Tag Archives: franken

News Day: Coleman cyber-follies / Middle class pays more /Snowing the recount / Somali youth / Cops hate Sara Jane / more

Middle class pays more Even in Minnesota, says a Department of Revenue study, rich people pay less in taxes than the middle class. See Who pays Minnesota’s taxes>

Coleman cyber-follies While Norm Coleman is calling it “chilling” and “scary,” a closer look shows that the disclosure of names and credit card information of Coleman campaign donors on the internet is the fault of no one but … the Coleman campaign, which violated basic on-line security procedures. Continue reading

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News Day: Homeless in Minneapolis / Reprieve for schools, library / Molotov cocktail sentence / Media gluttons / EFCA / more

Not now, but soon If I can find some time later today, I hope to get to a slightly longer look at the MN tax incidence survey, which shows the increasingly regressive nature of MN taxes, and also write a couple of paragraphs on the difference between the push for a smart power grid and the decidedly dumb proposals for marching massive power lines across seven states. Stay tuned!

End in sight for recount? After seven weeks of trial, mostly devoted to the Coleman side’s case, Al Franken’s lawyers say they will wrap up today, after calling 70+ witnesses. Could the end be in sight? Well, Coleman now gets a chance to grab the stand again and put on rebuttal witnesses, and his lawyers won’t say whether or how long they will go on.
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News Day: Feds rescue MN budget deficit

March 3: More news — Coleman asks for new election / Cut, cut, cut / Medicare paying off insurance companies / City Council putting brakes on Central Corridor plans? / Lock ’em up / MN Job Watch

MN budget deficit: better news MPR reports that the budget projections due out later this morning will show good news for Minnesotans, with federal stimulus money riding to the rescue. Without the federal aid, the two-year deficit was projected to grow to $6.4 billion, but with the aid, it will shrink to $4.57 billion (from the previously-projected $4.8 billion.) That’s about the only good news, with unemployment up, tax revenues down, and the Guv stlll insisting on balancing the budget by slashing LGA and other state expenditures and refusing to consider tax increases.
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News Day 2/25/09: Carstarphen still coy / Govt funds for MSM / Mueller and the mosque / MN Job Watch, recount, more

Carstarphen still coy St. Paul schools superintendent Meria Carstarphen still isn’t talking about whether she is a candidate for the Austin, TX superintendent’s position, reports Doug Belden in the PiPress, and she’s also not answering questions about whether she has applications in anywhere else.

Meanwhile, a consultant report on SPPS physical plant got mixed characterization, with Doug Belden in the PiPress quoting the report as finding that the district’s 79 buildings are in “average” shape, while Emily Johns in the Strib gave SPPS “an ‘A’ for upkeep.” Find the Powerpoint presentation from the consultants to the board of education on the SPPS website.

Obama nails it In a rousing 52-minute speech, President Barack Obama hit the campaign trail again, declaring energy, health care and education the top priorities for America. Full text here. Minneapolis got a mention: “There are 57 police officers who are still on the streets of Minneapolis tonight because this plan prevented the layoffs their department was about to make.”

MN funds for private biobusiness park The MN Department of Employment and Economic Development granted another $1.2 million to complete infrastructure projects for the Elk Run Biobusiness park north of Rochester, bringing total state money for the project to $1.8 million. Sea Stachura reports on MPR that investors have been meeting with state officials and an announcement on the project is expected soon.

Them that has MN has seen a big crop of lively on-line media growing up in the past few years, including the Twin Cities Daily Planet, which I edit, so I won’t brag about it here; The Uptake, with dramatic RNC footage and gavel-to-gavel coverage of the recount; the Minnesota Independent, offering intensive political coverage and much more; and MinnPost, which looks a lot like an online version of the Strib that Joel Kramer once edited, which is to say among the best of the mainstream media back in the day. All of these on-line and non-profit media organizations (and others) are scrambling for funding.

So now comes the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership program, with a $238,000 grant of government funds to the U of M School of Journalism and Mass Communications and the St. Paul Pioneer Press and the Duluth News Tribune to retrain newspaper staffs for “a mix of learning new computer programs to help sell advertising and tell news stories, and fundamentally rethinking how to deliver news and advertising.”

Rob Karwath, executive editor of the News Tribune, said he envisions money going toward rethinking how to sell new products that deliver news and advertising to readers, and setting up methods to increasingly receive feedback from customers.

Guess the Duluth News Tribune needs more reporting, as David Braure reports all of the Strib’s coverage of MN will now take place from its Minneapolis office. The Strib is pulling Larry Oakes out of Duluth and back to Minneapolis.

MN Jobs Watch AP reports that Cliffs Natural Resources plans cutbacks and temporary shutdowns at its taconite plants, possibly laying off 83 HibTac workers for more than six months. MPR says that Northshore Mining’s 557 workers will be laid off during April as that plant closes for a month.

MN-based Medtronic is cutting its global workforce, reports the Strib. About 8,000 of Medtronics 38,000 employees work in MN. Last year Medtronic cut 1100 jobs worldwide, with about 350 of those in MN. Execs took a five percent pay cut.

41 percent drop in profits – could be worse I had to read on when the Strib said targets 41 percent drop in earnings during the 4th quarter was really not so bad. Part of my confusion is that the headline said profits dropped and the first paragraph said earnings dropped — two distinctly different measures. Halfway through the article, some hard numbers appeared. Target revenue (earnings) was down $19.56 billion, 1.6 percent below 2008’s fourth quarter. Its net income (profits) “fell about 22 percent to $2.85 billion, or $2.86 a share,” while annual sales (earnings) grew 2.3 percent.

The reason that Target’s bad news is not so bad is that all retailers — except low-end leaders WalMart, Costco and Dollar Store — are seeing gigantic drops in earnings, reflected in fourth-quarter reports released yesterday. In other business news, Home Depot reported a 4th-quarter loss of $54 million, which is bad but better than previously expected,

And now … Pawlenty gets to decide on the Senate race? If the three-judge panel awards victory to Al Franken, will he get to go to Washington at last? Maybe not, warns Tom Scheck on MPR. The governor and the secretary of state sign an election certificate when there is a “final determination” of the contest, but Norm Coleman will almost certainly appeal any adverse decision, and T-Paw could say that nothing is final until all appeals are exhausted. Exhausted is the way that most Minnesotans feel about the whole process, but Pawlenty has previously said that he thinks Coleman has a good chance of winning an appeal, so he’s not likely to sign until the MN Supreme Court rules on an appeal. And then, there’s the possibility of an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court …

Mueller and the mosque FBI director John Mueller said in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations that a Minnesota Somali man carried out a suicide bombing in Somalia after Shirwa Ahmed “was radicalized in his hometown in Minnesota.” Mueller gave no details on how the alleged suicide bomber was “radicalized,” but his remarks ramped up hostility to Somalis and Muslims in Minnesota once again, reports Laura Yuen on MPR.

Jessica Zikri, a spokeswoman for the Minnesota chapter of the Council on Islamic-American Relations. Zikri said many Somalis are living in fear as federal authorities continue their investigation into the missing.

“They’ve already been receiving phone calls and were stopped by the FBI,” Zikri said. “And then hearing these allegations vaguely connected to Minnesota just add fuel to the fire.”

That fire continues in Minnesota streets, with hostility expressed toward both Somalis and Muslims. To combat misunderstanding and prejudice, As-Saddique Islamic Center will welcome neighborhood residents and organizations for a community dinner intended to increase understanding about the local Somali Muslim community and mosque tonight. Organizers have invited FBI director Robert Mueller to attend.

Mardi Gras marchers protest police Mardi Gras marchers went from the State Capitol to St. Paul City Hall to file notice-of-claim forms based on events during the RNC, reports John Brewer in the PiPress. Meanwhile, over in the Ramsey County court, prosecution and defense attorneys accused each other of trying the case in the press, and prosecutors complained that too much secret police information was becoming public.

Writing with less The Loft Literary Center cut two full time employees, and everyone else is taking pay cuts,

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News Day – January 13

Crime decreasing … for now Looking at FBI figures, the the PiPress reports that crime in St. Paul rose slightly during the first six months of the year, compared to 2007. “Slightly” means 0.2% or ten more crimes than in 2007. St. Paul police say that the crime figures showed a decline by the end of 2008. In Minneapolis, the Strib reported that crime fell during the first six months of 2008. Nationwide, violent crime fell by 3.5% and property crime by 2.5%. Final crime stats for the entire year will be available in the fall.

But can it last? Though crime stats show decreases, city governments across the state face major budget cuts. MPR interviewed Wadena Mayor Wolden:

Wolden said cities are struggling with Gov. Pawlenty’s admonition not to cut budgets for public safety.

“We understand that. We’re not dumb. We know that people want to dial 911 and have somebody show up at their door in 60 seconds, 24/7/365. It’s what we do. That’s why they pay taxes,” Wolden said. “We are going to try to hold them as harmless as possible. But this is forcing our hand. This may have to be the cut.”

Liberians need a pathway to permanent residence. Once again, Liberians lawfully in the United States under a grant of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) face forced departure as the latest extension of TPS expires in on March 31. TPS was first granted in 1991, and extended year to year until 2007, when President Bush changed the status to Deferred Enforced Departure (DED). Liberians who fled war and persecution, have lived here for more than a decade, starting businesses, buying homes, and raising families. Each family has its own story. MPR tells one of the stories:

The possibility of deportation would pose an immediate dilemma for Kirkpatrick Weah. He has two young American-born sons who both need special education. He’d have to decide whether to take them with him to Liberia, where the schools may not offer the programs that can help them succeed, or whether to leave them in the U.S.

Minnesota is home to about 25,000 Liberians, one of the largest populations in the United States, and many live under the threat of departure on March 31.

MN Job Watch: Hutchinson Technology, which had announced layoffs of 1100 just a month ago, increased the number to 1380, according to the Strib. The new plan calls for cutting 950 jobs in Hutchinson (pop. 13,929) and 50 in Plymouth. According to the Strib:

They are not alone. Many manufacturers are swinging the employment axe as the grip on the economy tightens. Manufacturers scrubbed 600,000 jobs and shut dozens of plants last year. In Minnesota, 3M, Andersen, Select Comfort, Pentair, Imation and other manufacturers cut 8,500 jobs in just 10 weeks. Hundreds more are coming as retailers Best Buy, Linens and Things and now Cost Plus World Market shut stores and trim corporate staff.

California-based Seagate Technology announced cuts of 800 jobs in the United States. The company employs 53,000 worldwide, about 8,000 in the United States, and about 3,300 in Bloomington and Shakopee, according to the Strib.

Ford is offering buyouts in St. Paul. “About 240 of the 771 union members working at the St. Paul Ford plant are eligible for the buyouts, said Roger Terveen, president of UAW Local 879” in the PiPress. The buyouts would take effect in January. The last round was in 2006.

Gubernatorial tease Both T-Paw and Wisconsin Guv Jim Doyle say they’ll make a major announcement of a joint initiative on Tuesday at 11 a.m., and neither is telling what it will be, AP says, except that it involves efficiency and spending cuts.

Immigrant struggles MPR reports on the struggles of immigrants, many of whom had professional degrees and practices in their home countries, to make a new life in Minnesota. For Damaris Perez-Ramirez, that meant leaving her PhD in psychology and 12-year psychology practice and starting over.

Starting from scratch meant cleaning houses, working as a translator and coordinating parenting classes for Latinos in the Twin Cities. These weren’t exactly the kind of jobs she had in mind when she arrived in Minnesota in 2001. …

A recent report by the Migration Policy Institute shows that, nationally, more than 1.3 million college-educated immigrants are either unemployed or working in jobs such as dishwashers, taxi drivers or housecleaners.

Gaza war update Yesterday the Israeli government banned Arab political parties inside Israel, and even TPM confessed to not being sure what to say or think about the decision, which may well be overturned by the Israeli courts. As casualty figures, with the death toll nearing 1,000 and the number of injured topping 4,000, Bill Moyers presented a searing indictment of the Israeli war (“Brute force can turn self-defense into state terrorism”), and Naomi Klein urged a boycott of Israel. Israel warned (promised?) continuing escalation.

And the recount saga goes on … Yesterday, MN Supreme Court Justice Alan Page appointed the three judges who will hear the Coleman lawsuits in the election/recount battle. MPR reports:

They are:
• Elizabeth Hayden of Stearns County who was appointed by DFL Governor Rudy Perpich in 1986;
• Kurt Marben of Thief River Falls who was appointed by Independent Jesse Ventura in 2000, and
• Denise Reilly of Hennepin County who was appointed by Republican Arne Carlson in 1997.

Franken also asked that the Guv and SoS issue him a certificate of election yesterday — both declined, pointing out that the law requires them to wait until after the court decides on all legal challenges.

Popular public schools Choosing a school is a mind-boggling process for parents of kindergartners. Last weekend, TC Daily Planet visited the school choice fairs in Minneapolis and St. Paul and talked to parents.

Parents at both fairs moved aggressively from booth to booth, peppering parent volunteers and administrators with questions. Many were so intent on their search that I found it hard to stop them for an interview.

“It’s definitely overwhelming,” said Caralin Dees of St Paul, who was looking for a kindergarten for her four-year-old daughter with her husband Matt. The couple said they hadn’t done much research before the fair. “We’re looking for an elementary with a math-science focus…but really, how much do we want to limit her. I mean, she’s only four!”

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