Posted at 8:42 AM on September 18, 2008
by Bob Collins
The RNC isn't over and won't be for a long time in the Twin Cities. These developments over the last few days are worth noting:
The Minneapolis City Council, according to MPR's Brandt Williams, will get a report on how the police department handled their end of the protests during the Republican National Convention. But the fix may be in since the police department is doing the report and City Council member Paul Ostrow successfully led the the fight to kill an effort by colleague Cam Gordon for a specific accounting.
"I personally don't see a need for council action," Ostrow said. "I'm going to be blunt about this, because I know what the headlines are going to be, 'City Council calls for investigation of Minneapolis police department.' We don't need an investigation of the Minneapolis police department when the Minneapolis police department is already saying they're moving forward on an After Action report."
Here's the current "investigation" tally: St. Paul will have one, but it won't look at claims of police misconduct. A City Council member, who has made no secret of his distaste for the police actions, will hold a hearing.
In Minneapolis, Mayor R.T. Rybak wants the city's civil rights office to review the method of arrests and citations.
Media watcher Brian Lambert, meanwhile, acknowledges he didn't monitor the offerings of local TV and radio stations because he was "in the RNC bubble," but he says he knows what was going on anyway:
The picture here is fairly clear. The RNC with its promotional potential ( ... money) for our cities, combined with over-the-top police state preparation and intimidation, appears to have cowed not just politicians but also quite a few self-professed brave media voices into avoiding anything that could be construed as consorting with or encouraging the enemy.
Lambert, as you probably figured out, says protester voices didn't get heard in the cacophony of chatty police and politicians.
Why were they protesting again?
Impeachment, according to one of them. Jodin Morey posted a long accounting of the Poor People's March -- aka "the Tuesday protest" -- on his blog this week:
Next, the lead organizer got on the shoulders of another marcher and through a bullhorn announced to the protesters that she was going to deliver a citizen's arrest to the doors of the Xcel Energy Center for crimes against humanity. She made us raise our right hands again and promise that we would stay right where we were and to be peaceful. Everyone I could see raised their hands and repeated the promise back to her. Then she went to the free speech gate that separated us from the front doors of the Xcel Energy Center. She spoke through her bullhorn to the nearest police officer, who was dressed in riot gear.
Even the media is going to review its actions in the wake of the protests. The Society Professional Journalists is holding a forum on Monday to examine why journalists got arrested and how reporters can do their jobs in the future. City leaders and law enforcement officials have been invited to participate.
Meanwhile the "let's do this again sometime" movement slowed somewhat on Wednesday when St. Paul business owners got together to discuss their experiences. Said one business owner:
"We should have been told that the delegates were going to get in their buses, and get bused right to the front door, and right after the event, they were going to be bused right from the front door of the Xcel Energy Center right back to Minneapolis."
On the other hand, four other conventions have been booked since the RNC, according to officials. And another suggested there was no pricetag on the value of Chris Matthews proclaiming Rice Park, "the most beautiful spot in the world." A few days later, Matthews lost his gig at MSNBC for other reasons.
There wasn't much meat in the headline today that Minnesota's unemployment rate has gone up again.
The August rate jumped to 6.2 percent. That means 3,200 jobs were lost in August; 8,200 have disappeared over the last year.
Some areas of the economy are picking up jobs, however. Trade, transportation, utilities, education, and healths services have all picked up. The financial sector also has picked up over the last year although it seems with the collapse of the markets and the industry this week, that's a trend that will be difficult to continue.
The weak side of the picture are profession and business services, manufacturing, leisure and hospitality, construction, and information.
But, there are jobs available. Almost 20,000 are posted on the department's Web site. But, in a sign of a struggling economy, nearly 46,000 people have posted their resumes.
Regionally, the picture is darker.
On the Arrowhead, for example, the most widely available job -- telemarketer -- pays well below average wages, according to DEED. On the other hand, the second-most-available -- nurses -- pays well above average. In West-Central, nine of the top 10 most-available jobs pay less than $25,000 a year (nurse, at #10, pays more than $50,000).
In the southwest corner of the state, four of the top five most-available jobs pay less than $18,000. You can work in a meat-packing plant fairly easily, and make $14, 412 a year.
And in North Central Minnesota, five of the top six jobs pay less than $19,000 a year (The exception?You guessed it: nurse).
Minnesota Public Radio News reporters are looking for some insights from people who live in Minnesota and want to tell us about the state of their local economies and how (if?) if it's being affected by what's going on nationally.
What's the difference between newspaper Web sites and the dead-trees version? The New York Times would never allow this on their dead trees version.
It's a pretty funny bit, though, as most of the John Hodgman-Justin Long Mac ads are.
And the ads must be working because Microsoft has announced today that the Jerry Seinfeld - Bill Gates ads are being dropped in favor of a new campaign, featuring a John Hodgman look-alike.
I wonder what would happen if they turned the whole account over to the people who do political ads? Take a stab at it, post your version on Gather.com and I'll dig out a swell News Cut prize.(2 Comments)
The presidential campaign returns to Minnesota on Friday when Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin stop for a rally at the Anoka County airport in Blaine.
Inputting transcripts of various appearances this week into Wordle provides a glimpse of the common themes of the candidates' major appearances this week. Joe Biden gave a speech. Barack Obama appeared on Letterman. Both gave an interview to Katie Couric.
Gov. Palin addressed a rally in Nevada, and was on FoxNews for an interview. Sen. McCain appeared on Good Morning America and also gave an interview to Katie Couric.
These displays do not include yesterday's town hall meeting held by McCain and Palin (I haven't been able to find a transcript).
Here is McCain/Palin's week so far:
Here is Obama/Biden's week so far:
Neither is particularly illuminating. Where it gets somewhat more interesting is when you submit the transcripts of TV ads the candidates unveiled this week.
In McCain's speeches, the most highlighted word is "Obama." In Obama's ads, the most highlighted word is "McCain."(4 Comments)
Why is it so hard to change the mind of a voter? A Nebraska study out today theorizes that there's a physiological reason:
46 volunteers were first asked about their political views on issues ranging from foreign aid and the Iraq war to capital punishment and patriotism.
Those with strong opinions were invited to take part in the second part of the experiment, which involved recording their physiological responses to a series of images and sounds.
The images included pictures of a frightened man with a large spider on his face and an open wound with maggots in it. The subjects were also startled with loud noises on occasion.
The more easily startled, the study says, tended to have more right-wing political views.
The University of Nebraska's Dr. John Hibbing says there's no political value to his research other than to explain to both sides of the proverbial fence that the other is simply experiencing the world differently.
Rice University political scientist John Alford told Newsweek magazine that there are three influences on political opinion: biological predisposition, socialization, and adult experience.
"If you ask someone why they support the Iraq War, they would probably give you some answers out of those latter two categories. They would make an intellectual argument: we were faced with a threat and this was the right choice. If you pushed, they might also mention socialization: well, I'm an Army brat, my dad was a Colonel, my brother's in the Marines. One thing that they'd never say, in my experience is I'm simply biologically predisposed to be sensitive to threats. What's really important here is that we're not dismissing intellectual choice or experience. We're just asking for a place at the table for biology."(2 Comments)
Two cases of box-cutters at school have been in the news this week.
In Blaine, Tony Richard, 17, was suspended for 10 days and could be expelled after a box cutter was found in his car. Richard says it's there because he uses it at his after-school job at Cub Foods.
The school, like many others, has a zero-tolerance policy on "weapons."
What was the school worried about? Probably what the officials over in Sheboygan, Wisconsin were. A 16-year-old student faces charges after his mother called the school to say he planned to "handle the situation" of another kid who chased him with a baseball bat on Monday. He was picked up on Tuesday with a box cutter.
A week or so ago, a kid in Naperville, Illinois was suspended under a zero-tolerance policy. He had a Swiss Army Knife. He was to be expelled until officials considered the fact he's a special needs student.
The American Bar Association has looked at the zero-tolerance movement and found it lacking.
The ABA Journal story noted how unfair zero tolerance policies have become. One private attorney in Virginia observed that children are able to understand that there is a difference between being treated equally and being treated fairly. She said, "Kids are not going to respect teachers and administrators who cannot appreciate the difference between a plastic knife and a switch-blade."
The lawyers association said in a 2001 report that "most current policies eliminate the common sense that comes with discretion and, at great cost to society and to children and families, do little to improve school safety."
Do you favor zero-tolerance policies?(20 Comments)
Citing high fuel costs, the nation's airlines -- Northwest included -- slapped a bunch of new fees on the traveling public. Now that oil has dropped below $100 a barrel and Northwest is predicting a $60 to $100 million profit in the quarter, the fees are going away, right?
Northwest expects to make $150 million to $200 million per year because of the fees. Why give that up?
"It was only the reality of $140 oil that gave the U.S. industry the courage to pursue a strategy they wanted to pursue," J.P. Morgan airline analyst Jamie Baker told the Wall St. Journal. "You hold onto it as long as you can until competitive pressures force you to back off."
Things are a little different in Canada. There Air Canada has rolled back some fees.(1 Comments)
The Minnesota Twins today unveiled their season ticket prices for their first season at "Expect More Pay Less" Park. Based on season ticket plans, the lowest price is $20. The luxury level will run you about $50 with an extra fee of at least $1,000.
See the particulars and what the view will look like here.
The new prices are roughly even with the what it cost to go to a game at the Dome.
Tangent time: Wrigley Field and the owner of a building across the street have taken their spat to a new level.(2 Comments)