Tag Archives: scholarship

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.

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News Day – February 6: Real unemployment numbers, Ford and PiPress jobs, early grad proposal

Unemployment — 7.6% or 15.4%? Federal figures released today show 7.6% unemployment in January, up 0.4% over December. Jobs lost during January numbered 598,000, according to the official count, for a total of 3.6 million jobs lost since the recession officially began in December 2007. Of course, those figures are not final, since job losses are revised monthly. Today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics revised December job loss figures upward, from 524,000 to 577,000.

The numbers are mind-boggling, but what do they mean? Official unemployment counts only those people actively looking for work. So-called discouraged workers (who have given up), and people who are underemployed or, in the parlance of BLS, “marginally attached,” don’t count. The official unemployment rate of 7.6% is called U-3 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A far bigger number, called U-6, measures

Total unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers

That number is 15.4 percent in January, up from 13.5 percent in December.

The Washington Post reported new jobless claims of 626,000 in January, a 25-year high and much larger than the previously-predicted 591,000. About 4.8 million people are currently collecting unemployment compensatoin.

MN Job Watch In St. Paul, Pioneer Press Newspaper Guild workers will vote today on a management request that they take five unpaid days off between February 9 and April 30, reports David Brauer in MinnPost. Without the furlough, workers may face more layoffs, in addition to the eight workers laid off in January. (Of course, the furlough proposal offers no guarantee against future layoffs.) According to MPR, the furloughs would affect 307 union employees and a little more than 400 workers in all.

Also in St. Paul, Ford Ranger plant workers will have another two weeks of lay-off (next week and a week in March), reports Liz Fedor in the Strib. The new lay-off announcement came shortly after workers returned from a six-week lay-off in December and January. For Ranger sales dropped by 49.3 percent in January, and the plant is scheduled for closure in 2011.

Ametech Inc., a New Ulm plant that makes electrical servo motors, will leave MN for locations in Pennsylvania and North Carolina by September. The company has 80 employees in New Ulm, and about 11,000 employees worldwide, according to AP.

Get out of high school early GOP Rep. Pat Garofalo (Farmington) wants to pay high school students to graduate early, reports the Strib via AP. He proposes to give a scholarship of $2500 per semester for students who graduate up to three semesters early, thereby saving the state money because per pupil funding is greater than that amount. DFL Rep. Mindy Greiling says this might be a bad deal for students, who could earn credits for even less money by taking PSEO or College in the Schools courses. Questions about whether the scholarship would have to be used in MN or within the U of M/MNSCU systems or all in the first year or prorated over four years remain unanswered, as the bill has not been formally introduced yet.

Farming by the numbers As a former farm girl and a long-time wonk, I find the new federal ag census fascinating. Here are some of the numbers for MN and the nation.

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Senator Claiborne Pell’s legacy

Former Rhode Island Senator Claiborne Pell believed in extrasensory perception and attended a seminar on UFO abductions. He also defended the rights of gay and lesbian people to hold government jobs and led the battle for federal Employment Opportunity Grants for needy college students. That program, now called Pell Grants in his honor, may be his greatest legacy. Since its inception in 1972, the program has helped more than 50 million students to attend college. The Washington Poste quoted Senator Harry Reid, who said::

Any student who has ever received federal aid has Senator Pell to thank for his or her education. The Pell Grants he created revolutionized our education system for generations of Americans who might not otherwise be able to pursue higher education.

Claiborne Pell died January 1 at the age of 90. He had represented Rhode Island in the Senate from 1960-1996.

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