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Many state and local governments are seeing a "flood of retirements," due in part to a fear that retirement benefits will continue to diminish, according to this story in The New York Times.
The star of the Times story is Wisconsin. But Minnesota, Colorado and New Jersey are identified as three states that have both increased employee pension contributions and reduced the automatic cost-of-living adjustment on benefits.
Dave Bergstrom, who runs the Minnesota State Retirement System, told us that Minnesota is seeing a big increase in new state employee retirements. Bergstrom said 3,250 retirees were added to the rolls between Dec. 1, 2010 and Nov. 30, 2011 -- about 1,000 more than retired during the same period last year.
But Bergstrom attributes that increase to early retirement incentives and the fact that baby boomers are reaching retirement age -- not to the changes in benefits.
If you're a state employee, we'd like to hear what you're seeing. Are people retiring in your department? Are you considering it yourself? Why? Share your experiences here or in the comments.(4 Comments)
The news that Herman Cain has suspended his presidential campaign must be a blow to Scott, in ZIP code 55356, who donated $1,000 to Cain last September. Or to Don in 55304, who gave the same amount in May. On the other hand, the news must have brought cheer to the homes of Tom in 55347, who donated $1,250 to Newt Gingrich last May, and of Jody in 55359, who gave Gingrich's campaign $300 in August.
You think Facebook is addictive? Not compared to the Federal Election Commission's website. If the tobacco companies could have laced cigarettes with info from www.fec.gov, they wouldn't have needed menthol to help get people hooked.
David, 55438, gave President Obama's campaign $2,000 last June. Christopher, 55430, gave Obama $50 in July and $50 more in September. Likewise, Eleanor in 55408 contributed $10, $10, $100 and $20 to Obama, all in September.
Does this seem invasive? Don't answer yet; there's more. The available information includes donors' last names, cities of residence and occupations. It's all right there. The website's features include interactive maps for the presidential and congressional campaigns; users can zero in on Minnesota or any other state to see who gave what to whom. Here's what the Minnesota map of presidential contributions looks like:
A click on one of those circles takes the user to a list of individual contributors. If you're one of them, it's sure to make you uncomfortable. If not, it's likely to blow a hole in your productivity for the day.
Now, all this information is public, and properly so. Those who give money to political campaigns know, or should know, that the information is out there. What might take them by surprise is how easy it all is to find. On file at the county courthouse is one thing; available at a click of a mouse, from anywhere, is another.
If you didn't know this before, now you do. Use this power for good.
Posted at 3:43 PM on December 6, 2011
by Michael Olson
Filed under: Media
This week has presented us with two significant developments in Minnesota's media landscape: 1) The Utne Reader is leaving Minneapolis for Topeka, and 2) The Star Tribune metered pay wall seems to be working.
In both instances loyal readers were there, but finding loyal advertisers continues to be a struggle.
Strib metered pay wall: Web traffic down 10-15 percent, revenue up. MinnPost's David Brauer sees good things in the early numbers on the Star Tribune's metered pay wall system. "Long-term, there's still reason to believe this will help create a durable digital subscriber base that advertisers eventually pay more for," Brauer writes. "That should keep journalists celebrating."
In addition to keeping this momentum going, the Strib is facing a new challenge to convince advertisers that a smaller audience is worth more money.
Editor-in-Chief David Schimke and his staff will not be moving to Topeka with the magazine. But he did take the time to answer a few questions.
Combs: In the past six years the Utne Reader hasn't been able to make a profit. Why is that? Have automatic aggregaters like Google Reader replaced digests?
Schimke: I think it's a little bit that. But the fact is, we've been winning awards; we even upped the price and didn't see a decrease in subscribership. But the advertising just isn't there. We have a small loyal audience, but it's a difficult audience to market to.