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Dayton’s approval rating rises to 54 percent

Plus: Governor wants a $10 an hour minimum wage for airport workers; MN officials try to lure VW; McCollum worried about protecting wild rice; and more.

Gov. Mark Dayton
MinnPost photo by Briana Bierschbach

New polling: The Star Tribune’s Patrick Condon reports, “Gov. Mark Dayton, a few months into his second term and in the thick of legislative session politics, still has Minnesotans behind him, a Star Tribune Minnesota Poll has found. With the support of 54 percent of likely voters, Dayton’s approval rating rebounded to some of his best numbers since he first took office in 2011. Thirty-six percent disapprove, while 10 percent are undecided.” Yet it���s the guy next door, at 43 percent, who is running for president.

And speaking of the Gov, he is making sweet music to airport workers. Tim Pugmire at MPR writes, “Dayton said Wednesday that he will urge the Metropolitan Airports Commission to establish a $10 an hour minimum wage for all airport workers, beginning immediately. The current state minimum is $8, with scheduled increases to bring it to $9.50 by 2016. During a speech at a Muslim American Society of America event near the Capitol, Dayton said airport workers deserve to earn a higher wage.”

Not to totally kill the buzz over our Major League Soccer dream, and the possibility of yet another publicly subsidized new stadium, but here’s Neil deMause at Field of Schemes talking MLS. “MLS is finally on the verge of filling up its 24 franchise slots, which is four more than pretty much any other soccer league on earth, but hey, American exceptionalism and all … . There’s no real reason MLS can’t go to 26 teams, or 28 or 30, when it’s already at 24, and with everybody and their sister clamoring to get into the league, might as well rack up a few more expansion fees (and publicly subsidized soccer-specific stadiums) while you can, right? Everyone who thinks that the problem with MLS is that the quality of play is too watered down already, as opposed to those who think that the problem is that it would be watered down even with only 12 teams, commence to wailing and rending your garments.” 

And did you notice that the GOP’s big budget announcement included not a peep about “giving it all back,” which was the pitch in the $150,000 state chair Keith Downey spent for a TV ad two weeks ago? City Pages Ben Johnson says, “Republican leaders unveiled their proposed budget, and guess what? The proposed rebate checks were nowhere to be found. We tried to reach out to Downey yesterday to ask him about the failed ad campaign, but he didn’t return our emails. He told us two weeks ago the campaign caused a flood a new donations, making it a success regardless of whether or not checks ever got sent out. ‘Actually the degree of support that we’ve gotten from donors from the campaign has added to our ability to reduce the debt,’ he said.” 

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The reward for information about little Barway Collins is up to $12,000. The AP and KARE-TV’s Jay Olstad say, “Crystal Police, along with the Crystal Crime Prevention Board and Minnesota CrimeStoppers, is now offering a reward of up to $12,000 for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of whoever was involved in the disappearance of Barway Collins. Barway was last seen after school March 18 at his apartment complex. On Tuesday, police said the boy’s father, Pierre Collins, has not been completely honest with authorities and is now considered a suspect in the child’s disappearance.”

USA Today story by Aamer Madhani says, “A Minnesota National Guardsman was indicted on Wednesday for producing child pornography while he was deployed in Afghanistan. Andrew Schiller, of Lakeville, Minn., convinced a 14-year-old girl from Minnesota to send him nude photos over the Internet while he was in the midst of a deployment, according to the office of U.S. Attorney Andy Luger, the top federal prosecutor in Minnesota.”

More on teacher tenure and evaluations in a Strib commentary from Holdingford teacher Mark Alcorn. “Regardless of one’s ideology, I cannot imagine who would favor the abandonment of academic freedom. I do not teach my students what to think. Rather, I teach them how to think by strengthening their ability to analyze rationally and think critically. The proven way to do this is to present all sides of an issue and let the students practice their debating and thinking skills. If I must be concerned about angering an administrator, school board member or influential community member when presenting arguments in class, then we are all doing a disservice to students.”

The longest of long-shots, I’m guessing. The Forum News Service says, “Minnesota state officials sent a second invitation for Volkswagen to move a Tennessee plant to Minnesota. State Sen. David Tomassoni, D-Chisholm, was joined by Rep. Carly Melin, D-Hibbing, Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben of the Department of Employment and Economic Development and Commissioner Mark Phillips of the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board. The letter reacts to a Tennessee lawmaker’s comments against unions while discussing VW’s plans to expand its American production. … Nashville Public Radio last week reported: ‘Tennessee lawmakers look like they’re going to sign off on $180 million to subsidize Volkswagen’s expansion in Chattanooga. While they’re willing to write the check, they’re still taking shots at the automaker for its welcoming attitude toward unions.” Yeah, VW is definitely a bane to good-paying jobs in Dixie.

Some top tier schmoozing in Italy. The Forum folks also report, “Two Minnesotans were among American farm leaders who met Wednesday with Pope Francis in Italy. Minnesota Farmers Union President Doug Peterson and the National Farmers Union chief counsel, Minnesotan David Velde, were part of discussions about the role family farmers play in food security. They talked about the fact that most food produced in the United States comes from family farmers, the Minnesota Farmers Union reported. A recent report from the Census Bureau found that 97 percent of U.S. farms are family operated and owned.” A lot of Lutherans and heathens in that mix, though.

The plan to provide driver licenses for those referred to in some quarters as “illegals,” may be gaining momentum. Kia Farhang at the AP says, “Advocates of a push to grant driver’s licenses to people living in the country illegally packed a Minnesota House hearing Wednesday, at times breaking into tears as supporters explained how the change would affect them. The move has support from a broad coalition of businesses, religious leaders and law enforcement officials who say it will make roads safer as more people take driver’s safety tests and buy car insurance. But some argue giving licenses to those without legal resident status will make it easier for them to commit voter fraud.” … which is already rampant, as we’re constantly told.

Just in case cryogenics aren’t part of your plan. Mary Divine of the PiPress says, “Roberts Family Funeral Home in Forest Lake, Minn., is now offering to collect DNA samples from the dead. The service, which costs $295, is being marketed as a way for survivors to learn about the risks of certain diseases, authenticate genetic ancestry, and determine paternity.” Or, you can just mix it with the DNA of a wooly mammoth and … .

Betty McCollum is getting behind wild rice. MPR’s Tom Scheck says, “DFL U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum says she’s concerned about a state plan to change a clean water standard aimed at protecting wild rice. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency said Tuesday it’s updating its standard to account for new science. But McCollum said Wednesday the move will result in lower water quality. She said she’s worried it’s being done to help mining companies.”