This is MNsure-bad. At the PiPress, Christopher Magan says, “Minnesota put an abrupt halt to mandatory online proficiency testing Tuesday after repeated glitches frustrated students and teachers for a third day. Brenda Cassellius, state education commissioner, said in a statement late Tuesday that all testing would be suspended until provider Pearson could fix the system. Pearson is an international firm that is one of the nation’s largest providers of academic assessments.”
At MPR, Tim Post says, “Problems, however, have triggered widespread unhappiness among local school district officials who have only a window of barely two weeks in which to finish student testing for the school year. Local testing directors who spoke to MPR News prior to the department’s decision were completely frustrated by the technical woes this testing season. … This is the first year of a three-year, $38-million contract with the state for Pearson. Last year, the state parted ways with testing company American Institutes of Research for computer problems that led to major testing delays in 2013.” And people think we’re ready to vote online.
First turkeys, then chickens. Now dogs? Jessica Lee of the Strib says, “Minnesota dog owners, pet day care operators and veterinarians are bracing for a highly-contagious dog flu that is sweeping across the Midwest and has already killed several pets from Ohio to Wisconsin. So far, there have been no reports of the canine influenza in Minnesota, but experts say it is nearly certain to strike the state before the virus subsides. Already more than 1,100 dogs in the Chicago area are fighting the virus — with six dead — and local canine caregivers are preparing for its spread north.”
At City Pages, Ben Johnson adds, “If your dog is infected, it’s really quite unlikely you’ll have to put Spot or Fido down. Symptoms include high fever, loss of appetite, coughing, nasal discharge, and lethargy. Some dogs don’t show any symptoms at all. There’s a vaccine for those worried about their pets, but researchers are still unsure whether it’s effective against this strain of the virus, so your best bet is to keep your pets away from dog parks, grooming salons, and other places where dogs do dog things to other dogs — sniffing, snorting, licking, that kind of stuff.”
“It’s working” so well in Wisconsin they’re not even going to clean up the mangled deer. The AP story says, “Spot a dead deer on the side of the road? Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker doesn’t want the state Department of Natural Resources paying to clean it up. Walker’s budget would delete $700,000 in funding a year for DNR to pay for disposal of deer carcasses along state highways. The Legislature’s budget committee was slated to debate it on Wednesday. Under Walker’s proposal, responsibility for carting off the dead deer would fall to whatever other government agency is in charge of the roadway. Or they may be left uncollected.”
Meanwhile, the New York Times gets in on the Koch brothers’ quasi-endorsement of Wisconsin’s Governor. Nicholas Confessore writes, “On Monday, at a fund-raising event in Manhattan for the New York State Republican Party, David Koch told donors that he and his brother, who oversee one of the biggest private political organizations in the country, believed that Mr. Walker would be the Republican nominee. … Mr. Koch’s remark left little doubt among attendees of where his heart is, and could effectively end one of the most closely watched contests in the ‘invisible primary,’ a period where candidates crisscross the country seeking not the support of voters but the blessing of their party’s biggest donors and fund-raisers.”
The scurrilous lefties at ThinkProgress have their theories about Walker and the Kochs. Says Kira Lerner, “Walker has enjoyed the Kochs’ enthusiastic support for much of his political career. Koch Industries was one of the largest contributors to Walker’s first gubernatorial campaign, giving him $43,000, his largest out-of-state contribution. And Walker’s 2014 re-election campaign was one of the top recipients of Koch Industries cash. Tim Phillips, president of Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity, has also heaped praise on Walker. ‘The difference Scott Walker has made with his policy achievements is as transformative as any governor anywhere in a generation,’ Phillips said in an interview.” True that. The smell alongside Wisconsin highways this summer will be thoroughly transformative.
Entirely coincidentally, Doug Smith of the Strib reports, “Minnesota’s deer population management program will be audited this year by the state’s Legislative Auditor — a move pushed by some deer hunters critical of the Department of Natural Resources deer management. The Legislative Audit Commission, a bipartisan commission with six members from the House and six from the Senate, selected deer management as one of seven evaluations to be done in 2015. Hunters have complained about low deer harvest in recent years, and have questioned the DNR’s population estimates and goal-setting methods.” If hunters don’t mind the funky odor and the aged-quality of the venison they can always drive over and help out with Wisconsin’s harvest.
Speaking of our fine neighbors, I don’t think this Spotted Cow story would have the legs its showing if someone had snuck in a keg of brew called “Uncle Earl’s IPA.” Sarah Larimer of The Washington Post writes, “For those of you who don’t know why you should care about a story that is basically just ‘Area bar sells beer,’ I would point out that the beer in question is Spotted Cow, a product of New Glarus Brewing Co. It is a super beer, according to a source with knowledge of the product. (Me. I say that. I’m the source.) … ‘It’s an elegant beer, I think very European in nature,’ Deb Carey, founder and president of New Glarus Brewery, told The Post in a phone interview. ‘And people love it. And nobody else has been able to replicate it, though plenty have tried.’ This is the great tragedy of Spotted Cow, of course. It’s great that it exists somewhere in the universe! But I won’t find it on tap at my local bar, which can be a real bummer.” It’s so elegant I’m assured you can serve it with deer shank.
Truckin’ lawyers. Tom Webb of the PiPress says, “Groups representing Minnesota trucking firms and car dealers have sued to block the state’s 10 percent biodiesel mandate, arguing it hurts their business and violates federal law. The lawsuit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court, escalates a long-running dispute over soybean-based biodiesel that pits fuel users and some vehicle makers against Minnesota farmers and green groups. Last July, Minnesota began requiring that diesel fuel sold here contain 10 percent bio- diesel, the highest mandate in the nation and double the earlier 5 percent level. Some industries objected, noting some engine warranties don’t cover biodiesel fuel blends above 5 percent.”
The NFL’s schedule makers may have been hitting the Spotted Cow a little too hard. The Vikings’ 2015 schedule has them playing the Bears here Dec. 20, followed a week later by the Giants here, then closing the season January 3 in … Green Bay. At ESPN, Ben Goessling says, “They open with a trip to San Francisco — for their first Monday Night Football appearance since 2013 — and face six straight teams that went 8-8 or better in 2014 to start the year. And at the end of the season, the Vikings get Seattle at home, followed by a Thursday night trip to Arizona before two home games and a visit to Lambeau Field to close the season. We knew there were a number of tough matchups for the Vikings this season, but the NFL packed many of them into the bookends of the schedule. The good news for the Vikings is the middle of the schedule appears forgiving, and three of the last five games are at home. Bundle up for your farewell to TCF Bank Stadium.”