Take this country and shove it The San Antonio Current cheerfully reports on the latest political posturing out of Texas, including talk of secession, from current Gov. Rick Perry to Larry Kilgore, a Republican candidate for governor in 2010:
Kilgore argues that the military challenge can be easily sorted out. “After the people of Texas have the opportunity to vote for independence, and our congressmen go up there and work with Washington, we will have to negotiate who gets what ships, who gets what aircraft, who gets what bases, who gets what personnel,” he says. “For example, the United States is not going to want folks in their military who are diehard Texans. Texans aren’t going to want folks in their military who are diehard United States people.”
He has a point. We all know those “United States people” have shifty eyes and can’t be trusted.
Then there’s the proposal to split Texas into five states, each of which with its own two U.S. senators, which would immediately erase the Democratic majority in Congress. The San Antonio Current explains:
[An] 1845 annexation provision … enables Texas to split into as many as five states “by the consent of said state.” An odd item meant to ensure balance between pro-slavery and anti-slavery states, the five-state-split option has taken on a mythic power in Texas, seemingly proving that we stand apart from the rest of the union, that we did the U.S. a favor by hooking up with them, not the other way around.
Cadotte is back Two weeks after a verbal altercation and charges of racism between school board member Chris Stewart and Burroughs Elementary principal Cadotte led to the principal’s suspension, he is back in school. Whatever internal processes are going on seem likely to continue, with MPS and Stewart and Cadotte tight-lipped about those processes.
With that sideshow now shifted to a back burner, MPS still has big challenges in May. The new plan introduced last week will be discussed at community meetings on May 13, 14 and 21, and has already met with loud opposition. The final school board vote is scheduled for May 26. The plan calls for closing four schools, “de-magnetizing” more, changing attendance boundaries and restricting busing. If adopted, it would take effect in 2010-2011.
Carstarphen’s critics Across the river, departing school superintendent Meria Carstarphen is in the news, as the PiPress’s Doug Belden takes an in-depth look at what critics have to say. Stories about “a bullying management style” and a “toxic” work environment are supported by stats about large numbers of people leaving the system under her tenure — including not only district office administrators but also principals. The numbers show a significantly higher rate of departures during her three year term than in prior years, even though she “has increased the size and cost of the administrative ranks.”
Breaking the bank MN House and Senate committees have to reconcile the provisions of omnibus bills passed by each body — but the bigger challenge is trying to find common ground with Tom Hanson, MN Management and Budget Commissioner and T-Paw’s chief negotiator. Everybody’s trying to pretend that there is some point to negotiation, with DFL leaders saying they plan public end-of-session negotiations. Well, that could be interesting, but with T-Paw still adamantly refusing to budge from his no-new-taxes mantra, what’s to negotiate?
Swine flu updates As Mexico says that swine flu is winding down there, more cases have been identified globally. In MN, the Orono schools and Emerson elementary school in Minneapolis closed because of suspected swine flu cases. And in Canada, a farm worker who carried the swine flu virus infected an entire herd of pigs. Apparently it is easier to pass the virus from humans to pigs than the other way around. The concern: infected pigs provide a medium in which viruses can continue to mutate.
No handshakes in church St. Cloud Bishop John Kinney told priests to discourage handshaking in church, to use discretion in distributing communion and to consider providing hand sanitizer and tissues for congregants.
Who’s buying now? Investors are snapping up foreclosed homes at bargain basement prices in St. Paul, reports the PiPress:
What kind of house can you buy for $32,000?
On Sherburne Avenue in St. Paul’s Frogtown neighborhood, it’ll get you a duplex in the 400 block that can’t be lived in until it’s brought up to code.
It’s also a house that won’t soon be featured on Home & Garden TV.
In the upstairs unit, a portion of the kitchen ceiling is falling down. Downstairs, the problems range from peeling paint to a bedroom window on which masking and duct tape at the edges apparently were needed to keep out the cold.
Most of the low-price vacant homes on Sherburne Avenue are bought for cash, which means sales to investors who do not plan on living there. That worries neighborhood residents. Not that they want boarded up buildings — they are concerned that non-resident buyers will continue on the cheap, and won’t make needed repairs or manage rental properties responsibly. Sherburne Avenue’s vacant homes are especially inviting targets for investors. With the Central Corridor’s LRT trains scheduled to go down University Avenue, just a block away, property values are likely to rise dramatically over the next few years.
Owner-occupied residences are the most desirable for a neighborhood, but fixing up homes that have been boarded up and vandalize is a tough proposition. The Aurora St. Anthony NDC, a community-based non-profit organization, has purchased two homes, planning to renovate them and sell them to people who will live in them. Another non-profit, the Greater Frogtown Community Development Corp., also purchased a home on Sherburne and has renovated it.
Policing the police With allegations of wrongly confiscated cash and lavish trips, the Metro Gang Strike Force has had a few black eyes lately. Now the Strib reports that Minneapolis and some other police department are considering pulling out of the 12-year-old joint operation.
Strike Force officials say that pull-out talk is all rumors, but they soon may face another challenge:
Also, this month the state legislative auditor is expected to issue a report on how the Strike Force had handled seized property and funds.
During a preliminary review, the state Department of Public Safety found $300,000 in cash in a Strike Force safe and wrote last November that “the record-keeping system is inadequate and in some instances policies and procedures representing sound evidentiary procedures are either not in existence or not being consistently followed.”
• BBC: The Sri Lankan army bombed a hospital inside a civililan safe zone last week, killing 91 people.
• BBC: 355 Iraqis were killed in April, making it the bloodiest month so far this year — and that Iraqi government number doesn’t include 80 Iranian pilgrims or 18 U.S. troops.
• Washington Post: Obama wants to expand federal student loan programs and cut out private lenders — “In the end, this is not about growing the size of government or relying on the free market — because it’s not a free market when we have a student loan system that’s rigged to reward private lenders without any risk.”
• AP: The Federal Reserve will release the results of “stress tests” for 19 large banks on Thursday.