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Deadline looms for Moorhead budget deal

News from Greater Minnesota

Moorhead faces a city shutdown if budget negotiations fail. Wendy Reuer of the Fargo Forum writes that after failing to pass a new budget Monday night, the City Council faces a Dec. 27 budget deadline or will shut down in the new year. A supermajority of the council – or six votes – is needed to pass the budget.  Councilwoman Brenda Elmer was absent Monday due to a trip to China, which left seven remaining members. A motion to approve a 2012 budget with a 6.3 percent levy increase and use of general reserve funds to continue community partnerships failed when Councilmen Luther Stueland and Mark Altenburg voted against. City Manager Michael Redlinger said if a budget is not agreed upon by Dec. 28, the city can’t spend any money. Reuer notes that, unlike a state government shutdown, core services such as police and fire cannot be ordered by the courts to remain open.  “It is imperative we wrap up and get a levy,” Redlinger said.

The question is, what does Klein think? Albert Lea educators spent some time Monday with members of Sen. Al Franken’s staff to tell them what a mess No Child Left Behind has made of American education, the Albert Lea Tribune reports. Dan Solomon, Franken’s field representative, said Franken supported the U.S. Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee bill to reform the act. As a committee member, Franken also worked to author four bill amendments, which have passed the committee. Of course, John Klein, a Republican representing Minnesota’s Second District, is the chair of the House’s Education and the Workforce Committee with direct oversight of NCLB. Where are his field reps?

Gov. Mark Dayton’s calls for negotiations in the standoff between American Crystal Sugar and its union employees have gone unheeded by American Crystal. Stephen J. Lee of the Fargo Forum  writes that Dayton wanted all-day talks, with no interruption except for sleep and food, until an agreement was reached. Union officials embraced the idea. American Crystal officials have been silent. Dayton’s spokeswoman, Katharine Tinucci, said Dayton is ready to go to Moorhead any time both side agree to meet. a Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service spokesman said that participation by companies and unions in such mediation is voluntary and requires both parties to agree to meet. The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco and Grain Millers union overwhelmingly voted down Crystal’s contract offer July 31, spurring the company to lock out 1,300 union workers and hire replacements. On Nov. 1, union members similarly rejected an amended contract offer.

Schwan Food Co. of Marshall is eliminating about 60 jobs from its Marshall and Bloomington offices, Per Peterson of the Marshall Independent reports. The employees will stay on the payroll and will receive benefits through the holidays, a news release from Schwan said. Schwan is not releasing exact figures by location or which divisions the layoffs are taking place. The positions represent about 2 percent of the 2,500 company employees based in Minnesota. Nationally, Schwan’s subsidiaries employ more than 16,000, down from about 20,000 two years ago. This is the largest job cut at Schwan since it eliminated 52 jobs in January 2009. Schwan cut 67 employees from its corporate headquarters four months prior to that. The cuts were announced a week after the Marshall City Council approved the creation of a Tax Increment Finance district on the site of a proposed $9 million Schwan expansion that the company said will create about 64 new jobs in Marshall.

Gotta follow up on the Lyle School Board. Last month, three people were forcibly removed from the school board meeting in protest of the district’s open microphone policy. This month, the board removed board member Dan King as treasurer after King spoke to the media about the board’s rubber signature stamp, which he said was at his house. The stamp has the signatures of board chairman Dean Rohne and vice chair Carl Truckenmiller, among others. According to Trey Mewes’ story in the Austin Daily Herald, King had difficulty looking at the district’s finances because he works in Rochester. He has asked district officials to prepare financial statements for his review, but he said district officials haven’t always complied. And about that rubber stamp: District officials reported King to the Mower County Sheriff’s office, saying he stole district property. Deputies spoke with King and King returned the stamp to the Sheriff’s office Friday. It is unclear if King will face charges. “That wasn’t your stamp to take,” Truckenmiller told King during the discussion over King’s treasurer position. King tried to explain his position to the board but his requests were denied. Audience members were noticeably subdued. There were a few shouts from audience members asking board members to speak up, as well as a few requests to question the board. Truckenmiller told audience members who interrupted the meeting to request public comment they couldn’t speak to the board. “Just be quiet. You’re here to observe,” Truckenmiller said at one point to audience members.

I thought we were past all this, but … The Albert Lea Tribune reports a local connection to anti-Catholic statements made in a court filing. Here’s the gist: U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Nancy Dreher asked Hastings attorney Rebekah Nett and Naomi Isaacson of Minneapolis, president of Yehud-Monosson USA Inc., to explain why they shouldn’t be fined up to $10,000. The November filing, signed by Isaacson, said the courts were “composed of a bunch of ignoramus, bigoted Catholic beasts that carry the sword of the church” and called the judge a “Catholic Knight Witch Hunter.” Apparently, Yehud-Monosson USA owns gas stations and convenience stores. It’s a subsidiary of the Shawano, Wis., religious group Dr. R.C. Samanta Roy Institute of Science and Technology. Yehud-Monosson USA is the same entity as Midwest Oil of Minnesota, the former owner of the abandoned Mobile station at 2611 Bridge Ave. in Albert Lea. Dreher pointed to 10 passages with religious slurs, conspiracy claims or other comments; they could face sanctions of up to $1,000 for each passage.

And finally, Kremena Spengler of the Journal produced a nice feature on George “Kraut” Glotzbach of New Ulm and nicknames. If she doesn’t mind, I’m going to quote freely from her article. “Back in the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s many people had them,” Glotzbach mused. “But in today’s naming style, nicknames seem to be rare.” Glotzbach has been keeping a list of local nicknames for years. He first started organizing the list when he moved back to New Ulm, his birth town, in 2003, after many years away. Glotzbach’s list is alphabetized by nickname; it also provides the given and family names. “I’ve noted 198 [unique] male and 23 female names,” Glotzbach, 80, says. The most frequent names include “Butz,” “Babe,” “Duke” and “Smiley.” Some of his personal favorites are “Bipps,” “Clown,” “Frosty,” “Kinger” and “Boobie,” among the males. Among females, he points to “Flops,” “Kitzie” and “Schweitzie.” A friend of his, Denny Warta, believes that because of radio, New Ulm became part of America. Many of the nicknames on Glotzbach’s list (although not all) are, indeed, pre-radio. But, naturally, a tradition takes decades to really die off, so nicknames hang on. Glotzbach received his own nickname, “Kraut,” after he left New Ulm. His German heritage was hardly unique in New Ulm, but among the Irish community of St. Paul, he stuck out. “I was never offended,” he says. “I loved it. It was recognition of my identity, of who I was. …” So what will Glotzbach do with his list? “Oh, nothing. … I’m keeping it, until one day my wife throws it away,” he says.

More nicknames from Glotzbach’s collection (sample): “Ajax,” “Bubbles,” “Bootsie,” “Boom Boom,” “Blimp,” “Checkers,” “Doodles,” “Eight Ball,” “Flip,” “Grounder,” “Jinx,” “King Kong,” “Muskie,” “Mutta,” “Not-so” (Stout), “Poofy,” “Skippy,” “Smokey,” “Sepp-Sepp,” “Schmaltz” (“Grease”), “Skeeter,” “Tutz,” “Watso” and “Zinge” (male); “Tante” (“Aunt”), “Tootie” and Nippie” (female).

John Fitzgerald is a longtime journalist who lives in Buffalo.

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