Charging out-of-towners for accidents, computers in cars, the law of orbital coincidences, the Starburst prom dress, and when people do good.
If it snows like winter, is it winter? Spied outside News Cut's Woodbury bureau. Caption it:15 Comments)
If you think watching Grand Forks workers putting up the flood wall a few weeks ago was exciting, wait until you watch them taking it down, which is happening today. That's a wrap on the Red River flood season, even though some rural communities are still wading through water.
The Red River dropped below major flood stage overnight in Grand Forks, though it remains three feet above major stage in Fargo-Moorhead.
The Red River flooding season has now moved northward to Manitoba, where hundreds of residents have fled their homes. The main impact for most people is the Highway 75 link to the U.S. has been closed.
MinnPost's Jeff Severns Guntzel is mapping every vacant property in Minneapolis, a worthy effort in light of a shift in attention from the mortgage market meltdown to what will happen with all of these empty buildings in Minneapolis and elsewhere.
On CNBC, this morning, one "analyst" had this idea: knock them down, says Joseph LaVorgna, Deutsche Bank's chief economist.
"If we have excess housing, why not pay to remove the excess supply from the market, the marginal supply goes up, people feel wealthier, and it deals with the problem, "LaVorna said.
"It shouldn't count on taxpayer dollars to do any of it, " CNBC's trader/ranter Rick Santelli countered. " He says if the idea has merit, the owners of record -- usually a bank -- should pay.
Most experts figure the housing market won't rebound until the "excess supply" of foreclosed houses are off the market, either because someone buys them or someone destroys them.
(Video: Craig Stellmacher)
It's not a very good idea to test your company's absentee policy by being absent. That's the upshot of a decision from the Minnesota Supreme Court today.
The Court ruled that you can be fired for excessive absenteeism, even if your company has a progressive discipline policy on the subject. It ruled in the case of Ronald Stagg, who was fired by a group home for troubled youth.
The company for which Stagg worked --Vintage Place -- has a policy providing for an oral warning on the first unexcused absence, a written warning for the second one, a three-day suspension for the third, a 10-day suspension for the fourth, and firing for the fifth.
Does that give you four unexcused absences before being fired? No, the court said.
Here's how it described Stagg's firing:
Stagg began having tardiness and attendance problems in November 2008. On November 15, 2008, Stagg missed mandatory training and, according to Vintage Place, gave no advance notice. On November 26, Stagg, without notifying his supervisor, did not show up for work. As a result, he received an oral warning. On November 27, Stagg arrived for his shift two hours late without advance notice and was placed on probation. On December 1, Stagg called in sick after his shift began. It does not appear from the record before us that Stagg was disciplined for the December 1 absence. On December 3, Stagg arrived for work 45 minutes late without advance notice and was given a two-day suspension. On January 28, 2009, Stagg called in after his shift began to say that he had overslept. The following day, Stagg was fired.
Stagg claimed that because he had not received a 10-day suspension -- the last step short of termination under his company's policy -- he did not understand that his job was at risk.
An unemployment law judge denied his unemployment claim, but the Court of Appeals overturned the decision.
Today, the Supreme Court said "an employee's expectation that the employer will follow its disciplinary procedures has no bearing on whether the employee's conduct violated the standards the employer has a reasonable right to expect or whether any such violation is serious."
The Court left open, however, the possibility of a future claim that an employer's handbook constitutes a contract between the employer and employee.
Read the full decision here.(2 Comments)
"Jon is a remarkable leader who has been responsible for a great portion of our success over the years," said Kling in this press release. "I'm very happy with the board's decision, and I'm confident Jon will ensure that APMG continues to lead the way in public media's ongoing evolution."
When MPR got into the online business in the late '90s, it was McTaggart who was in charge. He was the company's "technology officer," and presided over a department that featured all of the accoutrements of the era -- Nerf guns, flying blimps, and all the digital creativity you could stuff into a half-dozen cubicles far removed from the more buttoned-down world of public radio news.
Armed with a $1 million grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, designed to show how public radio stations can create an online service, McTaggart appointed John Pearson to oversee the project, then got out of the way and let people do the job they were hired to do, using the talent that was the reason they were hired in the first place, providing a shield when needed (and it was), and inspiration when required.
And isn't that pretty much the entire chapter on "how to manage?"
Here's a story I've told dozens of times internally:
It was early in my tenure as MPR's managing editor of online news. I was about to leave for a weekend with my youngest son; we were about to drive to Cincinnati to watch the Reds play a few games, and take in a few sessions at the Society of American Baseball Research (SABR) convention. I had written an e-mail informing colleagues that I would be out of the office.
As I pulled out of the parking ramp on St. Paul's West Seventh Street, McTaggart, in full-suited attire, was running on the sidewalk, flagging me down. I stopped.
He thrust $20 at me and said, "buy yourself a beer and a hot dog. You do good work."
No boss had ever said anything like that to me before (I've got lots of stories about them, but you're never going to read them), let alone risked a heart attack for the opportunity to say it.
And that's how people run through brick walls for the people they work for.
It may not be a lot of fun being the guy to replace Bill Kling, a larger-than-life figure in the world of broadcasting whose vision is singularly responsible for Minnesota Public Radio and its assorted offspring. No doubt there are plenty of people wondering whether the place can effectively emerge from the long shadow he casts in the Twin Cities.
They needn't be concerned. MPR has hired a knowledgeable and decent person for the gig who understands completely the value and commitment to the audience of the people who work here.
The world is full of CEOs who don't have the passion for the product, couldn't articulate a mission statement if you spotted them the first 20 words, view the employee as an expense to be cut, and the customer as a necessary burden to endure. MPR doesn't have one of those.
Although it would be cool if we could bring back the flying blimp and Nerf guns.
(Photo: John Nicholson)
War photographer Tim Hetherington was killed today in Libya. A mortar struck where he was working in the city of Misrata,
His work in Afghanistan led to his creation of the 2010 Oscar-nominated documentary Restrepo.
"I try to keep myself out of the way and out danger," he told PBS NewsHour in this 2010 interview.
"We do these young men an injustice in not fully documenting their reality," Hetherington said.(2 Comments)
A Minnesota native and a companion have gone missing while on a trip to climb the Grand Teton.
Gregory Seftick, 31, a native of Afton, and Walter Kuhl, 31, from Columbia Falls, MT, were reported to have been seen at the mouth of Garnet Canyon at 3pm on Saturday. The party had planned to exit the backcountry on Sunday, but when Kuhl didn't return to work on Monday, the pair was reported missing, according to the blog TetonAT.com.
The writer, who had skied the same area on Saturday, reported there were several snowslides in the area on Saturday, apparently because of warm temperatures and earlier rainfall.
Coincidentally, Seftick was a classmate of Jon Francis, who died in 2006 while climbing Grand Mogul in the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho. Francis' father, who started an organization to try to get more resources deployed when adults go missing in the back country, sent out an e-mail alert this afternoon:
Greg's father, Dan Seftick (also a supporter of the Jon Francis Foundation), called me last night and, in a quiet and fearful voice, said, "My son Greg has gone missing. Can you help me?"
As a father who knows Dan's exact terror, my first impulse was to find my hiking boots, fly to Wyoming, and climb the mountain in search of Greg--like I did in search of my own son, Jon, five years ago this summer. I tried to reassure Dan with the knowledge that national parks have the best trained and equipped search and rescue (SAR) resources in the U.S., and the promise that I would mobilize our colleagues and supporters in the search and rescue community--the small, tight-knit, and selfless community that I have come to know and value.
I immediately left a message with Janet Wilts, a park ranger in the Grand Tetons, whose unit searched for Jon in Idaho's Sawtooth Mountains in 2006 and again in 2007. I knew she was already out searching for Greg and Walter but would return my call ASAP.
While waiting for Janet's call, I thought about the Sefticks, Dan and Sue and Greg's younger brother, Chris, and the feelings of anxiety, powerlessness, and sorrow they were experiencing. My wife Linda and I know those feelings too well. I thought also of the unfairness. Why wasn't the news of Greg's disappearance reported by our local newspapers, radio, and television? After all, Greg was a native Minnesotan before moving to Montana. Why did I only learn about it from Greg's father--three days after he went missing?
I know the answers to my own questions. I am no longer surprised (but still annoyed) at the lack of media coverage about missing adults. The founder of Project Jason, a nonprofit similar to JFF, writes, "Missing adults fall through the cracks in society's sidewalk." Predictably at every missing persons' conference I attend, speakers refer to "America's Silent Mass Disaster"--the thousands of missing adults in the U.S. who have never been found. Most were not investigated or the subject of an active search.
When Janet returned my call last night, she reported that a well-organized search effort was underway. The park service put together an operations center, coordinating multiple agencies and search units. Despite bad weather and risk of avalanche, they had flown numerous helicopter search missions and placed dozens of searchers and dogs on the lower elevations. For U.S. search and rescue, this is a world-class effort. (If only all law enforcement agencies modeled themselves after the park service.) Unfortunately, in forty states, law enforcement is not even required to report or investigate the disappearance of anyone over eighteen. Janet expressed her expectation that Greg and Walter will likely be found huddled on a rock formation or safely inside a snow tent they had built. "That's the outcome of many searches in the Tetons."
I passed along that hope to Dan. But, too often when adults go missing there is little hope, because we, as a society, do not focus attention or resources on finding them. The Jon Frances Foundation continues our mission to provide financial support in the form of training and equipment for those who work tirelessly to help desperate families in search of lost loved ones. SAR professionals often work with no pay and their units have slim budgets. ("They work for food").
I ask for your thoughts and prayers for Greg, Walter, and their desperate families, as well as any financial contribution that you can put forth in this effort to bring Dan's son home.
Both are said to be skilled skiers. Seftick is an emergency room doctor. Kuhl works for the U.S. Treasury Department.