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Walker and Trump top poll of GOP candidates in Minnesota

Plus: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota to cut 450 jobs; Target scraps TargetExpress name; a merit badge for sexual ethics? And more.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker
REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Trump is closing in on Walker in Minnesota. Says Tom Scheck for MPR, “A new poll of Minnesota voters finds a tight race for the Republican presidential nomination in the state. The poll by Public Policy Polling found that 19 percent of those surveyed favored Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, while 18 percent favored businessman Donald Trump and 15 percent supported former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. … The survey also finds that all of the candidates in both parties have higher unfavorable than favorable ratings, with the exception of Bernie Sanders whom 30 percent view favorably and 29 percent view unfavorably.”

Speaking of why we love politicians, Scheck, again, writes, Hillary Clinton is going to make the most of her time in Minnesota later this month. Clinton has added a high dollar fundraiser to her schedule on Aug. 28. She’s also scheduled to appear at the Democratic National Committee’s Summer Meetings in Minneapolis on that day. Clinton’s fundraiser, which was announced Tuesday, will be held at the Wayzata home of Dean Phillips. Phillips is the chair of the board of The United States Distilled Products Company. He also served as CEO of the company founded by his family. The minimum contribution to attend the event is $500.” For $25 can I wave at her limo?

You knew this was coming. Madeleine Baran at MPR says, “Whistleblower Jennifer Haselberger has filed a claim against the Twin Cities archdiocese for at least $50,000 for alleged defamation. The claim filed Monday in the archdiocese’s bankruptcy case said the defamation occurred after June 6, 2014. It did not elaborate.”

Damn those “flexible technology platforms.” Peter Cox at MPR says, “Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota will cut around 450 positions over the next four years with losses coming in information technology, the state’s largest insurer said Tuesday. Those job cuts will be made gradually, from 2016 through 2019, in order to make the reductions transparent and predictable to employees, the company said in a statement. … The nonprofit health care company said the cuts are coming as Blue Cross transitions to more efficient, flexible technology platforms.”

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In a Strib commentary supporting the President’s plan to address climate change, Rep. Keith Ellison and House Minority Leader Paul Thissen write, “A recent state report found that air pollution in the Twin Cities alone contributes to the deaths of 2,000 people a year, with the heaviest impact on areas with more people of color and higher poverty. We are already seeing the impacts of a changing climate in Minnesota. Seven of the top 10 warmest years on record came in the last 15 years. We used to call them 1,000-year floods, but we may have to rename them, since Minnesota has had four in the last decade, at great cost to our communities. In addition, the warming of Lake Mille Lacs due to climate change is one culprit behind the lake’s walleye decline.”

Still following a tough year for motorcyclists. Stribber Paul Walsh says, “With the riding season far from over, Minnesota already is on the verge of matching its motorcycle death toll for all of last year. Three fatal crashes in a recent 36-hour span have pushed this year’s death tally for motorcycle riders to 44, according to the state’s Motorcycle Safety Center. There were 46 in all of 2014.”

Speaking of motorcycle safety, Jennie Lissarrague at KSTP-TV says, “Two motorcyclists clocked going 135 mph in Olmsted County topped the list of the biggest speeders during July’s statewide speed enforcement campaign, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety reports. More than 300 law enforcement agencies participated in the campaign, citing 16,410 motorists from July 10-26. Last year’s campaign caught 16,926 speeders, DPS officials say.”

In other words, never mind: On Target’s un-branding those TargetExpress stores, Kavita Kumar of the Strib writes, “While CityTarget stores located in dense urban areas are generally smaller than Target’s other big-box stores, that wasn’t the case with the CityTarget store that opened last month next to Fenway Park in Boston. At 160,000 square feet, it’s actually larger than Target’s typical suburban stores, which are closer to 135,000 square feet in size. And while the Target store on Nicollet Mall next to the Minneapolis-based retailer’s headquarters is definitely in the middle of a dense part of the city, it was not considered a CityTarget. So now, Target is jettisoning those CityTarget and TargetExpress labels and will soon rebrand all of them as just Target.” It’s not nice to confuse the “guests.”

A merit badge in sexual ethics?  Carolyn Chalmers, of Minneapolis, a previous director of the Office for Conflict Resolution at the University of Minnesota, suggests in another Strib commentary, “A merit badge in sexual ethics would teach a boy competencies in managing his sex drives, including the role of alcohol and drugs in sexual abuse, the emotional and physical dynamics of sex, and effective communications about consent. It could provide a forum for educating about a broad range of cultural values about sex. Overcoming confusion and paralysis when witnessing sexual abuse by others would be another objective. Strategies for being a good friend when seeing others risking physically or emotionally unhealthy sex can be taught. To become an Eagle Scout, fewer than 25 merit badges are required. Sexual ethics would simply be one of more than 100 options.” But only for boys, right?

Who said Scott Walker? The latest from the man who turned Wisconsin into the economic wonder we know as “It’s-Working-Land,” hasn’t quite had that tough kitchen table discussion with himself. Shane Goldmacher at the National Journal says, “Gov. Scott Walker has two credit-card debts of more than $10,000 apiece on separate cards and is paying an eye-popping 27.24 percent interest rate on one of them, new federal financial documents disclosed on Monday show. The Republican presidential candidate has cast himself as both a fiscal conservative leader and a penny-pinching everyman on the campaign trail, often touting his love of Kohl’s, the discount department store. His newly published financial disclosure shows that, like many Americans, Walker has few assets, some major debts (including more than $100,000 for student loans for his children), and a punishing interest rate on his credit-card obligations.” If this presidential thing doesn’t work out I certainly hope he feels some of that T-Paw-style love from the big boys.