I'm not a big fan of all of the prep sports coverage in the Twin Cities media, but the last two "I wish I had that story" stories have been from that genre.
The most recent is today's compelling story from the Star Tribune's Michael Rand about cross-country skier Libby Ellis, who is ranked #2 in the state but hadn't competed in enough races to quality for the state races, because she's been competing overseas.
And so her competition -- South High -- "threw together a last-minute competition in the subzero darkness at 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday that allowed a jet-lagged Ellis to compete -- and win -- the Section 6 individual title on Wednesday."
It's the one thing that has saved prep sports from massive funding cuts: The assertion that sports still has the capacity to teach something to kids.
As usual, the greatest show in town is the comments attached to newspaper stories on Web sites. In this case, there was the expected appreciation that sportsmanship is still alive.
And then there was this:
Yes, I agree it was fantastic for the South coach to arrange this impromptu meet, but I don't get why they would bend-over-backwards for an egotistical person like this. Who are these "coaches" anyways? Before jet-setting across the globe to compete in international races, it might be a good idea to make sure you have your ducks in a row at home (i.e. keep track of races participated)! Before they edited the story, they reported that she had missed all but 2 races due to illness and international travel. It's unfortunate that a lesson couldn't have been taught here... instead she gets bailed-out and will probably expect others to go to extremes to cater to her needs in the future.
The reaction to what is a sweet story of sportsmanship raises the question: Is it possible to agree on anything in the age of the Internet?(9 Comments)
About 400 immigrants became U.S. citizens today in a ceremony at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul. They came from Argentina, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Burma, Cambodia, Cameroon, Chile, China, Colombia, Cote D'Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Honduras, India, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Korea, Sudan, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, The Gambia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Ukraine, United Kingdom, USSR, Vietnam, and Yemen.
Tom Crann will have some of their stories this afternoon on MPR's All Things Considered.
The spreading economic woes in the newspaper industry have reached a new level at the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Members of the paper's Newspaper Guild will vote tomorrow on whether to accept one-week unpaid furloughs
The paper's corporate parent, Media News, has ordered the furloughs for non-union employees and management at its newspapers, and is asking its unions to accept them as well.
According to a memo to Guild members, the union asked the newspaper for assurances the furloughs "will prevent or even delay layoffs," but the request was denied.
At other Media News newspapers, the furloughs are to be completed by March 30, but the union asked for -- and received -- a delay for their completion until the end of April.
The company says it's following the lead of Gannett, the giant media company that is forcing thousands of its employees to take the one-week furlough.
Update 4:46 p.m. - Here's how the furlough works:
1. This is a one-time agreement that is intended to apply only to this furlough (Feb. 9, 2009-April 30, 2009).
2. Seventy (70) percent of the furloughs in the Guild bargaining unit will be accomplished by March 31, 2009.
3. Employees will sign up for five (5) furlough days on or about February 9, 2009.
4. The furlough is five days for full-time employees. Part-time employees are required to take a proportional furlough (for example, an employee who works four days per week is required to take four days). Furloughs can be taken in increments of one day, or in consecutive days.
5. All furloughs shall be unpaid. Employees may not use paid vacation or sick leave during furloughs.
6. Operational considerations will be taken into account when approving furlough days/schedules. Employees and their managers should work together in scheduling furlough days. In the event a plan cannot be agreed upon, the employee, a Guild representative, a representative of Human Resources and the manager will immediately meet to develop a schedule for the employee. Any scheduling conflicts between employees in selecting furloughs will be determined by seniority.
7. Employees can, with management approval, take additional unpaid time and donate time to a coworker, assuming that the employeesâ€™ pay is comparable and it does not create an operational hardship. Management approval for such donations will not be unreasonably withheld.
8. Employees can convert previously scheduled vacation time to furlough time.
9. Employees on furlough will continue to accrue vacation and sick leave and will continue to be eligible for all healthcare and related benefits.
10. During their furlough, employees shall not perform any work on behalf of the Company. Furloughed employees shall leave an outgoing message on their voicemail stating they are not at work, their return date, and that any matters needing immediate attention should be forwarded to an active employee to be named by their manager. The same procedure shall be followed for email.
11. Employees who are salaried exempt must take their five (5) days in one week.
12. Certain departments, at the discretion of the Company, may be exempted from the furlough program due to operational considerations. No individual exemptions within departments will be made.
13. Any covered employee who is laid-off from employment during the term of the furlough shall be paid for any and all unpaid furlough days taken on behalf of him/herself during the furlough period. Unpaid days taken on behalf of another employee (see item # 7 above) shall not be converted to paid days as would otherwise be provided by this provision.
14. If called to work while taking a scheduled furlough day the employee will be paid a full day for working and will not be required to reschedule an additional furlough day.
15. Freelancers will not be used to displace bargaining unit work while bargaining unit members are on furlough.
Update 4:48 p.m. - David Brauer has some union reaction and background.
As I mentioned at the time, one of the things that jumped out from Gov. Pawlenty's proposed budget is that he didn't touch the state subsidy to ethanol producers. In 2007, the state paid $15 million to ethanol producers, and in the last big budget deficit, the state delayed the payments. Pawlenty, who has become an evangelist for ethanol, tried to eliminate the then-$27 million subsidy in his first year in office.
Today, seven House DFLers -- mostly city slickers -- introduced a bill that would repeal the state subsidy. The state sends checks to farmers who own ethanol plants four times a year.
In a recent interview, legislative leaders didn't appear warm to repealing the subsidy:
As the session continues, the possibility increases of the city vs. rural legislative feuds reigniting. Within the last week some rural lawmakers filed legislative to divert transit funds to school transportation budgets.(3 Comments)