The Senator’s name reappears. Patrick Condon at the Star Tribune on Amy Klobuchar and the Scalia vacancy. “U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is likely to mix it up in the coming political brawl … and not just because her own name has again surfaced as a potential high court nominee. Minnesota’s Klobuchar and her Democratic colleague, U.S. Sen. Al Franken, both sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which vets Supreme Court appointees.” Amid all the nominee blather, this story is particularly good.
Legislature; surplus; conflict: We’ve had worse problems. The AP says, “All plans are preliminary until state budget officials release a final estimate on the size of the surplus later this month. Some lawmakers are bracing for the $1.2 billion to shrink amid signs of a sluggish economy. Whatever the final size, there’s no shortage of ideas on how to spend the extra cash. The proposals queued up for March 8 span from small expenses, like $20,000 to establish a new trail system in northeastern Minnesota in honor of a lawmaker who died last summer, to far larger plans like more than $125 million suggested by minority House Democrats to boost aid to local governments and provide tax credits to build housing in rural Minnesota.”
Among ideas is this, from the Strib: “No excuse can any longer justify Minnesota’s 30-year failure to increase monthly cash assistance to this state’s poorest families with children. No budget squeeze, partisan paralysis or policy distraction can explain why monthly grants under the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) have been allowed to fall to just 32 percent of the federal poverty line since they were last raised in 1986. That shameful parsimony must be corrected by the 2016 Legislature.”
Good piece from John Lundy of the Duluth News Tribune on estate claims tucked into MNsure contracts. “What caught [Scott Killerud’s] eye was a notification that if you’re 55 or older and on Medical Assistance — Minnesota’s version of Medicaid — the state places an estate claim with which to recover its costs after you and your spouse have died. Killerud was younger than 55, but his wife, Ellen, had reached that age the previous September. The couple, who supplement their farm income with part-time jobs, were told when they signed up for insurance through MNsure in 2014 that their income level qualified them for Medical Assistance.”
Stribber Jon Bream has this perspective on Grammy awards. “Diana Ross has never won a Grammy. Nor have the Who or Jimi Hendrix, or hip-hop heroes Nas and Snoop Dogg, or modern stars Katy Perry and Björk. Sir Georg Solti received a record 32 Grammy Awards but if you’re not into classical music, you’ve probably never heard of him. Kanye West, who makes sure that you know who he is, has grabbed 21 but he’s not happy because he’s never captured album of the year. … Some artists are more cynical about this annual dress-up-and-sing soiree — such as oft-nominated Garrison Keillor, who picked up a spoken-word prize in 1988. ‘The Grammys is a beauty contest,’ he said in an e-mail. ‘Most of the people who vote have not listened to what they’re voting on so the award means very little to the artist, but it’s a big TV spectacular so it means a lot to the general public. It’s a lot of hype and hoopla. What matters to your career is that you like working and you keep at it.’”
Speaking of tunes, Bob Shaw of the PiPress writes, “Dan Coulter will never live in the era of Elvis, Marilyn Monroe and Cadillacs with big fins. So Coulter does the next best thing. He runs a jukebox repair shop, surrounded by the same music — played on the same vinyl records by the same machines — that thrilled teenagers in the 1950s. He restores broken-down jukeboxes to their jumping, jiving, be-bopping glory days.”
Franchise-free downtown Grand Marais would like to keep it that way. The AP says, “Residents crowded into meetings and an online petition gathered more than 1,500 signatures amid reports that Dollar General was looking at land along Highway 61 that visitors would see driving into town. The city council last week put a temporary moratorium on commercial developments larger than 5,000 square feet in that area.”
There isn’t going to be a reduction. Another AP story says, “Regents at the University of Minnesota are considering a sharp increase in tuition for nonresidents who don’t come from states with reciprocity agreements. An outline presented to board Friday would boost nonresident tuition by $3,200 annually over the next four years. That would raise the cost to $35,000 in 2020-21, putting it near the midpoint in the Big Ten. Resident tuition is already near the conference average. Current students wouldn’t be affected.”
Every day needs a new list. Will Ashenmacher at the PiPress says, “For its unscientific ranking of the 15 happiest communities in Minnesota, RoadSnacks looked at the percentage of residents who have a college degree, are married and own a home. It also assessed poverty rates, unemployment rates, commute times and costs of living. Mendota Heights ranked as the happiest city in the state.” Eh. What city has The Galleria?
The coach was just the first shoe dropping: Brian Murphy of the PiPress says, “Time ran out on Mike Yeo. The doomsday clock officially has started on Chuck Fletcher. And it is past due for the Wild’s turtling leaders to climb out of their shells and arrest the 2016 freefall that cost the bench boss his job and threatens to detonate the front office and roster. … Fletcher, the general manager, has hired and fired two coaches since owner Craig Leipold brought him aboard in 2009. The Wild are 11-17 in the playoffs and have never advanced past the second round. Fletcher said Torchetti has a chance to earn the full-time job. But this change seems designed to buy time for Leipold to fully assess his regime and determine whether a housecleaning is in order.”
If Edina follows suit, we’re back in business. Says Paul Walsh in the Strib, “Approved Friday by Mayor Betsy Hodges and the City Council, the changes address the safety of animals, the keeping of chickens and other matters in the jurisdiction of the city’s Animal Care and Control agency. The makeover ‘sets clear requirements around the safety of animals [and] removes counterproductive regulations,’ the city said in a prepared statement. The changes take effect Saturday. Among the revisions … A permit will be required for reptiles and amphibians.” Reptiles! The hell with chickens, we’re startin’ a gator ranch.