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Minneapolis losing 17,000 students to charters, private and neighboring districts’ schools

Plus: Rolling Stones to announce Twin Cities concert date today; former Rep. Aaron Schock’s Minnesota connections; North Dakota’s state revenue forecast may be off by $1 billion; and more.

Hiawatha Academies

Seventeen thousand, says Alejandra Matos in the Strib. That’s the number of Minneapolis school kids not taking classes in Minneapolis Public Schools. “Sam Aragon is one of more than 17,000 students missing from the Minneapolis Public Schools system. Every day, Aragon, a first-grade student who lives in southeast Minneapolis, leaves the city to attend public school in Bloomington. The number of Minneapolis students who don’t attend the city’s public schools has grown by 20 percent in five years, causing a $5 million budget shortfall this year and creating a growing sense of urgency among school administrators trying to stem the losses.”

The state’s ethnic councils might be heading for an overhaul. Frederick Melo of the PiPress says, “Minnesota’s ethnic councils, chartered by the state, are virtually invisible at the Legislature and need to be restructured, according to a group of lawmakers. Several lawmakers are proposing bills to turn the four boards into legislative advisory groups, rather than independent organizations. The legislation emerged after a 2014 report from the Legislative Auditor said the councils — set up to represent minority communities and recommend policy — have been ineffective and should be eliminated or significantly revamped. The organizations are the Council on Black Minnesotans, the Chicano Latino Affairs Council, the Council on Asian-Pacific Minnesotans and the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council.”

Today may be the day we hear if this Stones thing is real. Jon Bream at the Strib writes, “The Rolling Stones are coming. We suspect you’ve heard the rumors by now. Expect an announcement of an outdoor-oriented tour on Thursday morning. Look for the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium to be in the itinerary. Rumors suggest June 3, according to a source close to the Stones, but a U of M football source heard possibly May 30. … Rumors say that the Stones, who don’t have a new album, might perform the 1971 ‘Sticky Fingers’ album in its entirety. But Stones guitarist Ron Wood told a friend that it depends on how rehearsals go.” I’d rather hear “Exile on Main Street.”

Ol’ Sooch is pro-Stones. Says Joe Soucheray in the PiPress, “Like McCartney, the Stones have long since matured into a positive force, not really a sinister bone left in their bodies. Unfortunately, unlike McCartney, or U2, the Stones have rarely, if ever, in their dotage, been able to whip something up spontaneously. Oh, I am sure they have when they have played a small club or when they are noodling about amongst themselves. But as an example, when U2 christened TCF Bank for big concerts in 2011, it started raining, and the Irish boys broke into the song ‘Rain’ by the Beatles, a B-side to ‘Paperback Writer,’ released in 1966. The crowd roared its appreciation for such quick thinking on their feet. I am afraid if it starts raining the night the Stones play, somebody will have to run out and shelter the teleprompter with an umbrella.” But what do Mick and Keef think about the damn property tax rates in St.Paul?

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A Minnesota connection, with a mobster to boot. Robert Durst, all over the news after that HBO series where he appears to have confessed to several murders, spurs this via Paul Walsh at the Strib, “Susan Berman, a onetime confidante of Robert Durst, the real estate heir suspected of killing her and others, started her life in Minnesota. She was the only child of a mobster who married a Twin Cities showgirl and settled for a time in St. Paul before striking out for felonious fame in Las Vegas. Berman was fatally shot in 2000 in her Los Angeles area home. Charged in her death this week was the central figure in the HBO documentary ‘The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst.’”

Also in the news and connected to us, Aaron Schock the high-living Illinois Congressman who just resigned. Reuters reports, “The Illinois congressman who resigned Tuesday after allegations that he misused taxpayer money is a Morris, Minn., native. Aaron Schock was born and lived in Morris through fourth grade and was in the area last October campaigning for congressional candidate Torrey Westrom. Schock still has relatives living in the Morris area in western Minnesota. The congressman is a Republican whose Downton Abbey-styled office launched a series of media reports questioning his use of taxpayer dollars.” Stuff like that plays havoc with my Wisconsin jokes.  

MPR’s Catharine Richert gives GOP Speaker Kurt Daudt an “accurate” on his assertion that the Governor is pushing “the largest gasoline tax increase in state history.” “In a few instances, it’s a different story when the charges are adjusted for inflation. That first 2 cents per gallon gas tax enacted in 1925 amounts to 27 cents today. And in 1937, a 1 cent increase in the gas tax translates to exactly 16 cents today. … Aside from two gas tax bumps decades ago that have been adjusted for inflation, the 16 cents per gallon increase and the new total of 44.5 cents per gallon tax on gasoline would be the highest in state history. Daudt’s claim earns an accurate.” I say give the money back to the taxpayers and we can all buy new shocks and struts for our road-damaged vehicles.

Speaking of your tax dollars. John Myers up at the Duluth News-Tribune says, “The federal government and state of Minnesota will split the $220,000 cost of a renewed wolf-trapping program for 2015. The program uses federal trappers to trap and kill wolves near where livestock and pets have been killed. It was used for decades in Minnesota to help relieve concerns of farmers and ranchers, and reduce tensions over wolf populations in the state.”

North Dakota’s glow is definitely fading. The Strib’s Jennifer Brooks says, “When the price of oil dropped by half, North Dakota cut its budget in half. But even that grim forecast might be off by $1 billion. On Wednesday, the state Office of Management and Budget issued a revised revenue forecast that concluded that North Dakota will likely lose an additional $1 billion in oil tax revenue over the next two years.”

In Second Amendment news today, Rachel Stassen-Berger of the PiPress writes, “Gun rights supporters rolled out this year’s version of the ‘Castle Doctrine’ in the Minnesota House on Wednesday, but House leaders said the measure is unlikely to win focus in 2015. The ‘Castle Doctrine’ would give Minnesotans greater rights to use their guns to defend their property. Expanding that ability has long been a goal for supporters, but the expansion also has long been thwarted. … The Minnesota House has pushed more quickly on three other gun-related measures. Bills to allow the use of silencers, reduce the notifications gun-permit holders would have to give and liberalize Minnesotans’ ability to buy weapons in other states won committee approval earlier this month.” And what about the freedom-to-trailer-a-howitzer bill?

There’s never an end to this stuff. Cory Zurowski at City Pages reports, “Last year was unkind to Imation Corp., the Oakdale global data storage and information security company. The firm reported an operating loss of more than $100 million. Its revenue tanked by 15 percent. But in the rarefied air of the executive wing at Minnesota’s 35th largest public company, that only meant CEO Mark Lucas was worthy of a whopping raise. While his company was taking a dive, Lucas’s pay nearly doubled to $4.8 million. Most of that came courtesy of $1.6 million in stock awards. He pocketed a mere $235,000 the previous year.”