News Day 2/24/09: T-Paw ready to eat the pizza / Wind on the wires / Coleen vs. Big Bob / Mpls school desegregation, and more

T-Paw will take the money Governor Tim Pawlenty said Minnesota will take all the money it can get from the $787 billion economic stimulus plan, even though he has called it “a meandering spending buffet.” Continuing the food metaphors on Monday, , writes Kevin Diaz in the Strib, T-Paw said “For every dollar we send out … we only get 72 cents back. So, if you’re buying the pizza, it’s OK to have your slice, even if there are some anchovies on it.” Only a few of his GOP counterparts are still talking about turning down the stimulus money, reports NPR, including Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who objects that the stimulus package is “filled with social policy.”

Wind on the wires: Bigger isn’t better Wind power is great green energy, but the proposals for 130-foot transmission towers marching across MN are a bad idea. Here’s my explanation of what’s wrong with the proposed $12 billion grid, and where to look for a greener solution.

Burris blowing it Illinois Senator Roland Burris has failed to mount an effective PR defense, according to Politico, after new allegations about his involvement with disgraced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Both an Illinois prosecutor’s office and the Senate Ethics Committee are now investigating charges that Burris failed to disclose conversations with Blagojevich’s brother about raising money for the governor, when he testified under oath in impeachment proceedings. Burris admitted the conversations in a February 5 affidavit, and then, on February 16, admitted that “he actually tried to raise money for the governor at the same time he was expressing interest in the Senate seat.”

Ditching desegregation Minneapolis wants out of the Twin Cities’ desegregation district, writes Norman Draper in the Strib. the West Metro Education Program began in 1989, with Minneapolis and 10 suburban districts planning to promote racial integration and narrow the achievement gap. WMEP has two magnet schools: the Interdistrict Downtown School in Minneapolis and the Fine Arts Interdisciplinary Resource school in Crystal. Minneapolis superintendent Bill Green said the schools have had little impact on the achievement gap and have done little to change racial disparities between Minneapolis and the suburbs. The Minneapolis school board is scheduled to vote on the proposal March 10.

RNC back to court As the RNC8 defendants go back to court this week, with motion hearings before a new judge, FBI whistle-blower-turned-activist Coleen Rowley is set to file notices of claim against Sheriff Bob Fletcher, Ramsey County and the State of MN, reports Chris Steller in MN Independent. The complaints focus on “aggressive ‘police state’ action during the RNC ,” and on Big Bob’s refusal to comply with requests for information since then. Rowley knows her way around a Freedom of Information Act request. While she’s fililng them now, it was her job to respond to FOIA requests as an FBI agent in the 1980s.

Fast trains on fast track High speed rail gets $8 billion under the economic stimulus package, reports Brian Naylor at NPR, and MN may be among the beneficiaries. While California is ready to roll with bonding already approved, the Minneapolis-Chicago corridor is one of the half-dozen priority corridors identified by Transportation Sec. Ray LaHood.

Scholarship aid for state budget? The fed stimulus bill includes more money for Pell Grant scholarships, raising the max from $4731 to $5500 in 2010-2011. Because MN state grants and Pell grants are tied together, that won’t mean more money for low-income MN students, reports Jenna Ross in the Strib. Instead, it will mean the state grant fund will save money as the fed funds make up a larger part of the MN grant package. Unless the legislature changes the grant formula, the MN treasury, rather than low-income students, will benefit by $60 million from the increase in fed scholarship money.

MN Job Watch With MN unemployment claims up more than 60% in January 2009, compared to January 2008, WorkForce Center employees are seeing the psychological impact on people who have worked all their lives and now face unemployment and no job prospects, reports Lisa Peterson in the Daily Planet. While 80 percent of MN unemployment claims are made on-line, that doesn’t work smoothly for everyone:

Applying online can be tricky, though, especially for those who may not have the tools to navigate the system. For example, one question refers to whether an applicant was “Laid Off,” “Terminated,” or “Discharged,” which frequently confuses applicants, especially those with limited language proficiency. Simple errors can delay benefits for days if not weeks.

In Plymouth, a four-month lockout by the Progress Casting Group’s foundry continues, with no end in sight, reports Larry Sillanpa for Workday MN.

“We’ve got a lot of guys who have worked there for 30 years or more, one’s been there for 47 years,” said Hill, who has been Shop Chairman for 10 years. “45 percent of the workers have 10 or more years.”

Now all 200 of the AFL-CIO-affiliated members are out of work as scab replacement workers do their jobs.

Leave a comment

Filed under news

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s