Sifting through the ashes, Bill Salisbury of the PiPress says, “To Tim Headlee, the Minnesota Legislature’s failure to pass a public works bonding bill before adjourning for the year Sunday was ‘completely and utterly shocking.’ Headlee is the lead security counselor and president of the AFSCME local union at the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter. He and his fellow staff members were hoping lawmakers would approve Gov. Mark Dayton’s request for $70 million to complete an upgrade of the hospital’s facilities, as well as funding for more staff and better training. That money would have made the hospital safer for patients and employees both, Headlee said.”
Politically speaking, the Strib editorial crew sees an advantage accruing to the Governor. “Dayton said Monday that he’s willing to consider calling a special session to finish the bonding and transportation work the Legislature did not complete. (He will defer the Real ID issue until 2017, he said.) But he’s in no hurry — and with the sole authority to call a special session, he’s in a position to drive a hard bargain. Dayton made clear that he wants a mechanism for funding Southwest light rail to be included in a special session bill. He voiced other desires too, including more ample funding for the University of Minnesota than has been offered to date by the GOP House.”
Among the projects stalled by the mess: John Myers in the Duluth News Tribune says, “Almost everyone at the state Capitol this year thought it was a good idea to invest $12.7 million of state money to help clean up additional polluted hotspots and restore habitat on the St. Louis River estuary in Duluth. The state was going to pay for the project out of the every-other-year construction/bonding bill, under which the state pays back investors over time to build worthwhile projects now. That state money would attract another $25 million in federal Great Lakes cleanup funding and help remove the Twin Ports harbor from the federal list of polluted areas.”
Over at MPR they report, “[The Governor] was particularly angry over the House’s proposal not to fund a health sciences education building requested by the U, which he called one of the state’s most important institutions. Dayton proposed $66.7 million toward the $100 million building, according to a University of Minnesota breakdown. Dayton said he was told that some lawmakers have a ‘problem’ with the university to which the governor responded: ‘Grow up and get over it’.” If the U had a winning football team they couldn’t pass the bills fast enough.
For WCCO-TV, Pat Kessler chips in with this: “On the day after: Gov. Mark Dayton called the end of the session ‘disappointing’ and rebuffed a Republican request for a special session this week, saying there was no evidence to think it would be different. ‘They knew they had a deadline, midnight last night. They didn’t meet that deadline. And in the haste of the final moments democracy was not well-served,’ said Dayton.”
Who needs democracy when we’ve got well-heeled lobbyists? In the Duluth News Tribune John Myers reports, “Top officials from Chilean mining company Antofagasta are in Washington this week meeting with key Minnesota lawmakers and their staffs about the company’s proposed Twin Metals copper mine near Ely. Antofagasta is sole owner of the fledgling Twin Metals Minnesota company that wants to build a copper mine along the Kawishiwi River and on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.”
This will be big. Clinton Nguyen at TechInsider writes, “New Prague, a tight-knit, rural Minnesota town of 7,582 is pioneering a radical way of shopping: a totally staffless, round-the-clock, self-checkout grocery store. Late last October, Farmhouse Market opened its doors.The founders soon noticed they were serving a community with specific needs: odd hours, convenient access to local and organic foods, commuters coming in from long distances. People might be coming from the gym at late hours or, being in a rural community, they might be shopping at earlier hours. So Farmhouse chose a setup that combines the best of tech and small town community-building. For $100 a year, the store lets registered members have access 24/7 with a keycard and pay for their goods via a self-checkout counter. The store owners can see when members access the store via camera and see what they buy — a situation they say is less about shoplifting and more an opportunity for the owners to have a transparent discussion with their members.”
No doubt they’ll be selling stuff grown from Monsanto seeds. Says Tom Meersman in the Strib, “Grain buyers and sellers have been warning farmers this spring to be wary about planting Monsanto’s latest biotech soybean. The product was launched in U.S. and Canadian markets for the first time this year, but it has not been approved yet for sale in the European Union. Traders and others say that uncertainty, if not resolved, will cause price declines, confusion and disruption in international trade.” At least until Bayer buys up Monsanto.
Kind of a wild night on “Beyonce Day.” Says Chris Riemenschneider in the Strib about Bey’s show: “At 8:15 p.m. … an announcement came over the stadium’s speakers calling for fans to evacuate. Lightning reportedly had been spotted 6 miles away. By then nearly all of the 35,000 or so spectators were in their seats. They were directed to the nearby Williams, Ridder and Mariucci indoor arenas to wait out lightning threats. An ‘all clear’ signal was given at 9 p.m. … Bey finally touched down on stage just after 9:30.”
And what are the odds they reduce or eliminate bag fees to speed things up? Says Martin Moylan for MPR, “Delta Air Lines says it will hire about 40 employees to help out TSA screeners this summer at the Twin Cities airport … The new workers will relieve TSA workers of routine tasks such as such as moving the storage bins that travelers put their possessions in. They won’t perform actual security related functions, like checking IDs or screening passengers. Delta said Monday that it will make such commitments at some 30 major airports, spending about $3 to $4 million overall on the effort. … Airline employees will be gently reminding people about carry-on bags limits this summer, [said Bill Lentsch, who oversees airport operations for Delta], but there’ll be no breaks on checked-bag fees.” Some things are just too vital to your security.
Another (career) death by social media. Says Josh Verges in the PiPress, “A St. Paul Public Schools employee quit his job this month after the school district investigated complaints about his posts and interaction with parents on Facebook. Brian White Jr. was making $58,174 as a special projects coordinator and leadership development intern at John A. Johnson Elementary. He was placed on paid leave in March after several parents complained to the district about comments they considered misogynistic and homophobic.” Next time, stick to cat videos.
Oh, what the heck, here’s something on the latest move by Scott Walker, who recently decided to defer a state debt payment because of: Obama. Says Gary Peterson in the OshKosh Northwestern: “Gov. Scott Walker’s administration recently reneged on paying $101 million in state debt due May 1. Instead, they moved to pay the bill over eight years, even though it will cost taxpayers $2.3 million in interest over those eight years. We could have written the $101 million check April 30, as that and more was sitting in the state treasury. … Anyone savvy about Wisconsin politics knows a bogus $101 million in the state’s coffers will reduce – on paper – our budget deficit when the November elections roll around. Hiding that debt may look good to some, but it deludes those uninformed voters who only hear the governor’s sound bites. Astoundingly, the governor blamed President Obama. ‘The bottom line is we have concerns about the Obama economy nationally and we want to make sure Wisconsin’s prepared for it.’ What? President Obama’s policies are causing a recession? Where?”