Another round of accusations in Starkey Hearing Technology suits

So shoot me, I love this story. In the latest on the Starkey meltdown, Dee DePass reports in the Strib, “A fired long-time secretary at Starkey Hearing Technologies sued the company this week for severance pay. The company responded Thursday by accusing her of receiving ‘hundreds of thousands of questionable payments’ from a ‘secret executive account.’ … [Julie] Miller noted that she lost her job ‘without good reason,’ while the executive assistants of other fired employees were allowed to remain with the company. Those assistants were not married to a Starkey executive as she was. As a result, Miller accuses Starkey of ‘marital status discrimination,’ and of violating the Minnesota Human Rights Act.”

A defeat for the enviros. Says the AP, “A federal appeals court has rejected a challenge by environmental groups to Minnesota’s plan for reducing haze over Voyageurs National Park and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. … At issue was whether the state’s plan should have mandated the use of ‘best available retrofit technology,’ or BART, for power plants contributing to regional haze. The state instead adopted a cap-and-trade approach to emissions called the ‘transport rule,’ and a set of goals for improving visibility.” Hey, it makes the sunsets redder.

At the Star Tribune, Mike Hughlett has more on the employment numbers. ‘This was a much needed reversal of the summertime slump that produced a net decline of 1,800 jobs between June and October’, Steve Hine, the state’s labor economist, wrote in a monthly analysis. Wage growth has also picked up in Minnesota over the past three months, rising 2 percent or more in each month, Hine said in an interview. … State and national employment reports the past couple of months allay some fears about the economy’s fragility,’ Hine said.”

RHRealitycheck.com (for Reproductive Health) is watching local pols. Says Jenn Stanley, “Minnesota’s GOP is pushing for more restrictions on fetal tissue research at public universities after a news outlet supported by local Tea Party groups implicated the university in an illegal exchange of fetal tissue. … [State Rep. Abigail Whelan R-Anoka], in her commentary for the Star Tribune, credits an investigation by a Tea Party-supported media outlet, Alpha News, with proving that the university is performing research using aborted fetal tissue, but the issue is really whether or not that tissue comes from Minnesota. Alpha News alleges to be a news site, but has one named reporter. Everyone else affiliated with the organization has chosen to remain anonymous.”

Watching the broadband debate, Tim Blotz at KMSP-TV says, “The broadband divide is real. Get outside of the Twin Cities metro and high-speed internet access is the exception, not the rule.  All the proof you need is by the people crowding local libraries. In Princeton, Minn., it’s not necessarily the books that are drawing people to the local library – it’s the high-speed internet connection. … Until the state can provide enough cost sharing with providers to expand hard lines, libraries are likely to remain popular hot spots.”

And just when “Drill Baby Drill” reappeared. Says Dave Shaffer in the Strib, “The largest solar power project in Minnesota won approval Wednesday from state regulators. North Star Solar, a $180 million solar farm to serve Xcel Energy customers, is planned on leased farmland southeast of North Branch in Chisago County. The project, covering an area the size of two Lake Calhouns, will generate roughly the amount of electricity used in 25,000 homes.”

In Popular Mechanics, Tim  Newcomb goes gaga over the new Vikings stadium roof. “Each of the ETFE panels in the Vikings’ roof is made of three layers of ETFE foil, welded into panels with edges captured into aluminum frames, which are themselves connected to the steel brackets of the roof structure. Each panel has a series of air supply units that, while not structural, helps the ‘pillows’ stabilize the foil, according to engineering firm Thornton Tomasetti. The air units do not run constantly or create airflow, but simply maintain a minimum pressure within each panel. The outer layer of ETFE foil is printed with a silver ink to create a ‘frit’ that helps reduce the heat of the sun on the roof surface and deflect the sun, while the inner layer of air helps maintain the desired temperature, altogether controlling the thermal needs of the 66,200-seat building. About 60 percent of the roof is clad in these translucent ETFE pillows, amounting to a total of 240,000 square feet, while the remainder is a traditional steel deck and membrane roof.” The story about the plasma cutter was cooler.

He couldn’t wait for his self-driving car. WCCO-TV says, “A driver had a novel excuse for distracted driving: he says his book was too good to put down. An Eagan police officer spotted a car swerving and driving 15 miles below the speed limit on Dodd Road Tuesday afternoon. The officer pulled him over and asked him what was going on. The man confessed to reading an e-book on his tablet computer while driving.”

The conservative Washington Times has hi-gain radar for “political correctness” stories, including this one from Southwest State in Marshall. Says Andrew Blake, “Free-speech advocates are lauding a decision by Southwest Minnesota State University to revise a ban that had prohibited ‘cultural intolerance.’ Samantha Harris, a spokeswoman with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a First Amendment advocacy group, told The College Fix website Wednesday that her group has rescinded the ‘red light’ rating awarded previously to the university … . The liberal arts college in Marshall had until recently prohibited ‘any verbal or physical contact directed at an individual or group such as racial slurs, jokes or other behaviors that demean or belittle a person’s race, color, gender preference, national origin, culture, history or disability.’” 

Finally, how much to polish statues? Brian Bakst, now at MPR, says, “Monuments to key figures and events in Minnesota history on the grounds of the state Capitol are in rough shape. So much so that Gov. Mark Dayton wants lawmakers to feed a fix-up fund as part of the construction borrowing plan they’ll assemble in this year’s legislative session. The Department of Administration sought more than $3.5 million to spruce up the 16 monuments or memorials that were erected without a dedicated maintenance account.”

Comments (11)

  1. Submitted by Nicholas Hansen on 01/22/2016 - 09:09 am.

    SMSU

    Just a heads up that it’s Southwest Minnesota State, not Southwest State anymore.

  2. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 01/22/2016 - 09:45 am.

    The Magic Of The Marketplace

    “Until the state can provide enough cost sharing with providers to expand hard lines, libraries are likely to remain popular hot spots.”

    I reject this notion. Private enterprise will surly fill this void, as long as the government stays out of the way, the invisible hand that Adam Smith talked about.

    At least that’s what the conservatives tell me.

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 01/22/2016 - 11:14 am.

      And they’re right

      Satellite-based high speed internet is available to anyone, anywhere, who is willing to pay for it.

      It’s those who refuse to and expect the taxpayer to subsidize them who are the problem. Man up and pull your own weight, people.

      • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 01/22/2016 - 12:08 pm.

        And If You’re In Outstate MN

        Tell that GOP legislator you sent to St. Paul you don’t want government help. But I won’t hold my breath.

    • Submitted by Dan Berg on 01/22/2016 - 12:00 pm.

      I thought…

      I figured we were supposed to be discouraging sprawl and encouraging denser communities? Maybe those who what to live in areas with high infrastructure costs should be required to pay for those costs. Either that or more to places with more shareable utilities.

      • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 01/22/2016 - 12:36 pm.

        Broadband

        It all comes down to whether or not we want to keep out-state Minnesota viable. In the past that meant building roads around the state under the guise that it promotes easy access for companies. In reality though it became a jobs program, to the point where Minnesota has one of the highest miles of paved roads in the country. The end result is now a lot of towns and counties are saddled with high maintenance costs for the roads.

        Higher density is certainly laudable, but that’s more applicable to to the Twin Cities area where ex-urbs are being turned into suburbs at a rapid place. Generally speaking, those places are already covered with decent broadband access. What this initiative is concentrating on are the small towns around the state that don’t have access to anything other than dial-up, a satellite connection, or expensive and slow service from their local telco. Helping them with decent broadband will let businesses compete more easily on the national and international stages. And it lets potential employees live anywhere and telecommute to work, which pumps money into the local economy. That in turn keeps schools, grocery stores, and other businesses open. The alternative is people have to abandon their local infrastructure as their economy shrinks and people move off to the big cities in search of a job.

        As an example, the company I work for is based in downtown Minneapolis, but we have employees from North Dakota, west central Minnesota, Mankato, and various points around the United States as we search for the best talent to help our business grow. We’re a technology company and our teams produce a large amount of code. Accessing and updating that code wouldn’t be possible if everyone at all points didn’t have decent broadband access.

        Like rural electrification, I consider it money well spent. It helps the entire state prosper and not just certain segments–everyone wins!

        • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 01/22/2016 - 04:15 pm.

          Cake: To Eat or To Have?

          We can’t complain about creeping socialism and allow the taxpayers to subsidize private businesses.

        • Submitted by Dan Berg on 01/23/2016 - 04:39 pm.

          Why the difference?

          So where is the demarcation between rural or small-town and exurbs? Why is one something we should subsidize and the other one we should restrict? IF densities laudable then it should apply equally to everyone, not just to some. The only reasons for this type of convoluted rationale is either political or some shallow romantic notion of rural living that means it must be preserved.

          If companies like your find it valuable to have people in rural communities telecommuting (likely because you can pay them less due to the lower cost of living) maybe you should pay to build out the needed system. Why should a company that pays high enough wages to attract employees in the metro subsidize your cost of doing business?

  3. Submitted by Peter Stark on 01/22/2016 - 12:39 pm.

    Fetal Research

    Glad to see Rep. Whelan is focused on the important stuff, and has a complete lack of scientific understanding.

    According to Rep. Whelan, fetal tissue research,
    “…. is highly controversial and has failed to produce a treatment or cure over the course of a decade of research.”

    This is completely false: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/medical-researchers-say-fetal-tissue-remains-essential/
    “Vaccines have been one of the chief public benefits of fetal tissue research. Vaccines for hepatitis A, German measles, chickenpox and rabies, for example, were developed using cell lines grown from tissue from two elective abortions, one in England and one in Sweden, that were performed in the 1960s.

    German measles, also known as rubella, “caused 5,000 spontaneous abortions a year prior to the vaccine,” said Dr. Paul Offit, an infectious-disease specialist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “We wouldn’t have saved all those lives had it not been for those cells.”

    Fetal tissue was “absolutely critical” to the development of a potential Ebola vaccine that has shown promise, said Dr. Carrie Wolinetz, an associate director at NIH, which last year handed out $76 million for work involving fetal tissue, or 0.2 percent of the agency’s research budget.”

    Perhaps Rep. Whelan is an anti-vaxxer, in addition to being a reactionary, so these breakthroughs don’t count. Rep. Whelan has a short but robust career of reactionary policy proposals, so let’s see if drafts a bill requiring witch tests for UMN Regents.

    • Submitted by Steve Vigoren on 01/22/2016 - 10:45 pm.

      Scientific understanding?

      It is pretty obvious that a surprising amount of our elected representatives don’t have a dog in that hunt. It is sad that so many voters don’t recognize that.

  4. Submitted by Steve Titterud on 01/22/2016 - 02:33 pm.

    I think they better put a lightning rod on that stadium roof.

    I hate to think the whole thing could go POOF!!

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