The vacation is over. It's back to work.
I had planned to spend most of the day -- and night -- at the Capitol for the "greatest show in town" -- the last hour of a session. Alas, goodwill and bipartisanship decided to make a comeback over the weekend and the governor and all the pols gathered for the singing of the unofficial state song -- Kumbaya.
The initial reviews have been fairly positive. The exception is the process by which the agreements were reached. Says the Star Tribune editorial:
While there's much to admire about Sunday's agreement, the process that produced it was not pretty. It was the result of two weeks of private talks between Pawlenty and a handful of legislative leaders. They were shielded from public scrutiny while hammering out the year's most important decisions.
And yet, the process seems to have worked.
One of the reasons I started the Minnesota Fantasy Legislature last year was to provide some illumination on the work of 201 legislators, instead of just a half dozen or so "leaders." But maybe the reality is that a half dozen or so legislators, a governor, and a closed door is what leads to session results that -- as the Star Tribune editorial said -- "will move this state in a positive direction, in ways big and small."
Your opinion?(1 Comments)
ESPN presented a nice little segment -- heck, it ran longer than the Celtics-Cavaliers story -- about the resurgence of roller derby. It features a few shots of the Minnesota RollerGirls, and one of its players, Jill Riley of the Current.(1 Comments)
You can't tell from this picture from MnDOT, but there's an overturned semi with junked cars at the onramp to I-94 from Highway 52 Northbound, creating a backup on I-94 westbound in St. Paul. The backup extends at least back to Mounds Blvd. (above) .
Guess I'll have to amble over and take a picture of it.
So does the trucking company make a claim for damage when its only load is junked cars?(9 Comments)
Jayne Solinger, an assistant producer of MPR's Morning Edition and avid WNBA fan, is about the only person I can discuss the Minnesota Lynx with. There's a bit of a bounce in Jayne's step today as the Lynx won -- in fairly dominating fashion -- their opening game of the season. Have the Lynx ever been 1-0 before? We can't recall, but then again we can barely recall a time when any basketball team in Minnesota was worth being interested in.
We were particularly impressed with the Star Tribune's photograph today, which showed the "new" Lynx, personified by Candice Wiggins, meeting the "old" Lynx -- embodied by former team member Kate Smith, who is shown playing the poor kind of defense that can only be worse if the police had forced her to play while handcuffed.
We think the Lynx could take the Wolves.(1 Comments)
(This post updated at 1:48 p.m.)
HealthPartners has unveiled a new Web site for its members, which includes same-day test results, and prescriptions online. In her online presentation, Mary Brainerd, the CEO, said "We want the experience to memorable, unique, and fun." But, of course, there's nothing fun, usually, about waiting -- or often, getting -- test results, so HealthPartners has created a new mascot, Petey P. Cup.
HealthPartners says if they created a marketing plan that looks and sounds like its competitors, people won't be able to tell one healthcare provider from another. That, apparently is where Petey comes in -- and Pokey, the needle. They've created a Web site for the pair.
The YouTube video also features the slogan, "go with the flow."
Petey the Peecup also has a Facebook page with 83 "friends." Think about that: A person dressing up as a pee cup, has people who follow him...it...whatever. Can't wait for the Twitter feed.
I'm trying to track down the person who came up with the idea. That must've been some interesting meeting.
Health care organizations tend to be pretty conservative. So how does the concept of a pee cup mascot make it through? Meet Kevin Palattao, HealthPartners' vice president of patient care systems. He was involved in the meetings in which the idea surfaced.
"We had this really creative group that was working on this, we had a bunch of Gen X'ers in the room working on the project and one of the things we set out as a goal in the beginning is we wanted to break the healthcare mold of relatively same healthcare advertising that you see all over the place," he said. "The more we thought about this, the more this thing grew legs and enough of our leaders thought this was a good idea. We're trying to make this so memorable that it will inspire people to use our online services."
Mission accomplished, but didn't the idea of a pee cup mascot make people a little nervous?
"We definitely heard that and that's one of the things we were trying to be sensitive to. We didn't want anyone to perceive this as a denigration to the industry or the profession. At the end of the day we felt it was so important to get this message out there that it was worth the risk," he said.
"The notion of pee cup, we had already overcome that in a 'spectacular' (large visuals of healthcare icons that the advertising firm had already produced), so getting to a mascot was not too far."
The idea came from Greg Klugherz, vice president finance, planning and improvement for the HealthPartners Medical Group. The person who initially played Petey also played Santa Claus at a couple of HealthPartners functions.
What's coming after Pokey? Pearly White, a giant tooth to promote the dental group. The possibilities are endless, and perhaps a tad frightening.
(H/T: MinnPost)(5 Comments)
"We don't need an artificial limit. I don't know how they came up with it, " Woodbury Mayor Bill Hargis told me this afternoon. Hargis, a CPA who knows a little something about managing money, says the deal reached over the weekend at the Capitol was "partisan politics."
"It doesn't show any confidence in local leadership," he said. "We appreciate what the legislators and governor have to do, but we believe in local control." Woodbury, it should be pointed out, doesn't get any local government aid from the state and Hargis, who says he's politically independent, sees the cap as the legislators and governor sticking their noses where
it doesn't they don't belong.
He also says it will have the opposite of its intended effect. "I don't know if our tax levy was going to be up 3.9 percent, but it is now," he said. "It might've only been increasing by 2 percent but now we have to raise it 3.9 percent so that we don't hurt ourselves. It becomes a target more than a cap."
Hargis' logic? Cities like his, which have a small tax levy increase in a given year, have little motivation under the cap to keep the tax levy smaller since they lose the ability in future years to raise taxes above the cap, should the need require it. Instead, he figures, they'll raise it the maximum allowed to maintain flexibility.
"We'll survive it, particularly when we've done such a good job budgeting. But it's like getting an 'A' in a test and then being told you have to take it over," he said.
"In previous years, as a former legislator, when I've seen cities faced with caps, they went right to the cap. In St. Cloud's case , we're not. We have our own policies limiting the increase to growth and inflation. As a legislator, I've always believed strongly it's a local control issue... you have local elected officials, elected by members of the community and they should make those decisions.
St. Cloud does accept local government aid from the state.(2 Comments)
Posted at 3:25 PM on May 19, 2008
by Bob Collins
Quick: What's the fastest-growing international buyer of goods and services purchased in Minnesota?
It's one of the factoids from a report on exports today from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.
The half-full version is that Minnesota's exports are up 6.5 percent and we rank 20th in value among all states. The half-empty version is the increase lags the U.S. export growth rate of 10.4 percent.
Half full: Transportation equipment led the state's gain.
Half empty: Computer and electronics exports dropped 9 percent.
Half full: Canada, Russia, Phillipines and Germany were all significantly bigger buyers.
Half empty: Thailand, Netherlands, Japan bought less than before.
Half-full: Exports of printing-related machinery, centrifuges, and engines increased.
Half-empty: Even though China's economy is expanding like a wildfire, Minnesota exports fell by 6 percent.
Here's the full report.
Posted at 3:55 PM on May 19, 2008
by Bob Collins
Let me just say right off the bat that I don't understand bookmaking. But I happened to be walking past one of the newsroom TVs and Wolf Blitzer was interviewing the usual suspects about a British bookmaking Web site that is taking bets on the vice presidential possibilities, indicating Condoleezza Rice, Mike Huckabee, and Mitt Romney as the favorites.
So I took a look at the site, which -- you're right -- I'm not linking to, and found this:
Here's what I've learned this means:
Back -- Is a bet that it will happen.
Lay -- Is a bet that it will not happen.
The shaded box are the best available odds. And the dollar amount is the most you can bet at those odds.
In my fog of bookmaking ignorance, it at least looks like Tim Pawlenty is in the game, though it wasn't mentioned on CNN.
Far more interesting than trying to figure this chart out, is trying to figure out why on earth someone is betting that John McCain will select himself as a running mate.
We now turn the comments section over to the bookmaking experts... and we know you're out there.
The National Science Foundation spent $19 million a year to end gender discrimination that it was convinced was responsible for a disparity in the number of women and men in science and technology fields.
It might've been a premature conclusion according to Joshua Rosenbloom at the University of Kansas who studied, in particular, the information technology field and found that the primary reason there aren't more women in the field is that women don't want to be in it.
According to the Boston Globe story...
Rosenbloom and his colleagues used a standard personality-inventory test to measure people's preferences for different kinds of work. In general, Rosenbloom's study found, men and women who enjoyed the explicit manipulation of tools or machines were more likely to choose IT careers - and it was mostly men who scored high in this area. Meanwhile, people who enjoyed working with others were less likely to choose IT careers. Women, on average, were more likely to score high in this arena.
Personal preference, Rosenbloom and his group concluded, was the single largest determinative factor in whether women went into IT. They calculated that preference accounted for about two-thirds of the gender imbalance in the field.
Susan Pinker, author of Men, Women, and the Real Gender Gap, says the assumption that women in sciences was a case of gender inequity, was a misdirected drive for equality, according to an interview she did recently with the Vancouver Sun.
"I think it was necessary at the beginning, equating equality to sameness," she said. "Essentially all feminist writers say we want what they want, so we've got to be like them. The science tells us, no, we're not like them ... unless biology changes."
Let's think about this just a bit. Explain this: The future of social media is going to be all about women.
It's the lead of an article in Business Week today:
Traditionally, men are the early adopters of new technologies. But when it comes to social media, women are at the forefront. At Rapleaf we conducted a study of 13.2 million people and how they're using social media. While the trends indicate both sexes are using social media in huge numbers, our findings show that women far outpace the men.