Franken’s campaign to stop Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger gathers momentum

REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

Following Sen. Al Franken’s crusade to block the merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable, CBS News reports, “Senator Al Franken, D-Minnesota, has been an outspoken voice against the marriage of the two cable and internet giants. ‘This is a merger which would create a behemoth that would be anti-competitive and [it’s] not in the public interest,’ Franken said Wednesday on ‘CBS This Morning.’ ‘What this would mean to consumers is higher prices, less choice, and — if it’s even possible — worse service.’ Comcast has promoted the deal by touting it as providing more choice for consumers. But the Minnesota senator shot down that argument, saying the merger would instead create a ‘giant company, unprecedented in size.’ ‘This would be less choice, less competition,’ Franken said. ‘What we need is more competition if you want higher speeds.’

At NPR, Jim Zarroli says, “Franken says opposition to the merger has been steadily building. He says when he first started criticizing the deal his was something of a lone voice in Congress. ‘Most people thought it was a fait accompli, but now I think it’s changed and I believe the Department of Justice and the FCC will reject this,’ Franken says.”

The winnah! For USA Today, Donovan Slack tells the nation, “There were Tater Tots, turkey and a whole lot of trash-talking on Capitol Hill on Wednesday as members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation faced off in Sen. Al Franken’s fifth annual casserole bake-off — or hotdish-off if you’re Minnesotan. Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum pulled out the win this year with a turkey and wild rice dish covered in sweet potato Tater Tots. Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson scored second place with his ‘Suspend the Rules and Pass the Hotdish,’ a hearty ground-beef mixture topped with a cornbread crust. Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar rounded out the top three with a turkey-bacon dish topped with biscuits.” Where’s the bacon?

Always with the Vegas. Stribber Dave Phelps writes, “For federal prosecutors, Sean Meadows is the poster child of investment advisers gone bad and the reason to step up investigations in this area. In the Meadows case, the U.S. attorney’s office is seeking a hefty 30-year prison sentence for his role in a seven-year, $10 million fraud in which he took client funds to support an opulent lifestyle that included gambling junkets to Las Vegas.” You just know there was a ridiculous boat in there, too.

The Film and TV Board is getting a working over. In the Strib, Kristin Tillotson reports, “The Minnesota Film & TV Board is facing questions about its effectiveness, a year after the Legislature granted an unprecedented $10 million for its Snowbate incentives program in 2014-15. The House was moving Wednesday to eliminate funding for the program, which uses tax rebates to draw film productions to Minnesota. Meanwhile, the Senate voted to renew it. …  In fiscal 2014, the report says, 30 productions received $1.2 million in incentives, and spent more than $5.5 million in Minnesota, providing work for nearly 500 state residents. In an interview, [Auditor Jim] Nobles said the taxes generated by that spending were not enough to offset the program’s cost.”

What the esteemed member meant to say: Abby Simons of the Strib files a piece on the furious back-peddling of GOP Rep. Jim Newbergher. “A Minnesota state representative apologized Wednesday for remarking on the House floor that a rail line connecting north Minneapolis to a state prison in St. Cloud would be ‘convenient.’ ‘I sincerely apologize,’ Republican Rep. Jim Newberger said in a prepared statement. ‘I recognize my comments last night offended some people. I will work in the future to not repeat this mistake.’” 

For MPR, Tom Scheck writes, “State Sen. Bobby Joe Champion, a DFLer who represents north Minneapolis, said he believes Newberger’s comments reflect the overall Republican view of investing in impoverished communities. ‘At a time when we should be encouraging hope and inspiring people, we’ve got to throw in those sort of pot shots at people saying, ‘Your life means nothing. I know where you’re going to end up,’ he said. Champion and [DFL Rep. Rena] Moran said they’ll be watching to see whether Newberger is truly remorseful. House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, said he thinks Newberger should apologize on the House floor.”

So let’s save a lot of time and skip actually playing the games. ESPN’s Ben Goessling works through this year’s Vikings schedule, predicting the outcome of each game. The net effect? A 9-7 season. “Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 6, Seattle, 1 p.m. ET Here’s where things get tough: The two-time defending NFC champions come to town for a game that could have all sorts of subplots (Marshawn Lynch vs. Adrian Peterson, Russell Wilson vs. Bridgewater, the return of former Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, etc.). In the end, Bridgewater will have a tough time in his first matchup with the Legion of Boom if the Vikings can’t protect him. Seahawks 24, Vikings 13. Record: 7-5.” Unless Bevell calls another goal-line pass play.

Here’s a headline every mother can love. “Minn. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Sex Offender.” The WCCO-TV story says, “The Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a convicted St. Paul sex offender who argued that a jury, and not a judge, must decide his risk-level status. The decision could affect the statuses of several Level-III sex offenders in the state. Ge Her, 35, was released from prison in 2003 after serving time in a 1998 conviction for third-degree criminal sexual conduct, conspiracy to commit criminal sexual conduct and committing a crime for the benefit of a gang. Her was adjudicated delinquent in the case, which involved the rape of two girls who were 13 and 14 at the time of the crime.”

Vice Sports tries to explain the soccer situation here to its readers. “In an optimistic light, this is a relatively sweet deal for taxpayers, what with no state money going into the buying of the land or building of the stadium. However, Dr. McGuire’s group glossed over some key details in their proposal: property and sales tax breaks (and caps) that add up to about $50 million dollars. Still, that’s only slightly more than the interest payments for one year on the debt for the Vikings stadium. … On March 24, 2015, Minneapolis City officials emailed tax projections for a new MLS stadium and the City stood to gain around $700,000 per year in sales and entertainment tax receipts from home games alone. Guess what Dr. McGuire’s proposal added a few weeks later? Sales and entertainment tax receipts.”

According to the conventional wisdom on one edge of the spectrum, public employees shouldn’t be earning any more than a Walmart janitor. But Curtis Gilbert at MPR says, “About 120 of the highest-paid employees in Minneapolis city government are in line for a raise. The city’s Executive Committee, which includes Mayor Betsy Hodges and senior members of the City Council, voted Wednesday to increase the employees’ salaries by more than 7 percent over the next year at a total cost of nearly $1 million. Current salaries for the appointed officials range from $80,000 to $165,000 a year. Republicans in the Minnesota House plan to use the move as ammunition in their quest to reduce state aid to Minneapolis, a DFL stronghold.”

If Dickens wrote the crime blotter. Susan Du at City Pages writes, “St. Paul Police’s latest prostitution sting swept up an unlikely suspect. Mark Toogood, a 58-year-old division director for the Minnesota Human Services department, was charged Monday with trying to solicit sex from an undercover officer. In early April, Toogood was surfing’s Erotic Services section when he stumbled upon an undercover lady cop posing as a prostitute, according to the St. Paul city attorney on Monday. After a series of phone calls and texts, Toogood made an appointment to meet the officer at a hotel. According to the criminal complaint, Toogood greeted the cop with a hug and a kiss before getting down to business.”                       

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Comments (10)

  1. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 04/23/2015 - 07:39 am.

    7% raise?

    At a time when people in the private sector are getting 1-2% raises, there’s always enough taxpayer money laying around to give the bureaucrats 7%. Out of touch much?

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 04/23/2015 - 08:27 am.


      It appears these raises are directed towards top managers and if we compare private sector top manger raises and bonuses in the current market environment to the raises that our top bureaucrats are getting we see about 1/2 the rate increase of their private sector comrades. Good job top top bureaucrats: retaining top managers at a 50% saving to the tax payer. Of course the best solution for this is for the Testers of the world to join Elizabeth Warren and others in outrage over 1-2% raises and 100X differences in pay rate increases between employees: top to bottom.

      • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 04/23/2015 - 11:43 am.

        I’m not paying

        the 1% raises. I have no control over that. I’m paying the 7% raises. It appears I have no control over that as well.

        BTW, give us an example of a comparable “top manager” in the private sector getting a 15% raise. Care to name names?

      • Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 04/23/2015 - 11:47 am.

        So, Edward…

        I guess you favor greater income disparity and want the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer and the middle to be squeezed downward. You can bet the people that do the actual work aren’t getting 7%. it is the (to use your odd words) “Good job top top bureaucrats” who are giving their employees 1% while they take 7% or more. It isn’t likely ever that the people at the top will give the people at the bottom the same types of increases they are getting except in extremely rare exceptions.

        Instead of comparing private sector and public sector top manager raises (call them apples and oranges), compare public sector top manager and public sector non-top manager raises (call them big apples and little apples).

        I doubt the economy could handle all the rest of us getting the huge raise percentages the top are getting so the only realistic way to close the gap without wrecking the economy is to cut the increases on top, something the greed, powerful elite will never consent to.

    • Submitted by Jackson Cage on 04/23/2015 - 11:53 am.

      Let’s use the Steinhafel Standard

      If I were Mayor Hodges, I’d squash the insulting 7% figure. I’d drive Minneapolis into bankruptcy, then walk away with a 400% salary increase. That’s how they roll in the private sector

  2. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 04/23/2015 - 09:18 am.

    Some apology!

    A real apology would have been “I recognize that my comments were inappropriate,” not “I recognize my comments offended some people.” The subtext is “and those people are a bunch of hyper-sensitive, politically correct *******s, so I’m really the one being victimized here.”

  3. Submitted by Gerald Abrahamson on 04/23/2015 - 09:30 am.

    If people choose Comcast,

    they deserve the service they chose. Good luck cancelling the contract IF it ever ends…. Hey, YOU chose it, so you can’t whine about the bad choices YOU made. It is not like you did NOT know.

  4. Submitted by James Hamilton on 04/23/2015 - 01:35 pm.

    Isn’t it time we legalized consensual sex for profit?

    Whether one initially read the Pioneer Press headlines on the recent sex sting that caught up two middle-aged men or clicked through to the City Pages piece mentioned above, it was hard to miss the connection made by many between one man’s employment and work with a Twin Cities guardian ad litem program. Many condemn the men because women often are coerced into performing or, worse, are not women but children.

    Yet, the act in question had nothing to do with either man’s employment. The woman involved in this sting was, it seems, an adult officer, who portrayed herself as someone willingly engaged in the exchange of sex for money. While this undoubtedly horrifies many, it’s a transaction that’s existed for millennia and likely will exist for millennia to come. Had either man knowingly entered into a transaction with a minor or a woman who appeared to be there under compulsion, I’d feel different. But until I see evidence of that, they both have my sympathy.

    Let’s focus address this rationally, legalize and regulate the trade, and focus our efforts on protecting the females coerced into the business by prosecuting those who coerce and traffic them. In the meantime, I hope these men will be treated more fairly by the criminal justice system that they have been by the media and many members of the public.

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