochester. That is where much of the population growth has occurred, but counties north of the Twin Cities and St. Cloud also are growing.”
Coincidentally related. The AP says, “A monthly survey of bankers suggests the economy will remain weak in rural parts of 10 Midwestern and Western states because of low grain and oil prices. The region’s overall economic index improved slightly to 50.9 in January from December’s neutral score of 50. The index ranges from 0 to 100. Any score above 50 suggests growth while a score below 50 suggests decline. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says growth is being restrained in rural areas because of low corn and fuel prices. But bankers say ethanol plants haven’t slowed production much.”
So what do we make of this? Jennifer Brooks in the Strib says, “Just nine of Minnesota’s 87 counties have seen their economies recover to pre-recession levels, or better. But that puts Minnesota in a stronger recovery than almost anywhere else in the country. A new report by the National Association of Counties ranks Minnesota third in the nation in county-level economic recovery. All nine of the counties that have bounced back are in the outstate: Clay, Marshall, Pennington and Polk in the northwest; Pope, Stevens and Wilkin in west central Minnesota and Jackson and Murray in the southwest corner of the state.” It’s not a coincidence that the GOP Congress owes its strength to lagging economies in such areas.
No vote requires less bravery. Another AP story says, “The Minnesota House voted unanimously Thursday to approve about $20 million in extra tax credits and deductions that people could claim when filing forms this winter and spring. The vote comes less than 10 days into session, a quick turnaround made necessary by next week’s start of income tax filing season. The bill adapts Minnesota’s tax code to recent federal changes.”
Yet another outrageous assault on a fine American’s precious Second Amendment rights! Tom Olsen of the Duluth News Tribune reports, “When authorities seized three firearms from the International Falls home of Tommy Salyers III in September 2012, there was no concrete evidence that the convicted felon actually had physically possessed the weapons. Deputies found a key that fit the safe, but it would not turn the lock. And a woman who had moved out of the home days earlier claimed that she owned one of the guns, as well as the safe itself. … The Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the conviction. The guns were found inside Salyers’ bedroom, he lived alone, and no one else had access to the safe, Justice Alan Page wrote in the court’s opinion.” Wayne Lapierre’s red phone is melting down.
The AP story says, “A 51-year-old White Bear Lake housekeeper is accused of stealing a wallet and checkbook from a client to pay for more than $14,000 in plastic surgery procedures. Darla Jean Tyler is charged with four counts of felony check forgery. A criminal complaint alleges she stole a wallet, checkbook, $700 cash and bank statements belonging to an 83-year-old White Bear Lake man.
I want one that talks to visitors. Something like, “Get off my lawn!” Anna Polta of the Forum News Service tells us, “Down through the ages, the cemetery headstone has gone virtually unchanged — until now, with a venture by a pair of young business partners that uses QR code technology to unlock the life stories of the departed. Eternal Legacy LLC’s anodized aluminum plaques can easily be placed on a gravestone and a scan of the embedded QR code will take a person to an online tribute page personalized by family and friends with photos, stories, reminiscences and more.”