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TV ad exposes GOP rift over how to spend state surplus

Handing money back might be an even more risk-free proposal than cutting taxes. In the Strib, Patrick Condon reports, “Minnesota Republican Party Chairman Keith Downey waded into legislative session politics Tuesday, debuting a campaign-style TV commercial — starring himself — that pressures DFLers to return the state’s entire $1.9 billion budget surplus to taxpayers. What the ad doesn’t mention is that numerous GOP state lawmakers have also proposed ways of using the surplus. And the advertising purchase, which Downey said would cost about $150,000, concerns some Republicans who see fresh signs of the Minnesota GOP’s persistent debt problems.” Since when can’t you spend what you don’t have?

In the PiPress, Rachel Stassen-Berger writes, “Downey, who is running for re-election to the party post this spring, said Tuesday he did not have a prescription for how he thought the nearly $1.9 billion should be returned. He declined to say whether he would be disappointed if House Republicans did not follow his ‘send it all back’ lead.” Well, for starters, the state could give the GOP $150,000.

Meanwhile, because budget cutting is also popular with the base, Tom Scheck at MPR reports, “The Republican speaker of the Minnesota House has opened the door to spending cuts to some programs, despite a nearly $2 billion projected budget surplus. … Former Republican Party co-chair Kelly Fenton, who was elected to the Minnesota House last year, said she was ‘puzzled’ by the party’s decision to spend money on an advertising campaign. ‘I have no idea why he would be doing it,’ Fenton, R-Woodbury, said of Downey’s decision. At the start of the year, the Republican Party, which has spent years in debt, owed at least $1.5 million and had very little cash on hand. Fenton noted that the party still owes vendors payments from the 2014 campaign and suggested it should have paid them back before spending on a new ad campaign.”

And this is before Target … . Mike Hughlett of the Strib says, “Minnesota’s job market got off to a wobbly start in January, and the state’s tepid growth in 2014 turned out to be even weaker after data revisions, according to new data released Tuesday. Minnesota employers cut 7,900 jobs in January on a seasonally adjusted basis, though the state’s unemployment rate held steady at 3.7 percent, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.”

MPR’s Matt Sepic says, “Employers in the state added more than 36,000 jobs in the last year, according to the Department of Employment and Economic Development. But that was far fewer than first thought. State economists just completed a routine revision that scrubs sampling error from the job tally. ‘Those annual revisions took a lot of the luster off the last six months of 2014,’ said Steve Hine, chief labor market economist for the state.” Years worth of infrastructure work would be a big help.

In the Wall Street Journal, Heidi Waleson reviews “The Manchurian Candidate.” “The 1962 film ‘The Manchurian Candidate’ is a masterpiece of creepiness and suspense; the opera version of the story with music by Kevin Puts and libretto by Mark Campbell, given its world premiere by the Minnesota Opera at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, is not. The piece is snappier than the duo’s previous collaboration, the dutiful ‘Silent Night,’ which won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Music, but it suffers from some of the same issues. Driven by plot and text, its music doesn’t grip the listener with the kind of powerful characterization and dramatic impulse that make an operatic retelling worth the effort.”

Adrian, Zygi. Zygi, Adrian. Tom Pelissero of USA Today writes, “Adrian Peterson has taken the conversation about his future to the top of the Minnesota Vikings organization. The 2012 NFL MVP traveled Monday to New York, where Peterson met with New Jersey-based Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf and general manager Rick Spielman, the team confirmed to USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday. … The way the running back market is panning out, with Marshawn Lynch and LeSean McCoy recently getting big guarantees on new deals, bodes well for Peterson’s chances to cash in as well if given the opportunity to hit the open market or, more likely, renegotiate upon a trade.”

The call is out for more oversight of HMO administrative spending. Stribber Christopher Snowbeck writes, “A new audit calls for more oversight on administrative spending by the HMOs hired to manage care for people in public health insurance ­programs. … In 2012, the four largest HMOs in the state managed care for about 620,000 people in the program, and administrative costs among the plans was about $278 million.”

Strib biz columnist Lee Schafer on a likely reality for Target employees. “Having smart young people come here — and stay — is how the Twin Cities became a metro area that’s among the leaders in median income, educational attainment and other economic measures. Target executives said last week that the company will continue to hire people with unique skills, such as in data science, but the region clearly just took a step backward. … These jobs are gone, and it is difficult to see when they would be coming back. It’s likely they never do.”

On the, shall I say “problematic” prosecution of those “Black Lives Matter” MOA protesters, Ben Johnson of City Pages writes, “Yesterday protesters being prosecuted by Bloomington City Attorney Sandra Johnson released a batch of emails showing her close collaboration with the Mall of America in pursuing charges against the organizers of the huge Dec. 23 protest at the mall. Before the giant Black Lives Matter protest in the mall’s rotunda, Johnson wrote the mall’s lawyers, telling them to take screenshots of social media and video of the protest to help make future charges stick. … Jordan Kushner, a defense lawyer representing five of the protesters charged, says such blatant coordination is ‘uncharted territory.’” The upside to this prosecution is marginal at best.  

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Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 03/11/2015 - 03:51 pm.

    All you have to do is look at the GOP

    and realize it is a bad idea to let them have control of anything, especially money. They can’t even pay their own party’s bills much less figure out what to do with a surplus. Now they want to try the Jesse Ventura method of money management by giving the money back and then run the state into the next fiscal disaster. The GOP runs in a feast and famine mode, there isn’t any moderation and common sense left in the party. They are the ones who said they have to prove they can lead. They are having a really hard time, in the short time they are going to be in control, of proving they can actually lead and manage. The internal GOP war keeps getting in the way.

  2. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 03/11/2015 - 08:13 am.

    Actually, there’s nothing problematic at all

    Prosecutors work with and consult crime victims all the time. Another media-driven story.

  3. Submitted by Harris Goldstein on 03/11/2015 - 10:46 am.

    GOP rift? Or tactic?

    Actually, I think it’s politically clever. Downey (who doesn’t have to run for anything), by staking out a give it all back position, makes Daudt et al, seem moderate by comparison.

  4. Submitted by Mark Gisleson on 03/11/2015 - 05:40 pm.

    Still missing from the Target story

    What exactly did these people do? Schafer says whole departments were eliminated, but cannot name any of them. Incredibly talented top business school types have been laid off, but no examples of their talent or accomplishments are cited. And, more telling, Schafer cannot tell us why other MN employers are not trying to swoop up these most valuable of all talented business people.

    I doubt very much that the real story behind these layoffs will be told. Not unless Target decides to share. There is no local or national business press capable of unearthing the real story here. This isn’t just the Strib: stories run by Slate, MPR, Fortune and others just parrot the same information but shed no light on what these people did for a living.

    I suspect Target may have lost some of its marketing Einsteins, the folks who routinely moved products from one aisle to the next or even to another part of the store because the more shoppers walk and search, the more they buy.

    Or maybe they laid off the logistical geniuses who manufactured traffic jams by clogging aisles with free samples on the busiest shopping days.

    Or, with any luck, they dumped the entire team responsible for deciding that Target would never ever stock plus sizes because only people who aren’t overweight should ever buy clothing from Target.

    Until the business media can identify the real story here, I’ll just keep speculating because it would be irresponsible not to. Something big just happened, and the local media cannot tell us why, but they keep going out of their way to remind us that when white collar workers are laid off, it’s a tragedy. (When blue collar workers are laid off, it’s a tribute to the efficiency of capitalism.)

    Something went wrong at Target. Either the current management team has just made a huge blunder, or previous senior management left a big mess when they departed. I suspect the latter, but it’s an uninformed guess because the news media is ignoring the real story.

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