Sorry. Jeremy Olson of the Star Tribune reports, “A Ramsey County judge on Thursday declined to issue an injunction that could have kept UCare as an insurer for thousands of low-income Minnesotans receiving public health coverage in 2016. … Enrollment will be complicated by the fact that roughly 370,000 Minnesotans now covered by UCare plans will need to be switched to new insurers for 2016. But state Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson said that would have been even tougher if the injunction had disrupted the process.”
In response to the Jobs Coalition guy, House Minority Leader Paul Thissen files a Strib commentary saying: “most of the accomplishments Republican legislators are currently touting in their districts — from increased funding for schools to new money (albeit very little) for broadband grants — are thanks only to Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative DFLers. In reality, legislative Republicans failed at nearly every turn to deliver for the hardworking Minnesota families they so often mention in canned talking points and political speeches. Instead, Republicans pushed an agenda that put corporate special interests first. Not coincidentally, those same interests bankroll organizations like the Minnesota Jobs Coalition, of which Drake is president and which spent untold sums of dark money to elect those very Republican legislators.” Lose four points for using a clunker like “hard working Minnesota … .”
Speaking of broadband, or the lack thereof, Don Davis of the Forum News Service writes, “Many rural Americans compare providing high-speed Internet connections to the years when telephones and electricity were moving into rural areas. ‘To me it is the rural electrification of this era,’ Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., told experts on the subject he gathered Thursday in St. Paul. ‘If you go to rural Minnesota … if you are not wired there, it has all kinds of implications.’ Franken and others at the roundtable said providing the Internet through fast broadband connections is even more important than wired telephones and electricity.”
Speaking of what we will spend untold millions on, Pacific Standard magazine has a familiar story, built around Our Favorite Neighboring Governor’s recent sign-off on a fat chunk of a taxpayer money for a new basketball arena. Says Chris Heller, “Over the past 15 years, more than $12 billion in public money has been spent on privately owned stadiums. Between 1991 and 2010, 101 new stadiums were opened across the country; nearly all those projects were funded by taxpayers. The loans most often used to pay for stadium construction—a variety of tax-exempt municipal bonds—will cost the federal government at least $4 billion in taxpayer subsidies to bondholders. … why, despite overwhelming evidence that stadium subsidies are a poor use of public money, do cities and states agree to take on debt for the sake of wealthy team owners? Sociologists Rick Eckstein and Kevin Delaney, of Villanova and Temple universities, have studied this problem for years. The answer, they say, lies in the strategies through which stadium proposals are conceived and promoted. That is to say, public financing depends on the quiet, behind-the-scenes assembly of support from local plutocrats. The less often voters are involved, the better.”
I’d love to know who wrote this. The Strib editorializes: “The impending end of his leadership of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce seems to have weighed heavily in Kline’s decision, judging from his comments to Minnesota reporters in a conference-call discussion of his plan to leave Congress at the end of his current term. Kline said he still relishes his committee assignment. He’s eager for 16 more months of work on a policy to replace No Child Left Behind and on improved higher education accessibility, he said. … Kline has earned Minnesotans’ thanks and good wishes.”
Among the names floating as Kline’s GOP replacement: The Draz! Says Bill Salisbury in the PiPress, “The first to express interest Thursday was state Rep. Steve Drazkowski of Mazeppa. ‘At this point, I’m thinking about it,’ the five-term lawmaker said. Another Minnesota House Republican, Tony Albright of Prior Lake, said it’s too early to say whether he’s interested, but he added, ‘I will take it under advisement.’ But a third GOP House member made an immediate decision. ‘I would rather stick a fork in my eye than run for Congress,’ said Rep. Pat Garofalo of Farmington.” What’s his problem? 365 days of fund-raising plus regular GOP caucus meetings. What’s not to like?
Better, but not great. MPR’s Elizabeth Dunbar writes, “A new report says Minnesota’s per capita solar energy capacity grew by 42 percent last year, though the state still lags far behind in overall solar electricity generation. The report from the group Environment Minnesota applauded state lawmakers for a 2013 law that required large utilities to generate 1.5 percent of electricity from solar by 2020 and set a non-mandatory goal of 10 percent by 2030. Still, Minnesota ranks 29th among states in per capita solar capacity … .”
Also in the “Better, but Still Bad” category: MPR’s Matt Sepic says, “Water levels in White Bear Lake seem to be on the upswing after falling to a record low in early 2013. People who live near the northeast Twin Cities lake, however, remain concerned about its recovery. Many still want state lawmakers to fund what they see as a long-term solution: a new water supply system that doesn’t rely on an underground aquifer connected to the lake. The lake remains in critical condition … .”
And another set of statistics than you can read a couple different ways. MPR says, “Minnesota employers had nearly 100,000 job openings from April to June, the highest level in 14 years, state officials said Thursday. Most were for part-time, temporary or seasonal work. Data show 1.2 unemployed people for each vacancy, one of the lowest ratios in state history and tighter than the 1.6 unemployed people per vacancy a year ago, according to survey numbers released by the Department of Employment and Economic Development.”
Until this moment, I had no idea bees were at risk of theft. Says the AP, “Some area beekeepers are taking security precautions after a number of beehive boxes and about $900 worth of unprocessed honey were stolen near the west-central Minnesota town of New London. … The hobby beekeeper, who has a number of hives in the area, told Felt that he checked the hives a few days before the theft and that they were nearly ready to be harvested. When he returned Aug. 29, the beekeeper said he noticed the boxes and trays inside the beehives weren’t his, and that they were empty. About 90-100 pints of honey and a ‘good quantity’ of bees has been stolen, the beekeeper said.”
In the PiPress, Ruben Rosario does a bit of advance work for Saturday’s appearance by presidential candidate: Deez Nuts. “Deez Nuts is actually Brady Olson, a high school sophomore from Wallingford, Iowa, population 197, who filed with the Federal Election Commission on July 26. He says he did it as a lark, but also as a way to express his frustration at the two-major-party system. Some joke. Public Policy Polling, a research firm, decided, at Olson’s request, to include Deez Nuts in state polling. Matched against Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Deez Nuts scored 8 percent in Minnesota, 9 percent in North Carolina, 7 in Iowa and more recently 6 in New Hampshire. According to Independence Party of Minnesota officials, these are the strongest presidential polling results for a third-party or independent candidate in more than 20 years, since Ross Perot’s failed attempt to land in the Oval Office.” Whatever he says about foreign policy will be at least as credible as Scott Walker.
If you couldn’t get tickets to the big Lynyrd Skynyrd show, there’s always this. Says Chris Riemenschneider in the Strib, “While Twin Cities metal fans were waiting for big news from another legendary band due in town next year, Black Sabbath surprised us today with the announcement of their final tour, the third date of which will be in Minneapolis at Target Center on Jan. 25. Three of the band’s four original members are embarking on what’s officially being billed as ‘Black Sabbath: The End’, including the ubiquitous Ozzy Osbourne, guitarist Tony Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler. … Best known for the classic-rock staples ‘Paranoid’ and ‘War Pigs’ — and pretty much the band most credited with pioneering heavy metal — Sabbath also played Target Center on its 1999 reunion tour with all four original guys.’ Come on. Who among you doesn’t have “War Pigs” as your ringtone?